Preparing your horse property for winter

  • Written by Alayne Blickle, Program Director, Horses for Clean Water

remove from pastureEvery winter there always seems to be at least a few storms that wreak havoc on our normal routine.

For horse owners this usually means slogging through mud to do chores with less time to ride.

As it is with most everything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Making your horse property as chore-efficient as possible now will help ease you through the upcoming winter months when you least want to deal with winter’s little (and big) surprises.

Here are just a few tips to prepare for winter. To learn more, plan to attend a Winter Horse Care workshop on November 10 at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds (see the details at the end of this article).

Buy your winter supply of hay.

Look for green, leafy, fresh-smelling hay without mold, weeds, dust or discoloration.

Recent nutritional recommendations are for a horse to receive two percent of its body weight in hay (or forage) per day.

For the "average" 1000 pound horse with moderate exercise, that will be about 20 pounds of hay per day or about 600 pounds of hay per month.

Since hay is usually sold by the ton (2,000 pounds), one ton of hay will last about three and 1/3 months per average-sized horse.

Do the math to determine how many tons of hay you’ll need for the winter.

Pick up manure.

If you don’t already pick up manure every one to three days, now is the time to start doing so. A horse creates 50 pounds of manure per day.

When mixed with rainwater over the winter months this quickly turns to 50 pounds of mud per day.

Picking up manure on a regular basis will greatly decrease that amount of mud on your farm — and it will reduce your horse’s parasite load.

Spread compost.

Early fall is a great time to put compost on pastures. It adds micro and macronutrients and replenishes beneficial bacteria which improve the health of soil and plants. Spread a thin sprinkling, no more than a ½ inch thick and no more than three to four inches per season in the same place.

Check gutters and downspouts.

Now is the time to clean and make needed repairs or additions to your roof runoff system.

Diverting rainwater away from your paddocks and other high-traffic areas will dramatically reduce the amount of mud you and your horse have to deal with.

Bring your horses in off your pastures. If you’re lucky enough to have pasture, now is the time to baby your grass.

Pastures that are grazed too closely in fall will be subject to winter damage and be slow to start growing in the spring. It’s best if you allow the grass to produce at least four inches of leaf growth before winter when plants go dormant and stop growing.  You’ll see the payoff next spring. 

Review your lighting needs.

Do you have adequate outdoor lighting? Are your stalls bright enough to care for horses during dark winter evenings?

When you’re feeding at night, will you have enough light to see if the hay you’re feeding is green or moldy?

Would you be better able to do manure pick-up chores in paddocks with flood lighting? Have you been meaning to put in lighting along walkways or drives?

Get that work done now instead of waiting until temperatures are freezing and you’re feeding by flashlight.

To learn more ways to get ready for the pending winter, join Horses for Clean Water and Snohomish Conservation District for a Winter Horse Care workshop.

Learn what you can do this winter to keep your horses healthy, reduce mud, manage manure and lay the groundwork for green pastures next spring!

You’ll also get tips on how to care for older horses that have a harder time during cold months.

The workshop will run from 1 to 4 p.m. on November 10 at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds Longhouse in Monroe. 

Register online at:

Sculpting holiday magic one figurine at a time

  • Written by Shannon Michael, Features Writer

Dennis BrownPhoto by Shannon Michael. Figurine artist Dennis Brown is shown holding the Santa Claus sculpture he made as this year’s gift he will send to the White House. To see Brown’s work up close, visit his small cottage shop in Country Village.In a tiny workshop the size of a walk-in closet sits an artist working on his craft in Country Village. He is Dennis Brown, a man surrounded by his figurines of Santa, Halloween characters, and more available for sale while he works on his latest creation at the back of the small shop.

It is Brown’s Santa Claus figurines that have made his work so famous that Nancy Reagan and Tipper Gore have purchased his works for gifts, a growing collection of his Santas decorate the White House each holiday season, and even the great fiddle player, Charlie Daniels, has one of his works in his museum in Tennessee.

What makes Brown’s figurines unique is the attention to detail – and frankly a quirkiness – to each sculpture. No two sculptures are alike.

Take for instance the Charlie Daniels Santa he made which is playing a fiddle and wearing a cowboy hat. Or the current sculpture he is working on where polar bears will replace the traditional reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh.

This time of year is the start of Brown’s busy season. He creates about 300 figurines annually, but focuses on special orders for customers who order for holiday gifts between now and Christmas. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, he is putting in 16-hour days to ensure all his holiday orders get filled in time.

His figurines are in such demand for Christmas gifts that he often has to stop accepting orders by Thanksgiving. His figurines range in price from $200 to $2,500.

Brown’s passion for sculpting began in the early seventies when he was 13 years old living in southern California. He just wanted to have some little people to go along with his collection of Matchbox cars. He saved his allowance until he could afford the $2.75 to purchase his first box of Super Sculpey, modeling clay available at any hobby or craft store. That box of clay became his creative outlet. He would spend hours creating new figures, and then squeeze the clay back together to make new ones because he could only afford to buy so much clay on his allowance.

"My lifelong desire had been to work for Disney. But, I can’t draw," Brown said. With practice, he realized he could create Disney character figurines that, if he could sell each one for $2.75, it would give him enough money to buy another box of Super Sculpey. And, thus began his career as an artist.

For many years, his sculpting was done in the evenings and weekends when he wasn’t working his day job. It was when he was set up in a grocery store in Kirkland one weekend about 20 years ago working on his sculptures while offering finished ones for sale, that a chance encounter changed his life. A man came into the store and struck up a conversation with Brown for over two hours while he watched Brown work on a piece.

That man was Gene Freedman, the president and CEO at the time of Enesco, the largest figurine company in the world. Freedman, who worked in Chicago, happened to own a vacation home along the shores of Lake Washington in Kirkland.

At the end of their conversation, Freedman told Brown he wanted to purchase and ship every single completed figurine Brown had in stock, and fly Brown to Chicago to introduce him to Enesco. Brown’s trip to Chicago landed him the opportunity to turn his art into a fulltime career.

For five years, he made original figurines for Enesco, which took those to create 3,500 limited edition reproductions for sale.

His work for Enesco made his name and reputation as a figurine artist grow. He opened a store in Kirkland, which he operated for 16 years. He’s been in his small shop in Country Village for the past three and a half years, and he loves it.

So, how did his work begin to grace the White House?

"I have 18 pieces in the White House, and it all began when Nancy Reagan gave one as a gift to Bruce Babbit, the president’s Interior Secretary," Brown said. He sends a new figurine each year as a gift to the White House.

The figurine he is sending this year took one day to sculpt and one day to paint. The Santa figurine includes a watch. The watch keeps time, mainly because it is that level of detail that appeals to Brown.

His growing fame as an artist has brought new opportunities. Every package of Super Sculpey features a photograph of a Dennis Brown figurine. He also designs for Polyform Clay Company, working on new clay colors. And, Hollywood is interested in his sculpting ability for claymation projects, but he is putting off the demand on his time a project of that scope would take for later down the road.

Most people are happy to be in the holiday spirit for a month or so during the season, but Brown lives with Santa year round. "I love Santa Claus. I believe everyone should believe in him and everything he stands for," he said, referring to Santa’s giving spirit.

Brown, who lives in Carnation, is now looking forward to his favorite day of the year at Country Village. On December 7, it is the annual arrival of Santa Claus and tree lighting ceremony.

For many young children visiting that day, when they see Brown, who sports a beard strikingly similar to Santa’s, they think they are seeing Santa Claus at work in his shop making gifts. But, Brown likes to think of himself more as one of Santa’s helpers creating special gifts to last a lifetime.

Dennis Brown’s shop can be found by using the southern entrance to Country Village and going towards the back of the village. His shop, which looks like a small cottage, is across from the Village Bean Coffee Shop.

For more information, visit or search for Dennis Brown on Facebook to see photos of his work.

21 Acres receives 100% organic certification

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

2Farmer JohnCourtesy Photo. 21 Acres farm manager, John Eizuka1 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living announced last week that after rigorous review the farm has received 100 percent Organic Certification on its remaining two fields.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture, through USDA Organic, awarded 21 Acres an Organic Food Producer Certificate this October.  

According to Gretchen Garth, board president, the 21 Acres land has been farmed without pesticides or herbicides for more than eight years since the farm was purchased, and the organization applied for Organic Certification status for a portion of the farm, its first two fields, receiving it in 2011.

This recent certification is for the remaining acreage: "We are pleased to have received this formal certification and understand that the public sees this designation as an important identifier of pesticide- and herbicide-free food," Garth states. "We, however, go even further beyond the USDA organic standards and have for many years farmed without even some of the allowable inputs by the National Organic Program. This is important to us from a health and land stewardship perspective."

21 Acres encourages consumers to not only look for the Organic Certification label but to also investigate deeper when making buying decisions.

Increasingly, consumers are looking for not only chemical-free food, but also food that has been produced with minimal negative impacts on the environment.

Knowing how food is produced, including being able to talk directly with farmers, is the best way for people to buy food that is GMO-free and has been grown or raised in the most sustainable manner.

According to Garth, the 21 Acres Kitchen and Market spends considerable time talking to farmers about their growing practices and carefully selects products for use in the kitchen or for sale in the retail store. Other consumer benefits in buying organic certified products help limit exposure to chemicals and toxic substances while at the same time supporting growers who are good stewards of the land.

According to Washington State University there are only 26 Organic Certified farms in King County, one of which is 21 Acres.

It takes a minimum of three years for farms to receive Organic Certification.

Farmers are required to carefully document all inputs including seeds, soil amendments and supplies as well as follow particular land management practices, and they are subjected to inspections and regular review.   

Farmer John Eizuka leads the 21 Acres farm team. Visitors to 21 Acres can walk the farm, talk to John and the other farmers and see the food being grown.

Eizuka explains, "Organic Certification is part of our overall farm plan. We encourage consumers to talk to our market staff and ask questions to find out more about local sourced, seasonal, sustainable products." 

For more information on the WSDA Organic Food Program, visit or visit

Screamin' Reels - October 14, 2013

  • Written by Derek Anderson

10-04-2013 Skykomish CohoFall is here and now is the time to get out and enjoy the outdoors with the few sunny days that come and go this time of year. There is not a better way to spend a morning feeling that cool crisp air while on the Skykomish River fishing for the beautiful silver salmon. Fishing the river this time of year is a treat with all of the alder and maple leaves turning golden in color and watching the eagles flying down the river. With the big rains over the last couple of weeks the rivers have filled back up to normal water levels and the silver salmon came into the river in a big way!

The fishing is very enjoyable and pretty simple. Just sit back in the boat, sip a warm cup of coffee and watch that rod bury as an aggressive salmon grabs your lure. This fishery is very family friendly with many techniques for all skill levels to catch these acrobatic fish. The run will last well through October. Towards the end of October, the chum salmon will enter the river system and you can catch both species.

If you just want to catch and release it’s a great time to bring the fly rod due to the salmon being so aggressive and very fun to pursue with a fly. Give Screamin’ Reels Guide Service a call to spend a great fall day on one of our local rivers!

Tight Lines,

Derek Anderson

It’s time to pick a pumpkin

  • Written by 21 Acres


Photo courtesy of 21 Acres.

Mary Saleeby transports pumpkins to the 21 Acres Farm Market from the farm. 21 Acres is holding a u-pick pumpkin event in its first ever u-pick field on Saturday, October 12, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Groups will be led on a farm walk every hour (11, 12, 1) until the pumpkins have disappeared! This is a free family event and open to the public. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Pumpkins will be available for purchase in the market. For information, visit