Monday, April 16, 2012

Livin la Vida Amish...

   As with the old Chinese curse, we are living in interesting times.

   Between rising prices, and the proliferation of grossly unhealthy additives, substitutions, and GMO Frankenfoods in grocery store "food" products, a lot of folks are looking towards some level of self-sufficiency.

   Fuel and equipment upkeep costs are motivating some small farmers to revisit really old-school approaches...

   Our latest distraction here has been getting old-fashioned production of real, unadulterated milk flowing.  (Once you discover fresh, creamy, raw milk from a grass-fed Jersey, you'll want to punch the grocer right in the nose for passing-off that bleached and boiled, watered-down sewage in plastic jugs...)

Around here, THIS is a milk "by-product".

   Draft horses seem to be gaining in popularity in recent years.  This may have started-out with folks wanting to breed them to performance stock to develop American sport horses.  But more and more, folks appear to be gaining an appreciation of draft horses for what they are...  Which means even veteran horsemen have to learn a whole new world of things, like collar fitting, harness types, and so forth.  And, of course, farriers have to become conversant in these new things as well.  Farriers have always been expected to know a good bit more about horses than how to mount them on iron.

   This is why some fundamental draft horse and harness information worked its way into Millwater's Farriery: The Illustrated Dictionary of Horseshoeing and Hoofcare.  The big critters are part of the scene on our farm too, and doing what they were bred for.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Millwater's Farriery: In Review...

   Bob Smith of Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School was kind enough to review Millwater's Farriery: The Illustrated Dictionary of Horseshoeing and Hoofcare for the recent issue of the American Farriers Journal.

   The blurb from the review is "An excellent reference for shoers, owners and farrier students..."

   He also observed that the dictionary had evolved into a "mini-textbook" of farriery.  Something I realized myself as I was putting it together. 

   This actually gave me pause at the time...  After all, we are blessed with some really great, full-on farrier textbooks in this day and age.  It was certainly beyond the intended scope of the lexicon project to 'compete' with them.

   But the massive textbooks from Butler and Gregory are designed for dedicated students going through training at the better farrier schools on the way to careers as professional farriers, and retail for several times the list price of my book...  I know a lot of people interested in farriery aren't starting-out at that level.  Especially in times like these, I figured there was a place for an entry-level primer rooted in the fundamentals.  Something to get the prospective hoofcare provider (or horseowner who has to resort to doing their own) started so they can find out if it's really for them, then they can move-on to the more advanced training and texts appropriate to their chosen career paths.

   Smith did bust my chops on the "selected resources" appendix of the book...  And not without justification.

   I included Crudoir on the "periodicals" page.  At the time the review was written, all there was of the magazine was a webpage announcing the upcoming launch...  Since then, that has been replaced with an announcement that they've given-up on the plan for a new magazine as-such, and are going "another direction".

   Well, that's the peril of reference book publication.  Even in this modern age of fast publishing tech (and believe me, it's like greased lightning compared to the 'good old days'), I still had to put the content to bed and shift to formatting and set-up long before the actual release.  I'd been in-touch with the intended publisher of Crudoir, and she was in-earnest about making the magazine a reality...  I didn't have the option of waiting to see if it caught-on, so I included it.  Actually, I figured that even if it didn't fly, it'd be an interesting footnote in the future.  Henry Heymering's bibliographic history tome On The Horse's Foot cites a number of publications that are only known due to their being mentioned in old reference books.

   Then there was the fact that, with the folding of so many other farrier periodicals, the American Farrier's Journal is effectively the Last Man Standing.  Frankly, I had to stretch a little bit just to keep AFJ from being completely alone on the page! 

   As to the weakness of the "Internet resources" page, he's got a point there.  In truth, that section is almost vestigial.  Left-over from earlier dictionaries before Google was built right into all our browsers, when you actually needed to know a URL to get to a resource.

   I certainly didn't intend to snub the AFJ website in this section.  Since a URL was included on the "periodicals" section, where AFJ was at the top of a far less crowded page, I figured putting it in the "Internet" section was kind of redundant. 

   With the ever shifting sands of the Internet, I'm also a little reluctant to reference new Internet documents, as they have a nasty tendency to get moved or gone as websites get 'updated' and redesigned.  My personal favorites/bookmarks lists attest to this with tons of now '404' links.

   On a side-note, I included contact information with the Press Release which was really intended in-case the folks at AFJ needed to touch base with me.  (Sort of traditional PR format.)  Unfortunately, I apparently didn't make that clear, as my farm land line and snail mail address got published with the review...  I rarely use the land-line, and can barely hear incoming messages due to interference from the electric fences...  And all orders are ultimately processed over the Internet anyway.  (I do not have a warehouse of books and mail packaging like the not-so-good old days.)

   If someone really hates to order over the Internet, they can ask at a brick and mortar book store.  They're not likely to have Millwater's Farriery in stock (as it's a specialty kind of book), but it is available through regular distribution channels, so they can order it.

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