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March 2010

'Winning Bet' at the Old Firehouse

Old Fire House Books - new home of Winning Bet - Karin Livingston - Fort Collins - Colorado - Photo by Gregg DosterFORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Winning Bet, the novel exploring 15-year-old Emma Duncan’s struggle to win, solve a mystery, find romance, and save her horse from a slaughterhouse threat, hit the shelves of independent, locally-owned Old Firehouse Books last week.

If you’ve never been to the Old Firehouse, you should go, if just for the experience. The store is literally, in an old fire house. Think red brick facade, contrasting masonry details, large, sunny front window, lots of gleaming wood, shelvesCover - Winning Bet - by Karin Livingston - MyHoofprints up past your head, all the best-seller-new books, a ton of used books, AND books by local authors!

Add to that mix, the open, double-wide entrance into the tea house next door, where you can buy gourmet loose tea or sit down for a cuppa-and-a-snack with a good read. I stopped by on Sunday and the place was packed! You can find Winning Bet on the local author’s shelf, about mid-way toward the back of the store. (Click here for excerpt.) Winning Bet is discounted to retailers through The Ingram Book Group.

Winning Bet's baby-kissing horse
Winning Bet first copy goes for $100

'Teeth' in horse rules may bite ag, other businesses


FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Buyer beware of "for sale" rural property in Larimer County. It may soon come with new strings attached.

Larimer County staff, planning commissioners, county commissioners, and the working group assigned to resolve the fight over horse facility rules discussed a new plan Wednesday night that has grown teeth compared to the proposal planning commissioners tabled in November. (Click here for the full text of the proposal.)

The new rules could affect farmsteads, value-added agriculture, and home occupations, among other uses.

  • Highlights:
    • Require a public site plan review for any horse property owner that boards more than eight horses.
    • Narrow the definition of agriculture to exclude equestrian operations.
    • Require minor special review or special review for any horse facilities in Larimer "growth management areas". (To get a picture of where you might fall, just Google "growth management area map YOUR CITY" in the search bar below.)
    • Require property owners that board any horses to register with the county.
    • Define "horse operations" to include anybody who advertises that, among other things, that they board horses or give lessons.
  • ~
  • In a last-minute informal show of consensus, the group agreed that horse events should be taken out of the regulations and treated like any other small events in the county, which are currently not regulated. This would take the pressure off of property owners who host 4-H, Pony Club or small horse shows.

    Work still to come: Revise review standards, work on the transition program for existing stables.

    Next meeting: Monday, March 22.

    Previous coverage

  • Colorado legislators kill MyHoofprints Amazon links

    Dear Readers -- In case you wonder why the Amazon links will be disappearing, read this note I just received from Amazon. Farewell, Amazon. Congrats, Colorado legislators, on kicking a down economy in the teeth.


    "Dear Colorado-based Amazon Associate:

    We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to inform you that the Colorado government recently enacted a law to impose sales tax regulations on online retailers. The regulations are burdensome and no other state has similar rules. The new regulations do not require online retailers to collect sales tax. Instead, they are clearly intended to increase the compliance burden to a point where online retailers will be induced to "voluntarily" collect Colorado sales tax -- a course we won't take.

    We and many others strongly opposed this legislation, known as HB 10-1193, but it was enacted anyway. Regrettably, as a result of the new law, we have decided to stop advertising through Associates based in Colorado. We plan to continue to sell to Colorado residents, however, and will advertise through other channels, including through Associates based in other states.

    There is a right way for Colorado to pursue its revenue goals, but this new law is a wrong way. As we repeatedly communicated to Colorado legislators, including those who sponsored and supported the new law, we are not opposed to collecting sales tax within a constitutionally-permissible system applied even-handedly. The US Supreme Court has defined what would be constitutional, and if Colorado would repeal the current law or follow the constitutional approach to collection, we would welcome the opportunity to reinstate Colorado-based Associates.

    You may express your views of Colorado's new law to members of the General Assembly and to Governor Ritter, who signed the bill."

    What to do with all that lovely manure

    The other day I wrote about our seeding project and the composted manure we used to bed and cover our precious investment in equine pasture seed. On a daily basis, you probably won’t have a lot of seeding projects waiting to go, so you have to plan for the horses’ daily output. Also, as the land use argument heats up in Larimer County, Colorado, manure moves up the list of hot topics.

    Suburbanites might choose weekly removal by the trash company to the landfill as

    the best choice, but this method is pretty low on the list of good solutions. It can create methane gas pockets, and runoff at the un-vegetated dump leeches raw nutrients down slopes into streets and down the food chain into waterways.

    Windrow composting and spreading give soiled bedding a chance to decompose into stable compounds, which when worked into the soil (or your arena), provide great benefit. These methods assume ownership of a tractor or equivalent and at least one spreader, so there is an equipment investment and ongoing maintenance, plus all the time it takes to process the "product". (Few people realize how much work a stable really is!)

    We have taken many manure management classes over the years and, there are four Colorado State University Cooperative Extension handouts we found particularly helpful. After a little work, I unearthed their links:

    Horse Manure Management
    Composting Horse Manure in Static Windrows
    Composting Horse Manure in Dynamic Windrows 
    Vermicomposting Horse Manure in Windrows


    'Winning Bet' pays tribute to Richard Shrake

    I clicked on the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo site the other day, which by the way, is one of the best bargains you’ll ever find for useful horse knowledge, and ran into an old friend, Richard Shrake. Richard probably doesn’t know he’s an “old friend”, but I consider him one. I happily paid for and attended two of Richard’sOur gelding loves this Richard Shrake bit, which breaks softly in the mouthpiece. It is a legal western bit in 4-H. (Click photo to enlarge.)
    Resistance Free™ clinics in Colorado and Wyoming, and I think I’ve been to every one of his presentations at the Horse Expo. (Just go. You’ll learn a ton.)

    Our gelding, right, is wearing a Richard Shrake bit, which really softened his mouth. (Click on the photo to enlarge.) I see Richard is offering a bitting clinic Friday.

    Anyway, Richard also probably doesn’t know that he influenced a lot of what happens in my teen-romantic-suspense-horse novel, Winning Bet. (Just buy it. You’ll love it.)

    Here’s a Winning Bet excerpt that mentions, but does not completely give away, one of Richard’s best techniques. Here, it looks like Emma could also use Richard’s “Natural Movements Without Unnatural Aids” class Saturday. For the details on the technique below, you’ll have to ask Richard at the Expo. See you there!

    Excerpt from Winning Bet:

    If Bonnie blows the pattern, I’ll die.

    A gust of wind scooped up a plastic bag and bounced it in a wild zigzag across the warm-up arena. Bonnie slammed to a halt, pushing her front

    Continue reading "'Winning Bet' pays tribute to Richard Shrake" »

    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

    Nanking cherry blossoms beat the snow

    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.)