Remember That Pool of Dreams?

Hey there, readers! Do you remember that back in September we started building a swimming pool over here at the Hermits’ Rest Ranch? You haven’t been hearing much about it lately, have you?

Lee inspects his plastic palm trees. They will help keep people from falling off the steps, which has already happened.

That’s because, just as Lee feared, the workers disappeared for about a month. Naturally, the only day all this week that I was gone was when people showed up, at last. They came to put the plants in the flower beds. Hooray.

Workers, working. Photo by Lee.

They also put in Lee’s fake palm trees, which I have to say look pretty good right now. We will see how they hold up after a few rains. I was glad to see that the real plants are hardy items like palmettoes and those yuccas with the red blooms. They will at least lend some color.

The dogs seem to approve of the plants or whatever peed on the rocks before they were delivered, perhaps.

Lee and the gang were glad to see that they did put landscape fabric down and they put tan rocks in, not glaring white (which pretty much cooks plants in the summer sun here).

They didn’t have enough rocks. Oops. My job is to remind the owner to order more rocks.

The frog pond is now dry, as well. There is a lot of silt and such in the bottom of the pool that they will need to get rid of before the plastering can occur. I have been told that the plastering will commence tomorrow or Monday. We’ll see.

I think the plants look nice, but I do hope they remember to make the electricity work and make the pool actually work after the plastering. I want that hot tub.

In Other News

I enjoyed a book club at a nice restaurant last night with Anita and the women from the old neighborhood. Finding the restaurant was challenging, because it is in a dimly lit (but lovely) shopping area and its sign is not lit up at night. You are just supposed to know where it is, sorta like Bob’s Steak House in Cameron. It was really nice to see everyone and get caught up, at least a little bit, on what’s going on with them.

It’s not quite everyone, but is most of the neighbors!

They gave Anita a lovely poster with lots of photos of them as a going away gift. Wasn’t that sweet? No wonder we’ll miss them once Anita is no longer cat sitting on the next street over!

They say hi.

You will also be happy to know I got a replacement helmet for riding the horses. I actually ordered two, in the vain hope that Anita or someone else concerned with the safety of their noggin will want to go riding with me some day, once I have two horses. I guess, though, if one’s my son, I’ll have to get an XL helmet.

I figure if my horse is named after a Native American group, I can have a matching helmet design. The other one I ordered is plain white and has more air vents, like for summer.

At least Sara and I won’t mix our helmets up anymore.

Ranch Work Never Ends

That declaration should come as no surprise. There is always something new that needs to be done, or more likely, something broken that needs to be fixed. It’s a good thing we get to enjoy such lovely sunrises and sunsets! Today, the sky was pink 360 degrees around the ranch. Ahh.

A nice sight to wake up to!

The good stuff is that the dog fencing is all done, and most of the gates are in. The big ones are wide enough for a tractor or truck, so that equipment can get into the yard to work on various projects.

The gates are already handy, since some repairs needed to be done within the fenced area. For one, the pool guys discovered a leak in the pipe leading from the garage to the septic system. I guess it’s a good thing that water isn’t used too much. We would have guessed the earth shifted and broke it or something, that is until our intrepid team found the duct tape that had been holding the pipe together. There’s no way we would ever have known if the pool guys hadn’t dug that hole.

It’s fixed now.

Perhaps you now see why we no longer use the general contractor for this house. But wait, there are more reasons for that, right near the problem pipe.

Hmm.

Whoever ran the water lines and air conditioning stuff to our garage building did not bother to seal the holes into the building. That was sort of okay at first, since in the tack room (former office, living quarters, and other things) the walls kept the room sealed. But, something broke at some point and a hole had to be put in the wall.

You don’t want to know what’s in there.

You could easily see daylight from that hole in the wall. Guess who else could see it? Rats and mice. They got in and ate a bunch of chicken food and made a huge mess. Worse, they ate the plastic cover on my expensive refill container of fly spray. Why on earth? I really didn’t like them in there, and neither did anyone else, since they also ate cattle cubes.

One hole blocked. And yes we need to get the mold off the north side of the building. Of course, the pressure washer is broken. Ranches also break a lot of things.

Today we got them sealed out or in. All holes have been covered up. Now we just have to kill off whatever rodents are still in there. Otherwise, they could live a long time, and reproduce just like rodents tend to do. I’m not sure what we are going to do, since I don’t like keeping rat poison anywhere around dogs.

The really bad hole, also fixed.

Now wasn’t that an appetizing blog post? Let’s see if I can produce something less icky for tomorrow.

More Horse Stuff

There’s always a surprise around here. Today’s surprise was a horse I didn’t know in my pens this morning.

Hello, I’m a large, black mare.

I knew that someone had come back last night after I went to bed, because the dog alarm went off. But I didn’t know who. It turned out to be the nephew and the stock trailer. I recognized Dusty, Remington’s buckskin buddy, but who was the black beauty?

I’m built like a brick house.

I finally figured out it’s Kathleen’s horse from the farm, T, who I’d only seen once before and who did not look quite so fine at that time. It turns out she’s here to get all checked out and such. How about that?

Look, I’m friendlier that Apache and Fiona!

Do you see how shiny she is? Her secret is living for 3 years in a herd of cows and eating grass (and cattle cubes). It works!

She seems happy to be around other horses, and they all seem to be getting along. And she is friendly under all that muscle.

Meanwhile

I didn’t go into detail about my lesson with Drew yesterday, but it was very enlightening to see how hard he is working to learn new habits and build good muscles.

Developing his back legs

He is now going over his little hill under saddle, backwards and forwards, and he is working on using a bit. He doesn’t like them, probably because he had a pretty uncomfortable one before I got him.

And he is developing patience.

We talked about the plan for him, and currently the thinking is to bring him back home at the new year to do ground work and grow to a more adult size. Then in some number of months he can get back for finishing. I’d still be bringing him in for lessons.

Canter practice

I got a lot out of watching Sara’s lesson on Aragorn, who had been feeling agitated for a few days after being spooked by a horse wearing a blanket. He was trying his best to annoy Sara, but she didn’t let him. We were impressed at how she kept her cool and fixated on getting the job at hand done.

Here I was trying to capture his red mane tips, but it didn’t come through.

We had a darned pleasant afternoon with our horses and our trainer.

Today was also pleasant. I walked Apache all over to build back our relationship. Yesterday he turned and walked away from me, but today he came up, eventually and we had a good walk. Fiona, of course, is the best. What a donkey.

We’re all good.

My bruises on my lower abdomen are swollen and painful. I hope it’s just healing. If it gets worse, I will have it looked at.

A Visit with Drew and Friends

I’ll tell you more about this tomorrow, but what’s important is that I got to visit Drew and see how he’s progressing today.

Where have you been, Suna?

He’s getting really muscular and filled out.

No ribs showing!

I went with Sara, so we got to watch each other’s lessons. I was not alone when I was watching.

I watch lessons all day.

The resident bull sat with me, sighing periodically like he thought these horses should be doing better. I also had another friend to entertain me.

Who’s a good dog? Me!

This guy was with us the whole time. Every time we go to training, one of the dogs joins us. This one sure reminds me of Harvey.

We also enjoyed getting to know some very curious new horses at the training center. When we drove in, they ran up like cars were very exciting.

We like people.

I went in to look at them to learn about confirmation. The big buckskin and the two fillies were fascinated by my water bottle. I wish you could see their three noses all sniffing at it. Such curiosity!

I’ll share more tomorrow. I spent so much time with horses today that I’m zonked.

Come back soon, Suna!

Plus I’m full from a nice dinner my friend Martha made for us. Sunday family dinners are back!

Square Simplicity

It was suggested that I make a giant Grandma’s Favorite dishcloth pattern as a baby blanket. It’s also been suggested that babies no longer use blankets. So, it is also a “tummy time mat” or whatever modern babies use.

It’s not plain and boring.

I had two balls of this nice, soft baby yarn, Sridar Snuggly Pattercake, in two different pastel color ways. I used the same stripe sequence as with my hexagonal blanket I just finished.

The colors lined up similarly, but it ended up looking nice, I think. It’s certainly soft and snuggly. And it can be washed by machine if soiled by normal baby activities.

This will go to one of three upcoming little ones in my friend and family circle. I like making baby things, because I can give them away! That makes less yarn in my soon-to-be-bursting yarn room.

Speaking of not bursting, my closet is less stuffed today, since I packed up 6 large bags of clothing (size small and medium mostly) and a bag of shoes this morning. Maybe I’ll have room for the remaining clothes and shoes that got moved here. The purge has begun!

It’s Penney’s turn.

Rainy days off are good for something after all. And since it’s chilly, there are more dog snuggles.

Just Us and the Dogs

With our housemates at their other house for Thanksgiving and Anita off to house sit for a while, Lee and I have the ranch to ourselves.

Love

But we aren’t alone. I thought I was earlier today, but then I realized I was surrounded by 6 sleeping dogs. I took a panoramic picture.

Alfred, Gracie, Carlton, Penney, Goldie, and Harvey

They take turns keeping us warm in the evenings. I usually have Carlton or Penney. Tonight I was reading and not paying attention when I realized the dog on me was quite heavy. It was Harvey. Aww.

It’s my turn.

He’s a bit smelly, but sweet. And he growls if Goldie tries to come near.

I’ll just lay here and play with my toys.

But, he spent so long watching TV with me that my foot fell asleep. He’s heavy.

Great show.

Lee usually has Penney laying beside him, sitting up like a person. Since my lap was full, Carlton joined them. Surprisingly, no fighting occurred.

Buddies.

That’s what makes a quiet evening at the Hermits’ Rest. I’ll just share this nice photo out friend Carol took of me and Lee. I declare it our anniversary photo, even though it’s a few days away. Lucky 13 years.

Suna and Lee, looked over by mariachis.

Wishing you love, wherever you find it.

Thankful for Each Other

Since today is a day to be grateful for your family and friends, I’m going to share some joyful photos and leave it at that.

Goldie is thankful for cozy bedding.

Now that we have a fence all the way around the house, the dogs can frolic and we can watch them from the front porch without worrying about them running off to chase things. I’m grateful for that!

Frolic time!

And we have Pickle to run with us, too. It’s great to have Anita with us for a few days for frolicking!

Now we are just cooking and relaxing. We will have my son and his partner with us, which will make it way more festive around here!

Dressing. Yum.

I Got Bucked off My Horse, but It’s Okay

Last night I posted on Facebook that I hurt all over. I was busy doing other things, so I didn’t have a chance to go into detail, so here’s the story. First, I am absolutely fine, going to live, and not mad at my horse. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

I’m writing from my quiet, but breezy, outdoor office. Thanks to our friend Carol for painting my dining set red!

When I was finished working yesterday, Kathleen suggested that we go ride the horses, because the weather was just perfect and there was still some light left in the day. My alternative was emptying the dishwasher, so you can figure out that I agreed to the horse stuff.

I got Apache all groomed. His feet sure look good! The round pen work went well, and he even got going at a canter briefly. I did notice that he coughed a couple of times. I never heard that before. But I didn’t worry too much about it. We all cough occasionally.

I was trying to tell you something. Like, in this photo, I’m telling you the Vrazels are moving cattle, which concerns me.

We got saddled up and did our schooling exercises. He was a little reluctant, but not in an annoying way. He coughed a couple more times.

Kathleen and Mabel were having their own issues since Mabel was not interested in standing still to be mounted. That’s no fun if you are as short as Kathleen and your horse is as tall as Mabel. Eventually we were all ready to go for a ride in the pasture, or so we thought.

Neither horse seemed at all interested in what we had planned. Mabel kept stopping, and Apache was okay until we got past the gate out of his paddock, at which point he began acting like his old jumpy self. I couldn’t figure out what the issue was. I’d stop him, back him up, and try to go forward, but he was not happy. This is where I made my mistake. I kept asking too many times.

Finally, he took off at a canter, headed back to the pens. I tried to calmly stop him and slow him down. Nope. So, I did the kind of one-rein stop that the trainer showed me, and that did stop him, but at that point he commenced to bucking. After buck number 3 I lost my seat and fell off the saddle. It was a fairly graceful fall, and I landed properly, so that nothing broke.

I did bonk my head, but my brave little helmet did its job, and my head is fine. I’ll be ordering a new helmet shortly.

The brave little helmet, whose nails came undone at the back.

But what got into Apache? Kathleen and I noticed he wasn’t acting too perky after the fall (and after I did, indeed, get back on and do some circles and managing obstacles). He had a runny nose and coughed another couple of times. So, we petted him and told him we loved him. That made him happy, very happy.

Stop here if you do not want to read about a horse’s male parts.

When Apache let down his member, we saw that it was quite crusty. His metabolic issues lead to crustiness, and I usually remove stuff every week or so. Of course, I’d been gone three weeks and hadn’t seen his member since I got back. I took care of that issue, though he sure looked all red.

We got to worrying, because his urethra looked more red than usual, too, and he was dripping drops of pee (I’ll spare you the photos, though I do have photos). After consulting with Sara, we decided he might have a UTI and a respiratory issue, so we ran over to her house to borrow a horse thermometer. I need to get one of those, too.

Ready to do the job.

His temperature was normal for a horse, 100.4. That’s good. And I now can take a horse’s temperature. Thanks, Apache, for the farts during that process. We decided to contact a vet in the morning.

One of the things I’ve learned is that horses rarely are just “bad” or “stubborn” or “spoiled.” If they misbehave, there is usually a reason. After you check to see if you’ve confused them or something, the next thought should be that they are in pain of some sort. That’s why I am not angry at Apache. Sara says that before she realized it was an issue, he had bucked when his penile crust hurt him at a trot. Plus, if I was signaling away with my legs right on his kidney or bladder area, that may also have hurt.

I took some ibuprofen and arnica (I have to say that, or everyone I was ever in La Leche League with would start shouting “arnica” at me), so I was able to make it through a celebratory evening last night. Today I awoke to only find two bruises, including this one on my arm.

The blue part of the bruise is really pretty in person.

The other one is much deeper and more colorful and is where my lower abdomen hit the saddle pommel awfully hard on my way down. It is right next to my cesarean scar, which didn’t help. I’d say that hurts more than my back or neck today. But I’ll live, and I learned, so all is well.

And sigh. No vet is available to make a house call today, and I would not want to take a potentially contagious horse anywhere with other horses. So, I will see how he is on Friday (tomorrow is a US holiday). Besides, we do not have the trailer here. It should be back this weekend, though.

Another thing I need is a horse trailer that our vehicle can pull! If only I had a lot of money all of a sudden…oh wait, that’s the next post.

I Follow My Own Advice about the Woods

Any person who has read dozens of books about how wonderful trees are and how going out in the woods is so good for the psyche had BETTER go check out their own woods as often as possible. So, yesterday, after a day of writing and staring at screens, I went to check out the woods around here. Much has changed, but much has not.

Ah, trees and water.

As I mentioned earlier, fencing is going in to make a better experience for the dogs and us. To accomplish that, they had to make space for tractors to get in and build the fence. Many cedar elms and mesquite sacrificed their lives for that, but it was unavoidable if it’s eventually to be part of the residents’ cattle ranching empire.

It was a scorched earth policy.

I know perfectly well that a whole bunch of wildflowers and such will pop up immediately, so the earth will not be scorched for long. There has been talk of benches for viewing the woods and a treehouse being erected. We’ll see how long it takes for cattle to eat it, if it comes to pass (one thing I’ve learned about this family is they like to make plans, but only SOME of the come to fruition (probably for the best; I’m not complaining, just stating).

Currently, the chickadees think we built this pile just for them.

On my forest bathing adventure, I went past the tree cemetery and enjoyed some time listening to birds, trickling water, and leaves gently falling. While we probably do have an over-abundance of cedar elms, the wonderful thing about them is that they’re deciduous, so we get to enjoy some autumn color and a new view while the leaves are gone. They also explain why the soil is so rich and beautiful.

Where the fish and crawfish live.

I ended up just following the deer paths that wind through the wooded area between our house and the creek bottom. It was fun, but once I got home, I realized that all that ducking under branches had left me with interesting tree stuff in my hair. I washed my hair this morning, for your edification.

The path the animals use.

I checked out the pond in the bottom, which still has plenty of water in it, though it really didn’t rain much the whole time I was in Colorado.

I do love this pond. And hello, neighbors.

I also enjoyed the wide spot in the stream that leads to the creek, which I always called Deer Haven Pond, but now realize is a part of the stream and only a pond when the stream stops flowing. It is where all the animals hang out, because it’s quite hidden.

The “pond” enjoyed by deer, cattle, and apparently hogs.

The smells in the woods (other than cow poop) are so rich and earthy that I ended up just standing around and enjoying the scents and sounds. A little bunny hopped by, which alerted me to the many holes in one spot that must be their dens. Many little animals must enjoy all the fallen trees (mostly from the drought over ten years ago) as well.

The drought damaged many trees, so they keep dying off, slowly.

The coral berries are also decorating the woods. They don’t have a nice smell, but the color livens up the place and provides bird food all winter.

Cheerful coral berries.

In any case, just visiting my favorite area on the property was enough to keep my good mood flowing, even when the Bobcat Lair property failed to fund yesterday like it was supposed to, and our plans for the evening all changed. Big deal. I’m just living day by day and enjoying whatever comes up. I must have excellent blood pressure now!

Enjoy a few more images, and have a good day, whatever is going on in your part of the world. Unless it’s shopping. Ugh. I’m tired of Black Friday ads. Who had to invent that just to make yet another holiday all about shopping?

Ranchin’ Time

I had fun today getting reacquainted with the ranch and its inhabitants. I sure was glad to see that Peeper, the only chick we ever got past babyhood, is still peeping and growing. She has her comb coming in, and she looks like a darker version of her mom.

The dogs were glad to see me, ranging from black and white to copper and gold!

And of course, I was so glad to see the horses and Fiona. Apache is as furry as a teddy bear, but sound and happy.

I’m not out of condition; I’m fuzzy.

We went for a ride with Kathleen and Mabel. We had a good time until suddenly Kathleen disappeared.

Where did they go?

I looked and saw them zipping away. Mabel was dancing around. Finally Kathleen got off, and we went to check things out. She was waving and Mabel was kicking at her belly.

Kathleen yelled, “bees!” and I saw a bee around Mabel’s legs. It appeared to be a ground bee. They hadn’t bothered Apache, but Mabel must have stepped on their nest! Finally, the bee that chased them stopped on Mabel’s belly and Kathleen killed it with her shoe. Poor horsie!

After that we tried to ride again, but neither horse was remotely interested. They wanted their saddles off and some petting. As did Fiona and Remington, who were out with us.

Enough drama for one day.

Everyone was apparently starving by dinner time, because Fiona kept grunting at the dogs, and when she was done, she tried to drag poor Remington’s food away from him.

Remington is not pleased. Note strongly braced donkey legs

We guess she was tired from her own antics, which included getting into the swimming pool when I was riding. Sigh. And we were worried about the dogs! luckily, the new fencing that should keep donkeys out of the area around the house is being worked on now.

More to come tomorrow! But now it’s time to get some rest, because tomorrow starts another work week. Once again, Anita and I will share an office, except when I have to talk. I’ll show you why she can’t work in her own house in the next post.

Sunset, dog, and ranch stuff.
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