Monday, May 30, 2011

The time that I love best is the unstructured time with the horses. No agenda, no goal, just itchy bellies, scratching fingers, sharing breath, tickly whiskers in my ear, bright eyes and perky ears.

This is all the work Tonka got today. I'm not supposed to give him a day off but I did.

Grace is making progress. John is brushing her in the picture. Soon we'll move her into the round pen and she can have some company if they behave themselves.

This face! It's the pencil necked geek I adopted 5 years ago, with a more muscular body.

Scout the Inquisitive:

Aren't these clouds spectacular?

Tonka, bless his goofy soul.

Mister Inquisitive again, with his ragged ear:

Scout's flank is whiter this year I think:

He has a cute whorl under his belly.

And a big belly spot! I didn't know that was there.

This picture seemed to need some touching words in neat script. The best I could come up with were some lyrics from a song I like.
Bella's sexy legs:

And a Bella Belly shot:(Everyone hangs out in the pasture taking pictures of their horses' bellies, right? You can't tell me I'm the only one...)

Here you can see all 5 butts if you look for Grace in the shadows of the mustang pen. Soxy's butt is right under the camera. (That's not my motorhome or building, in case you were wondering. We're not quite that well-off. It's my mom and Henry's. They just got back from a relaxing trip to Canada.)

Bella loves to scratch her butt here.

Here's Soxy enjoying a good belly scratch. Poor horses are all bit up by the flies.
Tomorrow I'm hoping to find time to bathe and groom Soxy and spray her really well with fly spray. She seems to get bit a lot more, especially on her underside.

Has anyone else noted that fly spray is much more expensive this year? Or is it just my local store? What I used to pay $18-19 for is now $25 (Endure). Holy cow! I bought Tri-Tec instead, and it was about $21. And it certainly does not last as long as they say it does. I'd like to get fly predators but I don't know if they'd cover the whole property very well, and they wouldn't do me any good on trail rides. Interesting note - about 4 years back when Soxy got pigeon fever so did a horse next door. So it's not MY flies I worry about. I'd like to keep all biting flies off of them if I could. But it doesn't seem safe to feed them stuff to keep the flies off. What do you think?

The people who bought Cisco were busy today so I'll get him tomorrow afternoon. I am kind of excited to see him again, I have to admit. Hopefully he'll be the same as always and no worse for wear.

I got all my aspens planted today. Liam and I decided to plant them in a circle so we can set up a tent in the middle, or maybe build a pavillion or gazebo there later. I told him about how wonderful aspens are because of the sound they make in the wind, and sent him to stand under our more mature aspen tree. He's so contrary I expected him to contradict me and say that's not so great, but he was totally excited about it! It made me really happy to share that with him and have him appreciate it. Now I just really hope these trees make it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I've been hanging in here, working my butt off and making sure to work my horse every day. He developed a lump in the middle of his back, so I was looking for a chiropractor, then the lump went away and I rode again. After my ride his hair was roughed up on either side of his spine in that spot and there was a smallish lump there. So no more riding in that saddle. I was going to sell it but...

Cisco will be coming back home soon. Glad we didn't spend the money because he didn't work out for the people. He won't do a thing for them. I hope it's not too hard to get him tuned back up. So I'll keep the saddle, which was his saddle, and I don't know how I'm going to raise money for the EZ Fit treeless saddle that I want to order for Tonka.

The good news is he seemed happy in the wade saddle again. Fickle boy. I didn't ride him tonight because of the swelling by his spine, but I did exercise him with the saddle on and you'd never know he'd thrown a fit about it a month ago. Maybe it was the pad... Who knows. I still would really like to get that treeless saddle, somehow. I've had my dressage saddle up for sale for months, maybe something amazing will happen and it will sell.

I thought my boy looked very handsome in front of the blooming trees yesterday.

He wasn't real keen on having his picture taken though.

And here's what his neck looks like now. I think it's been getting worse, not better, while I've been using the antifungal cream. I have an appointment at the vet for John's dog on Tuesday so I'm going to ask them if they can bring out the big guns on this. Maybe a steroid cream? Or better yet, maybe a shot? Wouldn't it be great if a quick shot would clear him up?

I put another ad up for Scout, hoping to get him sold before I have to put more time into him, but I have him priced too high. I'm not sure whether I'll drop his price or just start riding him. Because I have 5 hours a day to spend with all these horses, right? I wish...

I missed the Mustang Club meeting last week. John went out of town and both kids had practice. It was also Liam's last day of school and I was running around all day. I was bummed, I like my good social time with my mustang buddies. I haven't heard whether they've planned any trail rides. Maybe not, with this virus going around.

Today I dug up about 15 aspen trees at my friend's place. Thank you Melissa! Some of them were pretty big. I got 3 planted and have roughly 12 left to plant. I don't know if they'll live since I'm transplanting them after they've leafed out but I hope they will. A couple of the small ones look pretty wilted, but the rest look good so far. She also gave me some cucumber, zuchini, and yellow squash starts. So I'll be in the garden tomorrow too, working the soil.

Busy, busy spring! So far the ball games are going well, Katia hasn't lost a game yet. Liam has his first game this week. Most of their games are at the same times, so John and I will have to take turns. I hate to miss any of the games, but I can't be in two places at once.

So there you have it - my life in general. Hope you're all enjoying your spring, and maybe having drier, warmer weather than we are. What a strange year it's been, so cold and wet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Before I say anything else, I want to put out word that Anchor is looking for a new home. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time will remember him as the horse I was outbid on when I adopted Tonka. Three years later he came to stay here for a while and I worked on gentling him. He is a very, very cool horse, and very big and handsome. He's 16 hands, about 9 years old, and really wants someone to make him into a good riding horse. I almost said I'd take him, even with too much on my plate already - that's how much I love this horse. If you know of anyone who would want him I can supply the contact info on him. (he doesn't have teeny, squinty eyes - he was blinking or something.)

In other news, the little chickens met the "big" chickens. Peekaboo there, the gold one, is half bantam so she's not really all that big. They had some words, didn't like each other much. After watching them for a few minutes I shooed out the older chickens. I want to wait until the babies are older before I let them be alone together.

This is why I love HorseGuard fence. Some young dork stuck his leg through and pulled the fence loose, but nobody was any worse for wear. I just had to put the insulators back on the fence.

Melissa and I had a great trail ride last week. We're planning to go once a week.

Tonka's skin condition isn't getting better, and some of the other horses have it now. I'm trying an antifungal cream and hoping it will work.

My long haired boy, being a boy. Whittling, sitting on his pop gun and his bow.

I've been doing some gardening too. The place is kind of looking like someone gives a darn about it. (My mom got me that beautiful horse for Christmas and I finally found a place for it!)
Other than that we're juggling softball and baseball, end of year events, etc, etc... It's been busy! Liam is done with school after this week though so things ought to calm down a bit.

Oh, and my horse needs a chiropractor. Anyone from my general area have any recommendations?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We had a great birthday party for my son yesterday. He had invited his whole class and I didn't know what to expect, but we ended up with just the right number of kids. We all played tennis, played at the playground and visited in the shade. The weather forecast was terrible with possible hail, thunder and even maybe a tornado, but it turned out to be a beautiful day, if a little hot at first.

Tonka had the day off yesterday because he didn't seem quite right. I think I overdid it with him the day before, ponying Scout. If he was confined I would have at least walked him yesterday to loosen things up, but he has plenty of room to exercise himself and friends to help motivate him. He seems better today. I'll exercise him this evening, but I may not ride.

Today I've mainly spent relaxing time with the horses, feeding Grace grass, hanging out with Tonka while he grazed, scratching their itchy places. Then I trimmed Tonka and Scout. Their hooves are really growing.

While I was finishing up with the trimming John came out and showed me how Grace lets him approach and pet her without grabbing the rope first. We eventually decided to take the drag rope off. Then I decided to try putting a lighter weight rope halter on her since we don't need the drag rope. She handled it very well, me with my arms wrapped around her neck and both hands up by her ears. I put the new halter on over the old one and then slipped the old one off underneath. Her hair was lying all weird and she wasn't sure she liked the ticklish feel. I think she'll be happy to not have so much gear hanging off her head.

Not horse related, but look who I met in my garden the other day:

Too cute
My wee chickies are getting big. They went out into the coop yesterday for the first time.

Here's Merry:

This girl has grown to be so pretty. I'm going to change her name, Pippin just isn't right for her.
She reminds me of a bald eagle, so I was thinking maybe Liberty - Libby for short. But that doesn't really sound right to me either. Any suggestions?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Life is so busy in the spring, and then my allergies hit and it gets to be just a chore to get through the days. Hard to function and think when I'm not getting enough air. Sorry to complain, but it's kind of a way of explaining why I'm not blogging lately. I don't want to take the time to organize my mind for it...

I took some photos that will jog my memory so I'll have something to write about. :)

The whole herd (minus Grace of course) lived together for part of a day.
Then I had to take Soxy out and put her in the adjacent pasture. She's a terrible tease, flirting and then squealing and striking. Tonka finally started chasing her. Stupid old mare, she was so stressed when I took her out, but after I moved her she kept calling to him with her sexy nicker, and still does if he's nearby. (I use the term "stupid" in the fondest terms - I do love my old Soxy.)

India loves to dig for mice.

I've been planting trees. This one is about 3 years old and was pretty big when it was planted. Hasn't grown much.

This is one of my babies - a Douglas fir.
I bought 15 ponderosa pine, 10 Dough fir, and 10 larch (tamarack) at the U of I forest nursery tree sale on Arbor day. They were only $1 each, which makes it a little easier on me when they die, but still, they take so much time and care, and I really want to see my trees grow big someday. So I tell each of them that they're important no matter how small they are and I ask them to live long and prosper.

Most of these trees here are the new ones. I borrowed some stray tree tubes from the trees the environmental group planted. I hope they don't mind. The tubes came from dead trees or were found lying around, either blown or flooded off of the tree they were protecting.

I got to go on a trail ride with my friend a couple days ago. It was a beautiful morning. I didn't get any good pictures of Tonka. Here he's chewing on a woody weed stalk. I had dismounted for the last leg of the ride.

Here's a good one of my friend on her wonderful mare, Rosie, with Huck and Dixie.
Rosie is such a good horse. Hasn't been out on the trail in years and she did so well. No spook in her at all, just a little antsy behavior. Tonka's more nervous than that on just about every ride we go on, whether he's had time off or not.

Grace is making a lot of progress, but still isn't ready to lose the halter and drag rope. Soon, I hope. I hate making them live like that. She'll let me pet her face on both sides, but it's touch and go, and one side is still extremely shy. I also am having to rely a lot on the drag rope for catching and keeping her, which I don't like. I'd rather leave her naked. But we'd never get anywhere like that. I'd have to take the time to put a rope around her neck with the pole every time I wanted to catch her. I guess that would work but I've got too much to do to have to take that kind of time several times a day.

Oh, and Scout didn't sell. He was pretty naughty the day they came and looked at him, but they didn't seem too put off by it. They finally called and said they don't think they have the time he'll need this year. So I'm going to have to get back to work with him. I'm still considering taking him to a trainer. I better get to looking for someone soon if I'm going to do that though.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Cisco has moved on to his new life. It made me sad. Then I got busy and got over it, then Tonka went looking for him tonight and I got sad again. I hate separating friends. I hope he's settling in well at his new place. I really did like the people, no bad feelings whatsoever. It's a good thing. Now maybe I can keep my whole herd together with no violence. I'm going to try that tomorrow when I have time to watch them all.

For mother's day I put my family to work. I didn't get my post holes and posts put in - the posts aren't bought yet. But we did get some fence work done and then they helped me plant trees. I have 7 left to go, not counting about 15 willow shoots I started too early and I'm afraid to put them out in this cold with such big leaves. It's supposed to be really warm in a couple days so I'll plant them then. Oh - John also got our mower fixed so pretty soon here we're going to look halfway civilized again.

Tonight I saddled Tonka up and we rode for a half hour. Tomorrow I'll ride longer. I think he's going to be just fine with careful conditioning and maintenance. I'm SO happy my boy is okay!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Well, our first trail ride of the year was a great success! Now I remember why I put all this work into the horses.

This was the only picture I took. That dog was so funny, he was having a grand time. He's a very handsome and very athletic chocolate lab.

I was actually quite nervous to get on my horse. He's thrown a couple bucking fits in the last few days. It wasn't a naughty thing, he was panicked and obviously completely not okay with his saddle. So I took off the new saddle and tried his old saddle, the one that left white marks behind his withers but that he always seemed to like. Once I put that on he walked off with the fearful look, expecting pain, and after a few strides realized he was okay and he relaxed and started licking and chewing. I rode him for a few minutes and he was fine. I don't know what the problem is, the new saddle appears fine to me but it obviously isn't.

Seeing him come unglued like that didn't do a lot for my confidence in him, but he was really a very good boy on our ride. He was a little nervous at first, but he knew that trail and he did fine. We rode for about an hour and I didn't notice any muscle problems until near the end when he stumbled some and kind of had his hind end drop out on a few strides. He didn't want to be done though, he tried to turn and start up the start of the trail again when we got back to the trail head. I love it when they like their work. He seems fine this morning. So I'll have to start riding more and building his stamina.

Cisco was great too. Makes me almost regret deciding to sell him. He doesn't like to lead and a few times he refused, but at other times he'd jog ahead and lead for a little ways. I think they'll be able to work him through that. He also did a little spook at a burnt horse-eating stump, but that's the worst he did. He really is a good horse. They sent me an email last night saying they'd call today and they thought they'd take him. They just didn't want to haul him home last night with a horse he doesn't know.

I'm waiting for a call from the lady who's coming to see Scout. I'm still not sure when she's going to come. But she did call to check in, which is good.

I'm off to get to work. Hope you're all having a great weekend.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Just a quick update - Cisco might be sold later today. A very nice young couple came to try him out yesterday and they liked him, even though I thought he was being naughty. They're going to try him out on a short trail ride this afternoon (I'm going along, cross your fingers for me that Tonka behaves and doesn't get sore) and I wonder if I'll be coming home with only one horse in the trailer. That will make me sad. But it will also be a bit of a relief.

Scout has a prospective buyer who will be coming soon too. Maybe Sunday. I decided to contact the lady who has a cattle ranch and see if she's still interested. I liked her a lot, just from talking to her, and it sounded like a great home. I haven't had any time to work with him, so this might be a good thing. If she doesn't want him I'll think about whether to advertise him.

In other WONDERFUL news, Bella will be going to the trainer in late July. Keith Danielson has a space open then. He does an actual thirty days of work, so it's not just a month that she'll be there. I should get her back in time to do a lot of riding in the fall after the kids go back to school. I don't know whose horse she'll be - mine, my daughter's, or my mom's, but she'll be a real horse finally! I think her stifles are okay, they just seem to bother her when she tries to sleep standing up and they won't lock, then she goes and lays down for a while. If Tonka's up to it maybe we'll start ponying her out on trails to get her in shape and used to the woods. I'm excited.

I have 35 little conifers to plant, so I'd better get going... Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

We're still alive and kickin'. Busy as heck. Here are some pictures I've taken.

Tonka's special stuff.
Acetyl L-carnitine, glutamine, selenium yeast, magnesium oxide, vitamin e, probios, and pea screening pellets (more than shown in the scoop). I chose the peas because they don't have any chance of having corn, beet, or rice in them. The place that makes them doesn't process that stuff.

Beautiful eggs Lea gave me at our Mustang Club meeting. Thanks Lea!

Muddy boy practicing hobbling:

We've had a lot of ag planes flying over, sometimes two at the same time:

Cisco says hi!
He also wants to know if you have any treats on you.

I don't know what Tonka is saying...
Hee Haw maybe?

Grace is leading, but she still thinks our guts stink. And her left side won't talk to us at all.

Bella and Tonka got medicated baths today.

I think orange is a good color for Huckleberry.
He wanted love, he didn't want to sit still for a picture.

Tonka, with fly.

A killdeer nest I found today. So pretty. I hope the dogs don't find it.

Sorry I haven't been writing much lately. I've been in the dumps a bit. The sunshine today helped. I even got a little sunburn! So maybe soon I'll be back to blogging regularly. I just don't know.