Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Busy Week

Well, this week kept us all hopping.  We added one more girl to our little trailer, Jennifer from Holland.  We also lost one, Skye went back to the States to start college on Monday.  We sent her off in proper Irish form, we hopped down to the local village for a pub crawl.  The village is about 10 minutes away and as far as I can tell, the only things there are a pair of pubs and a gas station.  I tried a Guinness on tap, not bad if you like beer, and the others each had cider, called hard cider in the States.  At the first pub, we just sat and had a quiet drink, it was mostly empty with a few of the locals hanging out.  The second pub was much more lively, complete with live music.  We were spotted as tourists right as we walked in.  After grabbing seats at the bar and placing our order, a man I think is the owner came over and asked if we sang.  We offered Skye up for some public humiliation and she took it all very well.  She was called up to the stage and sang and played a few songs before bowing out and rejoining us.  I think what happened after was more interesting, though she does have a nice voice.  A number of older ladies came over and told her how much they appreciated her performance, the bar tender brought her a Mini-Guinness, and a man on the far side of the bar bought a round of drinks for our group!  Talk about appreciation for an ad hoc performance!

What I would consider to be our normal daily schedule has been interrupted by more than just an adjustment of personnel, we also had to get ready for the show this weekend.  Currently, I am the only one on the farm.  Everyone else is at the show.  In preparation, we added daily grooming and training for the three potential competing horses, only two made the cut.  We also got a visit from the farrier.  He stopped by and worked on a set, four horses, giving them each a trim and a new set of shoes.  We also sat down and cleaned the tack the farm will have for sale at the show and the tack they will be using while they perform.  It is remarkable how quickly I managed to get through the normal daily work, even though I'm only one person, when I don't have to worry about all that other stuff.  Even though it means I will have to get up a fair bit earlier, I am really looking forward to attending the show tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So, still having problems getting photos to the blog, but I'm working on it.  Saturday we had a shopping day.  But first, we had some excitment on the farm.  After breakfast, we started playing ball with the dogs until we noticed that Mouse, the biggest one, was slightly distracted, buy the week old foal!  She had figured out how to sneak out of her mom's stall.  So, we all dropped what we were doing.  It took three of us to corral her back into the stall and figure out how to baby-proof it, and another two to keep the dogs from trying to 'help'.

Then, the three of us interning here and Elka, our host's girlfriend, drove the half hour it takes to get to the nearest town with a grocery store and stopped by a shopping center.  Losts of clothing stores, small phone, book or flower stores.  I have to admit, I didn't buy anything.  I'm still trying to figure out how much an Euro is worth.  After stopping by the shopping center, we went grocery shopping, returning to the farm in time for evening feeding and supper.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Day in Ireland

Well, it obviously hasn't been a week. It seems I can have more frequent access than that. If this becomes a regular thing, I may even be prepared with pictures next time.

This is the end of my first full day in Ireland. Some things are constant. Horses are horses and there are lots of similarities between the way horses are cared for here and the way I cared for them in the States. They still need food and water and exercise. Their stalls still need to be mucked out (scooping out the wastes). There are still some horses who are left out in the field unless they are being used.

Some of the differences in care seem to stem from a lack of space rather than a cultural difference. For instance, since there is no room to turn all the horses out at once, the horses are turned out into the arena singly or in pairs while we muck out their stalls.

One startling difference between horse management here compared to what I've done before is that I've always known breeders to try to breed in such a way that the foal are born early in the year. Some breeders aim for January and February for older and therefore bigger yearlings, since all horses are considered a year old on their first January 1st. Other breeders aim for the spring when the weather is mild and the grass is growing to provide the dam (mother) with lots of nutrition. Neither of those things seem to be pressing issues here.

Here, there is a foal just one week old, still a little wobbly on her spindly little legs. They are also breeding a mare who is in her first heat (fertile period) since coming to the farm a few weeks ago. If she becomes pregnant, she will be expecting in late July. I can under that here, where rain and mild temperatures appear to be the norm, an owner may not be concerned about availability of high quality food for the dam. However, if they are planning on selling the foals, I would think it would still be important to make sure they were comparably sized to the rest of their age group.

Well, I think that's all for today, I'll post more next time I have a chance.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In the Air

Yesterday and today I spent flying, riding a bus, and riding in a car.  Starting at 6:40pm yesterday, I got on a plane and headed across the ocean.  Six hours and two hours of sleep later, I landed in London.  I don't know how many of you know this, but being lost is one of my skills.  So, it comes as no surprise that I immediately got lost in Heathrow.  I wound up going through interterminal security three times before I finally got to my gate in the back end of nowhere for my connection to Dublin.  I hopped the bus to Athlone.  Where I was picked up by the owner and my host for the durration of my stay.

I got to Cochise Stud and Saddlery this after noon in time to help with the evening chores.  Lots of stallions!  We also did a breeding in addition to the standard mucking and feeding routine.  I met the two other girls who will be sharing the little trailer/bunkhouse with me.  Well, it's time for supper.  I hope to get online again some time next week.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Night Before

So, it is the night before I leave for Ireland.  I have been spending the past few weeks trying to get ready for the trip and enjoy time with my family.  There are a few things I hadn't really thought about before dealing with the details of an international trip.  Everyone knows that you need a passport, which is a reasonably straight forward procedure.  Just make sure you get it well before your trip.  I didn't expect to have to find travel insurance.  Some no cost insurance is leaving a copy of my passport and cards with my parents incase I lose them.  I didn't expect to have to renew my driver's license because it would expire while I was gone (good thing I noticed).  I didn't expect to lose my camera.  I suppose there will be other things that come up that I am not expecting.  I hope those things are as easy to negotiate as the issues I've come across so far.

I did take the time to play tourist in D.C. on Sunday.  I visited some of my favorite places along the Capital Mall.  I visited the U.S. Botanic Gardens.  They are beautiful this time of year.  It had been so long since I had visited them while the outdoor gardens were in bloom.  Absolutely gorgeous!  I love the serenity found in gardens.  Surrounded by things to which time has precious little meaning.  Plants won't notice if you are an hour late.  The butterflies don't care if you stay all day reading and drinking tea or if you have to run after a few minutes.  It is so peaceful.  I always try to get a visit in while I'm in the area.  I also walked through the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  That's the one with the elephant in the entrance.  They have now completed the section about the oceans.  It is very impressive.  HUGE whale hovering over the whole thing.  It is a different style than the rest of the building, but very nice.  I also discovered a fabulous place to eat off the beaten tourist path.  The food court inside the Old Post Office, a block behind the Museum of Natural History, was delightfully uncongested.  I grabbed a gyro and found a table quickly and easily, with plenty of time to ride the metro back to my family for the afternoon.

The nerves are finally starting to hit me.  I am getting on an airplane for ten hours.  I am going to a foreign country.  I am going to have to learn a foreign currency.  I am going to have to navigate a country of which I only have vague cartographic knowledge.  To say that I am not facing tomorrow with a certain amount of trepidation.  But I am also looking forward to it.  I am enough of a homebody to want to stay in areas that I know, but there is definitely value in exploring other cultures.  I am especially interested in Ireland.  I've grown up learning snippets about the Irish who came to the United States.  Bits and pieces of their culture have become common here in the U.S. shamrocks and rainbows meaning good luck and of course, St. Patrick's Day, though I'm certain we have altered these things.  Suffice it to say I am facing tomorrow with mixed feelings.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 3

Hitting the road this morning, I found out that I had stopped less than a mile from Ohio.  I liked watching the wild flowers in the morning light as I drove by.  There were some that were a gorgeous light purple-blue.  As the day progressed, I noticed something disturbing.  There were dead trees, a lot of dead trees.  This trend actually continued through Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.  There would be large sections of the forested areas that were dead and dying.  They weren't all the same species of tree, or even all deciduous or evergreen.  Whatever is wrong with them attacks indiscriminately.  As I drove through the countryside, I came up with two theories.  The first theory was a drought.  However, the dead trees were not all in areas that would be first hit by low water tables.  Also, with a drought, some tree species would be more susceptible.  Then I remembered a story one of my professors told us a few years a go.  We used to use a lot of 'dirty' coal, coal with a high sulfur content.  When this coal is burned, it releases sulfides into the environment.  The sulfides combine with the water vapor in the clouds and create sulfuric acid.  This creates acid rain the comes down to the east of the power plants that burn dirty coal.  My professor told us that at one point it got so bad that the majority of the north eastern United States' forests were devastated.  I thought the story was from a long time ago.  I thought the damage would have been healed.  But here are trees that are obviously dying.  Could it be from left over acid water in the system?  Whatever is wrong, it is sad to drive through what would be a beautiful countryside only to have the rolling, green, tree-covered hills spotted with sections of brown.

I reached my parents' house just in time to sit down to supper with the family.  It was a full house tonight.  We were celebrating my sister delivering her first child.  We had a fair amount of both our immediate family and her husband's immediate family here.  We had a lovely summer-style meal with multiple kinds of salad and fruit.  Thus starts my time staying with my parents.  I'll be here a few weeks before I fly to Ireland to begin my internship.