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We Are Flying Solo

May 31, 2014

Farm Ownership = Endless Discoveries

To those who follow us on social media, these little “surprises” may sound familiar.  For the rest of you slackers wonderful people, here lies the confession that I really have abandoned the last shred of my dignity:  I made a hashtag in Twitland.  *so much shame*  I had such noble oaths (once the little pound signs were explained to me) that I would never become one of Those People.  At least it wasn’t a big fall.  Does it make it any better if searching for my own hashtag only finds two of them – even the internet is embarrassed for me…

Yes, I even make stupid faces while driving tractors
After I began living at the farm, though, it didn’t take long for these little moments unique to home horse-keeping to pop up.  Even those which elicited “not-family-friendly” exclamations made me laugh knowing that I was not likely the first (nor the last) to have the experience (with no small bit of incredulity, as in “was I really that stupid again!?).  What choice did I have, really, for sharing on the go?  (justification!)  And so the tag was born.      

For my pasture-mowing peers, both newly-minted and counting-the-decades, I know you KNOW.  I think we can all learn something (in most cases, “Don’t do that.”).

I present for your entertainment (and as a gift, corrected for the horrific grammar that is cruelly forced on me by that 120 character limit):

But...teh pretteh...can't go inside
  • Yay! When you forget to take off your half chaps & spurs, you just leave them at back door for next time!
  • Doh! My self-draining hose setup DOES work. And can siphon 1/2 the tank before I notice if I forget to remove the hose.
  • 0.o  That "simple" project in your head that you can "quickly" cobble together?  Just don't.
  • Oops. Put on work uniform fleece AFTER throwing am hay.
  • Yay! Your horses always appear at the gate when you come out the back door-it might be feeding time!
Wear real shoes to kick
  • Oh, hai, neighbour’s excavator driving past my living room!
  • Oops. Right when you think you’re a tractor badass, you get the drag caught on your tape fence.  :/
  • A good hose quick-connect is THE SHIT.
  • You never go inside on a pretty night. "Just one more thing!"
  • Never say "They won't go anywhere, they'll just eat grass."  :/
  • You can hike a 3-acre pasture in slippers.  In the dark.
  • Once you start pulling dead plants from along a fenceline, you can't stop.  So...hungry...

Low:  You DO need it!
  • That moment you realize you don’t even have to put on pants to feed. Note:  did not practice. But i could.
  • You never knew how much you needed the tractor...till it was gone.
  • You are late for work...because you get stuck staring out your windows at the awesome.
  • You can't kick a 3-pt hitch very hard in flip flops.
  • Oh, that’s what low gear is for!
  • Feeling shitty? Move your chair.
  • Going to a clinic and I don’t even have to start the truck! #greatneighbors
  • You're not really bush-hogging ‘til you bend a fencepost with the loader. #Fml
A good chair view = therapy
Share what you've screwed up discovered – maybe I can avoid a future *facepalm* or two, my head is getting sore! 

May 25, 2014

Fun With Power Tools: How Poor People Build Jumps, Lesson 1

Hey, #mindyourmelon, right?
Want to build your own portable flower box for $5 in under 30 minutes?

Didn't think so, m'kay, bye!  ;P

Now that I have your attention and slavering hope that there might be a useful post ahead -- those of you who follow us on Teh Facebooks and Twitland saw the exciting results of my spurt of inspiration (thanks, Erica!) on Friday.

A better description for this project may be "why dumpster diving pays off," but who doesn't love working out some aggression with a Skilsaw anyway??  LET'S GET READY TO...REDNECK SOME SHIT!  (Note: I must include thanks, growing up with a genius mechanical engineer dad who just about rebuilt our entire house taught me many useful skills!)

Preface from the Safety Nazi:  Dude.  Tools are awesome, but don't mess aroundWear your safety glasses, close-toed shoes, ear protection when necessary, and pay attention.  Horsewomen (don't feel left out, boys) are badasses, but the good kind work smarter, not harder.  You can do anything you set your mind to, but make sure you have been properly instructed, know your equipment, and always plan ahead. 

What I Used (but there are lots of options I'll try to cover)

Photobombing level.
  • Skilsaw (optional)
  • Drill loaded w/ drill bit (optional)
  • Impact Driver loaded w/ screwdriver bit (my new love plus I hate changing bits -- that goes for horses and drills ha, but also optional & you can use a screwdriver bit in your drill or a hand screwdriver)
  • Measuring Tape (optional
  • Pencil (or Sharpie, crayon, paint pen of your choice, optional, feeling easy yet?)
  • Wood Screws (w/ good sharp ones you don't HAVE to drill anything)

Lumber:  (2) 2" x 4" scraps (dimensions optional)
              (1) 1" x 6" scrap (dimensions optional)

Other Materials:  Yer flowerz & a camera so you can share your masterpiece.  And a phone in case you have to dial 911.  Hey, "proactive, not reactive" doesn't just apply to riding.

Dang.  Click to read labels.
Step 1:  Get your shit together (don't worry, not mentally, I'd never try that dangerous task!).

I dug my three pieces of wood out of my scrap lumber pile (collected from house construction dumpster; I didn't use a level, it was just in the bag).  They were all around 26" (I didn't care, just wanted it small enough to move easily), I just cut the end off one to match the shorter one (optional).  One also has a diagonal cut on end.  Don't care. 

In the photo above, the yellow box is drill bits and the cardboard box is leftover screws from my HorseGuard fence insulators.  Real pencils work better than mechanical pencils for wood, but I was too lazy to walk to house.  The drill & driver came as a set when my trusty Black & Decker finally died after over 10 years of very hard work in 2013.  Since I had to replace it and was moving to the farm, I made the switch last year to lithium batteries.  Worth. It.  As I learned from my dad, buy a good tool and you only have to buy it once.  And these really are a phenomenal deal if you do your own work, I use them every single day.  I didn't even know what an impact driver was but it came with the drill...and now I don't know how I ever lived without it.  Never strip a screw again!

Step 2:  (sorry, forgot a picture)  Lay your 1x6 flat on the ground.  Set your 2x4's where you want them on top (now your box should be assembled upside down).  Mark the inside edges of the 2x4's with a pencil on your 1x6.  Now you have an area on each side of your 1x6 to drill pilot holes so you don't end up shooting them through the edges of your 2x4's (ah, experience...)

Step 3:  Uh-oh, I spy a slight problem (aside from crappy phone camera depth of field fail).  My screws will be a bit short for a secure grip on the 2x4's.  I am too lazy to walk to the house (errr, theme...) to dig through scrap hardware box.  Solution:  I will drill pilot holes with appropriate sized bit for screw (you want to choose one just a tiny bit smaller than your screw diameter [I very scientifically hold them next to each other and eyeball it] so the screw can still bite into the wood).  Then I will use a larger drill bit to countersink the screws so I can drive them deeper without totally splitting my 1x6 to bits.

Sounds complicated.  Not.  In the drill bit picture, I used the 2nd bit from the right to drill the pilot holes through the 1x6.  Note:  I ONLY drilled through the 1x6, with it sitting on the grass because (1) I'm an idiot and would totally drill through my stall mats and (2) I don't want to drill into the 2x4 because I want the screw to have its best grip there

Then, I loaded fatty bit (seen in drill, I think it's 1/4") and on the top side of the pilot holes, drilled a larger opening just as deep as the head of the screw so the top of the screw will be flush with or slightly below the surface of the wood.  Now the screw will reach farther into my 2x4.  Woot!

Step 3:  My holes are drilled in my 1x6 so I line it up on top of my 2x4's and install screws.  Tips:  (1) Put a foot, weight, or a knee on the assembled box so it doesn't move during drilling.  (2) I put in corner screws first so they will hold the boards aligned so the rest of the screws are easy.  (3) This is where the impact driver is handy-the screws will be tougher to turn when they hit the 2x4 but the driver just laughs and does its thing.  (4)  I used 4 screws on each side.  3 would have been plenty.  I have a problem with over-engineering.  Because I am now kicking myself for not running a bead of wood glue in each seam before the screws.  Since plastic flowers are SO HEAVY.

WTF level??!
Step 4:  Woohoo!  You have a nice little box, as shown (you can see the diagonal end on one 2x4, I just left it, not important).  I was totally going to just eyeball the holes for the flowers, but I decided it would bug me later when they weren't centered, heh.  I had 5 stems (that's my $5 project cost, since I had everything else) so I just measured and marked where each hole would go, starting with the center and working out.  Naturally, I discovered diameter of stems was larger than diameter of chosen drill bit (*facepalm* of course, but I wanted to be conservative so stems wouldn't blow out).  Went up one bit size, all good.

Finit!!  Arrange, enjoy, and be creative!
You can now stain it, paint it, add more flowers, add more holes, use the sides, plaster with stickers, dance around it giggling at your awesomeness (hey, it's the little achievements), or...

Just Jump It!!!

May 18, 2014

The Final Finale Of The Heart Of The Carolinas 3DE -- Finally!

Life is so inconvenient when it comes to blogging, isn't it?  And it all moves so quickly, sometimes I just feel the urge to lie down until it passes.

But only a, er, couple weeks late, the rest of (well, ok, a fair chunk of) the photo-documentation of the once-more incredible (and even more so next year when I get my hands on some materials!) experience that can only be expressed through the focus on the horse's face and his rider's tearful grin of achievement.

The Novice Show Jumping Course Walk with designer (& fashion maven), Marc Donovan

"Just ignore that dorky chick over there who keeps following me around and taking pictures."
Someone's found his perfect distance.
Rider glancing back:  "Damn!  How DOES he find shoes in the EXACT same shade of navy blue as his polo shirt??!"
Another Boni chainsaw masterpiece:  a pack of coyotes sets of Marc's brilliant stadium course
Art is an understatement
These palmetto standards were a lovely SC touch...through which to view escape attempts from questioning mobs!
She practices her casual Donovan lean in hopes of mastering the uber-cool.
Gorgeous sculpture frames this wide oxer, the last jump on course, which, it seems all parties agree looks rather large.  However, it rode extremely well!
A new Boni masterpiece in its infancy, destined to be mustangs guarded by a flock of eagles
 The final jog, with Head Vet, Dr. Debbie, & Ground Jury Members Amanda Miller-Atkins & Pam Weidmann
A beautifully presented competitor at the Sunday morning jog.

I rooted for this charming little Appendix all weekend!!
Bonus points if you look great AND make Dr. Debbie laugh.  Even if you are riding Jaws.
"Geez, more horse butts, sigh..."
The irresistible Sterling Silver and his owner, Justin Hull, await their turn.  A truly fantastic pony!
This loud leopard appy caught lots of eyes...and I think his owners nearly mowed me down in my golf cart twice!  Unless there was another dually coated with App stickers...
Dr. Debbie struggles to see both sides of Haffie butt at once.
These two, Paddington Bear and his little girl , were a special pair indeed.
Stadium Jumping

Some still had plenty of leaping energy left!
Half-halts are good, but educational note:  please do not put your hackamores on your horse's soft tissue, where he cannot breathe very well.
Andrew McConnon & CMA Special Messenger were all elegance and style
This lovely bay makes it look easy!
An excellent use of eye upon landing.
Brant Gamma's partner, Pete, captures a fancy leap over the corner oxer
Appendix pony is tired but game!
This mare's face haunted me -- it was like looking straight at Solo!!!!
TD Gammon:  "You never let me use the fancy measuring stick!!"
CD Marc: "The stick must be earned, padi-wan."
The folks who keep it together (mostly; L-R):  announcer David Frump, dressage judge/ground jury member Amanda Miller-Atkins, president of the ground jury/dressage judge Pam Weidmann, course designer Marc Donovan, event secretary Rick Dunkerton; in front of trailer, facility owner Brad Turley trades recipes with organizer Cindy Deporter.
Obligatory Haffie perky jump in the BN3DE
Then if you are really lucky, you not only get to take home your blue completion ribbon, medal, and goody bag, BUT also the big blue first place ribbon, like our N3DE winner and her elegant and big-hearted bay (although she says the tradeoff lies in his enormous bucks!).

However, as the endurance folks say (and as eventers should say more often):  To finish is to win.  And the partnership built with your horse in the process is like none you will ever experience anywhere else!  And maybe, just maybe, I still have some time left to get my own dang horse there.  In a thank you note from a rider:  "As a 67 yr "old fart" who has never gotten to do more than BN Horse Trials and one unsanctioned N HT this was an opportunity I did not want to miss. All the planning and training over the winter and the long haul to SC was worth it. I know now that my little mare can do it and what we need to work on to make next year even more successful." 

Perhaps it was summed up best of all by another competitor:  "Being an eventer means that at times, you take your lumps, learn, grow, and come back stronger the next time."

Mission Accomplished:  Marc Donovan, organizer Cindy Deporter, and the infamous Russell the Love Muscle.  I even got Marc to wear my Carolina International volunteer hat complete with smurf pin.  "Why?!" he asked.  Silly Marc, because it entertains me, do we need another reason?

May 10, 2014

Mow, Mow, Mow Your...Oats?

Waaaah - it's 75 and we want our shed!  Spoiled babies!
Before I turn the key to spend the next 47 hours bush-hogging (I missed you, traaac-tor, oh yes I did, I missed you, traaac-tor, weeds must be, use your grammar imagination), I wanted to, well, tease you.  Hee.

Coming soon to a blog near you!

(1) Yes, there is a wrap-up to the Heart of the Carolinas awesome at Southern Eighths.  I am continually expected to actually work for my paycheck (wtf?) and it cuts into my photo processing time. 

(2) Beloved foster tractor has returned from the spa refreshed and better than ever!  Interested in tips for your bush(hog) baby?

(3) FREE STUFF!  If you are lucky enough to win, that is.  It's big, it's new, and you'll wonder how your life was ever complete without it.

(4) TFS' own variation on the "blog hop."  You'll want to get in on this one! 

Now that you're on the edge of your chair/couch/bed/saddle (neck strap!), I'll be off.  *insert heartless snicker followed by wave of guilt*  I do issue my repetitive apologies once again for my intermittent blog failure.  We are all busy, naturally, and my own problem is complicated by the fact that I am haunted by the thought of posting something "not good enough."  As a result, most entries are the result of several hours of work, which leads to the gaps you see here.

Yesterday's mowing....I have a XC course, er, jump!
To my fellow bloggers, I AM visiting and reading with delight/sympathy/excitement/fascination as you share your parallel journeys.  Even though I rarely have time to comment, please know that I have not descended into neglect of my dear friends o' the blog-o-sphere!

Time to wake the diesel and flush out the bunnies...

May 3, 2014

The "I'm Working A Three Day & Can't Use My Words" Picture Dump

The trailer of chaos -- three people.  17 radio channels (or that's what it felt like, I used 3).  But I LOVED my new job!  Meanie control lady for Phase A/B/C who verbally "glares" at you when you don't answer your radio?  That's me, haha!  Trained by the Goddess of XC Control skillz, JJ Johnson, on the left, handling Phase D and 10 other things.  David the Marvelous Announcer (you'll hear him at our Carolina Horse Park schooling trials!) gets free entertainment all day in a radio sandwich!
Holder Event Team Veteran Nobie Cannon & her sales horse, Red Fury, show how it's done and move up to 2nd place in the N3DE!!! You might remember her & Busta from the Carolina International CIC* in March.

I guess it's a new trend?  Our token BN3DE Haffie, Whinney the Pooh, adorably toted his young rider around and had a blast the whole time.  :D
Hey, we work long days.  Things get a little slap-happy...but I felt our secretary needed some love!
The Big Shuffle after endurance day:  despite what folks might claim, it's still not just a dressage test!!
And a shake-up in Novice too -- these are championship level courses, but always fair and safe.  If you want to see the finish of Phase D, though, you'd better have your homework done.

Tomorrow, this pretty plank fence and many more will host equine fly-overs (although CD Marc Donovan will be quite disappointed if he doesn't catch a few out with some rails, but after walking the course with him, I don't think he'll have to worry about that).  Hint:  terrain matters.  I've got more shots  from the SJ course to share and further adventures of "dork at large with very slow golf cart."  I just need a week of sleep.  And if you can't wait, check our Facebook page for some pretty impressive dancing from our organizer, judges, TD, and volunteers!!