What’s Bugging Me

No, not people and what they do. It’s bugs. And they are bugging me in a good way, because at least they give me something to look at. There isn’t much else out here. People keep commenting about how quiet it s at night. Drought is no fun.

Thank you, Mr Widow Skimmer, for entertaining me today.

I’m so glad for the willow trees by our driveway, because they give me a shady place to enjoy insects when I go check the mail. Today there were many dragonflies, though I only got photos of three species.

Eastern pond hawk, female (green)

I also saw a damselfly and a Halloween pennant, but they were too busy to stop. This one was very pretty, though it didn’t photograph well.

Blurry skimmer, roseate or neon.

The widow skimmers were posing, though. I got enough closeups that you can see good details on both the males and females. the top four are the females.

I also see lots of wasps ever day. Usually it’s mud daubers, yellow jackets, and such, but I also see very pretty orangey-red wasps, and today one I don’t see much, black with a red abdomen.

There are still birds around, but not in the usual numbers. There’s the woodpecker I always hear, a few remaining barn swallows, cardinals, mockingbirds and lots of thirsty starlings. The egrets and herons (blue and green) are still here because one pond in pretty full. Today’s exciting birds were this tiny orchard oriole (they are here this time of year) and a beautiful red-shouldered hawk I saw from the car. I love summer hawk sightings.

Or a warbler.

There are a very few flowers blooming, but I found a couple. There are lots of passion vines, but the flowers look funny. I guess the herbicide got to them. And there was one sad Mexican hat flower. Of course buffalo bur is blooming and one or two others that nothing can stop. Ooh and in the best plant news: I found milkweed seeds blowing around! More for the butterflies.

I figured I should do a nature post since I had my Master Naturalist meeting tonight. It was on turkeys! The speaker had a beautiful turkey shirt on, too.

I learned so much about Rio Grande turkeys!

Hey, Hey, Hay

I’ve mentioned that we’re in a big drought, as big as when we first got to the Hermits’ Rest. You may be in a part of the world with too much water. Neither is ideal!

That’s a sad pond.

As you know, there’s not much for the horses to eat, even though we’ve been supplementing with hay and built more fencing to give them access to an ungrazed area.

Johnson grass. Yum.

The cows the family own are also hungry, So our friend Pamela came to the rescue with some round bales of hay from the end of last year that we could afford. As you can imagine, with high demand cones high prices.

Hey, hay!

To save our good square bales for winter, we’re going to get a feeder for the horses and give them a round bale for the duration of the dry and hot spell. The feeder will keep them from wasting hay. It will eventually pay for itself, I hope.

We will love this as much as we love each other.

So, we have plans, and that’s good. I’ve just got to get over my heat issue. I can barely do any horse stuff. They don’t mind too much, if at all. Much petting and bonding occurs.

You don’t see me. I’m hiding.

The heat is really a pain when it comes to deliveries. Since UPS lady won’t drop things off, we can miss things dumped by the gate. I was not happy my wine delivery sat outside for a long time yesterday. But, only one cork tried to pop. I “had” to open this perky orange rosé tonight for that reason. No one had to beg me!

Wine is Noisy Water Winery from New Mexico.

The good news from today is that I got a beautiful Creature of the Day. She a neon skimmer dragonfly. Look at her sparkle!

Well, I’ve had a hard work day, so it’s time to crochet, drink wine, and eat boudin. It’s what’s for dinner.

Heat. Sick.

Feeling bad today. Stomach stress and literally falling asleep randomly. No COVID, so my social life didn’t kill me. Glad for those free test kits. I think I’ve just tried to do too much outside the past few days.

Me and Carlton. Zonked.

I’m sure I’ll be better tomorrow. At least I picked colors for our next renovation project and look forward to a bigger project coming soon. More details soon!

Why I couldn’t take a nap. Four howling dogs and one trying to escape. Look at Alfred!

It really needs to rain here. Even with the pool, it’s getting to us all. The horses just stand in the shade. The dogs lay around the house. The people do their best. I just feel icky. Sleep should do the trick, and electrolytes.


Creature of the Day. Large wolf spider. Now outdoors.

Why I’m Thankful for the Pool

Maybe you’ve been reading this blog long enough to remember how I decided I wanted a swimming pool last year. I called it the Pool of Dreams.

Pool of Dreams today—notice the guard garden spider (a good one that eats black widows)

I think some people thought I wouldn’t use the pool. After all, I’ve never been much of a swimmer. I don’t blame anyone who thought this. But while I don’t swim much, I do love water and being outside, especially here.

Things you see from the pool include Vlassic.

I’ve really loved spending time in the pool, and am there nearly every day. The salty water is very soothing (Lee says it’s great for his eyes). I float in my floating device and practice deep breathing. The breeze cools me then the sun soothes me. Then I start observing.

Today I watched starlings flocking.

I see so many birds, especially right now when the herons and egrets are chowing down on the little catfish in the now-shallow ponds. Swallows fly over me and the English sparrow family hang out in their messy nest.

When they took off, it was a big whoosh!

I truly enjoy the time to myself. And the pool lets me be outdoors even in this historic heat. I’d be stuck inside other than when I sweat myself silly taking care of the horses, if it weren’t for the pool.

I’m very grateful to my spouse and family members who helped get this dang pool built.


Wait, I forgot my creature of the day! Here’s a beelzebub bee eater with its prey. What a scary fly!

Closer to Rancher-hood (and drought wrestler)

The endless stretch of rainless and ridiculously hot days has not ended here, so I feel much sympathy for my friends in the northeast who are finding out what it’s like here! No fun, right? Well, there is SOME fun.

This is a bale of hay. What the circle is on the shipping container is a mystery.

You might say that a bale of hay in a wagon is a pretty boring photo, even though the building and shipping container certainly are nicely painted. But what you don’t know is that this is a very special bale of hay! You see, I got it out of the shipping container ALL BY MYSELF. Any member of our family will tell you the shipping container doors are extra hard to open, even for adult males. Getting them open myself takes me one somewhat large step closer to true rancher-hood. Ranchers should be able to get their own hay out to feed their animals.

Hay? Is Drew eating hay? We better come check that out!

As you can see in the above photo, we do not have enough grass for the horses anymore. They need to have hay to supplement their nibbling. I’ve opened all the paddocks so they have as much grass as I can give them, but it’s not enough. I kept hoping and hoping it would rain and give us more grass.

No rain appeared from these clouds this morning.

Now, we have an area with some green grass still and a part of a field that hasn’t been grazed yet. But we can’t build the fencing, since welding will cause a fire. There are already too many pasture fires out here for the busy fire departments to take care of. I’d rather keep them safe and sound, since I happen to be fond of some of them!

Hey, Mabel, SHARE already!

There is a Plan B, which was going to start next week. That was to just put up some temporary electric fencing so the horses (except Apache, who doesn’t get to go eat a bunch of green grass due to his delicate constitution) can get some nutrition and “mow” the parts we can’t get to. We will have to fence off a couple of spots, so they don’t hurt themselves (like where the overflow comes out during floods (what are those, again?), which has a lot of debris in it to keep down erosion). I’ve been taking Drew out there to snack after we do our exercises every day.

Sure, there’s a hay pile for each of us horses, but we all want to eat from THIS one, except the plump one, who has a pile all to himself.

However, all plans are again on hold as Kathleen is back in the hospital dealing with pneumonia and perhaps something else, which we will not know for a while. The fencing isn’t something the work crew can do without anyone to direct them (they have been painting the Pope House in the meantime, which I am sure the neighbors appreciate).

Yay, Fifi made it!

So, I’ve been putting hay out where I can. I have a feeder where I groom them, plus a bonus one that will last longer than the hay that’s just on the ground (I still don’t have one of those nice feeders). And I have another slow feeder in the paddock, where Drew and Apache will spend tonight, so I won’t have to wander the earth trying to get them to come in for their lessons tomorrow (yay to have Tarrin back!).

Two hay stations are shown. Note lack of grass. Also lack of poop!

One thing’s for certain, bagging hay and scooping horse poop are good things to keep your muscles in shape, and the heat provides free weight loss. Mainly, though, the rhythm of chores helps me deal with all the uncertainty in our lives, just as much as doing crafts, like I mentioned yesterday. And the more things I can do for myself, the fewer things I have to ask others to do, which is true rancher-hood!

It’s Looking Good Inside, Not So Good Outside

There was a surprise waiting for me when I got home last night. My bedroom was no longer a poop brown color. It’s now yellow! Maybe it’s not the exact perfect shade, but it sure is more cheerful than before.

New sitting area

Lee knew how much I liked my bedroom in the Bobcat house, so he had the guys paint it while we were gone. Then he rearranged all the furniture and put up the art again.

The bookshelves show up more!

I’m very happy with the new look. Everyone says the room looks bigger and lighter. I still have some chests of drawers to bring in, along with my good mattress. Then the room will feel like it’s partially mine, not just Lee’s and the dogs. Of course, the dogs slept on me last night, but it was sweet.

I missed you.

Outside of the house things look less good. The drought is taking its toll. The big pond is going down fast and the little pond dried up completely.

Poor pond.

The grass is horribly brown. And it is very crunchy. Of course the grasshoppers are still here, but fewer of them.

Not pretty.

I asked my son to start giving the horses hay while we were gone (I can’t open the door to the storage container) and we’re going to keep that up until we can give them more grazing.

Thanks!

If things settle down a little more we can put some temporary fencing on the part of the front that we’d planned to fence in this spring. Keep your fingers crossed that Kathleen improves! At least the in-law suite is done and Lee’s brother is happily installed there. Progress!

Bonus. I got an Apache horse for the tack room. We spent so much time on Apache land I wanted a tribute. I always feel weird that Apache isn’t a Native American horse, but I guess paints are, historically.

Traveling and Sizzling

Been traveling. Yesterday we took back roads through a very hot but beautiful Arizona day. We passed through many tribal lands, including Apache. Eventually we hit the ocean and stopped driving. The solitude washed over me like yesterday’s desert rain and the heat burned through my concerns. I was left empty in a good way.

Desert rain from Thursday in New Mexico.

Here are some mountains, rocks, cactus, and vastness from our trip from western New Mexico to just north of San Diego. Lee loved the back roads. Me too. Who cares if it was 114°? Where we are now it’s perfect. Just like they advertise California to be.

Where we stopped for gas. Gas is $6 per gallon where we are now. Not perfect.

We Sizzle in the Summer

Today, Sara and I headed back to the lovely Watts Way arena for our fourth Working Horse Central show. I’d hoped Drew and I had improved enough to get some significantly better scores, but, I’ll have to be satisfied with knowing we’ve improved regardless of our scores. I’ll just keep trying.

We did have fun!

The big highlight for me was watching Saragorn and their blossoming partnership. Now that Aragorn is feeling better in his feet, he’s just amazing to watch.

She also had fun. One of the auditors was kind enough to take these great photos for us.

They were beautiful during the dressage patterns, and would have been even better over the obstacles if it weren’t for “user error.” Many of the competitors had some lapses, so she wasn’t alone. It was still great to watch.

He’s in such good shape.

As for me, I remembered most of the patterns for dressage, but honestly, I’m just not good at running beside a horse, and have no idea how to do some of the requirements I was unaware of. So, bleh. I tried. And he turned right much better!

There are no photos of that, so here is Drew looking cute.

I did way, way better on the obstacle portion, getting lots of 8 out of 10. Drew trotted, too, though apparently broke gate (started walking) but I had a hard time noticing. I dropped my whip, but still did 3 barrels the harder way. I was proud. I even nicely changed from leading him on the left to the right.

Barreling. I’m behind him.

Unfortunately, I totally didn’t do one of the easiest obstacles. I even prepared for it! But people were asking Sara questions as she called the numbers, and skipped it. I got a 0. No one even told me!

We did well checking the mail.

I’m not upset about that, though, because stuff like this happens! I just know I’d have gotten a very good score if I’d done that right. As it was, I got a good one. Sigh.

We RAN when we were done. We were so happy. That’s before we realized the oopsie. I can’t believe I can run that much.

We got to meet some new people at the show, which was fun. We also got to see great improvements in some familiar faces. At least one horse was so calm and compliant and her rider so composed…it was hard to tell they are the same pair!

Hard work pays off!

Every single horse had such kind and caring human partners! Even when mistakes happened, the riders were patient and encouraging to the horses. I was very impressed.

Another beautiful horse with a great bond with his rider.

Now for the highlight of the show. The final part is where riders see how quickly they can go through a set of obstacles. There are many ways for this to go horribly wrong. But damn, Saragorn put on a real show. Sara didn’t play it safe, and Aragorn was up for the challenge. They NAILED it both in execution and speed.

I’m the old woman reading the obstacles Sara

There are no photos of this, because I was calling the order of obstacles, but when Sara finished, she urged Aragorn into a canter and took a victory lap, waving gleefully. It was great. Sara said it was a lifelong dream come true. I was so happy for her!

My happy friend.

I guess it’s time to dust off my self esteem, which is low for reasons not having to do with my poor horse and his need to learn more. It’s more than the return to the Dark Ages. I’m needing some encouragement and had hoped for some today. Eh. Humanity is hard. Look at these horse pictures.

We are so grateful to Tarrin and her family, the lovely scribe, and everyone else who helped with the small but mighty Summer Sizzler Show. It was hit, but the show started early and got through it!

Happy judge and scribe

I’ll treasure my happy moment when I thought Drew and I had done well!

Drew looking particularly bony at 5:30 am

Stress Relief

Between concerns about family member health and work intensity, I’ve got no blogging brilliance. The heat doesn’t help.

Things are just upside down.

It’s getting really dry around here and we’re surrounded by katydids and prairie boopies (grasshoppers). They are everywhere. But, there’s a life and death fight going on that has me fascinated. The garden spiders and one dog are trying to help. Who wins? Check it out.

Yeah. Way too little water and too many grasshoppers this year. I’m glad today’s project for the guys was more power washing. The ceilings of the porches and the exterior of the house sure look good.

Clean house.

It’s gonna be a long summer. I’m extra glad for that pool. I can even get exercise in it. By the way, since it’s a salt-water pool, it feels good to open your eyes underwater! Lee says it’s like eye drops.

I assume these cows won’t open their eyes under here!

How Nature Deals with Trauma

You may remember that a couple of days ago we were surprised by a fire alarm in the building where we are staying, right in the middle of important meetings I was supposed to be holding. Going down all those stairs, then trying to train people in software from an overly sunny condo balcony was hard on my nerves. I am not convinced that it was traumatic, but it was most assuredly unnerving. I ended up getting rid of all my nervous energy by taking a very, very brisk walk up and down the Myrtle Beach boardwalk, which is about a mile and a half.

Some of the boardwalk area is not even a little sleazy.

I felt a lot better after that and was able to get through the day. I must admit, however, that I walked more briskly than I realized, because my legs still hurt today…and I’m used to doing a lot of walking! I’m sure I look like I’m old and arthritic when I try to haul myself up out of a chair or go downstairs.

Latest reading matter

Anyhow.

Here’s some more of that synchronicity that’s been happening to me ever since I declared myself someone who didn’t believe in such things. I sat down in bed last night to read more from Mark Rashid, the horse trainer who talks about people’s relationships with horses and how horses’ minds work. One of the first stories I read in Whole Heart, Whole Horse: Building Trust Between Horse and Rider was about a horse who had been through some rough times just could not settle down and whose person had tried “everything” to get it to do her bidding. Except one thing.

I feel as if some trauma is about to happen.

Rashid suggested that if the horse wanted to run, to let it run. Sure enough, after the horse ran all its energy off, it calmed down. He shared how his mentor had done the same with another horse that was a bundle of nerves. They just ust let it go run and run until it got all of the nerves out of its system and felt better.

Perhaps I will need to run and run to feel better after this lady takes away the torture device and stops shining scary lights in my mouth.

Huh, I guess that works with people as well as horses, because I’m just great now (other than sore legs), even after enduring a sales meeting!

I think I will take a nap, instead.

I remember letting Drew loose to run and run soon after I got him back in July of 2021, too. He came back much calmer and has not acted jumpy or upset since then. Rashid posits that it’s how animals who get scared often, like prey animals, get rid of their post-scare adrenaline and go back to calmly grazing and otherwise going about their normal prey-animal lives. Interesting.

I may be woozy, but not so woozy that I don’t want to cuddle up with some hay. And my teeth feel better.

Back at the Ranch

As you can see from the photos above, Drew got a visit from Bonnie, the equine dentist, yesterday. He has a cracked tooth, so she looked at it and did some work to make it less likely to get worse. He did just fine and thanks to sedatives, he was not traumatized. Dental care is really important for young horses whose teeth are still coming in, so I’m grateful that she was able to get him seen along with her horses.

Now Drew is back home with his friends at our part of the ranch after his little vacation among the green g

We’ll see if tomorrow brings more adventures than canceled meetings and gale winds, but I’m afraid my fun field trip on another boat tomorrow may be canceled. I may just have to watch the lifeguard making fun tracks in the sand that will soon get overwritten by the high tide. That’s fine. I’m safe and warm and my family is mostly all right.

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