Apache Rocks, and So Do Rocks

I’ve needed a self esteem boost for a few days, but this morning Apache made me feel really dim, and I didn’t need any more of that! I went to get him this morning for a lesson, then noticed Drew was still in his pen. I went to release Drew, and saw Apache head out the gate to his pen, which I’d not shut. He then went through the gate to his little paddock.

I wanna go back out.

That’s okay, I thought. Then I saw the gate to the big pasture was open and Apache was trotting right through it. Sigh. Off he went to join the Buckskin Buddies. I went over to get him and he trotted away. One he galloped. But, in the end, he let me halter him, saddle him, and load up.

After that, all was well! Our practice has paid off! I was amazed at how well he did on the circles and figure 8s. Even when he messes up, I’m getting better at correcting. That’s important. Now we are refining techniques. Wow, that feels good.

If I’m so good, why didn’t I get anything from Dairy Queen?

And we started a slalom formation where I learn to bend and turn, speed up and slow down (transitions). I was really surprised at how far we got on it today. Of course, there is a lot to learn, still, but it was fun to get to start so soon! Then, the trainer told me what great progress we are making quickly. It’s rewarding to be figuring this stuff out, at last.

I wanna be free.

And Apache rocks! No grass eating all lesson.

Speaking of Rocks

Remember yesterday, when I found that we have a layer of light rock a few feet down? One of our readers, Trisha, mentioned that it may be an aquatic layer.

White rock

So, I went out to look at the rock up close, to see if I could figure anything else out about it. The layer is very thin and powdery.

This shows the layer.

When I touched the rock, it crumbled. It doesn’t hold together like limestone usually does. It falls into little chunks or granules, whereas the soil above it sticks together and is very clayey.

Clay

Also in our soil are large rounded rocks. They have a flint-like interior.

Rock on top of the clay soil.

Anyway, the white stuff seems to be a chalk, which makes me think there was some point in the past that this area was covered by water and supported something with shells, but not for too long.

Hunk of chalky stuff.

I saved the piece above so maybe I can get it analyzed. And I’ll try to figure out when we were underwater more recently than the Paleozoic period (this rock isn’t that deep).

Things You Learn from a Big Hole in the Ground

I guess the whole swimming pool thing will happen after all. I’ll spare you the drama of the past couple of days, and instead share progress and learnings as the excavation phase took place.

The work so far.

It’s pretty cool that this morning there was just a painted outline on the ground and now you can see where our little pool is going to be! And yes, it’s not Olympic sized. I just want to bop around.

This morning it looked like this.

It was lots of fun watching them building the very complex setup that will recirculate the water. Geez, there are a lot of pipes in there.

They had to bend some of the pipes, and had a big propane flame that softened the plastic.

Sorta looked dangerous, but I guess it wasn’t.

I was really interested in the hole they dug. You could see that the top layer was a lot of sand and fill that Lee and the builders put around the house. Next came very dark soil from when it was a pasture here. Some was very clayey.

Hot tub area, where you can see the top two layers.

The guy running the mini-excavator was really good. He was expert at digging circles and curves. As the actual pool part got deeper, I had another surprise. There’s a layer of very light soil about 4 feet down. I wonder what that is? Was the area a lake for a while?

Se the light dirt? And look at that machine in the air.

No, I didn’t crawl down there and get some. But I’ll get some from the dirt pile later.

The mystery stuff.

I can’t wait to find out what’s up with the soil! But, watching how quickly and efficiently the guys worked on the project. They also used these flexible boards to form the edges of the pool and hot tub. And they had an interesting measuring poke that beeped, I guess to get the dimensions perfect. Hmm.

Looking from the deep end.

I must say we all enjoyed watching the process. Vlassic just kept jumping from lap to lap all morning. It’s great that they started on a Saturday so we could all watch for a while.

Wonder what I’ll see tomorrow?

A Little Trail Ride

This was a nice ending to a long day! Apache has been doing so well this week with his schooling and such that I said, “Yes,” when Kathleen asked if I wanted to go for a ride with her and Dusty. Apache hadn’t been out on a trail ride across the ranch in a long time, since before I started trying to ride him solo.

Look at me, I’m in the cow pasture.

I’d had the brilliant insight last week that a lot of his insecurities were because of both of us not being used to going out without another horse and rider. One thing my lessons have done is build confidence in us both. It’s still a work in progress, with one extra-annoying habit to break, but all that round pen work, circling, and walking the property has made a big difference.

I’m also losing weight, thanks to the dead grass and hay. See those ribs??

So, off we went. Dusty doesn’t enjoy leaving his man friend Remington, so he had to be walked a bit. But, once we got going, a good time was had by all, with Apache like his old self, confidently walking around and paying attention to my cues.

I didn’t get to go, so I brayed my ass off. Oh wait, I’m an actual ass. At least Suna refilled my water bucket.

There were a lot more grass eating episodes than I’d like, and once or twice he was reluctant to do what I asked. But mostly we had fun and got to forget about our stresses, challenges, and negativity.

I’m glad I took the chance. I see a glimpse of my enjoyable future riding with friends and family, and maybe even doing some Working Equitation with him. Hey, he can already walk in a circle, so he’d not score a zero.

Thinking of all of us today, the day so many of us got deep trauma. I’m so glad I got to see my kids again after being stuck in Schaumburg, Illinois!

Comfort from Nature’s Rhythms

I didn’t have an easy morning this morning, even though there sure was a cool sunrise. I wish I could have gone out and gotten a better photo, but here it is through the upstairs window.

There was a thick cloud that didn’t totally block the sun.

It’s a time of year that is hard for many of us, with tomorrow’s anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and that isn’t helping much either. But, when you’re feeling your trauma ramping up, feel trapped, are weary of being second guessed, or have to deal with the consequences of other people’s actions, you do have options. One of them is to leave.

Familiar signs of approaching autumn: snow on the prairie, wild morning glories, and balloon vines (all hiding behind that dang Johnson grass)

So, this morning, after I did all I could do to be useful, I took a nice walk. Looking around at the ranch and its life made it so much easier to put things into the perspective of life going on as best as it can, year by year.

This is the dry season, so Walker’s Creek is no longer flowing. It’s a series of puddles.

The cows next door are starting to calve, as they do every year around this time. It’s reassuring to see the same cows in the field, still providing new babies for their ranchers.

Mature mamas getting ready to do their job: make more beef.

Even while I was feeling reassured by the repeated patterns and rhythms of the year, I was finding new things. For example, I don’t think I realized before that the giant cane (Arundo donax) smelled good when it was blooming. I guess it has something going for it, after all!

Still, it’s one annoying nonnative and invasive plant!

It was cooler this morning, too, which really makes me hopeful for the return of more bearable horse-riding weather. And as always, I found beauty in the little things, once I slowed down to look. Check out the patterns the large puddles make when they dry up!

There are cracks in the dirt everywhere, actually.

More little things included the small flowers in the snow on the prairie plants, and the dozens of dusky skipper butterflies making the most out of the morning glories. They were everywhere!

After enjoying the life around me, and reminding myself that whatever is happening now is temporary, I felt a lot better and was able to come back and get work and meetings done. Thanks again to the healing properties of the Hermits’ Rest. The land and its residents are always here for me. And I didn’t have to get in the car and go for a long drive!

Hay ready to harvest. Time’s marching on, and every day brings new things to see, even in old familiar places.

Careful Where You Stick Your Head, Goldie!

Kathleen’s precious Great Dane, Goldie, turned up with a marble-sized lump on the side of her head a couple of days ago. We wondered what it could be, but noted that it was near where she had some marks from a tussle with Harvey.

I gots an owie.

It kept growing, and by yesterday evening, it was WAY bigger than a marble, more like a plum in size. We knew Dr. Amy would be in town today, so she went into town first thing this morning.

The lump, after treatment started.

The diagnosis was either a snake bite or a dog bite. We aren’t sure which it is, since there is a lot of neck chewing going on in this house, mostly in play, though. And, of course, there are a lot of snakes a curious dog could run into.

An example of neck chewing fun.

We think Goldie had fun on her outing, though it was reported that she didn’t want to leave the juice place where her friends work and had to be lifted into the truck. That’s getting harder, because she now weighs 106, up six pounds since we got her. She is filling out to be just right for her breed!

Yep, could be a snake bite, all right. And doesn’t she have lovely gums?

And, with all the playing and running she gets in with Carlton and Penney and with chasing Fiona all over the place (grr), a lot of her weight has to be muscle!

And Harvey, he also gets in on the frolicking.

We are glad that she has the medicine she needs to deal with the infection. The injury certainly didn’t put a damper on her good spirits and cheerfulness, however.

We live on a ranch. Things like this just happen as a normal part of life! I bet Goldie is a lot more careful where she sticks her head from now on.

No One’s a Fan of the Crop Duster

This morning, loud noises started. Now, we are used to the sounds of airplanes flying fairly low, because a neighbor has his own runway, and he has just gotten a new plane, so it’s been going around and around, taking off and landing, over and over for the past couple of weeks.

However, today it was real loud. The first couple of times it happened, Goldie and Alfred were barking away, since they are the two who hate deep sounds the most (they also hate what we call “growly trucks”). We humans knew what it was, since we’ve lived here a long time: the crop-dusting plane was here to spray the defoliator on the cotton.

I was worried

What? You city folks may wonder what that’s about. Well, when the cotton has made pretty white cotton bolls, the current practice is to kill all the foliage (leaves). This makes it way easier to harvest. So, one week there will be happy green fields and the next week there will be sad brown fields with little white snowballs in it. So, there you go. Here, that is done by a plane, especially on small fields.

Also, I have a lump that needs to be looked at tomorrow by the vet.

Once we took Goldie and Alfred outside and they could see the plane, they lost interest.

Zoom.

The newer horses, on the other hand, were not thrilled at all. Kathleen ended up putting all her horses in the pens, so they could settle down. Drew huddled up with them, but he sure was on the alert for that dang loud thing.

I don’t like that thing.

Apache has been there and done that, since he’s lived here most of his life, and Fiona seemed to figure it was better than Goldie chasing her all over the pasture (which happened yesterday).

We are not pleased.

I’ll watch to see how long it takes for the cotton plants to die. They contributed, though. That’s good, I guess. But now you know why cotton isn’t the greenest of crops. It requires a lot of chemicals when raised in the modern way.

I’m better now.

Good News BONUS

I heard from the swimming pool dude, and we don’t have to wait until September 20 for them to start…they start tomorrow! We’ll have all the fencing under control by then, so no problem from our end. The family teased me that now I will have endless blog material. I promise to talk about other topics. No one but me (and Kathleen) is THAT interested in giant holes being dug, and I realize that.

This is going well.

No doubt I’ll have many things to rant about or long-ass horse stories. It’s a wonder I get any blog hits at all!

Getting Started on the Pool of Dreams

Getting started already? Where’s the concrete mixer? No, before the pool people get started, the Hermits’ Rest team has to prepare for their arrival. The first step for that is to reconfigure our fencing so a) the equipment can get into the back yard, and b) the dogs are kept out of the construction zone.

The dog part is made difficult, since we have to block off part of the back porch, but lucky for us, there’s a gate waiting to be used for something.

That will work, yep.

Then we had to figure out where to put a temporary fence. It was important to Lee to have as much space as possible for the six dogs to poop, and I certainly saw his point! The first place we selected was deemed too close to where pool workers will have to be.

This was deemed too close to the future pool.

Eventually we figured something out, and vowed to get more fencing up in front, which is already in the plans anyway, so the dogs won’t feel confined. The poor dears. After that, it was a quick matter of putting in the t-posts.

There was much dog supervision.

Only one post got all bent up by a rock or something, so that was pretty good. I got to fetch more posts, and had the challenge of getting them out of their packaging with nothing to break the strap that held them together. Ranchhand Suna managed just fine!

There we go.

The posts aren’t in all the way, so it will be easier to get them out when the project is over. Next up is adding the actual fencing material. The plan is to re-use some old shorter lengths of fencing rather than use any of the new rolls, which we will want for permanent fencing that is going up soon.

After that, the fence between the house and the garage will have to be removed so that bulldozers, bobcats, cement trucks, and equipment delivery vehicles can get in. One good thing about having absolutely NOTHING behind the house other than one pitiful tree is they won’t harm anything as long as they stay away from the propane tank and septic area (which will be marked!).

Hope your weekend was productive or restful, whichever YOU prefer!

Watermelon Fun Overload

Today we had some old watermelon to dispose of. Usually I give melon to the chickens, who immediately go into a pecking frenzy. Today it was suggested that I see if Fiona wanted some.

This looks suspicious.

She sniffed it carefully. When I broke off a piece and offered it to her, she delicately took it between her lips, then went to town chomping. But, when I set it back down, she went up and touched it, but switched back to grass. Maybe it was too cold for her.

Brr. It’s cold!

Hmph, I thought to myself. I’ll see if any of the other horses appreciate it. I conveniently forgot I’m not supposed to give Mabel treats.

Hey, what’s this??

Lucky for me, Mabel didn’t get much of it. Dusty, one of the Buckskin Buddies, must be familiar with watermelon, because he chowed down big time. Much smacking and melon tossing went on, and I was completely charmed by his happiness. Here he is picking it up for better chomping.

This is fun.

The chickens did get to enjoy some, too. They eat it down to the rind.

Watermelon is for chickens!!

Okay, I’ll close with a happy picture or two. This is the first Ruby-throated hummingbird I’ve identified here at the Hermits’ Rest. All the ones I usually see are black-chinned ones. But, they’re migrating right now. What fun!

Oh, I just keep seeing cool things. That’s what I get for writing from the porch.

Shameless Insects and Encouraging Horse Time

I took yesterday off. After some errands, I just sat and read all day. I’ll tell you what makes it hard to concentrate, though, and that’s the thought of MORE grasshoppers in my future.

Hey. We’re pretty comfortable here.

I was trying to read and talk to my family when I realized my chair had become the grasshoppers’ special place. Uh. Nice. As if we hadn’t had a plague of these already this year.

Rocking and rolling on my rocker.

Well I guess it was good, because I could get a really good picture of how the male twists around to manage his role.

He snakes his abdomen around. Huh.

I’m fine with no more lengthy experiences with grasshopper propagation. They kept going a long time. obviously I didn’t blog yesterday because it was not exciting here.

On Another Note

Let’s move on. Apache has been doing better with his schooling. He still sometimes wanders way off the circle when trotting. But today he did a whole circle without hitting a cone. I felt like he was feeling well, so we went into his grazing area and walked and turned and stuff. He was mostly good, and even his disagreements with me were smaller than usual.

We were heading back to dismount when we had a surprise. A skunk walked across our path and ducked into the red shipping container. Oops. Apache stopped very nicely and waited until the coast was clear. We calmly walked over to share the skunk news, and Apache was so good, we kept going.

After the ride. Super clean and sound horse.

He did his stopping and grabbing grass thing twice, but otherwise was just great, like old times. He went up to say hi to Goldie, walked all over the front pasture, up to the gate, and across the pasture where he often goes nutty, but he didn’t! We made it back, all sweaty but happy.

I feel pretty.

To thank Apache, I gave him a good bath. Ooh he finally got really clean and dander free. I even got him to hold his head still and let me wash it. I was amazed to go back later and find he hadn’t rolled yet!

Glad he didn’t roll on one of these velvet ants, since they are actually wingless wasps.

It’s so hot today that I can’t help do outdoor stuff like I’d hoped to. I’ll cram everything in from 6:30 to sunset, I guess.

Why is This Baby So Happy?

Baby Suna and her mom were really happy the day Suna climbed up onto the dresser to look at herself in the mirror. Suna was around 9 months old, a bit young for climbing. But, mirrors have always enticed her.

My favorite baby photo. My parents loved to tell the story of this.

Adult Suna is also happy after climbing up high today. It was “clean out the office closet” day, which required much upping and downing.

World’s greatest portable ladder, and my friend. It’s lightweight but sturdy.

Since we moved in I haven’t been able to organize that closet very well, and as of last week, people had piled boxes for me to unpack and multiple air beds plus huge rolls of memory foam in there. I could barely open the door. There is no photo of that.

I got Lee to move the foam, made air beds with leaks disappear, and unpacked the random boxes. They turned out to be full of baskets, so I embarked on a long-planned basket display on top of my bookshelves. More baskets will appear when the Bobcat House stuff arrives.

A few baskets. Glad I have that ladder.

Most of the day today was spent taking all sorts of stuff out and putting it elsewhere…or taking it straight to the stock trailer, which we are filling with garbage from there and the garage (a separate project). Once I got things that didn’t belong in there removed, I remembered it was a big closet.

Harvey thought I was making him his own room.

I’m going to get shelves put in there for my knitting books and yarn, so I arranged everything in bags or boxes for easy removal. It was good to have access to my looms (one simple Cricket loom and one Navajo tapestry loom ready to start a project on) and their accessories again.

Looms at right. Bags and boxes have needlepoint, sewing, and knitting supplies.

So far it’s a little goofy, but I know where everything is, so that’s good. We are yet to find out how much of my stuff will fit in and how much will have to find new homes.

Bags and boxes.

I am happy as Baby Suna to have this all cleaned out, ready to prepare for the onslaught of things from my other house.

I think I visited my grandparents on my first Christmas or Thanksgiving. Glad I found these photos during my cleaning frenzy.

It was a good day. All this cleaning also led to sharing family stories, hanging out on the porch, and bonding with Apache and Fiona until sunset. Heck, even the work stuff I did today was fun!

Hope you had a day of productive fun, or get to have one soon. I’d missed them, so that made today even better. (I didn’t forget friends dealing with floods, illnesses, and worries that I now live in the fictional country of Gilead…I’m just dealing with the present.)