Sunday, April 13, 2014

Horses and Homesteading

I have been horse crazy since I can remember! Just the smell of them has always been intoxicating to me. When I was a kid, I could spot a horse far in the distance and would dream of riding it and galloping across the pasture as one with the horse. When I was 14 I finally had saved up enough money by very hard work, to buy my first horse. I knew nothing except what I had read in every single horse book I could get my hands on. I practically memorized every book and whenever I could get a new one I would read it cover to cover. I read all the books in our small library that had anything to do with horses. Everyone I'm sure thought I was quite nuts. Buts for some reason I couldn't help it. That's all I could think about every waking second of the day.

My first horse was the best first horse an inexperienced kid could have. He was an old, worn out ex-cart horse with saddle sores on his back and a tumor on his shoulder. But he had the heart of a saint and he endured my very large learning curve and the ups and downs of teenage-hood. We went for a ride every day and explored the jungles and trails and found places that no-one else knew of, beautiful places. We saw a black panther twice, rode to the airstrip multiple times, got lost, found the way, went swimming and sometimes just would hang out together with a good horse book. He was my steady rock and my shoulder to cry on. I learned dedication, hard work, appreciation and so much more good things from that horse. He was the best thing that could have come into my life when I was that gangly, insecure teenager.

One of my best memories of him was the day I decided to turn him back into a cart horse. I thought that sounded like a lot of fun to have him drag me around. The only problem was that I didn't have a cart. But I thought, no problem, he's so gentle I can have him drag a piece of plywood around and I would sit on the plywood. So I rigged up a sort of harness around his neck, attached some ropes to the plywood. I did decide to walk beside the board first before actually sitting on it, just to make sure everything would go smoothly.

The horse, Nathaniel (that was his name) took one look at that rather large sheet of plywood that seemed to be following him rather closely and he was out of there. He took off running faster than I had ever seen him go, across the gravel driveway, across the yard, down the road and out of sight. The plywood was flapping like a kite in the wind behind him. The only problem was that I didn't let go of the lead rope! He dragged me and the plywood for a long way before I finally let go of the rope. All the other kids who had gathered around to see how my experiment would go were rolling on the ground laughing so hard at me. Blood was pouring out of my knees and elbows as I sprinted down the road in the direction of the poor horse.

Along the way I found bits of plywood, pieces of rope, more wood, hoofprints. Finally I found him a good distance down the gravel road. He was shaking and had lost all the wood but still had a piece or two of rope hanging on. I told him how terribly sorry I was for that huge mistake and never again would I make him drag a scary plywood! He got over it and I healed up and we all laugh about the plywood flying in the air like a kite and me getting dragged across the gravel driveway. I might still have bits of gravel in my knees from that one! Who knows.

That great horse endured many other crazy things like that, but I learned and he taught me. He was the best horse I could ever have picked to learn on and make all my crazy mistakes. I still am crazy about horses and have a bunch and will always have them. They are part of my life. They don't exactly make very good homesteading animals, but they sure bring a lot of enjoyment to my life!

Hope you enjoyed my little story of my life!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why I became a Therapeutic Riding Instructor! :-)

Natural Grasshopper control.

Many people ask us what we use to help keep the grasshoppers in check with our huge garden. It is difficult because we don't want to put the chickens there for fear of them eating the garden. We discovered something called Nolo Bait a few years ago and although it doesn't completely get rid of the grasshoppers it sure puts a huge dent in their population and we totally recommend it and use it every year. Here is a link to it if you are interested in purchasing it.