Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's the last week of the year...

I'm still not sure what happened to 2009...

All at the farm was peaceful when I was finally able to get there on Sunday.

Saturday the roads were still completely blown shut . Sunday was better, although the country roads had not been plowed (at least by the county) yet. My first attempt was a failure that almost had me - with the BIG truck - stuck in the middle of the road. The snow had blown a solid three feet deep for about a half mile stretch, and I couldn't tell how deep it actually was until I hit it.

Check it out - there's still dirt down there!

Luckily, four wheel drive and the fact that I hadn't gotten too far in saved me. I backed up until I finally reached a driveway and was able to turn around.

I'd no sooner gotten home than J called and said the roads to the south were open. A neighbor had plowed his way out, and G had their drive cleared enough to be passable.

He was still clearing paths out to the cow bales with the tractor when I got there, so I manned gates for a bit, and then grabbed a shovel and made sure the grain bin would open and the gates would close.

The horses can usually go through that passageway out to pasture - not at the moment. The drift is too deep.

They didn't seem to mind, though.

Monday we actually had sunshine. M & T walked along the drive treebelt with the .22 looking for rabbits (no luck) while I spread hay. The horses had the winter zoomies and raced around being silly for a bit.

Watching the hunters

What are they up to?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Driveway update

Whew! The driveway is now clear, at least behind the Blazer. The plows did a number on the driveway, but after some more shoveling, and thanks in part to a kind neighbor and his snowblower, I can get out if I need to. (And thanks to him, the drive wasn't blocked with a lot more snow. He was outside when the plows went by and he knows the guy driving the final snowplow - there were three of them lined up one behind the other - thanks to D, the driver didn't make the last swath across our two drives, just the first two, which was MORE than plenty - LOL.)

I had about half the distance shoveled when D finished his driveway and came over to give me a hand. We didn't clear behind the red truck, but I should have help with that tomorrow, so it shouldn't be too bad.

Blazer clear, after I'd shoveled out a walking strip to the garbage cans I tackled the icy pile covering the front walk and managed to get a path chopped through it. Ugh. Hopefully it will stay clear, but my guess is the plows'll be back to "clean up" the intersections and it'll be packed back full of ice & crap in the morning.

Snow yesterday, snow today...

Not a wordless Wednesday, but maybe a speechless Saturday? Nah.

I haven't been able to get out of the driveway since Thursday afternoon, but the report from the farm is that the horses are weathering the storm just fine.

I've been occupying myself cleaning, cooking, reading, and putting up with velcro-cats (they seem to have decided that since I'm here, I must be sat upon by one of them at all times).

A few storm pics:
This was the view down the back steps yesterday
I'd shoveled the whole walk clear the evening before.

The steps this morning.

The drift behind the cars was as high
as the top of the tailgate on the red truck.

But the UPS guy's footprints from last Wednesday
are still perfectly visible on
the one strip of pavement the wind kept clear.

The house sits on a corner - in front of us is one of the city's emergency routes, which means it's been plowed constantly. They just now finally got around to plowing the north-south street that the driveway opens onto, however.

Which means that they've left a car-width deep, waist-high ridge of frozen snow chunks for me to remove before I can get the Blazer out onto the street. And they also just plowed a huge mound onto the sidewalk at the corner. Said sidewalk was previously cleared. And as the homeowners we can be fined by the city for not providing a walkable sidewalk. Grrrr! This is just one of the reasons I HATE living in town.

T and the kids are on their way back from Kansas where they've been sitting through their portion of the blizzard. They were supposed to be back Christmas eve, but best laid plans... I suspect they'll end up staying south of the SD border tonight, as the roads are still reportedly impassable. But hopefully they'll be here in the morning, we'll get to have Christmas, and the cats can attach themselves to someone else - LOL!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To friends and family,
pets, of course - and strangers, too.
To all God's creatures great and small:

Hope you're somewhere warm and safe
out of the wind and weather,

to you all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Almost-Christmas Reminiscence

Jennifer over at Braymere Custom Saddler (she does really neat custom model tack - check it out, if you have a moment!) posted last week about a pony ride - complete with pictures of fuzzy adorable ponies. Scrolling down the page sent me on a trip down memory lane.

When I was oh, eight or ten maybe (?) my dad and I were visiting my grandmother in Iowa for a week or so around the 4th of July. The town where she lived was having its version of Frontier Days - a Rendezvous had taken over the downtown square and surrounding streets.
For those of you not familiar with Rendezvous, they're sort of combination street fairs/flea market with people dressed in period clothing doing traditional tasks like weaving, carding, blacksmithing, etc., and selling their wares.

I was fascinated by the knife and ax throwing competitions, but what really had me loitering longingly was the pony ride. We'd been in town for a week, and while I had cousins around, I missed my pony. I was too big to ride these particular ponies - they were more of the Shetland variety - but still, they were cute, fuzzy, had that pony smell... The ride wasn't too busy, and the man working the ride let me rub their foreheads and scritch along their necks while they stood there waiting for paying customers. They wuffled my shirt, and I remember wishing I'd brought an apple or something along.

After my dad and grandmother had looked around enough, we all walked back to my grandmother's house a few blocks from from Main Street. But I couldn't stop thinking about those ponies. I was too big to ride them, and I didn't have any money anyway, but surely no one would mind if I walked back and just petted the ponies some more. I was old enough to walk to the grocery store alone, and the ponies weren't much farther than that. More importantly, no one had said I couldn't go back by myself...
I don't remember consciously thinking that it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, but it wouldn't surprise me if the thought crossed my mind.

After a quick check to make sure my dad and Gramma were still occupied inside, I slipped off the porch and down the street back to the pony ride.

When I got there the man was just rotating out the ponies for a new set, so without thinking twice I started helping. Oddly (in hindsight) he didn't say a word as I adjusted halters and loosened cinches on the group finishing their shift and brushed out manes and tales. I don't know how long it was before my dad appeared to retrieve me. I do remember that I was standing with my nose pressed into pony mane, rubbing the little bay's withers.

My dad apologized for me being a bother, and the man just shrugged.

"She was no trouble. Seemed to know not to get under their feet."

You know, I didn't even get in trouble. It was like my dad knew that those ponies were an irresistible magnet as far as I was concerned. Or maybe he was just so relieved that I hadn't been snatched off the street - although people didn't worry too much about that in those days... and besides, my folks always said any kidnappers that grabbed me would return me quick enough. In any case, he just told me to stay in the yard if I was going to be outside, and that was the end of it.

The pony ride wasn't there the next day, to my great disappointment.

Winter Wonderland

The good news this morning (for this area, at least) was that the storm track shifted further east, and we're no longer in the 2' range. Maybe a foot, although the 40 mph winds are still on the slate. Today was still windy, but was only gusting to around 35 mph.

Coupled with the four inches or so of light fluffy snow it did make clearing the walks sort of pointless. Good exercise, but still pointless. And of course when I got home the plows had been through and I got to re-shovel that, as well... Hey, that means I can eat more cookies! Knew there had to be a silver lining in there somewhere-LOL!

I headed out around noon after getting the driveway and sidewalk (temporarily) cleared. We had a brief break in the storm and the wind actually died down for a bit. Taking a rest to switch directions, but the respite was welcome.

The trees were coated with snow on one side - the other side of the tree belt was completely blown clean. But except for a few snow creepers started, the roads were pretty decent, and I only needed to kick in the 4-wheel for a few of the streets in town.

The horses had cleaned up the extra hay I distributed yesterday, and were enjoying afternoon naps. They had icicles dripping from their manes, tails, even their eyelashes.

And a couple of them had some seriously nasty wind tangles. Too much ice in the mix to get them cleaned up today, though.

More hay and some scritches, and I headed off to pick up some last minute stocking stuffers for the kids. Crossing my fingers I can make it out tomorrow!

Merry Christmas Eve to you all,
four-foots included, of course!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I want for Christmas?

Well, it sure wasn't a blizzard!

It doesn't look like much here, and I made it home this afternoon without too much trouble in spite of the freezing drizzle, but the rest of the family is stuck in Kansas until the weather clears up. I was crossing my fingers all the way home that the farm owners would decide to postpone their travel plans, as we were to be feeding everything this weekend. Thankfully, they did.

Since the current prediction is between 18" and 2' - yes, that's two FEET - of snow by Saturday a.m. (along with winds to 40 mph, it should be just fun, fun, fun!), I was contemplating just staying out there rather than trying to navigate the drifts between here and there. Glad to know they'll be home and I don't have to worry about sheep stuck in snow banks!

A momentary pause here to be extremely grateful
the horses' waterer is available and working!

Not too sure what tomorrow is going to bring drivability-wise, I filled hay bunks and rolled in a couple additional ones and filled them, too, as well as making sure that the bale feeder itself was full. If I can make it out tomorrow morning I'll make the rounds and restock the low ones. Otherwise they'll have to make do with feeding from the bale.

Then was down to shmooze a bit with the four feets. The wind this afternoon was out of the northeast - not a direction we ordinarily see. And it was blowing along a lovely ice mist that stopped just shy of being drizzle. Tucked away out of the wind behind the north tree grove the horses were remarkably dry and seemed toasty warm in their winter coats. And they were quite prepared to socialize. After hanging out for a while making the rounds rubbing bellies and wishing them Merry Christmas, they trailed me back up and dug in to their hay.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Waterer is open for business!

Thanks everyone for your kind words & thoughts regarding our watering situation. Believe it or not, five days later the vet had still not reappeared to fix/drag 0ff/collect his chute. Giant black mark, in my book! Granted, he's not a horse vet, but still - Hello! you'd think he'd have a little consideration for the rest of the four-footed world, wouldn't you?

I was really stressing over what to do about the water situation, as I'm back up here and T was heading down south for a few days, and I've heard "well, they can eat snow" from the farm owners on occasion before. Thankfully, G was on board with "the horses need water" line of thinking. T headed out early this a.m. and with the (newly returned - HOORAY) big tractor, he and G dragged the chute out of the way.

Whew! That also means bales can be moved and I can panic over something else (like the fact that T's ex is visiting over Christmas....). Ah well. At least that's just a people thing and doesn't involve possible colic and death! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When life is exciting...

I usually wish it wasn't. Boring is good! November was nice. Than it got cold. Initially, that wasn't so bad. The ponies ate hay and put up with my silliness.

But the sub-zero temps have been hard on equipment. Two tractors and the skid loader at the farm cocked their toes up. The tractors went down first - the skid loader, after a week or better of tugging round bales about, started spewing hydrolic fluid and died. They came yesterday to winch it onto a trailer and haul it off to be fixed.

T, bless his heart, has been feeding the horses the part of the week that I'm in Aberdeen, so he was the one who got to load the back of the pick-up with hay down at the bales and haul it to the horses.

As if the tractors weren't bad enough (and it wasn't just the horses needing hay - there's also the 200+ sheep & the cows, so little wonder the skid loader quit), the vet was out to castrate calves on Thursday. Working calves involves closing the horses out of the upper lot. Usually not an issue, as it doesn't take more than a few hours.

Unfortunately, the cold weather wasn't done claiming victims, and the hydrolics on the chute went. And unless we're working on the second three, that was unlucky event #4! Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.

But the chute, sans lifting power and sans tractors evidently couldn't be moved, either. The good news? The sheep & cattle can all still get to the waterer which is behind the chute. The bad news? Yep, you guessed it. The horses can't.

That little blue bit back there? That's the waterer.

And that's where the chute's parked. Smack in the way.

So we're doing the bucket routine - hopefully - temporarily. Which of course meant we first had to find the big buckets, and one of them had to be patched. This was the quick fix. It's amazing what you can do with electrical tape. As T said, it's not quite duct tape & baling wire, but it's up there.

But the horses are happy & healthy, and that's the important thing, after all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not-a-Friday Book Review

What with my weird work schedule and all the driving back and forth, I've sort of lost track of Friday book reviews. Too, I really hadn't read anything horse-related enough to qualify. But one of the to-be-reviewed books on my plate for next year's YARP list qualifies. And thankfully, although I had a few initial doubts, I can actually recommend this one. Maybe not for older teens, but for horse-crazy pre-teens? It wouldn't be a bad stocking stuffer.

Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan
Orphaned early, Maya is one of those poor little rich girls who have almost everything they need except love. Only childhood pictures of her father are permitted. All Maya has left of her mother is a box full of plastic horses and one photo rescued from her grandmother's effort to destroy all traces of her mother and father's life together. But when a stroke claims her grandmother, Maya discovers her mother's family not only isn't a batch of illiterate pig farmers, but actually wants her. In Wyoming she has aunts, uncles, and even a cousin - and there are horses!

Rather better than I expected after a slightly sappy opening. The parts featuring Maya are very readable. The parts featuring Artemisia (the mare) are a bit over the top. The behavior described may be horse behavior, but it's too anthropomorphic for my taste - might be right up the alley of a ten-year-old, though. And Maya's ultimately a likeable, understandable young heroine.
On a one to ten scale? I'd probably give it a 6 or so. It wouldn't stand up to the challenge of Firehorse, Serilda's Star, or the Bonnie books by Pat Johnson, but horse-crazy kids devour pretty much anything featuring a high mane & hoof quotient, and this one will fill the something-new bill nicely.

Bad Hair Days

Isn't that a face? All I can say is, don't ever let the sheep trim your hair, no matter how talented they claim to be!

And leave it to Sunny to be the only one to let himself be barbered. On one end, his tail is actually touching the ground. Now from the side he looks sort of like somebody grabbed his tail and pulled until his forelock got shorter. Doofus!

By the way, thanks for sharing your favorite winter warming items. Flannel-lined pants sure do sound grand this a.m. Yesterday was close to 60', but we had high winds to match the temp. Between the flying grit and the hunters next door blasting away, I groomed & hung out with the horses, but didn't ride. This morning it's still, but also chilly, foggy, and bitter. and it's already nearly noon, so I'm not holding out much hope for a warm-up. I guess if it was spring it'd seem balmy, right?

Speaking of hunters and deer - if this one isn't thumbing his nose....

We spotted this guy on our way back from Kansas last weekend. (That trip? Long story - don't ask.)

The orange sign?

It reads:
Wildlife Refuge...

Obviously, Kansas deer get a better education that SD deer, because T's tallied three so far this weekend. The freezer will, indeed, be full of venison. And not to worry, it will all get eaten, too!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Long sleeves & snuggly things

- Non-horse-related except in the most general way -

It's fall, and it's chilly, so layering is in order. In case you're like me, and you like a tank top and a long-sleeved shirt under your turtleneck, sweater, vest and down jacket (okay, so it's not quite that cold yet, but it's getting close!), I have a recommendation.

GAP is having a sale on their favorite-fit long sleeved T-shirts. I'm not usually a GAP-girl, but I have to admit I absolutely love these. They're all cotton, so they're really soft, tagless so they don't itch, and they come in tall - which I really appreciate! They're actually long enough not to ride up my arms or come untucked when I'm riding or working (that's the horse-related bit :) ), but not so long that there's fabric enough for a short dress shoved down my waistband - I HATE that! They're also fitted enough to be comfortably snug but not too tight, so they don't make me feel like I'm being squeezed to death or constantly having to adjust them under a sweatshirt or sweater.

They go on sale periodically, and right now they're $12.50. (If you buy a kid's or baby item, they're an extra 15% off if you enter GAP4YOU in the promo code box when you check out.)

What's your favorite winter/cold weather staple?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rabies shots & de-botting

This weekend's excitement did not, needless to say, end up including riding. Sunday T and J sighted in their rifles for the upcoming hunting-trip-with-horses west river (that's South Dakota west of the Missouri, for you non-South Dakotans.)

And may I take this opportunity to say... Run, Bambi, Run!!
(Just not very loudly around the hunters - LOL)
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not against hunting, and I love venison. But if the two of them get all of the deer they have tags for, I'm seriously going to have to track down a new-to-me freezer, because the one above the fridge and the one in the garage just aren't gonna do it.
So in preparation for the trip and because of a few recent skunk-spottings at the vet's, Rufus got a rabies shot. He was very good about it, as usual. And we stuck around afterwards to help them worm and de-bot fly egg the horses and get bridlepaths clipped in. Rufus doesn't mind clippers, either - also good to know.

After a couple of hours with a very dull bot knife, I have to ask - what's your preferred method for getting the little yellow suckers detached?

Here are a few that work, but there are drawbacks....
  • Bot knives - clog with dirt () and if they're dull, removing anything is really tedious
  • I've seen people use clippers - which works as long as you don't mind rough-looking patches on your horse's winter coats, but it's easy to take a bit too much off and end up with bald patches. I know, I know - but I don't clip enough to get good at it!
  • I've used a pumice stone-like block thing with works okay, but it's also fairly crumbly and not really leg-friendly
  • My best luck has been with a serrated butter or steak knife. If you can find one with a dull/round end, so you aren't in danger of stabbing your horse or yourself.
  • I think I heard somewhere that you can soak them off with warm water - but since it's a bit chilly here for bathing by the time I usually get around to bot egg removal, I haven't tried it. Anyone tried that?
And can I just say, as the owner of three sorrel (yeah, yeah, I know, they're Arabs, so they're chestnut - Sheesh!) horses, you buckskin and palomino horse owners? You sure must have a lot of patience, because those bot eggs are camoflaged waaaay too well for my taste.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Deer and mud ponies

Somewhere around the 22nd of October the weather man reported that we'd had fourteen days of rain so far in the past month. The remainder of October didn't have much more to offer in the way of sunshine.

Hello, Mud Ponies!
On the last day of Octber - Happy Halloween! - Sunny was definitely in need of some serious de-mudding. Thankfully, he's not wind-tangle prone, or I'd be doing that, as well. But November appears to be starting out bright and sunny and surprisingly mild. I'm hoping for a ride this afternoon.

Last Sunday we did get everyone wormed, in spite of the distraction provided by some pheasant hunters walking the fenceline to the south. We could see and hear the blockers - the ones along the fence - quite well even from three pastures over, and the cows and sheep all headed up in our direction as far as their fences allowed.

They weren't the only things flushed out and scampering away.
These two deer, this year's fawns, from the look of them, have been hanging out in the tree grove closest to the barns.
They have a regular path worn down to the horses' salt block, and are comfortable enough with the sound of people to come down and browse about while we were carrying on a normal-voiced conversation.
We see them a fair amount out in the pasture as well.
Sometimes they run - the first one was already well over the fence and gone by the time I got my camera out - and sometimes they look at us all big-eared and wide-eyed and just trot off leisurely.

T, of course, is salivating waiting for hunting season....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hunting season, frogs, dead birds & Sunny gets a new winter blanket

Hunting season and harvest have both started. This line of trucks stretched over a mile out from the elevator last Monday morning.
In spite of the fact that we had snow just last week, the itty bitty creatures of the forest are still out and about.

Orange-hatted pheasant hunters are cruising the back roads in search of pheasants. Word is that the hunting locally isn't that great yet - in spite of the line of grain trucks, not enough of the harvest is in to have the birds appearing in any great numbers. We had at leat 5 cars troll past about 10 mph while we were out with the horses this afternoon. In spite of the fact that everything's clearly posted "NO ROAD HUNTING - LIVESTOCK PRESENT" they still look - at least until they see people standing around staring at them.
I suspect that this fellow was a road-hunter casualty. He was laying along the fence in the lower horse lot. He's not the big hawk we've seen hanging out on the fence posts along the road lately, at least I hope he isn't. I picked removed him so the cats & dog (not to mention the horses) wouldn't nose him - or eat him - just in case he was sick and not shot.

The horses have all put on their winter coats. I haven't ridden in three weeks - a combination of weather and hunters. I was really hoping to get out and ride this weekend (and maybe I will yet tomorrow). I have a new saddle pad combination to try out with Sunny. A Cashel 3/4" foam pad and a 1/4" felt liner pad for underneath. Fingers crossed!

And Equestrian Collections had a really good blanket sale going on, so I ordered a new turnout. We don't generally blanket at all in the winter, but I like having a couple of good waterproof blankets on hand just in case. And T is still planning on going deer-hunting west river in late November. They'll ride in and camp, and as cold as it gets, Rufus may appreciate having a cozy new blanket by then.

Hopefully, I'll have a Sunny-wearing-a-blanket pic tomorrow. I had the camera in my pocket today, but I remembered it was there after I'd already had the blanket on, off, and Sunny was back out in the pasture. He was not thrilled about the rustling noise the waterproofing on the blanket was making.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Say it's not... snow!

October 9th, and I drove home in a snowstorm. Bleh!

By the time i got home and changed and we headed do the evening critter check, it had just started to stick to the road edges.

After we counted noses, grained one batch of sheep and verfied that all the waterers were still operational, we went on over to see about Rufus.

Rufus and his bucket
His abscess is much better, and I think this was probably his last round in hot water and Epsom salts.

Belly rubbin's

This morning we happily hadn't gotten as much snow as they predicted, but it was still plenty cool at only 23'.

The ponies were happy to see us, and I was happy to see that the woolly winter coats they're sporting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weekend/Rufus update

We're farm-sitting - well, I helped for the weekend. Sheep to feed and waterers to check for the sheep, cows & horses. It was rainy on Friday, just drooling down in cold, windy strings all day. Bleh!

Saturday was better, but no time to ride. The horses are looking round and starting to get their winter coats. They were happy to see us, and happier still that the bugs have mostly died off now that it's getting chilly.

Sunday was grey and damp but not too windy, and we made plans to ride in the late afternoon with J. Simplest plan was to load up Rufus and Buddy and trailer over to the farm so I could ride Sunny. We helped J, who'd been fencing all weekend, finish up his last gate, caught horses, and loaded up.
Rufus's abcess is healing nicely. In addition to the soaks in warm water, Epsom salts and iodine, he's been wearing a boot on that foot. The boot gets 4 4x4" gauze pads layered in it soaked with iodine so that it will squish up into the drainage hole when he walks. He hasn't taken an off step since the abscess drained, and isn't sore to pressure, which is good. On the other hand, he has a heel bruise either from the boot or from over-reaching, so it's back to soaking for that....
Anyway, we loaded up and headed out but at the second stop sign J got a call out. Rather than go on over and leave Buddy tied to the trailer while we road, we just circled around and headed back to J's.

T and I figured we have a short ride, staying close so that if J's call went quickly, he could still ride with us. Sure enough, he reappeared in time to catch another horse. His daughter came home from decorating the high school for their homecoming dance and saddled up as well.

Buddy vs. Sunny
I've mentioned the size difference, haven't I? Simply put, Buddy dwarfs Sunny. And at no time is that more clear than when mounting. Holy smokes... I'm so glad I have a short horse!

Turning Buddy is like turning a Cadillac. Don't get me wrong, he's not stiff or boggy. And he'll pivot right around in one spot. But the spot has to be a bit bigger.

And trees? Well, let's just say that watching for low hanging limbs was a priority in more than one place!

I'm also not used to a horse that... placid? He was definitely awake and watching for things. He didn't spook at the deer or at the pheasants flying up, and kept close track of where the dog was at all times. His ears were swiveling around listening to us talk, etc. But there wasn't the bright alertness that Sunny telegraphs when I'm riding him. It was sort of odd having a horse mosey along feeling so relaxed.

And while Sunny can do turtle-speed with the best of them, he's so much shorter coupled that he always feels like he's moving faster. Buddy's so much longer that he can walk more slowly and still keep up with the group. It was sort of like driving a very quiet car after driving an old noisy one - you keep wanting to press on the accelorator until the noise level reaches what you're used to - LOL!

Buddy has gears. Sunny doesn't really rate well at the lope. Getting slow, medium and gallop isn't a dependable thing - something I really need to work on more. Faster is not a problem, but slowing back down can be interesting. Buddy has all three speeds and a few more, and I had fun experimenting. And he has a great stop. Of course, he's been roped off a fair amount, so that's not a big surprise.

It was fun to ride Buddy, and I'm glad I got the chance to compare - and to ride at all this weekend - but I'm getting kind of anxious to do a bit of riding on my own pony!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Did I mention the coyote?

No, I see I didn't - can't believe I forgot to mention the coyote!

Sunday's ride included a slight bit of bushy-tailed excitement. We were trotting right along, Sunny in the lead, down a two-track lane with a bit of grassy verge separating it from a barbwire fence on the right and a big, recently harvested field to the left. It was blowing to beat the band, enough so that you couldn't hear the person behind you unless he or she shouted (or rode really close).

The horses were all prick-eared and interested - strange place, wind, etc. All of a sudden this small furry thing popped out of the grass just ahead shot off into the underbrush. Sunny sort of levitated to a stop - just hung in the air briefly, eyeing the thing streaking across the grass in front of him, then settled right back into his trot. There was barely time for the guy behind me to yell, "Coyote!" and it was gone - disappearing under the barbwire and into the underbrush.

He couldn't have been more than 15' in front of Sunny's nose, and when we passed the spot were he'd been there was a neat little round circle pressed into the grass - must have been a favorite napping spot!

J, the vet, who was right behind me - the one who yelled - said it was one of the healthiest coyotes he's seen in quite a while: nice coat, no mange. I know ranchers don't like them, but where I grew up in MI there wasn't much call for hunting them. Less ranching there, and lots more trees than people made for good denning conditions, so we'd hear them sing and yip most nights and occasionally see them crossing the field in front of the house. But this is the closest I've been to one in a very long time.

I honestly would have expected it to be bigger, but from the back of a moving horse, at least, it looked pretty small - about the size of a smallish cocker spaniel, maybe.

Anyway, I was quite proud of Sunny for not being phased when it jumped and ran in front of us. Although I suppose he's probably familiar with coyotes as there are dens of them out in the back pastures where the cows are, so maybe that's not such a surprise.

That one lone coyote, a distant jack rabbit sighting, and a couple of hen pheasants where all the wildlife we scared up the whole ride. Too much wind for even the wildlife to be out and about, I guess.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, Sunday...

Would have been the day to take pictures, but I needed both hands. We headed out early at the vet's where Rufus is staying. The farrier had agreed to come by and put shoes on him then, as he'd run out of time earlier in the week. Rufus has been sore-footed on the gravel lately, and Saturday when we stopped to check on him he was a bit camped out in front. Sure enough, the farrier found a tiny abscess blowing up from a stone bruise.

Other than that, he complimented Rufus on having very good feet. With the abscess pressure relieved and a shoe on, Rufus was a whole new horse. (Somehow, I don't think it's fair that T's turn at the foot-soaking penicillin routine comes in the nice weather, though - Sunny's nail incident was January and the warmest it got was 5' that whole two weeks!)

With Rufus shod, we hooked up the trailer and collected Sunny. Then it was back to the vet's to sort calves off cows. We saddled for that, and Sunny was a trooper. I was interested to see his reaction, as he's been pastured with cows but I've never actually chased anything with him.

He caught on quick - no idea if he'd actually be cowy, but he was definitely all for making them run away, and tracked after stragglers with every indication of interest and enjoyment.

After we finished working cows we loaded up and headed down to ride along the James River a bit east.

Did I mention the wind was blowing around 35 mph (sustained) with gusts into the 45-50 mph range? No need to worry about no-see-ums today! The wind actually wasn't a problem, but Sunny's lack of withers was.

Grrrr... I really thought I had the saddle thing nailed finally, as he's been working comfortably in this saddle/pad combination all summer. But we haven't tackled any really big descents, and the first long downhill with any kind of slope to it, it was really apparent that he wasn't comfortable. The saddle doesn't slide forward badly, but it moves enough to bind under his front legs, and I can't cinch any tighter. I think there's going to be a crupper in his future....

So I did a bit more walking than I planned, but at least I got my exercise for the day. The other three careened up and down the draws and generally had a good time. We skirted the edges and Sunny got a lesson in being lone horse. Not that he cared much. He was pretty sure he knew where the trailer was, and didn't really mind the rest being out of sight. We did get a couple of nice loping stretches in, and determined that Sunny can stretch out and trot as fast or faster than the QHs with us could lope.

Truly funny? Buddy, the vet's big QH must stand 16.2 - I used a height/weight tape on him last time we wormed Rufus, but on dirt, so it's only ballpark.

Sunny's all of 15-15.2 on a tall day.

So loading them in the trailer two by two, and Sunny's in next to Buddy, who's a good 4-6 inches taller, and a good two feet longer. Sunny looked like he shrunk in the wash - either that, or Buddy had a Mini-Me, as they're both bright red chestnuts.

Once a weekend...

Is starting to be a habit! I really need to do a better job of posting from home, because posting from up here is no fun.

No weekend pics, although it wasn't from a lack of exciting going's on. Friday I only checked on the four-feets. They were fine, and informed me that they were quite happy eating, thank you - lol! I was pleased to find that none of them had (at least then) new wind tangles.

Saturday was another head-counting day with no riding - too bad, too, as it was beautiful and still. The horses were all up under the loafing tree dozing, but after I woke them and then stopped to chat with the farm owner, they headed out to pasture.

Chatting involved leaving the nice bare spot under the tree and stepping into the yard. Mistake! No-see-ums. At least that's what I grew up calling them. They're not gnats, they're tinier. And they're in the grass usually on hot sticky still days. Well, it wasn't sticky, but it was hot & still, and in about 60 seconds I was covered.

And it took just about that long for the horses to discover that the pasture was also infested. Somebody snorted, somebody did the all-over-body shake and suddenly the whole herd was off at a lope around the perimeter and back up into the lot and then down to slide to a stop back under the tree.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Don't fear the tractor...

A new bale for the cows...

Standing up the hill by the gate as T started the tractor I could see the black cow-dots popping up over the hill at the first sputter of the engine - by the time we headed down to deposit the first bale they were all collected at the gate waiting.

And the horses
Don't guess fear of the tractor was a problem -
more like don't get run over
by the tractor!

I thought for a minute Eyore,
having escaped flattening-by-tractor
by the fuzz on his hairy little ears,
was going to get his head stuck underthe bale.

Finally, for your,
"Oh man, what a thing to do
to a poor defenseless horse!
moment of the day.

Thunder - so not an enthusiastic Mizzou fan.