Enter Here for Surprises and Adventures

Hmm, the adventures thing may be exaggerated a bit, but I did get a new gate to go from our part of the property to the rest of the ranch. In addition, Chris smoothed all the dirt that had been disturbed when running the water line, and did a bit of grading, too. The chicken house area looks marvelous.

It’s all smooth now. At the rate the Bermuda grass grows, it will be covered in a week to ten days. Notice the feathers on the ground, which I mentioned in my previous post. It’s your fault, Bruce.

The highlight of the day was seeing this big gate that swings open mightily and allows me to easily head to see the horses. We had the gate already, so it didn’t cost anything. It’s very sturdy on the hinge side, since Chris drilled a big ole bolt through the roof support pillar. The other side is only temporary. The fencing project is not done, but at lease those of us who have to go into that pasture can do it easily (thus, Jim could drive the riding mower over the the horses to mow this morning).

I can now go from here to there without crawling under a fence or climbing over a fence and nearly knocking it over.

The entire family was pretty giddy about getting the new fence, as Lee shows here.

That man cracks me up. And there’s Alfred before I pulled those clumps of hair out.

Surprises and Adventures

I’ve used the new gate to go visit the horses twice already. Last night, I went to join Sara to feed them, and I got quite a surprise. In the field where the 18 cows should be, there were just three cows, each with a little white baby.

Who the heck are they?

These are not the 18s. First, they were afraid of me. Second, their ear tags were in the left ear, not the right. Um, where were my friendly cow buddies? Where was 18-1, bravest calf ever?

As I walked up to the barn, the Vrazels were driving by. They warned me of another surprise, a large cow and her newborn calf were in the pens. I said, hey, um, where are the 18s? Tyler laughed and laughed. “They’re in Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Yep, they sold them all and trucked them off when I was at work one day. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Cattle ranching. Not for the sentimental. I am sure they got a HUGE payday out of those young cows, all of whom were due to calve in November. But still. Sniff.

On I went, and sure enough, there was a very large red Angus cow with a very small and shiny black Angus calf. I blurted out, “Hi, Sprinkles,” and Sara asked if I had to name everything. I guess I do. In any case, Sprinkles is cute as can be, and seems to have recovered from being sick and needing to be penned up. Mama, on the other hand, was mostly pissed off.

Sprinkles and I would like to leave, now.

She mooed and snorted and ran around until we left.

This morning, I came back to do some horse fun, around 9 am. It was NOT hot outside! But, dew drenched my shoes, since I wore the wrong ones. Sprinkles and Mama were still there. Between Sara’s dogs and Lakota having the utter gall to stand quietly tied to the gate, she was in a huff.

Lakota just stood there and ignored her. A real quarter horse! We proceeded head off down the race, to see how Apache would do. Sara rode Lakota, who plodded along like a livery stable horse and was generally uninterested in anything. I led Apache (hope to get riding permission soon). Here’s where it became and adventure, the good kind.

We walked all the way down the race, the place where he was refusing to ride earlier, and the place where he has been all nervous and pushy when we walked for the past month or two. Today, Apache walked beside me, not in front of me and not behind me. He stayed about two feet away from me. He did stop to get a mouthful of grass, but started right back up, every time. He did not crowd into me. He did not try to turn around. He did not rush ahead, or refuse to move forward.

He completely ignored all the “scary” parts of the path where there are big ruts. The scary tree got a nod. When all of the 19 heifers came thundering over to check us out and walk along with us, he and Lakota both looked at them, then kept going. The giant bull didn’t phase them. DAMN!

Sara and Lakota, with Fiona-bomb.

We then went on out to the big pasture where it floods (the bottom). We all walked and looked at stuff. Sara’s dogs came along, and no horse paid the least bit of attention. Even Fiona didn’t dawdle and pitch a fit. She followed right behind us cheerfully. Every time we went through a gate, everyone was fine. Even when Jim drove by on the lawn mower, they just stopped and looked for a minute.

WHO WERE THESE ANIMALS AND WHERE DID MY JUMPY HORSE GO?

I have no clue. Sara and I tried to figure out what was different. Well, we had Lakota instead of Spice…but Apache likes Spice. It was morning, not afternoon. He wasn’t starving. That’s all we could come up with. My attitude is the same (I am pretty calm even when he’s jumpy, to try to keep him calm).

We’re just in a good mood. What can we say?

I’m just going to have to accept that we had a wonderful morning, got lots of exercise, and ALL enjoyed ourselves (even Lakota, I think). I look forward to more of this kind of adventure and these kinds of surprises (but I do hope Sprinkles and his Mama go back to the pasture soon; she didn’t enjoy Sara and me pulling up some grass burs right next to the pen, either).

I hope you have some bright spots in your weekend!

Horse Bites and Sitting Donkeys at Sunset

I’m still laughing inside after a fun evening romp with our trusty steeds, even though there was some drama in the middle. And, um, my hand hurts.

We met at 7:30 to do our evening horse chores together, which we always enjoy. Everything went fine, and we paused afterwards to watch Spice and Lakota walking together like old friends, and to look at how beautiful the sunset made sone eastern storm clouds look.

Romantic cattle chute

Suddenly, we heard coughing, rather loud coughing. Exchanging a look, we hurried toward the sound. There was Apache, continuing to cough. He was a great example of how coughs spread droplets, as we could see spray going way out.

See the moon up there?

Where was that spray landing? Why, on the hay bales on the other side of the fence, the ones encased in green netting. Uh oh. We zipped into the paddock, where Sara opened his mouth. My job was to see if there was any green stuff. Like the non-horse person I am, I stuck my hand in, to feel.

That wasn’t smart. I discovered just how powerful horse jaws are and how sharp their teeth are. Its just a little chomp, but I have a feeling it will look worse tomorrow.

I’ve put ice on it.

Sara gave Apache a treat, and he ate it just fine, so he dodged that bullet. I leaned on him to get the owie out of my hand and thank him for being okay. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement.

Whee

Fiona was done with all the drama, and decided to roll in her favorite dust patch. I was so glad I could get some pictures.

I have crazy ears.
Time to get up!

When she was done, she sat and rested for a while. We couldn’t stop laughing at her pose. She looked at us like we were crazy. Apache kept coming between us to make sure we were okay.

I’m very proud of this belly!

Then the wind came up, and we all ran around like kids. Me, Sara, Apache, Fiona. Just living for the moment. I’m still having fun!

Come back, we want more fun!

It’s been a good day. Sending love to all. Back to icing my hand.

Equine Spa Day?

Trixie the farrier came last evening to check on Apache and Spice’s feet. She’s coming more often while the issues get better.

Lucky Fiona didn’t get trimmed and just got to eat as the sun set.

When she was working on Apache, she said she’d never seen laminitis growing out like he is, but it seems to be working. Then she tried to scrape his hoof and it was so hard she couldn’t.

So far, I’m enjoying my trim.

So, she suggested he go stand in water while she worked on Spice, to soften him up. It hadn’t rained yet this month, so all their hooves are hard!

We over-filled the water bucket, which made Big Red happy. A big muddy area ensued. It was a horse spa!

High quality mud.

Sadly, Apache wasn’t as happy with the spa treatment as we’d hoped, so I tied him up to where he couldn’t escape it. Much stomping ensued.

I’m gonna cling to this little dry area.

Sara pointed out this morning that perhaps he wasn’t happy, because he knew the mud was mostly a mixture of his, Fiona’s, and random cows’ poop.

Fine. I’ll stand here.

Trixie coped with the stinky mud fine, once we let him out. he hadn’t softened up much though. If it doesn’t rain a bunch before her next visit, we will soak all the horses for a few days. Somehow. Maybe it will rain.

My conclusion is that Apache would be more interested in massage, grooming, and food for his next spa day.

World’s Hottest Socially Distant Photo Shoot

What? I had visitors? I was careful! My work friend, Heather, and her daughter, Emily, wanted to come see our ranch animals, especially Rip in his baby adorableness. We figured if we were mostly outdoors and wore masks, we could safely manage it.

So they drove up, and even brought me my mail from work AND a chocolate pound cake. Homemade. Yep. It’s divine.

Horses and donkeys are on the mantel at the moment.

I have them a tour of the new office, which was a lot of fun. All my animal stuff went over well with Emily, who rides hunter-jumper and volunteers at a very cute farm. And all the shiplap, metal, and brick!

After the tour.

Then it was off to the ranch! It’s good they used to have a Great Dane, because it made all the dogs palatable. Alfred LOVED them. Heather couldn’t get his picture, because he kept going back and forth between the two of them.

Since I got no dog pictures, here’s a leaf-footed bug Emily found.

We then headed to see the chickens. That was sort of sad, since we discovered Butternut had passed away. I think the others huddled on top of her and she overheated. I couldn’t figure out what to do, so I put her in the garage fridge. Sigh. the hottest day of the year is not a good day to get chickens.

Bye, little one. I’m am glad they’ll replace her, and maybe I can get another one.

Heather took a zillion pictures (actual total, 127). Many were of Fancy Pants, who let Emily carry her all over the place. It was really fun watching the chickens with Emily. Here are just a couple of my favorites of her chicken photos.

Off we went to see the cutest calf ever, Baby Rip. That was also a teen animal lover’s dream come true. Since I wasn’t holding a dead pullet, I could get a couple of pictures.

Calf love.

Of course, Heather got a real keeper with the good camera!

Beautiful baby! Photo by Heather Westmoreland.

Here are a couple more of my pictures. Rip is so curious and cute!

Rip wasn’t sure about Vlassic.
Look at my cuteness!

We saved the best for last, and headed over to the horses. Guess who they loved? Fiona! She and Apache were both on their best behavior.

It’s because I am cute and nice. Photo by Heather Westmoreland.

We had a lot of fun trying to get glamour photos of them with Emily. Neither of them was real interested in getting in the good light, of course. After all, it was 104 degrees outside! But, we persevered. Here are some highlights (the last three are by me, the rest by Heather).

My favorite picture, maybe ever, of me and Apache was taken by Heather, and I am going to try to get a print of it.

Me and my buddy. Eight years ago today I learned to put his halter on.

Everyone was having a great time, so we rewarded Apache and Fiona with some grazing time over by the cabin, and went over to see the 18 cows. Guess who was front and center, as always? 18-1. A few of the others also came up to say hi.

Before we left, I asked Heather to take some pictures of R45, since she is getting way up there for a mama cow. She hasn’t had a calf in a couple of years, and is in her decline. But she sure produced some great calves! And she’s still built like a 1970s Buick. Big and wide.

We fed the horses and Big Red, then headed back to the house as the sun was going down. I had a lot of fun talking to Emily about all the supplements the horses get, and she told me a lot about the farm where she volunteers and the place where she rides giant warmbloods. I’m glad Heather is giving her these opportunities to work with animals.

And I’m glad to have given Heather some opportunities to take photos, because she’s taken some real beauties where Emily rides. Looking forward to more! You can see more photos on Facebook, since Heather tagged me on the ones she uploaded.

This makes the ranch look fancy!

My heart is full from getting to show off my animal friends, and I am so glad it was so breezy outside. If we had germs, they all got blown away! Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to getting replacement hens (Butternut2, perhaps?).

Why Apache Hurt So Badly

Before I explain that, I want to share that Apache, my beloved paint gelding, is feeling a whole lot better. He’s able to be in the little pasture with the poor quality grass 24/7 again. The next goal would be to get to hang out with the other horses again, but that might not happen.

How we know he’s feeling fine again is a little story. Sara and I were doing horse chores together Saturday night. She remembered she needed to pick some peppers over by the cabin, so we walked Apache over there as part of his exercise program, such as it is. I dropped his lead to let him graze over by the old chicken coop, while we went over to the vegetable garden. I got all excited over some overripe tomatoes for the chickens, and didn’t think about Apache.

Suddenly, he made that horse alarm sound. I turned around to see him take off trotting down the drive, Arabian tail flying high. Next, I heard loud braying on the other side of the huge bales of silage. Apparently, Fiona had panicked because she couldn’t see Apache.

This is the face me made. I didn’t get any actual photos of the event, since I was busy making sure he was all right.

As I followed him, I saw Fiona breathlessly arrive, having been “stuck” in the race (not really). They still appeared a bit wound up, and sure enough, they took off again, heading to the other two horses, who were nearby in their pasture. THIS is when I knew Apache felt okay. He proceeded to not just trot, but canter over there, with a few added jumps. Obviously his feet felt good.

The two of them visited the other horses, then came back to me and Sara, breathing hard and ready to go back in their area and eat their dinner. Yep, he’s feeling better.

Evidence of Pain

Yesterday, we were looking at Apache’s feet, and it was really easy to see a line, about an inch above the end of his hooves. When Sara picked up his front feet, we could easily see where his hoof wall had separated from the inner part. That’s why he could barely walk for so long. Ow!

See those black lines? Pretty obvious.

Luckily, hooves grow out, and now the separated area seems to be in the part he can’t feel anymore (like the ends of our fingernails versus the nail beds). I’m glad we were able to help him and keep the issue from becoming chronic.

Those cracks near the front edge are what hurt.

Now we have to get some muscle back on him, and make sure he doesn’t get any thinner. Wow, this is the first time we’ve ever had THAT weight problem on him!

The sun has now set on this issue. Are you tired of my sunsets yet?

This DID Go as Planned (Yay Apache)

One thing went really well, yesterday, and that was all my interactions with the equine family members.

When I went out to let Apache and Fiona out to graze, Fiona followed me out the gate and acted like she wanted to hang out. So, I had some bonding time with her. I got her all brushed and pretty, then we went for a nice walk together.

I decided to come on into the tack area, to see what Big Red’s food tasted like.

Fiona’s really improved on her walking on a lead lately, and it was a pure joy to go out and about with her. I decided to try to take some nice pictures of her, but she wasn’t very cooperative.

We had a nice visit from Spice and Lakota, who were in the next pasture. They seemed genuinely glad to see Fiona, though Lakota will NOT get close to the electric fence. I think he’s had a bad experience or two.

In the evening, I came back to meet with Sara and put Fiona and Apache back in what I am now calling the Pen of Deprivation (no grass, no fun). Apache had been out four whole hours. We tried taking him on a walk down the dreaded race, and he showed no signs of lameness.

I can even walk over the poles. Yay me. And I am so skinny. I want grass.
I just had to share this picture of Spice being really happy to see me. She’s a good girl.

In fact, he started acting like his old self and not behaving well. I was thrilled to see him acting “normal” and got to work correcting his pushing and rushing. Then, when we got to the part of the race he hurt himself on before, he said it was time to stop. I think he stepped awkwardly on a rut.

I asked him if his foot hurt, and he pawed the ground. I took that as a yes. So, to end on a good note, I had him walk up to me, and we happily turned around and went toward home. He walked just fine on the way back.

Sara and I agree that between his obvious better spirits and the really crappy shape our grass is in, he can probably be turned out half the day or so. That will make both him and Fiona much happier. This fills me with joy! I may even get to ride again!

Horse Social Distancing Party

I have a big post in the works, but various work things precluded typing much. So, here’s a little Apache and Fiona update.

The best news is that I’m going to get some square bales of hay for our horses, thanks to my friend Pamela, who lives on the next ridge closer to town from us. Her hay baling person agreed to do some square so I can get them for our guys. It may be a bit fresh for Apache, but since it’s summer, the grass is pretty dry.

And Apache’s feet are doing a lot better. He’s walking pretty well, and ate in the paddock 1.5 hours or more yesterday. He’s still okay!

So, we did a longer walk yesterday, even going over the telephone poles just fine. Then we walked down the race, along with Fiona and Vlassic. Even Big Red came.

Here I come! Cluck!

All was well, and it became a party when Spice and Lakota joined us. They’re temporarily in the pasture where the cattle usually are, so they could walk along with us. What a crew! Three horses, a donkey, a dog, and a hen.

Something is interfering with my grass consumption.

All of a sudden, Vlassic decided to chase Fiona. That’s why Apache looked so concerned in the first photo. I got the phone out and caught Fiona as she flew by. I didn’t get a picture of her turning back on Vlassic, because I was too busy getting on top of him to firmly explain that Fiona is not for chasing.

I’m faster than a speeding dachshund.

He sort of moved toward her, but after I shouted again and went toward him, he tucked his tail and meekly led the procession back to the paddock. He jumped in the water bucket and graciously exited so Apache could drink.

Let’s follow Fiona! Says Spice. Maybe after I finish chewing, says Apache.

My guess is he won’t be chasing Fiona again. I certainly cured him of chicken chasing after one firm discussion. I’m sure he was playing, but prey animals don’t find that fun!

Bumming with Bovines

I am just going to share what makes life worth living these days, and that’s my charming ranch companions. It’s really fun to go for walks with the cows (and horses). You’re reminded that humans are just part of this world, and that every other living being is also out there having adventures.

I didn’t have a bovine traffic jam this afternoon, but probably because I walked.

Reminder of going to work yesterday.

Instead I enjoyed the greetings of my favorite heifers, who are now getting ready for babies of their own. As always, the great and bold 18-1 came right up to say hi. She’s just a golden cow.

Even the clouds love her.

After greeting her and the others, I checked on Apache and Fiona. Apache seems to be gradually improving, even when I let him out to graze a good while every evening. On the other hand, now Fiona seems a little stiff. My plan is a thorough foot check tomorrow.

Apache and I have fun on our walks. I sing him songs, and that gets him walking faster. Perhaps he’s trying to escape the singing. In any event, I’m happy he’s getting exercise and I get to pet and love on him.

Look! You can see his ribs!

On the way back, I was wiping the sweat off my eyes, and saw a brown blur over by the cabin. Hey, that’s a heifer on this side of the fence. She must have jumped the cattle guard.

I went up and saw it was good ole 18-2! She has a cute blonde tail. I said, “You know you aren’t supposed to be here!” I swear she gave me the same look Penney gives when she’s guilty. And she ambled over to the cattle guard and jumped over!

I did it. I’m proud.

Tyler V says she’s done it before. It doesn’t hurt anything for her to be over there, unless she breaks into the silage or something. She couldn’t get away, because there’s a gate farther down right now.

18-2 stands majestically in her field.

My guess is that when she’s full size and all pregnant, there will be no more jumping. I do enjoy this group of young ladies I’ve enjoyed since birth.

Balancing Your Dreams with Their Dreams

Yow, there are a lot of ways today’s post can go, because I’ve been busy trying to come up with ways to be safe, treat others well, meet my own needs, and meet the needs of others. That’s a lot, combined with concerns about work and world events. But, most of us are in the same situation, I have a feeling.

Two recent influences in my life have combined to remind me to not forget what I want out of life. My reading on the Enneagram, while confusing in some ways, has brought a lot of clarity in others. (While you are only supposed to be ONE type in that system, I keep seeing parts of three in the more shadowy aspects of me, which could explain why I’m internally confused.) In the past few weeks, I’ve needed to make important decisions, and I keep running into the Type 9 proclivity to place the highest priority over creating a peaceful environment, which causes me to not advocate for my own perspective as hard as I could.

I hope this meme I made helps me realize I’m fine like I am. Even with my unhelpful aspects.

And, when someone close to me asked me what my fondest dreams for the future were, nothing came up. What the heck? I was taken aback. I realized that I basically wanted to support my spouse’s dreams, and hope some things I enjoy would come along as part of that.

Well, yuck! So, I began to wonder if this was a pattern (it was – ask my why I am in Texas, why I am where I am now, etc.). Now, I’ve had a good life, and am not whining about this state of affairs. I just genuinely got curious as to what the heck my own dreams were or are?

I realized that I have met two of my life goals. One is that I always wanted a house in the trees in a place I felt like I belonged, like when I was a child. My Austin house meets that need, so no wonder I fought to long and hard for it and want to keep it in all its total impracticality (especially right now).

It’s the Austin house (Bobcat Lair) showing lovely dark rain clouds. A house in the trees where I feel safe.

The other, as I have mentioned before, is that I always wanted to share my life with horses. I was drawn to them as soon as I met one as a child. Now that I have Apache and Fiona in my life, I won’t desert them, even if Apache has foot problems and Fiona doesn’t do any work (such animals are not popular on ranches, I have learned).

Hooray for the equines. And the chicken (on water bucket).

So, see, I HAVE managed to keep my dreams going while still supporting Lee’s (just one example, not picking on him – he’s a good guy with good dreams).

Apache Newsbreak

Trixie was here yesterday to check on Apache after his recent setback, and to do some other work on our little herd. His feet look remarkably good for a horse dealing with his challenges. There was just one little area of redness, which could have been a stone bruise.

The outside of his feet look good. The inside did, too, but I didn’t want to get that close, due to ye olde virus precautions.

I reckon he might have hurt himself a bit on rocks when he was pitching all those fits and not wanting to go anywhere. He also seemed to be favoring one of his shoulders, which could have happened when he was bouncing around on uneven ground. Now I wonder if his feet were already hurting then? Hindsight…

I always liked his stripey feet, even if light feet are more trouble. OOPS. I had to crop his happy “member” out of the picture. It’s a GP-rated blog.

Anyway, she’ll be back in another 4 weeks to see how things are going. Fiona also got a trim. She grows very long toe areas. All fixed now.

I always really enjoy these long times with my equine friends, and they seem to, as well. A great deal of mutual admiration is expressed.

Back to Balancing

I don’t think I want to change who I am and put my needs ahead of others or cause more of a ruckus than I already do. I am who I am. But, I think working to balance my own needs and goals with those of my family and others in my circle is a reasonable and attainable goal. Sticking up for myself and saying no to things that make me feel unsafe or anxious doesn’t mean I don’t care. I expect others to take care of themselves and THEN take care of others (like with airplane oxygen masks…remember planes?). I can do that for myself and it will be just fine.

Well, apparently today’s blog post was supposed to be a pep talk to me about myself. What a surprise (not a surprise at all.) But, I know I’m not alone in wanting a balance between my own needs and the needs of people I love. I’m not alone in getting so involved in someone else’s dreams that I lose my own.

I’m not all lost, I have my center and my spotted emotional support buddy.

All we can do is keep moving forward. I’ll find a way to meet my own needs while still supporting my inner circle. Both are important.

Is this balance easy for you, or hard for you? I think it really depends on our inner wiring, but who knows?

Fingers Crossed for Mr. Horse

I’ve been being really careful with Apache since that day he couldn’t walk earlier this week. He’s rested and had some more pain meds.

We like hay.

This morning when I gave them their hay, I noticed him walking over to pester the chicken. Yes!

Tonight Chris and I went to feed the horses, and cows were getting moved, so I needed to take Apache and Fiona out. Apache walked like a normal horse and didn’t try to stop every three steps to eat. Whew.

Also. Sunset. Mmm.

He just seemed happy to be out with all of us humans (Ralph and Chris and Tyler were all talking about fencing). Honestly, just spending time with Fiona and Apache is good for my soul.

Who wouldn’t love this face?

We did get an appointment with Trixie to come out Monday and try out a boot. After that, if he still needs more, we’ve had some great other veterinary suggestions to try, so we won’t stop our battle with navicular disease.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Thanks from me, too.