April 30, 2016

First Crop at Geek Acres!

Our first crop to sprout at Geek Acres is Hops!  I think that fits for us....

We have a section of the yard tarped over right now with compost and will be fencing it off with tall electric to prevent deer, some railroad ties and then of course a cute picket fence to deter critters....including our dogs that think everything should be peed on!  I doubt we'll get to planting this year, maybe some fall veggies we'll see.

April 28, 2016

Latches and Rides

There are many things we want to change about the way a couple pastures are laid out and how the Wormhole fencing would make more sense to us.  All that in time.  For now we are using certain gates and getting rid of others.  The gates that are being use are all being converted to an easier latch system.  

One gate just had a rope holding it closed, some others have a slide bolt type latch.  There were a couple that had a "thumb" latch that is a chain with a hook on one end and a flip up round chain link that prevents pony lips from opening it.  These I like and found at Tractor Supply and Southern States  (here's a link with the name) I certainly love heavy duty latches too like this one but these hook and chain ones are more simple and work quite well.

One configuration in the wormhole that leads to Gallifrey are the two gates perpendicular to each other, it's obvious that there was another set of electric wire from the middle post to the outer property edge.  Each owner used the property differently and has things set up to separate horses etc.  We just use the one gate and have the other one chained shut using the rusted chains that are still attached.  We'll get to re-configuring this in time.  It's nice to have all the gates I use set up nicely with easy latches I can open with one hand.

And now for a fun video I made riding Dani around the property.  I set it to 2x speed so it wasn't so long, I sound like a chipmunk but you can see how much I talk to my horse when I'm on their back.  Chance was neighing and my dogs were barking at times on the video.  Too funny.  Sorry about me messing with the camera.  Just that tiny amount of weight was making my helmet press on my forehead painfully.  I will need to figure out the best mount for when I'm riding.

April 27, 2016

Warm Spring Days

Just thought I'd share a quick post from a few weeks ago.  It's been sitting in the queue for a while now.  I like to take pictures of the ponies when I get the chance, especially taking out the big camera at times.  Dani is always interested in what I am doing.

Chance usually glances but goes about his business or if he show an interest he'll be shooed away by Dani since she thinks a treat may be involved.  Chance is a sensitive little guy and loves his ears being scratched.

 Someday I will groom them up nice and shiny and have Steve help me pose them...maybe do some nice halter portraits once I get them both some nice leather halters.  For now, check out the dusty but happy ponies.

Dani was still pretty scruffy on her belly from winter fur.  Most of that is gone by now....

Helped I'm sure by constant horse to ground contact....her favorite activity besides eating.

Wow!  My mare is trotting and not being told to!

I love her dark red color.  Can't wait to see the summer dapples!!  

I need to get some shots of this boy in motion, he's gorgeous!

Nom and noms...

I wonder if Chance gets dapples in the summer?

April 24, 2016

April 22, 2016

Little changes around Geek Acres

The Wormhole is composed of three smaller areas separated by gates.  With how we manage the horses it only makes sense to open it up a little bit.  We plan to keep the fencing around the barnyard in tact so we can close it up if needed for riding one horse outside of that area.  You can refer to the diagrams here

We still have the drainage issue but it's something that will take some time and money to fix, gutters and a french drain will not be cheap or quick to accomplish.  For now at least the rains we've had haven't been too bad and standing water has receded quickly.  Steve and I removed the fencing between the riding area and the other part of the "Wormhole".  Where the temporary white wire fence is located will be where we put in more wooden fencing to complete that area.  In a way it will give me a little larger enclosed area to ride in and will make a less compartmentalized sacrifice area for the horses.

We attached the gate post to the barn for more support since we removed the fencing, plus before it was never attached and that just didn't make sense to me.  Hopefully you can see in the picture below that the boards just extend from the fence a little bit but don't meet up with the barn.  Darn, I really thought I took a good "before" picture.  Will have to be better about that!

Anyways it feels so open now and the horses are already making different paths as they walk to the other areas of the wormhole.  The next plan is to move the fence behind the run-in shed out a bit so that we don't have an area where a horse can get cornered...this is the area that most likely led to Chance getting kicked in the chest.

Also in Westeros we've begun working on the gravel pit that surrounded a rose bush.  We'll remove the gravel and larger rocks and then fill in holes and spread grass seed in this area.  The gravel was used to fill the holes from the wooden fence posts we removed so it served a good purpose....aka no injured ponies!  The rest of it we'll utilize for the perimeter of a small dog run we'll need to erect before I begin my job...10 hour days gone won't be good for my older boys.

Throughout all the fields there are some large rocks that jut out and interfere with the lawn mower.  We are slowly working on getting those removed and the holes filled.  It's gonna be a process.

Lastly with spring has come the blooming of plants and weeds.  I spent a good part of a day cleaning out the beds at the front of the house.  There were many weeds but also offshoots of whatever shrubs are planted there too.  It was a crazy mess.  It looks much better now.  Still have to pull out old mulch and rock and replace with fresh mulch.  Then I plan to use some pretty edge stones for the perimeter.  I may pull additional landscape plants out that seems a bit hap-hazardously planted and get some pretty border flowers going.  

All in time!  It feels good to get little things accomplished!

April 21, 2016

I've been Offered a Job at LabCorp

I'm very excited.  I've been offered a job at LabCorp as a Cytotechnologist Trainee in the Oncology FISH lab.  In a nutshell I get to play with fluorescence and microscopes.  I'm glad to find a job in a new to me field though my degrees are in Biology I've been in Public Health for 8 years, with the last few being in Emergency Management.  I start in May and will have 3 day weekends again which will still allow me plenty of pony time!

April 12, 2016

Stubs...a CAT-tastrophe Waiting to Happen

I love my former barn kitty.  She is a nut and is my little shadow.  She sleeps on our bed every night, getting displaced by the hubby when he's home on weekends and meows are my in the bathroom when I first wake up.  

While relaxing watching TV on evening I watched her explore our mantel.  She knocked over a candle and holder....luckily not breakable, before she moved onto the top of the bookcases.  From there she was stuck.  There wasn't an easy way back to the mantle.  Instead she tried to co behind the curtain and blinds but missed a tiny window ledge and plummeted onto the helpless planter below.

Oh kitty-kins what have you done!  Silly little Mini Meow!

So I had to get a new pot and figure out how to make it impossible for her to get back to the top of the bookcases.  Then another night I found her scrambling up onto her cardboard cat scratcher.  Behind it she had lost her little black hair tie that she carries around the house and mews at.  I removed it for her and then proceeded to watch my TV show.  Only 5 minutes later little Purlithia (Stubs) decide the hair tie would be best placed into my freshly poured glass of cider!

On my desk I have kitty shelves for both cats to nap while I work on the computer.  Stubs recently discovered my mini plasma ball.  She wasn't sure what to do!

Oh the joys of having a silly little cat, doubly so since Armani can be just as crazy!  I love them!

April 07, 2016

Beware the Poison!!

There is an area to the side of our house that is a little strip of trees.  It's the place at the bottom of a slope and an area we think will be perfect to put our first bee hive next year.  The slope is hard to mow so where the grass is I think I'll eventually over seed with wildflowers, clover and pollinator happy plants so there will be minimal need to mow....plus who wants to mow close to a bee hive?

Right now the area is coming back alive from the winter.  There is an old wire fence tangled in the trees and many, many pots and other such trash.  It's such an eyesore.  In addition to that the underbrush is full of poison ivy.  I can avoid that in the woods but on my property I prefer not to have that where I will be frequenting and where silly dogs may decide to roll.

Poison ivy

The entire floor area is covered in little tufts of poison ivy mixed with Virginia Creeper and some greenbrier.

Field of poison!

Poison ivy takes on a shrub, bush or vine form and I'm pretty such this bush thing is one of it's evil faces.  It's all interwoven with thorny greenbrier and tangles of Virginia Creeper vines. Poison ivy is the only one of these three that will give you a bad rash but the other stuff just covers trees and shrubs in a big tangle of yuck.

Evil bush?
 There is a poor dog wood bogged down by the greenbrier.  I love dogwood and Steve and I are working on trying to get it freed.  We need to treat the poison ivy first so we can be safe to pull all this stuff out and clear up the area.

Strangled Dogwood
You can see on the other side it's even worse, it's just a big tangle.  I'd love to be able to clear it out and ride a horse through here plus other neighbors use this as a pathway if they are heading to our other neighbors our out to the Hill Forest trail further on.

It's all just a tangle of messy plants.  Poison ivy, thorny greenbrier, and even Japanese honeysuckle.  

Tangles with poison ivy

Some of the honeysuckle may be saved since it isn't over grown with poison ivy.  I will need to be aware that there could be some lurking in the beds near my house since the ivy beds are very close to the house and birds love to eat the berries.

Japanese Honeysuckle
 Another not so evil plant is the Pokeberry or Pokeweed.  It's not edible and poisonous to eat for humans and horses alike but it produces berries that birds love.  I may clear out a lot of these but I'll leave some areas available for the Pokeweed to live. 


My bluebirds will like them and since we have a lovely little house given to use by a neighbor...

...and the little birdies have started to make it home, we need to make sure we still have yummies for the feathered tenants to eat. This will be a project in the next month to begin clearing this area out to make it good for having the hive.  We will also hopefully get around to planting milkweed and other pollinator plants near where the hive will be located.

 There are several pines and then Sweet Gum trees in this little strip.  I like the leaves!  In the fall their seed is a round prickly thing but I don't find it a big issue like some people I guess.

Then there are some beautiful flowers in the pasture....buttercup.  It's not something the horses eat and it's a good thing because it's poisonous to them.  I'll have to keep it well mowed to prevent more spreading before I can fully eradicate them and get the pasture thick with good forage.  All in time!

April 05, 2016

Ration Balancer-New Feed

I'm always looking for a good ration balancer for my horses.  I had my mare on ProAdvantage when I was at Grandview and before that I used SmartPaks.  She doesn't need the extra calories for sure.  A lot of pleasure horses don't unless they are hard keepers.  I changed to Nutrena Empower since the local feed store kept that product.  It was a good feed but made Chance look like he was wearing red lipstick on his little white muzzle!!  LOL.  The store closed and I had to figure out what to change them to.

Southern States is the big chain feed store here along with Tractor Supply.  They had some decent brands but not a big selection.  I happened upon Tribute at Hurdle Mills Feed.  They have a great balancer that also has added joint support!!!  Tribute Essential K Plus GC  contains Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and MSM which are the primary supplements for joint health.  Since both horses are over 15 years I figured this is a great find!  It doesn't cost that much and comes in 50 lb bags vs. 40 lbs.  The price for the bag I think was in the high 20's or very low 30's, I don't remember since I've only purchased two bags so far.  Compared to the mid 20's for a 40 lb bag of other balancers plus the fact this has some added benefits...I'm sold.  The horses like it and eat it up...well Dani will eat anything, LOL.

I feed Chance only 22 ounces per day and Dani gets 26 ounces...it's very low feeding rates so they don't get all those calories.  I'm pretty happy with the nutrients listed, it's comparable to a lot of the good ones out there.  We'll have to see how it goes on this but both my babies are pretty easy keepers.  Just thought I'd share about this new to me feed!

April 04, 2016

Bees and Other Stinging Things

A few weeks ago I noticed some little mounds all over on little sloping area of the property near our driveway and mailbox.  I remember the previous owners mentioning something about ground bees.  Well, these are it.  They are categorized under miner bees and can be the metallic bees in the family Haliticidae or what these guys seem to be from the family Andrenidae...yes I'm a entomology nerd.

They are generally peaceful unless you really disrupt them but even walking through the area doesn't seem to bother them much.  I've had some land on me and watched them gather nectar and return to their little homes which are cute little mounds in dry earth.  After a couple months they die off and the larvae over winter to start the cycle again next year.  I'm happy with these tenants since they are in a perfectly harmless location and well....they are good little pollinators.

These are some pictures of the little guys foraging.

I love taking pictures of insects and really need to get a good macro lens so I can get closer crisp pictures.  

The picture below I call "Super Bee".  You can't even see her wings so she looks like she just needs a cape to fly around!  LOL.  So cute.  I enjoy having them!

One bee I do not enjoy is the carpenter bee, they are drilling holes in our porch, barn and run-in shed.  They can cause damage and the males that protect the nests dive bomb you like little assholes.  Luckily the boys don't sting but if they happen to be chasing a wasp away towards me I don't like the idea I could get in the way and have a wasp sting me.  Killing them isn't a solution, fixing the bare wood that they are attracted to should help.  That will be a fall project in addition to screening in the bottom of the porch since they are boring into the support structure we can't really get to.

Sure the front porch is rickety and needs to be replaced but we need it to last until we can do that.  When we do replace it we'll use materials that are not carpenter bee friendly.  There are traps that are supposed to help but the one we've made hasn't caught a single bee.  I'm switching to a deterrent game plan.  All I've read about bees and wasps is that orange and citrus oils are nasty to them.  I picked up some orange oil and am soaking the steps and other areas in the product.  It smells great!!!  Hopefully it will make the area unappealing to the bees and they will go elsewhere.

The barn is gonna need a major overhaul with painting done etc..  The bees are less likely to bore into painted wood but I've read that it's not always the case.  We'll try paint and the orange oil as well.  The best way to control them is to exclude them.  Make raw wood unavailable, make it unappealing (jury's out on whether orange oil or other home remedies will work) and set traps where activity is highest (haven't seen one trapped yet...).  It will be an on going battle for some time until we get it under control I'm sure.

Wasps are another thing.  We've removed countless old nests and the beginnings of several others.  I also picked up a fake wasp nest that says it should deter them from building a nest.  I think the wasps building their homes around here haven't read that product description since several have hung out in my hay shed right near the decoy.  Since I don't want to use wasp spray around the hay I have a long range bottle with apple cider vinegar.  I think I can shoot the wasp and when it falls down stomp on it or kill it with a long pole the hubby got me for this purpose.

I love bees and my hubby and I plan on raising honey bees next year. Aggressive and destructive critters around the house on the other hand are not my thing.  I mean if I had little butterflies making nests all over the place I wouldn't have an issue with them since they don't sting or destroy my house structure!  It's the stinging and protecting of nests that I don't like when I'm trying to care for my ponies.  Here's hoping the orange oil, decoys, traps and eventual painting of the wood will reduce the nesting habits on my house and barn so I can live in a less fear of stings!!

A general design using a router to make a mason bee house.  It can be taken apart and
cleaned to reduce the parasitic wasp and mite issues that are found in other designs
Oh another bee I've discovered is the Mason bee.  They go into preexisting holes to lay their eggs and then patch up the hole with mud.  They are not destructive and are very peaceful like the miners.  I've discovered that some are making a home in my lawn mower bagger.  Not the best place for them but I don't use it so I guess I'll just leave it alone until the new bees come out next year.  We also plan on making some Mason bee hotels so we can encourage these little pollinators.  I think I feel better helping out the less destructive pollinators while I try to deter the bullies and destroyers.  

I don't want to harm anything but I can't have my house getting bored into nor getting stung every time I try to feed my ponies!  Enjoy this cute video of the mason bees!  I was so close to them and they were very chill.