Tuesday, September 30, 2008


They're back! The nights finally got cold enough to chill off most of the heel flies, and it hasn't rained much - but the mosquitoes were definitely out tonight.

See them? They were all over Sunny.

Proof of riding!
I feel like I haven't ridden in forever. Luckily, Sunny has a better memory than I do!

Tonight was gorgeous. The whole day was. So when I ended up an hour late at work, I decided not to waste any time dragging the saddle, etc. out to the truck. I changed and dashed, and had extra time riding.

Since I was bareback and no one was home, I didn't try anything crazy (like cantering). We wove poles, practiced walk trot transitions and leg yields. He was a star. Nice and light, and quiet. I fooled around until nearly dark and then brushed him off and let the rest of the crew out of the lot. A lovely end to the day.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I started this post about something entirely different the other day, but reading about Pony Girl's struggles with My Boy's acquired evading-the-halter habits got me thinking about a horse I encountered briefly a few years back.

Sometime in the third month of Sunny's training, D, the trainer, asked me would I want to go with him riding for the weekend down on the Missouri. He was taking a bunch of horses he'd been working with - sort of a graduation ride for them. We'd meet his sister & father there and camp.

Now I've ridden with D on this type of ride before. He doesn't race, but he doesn't tackle easy country. The horses work hard, and so do you.

And they get breaks after a couple of hours of riding - you just get on a different horse.

It's an exhausting weekend, but it's also a blast.

So we loaded the horses at his place and then headed over to a nearby operation were he'd been working with a couple of horses. Arriving, we discovered that one of the mares he'd planned to take the owner had decided to send for breeding instead.

But rather than see us go with an open space in the trailer, she wanted to send a big bay mare she'd just gotten.

"She's a finished head & heel horse. Ten years old...". She talked a lot about the mare as we walked into the barn to collect her. Bred to the hilt, money-winning, etc. And when we got to the stall the mare was indeed, a looker. But as soon as the stall door slid open and D moved into the doorway with the halter & lead, she spun to plant her nose in the corner, ears flat, and heels ready to fire at the door. Yikes!

After some maneuvering, D managed to get her haltered and out of the stall safely. She was leery when tied, but loaded nicely in the trailer along with the other two from there - a 7 year-old palamino former barrel horse mare (about 3 rides - balking issues) and a recently gelded 5-year-old former breeding stallion (30 days riding).

On the way, D and talked a bit about the horses we were taking. The bay he speculated, could be trouble. At ten, and built like the provervial brick house, if she wanted to plant him, there was not doubt she had the power to do it, and she certainly seemed to have an attitude.

We didn't ride the two mares until Saturday afternoon. Ultimately, the bay mare was sweet to tack, lowering her head for the bridle and standing politely. After a test go by D, D's sister ended up riding her and loved every minute. She was definitley a well-trained, easy-going horse to be around. Unfortunately, she was wind-broken - probably why her cow career had ended. We watched her for signs of the nastiness she'd displayed in her stall, but she seemed calm and composed - not a sulk or laid-back ear to be seen.

She was game even blowing hard, ears forward and flicking to listen to her rider, moving out smoothly on a loose rein and answering the slightest cue promptly. It was, we all agreed, a real shame about her breathing.

The 8 horses were turned out overnight in ones and twos in the grassy cattle lots we camped near. The next morning I went out to catch the bay, leadrope & halter in hand. She whickered at me coming in the gate, but took one look at the dangling leadrope and made a beeline direct for the corner of the lot. Stuck her nose in the corner and dared me to approach her. Ears flat, tail tucked, muscles tense & stiff.

Well, I wasn't getting in kicking distance, that's for sure. I talked to her quietly from about fifteen feet back and to the side. Gradually, her position relaxed and her eye softened. If I stepped forward she'd stiffen. Occasionally she'd turn her head slightly, gaze fixed on the rope in my hand. Hmmm.

I dropped the rope and halter. She relaxed a bit more. This time when I took a step toward her, hands empty, she didn't freeze. I kissed to her, and she eased a shoulder toward me. I kept talking to her, and gradually she shifted out of the corner and angled herself down the fence facing me. When I could safely approach her shoulder, she let me lead her with a handful of mane over to where I'd left the halter & lead.

After I petted her a bit, I was able to slide the halter on, and clip on the lead. She followed me quietly on her way to the trailer and her breakfast.

Discussing it, we could only speculate that at some point in her past that mare had been beaten. Her first response to seeing someone carry a rope was fear. In turning her rear toward whoever had that rope, she was protecting herself the only way she knew how.

Amazingly, she didn't really see people as the threat - just the rope, and apparently just in situations where she was loose and about to be caught. Otherwise she showed no anxiety at all about being handled. Ropes thrown over her and off of her were not a problem.

She wasn't headshy.

She wasn't touchy or sulky or cranky.

Had you only encountered her already caught or undersaddle, there was nothing to indicate she had issues. She was lovely to handle and trained to a fare-thee-well; an almost push-button ride.

And if you were sent to catch her in the pasture or halter her in her stall, and couldn't or didn't read her? She'd nail you. Both feet, no questions.

After that weekend I never saw the bay mare again. She went back to her new owner's place, presumably to be bred. Hopefully she'll pass on her quiet disposition, good conformation and winning ways in the arena to her offspring.

But the juxtaposition of the bay mare's good nature and her dangerous habit stuck with me. Horses certainly come with baggage. I expect it was only the fact that mainly along the way she'd also been treated kindly that made her willing to continue to trust people in most situations.

No telling where or from whom she'd learned to protect herself. But whoever owned her was always going to have to realize that she could, and would feel threatened under certain conditions. And she'd act on it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pasta for a horde (or for yummy leftovers)

I've never tried making those big pasta shells before, but someone shared a recipe that looked intriguing for stuffed shells with broccoli. Well, I made it last weekend. H said it needed beef. T agreed, and said more cheese wouldn't hurt. I also discovered that I wasn't supposed to use the whole box of shells, so I'd cooked too many and needed to make more stuffing.

On the plus side, no one complained about the broccoli....

So here's the doctored version - with beef, more cheese(s), family-approved. It makes a LOT. I'm thinking it may be a great potluck dish, too.

Broccoli stuffed shells with Meat Sauce
1 package large shells
2 jars pasta sauce of choice (I like Newman's Own with mushrooms....)
1 16 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1/2-1 cup parmesan cheese
1 12 oz package shredded mozzarella
1 12 oz package shredded Italian blend
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (or mix of basil & oregano)
1/2 16 oz package of frozen brocolli
1 lb ground beef (more or less)
2 T dried onion flakes
pepper to taste
1/2 cup water (depending on sauce thickness may need a bit more or less)

Preheat oven to 375'. Brown ground beef. Add 1 can sauce & let simmer. Cook whole box of shells according to package directions. Defrost broccoli & mix with ricotta, parmesan, & half of each mozzarella & Italian cheeses, dried onion, Italian seasoning & pepper. (May add salt to taste, but I found it didn't need any.) Put about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish (12" x 18" - I think) & spread it around.

Stuff cooked shells with cheese mixture & arrange in a single (double for smaller pan) layer in the baking dish. Pour simmered beef & sauce mixture over the stuffed shells. Pour the remainder of the cold can of sauce on top. Add the water - I swished out the sauce jars & used the result - pouring around the edges so that the cheese mixture in the shells isn't drowned. Top with the remainder of the mozzarella & Italian cheese. Cover with foil & bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil & pop back in for another 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven & let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with vegetable of choice, salad & bread sticks.
It's not exotic, it reheats very nicely, and makes wonderful leftovers, too. And it will feed at least 6-8 (depending - if you have a whole crew of hearty eaters, possibly less). Leave the beef out & it's vegetarian - although definitely not a meal for the lactose intolerant!

Summer lingers

It was in the high 70's here on Saturday, and absolutely gorgeous. Sunday has been breezier, hazy, and you can feel a storm building, but nothing's arrived just yet and it's almost dark. It's been a perfect weekend to do all manner of outdoor things. Like laundry....

Just kidding - lol!

Oh, lots of laundry did get done (I even hung some of it up a couple times over, since one clothesline dumped everything on the ground twice and I finally left it there sans clothes - I suspect the screw is stripped), but we had horse time, too.

Saturday we dragged H out of bed (before noon! horrors!) and out to the home football game. We lost by 27-28 in a double overtime heartbreaker after a hard fought game that saw neither team on the board at halftime. I'm not a huge football fan, but it's good to see the stands mostly full and see people standing up to cheer the boys on. (Our team plays on the high school's field - the 85,000 plus that turn out for Nebraska's Huskers? Well let's just say we don't see that type of turnout. Not even on a very good day!)

Afterwards T and I headed out to collect the critters, weight tape them and get some wormer shot down their gullets. A task I'm happy to report complete with minimal drama. I have a tendency to weight tape, and then either forget to write down the weight, or forget to adjust the wormer slide. (Lots of fun to discover the later when you've just successfully inserted the tube into the reluctantly opened mouth, only to discover the plunger won't actually depress... grrr!) T has a different technique than I generally use which involved standing sort of facing them but off to the side. It works for him, although personally, I'd rather stand a bit closer to their front shoulders out of possible pawing range....

Even Sahara, our chronic objecter, was only a mildly disgruntled. Were they perfect? No, but they weren't awful, either. I really do think the wormer itself makes a difference, and the applicator tube style, as well. This stuff - Iver-Care - didn't smell terrible, and none of them made nasty ICK faces at all. I made a note so hopefully I can get the same brand next time Ivermectin's up in the rotation.

Finished with that, it was sheath-cleaning time. Sunny was his usual pleasant self - of course, there was food involved! I do still click/treat for this, since it doesn't happen all that often, and I figure some positive reinforcement doesn't hurt. Since my hands were wet & slippery with soap, etc., I clicked & T stood at his head & treated.

Lots of gunk later - probably should have been checking more frequently this summer - he was done, and we used the same approach with Thunder.

Him I clicked a bit more frequently, but since the warm water & soap helped soften & loosen the crud enough that it washed off pretty easily, he didn't object at all. Good boy!

Sunday we'd planned to go riding, but then T started building shelves in the basement. Since I've been pushing for shelves so that I can reorganize down there, I couldn't really abandon him. So our ride turned into a somewhat abbreviated session with the youngsters. T led me around a bit on Thunder & Amyra, and then he sat on Amyra for the first time. The difference in weight had her bracing her feet and rearranging her balance a bit, but she was fine with it.

We mainly worked on whoa, and on walking ahead on leg pressure. Since they know whoa on the ground, it translated pretty well. Moving ahead is still new, but neither of them was anxious about the process. It probably helps that they've seen me pop up on Sunny so often out there.

Since they haven't been at all fussed by anything thus far, I wasn't nervous, so we had a nice positive circle of energy going rather than an escallating tension situation. (VERY BIG GRIN!!)

Amyra's still narrow, and she's hit another growth spurt that's left her hind end higher than her front end - again. I'm really glad we chose to wait until next year to do serious training with her. Thunder's probably big enough, but he could stand to fill out, too. He's gotten a LOT taller this summer, now he needs to catch up sideways a bit. They both still have that gangly look to them.

Looking back, Sunny was narrow as a three-year-old, too. I could easily have waited an extra year with him, but I was anxious to start riding, and everyone said three was fine to start an half-Arab. (Well, 7/8's, if you want to be technical about it, and since the 1/8th that was supposed to get him his spots didn't take, without papers you sure couldn't prove he's not a purebred by looking.)

Do I think it did any damage having him started then? No, probably not.... The trainer was a slight man, and he took his time. But Sunny worked hard. Not just arena work, but out across country, as well. Lots of wet saddle blankets. And there's a big difference between 3 & 4 size-wize.

Horses are started awfully early - TBs are racing at two, two-year-old futurities are standard in the QH world, and lots of other breeds are routinely ridden young. What do you think? Mentally & physically, what are the differences starting a young one vs. starting a slighly older horse? I know some of you have experence with this - is there an ideal age for your particular discipline or breed? Not what the industry says is best, but the age you'd choose if you were just starting one for you?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Book Review - Firehorse

Christmas is coming - wouldn't someone you know love a horse book?

I've read a LOT of horse books over the years, and there always seem to be new ones out there. Since I now have a thirteen-year-old (albeit one who isn't particularly horse-mad), I thought I'd take a few minutes on Fridays to profile one horse book that I think might appeal to the thirteen-year-old girl in all of us. (Well, I liked them, anyway!)

Firehorse by Diane Lee Wilson
Fifteen year-old Rachel is growing up in a man's world. When her family abruptly moves to Boston, Rachel's beloved horse Peaches is sold without ceremony, and Rachel is told she will become a proper young lady. Bereft, in a strange city with no friends, Rachel pines for home and Peaches.
Boston in 1872 is a city with its own problems. Built mostly of wood, it has relatively few fire departments. During that long hot summer, a firebug strikes repeatedly and at random, terrorizing residents, who fear their neighborhoods will be the arsonist's next target. When a mysterious illness strikes the city's work horses, and then the firehorses, too, begin falling sick and dying, disaster looms.

Following a horrific fire in which a number of horses are killed, Rachel's brother is given the care of a badly burned firehorse, the Governor's Girl. Assisting with the mare's care, Rachel finds her calling: she will become a veterinarian. Rachel's father, however, is a man typical of the times: convinced women must be protected and managed. Even when Rachel finds lukewarm support for her goal from the kindly vet caring for Governor's Girl, she still faces the stigma of impropriety and indecency for wanting to do a "man's" work.

Wilson's characters stand on their own, from Rachel's feisty grandmother, to cheerful James and browbeaten Mrs. Selby. Careful research fleshes out the story, and Wilson's love of and familiarity with horses shines through. A great book for horse lovers, and also a good book to accompany an introduction to the suffrage movement. Even if you aren't usually a historical fiction fan - I'm often not - this was a good read.
The horse detail in this book is not only excellent, the author's note mentions that Wilson, a horse owner & rider herself, went so far as to seek out and ride a large breed sporthorse (can't recall which, though) so that she could bring some authenticity to Rachel's careening gallop through the Boston streets on the Girl.

Firehorse is a 2008 Middle School YARP selection for SD.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why I like video

High winds again today. What is it about Thursday afternoons that makes it windy? I'd really like to know. And 88' in the last full week of September? What's up with that? But okay, enough complaining. I'm sure I'll be whining because it's too cold all to soon. (See, something to look forward to :)!)

The horses are round and shiny and just slightly fuzzy with the start of their winter coats. They don't enjoy the near-90's, either! I didn't ride today. I did work a bit with Thunder, leading & such just for something to do.

Both boys need their sheaths cleaned. I'll do that when we worm this weekend. Sunny's an old pro, but Thunder's still just a bit uncertain what's up with that particular activity, and he's a bit ticklish. He went so far as to cock a hind foot at me today - that or he was particularly vehement chasing a bug - either way, my leg was in the way of the side of his hoof when he raised it. Ouch! I "HEY'D" him loudly and whapped him on the shoulder. (No kicking. No even thinking about kicking will be tolerated, thank you very much!) Then went back to what I was doing, and he was polite from then on.

Since he didn't take offense at being swatted, I suspect it was a cocked hoof saying, "Leave me alone, lady," and not a fly bothering him, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for this time.

Sunny, who was standing nearby, knows exactly what "hey" said in that tone means. He actually leaned backwards without moving his feet, which looks really odd, by the way, and studied me carefully to be sure HE wasn't doing anything out of order. Silly boy!

Anyway, no lasting damage done, although I have a pretty purple spot this evening. If Thunder'd meant to really kick at me, I would have had a hoofprint, and I probably wouldn't be walking. He expressed displeasure, I informed him that he would tolerate what I was doing politely. Feet are too hard to make contact with me! If he does it again, he'll get a bigger version of the same response he got today. Yes, that is a sensitive area I was handling, but I wasn't hurting him, and he does need to learn to be comfortable being touched all over, and that I can do it whenever and wherever I please. So we'll be doing more frequent "grope" sessions until he's as old-hat about it as Sunny is.

But that is not the topic of this post. Video is.

I love being able to review things. T laughs at me because I'll sit and watch 30 seconds of riding back multiple times trying to see what I'm doing wrong (or right, but that's less often). Or watch one of the horses move to try to spot where something might be off. Who'm I kidding, I just like to watch them, especially on the days it's too nasty for outdoor activities. (And he's one to talk, after all - I'm not the one who watched The Adventures of Ford Fairlane through four times in a row one weekend - Good Grief!)

In any case, today's video clip makes me happy. No, it's not exciting. It's less than a minute of Sunny walking away in front of me across the pasture. But you know what I like about it? His tail. Odd?

Maybe a little, but here's why a view of his tail makes me smile and click re-play: I can never remember which side Sunny carries his tail to, but I've occasionally worried/suspected that he carries it to one side exclusively.

Last winter for a while the muscling on the left side of his croup was more pronounced than the right, and he seemed to carry his tail consistently to one side. He wasn't sore, lame, or hesitant about racing around, and gradually it went away. He injured his right stifle as a four-year-old. Being a worrier... if he always carries his tail to one side, that could mean that his stifle injury didn't heal like it should have, or his back is out, or he's sore or.... Well, you get the picture (basically, I worry).

For some reason I think of it when I'm riding him, but it's hard to keep track of on top, (my eyes being oriented on the front of my head facing forward, no matter what the kids think!). But today on the ground I actually remembered to watch - and film. And he very clearly did, before, during, and after the video, switch tail-holding positions as he walked. Okay, so it's not a definitive all clear, but it's a good sign, right?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fun stuff - do you Wordle?

Tag clouds are appearing all over the place these days. This little tool lets you create your own. Just plug in the URL or paste in the text of your choice. Pick from a variety of colors, fonts, and layouts. Pretty nifty!

A Sunny Wordle view

What shoe are you?

This was fun! And pretty much accurate, too!

(As seen on Cowgirl Up and The Horseshoeing Housewife - I couldn't resist trying it - thanks, ladies!)
You Are Cowboy Boots

This doesn't mean you're country, just funky.
You've got a ton of attitude and confidence.
You're unique, expressive, and even a little bit wacky.
You wear whatever you feel like – and you have your own sense of style.
You are straight shooting and honest. You tell people how it is.
Low maintenance and free wheeling, you're always up for an adventure.

You should live: Where you can at least get to wide open spaces.
You should work: In a job that allows you to take change

And since I couldn't resist: a selection of what's currently gracing the shoe bin in my closet - and in the bottom right, what I'm almost always in as soon as I'm through the front door. Nothing but nailpolish! (Well, for my feet, at least, LOL!)


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Book reviews!!

A week or so ago I received a very generous offer from a cheerful sounding woman in the Sourcebooks publicity department. Would I be at all interested in reading and, if I wanted to, reviewing on my blog or elsewhere, a couple of books from the Horses of Half Moon Ranch series by Jennifer Oldfield.

Well, she didn't have to offer twice! I'm a voracious reader, and for the last year or so I've been reviewing everything I read over at LibraryThing. I also read a lot of young adult books (I'm on the selection & review committee for the SDLA Young Adult Reading Program -YARP), and I've been devouring horse-related fiction for as many years as I've been reading. The stars truly seemed aligned on this one!

The books arrived very speedily, and I started with what seemed to be the earlier of the two, Wild Horses. It wasn't a bad book. Here's the gist of what I posted on LibraryThing:
Kirstie Scott, her mother and her older brother, with the help of a couple of ranch hands, run a small guest ranch in the Colorado foothills. It's a family business, minus Kirstie's father who's out of the picture with a new wife. Leading a string of dudes on ranch horses on a day trip through the hills, a sudden storm triggers a landslide that leave Kirstie and her horse Lucky stranded in a gully with an injured wild stallion. Can Kirstie convince the stallion to let her help him? And will she be able to save the injured animal from the rough rodeo-string horse-seller's plans?

The book's a bit thin, and so's the plot. The horse-related details are iffy in spots, as well. At 150 pages there's not much space for error if things aren't tightly written, and unfortunately, there are quite a few rough edges. I found myself wishing for the adventures of Gypsy and Nimblefoot or the plucky heroine of C.W. Anderson's Afraid to Ride. It's not a bad story, just not a great one, either.
So that was Wild Horses. Then I started Rodeo Rocky.... I almost stopped midway through. I came really close to throwing the book at something. I didn't - didn't want to hit the cats by mistake, but it was close. Here's my review:
Kirstie Scott has accompanied her family on a trip to the rodeo with the current guests at their dude ranch. While the rest of the attendees are cheering and clapping, Kirstie is stunned and appalled at the brutal treatment the horses receive - especially the wild horses trucked in for the wild horse race and bucking bronco events. One mustang in particular, a beautiful bay stallion, garners her sympathy, and when circumstances leave Rodeo Rocky to her care, she vows to make a ranch horse of him rather than see him bound for the sale barn and a short future as dog food.

Admirable. And completely understandable from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old horse lover who's completely unfamiliar with rodeo. But Kirstie has lived on a ranch in a ranching community for how long, and she's never attended a one? She's never seen steer wrestling or bronc riding? The rodeos are described as being regular events....

What is crystal clear is that the author a) knows very little about rodeo, and b) believes, or wants to give the impression, that anyone who participates in one is brutal, rough, and completely uncaring as far as the rodeo livestock goes. Okay, everyone's entitled to their opinion, and she's not alone in finding the sport violent.

But animal rights issues aside, there are major problems with the horse-related details in this book. Who turns a strange, wild, un-vaccinated stallion in loose with their riding horses, some of them mares, immediately on bringing him home! (And why not GELD him?) They've spent $2000 on him, but they're not going to pay the vet, (who's johnny-on-the-spot almost immediately, after the stallion kicks one of the other horses) to give him his shots until they've decided to keep him at the end of the book? Not to mention the "training" sequence that has Rocky proceeding merrily down the trail saddled and bridled in approximately a week.

Yes, it's certainly an emotionally intense story. It's just too bad that the author didn't pay as much attention to non-emotional details. Apart from the rest of the problems, the plot is tired, and overdone. The characters are flat - none of them every really get to be more than canned stereotypes, which is too bad. Since this is one of a series, it would be nice to look forward to meeting the characters again.

Final verdict? Not recommended.
I'd really hoped for better. There are too many other horse books out there geared for this age group that ARE well-written, accurate, and enjoyable to read.

Instead, try one of these: King of the Wind, Firehorse, A Horse Called Bonnie, Tin Can Tucker, Gabriel's Horses, or Summer Riders and see what you think.

In fact, here's a question for you: what was your favorite horse book(s) or series as a kid? And why? Do they stand up to what you know today if/when you were to read them again?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hunting season

They don't look much like deer to me....

Do you ride with bells on?

If I ride - or work out in the pasture - in the fall when hunters are apt to be out roaming around, I wear bright colors. If I ride down the road I wear a blaze orange vest. Riding in more forested areas during hunting season, a lot of folks use bells. I can't find a picture of what I'm thinking of (something like a large sleigh bell with a deep, merry sounding chime, on a snap that attaches to your saddle), but sleigh bells, bear bells or rhythm beads also work - anything that makes the kind of noise that says, "I'm not attached to dinner or a potential trophy!"

I worry about the horses out in the pasture, though. They're used to the sound of gunfire (there's a pheasant hunting/guiding operation next door), so that aspect of hunting season doesn't phase them. Like all horses, however, they will head toward something that looks and sounds out of place first, before running away.

Lined up along the fence watching T sight in his rifle last fall

Not necessarily a good habit, if you're vaguely deer-shaped & colored.

A lot of livestock doesn't make it through hunting season every year. You wouldn't believe what people can mistake for a deer, elk, or moose. And out here, where there aren't a lot of trees to stop them, a rifle bullet can travel a LOOONG way.

So what to do?

Hands up, stranger!

Wishful thinking. But obviously, the horses themselves
aren't going to be much of a deterent!

Since our horses aren't stalled and don't wear blankets or halters (when they're turned out), and I don't really want to paint them orange - don't laugh, I've seen it! - the options for keeping them out of harms way are more limited.

Location (or re-location) - We try to keep the horses out of the front pasture, up near the house or back off the road where the terrain and distance will help protect them from idiots and stray bullets.

Signage - The property is posted No Hunting & No Trespassing.

Good neighbor relations - the neighbors are friendly, and are as responsible as can be hoped given that one of them has a fair number of visiting hunters coming through every year. The hunts the pheasant operation runs are guided by the owners, who are careful to remind their hunters about safety, livestock & not shooting north toward the farm. The other neighbors don't hunt much, thankfully.

None of this prevented me from finding one of the yearling fillies dead of a gunshot wound in the side a few years ago. No responsible party ever came forward - more than likely, she was the victim of a spent bullet and the hunter never knew s/he'd hit anything. I was sick.

And so, I worry. And will probably continue to do so every year I'm a horse owner.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

News of the week

My news? I'm not sure there is much. Horse time has been scarce as hens' teeth. I've patted noses & checked that all 4 (x 8) legs are still on the ground. Not much else, unfortunately. J stopped by last night, catching me sitting on the floor in the living room with a stack of clean laundry - she thought that was really funny - to ask where I'd been. Our schedules haven't had us crossing at the farm since sometime last week.

She had news. Not great news, but news. The lady who was to have looked at Pennie found two really nice geldings that were already buddies and had good kid-experienced backgrounds. She decided she'd rather go that route rather than introduce a strange mare into her gelding herd. Which I can understand.

T and I will continue to ride Pennie. No sense letting her slip back into pasture complacency when he got along with her so well and I enjoy her, too. And since I know she'll pony, we might just let her drag her son behind her a time or three this fall yet. Thunder and Amyra are both due for more work than they've had, so as long as the weather and the daylight hold....

I have horse plans for the weekend. The weatherman (and we know they neee-verr lie) is promising sun, 80's and more sun. Sounds lovely. Only a few weekends left until pheasant season opens and the roadways get clogged with gun-toting men*, so I plan to make the most of them.
*For those of you not familiar with pheasant season
in South Dakota, a short overview follows.

Background:When I first contemplated moving here to SD from Michigan ten years ago, my female friends winked & mentioned cowboys. My male friends (and acquaintances, and strange men in stores who overheard my moving plans... you get the picture) salivated at the thought of pheasants and pheasant season. "When are you moving and how soon?" they'd ask. "Do you know anyone there with property yet?"

Present: For some reason, SD is a pheasant mecca. Every year in October, hoards of shotgun-wielding natives and hunting-crazed tourists hit the back roads and the fields in search of chicken-sized, ring-necked, brightly-plumaged birds. [Funny story: a few years ago in October at the annual SD Library Association conference a woman from out East somewhere - VA? - flew in to speak. Our opening speaker, after she was introduced she mentioned that it was the first time she'd ever been west of the Mississippi, and described getting off the plane in Sioux Falls. "It was amazing," she said, "to see all those musicians collecting their instruments in the airport. South Dakota must be a highly cultured state - all those violin players!" ???? Shotgun cases=instruments=lots of culture, you betcha! LOL.]

In SD, road hunting is legal. I didn't know this when I first moved here, but I learned fast, let me tell you.

It's not legal to shoot a bird on the ground in someone's pasture, but it is legal to shoot one in the air over the road and then climb the fence into the pasture to retrieve the dead bird.

It's illegal to shoot within so many feet of inhabited buildings or livestock - but a lot of hunters ignore these rules in the heat of the moment. (How do I know this? Because on more than one occasion I've had drivers slam on their brakes, dive out of their cars, and shoot over my horse's head to drop a horse-flushed pheasant. And I've seen cars stop on the road next to the large, orange, NO HUNTING sign, hunters leaning out across their hoods to take a shot over the horses grazing in the pasture. And I take license plate numbers.)

Not to mention, SD is the first place I have EVER seen the following: blaze-orange, gun-carrying figures lined up all the way around a mowed field, walking towards one another to chase up any birds that might be lurking in the stubble. When a bird does lift, the shooting side fires toward the beaters. Over their heads, yes, but shot that goes up, must come down.... Doesn't look like something I'd want to make a habit of, but hey, whatever works for them, I guess!

It didn't take long before I learned to wear blaze orange if I was going to ride the gravel roads after opening day, and to ride early in the mornings before it's legal to hunt (before noon, and late in the season, before 10 AM). And to get used to being buzzed by the Game Fish & Parks helicopter if I was out riding early in my vivid new vest - they take poaching pretty seriously.

But so far, although I've flushed out a lot of birds out riding, I haven't developed any great desire to shoot them. They're pretty.

Don't get me wrong - my family hunts and so does my husband. (And those pretty pheasants are mighty tasty when cooked properly!) I have absolutely no problems with responsible gun owners and/or hunters who hunt for practical reasons, or who use what they shoot. Nor with those who abide by hunter safety guidelines & exercise some common sense and courtesy. What I don't like are the irresponsible ya-hoos who fire at random movements, hunt in areas posted "No Hunting" and trespass to get their bag limits!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A weekend passes...

Is there some rule that time has to fly on the weekends? Friday evening's ride was great. And I had a belated birthday dinner afterwards out with T & H, which capped the evening perfectly.

Saturday morning started with rain. Plus side: there were two messages on the answering machine about my car - classified ad paying off, finally! But that meant I needed to be home for prospective buyers.

The sun poked out before noon, but I'd promised T I'd go to the first home football game of the season with him. Kick-off at 1 PM and a hard fought victory - the home team won 27-7 (Hooray!!!) - grocery shopping, and then we had supper plans with friends. There went Saturday.

Communing with Pennie

Saturday night was late enough that Sunday morning wasn't early. But it was sunny... unfortunately, the 30 mph winds snapping the living room curtains & startling the cats into kitten-esque zoomies through the kitchen weren't exactly conducive to outside activities.

At around ten I had another caller on the car - good news, but they wouldn't be by until after 2 PM. Which gave me time to get showered, start laundry, help with the last batch of elderberry jelly, drag the shop vac around and vacuum out the car, and then retrieve the laundry blown off the line and into what's left of the tomato plants.

Horse-check around 3 PM, but I work tonight, so no time for riding. Monday I have class, Tuesday evening's taken up by a meeting - here's to hoping Wednesday night's as empty of non-horse commitments as it looks on the calendar!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pennie: Ride 3, and a change in plans

Friday evening, T and I went out to the farm, dragging H along (she took a nap in the car while we rode). The horses were up and happy to see us, and it was short work to brush off the dust and tack up. Looking over while T saddled Sunny, I was surprised to see Sunny's back feet tucked up underneath him, leaving his back slightly hunched, and his expression - well, resentful.... Odd.

We double-checked saddlepad and Sunny's back for pointy things and any soreness, but finding nothing went ahead. He seemed quiet and easy enough walking down to the pasture, but when T started to mount, Sunny wrung his tail and scooted away. Even held, he was NOT happy, and he's been really good about standing planted for mounting lately. This was the worst evasion I've seen him try. T thought his weight might be pulling the saddle cock-eyed as he swung up. Sunny's pretty witherless, and it's hard to keep saddles from shifting on him, no matter how snugly cinched. Still....

I wanted to check the saddle one more time, so he took Pennie, "Why don't I just ride her?" Pennie was dozing, back foot tipped up. "Okay - let's try that." So I held the off stirrup while he mounted, (Pennie stood politely) and they walked off as if they'd done it a thousand times.Sunny just plain didn't want me on that saddle, either, even readjusted. He'd stand on loose rein until I put weight in the stirrup, then scoot away.

But with T on Pennie, that was an easily solved problem. Lose the saddle - which I promptly did. Bareback (I still couldn't find anything on the pad or his back that should have caused a problem, but he was definitely reacting to something) he was fine for mounting, and mosied along around the pasture like always.

The only thing we can come up with is that either something was pinching or poking somewhere, or the saddle fit is uncomfortable enough with someone's weight on it to make him protest. I've avoided using that saddle with him more due to the length of the skirts (he's so short-backed) than anything else. Don't know if that's what was bothering him, but whatever it was went away when I took the saddle off, so....

In any case, we probably rode 45 minutes to an hour all told. A lot of looping in and out of the ground poles and winding around the pasture - then we tried riding tandem figure eights & took turns playing follow the leader & mirror image for a while. I took some very wobbly video from Sunny's back, and a few blurry pictures (not enough light).

Before we quit, I popped up on Pennie and asked her for a bit of a trot. Not sure if it was the failing light, stiffness, or something else entirely, but it proved difficult to get her out of a walk, although she does have a lot of different speeds at the walk! We'll keep working.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ever have one of those days?

When the sun was out this morning it was beautiful. I was counting down the minutes until I could leave work. We drove out this morning to check on Amyra and counted eight noses head down in the grass. With the dew sparkling in the morning sun, it was very picturesque and pastoral.

By noon the clouds had moved, the temperature was headed down, and the wind was kicking up. Now it's gusting, damp, and chilly. I have a headache and my eyes are itching from something the AC at work was spewing out. It was just a very long day.

I think the ponies are going to get an evening off. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer, windy, and mostly sunshine with a few scattered showers late in the afternoon. A much better prospect, if I trust the weather forecaster. I'm going to gamble and hope he's right.

(And as punishment for not doing horse-work, I'm going to end up doing housework. Oh well, at least laundry doesn't care when I grumble at it!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pennie: Ride 2, part 2

How could I have forgotten - I was so pleased - still am! When the vet arrived he pulled right out into the pasture through the open gate and up to where we were riding.

Remember all those downed trees? Well, the outer pasture gate onto the drive is currently open - the horses are locked out of this pasture for the time being except when we're riding (and the other horses are locked in the lot) - so that G can get the tractor in and out and haul the limbs & trunk pieces off. Since apparently we like to live dangerously, both gates were open while we rode.

When the vet pulled in T hopped off Sunny to take Amyra over for inspection. Sunny, bless his heart, stood steady, feet planted where he'd been left and watched the truck drive in. Flicked his ears, cocked his hip, and didn't even lower his head to graze. I walked Pennie over nearby where I could watch, listen & participate in the conversation. I ended up standing between the two horses, leaning on Sunny's shoulder as she dozed and he spectated like an old hand, while the vet examined Amyra and gave her her shot. Rowdy, flighty A-rabs they certainly were NOT! Big grin.

Before he left the vet caught a glimpse of Pennie's eye and came over to take a closer look. She has a damaged cornea, he said. I know it's an old injury she already had when J bought her, which hasn't gotten any worse. He said it won't get any better, either. She has limited vision on that side, if at all (the vet didn't speculate, although he waved his hand back and forth a few times with no visible response). I've never noticed that it bothers her unduly. She will turn her head to look at you from her other eye sometimes, and I usually talk to her pretty continually so she knows where I am - but I do that with the others, too, so it's not that big a concession.

Well, me for bed, as it's a school night. I really wish there were more hours in the day sometimes!

Pennie: Ride 2

No rain, nothing but some big black, disconnected clouds mixed with nice bright fall sunshine! Which meant I could make riding plans for this evening. Call me a chicken, but I really wasn't up for ride #2 all by myself, cell phone or no, so I wheedled T into going out with me.

Me: "If we can leave work by 4, we'll have two full hours before you have to go bowl...."
T: "Well,...."
Me: "I don't want to ride for long - we'll just be there for an hour or so."
T (who's heard that before - more than once, and knows better): "I don't know... I have some things to finish up, and students who might stop by the office later...."
Me: "We could throw a second saddle in and you could ride Sunny, if you wanted?" Wait a minute, what did I just say?
T: "Hey - that sounds good! I'll see what I can do."

Don't get me wrong, I don't really mind if he rides Sunny... not really. But.... Sunny's my horse - he's used to me, and I've been working on getting him to listen and respond as I like. But T sounded so enthusiastic. So, my options were a) back out, b) have him ride Pennie (er, no!) and c) shut up, and let the man ride my horse. Sigh.

On the plus side, it would give me something else to focus on besides being nervous on Pennie. And as it turned out, it was fine.

But then, we both had plenty to focus on!

I've been graining the horses lightly (a couple cups each) when I call them up, in hopes that they'll reacquire the habit of actually coming when I holler rather than me walking the 1/2 mile to the back pasture to retrieve them. Well, they all came up, but Amyra, T's three-year-old filly was acting a bit odd.

She stuck her nose in the feed pan readily enough, but then backed off and started looking uncomfortable. We kept an eye on her while we groomed & saddled, and when she laid down, called the vet. I don't like messing around with anything that looks like colic. She didn't seem too distressed, but this is not a horse that's bashful about getting her share of the grain.

Rather than not ride at all, we decided T would pony her off Sunny (oh help - now not only is he riding my horse, but ponying off him....), a first for at least two of the three of them. I certainly wasn't going to be so bold as to pony off Pennie. Oh, she'll pony, or at least she used to, but I wanted both hands free - oddly enough!

So, there I was, torn - worry about the balky, possibly colicky mare who could be stopping because she's irritated she's being made to follow, or because she's uncomfortable. Or, worry about the mare I'm on that's not exactly operating on full power steering. Or watch Sunny and worry about what he's going to do with a strange rider who's using only one hand and who's also concentrating on watching the balky mare beyond him. Yeesh!

But you know what - other than Amyra's balkiness and Sunny and T having a few communication issues (T's used to well-broke horses that neck-rein - Sunny's used to, well, me), none of which were serious - everything went pretty smoothly.

The vet arrived, and of course, by that point Amyra seemed fairly perky again. She had good gut sounds in all four quadrants, but he gave her a shot of banamine anyway, and left after telling us to keep an eye on her for a bit. If all continued as she looked then, she would likely be fine.

T & Sunny dragged Amyra 'round the pasture a few more times for practice. Pennie was still a bit resistant and wanted to get back with the other mares, but more settled with company.

After the vet left I paid less attention to the other three - since I'd already survived being distracted, and Pennie'd shown no signs of escalating her resistance, I was more relaxed. And after a couple of good heel-to-ribs thumps when she balked & stiffened her neck, Pennie paid attention and was even beginning to soften, neck-reining through the figure-eights if not exactly effortlessly, at least more smoothly than the plow-reining I was resorting to yesterday.

I never did manage to locate the full-cheek snaffle, but changed out the Myler snaffle for a simple grazing curb with a loosely adjusted leather chinstrap. She was immediately happier with that set-up.

Amyra was trotting around flinging her head at the other mares when we left, so all seemed well there. Sunny looked pleased to have T's greater weight off his back, but not unduly disgusted with his ride. It was interesting watching him respond to T - who was having a heck of a time with my extra-long reins. Both of them were fairly patient even through the mixed signals, and I think given a few more rides, they'll figure each other out.

Overall, I was pleased with Pennie's behavior tonight - maybe tomorrow we'll trot.


Overcast, damp, cool & still, Sunday evening was a great night for sticky heel flies. I'd collected the horses already (having remembered to pick up the salt block, wormer, and some iodine shampoo - well, the last just caught my eye - on the way) when J came out to tell me that the lady who was supposed to come look at Pennie had called. Their calves were out, and she was running late, could she come another evening? No problem.

But since I was there, saddle etc. in tow....
It's been 5 years bare minimum since Pennie has worn a saddle for more than a brief session of leadline around the pasture with J's grand-nieces & nephews. Anticipating nothing more than that, she thoroughly enjoyed the grooming, and slept through being saddled. Evaded the bit slightly on bridling, but generally wasn't concerned.

Since my usual pasture for riding is half covered in downed trees, and Pennie has at best, reduced vision in her left eye, I let her take a good look around before we started.

She was snorty & nervous to be away from the herd. Even though they were right up the hill, she was definitely displeased. This was not how she'd pictured spending her afternoon. Sorry, darling, it wasn't my idea, either!

About 30 seconds after I stepped onto her the first time I got right back off. Maybe in a nicely turned (and fenced) arena, I would have stayed aboard and let her kite around a bit. Maybe. Instead, I retrieved gloves, longe line & dressage whip, and we longed until she'd settled enough to pay attention.

Promising signs - no bucking, no snorting, squealing or charging. She whipped around the circle at a pretty good clip, digging up turf & pulling, but eventually settled into a nicely cadenced trot with up and down transitions in both directions. When her jaw unclamped and she'd whoa & walk on demand, I let her rest a bit before we reviewed transitions in both directions again. All told, she probably circled for about 30-45 minutes. (And if you don't think 24 hour turn-out on a hilly pasture will keep a horse fit, by the time we finished longeing I was wet - it was about 55-60'. Pennie, who was doing most of the work, had damp patches under the saddle, cinch & bridle, and was warm & barely damp to touch on her neck & flanks. No froth, no foam - she wasn't even breathing that hard.)

By this point, she was actually paying attention, so I stepped back on. (And yes, this is definitley a "where's my helmet" moment.) I let her have her head as long as she'd listen to whoa & turn when & where I asked. We walked big loops & figure eights for about 10 minutes, which was enough for the evening.

She has a long, rocking stride, even at a walk. That big hind end is powerful. She didn't seem to much like the Myler comfort snaffle I used, but I'm not sure if that was actual discomfort or simply dislike of the whole riding business. I couldn't locate the full cheek snaffle I think I used with her previously, but I'll have another go at locating it before I ride her next.

Interestingly, her attempts to evade are more side-side head-shaking and stiff-neckedness than nose in the air antics. She has (well, had) a beautiful neck-rein and is good off leg pressure. I wasn't getting that last night, though.I'll longe her again and ride a bit longer tonight if it stays dry. She needs a refresher in "listen" but the basics are there, and there was no thought of a buck to be seen. J took pictures & some video of Pennie on the longe line to send to the prospective buyer - hopefully she's still interested and the escaped cows weren't just a convenient excuse!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tree report

The sun did actually poke its way out from behind the clouds yesterday evening, and I spent about two hours on branch trimming & limb removal. No chainsaw handy, but I did a fair amount with a hacksaw. Of course the sound of sawing brought the herd down off the hill to supervise.
Talked to J - she said loading Thursday evening went well, although she had a hard time saying good-bye. She's had Lace longest of all the mares - I'm still a bit amazed she parted with her at all.

On the plus side, the herd was still up when the trailer arrived, and the woman who picked her up was evidently quite impressed with one of the younger black mares, and with Thunder, so might be back in touch.

J also has a lady coming this afternoon to look at Pennie for her daughter. She's looking for a nice, quiet older mare with good manners that her daughter can start to take lessons on and eventually trail ride with her mom. So she wants to see Pennie caught, ridden, etc. (That would be my job.) Good news - if things go well, and the lady checks out, it sounds like just the type of thing Pennie would excel at.

As for me, my to-do list includes making sure I get tack for Pennie in the truck along with Sunny's, and remembering to pick up a new salt-block and wormer on the way out to the farm. I have new half-chaps I'm wanting to try out, and Sunny hasn't had a good ride in the last week. Who knows, maybe I can even get him to break a sweat!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rainy Days

Well, that's what I deserve for squandering last night's cool calm on the couch with a book, I suppose. But when T rolled out of bed this morning for the start of this month's drill weekend (Army Reserve), the sun was just peeking over the horizon out and it was lovely. The forecast did say 40% chance of rain, but there wasn't any sign of rain!

After the first three loads of laundry on the line there were clouds. And of course it started raining before they were dry enough to bring in. Not hard, but steadily. We can use the moisture, but....

So, instead of tree-trimming (should have headed that way this AM instead of dirty clothes & bathrooms!), I tackled some more postponed housework, baked a couple pies and watched the line sag under wet clothes' dragging weight each time I headed for the back door to let the cat in and out.

For Mabel, two-feets are all doormen to be enlisted as necessary in her continuing quest to always be on the right side of any closed door. And which, you may well ask is the right side? Why, whichever one pleases her at the moment, of course. She's a cat, after all!
"I'm on the wrong side again!"

On the side of accomplishment I can count the pies, bathrooms, laundry, and satisfaction in the warmly insistent, purring lump of cat poised in my lap waiting for me to finish typing and pay her more attention - or open the door again.
Pear Pie

I've never attempted this recipe before. Pie crust is not my favorite thing to make, but since I couldn't find the store-bought ones I thought were in the freezer, I cheated. I can successfully make a cheesy salmon pie recipe. The crust for it is lovely, light and flaky, but thick to counter balance the hearty nature of the dish. I've discovered that if I make one recipe (double crust for the salmon pie) and divide it in four before I roll it out, it makes two double-crusts pies that are light, buttery and flaky and thin enough for dessert-type recipes.

The final result is pretty enough - now hopefully I cut the pears thin enough to bake in the time recommended. Here's hoping it turned out!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cowboy collection alert

Don't you love it when interests intersect? I just discovered that the Library of Congress American Memory project has collection titled Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982.

And I quote:
The Buckaroos in Paradise Collection presents documentation of a Nevada cattle-ranching community, with a focus on the family-run Ninety-Six Ranch. The documentation was largely the work of the Paradise Valley Folklife Project (1978-1982), a research initiative conducted by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. This collection presents 41 motion pictures and 28 sound recordings that tell the story of life and work on the Ninety-Six Ranch and of its cowboys, known in the region as buckaroos. Motion pictures produced from 1945 to 1965 by Leslie Stewart, owner of the Ninety-Six Ranch, are also included. An archive of 2,400 still photographs portrays the people, sites, and traditions on other ranches and in the larger community of Paradise Valley, home to persons of Anglo-American, Italian, German, Basque, Swiss, Northern Paiute Indian, and Chinese heritage. About 2,200 of these photographs were made during the folklife project and about 200 photographs date from 1870 to 1958. Background texts provide historical and cultural context for this distinctive Northern Nevada ranching community.

Browse by subject or search by keyword, and there are also some essays on western life. Some of the film is pretty neat.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Good-bye, Lace, Hello, Mr. Chainsaw

Lace has a new owner. She leaves (unexpectedly) this evening. She's Colorado-bound, but in the meantime will be collected tonight by a friend of her new owner who lives west of here and has a Colorado trip planned later in the month.
ASA Onyx Lace
I'm sad to see her go. She's a lovely little mare with a sweet disposition, and she carried me cheerfully on many a trail ride while I waited on Sunny to get big enough to ride.

Her new owner is quite excited to have located a mare with her bloodlines (she's an ASA Ebony Turk daughter). From what I understand not too many of them are still around. (And since J is determined to downsize the herd before winter, I believe her asking price was a pleasant surprise, too.)

Pick up was originally scheduled for this weekend, but plans changed last night. J called to let me know in case I wanted to say good-bye (of course!) and to ask if I'd mind catching Lace and leaving her in the lot this afternoon when I was out. J doesn't like dealing with the whole herd in the pasture, and was afraid Lace might prove hard to catch if she waited until the trailer was in the driveway.

So... I interrupted the herd's peaceful grazing and brought them all in for a good brushing, just in case J wanted to show them off later.
Star - looking star-like
Not wanting to leave Lace by herself in the lot for 3-4 hours, I left the three senior mares in together.
Foxy, Lace, & Pennie
They look terribly enthused, don't they?

Ordinarily I wouldn't worry about leaving Lace in alone, but no one was going to be around this afternoon, and she'll be calmer and less stressed if she has company. J is comfortable enough dealing with the senior mares, and leaving all three means that when Lace is loaded up to leave, the other two will, hopefully, not panic at being alone and go tearing up through the mess in the alley.

Which brings me to the mess in the alley....Monday's fencing plans were aborted when we arrived at the farm to find see dead trees toppling along the section we'd planned to work. The aftermath isn't pretty.

Thankfully, the guys did drop the trees away from the fences. But they didn't cut them up or haul them away. Which means there are six or seven large tree skeletons in the alley and one of the pastures. And of course, several of them landed smack across the horses' preferred track in to the lot for water.

But did the fact that they are walking into and through Deadfall City phase them? Nope. Rather than walk around the trees along fence where there's a perfectly clear aisle left open....they prefer to walk smack through the middle of branch-land.

J was afraid that they wouldn't come in for water through the trees. Huh. Yep, they look terrified.
When I turned the rest of the crew loose they headed straight up into the thick of it to see if they could nibble any grass from underneath.

So now I'm the paranoid one, thinking about one of them poking an eye out on something. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow evening and this weekend? Yup. Tree debris clean-up. I broke off some of the nastier limbs this afternoon, but it's going to take more than one pair of hands (and fewer four-footed assistants!) to make much progress.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Somebody likes me!

It never ceases to amaze that I have readers :) You guys rock! And now, thanks to Latigo Liz over at Cowgirl Up I have this nifty award to display, too! And I'm going to share.

In no particular order, here are a few of the ladies whose blogs I've come to look forward to seeing updated...
And I'm reserving the right to nominate a couple more down the road as I come to know and grow fond of them, as well!

Of course, nothing in life comes stringless, so here are the rules:
  1. The winner can put the logo on her blog.
  2. Link the person from whom you received your award.
  3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
  4. Put links of those blogs on your blog.
  5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you have nominated.
As has been already pointed out, some of those that share a gabby, horse-y bent have already been nominated - and it's great to be in your company. I don't know about you all, but reading everyone's horse-related adventures brightens up those days that I don't get to spend any time out with the four-feets.

And somebody's always horsing around somewhere. So thanks for sharing!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Long weekend

Long weekends are highly appreciated around here - three days mainly free from "paycheck" work mean extra time to get caught up on housework, farm work, and sleep.

This one had a sad beginning, though. M flew out Saturday morning early.
I took a few pictures at the airport, unfortunately, no one was wearing very happy faces.... The best I captured just looked odd. He made it back to CT without incident, however, and has been calling to give us updates on what he's had for supper, where he's been, and what his friends have been doing.
Saturday afternoon we decided it was time to tackle a postponed fencing project. New wire needs to go up on one of the cross pasture fences, and I wanted to get T-post tops on, too. There were some downed limbs to be moved, and some holes to be filled in.

Of course, since the fencing stuff was in a bucket, we very shortly had an attentive audience.
Star was fairly sure that she should get first crack at whatever munchies might be in the offing. Silly girl.
After they'd tipped the bucket over and determined there wasn't actually anything edible in it, they were content to just hang out and keep an eye on us.

We'll put in some new T-posts and stretch wire today. Gates will wait for the weekend, I think.
This morning T and I went adventuring. He's been anxiously awaiting the day when the elderberries were ripe, and lo-and-behold, the day's arrived.
To get to them we only had to wade through a few thistles....
But there were also plenty of these lovely sunny faces for encouragement.
I brought a big bunch home for the kitchen table.

Now I'm being paged for fencing, so more later....