Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Return to Maine (Part One)

I'm back from Maine, and it was a whirlwind! My husband and I had so much fun exploring together.  I'll give you a brief tour--only highlighting the particularly interesting points of the trip and saving you the FULL tour!

It started in Massachusetts at The Wayside Inn in Sudbury. After a long flight--awake at 3:30 am PST and flying out at 5:30 PST--we drove to the Inn and had drinks & appetizers in the pub. (pictured below).  Bacon wrapped scallops and the oldest drink in the New Country--The Coow Woow.  After drinks, we went into their dining room where I had lobster pie and bread pudding for dessert.

After dinner, we retired to our very old, rickety, authentic bedroom--where we opened up the shutters to let in fresh air--then fell asleep.  While we slept, a Cyclone Bomb moved in--a drastic drop in pressure--which brought wind and rain and blew the shutters against the side of the outside walls.  My husband, dazed and confused, thought they'd blown off, and had to feel around in the dark to find them and get them closed.

So, a very authentic N'or Easter experience in a very old, authentic room at the Wayside Inn.  Fun!

The  next day, we drove to Walden Pond, where we hiked around the pond to Thoreau's old cabin site.  That  has long been my dream, and it did not disappoint.

It just felt good to get out and walk.  It was about 2 miles total, if I remember correctly. (The pond, above, and the old cabin site, below.)

From there, we drove around the coast of Maine and meandered up to Belgrade Lakes where the play/movie On Golden Pond was based, but not filmed.

"Norman, the Loons, the loons, they're welcoming us back!"

"I don't hear a thing."

We had another wonderful dinner in Belgrade Lakes at The Village Inn and Tavern, where we also stayed.  Amazing dishes there.  And amazing cocktails. We had a large suite that night, and it felt like being home.

The next morning it was up early for the drive to Northern Maine, where I wanted to see my old school, the base (Loring AFB, closed in 1995), and the surrounding towns as you drive up the St. John River--Van Buren to Madawaska, New Sweden, Stockholm.)

It was a lot of driving, but we made it to Limestone.

As we were coming into town, we saw buses filled with potato harvest kids.  That was a blast from the past because I used to be one of those kids in the 80's--picking potatoes in a basket, and loading baskets to a barrel, until it was filled, tagging it, and starting again.

I made fifty cents per BARREL.

Bringing in the harvest.  I read that they had stopped letting kids out to work the harvest, but because of the labor shortage, farmers requested they start up again, and the local councils voted this year to do that. The harvest is mostly mechanized now.

In the book, Travels With Charley, In Search of America, John Steinbeck drove to Northern Maine to be a part of the old-time harvest--the one I got to participate in.  He felt like it would be a thing of the past.  I think it survived longer than he assumed, as little farms could not afford to invest in big machines we called, "harvesters." Eventually, most of those little farms, run by large Catholic families, sold out to bigger ones.

So here I was, thirty six years later. I had finally arrived at the closest thing I had known to a hometown.

And so far, very little seemed to have changed...but there was much more to see.

(To be continued...)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Autumn Snow, Hay, Pumpkins, and Trail Rides

What a year! We had snow in September and early October...

which hasn't happened in September for almost a hundred years.

Then it disappeared and Autumn returned: pumpkins, yellow and orange leaves, crisp sunshiney days.

We have a tradition of going to the pumpkin patch together--and we continue it, but in a more adult fashion--stopping for beer, wine, and hard cider.

The vet came for Cowboy.

She gave him the RX for Equioxx, but she wants me to give it to him in spurts with sections of rest in between to allow his body time to cleanse itself.  I'll definitely give it the night before and after a ride.  But, overall, she thinks he's doing pretty well and not in need of a daily dose yet.

We got our hay.

Fourteen round bales and about 10 tons of small square bales that, unfortunately, we've been going through way too fast already.  I can't find normal square bales anymore.  Instead, I'm seeing hay sold in rounds and squares.  I purchased 3 rounds at $95 per round.

3 rounds is about 1650 pounds, so you can see it's an expensive proposition.  I was paying $200/ton delivered and stacked. Rounds work out to a bit more, and we had to pick it up in my horse trailer.

The traditional "round" bales are about 750 pounds and run $45 a bale.  Our supplier puts away 42 for us.

Well, heading back out on the trail with some friends and my Cowboy!  And my sweetie and I are getting ready for that super romantic Maine and Boston trip I was telling you about earlier!  I'll share that adventure when we get back!  Happy Autumn!

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Spirit is Willing, But the Flesh is Weak

What to do when our older heart horses are slowing down. It's a dilemma.

On the one hand, we know if they don't use it, they'll lose it. So, I had my farrier put shoes on Cowboy this year so that I could work to keep him going.  The year started out great.  His engine was revved up and, it appeared, with the help of Cosequin ASU and a little Bute before a ride, he was as good as new.

But mid-way through summer, the umph went out of him.  I began to wonder how much time I had left.  I blogged about it.  I was given a suggestion to introduce Exioxx, an anti-inflammatory you can give safely every day.

I did some research and filed that suggestion away.

Fast forward to last Tuesday: I went on a bareback ride with Cowboy at the state park, and he did pretty well.  The next day, I had a ride scheduled at Palisades Park--more steepness--water crossing--but a park Cowboy has rode a million times, and one that he is quite comfortable leading through.  (Which I needed because the other two horses didn't have the experience there.) 

From the start of the ride, he didn't seem like he was tracking right with his hips. I had  my friends look at him from behind, and they couldn't see it, but I could feel it here and there. I'm used to a little of that, especially when a ride starts out and they're not paying attention, but this felt different.  As we rode, it got better, and I started thinking he just needed to warm up, but when I hit some steep descents, you could see it.  I got off and walked him down those.

Looking back, I attribute that to some residual soreness from the day before.

So, my third ride, yesterday--I opted to leave him back and take Leah.

That ride was pretty flat--and in retrospect, I should have given Cowboy Wednesday off to recuperate and have taken him on this Thursday ride.

But in any case, I didn't.  I took Leah--who also has a tough time tracking with her hind end at times.  Oddly enough, she has problems in the exact same hip that Cowboy does, even though she's only 14.  (She will probably also benefit from Equioxx.)  Off the point just a bit here, but I think it's common for horses to have issues in their back right hips, if they're going to have hip problems at all.  I've seen many who do--for whatever reason.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, this is tough because Cowboy still has a heart for the trail--and he needs to keep moving.  His spirit has the strength of a ten year old in his prime.  His body, not so much.

I have been at a crossroad for some time now, so I scheduled an appointment for this Thursday with the veterinarian to assess him for Equioxx.

If I have to be honest, the Cosequin doesn't seem to be doing anything for him anymore, and it's more expensive--or at least, equally expensive, as the RX. (CosASU = 80 days for $150) I can get a 180 day supply of Equioxx from Allivet for $213-$223.   It works out to $1.18 per day.  I would also need to have him evaluated by my vet every 12 months.

Will it drastically change his situation?  I hope so.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could get another few years out on the trail with Cowboy?  Live the dream, just a little more?

Wish us luck.