Monday, July 27, 2009

The $400 gelding

I've been saying for a while now, that Alaska horse prices are starting to reflect the state of the economy....and this reality is troubling.

A while back, a person listed an Appaloosa gelding for sale on CL. A lot of horses get advertised there because it's free and has a big readership. This particular gelding generated some follow up posts, mostly about his condition. Which was not very good-but not life threatening by any means. Given the penchant for attacks on CL, I am pretty sure that some people felt compelled to contact the owner via email, in addition to some pretty nasty responses posted. The ad was eventually removed, but not before I had shown my husband his picture. $900 they wanted.

The immediate response from him was your basic "Hell, no! No more horses!" which I expected. But the sad expression, ribby/wormy appearance and lack of muscling stayed with me, in the back of my mind. I idly wondered about his future-did he find a caring new owner who would feed him properly? Or, was he still alive with the people who had him? I didn't know the answer until yesterday morning, when I saw the ad posted again.

This time, the price was dropped to $400, with the plea that they didn't want him to go to a dog musher.

Good heavens, that got me. I shot off an email around 8 am, asking where he was, that I had Appaloosas too, and a followup email which included my home phone number. I knew when I sent it, my husband would have a snit.....but also know exactly how soft he is about hungry horses, horses that just need good care and feed and timely hoof care and attention to blossom.

I checked email repeatedly throughout the day, took the phone with me everywhere I went, just in case.

No response. Nothing. Still nothing this morning.

Now, the $400 gelding won't leave my mind, as I wonder and worry.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Great, just what do I do?

Ok, so I have these chickens. I got them early last summer as young birds, not really knowing much about keeping chickens at all. It turned out I ended up with some Wyandotte's, which are now gone due to not very good "dispositions" to put it mildly. Then I have three easter eggers, Americauna, Aracauna-not sure which. Two hens and a rooster. And I got a pair of Yokohamas. Beautiful birds, fairly quiet and since they were hand raised, much friendlier than the other three.

So I managed to keep them all winter, including a couple stints in the garage when temps fell way too low. crowded into a wire dog crate. This spring, I picked up some used, lightweight dog kennel panels and there they have been since-an unhappy group because they'd much rather be loose as before. But, I couldn't have them in the garden, and finding them at the house a few times was getting to be a bit much. So off they went into chickie jail for the summer.

Everything went pretty well down there, until about two weeks ago. For a couple days I noticed the Yokohama rooster by itself, laying down in what I presumed was the dirt bath spot. Then, when it got real hot, I noticed he was panting a bit-but heck, they were drinking like crazy so I didn't give it much thought until I entered to find the poor Yokohama rooster trying to hide in one of the hen boxes.

I ended up lifting the water pan and he drank and drank, and I saw that his head was very bloody (and there was dried blood all over on the inside of the one box too) and his one eye looked very bad. Ok, he had to come out, period. So I managed that fairly easily with my son's help and back up to the garage and into the wire crate he went. He barely made a sound except for a soft chuckle for at least three days and I wasn't sure he would survive. I have no idea what you do to nurse chickens along, but apparantly he was a bit tougher than I thought, and he has recovered.

This weekend we let him loose at the barn, and I thought for sure we'd loose him for good. He is blind in one eye now-actually the entire eyeball seems to be missing. The feathers around his head and neck are growing back in, and his appetite seems great. But he did manage to make it down the hill to the other chickens which is where we found him last night. I put out some food and water and figured he would be gone this morning, lost and disoriented and off into the thick woods.

But nope, he came running right up to me at the barn this morning, chirping away. Found his way into the crate and began chowing down. When little Jethro trotted by him on his blind side, he did this little stright up leap into the air and gave a little squeak of surprise, then went right back to eating.

What am I going to do with a rooster that's blind in one eye? There is no way I can put him back in the coop with the other rooster. Who is not mean to humans, but I've been told that chickens can be pretty savage to other birds who are weak in anyway. This is a good natured bird you can pick up without a lot of fuss and much quieter too.

Great, just what do I do?


Friday, July 17, 2009

The garden at midsummer

The greenhouse-wow, look at that corn!!

Zucchini plants-lots of baby squashes and blooms in there somewhere :)

Lots of weeds, but everything has just exploded over the past three weeks!

Very happy cabbages!

It's been a superior summer for most of us who garden here. Three full weeks of nonstop sun are just the ticket for our fabled Alaskan vegetables :) No, I don't have anything growing that will warrant entry into the State Fair this year, but that's okay-I have already harvested some of the broccoli, there are zucchini ready to pick, and I have buds on the green beans. In the greenhouse I have been eating lettuce for weeks now, my tomato plants (admittedly small!) are loaded with green fruits and the peppers too. The corn is tasseled and I have ears fully silked as well, and my kid is bugging me already about when we can pick it ;)

(Edited to note: I have no idea why this entry is so long, I cannot seem to figure out how to trim this entry, sorry!)

(2nd edit: Thanks for the tip!)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One Alaskan's view of Sarah Palin

Which will mean less than a yellowed birch leaf on the first fall winds out of the Matanuska glacier-

I first met Sarah Palin when she was Mayor of the City of Wasilla. At that time, the City had some acreage they wanted to designate as recreational and there was some organized effort to attempt to get the City to recognize that horses (and the recreation involved with their ownership) had some place in city planning. I stood up and said my piece about horses (over several meetings)and the City-which probably sounded totally wacked to everyone else as I realized later. Yes, horse ownership generates a large amount of retail sales to local businesses, but that is not the same as being a revenue source for the city. Consequently, the city ignored horses, and livestock of any kind, in its planning.

You can't buy a sack of sweet feed or a bale of hay today within the city limits-but I digress. This is about one person's evolution only :)

After that, Sarah Palin was off my radar until the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission appointment came to light. Cool I thought, a local person whose politics I did not really know, got tagged for state office. Some months later comes the Randy Ruedrich issue, and SP's eventual resignation from the post-a superfluous one and a drain on the state budget, she said. Ruedrich eventually pays a fine of over ten grand for using state property for political reasons. RR was the GOP party chair here-and he remains in that position today.

When she announced her run for Alaska's highest office, she had an immediate base with people who were sick and tired of "politics as usual" and SP promised "open and transparent" governement and to get rid of the old boy network that bound Juneau tightly. Former Gov. Murkowski had been working with the oil companies to draft an agreement to build the gasline. But he did it behind closed doors and when the proposal came to light it included pretty much giving in to everything and tied the state to a 45 year tax structure. This, and other things Murkowski did (such as tell everyone to screw off and buying a jet for the state despite very strong opposition) paved the way into office for SP.

About this time, the oil companies began reporting record, stupendous profits, and SP trotted out ACES to the legislature. It passed with nearly unanimous support but leaves the state with the highest taxes in the world. Yes, I said the world. When this passed, I was upset since I knew that increased costs to produce and develop would hamper development-and it did.

The next big thing was AGIA. At first, I thought it might work, until I began to learn of the details of the thing. It too, passed with nearly unanimous support in Junean and is the framework that will lead to the open season next year. When the details of this deal came out, I thought-that is never going to work and why are we giving a foreign company half a billion of our state dollars? Now there is a competing project-The Denali Pipeline-different route than TransCanada proposes.

Somewhere along in there, Tom Irwin (Natural Resources Commissioner I think) threatened to pull the Exxon leases at Pt Thomson. Exxon had had the leases for 30 years and done nothing with them. Exxon now has just two leases there and when they attempted to do exploratory drilling on them, Irwin almost goofed that up as well.

Then of course there is Troopergate. My gosh I spent a lot of time online during that period. I don't go to that many online forums, but the amount of ludicrous accusations that made the rounds back then, was astounding. I listened and read and I learned-SP was not who I voted for. I mean, I knew it when the AGIA details came to light-but Troopergate, coupled with a huge increase in government for the state sealed it for me.

Then came the FBI and their corruption investigations. I watched SP turn on people whose support she welcomed previously. As the trials and convictions rolled on, it was like watching our state have a train wreck while SP seemingly gave away the state.

Then she was tapped for the GOP ticket. Wow. No need to go into all that here, but suffice to say that while I was thrilled it was an Alaskan, I was pretty sure SP should not be it. Of course we all know what happened....a great many outsiders think they know what happened too-and I still find myself straightening out screwball misconceptions about Alaska and our way of life here even today, here and there on the net.

Then she quit.

I have to tell you, I was very surprised. Then I became angry. Now I just want her, and her contentious adminstration to be gone. So that we can get some people into Juneau who have the backbone to correct some of these boondoggles-ACES and AGIA and come up with a comprehensive resource development plan that will see Alaska through the next generation or two.

So as the squabbling goes on over who will end up as Lt Governor, I just want her to be gone, off state payroll, go away....take the high school level drama some place else, and take your terrible, stupid spokesperson with you. Go learn how to speak in precise American english and while you are at it, take the time to look beyond your supporters' adulation and have a look at America's place in the world. Read something, hire better advisors, learn to stay on topic and do something about your propensity for verbal diarrhea-you sound ignorant when you cannot make a simple statement and stay on point.

Alaska has suffered enough.

Begone, do something useful and I don't care a bit if you make a pile of money doing it, considering what the msm has done to you. You are not the person I met when you were Mayor, and I don't like you or your behavior any longer. You have done enough harm to Alaska in your two years as our head of state-begone.

Okay, enough already!

Oh my goodness, we have had how many weeks of nearly solid sun? Two and a half? Three?

Temperatures have been into the very high 70s to as much as high 80s at my place the entire time. Some mornings, I didn't even have any dew either. As I mentioned before, this has meant nearly nonstop effort to keep everything watered at home-lawn (tractor sprinkler and lots of hoses), baskets and bowls at the house (20 minutes morning and night), vegetable garden (oscillating sprinkler for a good hour, at least every day or every other day), greenhouse (keeping water barrels filled, using watering can-2 gallon size, at least 20 a day of those) and of course there are the stock tanks which need attention about every three days or so.

On top of that, we have over 70 wildfires going right now.....which means we also have smoke and haze from up north around Nenana-or drifting up from the Kenai Peninsula if the winds are right. Some days it has been so thick I have not been able to even make out Pioneer Peak from my office, and others there has been the acrid taste of wildfire on the tongue, bitter and nasty.

So this morning when it looked just plain hazy out, with skies a flat grey, I didn't think much of it-more smoke I thought. But nope, along about 6:15 when I was laying out the hoses for the tractor sprinkler, I saw what could only have been fog drifting through the trees. Sure enough, it was lifting up and down, wafting around and I thought:

Hooray! Its cloudy! We might get some rain!

Not. Not a sign of anything on radar at all, zero, zip, nada, nothing. It was nothing more than saturated air, which has now lifted to a low lying scud layer. It may burn off this afternoon, but likely not as it is still very humid.

I can't believe I was excited about the prospect of rain........but I was. A good soaking would lessen fire danger danger all over the state, help firefighters get a handle on the bigger ones, and wash the particulates suspended (prompting air quality alerts of course) out as well. And give me a break in the perpetual watering rounds I have been on for several weeks too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wow, what a week!

Not only have we been blessed with an incredible stretch of sunny weather, the Governor Sarah Palin resignation has hit this state like a bomb, to put it mildly.

At first I was in a sort of state of shock (like probably everyone) and since, I have been wavering between anger and acceptance.

Yep, I am upset that Sarah Palin quit on us all-but on the other hand-well, I can understand some of her reasons. I am concerned about the future of the projects she has attempted to get off the ground, and whether Sean Parnell (Lt Gov.) will be able to work with the legislature and so forth. I won't speculate on all the rumors flying around locally, plenty of other bloggers are doing that quite well.

If you are interested, here are some links: Conservative, but definitely not pro-Palin. Former politician, well respected independent. Progressive blog by a Wasilla resident, tons of links to similar blogs and websites. News website, critical of Sarah Palin's "management" of native issues. A little more in depth articles and commentary. Anchorage Daily News, our largest daily-with an active reader commentary section. An Anchorage resident, has filed a number of ethics complaints against Sarah Palin. Warning: Hard to read and navigate website. Another progressive/liberal website-enter at your own risk.

For myself, I am enjoying the weather very much. The veggie garden is darned near jumping out of the ground, its so happy with the heat and sun. The corn in the greenhouse is taller than I am, and getting tassles and baby ears galore. I have cucumbers, and a few summer squashes coming on, plus the broccoli is trying to set heads also. Of course this means an awful lot of time spent dragging around garden hoses and watering cans, lol Each morning I am watering the greenhouse, and the baskets and bowls at the house. This morning I turned on the veggie garden sprinkler for about 20 minutes, as it looked pretty dry to me. Tonight I need to refill the water barrels in the greenhouse and soak the pumpkins. Then more water on the veggies after a quick weed and putting up some more twine for the peas.

Of course, I could do without the blanket of smoke which has drifted down from the Interior as a result of wildfires up there. I am actually surprised there hasn't been a health alert issued because of it, even though the weather reports just call it "haze". Today we'll have another day into the low 80s, and I'm loving it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making hay time!

These last few days of sunny skies and very little dew, have been just great for those hard working folks putting up hay. Today dawns warm and sunny, with no dew in my neighborhood. This is particularly good news for a neigbor who has hay down, which got a soaking two days ago. Won't be the end of the world for them, they have a variety of livestock to feed, and wrapped round bales are always welcome.

The typical pattern is warm sunny days which lead to clouds forming on the mountains. The heat rising drives the formation of thunderclouds, sometimes big boomers which rocket for miles. With them, come downpours as they trend southwest, to stall against the Sleeping Lady on the far side of the Susitna River. It's rather a crapshoot, whether an individual field will get soaked or not. I recall one year being out at Pt MacKenzie (large agricultural area about 25 miles to the southwest from home) and watching these small storm cells form, drop a hard downpour, and scoot off at a rather high rate of speed. From one high spot on the road, I could easily see six or seven of these "isolated thunderstorms" over the area.....very common summer weather pattern here.

I mention all this because I have been blessed with a wonderful husband.

For the third year in a row, he has dropped whatever he was doing, put the aluminum flatbed on his truck, and hightailed it up north to get hay for me. All by himself, he loaded way more than I expected, an even hundred bales! Its very very dry (yay!!) and very leafy (yay!!) and I am more than thrilled to have it :)

Now, what you have to know, is that my husband is not a horse person. Oh he has picked up stuff over the years, just from hearing me talk about this, or pointing out things-but in no way does he "love" horses, you see. I think he tends to think of them as overgrown dogs, who are stupidly expensive to keep and mean a huge amount of work. Well, I can't say I don't agree with some of that-they are a lot of work, lol! But, despite this: I have a nice pole barn. Paddocks which are sufficient, with better footing than most, including mats in the stalls. I have an area cleared and leveled which is my panel arena-over 90 foot across-and it now has absolutely beautiful sand footing too. We have a couple different drags for working the surface and he willingly scrubs and bleaches icky stock tanks when needed, lets me know when he notices something amiss, and while he may roll his eyeballs at the "looney tunes" carp that passes for the horse community here.....he will help with anything if asked.

So, when I made the call to let him know the farmer was planning on being on the baler by 2pm, he literally dropped what he was doing and hit the road-he knows dry hay won't wait. And in fact, quite a number of vehicles were there loading up also, including a couple of my own hay customers, lol

Like I said, he's a wonderful husband and I am more than blessed :)