December 31, 2009

Banty Condo

It's New Year's Eve. Snowy day here, about four inches. After much deliberation, Terry and I made the decision not to send out two trucks, trailers and teams for contracted rides. We felt the trip in the storm (and we would have been on the road in the middle of the storm) was too much of a risk for our horses, our equipment, our people and ourselves.

Before the storm hit, we unloaded about 75 bales of hay into the loft that Terry brought back last night. My best present were the banties Terry brought back for me - yellow, light red, silver and multi-colors! They are happy in their condo, shared with Poof Chicken. Tonight, 24 hours after their introduction to their new home, we decided to offer a little red hen to our English Game rooster, Herman. Terry had to crawl through the small door to get at her, as all these new chickens are roosting in the loft I spoke about in an earlier post! Herman pecked at her mercilessly, so we removed her and sent her back to the condo!

December 30, 2009

Hay Diary - Danny, Dakota and Dolly finished off the round bale today and were given two bales tonight,. The four grays had a total of four square bales today. It is supposed to rain tomorrow so it is doubtful we will put round bales out again for a couple of days, at least. Meanwhile, Terry is on his way home with a load of hay (square bales).

December 29, 2009

Hay Diary - While Danny, Dakota and Dolly still have nearly half a round bale left, the four grays are pretty much done with theirs. This morning I subsidized their feeder with a single square bale. It is cold, windy (wind chills in the single digits), and I want them to keep eating all day to stay warm.

December 28, 2009

Poof Chicken is Back!

After the big snow storm last Saturday/Sunday, Poof Chicken disappeared. Thinking at first she may be hiding, then day after day not seeing her anywhere, we feared she was gone for good. Yesterday, after the rain which rid the ground of all the snow, she suddenly appeared to us in the barn! She was dirty, disheveled, and very, very hungry, but happy to see us (and we, her). I scooped her up and put her in the new "Little Chicken Condo" Terry brought back from Pennsylvania for me, and she had herself a feast.

This chicken condo is fabulous. Sturdy, with a steep, shingled roof, it has two large rooms - covered, outdoor recreation room and a large master suite with large windows, a separate entrance, and a comfy straw bed. It also has a loft above the master suite for a chicken to sneak away for some "quiet time" (if she dares). Poof Chicken will be accepting room-mates in a few days - a small family of Amish banty hens.

The Christmas holiday was wonderful (except for our Christmas morning mayhem, which we won't repeat here), and Sunday was back to business as usual. Because of their Christmas wilding, we decided Danny & Dakota needed to do some community service, and we put them to work on a country carriage ride. We trotted them most of the way, and cantered them in the hilly spots, and when they got back to the barn, all thoughts of escaping in the night were worked out of their cute little heads.

December 26, 2009

Hopyard Press

Watch Elaine's whimsical new artwork emerge on her creative blog, Hopyard Press. Cedar Knoll horses are in most of the illustrations!

Day After Christmas

Some folks spend the Day After Christmas lounging around, enjoying the day off (such as our dogs, Penny & Moses, and Charlee the cat). Other folks (like those humans at Cedar Knoll Farm) have friends over to try out ponies and horses. Whitney's grandparents, Patty & Dale, brought her by to get on Sweet Pea and try her under saddle. For a four year old (Sweet Pea, that is, not Whitney) she did very well, and shows herself to be a very sensible, fast learner. We really like this pony!
Photos: Top: Penny, Charlie & Moses, relaxing on the couch. (The Holidays, as you know, can be very vexing times for a pair of coon hounds and a house cat).
Bottom: Whitney riding Sweet Pea. It would be nice if we had appropriate tack for these ponies that come here, but we are a carriage business, not riding stable!

Calendar Contest from Bit & Bridle

Check out this calendar contest from Bit & Bridle of Gabrielle Boiselle's gorgeous equine photos!

December 25, 2009

Merry (bleepin') Christmas

Courtesy of Danny & Dakota, what was to be our peaceful Christmas morning turned tense. We spent hours hustling to clean the barn, trashed by these two horses that got out of their stalls in the night. Manure and urine was everywhere, bales of hay lying in it. Marks on the steps up to the hay loft could be seen where one of them tried to walk up the stairs. Raj, the mini, had obviously been tormented. Tonight everyone is back in the barn with the threat of freezing rain, and already we have switched horses around twice. Securing one team in a new location means upset for another. Lincoln, always the aggressor, has ousted the pony to be isolated in the box stall, after causing a fight with Dakota standing next to him, nearly crushing Terry. I dread waking up tomorrow.

Photos: Top: Terry in the barn assessing the damage.
Bottom: Raj rolling, scratching away the bad memory of Danny & Dakota's spree of Christmas mayhem.

Merry Christmas

December 23, 2009

Sleigh Ride

Today we did a group sleigh ride at Blue Slope, with Bonnie & Belle. It was unbearably cold and windy on the hill, but in the woods it was quite nice. Here's hoping the rest of the winter brings us snow, but warmer, more tolerable temperatures!

December 22, 2009

A Day in the Sunshine, with Snow

December 22, and it is Terry's birthday! Lemon meringue pie and a framed print of an illustration I did of him in our sleigh were his presents today. He hardly looks a day older.

Today Terry brought the Ford 550 up to Plainfield to have some work done. Oil change, transmission fluid, fuel filter - not sure what else. Total cost: over $450.00.

Hay Diaries: Yesterday morning, Monday December 21, two round bales were taken out of the large trailer and put into the paddocks. It was a very sunny morning and, as is evident by the above pictures, ALL the horses, ponies included were happy to be out in the snow, with an unlimited supply of sweet sustenance in front of them! At night, in the barn, they are getting their usual ration of grain, water, and just one or two flakes of hay.

Photos: Top: Dolly and the bays waste no morning energy - they just EAT.
Second: Our mini, Raj, is literally belly deep in the snow.
Third: Sweat Pea enjoys a roll in the snow after being "barn-bound" for two days.
Bottom: The greys, vying with each other for the best mouthful of a new bale.

December 20, 2009

Yankee Pedlar Calendars

The magazine, Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar, has published a 2010 calendar and our beautiful horses grace not one, but two months of the year! You may request a copy of this calendar by calling the Pedlar at 508-987-5886.

Digging Out of Albert

As is evident by the top picture, Albert the snow storm sure did dump a lot of fluffy snow on us! Already since blogging this morning we have gotten calls for sleigh rides - but, digging out of this mess is a priority for us today. Once the snow stopped at noon, I put all the horses out, one by one, as Terry worked (and still works) to clear the driveways. No easy task at a farm where the barnyard is big enough for multiple tractor trailers to turn round in.

Once the horses hit the snow, it was down to roll then up to buck and kick and run! Dakota, one of the bays, in typical Dakota fashion never even made it to the paddock for his first roll - he rolled in the barnyard while I was leading him out to the paddock! I will be making some paintings and illustrations from photos I took and will upload them at another time on my art blog, The Hopyard Press, so keep a lookout. Meanwhile, here are a few photos to enjoy.

Photos: Top: Terry on the tractor, with our big tractor/trailer snowed in behind him.
Second: The five Percherons, waiting patiently to go out.
Third: Lincoln running through the snow.
Bottom: Danny and Dolly enjoying a good roll in the snow!

Major Snow Storm

Since 8PM last night, Connecticut, and our area in particular, has been hammered by a major snow storm. At this point, just 12 hours after its start, we have approximately 20 inches of snow on the ground, and the flakes keep falling. Doubtful that we will get the sleigh out today - we will have a tremendous amount of work just trying to get ourselves plowed out!

It is such a comfort knowing we have such a nice barn where all our horses can be cozy, warm and safe during such a storm. Not all horses are so lucky. We cancelled one of our rides yesterday, because we would not have been home until after midnight, well after the storm was predicted to hit. It was a smart decision. Middletown went as planned, only with the bitter cold, Santa let us go home a half hour early. Once home, we unharnessed horses, brought the others in, fed everyone, and loaded our basement with three loads of firewood from our pile. Yet another wise decision, as our pile is under that 20 inches of snow now. The chickens and peacocks were bedded down in their coops, fresh warm water and plenty of scratch to keep them happy. The goats were fed in their hutch, and although I haven't been outside yet, I know they are hunkered down together, peaking out the door, staying dry and warm. And that is what we will do, at least until the snow stops around noon time - remain hunkered down by the fire in our wood stove, content to know we have plenty of wood to keep us warm.

December 19, 2009

Vineyard Ride in the Cold

Thursday was unbelievably bitter cold here, with wind chills in the single digits. Wouldn't you know, we had a group dinner ride to the vineyard! It was so cold, we came back home instead of waiting for the group there (luckily - they were there better than three hours!) and stayed by the fire in the house. Duke & Diesel stood quietly at the hitching post the whole time.

Terry tells of a funny story from that day: "One of the women gets out of the car, dressed in high heels and a fur coat, and begins talking to me. She suddenly looks towards the horses in their paddocks and says, "OH! What is THAT?!" and I say, "What is what?" She points to the paddock and says, "THAT! That white thing! It's moving!" I then realized what she meant. "That's a chicken!" I said. "A Chicken! OH! It has a white poof on it's head!" So I said, "Yes, it is a Poof Chicken!" We both laughed. Really, it's just our silky hen."

Photos: Top: Our "Poof Chicken"
Middle: Duke & Diesel wait patiently at the hitching rail.
Bottom: Duke, Diesel and Terry at the vineyard.

December 14, 2009

Monday Night

It is Monday night, and Terry is already on his way back from PA. Danny and Dakota, the bays, got new shoes today. Not without moments of extreme aggravation, I may add. Dakota did well enough. The one who started his career giving both barrels at the touch of a hand below the stifle is now relatively easy to shoe — the other, Danny Boy, has come full circle, like an unpredictable drunkard at the bar. Front feet, good. Right hind, cautious but doable. Left hind — POW! So in the stocks Danny went. Our farrier, as well as the horse, are too valuable to us to risk injury.

December 13, 2009

Jingle Bells Through Hartford Streets

It is Sunday night, and we are in the house by the fire, done with chores and Christmas wagon ride. Although the rides (in Hartford, at a venue we have been at for years now) started off under cloudy skies, the rain took over and the rides ended early. Still, all in all, the rides went very well and we enjoyed seeing everyone again. In spite of the rain, the weather was warm - a good 15 degrees warmer than yesterday!

This weather wreaks havoc on horses. So many people we know are having trouble with their horses' health when the weather goes from 60 degrees to snow storm to wind chills in the single digits, back up to well above the freezing mark. Our good friends Patty & Dale, who have bought two wonderful horses from us (Michael & Mary), are tonight trying to get some sleep after a 24 hour ordeal with colic. Michael, we are told, is resting comfortably at Tufts Equine Hospital, and we hope and pray he comes home very soon, and without stomach upset!

Saturday's Rides

If we look cold in this picture, it is because we were! Temperature never got above 3o degrees, but the trouble was the wind! This picture shows me (in the driver's seat) with helper Nicole with Duke & Diesel at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa - a regular venue for us. While we were there, Terry and another helper were in Middletown during the day and East Haddam at Ray of Light Farm at night. Meanwhile, Karl & Sue had taken a team and wagon to the Sub Base. Busy, busy day!

December 9, 2009

Although I have no pictures to prove it, today we had our first snow storm of the season. This meant that last night, every horse on the property was in the barn (well, my pony, Sweet Pea, had to stay in the trailer, for lack of one extra stall). We have a BIG black team of sale horses here, but one is unfortunately lame. Terry will take them back to PA next week.

Tonight, these blacks, Sweet Pea, Raj and the four grays are in the barn - the grays because they are blanketed, and a short but soaking rain storm came through after putting them out tonight, getting their blankets wet. It took Peter (our barn help), me, and Terry better than two hours to clean the barn after 24 hours of well fed horses being indoors - I'm sure you get the picture.

Photos: Top: Raj the Mini, before the snow.
Middle: One of the big blacks.
Bottom: Dakota and Danny, snug before the storm. They are stalled in a team-wide tie stall at the end of the barn.

December 7, 2009

Hay Diary

Tonight we put round bales in each of the two paddocks. Horses will stay out until Tuesday night - we are expecting heavy rain Wednesday. Terry brought home a LARGE team of blacks this afternoon, who will remain in the barn until he leaves for PA.

Jim and Jess

The horses we named "Jim & Jess" are now being leased out to a company in New Hampshire for the remainder of the Christmas season. After Christmas they will be for sale. They are a fantastic team of grey geldings, and are an excellent commercial team. Standing a good 17.2HH a piece, they are tall but very quiet. If interested in learning more about them, call us!

Christmas Parade in Taunton, MA

December, 6, 2009 we were once again in Taunton, MA for their annual Christmas Parade. This year's parade was bigger than ever, and our horses and carriages graced the streets as thousands came out to enjoy the sunshine and reasonably warm weather. Duke & Diesel had the honors of pulling Miss Taunton in the Cinderella Pumpkin Carriage, and Lincoln finished off the parade with Santa in the sleigh. Also making an appearance was the Hallamore Hitch of Clydesdales.

Photos: Top: Miss Taunton made her appearance in the Taunton Parade with the Cinderella Pumpkin Carriage, pulled by Duke & Diesel.
Bottom: Santa's coming to town, in a red sleigh pulled by a Percheron!

Meanwhile, what do we do to prepare for our jobs? Year round our horses get a bath with the pressure washer - in cold weather it is a hot water bath. Then in the winter, they are blanketed to keep them as clean as possible in-between jobs. This photo shows Terry pressure-washing Dolly on Thursday, which was a very warm day.

December 6, 2009

Holiday Cheer Continues

Friday into Saturday we found ourselves with multiple vehicles and teams in many different locations. Friday night, as per a years long tradition, we had two carriages in Deep River for their annual tree lighting and town caroling. Always a delightful venue, the carriages were packed all night long, giving Duke and Diesel and Dolly and Lincoln a good workout.

Saturday, in spite of very chilly rain, Terry and I were in Middletown again. Santa, always practical, closed up shop early once the rain became too steady and started to pull down his beard. Wise decision, as we were getting soaked, too. Meanwhile, Karl and Sue had Lincoln and Dolly in Bloomfield, only in the snow!

Speaking of snow, we are selling lots of sleigh ride gift certificates ('tis the season) and naturally got calls yesterday for sleigh rides. Unfortunately, there was not enough snow this time - we need a minimum of 5" of good quality snow to do sleigh rides.

Photos: Top: Duke, Diesel, Dolly and Lincoln in Deep River
Bottom: Duke and Diesel in Middeltown, with Santa

December 4, 2009

Holyoke Tree Lighting

The first Thursday of every December we find ourselves delivering the citizens of Holyoke MA to Santa's train. Yes, I said train. He comes in on an antique Pioneer Railroad engine, and all the children visit with him in one of the cars decorated with lights and a Christmas tree. The historic carousel is open, and the town hall, which looks like a mediaeval castle, is lit up with a giant Christmas tree out front. This year (unlike years past!) was warm and balmy - didn't need a jacket until well after sundown!

A Barn Full of Percherons

Terry came in from PA on Wednesday night with a tall team of grays. They had a short stint at a tree farm there but are now being leased to someone in New Hampshire for their holiday rides. They'll be leaving our farm next week, but meanwhile they are gracing our back paddock. Although it is a young team, they are super quiet, well broke, and sweet. They will likely be up for sale in January.

Hay Diary: The bays and Dolly have been eating bales since Wednesday night. While we have a few round bales stored, we decided against putting them out because of heavy, HEAVY rainfall on Wednesday night. We were flooded Thursday morning, but with the monsoon rains came warmer weather - better than 60 degrees!

December 1, 2009

Waking to a (potential) Nightmare

Woke up this morning to a chill in the air and ice in the water buckets. Heading outside to feed, I heard a loud banging from the barn. At first thinking it was Duke, showing his dismay at still being indoors by pawing his size 7 feet at the head of the stall, I went to the tractor. Before starting it , however, I realized the banging was both too loud and too desperate to be Duke. Running into the barn, I saw Lincoln half over the stall divider between him and Duke, one hind leg hanging and the other tucked up on the divider, his front legs outstretched trying to hold his massive weight, trembling with fear and adrenalin.

I panicked. Having forgotten my cell phone in the house, I ran to retrieve it. I immediately called Terry, helpless in Pennsylvania to do anything about this dilemma. He could barely understand my desperate voice, screaming we had an emergency, not knowing what to do with an 1800 pound horse with powerful hindquarters stuck five feet in the air. Duke's tie was broken, undoubtably trying to get away from Lincoln's hind end. After hanging up with Terry, who promised to call a good neighbor, I grabbed Duke to put him out, fearing I would need the room to work to get Lincoln on his legs again.

Within 30 seconds of putting Duke out, Lincoln had once again found the floor, straddling the divider! Why had I not retrieved the camera while in the house after the phone? What a sight!

Figuring my only hope at extricating Lincoln was the use of a chain saw, I decided it would benefit me to move Diesel outside, too, now dancing and snorting at what he must have determined to be Lincoln's naughtiness.

As I said before, wish I had had a camera: by the time I once again got back to plot Lincoln's rescue, he had somehow hopped the divider, and was standing in his stall, with a look on his face that said, "Why you huffin' and puffin' so bad? Let's EAT!" All this, and not a mark on him.

The morning doesn't end there, however. While going about my morning chores (at a much more relaxed pace, I may add), I discovered my beloved pet English Game Bantam hen, Belinda, had passed away in the night. Such sadness I felt to open the door to her little bantam house to find her cold and lifeless. I shall miss her horribly, and I am sure her rooster, Herman, feels lost without her. Goodbye, Belinda.

Hay Diary -
The bays and Dolly finished the round bale in their paddock as of yesterday morning, Monday November 30. Because the greys are bathed and blanketed, they are spending more time in the barn, so I moved the three into the grey's paddock. That paddock still has some hay in the feeder, and I will let them finish it. Meanwhile, the four greys and the two ponies are consuming approximately 4 1/2 bales of hay a day.

November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving and Beyond

It was a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends, and a hectic weekend kicking off the holiday Season's carriage rides! In spite of chilly, wet weather on Friday, we had horses and carriages in Middletown on Friday night. Saturday, windy but not too chilly, saw us in both Middletown and Niantic. Sunday was wagon rides for the Advent celebrations at Blue Slope Country Museum. The horses got a good workout this weekend, and so did we. Alas, in all the hustle and bustle, the camera was left at home, so no pictures to share! We did get quite a bit of press, however, both by way of television and newspaper.

We now have a volunteer, Peter, from one of the local high schools, and he is a gem. He comes to the farm every day to help with chores - it is a requirement for his high school ag program to do some work on a farm. He is doing a tremendous job and we look forward to seeing him every day!

November 25, 2009

Hay Diary

New round bales for each paddock yesterday afternoon, November 24th. Each paddock had about 2 days worth of square bales in the meantime.

November 22, 2009

Lincoln and Santa Claus

Today was the annual parade in Jewett City, and Terry and Lincoln were there with the sleigh to deliver Santa and Mrs. Claus to all the good children of the town.

We are preparing the horses for their winter work, which is very extensive beginning this week. All will get a deep cleaning with the pressure washer, and blanketed to keep them as clean as possible (in spite of this, the muddy paddocks will require us to do, at minimal, a daily spot bath on each of them).

As for our hay situation: as of yesterday, we have been feeding each paddock square bales, as the round bales are gone. New bales will be purchased tomorrow. It is an amazing savings, yet it is also amazing to see how much money leaves our hands every week or so for hay.

November 16, 2009

Hay Diary

Today is Monday, November 16. This evening we lifted another round bale high into the feeder for Duke, Diesel, Gillette and Lincoln. Yesterday, November 15, we did the same for Danny, Dakota and Dolly. The before mentioned grays had been given a new bale last Wednesday evening. That means the four are eating one of these new $60.00 round bales every five days. Divide $60.00 by five and that is $12.00 per day, or $3.00 per horse. Based on Northeast prices, that is a savings of about $2.00 - $3.00 per horse per day over regular square bales. They are eating non-stop. No one appears malnourished! I project we will be after another load of round bales this coming Friday. We have found a new supplier since the two suppliers we have had before are already out of round bales for the season. We put a small load (about 135 bales) of square bales in the loft just the other day. We need to go after a tractor trailer load shortly to sustain us through the winter months - even that, if we don't have the back-up of round bales while the weather stays reasonable, won't get us through February.

Plowing Four-Up

Terry plowing with Duke & Diesel (lead) and Danny & Dakota (wheel) on our White Horse hydraulic plow.

November 10, 2009

Shoeing the Draft Horse

The November issue of the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar includes a feature article by me, Elaine Juska Joseph, called "Shoeing the Draft Horse: The Legacy of Tradition". The above title should link to the correct page - if not, the article starts on page 56. Many of the photos supplied are by friend Tory MacDonald.

November 8, 2009

Clydesdale Gelding for Sale

FOR SALE: Jones, Clydesdale gelding. Jones is a very sweet, very correct Clydesdale, drives single and team. Traffic safe. Coming 5 this spring, @17.2HH. Click on the title of this blog to see a video of him driving. Call us if interested in trying him out! 860-376-8110.

November 6, 2009

The New Clyde

We brought in a new sale horse this week - a Clydesdale named Jones. He is a good sized horse, very personable, and so far an excellent driving horse both single and team. We will be taking him to the Eastern CT Draft Horse Association's "Fun Day" at Blue Slope tomorrow and put him on a plow with another Clyde. If all goes well, he is likely sold to the other Clyde's owners.
Terry went out to the Ohio line this week to pick up a load of PMU babies out of Canada. He met the broker at a sale barn, and loaded the babies into the trailer and brought them to a farm in East Haddam, where they will eventually be adopted out. This is good news for these foals - the other alternative was the slaughterhouse.

Photos: Top: Terry driving Jones and Lincoln
Middle: Jones the Clydesdale
Bottom: The pens at the sale barn where the PMU babies were transferred.

November 3, 2009

Sunday's Breakfast Ride

November 1st saw us in Hope Valley, RI at friend's Diane & Jim Rockwell's farm. Each year they hold a fabulous "Breakfast Ride" from their place - a 13 mile hike through RI state forest. The morning starts off with an unbelievable breakfast - bacon on an open fire, biscuits and gravy, johnny-cakes — you name it. The ride (this year we had six teams and four or five outriders) lasted about three hours. Upon our return we had a delicious pot-luck dinner - seems we never stopped eating! It was a very relaxing, fun day.

Photos: 1) Elaine driving Danny & Dakota
2) Sam Rich with his young mares
3) Host Diane Rockwell rides a pony for fun
4) Sue & Karl Lado with their team
5) Group shot!