Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Clipping.   The process horse people use to remove large quantities of hair from the horse and deposit it upon themselves.   At least, that is how it usually ends up.

Temperatures during the day are getting up into the 50's.   Jeddien's first competition is only a couple weeks away.   And yet, she is still sporting a full winter coat.   Too much of a coat for the practice we are doing.   I don't want her overheating.

So, out come the big heavy duty clippers tomorrow.   She will end up much cooler and happier.   And I will end up coughing up horse hair for a couple days.   :-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

PJ's Birthday

We just waved goodbye to Mark & PJ Hayden of Wokingham England.   They enjoyed a holiday on the farm as a special birthday present for PJ.   Mark kept the trip secret and packed PJ's riding gear without her knowing.   Even as I stepped out of the house to greet them, PJ still had no idea what was in store for her!

Mark had planned this trip specifically for PJ's birthday, with a focus on horseback riding.   PJ is just getting back into riding after a long hiatus.   So lots of time was spent with the horses.   We even got to use the outdoor arena for the first time this spring.   (Only a small amount of snow still remains.)

Riding Jeddien, our 4th Level / Advanced Medium Dressage mare, PJ got to work on all the lateral movements, flying changes, and piaffe.   They also popped over a few jumps, which Jeddien thoroughly enjoyed.

However, life at Kearsarge Meadows is not just about horses!

The Hayden's helped Georg and I with the hard work of collecting sap, chopping wood, boiling the sap, filtering, bottling, and of course, in the end, taste testing the homemade maple syrup.   And since this past weekend was the official New Hampshire Maple Sugaring Weekend, we visited 4 different sugaring operations.   Fun.   Educational.   And a nice way to meet some of the local people of Warner.

Over the course of the visit, we feasted on New England fare of "lobstah", "steamahs", and champagne, fabulous prime rib, locally raised buffalo from Keira & Brian Farmer's own
Yankee Farmer's Market in Warner, and brunch at the Foothills Restaurant in the center of town.

With crappy "English weather" on Saturday, Mark & Georg headed to Best Buy in Manchester while PJ & I travelled to Dover Saddlery.   Much to my delight, when we arrived back to the farm, Pink Floyd was playing on new speakers in the indoor arena.   My long awaited sound system will soon be installed.   Yippee!

PJ and Mark will soon be back in the UK.   We look forward to their next trip to Warner...   a trip for which PJ will once again be allowed pack her own luggage!   :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Last Day at Sun Microsystems

Spring 20 years ago, an awful lot happened in my life.

My first dressage horse, an off the track Thoroughbred (OTTB), was declared unsuitable by my trainer for advancement to the levels I aspired.   This was due to the toll racing took on his legs.   I gave him away to a coworker who wanted to trail ride.

I was laid off from Gould Computer Systems Division, in round 3 or 4 of post-acquisition reductions.   It was a difficult period for Gould employees, watching a great computer company slowly disappear.

My divorce became final and two weeks later, my ex remarried his new girlfriend.   I was very single.

Single, jobless, horseless.   AND I turned 30 years old.   Very depressing to say the least!

Within a few weeks time, however, my world was completely turned around again.

I purchased my first KWPN Dutch Warmblood from J. Ashton (Jeff) Moore, a fabulous big imported mahogany bay mare by Rubinstein.   No, I did not exactly have a job yet, but I knew I would soon.

Next, after receiving job offers from Cray, Sequent, and Pyramid, I joined Sun Microsystems as a UNIX Support Specialist only because the hiring manager understood about horseownership and knew what dressage was.   :-)   Hey, these things are important!

I had a new job and a wonderful new horse.   Things were good again.

That was 20 years ago.   A helluva lot of living has happened since then.

I lived in the UK for 12 years, wrote a technical computer book, became a Brit, became a Sun millionaire, married a European, watched my millions disappear when the markets crashed, trained and competed my new KWPN Dutch Warmblood horses, moved back to the USA, and got promoted to Director of Operations for Global Product Development.   Cool title, eh?

Sun was 7 years old when I joined 20 years ago.   There were tons of good times, and some hard times.   The hardest, it seems, have been recent.   And with that, we had a big layoff in January.   Mine was one of several thousand positions that were impacted.

My last Sun blog entry says good-bye.   (Snippet shown below)

So, Monday, March 23rd, is actually my last day at Sun.   It's strange to think about.   And again, laid off right before a big birthday, the big 5-0 no less.   (Ugh)   Not unlike a friendly divorce, this is definitely the end of a very long relationship.   I will miss Sun.

However, now rumours are rampant that the Sun Microsystems I knew and loved may not be around much longer.   Google "Sun Microsystems IBM"   And that may even be a little bit sadder.

See ya later Sun!   Good luck & all the best!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

36 and Rising

As promised, today looks like it'll be another beautiful day.   Temps may even soar into the 50's!

We can see more and more patches of dormant pasture grass as the snow continues to melt.   Even the outdoor riding arena, which has a 12 inch border around it, is finally making an appearance after a long winter hidden under deep snow.

Everyone is itchy to get back to trailriding.   Bugs or not!   But until the trails are clear of snow and safe for riding, the driveway is our trail, as demonstrated here by Ann and her trusty steed, Sole Express (aka Sole).

Happy trails to all!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mud Season Begins

Suddenly, it seems like there's lots happening all at once!

We have the perfect weather from a maple sugarer's perspective.   Freezing temps at night, mild days.   The sap is running!   And we've already boiled our first batch of liquid gold!

Of course with the milder days, so begins New England's 5th season:   "Mud Season".   Before it gets into full swing, we had my Miley horse trailer uncovered & extracted from the snow today.   Hitched up, we're now doing loading practice with some of the horses.   More work will follow tomorrow.

And two new employees started today.   I think as the winter blues melt away, working on a horse farm becomes much more appealing to real horse lovers.

With the temps now easier on both horse & rider, we are getting back into serious riding again.   Our first dressage competition is less than 5 weeks away, but we will be ready.   Training here includes "hacking" up and down the driveway and through any snow that is not too deep!

Clipping the competition horse's coat will be done this week.   And midweek, all of the horses will be getting their spring vaccinations and other veterinary attention needed at this time of year.

And new chicks will be ordered, replacing those lost by the killer fox.

As the snow continues to melt, the garden area will appear.   It won't be until the last week of May that anything will go into the ground.   But the crops that take the longest to grow can be started indoors... Right about now.   The seeds, pots, and seed starter soil is ready to go!   So, another thing to do!

It's been a busy little week!   And it's only Monday. :-)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Schooling Shows

The big goal for Kearsarge Meadows this year is to run our first Dressage Schooling Shows.

This historic farm has been host to many shows over the past decades.   We've even seen photos from the 1970's showing riders going over cross country fences that no longer exist.   But since our arrival in 2005, we've been focussing on making major improvements to the property (new roofs, painting, outdoor arena, sand & rubber footing, pasture renovations, and more).   All this while the goal of hosting shows has been kept quietly simmering on the back burner.

If all goes well, the final big improvement we're making will be completed this spring.   We're putting in a decent sized trailer parking area.   Being able to envision this happening, I'm now sitting down with various calendars to select SHOW DATES!

2009 Schooling Dressage Shows

So far in the plans, we will be offering Intro, Training Level, and First Level classes.   There may be "Gaited Horse" classes and "Stock Horse" classes as well.   No matter what the program looks like, emphasis will be on SCHOOLING and FUN for both horse and rider.

As I sit here looking out the window at the results of yet another impressive snowstorm, I find it hard to imagine that in a few months time, we will be handing out ribbons to riders sporting huge smiles.   What a wonderful vision!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chicken Killer

Life on the farm.   It is very different from city life, different from life in the suburbs.

For us, life on a farm includes sharing our property with more than just horses.   We also have a small flock of chickens.

The hens and rooster spend nights in a stall fitted with nest boxes, suspended birch tree limbs for perches, shavings, hay, water, and feed.   During the day, they free range around the barn and house, scratching around for bugs and insect eggs, bathing in the dirt, and nibbling on plants.   Generally, they do whatever comes naturally.

Our hens were purchased as new chicks, spent their first week or two in a warm box in my office, and then moved to a heated nursery set up in the barn.   From there, they eventually moved to the big stall.   Within their first year, they started providing us with wonderful eggs.

I really like my chickens.   Apparently, so does a fox!

Yesterday, the 3 hens above were killed by a fox.   Right next to the barn.   Feathers are everywhere.   The two brown hens were carried away.   The black hen was left behind, throat opened, but otherwise intact.   It is not a pretty picture.

War begins.