altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Well, the tornado-spawning thunderstorms on Thursday seem to have brought spring with them. Blue scylla and white daffodils are opening. I was able to let Tess out into her pasture for the first time yesterday. She only gets about 45 minutes to start with since she has had grass founder in the past and needs to be exposed gradually, but she was excited to go out and behaved well when I made her come back in. The pasture is green now but very wet from the flood of rain earlier in the week. The farrier will approve, as her feet tend to dry out and getting them wet helps.

We have used the charcoal grill a couple of times already, but yesterday we really went in for it big with barbecue slathered chicken breasts, some brats, and fresh asparagus on the grill. Also sweet corn, not the first of the year but probably the best so far.

We had a discussion back at Easter about ketchup. Gary's family always had to have two ketchup bottles, because his dad and one brother liked Brooks and everyone else preferred Heinz. I remembered Brooks ketchup but didn't think I'd seen it anywhere for a while. We went looking and failed to find it at any of the supermarkets we normally visit. Looked for it online and found Amazon selling it for about $8 a bottle. That seemed pretty ridiculous to me. Then yesterday I stopped into Sullivan's, the second supermarket in town and one we usually skip because their prices are on the high side. Sure enough, they had Brooks ketchup for $2.19 a bottle, which isn't outrageous and is only about 25 cents higher than Heinz or Hunts.

Brought one home to surprise Gary, and he was indeed surprised. So, I did a little more research and learned that Brooks started in 1907 with canned chili beans. Ding! Though I remembered seeing the ketchup occasionally, my mom always used Brooks chili beans in her chili. The trademark is the same, and the beans are easier to find. Nearly every grocer around here has them. The ketchup came later in the company's history. According to Wikipedia, the ketchup was manufactured in Collinsville, Illinois, and marketed mostly in the midwest. They have (or had) a water tower there in the shape of a giant ketchup bottle in fact. The Brooks trademark and business has apparently been sold to Birdseye. The factory in Collinsville was shut down, and the ketchup is made in Canada now. However, it still is the same recipe or very close to it. The spicy flavor is unlike the other ketchups even though it now has the dreaded high fructose corn syrup in place of the cane sugar that was once used.

Now I have a craving for chili made with Brooks chili beans too. Also a quest for proper cheddar cheese curds to put into poutine. Anyone know where to get those around Chicago?
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Way too many things and stuff, actually. Both in terms of disruptive events and physical items to be sorted and, in at least some cases, eliminated. The house and garage are packed full, in part due to the passing of Gary's mom and sister-in-law at the end of last year. The calendar is full too, mostly with things I didn't choose to put there but alas, most of them require action on my part.

Long post under cut )

And that's where I've been. Still ticking, just way too busy.


Jan. 18th, 2013 04:22 pm
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Last night as I sat reading by the wood stove, I was sure I smelled a skunk. Smelling one indoors in winter had to mean it was quite close by, so I checked to make sure the dogs were in, and quickly closed their door panel for a while so they couldn't go out. Thought the smell had subsided, so I unlatched the dog door again and Red immediately ran out, letting in another strong whiff.

Fortunately he didn't find the skunk. We looked around near the house and couldn't locate it, nor did we see any tracks on the snow. (The snow on the ground is only about a half inch deep and is fairly hard and crunchy now, so no tracks isn't really proof of much.)

I forgot about it until this morning when I went out to feed horses. Didn't notice anything until I'd given the boys their beet pulp and carried the bucket with Tess' portion over to her stall in the arena. Doors of both barns are closed at night this time of year, of course, to hold in what warmth we can and keep the wind out. When I opened the door to the arena, I was nearly knocked down by the stench of skunk, a mixture of rotten onions and who knows what else. Tess whickered at me and made faces, but she was OK. I felt sorry for her having been shut in all night with that (presumably) and hurried to open both of the large sliding doors. One of those is at the north end and the other at the south, so the air started to clear right away. Fortunately, Tess didn't seem to have lost her appetite either.

It was so powerful I was afraid it would cling to my hair and clothing, but it all blew away before I got back into the house. No obvious tracks in the arena dust either, but the skunk had surely been inside there. I hope it doesn't come back. Or that it goes back to wherever it was hiding and goes back to sleep. I didn't think skunks were supposed to be out and about at this time of year.

Hay there

Aug. 21st, 2012 08:59 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Or rather here. A load finally arrived this morning. This should be enough to get through the winter but we'd like this much again. And I can't afford to buy this much again right now. At least, not at $8 per bale. The hay is good, but has a high percentage of alfalfa which throws my feeding calculations off and will force me to rework everything.

Meanwhile, the horses are now eating beet pulp as if they always had it with their food. In fact, the two boys eat theirs first, before touching the hay. Tess is a bit more tentative, but she's been eating real grass the last few days and I'm sure mashed beet fiber hardly measures up to that. Her feed tub was nonetheless empty this morning, with lick marks on the bottom. I expect the same tomorrow.

It's darned good that we got rid of those sheep when we did. Otherwise, things would be looking really bleak here.

The little barn is starting to look like a test kitchen or some kind of laboratory, with work bench, sink, measuring implements, and galvanized cans of ingredients. Each horse has a white plastic "lunch bucket" with a lid that can be used to soak beet pulp and then measure grain and supplements on top. Then we carry it to their stalls and dump it inot the permanent feeders there. All the equipment was already here, scattered about in two barns and the garage. The plastic "sink" is a laundry tub on legs that we had intended to use to replace the old concrete and cast iron double tubs at our old house in Chicago but never got around to doing it. It has been sitting in the arena here for 14 years, unassembled. It works nicely in the little barn, where we have an on-demand water heater and good lighting. We could prepare complex rations there even in winter, though using the house kitchen will be more convenient once it gets below freezing out. I'll probably move the grain and fiber bins into the garage then and make "lunch boxes" up at the kitchen counter each morning.

Tomorrow, the farrier...
altivo: Horsie cupcakes (cupcake)
Still waiting. Our regular provider of the last couple of seasons still says he will have hay for us, but not yet. As of this morning we had three bales left.

A supplier from Wisconsin, with whom we had some hard words three years ago, did promise at least 120 and perhaps 150 new bales this morning. He called at 10 am saying he had "equipment problems" and wants to reschedule. (The market price here this year is $8 per bale, more than double the price at this time last year.)

Fortunately, we took some action on Sunday anyway. Went to our local feed store and got 40 lbs. of sugar beet pulp (dried shreds) and 40 lbs. of alfalfa cubes. Worked out all the necessary proportions and math to substitute the beet pulp for part of the horses' essential roughage, which reduces our hay requirements by a third. Given that Tess can be on grass as long as the weather is good, the reduction is more than a third.

We can stretch those three bales for nearly a week. We can survive longer than that if we put the boys out on grass, but that has various logistic problems not the least of which is that they haven't been on grass this year and would need a very gradual introduction to it.

The alfalfa cubes can substitute for some hay, but they have a higher calorie content and really shouldn't be substituted one for one. I don't want to reduce the amount of roughage any further lest we have colic issues.

Beet pulp is funny stuff. It's the leftovers from pressing sugar beets to extract and refine the sugar content. That process is very efficient, so there isn't a lot of simple sugar left in the pulp. There are, however, some starches and minerals and a portion of the cellulose is digestible for horses as well. By weight, dry beet pulp is about one third as nutritious as dry oats, which is pretty good. Almost too good when compared to grass hay. So we soak the pulp in water to expand the bulk. A pound of dry pulp, which is pretty woody in texture, becomes seven pounds when soaked in three pints of warm water for 30 minutes or so. This can be substituted for three pounds of hay. Our horses are used to getting their hay moistened, so that's not a big change for them.

I tried a bit of the dry pulp myself. It reminds me of various 100% bran breakfast cereals. Faintly sweet, very chewy, with a bran-like texture. I've never fed it to horses before, and my nutrition books say some will refuse it at first. At least we didn't have that problem.

I offered a handful of moistened pulp to each of the boys. They nibbled at it, and apparently were quite surprised by the texture (which is like partly cooked oatmeal) and both of them reared up and bolted away from me. Then they came back sheepishly and asked for the rest, which they did chew and swallow. Tess was more sanguine about it, and may have had it to eat before. She sniffed it, tried a bite, made funny faces at me, and ate the rest. Then she licked my hand to get any leftovers. All three of them did completely eat last night's portion, and licked out their feed tubs. I guess even faintly sweet is still irresistible.

This morning I put Tess out on the grass, which can replace both hay and the beets for the morning. Made a portion of beets for the boys, who gave me a "What, again?" look when I dumped it into their feed bins, but resigned themselves to eating it once I added the small amount of grain they normally get. Then they went into the yard with their reduced quantity of hay.

With any luck, the hay guy will get his wagon (or whatever) fixed and still bring the load today. Tomorrow would be OK except that Gary has plans to be in Chicago and would have to change them.

No rain

Jun. 12th, 2012 09:19 pm
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Once again the predicted rain misses us. Things are getting seriously dry now. Those fires out west look even more frightening in that context.

The summer reading tide may be starting to ease off. It will take three weeks or so for it to calm down, though. I meant to check yesterday's door count, but forgot to look at it. Maybe I can remember tomorrow.

Started setup of the last new Userful station. This one will have a full complement of six stations and is to replace our six year old five seater. I'm still not sure that all those wide screen monitors are going to fit comfortably into the allotted space, though.

Aside from worrying about drought, the weather has been beautiful. Blue skies, cool breezes. The temperatures are running a bit low, and that is probably also a contributor to keeping the normal thunderstorms off the horizon.

Keeping Tess's hooves pliable is a major concern in this dry weather. We don't have much dew to wet her feet when she goes out to the pasture, so we're painting her front feet with Rainmaker almost every day. She's good about it, since we give her a treat afterward, but the stuff is smelly and clings to you if you even get the tiniest fleck on your clothing or skin. I have to say, though, it works. Her feet are looking really good compared to what they often do at this time of year.

Now to get the sheep sheared. Bah! Not fun, but necessary so they don't die of heat exhaustion when it does finally get hot.
altivo: (rocking horse)
And a long weekend, thank goodness.

Formal word today, no raises again. Soon they'll be asking us to pay them to work for the city. Unionized employees get raises. No union, no raise.

Tess is OK, thank goodness. I went out early, before breakfast, to let her out of her stall and put her in her pen. She was fine, and remains normal this afternoon. The grass in the pasture is dry from lack of rain and therefore slow growing and not so rich in carbs, I guess.

Gary survived his root canal too, and so far has some ache but no terrible consequences. Good thing, going into a three day weekend, though I think the only added resolution they have might be to extract the entire tooth. He's gone to a Toastmasters meeting (ewww, but he likes them) at the moment.

Gusty high winds and red flag warning are unusual for us, especially at this time of year. If the predicted thunderstorms materialize tonight and tomorrow, though, that will take care of the problem.

Replacement Literati e-reader has arrived and is working normally but I haven't connected it to wireless and allowed it to try to update its firmware either. Will do that at work tomorrow, where the speed and bandwidth is greater.


May. 23rd, 2012 09:41 pm
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
I got so distracted worrying about Gary's potential root canal (and yes, he's going to have one tomnorrow) and work that I forgot to bring Tess in from the pasture. Gary got her at 6 pm, which means she was out there for over 7 hours today. I've been holding her to no more than 3 hours a day, so this will require watching. Last time this happened, she turned up with grass founder (mild case) the next day and had us worried for a couple of weeks. Went out to look at her in her stall but that's inconclusive. I need to see her walk or run in the open to be sure she's OK.

Work was the usual crazy stuff for a Wednesday. Got a strong compliment on my story in Allasso from a non-furry coworker, which was unexpected.

Now have two ereaders in transit. The replacement Literati is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and the Kobo on Saturday. The library owns a Kindle (boo) and a Nook, so I'll be able to compare all of them.

Now to bed I think.


May. 7th, 2012 09:15 pm
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Playing with the Amazon Cloud Reader application, which lets you read Kindle books on a web-browser. It appears to be pretty slick. I have yet to test the ability to download and hold the book to allow reading it even when a network connection is unavailable. However, it does appear to work not only with books purchased from Amazon (or given away for free) but also with library e-books from Overdrive. Probably does not work with Smashwords, though, as you'd need a way to get the book into the Amazon cloud reader drive...

Went out for dinner in town to "celebrate" Gary "flunking" his statistics course. I don't know whether to take that seriously or not.

Today's amusing irritation: After I got into the car and started for work this morning, I noticed the smell of the hoof moisturizer ("Rainmaker") that we've been putting on Tess' front hooves. It's vaguely medicinal, with overtones of linseed oil and petroleum jelly. I find it quite strong smelling and, while not repulsive, not particularly attractive either. Sort of like hot tar. I finally concluded that I must have some of it on my shirt or other clothing somewhere. Much of the day I kept smelling it and trying to find to spot. Never succeeded. No one mentioned it, and Gary insists he can't smell the stuff at all, so I have no idea what to think.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Sleep deprived, and only part of what should have been done got accomplished. Well, to be fair, yesterday was completely eaten up by the bird counting obligation...

Guild newsletter edited and released. Horses and sheep cared for (with Gary's help.) Groceries for the week shopped. Dinner made and eaten. And the evening and the morning were the seventh day. Tess went out to the pasture only to be brought back in after 90 minutes due to severe thunderstorm warnings and a lot of thunder. She seemed to have gotten the picture on her own and was waiting by the gate for me to get her.

We were not actually in the warned zone, and in fact our official forecast called for no rain this morning. Half an hour after I went and brought Tess back in, it did rain. In fact, it poured. We got about a half inch in 20 minutes or so. Then it stopped and that was the rain for today, though it may still rain before midnight. Who knows? Not me, and certainly not NOAA either.


Apr. 20th, 2012 10:18 pm
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
John stopped by this morning, with Linda along, to look at Tess' chipped forehoof. He smoothed the damage out with a rasp and said it should be oK as long as it doesn't crack or chip again. We're applying Rainmaker daily to try to prevent that.

Got back from work breakfast just in time to help Gary load all his stuff into his car so he could take off for his hurdy gury players meet in Indiana. He won't be back until Sunday night late.

Finished up the grocery shopping for next week, so now I don't have to go anywhere this weekend unless something irresistible shows up. Ha. Maybe I'll just stay in and read. The weather today certainly was conducive to that.


Apr. 4th, 2012 10:32 pm
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
No,not the former US president. Just another long and draggy Wednesday.

Farrier this morning, horses have pretty feets again.

Colder weather, with frost warning for tomorrow night.

Only 4 hours of work until vacation.

And I'm going to bed.
altivo: (rocking horse)
Was slow but it did finally come to an end. Got home, found a small (really) amount of cash waiting in payment for my Irish music appearance last Saturday. We went out for dinner and used it. ;p

Stopped at Wally-Mart for cat food, cheap breakfast cereal, and a couple of other items, came home, going to bed soon. Model train show tomorrow, Gary wants to go, so go we shall. Report afterward. I need to get photos of the landscaping he has done, too.

It was densely overcast until just before sunset. Now it's almost clear with lots of bright stars, and, most miraculous, still 60F outside so you can just go outside and gaze up at them. Most striking is the alignment of Jupiter, Venus and Capella in a straight vertical line above the western horizon. The Pleiades are quite visible near that, and Canis Major is bright to the south with Orion standing over him.

The exceedingly warm weather has brought out all our spring bulbs at once. Gary has waves of daffodils that are supposed to bloom in a cycle that takes most of the month of April. Almost all of them are blooming right now, at the same time. Scylla is popping out all over, and the day lilies and iris leaves are standing six inches tall before the trilliums even show. Looks like a bad year for slugs, they are everywhere. Probably the warm weather and mild winter has brought them out. *refills his big salt shaker*

Vet came today for the horses, said they all look good in terms of weight. I've been concerned that they are on the thin side this spring, but she says otherwise. Asher had a bit of allergy a week ago and we started rinsing his hay to reduce the dust, which seems to have nipped it in the bud.

Our vet agrees with the animal control: rabies in raccoons has not been observed here. She says the symptoms observed in the raccoon and squirrel yesterday were either distemper or poison, just as I thought. The squirrel disappeared overnight, and I hope it wasn't taken and eaten by a fox or coyote.
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
Snow turning to puddles in one day. The boys had to almost swim to get back into their stalls. Well, no, that's a bit exaggerated. But their water trough overflowed from roof runoff, and there is a deep puddle right outside their doors.

Someone didn't want me to make any desserts because it's Lent and he's trying to lose weight. Now he's unhappy about that. ;p Fortunately there is some cake in the freezer that his sister-in-law made at Christmas.

Tess was antsy with spring fever today but I didn't want to put her out. The wet would be good for her feet, but everything is still snow covered out there, though the snow is slushy. She doesn't really like being out in a snowy pasture, as I well know. She gets very loud and vocal about it.

Not eager to get back to work tomorrow, but no choice. And now it's time to sleep.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Dinner with nearby friends, pleasant chat, icy clear night with stars so bright you can touch them and the Milky Way visible (first I've been able to see that clearly in several years.) And still two more days to the weekend. An auspicious beginning.

Gary made three kinds of bread that we took to dinner, and all were good. There's more of each one left.

We reassembled the eight t-trak modules, now that they've been painted and the tracks put back in place. They went together correctly, and trains ran smoothly over the track. Now time to build scenery.

Gasoline back down to $3.25 here, wonder how long that will last. Time to pay the horses' vet bills for the coming year, and to my surprise they've gone down. The boys are each $46 less than last year, and Tess is down about $10. They are in a sort of package/HMO program where we pay a flat rate that covers two visits by the vet, basic vaccinations and lab work, and so forth all in the single charge. This is the second year in a row that the cost of those services has dropped. And we like our vet, too. Amazing.

Now, it's time for bed I think.


Feb. 5th, 2012 09:55 pm
altivo: Commission line art colored by myself (cs-tivo-color)
No, that's not "Monday with a cold" it's Mudday. I took Tess out to the pasture for the first time this year, since the surface water has subsided after the rapid snow melt and she needs to get her hooves wet anyway. She was delighted, of course, until she realized that there's only freeze dried grass out there and it's a lot tougher than even her regular hay. Anyway, the lane out there through the woodlot is ankle deep mud. When I let her loose inside the gate, she squealed and took off at a full gallop, dollops of mud from her hooves flying through the air like angry crows. You can guess who got hit.

I had a longish "to-do" list for today, arranged by priority, and got almost all of it done. The two bits that failed were applying the charger to the battery for Tess's fence (the battery had ice crystals floating in the electrolyte. Thus not safe to be charging it right now) and airbrushing the first coat on that GP7 locomotive (just ran out of time on that, it was the lowest priority.) Most important were getting dinner into the crockpot, editing and distributing a guild newsletter, and barn chores. Laundry got done too, which is often a high priority but is also the household task I hate most.

I could have completely ignored the "stupid bowl" except that it flooded twitter with inane blathering. No simple way to filter all that out, and I browsed through some 300 twittertwats in order to avoid missing two posts that I really wanted to see. That's a terrible signal to noise ratio.

I figured out how to get rid of the ads that Echofon has started forcing into my client. It was simple really. Back up to the previous version. Version 2.4 of the Firefox add-on apparently introduces the ability to insert pointless random advertising at the head of every timeline. Backed up to 2.3.6 and like magic the irritating ads are gone.

This is not a longterm fix, as I'm sure 2.3.6 will be "incompatible" with some future release of Firefox, if it doesn't die sooner of some irritating and pointless change in the Twitter API. (Remember how Oauth killed so many clients when it became a requirement?) The downgrade does, however, give me some breathing space while I hunt for a better twitter client for Linux. The first few I tried seem not to have been updated for Oauth and therefore are useless today. Qwit looked particularly promising, especially after I installed it on my netbook (Linux Mint Katya) and played with it, but when installed on my desktop machine (Xubuntu Lucid Lynx) it fails. Apparently it needs a newer version of openssl than what is available on Lucid. Twitvim does work, but is too complex to use (at least for me, I'm not into twitter at that level of complication.)
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
All equines share the same birthday, January 1. Well, yes, their registration papers do show the actual date of foaling, but they are considered to be a yearling when their first new year (by the calendar) arrives. Breeders try to make sure that their foals are born early in the year for this reason.

So... Happy birthday to all my horse, pony, donkey, and zebra pals. I guess that includes the unicorns too unless you identify yourselves with goats instead of equines.

Since my RL birthday is in December, it's a good thing our schools and human institutions don't apply the same rule. I'd have been a year old just a couple weeks after I was born. ;p

Holidays finally starting to slow down. Took Gary's mom home this afternoon, now we are left to make our own schedule until Tuesday when I have to go back to work. May do something tomorrow, or may just laze around home. Only animal care chores are mandatory, everything else is optional.

Weather is non-committal. We've had rain, sleet, snow, and a little ice in the last 24 hours, while temperatures hovered just above or below freezing. Wind has been on the rise for the whole time though, and is around gale force now. We've had noisier windstorms though, with hours of 55 mph wind that really roars through the trees, so this seems relatively mild. Gary worries about losing power, but we're used to that as well and can manage as long as the outage doesn't exceed a day or so. (Longer than that, too, but it stops being "fun" after 24 hours.)
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Back on the more usual schedule, day still seems long. But this morning was hoof trimming day, so I got to snuggle all three very fuzzy horses while they had a pedicure. Tess is particularly cute about it, though she sometimes gives the poor guy a hard time by leaning on him. She nibbles and licks at my neck and clothing the whole time. But if she starts leaning too much I put her chin on my shoulder and make her lean the other way. She gets very heavy like that, and I do mean heavy. It's taken all summer but her feet are back to normal after the big lopsided chunk she lost on one of them last spring.

In lieu of cake, Gary made an apricot slump for dessert tonight. It's really good and also very rich so a two inch square of it is all anyone should eat. This is going to last for a few days.

Still raining. Just a constant cold drizzle, though the air is quite warm for December. I'm sure we've had over an inch of rain in the last 24 hours. Had that been snow, it would have been a foot or more, and given the time of year, I think I might prefer the snow.

Gloomy day

Dec. 13th, 2011 10:09 pm
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Just the weather, that's all I mean. Supposed to start raining tonight and continue all day tomorrow. Bleah. No looking at the meteor shower for us.

At lunch time I was able to locate a couple of potentially useful CAD programs for experimenting with track layout. These let you specify the brand and scale of track you are using for your model railroad, and then provide a menu of all the standard curves, switches, straight pieces, etc. So you can click and drag to assemble anything and see how it will fit in a given space and whether you come out even when closing a loop or whatever. Very handy. Also found some sample layouts on our preferred manufacturer's website that use some amazingly clever tricks and arrangements. Some fairly complex layouts that fit in just 2x3 feet or a bit larger.

Received a birthday gift of cash in the mail today that will probably end up buying track pieces for this project.

Farrier comes in the morning to trim hooves, and I'm back on the old Wednesday schedule (no split shift, yay!) so I'll be here to hold them for him. Not a bad birthday present, that. Gary wants me to go with him into Chicago on Thursday to visit hobby shops near his mom's house. He's as enthusiastic about this as I am, or perhaps even moreso.

Anyway, need to find bed for now.


Aug. 23rd, 2011 10:39 pm
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
We got distracted on changing water in the aquariums so I didn't get started on my threading until pretty late. I did another inch then discovered an error back in yesterday's work that will make me undo it all the way back to there to correct. Oh, well, at least I found it now and not when I had the whole warp threaded and came up short of warp threads at the end.

More thunderboomers and water today, but at least it stayed nice and cool. Damper than I'd like, but only up to around 71F.

Farrier coming tomorrow, but I won't see him. Due to Gary's class schedule, I'll be going to work in the morning, coming home in the afternoon, and going back in for the evening. That way the critters get fed on time and someone is here to put them in if the weather goes bad.

Happened to go look at my [dormant for now] DA page and found it has acquired a thousand views while I was neglecting it. There are only nine pictures and a few journal entries on it. Weird.

August 2017



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