17-year-old treasure from the 'vineyard'

Picking plums in August, using our erstwhile Ursa cart as a ladder. The Ursa field cart has been a winner for us!Read also: Gruesome end for Father of Fort Collins; historic farm revealed

Last weekend I stumbled upon a rare treat in the basement: a 17-year-old plum wine, one of my early efforts at winemaking.

The wine exuded a deep, flowery perfume that reminded me of our plum blossoms in spring. The purple skin on the golden fruit created a deep sunset-colored liquid. Talk about rich and smooth. I prefer dry wines, so this one didn’t get much sweetener during finishing. For a few hours anyway, the particularly brutal winter dissolved in memories of ripe, succulent fruit, warm sun, and long, golden evenings.

I wax poetic to convince you that now is the time to start planting your own “vineyard”. Wild fruits like the Native Plum, Nanking Cherry, Sand Cherry, and Chokecherry, in addition to surviving the brutal weather of the Colorado Front Range, make beautiful wines or jams.

The red sking of the plums combines with the yellow fruit to give the wine a sunset color.If you own acreage and have a state forest service nursery in your area, you qualify to buy bare root stock (tiny plant babies) for just under 50 cents per plant in batches of 50. (Just Google "state forestry nursery" in the search bar below, along with your state's name.) Or, you can go to your local retail nursery and get larger versions of these wild plants, nearly ready to produce fruit. Earth Day is coming up soon. What better way to help Earth and the animals that like to hide in bushes than with a planting?

And don’t worry about the how-to’s. There are plenty of online stores out there, just itching to sell you books of wine recipes, high-quality ingredients, and tools that will help you build a wine comparable to anything you can find in stores. Who knows? You may have a winemaking store in your own town!

Making wine is not rocket science, just good, properly-cleaned equipment, precision, and a feel for correctly-ripened fruit. You can drink the wine in as little as six months, but save a few bottles, and 15 years from now, you can thank me for the experience!

You might also enjoy: Wine Lovers on Horseback Canter, Slurp in Bordeaux

A wonderful wine-making store: Hops & Berries

A great book: From Vines to Wines/Jeff Cox (Good information about growing grapes.)


Sneak peak at horse health questions any 4-H'er can answer

image from www.mane-u.com


These 10 horse health questions come from the Colorado 4-H Horse Project Manual. The one about horses drinking water even beginner 4-H'ers can answer, because hey, no water equals one sick or dead horse. Answer all 10 of these with the right answer, and you earn the coveted All Star 10 badge at our sister site, Mane-U! Answer 20 horse health questions correctly, and get the Mane-U horse health badge! Share badges online with friends (and people you really want to impress).

All-Star 10 Horse Badge from www.mane-u.com

Sneak peak:

  • Which is a nutrient important to horses?
  • How much water does a horse drink daily?
  • How long is the horse's small intestine?
  • What is one function of the horse's mouth?
  • How can sharp points on horse teeth be fixed?
  • What is the pipeline from the mouth to the stomach?
  • A choking horse requires what?
  • A choking horse will not what?
  • The cecum, large colon, small colon and rectum make up what of the horse?
  • What do horses require in their diet for the gut to function?

Sneak peak at the 10 "noteworthy" horse questions that earn you a free badge

Here is another sneak peak at questions that can earn you a free badge on our sister site, Mane-U.

image from www.mane-u.com

General Robert E. Lee's closest companion and devoted horse was who?
Cisco Kid television sidekick Pancho had a horse named what?
Black Beauty's pony friend was named?
Who was the talking palomino horse and television star?
The 2013 Guinness Book of Records lists who as the tallest horse in the world?
In The Black Stallion, what was the name of the old gray cart horse who was a friend to The Black?
What was the name of the television character Cisco Kid's horse?
Which of these was a 1978 Triple Crown winner?
In the books by C.W. Anderson, who was Billy's horse friend?
Which racehorse beat an all-male field to become the first filly ever to win the Breeder's Cup Classic in 2009, and was immortalized as a Breyer model horse?


Earn a free badge by answering 20 out of these 30 horse safety questions

image from i0.wp.com
Mane-U Horse Safety Badge


How is your horse safety IQ? Our sister site, Mane-U, has a great selection of free quizzes and online badges you can earn and share. Here is a sneak preview of the questions you'll see on the quiz:

When should you should tighten the girth or cinch?
At what gait is it safest to ride when you go up or down a hill?
When riding a horse, always use what?
Where might you want to dismount and lead your horse?
A rope carried on a horse never trained to rope causes what?
Why should tack be kept in excellent condition?
Where should you never mount or dismount a horse?
Which of these footings is safest?
Why should you never hurry past riders who are going at a slower gait?
When is a good time to keep your horse to a walk?
What knot should you use when tying off to the saddle horn while roping?
Do not allow the lead or reins to do what?
What should you do immediately after dismounting an English saddle?
When should you never ride bareback?
Why wait until everyone is mounted before moving out?
When should you use spurs?
Why should reins, stirrup leathers, headstalls, curb straps, girths and cinch straps be kept in excellent condition?
Never do what near a horse?
After running up the stirrups, what should you do?
How far apart should you be when riding with others?
How can you avoid being kicked on a trail ride?
Why should dogs be controlled around horses?
Tiedowns and standing martingales should be adjusted so that they do not affect what?
A kick is most forceful when you are about how many feet away from a horse?
If your horse becomes frightened, what should you do?
If you run into heavy traffic on a road, what should you do?
Before riding, what can you do when your horse is too active?
What should you remember on that moonlight ride?
Wearing spurs when not mounted can cause what?
A half-open gate in an arena is very what?


Score one for the land - the bison have returned

Every now and then, something turns out really right. I would add the return of genetically pure bison to our very own Soapstone Prairie Natural Area to that category. Don't try to attend, however. According to the Denver Post, spectator spaces are already filled for Sunday's release of the bison to the prairie.

Read the full Denver Post story about the return of the bison.


The horsey Halloween force awakens - what will you be?

Looking for horsey Halloween ideas? Plans are afoot at our place for all sorts of creations, weather permitting. Meanwhile, here are a few from years past:

Halloween 2013 

Angel devil in all of us - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
A little of the angel and devil in all of us ...
Cow - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Is it "neigh" or is it "moo"?
Magician - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
All in a day's work for our resident magician and her magic horse ...
Rainbow of feathers - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
A rainbow of feathers for Billy Blue, one of our Morgans.
Snow white - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Snow White and her minions ...

Halloween 2012

Billy Blue the Horse - Halloween 2012 - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
All it takes is a little paint, glitter, a few ribbons and scarves, perhaps a discarded hat, and voilà, your horse morphs into the Spirit of Halloween, a giraffe, a zebra, a fairy, or Mr. Bows. The Poudre River Stables gang outdid itself this year by achieving all of the above, and the horses, shy at first, seemed to enjoy the combing and brushing that came with their makeovers. Check out the video above to see all of the costumes. Many thanks to these kids' instructor, Cayla Stone, for organizing this. Happy Halloween to all of you from all of us! (Billy, the horse in the photo, is a real-life horse character in the novel, Winning Bet, a clean read for 'tweens and teens.)

 

Halloween 2010

HalloweenBonnie  HalloweenJasper  HalloweenBilly 

HalloweenPRSGroup  
The funniest part came when all the horses, who had been individually costumed by all the handlers you see here, saw each other and were horrified. Billy, in the “All-American” red, white and blue, looked at Magic the Wizard, group shot, far left, in the sparkly black hat, threw up his head, rolled his eyes, snorted and scuttled backwards. Magic tried to turn around and leave with his human on the other end of the lead line.


Bonnie, appropriately the Beautiful Veiled Witch, Jasper, carrying his Knight in Shining Armor, and the Gypsy Dani were heroes, and never flinched.

 

(Bonnie Blue and her son Billy Blue are the real-life horse stars of the novel, Winning Bet, by Karin Livingston.)


Developer, council member dreams big on road to national medals

I wonder what the Fort Collins City Council, or even the Larimer County Commissioners in charge of surrounding areas, will do with the challenge tossed out by city council member Gino Campana as he explores Fort Collins' path to a gold-medal-winning community. Phrases like “urban farming”, “demonstration gardens”, “community gardens” and “locally produced” accepted at a national level are words of hope. I’d like to call “ease land use regulations around urban animal husbandry” icing on the cake. However, since we are promoting somewhat-healthy lifestyles, let’s just call it “locally-produced strawberry jam over farm brie on homemade whole wheat bread with a farm cider chaser and a couple of homegrown tomatoes”. Dreaming big: Tax breaks and grants for micro-producers? What about an easy way to sell farm wines? More micro-neighborhood farmers markets? Going wild, we could even embrace the value of manure (don't laugh), the importance of rural heritage and history, resurrect the Code of the West and (you fill in the blank) ___________________________. 


Deadly impact: Skull - 1, Helmet - 0

The outer shell of the helmet cracked and fell away from its foam inner shell. (Click to enlarge.) (Originally published July 2009.)

The Thoroughbred gelding had been jumping the green and white, two-foot flower jump for days. This was just another routine schooling. As the horse cantered the line, his rider balanced over the balls of her feet in a classic two-point. She shortened the reins for better contact, looked ahead, and prepared herself for liftoff. The horse pricked his ears toward the jump, boldly cantered forward, then skidded to a halt, swerved right, then left, then right and, feeling his rider come unbalanced, scrambled away from the jump. She hauled on the reins, but the gelding continued his mad scramble. The rider slammed to the ground, head first. She didn’t move. Others in the arena ran to help, but seconds later, she stood up on her own. She was shaken and covered in the mud of the puddle her body hit.

Except for a bad case of road rash, and later, a stiff neck, she was injury free. Somebody started laughing. Pretty soon everybody in our arena started laughing, partly in fun, partly in relief. As the rider tried to pull muddy strands of hair out of her face, she unstrapped her helmet. She stopped laughing. A six-inch spiraling crack fractured the helmet’s surface. (Click on picture to enlarge.)
Those of you who think you don’t need one, think again. My daughter’s helmet saved her life today.
Read also:
Traumatic brain injury survivor Courtney King-Dye opens helmet conference
Fractured skull: She vows to wear helmet next time
Check out this life-saving video: Every Time, Every Ride

SmartPaks video: How to properly fit a helmet

(Karin Livingston was a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and is the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet.)


Recommended: 'Building a horse property from the ground up'

I wanted nothing more than to wake up at 6 a.m., wander out in my pajamas to feed my horses, and stand -- cup of coffee in hand -- watching them munch hay. I’m not kidding.
-- Michelle Anderson, TheHorse.com

File this article on building a horse property in your bookmarks in case you ever find yourself planning a personal horse facility. It is the most concise, on-point article I've found on the subject, and will save you from many common errors in horse ownership.

Read also:

Fencing fracas: Tips for sanity

Horse fencing: Do it right and skip the 1,348-acre brush fire