Moose River Farm Blog

Friday, October 9, 2015

Keeping Chickens Happy

     Good Evening,
     Our nine hens turned two years old this summer which is only a fraction of their potential lifespan.  Unfortunately, egg production will significantly drop as the hens continue to celebrate birthdays.  It is highly likely that these girls will join the donkeys, horses, dogs, goats and pig whose occupations are simply as pets.  
     In the meantime, my husband Rod, (who is a gifted chicken whisperer), goes out of his way to make his hens' lives more interesting.  

    The chicken tractor is a mobile coup of sorts that is wheeled to various areas on the property.  In a new location the girls dig and scratch in the moist earth for worms and other tasty tidbits that they find.  The tractor is equipped with nesting boxes just in case the urge to lay an egg arises while the hens are away from home for the day.  

     Once summer ebbs, our garden becomes chicken territory once again.  The girls are permitted admittance to the weedy jungle that entangles exhausted vegetable plants.  Pumpkins and winter squash continue to mature under large protective leaves.  But the remnants of bean, pea and cucumber plants rustle softly, waving a weary goodbye.  Meanwhile, the chickens get busy annihilating pests.  They perform the jubilant scratch dance that unearths delicious insect larvae deposited over the warm weather months.  This cleansing will surely benefit our garden crops next summer.    

     For the third time in two years one of the leghorns we named Francesca, (distinguished by her floppy comb), became listless and stopped eating.  She is still recovering in the tackroom.  For several weeks it was necessary to force feed her by stuffing tiny chunks of corn laced apples down into her crop.  The vigilance has paid off and although Frannie is not quite ready to return to her flock in the coup, she is eating on her own and spending therapeutic time under the sun.  We are hopeful that she can join her sisters in the garden some day...very soon.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Baby Boom

    Good Evening,
    There is a baby boom of sorts this summer.  Although none of these young'ns are new MRF residents they reside, (either physically or emotionally), close enough for me to enjoy the splendor of their youth.  The stark contrast is providing peace after a year of heartbreaking loss among my animals, students and friends.  The photos are proof that life surely does...go on.
3 months old and 24 inches high...
....Scout arrived to provide company for...

...his one year old brother, River.

Babies, Hildie and Trudy, have arrived to offer....
my friend Lynn companionship...
...and unconditional love.
My sister, Sue is bonding with a new Springer Spaniel puppy...
...named Paige.
The next generation has officially begun on the Phinney side of our family...
Introducing Dylan and Quinn!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Thoroughbreds For All

     Good morning,
     A summer full of activities has sidelined my writing endeavors both on the blog and on the follow-up manuscript to Finding My Way to Moose River Farm.  Time to write will return in the crisp autumn air.  Until then, I don't want to miss a moment of summer's offerings, both on and away from Moose River Farm.  
     Earlier this week two friends and I attended Thoroughbreds for Allat Traylor Stables just outside of Saratoga Springs.  This event was a preview to The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium that will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in October.  The main objective of these events is to promote second careers for OTTB's, (off-track thoroughbreds) as sport horses.  The athleticism, grace, and temperament of the thoroughbred is suitable for show jumping, dressage, combined training, and polo, just to name a few of the disciplines in which these horses excel.  When you consider that the average racehorse is retired at age five, (they can live up to and beyond thirty years), the horse industry is morally obligated to promote them for a useful career beyond their limited racing days.  The alternative for many of these horses is a lifetime of neglect or a one way trip to the slaughter yard.
     Thoroughbreds in this country are being considered now by an industry that left them behind in exchange for European warmbloods back in the 1980's.  Until that time the sport horse disciplines sought out OTTB's who moved on to produce memorable accomplishments.  Show jumpers, Jet Run, Idle Dice, Touch of Class, For the Moment, and Number One Spy were thoroughbreds who dominated show jumping at the international level after lackluster performances on the racetrack.  Keen was a celebrated thoroughbred in Dressage.  JJ Babu, Ready Teddy, Eagle Lion and Might Tango were among the great thoroughbreds who competed successfully in three day eventing.  
     This resurgence of thoroughbred sport horses is long overdue.  With luck the trend will continue so that all retired race horses can serve a purpose during their longevity once they cross the finish line for good.
Photos by Michele deCamp

RRP's logo displays the versatility of sport horses who are made in America

International event rider Laine Ashker rode her current OTTB mount, Anthony Patch, (aka Al).
Laine prefers thoroughbreds for eventing...
...because their combination of agility and speed compliments both dressage and jumping.
The most successful female jockey in racing history, Rosie Napravnik rode thoroughbred makeover candidate, Dare Me.
This horse is an over-achiever...

...who will surely benefit from Rosie's expertise in the saddle.

M.C. Steuart Pittman asked Rosie to share her experience with thoroughbreds.  She is clearly their biggest fan!

On a personal note, I caught up with my former boss, Olympic show jumper and Kentucky Derby winning trainer, Michael Matz.

A panel of experts from many different professions in the thoroughbred industry was asked to critique the confirmation and condition of the demonstration horses.
Michael considers the heart of the horse above all other selection factors.  Confirmation, blemishes and athletic condition are not nearly as important to him as the horse's desire to work.  "In the end the question is does the horse want to do the job he is going to be asked to do?"
Laine Ashker's mother Valerie has an eye for picking future eventing stars off the track.
Rosie Napravnik spoke about reforming her racing position from knees in to knees straight.  The change strengthened her base of support and enabled her to ride more efficiently, particularly the horses who pull on the bit. 
Event and exercise rider, Jennie Brannigan follows Rosie's advice.
Rosie is the quintessential girl next door whose passion for the American thoroughbred is evident when sharing her experiences with the crowd.
Thoroughbreds make wonderful polo ponies as was demonstrated by local players.
Michael Matz was presented with a copy of Finding My Way to Moose River Farm.  I marked the pages where he appears in the book.
A crowd of approximately forty attendees enjoyed the intimate gathering with some of the most elite professionals in the horse industry.