Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Invalid Update Part Deux

It is said that two thoughts run through a horse's brains: suicide or homicide.  I concur. 
I believe the riding lessons 35 years ago were my parents' attempts to get me over the hump of their divorce.  They cursed me with a lifelong affliction to which I hope there is no cure.  I've been kicked, thrown, crushed, dragged.  Two horses tried to decapitate me.  Angus, yes, the big 2000 lb brute I love the most, he almost succeeded 10 years ago.  
Double herniated discs in my neck.  That was expensive and painful. I had a wreck with Opal and Indigo that left me with broken fingers, nice gashes and wicked road rash.

I have a sister in Oklahoma who can hardly finish telling stories of broken bones and being knocked out because she's bent over laughing hysterically.  With over 40 head on her farm, she's pathologically afflicted! A few months ago, when Angus spun around in his feeding pen, crushing me up against the fence, with his big butt on me, I figured I was in for an inglorious death... until the boards gave way and I fell out and down a few feet into the sand.  I couldn't wait to tell my coworker of the funniest thing that just happened to me.  
Ten years from now, my sister and I will be wearing our helmets, eating our Jell-o with sporks, squishing it through our teeth and laughing like hyenas.  

Meanwhile, my daily job has me baffled at a horse's fragility and its resurrection powers.
Take Henry.  

He's plugging right along now after skirting death by mistletoe 2 months ago.
His pasture mate, Chance, ran out of luck this past weekend.  He went from galloping back for supper on Saturday night, to this by Sunday morning:

Some superficial wounds point to a battle royale with Henry overnight.  Just because they're geriatrics doesn't mean they've lost their ability to kick.

When I tried to lead him back into his stall, he fell over.  And you know what they do with racehorses with broken legs, don't you?  That was my fear while we waited for our vet to arrive.

So, I decided to be ready and finish some fencing around the spare grave we keep in the horse cemetery.

Meanwhile, Chance had limped away and was marooned in the middle of the field.  Room service was provided.
A dozen X-rays later, Dr. Brown reveals that an old injury has been reinjured, yet no fractures or breaks to be found.  Flynn, who held the plate, is still glowing with radiation.  Taking one for the team.  Chance is showing improvement.
We cater to their every need, fuss over their nutrition, all we ask is that they not act like morons.  Too much to ask apparently.

They even get better dentistry work than I do.  What can you do but love them!
And I love this one too:

At Day 7 post surgery, he ate a hole in his cone and pulled some staples out.  That meant recovery time was over.

Not like he ever acted like he'd had surgery.  He only missed one day of work.  His job: destruction.

And he's overzealous. However, I am detecting a slight improvement in his demeanor.  

He's an octave lower on the hyper scale.

I'm even breaking out the good bed sheets, hoping theses don't get remodeled by his Bubba teeth.
On my day off this week, I'm taking my canine trio, Bubba teeth and all, on a road trip.  I've been cleared for driving (not that I had followed that restriction anyway).  But, I didn't like to drive following my eye surgery because it was mostly guess work.
When I returned to the eye clinic, I declined to see the surgeon and went back to my doctor.  Dr. McFayden spent 20 minutes with me  going over every detail and explaining everything thoroughly.  Few are the doctors who will do that anymore.
I couldn't understand why my vision was so much worse post surgery.  I've had this shadowing around everything before.

And believed it was a clarity issue. Turns out it was optical nerve damage (re: past horse related injuries).  When the new lens was put in, my brain couldn't realign the double image, so it gave me separate superimposed images.

Imagine this for two months.  This is exactly what I was seeing. Dr. McFayden gave me a trial lens that has already corrected the double vision. It's much larger than your normal contact, you can see it on my eye and I can feel it's there, but I don't care.  I can see!  This trial lens has no correction for near or far sightedness, my custom lenses will.  Then, by George, then I'll be back in business.  
For now, I'm happy enough with the loss of my double vision that I'm daring to hit the road.

Friday, January 26, 2018

In Honor of Rabbie Burns

Seventeen years ago to the day, I fell in love with Scotland the moment I set foot upon her soil. It was cold, blustery, the sun in ten days never mustered the courage to beat back the rains, culminating in the worst snow storm in history.  I was intoxicated by the beauty and then the gods gave me snow!!!

My travel companion thought otherwise.  The food was bland, the weather miserable, the locals' speech incomprehensible... by the last days, I kept expecting he'd commit suicide while I was out running in the mornings.
Only years later, through genealogical research did I come to realize I'd been staying in the villages of my father's forefathers.  No wonder everything felt just right, the people like old cousins and the food, ahhh, the food was soul satisfying.

Every day (yeah, I'm OCD), every day I ate a local haggis.  Traveler #2 couldn't stomach the idea of eating 'lights', lamb lungs, and offal all wrapped up with onions in intestines.  Totally, totally his loss and a missed opportunity to taste Scotland's national dish.  Unless you butcher your own lamb, you can't find lungs for sale in the US.  FDA severely frowns on them.  Finding intestines too can be like treasure hunting this side of The Pond.  But I started weeks in advance to justly honor Robert Burns.
On January 25th, I'd be ready to honor the greatest Scottish poet with a traditional feast.

The plan was to sit down with a heaping plate of haggis and my cherished book from 1866 revelling in his work all evening long.  
Was the plan.  
This is what happened... 
Jan 24, I start my day off early, haggis making isn't for the faint of heart.

The beef tongue and pork hearts aren't traditional ingredients, but when those of lamb weren't available, I made substitutions. I did procure lamb meat and livers though, everything from an organic farm in Central Georgia!

One must play with one's food.  

The  meats are boiled for two hours.

The steel cut oats are toasted for 30 minutes.
Then I proceed to prep the beef bungs (intestines) for stuffing.  As they are packed in salt in upstate NY for shipping, I have to rinse and soak them to leach out the salt.

Still playing with my food.

...and soaking.

Giving me time to stray into two other recipes.  Venison osso buco ties me up for the next six hours while I work on the haggis in between steps.

Worth 6 hours?  Definitely.  I've been on a quest to disconnect from social media and  distractions for the past 7 months.  I went cold turkey quitting Facebook.  I've begun to set aside fixed times to return texts and emails.  I've become a crusader against multitasking.  I love to focus on projects and believe that constant interruptions severely limit my efficiency and productivity. It's a balancing act, but not having my phone beeping at me all the time is tonic! To throw everything I have into work nurtures my spirit.

 By the time my homemade pizzas are finished, it's 10 PM Wednesday night.  I'm (overly) sated and I have all my next week's meals divvied up and in freezer containers.
Sadly, the haggis is still stuck halfway through its creation.
I pick up where I left off on Thursday when I get home from work at 8 PM.

Mincing meats until midnight.  Because using a modern food processor/grinder or making a small haggis is out of the question.

Go big or go home. Stuffing 9 lbs of meat, oats and onions into a sausage takes time.

Tied off. My jumbo grubs.

Ready for cooking Friday morning. 

Three hours of boiling casings starts at 5 AM.

Friday, after work, I make the neeps and tatties, or rutabagas and mashed potatoes, also called clapshot.

Last and certainly not least is the cream sauce.  Imagine cream thickened with whole seed mustard, infused with whisky and rounded off with fresh lemon juice.  

The sauce is beyond delicious, borderline bacchanalian to be honest.

This is my first attempt at making haggis and clapshot and I'm transported back to my Winter in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. 

Rabbie Burns Day celebrated one day late, fashionably late.  

Seeing as I'm the only guest I invited, there was no bother changing out of my barn clothes.  Appropriate, as Burns was also called the Ploughman Poet because of his pride in his humble country origins.
He even penned an ode to haggis, that's a man to be honored.

From the fat Zen Master's kitchen, oidhche mhath, good night in Scottish Gaelic.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Employee of the Day

There's one member of Farm Team who's gone beyond the call of duty on Tuesday. 
While we were all putting our backs out pulling trees out of the water, he was pulling them up the big dam to the trailers.
All day long, he kept up, helped out or stayed (mostly) out of the way.

Believe it or not, I'm talking about Daxo Smith.

Extra vittles in his supper bowl.

In the afternoon, when Flynn and I were yet again undoing a beaver's obstructive dam, guess who volunteered to join us in the stick and mud slinging?
And in the evening, when we were setting a new 20' post, he stayed safely tethered at a distance without pitching an absolute fit.

The mayhem that goes on around here in one day!  

Wouldn't trade my 'bucket-view' for any corner office in the world.

Taking my Employee of the Day home.  He's was little tuckered out.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Jewel Heist

Breaking News:  One professional thief and an accomplice are still at large after last week's jewel heist.  The victim claims he was tranquilized and rendered helpless to prevent the robbery.  The only clue he could provide is that the main perpetrator was called Doctor.

He describes the family jewels as priceless and irreplaceable.  He's started himself a GoFundMe site to buy a pair of Neuticles. Great Dane size.

At $1300 a pair, he has little hope his owner will understand the need to rebuild his self esteem, in fact, he's implicating her as potential collaborator in the burglary.

Now all he can do is feel his testosterone life force leaving his carcass.  
Upon Dax's return home, Peter understands right away what has happened and fusses and preens over him.

Not allowing the owner to put him in his crate.

Seems Peter is giving the suspected collaborator the evil eye.
By evening, Peter is regretting having performed such an excellent job at nursing his little buddy.

The Demon Spawn has risen again and quickly learns that his new cone is the ultimate weapon, to be used as a shield when sparring with Peter.

Works great at shielding Fat Boy from stealing his supper too.

"I said:It's MINE!".
24 hours post surgery, with a scrotum full of staples, my kid is hell on wheels again.  He darts out of the house at warp speed and runs his own Kentucky Derby around the house and through the garden before I can catch him again.  Chases a terrified Garrett around for a bit, leaps over Peter taunting him and takes my kneecaps out with the cone.  Dax makes Marmaduke and Marley look like inept novices.
Meanwhile, Dax's owner has lost something of extreme value too:

She's posted an All Points Bulletin.  Be on the lookout for HER snow.  Return immediately if found.
From a bracing 16'F one day to 70'F on Sunday.  With a preferred inside Winter temp of 61'F, 70 outside is not a treat.

Instead of spending her weekend sobbing and caressing the sole surviving snowball safely tucked away in her freezer, she sallies forth and goes on a cleaning frenzy in the barn.

Put away your hankie and roll up your sleeves.  Dozens of halters and lead ropes need to be handwashed.

Scrub poop off the horse blankets, scrub the barn walls, put a kink in your neck knocking cobwebs down from the clerestory windows, and last but not least, roll up your pants, get 5 gallons of bleach and scrub the barn floors.

A clean barn is like yanking the welcome mat out from the flies.  We haven't used the chemical spewing insecticidal misting system in three years.  The stables have officially gone Green!
When I'm blue, I clean, it always helps.  But, if you see my lost snowflakes, tell them I miss them and to come back home to Alabama.