Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Winter is around the corner! It’s Halloween, barely November, but temperatures have dropped over the past two weeks and most of the leaves have fallen.  There’s still a bit of red on the hills opposite the valley from campus, though, and Mountain Day, which is like fall’s last hurrah at NMH, hasn’t happened yet. Normally it comes midway through October and is a surprise, but this year it’s been postponed until very late. The timing of Mountain Day is a great source of speculation on campus right now and no one but the deans knows what their reasoning is for putting it off.

It’s at times like these, when the temperatures drop off precipitously and I have to haul out the scarves and hats, when I miss Austin. The weather is lovely here, certainly, but fall in Austin is slightly more permissive because it’s still not cold and there are horse shows going on. The temperature at home is in the 80s right now. New Englanders reading this might not believe it, but that’s nice and cool for Austinites. I guess you could say I’m a little homesick. And it doesn’t help that Mountain Day hasn’t happened yet; it’s hard to appreciate fall in New England when you’re stuck in classes.

Apples on the farm

That being said, fall in New England is wonderful. Cidering is in full swing. Two weekends ago I spent the afternoon on the farm with my camera and got a few good shots. And I’ve had some excellent riding lessons. This Sunday at Stoneleigh I rode Ginger, a wonderful bay pony with whom I work very well, and the first course we rode in the lesson was perfect. After that we practiced some rollbacks. Rollbacks are hard to do on Ginger because after each fence she likes to get on her forehand. I have become much better at steadying and balancing her, but on a tight rollback it was more work. Even when I didn’t do a great job getting her to rock back a little, we did manage to make all of our strides perfect and get our lead changes. There’s more to work on but I feel good about my riding.

Zeph watching Bea (left) and Ben (right)

Fall is normally seen as the season when everything starts dying; however, it also always brings calves. Rachel had her third calf three weeks ago. He’s appropriately named Ben after Ben Tiefenthaler, last year’s farm intern. And Sarah, Rachel’s first calf, had her own first baby three days after Ben was born, a little heifer called Bea. 



Happy Halloween, everyone! 

Friday, October 11, 2013


So much for weekly posting! It's already more than a month since school started and I haven't posted once. Oops. The farm blog, however, has been regularly updated.

The leaves here have turned already, for the most part. Some of the trees have dropped their leaves, while others still have most of their foliage. Cidering season on the farm has begun already. Although I've been on the farm quite a bit in the past month, I haven't been able to actually work on the cider yet. Perhaps this Sunday.

Baelin and Ranger cidering
Instead of helping with the regular farm work I've been driving the horses with Richard and Liam. Some days we have spread wood ash and lime in the fields using the new lime spreader and fore-cart. Other days, when Liam hasn't needed them for that task, Richard and I have taken the horses out in the Meadowbrook cart. Kara is our particular favorite because she's more energetic than either Kate or Roca. She's also more used to being by herself instead of as part of a team.

Richard harnessing Kara
I am planning to start posting each Sunday. Now that my classes have settled down and I have a bit more time, that should be doable.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Recap

Summer is almost over. In two days I am headed back to school for my junior year, which promises to be difficult. The days until the day school officially starts will be a whirlwind of packing, travel, volleyball camp, farm work, and meeting up with friends.

Like last summer, this break has been incredibly full. In the first few weeks, after going to Cape Ann, I went to Florida to visit family and went to the Carriage Museum. Instead of taking a driving lesson I just went for a hack around the property, which was a lot of fun and let me have the experience of cantering over bigger hills than I have in the past. It sounds a little silly but I've never really done that before.

After Florida, I came back to Austin for several weeks to ride and play volleyball before going to Washington, DC for my cousin's wedding on the 4th of July weekend.

When I came back from DC I had two weeks to prepare for my one show of the year, the first Summer Circuit. Jones was pretty good; we had a bit of trouble with him stopping out at fences, which cost us a lot of ribbons. However, the rounds when we had no stops were good and we did place in a few classes.Unfortunately, no one took any pictures of my rides.

Two or three days after the end of the show, Isabel and I were on a plane again, this time to Jackson Hole. Finally!

As you can see, there were a lot of moose in the yard! I also made my way out to Mormon Row one morning.

And now I'm back in Austin for a few days. Hope you enjoyed the photos. Also, I am planning to start a one-weekly post schedule when school starts so pictures don't pile up like this. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Time to Relax

It's summer! I got out of school last week, after a long and grueling week of final exams.

Well, it wasn't all that bad. I ended up in good shape with straight A's and an Award in Spanish to my name. So now it feels really good to relax. I'm in Florida again, and as you might expect I'll be making my annual visit to the Carriage Museum soon.

Where I am in Florida doesn't always lend itself to fun photography unless horses are involved, but I do have a few shots to share from Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

The famous "Motif #1" at Bearskin Neck

I took a lot of photos as usual but these are the only ones I like. When we arrived at the Cape the weather was very cold and rainy, so I didn't have my camera out. Over the next few days we boulder-hopped along a rocky section of coastline, visited Bearskin Neck and Rocky Neck to check out the art galleries, and climbed up part of a cliff over the ocean that my dad used to climb a lot, years ago. I ended up climbing that cliff barefoot because the highly impractical ballet flats I was wearing finally broke after two years of almost non-stop use. I think it was more fun barefoot than it would have been in sneakers, though I wouldn't advise following my example.

My mom is also blogging a bit more actively now, so you should take a look at her blog here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Riding in a Cast

Spring break is almost over! This means that I've already finished my shift of farm sugaring, have already gone skiing, and am now back in Austin. Obviously, I have a few pictures to show for it.

Sugaring was incredibly fun. We had several good sap runs, some lovely weather, and best of all it was a week spent living with around 10 of my best friends. It was a very good time.

In Jackson, my dad and I skied for two days. The snow conditions weren't great--I've never seen the Bowl in such terrible shape--but a good part of the mountain was skiable and we had two very good days. The moguls were great!

And that brings us to yesterday, when I went riding in a cast. I didn't think I'd be allowed to ride, but  was proven wrong, on the condition that I make my best effort to not fall off. It was a pretty decent ride--my instructor noted that my hands are much better now than they were last time I rode Jones, and that I must have been doing a lot of flatwork. She was right; that's pretty much all we do at Stoneleigh. (Even if it gets a little frustrating, at least when I start being allowed to jump bigger I'll know that I must have REALLY good eq on the flat. Or something like that.) I think my leg also looks better on the flat. 

My mom took a bunch of pictures. Here are the best ones.

I'll be able to go riding again tomorrow, and might actually be able to take some pictures of my own. Also, I spent a good portion of last night oiling my saddle, so now it looks absolutely gorgeous. I'm always surprised by how well it takes oil. 

More pictures soon!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Break is Coming!

Spring break starts next week, and it can't come a moment too soon. I didn't ride this weekend because last Sunday, after a fairly good lesson on a horse called Moe, he spooked and started galloping and bucking down the arena. I stuck with him for a ways until he reached a jump standard, dropped his head, and swerved to the right to avoid it, at which point I kept going forward and into said jump standard. And I mean  straight into it. I got up right away because of all the adrenaline, but my wrist felt a little funky so I didn't get back on.Which was a good choice because it turned out that it was broken. I also got a minor concussion, but since I had a helmet on and didn't hit my head very hard, the symptoms went away quickly. My arm is now in a bright-red cast and my role in sugaring season on the farm has been reduced to hanging around the barn waiting for someone to ask me to do any small task.

Despite the major annoyances of having one hand to use, it has its perks. For one, I don't think anyone would allow me to muck out stalls--but they're still letting me supervise morning and evening chores. Well, probably. And I should be able to lead animals around now that I have a hard cast.

The day before I broke my wrist was the one day I got to go out and do normal sugaring chores. A large group of us went out to finish putting taps on trees on the Mount Hermon campus. There were so many people to help that my job became that of official photographer (or something like that).

It was a good day! Since then we've made around 100 gallons of syrup.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Riding at Stoneleigh

Sunday was my day for riding at Stoneleigh. Needless to say, after two weeks of being grounded, I was pretty excited. My advisor drove me and the other girl who sometimes rides with me to the barn. Our instructor put me on a horse called Bandit. He's a pretty small chestnut and seemed to be worried that the world was going to eat him, but he wasn't as jumpy as some horses I've ridden. When we started trotting round the ring I found that he's very stiff and it's hard to get him to bend. However our instructor did say that when I was warming up at the trot and the canter I did a good job keeping him quiet and relatively soft, and the jumps started off quite well.

He started getting a bit fast as we progressed through the little course. At the third fence we had to circle because it was a tight turn and I didn't get him well enough bent to get around it properly. That was the start of our woes. Then at the fourth fence, a diagonal, he got very quick and I didn't half-halt strongly enough. It should have worked out but someone on the other side of the fence accidentally kicked a standard. This horse, who thought the world wanted to eat him, wasn't having any of that so he went left and I continued forward. I wasn't hurt at all--I rolled onto my back and although the back of my head sort of cracked the ground I had a good helmet on. I got up quickly and our instructor said it was a good fall. After that we didn't have much time left in the lesson so Bandit and I just jumped the one he refused and finished the course.

Although I felt pretty ashamed about falling off, the rest of the lesson was actually pretty decent. Bandit never did want to bend to the inside but I kept him moving at a steady pace on the flat and as far as my equitation goes, it wasn't terrible. My advisor was there taking pictures; from what I could see on his camera's screen, my leg has improved a lot since I last saw photos of myself riding. If he sends them to me and gives me permission to post them here, I will.

After the lesson both my advisor and I went outside to take some pictures of the horses. It was really cold so I only got a couple of shots.

You may recognize this horse from one of my previous posts. He's probably the most photogenic horse at the barn, or at least he perks up his ears the most often.

Until next time!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Farm Chatter

Last week my school gave us Thursday off in observance of the Winter Carnival tradition. It wasn't technically Winter Carnival because there were no events, but it was nice to have a free day. It should come as no surprise that I spent the entire day at the farm. Even though not much was going on, it was fun to hang out. We have a new calf called Gustav. He was given to us for free by a dairy farm up in Vermont. He's not very healthy at the moment, having not drunk any colostrum, but Liam is treating him and he seems to be improving. Shockingly enough, I only got a snapshot of him because I was sort-of-kind-of busy doing chores. It's no big deal--I'll get more when I go down next.

In any case, I did actually get some decent shots of Ruth. She was living inside the feed room for a while because it was so cold, and Gustav is in there now. She got moved out on Thursday to live in a stall with Jess, one of our older calves.



Because Spring Family Days are coming up, this week on the farm will probably be all about making and packaging farm products like syrup, jam, ice cream, cheese, and beauty products. We have a lot of milk, as well, now that there are three cows being milked.

I also made it down to the farm on Saturday. Rachel and Liam didn't really need my help as they had plenty of work job students to do what was needed, so they seemed happy to let me bring in a horse and get rid of me. Although I don't technically have work job on the farm this spring because I'm getting credit for sugaring, I still see the horses' exercise as my responsibility... for the most part. I can't really do much with them because we're not allowed to ride off of the farm (stupid liability issues) so if I get down and can hack them around the pen for a few minutes it's been a successful day. How lame is that? But anyway, I did throw the Western saddle on Kara and trot around for a little while in the pen. These pictures of the horses are from a few days before.


Today I also got to have some horsey time. I had my first lesson of the spring semester at Stoneleigh-Burnham, riding a small chestnut Quarter Horse called Moe. He started off very pokey but was also looking around at everything, until I got him over a few fences and he perked up. He didn't listen to me very well for the first two times we went around the little course, but the third time was halfway decent and didn't involve too many breaks in stride. If we'd had a little more time to work through it I think I could have made it perfect, but we could only do so much in a half-hour. No photos from that because today was Founder's Day and I had to get back to school as fast as possible, but it was a good ride.

A few more random shots of the cows:

Jess playing in the snow

In order front to back: Eliza, Rachel, Sarah, Zuska

Hope you enjoyed those! More Antarctica photos are coming a little later--maybe this Wednesday or sometime around there.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quick Notes

I haven't written on here in a while, which seems to be a trend, but this time I have a good reason other than procrastination. For three weeks after Christmas, I lived on a ship and sailed around the Antarctic Peninsula with about 100 other people. A week after getting back, I still don't quite know what to say about it that won't sound cliche. It was incredible and life-changing and I met tons of people who I now miss, not to mention I was in Antarctica! I even went swimming in Antarctic waters. For anyone who's thinking about going down there... Deception Island's hot sands do NOT qualify as comfortable. Not at all. Saying that the water temperatures are approaching comfortable would be way overselling it. Still, I'm glad I did it! Oh, and I saw about 1 million penguins. And loads of Fur Seals and Humpback Whales and Elephant Seals and Skua Birds and ice! The pictures will come eventually. Actually, I got a lot of help from the two professional photographers who were on the trip, and I could see the difference in my shots from beginning to end. This may be my favorite--it's a leopard seal lying on an ice floe. We got up to about 5 feet away from him. See that snot? I could have reached out and wiped it off, if I'd thought I could spare my hand.

There are so many more shots and stories that I want to show and tell, but in this venue I can't really do them justice. Honestly I can't do them justice in any venue! People ask me what it was like and I can never explain it. It's something that I know now I have to do again--either that or go there for work. It made me seriously consider dropping my ambition of becoming a veterinarian and instead studying wildlife biology. This, of course, calls for much more dedicated coursework than I've put in so far this year, but to get back there, I can do it.

Here are a few more photos from the trip. There are many, many more! I might post them eventually.

Iceberg at Cuverville Island

Skua bird at Neko Harbor

Gentoo Penguin at Lookout Point, Elephant Island

Skua chick at Hannah Point, Livingston Island

Fur Seal pup at South Georgia Island

Moving forward from this trip will be interesting. School has not held quite as much interest for me, now that I've gotten a taste of what's out there, but I'm readjusting. Just last night Eliza had a new calf on the farm. It's a spotted heifer out of a very flat-brown colored cow, and the calf is just gorgeous. I didn't have my camera on me when I went to the farm this morning because I just dropped in after a run, but I'm planning on going back down as soon as I can--maybe tomorrow morning--to get some pictures. We've had such cold temperatures lately that Rachel and Liam moved Eliza into the heated tack room to give birth, instead of the regular box stall. I hadn't actually been down to the farm all week because I had to make up work, so this morning was the first time and I was feeling guilty for taking so long to get back to my place.

Anyway, life is happening and I have homework, so this is where tonight's post ends. You may expect a lot more pictures in the future, because both of the photographers on the trip seemed to believe that I can make something of my photography. I'll be working hard.