Riding Lessons and More in Central Virginia

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy Hatching Day

As you may recall, Mrs. Snapping Turtle chose the little bank in the barnyard, near the ring, as the best spot to lay her eggs back in late May.  I made a note of the spot, and watched the calendar as the average 60-90 days of incubation passed (see my post from 5/19/2011 for a photo of Mom Turtle).
Well, this past Sunday, I was cleaning tack and noticed a chicken running around with what I thought was a chunk of trimmed horse hoof in her beak . . . but wait!
The little black chunk turned out to be a (not injured) newly hatched snapping turtle!  After shooing the chickens away, I counted 18 total hatchlings.  They are perfect miniature versions of the adult turtles.
Turtles need to stay within their home habitat, which is small (never pick up a turtle in one place, drive home with it, and release it there -- it will not survive in a strange location).  BUT, since these were brand new turtles facing a tough commute past hungry chickens and horses' hooves in the pasture, I gave them a lift down the hill and released them near the edge of the wetlands.

Friday, August 17, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It's hard to believe the Louisa County kids are already back in school.  But what a terrific summer we had at the farm: over five weeks, I enjoyed hosting THREE TIMES as many campers as last season, including a brother and sister returning for their second year, and a couple of girls who enjoyed the first week so much, they signed up for another week!  Despite some crazy hot weather and the occasional hair-raising thunderstorm, we had all kinds of adventures riding, bumping around in the trailer, helping the equine and sheep vets, exploring the creek, preparing pressed flowers, collecting eggs, checking out snakes, salamanders, herons, hawks.....all kinds of fun farm fare.  

I am already planning several one-day mini-camps during days off from school, so stay posted for that schedule (though an early heads-up will include Election Day, and Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays of holiday vacation in December/January).

EKF also hosted excellent clinics for the Louisa County Agricultural Extension Office Horse Mini-Camp and the Louisa County Young Riders 4H Club; our usual weekly class through the Louisa County Parks & Recreation Department; and a few high-energy birthday parties this summer.  All the while, regular lesson students have been keeping the afternoon schedule busy.  One adult student and I will attend the Farmington Hunt Club Introduction to Foxhunting Clinic this Sunday, another is acquiring the proper clothing to come out with the hounds, and our equine veterinarian, Dr. Martha, and her husband, Virginia Wildlife Center Dr. Dave, are joining me to represent EKF at the end-of-summer trail ride in Keswick next weekend.   

I need to catch you up on the excellent egg-laying skills of the younger hens, Barbara Mandrell Chicken, Anne Murray Chicken, Tammy Wynette Chicken #2 and Loretta Lynn Chicken #2, but for now I'll just leave you with this beautiful picture (from Barbara Mandrell).

Monday, August 6, 2012

More Than Just Riding!

Everybody knows that EKF summer camp means lots of riding.  We start each morning with a lesson, to beat the heat, and add a bonus bareback ride or Big Horse Day in the afternoon.  But our campers do so much more . . . these girls encountered Mr. Box Turtle on a nature walk down the Deer Stand Trail (carefully follow the campers' eyes to find the orange markings on his shell):
One of our indoor craft activities is to mold clay into different shapes, then press nature items from our walk into the clay.  Acorn caps and pinecones, and sometimes a small horseshoe, make terrific impressions.  Along with some letters and creativity, we end up with unique pieces to take home and remember camp all year long.  Usually this is rainy-day fun, but this summer it's been a Super-Hot-Day-Let's-Get-Into-the-Air-Conditioning favorite!
Last week's campers headed down to the Louisa County Agricultural Fair on Friday, after our morning ride.  We had a great time checking out the 4Hers showing their animals, meeting the alpacas at the petting zoo, eyeing the prize-winning vegetables and admiring the homemade quilts and baskets:
The fifth and final session of camp is underway now, so I'll be back next week (when the Louisa County kids go back to school -- already?!) to update you on their adventures.  Stay cool!