Posts Tagged With: farm animals

Snowy Farm Mornings With The Mares

The one thing that I still miss about the farm is the silent snowy mornings. Moving to town has its advantages in snowy weather… streets get cleared a lot faster and the grocery is a lot closer but something is just not the same, let me explain.

My horses on in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

My horses in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

When you own livestock you never get a snow day. So the mornings for me always started early even in the cold. I would get up early, like all farm families do, so I could get the feeding done before work and school would take the day.

Dressed in my coveralls, hat, and gloves, I head out of the back door of the farm-house. I cross the back porch and hear the first crunch of the snow on a step. Walking my way to the barn across the yard I look for them but can not see them in the top pasture. Even though the barn doors are always open the herd of four quarter horse were never in the barn until feeding time.

Even if they heard me tracking slowly through the snow they never moved. They stand at the farthest point away from the barn on the top of the hill. I holler at the top of my lungs”Here Girls!” and get no response. Just the quite… no cars or trucks, no snow plows (sometimes for days), no other person for miles was outside on a 12 degree morning. I reluctantly fill the feed buckets with two heaping scoops of sweet-smelling grain. I Complain to myself about walking up the bank into the pasture to looking for them.

You do it to make sure that everything is alright if they do not come in. Horses trapped in fences, cases of colic and babies born in the open all happen when humans are not looking. Today was not going to be one of those days. I open the gate with the frozen chain and hear it bang as I swing it through the snow and across the frozen ground and into the pasture. The hill blocks my view. No knickers or neigh for me to hear from the group, just my snow boots crunching up the slope to the orchard trees.

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew,West Virginia.

Past the orchard trees, I finally see the huddled mares in the upper corner of the field. Snow only ankle-deep and they still do not want to move. “Come on Girls!” I yell again, this is ridiculous I think as the wind blows the quiet snow in my eyes.  I give in and walk to top of the hill and discover I am out of breath and breathing hard. The steam I blow matches the clouds that surrounds them. They breath in and out almost in time and the moisture from the four 800 pound bodies rises into the air. They see me and two heads turn as I finally come close enough to actually touch the snow-covered beasts.

Their winter coats are such good insulation against the cold that snow flakes dance on top of the longest hairs of each animal. Icicles form on the whiskers of each damp muzzle and each wet eye lash. The mares do seem to mind the cold and seem more at home in the winter snow.

Daisy with skippy in snow

Daisy with Skippy in the snow on the Jane Lew farm.

For the small herd, standing and sleeping is more comfortable than slipping down the hill to the barn. I can’t blame them, they have stood together most of the night and have melted some of the snow on the ground . I sneak up close to the oldest mare and slide my gloved hand across her back and talk softly and she murmurs back to me. I get close and feel the warmth of her 100 degree body against me. Warmth and friendship, could life get better for her?

The others push closer to me, nose to nose, they breathe me in and I, them. The smell of the mare’s breath and coats is warm, round and deep. It is the smell of the summer dirt, fresh-cut hay and dark warm stalls.They smell of old barns and fresh shavings,of carrots and cookies, of sunshine and creek water. I kiss each nostril in turn.

Hidden in my coat pocket is a lead rope that I slide around the old mare’s neck. I clip it under her chin… more imagination than rope. I lead her and she willingly follows me down. The younger horses gallop back and forth across the field, bounding, bouncing, jumping and twisting.

Horses Playing in the snow

Horses Playing in the snow

Play time for the young and feed time for the old. I walk her through the gate to the barn, each following her lead without a fight. Her head lowers into the bucket and she blows out the air in her lungs as if to sigh. The rattle of those buckets is the only sound for miles. The sun rises to the shifting sounds in my barn. I toss hay into each stall as the last of the gain gets lipped out of old buckets.

My chore is almost done. The water is thawed and waiting when they finish their meal. The gate is locked up tight. I am alone again in my walk back across the large yard. My cheeks are cold and frosty but my heart is warm. I think to myself…. “Love You Girls” as I hear the squeaky snow under my boot.

 

Categories: Country life, Farm work, Friendship, Horses, Jane Lew, Memories, snow, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Bunnies at the 4-H Jamboree 2014

Our first time out to the 4-H show with Christopher’s bunnies was full of highs and lows, riding the wave of the learning something new. He learned allot from other competitors who shared grooming tips and from the judges who explained technical terms to him. We had a great week of seeing friends and watching many of our friends win prizes and get more confident with their animals and projects. This is one of our families favorite weeks of every year and helping Christopher learn about showing animals was a blast.

Grand prize winning Sable buck open class 2014 4-H jamboree

Grand Prize winning Sable buck open class 2014 4-H Jamboree.

Our family originally bought our rabbits as dual purpose animals. First and foremost they are pets for my son. The other purpose for having these little guys around is to have off spring, which we will use for food, sale and to show.  This has been a year-long project as we started off writing about the rabbits as babies and we now have two mature bucks that are ready to breed in the spring if we can find a nice female to start our herd off with. So over the past year Christopher has shown both rabbits a couple of times. He  finished the year with his 4-H clubs end of the year  show ” The Jamboree”. This is where all the kids who are part of the county 4- H bring all their animals and projects for judging and prepared to go on to the State wide fair competition. At this years local show around 45 rabbits got displayed.  Christopher being the youngest competitor at age 5. Because of his young age he was in the “Open Class” this class is open to any one who wants to show an animal. The class  includes children, teens and adults it is open to any competitor. Some years we have had several disabled adults show in this class and lots of under age children compete for prizes and ribbons. It is a great place to train a young person about how  judging works, how to care for you animal and how to win and lose with Grace. The week starts with setting up animal pens and cages and getting the animal inspected for sickness and sex. Then listing the breed, age and class the child plans to show in. After check in the animals stay in cages on the show grounds and will be in the barn for the next week.  Above is a photo of Diesel in his cage at the fair grounds.The fallowing evening we got to help Christopher show his Rabbits. With help he got his rabbits groomed and clean for the show. We then helped him carry  the two 10 pound rabbits into the show ring with Christopher leading the way.

Christopher leading the group to the judges table

Christopher leading the group to the judges table

The judge inspects the animal and gives the competitor information about the animal and scores its condition, coat, conformation.

judge talking with Christopher about his rabbits

judge talking with Christopher about his rabbits

In this case Christopher was the only competitor so the judging went fairly fast with him winning 1st and 2nd in breed and Grand Champion and Reserve for the class of Open Rabbits.  It was a joy to see him get a chance to show off his rabbits and get his picture taken with the ” Queen of the Fair” and receive a large collection of prizes for his first attempt at showing off his rabbits

Christopher getting his picture taken with the fair Queen and the judge

Christopher getting his picture taken with the Fair Queen and the Judge

 

Christopher with ribbons and prizes from the 2014 4-H jamboree

Christopher with ribbons and prizes from the 2014 4-H jamboree

The one thing I have learned about Christopher these last few days is when he is unsure of himself  he tells me that he can’t do something.The night of the show he told everyone that he could not walk his bunnies alone across the area. Even though he had done so several other times over the course of the summer at different events. So this time he needed a little help holding the bunnies because they had gotten so large and heavy he was afraid he would drop one of them or they would struggle and scratch him. It was an easy fix for me and a friend to help carry the heavy guys to the judging table and back to their cages. I just hope that the support this time will make it easier for him in the future. It is all about learning and growing with 4-H and I was lucky to learn something too. Hopefully some time in September he will receive his trophy photo plaque and we will have a wonderful time at his awards banquet. At that time I will get a photo of him winning his first show and it will remind me of how small he was when we started teaching him lessons about sportsman ship, compassion, responsibility, team work, and love for animals. I am a happy and proud 4-H supporter. I know that  4-H  has changed the lives of both my boys for the better and I will be part of my 4-H family for a very long time.

Categories: 4-H, bredding rabbits, education, family fun, rabbits | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Photo review of 2013 with Mountain Mama

I just can’t help the fact that I love where I live and the people around me. I take thousands of photos every year and some never make it to  my blog and others are only uploaded on to Facebook and or sent to friends and family. So, I thought  I would take a few hours and let you see what it is that make my world go around and share in some of the best and worst moments of my year. So hers goes… GOOD-BYE 2013 and hello to a fresh new year.

Birth place of General Stone Wall Jackson, Jacksons' Mill, West Virginia  January 2013

Birth place of General Stone Wall Jackson, Jackson’s’ Mill, West Virginia January 2013

I started taking photos for a photo challenge this past year and it was fun to really push myself for ideas and places to photograph.. I did pretty well until they put my foot in a soft cast where the cold and wet and lack of being stable on my feet made me drop the challenge. This was one of the first locations that Christopher and I traveled to and explored in the very cold 18 degree weather in Jan of 2013. Jackson’s Mill is a State Owned property where they hold 4-h camps, state conferences and have saved historic buildings like this one, home of General Stone Wall Jackson. This large property and air field are only about 2 miles from my home and include a grist mill that I hope to write about in the future.

Snow on the plow at General Stone Wall Jackson's home place Jackson Mill, West Virginia

Snow on the plow at General Stone Wall Jackson’s home place Jackson Mill, West Virginia

The for the month of February Christopher and I made a photo tour of one of our favorite places in Lewis County  our historic Library.This is the location of our local book club that I help to start in the month of Feb. I love the old building and wish If I ever had the money to change the world this would be the place that I would put my money to work for my small community.

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of weston  for use as a llibrary

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston for use as a library

Christopher hamming  it up with me when we found a not so used bathroom on the third floor.

Christopher sitting the bath tube of the Lewis Bennett Library of Weston West Virginia

Christopher sitting the bath tube of the Lewis Bennett Library of Weston West Virginia 2013

Spring was slowly creeping into the mountain state in March and we were  so happy to start to see life again that I started looking outside for more ideas  and this is what I found.

Tom Powers working with horses at Cross Creek Farm

Tom Powers working with horses at Cross Creek Farm

One of the few days that was really beautiful in March with temps in the 40’s  and warm enough to get started on the spring trimmings again. While Tom worked hard on getting these lovely animals ready to head back up the mountains Christopher and I wondered the country road near by to find things of interest.

Christopher walking along a country road in Lewis County West Viriginia

Christopher walking along a country road in Lewis County West Virginia

April is always a mixed bag of events at our house Tom and Cody have birthdays at the end of March and the first of April so it is always a time of celebration.  We try to adventure some where to shake off the dust and dirt from the long winter spent inside and this year was no different. We headed to Kentucky and had a ball at Makers Mark Distillery, the Kentucky Horse Park and Historic Bardstown, Ky. I hope to return to Bardstown it is one of the most beautiful and friendly towns I have ever visited and this is the “off-season” the Derby would still be a month away and the city is really alive then.

Easter and Kentucky Derby hats in a window store front in Bards Town, Ky

Easter and Kentucky Derby hats in a window store front in Bardstown, Ky

 Historic John Rowan house. Old Kentucky State    Park, Bardstown Kentucky

Historic John Rowan house. Old Kentucky State Park, Bardstown Kentucky

With spring in full force May is always focused on our gardens, yards, flowers and ramps. I did some blogging about the wild onions if you want to learn more about wild onions and how to use them. Our family loves to spend the day in the mountains with a picknick lunch and a bag full of ramps.

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding a the first ramp

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding a the first ramp

I also start to see the wonderful spring flowers appear and could not help myself for taking a few photos of them.

white Peony at the Stoneley Farm

white Peony at the Stoneley Farm

June 20th is our celebration of state hood here in the Mountain State.  This year Tom and I spent the day working on customers horses.Were lucky enough that afternoon to find thousands and thousands of wild flowers in bloom along the long-deserted road between farms. My favorite is the wild roses that have  a million tiny thorns and are in this hot pink color. The smell fills the air for miles and you just want to stop and enjoy the warm sun, the sweet smell and a long country road.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Terry Washborn's shed with wild roses and trumpet vines

Terry Washborn’s shed covered in wild roses and trumpet vines

July found us Camping near Canaan Valley  in the mountains of West Virginia. We found a remote camp ground where the water of the Potomac was warm and clear and the weekend was lazy and we found time to act  silly and share family time.

Tom and Christopher wearing the big bear hats just being silly

Tom and Christopher wearing the big bear hats just being silly at Smoke hole caverns

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

August found us looking for wild mushrooms and boy to we hit the jack pot all summer and fall. I was over whelmed with the variety color and size of the mushroom we and our friends found. What a great way to spend a hot humid afternoon. Head for the cool shaded woods and come home to a feast of wild West Virginia mushrooms.

wild chanterelle Mushrooms found in Harrison County, West Virginia

wild chanterelle Mushrooms found in Harrison County, West Virginia

Wild mushroom, Hen of the Woods, found by the trunkful

Wild mushroom, Hen of the Woods, found by the trunkful

wild Bollete cap

September started a new stage to our lives as Christopher started school. We said good-bye to my little guy and said hello to a student. We also said good-by to Christopher’s  Step Grand father and shared in losing someone from Alzheimer’s and the destruction that it has put my family through.

Christopher'd first day at school Sep 2013

Christopher’s first day at school Sep 2013

Honor guard the funeral of Minter Mowrey

Honor guard the funeral of Minter Mowery

The fall was creeping in and Oct is one of my favorite months if you can miss the rain that begins to fall.  We found a beautiful weekend and took off to take photos in the northern part of the state and see an abandoned State Penitentiary in Moundsville. I found its structure breath-taking and it history ominous. It was one of the most interesting places I have had the opportunity to photograph in years.

veiw of Moundsville State Penitentuary, Moundsville, West Virginia

view of Moundsville State Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

Christopher and I on top  of the Indian mound in Moundsville West Virginia

Christopher and I on top of the Indian mound in Moundsville West Virginia

The next two months are a total blur. Hunting season begins and the holidays  add to  the already busy time so it seems I must have forgotten to take any beautiful photos.  But my family  had a successful fall with many happy evenings telling hunting stories and me and the kids processing the meat for the long cold winter. I also am happy to report that my little book club has reached its 9th month of  continuous reading and we are still going strong.

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Then as I was just getting ready to decorate for the Holidays I finally gave into the pain that I was experiencing in my foot and came to find out that I had broken a bone in the bottom of my left foot . This is what Santa gave to me about the 13 th of Dec.

My New air cast and 6 weeks off work

My New air cast and 6 weeks off work

I am currently off work  and feeling better. I hope to get things back to ” normal” what ever that is in a couple of weeks. This was also the best time for me to have this happen as work is slow and I could spend more time with my family over the holidays. I also learned to slow down and sit still a little better from this adventure and that was a lesson I found very hard at first but it is growing on me now. I plan  more rest in the new year and learning about that  not pushing my ageing body quite so hard.

fire works over the West Virginia State Capital 2013

fire works over the West Virginia State Capital 2013

 HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERY ONE !

may I see and hear from all of you through out 2014.

Categories: About me, Appalachian Mountains, Death, family memories, Holidays, Kentucky, Louis Bennett Library, Maker's Mark, Mushrooms, photo review | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Horse Farm Labor is Our Second Job, Finding the help you Need.

     Tom and I  travel to so many farms during the year that we hear some of the same complaints at every stop. Frist there are not enough well-trained Farriers and second that finding farm workers, caretakers and horse handlers is almost impossible. Thiers reasons for both of these problems and some of it has to do with economics. Frist, Low pay for the hard work  sends many into town and second, farmers are not  good at  letting people know that they need or want help. 

Tom leading horse to pasture

Tom leading horse to pasture

Tom putting shoes on Oat

Tom putting shoes on Oat

 If you have a problem on a horse farm the best two things you can do is let your farm community know what kind of  help you are looking for. Farm stores have bulletin boards, clubs have news letters, and friends have kids these are all great ways to get the word out the you need a helping hand around the farm.  Pay well and often, everyone loves payday and even the kid who cleans out the barn needs paid before he leaves for the day.  

 Over the years of showing, raising and training horse I have worked for several farms in my area. Yes, I shoveled horse poop for a living. Not glamorous work but it beat the rat race any day. I received fair pay, always about double what minimum wage was at the time.  Farm work is hard, dirty and at times stressful. To modern kids Micky D’s is a lot easier and pays better than most farm jobs. Keep this in mind when you are looking to put up hay in 90 degree weather with a 5 am in starting time and that kid at Micky D’s is making 9 dollars and hour.If you want them you will have to pay them.

      This also is true for your Farrier, if you own a horse part of owning that animal is occasional foot care. Most farriers charge a standard rate for trims/ shoe/or resets. Pay your bill promptly and you will have a good relationship with him, wait to long or try to haggle the price and you will be looking for a new one very quickly. If you are not able to afford to pay everyone cash remember that some people are open to barter for services. I have  mucked stalls for riding lessons and Tom has trimmed horses  for hay. Just be clear about what you need and what you have to offer. We have always been happen when we worked out a deal.

 I also do sitting for several horse farms. We all need a vacation now and then. Sometimes families  just go to the fair and other times families need to head out for an emergency, it is this short periods of time that I help out on the farm.

Squaw and dancer

Squaw and dancer

I find that there is a real need for farm families to leave  a few head of horses, a couple of dogs and cat alone for a few days. The horses really need people who understand them if you are going watch them and the time to care for them is pretty labor intensive. I find the best way to find some one who can help, is asking your other horse friends, farriers and farm stores. I get asked all the time because my husbands farrier business. We both are willing  and able to help with animal care. The rate that we get  to come to your farm and care for your horses is not  much less then you would pay to a stable them while you are away. So with each additional horse we charge an additional fee. I find this the fairest way to charge for my time and gas. This way I can keep my rate the same from farm to farm. This makes everyone pay the same and no one gets up set over changes in pricing. The biggest difference is that the horses are at home in their own stalls with their feed and water and no hauling needed. It’s to the advantage of my clients that they do not have to stress the animal while they are away. 

  No matter what type of labor you need for  your farm, remember to just get the word out that you need a farrier, a farm sitter, a person to help string fence. They are their and if you pay them fairly they will be willing to come back and work for you over and over. It is worth building these kinds of relationships because over time you never know who it will be to help out. I never thought that Tom being a farrier would over flow to farm sitting and that I would be working with some many wonderful families and their animals.

Farm that I sit for while the owners are out of town and one of their walking horses

Farm that I sit for while the owners are out-of-town and one of their walking horses

 I hope that my friends Ron and Marylyn have had a great trip and that they feel confident that their horses were in good care while they were away. It is always fun to spend time on their farm and we love doing it.

Categories: Farm work, Farming, Farrier work., Friendship, horse health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farm Familes Pull Together in Hard Times

  One reason I find rural life so wonderful is how  farm families support each other. You hear about it everyday in my community. It is not a passing trend or a story of past generations. It is  here and now,  alive and thriving in West Virginia.

Ed WaltZ riding Jasper down main street

Ed Waltz riding Jasper down main street

   Currently a family friend is in the hospital and sadly not recovering from surgery the way we all hoped. Ed is a fighter,strong and stubborn, so as I write this I am sure that he is fighting to recover totally from this long process.Yet,  his wife travels back and forth from Ruby Memorial hospital in Morgantown to their home in Weston daily. The drive is around a 2 hour round trip and is long and expensive to do every day. She is also now the sole worker on their small farm. But, they have a hidden support system,  those in the back ground who keep the farm running. 

   Today, Ed and Dottie’s farm animals need fed and watered, horses need put out to pasture, grass needs mowing. The farm has over a dozen animals that need daily care and someone has to do it while Ed is unable to. This is a night mare that every animal owner fears…If some thing happens to me ,who will care for my horse, dog, cattle or goats?  Most of us have at least have some family that can help out, but what happens when they can’t or don’t really understand the care of large animals like horses? This is when what I call “Farm Family” comes in.

    “Farm Family” are the neighbors, the trail ridding friends, the Vet. techs, the Farrier and the boys from the next farm that step in. They all have been their, they understand that a farm is not just a pasture full of cows grazing in a field.  At times it is an over whelming burden, because the animals need tended, huge gardens need worked, hay need mowing, tractors need fixed, fence needs mended, and at times children who need supervision.

   As a member of this “Farm Family” group I have both the given and received from this unsaid promise. The promise that” I was not alone, no matter what!” Their was always someone who answered the phone at 1 am and would listen to my story of a sick or dying animal. That other “Farm Family” member was their to give advice, share medication, tools or just give me a shoulder to cry on, when I could not call my mother. It is an understanding that I have never found anywhere else.

    So when I found out that my friend was sick and the extreme nature of the situation Tom and I asked if their was anything that we could do? What did hey need? The answer was not money, food or laundry it was a simple request… “Could you all come and put  a round bail out for the horses? The breaks are bad on the tractor and I don’t  use it. The boy next door is feeding the dogs,ducks and horses every morning, but he is not able to get hay out into the pasture”..Our responce was a united “Oh course”. This gesture may mean nothing to someone on the outside of farming. But, for anyone who has had 6 head of horses and no way to get hay to them, they will understand that we just gave Dottie a huge gift.

Ed and Dottie

Ed and Dottie

Tom and Ed have been friends for almost 8 years now and Tom has been Ed’s Farrier for about as long. We have helped them get horses and trailers, we have followed their grandchildren through school and shared a nip of moonshine with on the front porch. We are more to them then some hired contractor who shows up to work and the horses and they are more than a costumer base to us… they are ‘Farm Family’.

I  am  richer, because “when the  Cow Pie hits the fan” I know that I can count on having another “Farm Family” member there to help clean up the mess. Here in my town we still care about our neighbors. We try hard to share what we have, and do what we can to relive the suffering of people and animals all around us.We all realise that one day it will be our turn  having trouble getting things done on the farm. But, we will be able count on others to help us get through the hard times. No money is ever exchanged, nothing but a heart-felt “thank you” is ever given. There is no price on kindness, friendship, or understanding. You reap what you sow …. and “Farm Families” know that if you sow the very best of yourself then when it is your darkest hour, you will reap more kindness then you can ever image. 

With this post I add my best wishes to Ed Waltz’s recovery and support to Dottie Waltz… We are here for you any time  and we will see you when you are feeling better, Gods speed.

               Yours always, Jolynn

Categories: Friendship, health, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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