Lee Has a New Project

This is exciting! Lee has been thinking of doing something for a long time, and decided that now’s the time to get going on it. He’s working on a series of decorative ponds for the front of the house (these will not be cattle tanks, but nice ponds, with water plants and such).

A project begins. That orange paint got all over Lee, by the way.

He got started over the weekend, and spent much of yesterday digging the holes to hold a waterfall and a main pond, next to our new walkway. Since it was a very hot day, this all went in stages! Kathleen and I served as consultants and beverage fetchers. That’s very important!

Water will flow out of the top one, which will be covered by a big rock.

The idea with the pond is to eventually have the current one flow down a little creek lined with river rocks into a much larger pond, then recirculate back up. Rain overflow will go into another planned diversion.

The general idea of the pond. The pipes are for going under the path, I think. I need to get rid of that grass.

We will have to see whether we can put anything in there other than native mosquito fish, because we don’t want goldfish washing into Walker’s Creek, which is bad news! And we realize birds will want to snack on fish, dogs will want to mess with the pond, etc. So, this is all to be determined. At this point, Lee is going to get the small pond and waterfall going.

The stream will go down that low area, over to the new pond at the corner of the house. We like ponds.

And Dogs

I can’t resist sharing dog stories. Yesterday, before our biweekly Board meeting, Goldie decided I was a chair. I guess anything’s a chair to her.

I’m gonna nap right here.

We’ve also been enjoying watching all the dogs play. Goldie and Carlton have ended their embarrassing love affair, now that Goldie’s heat is over at last, and are now just buddies again. They have a lot of fun together.

Playtime is all the time!

Let’s see what further adventures this new week brings!

Saturday Morning Ranch Sightings

Here at the Hermits’ Rest, weekend mornings start early for some and slow for others. But there’s always something lovely to see or fun to do. This morning was typical. Lee has started taking a walk every morning and asked me to join him. He may not do it again, as I had him go with me to feed the chickens and move Apache into his pen for the day, but we did eventually get to walking and looking at what’s growing and changing along our arroyo, which is still springy after the recent rains. I’m rather fond of the native plants and even the bad ole invasives (the water primrose) that line the stream.

It’s pretty to me.

Heck, to me tie vine is as lovely as fancy morning glories, and the ruellia is as pretty as a garden petunia. Plus, they are free!

A plant I hadn’t noticed much before is blooming right now, and the blooms are so tiny and hidden among the leaves that you almost wouldn’t notice them. It’s called scarlet toothcup (Ammannia coccinea). It’s a riparian plant, which means it grows in moist areas along streams and such. I think the little flowers are lovely.

Lee and I enjoyed many sights. What a great start to the day!

Next it was time to do some work, since the rest of the household had already been up working with horses and other chores. I got to help cut mesquite down where Sara’s horses currently are, in preparation for the cows that live here to rotate there. That was a lot of fun, and I saw some beautiful iron weed growing in that field.

It was good to be able to help by loading branches and opening gates. Plus, I got to see the other horses and more native plants and insects. I’ll spare you the endless supply of grasshoppers.

Everyone was busy this morning. The tenants were haying and Kathleen was horsing with her herd. I enjoy watching her ride. They’re all progressing according to plan, from what I can tell.

The dogs are just having fun, as usual, swimming, running, and rolling. I love seeing a happy Alfred!

Progress Report on Horses Drew and Apache, Plus Future Plans

Here we are at mid week, and things have calmed down at least a little. We’re getting into a routine with all the new horses and our very workable facility. While there will be improvements, like more roof and the tack room, what we have now feels quite luxurious!

Drew wishes he had Apache’s dinner, but it has very few calories, so he wouldn’t get much out of it.

It is so nice to have the round pen right there to warm up horses and to work with Drew. I’m happy to say that he is a lot better on the lunge line and now walks and trots more than trotting and cantering. Plus, he is starting to figure out that I am asking him to transition. He is also being a much better citizen when walking on a lead, and only crowds me in crowded spots. There’s work to do, but also progress. On the other hand, I have not found his “back” button.

Wow, exercise area, feeding area, pasture, shelter, and even a temporary washing station are here!

I’ve been riding Apache as often as possible. Yesterday, he acted like his right back hoof hurt and did not want to trot in the round pen, so I’m watching for another abscess. Yet, we went for a very long trail ride all over the cow pasture, front yard, and such, and he did just great. There’s a lot of progress with him, too, and I’m relaxing my feet more in the Western stirrups.

And look at this! We have trails mowed into the pasture for us, on both sides of the fence. We sure appreciate that!

The new horses of Kathleen’s are enjoying their lives very much. She’s been riding Dusty for hours every day, and they also are making huge progress. It’s fun to watch them. She walks all the horses daily and does tons of grooming. She’s the horsiest!

Dusty says, I’m enjoying riding around with Kathleen, and I’m gaining some weight!

Mabel has been looking sort of droopy, though, so she’s going to the vet ahead of schedule, just to be sure she is all right.

I’m eating a lot, but still working on filling out these old ribs of mine, says Granny Amaretto.

As for me, I know I am not equipped to train a young horse myself, so I have been talking to a local trainer whose philosophy and ideas agree with mine about getting him started the right way. She’s the woman who was the judge at the Working Equitation show we went to a while back. Starting in October, Drew will spend some time learning manners and skills, and I will also learn how to work with him the way he’s been trained.

Excuse me, I’m a teenager. I do not need manners. But, at least I’m clean, says Drew.

In the meantime, I’m going to start going to lessons with Apache, to help the two of us get more in tune and refine my riding and his horsing. I really look forward to finally getting some real lessons in horsemanship, after all these years of not doing it. It’s an investment into my future retirement fun. I can’t wait for Apache to get more balanced, so I can ride him at a trot and canter and maybe help get some of that weight off.

Tired of Horse Pictures?

Well, too bad. While sitting around with the horses and waiting for Trixie, I enjoyed getting pictures of them being themselves.

When one lays down, the other stands guard.

I’m really loving Remington. He’s about as friendly as a horse gets. He likes to rest his head on one’s head, and sweetly kisses (no nipping!) He’s even nice to Vlassic.

All the other horses have been napping and enjoying their salt blocks, especially Drew. It’s just so peaceful!

Plus, the main entry gates are now up. The big red one will no longer try to kill me when I lift it. And the big gates to the pasture will make moving cattle a breeze.

I’m also really surprised how the dogs and horses get along, other than Goldie chasing Fiona. Fiona needs the exercise, though.

Yes, We Have Gates

As I was out there riding and sweating today (and really sweating as I worked with Drew on the long lead), the real gates on the horse stalls got installed. It’s so great to be able to put them in their own feeding areas with the sand, the water troughs, and their washing station.

Clean Dusty in his new space

These aren’t necessarily the final gates, but building them will take a while. My two horses both like to knock down things and try to open gates, so that’s been getting tedious really fast.

I’m the good one. Nice new gate.

Even Lee got into the gate installation. He had fun, I think.

Don’t fence me in.

We can now arrange the pens in lots of creative ways, depending on how many horses there are and what they need. Makes me so happy.

And yes, I rode Drew today. He’s such a different horse than he was last week! Why? Well, he’s already at a better weight. He eats and eats, just like the teen boy he is.

I look normal for my age!

He also is building muscle like crazy. He now can run and run, bother the other horses, and be a young horse. All this means he isn’t the calm little guy he was before. So, he needs to be exercised a lot. A lot.

So, I taught him to do circles on the ground while wearing my new saddle. It flopped and made noise, which may have contributed to the fact that there was no walking involved. He trotted, cantered, and even galloped. I held on and worked with him on starting and stopping.

Once the rope slipped out of my hands and he keeps going. He does run pretty. But I got him back! Only after a lot of that exciting action did I try to mount him. Mostly I rode while he was led from the ground. That was good, because he wasn’t stopping well. Obviously we have a lot to work on. But we have time!

Speaking of working on things, my feet have been cramping all night. I think I was gripping the stirrups on the new saddle so hard. I have years to learn that, too.

I’m wishing Kathleen had washed ME when I was done. Note Apache trying to catch some spray.

(Sorry no pictures of Drew running dramatically and me looking competent, but we were all busy concentrating.)

Welcome to Our Equine Rescue Facility

Just kidding! Don’t send us fixer-upper horses! But we DO happen to have two more over here at the Hermits’ Rest, because at least two of us are very soft hearted or see a lot of potential, or something.

Mysterious new equines

This afternoon we certainly tested the carrying capacity of the livestock trailer (well, it’s probably had more cattle in it). First, I went along with Kathleen to get Dusty and Remi looked at by Dr. Kilgore in Rosebud. As predicted, he was popular with all the humans. We waited a long time, but it was fine. I took pictures of plants and butterflies, including one of those bird poop moths. I’ll spare you the photos of the poison ivy, but I did want to show that even Johnson grass can take a good photo. And, there were cute dogs to enjoy.

The horses got wormed and inspected. They were declared fine, other than their feet, which will get dealt with tomorrow. Then, Kathleen said she wanted to go look at these two mares she saw in horse ads. Yes, she was still looking at horse ads. I think she figures Remington is not going to be a great riding horse, and she feels that Dusty (who has already gained weight, as you can see below) is not a beginner horse.

You can still see his ribs, but Dusty (left) looks a lot better.

So off we went. The road looked very familiar. Yes, it was in those outskirts of Milano where we got all the pipe and junk a few weeks ago! I’m sure the horses loved that road, poor guys. We pulled in to a property that was just beautiful, and so far off the beaten path…it made me sing “Almost Heaven, East Milano…”

No houses, just rolling pastures.

The guy did, indeed have two mares. They were very sad looking mares at first glance. I’m going to put in their “before” photos here, so I’ll have a reference as they get better.

We named them Mabel and Amaretto. But before that, the horse trader guy rode both of them for us. First was Mabel. When she is being ridden, you wouldn’t know this is the same horse. It’s like poetry. Her trot is so smooth the guy didn’t bounce, and her canter was elegant. I’m thinking to myself, geez, this is a gaited horse! Then they stuck me up on her (easier said than done; she is at least 16 hands, so I had to use the trailer as a mounting block). I rode her and it felt like she had air-glide suspension. I was not interested in a giant, brown (okay dark bay) horse with a droopy lip before, but suddenly I was. I hid my joy, of course.

Amaretto’s sweet face.

Then he saddled up the other horse, which could not be more different. But, she is only 14 hands, if that, and I can mount her from the ground. Even Kathleen could! Kathleen enjoyed riding her, and wanted me to try. Amaretto reins more fluidly, but rides like Apache, i.e., a normal Quarter Horse. I will enjoy my new saddle on her. She is actually a beautiful horse, but she’s so skinny it’s hard to tell. Apparently the horse trader had leased her out, and she was returned in this poor condition (OMG her feet look so sad).

Mabel working

So, after the requisite haggling, they bought them. And during the chit-chat portion of the discussion, we also were referred to a cool old guy who had some saddles. BUT WAIT. You remember the guy who sold Drew got rid of him because he wanted some beautiful stud horse? Guess where he got him! Yep. We should have just met in Milano and traded. I am glad we have Drew, though.

Don’t forget me.

So, off we went with four horses and two saddles. They let them out with Fiona and the other three horses, then all of us just watched everyone running around and getting to know each other. It was a lot of fun.

Meet and greet

When we came in, finally, I got to open my new saddle. It has many pretty details.

Around noon today, Kathleen and I went out to play with all our new toys. I cleaned the saddle they got yesterday. It turned out really nice!

Hardly looks old!

Then I got Apache out to see if he would do okay in my new tack. I got the saddle all adjusted and off we went. He did just fine!

I’m told the pad is a bit large.

Kathleen put on her “new” saddle and yay, the stirrups were short enough for her! It’s technically a kid saddle. Who cares? Amaretto did fine, too. She’s a good horse.

Kathleen looking good.

I got too hot (not my best time of day), so was able to blog a bit. I’m sitting with dear Amaretto, who is completely un phased by welding in her vicinity.

Once I cool off, it’s time to mess with little Drew. By then we may have all the gates up! Enjoy some bonus horse photos!

Sand and Waters

I rushed to the ranch this morning to be there in time for the swimming pool company guy to show up. I had time to check the animals, and discovered Star is broody again. Fine. I’ll mark what’s under her now and see if we get any hatching. Maybe we can keep this bunch confined long enough to make it.

We are being invaded by these guys. Great. The next plague will be Army worms.

I nice young man came to talk about our pool needs and look at our property. We had a good conversation about pool quality and what we’d like. Also we figured out basically where to put it. Ahh. Hoping it won’t be too big or too small or too fancy.

Pool guy is measuring

Before we could say goodbye to the pool guy, a familiar truck drove up. It was the guy that brought our road base, this time with sand to put in the horse stalls.

A load of sand

There was lots of sand, but it quickly got moved to the horse pens, thanks to the tractor. We’ve sure gotten a lot of use out of that old thing! Then the rest of us had to shovel it into corners and such.

The easy part

I got pretty wiped out from shoveling and went back to work, but Lee and Kathleen kept going. Goldie, however, didn’t help much.

Doggie paradise!

The horses will have a much easier time navigating the sand than the clay when it’s wet. Here are some more sand shots, so you can see what we tried to accomplish with improving the drainage and such.

I think we will have a lot more success with this better dirt. And soon we will have all the gates up. So fancy, right?

The day kept growing and growing. But, I’ll write about it in the morning. Too much going on to blog much!

Things to Look Forward to

This is one of those days that I had to slog through, but I did it with style and grace. Now I get to look forward to tomorrow! And there’s so much!

I got the notice yesterday that my new Western saddle has arrived. I sure hope it’s as nice as it seemed to be from its description. It’s not fancy, but is good quality, and I hope to heck is as comfortable as it was designed to be. Apparently it is a women’s model, so it might fit well. It certainly got good reviews online.

I like the colors, which blend with any horse (though if I’d known I was getting a gray, I might have gone with black). And it has conchos (silver decorations), but not too many.

My other saddle, which cost three times as much, and I guess I could afford back when I got it, is a hybrid saddle, which looks more like a traditional English saddle, but is comfortable (really comfortable; I say it’s like the Barco-lounger of saddles). I just looked it up, though, and because of how it was made, the Western one weighs LESS than the hybrid one! My arms are happy to know that. (Photo is not my saddle, but a similar one.)

Well, this may not be obvious to everyone, but when you get a new saddle, you also have to get a new saddle pad or blanket, because saddles don’t sit right on top of horses’ backs. Ow. Because I’m getting the new saddle to ride on a growing horse, I decided to get a good quality gel pad, but one with hand-woven cloth on the outside, so it will look traditional. That way, also, at some point both of my horses could be ridden at the same time, because I have two saddles and two blankets. Yes. I’m excited about it.

But, that’s not all

Tomorrow morning we are going to have a visitor, and not just any visitor. It’s a representative of a swimming pool company! What? A swimming pool at a boiling hot Texas ranch? Where people work outdoors and sweat and overheat and feel really icky? What a dumb idea, right? Worse? One with an outdoor shower to wash all the grime off before getting in. And a sloping faux beach area, in case dogs want to swim. And a hyper strong filtration system, because of said dogs. Oh, and maybe a waterfall or bubbler. And hey, a hot tub for winter.

Something like this. We do have a gas line out back, too.

This all sounds like some kind of heat-stroke induced fantasy to me. Or nirvana. I guess we will just have to see what can be arranged within our pool budget, but at this point, anything fancier than a metal water trough would please me. It is, though, something to look forward to!

I’ll just be patient, prudent, and not over-indulgent when I talk to the guy. I won’t be alone, but the rest of the family is about as hepped up as I am. Even Lee. Yes. Lee.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

This Made Me So Happy

You’ve probably read that I’ve been having some trouble with my Paint horse, Apache, and having him not responding well, with him having an abscess, etc. it’s seemed like two steps forward and one step back. One reason I got Drew is to have a horse I can enjoy riding without struggle.

I’m a good guy!

Now that we have everyone over at our place, I wanted to try riding Apache here. But I did some tests on him.

I started the day with the horses by just walking him around in his little pasture. I wanted to see what Drew would do. He followed us around curiously. So, I took the halter off Apache and put it on Drew. He walked with me just great! He had very good manners. Apache followed, but didn’t force his way between us. It was great!

I was good.

After a hot afternoon of raking huge piles of grass and putting them in the front-end loader’s bucket (don’t ask why), Kathleen and I wanted to ride. I warmed Apache up on a nice long lead, and he was okay, not great. But still, I put his saddle on, in addition to his pretty new side pull bridle.

I’m all dressed up now.

While we waited for Kathleen to get help with her persnickety old saddle, I got on and rode Apache around, to see how he would do. Um. Wow. He was fantastic.

Happy human and horse. Note I do have my helmet on.

We rode over by the cows, checked out the pond, crossed the driveway, and really bothered the poor dogs. But wow, he did so well. He didn’t act upset or nervous. He then stood quietly at least ten minutes while I talked to Kathleen and Dusty.

I had fun, too.

Fiona was also good. When Kathleen and I were out, she didn’t act up or run like a crazed ass. And she came right in when we were done.

I was proud of Apache for helping Dusty and Kathleen figure stuff out, but at one point he’d had enough of mosquitoes and did not want to keep going. I listened to him and got off. He was so happy and friendly and good.

I’m looking forward to my chiropractor experience tomorrow!

We both seem relaxed and happy. Plus, Drew was calmer this evening, too. We are all making progress. I was almost in tears after the ride. I have my horse back, and my new fellow is a real peach.

PS: we watched Apache and Remington mutually grooming for a long time this afternoon. It’s just so nice to see how well all these equines are adapting to their new surroundings and herd. Sometimes things actually work out well! All good.

Family Business Meeting

This is just cute. We had our monthly Hearts Homes and Hands board meeting this morning, which we hold in Lee’s office/our bedroom every time. What was cute was that we had to have so many supervisors

Fascinating business plan.

Right as we started, the upstairs dogs started barking. Why? Goldie was coming upstairs for the first time! She wanted to contribute!

I was lonely.

Or, actually, I think she wanted to be with her people. I particularly enjoyed it, because she sat with me, and I like having a big ole lapdog with me.

My lapdog from earlier this morning.

Our meeting went long, so eventually the dogs started their own meeting.

I move we adjourn.

Even Vlassic was in the house, and he came up until Penney growled. That’s at least progressing! In any case, the dogs made the people meeting much more fun. Now, off to mess with livestock some more.