Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekend well-wrapped

It was -17' when we went out to feed on Sunday a.m. Wrapped doesn't begin to cover the layers I was wearing. By afternoon the temp was 17' on the positive side - amazing the difference.

And we'll be doing it again next weekend. Which will be one more week closer to spring. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Farm watch weekend

On the good news end of things at the farm, the tractor was back up and running last Tuesday, which meant no more hauling small bales and that G's cows could move back out where they belong, ending the livestock juggling act he'd been doing to make sure everything had access to feed and water. The ponies are very content with their new bale.

We fed critters for friends this weekend. Cows, horses, dog, cats. It's a much more pleasant task in the summer, although I don't mind doing it at any season.

But winter means bale-moving. And Friday night dealing with the often tractor turned what should have taken 45 minutes into a three hour marathon.

The entertainment started Friday a.m. at O-dark:thirty when, after we finally got it to crank, the power steering was frozen up. Since we needed it to actually TURN, that didn't bode well. At well below zero and still dark, I lobbied for trying again in the afternoon - the cows were okay, plenty of water and enough bale remains to scavenge for the day. And the weatherman said it we were going to have a heatwave - relatively speaking - nearly 20'.

At 4 p.m. and 17', the power-steering was cooperative, but it was too soon to celebrate. Unfortunately, the hydraulics weren't. No three-bar lift, no claw. Nothing doing. We let it run to see if maybe warming it up would help. Finally, after two hours in the cold monkeying with one thing after another - we could hear the pump trying - it finally whined slowly into action. Sluggish, but a start - the diagnosis? Low on hydraulic fluid, although it wasn't showing as low. Probably some water in the lines somewhere, but at least it was working.

Of course, by that time it was dark. The tractor doesn't have lights, and the bales are 1/2 mile down the road aligned along the fence in the hay field. The drive to which is completely drifted in.

I gave T my headlamp and waited by the cattle pasture gate with the big Maglite stuck in my sleeve and my hands buried under my arms, hopping up and down periodically to keep warm. At least the moon was nice and bright.

Looking down the hill I could see the shadow of the tractor, tiny light atop it blinking in and out of view as T checked for tracks to follow. Turning off the road... coming to a sudden stop, engine revving, and then a lovely streamer of sparks heading skyward. Ummm... bad word, bad word, did the engine just blow? No, I can still hear it running, say a prayer or two and cross my fingers, hop up and down some more... Hooray! It seems to be moving again.... Half an hour later he chugged back up the hill with a bale on both ends, trailed by a line of cows along the fence. The ladies were hungry!

They barely let us get a bale dropped and the strings cut before they were attacking it.

The horses were just as eager to dig into their new bale the next morning.

It being daylight (and slightly warmer), it was a lot easier to navigate.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Here we snow again"

I just love it when The Weather Channel gets cute, don't you? It's 0' and snowing. But it's 55' and sunny in the Petrified Forest Nat'l Park. T-shirt weather!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thing update

Two new batteries and the big truck fired right up. The diagnosis on the Blazer? They couldn't find anything wrong, but they cleaned a bunch of sensors, filters and the fuel lines. They couldn't get it to die, or to pull up any error codes. Rather than start replacing things it might be, they said drive it and see if there's still a problem. I do like mechanics that don't find "problems" every time you get the oil changed or hear a random noise. (Although T says they just like me because I hear a lot of random noise. I told him he's right - in more ways than one - LOL!)

The tractor was still down yesterday, but at least small squares are easy to haul.

The cows will need new bales pretty soon, too, though, so hopefully G will get it up and running today.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's on your lap?

Meet Nunu, who sheds on my keyboard, squawks at me when I type too energetically, and expands immediately to fill any unoccupied space as soon as I move the laptop. She's my lap cat.
I say mine, because she'll sleep next to T's shoulder on the back of the couch, but it's me she sleeps on. She greets me at the door on Thursday evening with a bounce and whirl that demands compliance: "Come sit down and make a lap!" she chirps at me. "Hurry up!"

She likes it much better when I read.
Books don't take up near as much space.


Events happen in threes, right? So depending on how it's counted, we're either one above or two below the pattern at the moment.

Thing #1: The big truck died on Wednesday night - finger's crossed it just needs new batteries, but jumping didn't get it started, we'll get them swapped this afternoon.

Thing #2: T's been sick all week with some sort of stomach bug that started last weekend (which is why the truck is still sitting at work, since I didn't get home until last night). Doc couldn't see him yesterday, so he ended up in the emergency room where they kept him for four hours, x-rays and blood, then sent him home with the (at least positive) news that he probably has a stomach virus, to avoid dairy until he feels better, and to keep doing whatever else he's been doing. It should go away eventually.

Thing #3: The tractor at the farm died. Possibly the battery, maybe the fuel gelled. No word on that yet - I headed directly there last night to feed since T was still being held hostage by the ER folks. The horses should be getting a new bale today, but I'm guessing that's not in the cards. Thankfully the big rounds are easily accessible, only about 30 feet away - not 1/2 mile away beyond a tree grove this year - so I can either fork hay over from the closest round bale or feed the "emergency" small squares we put up this fall (in case the tractor died).

Thing #4: The blazer is also in the shop - it's been dying at idle when warm. Idle sensor, fuel pump going, a tank of bad gas, or something else entirely - I know which one I'm hoping it is! I want it off my thing list!

I dropped T off at work in his old Ranger - which kept wanting to die on me and there was this slightly scorched smell when I got home... thing #5? Nah, I'm not going to count that - I know the Ranger's seen better years. Sigh....

On the counting blessings side, the horses were fat and fluffy and in high spirits last night, the cats are fine, I haven't managed to come down with whatever bug T's fighting off. I guess in the grand scheme of things, since T's on the mend the rest count as minor nuisances. Still, I'm crossing my fingers - once I'm done typing - that we're done with "things" for a while!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Still winter and counting

Every winter about this time, I'm ready for mud season.

The roads are starting to look like this.

The ponies are back to wearing white overcoats.

And I'm ready for spring.

Thunder & Sunny

It's not that I'm complaining, really. At this point, 20's are feeling downright warm when the wind dies. If I don't catch T's flu I'm going to try riding on Friday - lucky me, the forecast says it will be 24' and sunny.

- The high for the week, imagine that. - LOL!

Saturday's forecast says 17' and snow, and Sunday it's back into the depths with a high of 8'.

Sunday I'm joining Mabel.

I'm now going to go catch up on my reading...
Hooray for vicarious thrills
from parts warmer
and/or bloggers hardier than I!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter driving

I don't always love driving in the winter, but the snow does make for some pretty dramatic scenery on occasion!

We had gust to 40 mph yesterday and a dusting of snow in the morning.

For the most part the roads were dry and clear underneath, so my trip home didn't take any longer than usual, although they were letting schools out early in a lot of the little towns.

Probably due to the side roads - I hit some nice drifts on my way out to feed later in the afternoon.

I was glad to be home, but could happily have driven a couple more hours watching the drift pattern in the changing light.

The ponies?

Out of the wind and napping. They wandered over to see what I was up to, then headed back to loaf.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


  1. Ride more: can you believe I've owned the fuzzy orange pumpkin for... 7, that's right, s-e-v-e-n (!!) years and have ridden him less than 100 hours? Actually, that's not accurate - that's just the amount of hours I've remembered to log in with AHA's frequent rider program. But still... I'm happy with my butt on a horse, and since I deserve to be happy, my butt needs to be on a - no, THAT - horse more often.

This will be the year
we get that darn 100 hour pin!

  1. Lessons! Much as I enjoy just popping on and riding wherever and however, there's a sense of accomplishment after an hour of really sweating while someone tells me how I can improve (and therefore, hopefully, sweat less) I really enjoy. Plus, I think I'm actually - gasp - learning something - LOL!

  2. Tack clean-out: sell a saddle or two. I had hoped that when T found a saddle to fit him - and Rufus - better, that maybe we could trade a couple of saddles off. Sadly, that was not to be. So I think I'm going to clean up the old pony saddle and the Arabian pleasure tree Simco - the one I love the look of, but hate to ride in - and see if the local western store will take them on consignment.

Saddle testing...
(Rufus was a very good boy.
We discovered after getting there
we'd forgotten his bridle.)

So there you have it. My top three horse-related resolutions, at least for right now. What are yours?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Post-storm peaceful

"the snow is much better
when seen from inside" cat,
surveys the backyard.

I love 4-wheel drive! The roads out to the farm were still blown in on Saturday - plows out doing the higher priority routes, I guess. The wind was awful until late afternoon, but the sun was out, the sky was at least mostly blue, and the temps climbed into the 20's, so all in all, not too bad.

J called Saturday a.m. to say that the horses were all fine and G was in the process of pushing the round bale up closer so they'd have ready access, but that the plow hadn't been by and he wasn't going to blade their driveway clear until the wind stopped so not to come out, since I'd more than likely just get stuck.

So after I dug the truck out and shoveled the walks, I went back inside to the couch and the cats (starting to feel very lazy!) and worked on more school stuff.

Sunday was much nicer - less wind!

The four-foots were glad to see me, but not terribly needy. They weathered the storm in fine style - all signs of snow-overcoats completely vanished. I disrupted their afternoon naps, but although they were pleased enough to see hay going into their feeders, they weren't too concerned with pushing each other away, so hunger obviously wasn't a factor.

l>r, Solitaire, Sunny, Thunder & Amyra
share a feeder - Star's off to the left at the big feeder.

South of the tree grove where the horses are the snow was pretty shallow, although I was thigh-deep in drifts wading up to the gate to snap the shot below. The cows shelter in against the tree grove you can see in the background when it's nasty, but were up on the hill munching away. Snow didn't get much chance to settle up there!

When I got home this little guy zipped out from under the porch by the dryer vent. There's a bunny trail worn across the yard to the steps and on around the corner of the house. Our only out-doors venturing cat refuses to stick her nose out once the ground's white, so there's only the neighbor's cat to watch out for, and she seems to get more squirrels than rabbits.

One more winter storm weathered - hope you're all enjoying the new year and some peace between the storms, as well!