4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses

4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ~Langston Hughes *pictured: '4Shoes Bookends'

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

We Need Silence

"We need to find God, & He cannot be found in noise & restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon & the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls."  ~Mother Teresa

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Bringing in the Sheaves

Here in MB, Canada it has been a dry year. 
MB is the home of a thousand lakes... it's not like we've been drought stricken, but it's been dry enough in our area that the yard has only needed mowing 3x this entire summer (rather than the usual every 9 or 10 days), & the high areas are somewhat brown & crunchy. We've had a few sprinkles, & a lot of thunder & lightning action, but not enough moisture to leave any actual puddles. 
Until last night, when it rained steadily for several hours. The ground just drank in(!) all that cool rain, but there were even a few small puddles in the barnyard this morning & the wondrous smell of rain lingers in the air. 
Now the really cheery part for the 4Shoes... 
Conditions the summer of 2017 have finally been perfect to harvest the first hay crop on land that we cleared & seeded years ago! 

A rough likeness of the process to aid you in imagining 
the level of destruction in which we were up to our ears. 
Notice how I have painstakingly photo-shopped in snow-
banks & flakes (no 2 of which are alike, just like real 
ones)Because I'm totes creative & thoughtful that way.
Initially, we were forced to hire a cat to come in the winter of 2011/12 & knock down stands of willows & poplars by the thousands. Then the cats' blade scraped up a layer of soil that was literally rife with blankets of roots. 
When the snow had melted, the next step was dragging that field over & over & over again, separating trunks & sticks & roots & rocks from topsoil, and depositing all the debris into yet another enormous burn pile. Straight up - we have had a LOT of bonfires, yo. 

Cannot count the hours invested... but I can count
the dollars, which have been significant. NO shit.
The Spring of 2013 we dragged again(!), then tilled & seeded a Horseman's Blend in hopes of soon(?) harvesting home-grown livestock feed. Naively, we actually thought the hard part of the west field was over at that point... Fate must have been laughing her ass off. 

Mother Nature is a tenacious gal & loathe to let go,
so each succeeding year we had been back in that west field mowing down, ripping out by force, & burning re-appearing baby poplars & willows by the thousands*, while simultaneously gnashing our teeth over low spots sprouting cat tails. Until this year, that is. 
The West Field had LEGIT not been harvested in 34 years.
Mother Natures' tangles ensured a lot of hard graft for us to
wrestle it away from her. Mother Nature is a greedy, temper-
amental, persistent biotch.
But then, so am I.
 
This first & glorious harvest off the west field is a long-awaited payoff for having battled for what has (at times) felt like forever, for nothing. 
The effort has made us very thankful(!) to live in the age of heavy equipment. Especially when we've come in hot & exhausted at the end of hard days, but knowing that we can hardly imagine how much more difficult it was to accomplish these kind of goals in the pioneer days. 

The Barn Field...
Because on this side of the fence is the barn,
& because super-original names just come
 easy to us. 
We currently hay 3 other good parcels that we call 'the barn field', 'the lane field', & 'the wild field' because, crazy-level imaginative here. This year, in addition to ongoing grazing pasture maintenance & various farm upgrades, we have started clearing what we call 'the bottom field', which has been left gone wild for 34+ years & currently serves as a lovely, cozy bed & breakfast for a. lot. of deer. 
The Lane Field...
Because it runs alongside 4Shoes Lane, which
is an actual road allowance that dead ends at
our property. Forever & ever, Amen. 

But the 4Shoes is here for the long haul, & progress demands as much of our land as possible be productive so that Mr Shoes & I can continue to live comfortably after Mr Shoes has retired from his lucrative career. 
I shall be very careful not to go off on a *rant  about the hardships of the small holder, which often as not require at least one dependable outside revenue stream. 

*Right now. Later? No promises.

*The 4Shoes has been slowly tamed back into productivity for a decade now. Originally, it had been a thriving farm, but the owner just before us was a self-named alcoholic hermit who just liked living in isolation & so he let the farmed land drift steadily back to bush for 24 years. 

Mother Nature can reclaim almost everything in 24 years... 
Then the 4Shoes family came along, & she has had to loosen her tight grip... because we just won't quit! 

I couldn't even begin to calculate how many man & equipment hours we have logged, but now we often hear admiring words, "Your place is just BEAUTIFUL!", which feels very satisfying, because, who wouldn't enjoy some outside validation for a decade spent planning & executing a dream?

No actual sheaves were brought in, because sheaves are grain crops, not hay.
I think, technically, we are bringing in the equivalent of stooks, but I could be wrong.
Go ahead folks, edu-ma-cate me, please!


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day vs Night

"Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made & forgot to put a soul into."            ~Henry Ward Beecher
video
"When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself."  ~Sunryu Suzuki

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A Deal's a Deal, Until it's Not

A deal is a deal. I ended that sentence with a period because, once a deal is struck & agreed upon, that's supposed to be the end of it. All that remains after the words, "That's a deal." are the pick up & the money exchanged for the receipt. 
Mr Shoes was hot after a manual bale transport (like the one above), but they don't come up used very often & new price hovers around $1000. A couple of weeks ago he got a line on what he wanted that was 3 hours away. Mr Shoes & the seller agreed on the price, made the deal, & arrangements for pick up on Mr Shoes next day off. 
It's a good thing Mr Shoes is thorough; he called just before we were to leave for the pick up.... only to find out that the seller had let the transport go the night before. 

"But we had a solid deal.", Mr Shoes said, "You sold it 
out from under me, & you didn't even have the decency to call & let me know before I made what I explicitly told you is 6 hour trip?" 

I could hear the seller shrugging through the phone; wth is wrong with some people? He got off easy actually; had we driven all the way there & found out we had spent $80 hauling a flat deck that would travel back empty, someone might've gotten a lightning-fast rabbit-punch. Some might say that I've got a bit of a temper... Mr Shoes is definitely the more reasonable (non-violent) half of this pair.
After hanging up, Mr Shoes was a little ticked off, & I didn't blame him because 'A Deal is a Deal'. I also didn't blame the seller because, 'A Bird in the hand'... 


However, the jag-off seller SHOULD have manned-up & just called Mr Shoes. Even a text would have been fine.

More recently, there was the 3pt autostart fertilizer/seeder... I spotted a screaming good deal on one of these & immediately sent the seller a text. 5 minutes later, the seller phoned me (he phoned ME!!) & told me to come & get it. I literally dropped what I was doing & jumped in the truck, texting that I was on my way. He texted back "K". 40 minutes later I arrive to find the seller with another buyer. What the what now? Long story short, I offered a higher price, but the seller figured he ought to give it to the guy who arrived first. I left without bothering to remind him that he called me(!) because, what was the point.

Another thing Mr Shoes had been wanting for a while is a bale elevator - a motorized conveyor belt that tilts up to the top of your stack & saves your back. One guy is at the bottom feeding bales onto the belt, & the other guy is on top, tying the bales in as they come off. We've physically thrown bales all these years... & we're not getting any darned younger. 
Luckily, the gal who was selling our new-to-us elevator was as good as her word. I made the deal with her on a Sunday, we drove out & picked it up 2 days later, & she had a bill of sale all ready to go. Yay! No more chucking bales!

That's the way a deal is supposed to go - you make a promise to pay & they make a promise to decline other offers. You make arrangements for pick up & you show up at the agreed upon time, with cash. 

Take note Sellers: If you say 'first come gets it', well then potential buyers know in advance that it's a free-for-all & no hard feelings if we get beat out. 
But, by Gawd, if you make a deal then you ought to be bound by it. If you're the dirty kind of bird who makes a deal but doesn't hold up your own end, at least be a decent human being & inform other interested parties that the item is sold before they drive out of their way.

To the dude who called me & told me to come pick up the fertilizer: Shame on you for double dealing & for wasting my time & traveling money! I think I showed amazing self-control this time, but the next toolbag who jerks me around might want to stand well back out of range of my swinging fist. 
Rabbit Punch!!