First, today – it is imperative to explain something – especially to those who perhaps haven’t been used to reading others’ blogs (or even documents from other sites, etc). It has come to my attention, though I’m apparently not allowed to mention names, that some more senior folk who read The Bluebellmountainblog from our Blue Belldon Farm HAVE NOT BEEN READIN’ IT RIGHT. That’s correct. Not readin’ it right at all. Those who are regular followers receive an email from WordPress, the management system that hosts many of the bloggers’ chapters from around the world. These do NOT come from me, folks, it’s an automatic send from WORDPRESS. Now, I thought WordPress just sent a blue LINK to the latest blog posting. But I now find out that they send a COMPRESSED email of the entire post, sometimes including photos, but often with lines/words missing, and the photos can’t be viewed properly (yes, that’s right – those of you who’ve complained that though I keep saying ‘click on any of the smaller photos to read the captions and blow them up’ ) and the words are very small and faint … well, guess what? YOU AREN’T MEANT TO BE READING THE BLOG FROM YOUR EMAILS! No wonder you click on the photos and nothing happens, no wonder it sometimes appears to disappear off into the left margin, no wonder there’s often words missing, yet when you tell me this and I check them, they are ALL IN ORDER. Please click the BLUE TITLE of this blog in your email. Surprise! That takes you to a lovely place – THE ACTUAL BLOG!
All right, enough tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. To be fair, WordPress SHOULD, when emailing their notifications TELL followers to click on any blue (such as the title I’ve given the blog posting, for instance, which is the first blue you likely see). I guess they assume most people are aware that BLUE, whether it’s underlined or not, is usually a link to something else on the world wide web. Oh, and when I think about the long days I take to write these, proof-reading and centering all the text and photos (as much as allowed by wordpress) captioning many of said photos, picking background colours and making sure links within the article are ‘live’, ONLY TO FIND OUT SOME OF YOU POOR SOULS are suffering through gobbledegook that looks like this:
Right! Onwards and upwards, and again – thanks to all who read, whether regular followers (who get the emails) or for those who follow from links in social media or elsewhere. Today’s fun? All about New Beards and Old Beams.
In the usual fashion of this blog, making Much Ado About Nothing, I shall quote the famous Bard, from his play of the same name:
“He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man."
You will know by now that Cammie, our goat (Richard named her for a Camaro, his first car) and Chevy (named for his beloved ’73 Nova, and because the horse is like his ‘new car’, which he’s meant to be spending MORE time on than said Nova…) are here to be help-mates in the work of living self-sufficiently. Cammie was very young, and not particularly healthy when we got her last spring, but we have now found friends down the road who are living far more self-sufficiently than we’ve managed to be yet. These folks just acquired a billy goat and after breeding their own herd of nannies (called ‘freshening’) so that they will have kids and then be subsequently milked, we are now part of their ‘rent-a-goat’ program and have been keeping Bearded Billy to try to get Cammie pregnant as well.
Billy is not a particularly personable goat. He doesn’t run around and ram things like I was afraid he might, with his wee backward horns (esp. afraid of fragile tendons on Chevy’s legs, and sciatic nerves in husband’s hips). But neither is he interested in all and sundry like Cammie has always been. In fact, he’s usually hiding out in Cammie’s insulated dog-house. At night the two are in there together, and it’s toasty-warm. But during the day, Cammie’s always out ‘sight-seeing’, and Billy stays indoors:
He WILL, of course come out for FOOD! They (incl. Chevy) are given hay 3 X a day, and beet-pulp once a day, sometimes on bitterly-cold days, mixed with a bran mash and some bits and bobs like apple or veg. slices and a sprinkling of molasses. The past few days have once again been down in the minus 28C region, and thus Chevy, who likes to spend most of his time outside, has a fine ‘beard’ of ice on his whiskers. This does NOT mean he’s cold – horses are MEANT to live out, and by far prefer it. (Goats, as Billy has clearly shown, are NOT).
Thus, we have a livestock cocktail of one bearded male with ice and one bearded male ‘neat’.
Having owned horses for more than 40 years, I feel that every winter I have to defend the fact that horses ENJOY being outside in even the coldest/stormiest/snowiest-or-rainiest days and nights. The best and healthiest way to keep horses is to let them have a small fenced area (like our wee corral or paddock) with a run-in shelter IF they desire to be inside. Obviously, once having a riding stable in the freezing Ottawa Valley with more than 20 horses on the property, many of them with fussy owners, I HAVE had fresh-bedded stalls each night and blanketed animals who only went outside a few hours at a time during the day. But this is NOT what horses most enjoy, nor does it keep them as healthy as they should be – it leaves them more vulnerable to colds and other illnesses because their natural immune systems aren’t being allowed to work properly. And horses have OILS in their coats that are like the oilskins fishermen wear – precipitation is repelled. And if there are icicles on them, it just means their insulation is working – their double coats. (A horse’s coat is like insulation in the roof of your home; if there isn’t any insulation all the heat escapes through the roof and you won’t see snow on the roof. Same with le cheval. If they are healthy, and have ample winter fur, you will see snow and ice on them meaning their body heat is not escaping. )
So here’s Chevy and his full beard:
When they DO go in or out, I have for the winter months at least, strung up 4 sleeping bags across the doorway, with weights in the bottoms to keep them from blowing too much in gales. That way they are slightly more protected inside, but can still come and go freely. A doggie-door for livestock, if you like. Cammie is generally the leader, in and out, when the 3 go out in sunshine to eat as they did for lunch today. Chevy is usually the middle, and the bottom of the pecking order is poor Billy. This is mostly due to the fact that he was ‘the last one’ on the property, so any animal thus is typically relegated to the bottom in that case. But as Billy is the most shy, this is another reason he’s usually last:
Like all herds, the pecking order takes some time to be sorted each time they are fed as well. Cammie and Chevy usually DIVE into the hay pile, but Chevy isn’t particularly happy about Billy having the first bites (just in case we hid some treats in there and they were meant for CHEVY – which we never do, but hope springs eternal in the heart of a horse!) As always, click on each to enlarge and read:
By the way, to illustrate how much snow we have, there are FOUR rails, a foot apart each, on that corral fence. So the animals are standing on more than two feet of HIGHLY compressed snow, and yes, Chevy could step over it except a) we have two lines of electric wire going around it and b) he’s not an idiot, and he senses that the snow on the OTHER side isn’t compacted, and he’d fall through up to his belly!
Anyway, after the first few bites, Billy is always allowed into the ‘pack’ to begin eating:
And then everything settles down while they munch and enjoy:
To the point where Chevy, his belly full, often takes a break and dozes off in the sunshine:
Not to be outdone in the iced-up beard department, Smitty is constantly chasing balls and bones thrown into snowbanks. He thinks it’s great fun to come up looking like this…
and then he generally looks very put-upon, as if he’s freezing and deserves to be allowed back in IMMEDIATELY (even if he’s only been out for 5 minutes!)
Also, another male likes to get his beard icicled up when out snow-blowing, and then gives the same sad face as Smitty, begging to be allowed back in:
But Richard DID spend the last 3 days mostly inside, because he got a special job that now has nostalgic appeal added to it as well. All my favourite old places have had ceiling beams, and one of the reasons we loved this place (via the online site that had all the photos when it was listed for sale) was that there were beams in the living room. But my 3 cottages in the U.K., and my log cabin in Montana all had beams in the KITCHEN, and no self-respecting farm kitchen, especially with that part of the house being here since the 1880s, should be without! When we moved here, of course (see prior before and after blogs for renos on the kitchen:
the kitchen was stuck in the 1970s. But I knew that the header that was there between the main kitchen and the pantry area would eventually make a great ‘beam’. I covered it only temporarily for the last 20 months, mostly trying to hide the ‘pink’ paint-job:
This ‘cover up’ of the 1970s header was meant to be a temporary stop-gap until such time as Richard could properly cut some barnboard for a real-looking OLD BEAM. It’s taken until this week, however, to get it!
When my cousins left their farm in Ontario several years ago, they offered me some barnboard to do my Rustic Revivals art projects with. I have used a number of these old much-weathered boards for just such a use, but when Richard suggested that we use the last few of the ones we brought out here with us, I knew right away that that was a more permanent idea, and as a tribute to Cousin Pete, who passed away just a few months ago. I just wish his wife Linda had been able to see the completed beam when she visited this summer, but she’ll just have a great reason to return now! Look at the character in the lovely old wood, and Richard designed it so that it truly does look like one big thick beam, unless you look very very carefully! And traditionally, of course, dried herbs, pots and pans, and beeswax candles must hang from its graceful arc!
Here’s the 1970s before, and as it appears today:
Finally, from two more Bards: Ellis Peters (the Cadfael collection) ” Hugh sat down with him under the dangling bunches of drying herbs, stirring fragrantly along the old beams in the draught from the open door…”
and from D.H. Lawrence in Sons and Lovers : “Then he got his breakfast, made the tea… piled a big fire, and sat down to an hour of joy. …… He had hanging there great bunches of dried herbs: wormwood, rue, horehound, elder flowers, parsley-purt, dandelion…”
SOUNDS COSY, no?