Thursday, June 27, 2024

More on the Garden

I've been planning more with the garden, collecting items for the next step in construction.

I've got four young Moscovie hen ducks who are laying up a storm. But my barn is still stuffering from a rodent infestation. Baby birds don't have much of a chance against any kind of predators. It's not a good idea to raise them in the barn.

But I can raise them in pens, outside the barn. I did it before, had great success raising both ducklings and chicks.

This is the new idea. Collect up some fence panels, get a water barrel, and put the momma ducks and babies close to the house, but far from the barn. Double fence the low pens, give each hen ducks some space and let the ducklings grow up.

I'm gonna need to get a rainwater source. Make a new rain barrel, and have everything ready by the time the duck eggs hatch. Should be August, if I remember correctly.

Start with a rain barrel. Get the fence panels down to the garden, with the gate and some posts. Fix the old pen panels, find stakes to hold the pens together, then shade the pens from the hot July sun.

I have 30 days to get this together. Let's see if I can make it happen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Garden Projects

These days, I haven’t got the strength or the energy of my youth. So I pick my projects carefully. Riding a horse once a week has brought back a measure of my old strength, and ambition. Since I laid my old horses to rest, my pastures have been empty, the grass too high and the farm too quiet.

So I acquired some alpacas from a very nice woman who had some breeders to retire. I just want fleece, so these ladies are perfect for me. They’ve surprised me with their constant travels around the farm several times a day. A pasture that held 3 horses and 7 alpacas, yet was still lush enough to cause problems, isn’t gonna have any trouble supporting 5 browsing elderly alpacas. I love the way they constantly nibble on the fence line. They are slowly eating down the brambles, roses and little trees that I had to have removed at quite a considerable expense.

Which brings me to the current project: I want a raised bed garden, one that doesn’t need constant weeding, one that will produce food for winter, herbs, berries and some fruit, too. We picked up our first load of woodchips, and the ladies got a nice layer for their leanto. I gave a small load to the chickens, but they need a lot more. Since this is a city of Elizabethtown perk to the people, we can get wood chips whenever we need them.

That’s likely to mean a trip a week for awhile. The goal is 4 raised garden beds. I want plenty of room to plant kitchen herbs, like garlic, onion, shallots, carrots and potatoes. Fall crops, to start, because it’s gonna take time to get all this set up. Then next spring, it wil be a snap to get it going.

As for why I’m going to all this trouble, well, I don’t live in a vacuum, and I’m quite worried about the near future. Not just for myself, but for the people around me, things are difficult and times are hard. I sell my eggs, and a few plants, at a Farmer’s Market. I plan to use that money to invest in the garden, to buy plants and trees. This garden spot is quite large, and I have plenty of room. It’s time to get it up and running, just in case things on the east coast get really, really weird this fall.

I’d like to garden organically, but my farmer neighbor uses more sprays than I can keep track of. He’s got the biggest sprayer I’ve ever seen, a monstrous device that has a 40’ wingspan.

Mothra has nothing on that big creature.

Everyone has to adapt to their environment. In their own way, and at their own time, so I’m adapting.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Senior in the Saddle - 3

It's been a year since I rounded up the courage to get back in the saddle. I went to Wild Rose Equestrian Center, and I've been going almost every week since. I'm so much stronger and more secure in the saddle. My seat isn't what it used to be, but my balance is much better.

I had several months with a very sweet horse who was willing to forgive my mistakes as I got back in shape. He's in the picture, a Morgan Halflinger cross. If I ever see another horse of his type of breeding, I'm gonna snap 'em up. The draft horse blood means an easy temper and makes for a nice strong horse with good gaits. I didn't understand why people are out crossing with draft breeds until I rode him. Now I get it. Quarter horses are more Thoroughbred than not, my horses were 3/4 TB and 7/8 TB respectively. The cold blood of the draft horse is a good counter balance to all that hot Thoroughbred blood.

Those first few months back in the saddle had me half-crazy with frustration. I didn't have the strength to do more than cling to the saddle. I couldn't make the right cues to get my lesson horse to do much. I felt old, weak and off-balance. But I made myself go, and in the process, figured out how to communicate with a horse again.

I'm still making mistakes, and have a hard time getting my lesson horses to do what I want. As my old instructors would say: "The problem isn't the horse." Still, I'm not a fan of riding without a bit. I have a lot of trouble with the modern hackmore. I'm used to a mild bit and a whole lot of contact with the horse's mouth. A Hackmore has no feel to it. It makes sense to use them indoors with beginners, but my brain says it's the same as riding with a halter, when it's not.

I had no idea, when I got started again, just how well behaved my old horses were. They were an extension of my hands and legs, but that's after 30 years of riding the same horses. We knew each other inside and out. They knew me so well, it was as if they read my mind.

Now I need to be more aware of what I'm doing and not doing. I still believe that being back in the saddle has been great for my mental health, as well as my physical health. I'm walking more, lifting more and doing more in a day because I get that mental lift once a week.

I'll check back in a few months.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Enthropy in Travel

Oh the pretty cabins! Pretty, pretty cabins! I'm gonna travel to a national forest and stay in a pretty cabin with all the fun things a cabin should have. Hot tub! Fireplace! Back deck! Right on the lake, too!

See the picture? Yahoo! (No photo because I don't want to get sued for defamation.)

Here we go! Whip out the credit card and book that pretty cabin!

Problem is, that cabin isn't in the same place we are going, it's 250 miles away. But the SUPER EASY VACATION APP doesn't tell you where this pretty, pretty cabin is located until AFTER your money has been paid.

Where is it? 250 miles from the lakeside photo! Hot tub doesn't matter, you can't find the cabin from your original destination, because it's 5 hours away!

With one blissfully deceptive swipe of the credit card, our vacation has turned into a disaster, from which there is no recourse.

Kiss that $500 goodbye! Thanks SUPER EASY VACATION APP!

No, I'm not kidding. This is the second time this has happened. Traveling has never been simple, always got to be careful that the logistics are right. Right maps, right supplies, correct directions, proper clothing.

Yet increasingly, the very applications that are supposed to make things simple are becoming financial traps. I'm tech savvy, and I find that trusting the SUPER EASY VACATION APP to book accomodations is a sure fire way to get ripped off. It's a black hole into which my money goes, and the chance of getting a refund for a moment of in-attention is nil.

If I want to book a cabin inside a national forest, I have to call the Lodge to make sure I'm booking a real cabin. That's not easy, because the Lodge Staff just referred me to SUPER EASY VACATION APP!

Apps, applications, booking software, all that crap has made getting screwed out of your hard-earned money easier than ever.

The en-shitification of life, courtecy of Silcon Valley Tech Bros and Artificial Intelligence.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

AI -- Making Reading Less Interesting

The more content I read these days, the more of this odd syntax shows up. A word or two, just odd or out of place will tell you that the content was AI generated. I've used Chat GPT for small bits of text that I don't want to write myself. It will churn out bland text that is grammatically correct. Things like book blurbs for 200 words or less. Hand it 500 words, and it cuts 300 out. But it doesn't produce interesting text. Servicable text. Useful text. Yes, but do we haunt the internet for that kind of text? Now, ask ChatGPT to produce text for gaming, and it will turn out a monster stat block with lightening speed. This is a great help, but it isn't fiction. Yet I keep hearing that authors are using AI to write their fiction books. I can't imagine what kind of vague, oatmeal-textured fiction it might be. But I can't imagine it being great, engaging fiction. Oatmeal is great stuff. I eat it for breakfast, when I need fast food and a lot of it. Something that will stick around until lunch on a busy day. Oatmeal flavored fiction might fill an e-book, but it won't engage a reader. This last month, I've clicked away from a number of articles on various websites, because the text was bland and uninteresting. I think it's possible that AI produced text is going to slowly make general internet surfing uninteresting. Which might be a good thing in the long term. The less time I spend online the better.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Senior in the Saddle 2

Goodbye old friends… I’ve had four saddles in my tack room, gathering dust for a decade. Three were good quality leather, two Western saddles from the early 1960’s, the one I’m keeping is a more modern Australian. The last one is an English all purpose saddle that’s synethic with an adjustable tree. I wasn’t able to identify the oldest, until the lady I sold it to called it out as a Bonna Allan. It is an artwork made from leather with desert flowers and leaves carved into it. Just lovely.
It’s a ‘tall man’s saddle’ not a good saddle for a small senior female. The stirrup leathers would have to be cut down a LOT for me to have them the right length. It would be a shame to cut the stirrup leathers to accommodate me.
That is the problem with the old Billy Royal that I used all during the old mare’s training days. I had the stirrups as short as I could get them, and it was just barely enough. She was a spooky horse that needed a secure seat for the rider so she could jump out from under me. An English saddle just wouldn’t have worked out for me. The Billy Royal saddle weighs at least 35 lbs, so at my age tossing it up on a tall horse is a major problem. It wasn’t easy to let these saddles go, but I finally did it. This is the one I kept.
This is another vintage saddle. Made by Sup-Territory this is an Australian Stock Saddle. Another heavy saddle, though a few pounds lighter. The leather is thick and sturdy, a bit stiff from years of disuse, but that will change with time and oil. Since I mostly ride English, this saddle works better for me. Plus it’s much more secure than the English saddles I used to ride, while being lighter than the Western saddles that I can’t lift and don’t fit my short legs.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Senior in the Saddle

Saddles are a major part of horseback riding. The saddle we choose can make or break a riding experience. The photo is an Australian Stock Saddle, made by Sup-Territory in the 1990's. It's extremely comfortable and it is very hard to get me out of that saddle.

I rode bareback as a kid on ponies. The first ride or two was in a saddle, because ponies are opinionated and giving them a break from riding usually means a rodeo for the first couple of rides.

As an adult, I rode English, Hunter under Saddle, and really loved the thrill of low jumps. I had a desk job, and never was fit enough to compete. But I loved the sport, then and now. Fast forward - and life happens - all the things that happen to middle-aged women. I'm over 60, and back in the saddle.

This saddle, in particular, is a big part of my return to riding.

Once the American Quarter Horse Association decided that their horses had to show with their heads dragging on the ground and that odd broken-neck lope. I stopped riding Western. It was an ugly thing to do to a horse then - and it's worse now.

So I ride in this old, heavy Australian Saddle, and let my horses lope with their heads high. It's a good feeling.

More on the Garden

I've been planning more with the garden, collecting items for the next step in construction. I've got four young Moscovie hen ducks...