Poo on Pandemics

It’s been a rough week over at my house, with half the occupants down and out from the coronavirus, and the rest of us staying home, since we weren’t sure if we were asymptomatic but sick or not. It’s made me really glad we got some flowers last time I was at the grocery store, since I’ve needed the cheering up.

The peaceful tulips at full bloom

I’m glad there’s so much to see and do here, because it’s made things a little easier. We even have separate seating areas by the pool for the sick and the non sick. And to think I thought those areas were for basking in different angles of the sun.

Germs can’t go that far, I hope

I have some things I really want to do this weekend (outdoor things), so I went to get a COVID test yesterday at the Cameron Fire Station. So did most of the rest of the county. I’d say by the time I arrived, the line was half a mile long or more. It took about 2.75 hours to get through the line, which seems a lot longer when you have to pee, I assure you. Plus I got sunburn on my nose and arm! I had not planned ahead with sunscreen. If there is a next time, I will remember, but I hope my home tests arrive before the next time I need to test.

But, I did get in, finally, and endured the nasal swab thing. Ugh, now I see what people were talking about. That’s right, I hadn’t had a test before this, since I just stayed home the couple times I was exposed. The best news is that they called me less than 24 hours later to tell me I’m negative. Woo hoo. That probably explains why I feel fine. I guess we’ve done a good job separating ourselves, or my vaccinations worked. I’m relieved, in any case.

I am NOT the Germ Police in this neighborhood. Just the Coyote Patrol.

The book I’m reading, which is called Phosphorescence, talks about the importance of being in nature for your physical and mental health. I’m so glad to have so much woods and water to spend time in here at the ranch. (I was also lucky at my Austin house, since it was surrounded by greenbelts and had a view of the pool.)

Today the whole sitting around and looking at nature thing got a lot better, because we now have two lounge chairs with cushions on them, which makes sitting by the pool and blogging a heavenly experience. It helps that the temperature is perfect, in the low 70s. What could be better?

I’ll tell you what! It would be better if I had a hot tub to sit in (not while typing). And there’s good news on that front. I called the propane company myself and talked to the woman there (who was chatty and fun to talk to about heavy equipment we each own). That got us ON the schedule to get the hot tub all hooked up on MONDAY! It’s conceivable the pool will be completely finished by then.

Until then, I can just enjoy the animals. Vlassic and Gracie Lou look so cute together. Our small doggies deserve some time in the spotlight, or sunlight.

Lunch hour is over, so I have to drag myself back in and work on some training material. Then Drew gets to jump over jumps and have some fun. This is not a bad place to endure a pandemic at all, nope. Not at all.

Today Did Not Go As Planned

It hasn’t been an ideal day for anyone in my house, and I’ll just say that this is not a great time to participate in the health care system. So, no one slept last night.

Of course I had a 7am meeting, which ended up being the highlight of my day. And it was so pleasant outside this morning that I had visions of doing a lot of horse stuff later.

Oh what a beautiful morning

It got darker and darker outside, and I got the idea that maybe I actually wouldn’t get my new horse obstacles set up.

Maybe later.

I was writing a training outlying my head so I got the last Christmas stuff put away and added lively linens to the tables.

Some color for our beige house.

I even set up a little tea party using Lee’s mom’s china with roses on it (I unpacked something!).

The blue stuff was found in a house we renovated.

Yeah. I’d planned to write all day but got stuck. Home decorating helped me get back on track, and I did get my outline done.

This is Lee’s Bruns grandparents’ 50th anniversary china. Two big plates broke, but they were not packed real well.

As I was finishing up and getting up the energy to go mess with horses, Mandi texted from down the road. It was sleeting at her house. Oh, poop. Yes, it was sleeting here, too.

Go ahead, people still digging out of blizzards. Laugh at my tiny ice cube. (That’s it on my shoe,)

No dogs enjoyed the weather, especially the artistic Harvey. By the way, he has no more open wounds, and is shaped more like a dog and less like a burrito.

I’m thinner and have shaved spots. Brr.

Nope, these two aren’t thrilled either, and I can’t even FIND Carlton.

Alfred is fine. He’s happy that shedding season is over so I just pet him instead of pulling clumps of hair out.

I like cold.

I’ll just be flexible and glad my family are taking care of themselves. Y’all do, too. There are lots of germs and allergens roaming around right now! Maybe tomorrow I will be interesting.

I Find Ranch Citizens Fascinating

Another day of horse lessons has come and gone. And while my lesson with this innocent student was enlightening, I would have come away happy just having watched Sara.

I should have known friskiness was ahead when he galloped up to me this morning, mane and tail flying.

Apache was very frisky this morning, probably because a front came through.

I’m feeling kinda frisky here.

We started out sweaty at 9 am and ended up shivering by 1! I did round pen with him before we left, and ooh he was jumpy. And once we got to the training ranch, he was not interested in human agendas.

Ready for cheekiness.

He did ok until the trainer got on, at which point he decided he didn’t want to do anything. It was so fascinating to watch her work through his stubbornness. There was lots of backing and angry horse faces. I didn’t take pictures, because I was watching so hard. She did stuff I am not capable of yet. And eventually he did fine. I even rode him better than last time and dealt with his issues.

The dogs here would prefer you pay attention to them, please.

He’s not easy. He hurts and has been ridden poorly. By me. But we are progressing. I ended my essay with a smile on my face, happy with all my progress and the support I got.

This foal wants it to be their turn.

We were all glad for the lesson to end. But Apache was still antsy. I was glad to leave him to eat some hay and deal with calmer animals. That included Christmas the bull. Sure, he looks intimidating.

Yes, I AM immense.

I had no idea he was tame, but he came up to me and licked my hand clean, then requested that he get some pets on his forehead and between his horns. Then, his cow companion came up and wanted a turn. This love fest was just what I needed.

As always, I enjoyed Sara’s lesson as much as mine. She learned some really complicated bending stuff and I was proud of how well she did. And Aragorn, too.

I’ll ignore all the dogs.

Aragorn didn’t even notice the fake bull that had startled Apache earlier. He was concentrating and throwing in fancy dressage moves so he wouldn’t have to bend the opposite way from how he was turning.

Paying attention.

I was distracted by two things: a biting wind and cute animals. Between the dogs, the baby horses, and the donkey, I had a lot of entertainment! Who cares about the cold when you have ranch entertainment?

Pool Filling, Dog Feeling Better

Deepest thanks to all of you who read my tribute to my friend, Ted, yesterday. Keep his wife, family and friends in your thoughts. Your words comforted me. Wow, many folks in my circle are dealing with unexpected deaths this month.

This morning, we still had lots of water to add.

Today I tried to just do fun things. Lee and I spent a long time watching the pool fill up. That’s a slow process over here in northern Milam County. It’s actually still filling, but should be done by bedtime. It’s up to the beach area at last!

Almost full!

A nice young man named Austin came over and got all the equipment set up and ready to turn on tomorrow morning. The dogs loved him.

Whatcha doin’?

He installed the spa jets and skimmer baskets, then brushed down the pool, a thing we are supposed to do often until the plaster is cured.

Cleaning, from far away

He got the rather impressive robot pool cleaner ready to go, but since we can’t use it until the end of January, he didn’t show us how to use it. (The reason for that is that the wheels might mark the plaster until it is fully cured.)

This is the robotic cart.

Tomorrow, Austin will come back and bring the Pool of Dreams to life. That’s just in time for a much-needed Christmas light show! until then, enjoy more pool pix.

Dog Update

While watching the pool fill up, we also enjoyed the dogs. I’m happy to report that Harvey is acting much like his old self. He is playing with the other dogs, including Goldie. They act completely normal.

We get along. At the moment.

Harvey’s injuries are looking much better. Lots of scabs are gone, and where he was stapled seems healed.

See. I look better

He still has a couple of open sores that we put medication goop in, but even the horrible one looks better. I am very relieved to have the old pack again.

Much better.

The pool fascinates Penney. She thinks it’s a giant water dish, which I guess it is right now! I think she is gonna love the beach area. I predict a lot of damp dog feet!

I’m exhausted, so I’ll tell you how our three horse lessons went today. Quite eventful!

I need to learn to chill like Alfred.

Blue Screen Day

No day is great when the first thing you see is a bright blue screen on the new laptop you’ve only had two months. And yes, that’s what greeted me this morning, when I came down thinking I had 2.5 hours to work on training stuff.

At least it was a pretty morning.

Instead, I spent 2.4 hours on a tech support call, repeatedly rebooting and having to enter a giant, endless passcode. I became cranky. When the young man informed me I had to reinstall the operating system and could do it only if I had a USB drive of a certain size, I became vexed. Of course I threw out all my old Planview drives and only have the giant one where I brilliantly store all my backup files. It was too big.

Look who felt well enough to come out with the other dogs.

Now, I know how hard that job is and that they are reading from a decision tree and actually have no clue how computers work. I know the guy was trying while he repeatedly had to consult various things. But I also had to work.

The Christmas cactus cheered me up.

Of course my colleague on an Asian subcontinent had pinged me long before I came downstairs, so I had to help her while on the phone with the other guy. One big happy family, since we work for them same company. I got her going. Then the OTHER fellow I’m working with on that project needed help.

We think Carlton cleaned his shoulder up last night. It looks less gross.

I was really patient, for me. But in the end, someone has to come work on the laptop in person. So glad I spent extra for that. This means all blogging will be done on the phone for a few days.

I will stop with the whining and summarize that today was very long. The woman who pinged me before I came down to work was still asking questions when I was trying to work with the horses.

Not All Bad

Setting up equipment.

The day had good points, though! The Pool of Dreams finally saw some more action today! An electrician came to get all the power for the equipment set up. He couldn’t get the wiring to the part of the garage where the fuse box is, so he will have to come back.

Lee and dogs supervising the control panels.

I was relieved to get this done. The plaster is supposed to be Friday. We’ll see.

Looking tidy!

I have more to share that’s somewhat cheerful but I’m tired of typing on the phone. I’ll be back soon.

Wiring the fire pit. Harvey is trying to hide.

Learning Fun for All

Today, Sara came with Aragorn in her trailer and picked up me and Apache. I was so grateful to be able to get in a much-needed lesson. We ended up having such a good and educational time, we decided to do it again next week.

Here we are, ready to roll.

We had no trouble at all getting Apache in or out of the trailer. I have memories of it being quite a struggle when he was younger. It helps me see that he HAS improved in many ways.

That’s why I love this quirky guy.

My lesson was first, and went really well. We did the round pen test, and he was judged much improved. He acted like his old self. His feet need to be trimmed, which might cause some odd behavior, so that gets fixed tomorrow.

Here we’re discussing turning.

Next we did really interesting work on walking straight next to the fence without pushing into me or curving his neck. The neck curving is the bad habit he’s developed when he tries to take control.

Here, he’s learning.
He got frustrated but stuck with it.

I’m learning so much! Eventually I got to try it and was beginning to figure out his cues and correct him before he tried to get in front of me. This is something I can easily practice that will improve riding.

Sara and Aragorn worked on straightness and bending necks too, just at a different level. Thus, our lessons were helpful for each other.

Working on bending.

She was also doing practice in transition to canter with correct positions. That was fascinating to watch. And sometimes Aragorn looked all fancy, even if he was trying to figure things out.


I think Aragorn got tired. I know Sara did, but they made good progress. He looks much, much calmer, too. We are all getting better, even if I had to go backwards.

Sometimes the dogs wanted my attention so much that I got distracted, but that’s just fine. They remind me of our guys. The little corgi-like one, Maximus, reminds me of my corgi, Gwynneth, who ran fast and low like a heat-seeking missile.

So, it was a fine Sunday. I enjoyed football, cooked boudin dirty rice, and patted our animals. Harvey is much less swollen.

A Cold Front and Other Improvements

It’s 30 degrees cooler today, and even though it made training a bit chilly, it was all good. Everything is a little better.

I wish I had her self-warning vest, says Drew.

Drew is doing so well. And he is so sweet. He has the best Alfalfa breath. I love watching how hard he tries to learn.

The dogs had a lot of cool weather energy.

Back at home, Harvey is improving. He walks better and is less swollen. An he stopped dripping. Whew. It’s a mess here.

I hid a lot of the day.

In the afternoon I took Apache out again, after a real disaster working with him yesterday. Today there was no bucking, snorting, or kicking. He did so well! And he was loving and friendly. Maybe yesterday when I was boss mare impressed him?

A good ending to my day.

It’s not all perfect. It never is. One of the chickens died last night, and I couldn’t figure out why. And while we just got a lot of wind, other parts of the country had dangerous tornados. But, that’s life. Never perfect.

I’m grateful for the good, like this deep winter sunset afterglow. Enjoy.

How’s the Dog?

We’ve been asked that a lot today. Thank you to all who have expressed care and love for Harvey and the other dogs after the unpleasant incident yesterday.

Thank you.

We were happy to see him drinking water and making it out to pee last night and today. He didn’t want to eat, though, which had us worried that we would not be able to get his pain meds and antibiotics in him.

Not feeling good.

He spent the whole morning glued to my desk chair and shivering. I felt so bad for him. Mid morning Lee was able to get him to take his meds by spraying the stuff they make to put in kong toys. It’s puréed chicken. Harvey wouldn’t eat his regular food but ate that!

Must bleed on new things.

He got to feeling well enough to move around some, and by late afternoon he tried the stairs. That was not pretty, I’m told. The leg with the big injury doesn’t work real well. And it’s still bleeding. I got to clean that up. Between the blood and the smell, today was hard.

But every cloud has a silver lining.

It’s true. Mobile Harvey is bleeding all over the place, but he is acting a bit more like himself, just with a bum leg and ooze.

I’m interested in food.

He followed me around when I was holding an ice cream spoon and I realized he was hungry. Yay! Lee fed him his food, and he looked happy.

That made me happy, seeing him stand and eat. Then I looked at his legs. Yow, the left one is swollen. So glad he has good medicine.

Poor leg!

We are not going to leave him alone for a while and will separate him from the other dogs unless we are supervising. Right now all is well. I need it to be. There has been enough hard stuff this week.

Not a Good Day to Be Harvey

Things can go downhill really fast when you have seven dogs with seven different personalities. Just last night, Goldie and Carlton played and played and played. Goldie would put her entire mouth around Carlton’s neck, and Carlton would gleefully gnaw on Goldie’s jowls. They invited each other to play with a toy and just had so much fun.

Today, Goldie had a totally different interaction with Harvey (who is a totally different dog from happy-go-lucky Carlton). Harvey has a history of getting grumpy with other dogs, as anyone who has known the dogs for a while is aware.

I had gone to get a delivery from the UPS lady, and all the dogs happily barked at her as we exchanged pleasantries. I set that package down and went to the mailbox to see what was crammed in there today. As I did so, the dogs kept barking. I got the mail, and heard some really upset barking coming from Carlton, like a cry-bark. So, I turned and saw six of the seven dogs all in a big ball. Then Harvey ran off and everyone else sniffed the ground.

It turned out that he and Goldie had gotten into a disagreement of some sort, and the normally mild-mannered Goldie must have snapped or something. Harvey was bleeding profusely and I saw blood everywhere. Carlton had blood on him, Goldie had blood on her, and even Penney had some. Vlassic and Gracie looked okay, and luckily Alfred was inside.

Goldie had cuts on her face and ear, and I thought Carlton did, too, but later it was clear he just was in the way of blood flinging, as was Penney. Harvey looked so bad that I got upset and called for Lee, who was not happy with me for my “hysterics” (no woman likes to have being upset labeled hysteria, by the way). He kept telling me they were all just fine, but I disagreed. Harvey looked bad.

See, no more blood on Carlton. And Lee cleaned the house, for which I am grateful.

He was sitting in a corner on a rug, trembling and bleeding. I realized it was Thursday, the day Dr. Amy is in Cameron, so I knew she could see him. We somehow got him outside by dragging the rug but could not lift him into the car. I called Dr. Amy, and the assistant said they were really busy and already had two house calls to do, so could we please try to bring him in?


I had to call Chris (sorry, I had to name him for this one post) and ask him to come help us, which of course he did, along with Marcus, who’s helping on Anita’s house. It took a while, but they guys got Harvey in the car by using a sheet to carry him, and we all took off to the mobile vet place.

Poor ole Harvey just sat there and bled, though he was interested in the car ride. I tried not to look at the gaping holes in his fur.

At least I got to go on a ride!

At the vet place, Amy bravely injected something in Harvey to settle him down, and after the second injection, he snoozed off. The clock was then ticking on repairs.

The poor assistant had a hard time shaving around the injuries, but Chris was able to help her out, so by the time Dr. Amy was finished neutering some dogs, he was ready. Some of the bites were BAD. There were big teethmarks and puncture wounds. Goldie must have really been pissed off, because his neck, shoulders and back legs were a mess.

Before shaving the wounds.

There was even a tendon sticking out of his leg. The tendon was what made me decide a vet visit was in order in the first place! Luckily, it was not a major tendon, and he will be okay without it.

Big ole tooth holes. And tendon.

I was impressed with how fast Dr. Amy worked to test each injury to see if it had damaged any organs. Harvey’s layer of fat helped a lot in that respect. See, Harvey, it’s good you are no longer Starvey. One set of holes went in and out, so she put a drain in it. The deeper holes were also left to drain, so there would be less likelihood of a big ole abscess forming.

Inserting the drain

More superficial wounds got stapled. All wounds got some goopy stuff slapped in it that will help heal. We will put more of that in the open wounds daily for a while. Harvey also got pain killers and antibiotics, a Z Pack for dogs.

Stapled up and heading home.

We got some for Carlton and Goldie, though it turns out Carlton doesn’t need them. Goldie may. I wish I knew what set the dogs off!

We got Harvey back in the car and back into the house. I’m glad Chris is so strong. Harvey is now in my office, separated from all the other dogs, sleeping his ordeal off. He is going to be in a lot of pain for a while, and we will be watching to see if he has blood in his urine or coughs up blood. Poor guy.

Sleeping it off.

I’m glad my coworkers were able to help me out when I missed a meeting today, and that my Indian colleagues forgave me for not being able to answer their questions immediately. Harvey came first!

She looks all right. Just has a few flesh wounds.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you all posted on how the dogs are recovering and what we do about the issue. I want everyone safe.

PS: our sweet neighbor, Seth, got Harvey some get-well treats. He made sure to get soft ones, in case Harvey’s mouth was sore. Sniff.

Harvey would say thanks, if he was awake.

Just Us and the Dogs

With our housemates at their other house for Thanksgiving and Anita off to house sit for a while, Lee and I have the ranch to ourselves.


But we aren’t alone. I thought I was earlier today, but then I realized I was surrounded by 6 sleeping dogs. I took a panoramic picture.

Alfred, Gracie, Carlton, Penney, Goldie, and Harvey

They take turns keeping us warm in the evenings. I usually have Carlton or Penney. Tonight I was reading and not paying attention when I realized the dog on me was quite heavy. It was Harvey. Aww.

It’s my turn.

He’s a bit smelly, but sweet. And he growls if Goldie tries to come near.

I’ll just lay here and play with my toys.

But, he spent so long watching TV with me that my foot fell asleep. He’s heavy.

Great show.

Lee usually has Penney laying beside him, sitting up like a person. Since my lap was full, Carlton joined them. Surprisingly, no fighting occurred.


That’s what makes a quiet evening at the Hermits’ Rest. I’ll just share this nice photo out friend Carol took of me and Lee. I declare it our anniversary photo, even though it’s a few days away. Lucky 13 years.

Suna and Lee, looked over by mariachis.

Wishing you love, wherever you find it.

Katie Zapfel

Children's book author. Mom blogger.

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