2013 Family Photo

2013 Family Photo
by Michele deCamp; edited by Mark Butto

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Moose River Farm....Staycation

     Good Morning,
    Facebook friends have filled their posts with beautiful sun-filled vacation photos these last two weeks.  After such a harsh winter, the idea of escaping to sand, sun and 80 degrees is very appealing.  However, I have been waiting patiently, through months of bitter misery for these two weeks to just stay home.  
     The time was necessary to reconnect with my animals.  It was also spent promoting Finding My Way to Moose River Farm with the expertise of a book publicist named Susan Schwartzman.  Her guidance has brought me to the realm of radio and TV author interviews.  Although this phase is very exciting, it does require focus and preparation.  Needless to say, with Susan's help, I am learning while reaching a whole new layer of animal loving readers.  
     The following photos are a brief synopsis of my break.  Notice how the most significant sign of winter evaporates over the course of two weeks.  Good riddance... and welcome spring!

Rosemary is desperate for sunshine after a long winter spent indoors.

On sunny days, Sandi's remaining eye is protected under a fly mask.

Target lost a whole lot of bird nesting material....from the shedding blade.


Zambi is in desperate need of grooming after a nap in his melting manure paddock.

Lowtchee contemplates lying down with Joshua in the sunshine.

There are still piles of snow yet to melt after week one.

Fiona went for many walks looking for signs of summer.


The hens explore the garden, searching for earthworms to turn into eggs.

On a mission.

Power walking after a long winter.

Rod digs worms for his girls.  Shirtsleeves against a snowy background.  Adk. spring.

Liam, Lilly and Lacey snack on the barn wreath.




Target and Makia feel the earth under their feet....and run for pure joy!

Nap time for Missy is nap time for Hayden.

...and Huxley.

Jean Dunn, a member of the Canastota Library Writer's Group greets Rosemary at our book talk.

On Good Friday we made an appearance on Channel 9's Bridge Street.  Great experience!
Bridge Street TV Segment

Monday, April 7, 2014

Great Mares Part 2 and 3; Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta

     Good Morning,
     The Kentucky Derby is only four weeks from now; a sure sign that spring is underway.  Horse racing is becoming very exciting as the first Saturday in May approaches.  The results of the Wood Memorial, Bluegrass Stakes and Arkansas Derby will begin to solidify the list of 20 three year-olds who will run for the roses on May 3rd.  
     I have conflicting opinions about horse racing.  They fluctuate between a deep respect for equine athletes bred to run, and great concern for the general well being of young horses pushed beyond their physical limitations.  A more vital concern to me however, is the large number of ex-race horses who can't find employment after their average 3 year racing career has ended.  At this point they still have the potential to live 30 more years; a lifespan that is near impossible to match with human commitment.  Homes for dogs and cats are scarce enough.  Even fewer possibilities to re-home Thoroughbreds exist.  Unless the adopter is an experienced horseman with training abilities, the horse is at great risk for neglect or abuse.  
     Once in awhile exceptional examples of success in racing arise that grab hold of our emotions.  While basking in their greatness we are able to witness how well cared for and loved they are by the public as well as their "connections."  
     Mares, Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are two of racing's Goddesses.  Legions of fans, who never forgot the boost they gave to Thoroughbred racing in the last decade, continue to follow their lives.  Both of these great horses are retired from the race track and are living well on Kentucky bluegrass.  
     Zenyatta's third foal is expected any day now.  Fans are holding a vigil by checking her status on Facebook and her website.  We are not surprised that she is a wonderful mother, relaxed and attentive as her feisty colts zoom around the field attempting to break their mother's incredible record.  Her owners and caregivers have generously shared the great mare's births with us by making pictures and updates easily accessible.  
     Rachel Alexandra has not had good luck as a broodmare.  Although her 2 foals have thrived, in February, 2013 she suffered complications related to the birthing process.  It almost ended her life.  For weeks fans held their breath after Rachel's surgery to correct a torn rectum.  Her large filly was grafted to and reared by a nurse mare so that Rachel could fully recover.  Updates on the mare were released often so that her adoring fans could follow the slow but encouraging progress.  By April she was enjoying brief periods of turnout back at the farm.  
     In 2009 when both mares were making history on opposite coasts, there was chatter about a match race.  Rachel, at age three, won the Preakness.  Jockey Calvin Borel had chosen to ride her instead of his Derby winning mount, Mine that Bird.  Although he respected the big 50/1 winning colt, he felt the mare was even better.  He was right.  Rachel cruised over the finish line in front of the pack; the first mare to do so in 85 years.
    Meanwhile, Zenyatta, a late bloomer, didn't begin attracting attention until later that same year.  Attention was drawn to the California girl's undefeated record with every win she secured.  By the end of 2009, the 5 year old mare's credentials had surged to 14 wins out of 14 starts.  
    Rachel's 2009 Horse of the Year honor was well deserved.  Zenyatta earned the same prestigious title in 2010.  The world was captivated by the two Queens in the Sport of Kings.
     Personally, I am thankful that the two mares never raced against each other.  Is it necessary to know which one is "greater"?  Does one race declare such a proclamation.  Isn't there room for two to share the throne?  After all civilization has survived decades without declaring whether Secretariat was greater than Man O'War.  Opinions are expressed, discussions ensue, and speculations abound.  However, one truth remains secure.  Both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta captured our imagination and continue to capture our hearts.

Zenyatta with her first foal in 2012.

Rachel Alexandra and her 2012 foal.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dream in Shades of Summer

Good Morning,

The endless winter of 2014 is preventing the warm temperatures necessary for spring to burst out of the ground. Its bitter cold grip is inflicting a sense of starvation upon me. How I crave a glimpse of green grass, a crawling insect, or any other mere morsel of life in the Adirondacks on its way to vernal abundance. Until then I can only escape the present by closing my eyes and indulging my senses with what I hunger for the most.

Dream in Shades of Summer

I dream in shades of summer
Through the long gelid winter night
Of green and sun-kissed places
Teeming in life under solar bright

I dream in sounds of summer
Where birds sing in chorus of renew
Leaves chime in gentle breezes
Peepers chirp desire for a mate to run into
I dream in scents of summer
Green hay filling up the barn
Earthy loam, milkweed sweet
And ozone before a thunderstorm

I dream in textures of summer
Working the stiff brush I clutch
To reveal the sleek smooth coat
Of every animal I touch

I dream in flavors of summer
Vanilla ice-cream, fruit cobbler and Barbecue
Only allow such rich indulgences
When the body has much work to do

I dream of all things summer
Through bitter nights that never end
While asleep I climb up on my horse
And hit the breezy trail again

We escape the sticky heat and bugs
Follow the meandering Moose River
Visit all our favorite woodsy sites
Now buried beneath a brutal winter

And when the night is over 
The sun creeps towards the dawn
A cold hard jolt of reality 
Shoves me back where I belong

To live through yet another day 
Frozen to my very core
Until I lay me down to sleep, close my eyes and return once more...

To dream in shades of summer
Through the long gelid winter night
Of green and sun-kissed places
Teeming in life under solar bright

Ah, yes.....Summer!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Read aloud from Finding My Way to Moose River Farm

            Good Afternoon,
        The technology of communication offers so many different applications.  Today I am trying my hand, (or voice), at an audio excerpt from Finding My Way to Moose River Farm.  As Rod, the animals and I approach our 10th anniversary here on the farm, it seems only fitting that the first audio recording take place on the first morning of chores in my new barn.  Enjoy!

Home Sweet Home!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seeing-Eye Donkeys

     Good Afternoon,
     Although March arrived today on the calendar, winter weather is expected to prevail into next week.  Trying to remain optimistic about a warm-up in the air and in my attitude, I constantly search for signs of hope around the farm.  Lately, I haven't had to look far passed the wooden fence outside my back door.  
     Failing eyesight has forced our 29 year old gelding, Sandi, (Just A School Horse), to adapt to a world gone dark.  Watching him learn to compensate is an inspiration to me.  Failure to accept this change in his life is simply not an option.  Therefore, he has had to rely on guidance from our two young donkeys, Bing and Frankie, (Whinnies of Change), to show him the way.  
     Lately, it has become evident that the donkeys are even more aware of their role in Sandi's life.  Both Rod and I watch in awe as this relationship develops out of adversity.  Although it may be different for each of us struggling to survive an endless winter, there is a lesson to be learned from the following video.  Enjoy!
Film Crew; Frankie and Rod Phinney 
Dedicated to the memory of Sherry Grimm a fellow animal lover.

Monday, February 17, 2014

By the Light of the Snow Moon

     Good Afternoon,
     Did you know that February's full moon is referred to as either the Hunger Moon or the Snow Moon?  Native Americans counted February as the deepest winter month; farthest from the time when food could be collected, stored or harvested once again.  They prayed powerfully for dwindling food supplies to carry them into the first weeks of spring.  Then they could begin foraging before the new growing season replenished their needs.  My larder is full.  Therefore, I choose to acknowledge the Snow Moon in a quest that warmer days and sunshine may not be too far away.  

By the Light of the Snow Moon

Snow Moon waxing
Into the heavens above
Hoisted by a celestial puppeteer
Pulling strings from a coruscating glove

Snow Moon hanging
Above the cloudy sky 
Casting eerie shadows over
A mantle of sparkling winter white

Snow Moon beaming
Radiates gratitude from my shimmering face
Despite the freezing crisp air
That limits time spent in my favorite place

Can't be too much longer
Hints are everywhere
Extended in minutes of daylight
Faint birdsong trills here and there 
And with every hay bale eaten
By goats, horses, chickens and donks
One day simply passes to the next
And on into the next month

Snow Moon waning
28 days more until we might hope 
The Worm Moon escorts the vernal equinox
And brings an end to bitter cold and snow
Zambi and Easau enjoy an evening snack by the light of the Snow Moon.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Life....A Literary Path

     Good Morning,
     Sadly, one of our chickens died last week after a long convalescence spent in the heated tackroom.  For three weeks we tended to her every need; offering food by hand and holding a cup of water for her to drink several times during the day.  In between these interactions Rod searched the internet with key words such as sick chicken, egg-bound, and poultry antibiotics.  His virtual research led him in many different diagnostic directions.  In the end she deteriorated and finally slumped to her death.  Desperate to have an answer, my husband performed a most dignified autopsy on the hen and discovered that her entire abdomen was full of what looked like scrambled eggs.  Cause of death?  The hen had become egg bound; a condition in which a developing egg blocks or ruptures the assembly-line apparatus of egg laying anatomy.  Throughout the whole ordeal, Rod never opened a book!  All of his information came from a plethora of information available instantly through the world wide web. 
     Before the internet, books were the most effective means for collecting knowledge about the subjects that I loved.  As a result I accumulated a whole library of resources that addressed everything I needed to know about animals, particularly horses.  While revisiting these dusty volumes now taking up space in a spare bedroom closet, I was both comforted and delighted to relive my animal education between their covers.  They chronicle the path of interests I've taken along the way to MRF.  Their pages hold wisdom and answers to many situations I have faced in areas of training, nutrition, first aid, general care....and spiritual growth.
C.W. Anderson's Billy and Blaze series of books were among my favorites in first grade.

I wished I could have jumped right into the illustrations and had handsome Blaze for my very own.

I got a kick out of finding this audio file!  Apparently, David Cassidy narrated all of the Billy and Blaze books for a recording!  Who knew?

A sample of books from school days contained competition photographs of great horses and riders along with veterinary care.
In college I studied the Anatomy and Physiology of horses and other animals, paying particular attention to the failure thereof. 
I also read the masters of horsemanship, collecting a whole "toolbox" of philosophy and technique that worked for me while training horses.
Eventually, my literary interests broadened to include a multitude of species.  It began to occur to me, at this point, that I would write my own animal chronicle some day!

Although horse training and physical care of animals still appeal to me, it is the relationships with all of them that are of utmost importance in daily interactions with my animals.  
 As school teacher and riding instructor, I have an excuse to read and to share literature that speaks to the kid at heart still inside of me.