Hay Day

hay wagon, hay bales
Kimball and Sander resting up before the unloading begins!

We recently had our first hay day of the year.  It involves hitching up a trailer to the truck, going over to the next town and stacking the truck and trailer with hay.  Like, 130 bales or as much as we can fit.  It was almost like an emergency because we were down to 6 bales.  We were close to having the horses graze in our front yards.  Sander would have loved it, because he’s not fond of mowing.  Anyway, this was the first time we ever had use of 2 trucks and trailers.  It was awesome!  David, Sheldon, and I took one and Chris, Megan, and my Dad took the other.  David and Sheldon filled one truck and trailer up while I counted bales (well, I tried….I lost track a few times and had to start over).  Then the other truck came and we took off to unload into our barn.  Having two trucks and trailers meant we can make half the trips we normally do to get the 1,000 bales that we need.  We have a borrowed hay elevator we use to get the bales into the loft.  It was the perfect temperature, too.  Usually our timing is impeccable and it’s in the 80’s and muggy.

hay wagon
Megan stacked the trailer up to the rafters.
hay, stacked hay
Chris looks a long way down from Megan’s view at the top of the stacked trailer
Fynn running through a field of wheat
This is what Fynn does while the trailer is loaded.

We’ve learned a lot about stacking hay these past few years.  Like, what to wear and what not to wear.  Megan knows what to wear and I know what not to.  She always wears jeans and I usually wear yoga pants….no more, though.  Hay sticks to yoga pants like lint to a lint roller. Like flies to a flystrip.  Like white on rice….you get the picture.  I once went into a gas station to get a pop in between loads…..with so much hay stuck to my pants, I was embarrassed.  But my thirst won out over my pride.  As far as shirts go, that’s a tough one.  It’s such hot and sweaty work, it’s tempting to wear a tank.  But the hay is so scratchy, and it has uncanny ability to get into the craziest places.  As long as I live, I’ll never forget the discomfort of hay stuck in my bra.  It doesn’t matter what shirt you wear, hay will get underneath it.  Maybe a turtleneck would work if it wasn’t so hot!  Don’t even get me started on hay stuck in our boots….

unloading hay bales
Kimball and Sander unstacking for Grandpa to send it up the elevator
Milla and Papa enjoying a break at the end of Hay Day

Megan and I don’t mind hay days, probably because we didn’t grow up having to do it (like David did).  It’s a family affair….many hands make light (but scratchy!) work.  One year Megan made these amazing brownies, so now it’s a must..  On Pinterest, they’re called ‘Slutty’ brownies (gasp!), but we named them ‘What the Hay?’ brownies.  They’re super delicious but calorie-laden, but we figure, why not?  After all that work, we’ve earned them.  We’d be happy to share them with you if you help us on our next hay day.  We’ll probably have at least two more of them!

Milla and Fynn enjoying their What the Hay brownies

 

what the hay brownies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we will see you at the barn, right?

Mardi

 

Meet the Minis!

If you follow our Instagram, you already know that we have added two new members to our horse family.  In a former post, I alluded to the detour we took on our way up north to look at miniature horses.   See that post here.  Megan’s infamous statement to her girls, “just because we’re looking, doesn’t mean we’re going to get one…,” proved to be right.  Instead we got two, a mama and her baby.  Our original thinking was that if we got another horse, Nina would not be alone if Megan and I rode our horses.  Nina, our 19 year old Arabian (Marek’s first horse), runs, paces, neighs, and panics when her boys aren’t with her.  So we thought, let’s get her a companion.  We don’t really need another horse to ride, so let’s get a mini…..they’re smaller and eat less.  Besides, they’re cute.  B-u-t, it turns out that going to just “look” at a miniature horse farm is the kiss of death.  Martha, the sweet owner of the farm, took us to look at the babies first (smart move).  They were all about 3 months old, all legs and looking like Bambi.  Their hair was frizzy and their short manes stuck straight up like mohawks.  They were adorable!  One in particular caught our eye because he came up to us, wanting attention.  The others were a bit skittish.  The affectionate one even followed us to the gate and stuck his head out as if to say, “hey, where are you going?”  Yep, you guessed it, we were smitten.

We then looked at adult minis.  Our main requirement (IF we got one, of course) was a good temperament.  We’d had a bad experience with a Hackney/Welsh cross named Dougal and Kendal and Fynnlay bear the scars to prove it.  He didn’t last long at our barn.  Then we had a Palomino named Flossie who loved Angus and Colin, but was stubborn as a mule.  She was young and basically more work than Megan and I could handle.  So our next grand scheme was a mini companion for Nina.  There were several adult minis to choose from in a variety of colors, all with good temperaments.  Decision time.  Megan and I asked Milla and Fynn which horse they liked.  The affectionate baby was the consensus, but he wouldn’t be able to be ridden for a few years.  Only Fynnlay would probably ride him anyway, because we have Nina.  But how fun to ride a mini horse!  We also had dreams of getting a cart and driving them.  So we again leaned to an adult……but that baby was so cute!  As it turned out, the baby’s mother was for sale too.  She was a sweetheart also.  We left excited, dazed, and confused, visions of miniature horses dancing in our heads.

For the following few days, we talked it over.  Milla kept saying we should get both the mama and the baby.  I agreed, but did not hesitate to throw her under the bus, telling our Dad that Milla thinks we should get both.  After a few phone calls back and forth with Martha, we set the day for mama (a.k.a. Golden Promise) and baby to arrive.  We decided to call Golden Promise “Goldie” and the baby Ryerson, or Rye.  You’d have thought we were naming a human baby.  We had baby name lists and went through the process of elimination before we got to Rye.  At their arrival to our barn, they seemed pretty relaxed.  Colin, Angus, and Nina were curious and ran around the paddock in excitement.  We have the minis in a separate area for now and may try to put them with the other horses later.  They checked each other out over the gate, it was so cute.

Friesians meeting our miniature foalfriesian horse meeting miniature foal

miniature horse and foalminiature horse and foalminiature horseminiature foal climbing on mama horseminiature horse and miniature foalminiature horse and miniature foalminiature foal in barn

All has gone well so far, except for the fact that Megan and I can’t seem to get anything else done, we’re at the barn so much.  They’re just so fun to watch.  We’ve learned that Goldie is like a Hoover vacuum, so our theory that minis eat less has been blown out of the water.  Rye likes to play and jump on people, acting like a dog.  But his hooves hurt, and it’s bad manners.  We have a lot to teach him, but we’ll have fun doing it.  The adventure continues, so stay tuned. Forgive us for posting so many pictures, we’re proud horse parents!

Mardi

What do you think of the baby’s new name?  Yay or Neigh?

 

Back in the Saddle

I took my first ride of the season yesterday, and boy was it fun.  Mardi and I are fair-weather riders, so needless to say, we don’t put many miles on Colin and Angus between November to April.  We also have these kids that like to make us chauffeur them around everywhere, so sometimes it isn’t always easy to find the time.  Either way, it seems like there is always some reason I don’t ride as much as I want to.  I probably shouldn’t have yesterday either…my three kids all had friends or neighbor kids over, so I left my poor husband to look after about seven (or was it eight?) kids by himself.  Nevertheless, I took advantage of his generosity and headed to the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not gonna lie, I still get nervous riding sometimes, especially after a few months off.  Something about getting on a 1500 pound animal that has a mind of his own, and has been known to freak out at imaginary monsters on the other side of the fence.  Mardi and I didn’t even start riding until our 30’s, and sometimes I wonder what we were thinking!  Wait…I know.  We pictured ourselves moseying along a trail on a horse with nerves of steel, who never would dream of spooking.  Well…that was just plain naive.  It’s gonna happen sooner or later.  And it has.  Even if you’ve had way more successful rides than scary ones, it’s so easy for your mind to go back to those scary times when you put your feet in the stirrups.

Gotta love the English tack and western boots…classy.

 

Riding has definitely shown me how rewarding it can be to step out of my comfort-zone.  I have never considered myself adventurous or brave, and I’m still not.  But I saddle up despite my fears because it’s too fun not to.  And I don’t want the what-ifs to control my life and steal my joy.  What if I fall and get hurt?  What if something happens to one of my kids? What if we start a blog and nobody reads it and it’s a total failure?  I could go on forever.  But that isn’t what God wants for us, thankfully.  He reminds us over and over again in the Bible not to live in fear.  Here are two of my favorite verses about conquering fear and remembering that God is with me wherever I am…even on the back of a horse!

 

And what if I don’t fall…or fail?  What if I put my trust in God and do my best and just enjoy the ride?

 

 

 

Our Little Herd

For those of you who are not familiar with the Liberty Belles, we take care of four horses on a daily basis.  Or we used to, up until last week.  Now we are down to three for the moment.  We sold our palomino quarter horse named Flossie to a friend of ours.  She is just five and way too spunky for our kids.  We wanted it to work…she’s cute, friendly, and has nerves of steel.  Unfortunately, she is incredibly stubborn and will turn a ride into a wrestling match if she knows she can get away with it.  And she knows she can.  She took my Milla on an equestrian version of a Nantucket Sleigh Ride.  She bucked off a friend.  She tried to nip once or twice, and is a stinker in the cross ties.  Despite all of that, we loved her.  And we know she’ll make a great horse with the right rider, which made it even harder to part ways.

That’s probably one of the hardest parts of horse ownership…finding the right horse to match the rider.  We knew our first mistake was getting her so young, but we loved how calm she was.  I tend to look for the most bombproof horse around, but sometimes that’s not always the answer.  Mardi and I are still relatively new at this…only owning our own horses for four years now.  And Flossie’s the second “kid horse” to not live up to our expectations.  Horse ownership is not for the faint of heart, we have come to realize.

Luckily, Mardi’s daughter Marek has owned a cute little Arab named Nina for about eight years now, and she is perfect for my girls to ride.  Marek has since outgrown her and moved on to another horse.   Nina is calm, mostly obedient for a mare, doesn’t kick, bite, buck, rear, or bolt.  So even though she is too skinny and her white coat is always dirty, she can’t canter anymore, and she looks pretty average next to our Friesians, we appreciate her steady nature.  In other words, she’s worth the hay!

This is a picture of my youngest, Fynnlay, on Nina last summer.  (She does always wear a helmet, but we were just posing in the round pen.:)  For those of you searching for the perfect horse…Mardi and I wish you good luck!  There is one out there…we’ve learned you just might have to do a little compromising!

Did you ever have a horse who didn’t work out?  Let us know…so we don’t feel so bad!