Friday, July 31, 2009

Tonight in a kind of silly way I was reminded to look at all that I have to be thankful for. Just a couple songs coming on in succession on my iPod, but I don't believe it was a coincidence. As always, and more so than usual, I am thankful for my Damn Good Horse. We had a good ride tonight out at my friend's. He's becoming more of a Steady Eddie all the time. I did have to slap him upside the head once for getting irritated with me because I wouldn't let him pick on the dog. He knew I was right and he wasn't, so he took it in stride. Other than that he was a calm, mellow, responsive, good citizen.

I am also thankful to have such a wonderful, supportive family. Every single one of them. I tend to take them all for granted but I realize not everyone has it this good. We're not all perfect, but we all love each other.

I'm thankful for my friends. They may be few but they are gems.

I am ever so thankful for the light of the moon. It's magical.

I'm thankful for sleep. Although lately it's been filled with not-so-great dreams. But it's still sleep, and I love sleep. So, with that said, I'm off to bed.
We got some good news yesterday! They said if the cancer hasn't spread, she will survive this. Previously they wouldn't say anything about whether she was going to make it or not, so it scared me. They'll do a PET scan next week to check whether it has spread. I have a strong feeling that it hasn't. I hope that my intuition is right.

Jessie gave me this cute (although strangely crabby looking) hug! And it's carrying coffee! I love coffee! Thanks Jessie! I can use all the hugs I can get. I'm going to pass it on to Lea. She deserves a hug! I know someone else who needs a hug, but she hates these pass-along blog thingies, so I'm sending it to her in spirit.

My horses are somewhat neglected in this heat, but I do spend a little time with them every day. This morning it's not heating up too fast, I might even work with one of them. I have the pony saddle sitting in the dining room waiting for Scout's first saddling.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Horse Thief!

My girl had a good time trying Tonka out without me on the end of a lead rope. Seeing my good horse taking care of my kid made me feel all mushy inside. Of course, he's still Tonka, so he's no kids' horse, but when he's in the right frame of mind he's safe. And he's sure a heck of a lot safer than the horse I was riding at her age!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scout is getting so big. He's still got that young pup look, but he's pretty tall. Here he is doing a dance move with Cisco. Or maybe they're playing Rock Paper Scissors. Or for horses I guess it'd just be Rock Rock Rock.

He and Cisco are pretty darn near the same height.
Rumps are the same, withers have to catch up.
I had to throw in these next two pictures because I just love Tonka's expressive ears:

Scout's not quite as tall as Tonka yet, but I think he'll be at least as tall as him when he's done growing, considering he's only 18 months old. Cross your fingers for me that he doesn't get too tall. I might have to start doing yoga to stay limber.

I took his halter off and of course he had to start picking at Tonka.

Tonka was sleepy and didn't appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today I was back to my usual routine, kind of, and it really helped to be able to do things that felt normal. I got my trees watered and spent some time with the horses, sat around in a daze some, talked on the phone a fair amount, spent some time with the kids, did a little housework, read my book and lazed around with my husband. So, not a real active day, but it was at home with few demands and allowed me a little breathing time. I'm still one step away from tears a lot, but I feel a little better, for now.

The horses were so funny tonight. I went to pet them in the cooling dusk, with the nice breeze blowing on my back, and it was so relaxing. Scout and Tonka both have itchy tails. You should see the silly things they do! Scout was dancing from side to side as I scratched his tail, then contorted himself all the way around so he could chew on the end of his tailbone while I scratched the top. Tonka did the flehmen thing with grass hanging out of his mouth, wiggling his tail around and trying to reposition for an even better scratch, but he kept almost stepping on my feet in my flip-flops so I finally gave it up. Poor guys, they are pretty itchy. The flies have been bad. Cisco wouldn't admit he enjoyed his full-body scratching, he was too busy eating. But I think he must have liked it. When I came inside my hands were fully black from doing so much scratching and rubbing.

My sister rode her horse tonight and she said she felt more empowered, to still be able to do that. She's still having some pain from the biopsy but I think she managed to saddle her own horse. Earlier today I offered to go get Bella because I wasn't sure if they were in a hurry to have her gone. Amy cried and said she's not ready to give her up yet. So hopefully Bella can stay and help her get through this. Horse therapy is one of the best kinds!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thank you everyone for your supportive comments. It really means a lot to me.

Today was a long, long day of doctor's appointments and waiting. Lots of things were learned, but I still feel like I'm in the dark. There are more tests to be done, but the short of it is that my sister is going to start chemo in the next few weeks, once the tests are done and they know what chemo to use. She's going to be very sick for a year. She's going to lose her hair. They recommended that she shave it before she starts treatment so she doesn't have to watch it come out in clumps. They're going to force menopause because the cancer is feeding on her hormones. After a few months of chemo she'll have a mastectomy and probably lymph nodes removed. After that she'll have radiation and another type of therapy, biological therapy maybe?

This is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and it has already progressed quite a bit, plus there are a bunch of other bad variables she's tested positive for. One good thing is that they checked the other breast today and didn't see any sign of cancer there.

I'm terrified. I'm tired. I just don't know how you go on with something like this. You just go on, I guess. And love each other. Support each other.

On a happier note, here's Angus on our camping trip. He gets a LOT of attention when we take him places, since he's so huge. Everyone seems to love him:

Here he is helping with breakfast:

Here are Oreo and Bear, my sister's dogs. They're brothers. Bear is a Kelpie/Border Collie and Oreo is all Border Collie. Yeah, he looks a little odd... My sister shaved him. He's cute as heck and his ears are huge!
Bear obsesses over sticks and Oreo obsesses over Bear. It's a very weird, mentally unstable relationship. But they're both sweet dogs.

I could have gotten so many sweet pictures of the Mustang Gang snuggling tonight, but all my camera batteries were either dead or MIA. I got a better feel of Tonka's lump and it feels the same as before I left. I'm going to quit messing with it for several days and then check again. It's easier to tell a change in size when you don't check it every day.

I keep forgetting, although this would be a big event, in normal times. Bella is coming back home. Amy is looking for a good capable mount that will not test her AT ALL so that she can go on occasional rides during her treatment. Her horse Levi would be great, except he's in bad health too (kidney failure & EPSM) and can't be expected to work if he isn't exercised every day, which she won't be able to do and I probably won't have time to do for her.

Also, if anyone who knows how to ride wants a nice free horse, this mare needs a good home.
My sister started her well and then decided she wouldn't make a good mountain horse. Would be excellent for road and back yard riding, and might make a good mountain horse with more time. Amy just can't do it now.

So... That's what I know right now. Good night! May you sleep soundly and dream happy dreams.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What a time I've had since I've seen you last. Got some really bad news, took a quicker trip than planned, and now we're home. Why the hurried trip? My sister got the call last Wednesday that her breast biopsy results were back, but her doctor wouldn't talk to her over the phone, told her to come in and talk it over in person, and not to bring the kids with her. She has stage 3 breast cancer. Invasive lobular carcinoma, to be precise. But that's about as precise as we can get just yet. She got a miraculous quick appointment with an oncologist, scheduled for tomorrow morning, and we'll have more information soon.

We all decided to leave on Thursday for the family reunion as planned. It was good to have some distraction, but it's been kind of a hellish weekend anyway. Oh, but back to what I was going to say. Right before we left I went to check on the boys and found Tonka breathing very strangely. I think he was just breathing funny because he'd just woken up from a very deep sleep, but it did lead me to stick my thumbs up his nostrils and I found a grape sized swelling way up in his left nostril, partially obstructing his breathing. So I'm worrying about that too. I checked it and it seems the same, except maybe harder, and he didn't want me fooling around with it this time so maybe it hurts now. The vet wasn't too concerned when I called him, but he said we'll definitely need to have it looked at if it doesn't get smaller within a week, or if it gets bigger.

I need a vacation from reality, because somehow my reality is all screwed up. This can't be happening in my family. Stuff like this happens to other people, not us. Amy kept waking up thinking it had all been a dream and then realizing it was real, and reality was worse than the nightmares she was having. She's not sleeping well at all. Neither would I if my doctor told me to keep in mind that although there are treatments, this is life threatening.

Thanks for listening. I'll try to keep this blog on-topic with the horse stuff, but I may need to vent my worries as well, and I might not be here as often.

Oh, and some more sad news - Goldie's chicks are gone. Something got them sometime yesterday or last night. Probably one of my cats. I think I'll not try the egg-hatching thing again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today I shall bore you with totally un-horse-related blather, followed by some boring horse-related blather.

I bought myself some clothes! I went to FOUR different stores, tried everything on, and actually came home with some decent looking stuff. I don't have to keep my two special "town shirts" on hold anymore. I swear, people probably think I only have two shirts. Most of my other stuff is all ratty though. I hate shopping, it actually makes me physically ill, and I feel so guilty when I spend money on clothes that it makes me hate it all the more. But I really needed some clothes. Both of those "town shirts" are over a year old and I'm lucky they've made it through so many washings. (Okay, okay, I over-dramatized a bit there. I just remembered I have two other shirts that are also passable for wearing to town.)

This morning I spent quite a bit of time watering the horses. Scout, he's a hose-puller. So I have to stand there and supervise him. The kids joined me, and Liam got a lesson in Scout-smacking. That horse is so pushy, especially to Liam because he's small. So Liam had to practice not getting out of Scout's way, and smacking or pushing him out of the way instead. He was very proud of his ability to make Scout back up. Until Scout pawed at him. That made Liam move. So I had him come back and back Scout up again.

Tonka hung around and learned to drink from the hose. Then he snoozed while I rubbed his chin and lips slowly and gently. I love his velvety muzzle.

Cisco hung out with us too, but he's not such and attention-leech, so he didn't get quite as much love. I think he was fine with that. He just took a nap instead.

Coda grazed wherever he wanted to for at least half the day. To be honest, I forgot all about him. Luckily Liam remembered to let him back in with his Soxy at some point. I'm sure he needed a drink by then.

The herd got their nasty Quest wormer today. Oh! I need to update their files. Glad I mentioned that. In case you'd like to know the boring details, Tonka weighs 1100+ pounds, Scout is about 650, Cisco is about 950, Soxy is a tidy 1000, and Coda is a light 900. He's been dropping weight, but I don't want to start him back on his special soaked slop until we get back from vacation, so he can continue to live with his woman until I get back and can go to the bother of separating him out for a little while every day so he can eat. Don't want to saddle anyone with that time-consuming task while I'm gone.

Okay, so that was most of my day. The rest I've mostly forgotten, so it must not be important, right? Other than a funny incident with the turkey, but you had to be there...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I got a new book. "Mustang - The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West" by Deanne Stillman. I'm just reading the introduction and already I'm totally engrossed. I thought I'd share a few quotes to pique your interest.

"Why would someone go out and kill the animals that had blazed our trails, fought our wars, served as our most loyal partners?"

"With all due respect to our official icon, the eagle, he of the broad wingspan and the ability to see across great distances, of patience born of the ages and of majestic flight, it is really the wild horse, the four-legged with the flying mane and tail, the beautiful, bighearted steed who loves freedom so much that when captured he dies of a broken heart, the ever-defiant mustang that is our true representative, coursing through our blood as he carries the eternal message of America."

I can't wait to get into the actual book.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This morning we rode down to the farmer's market and got some overpriced lemonade. It was fun. Note our improvised lemonade holders:

Silly Tonka made faces for the camera.
Today is going to be the hottest day yet this year. Yuck. I'm going to hide in a hole. Actually, I'm thinking the hated shopping trip to the mall might be a good thing today. Air conditioning!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Mustang Gang, El Rojo Banditos, The Goofball Brothers, The Troublemaking Trio - They got to go out into a new pasture today and they really had a good time of it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's been a long day. My sister got a call from her doctor today and she wasn't very optimistic, which isn't like her. She wanted to make sure my sister is doing everything she can to get in for the breast biopsy ASAP. Kind of scary. So she got it all taken care of, and has an appointment for Friday. Which is also kind of scary, considering it usually takes a month to get in. Must mean they are concerned. We looked up information online today, and it looks like there is anywhere from a 15% to a 50% chance this will be cancer. Lots of different figures on different articles. But the good news is that this type of cancer has a 99% survival rate. So no matter what, things should turn out okay.

Another thing bringing me down lately is the health of my grandparents. My grandma is in the hospital with a bad infection they can't seem to pinpoint and my grandpa is talking as if he's not going to be around much longer. We have a family reunion coming up and he says this is the last one he'll be going to. We're going to do some fishing and have some good times. He's always been so very strong and able, and he's such a wonderful person. The last few years it's been hard to watch his health begin to fade. My grandma has been having trouble for a while with various health issues, but she's always full of piss and vinegar and up for a laugh. Last time I saw her she looked like hell and was having a rough time of it, but she still had that great spirit shining through every now and then. I hope she pulls out of this and has some humdingers to tell us next time we see her. I wish they could always be with us.

My other grandma is also talking of making her last road trip, but having a hard time committing. She's in a lot of pain and has a hard time getting around, so a trip will be difficult for her. I hope she can make it over here. I think she'd enjoy being on a farm again like she was when she grew up. She's been telling me lots of stories from her childhood and her life with my grandpa who died when I was a teenager. So many bright memories.
Speaking of old folks, I got the two old horses out for a while today. Soxy needed a pedicure and I let Coda out to be a yard horse while I worked on that. He had the run of the whole place, lots of glorious grazing to be had, but when I came inside for a few minutes I looked out to see him standing loyally next to his girl. He's such a sweetheart.
Goldie brought her peeps out a bit today, within safe proximity of the henhouse. I decided not to lock them in the coop this time. Last time she had chicks one found a way out and became a cat snack. I imagine Goldie frantically watching, locked inside, unable to do anything about it. This time hopefully they'll do fine with her hovering over them. So far so good.
I let the turkeys out for the first time today. I've been wanting to do it for a while, but we had a neighbor dog come on the property not long ago and I didn't want to let them out while I wasn't around to watch them. This afternoon I finally had that chance. They loved it. Lots and lots of greens to eat. They're such innocent, goofy creatures. I can't see how anyone could dislike turkeys. They're just neat. I wish I could keep them for pets.
Tonka and I went for a short ride tonight and we tried our hand at turkey herding. He wasn't too sure about it. Turkeys are pretty strange, after all. He was very curious but also cautious. Which was better than Scout's reaction when he saw them. He was all snorts, running around the pasture with his tail in the air.

Something had Cisco terrified tonight. And I saw a deer running for dear life on the other side of the highway. A little later I saw something else over there. Could have been a deer, could have been a cougar. Didn't seem big enough to be a deer, but the light was failing and I can't be sure. Would a cougar travel in the open on a hillside right near a highway? Or do they stay under cover? I'm probably imagining things, it was probably just another deer. But with Cisco's total terror (he's normally a steady guy) and the running deer, it makes me wonder.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tonka went to the dentist today and would you believe I didn't take one single picture? There were lots of great photo ops too, with his lip hanging and tongue sticking out the side.

He was pretty nervous today for some reason. Kinda antsy on his feet. Probably knew something special was up. He took a second to check out the ramp that led to the stocks in the dentist's special trailer, but then he went in and it wasn't long before he had a dose of sedative to make him right at home. It wasn't enough sedative, and they kept saying they'd give him more if they needed it, but he just went along with things and they never did have to top him off. They were very impressed with him. I love it when people go on about what a nice horse I have. *big grin* The doc has a client who competed in the NW Mustang Makeover, and her very nice assistant had been at the makeover to watch Keith Danielson, who trains her horses. It was nice to have something in common.

Tonka has a "totally normal mouth" with no reason for bit discomfort, other than that he obviously doesn't like a bit. His canines are huge for his age, normally they're just coming in about now. Kinda odd, but all the other teeth erupted right on schedule so I'm not at all worried that he's not the age I thought he was.

She leveled out and rounded his molars, which really didn't need a whole lot of work, gave him a bit seat, and then "reduced" his canines to a nice rounded nub. No more sharp edges on that broken one.

Really it was pretty uneventful, which is always nice.

When we got home I went to check on our new arrivals (more on that in a moment) and spotted this "Peeping Beauty" watching from the top of the hill. She just stared and stared while I took pictures. What a pretty doe.

On to the new arrivals - I thought Goldie's eggs were supposed to hatch a week ago so I gave up on them, but it turns out I was wrong! I heard frantic peeping yesterday, and went in to discover two little peepers. They're cute, if not very interestingly colored at this point... Can't wait to see what we end up with! (The eggs came from my sister's mixed flock.)

Look at those adorable little fluff-butts!
I'm off to put the drowsy boy back out to pasture, assuming he's awake enough. Have a great day!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The BLM internet adoption Starts soon. I would adopt one of these if I could:

This gelding is noted as calm, is from Coyote Lakes, and is 14.3 as a 3 year old. If he's anything like Tonka, he's not done growing, but even if he were 14.3 is good enough for me. And I love his roman nose. He is #8602 in Burns.

I have named this young gelding Mini-Tonka. I love him! The only thing I don't like is his age, since he's only a yearling. That's just a prejudice on my part, no reason not to adopt. He's also from Coyote Lakes, and is 14 hands already. They say "Very calm personality; NICE colt." If he's anything like Tonka, that thin neck will eventually fill out. He's #8771 in Burns.

Granted, I have only looked at the Burns horses, and not even all of them. I'm sure there are some gorgeous horses at Palomino Valley, there always are. There are many to choose from. Take a look and see what you like. Even if you can't adopt, it's fun to browse and dream.

Okay, I came back and had to add these two. Sheepshead #8856 is really nice looking:

And who could resist this sweet face? She's Coyote Lakes #8654

Perhaps we need one as a pack horse? Maybe? John???
(Just kidding. But I can't wait to see how the bidding goes.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thanks everyone for your concern. I made the trip and got back in time to be at the hospital while the tests were being run. I guess I can talk about it now since it is real and isn't necessarily anything. My sister discovered a suspicious mass, which turns out not to be breast cancer, just fibrous tissue. Something else there caught their eye though, and may be a sign of impending cancer, so there will be more tests. Scary stuff. It could be a while before anything is known, with how long it takes to get in for any procedures up in Spokane. This sure scares the crap out of all of us.

In horsey news, I've made Tonka a dental appointment for Tuesday. So his sharp broken canines will get fixed, and if there are any other issues they will be addressed. I can't wait! I love routine vet work (when I can afford it).

That's about all I have for now. I'm beat.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

It turns out I won't be going on the trip to the Longview adoption. Something much more important has come up at home. So I'll be making a lightning fast trip to Bellevue and back to drop my friend's daughter back with her parents, but no trip to the adoption. I need to try to be back home by noon on Friday. I don't want to go into details, somehow talking about it seems like bad luck or maybe makes the problem real... but someone in my family is having a scary health situation. A mustang adoption where I'm not even looking to adopt just doesn't take precedence. Tracey from Mustang Diaries will still be going. Hopefully she'll post info and pictures for us.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Apalousey Trail Ride

I think I might want to do this. Might. It's a bit pricey. But every year I read about it and wish I could do it. Besides the great trail riding and dutch oven cooking, I sure wouldn't mind helping out the Appaloosa Museum. We love to go there and browse through the displays, sit on saddles in the kids' area, and of course browse the gift shop. Would you go on the ride if you lived near enough? (Click the above link for details). Want to come with me?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tonka gave me a scare today. When I came down the driveway and saw him out I was a little perplexed but not too worried that he'd be hurt. We have very safe HorseGuard fencing after all. But it turned out he decided to go through one of the few solid portions of the fence.
He's fine other than a cut along one hip that isn't really all that deep. But I got to thinking about all the "what if's" and my stomach got very sick. That gate and the chain... So many bad things could happen there. I'll be rebuilding it a little differently and getting a new gate.

I'll be at the Longview, Washington mustang adoption this coming weekend. Here are a couple horses in the corrals right now:

This one is my favorite but won't be at the adoption:

This one WILL be at the adoption (barring unforseen circumstances):
Both of the above are from Tonka's herd.

Go to this site for more pictures of the horses currently at the corrals in Burns, Oregon.

The horses that will be available in Longview are:
8631, 8662, 8679, 8680
8687, 8688, 8691, 8700
8763, 8768, 8777, 8780
8801, 8806, 8829, 8839
8847, 8865, 8939, 8951
8965, 8983
(You might double check though, I could have made a typo. And of course they don't totally guarantee the horse will be there. Something might happen to prevent a specific horse from making the trip.)

Just a few quick notes:

Tonka has a broken tooth! It's one of his canines, broken on the inside where you can feel it but not see it easily. It's very sharp. I'm going to have to call the dentist. I was going to have his teeth done this year anyway.

We're done with the hay! Yay!

Thank you all for your thoughts regarding euthanasia. I am still leaning toward having the old guy put down this fall. There's just not much to live for in the winter, and so many bad things could happen. I'm not going to make a concrete decision for a few months yet though.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Friday, July 03, 2009

I have a huge decision to make and I'm having trouble with it. Coda - he's 30 years old and very lame. Would it be right to take him through another winter? Or would it be kinder to have him put down this fall? At some points in winter he doesn't leave his stall other than to get water. I can blanket him, that's not a problem, but we have weather down well below zero, snow, ice, and severe winds. He'll keep weight on with a lot of special feeding. Unfortunately his girlfriend can't eat that much, so they can't live together, which takes away one of his joys.

John thinks he's a pretty happy horse. He's happy to see people, he's happy to eat his good grub. He's in love with his Soxy mare. He's got some things to live for.

But in the winter, when it might get down to 15 below and people are not coming out other than to give him his good grub, and his Soxy mare is in the adjacent pen, is there much to live for?

Would it be better to end his life on a good note, after a summer of grass and companionship? Or to have him possibly go downhill in the winter, when he's been miserable for a while? And once it freezes we won't be able to bury him, and may not even be able to get his body up the driveway to take it for disposal.

I'm really leaning toward having him put down this fall. But thinking of actually doing it is so hard, and I feel like maybe I'm rushing into this.

I'm under a little pressure to make a decision, because we need to be buying alfalfa now if he's going to stay with us. But I could probably find some later, it would just be more expensive. Maybe I should just sleep on it for a month or 3...

What would you do? Or what are your thoughts on euthanasia and how you know it's time?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Busy, busy day. First, a ride.

Then, housework to get ready for guests.

Then hay to gather. John got a call from the neighbors that they really needed his help, so I unloaded most of the hay here at home. I'm glad he loaded most of it, or I might not have had the stamina. I was proud of me, I stacked them all the way to the roof, using a stair system of course. John says he thinks that load was right around 60 bales. Unfortunately we only got the one load done tonight.

Liam got a picture of me making my way up the stack:
And here he is pretending to be strong enough to help. He really, really wants to help. Unfortunately his help mainly consists of getting in the way and talking constantly when I don't have the breath to reply. It's nice to have company though. And I did have him drag a few bales around on the trailer, because he just wanted to so bad.

I got the trailer back out into the field and started picking up bales, but it was getting too dewy, so instead we just hiked through all the fields and put the bales on end. Liam had a total blast helping with that. We saw a horned owl. Glad we didn't see a prickle of porcupines!

I do feel pretty prickled though! Hay and sweat... (Of course we have the hottest weather yet this summer on the days we have to pick up hay. It always seems to work that way.) I'm off to the shower!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

This morning I loaded, unloaded, and stacked hay. 33 bales all by myself, with just the bed of the pickup to haul. That pickup is too tall. We need a hay trailer that's lower to the ground. When I came in I was beet red from the heat and had to take a long cold shower and medicate all the pinpricks on my arms from the hay. I'm allergic, and it makes it that much more irritating. And we have 246 more bales to move... But I'll have John's help, and we're renting a trailer.

My daughter was very helpful. She drove the truck, lurching at the stop and the start, and sometimes passing me up by a good 30 feet while I waited by a bale. It made more sense later when she told me she had forgotten which pedal was the brake. I thought she was just not paying attention. But overall she did great and the only bale that fell off the truck was when I was driving. She even moved a couple bales for me, but she's really not strong enough for that yet.

Here I was, drenched in sweat and with hay chaff stuck to me all over, but mostly inside my shirt, very itchy, hot and irritated, barely able to breathe in my mask, and she says, "I'm, like, sweaty all over. It's kinda gross." Obviously this kid has not had to do much hard labor in her life. It cracked me up in a kind of, "Oooh, poor baby," sort of way. Then I pointed out a daddy longlegs to her and told her she might want to avoid that bale. How exactly did I give birth to this child? I think she's going to end up a city girl, for sure. But seriously though, she's been a huge help lately.

I almost forgot about the contest! Okay, so nobody got the right answer. There were 22 quills. The two closest were Lady of Chaos and Jessie. So I'll send you both a prize. My prizes I had in mind were a horse size rope halter and a tube of sparkly mane and tail gel. It's got silver and blue glitter so it would probably look best on a black based horse. Or very nice on white. If both of you could email me (andreav at turbonet dot com) with whether you'd prefer a halter or the glitter, and include your mailing addresses, I'll get the prizes sent out. I totally understand if you're not into the glitter thing, and I do have 2 halters already made, so if you both want those that's fine.

Good guesses, everyone. They were all pretty close.

Oh, and Kara, I am so sorry you had to get quills out of a horse's leg! I was thinking about that while I pulled Scout's. I don't know if I could have safely pulled them all out without some kind of sedation. Maybe. But it wouldn't have been fun!

My sister was telling me tonight about her porcupine encounters. They must have a lot of them by her house. She had to pick up a baby in a poop fork and carry it back down to the creek. Her husband told her to kill it but she couldn't. It was super cute, she said, holding on to the fork tines with its itty bitty hands. But the adult she had to battle wasn't as much fun. It was slamming into her fork, trying to get at her. Scary! But still super cute. I've never met one up close. Not sure I'd want to!

(Did you know a group of porcupines is called a "prickle?")