Archive for November 2011
The last of the turkey is simmering on the stove, on its way to becoming turkey noodle soup. It’ll cool overnight, then, with the fat skimmed, will get carrots, celery, onions, and spinach — plus those all-important noodles. It’s almost my favorite part.
The last of the ham was boiled down, and made broth for the white beans with maple syrup — just enough syrup for a hint of sweetness. It doesn’t seem right to waste a bit of Thanksgiving dinner, and we don’t.
Meanwhile, my cold is nearly gone; but the weather outside is dank, damp, and foggy. It’s not inviting, and only the bravest of boarders are venturing out — and those in the late afternoon. We got a little watery sunshine about three, but it’s gone already. I’m staying inside.
The prediction is for one more day of fog, then it’ll turn sunny — but cold and windy. Poor old Kody hasn’t been out for over a week, but I don’t think he minds. Trainer Trish says his last owner sometimes couldn’t get to him for weeks at a time, then popped him right back into harness and went for a drive. I’ll be a bit more careful.
But when Bella gets back, it’ll be another story. She’s a young lady who needs her exercise. It looks like we’ll go and get her Saturday, now. So much depends on the weather. Dense fog in the valley or high winds on the desert could change our plans. The time isn’t being wasted, though; her saddle work is coming on beautifully. She is such a teachable little thing. I’m looking forward to getting her back — but I’ll have to grit my teeth and get out there!
For now, though, it’s back to the fireplace. I’m sure it needs another log . . . and the soup is ready to come off of the stove.
It was interesting watching Andrew and his friends work their dogs with the sheep yesterday. Every dog had a different personality, and a different way of working. Most of them were young dogs, and anxious to do well.
This is Sheila . . .
This is Bear . . . even in this small photo you can see the slightly wild look in his eyes. He was used to cattle, and found it unsettling to scale back for sheep.
And here’s Xena. When she and Andrew worked, it was like a dance. He cued her to stay on the opposite side of the sheep, and she followed his gestures and commands so smoothly, compared to the less experienced dogs . . . though she’s not a year old yet.
She did have some problems working with the other dogs, though. She wanted to shoulder them away from her sheep. She’s less possessive away from home, though.
The high point of the day for me, though, was when one of the dogs, herding the sheep behind his handler, got a little too enthusiastic and pushed too hard. One of them tried to get between the handler’s legs, swept him off his feet, and he was carried along for several feet on top of the sheep with his feet straight out in front of him. It was like a wooly magic carpet.
I shall allow him to to remain nameless.
It was the first really foggy morning here. Not as bad as some; you could see the far end of the arena.
And you could see the trees in the river.
It was a wet fog. All of the plants with furry leaves collected fog droplets. So did the spiderwebs. The soft hues in these leaves were especially pretty.
Still, we were glad when the sun came out. It was a very pleasant afternoon, and I went down to watch Andrew, some of his friends, and a batch of border collies work the sheep. I’ll show some of that tomorrow.
It now looks like we’re going to pick up Bella on Saturday. Trish was going to be busy on Thursday, our first choice, and she really wants to show off what Bella has learned under saddle.
I’ll be sure to get lots of pictures . . . isn’t that a surprise?
The old saying about a cold is, “Three days coming, three days with you, three days going”; and I figure I’m on the first day going. I hope. By tomorrow, I should be out and about.
Trainer Trish e-mailed to ask if I wanted her to try Bella under saddle before I brought her home, so I said to give it a whirl. She has been ridden in the round pen about three times by now, and is doing fine. I’ll bring her home on Thursday, and look for a light (and light-handed) active rider to go on with her. It’s all good experience . . . for everyone involved.
. . . and I hope everyone else’s turned out as well. The turkey is never to be taken for granted, but this year’s was moist and tasty.
That’s not the only thing that’s moist, unfortunately. My cold is back, full-blown and juicy. I thought I had it licked, but I guess the trip to Lancaster plus the cooking rush gave it an opening; and back it came. Well, there are worse things than a plain old cold. When it’s cold and foggy outside, it’s a good excuse to stay in the nice warm house.
And when the sun comes out, so will I!
Yesterday we had another nice sunset, though not as spectacular as the last one.
Today I spent most of the day doing the final shopping and prep for tomorrow’s turkey dinner. I even went ahead and made the sweet potato casserole; a recipe made with rum and a praline topping. It smells good; I hope it tastes that way!
Tomorrow, like most of America, I’ll be busy in the kitchen and may not get around to posting. If not . . . happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Friend Ferrabie and I headed to Lancaster yesterday to visit Bella. It was a beautiful drive; the high desert was washed clean by the recent rain. We were a little surprised to see a cloud bank lying low over the east. It looked like a bright silver sea dotted with blue islands; they were the tops of hills rising above the fog.
For fog it became as we entered Lancaster. When we went out with trainer Trish to view Bella’s accomplishments, it was dark and cold. We were glad that we had dressed in layers.
Anyway, here’s Bella dressed in her harness. You can tell by her high head that she’s a little tense in the chilly air, but she settled down quickly when put to work.
First Trish showed us how she worked on the long lines. She did figure eights and serpentines, crossed the plywood bridge, and worked at the trot. (Trish has a good trot, too.)
She pulled long pieces of PVC pipe that dragged behind her . . .
She pulled the tire. It’s actually not just a tire, but a whole wheel, so it’s fairly heavy.
She wore the shaft trainers, which bumped and banged on her sides, at the walk and trot. They simulate the feel of the shafts on a real cart.
She did all of this in the open bridle, without blinders, so she could see what was going on behind her. Then she did it all again, in the blind bridle that restricts her vision to the rear. You can’t tell too well here, but Trish had just tossed that traffic cone in front of her. She flinched, but kept on going resolutely.
I was especially impressed by how well she stood. She already had a good “whoa”, but now it’s exceptional. When told to stand, she did just that; stood without moving a foot while Trish walked away from her and even bowled traffic cones under her nose. She’s a flighty little thing, so that’s really amazing.
After we had reviewed all that Bella had learned, Trish hooked up one of her good broke ponies and we all went for a ride. This is a carriage-eye view of Muffin the large pony.
That was a lot of fun. At one point, we had to wait for traffic to clear before we could cross a road. That’s when you can see how important that “whoa” is. You’ll also notice that by this time, the sun had come out and it had warmed up. The sky in the high desert is marvelously blue.
Trish had done everything with Bella except actually hitch her up to the cart. Bella had taken everything in stride — except the cart. That really bothered her, so we decided to bring her home and let her think over everything she has learned over the winter. We’ll bring her back to Trish in the spring; meanwhile, I can drive Kody and ground drive Bella. I think Trish is right; she needs a little time to mature and absorb all she has learned. We’re in no hurry. I appreciate that Trish would rather wait a bit; so many trainers would pressure for one more month — and then another . . . and another . . .
Meanwhile, I’ve bought a new cart. It won’t be here for a few weeks, but it’s coming! It’ll be nice to have springs.