Thursday, July 31, 2014

White Oak Lavender Farm

Before tomorrow and the 1st of August, 
I'm getting this post up that I can still say that it happened last month!

I was invited to attend a Christmas meeting/party for the local Herb Guild last year.
Since then I've attended the requisite number of meetings 
and will become a full fledged member of the group after summer break.

My future herb bed will be along the kitchen side of the house
but right now, it's a wasteland knee deep in weeds and only weeds....and I'm not kidding.
Some of them may even be reaching waist height.  

This is the extent of the herbs currently at the house;
parsley, lemongrass, rosemary, mint, pineapple sage.  
Five in pots! 

Despite my masquerading as an herbal gardener, 
I went with the group on a tour of White Oak Lavender Farm in Harrisonburg
last month (late June).

Lavender was a plant that I never attempted in Louisiana.  
Humidity, clay and acid soil combines to make lavender a challenge to grow down there.  

First stop was CrossKeys Winery where we ate al fresco on a terrace
with a view of the Blue Ridge and the grape fields.
Then on to the farm where the lavender was in full bloom. 
The first harvest of 2014 was scheduled for the next day
so rich colors and smells were abundant.   

The farm was started 9 years ago with about 100 plants and has grown to over 9,000 mature plants! 
Lavender from the farm is sold for culinary use and crafts
as well producing lavender oil and water for sale.   
White and Pale Blue Lavenders
White Lavender in the Foreground not quite in Full Bloom
We had scheduled a guided tour 
given by the owner
and learned about their cultural practices,
propagation efforts,
distilling operations etc.  
I bought some tea and three young plants 
that are waiting in their pots for the day 
when I clear the weeds and start the herb garden!
Lavender Bunches Covering the Walls In a Drying Shed

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Our Version of Jumping

Here's the cross country course out at our stable
with the stellar views of the Blue Ridge.

No jumping for us
although we occasionally step over some of the smaller ones!

Here's Sarge and Joe charging toward the water obstacle....
Could it be? 
Let's watch as they fly through and up the bank on the other side.....

Or not! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cross Country Riding: Beautiful but not for me!

We went for a ride on Friday afternoon
after Joe's shift giving tours at the Chapel.

Did I fool anyone into thinking this is me on the gray horse?

No, no, no!
I doubt that Cloud could jump much more than an average sized log across the trail.  

I was a volunteer jump judge again for one of the  cross country days
 at the Virginia Horse Trials which was held in early summer.

Other than knowing how to operate a walkie talkie and a few basics,
jump judging consists mainly of staying alert and answering a few questions:
Did they get over it, refuse, circle around, get lost and miss it or fall off?

Once again this year, the weather cooperated and it was a clear, sunny, cool day.
Perfect for sitting out in a lawn chair and watching horses fly past.
I judged three different jumps over the course of the day.  
On average the horses go by every three minutes so there's enough time 
to make notes on the sheet, radio in the information 
and then get prepared for the next to come into sight.  

I took two photos while at this jump for the afternoon session.
I find it interesting to compare the positions of the two horses and riders.
Same jump but about a two second difference in the timing of the photo.
There were a few times that I held my breath and hoped that they made it across
when their approach left them a little short or at an odd angle

There's a cross country course at our barn
but you won't find either of us jumping! 
View of the warm up area

Thursday, July 17, 2014

HIking at Riprap Hollow .... and the "After Hike".

A couple of weeks ago, the Friday hiking group 
headed north to Shenandoah National Park for a hike 
along the Riprap Hollow Trail.

We started out on the Appalachian Trail for about a half a mile 
before turning onto RipRap.
When we got to this huge slide of ..... 
yes, you guessed it:  riprap rock, 
it became clear how the trail got its name. 
Fortunately we were only passing next to the loose rock,
not walking ON it!  

At the first overlook, we had to do some creative scrambling to figure out how 
to get everyone into a photo...
But we succeeded
and no one slid to their death! 

Chimney Rocks Vista was glorious.
The views went on for miles both toward the north....

and there were more distant views 
to be seen by swiveling on my rocky perch and looking to the west.  
 We didn't do the whole circuit hike which would have been around 9 miles,
instead opting for an out and back that was much faster, 
because we were itching to get to Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton VA.
We'd worked up an appetite and the food was delicious!  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Joe!

I'm lousy at remembering birthdays or making a fuss over them.  

Chris' birthday came and went last week without me realizing it.
Owen has just received (I think) his gift for last month's birthday.
And I was late with Raeanna the month before.  
And Clark's the month before that!
(Chris yours is yet to be mailed)....

I think I'm noticing a pattern.

So let me be right on time to wish Joe a Happy Birthday!!

Since I haven't baked a cake,
I'll make do with the card I gave him this morning 
and dredging up this old photo taken on the land before we began building the house.

He isn't here in person to pose for a current photo because he's here:
He's giving tours a day or two a week at Lee Chapel on W&L's campus, 
his month he's been scheduled for way more hours than he was planning to give.   

Bridge (where we're headed tonight) doesn't make for riveting photography.  

Isn't this quote from T.S. Eliot so true?

    The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest.  You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.
                                                                                                 (T.S. Eliot)
Love you!  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Yes, We Still Have Horses!

Isn't this a cute face?  
 I haven't written about the horses in ages 
and the honest reason is that we've been neglecting them.....

I'll clarify that:  
the horses have been well taken care of by other people
while we've been absentee owners
paying the bills and not involved in TLC. 

We're boarding them over 30 miles away;
and all winter and spring,
we've always had a reason (i.e. excuse) 
why we weren't making time to get up there and see them.  

It's been a case of out of sight,
out of mind.

We'd begun talking quite seriously 
about selling them 
and then Cloud came up with a method to get me re-involved. 

She got caught up in a fence about 6 weeks ago,
 cut up her back legs 
and then got a secondary skin infection going on both back legs.
There's nothing like a crisis 
(or mini-crisis in this case)
to pull someone from apathy to action.

Dutifully I've drug up there every other day,
rain or shine, 
work or not 
and washed and treated her back legs.  
The barn manager is doing a great job also 
and takes care of her 
every other day when I can't get there.

Now that the swelling on her legs is down,
I've actually dusted off my saddle and begun riding again!
 After the Fourth of July Parade,
I headed up to the barn and made a few loops around the lake.  
(Joe was home mowing and getting ready to take charge of the inflatables)

 The property is small enough that I feel okay about riding alone
(someone will find me eventually if I take a nosedive).

After working up a little sweat, 
it was back to the barn for a shampoo
and leg/wound scrub...

Clean, medicated and ready to turn out for the night!
I changed out of my riding clothes
(too bad I couldn't have used the wash stall myself!)
and went back to Lexington for the evening fireworks at VMI.
I'm learning to sandwich my "barn time" 
in between other things 
and not try and wait for a free day.

And possibly more importantly,
I'm going by myself and not worrying if Joe can't come 
or if I don't have time to visit Sarge.

So she's got a reprieve.
There's no more talk for the present about selling....
she's too sweet.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth Festivities 2014

Another Fourth of July in Lexington!  
I can't believe that this is my third time to see the festivities.

I missed the reading of the Declaration of Independence this morning,
but made it downtown in plenty of time 
to see the Children's Bike Parade.

Uncle Sam (Mark Cline) leading the way

Bikes, wagons, 
strollers and unicycles

Barb's grandson made his inaugural roll down Main Street
in style on his tricycle.
At the conclusion of the parade, 
there is free watermelon, hot dogs and ice cream for all the kids.  
On my way back to the car,
I noticed that a few riders had decided to forgo the free meal 
and stop in at the local pub.  
No need for bike chains in Lexington....
But isn't there a law against leaving your children 
outside while you're in a bar? 
Evening found us at the VMI parade grounds again this year....
where once again, Joe was in charge of the "inflatables";
there were four monster sized ones.
The fireworks were grand.....
Hope you had an equally fun day!