the homestead

VIEWING THE WORLD-from between a horses ears


images-7I will be completely frank right upfront, I am not a horse expert. I will even admit that I am not a horse person, at least not like some individuals are; I am mostly sane. I do, however, like spending time with horses, for they are interesting creatures. A horse can change a persons perspective about life in so many ways. I suppose that one must mention that a historical perspective must be added to fully embrace the horse experience. You would think that having to mention history in relation to horses would be redundant, horses are our history, aren’t they? Why else would people spend so much time and money to experience that particular mode of transportation. There are many reasons to muck about with horses.

In my youth I had a horse friend. His name was Chief, and he was a horse. I spent summers with Chief, we spent much time trying to teach each other things. I taught him to ignore chiefgunfire, I could shoot over his saddle and roll pop cans for as long as his grass was good. I could coax him to run or walk, he didn’t care; he was too fat to run much. He taught me vigilance. If we were out riding together, and I started daydreaming too much, Chief pulled something. Trying to saw your leg on barbwire, run under a low branch or grain auger, equine panic attack (fake) over a (the third) grouse were all part of his repertoire. We had an understanding, and a lot of fun together. In hind sight Chief was a teddy bear, as long as ya watched him. The picture to the right is my great grandmother, on Chief. She was 76 years old.

I got busy with my life and was away from horses for awhile, the odd dude ranch or friends horses was all the riding I got. Then I married a girl who liked horses, and had many of the same childhood experiences as I. No, she was not a rabid horse person, just felt positive about having horses someday. Then I bought land and we had a daughter (and later, a son) together, destiny declared my continued relationship with the equine species.

images-11Fences were built and shelters contrived, many a book was read. We entered the horse world bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for success, we got an education instead. Trying to pair horses with adolescents is an education in and of itself, we got an “f” a few times before success was to be had. Horses are individuals, they have their own personality and quirks; some of them are crazy. Much like people are.

If I can give any advice to people trying to pair up children (or beginners of all stripes) and horses, it’s this. Buy your kid an old horse and some basic riding lessons. An old horse that has been there and done that will give the beginner confidence and the lessons will give consistent direction. Ignore the patchy hair and the bow in the back (I’m talking about the horse), the investment is not in the animal, but the experience.

We learned all our lessons the hard way, we were sold crazy horses and broken saddles. These things didn’t happen all at once of course, we weren’t completely clueless, just humbled a lot. We trusted “experts”, that gave us an education every time, sometimes the education didn’t involve pain and suffering. We always got back in the saddle however, even with cracked ribs. If the equine bug bites you, your drawn to the experience. The peaceful rides and the experience of nature, while you ride on nature itself. The training and working with a horse to bring about the joining of you and your animal, the act of making the horse bow to your will. Just getting to know your horse, as an individual, it all has a magic to it. Mankind and horses, it will never go away.



Some individuals are completely loony when it comes to horses, most of the loonies are women. Not trying to start a fight or anything, butimages-1 its true, many horsewomen are crazier than bedbugs in a moonshine jar. The anthropomorphizing of horses knows no bounds with some individuals, too much time spent with Flika and Black Beauty me thinks. I mean horses are awesome and everything, but they’re animals. Giving horses human qualifiers and feelings in your imagination is a good way to get hurt, or get driven crazy.

images-8I think another reason there are so many crazy horsewomen is because there are so many female horse enthusiasts out there, they outnumber the men I think. Women are drawn to horses at a young age, I think it has to do with dreams of control and freedom. The girl dreams of a powerful and loyal companion that will respond to every nudge and command. The girl’s loyal steed will whisk them over the hills, free at last. Many girls lose interest in horses when they discover boys, hmmmm, have to think on that one.

Just like any other pursuit that has become a hobby instead of a necessity, everybody is trying to make money with it. Whereas a young lad of the Sioux nation was taught how to make a bridle out of rope, the beginning horse person is now faced with hundreds of tack choices, all as glittery (and as pricy) as women’s jewellery. Horse masters hold expensive courses and clinics on the newest way to train your horse, touting the easeimages with which one can gain control and ride beautifully. I once asked an older cowboy type (he’d been around the species all his life out of necessity) about a newer training philosophy. “Yeah” he replied, after pondering my question for a bit, “It probably works, if ya put the time into it”. He thought for a bit more, then said, “the same thing could be accomplished by an old cowboy in about 20 minutes”. He took a slurp of his coffee and added, “out behind the barn where no one sees”. I don’t necessarily agree, but I have the luxury of being gentle. Maybe in the past (when horses were vital tools of survival) things were much different. It gives a person a greater understanding of whips, spurs, iron shoes and steel bits.


Unknown-1This is so much a truth of history I could repeat the title a dozen times and write nothing else, it is the essence of my paper this time.  Cultures, generals, kingdoms, and empires have ridden into destiny on horseback, the backbone of so many of man’s conquests. Even in the pursuit of peaceful crop production, a good team mean’t all the difference. A strong horse team and a good operator (working their a**s off) could farm much land, and grow an excess of food. In my own history there are stories of men who spent a winter living in a creek bank dugout for the winter. Sharing the shelter through blizzards and -40 C temps with their team, counting the days to spring. In theimages-5 spring trees were cut down and stumps grubbed out to get enough land in crop so both the men and horses could keep body and soul together.

An excess of food builds a society/culture, health and growth depend on it, horses provided the muscle . Horses and their kind have also played the roll of  transportation/trucking/communication conduits for a very long time. Mankind and horses are intertwined within the creation, you can find it in the guide. This biblical quote was used in a great movie about an actual great horse; Secretariat.

Job 39:19-25

19 “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

20 Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?

21 He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.

22 He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.

23 The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.

24 In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.

25 At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
images-3War and horses used to be inseparable. A good war horse was worth his weight in silver, guided by the riders knees and learning to rear and strike was the essence of the war horse . Some horses learned to love battle, and were revered as heroes. How many stories of mounted conquerers litter our history? The Mongels, the hussars, the Sioux, the cossacks; how many kingdoms and empires rose and fell from the backs of horses? Many horses (and their riders) died in battle before generals learned that the day of the heroic horse charge was over, maxim machine guns and barbed wire seen to that.  It must be said though, even with all the techno marvels our society has produced, we are only an EMP attack away from our survival being intertwined with equine muscle once again.images-6

And where would we be without horses in the great stories? Some true and others fiction, or fiction based on true stories. The prince and his steed, the cowboys loyal companion, Paul Reveres ride of warning, Lady Godiva’s ride through town. Horses are interwoven with humanity; history and tales, blood and glory, sweat and tears.


images-2All of this swirls through my head when I deal with horses. It doesn’t swirl constantly, dealing with horses forces your mind into concentrating on the moment; in fact it’s vital. But riding horses does give a person time to reflect, they are not motorcycles. A person can view the countryside without hitting the ditch, or ponder life without hitting a tree. It’s different, you have to spot the tree that looks like a bear, or the bear that wanders out of the trees, ’cause you may be going somewhere else suddenly. If you’re out with other horses you have to understand herd dynamics a bit, but you can have conversations with companion riders. Some horses, just like some people, don’t like each other. Horses don’t think like we do, always be aware of that when dealing with them, you gotta be smarter than the horse.

It is hard to be smarter than the horse. Horses are super aware of everything and are hardwired with survival instincts. The history of mankind with horses also points to the fact that we are wired into their system. Horses can feel your fear, intimidation or anger. Horses can tell an old hand from a greenhorn within minutes. Horses reflect the soul of the rider like a mirror, and give back tenfold to those that truly understand them.

I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to know some wonderful horses, I am learning each time I ride. Riding horses can build humility, as well as wisdom. In the end, the guide tells us, the earth’s last chapter will include some symbolic horses.  There are four.  A white one, a red one, a black one, and a pale one.

In the end.......horses!

In the end…….horses!


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I’M BACK- With old excuses and new ideas

I really don’t have any good excuses as to why I haven’t posted ALL YEAR. With the busyness of a job plus being half-arsed farmer, time just flies. You can’t do it all. Only so many hours in a day and so many days in a month.  It’s tougher when you live on the land in western Canada, I’m serious. In this country when it’s not snowing you better be nose down and arse up cause there is little time to plant, weed, cut firewood, do construction, work land, fix fence, landscape, etc, etc. I counted the days last spring between last snowfall and the first mosquito, it was exactly 4 days. Like I said, things happen fast on this part of the planet. If things are not happening fast it means they’re frozen. So yes, my life has been ruled by my “to-do” list since the end of last April. In mid-summer we have long hours of daylight.  The sun brightens in the east by 4:00 AM and its still light enough to work at 10:00 PM, and it just doesn’t feel right to be sitting in the house at a computer when there is much to do and daylight’s a burnin’.  Thinking, writing, reading, and editing all take time; and none of it gets the potatoes hilled.  These are poor excuses, I know, especially since another winter has also come and gone with no writing done. No more excuses, on with it.

I’ve been cogitating and researching and brainstorming.  I have been searching for a central theme to anchor this blog on, or at least a high percentage of my images-3posts.  I kind of tried anchoring with the “grinding your own wheat in a wonderbread world”  idea, the concept of taking responsibility for finding real truth instead of getting spoon-fed artificial (or at least highly processed) “truth”  by a lying mainstream media, corrupt politicians and vacant, pretty faced celebs. It’s a good analogy, one should take responsibility for the furniture that takes up space in the mind, somehow “grinding your own” didn’t tell the whole story.  The mainstream version of “truth” is more than just random stupidity, much of it has an agenda of societal  control.

Many of the social engineers in our culture do not see truth as an elusive nugget to be found in the silt of life, but rather something to be constructed to fit their model of how life “should” be.  Truth can stand on its own, but lies need to be constantly propped up  with more lies (unless statistics can be used). The mainstream busybodies very much follow a nazi maxim; ” if you tell a lie long enough, loud enough and often enough the people will believe it” and “people will believe a big lie ahead of a small lie”.  Just because a person wants to believe something is “true” doesn’t make it a reality.  These thoughts were in the back of my mind while I was in the early stages of putting something together about the effects of feminism on our culture, and I stumbled unwittingly into the “MANOSPHERE”.  I tried to keep going and put my post together, but I was drinking from a fire hose and stalled out completely.  Sprinkled liberally throughout that thing that calls itself the manosphere was the analogy that I sought, it comes from the movie “Matrix”, the red pill/blue pill concept.

d4E4YThe Matrix concept fits perfectly. Do you want to live in reality? Take the red pill (truth). Do you want to continue to live in the made-up world of the matrix? Take the blue pill. The red pill  is harsh and uncomfortable. The matrix (blue pill) is  alluring but vulnerable; a dream conjured to control the masses. One must choose.  Most often the red/blue pill is used (within the manosphere) to explain the cognitive dissonance present in the arena of male/female relationships.  It is truly astounding how far from reality our society has fallen in the marital arena, no wonder our ability to reproduce (and nurture our offspring) has taken such a hit. No wonder our divorce rate is so high.   Men and woman are angry at each other, we’ve been sold a pack of lies about relations between the sexes and the survival of our society is in peril.  My next post will explore this red/blue pill concept of relations between the sexes, kind of a “what the heck is this all about” post.  However I think this “reality vs matrix” analogy has much more mileage, and can be used to explain truth in many other areas of life.

I am also going to try writing differently. I want to keep my posts shorter and more concise, and try to post more often. I want to explore this red pill philosophy more but also do posts of happenings around the farm and any stories that tie into ideas I have. I want to keep it light and add humour as much as possible, life is too short to not see the funny.  To all who come back to read my mental meanderings, thank you.

Categories: grinding away, the homestead | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Spring, I think

I haven’t been posting very regular lately due to business that must be taken care of during this time of year.  Its hard to find writing time when responsibilities just seem to pile up.  Things are starting to slow a bit, and the weather has finally improved, so I thought I would post a few pics of what has been keeping me busy.IMG_5103 Yes it is calving season, and yes, the weather has not been co-operative in that endeavour. Now I don’t have very many of these t-bone production units, but even having a few cows to look after when the weather is so cold means one has to stay vigilant. Many beef producers(with large calving barns) plan their calving in January, so the calves have maximum selling weight in the fall.  Calving in January outdoors (in this country) is brutal.  I had hoped that April would have been a tad warmer but it was not to be; global warming my frostbitten backside!

One of my calves was a little retarded at birth and I had to teach it how to suck, even had to help it find mamma’s teat.  He’s a big guy and may have spent too much time in the birth canal and didn’t get the blood supply to his brain while traversing his way into the world.  The operation involves getting mama cow in a squeeze then carrying the moron to the lunch counter and helping him find the spigot.  If you have never tried to do this let me tell you it takes all the patience you have not to whack the calf on the head and eat veal for a week.  They are dumb, but oh so obstinate! You push them forward, they back up. You push their head down to the teats, they throw their head up. You get the teat in their mouth they spit it out and suck mamma’s hair! arrrrrg!  Finally, after many attempts (while your IMG_5104brain processes those veal recipes) he gets it right and settles in to feed, his tail switching with contentment. This process must be done a few times till he gets enough nourishment to have a functioning brain.

Going out to look at your own herd of cows can be quite addictive, I mean your checking on them to see if any are going to calve out, their feed and water is good, etc; but you end up just watching them IMG_5122for the sheer pleasure and contentment of it.  The older calves running, playing and exploring and the younger calves still tottering close to mamma.  The interaction between the older members and newcomers in the herd is fascinating, if one takes the time to stop and watch them.  I remember when I was a little boy, out with my Grandpa while visiting the farm, riding in the old truck checking cattle.  We would stop near the herd and Papa would light up a smoke and just watch.  I always wondered what he was looking for (he was all farmer, but no talker), I imagined that he must have a wise reason to study his herd and was analyzing that data to come to a conclusion of sorts.  Finally I would ask,  “Papa, what are you looking for?”  He would turn and look at me as if he had forgotten I was in the the truck and say; “Oh; just lookin’ at em”  where upon he would swivel back to studying the cows and smoking. I always thought that we were out there for an important reason, that studying cattle was a special skill that Papa just couldn’t articulate.  I think I understand now, it is important to check your cows during a cold and snowy calving season.  As the weather warms up, however, I find myself out there more and more; just lookin’ at em.

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