Friday, November 16, 2012

All Vetted

I had our trailer all cleaned out yesterday before we confirmed the vet appointment and I realized we'd need it this morning.  So I figured I'd be out there with the bucket, shovel and hose again this afternoon, because the first thing the four-foots do when they get in is christen the trailer - lol!  But as it turned out the trailer the guys used to haul the horses out west was still sitting out at J's.  It needed to be dropped back off at M's place which is right over near Eric's where we were picking up Amyra and Thunder, so new plan. 

Two birds with one stone, we'd drive out to J's and hook up to M's trailer, head to the farm and collect Sunny and Rufus, then to Eric's for Amyra and Thunder, and then to the vet's. 

The trailer's a 24" stock, longer, but not quite as tall as ours, and with no front tack, but nice a roomy especially for not-too-long ponies like ours.  Sunny and Rufus could both stand crosswise without bending their necks.

Four on board
Thunder started snorting and bobbing his head at me when I got to his stall.  He seemed happy to see me, but happier to be outside as we walked to the trailer.  Eric says once he got past the whole nervous anxiety thing, he's been lovely to work with.  He's still watchful and kind of wary in the barn aisle - eight years of outside living doesn't make adapting to a stalled environment easy, even when the stall is spacious and the barn is nice and light. 

We decided to load Amyra, the lone mare, in last since if someone was going to kick it chances favored her - or Sunny and he was already in the spot next to the mid-gate - getting annoyed at Thunder for sniffing at her. Thunder took a minute to sniff the strange trailer, then stepped on like a champ, but Amyra out-did him, bailing right in like she's been loading daily for years instead of once - today - in the past year.

At the vet's we pulled up in the not-too-terribly-wide alley between the clinic and the storage units next door.  The clinic's located on a busy road, and to make things even more interesting, the power company is retrenching or something equally loud requiring heavy equipment next to the road in front.  So no shortage of noise and traffic, it's just about reached freezing, and the wind is picking up by the minute.  Fun, fun, fun.

But in spite of our running a bit late, they were able to get to us right away, so we got everybody unloaded and lined up in a row of sacrificial victims along the trailer.

Rufus, Sunny's ears, &Thunder's back
(Amyra's beyond Thunder)
 Rufus and Sunny didn't flinch at getting poked, and Amyra stood like a rock for her draw and her rabies shot.  Thunder was good too, for him.  I requested the female vet for his sake - not great with strange men - and he'd been stellar for her when she did his rabies shot earlier this year.

He wasn't quite as copacetic this time, but we accomplished his draw with only one pull back, and it didn't involve the needle.  He actually spooked at the clipboard when she was drawing in his markings for the health papers.  I untied him for the draw, and although he danced a few steps when the needle went in, he stood for the draw itself just fine. 

In around half an hour, including time to chat, we were loading them back up again - this time in reverse order.  Thunder and Amyra in first and then Rufus and Sunny.  We dropped the last ones in off at the farm 

"Really, that's all you wanted us for?"
and then swung back out to Eric's to return Amyra and Thunder.  I was really glad to get the trailer left off at M's and head home - that wind is getting nasty!

We'll have the blood test results back in a couple of days, and one more moving hurdle ticked off the list.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Home again, home again

The guys all finally rolled in after dark last night - I think 5 days of deer camp was... maybe too much of a good thing?  At any rate, they unloaded 10 deer in our garage for the night while I patted pony noses through the trailer slats

T regaled me with hunting stories while I (again) waited impatiently for the Rufus report.  Finally, after hearing how they'd walked here, driven there, hiked up this hill and down that bluff, I asked, had they ridden at all?

Between the snow and icy build-up, they ended up riding only one morning.  And T forgot the camera.  Sigh...  Rufus did just fine, though.

Since it was so late when they got home, we decided it would be easier all the way around to collect Sunny and Rufus this morning.   All eight four-foots were lined up along the back of the barn enjoying the sunshiney heat reflection.  Sunny had parked himself a good 10' away from the closest horse and declined to brave the line-up to come greet me.  He did whinny, though. 

Needless to say, neither he nor Rufus put up much fuss about leaving.

Loading Rufus
 As soon as I had his halter off, Sunny headed over for a long drink and then it was straight to the spilled corn by the grain bin.  (Rufus didn't bother getting a drink first.)

"It's good to be home!"

No squabbling over spilled grain now :)

T and his buck
It really is good to have them (all) back home safe and sound.  We'll collect them again in the morning, head over and pick up Amyra and Thunder, and they'll all get a trip to the vet's for a Coggins test and a rabies shot for Amyra.  The other three all got theirs this spring.  The results should be back in a couple of days, and then it will just be a matter of setting a date for their big trip.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rufus (Hunting) Report

Cell phone service in remote rural areas of SD being what it is, contact with T has been sporadic at best for the past couple of days.  The weather over the weekend certainly didn't help.  We've managed a couple of abruptly truncated phone calls and a few brief emails.

He's of course managed to provide a daily hunter vs. deer report, the news that they had 4" of snow Saturday, and he responded right away to my report on the Blazer (service engine light ='d $300+ for a new evap emissions solenoid and canister/filter due to poor design decision - the solenoid's directly over the spare tire - under the car - and it locks open sucking in dust when the stupid thing goes bad.  Grrrrr!), but not a word on the really important topic: how was Rufus doing? 

The one really good connection we had was cut off in mid-question by a hurried, "Someone just shot a deer!  Gotta go."  Click. Turned out to be a false alarm.

Finally, last night, I got a short email delivering the cheery news that a nice muley buck will be finding a new home in our freezer.  And he reported that Rufus is going just great.  Hallelujah!  LOL!

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Can I please go home now?"

Checking on Sunny at J's this afternoon I had a few adrenaline-drenched moments when I stepped out of the truck and counted 1, 2, 3 horses and one small fuzzy burro munching away on the hill -  but no Sunny!  At first I thought he might be farther down the hill, or around the corner of the barn where I couldn't see him, but when I got closer he was still nowhere in sight.

As I climbed over the fence I called, "Sunny" more than a bit anxiously, hoping he'd whinny at me - which he hasn't done since he's been at J's.  I think he's sulking.  But even as the final syllable left my mouth I heard his high-pitched wheeeniiie and spotted him trotting(!) up the fenceline toward me.  More enthusiasm than he's displayed in a long time, that's for sure.

Completely ignored by the three horses, but stalked by Eyore, I slipped his halter on and jumped on bareback - which didn't last long, unfortunately.  I probably should have led him farther away.  Almost as soon as my leg was over Eyore made a dive for Sunny's tail.  And let me tell you, that small, belligerent long-eared critter can really move.  Every time I swung Sunny to face him, Eyore'd spin inside and end up behind us again.

I really, really wanted a lunge whip or a spare lead or something that would have worked to chase him off with, but nothing was handy.  Sunny was a star, listening to me and not kicking at him, but honestly I've seen less determined stock dogs!

After a few minutes of futile escape attempts I slid off and chased Eyore away on foot while the other three horses watched me curiously.  I probably could have gotten back on at that point, but I was already getting chilly so I collected Sunny and walked down the hill to check the stock tank.  The water wasn't down too far, but I figured I might as well fill it anyway.  Sunny was happy to hang out and be fussed over, and the sun felt good.

Tank full I thought maybe he'd be in a hurry to get back to the other horses, out of sight up the hill, but he walked along next to me with no hurry whatsoever.  When I slipped the halter back off Sunny followed me to the fence and watched while I climbed over and headed back to the truck.

"You're not leaving, are you?"
Poor pony!  He's going to be really pleased to see Rufus later this week!

"Can I please go home now?"

White Bean Chilli - new favorite - YUM!

It's soup weather again!  And I think I have a new favorite.

White Bean Chilli
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1lb ground beef/venison/meat
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 large can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can original Rotel/tomatoes w/ hot peppers
  • 1 can white kidney beans
  • 1 can navy beans
  • 1 can Great Northern beans (Limas)
  • 1 cup wh. wheat macaroni pasta
  • pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste 
I used a big slow-cooker with a temperature setting (because I hadn't packed it yet), but you could just as easily use a big stock pot.  Chop up the onion & celery and saute in oil until translucent, then add your ground meat - I used venison, because we still have quite a bit from last year. 

When it's nicely browned, add all of the canned ingredients - I didn't drain anything, just dumped them in -  and bring to slow boil.  (If the bean you use are on the dry side, you may need to add some water.) Add pasta. Simmer at least half an hour or until the pasta is done - the longer it cooks, the better the flavor.  Add pepper/salt to taste.  I don't like a lot of salt, so...

I served it with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (ode to cheddar on traditional chilli).  Should have taken a picture when it was all hot and bubbly in the pot last night, but it's darn tasty warmed up for lunch today, too! 


Long, dusty country roads
In some ways, Kansas isn't too far removed from South Dakota - well, except it's usually about 10-15' warmer - they both have seemingly endless miles of gravel-bounded farmland and fields and lots of friendly people.  In places it seems as if you can see forever on a clear day - or at least the 10+ miles to the next small-town-with-elevator.  Whoever dubbed them the skyscrapers of the prairie certainly had it right!

Drifts of milo
 You do see more wheat and milo (grain sorghum)  than in SD, but there's also a lot of corn.

Wheat stubble
The view driving into town never gets old - and T keeps telling me spring and summer are even better color-wise.  The sunsets - and sunrises - are certainly spectacular.

Right out our bedroom window

Sunrise over tank batteries

Oil well
Of course KS has a few more oil wells and accompanying tank batteries storing oil and separated-off salt water - they don't smell so pretty.  But like hogs, it's the smell of money....  Luckily, there aren't any real close to us.

What is close to us, and which I can't wait to explore with the ponies is an absolutely gorgeous "dead mile" - well, not really a dead mile, since there's actually no track.  It's more a huge, unfenced swath of rolling prairie that stretches for a mile north and a couple miles(?) east. 

Just screams, "Come ride here!" doesn't it?

This gate is just over a mile up the road to the north.  T knows the owner and I'm crossing my fingers and planning a neighborly delivery of fresh baked goods that he won't mind if we leave a few hoofprints across it.

Mule deer

I'm guessing we'll scare up at least a few of deer, too.  For sure, there's no shortage.

Next trip down we work on corrective fencing and pony-proofing the barn area.  The existing fence is barb-wire, so the plan is to run electric around the inside perimeter to keep them off of it.  There are some trees that need to be trimmed up, and a few deadfalls that need to be cleared.

Barn, northeast side
The barn loft opens to the south - we'll need to clean out a bunch of old hay, but I'm told that needs to wait until it gets cold so that any snakes - yep, we'll be waiting until it's FREEZING! - are dormant.

The metal building is an old granary/equipment storage space.  It's sound and appears to need only minimal cleaning out, but I haven't done too much poking around inside yet.

Barn, northwest side
Doors to the barn are on the west - it opens out onto a series of sorting corrals, which right at the moment are wall-to-wall weeds.  A clean-out priority.  The old stocktank in the picture is part of a large and highly varied collection of metal junk that needs to be loaded up and hauled away, but that's a ways down my to-be-accomplished list at present.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sunny's adventure

This post should probably be titled Rufus's big adventure, but since I'm not with Rufus that story will have to wait until T and Rufus get back - hopefully with pictures.

West River deer season opened today.  T and party headed west on Friday - right into what's turning out to be the first blizzard of the season (Hell-o, Brutus!), and since they're in a cell phone dead zone, I haven't heard how the weather actually is, but according to the NWS they should be experiencing snow.

Buddy, Casper and Rufus at the trailer Friday a.m.
Now you may recall, we originally took Rufus over to the farm to keep Sunny company while Thunder's at the trainer's.  I'd actually forgotten about T's hunting plans at that point.  And given that we've been packing everything in sight, I wasn't sure if he still intended to go.  But when the decision was made that he was going and so was Rufus, J suggested we bring Sunny over to stay while Rufus was gone.

I've always been leery of turning Sunny out with a bunch of strange horses - he tends to be kind of bossy.  But since he did okay with Rufus, and Rufus lived over there until last month, and all of J's horses tend to be pretty laid back about everything....

On Thursday afternoon we loaded Rufus and Sunny up and took them over.  Introductions involved lots of sniffing -

Sunny sandwich

Some running around

Some milling

It was odd seeing the dichotomy of size - Sunny and Rufus aren't particularly small horses, but they just flat aren't as long or wide as J's big, rangy Quarter Horses.

But very little actual chasing
Casper was the only one that showed the slightest sign of aggression, and he wasn't nearly as intent on it as Sunny's been known to be.

More sniffing
Sunny located the hay feeder first thing, of course.  He cruised around the lot sniffing everything, trailing Rufus and occasionally one of J's horses, but other than a couple of squeals in the first minute, things were pretty quiet.

By this point, the sun was sinking fast and T was making noises about getting back to the real drama of the evening - the low trailer tire we'd discovered while unloading.  (Unfortunately, the spare turned out to be low as well.  And shame on me, when for not checking it before we loaded them - I didn't even think about it.)  Thankfully, with the weight off we had enough pressure to make the short run into town, and when we pulled forward slowly to check for nails or punctures, nothing showed and it wasn't hissing.  We made it into town, aired up, and both tires are still holding good pressure this morning. Still, time to have them all checked.

I ran T and baggage out Friday a.m. in the dark(!) and helped the guys get hay and groceries loaded up.  Of course, I checked on Sunny first.  He was fine - hanging tight with Rufus - unscathed but for one small bite mark on his butt.

Sunny, along with the others, got turned out into the big field for the duration.

Pennie, Eyore, Bubbles, Sunny and Lightbulb
When I checked on him today I arrived just as a freight train blew through. The tracks run right along the whole east side of the field. The rest of them were completely unconcerned - trains are normal for them.  Sunny was watchful, but it obviously wasn't the first one that had gone by.  His eyes were plenty big, though.

Eyore was occupying himself trying to get the other horses to play with him - they weren't interested, so he tried Sunny.

Sunny was not amused.
"Go away, you odd little nuisance!"
"I mean it."

For which I'm just as pleased - Rufus used to have a tail.  I really don't want Sunny's going the same way!