Monday, March 28, 2011

Goodbye, March!

Did I post at all this month?  Time has a way of sliding by these days, between horses and barn-building and wedding plans.  We have had a warm few weeks, which means getting out to rake up the leaves we couldn't get to before Christmas, and cleaning the pastures left untended during cold weather.

Then-bam!-March shows its teeth during the last weekend with harsh winds and cold air.  I'd gotten used to doing without gloves on my morning feeding rounds, but today I should have thought twice about that choice.

The barn is progressing nicely and I would post pictures except the battery for my camera died and I can't find the charger.  I took my battery to the shop to purchase a new charger, only to be told I had to have the camera to identify the correct model.  Frankly, that makes no sense.  I resent the proliferation of charger and battery types that make money for the manufacturers but only complicate the situation for users.  Why can't all cameras use the same battery model?  Why don't all cell phones use the same charger?  I'm all for capitalism, but this is just greedy, in my opinion.

I've been nearly as slack working the horses as I have been posting here.  I spend most of my time talking to cabinet makers, searching out appliances on line and off, trying to find boards and paneling for reasonable prices, choosing windows and sinks and ice makers and floors...  If I build again, I only want to be involved to the extent of choosing colors.  I don't have this much space left in my brain!



Thursday, February 3, 2011


At last, the plumbing and electric conduits are in, the walls are finished and concrete is being poured.  That means the bottom floor of the barn has reached the stage where carpenters can take over and the work can really start to move.

This was the horses' view this morning--a big claw reaching over the building.  Who's to say it wasn't coming across to pick up Suzette and feed her to a giant?

On the other side, two concrete trucks, a fleet of pickups and the main character in this drama, the concrete pumper truck, waited for the big event.

This crazy apparatus pumps concrete through a hose into the openings in the block walls.  That's my very handsome mason, aiming the hose.

Looks easy, doesn't it?  Except that it's 37 degrees with a windchill of about 25, and he's standing twelve feet in the air on scaffolding.

This part of the barn--the first level floor and walls--has taken more than six months.  Now we have about 4 months to get the rest done, before we host a wedding in June.  The carpenters assure me this will happen, that the rest of the work goes much faster.  Once the roof is on, we don't have to worry about weather anymore.  And I'll get to start making all the fun decisions--stain colors and paint colors and paneling and doors and floors. 

Chilled but excited,


Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Thaw

So much to catch up on!  (As usual.)

Starting with the Christmas parade, our weather has been remarkably cold for the Sandhills, which gave the holidays a sparkle but delayed my barn construction considerably.  Wet concrete block doesn't stick well to mortar, so the masons couldn't work when it rained.  They couldn't work when the water in the hose was frozen, either.  Not to mention the fact that it's misery to stand outside for 8 hours at 35 degrees.

Despite all these setbacks, the barn walls are finished and ready to be filled with concrete.  I have no fear of tornadoes and hurricanes taking down this shelter!  Once that's done, the carpenters can FINALLY start working on the ceiling and the roof.

The whiskers sticking up from the barn are water lines and electrical conduits.

In the meantime, Christmas was a good time for us, at home with our nuclear family and a future son-in-law.  My long-time Christmas wish was granted--we got snow for Boxing Day.  Lovely, six-inch deep snow.

Unlike the northeast, snow around here tends to vanish quickly, so the roads were clear a day later and the white stuff on the grass melted soon thereafter.  But I did enjoy it while it lasted.

The next snow was pretty, too...until freezing rain turned the soft white blanket into ice.  A solid crystaline shell encased the entire world for almost a week--dangerous to walk on and messy to deal with.  Water troughs froze.  Ice balled up on the bottoms of the horses' hooves, needing to be chipped out with a hammer for safety's sake.  Fortunately, I have seven good horses who put up with being pestered while they munch their hay.

Sheets of ice sliding off the shed roof.

Today, though, the sun is shining and the temperature is supposed to reach 50 degrees.  TBone and I will go for a drive.  I may be able to start dealing with the autumn leaves still lying in piles around the house.  The birds were up early, flitting around the feeders.  Maybe I can get them refilled, too.

Good luck to all those in the rest of the country dealing with another storm, another six...ten...twenty or more inches of snow.  I understand better now what a hassle the white stuff can be. 

Hoping you get your own thaw soon,


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Late Breaking News

For a major dose of Christmas cheer, follow this link to the YouTube video of the Moore County Driving Club Holiday Parade.

2010 Southern Pines Holiday Carriage Parade

The gorgeous pair of white horses with red trim under their harness is my gorgeous Cream Draft team, Lucy and Joy.  They did beautifully in the parade, other than a slight shy at the big railroad tracks.  I am so proud of my girls!

TBone comes along , too, driven by the husband with a reindeer friend.  They, too, performed well.  Nobody got hurt and the horses are fine, despite the really horrible weather.  Thirty-seven degrees and pouring rain--the absolute worst possible conditions to spend the morning outside.  My gloves got wet and my fingers froze into agonizing sticks.  The daughter (in red antlers) ended up doing most of the driving, but that's okay.  She did a great job (of course.)

For the record, washing a draft horse requires at least one and a half hours.  I spent three hours washing horses on Friday, when the outside temperature didn't quite reach forty.  At least the sun shone during the process, unlike Saturday, when I stood with them in the rain for most of an hour before the parade started.

Still, we had a wonderful time.  It's a pretty great start to the Christmas celebration, decorating horses and carriages for a ride through downtown, smiling and waving at the shoppers.  I can hear "Silver Bells" now...

Hhmmm.   Maybe that will be next year's theme!

Warm at last,


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Birth of a Barn

I finally realized that the only way to show the barn process was to include the photos in a regular post.  I'm still not really savvy with all this Web stuff. is my field BEFORE.  Abby and TBone are grazing near the burn pile.  Nice green grass, wide open spaces.

This next photo is from last February--what looks like snow is actually ice thick enough to support a horse without cracking.  That's the same burn pile, more or less, underneath.  The building on the side is our well house at the corner of the field.

Fast forward six months.  The burn pile, along with huge mountains of dirt, has been removed.  Trenches two feet deep were dug and filled with concrete, to support the barn walls.  A 10-inch thick layer of gravel covered the trenches and defined the floor of the barn, then was covered with plastic.  Pipes for plumbing were installed.  The result is... 

Then the concrete trucks arrived.

At the end of that momentous day, we had a wash stall and horse stalls:

And a wide center aisle.  That's the tack room across the aisle, not yet filled in.

Nicely smoothed and ready to walk on. 

This was August, so imagine sweltering heat to go with these pictures.  The stacks of concrete blocks will become walls in my next post.

Making progress,