Five Minute Writing Prompt—Extreme

I am visiting my twinster and her family. They live in Colorado, near Woodland Park. They have been here in Colorado for thirty years.

Extreme is a good word for my description of their place. I am always amazed at the size of the mountains, the thin air, and the land itself. It is all so different and in many ways extreme to me. I marvel at the huge differences and perspectives visiting here gives me.

They have given tremendous experiences to me and my family over the years. So extremely different it is from our rolling green hills of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. A grand wonder with every visit. Glory!

Mr. America of the Horse World

Horse pulling contests are the Mr. America contests of the horse world. A 2,000+ pound heavy weight body builder. To see them in person is to understand.

Horse pulling contests, however, have been around much longer than Mr. America. Dating back to the early 1800’s when horses first starting pulling farm equipment here in America. Men bragged on their teams being stronger than their neighbors teams, and thus the competitions began.

It is the Draft Horse breed that compete in these thrilling contests. The word draft in this sense means the load-pulling capacity of the animal. Thus Draft horses include all the heavy-build pulling horses, i.e. Shires, Percherons, Clydesdales, Suffolk Punches, and Belgians. Pulling contests showcase their mighty strength, teamwork, and amazing harmony between man and beast. They are the ‘gentle giants’ of the horse world, and amazing athletes.

Draft horses were not only used on farms, they were used in logging work, gathering ice from ponds, used in dairies and breweries, running hauls from here to there in the cities, and pulling steam-powered water pumps for fire houses.

This summer our local fairgrounds hosted a pulling contest during the annual Shenandoah Valley Steam Show. This is the show for those that admire or own old steam powered equipment. The one night though was the exciting horse pulling contest.

With camera in hand I got as close as possible without being a distraction for the teams or teamsters. The audience is reminded to be very quiet—no yelling, for as the announcer said, “Your ‘Go’ may be heard as a ‘Whoa’ by the horses over a ‘Whoa’ from the teamster trying to hold them while being hitched to the sled.”

Did these teams ever go! They were so excited, using an old horse term, they were “chomping on the bit” to get to work. The energy from the horses and teamsters was palatable! One could barely hear the teamster talking quietly to his team. When the team took off the earth very nearly shook!

There are divisions based on total weight of the teams. The lighter divisions pulled ‘lighter’ loads. While the big teams pulled huge amounts of weight! A team can pull far more weight than a single horse can. I do believe the winning heavy weight team pulled over 15,000 pounds! Real horsepower here!

This thrilling event is for horse folk like me. These horsemen and women are friendly. They welcome visitors right up to their trailers and horses. They are chatty and answer any question one may have. And they love talking horses. They are my favorite group of horse people.

Please enjoy a few of the photos I took of these magnificent animals displaying their glory and the teamsters that work with them.

These horsemen are friendly, and love talking about their horses.
Talk about power!
A beautiful lightweight team.
Can you feel the strength of this team?
Looks like a Mr. America Horse doesn’t he?
Tractor pulling the sled into position
Teamsters and horses know when they have reached the capacity pull.
This is one of the Heavy Weight Teams. They fall in the 4,000-4,500 pound weight class. They make these men look small!
These horses are chomping at the bit to do their job.
This driver is working hard to steady the team before getting hitched to the sled.
The earth seems to shake when they take off!
Their power is nearly unbelievable.
Next generation teamster watching…
…and learning.
Gentle Giants
Should a horse pull ever come your way, go watch. You’ll be glad you did.
May I brag a moment? This photo won a first place at our Clarke County Fair this summer.

Five Minute Friday Writing Prompt—While

While, such an interesting word, is a noun that means a period of time.

It has been a word for myself for many years i.e.:

What can be done while I am waiting for this appointment?

What can I do while the children are napping?

How can I occupy myself on this long trip while being a traveling passenger?

Is there something that could be done while I wait fifteen minutes before needing to leave for work?

Time has always been important to me. It passes quickly with moments never to be had again. So, I hope this has been a thoughtful post for you while you spent these five minutes with me.

Good day!

How Can You do That?

“How can you do that?” I am frequently asked this question when people hear our chickens are free-range.

“It does pose a risk,” I concede, “but the benefits outweigh the risks.”

How can that be? How can free-range chickens ever survive? There are several factors that work in their favor out here at our place. We have dogs that keep wildlife at bay. We also walk all over the farm, thus leaving our human scent as well. The horses play a big part too in keeping critters away. Though they can injure and even kill chickens as I wrote in a previous post, Faster than You Think—Ask the Chickens. It does not happen often. A healthy horse will defend his domain if feel threatened, or a ‘stranger’ shows up on their turf.

Free-range chickens are a benefit to everyone. They eat bugs which makes us all happy. I leave horse manure several days in the paddock to ‘cure’ a bit. Chickens peck through it eating the worms, thereby breaking the parasite cycle for the horses. Bonus! They also are my first composers. Manure has been beautifully broken down by their work.

Their hen house is in a stall in the barn. This also offers extra protection for them, and a plus for us as eggs are laid either in their house or feed buckets. Rarely is there need to have a daily egg hunt.

While this works here, it may not work at your place. Which does not really matter. I have seen beautiful hen houses and enclosures to keep them safe, all full of a bunch of happy hens!

So please do not feel bad if your chickens cannot be free-range. I am just answering the question of how it works for us.

No matter how chickens are kept, would you agree that they are fun and #chickensmakeuschuckle ?

Happy chicken farming!

Our dogs help protect the farm.
Horses help protect chickens.
They eat worms in the manure that helps break parasite cycle for horses.
They are our first composters!
They eat bugs!
No matter where you keep your chickens, they are fun! #chickensmakeuschuckle

What Dogs Know about Horses

Watching our animals interact with one another is a life lesson in and of itself.

They communicate with each other, and they seem to understand. I have noticed they do need a bit of ‘training’ to learn each other’s language, but they learn quickly!

It has been a while since we have had a puppy here on the farm with us. We got our Pembroke Corgi puppy, HoneyPie, one-and-a-half years ago at eight weeks old. I kept a close eye on her for the first year. She needed to learn about horses and cats from a safe distance. It only takes one determined strike from a horses front leg to break a dogs back. And goodness, the damage a mature cat could give a silly, playful puppy! She also had to learn not to chase the chickens.

She is now nineteen months old. She knows her way around the farm, cats, horses and chickens. Though she takes great joy in giving the chickens a good, quick run! I am teaching her to herd them also.

Our one miniature horse, Clarette, has made it her mission to keep HoneyPie out of the paddock, and fields. The photos below show interesting ‘talk’ between horse and dog. It’s fascinating to watch! Can you ‘read’ their language?

Everyone aware of everyone here. No big deal.
Clarette is not bothered by HoneyPie here either–for now.
But see this ‘language’ here? Clarette has turned towards HoneyPie, who is not quiet sure about it all just yet.
Clarette has turned with more intention towards HoneyPie, who is now on the alert.
Now she means business, and HoneyPie is backing off from her advance.
Clarette now means business! The funny part is that she backs off as soon as she gets HoneyPie to skedaddle away! Then they do it all over again.

In reality Clarette is only bluffing. She just enjoys her power over HoneyPie! Such is life here at the farm.