What’d you miss? Mites and more


There’s no way to rehash the could’ve-been blog posts from recent months. But here are a few events and observations that come to mind. In no particular order:

*I completed 3,000 pushups in 30 days.

*Jazz and I helped with crowd control at the Potomac Hunt Races. Anxiety fueled Jazz’s flop sweat in the opening parade.

 Hunt Races


*Pigpen (our aged car) shed some interior bolts and other parts of questionable importance.

*Cayden, Hadley and Brynn participated in school recitals, riding lessons, pony club, baseball, softball, and drama club.

*At one point, I wore the same clothes for three days.

*Martin found a decomposing raccoon in the hayloft.

*I trailered Rocky home from a riding lesson, driving a truck with a flat tire and an empty fuel tank.

*Cayden met Zeb Hogan, host of Nat Geo’s “Monster Fish.”


*I found a starved dog, dumped on the road.

*My insomnia ran amok. I quit Ambien, then took it up again.

*We discovered that barn swallows shed bird mites when they are nesting.

*The kids slept in a tent in the yard, until a storm nearly blew them away.

*My friend Sarah competed in a sidesaddle race and placed 2nd.


*I opened the mailbox one day and found a field mouse staring back at me.

*We plotted several farm improvements but accomplished none of them.

*Cayden and Hadley learned to surf.

*I treated Hadley’s infected toe using the horses’ Ichthammol, per my veterinarian’s instructions.

*Maisie stayed at a nice hotel with us.


*Martin considered removing a wasps’ nest by grabbing it with gloved hands, and stuffing it into a trash bag. He changed his mind when I started videoing the event.

*I cleaned out my mom’s freezer and threw out cans with sell-by dates from 15 years ago.

*I quit the blog and picked it up again.



Beetle Results & Other Housekeeping


Today’s Funny Farm post is all about updates.

First up: the beetle report.

In response to the most recent “name that bug,” contest, I heard from a lot of you dung beetle lovers.

Alas, the mottled insect pictured above is not the poop-slinging variety.

It is Dynastes tityus — better known as the eastern Hercules beetle. Or rhinoceros beetle, if you prefer. And the pinups I featured were both females, as readers Sarah O’Halloran and Lee Miller correctly noted.

Congrats, you two.


Next on the docket: The Chopper report.

Remember when Jazz went Mike Tyson on my arm? (Original post, here.) I wouldn’t say that he’s 100% reformed, but Jazz has repressed his bad behavior.

Thanks to lime juice.

I launched my citrus attack shortly after the big bite. I didn’t wait for an attempted strike; the moment he flattened his ears, I delivered a shot of lime juice. He curled his lip with distaste. After a few sessions, Jazz put two and two together.

As for the injury, the brilliant bruise has vanished but the swelling remains. It looks less like a goose egg. More like a speed bump. And it’s astonishingly tender after three weeks’ recovery.


Jazz: “What, me bite? Pish posh.”


Finally, outbuilding repairs. Last month I mentioned our barn roof woes and debated the merits of scheduling our Amish crew to commence construction in the fall, versus spring. Readers voted for now, not later. And we agreed.

Recently, I signed the contract and cut a check toward materials and labor. Project barn roof replacement starts:




Ouch, Chopper!


It’s hard to believe that Jazz — my positively placid Thoroughbred — who typically looks like this….



and like this….





…can inflict a bite that looks like this:



I’ve known that Jazz can appear snarky and menacing in his stall, but Sunday’s incident proved that he ain’t bluffing.

That afternoon he embedded his teeth into my outer arm (not visible here), leaving an open wound and a goose egg surrounded by an expanse of discolored skin. But the eye-popping bruise runs along the inside. And since I took the photo above, it has grown larger and more sharply defined. Day 3 post-trauma, the bruise looked like a tattoo of a vast, purple mountain range, peaked at my triceps and sloped beyond my elbow. 

Not only is it painful, but the visual evidence of this spreading hematoma — as blood seeps further into surrounding tissue — grosses me out. Yuck.

So, what prompted Jazz to inflict this vicious wound? Well, I was invading his space.

I was tacking him up in his stall, something I never do. Subconsciously, I knew to watch for flattened ears and other moody behavior. But I was exhausted, distracted by the kids, and hurried with the saddle and girth.

And when you’re around horses all the time, you get sloppy. You forget how fast they can lash out. In a fraction of a second.

Jazz swung his head and struck with the speed of a viper.

Over the course of the week, I’ve thought a lot about the event (my throbbing arm a constant reminder). I have to curb Jazz’s bad habit. 

But reconditioning a biter is no easy task. You can’t reason with him and there’s no equine time-out. Striking the horse after the fact rarely provides lasting results.

Years ago I interviewed a veterinarian on the subject and he suggested squirting lemon or lime juice into the horse’s mouth, any time he flattens his ears or exhibits a sulky expression.

Such correction requires dedicated observation and good timing to deliver the juice. But it’s worth a shot. (Note: I’ve tried this before with a horse who was simply mouthy. It had the reverse effect: Huck loved the tart taste and would suck the juice right from the bottle. So far Jazz does not find it delectable.)

If you readers have any other suggestions, I’m all ears.

In the meantime, I’m entering Chopper’s stall with my weapon drawn and ready to fire: