Pool of Dreams or Nightmares?

Hey, do you remember that swimming pool we had built? The beautiful one with the hot tub and nice patio? Yeah. I remember it, too. We called it the Pool of Dreams, but lately it had been turning into a nightmare.

Note the color of the water.

We had been following the instructions the pool company gave us, which were minimal, to say it kindly. And our questions and phone calls had gone unanswered. Lee had been spending hours and hours trying to get this green stuff out of the pool, which we thought must be pollen, because it wasn’t sticking. But that’s not all. Here’s what else was going on with the Pool of Nightmares:

  • The remote control stopped letting us choose fun colors for the lights. Only by chance did I figure out a way to cycle through a few of the possible colors.
  • The pool would not turn on spa mode and spa heat mode together. You had to go over to the unit, where snakes live, to manually turn on the spa heater. Then, you had to check every hour or so to make sure it hadn’t switched to pool heat mode, which wastes my precious propane and only heats to 80 degrees. That was getting tedious.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to put in it, because adding salt wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. We finally got a clue when Lee found an owner’s manual to the unit online, which explained that the reason the pool beeped occasionally (the pool company guy had said “it just does that”) was because the salt cell wasn’t hooked up.
  • The salt cell wasn’t hooked up. They simply had not done it. That could explain a lot.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to add, because the pool dude just said to look at the readout on a strip and add the right chemicals. Okay, what are those exactly?
  • The spa jets would not stay in. So, half the spa outlets just spewed forth water in a big gush, rather than going around and around and being therapeutic. I was most annoyed.

As of last week, no one had returned our phone calls. So, Kathleen called around and found a pool maintenance person and asked him to come in. He explained to her that there was a chlorine-resistant algae going around, but hinted there may be other issues.

Pool guy at work. Note that one of our plants is blooming.

Yesterday, the pool dude showed up. Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know all the details, but suffice to say that he put in the right chemicals to re-balance the pool and get it under control. He will be returning weekly to do maintenance. This will make Lee’s life so much easier, since he was not happy to be having to go out and do pool stuff every day, even with Mr. Robotto going around and getting stuff out.

Look at that. The pool is blue, and all the algae that was on the beach area is gone. We are sure grateful Kathleen called for help!

Plus, finally someone called back about the pool from the company who sold it to us. They had gone radio silent since we made our last payment, to the point where we thought they must have gone out of business or something, until I checked their Facebook page, and saw that it was still posting things.

Check out that lack of algae, will you?

I am told that the actual owner of the company will be at the ranch on Monday. I’m sorta glad Lee isn’t there to give them a piece of his mind, but I am pretty sure he will get a piece of the other male resident of our family compound, instead. That may help turn the nightmare back into a dream.

I hope it does, because we have been enjoying the pool a lot, and it’s going to be hot, hot, hot in Texas next week.

Where we are, it’s still pretty pleasant. Lee and I got some really cool rocking hammock chairs and have been sitting on the balcony watching birds, planes, helicopters and more.

These are FUN. Look for them at Costco.

I’ve seen little wildlife, other than a cannonball jellyfish and some amorous pigeons.

But we did get to enjoy some kind of aerial show featuring a plane, some red skydiving stuff, and some parachutes in formation. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it. And that’s it. Other than getting groceries, we stayed put and relaxed. That is a good thing, far as I’m concerned.

And kindness keeps happening. I bought myself some Mother’s Day flowers, knowing that’s the only way I’m going to get any, and the cashier couldn’t find the code to ring it up, so she whispered, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The thing is, I realize that I’m so unused to seeing people be nice to strangers that I get all teary-eyed when it happens. That’s sorta sad.

Happy Mother’s Day (US) to all who are mothers or who have mothered others, human, animal, or whatever.

At least here at the ole resort, everyone’s friendly and nice. A guy took my luggage cart downstairs for me, just to be nice! I’ve met a lot of nice people at the pool bar. Cute little kids keep saying hi. I’m keeping track of these little things, to counter all the negativity I see otherwise.

Horses Can Learn by Observation

For the five of you who read my review of Horse Brain, Human Brain from this morning, you might find what happened this afternoon really interesting.

Not me. I’m a hen.

The author of that book, Janet Jones, claimed that horses can learn from observing other horses. She shared that she’d seen horses learn to open gates and do ground work just by watching. I didn’t think I’d seen that before. Well, I saw it today!

Kathleen and I were measuring Mabel with the horse height tool we’d found. (16 hands) we accidentally left a gate open, and of course everyone except Dusty went out. We were fine with it, because we knew they’d come back at feeding time.

We’re free.

I ended up out there with them for a while, because I was urgently searching for the beverage cup I’d left somewhere out there. I wanted to take it on my upcoming trip.

I was too slow. Buh.

I watched Mabel as she purposefully strode across the grass. Where was she going? She went to the new trailer! What? She looked all over it for treats.

The grass IS greener here.

Now, she has never been through trailer friendliness training. Only Apache has. She was watching! Wow.

Any more treats on this thing?

By the way, in a minute, Apache walked right up to his former enemy and thoroughly checked it out. Looks like I did a good job with the trailer thing. Now to cut out the treats and just do praise, as Jones suggested.

Freedom. For a while.

I love it when you get validation of new knowledge so quickly. Thanks for escaping, horses.

Drew Goes to Summer Camp

It isn’t summer yet, but Drew went off to Camp Wild Type yesterday, like a little man.

I’m gonna cry cause you’re making me leave.

Really, what’s happening is that I’m going out of town later this week, and Sara offered to take care of him most of the time I’m gone, since she has a really healthy pasture someone needs to nosh on while Aragorn deals with some issues. It’s like going to camp!

Camp? With food? You can see my ribs, you know.

We walked over to Sara’s property, and Drew was such a gentleman. I never had to pull on his lead, he never bumped into me, and he walked with me. That boy has learned. Even when he neighed, he paid attention to me. I was so proud. Once we got there he went to meet Lakota, the older palomino gelding who she’s taking care of in his retirement years.

Hey there.

We were a little worried, as you are when two strange horses meet. But these guys just sniffed faces, sniffed shoulders, and sniffed butts.

Yep. You smell just fine.

It was sweet to watch them immediately start hanging out together. Drew hasn’t made any good friends in our herd, so that pleased me so much.

We like each other.

I hope they are going to have a nice time together. The beautiful Sully is also going to be there. She’s probably going be a boss mare, so introducing her is going to take a while. Sara is on it! It’s so good to have a trusted friend who cares as much as I do about our horses.

What’s Blooming and Growing, May Day edition

Around May, the dominant wildflowers change from bluebonnets and paintbrushes to Indian blankets and Black-eyed Susans.

Our front field

What else is blooming now? Here are a few familiar friends I was glad to see back again.

But the best new thing over in our world is an animal. Look who Sara saw shortly after I left her place this afternoon? And she had kits! exciting new life!

Beautiful gray fox!

The chickens say this is why I need to lock them in each night, however. No foxes allowed in the henhouse.

This way we don’t have to sleep with the snakes.

Good night from the Hermits’ Rest, where we spent a lovely evening watching ducks and tiny birds flying in formation. I hope they were eating all the swarming termites…that’s another story. Still. A good life.

Murmurating. Or whatever.

Remember the Day Apache Would Not Ride Up to the Trailer?

I’ll never forget the day, myself. It was Easter and Lee’s friend, Matt, was with him. Matt said he’d take some pictures of me riding, which I thought might be useful for identifying things to work on and such. I wish.

Tarrin’s horses thought it was a great show.

Instead of me working on Apache’s inability to jump, me learning to leg yield, or anything remotely calm, I got a series of photos of Apache having one of his stress meltdowns.

I could do better than THAT, says baby horse.

I’ve decided it’s pretty educational, though. You can see my technique issues, my poor posture, Apache’s annoyed disconnection, and more. Matt already posted 51 pictures on Facebook of me and Tarrin working on this, so I’ll make the best of it and turn it into a fun picture story for any readers who are interested in what was going on in the photos.

All that took about 20 minutes of our lives, which are seared in my brain. But, by gosh, we did it! Apache made it to the trailer. Now you know why yesterday’s approach was an impoverishment.

Much needed sweaty hug of relief! Lee and the baby horse approved.

I’m proud of myself for being patient and willing enough to move through this and make progress. I have different goals from many of my equestrian friends, but by gosh, I’m getting there.

All photos in this post are by Matthew Hickner.

Patience Pays Off, with Help

Today Apache and I had our first lesson in a while, since Tarrin is recovering from some surgery that will improve her quality of life, if she survives her convalescent period. That’s hard for an active person! I just brought Apache, since Drew is doing well.

Fine. We will just bond.

This was one educational lesson! Tarrin did great scooting around on a 4-wheeler and Apache did amazing for the first half of the lesson. He jumped the right way at least twice. We were proud of him! This is going to build good muscles! He and I both did well doing some circle things that we can easily practice at home. I’m getting more balanced, and that feels great.

Hey, Dusty, did you get enough food? No, Apache, we’re not special.

However, as soon as he got tired, Apache started to act up. We got some great practice with not putting up with that…stuff. I’m improving. We practiced me getting off, having him run in circles on the ground, then me getting back on. That way he doesn’t get to think he can get me off him so easily.

We get special food. Ha ha.

It was much better than last time, and I was more assertive. Plus, once he calmed down he went right up to the trailer, ate one treat, walked around, went back, and got another treat three times! No drama! And like Tarrin said, I had to do it myself, because she couldn’t jump on Apache and discipline him. Go team.

I love you all, silly animals.

I’m getting the hang of it, slowly but surely, and Apache is really getting to be more of a partner. We’re enjoying each other and not just thinking any time we get together is only for work.

Not sure I love YOU, yet another water snake.

Back on the upswing, at least horse-wise.

Reptile Season

I’ve mentioned the snake that was in the henhouse last week and the snapping turtle that visited. The reptiles and their ilk have not stopped coming, though.

This morning my son was mowing the back yard when I went out to feed the horses. He said to go get my camera, because he’d just seen a different kind of snake.

A different kind of snake

He was right. That wasn’t another rat snake, it was a thick ole water snake. Like everything else, it seemed to be moving from one body of water to another.

The bad thing was that it went over to the swimming pool equipment, where there is already a garden hose that looks just like a water snake. Now we are very careful over there.

I’m not a snake

Only an hour or later I went to put something in the tack room and spotted a movement that looked familiar. Nope, not a snapping turtle, but one of the native cooters. It didn’t stick its head out enough to ID it, and it’s shell was covered in algae. A fine little specimen.

The algae is a good disguise

These guys are breeding right now. I know for sure, because my friend Jeremy, who does all his ranching at night, saw one laying eggs and burying them last night! I’ve never seen that, since I do NOT ride a tractor at night.

I’d like to be going now.

We are still getting rat snake visitors, too. There was one in the henhouse last evening, another full-grown one, who had already gotten an egg. I got the other ones out, and just left the snake, since I was on my way to a Master Naturalist party for our graduating class. I did post it on Facebook.

Apparently my photo startled the aforementioned Jeremy when he saw it. Then only a little while later, he nearly stumbled across one doing his yard work! It looked exactly the same, which gave him another start! Like me, he’s a snake fan, but they still can startle you! I love having interesting friends who share stories.

Speaking of startling, the colors in this selfie startled me! It even made my hair look good.

By the way, I had a blast at the party last night, which was held in one of Milam County’s numerous Mexican restaurants. This was in Rockdale. The folks I sat with were so much fun and told great stories about the area and it’s history. I’m sure everyone noticed how much we were laughing.

Of course, we talked about reptiles, too. I heard that last year, Gene Rek, the guy who sells us our chickens, had over twenty rat snakes in his turkey pens. Yow. That’s more reptile visitors than even I would want.

My friends Gene and Carolyn goofing off.

We all realized it had been a long time since we’d had the chance to just relax over a meal and get to know interesting people better. It felt good to laugh and share.

A Less Thundering Herd

Howdy to all of you. Today’s a sort of hard day for our herd of equines. You see, there is a strong chance we’ll be in drought conditions for at least some of the summer. And Kathleen has had to cut back on working with horses, as well. We really can’t support feeding 6 horses and a donkey on the pasture that we have, even though we plan to make it a bit bigger.

Why are we in here? What’s going on? (I wish we could explain things to horses more easily)

So, the family members who own them have made a decision to let two of the horses, ones we can’t ride, off to the Farm in Yorktown, where the old ladies there can dote on them and they will have plenty of space and grass. Today I got T and Remington all haltered up and in one of the pens, so they can be loaded up and take a little ride.

I spent a lot of time with them the past few days, because I have grown fond of them, especially poor ole Remmy, who has a head injury and is not good for riding, but is sweet as he can be. He will also be missed very much by Dusty, his buckskin buddy. They were sad when Dusty spent time at the Farm last year.

Remington enjoys scratching on the bars.

The good news is that Dusty likes most horses, so I think he will be okay. And with fewer dominant horses around, Drew and Mabel may have things a little easier (fewer bites and kicks). Let’s hope it all goes smoothly.

You could have put more food in here.

I do know that it will be easier to feed the horses from now on, because we have four pens, and each horse can go in one, with Fiona outside. They can all eat separately, which means I can give Mabel her special food and supplements and Dusty regular ole horse food with some garlic salt. And I won’t feel like I’m going to be trampled at feeding time!

That’s the plan as of today, anyway. I hope you enjoy the fun photos, especially Fiona, who is finally starting to shed her winter coat, which is really a fall, winter, and spring coat at this rate.

Though our herd may thunder less, we still love them oh so much. So much that I feel the need to go play with them now.

Trying Not to Cry Over Spoilt Milk

Last night the dinner we’d planned to have didn’t happen, so both Lee and I had cereal for dinner. I looked at the milk carton, which said it was good until that day. So I poured it on my Oaty Something and chomped away. The cereal tasted odd but I thought nothing of it. But then Lee said he’d thrown out the milk, because it was bad. Oops. The oats hid it too well.

Speaking of things that smell bad, this one horsemint blossom made my office smell like marijuana all day. In a bad way.

So last night, my stomach told me what it thought about that milk, all night. And it gave me weird dreams, like trying to wash horses in my sister’s living room. (She and my mom have both been in my dreams a lot lately — the women my grandmother messed up real bad.)

These flowers cheered me up. I have to pick them now, because they will soon be gone.

Today I dragged along, feeling pretty fuzzy. I got lots done at work, including reading dozens of surveys explaining exactly how much the users I support hate the software I support. Fun times.

In more cheery things. Look, two kinds of vultures, turkey and black. Who knows what they were eating?

Feeling so rotten meant I had no urge to saddle up and ride, so I groomed Apache and murdered botflies that were after him. Then we headed over to the dreaded new trailer. Imagine his surprise when he discovered all sorts of treats scattered on it! I think it did help settle him down, especially since I approached the trailer slowly and indirectly, like it says in my new book (and Tarrin said, too).

You do know my favorite undergrad course was neuroanatomy, right? Well, next to pragmatics.

We went on to do a lot of ground work, and then just hung around with the menfolk, chatting. It was good for us both. I also spent time with Drew after he ate, practicing standing at the mounting block. That boy is looking better.

No picture of Drew, but this is the best I’ve seen Billie Idyl and Blanca, the front two, looking in ages. Star and Buttercup always look good.

I’m home tonight because I decided I’m no longer a good fit for the Austin book club. I think they also decided that. It’s okay, since I had a special dish I was going to make for dinner. Only, dinner got delayed again! I’m laughing. You just go with the flow around here!

Tomorrow is another day. I hope the sunrise is as nice as today’s was!

And tomorrow I’m double booked. How did that happen when I’m trying to cut down on obligations? It’s because I like both Master Naturalist parties AND horse webinars! Glad the latter will be recorded.

Send me vibes for better sleep tonight!

Hark! It’s a Thundering Herd!

It’s always something with my equine buddies. Today was no exception. I’d been out for a while in the morning feeding Drew and Mabel (more on that later), so I was back at work concentrating on job aids, user guides, and the like. The dogs began to bark. What could it be? The letter carrier? The UPS driver? FedEx? The barking seemed a little different than usual.

I soon found out why. There was a thundering herd of six horses and one small, spotted donkey running across the front field, looking majestic AF. Oops. I fetched my non-computer glasses and my phone and ran out to see how that had happened.

Thundering herd

The photo you see here is them running after I came outside. I wish I’d had a camera when I first saw them. They looked all a-flutter. When I came out, they had started to settle down and get to the important work of finding new and different grass to eat. They paid Jim’s RV area a nice visit.

MMM, grassy.

Then they took off again, because they saw me and wanted to say HI. I invited them into their pen, but they had other plans.

I think there’s some grass over here. Yes, there is.

By the time I got the gate opened and fetched a tempting feed tub of deliciousness, they were back over by the RV, which appears to be where the best grass on the property can be found. I rattled the container of feed at them. You can imagine how I laughed when I saw how quickly Dusty’s head picked up. FOOD! He was headed my way before I was even able to pick up the phone to get a picture, with the others trooping along right behind him.

I see a food tub! Mabel, come on! T, let’s go! The rest of you slackers better get your heads out of the grass!

I’d barely gotten into the pen myself when Dusty’s head was poking at the tub. Soon, everyone was there. Even Fiona was faster than Drew, who I guess was more interested in that grass than any boring old senior horse feed. But, all I had to do was set the tub down, stand at the gate, and shut it (well). I saw that they’d managed to open one of the small gates out of the pens, which means I didn’t secure it well enough. I’ll get that lesson through my head one of these days.

I guess the adventure was fun, since it made Drew roll around with glee. Damn, he is a cute little feller. His mane is getting so full, it reminds me of Curly on the Three Stooges.

Whee!

I’m glad that excitement ended quickly. Earlier, on my morning feeding break. I realized that Mabel was patiently standing in one of the pens while Drew ate his morning calorie dump. I’d been planning to try to give Mabel extra food, too, once we had fewer horses to wrangle at feeding time, so I went and got her some alfalfa and coconut meal, wet down with a lot of water.

I got food!

Since she, like Drew, had choked before, I watched her like a hawk until she was finished eating. My goodness, she seemed happy to get the extra calories.

Look at that face. She has a Roman nose, for sure.

I’ve been noticing that she is filling out and even gaining some muscle since I started on a magnesium supplement and coconut powder (which I give all of the horses that aren’t mine, mainly so she can get it). Her tail, what little there is left of it after a horse bit off most of it, is even all shiny now. The best part, though, is that she is so much more relaxed and friendly. She now comes up for love and petting, which makes me so happy.

Kathleen and I have talked about plans for her, and I think she will at least have a chance at a useful life once we get her feet under control, worm her (and the rest) again, and get her weight a bit more normal. She’s going to be thin, we think, no matter what. She needs to show a little less rib, still.

Looking out toward the future.

I’ve also noticed the other horses have stopped pestering her so much. Maybe it’s because Drew is now competing to be the lowest ranking horse in the herd, but I think she is stronger and can put up more of a fight. I’m happy she is on the mend at last. We can dote on her and give her all our human love. That will make us feel better, too.

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