A Hardworking Heavyweight in the Pasture

Hooray! I have a ranch project I can talk about! We’re getting the front pond dug out more, so it will be bigger, deeper, and hold more water. The pond was originally made from an arroyo (ditch) that made it hard to build a driveway into our homestead area. The dam is our driveway.

Removing willows that are in the way.

While it’s all dry, the tenants have had the ponds (cattle tanks) in the area between our house and the creek dug out. They silt up and need it every so often. since the guy already had the dozer here, Lee seized the chance to dig ours out, too.

It looked familiar, but don’t they all look alike?

It turns out the bulldozer is the same one that built the pond in the first place! The current operator got it from the previous guy when he gave up the dozing. It’s pretty cool! Plus the dozer guy (see, I’m not naming names) grew up right down the road, so he knows how the drainage works from first-hand experience.

Dozing with scenic ragweed.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much our budget will buy in pond digging. He’s first digging deeper into what’s already there, then enlarging it. I’m confident all the water plants will return. After all, they showed up quickly once the pond was dug in the first place!

I took a walk and enjoyed the cool October morning air today, too. What a refreshing work break! I got to pat all the equines and see what was blooming and growing. The horses were mostly ignoring me and staring intently to the north, though.

Alert!

It turns out one of Sara’s horses was walking down its pasture. They sure keep an eye out for each other! I know they miss Drew, who is making new friends, I hear.

All right then, these are some more pictures from my day. One good thing about starting work at 6:30am is having time to take pictures after work!

As they say, getting out in nature is good for you, even if it’s just a horse pasture.

More Fire but Okay

The wind came up and blew the fire from yesterday across the road. But they saved a bunch of other hay and then used our tractor to spread the remaining bales out so they would burn out more quickly.

Spreading bales

These round bales are like cigars. They are so dense that it takes a long time for them to burn. Once again I’m sure grateful to our local fire fighters.

You can see it went across the road.

Interesting fact: the hay field will come back beautifully once it rains. Burning the fields is good for them. This just isn’t a good time.

Goldie says don’t play with fire.

Other than that I’m tired from working, doing stuff with the two horses that aren’t mine, and cooking some dang good jambalaya with ham and boudin. Plus I’m sad that a friend lost her husband yesterday. That will do for today.

Scary Evening

We were feeding horses when I spotted some smoke in the near distance. Then Anita texted that she couldn’t make it over here to eat, because the road to the ranch was closed at the intersection with the main road. Oh no!

Yep. The road was closed.

We quickly realized hay bales were on fire, so we sent our tractor over to help out. We also realized it was our friends who lease our land for their cattle whose equipment had sparked the fire. Oh no!

Good news. The tractor and hay cutter (and the driver) are ok.

Lots of tanker trucks arrived and people began spraying while our tractor and another one helped move burning bales around to space them out.

They had to cool the tractors off.

There was great teamwork among the firefighters and neighbors. Everyone pitched in. We were a little scared when the tractors were moving bales that looked like fireballs, and especially when our tractor had to pull one that got stuck off a burning bale. But everyone knew what they were doing.

Pulling the stuck tractor.

We are very happy the fire is contained, but it sure is smoky downwind from us. And the bales of hay will take quite a while to burn out. Someone is sleeping there and we left our tractor in case they need it.

Ruby the hound dog watches from my friend’s house.

It’s so dry. And we have flint rocks in the fields. The field was being mown to prevent fires, ironically. I’m just glad no homes or people were damaged, and that lots of hay was saved.

Lee was on the other side of the road and got some good pictures of the teamwork that kept everyone safe.

Sending gratitude for the firefighters and skillful neighbors. And I’m glad everyone is safe. Sending love to friends who got less good news today.

A Good Kind of Tired

It’s been a long day and I’m darned tired, but like I said in the title, it’s a good kind of tired, both physically and mentally. Yep, I went to a horse clinic with both horses today over at Tarrin’s ranch. That’s a lot of horse time! The good news? It was COOL this morning. That helps when you spend the day outside.

We’re with it, Suna Mom

There were many new things to learn, and all the horse and rider pairs found out what they needed to work on. That was particularly fun, because there was a range of skills and abilities. Sara brought both her horses, too, so she also had a long day.

We’re tired, too.

Apache did better than I expected, though he was in no mood to move his hindquarters, which made a backing in a serpentine formation painful. But heck, we have trouble backing in a straight line! He wasn’t particularly interested in side passing either. He got pretty pissed off but I kept whacking his side and Tarrin got all in his face.

I prefer just watching the other horses while my mane gleams.

Like many of the horses, he was not impressed with the water obstacle at first, but he ended up able to do it repeatedly. All the horses eventually did it, even Sully!

Sully working on that puddle.

After the first group went, Tarrin did some interesting education on how horse anatomy affects how they respond to bits and reins. I learned a lot. We also learned a lot about the role we play in keeping our horses balanced

We’re balanced. We walked around the cool new visiting horse pen matching steps.

Drew did a bit better than Apache on the skills, but then, he was more experienced at a couple. He did great side passing and just fine on dragging an object, but he’d practiced way more than the other horses had. I was truly impressed watching Sully figure these things out. She’s so smart and really trusts Sara.

Only look at MEEEEE

Drew was a bit dubious about the water, but didn’t take long to get the hang of it. I was proud, since I hadn’t done water stuff with him yet. He’s so good, but got rather bored waiting for the other horses and neighed a lot. But wow, he’s a shiny boy.

Look at me shine! Now hurry up and learn, y’all. Note fly in flight.

The hardest obstacle was heads and tails, which involves going around a barrel either on the forehand or back. I did not understand it when Tarrin went over it earlier in the week, but I followed the instructions and by gosh, Drew did it. And now I get it, too!

I like to think I’m a genius.

He’s not a genius! But he likes to learn, as does Apache. We got some fun new experiences and learned so much from everyone. Clinics are great. I love the camaraderie, the variety of participants and the wisdom of clinicians. Tarrin is a great one, by the way.

And Now I Get Sniffly

I came home with one less horse. Drew is staying at Tarrin’s for a few weeks to do his “finishing school.” When he’s done I should be able to work on riding him!

Drew’s back to school picture.

I’ll miss him so much. So will Apache. They’ve finally bonded and I catch them playing together with food bowls and stuff. At least they had fun together in the new pen at Tarrin’s.

We will see Drew again soon! And he will be smarter! I hope I can ride him.

Bye, Suna Mom

For Me, All Is Well

I can’t speak for the rest of my family, but today’s been good. I got to do grocery shopping for sickly children and had fun with that. I got them a Mexican saint candle to protect sick people. I need to get one for Kathleen, too, to ward off future surprises.

Come set a spell. We’re open!

I guess I’ll just share my tack room improvements, which make me happy even if they are small. My favorite things are my Mexican pottery from my beloved old office. I really like the foal with a disapproving look on her face.

Vacuum more!

I also brought the burro planter that I’ll put something in one of these days. I hope spider plants.

My kids got me the wall hanging one year when they still did gifts.

One of the baskets my friend Gina sent me recently makes my ugly tissue box fit in well. It has a weird liner, but that’s fine. And people who are allergic to scents can take care of the problems the adjacent diffuser causes. How efficient! The diffuser makes it smell less like garlic and coconut in here (from feed).

And I grabbed a bird hanging thing to charm anyone who goes to the tack area to view Drew’s ribbons. I predict this area will be more colorful next year. There will be competition!

I was so busy writing about the vacation rental we’re working on that I didn’t share the pretty things I found on a walk through the lower pasture yesterday. I checked to see if there was still any water in the creek and yes, there is a trickle.

Cow says why don’t you have cubes for me?

Mostly I enjoyed early autumn seeds and flowers. And more mama cows. That never hurts!

Hearts, Hay, Horses, and Headaches

The letter for today is apparently H. I shall start with hearts, since it’s a cheerful topic and something to be proud of. After finishing the camo blanket, I went back to work on my heart afghan I was making for Kathleen. Today I finished the heart section.

heart afghan
It’ darned cheerful!

It’s way too small to be useful to keep one warm, so I am already a third of the way through with making a border of squares to go around the hearts. I have ten colors of yarn for the centers and need 30 squares. That’s pretty dang good how it worked out!

squares
Pattern from that book I got on crochet quilt blocks.

After that, I’m gonna do something else as another border, probably also from that book. I have a lot of yarn. Well, except for the cream. I may need another skein of that one. All the other colors I haven’t even finished the first skein on!

Hay

I decided that since hay had gotten so expensive due to the drought, I should “harvest” what was left when the front pasture was shredded. There was some long and very nice coastal Bermuda out there that got mowed.

That’s a good amount of hay!

It was fun to pick it up. I feel ranchy!

Horses

Sometimes the horses mystify me. Both Fiona and Drew had smears of blood on them this evening.

Just a schmear.

No horse had a cut. Maybe Apache had another nosebleed? His nose looked fine, though. A mystery.

I’m still thrilled Mabel looks so much better.

Mostly they make me smile. They see me coming and pick those heads up to see if perhaps there’s food.

We see you. Is it dinner time?

When it’s been a hard day, watching their antics and rubbing those soft necks can make everything better. Which I needed.

Drew’s relaxed enough to drop and roll around with me right in front of him. Probably trying to wipe off the blood.

Headaches

Have you ever had a day where you start off sorta irritated and then actually irritating things start happening? That was me at work today. Sometimes I wonder how people get hired. Or how they keep their jobs if they don’t understand what their job entails. It’s like signing up to be a carpenter but you insist on hammering the pointy sides of nails. That’s not how nails work!

But I’m way better at shutting up these days. I didn’t write the software I support nor their job descriptions. I’ll just do my job and let their bosses notice the quality of their work.

Still. I got a headache.

Occasionally this helps.

Plus I missed a meeting this evening. My calendaring skills are something my boss should have a chat with me about.

Bletch

That’s a thing I used to say as a young teen. Trying to ignore world events isn’t working for the last couple of days. I get concerned. Then I can’t sleep. Then I get moody. Must be the hormones.

Wish I were as chill as these two.

Also. Tired of insects. Flies and moths in the house. Do they make you feel icky? They do me. It’s extra annoying.

At least outside there are three sets of twin calves. Here are four.

Worked hard. Helped a friend. Enjoyed less hot weather. Continue to wonder why I keep getting confused and hope it’s just because things are confusing, not something worse. envy this guy.

Byeee

Ups, Ups, Downs

Things have been good here lately. I spend a lot of time watching cute animals.

That’s a relaxed dog.

I even rescued a trapped English sparrow today who couldn’t figure out how to get out of the henhouse. I caught her and took her out. She was so exhausted that she just sat on my hand. Poor dear. No photos, since I had five hen eggs in my other hand!

So, here’s another friend, the gate spider. Apparently a Western spotted orb weaver.

There’s just so much joy in our animals. The dogs love evenings when we’re in the pool, because they can run and play with an audience. I take them out in the mornings for a little play, too, which makes for a nice work break.

Things continue to be good with the horses, too. We had good lessons today. Drew showed Tarrin how hard we’ve been working and then learned new backups. And poor Apache struggled a lot with moving his butt when asked. My left leg is tired! But, those two bring me such joy. I’m so lucky to be able to learn and grow with them.

But there are so many animals to enjoy here. My son found this really cool snake in his cabin. He just caught it and took it outside and caulked up the hole it came in. That’s my boy.

And today, I went to water the plants and was startled when I reached to turn on the spigot. Along the house was a complete snakeskin, I’m pretty sure it was one of our rat snakes. I love it when you get the whole skin.

I guess that’s enough animal fun for a Saturday evening. Hoping all is well with you. We’re having more family illness stuff. That’s the down part of the post title.

Things I Would Say to a Mouse

Not the mouse I’m addressing.
  • I love you and think you’re cute as heck. Outdoors.
  • Your chances of a long life are much better of living a long life if you avoid our house, which is full of large dogs.
  • Plastic is not good for you.
  • You are very clever how you simply move the baited sticky trap so you can get to the delicious horse food and eat more of its spout.
  • There’s lots to eat in the pasture. You could go there.
  • HA! I have put the delicious horse food in a sealed container where you can’t get to it.
  • Yes, I can see that your larger cousin is also visiting the tack room. Evidence.
  • I have lots more traps. Go outside! run!
  • I truly regret the large gaps in the doors to the tack room that welcome you so well.
  • Your brazen takeover of my henhouse has not gone unnoticed. You sure poop a lot.
  • Note that the food in the henhouse is also in a sealed container. HA!
Horses’ expensive oil is now hiding with the alfalfa. Take that, rodents.

Book Report: Horse Color Explored

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was looking for a book about horse breeds but didn’t find anything helpful. Most were for children. But I saw Horse Color Explored: Over 150 Breeds, Types, and Variations, by Vera Kurskaya (2017) and that piqued my interest. I was interested in knowing more about the genetics of horse colors than I’d read about in the ever-informative Equus magazine.

I was not disappointed. The book was originally in Russian, but the translator, Dr. Michal Prochazka, did a great job making the book read well. I enjoyed reading about the research Kurskaya has done. She must be a neat person to know, judging from her writing style.

The book is beautiful, with hundreds of great photos of horses from all around the world. I learned much about Russian breeds, but she also shared many interesting tidbits about horses from here, Europe, and Asia.

Here are a few random things I learned from this book:

Bay is the most common color (Apache is a bay Paint, and Mabel is a dark bay)

Her mane, tail and lower legs are black. I sure hope she puts on more weight now that her teeth are better.

Like dogs, there is no true albino horse, just horses with giant white spots.

Paints also have spotted skin. Everywhere.

Gray horses change color (dark to light) at different rates. Homozygous ones change faster than heterozygous ones. (Droodles was originally bay, judging from his mane, tail, and body hair.)

He’s at the dapple gray stage.

Palominos are diluted buckskins. (Dusty is a buckskin.)

There’s no conclusive research to show temperament and color correlate. So, relax, red mares.

Appaloosas often have sparse manes and tails. Their genes are complicated. They also have striped feet.

Bay dun horses are closest to the “wild” type of horse. It blends in well with savannas.

Mabel is acting wild! She is shaking off her dust bath. You can see her legs better here.

All the dilute color genes (Cream, Pearl, Champagne) were discovered recently. They may be recent mutations or hid before.

Anyway, this is of limited interest to most folks, but if you like genetics or horses, check it out!

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