Trail Report: 1117 Old Man Run/Tom’s Park 4/5/2020

April 7, 2020

I had a lot of work to do Sunday and not much time for a ride but I needed a metal break and some exercise. So I went out early and did a quick spin. *sorry Carol Ann, Ill make plans with you when I have a bit more flexibility.

I went to Tom’s Park off Little Dry River Rd. To park I pull just past the first turn (still in sight of Little Dry River, back into the turn and then pull around. I can easily do it in one back with room to spare with my two horse. Then I pull to the right facing out at the pull over. There is easily room for two of me nose to tail in the pull over.

I headed up the fire road 1117 Old Man Run. It’s a bit over a mile to the split in the fire road. I hung a left and wrapped up and around.

After a bit (about two miles in) there is a closed fire gate.

Continuing on it is a nice grassy/leafy fire road, clear and rolling. Very nice for changing paces.

It flows out around a few view points.

It crosses the tower lines a few times before ending at the lines. It’s sort of a hard end.

It’s just shy of four miles in and four miles out. And pretty easy grade. No big climbs or super rocky areas.

Chicken Coop Extension

March 29, 2020

I love chickens. I really like my chickens to be able to run loose. They eat up bugs and break up the horse poop, and it’s soothing to watch them clucking around grazing and doing their thing. But when they are loose they are prey to fox, coyote, and hawks.

My flock would be fine for a few months and then one would get snatched. They loved to be loose and I loved them being loose. But I also do not like them dead. And locking them back up after they have been loose and enjoying freedom is painful.

This winter I decided I was going to start fresh with some new peeps. These would not be allowed loose. I also planned out and purchased the materials to build them an extension on their coop so they would have plenty of space.

Mean while, other than the new peeps in the coop I was down to one good laying hen, which was my Last Americana, and a lavender hen that had begun acting like a rooster about two years earlier when the flock was attacked and left with no rooster. My fake-rooster crowed and no long laid eggs. These two were loose and living the good life. That is until a few weeks ago I heard my fake-hen get snatched at about 730 in the morning. This left my Americana on her own. So I snatched her up and chucked her in with the peeps – now adolescent pullets.

With that little bit of background, lets focus on the actual building of the coop extension.

My plan consisted of using 3/4” PVC pipe to build a 10×10 frame that’s 5’ tall. I started to construct this Friday after work.

You can see some nesting boxes in the background that are intended to be put into the coop.

Saturday Rich and I added in a frame for the top and glued the entire frame together. Then we added T posts to the four corners and zip tied the frame to them. Our final step for the day was to add a T post for the door frame. We will hang the door on this.

Sunday after the morning rain cleared we put up the chicken wire, hung the door, and cut an opening to attach the main coop.

The wire was wide enough to have to run it around twice and that gave some over lap and a bit to stick up at the top.

The door I hung with two pieces of old broke rope reins and then used the one intact snap on them to be the closure.

The very fancy but perfectly function and free!

The American immediately ran into the coop. She later flew up to the open top (which I may cover with chicken netting. I’m still deciding).

I ended up clipping her wings hoping that will keep her in. Right now she’s our only layer and I really do not want her to be Fox food.

The other chickens took a while to move out and check out the new run. But once they did they seemed very happy. Unfortunately every time I attempted to get their photo happily clucking around in the new run they would flee back into the main coop.

We still need to move the nesting box in and I would like to add a roosting rail. Those might be projects for next weekend.

Jenny Beck and Possum – 3 Weeks

March 24, 2020

I went Sunday to pick up Possum. Jenny has been working with him for just about three weeks now and I am eager to get him home and start doing some of this work myself. I can only hope to be a fraction of what Jenny is and manage to keep what she taught him going.

She showed me a new lunging exercise she had just done two days earlier for the first time. He had Saturday off so this was only his second time doing it. She puts the end of the stick on his neck and walks forward in a circle. His job is to trot around keeping the stick at the appropriate distance. Jenny kicked some ass at this. I fumbled around and found it super hard not to face him. This one is going to take me some work.

She also has been working with different obstacle set ups to do neck reining. This is related to my complaint that he seems decent at it at home but doesn’t take it with him when I am away. She suspects part of this is just his attitude. Now he seems to be neck reining all over the place like a pro.

Next was his right lead. This is much improved. I’ll have to keep working on it to really lock that in. When I got on I got him to pick it up several times but it was still some work. Regardless it was a massive improvement!

After Jenny showed me some stuff and had me put my hand to each we took our games ponies on a hack around her farm. Possum very much enjoyed this relaxing ride after three weeks of hard work.

After our ride I packed up Possum and we headed home.

I am so grateful for Jenny and all her horse knowledge.

DIY Face Mask (with filter pocket)

March 23, 2020

This is not a typical post for this blog but with the current situation the world is finding itself in and with the shortage of face masks I brought my sewing skills out and made some masks for my family. A few people asked me how they could make their own so here is my pattern and process.

If you have a traditional professionally manufactured mask then please use that. But if you’re in a pinch, maybe this will help you out.

I also put all of the photos into a YouTube slide show video for those that prefer that.

Feel free to share

This is our end product.

Needed:

-1 rectangle of fabric 7×9

-2 rectangles of fabric 4.5×9

-2 pieces of elastic (thin or rounded) 11 inches each (adjust as needed)

-cutting and sewing items (scissors, sewing machine, thread)

– (optional) iron

Cut out your (1) 7×9 rectangle of fabric

Now cut out two 4.5×9 rectangles

Your three pieces of fabric cut and ready to sew

Fold over the edge along one long (9 inch) side of both 4.5×9 rectangles and sew along each.

Next line one of the smaller rectangles up with the one large rectangle. You want the fabric face to face so it appears inside out. You want the folded edge in the middle and the long edges lined up. See the photo below.

Now sew the three sides. It will be like you have a pocket when you are done.

Next lay the other short piece so it is lined up on the opposite side. It’s folded edge will cover the other pieces folded edge. See photo.

Now sew the three edges.

When you are done you’ll have a sort of hidden pocket.

Flip it right side out. Poke the corners out so you have a nice rectangle.

Optional: iron it flat. This just makes for a cleaner finish and it also makes the folding and final stitching easier.

Optional: sew around the edges. Again this is not necessary but it creates a cleaner finish and the next few steps will be easier.

Now you want to add two folds in. This makes the mask fit better. There are several photos below and a tiny video clip to show the process. It helps to clip the edges when you are done to hold them. If you do not have clips or pins you could use binder clips or paper clips. It also helps to iron them down.

I like to iron them down. It makes it much easier to keep everything in place.

Prepare your elastic. Simply sew the ends together to form a circle.

Fold the side over (short side) maintaining their fold, and slipping the elastic in. See the photo. You can iron here as well.

Now sew. Do not sew over the elastic. Sew inside of it so you are creating a sleeve the elastic runs through.

Done!

The pocket. You can put a filter in here and remove it.

Jenny Beck and Possum Training

March 16, 2020

Possum is missing foundation basic training and that is something I am not skilled at. But my friend Jenny is. She has had him for a little over two weeks and has been breaking through his entitled-pony brain.

I went out to her place Saturday for a one on one lesson with Jenny and Possum. She showed me all these exercises she’s been doing with him and then had me do them. There is totally some technique learning I am going to have to work on. She has a whole style and fineness to it that I can only hope to partially mimic with lots of practice.

She started off collecting him from the field and while walking to the barn she would stop. He was supposed to stop with her, at her should (like a dog heeling) without her pulling on him. She later had me do this and his response was amazing. He stopped! And stood! She explained he needs to be working when he is with me and not looking around, or trying to eat, and be paying attention to me.

We moved to Jenny’s obstacle ring and she showed me how she could whip the ground on either side of him and he did not flick an ear or move at all. He was trusting and paying attention. I attempted to video this but had a user error. I did video some of the rest of the ground lesson and you can watch it below.

She moved onto lunging with lots of change in direction. She said she has been doing this for about 6-7 minutes at the start of sessions and he seems to do best when he starts out this way and maintains the same routine. She said not all horses prefer that and do better mixing it up but my guy likes routine.

She points to tell him to go on (in the direction she is pointing), or to pick it up when he gets sluggish or lazy. The change of direction cue is her switching hands and pointing in the other direction. It is a bit hard to explain but you can see it in the video. She explained that if I put more energy into my cues he will give more energy back. I found this more obvious in the change of direction. If she gave more energy he was much more quick to stop and pivot to the other direction. Very impressive.

Next she incorporated in inviting him in. She would give him a cue of looking at his hind quarters to signal him to turn and he would turn and walk in. Each time he stopped properly in front of her, appropriate distance, and stand. She incorporated this into the lunging for several more minutes.

Next I gave it a try. I like the lunging and direction change very much. I joked that it was like a basic flat lesson where you hear “thumbs up, elbows in, heels down” or whatever you need reminders of. She correction my hands and explained why I want them where. Just like with riding it will take some practice. But it does feel pretty cool when he would do some of those direction changes so instantly.

Next Jenny had Possum do a lot of backing. She backed him around the arena, turning with the cue of looking at his rump in the corners. She took him all the way around the whole arena. Jenny showed me two techniques for this. With one she sort of walks towards him making sort of an X with her arms, crossing them back and forth. With the other one she marches at him, pumping her arms. You can see both in the video. Each time she stopped Possum just stood. We talked between some backings, one time for probably 10 minutes. Each time he stood and paid attention.

Jenny reinforced he is to be “working” and paying attention. He is not allowed to look around or eat or move around. If you know Possum he is a very fidgety pony. He often crosses his front legs and rubs them, stepping side to side and often spins on the forehand a solid 125 degrees. I know some of it is anxiety when he does it in competition. But it is also fueled by his boredom and him being in control.

When we tacked up and Jenny had me flex his neck right after mounting. I am going to use this in competition when he gets anxious. Give him a task.

I am so amazed at the progress he has made. Jenny is amazing. She has him this week and I’ll get him back next weekend at Popsicle Pairs. Then it’s up to me to continue this work at home.

I’m just so thrilled! Did I mention how awesome Jenny is?

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