Friday, September 8, 2017

Using tools

Man is a tool-using Animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.
―Thomas Carlyle

If the above quote is true and using tools is an integral part of being human, I guess I am some type of alien life form because I am pretty much hopeless at using them.
The interesting part of this is that my husband has a Snap on truck (he sells tools for a living) and I pretty much have access to any type of tool you could imagine for any type of farm project. That being said I have always been the type of person that hangs pictures by hammering screws into the wall with the heel of my shoe.

A giant (fake) set of sidecutters
Yesterday's project was putting up a screw eye to hang hay nets in my horse paddock. In my typical fashion I tried just slamming it into the wall, and then hammering it in with a rock...unsurprisingly both of these things were unsuccessful. 

Tools on the Snap on truck
John said the problem was that I had to pre-drill a hole for the screw eye and handed me a fancy new type of drill off the Snap on truck. I set off with drill and screw eye in hand and tried to drill the hole. This was a really expensive drill with all the latest in drill technology (which is apparently a thing). The drill would not make a dent in the wood, so I tried pushing harder on it which did not help. I tried cursing at it as well which was equally unhelpful. Eventually I gave up and walked back down the hill, handed the drill back to John and exclaimed "this drill is terrible, it can't drill through anything!"

John's response: that's probably because you have it in reverse. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Frankie: rebel without a cause

Frankie is my beautiful, majestic, perfectly mannered bird dog.  Frankie is a two year old bird dog and living with him during the off season is like living with the Tasmanian devil.

Frankie loves birds and hunting more than anything else and the only thing that seems to use up his boundless energy is bird hunting. Unfortunately for Frankie (and me) pheasant season in Pennsylvania does not start for another month or so and Frankie has had plenty of down time to search for an outlet for his pent-up bird energy. 

One of his favorite things to do now is climb on things including but not limited to: the furniture, windowsills, and tables. He also loves to steal socks and napkins. We work on some training exercises but he mostly uses this as a chance to do the exact opposite of what I tell him.
Frankie's response to "no dogs on the couch"...this is the photo that inspired this post

He loves to test out clean sheets
I try to give him alternative activities while we wait for hunting season such as fetch and going for walks...but this only tires him out for a very short time.

He is excellent at fetch...until he sees a bird fly over head

Looking for birds instead of posing on a walk

Send help! Or birds!

Preferably birds

Friday, August 25, 2017

It's a jungle out there-a weekend in Aiken

Since it had been a few months since John went to Aiken to mow we figured it was probably definitely time to head down there again. We had a limited timeline in which to do this because of work so it was a very quick trip.
We left on Sunday morning with the weed whacker and sprayer stuffed in the back of my car. After a long and boring but thankfully uneventful drive we arrived at our property around 6 pm. I didn't get any pictures of the jungle situation but as it turns out grass grows way better and faster in SC than it does in you know there is a lot of grass when you have to mow your gravel driveway. 
As is typical with farm life we had "technical difficulties" with the equipment. The clutch somehow went out of the tractor while it was sitting unused in the covered barn so John had to rely on straight shifting to mow, but somehow he got it done. I am so thankful he has the skills he does! I really hope we can find someone in Aiken who can replace the clutch. Thanks to John's mowing earlier in the year the weeds were mostly around the fence lines and the pastures themselves looked pretty good with lots of grass, if only I could get the grass to grow like that at home! 
So much grass! This type of grass is called coastal bermuda-we don't have it at all in PA
After the mowing was done we headed to our friend's house that they so generously let us use for the weekend (thank you Mike and Tracy!!) and even got a last minute reservation for food and drinks at the Wilcox. After dinner we walked around town and I laid on the polo field and looked at the stars. 
The roads in Aiken's horse district are packed dirt-perfect for walking and riding
We left on Monday morning but I was set on seeing some horses on the training track so I ended up getting up way too early (it was still dark) and we headed to get coffee and made it back to the track as the sun was just coming up. We did get to see a few young horses working on the track but the highlight was watching the sun come up through the morning mist.
This live oak tree is a track legend and the track logo...they say that a ghost horse pops out and makes the young horses run faster

Sunrise over the Aiken training track
This was my first trip to Aiken in the summer, and it was just as beautiful as it was in Winter and Spring. I can't wait to experience more seasons in Aiken, there is so much to see and do!

**There was also apparently an eclipse during all this which we mostly missed because we were driving home**

Friday, August 11, 2017


It took me long enough to figure out what the heck the #ROOTD hashtag meant (riding outfit of the day). I don't really ride often enough to do these but I certainly do have some pretty awesome FARM outfits of the day so without further ado, the #FOOTD post:

1. Morning chores
I do morning chores right before work so I have no pictorial evidence of this outfit, because lets be honest I was running late. Usually for morning chores I am wearing some version of my company polo shirt (color options: navy, navy, or faded navy) khakis that probably (definitely) have manure stains on them and my muck boots. After feeding horses this outfit also involves additional mud/hay.

2. Afternoon chores
Afternoon chores usually involve some type of weedwhacking/mowing/habitat destruction so I need to outfit myself accordingly. This often means jeans that have more holes than jeans (or cargo shorts to work on my awesome tan lines), a T-shirt in some shade of construction worker neon (why do I have so many of is unclear), and safety glasses. I also wear my muck boots. Always the muck boots...
If I am going swimming right after afternoon chores I may also wear my bathing suit under this mess. I probably left my sandals in the house and will be wearing my muck boots over by the pool. The tan lines from this are amazing.

3. Actually riding
I own some real riding pants and hate most of them. American Eagle jeggings seem to be an ok substitute. I also wear my Ariat half chaps and paddock boots that I got at a mega-clearance sale like 7 years ago...I think I probably still own tall boots but I forget where they are and I hated those too. The helmet is the super hot non-ventilated Charles Owen (ie the cheapest one) and this striped shirt/jacket is from Joules...I think my parents got it for my when I was in highschool.
I do have some sweet ear bonnets for the horses though, so there's that. 

4. That one time I went to a show 
I went to a local show one time.
This was the last time I wore those damn tall boots. Also some random pair of tan breeches in super-gross ribbed polyester that I dug out of the bottom of one of my drawers. This is a coat from my foxhunting days (very wool, very hot). I'm probably definitely not wearing a long sleeved shirt under it. I can't tie a stock ties so I'm wearing a pre-tied one which idk if that's even a thing for this type of show. The judges probably didn't notice because they were too distracted by my horses' shaved off mane (which I did because I didn't want to braid).

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My favorite love story

I was 23 when I met John for the first time, it was spring. I saw him from a distance at a carriage drive. I admired his poise and how comfortable he seemed with horses and people. I think we talked a little and parted ways. That January I found out from the person I worked for that John wanted to ask me something, John had cows at the time and I was working on my degree in dairy science, I figured he had a question about cows.

I made a bet with my employer, if John asked me out I would ride his horses for free that week. I lost the bet and rode for free.
We went on our first date, I was so nervous I stared at the floor and played with the ice in my drink the whole time.
After spending almost a year together, I moved to Tennessee and we drove back and forth every month to see each other.
He took me to the Biltmore estate and got down on one knee to ask me "a question about cows" "would I marry him" and I said yes.
 John and I moved to the most beautiful farm where we worked off our rent, he bought me a horse and we rode in the mountains. He worked as a mechanic and I finished my master's degree and found a job in Pennsylvania.

John bought a farm in York county, PA with a stone house and we moved back north. He reclaimed a horse farm out of 11 acres of overgrowth that hadn't seen animals in over 20 years essentially by himself.

John started and continues to grow his own business near our home. We still go riding on the weekends.
We stand on the porch of our house and watch the fireflies on summer nights. And I think to myself how lucky I am that my favorite love story is my own.

Friday, July 14, 2017

2017: A Pool Odyssey

We have a pool again. I mean, we had one before but it hasn't been open in three years, here's the deal:
Pool with cover...old picture, most of these trees are gone
The pool came with our house and was open when we moved in three years ago, I had no clue how to deal with it and there was a leak in a pipe underground so it would not hold water when the pump was running. The filter also clogged constantly and never worked right (I thought this was my wasn't more on that later). After that first summer of struggling with it we decided not to open the pool again. Then John and I met Terry who knows how to fix pretty much anything...including pools. So begins the pool odyssey.
Almost ready to use
We assumed the only thing wrong with the pool was the pipe broken underground, so John and Terry dug up all the pipes, found the broken one and replaced it...this was not the only thing wrong with the pool.

After the pipe was fixed we set out to clean up the pool (remember it was closed for 2 years), first the pool vacuum thingy kept getting clogged with chunks of dirt and concrete then the start capacitor on the pump died, then the entire pump motor Terry replaced the pump.
Ok so new pump, all good right? WRONG!
The pool turned REALLY green, but Terry fixed it
We couldn't vacuum it or even run the filter without it clogging every 2.5 seconds, Terry actually called me at one point and we talked on the phone for about 20 minutes about how much he hated our pool filter. It turns out it was the wrong type of filter and probably the wrong size for the pool, which sort of explains why I had so much trouble with the pool the first summer it was open. We ended up getting a new sand filter in the correct size and everything got  better from there, the water cleared up and we could vacuum the pool without issues. We were able to get the water balanced and now I am enjoying the pool!

Frankie by the pool

TL;DR version
Opened the pool
Fixed leaking pipe
New pump motor
Stuff got clogged
Pool turned green
New filter
I have a pool again
Thanks Terry!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Doing the things

“Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”-Neil Gaiman

I've been doing a few random scattered things the past few weeks that I thought would make a good random, scattered post. Mostly working a lot and riding...sometimes? I took Frosty to the Beaufort hunt trail ride at Spring Valley, I don't hunt anymore so this was a great opportunity to see some people I haven't seen in close to a year (the Beaufort hunt is by far the friendliest hunt ever!) It was a pretty hot day and I was on my third or fourth day of medication for hives (thanks seasonal allergies!) so I was definitely dragging a little by the end. Thankfully Frosty was perfectly behaved, I rode in my Voltaire saddle which I am still absolutely loving!

The following weekend we headed to Michaux state forest to ride some different trails than we usually do.. I think I actually liked these trails better than our usual ones as they were wider and less rocky with a more gradual slope. We saw a lot of 4 wheelers but this was ok, the people riding were very courteous and I feed my horses with the 4 wheeler anyway so they mostly don't mind.
John's horse on a fire road in Michaux state forest
Farm things:
In addition to riding I have been trying to get a few things done that I have been putting off. I finally collected all the winter blankets and John took them to be washed...usually we try to get this done in April...oops.
4 horses=many blankets to be washed
 I also swept out the cobwebs in the barn and re-organized the feed room. With the intermittent heat/rain cycles the weeds are doing exceptionally well (of course the grass looks like crap which seems to be typical of our place this time of year). I am feeding some hay outside since the pastures are pretty much done...but I still have to mow to keep the weeds from going crazy. Next order of business is spraying weeds around the buildings and fence lines (again).
Mowing weeds and a little grass