Sunday, April 29, 2012

Poop Happens!

Poop! I haz it! Some just call it shit, but here at the edge of the civilized world we refer to it as brown gold, Minnesota M, horse hockey, mule muffins, pony poo, Cook County ComPost (CCCP) and more names I can't think of off the top of my bald head. We're talkin' horse manure, a highly prized commodity in the land of, " if it ain't wet, it's rock," or in my case 28 feet of the most dense, ph5 clay you can imagine. You can make pottery out of it right straight from the ground in raw form. Combine this with an extreme desire that humans have to grow food, especially when you don't live within blocks of several giant  "if it is edible and from this planet we have it in bulk" stores. The 90 day growing season makes it even more urgent. This is the stuff I am referring to right here on the farm.
Yes, this is the locally famous Mt. Poop. People come from all over the county with trailers, pickup trucks, five gallon buckets, trash cans and other means of conveyance of this precious brown stuff. Just yesterday I had to fill three pick up loads. People want to pay me for this by product of my contented equines seen here.
I am a little reluctant to take money for this stuff as I have always believed that giving someone shit was a pleasurable task that comes as naturally as the byproduct itself. If they get insistent, and most of them do, I have them give me some of the fruits of their labors. Yesterday, for example I got a gallon of frozen cleaned wild blueberries and a pound of homemade sauerkraut. In the past I have gotten quarts of home-brewed maple syrup, bread and butter pickles, various fresh produce toward the end of the season, my driveway plowed for the winter, homemade baked goods, and many other wonderful products. All this because my equines eat. My manure spreader hasn't gotten much use for years now. I have donated a dump truck full to the community garden which got me publicly thanked on our local radio station! I am a man of stature here. The proverbial big fish in a small pond. Who ever would have thought it could happen?

In conclusion, if anyone says about me that I don't know shit, they are absolutely wrong! I have witnesses and a lot of  testimony that will show otherwise. So there!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Busy week

The past week was a busy one for all of us here. Stitch started a new position with her employer, the Cooker and I each had separate out-of-town appointments, our farrier spent a day trimming the horses hooves, I had an after work open house for vendors and clients, etc. I don't think any of us stayed awake past 9 on Friday evening.

The women are trying to get Mirage and Gyllen Aften (aka Pookie) ready for the Minnesota Horse Expo in less than two weeks. They are part of the breed demonstration a couple of times each day while they are there. It is fun, but exhausting. Pookie was born here in 1996 and went to the Kentucky Horse Park for about 7 years as a driving horse before coming back home. Stitch just rides her now. The Cooker and Pookie never got along very well because they have similar, strong personalities. They are both very opinionated and a bit stubborn and seem to butt heads when they try and work together. Stitch, however, has developed a pretty good relationship with Pookie. Here is a close up of her.
On Thursday, when Deb the farrier was here, I came home after the vendor show at work to find five women sitting around the dinner table, finishing off a delicious meal of chicken cilantro and a large bottle of wine. They were yucking it up pretty well after a long day in the barn and I hope my presence didn't put too much of a damper on their fun.

I have been selling a bunch of old coins on ebay lately in order to buy a few camera related items. I finally made enough to get a nice zoom lens (DA 55-300 if anyone cares) in order to get some better bird and wildlife pictures. I bought it used from a guy in Toronto and it is lovely. I shot a few pictures, but it was late and I didn't have too much time to play with it. Here is one from the deck shooting over the barn.
Another by one of the ponds.
I am waiting for the warblers to come back for some colorful shots. The Spring Peepers started singing in earnest last evening and it was nice of them to sing us to sleep. Thank goodness it was warm enough to leave the windows open last night. Enjoy it while we can as there is a winter weather advisory for tonight through morning. One to three inches of snow is expected. Yippee skippee.

I need to go out and transfer some hay from  the storage shed to the barn and run in shed. It's nice to be getting my strength back after last autumn's surgery. It's always good to wake up on the right side of the dirt. I leave you with a picture of Cotton lounging on the steps and sunning himself, enjoying the life of leisure that we allow him.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jim Marshall, maker of world famous amplifiers, died a few days ago in London at age 88. He was in hospice care and succumbed to cancer. Roy Orbison was the first buyer in the U.S., then Deep Purple, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, and a host of others. While known for the incredible volume they could produce (and subsequent hearing loss) they had a certain quality of sound that was fairly distinct.
 I personally own a JCM2000 TSL122 that looks like this.

I can rarely turn it up past 2 even in the garage, which is where I usually play it in the warmer months. I do not use or need all the power it has, but if I ever feel the need to annoy my neighbors it's good to know that I can.

Jim's daughter run's the company, last I heard. Her father's story was one of rags to riches and he gave  millions of pounds to charity. Rest in peace, Jim. You will be missed.

On a lighter note, Spring is still slowly making its way here, but taking its sweet time. I can hear ducks in the pond and the evening grosbeaks have returned. The wind is coming off the big lake which keeps us air conditioned.
Even the chickens get to go out in the yard and do what chickens do, which is mostly scratch and peck. As long as there aren't any bare spots to dig up, they tend to aerate the soil and get rid of the thatch. They won't head to their summer yard for another month yet, when overnight temperatures are usually above freezing.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lovely evening

With the early absence of snow this year, an evening walk is possible without wearing rubber boots. Mijo, our long-haired, giant (12 pounds) chihuahua (born in Arizona, moved to Minnesota) and I took a quick stroll to our "middle" pasture. It is small, but a nice place for a little solitude. The moon had risen, but the sun was on its way down.
  Sometimes we see deer, but none this evening and all we could hear were our footsteps through the remains of last year's grass. Things are starting to green up a bit, but it isn't peeking up above the old stuff yet. While we are in a drought, the creeks are still flowing toward Lake Superior as they have done for thousands of years.
 I thought about heading over to the next pasture, but the way is still a bit muddy and wet with a little flowage going on. I'll give it a few more days and maybe do a little channeling (no, not like Shirley Mclain) to get the water to be a little more organized.
As the sun slowly settled below the Western horizon, we wandered by the old chicken coop from another era. I have no idea how old it is, but probably from about the WW2 time period or earlier (note the hewn log construction in the corner). I've been meaning to burn it down when there is snow on the ground, but I just haven't gotten around to it. For now it'll have to be "farm art" until it falls over. It is empty, but could serve as an emergency shelter for wayward rodents. There are a few other relics around the farm I will have to show you in the future.
Back when I was a Lutheran, many moons ago, today was Maundy Thursday*, as opposed to Tuesday Wednesday or Friday Saturday. I probably knew why at one point, but try not to confuse myself with this manipulation of the calendar since I barely know what day it is anyway. I would care more if it meant getting a paid day off from this working class lifestyle, such as it is. Even unpaid days off are good, as time has become a more precious commodity than when I was young. My Norwegian friends and relatives usually get a week off at this time of year at which time they stay home or travel to exotic lands such as Sweden. I believe that they have less violence (going postal) in the work place because they get so much time for themselves and their families. At least that is one of my many theories about how things oughta be. So, Happy Thursday to everyone wherever and whatever you are doing, or not.

* Thor's Day in old Norse. Just another god in the sky.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Amazing penguins!

This is a major breakthrough in penguin research. I would like to give the BBC full credit for this amazing video! This evidence destroys all previous thoughts about the capabilities of these incredible birds. Now we find they have more in common with most bird species we know and love in our own areas. It is surprising that no one noticed this before, but I am glad they acknowledge this newly discovered behavior.

By the way, belated April fool!