Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Morning Zen

One of my favorite things lately is watching the horses graze as the sun sets. The varying light playing on their coats, the pasture, and the now-blooming goldenrod in the adjacent lot is just so gorgeous. Autumn weather has arrived in Canaan and it is so very welcome.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Life in Pictures

I always dreamed of having ponies in my front yard. 
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She is beauty.
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She is grace.
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She really loves fresh grass and could care less about your photos.
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Mid snort. Makes me giggle.
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Watching deer. One of his favorite pastimes. 
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He just has the cutest face - not that I'm biased or anything.
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See previous statements about loving fresh grass lol
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Q silhouetted.
Ah. So. This was fun. Moments after all of the above photos were captured, Stan got a wild hair and trotted off to the back yard; the others followed. Okay. Fine. Whatever. But then when I walked back to grab them and take them back to the barn, Stan continued with his wild hair and took off trotting over into my neighbor's yard. The other two followed. UGH. FINE. Maybe his grass is better. Whatever. Well, I walked over to fetch them and Stan tossed his head around all sassy and excited and then took the fuck off through the field, heading toward the rest of the development. UGH. FINE. I'LL PLAY YOUR GAME. It's my own damn fault for trusting anyway. "

And so, as my horses galloped and bucked and squealed away from me into the literal sunset, I trudged along, sipping my beverage that I was smart enough to bring with me. I gave a jingle to my neighbor Dan to let him know that yes, I knew my horses were out. He hadn't noticed them yet, but as I informed him that all was fine (they really couldn't go anywhere), he looked out his window and said, "Oh. Yeah. There they are. There they go. They look happy." *insert eye roll on my part*

And so, I walked the half mile across the fields of the development to the far end where my three idiots were happily grazing amidst my very amused city neighbors who were up in their second homes for the weekend. When I reached them, I nabbed Stan by his halter (I had a beer, but I didn't have a lead rope lol), informed my impromptu audience that the other two would follow when they realized he wasn't coming back, and set off toward home with Staniel in tow. (The jerk.)

It took Stan and I getting a good ¼-mile away before Q and Grif gave it up and came sprinting after him, tails flagged. Stan snorted and did his best Arabian impression for the rest of the walk home with Grif and Q flanking us. *eye roll* The whole ordeal was definitely on me for being a bit too trusting. But admittedly, I didn't expect that behavior from Stan! I figured Grif would be the wanderer to lead them astray if/when it happened. Going forward, yard grazing sessions will either be solo or Stan will remain on a lead while the others are free. Or I'll just wait for all the second homers to be not present so it isn't a big deal at all if the horses take a field trip (har har har, field trip).

Kate's birthday brunch! Emma was on break from school and I took the day off. It was amazing!
Garden veggie egg fritters, mimosas, the best freaking cupcakes ever.
So moist. So delicious. And homemade raspberry cream cheese frosting to boot!
Then we went paddleboarding. Kenai was NOT GOOD this time lol
But we had fun! And it was a GORGEOUS day.
A rare moment with both dogs on boards.
This was near the end of the trip. Kenai is laying down partially in my lap out of the frame. Can you spot Taiga? She spent most of the trip bouncing around on the banks beside us.
The public entrance to our new office looking pretty sharp. Pity no one can enjoy it yet!
If I look exasperated, it isn't without reason lol. I don't remember when I captured this, but it was sometime during the political behind-the-scenes stunt with our new office building. Both of the WV state senators, the deputy director of the DOI, and the director of USFWS visited the new building. I was dubbed photographer for the day (helped minimize the number of people). It was long and busy and full of what I consider to be very silly pomp and circumstance for the media. 
Sure. This looks comfortable.
Spent an evening sitting on Stan while he grazed. 
A very pretty evening at that.
Oh. You know. Just lazy horse things.
This is Stan watching Griffin who is watching deer. Because reasons.
Q joined in on the fun, too.
Doodle, you're just the cutest little thing.
So, what do you think is in the skillet? Because I bet most of you have never heard of it or seen it before. Was your first thought meat? Because you'd be wrong. Did you then think some kinda vegetable? Because that's also incorrect. And no, it isn't tofu, tempeh, seitan, or any other kind of meat substitute. It's cauliflower mushroom (sparassis)! While I've seen them before, I hadn't eaten them. So I found a recipe online for a cabbage and cauliflower mushroom gratin. It was super yummy. And gave me a great way to use a garden cabbage from my neighbor.
I'll never grow tired of looking out my [very dirty] window and seeing my horses grazing.
Took a short hike one rainy afternoon up to Bearden Knob with Dave and the pups. It was cool to watch the rain all around us. We timed things perfectly so that we were in a rainless bubble.
Just the happiest old man. 
Rain in the Blackwater Canyon in the distance.
And rain in the northern part of the valley. This area is protected and remains undisturbed by humans. Pre-development, the whole valley probably looked like this.
Typical evening activity with the best mare
Followed by cocktails on the front porch while watching the sun set. This is a watermelon + coconut water + mint + tequila combo.
Kenai in his most favorite place in the yard at his most favorite time of day.
Arya Fox. Also, holy growth spurt, Batman. She's at least 50% larger now than she was in this photo.
A portion of the new trail I established among preexisting deer trails. This was right after two black bears loped by.  
Kate, Grif, and Mount Porte Crayon.
Willa and the Majestic Staniel.
And on the other side of the ridge, we have this view. 
And a little further down the ridge, a slightly different take on the previous view. Complete with weird rainstorm activity that made for utterly ridiculous lighting conditions. UGH. IT IS SO GORGEOUS.
Actually, as we finished our second gallop up the field in this photo, Kate noticed the sky first. She then demanded that I turn around and turn around RIGHT NOW and look. I thought a strange animal was approaching or some other danger lol. Nope. Just a stupid freaking gorgeous view.
Ta daaaah! Q was NOT having it for this photo lol. She wasn't downhill enough naturally, so she opted to stand on the slope in this manner. SIGH.
Hi. I'm Liz and I'm a complete and total goofball. Always. Without fail. #sorrynotsorry
We laughed and laughed and laughed at this screenshot capture of Willa galloping Stan - her first true gallops! She says she feels like she's a beautiful fairy/elf galloping gloriously through the woods. Photographic evidence confirms she is a warrior elf heading into battle.

The video below is where the screenshot was captured; it also includes me making a multitude of ridiculous noises (see former statement about me being a total goof) that then excited Griffin and caused him to throw a very acrobatic kick in my/Q's direction that I then chastised him for.

Ugh. So, my biggest issue with the barn/dry lot this year has been water seeping into the center stall (and one time into the aisle and out the front barn doors) when we have big storms. Because Stan prefers the center stall and Q insists on being super close to him (therefore standing right outside the door AT ALL TIMES instead of in the neighboring stall), the dry lot outside this stall door has become much more compacted than other areas. I expected compaction in the highest traffic areas, but didn't quite foresee the slope changing this much to allow water entry to the barn.
You can see the small puddle in front of the center stall in this image. And you can also see how that whole area between those two posts is wetter than the areas on either side of it. The overhang area in front of the center stall should, in theory, be the driest as it's got the most protection. It obviously isn't. It also doesn't help that Q and Stan absolutely INSIST on peeing under the overhang instead of out in the rest of the dry lot. It's infuriating and despite my best efforts to treat it and dissuade them, they continue. Horses. 
Wet area even more visible.

I knew I needed to resolve this issue before rainy fall and winter weather settled in. I started by wondering about getting grids to help prevent the compaction. And I fully intended to go that route, but then hit a multitude of snags with obtaining said grids. #thanksCOVID But those snags have proven to be a blessing in disguise!

After being thwarted in my efforts, I spent a lot of time sitting in the dry lot one rainy afternoon just looking at everything and breaking down the problem and possible solutions. Taking the time to do this helped me isolate the real problem: water is entering this area. Why is water entering it? Well, because the gutter is overflowing in that center section when we have a significant rain event. The gutter isn't blocked or clogged and neither is the singular outlet. So clearly the volume of water coming off the roof needs more of an outlet than just that singular one? Or maybe the gutter isn't big enough? Or maybe it isn't sloped enough? 

I took my questions to Dave and noted that I HAD to resolve this issue sooner than later. Whatever it took, it needed to be fixed before autumn/winter. He told me to just reslope the gutter. It would be the quickest, easiest, cheapest fix. And if that didn't resolve it, then we'd look at adding a second outlet. 

So I spent 15 minutes or so resloping the gutter and eagerly awaited the next rain event. And guess what? Resloping that gutter has taken care of 95% of the problem! YASSSSS. Big win for simple solutions. I still hope to get some sort of grid system to help minimize the compaction under the overhang (something I've been planning on doing since the project began, but knew it would be dependent upon finances), but my need to do it isn't nearly as dire as it was before. 
Two down for rolls at once! They'll all drop and roll in sync a few times a week, but I never seem to have my phone on me to capture it when that happens.
Hoof trimming day! He's the cutest.
Back porch views.
Kenai may have nasty arthritis slowing him down, but by and large he is just the happiest, bright-eyed old man. It makes me SO happy to see him this way after the suite of troubles he had earlier in life.
I was cleaning/organizing/tinkering in the barn one day and felt like I was being watched.
She stood here like this for about 30 minutes.
Just watching like a total creeper.
Just as pretty as a post card!
My shadows hanging out while I edited photos on the back porch.
I hope to have many more images from this evening to share eventually, but it's fun to have photographer friends to capture you. Though I'm sorry to the state of Ohio for stealing away your state parks photographer for a night lol. Photo by Justin Harris.
So, so, so, so grateful for this life and this place I get to call home. Photo by Justin Harris.