Monday, January 24, 2011

A new start for an old horse, sheep in the sun, and a wooly craft

This weekend was absolutely frigid! Jeremy had a comic book event to attend in East Lansing, so I went with him and used this opportunity to visit my friends at Roheryn Farms mere minutes from there. I currently have three horses boarded at Roheryn, on sort of a horsey-vacation for the winter since my lesson program shrinks so drastically during the winter. Two of the horses were active lesson horses, the third, Esme, has basically been stored at Roheryn for the last year. Esme is a very intense horse who, a little over a year ago, was rearing under saddle despite having good teeth and a sound back. I tried several training tactics with her and finally made the decision to sell her. Unfortunately in Michigan the horse market is floundering so terribly that in the end I couldn't even find a home for her for the asking price of $200. I had a few offers, but never from anyone I trusted, and a few from people I outwardly don't trust. I decided to just give it a rest, and I let her sit in a field and get fat for a few months. This weekend I decided it was time to give her a shot again. She is fat, out of shape and her feet are pretty long, but I figured if it went badly I'd know it was time to send her to a horse rescue as I can't afford to keep a non-working horse much longer. Lo and behold, Esme was perfect! We worked for nearly 45 minutes in walk and trot, and she was completely soft, balanced and very receptive to correction which was a huge problem before. I've decided it may be time to bring her back down to Plymouth to see if I can get her working under saddle again. If I can, she'll go back into advanced lessons very very lightly.

Minya says "OMG that's the spot!" while being brushed by Heather. You can't quite see the beauty of her conformation here, especially because she is shoving her back at Heather to be scratched, and she's butt-high, but trust me- she's stunning.

While I was at Roheryn, I visited with Lauren and Heather Shelley's adorable foal who is nearing yearling status. Roheryn's Minya is an adorable bay Arabian filly who has been an incredible improvement on both her Sire and her Dam. It's so much fun to watch her grow, and while she has inherited some of her mother's stubborn personality (that danged mare once bolted after refusing to walk past a puddle and dragged me, running for dear life, for more than 100 yards) she is learning her boundaries and being exposed to lots of things to desensitize her.

Yesterday it was sunny and chilly: Not much warmer than Saturday, and the sheep nestled into their hay and straw, tucked up like little fuzzballs in the low southerly sunshine.

I love to watch them bed down midday in the sun. I always worry when I don't see them right away when I pass their field. Everyone I've spoken to has told me that Icelandics are fantastic at getting out of fences, so naturally I take a second gander if I don't immediately see everybody. They're nearly always sun bathing though, and they always seem irritated when I spoil their afternoon naps. I wonder if I'll ever get comfortable enough to stop checking on them multiple times a day... If I do, that will no doubt be the day they escape... :)

These cold days have been the perfect excuse for me to stay inside and knit. I've been meaning to pick up knitting again but it always seems like there is something else to do. Instead of garden planning however, this weekend I began a pair of simple wool socks. I have yet to finish a pair of socks. I have a few singles, but never a pair. This morning I am determined to finish this pair. (Please disregard the fuzzies all over our couch cushions, haha.)

I'm excited to be able to make my own socks. I like socks to have a tight foot, and I'm not using a pattern, so I can modify my socks however I like.

The yarn I'm using is a wonderful blended wool from The Shearer's Yarn in New Hampshire. I picked it up from a store in Keene while visiting my parents earlier this year. It has more lanolin than most processed yarns and I love to knit with slightly greasy yarn so this was what drew me to it. High lanolin content also makes for good boot socks. My next project will be another pair of socks, this one in a wool/alpaca blend I picked up from a great little yarn shop in Holland, MI called Friends of Wool. Then, after this, I plan to make a thrummed hat out of some handspun wool that I spun a few years ago from roving I picked up in Maine while passing a road-side stand. It was talking to the owner of this stand that drove me to get my own mini flock. She managed her small plot of stony, rocky land and was able to keep several tens of sheep on great pasture through very careful rotation. I was able to learn a lot just by chatting with her, and she really made the possibility of getting my own sheep "real" for me.

Right, this house is cold! I've got to tend to the wood stove, and then back to knitting!


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