Monday, August 31, 2009

Yesterday we started staining the round pen. I really like the way it looks. I'll have to get before and after pictures. We ran out of stain after doing about half, so will have to get more. Do any of you have experience with staining outdoor wood? Should I do two coats? The wood is weathered and very dry, it soaked up the stain really quickly. I'm thinking that we need to do two coats.

This morning I found my camera again so I figured I should take some pictures as I went through my morning chores.

Here's The Old Man freshly brushed and fly-sprayed, having his morning grub. How many horses do you know who have alfalfa for bedding? It's quite deep in places, but I had to clean some of it out today. He won't eat the stems, only the leaves. (His teeth are fine.) I figure at his age he's entitled to be a bit picky. And this way he has some cushioning for his old feet.
He's not looking too hot, I know. I'm going to up his special feed, but I don't want to have to lock him up too much longer every day. He loves running around with his mare, and I don't want to take that away from him. I want him to enjoy life to the fullest at this point, even if it means he's a little underweight. He's also been acting kind of strange at times, and I've noticed a slightly strange smell about him. Not horrible like a horse whose system has shut down, just a little strange. I don't know if it means anything serious yet, but I do take notice.

The Fatness, doing what she does best:The Cuteness, occupying himself while I work:

The Three Amigos, coming in from the pasture:

The Cuteness, doing what he does best,
being cute!
And being a rotten puppy:

Cute, with a little bit of Rotten:

My daughter, who is home from school, asked,
"Why is there a motorcycle in your window?"
My son left something to bring a smile to our faces today.

Why is the daughter home? Why does my chest feel so heavy? She's got the flu, and I think I've got it now too. Chances are, it's the Swine Flu. We're staying home. I'm a little worried because I have asthma and that makes me high risk, but my asthma isn't that bad. I've got a call in to my doctor just in case, but they're very busy so who knows when they'll call back. In some ways it's a good thing, because I'm pretty sure once we've had it we'll have an immunity to it from here on out.

Once I started feeling bad I called the school and offered to pick up my boy, but they were happy with a "wait and see" approach. So I guess we'll see.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Swine flu is here! 10 cases so far at WSU in Pullman. One is an employee's girlfriend. Since I was around the guy I can't see my sister for about a week or so, to make sure I'm not carrying anything. Her lungs are bad already, and if she were exposed to swine flu right now it would be really, really bad.

I also went to the grocery store and spent an INSANE amount of money on groceries. So I won't have to go to any place students frequent for a long, long time.

I've never been a germ-phobic person. Quite the opposite. "A germ a day keeps the doctor away," would be my motto. Normally I scoff at rumors of epidemics. They can't touch me! But I'm scared for my sister. So I won't be disparaging the sanitizers of the world anymore.

In horse news: I've got nothing. Haven't even seen my boys today at all, just fed the old horses.

Actually, I do have something, although the news is a couple days old. I went to the Mustang Club meeting the other day and we decided on a date for our fall trail ride. Saturday, September 12 at 10am at Liberty Lake. If you're local and want to go I can get directions for you (once I get them myself). It's a fun, friendly group of people, and it ought to be a great ride.

I also went and visited Laura and Lyric. We tried one of my saddles on Lyric hoping it would fit, but it sat on his wither. I have pictures. I think the camera is still in the car though.

Tonight John and I are having a date night. Going to see District 9. I can't wait. It's got really great reviews as far as I can tell. It's also interesting because I don't recognise any of the names of the actors. So either they're all new or I'm out of touch (and I am). It'll be good to go to a movie and get caught up in a different reality for a while.

What's for dinner?

Cornbread Casserole:
1 can mexi-corn
1 can creamed corn
1 can green chili (I think it would be great with more)
1-2 eggs (our eggs are small, I used 2)
some butter (I use about 4 Tbsp)
Some sour cream (a cup? Maybe less)
Some shredded cheese (probably about a cup)
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Cook at 35o for a long time (maybe it was supposed to be 375?), then add cheese to the top for the last 10 minutes or so. It's to-die-for, and I don't generally love cornbread type stuff. Tonight I added some taco beef, but I didn't really like it that way. I'm not a big beef fan, and our grass-fed ground beef is a bit too flavorful for me. Even so, I may not have any room for popcorn later!

Monday, August 24, 2009

I had a rough day and then my horse made it all better. This picture is from yesterday. Isn't he handsome?!?!

Tonight it was too dark to take pictures, but I rode him at my sister's and she gave me some pointers on getting started in this dressage thing. I realized she knows enough to get me going, so I won't have to shell out a lot of money for lessons yet.

There's a big purple moose at my sister's house. Her name is Hope and she's a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Someone sneaks her into your yard and you have to pay $20 to have her moved to someone else's yard. The community was really happy to put her in my sister's yard, seeing as she has cancer and all. The horses weren't as thrilled about it. She's wearing a grass skirt and a lei, and her big antlers (do real girl moose have antlers? I don't think so.) Anyway, I'm sure her antlers are scary.

Tonka met Hope tonight. He was really pretty good about it. Did a pretty high-headed pose for several minutes and then went up to greet her. Then he tore her grass skirt off. Boys!

We had a very short ride, since my brother-in-law had parked his combine and that sent my sister running in, eager for him to come home. He's not home much during harvest.

The ride was short but good. I love that saddle. I may never ride in my western saddle again. Just kidding, I'd hate to scratch up this nice dressage saddle out on the trail. It's a fairly top-of-the-line saddle from what I understand. I know it feels like something special. It's a Rembrandt, from before the company was sold and they started making cheaper saddles. The leather is superb, it's super cushy, and it's very secure. I even stayed right in place through a little spook-jump yesterday.

My grandpa has carcinoma now too. Don't know how far it's spread yet, but they noticed it in his ear lobe. Could be in his glands in his neck. If everyone's going to get cancer anyway, can I start smoking again?

My sister got her first infection. Sinus infection. Chemo killed her immune system pretty well already. Her doctor chewed her out for going out in public. Said if she does, she needs to be very careful, only go early in the morning when nobody is out yet, and wear a mask and sanitize hands constantly. My sister had been confused about what she should and shouldn't do, having heard that some people even go to work during chemo. But that's a different kind of chemo. With this "cocktail" she shouldn't leave home unless she's going totally stir-crazy and then she needs to take serious precautions. She was careful, but maybe not careful enough. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if this came from the dust in the air around the horses (and harvest is a very dusty time as well).

I realized I've been in denial about this whole cancer thing lately. I guess that's one way to cope. But it hit me as real again today. I don't like it. To put it mildly.

Anyway, back to my horse. I am so blessed to have him. He makes life more bearable. Even if is his naughty and tries to get his teeth on me! He doesn't try all that hard, or I'd be bit, but he does test the waters at times. My sister said tonight, "You chose him. He is what he is." She's right. He's a persistent tester. But I love him anyway. Sometimes he brings tears of awe to my eyes, just looking at him. Amazing what a horse can do for the heart.

I'm tired. And my Poufy Little Puppy is alseep under my feet. I think I'll follow his example. Wish I could sleep like a baby. I used to be able to sleep great no matter what, and even better when stressed. I've been having trouble with that lately... Good night!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I guess I wasn't on my game today with the camera. All my pictures are funny looking. Or maybe my horse is funny looking. My sister thought he looked really pretty so it must be my photo skillz. The heat had me feeling pretty icky and Tonka was cranky. Excuses, excuses.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to find a way to buy this dressage saddle and start taking dressage lessons. Whee! A whole new discipline to spend money on. Won't John be thrilled. I think Tonka might be good at it though, and we could both benefit from it, if we can find a good instructor. If we can' find someone decent, who doesn't require the horse's mouth be abused, we won't do it.

My, aren't we eclectic? He's going to have to have some different headgear.

This picture didn't turn out too bad. Caught him in a sweet moment, and he didn't realize I had the camera out. I think he hates having his picture taken.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another dose of cuteness for you:

Huck is an Australian shepherd from working parents.
(He's a natural bobtail too.)

He's way too super cool, and he hasn't pottied in the house even once.

He passed his vet check today but we have to be careful, parvo is on the loose around here lately.Isn't he just something?
Yep, he really is something.

The horses think so too.

They love to come in and harass him when it's time to get their masks off for the night. I don't think they're scared of this little stock dog. He doesn't like them much, tried barking to get them to back off. Didn't work. Luckily I had him safe in my arms and I do know how to make them stand back.

I can't wait until he's old enough to go out on rides with me and Tonka.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The cuteness! It's almost too much!

Meet Huckleberry (Huck). I love him to death already!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Darn horses. Just when you think everything is going great they throw a wrench in the works. I went to give the boys their goodies this morning and Cisco didn't look quite right. Swollen eye.

I ran to the store and got some saline, then got a really good look at the eye, rinsed it (with some difficulty) and put ointment on it. I didn't see anything in there so I think it may be a sting or fly irritation. My vet said pink eye is going around because of the flies. Ooh, I better go wash my hands again. Then I sprayed them all down really well with fly spray and put fly masks on them. I think I'm going to go buy them new masks today, mine are getting rather floppy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quick Poll:
Imagine you're going to buy a 3 strikes mustang.
Would you prefer a yearling or 10-12 year old?
(No other ages available.)
Would you prefer a mare or gelding? Would you take a stallion?
Include your reasoning if you have time, I'm interested to see what you all say. I surprised myself when I thought about what I would want and why. Not that I actually want another right now.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Good old Rusty got to play pony ride for us today. My sister asked me to ride him. I think she wants to make sure he gets ridden even though she's not feeling well.

Here he is ready to ride:

Then my mom wanted to ride:

Then my dad wanted to ride:
So we got to see how he does with three different riding styles. He's a pretty tolerant guy. The only complaints I have are that he doesn't like his mouth messed with and he's a little herdbound. Nothing terrible, you just have to remind him which way he's supposed to be going. Small stuff, really. He's a good, good horse.

The poor old guy needs his teeth done really bad, so I'll be making him an appointment ASAP. It's painful to watch him eat.

That's it for today. Hopefully I'll get to ride my own horse tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today my dad's horse had a farrier appointment so I watched a horse being shod for the first time. (My first time, not the horse's.) Neat stuff. This farrier used to trim my horses. He's a nice guy and a talker. We had some good conversation. Fun to talk shop with someone much more experienced than me, even if I don't agree with him on everything. Actually, I should say especially because we don't agree on everything. More fun to get some new info to chew on than to sit around saying "uh huh, yep" to each other. Some things he says I have to say "You might be right" because I just haven't seen it done but have heard about it (100 mile barefoot endurance races with no trouble), but other things I just don't see the same way. He didn't think it was safe to trot a barefoot horse on gravel. I do that all the time! But I have a horse with nice strong hooves. He also gave me some really cool new information. For every quarter of an inch that the breakover is too far forward it raises the strain on the hoof by 10%. Also, with the hoof mapping taught by Gene O (Natural Balance) this farrier located the coffin bone with accuracy within 1/16 of an inch when using radiographs to verify. These were studies they did at WSU. I'm still not 100% sold on the artificial breakover of a Natural Balance shoe, but it's fascinating stuff nonetheless. Except to my dad. He got bored listening to us talk. How could anyone be bored by a horse's hoof?!?! It's a fascinating, well-engineered design! When it works right, that is.

We talked a lot about how people have bred bad feet on western performance/show horses. Sad. He did tell me that I probably don't have to worry about Tonka going lame because of his crooked feet, since I don't use him all that hard and he has such strong big feet. Hope he's right on that.

My sister was pretty sick today, her third day after chemo and second day after getting the shot that makes her bone marrow start working again (the chemo shuts down the production of red blood cells). Lots of nausea and bone aches. She was able to take half a tranquilizer and finally get some sleep though. It's weird to sit there babysitting my sister...

I trimmed her new horse Rusty's hind feet today after her husband got home. She'd gotten his fronts done before her surgery. He has a pretty gooey case of thrush, so I'll probably take over something to treat that tomorrow. He's going to need some time and good nutrition to grow a better hoof. At his age they may be as good as they get. They don't look horrible by any means, and he doesn't seem sore, but they're not mustang feet. His front feet look nice and big from the top. I haven't looked underneath yet though. Next time I'm over there and not sure what to do with myself I'll probably trim Camria. Her hooves are growing really, really fast. I don't want to trim Levi, her quarter horse. His feet are so incredibly awful. Wry, thin walled, underrun, thin soled. You name it, if it's bad, those hooves have it. And she's pretty particular about how she wants him trimmed. So I'm hoping she has someone else lined up to trim him.

I guess I'm babbling about hooves a lot today. I like hooves. I don't so much like the physical part of trimming them, and the second-guessing myself that I always do when I trim. But hooves are pretty cool. Speaking of which, I really need to finish trimming Cisco tomorrow. Now with my sister's 6 horses as well, I have 44 hooves to trim. I better put them all on a schedule...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today was weird. But, first and foremost, I should say my sister's chemo went great. She started to have a reaction in the beginning so they gave her extra benadryl, but other than that it all went smoothly and when she called me this afternoon she was amazingly upbeat. She said they visited with another couple most of the day and they had a good time. The only downside so far is that food already tastes wrong, and she's tired. But she had a big day, so that's to be expected. They left the house at 6am and didn't get home until about 6 this evening.

She'll start to get sick within the next two days or so. Unfortunately John isn't going to be home much for the next two weeks, so this ought to be interesting, with 5 kids hanging around, my sister's husband in harvest, and my mom already exhausted from getting my sister's house sterilized and getting the kids more organized so they don't have such a hard time cleaning up after themselves. Maybe I ought to take my mother-in-law up on the offer to take my kids to Glacier for a week.

Anway, we went for a little ride this morning, John, my dad, and I. You'd think we did a marathon, it wore me out so bad. But we only rode about 5-6 miles.

Here's my sweet Tonka:

John didn't know I was taking his picture, so he looks all expressionless and tough:

John and my dad having a chat:

The ag plane that was buzzing us a lot of the time:
It may look like we're on sand, but that's a real-life dirt road, not gravel. You don't want to try to drive on it when it's wet. It's not possible.

It wasn't a great ride, but it wasn't terrible. Tonka was in a hurry and pretty goosey on the way out and really slow on the way back. Cisco and Sox seemed to be pretty well behaved, but then I wasn't riding them and sometimes horses are subtle...

Tonight I rearranged the horses so my dad could bring his horse here for the week. I put Soxy with Tonka and Cisco, since they don't need extra feed, and I was going to leave Scout with Coda. I had passed out due to my extreme exhaustion, and woke up to my dad yelling outside. They (Cisco and Tonka) had chased Soxy to exhaustion. She was soaking wet, shaking, and breathing like a freight train, not to mention dripping a little blood from numerous cuts and contusions all along one side. I was totally confused and out of it, having just woken up rather suddenly. I am really glad my dad saw what was going on. We rescued her and walked her for a long time until she was dry and had quit breathing so hard, then I took her back in with Coda. He was very concerned about her. You should have seen him tenderly greeting her. I gave her some banamine as a precautionary measure. I'm sure her old muscles are not going to be happy. She was having trouble walking. It scared me.

Speaking of which, I need to go check on them one last time and feed them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I don't know, I think Scout may not be my horse. John keeps talking about how sweet he is, how he's like a big teddy bear. Yesterday I looked outside to see Scout missing, and went out to find them coming back from a little stroll.He had taken Cisco for a walk, and then Scout probably just offered himself up like he always does. It's hard to resiste putting a halter on him and taking him out for a while.

Later on we saddled up. Tonka got left at the trailer for a while and he was all worried about something when I got back to him. When he gets worried he gets a little pushy. I didn't put those two things together until the other day at the vet's. He was mostly a good boy, but kind of a pushy jerk, same as he was at Mustang Days.

Here's John riding Cisco. I think they made some definite progress yesterday. Cisco likes to ignore a turn signal and continue on where he wants to go, but with his head to the side. So John was having him move his hip over and that did the trick. He was especially good considering he hasn't been ridden since June.
We went and rode around the other side of the property, checking fence. There's some good grass back there and the wire fence isn't too bad. I think the old horses would respect it. So I might work on putting up some temporary fence to close it off so they can enjoy the green stuff. But Soxy is soooo fat. I wish I could just put Scout out on grass with Coda. Maybe I'll buy some more electric tape and string that up to keep him away from the wire. Sorry, thinking out loud...

This morning I woke up to my horse whinnying. He has a very distinctive hoarse whinny, you can always tell when it's Tonka. Scout doesn't whinny much but when he does it's more normal sounding. He sounds like a big horse. Anyway, I looked out the window and Cisco was gone. John had taken him for a walk again. He wants to get some exercise and bond with his horse at the same time. I can't wait until school starts and I can go with him.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sometimes you just know that things are happening for a reason.

My sister had decided to quit looking for a horse to ride during chemo. The horse advertised as a"dead broke kids' horse" turned out to be a bolter and she just didn't want to look anymore. It really scared her. So she prayed, saying she wasn't going to look, but if God wanted to He could send her a good horse.

Wednesday I noticed a new ad for a good kids' horse, mountain horse, pack horse. He's done who knows how many miles in the Selway, packed moose, elk, bear, and an injured Norwegian hiker who had never seen a horse before. Not to mention anyone who came over and didn't know how to ride.

Weird how it all came together. They just happened to be asking exactly the amount my sister had. They just happened to have ridden together years ago. He just happenned to be a loaner horse at Cowboy Bible Camp three years ago, and my sister had really liked him and offered to buy him for her kids. Of course he wasn't for sale.

How odd that his ad would go up the day after my sister offered up her prayer, and that I would see it (I normally don't check this website often) and we would get to him before the other people who called.

She tried him out that night and I went home and got my trailer and hauled him home for her.

He's funny. He doesn't really like me or most other people. He doesn't do anything bad, just would rather not be touched. But he follows my sister around like a puppy. He also hums when she rides him. They warned her he makes funny noises, or she might be worried his noises were a precursor to a blow-up. But nope, he just hums along with the rythm of the ride, then eventually tries another noise for a while. Watching her ride, I'd say there isn't a thought in his head except to do exactly as he's asked. Not that he's stupid, he's just present, ready to carry her wherever, in whatever way, without much of a thought to anything else. Very Zen.

Yesterday she wormed him and he was very uncomfortable. He hadn't been wormed all year. I hope he's feeling better today.

Meet Rusty:
He's a certified therapy horse. Well, okay, so he's not certified, but he's going to make my sister's life a lot more bearable over the next year. He's already doing his job, bringing her joy.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The chemo port went in with no problems other than some pre-operative jitters and post-operative pain. I suppose people can't go mucking about in your soft tissue without some serious soreness afterward. I hope it passes quickly.

That's about all I have to say for the day. Sorry for the short post but I've been on the run for about 15 hours now and I'm going to head to bed!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tonight I learned that Tonka can barely hold himself together while trapped in a round pen in a brewing storm with a dragon kite in the air nearby. He was doing a very impressive levade and then coming down and pressing his chest up against the fence. He wasn't sure whether he was going to try going over or through. My sister's round pen isn't very tall, but Tonka isn't all that coordinated either. Luckily when I went in and caught him he was able to focus enough on me to keep from doing anything stupid. I gave him a few simple jobs to do while the kids tried to reel in the kite they shouldn't have been flying in the first place. Lucky they didn't get struck by lightning!

He hauled home quite nicely in the thick of the storm, with rain pummeling down and lightning setting the whole sky alight. He didn't like it, but he did fine.

Why were we out and about? Not just to ride this time, although we did do that this morning. We hauled to the vet to see what they thought of the lump in his nose. It isn't any bigger but my sister mentioned sarcoids, which apparently do come in a smooth-lump variety, and I got a little worried. The vet checked him out and said just to keep watching it, and that it isn't obstructing his breathing enough to be worried about, so I can work him as hard as I want. Not that I ever work him hard anyway... Kind of frustrating, I feel like I made a trip and paid (not much, but still...) to be told to do what I already thought was the right thing to do. I guess being backed up by a vet just means I have good common sense, but a little too much worry? Worked out okay though, since my sister needed to get a brand inspection on her new horse. New horse? Yep. Old guy, steady eddy, chemo patient mount. He's a good horse, and they already love each other. I took my camera to take pictures and I didn't take my memory card.

Tomorrow we head up for my sister's minor surgery to put in her chemotherapy port. They say it will make her pretty sore. I hope she's an exception so we can ride together before she starts chemo on Tuesday.

Thank you all for your prayers and kind thoughts! I can tell they are working, and we can use all we can get. My niece (13) is having a rough time, and giving my sister a hard time. Not terrible, just teenage angst and attitude. She is angry about the cancer. Not angry at my sister, but just angry, and having a hard time not being cranky about it. So pray for her to be strong for her mom, and to be strong for herself, and to come through her teenage years emotionally healthy. It's a hard time of life, even without cancer involved.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wonderful, wonderful day! They did not find any cancer other than in the breast and the nodes, which we already knew. So she is still in stage 3 cancer, not stage 4. Her doctor told her as long as she's in stage 3, they can cure her. My sister said she's going to hold her to that. :) She was crying with joy. Scared me for a minute, not knowing what was being said on the other end of the line. But it was a good cry, not a bad cry.

Today I rode Camria. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I need to start calling her by her new name. She is really having trouble getting comfortable with someone moving around on her back. But then, she has a bunch of welts on her back right now from fly bites. She was having trouble before the flies though. It's been a couple weeks since she's had any work at all, and she did well, picked up right where she left off. I think I'm going to keep riding her for my sister until she finds out if there's a spot open with Kyya Grant, a trainer who works with Mark Rashid. I think that would be the best place for her to go right now, so I hope she has a slot open.

Hmmm... I'm pretty tired, can't really come up with much else to talk about. Started school clothes shopping today. I can't believe it's almost time for school again! And the combines are out harvesting. There's nothing like the sight of a big huge combine harvesting in the dusk with its lights on. Powerful.

Monday, August 03, 2009

What a day it's been. We spent the day in Spokane going from test to test. It really wears a person out, and I'm not even the one being tested. Amy said that the people were very somber after her tests, one even adamantly told her, "You cant' see that," when she tried to look at the screen. It freaked her out. They can't tell her anything, of course. We have to wait for the official test results to be given by her doctor, which should be in about 2 days.

Her chemo port will go in sometime this week, and chemo officially starts on Tuesday of next week, but really started today with an injection of a chemo drug that will kick her into menopause.

The last test of the day was the PET scan. They gave her lots of radioactive glucose in a drink and a lead-encased syringe, and she's not allowed to get too near her kids for the next 24 hours. But she was happy to have it done at 4pm, since it meant she could eat for the first time since last night.

By the time we got back my chest was all tight and I couldn't breathe very well. But we went out to love on the horses and I got to visit with Bella (Camria) and untangle her mane. It loosened me up, got the breath going again, made me feel thankful. Horse therapy is the best kind. I gave her a good itching and she really appreciated it. I love that horse. But while we visited my sister was talking over the fence with her neighbor, telling them the new news, and her neighbor was talking about someone she knew who died 2 months after finding out she had cancer. How callous, to mention that.

I can't wait to get the test results back, negative! Negative!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

This morning I got up with energy, motivated to get out and work Scout in the round pen and saddle him. Well... After deciding to sit down and have coffee, feeding the old horses, mixing 5 days worth of supplement for the other 3, and mucking the old slobs' stall, it was already getting hot. I almost gave up the idea of working with Scout. Instead I grabbed the pony saddle and headed to the pasture.

No round pen, no pad, so I didn't cinch him down. And really there's no hurry, I have a year or more before I'll ride him. So I just threw the saddle up there repeatedly. He seemed more annoyed at the indignity of it all than worried.

"What is this and why is it on my back? I think I'll bite it."

"This is so stupid. Can't I go hang with my buddies?"

"Alright, okay, I'm cool with it, and I'm cute. Can we be done now?"
And we were.

I dreamed I was talking with the trainer last night. I'm glad now is not the time for him to go to the trainer but at the same time I can't wait to see what kind of riding horse he'll be. I really need to get him out more. This fall will probably be a better time for horse work, once it's cooled off a bit and the kids are in school. Until then I'll keep doing short work sessions every once in a while.