Saturday, November 17, 2012

Major's Lesson

I love all my horses beyond words; each one has a unique personality.  Dusty’s my little rascal, Ceci’s my teacher with a big heart, and Major’s my sad good looking boy.

Major and his thick neck
At 14 hands, Major’s mostly grey with a muscular, thick neck like a draft horse.  His body is strong and compact, his handsome head has small ears, and he dons a Mohawk mane.  He’s not an elegant horse, but he is flashy with his white rump and black spots.   When I put him on the crossties, his expressive eyes make me think of Eeyore from Winne the Pooh.   He makes a long exhale and throws me a gloomy sad look as if to say, “What do you want me to do now”?
Major with his distinctive spotted rump

Unflappable, he rarely spooks and goes thru and over anything; bridges, water, rough ravines.   This all sounds really great, a flashy horse that never spooks, but let me continue.

Major has definite opinions and one of them is not moving very quickly anywhere except if it’s in the direction of the barn or food.  Every trail ride starts out as a death march only to end up flying full steam the moment his nose is turned in the direction of home.   There were a few trail rides when I watched my husband fly past me down a rocky slope hoping he would be alive when I reached him.  To my husband’s credit he would eventually get Major stopped and turned around, but it was scary and dangerous.

 "You want to ride who?" 

My husband and I did learn the horsemanship skills to correct this problem.  When riding Major you have to be in charge or he will quickly take charge.  He tends to live up to his name.  In the future, I will never own another horse named Major, General, Sergeant or any other military rank.   He loves using his shoulders and big neck to turn himself around saying, “I’m not going.”    Now you’re thinking this horse is awful-right?   Well, I thought so too for awhile.

Ceci in the field

When Ceci, our Thoroughbred mare arrived, Major took a backseat as my horse of choice.   She’s well schooled and at home in the arena.   She ignited my passion for riding and became my new teacher.  I was frustrated riding Major.  He could be stubborn, opinionated, too slow, and too much work to ride.

"Yes, I'm beautiful, smart and go away!"
While riding this summer, Ceci, who is refined but high- strung, stumbled, and I landed hard on my back.    Ceci recovered quickly, but I didn’t.  After a month, still walking gingerly, I saddled up Major not having the confidence to deal with Ceci’s nervousness.  Major made me feel calm and safe.   Over the next few months my back slowly got stronger as I continued riding Major, and I began to understand him better.

Major starring in a movie for a film that Brad Pitt?

I realized that his short neck and back meant I had to be far more balanced and solid in my riding than I had been with Ceci.  I have a much smaller margin for error on Major.  Any leaning too far forward forces him to compensate making it difficult for him to be balanced.  You learn from every horse and Major is still teaching me to be a better rider.  When I wrote him off thinking Ceci was the only horse that could teach me, I was wrong.  I guess the saying for every bad horse there is a bad rider is true.  

Major and I are moving forward.  He is more relaxed now than ever before, largely because I’m riding him better.  He's still an opinionated, pony and has discovered a new trick...bucking at the canter!  Let the rodeo begin I say.  Stay tuned for more adventures on Major.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Harvesting Honey (Part II)

How to Spin Gold

We’re hot, tired and sticky.  Yup that’s right we’re extracting honey!  What work, you couldn’t pay somebody enough to do this I thought and then it occurred to me…how would you write a help wanted ad for a Professional Honey Extractor…

Wanted Professional Honey Extractor

  • Seeking a person who has Popeye like arms and can crank an extractor or at least somebody who loves working their salad spinner.

  • Must have maintained a Bee average in school.

  • Jedi like skill in handling a hot uncapping knife.

  • Knows what an uncapping knife is.

  • Doesn’t mind the feeling of “walking around with gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe”.

  • Strong enough to lift 50 pound buckets of honey (the same amount required to send a full grown bull elephant into diabetic shock).

  • Thinks that getting stung is good for their allergies.

  • Has no allergies.

  • Understands that although honey bees fly over 55,000 miles to make 1 pound of honey, we offer no frequent flyer miles.

  • Appreciates the notion that the liquid gold that pours from the bee hive is more precious than any gold that people mine. 

Beautifully capped frame

 Taking off the wax cappings with electric heat knife

Close-up of wax cappings

Beautiful wax and honey

Honey pours from the extractor into the filter

Bountiful Harvest 

Honey goes well anywhere

Sunshine in a jar!

This wonderful food changes every year.  This year we have a light amber in the past we have gotten some as dark as molasses.

- Chris