Llama Trekking at Moose River Farm

Llama Trekking at Moose River Farm
Activities at MRF; Fall 2021

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Under a Bouquet of Peaking Hope

        Good Evening,
        Its been two weeks since I posted Wings for Alex, and I am overwhelmed by the tremendous response, (over 650 hits), that the poem received.  Hopefully, it has soothed and comforted those who knew Alex's wonderful mother, Kirsty.  Unfortunately, several other friends of mine lost their mothers during the last two weeks as well.  In all my life, I have never purchased so many sympathy cards at one time.  These sad losses hang around my shoulders as I struggle with making sense of it all.
        In addition, this past week I have been so busy with time consuming activities that have taken me away from MRF.  This morning, I woke up and finally looked forward to a day with no commitments that required me to watch the clock, rush through barn chores, change my clothes, and drive away in  the car.  It was heavenly to just stay at home.
       I spent most of the day in the saddle or on foot with the dogs and goats traversing the Adirondack woods, enhanced today by Nature's glory in an array of saffron, crimson, gold and evergreen.  From every vista a striking bouquet blazed below the gray sky and took my breath away.  In the company of my animals and while engaging with friends within this cornucopia of color I began to feel a sense of real peace.  Weary from contemplating the troubles of others I forced myself to seek the meaning of the moment; a moment accentuated by a crescendo of intense hues that will, in a short time, fade and fall.  With this awareness, I spent my day absorbing the experiences, living in the now and refusing to worry about what will be.

For more pictures of this beautiful day go to: Under a Bouquet of Peaking Hope   

Joshua's ears lead the way into autumn's spectacular splendor.

'Team Durkin', (Lynn and Tim) accompany me on Welby and Spirit for the first ride of  my day.

A morning mist concealed the mountain view behind Adirondack Woodcraft Camp's soccer field.

Lynn and Tim enjoyed the ride.

The dog and goat walk at noon was extra special today.

Nina loves the crunchy leaves.

Goaties stick close together.

The sandpit combines green grass left from summer with the autumn spectrum.

Tonde joined Nina, Niles and Hayden for a pose.

Never get tired of this activity.

For the afternoon excursion, I rode Lowtchee with Anastasia riding Makia, Matt riding Spirit and Vicky riding Tango.

The mist having lifted provided the perfect backdrop for picture taking.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wings for Alex

Good Evening,
Tonight I am posting a poem that I wrote for my young friend, Alex, who recently lost her mother.  Although, I can't take the pain away, I hope the words will bring comfort in  her hours of need.  With all my heart, Alex, I send love and peace.

Wings for Alex
Where the sky is forever blue
And the mountains and trees stand bold
There lived a little girl
Whose hair was spun from gold

Between a mom and dad she grew
Beyond her eleven years
Learning all the lessons that they taught
Diminishing her fears

In the winter she flew down great big hills
Awash in frozen white
In summer she flew astride geldings and mares
While smiling with delight

But one Fall day tragedy struck
And broke the young girl’s heart
The Mountains drooped, the trees sagged low
The endless blue sky grew dark

Tears spilled freely and cries rang out
Indescribable was the pain
From losing someone she loved so much
Will she ever smile again

But from above an angel watches
Trying to let her know
That love lives on eternally
And will never let her go

Change is coming, don’t be afraid
Embrace it if you will
For we can only make the best
From what we can control

Before you go to bed each night
Having survived another day
Hug Daddy tight and Bailey too
So they too may find their way

 Then fly off to visit her
Wherever you think she’ll be
And you can tell her you’ll be ok
Right there within your dream

Alex 'flying' on Spirit, (Photo by Don Allen).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

♫ Hummingbird, Please Fly Away ♪♪

        Good Evening,
        Last week I returned to my teaching job after a long and wonderful summer vacation.  The transition has forced me to cram my horse care and riding into three or four hours late in the afternoon.  It is always a doable challenge to perform chores efficiently leaving ample time to ride or school at least one horse, sometimes two.  That is unless a distraction comes along that derails my best laid plans.  
        Such was the situation last week when my friend Jean, (Friends and Blessings), and I were mucking the indoor riding ring where two small geldings, Welby and Sandi had spent the day hiding from the voracious flies outside.  Had these 'stars' not aligned just so, the following rescue might never have occurred and this luckless little lady would have perished for certain.  But her good fortune began when I caught sight of what I thought was a shimmering green leaf lying in the dusty sand footing.  On closer inspection I discovered that the leaf was the torso of a tiny female hummingbird!  
       "Oh, its a dead hummingbird," I whined to Jean who carried her pitchfork over to have a look.
       Without hesitation I reached down to pick it up so that I could discard it in the wheelbarrow.  Since hummingbirds are so beautiful, I took a second to examine it up close then touched it with a finger from my other hand.  Low and behold it shuddered!  Then she tried desperately to spread her wings but was only able to move them slightly.  
       Having found a hummingbird years ago in the same state, I knew exactly what to do.  Jean too, had revived a near death hummingbird last winter in North Carolina where she lives during the cold Adirondack months.  The two of us doubled the luck blessed upon this little creature. 
        Within minutes we were infusing the little hummingbird with sugar water that I mixed quickly in the kitchen and placed in a syringe.  Immediately, her little sliver of a tongue began to dart in and out through her extra long beak.  After a few slurps, she stopped to rest for a minute or two before resuming her fill of the lifesaving liquid.  After a few more minutes the little bird began to perk up with wide open eyes that appeared to be surveying her present situation. 
       Jean and I decided to move the hummingbird into the tackroom, where the bugs couldn't bite at our bare arms and ankles.  We placed her on a small hand towel where next, she began trying to activate the 'motor' in her wings.  Initially, she was only able to flap them once or twice before needing to take a rest and fill up once again on the sugar water.  With each passing minute, she became more and more alert.  Her main focus of business was now on starting the engine that could keep those wings beating at the alarming speed for which her species is so famous.  Still, they only flapped pathetically like the propeller on a doomed helicopter.  At this point Jean decided to be on her way home and left hopeful that she would soon hear a favorable report from the little hummer's outcome.
       For the next forty minutes the little hummingbird alternated between consuming sugar water and willing her disobedient wings to work.  In addition, I noticed that one of her tiny talons was curled up and held tightly to her abdomen.  I began to wonder if she had received more damage than was obvious to my naked eye.  The other talon appeared to be functioning normally.  By now another friend, Michele, (Friend's and Blessings), had arrived and was soon busily engaged in taking the little creature's picture with her camera.  
       Eventually, her wings began to obey as was evident by the slightly audible hum that generated from them.  At this point I decided to get her outside where, if she did succeed at becoming airborne, she would be free to go.  After a few more minutes the humming sound from her wings had warmed up and was quite distinct considering the size of the creature producing it.  
        All of a sudden she lifted herself off of the towel with a bit of a wobble to the left and then to the right as she rose at least six feet into the air.  After stabilizing, she zoomed about 60 feet from where I was sitting in the grass.  Then, she crash landed into the sandy driveway and lay on her side with her beak buried beneath her.  I ran to retrieve her and dust off her beak, now caked with sand.  I placed her back on the towel for a little rest.  Not long afterwards, she was on her way again with the agility and ease of a healthy hummingbird!  Up to the branch of a tree she flew.  A leaf swung where I was certain she had grabbed hold, but after that I never saw her again.  Michele and I searched the ground beneath the tree branch extending our grid large enough to assure that we had not missed her.  
        Although Seals and Crofts begged the tiny creature not to fly away in their early seventies hit song, Hummingbird, we were quite thrilled when our little acquaintance in fact,...did.  

When the little hummingbird's beak was inserted into the syringe, she began to drink immediately .

Within minutes she seemed to perk up.

The following photos are by Michele deCamp.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

More About Fiona

        Good Afternoon,
        Caring for our Vietnamese potbelly pig, Fiona, is fairly simple most of the time.  However, every twenty eight days, when she comes into heat, managing her becomes quite a challenge.  On a good day, Fiona goes about her life with one main objective; to find food.  Her morning begins with a meager handful of pellets, (carefully formulated for potbellies), that she scarfs down quickly to get on with the task of searching for more food.  Next, she is off to the barn to clean up the stray bits of grain that certain horses have flung out of their feeders while eating their own breakfast.  Fiona consults her nose and a mental map that provides her with the exact location of the scattered grain.  With a grunt and a squeal she pushes her way into stalls where horses are browsing on hay and grain.  The horses, for the most part, ignore these greedy intrusions.  
        After many hours of foraging, Fiona makes her way back towards the house and the gate that keeps our four small dogs fenced in and safe during the day.  With a hefty shove from her snout, the gate pops open and Fiona enters the dog's domain quickly before the gate latches with a clatter behind her.  Up the the three steps to the back door of our house she drags her belly, now full from her completed mission.  Grinding her snout on the freshly painted dark green door, receives instant attention. Immediately, she is let into the house.  Finally, Fiona ambles to her bed and cozies up for a long afternoon nap.
         Shortly, before Fiona is due to come into heat, however, the daily routine begins to change.  Rod and I have to monitor her constantly for any sign that heat is imminent.  Keeping track on the calendar is helpful, but it can't pinpoint the exact arrival of estrus. 
Why all the fuss?  Well, once Fiona comes into her strong heat, she has but one mission in life; a mission so intense that it rises in priority above the desire to eat.  As a result of this mission, Fiona takes it upon herself to leave home.  Yup, leave the one place where meals and all the comforts of living a pretty good life exist.  Where is she headed?  I can only assume to a place where hopefully, a boar might live!  If we are not paying attention, Fiona will simply begin her journey on hoof, down the driveway and out onto the road.  Eventually, we catch onto the fact that she has vanished from the property and with the use of our motorized sport vehicle, we are in quick pursuit; following her shallow cloven tracks that suggest she is in a hurry.  Frequently, we find her at Adirondack Woodcraft Camp, our neighbor, half a mile or more from the end of the driveway.  Once, she was discovered jogging out to the main road!  Luckily, we have always found her and have been able to coax her back home where she is immediately locked up in the backyard until it is evident that her heat is waning and our homebody big has come back to her senses.
        Fortunately, there is one sign to look for just before Fiona comes into heat.  That is nesting behavior.  I am not sure what the significance of the behavior is.  Even if Fiona was to be successfully bred, she would still be close to four months from delivering her piglets, so why she is compelled to build a large comfy nest prior to breeding is a mystery.  Regardless, the behavior is fascinating to watch because it is performed with such determination and purpose.  Fiona has successfully built nests of grass, ferns, and moss.  During the winter months she will nest indoors by gathering dog beds, blankets and any laundry left unattended on the floor.  She carefully drags these items into her own bed creating quite a mass of textiles.  To protect these items from destruction, I replace them with old saddle pads that I leave strewn about the floor so that she can collect them and place them in the nest herself.  
        Living with a female potbelly pig in the house is difficult to compare to any other pet.  She is very different in all aspects, but she adds a dimension of character that is her very own, endearing her to us for as long as she lives.  
No, that's not a crop circle!  Its the chosen sight of Fiona's current nest.
This month she has chosen to assemble a bed of ferns.  First, she must excavate a large area with her snout. 
Next, she gathers ferns for the bed.

Then, she carefully spreads the ferns....

...and fluffs the ferns... into a large mattress.
Then, she adds some more.

Spread, Fluff, Add, Spread, Fluff, Add.  The whole process takes a couple of hours and requires total concentration.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Living at the Speed of Summer

             Happy Labor Day,
        The speed of light is no match for the speed of summer!  Ten weeks ago, July and August stretched out in front of me with endless potential.  And now, in what feels like a millisecond later, I am preparing myself for a new school year that will begin just hours from now.  Where did the summer go?  As I look back on it, I suddenly realize that the reason it went so quickly is because I lived it quickly, jam packed with incredible privileges and experiences.  
        A James Taylor concert in Syracuse helped celebrate the transition from planning lessons to riding lessons on the last day of school in June.  The next day, summer vacation was released from the starting gate and sent racing down the backstretch toward July and August.  On the way, the Adirondack Woodcraft campers arrived, and six of them found their way to Moose River Farm twice a week to learn about horses and to ride!  
        Hoofbeats in the Adirondacks loomed into sight a few weeks later with endless preparation and practice, particularly for the MRF Quadrille.  They arrived bleary eyed before 8:00 on many sunny mornings.  Their hard work and perseverance prevailed to produce a remarkable equestrian interpretation of the music from Grease!
       Hoofbeats in the Adirondacks, 2012 ,was held once again under perfect Adirondack weather conditions but, in a blink of an eye it was over and summer blazed on.  The MRF Riding Recital dazzled parents and other guests who came out to watch riders display their ever improving skills at the reins and in the saddle.
        All too soon, August shoved July out of the way and the Woodcraft campers closed out yet another season.  My local riders continued with lessons and progress for the next three weeks through endless sunshine and the occasional day of pesky flies.
        Believe it or not, I was able to squeeze in many non-horsey activities here and there providing a much needed break from mucking manure and managing 14 horses with 13 stalls.  Rod and I attended my niece, Emma's beautiful June wedding on Squam Lake in New Hampshire.  My brother, John and his two children, Katherine, (a horsey girl), and Ryan, (baseball), visited, as did my mother and her husband David.  
        In mid August, my friend Lisa and I attended k.d. Lang in concert at the Turning Stone Casino.  Her magnificent voice filled the room and our souls with inspiration.  (If I had her voice, I would sing, rather than talk!)
       On one of the last days of August, Rod and I joined 19,000 fans who came out to watch Bruce Springsteen perform at Vernon Downs.  What a show!
        In the last two weeks of my vacation, the horses have begun to look and act as if it is time for summer to reach the finish line, (otherwise known as Labor Day weekend), so that they can have a much needed vacation of their own.  Through hard work, they have given their all to every rider who has mounted them.  This need for rest is as obvious as the bright colors appearing at the tops of the trees; signals of change.  With a sigh of acceptance, I am now peeking into the weeks ahead where I see my new class of fifth graders ready to load into the starting gate at the beginning of the new school year. 
        On Tuesday morning I will tend to my horses before 6:30 a.m. By 7:15, I will be dressed for my profession for the first time in ten weeks.  The belt around my waste will tug at my mid section making me mourn my comfortable riding tights.  With coffee mug in hand I will walk passed the barn on my way to the car.  Echoes from this incredible summer will comfort me through out the day as I transition from riding instructor to teacher.  With each 'new year' task completed, the summer will slip further behind me until all of my expectations for the coming school year are in place.  And then, on Wed. morning, when my new students arrive for their first day of school, we will be off and running once again!!!!

Sandi, Welby, Joshua, Target, Easau, Tango, Zambi, Ben, Lowtchee, Spirit, Makia and many of the wonderful adults and children with whom I share Moose River Farm.  Lucky, Lucky me!!!!

Even if you don't listen to his music, you will LOVE his live show!