What’s Pink and behind My House?

It’s a roseate spoonbill, that’s what!

…and three storks, one great egret and one great blue heron!

I was excited to see the storks visiting again, then I noticed one of the beaks trolling the shore was not black and looked sorta funny. Whoa. It was pink!

Look at that bill!

I’ve only had one visit from a spoonbill before so this made me smile. I remember looking at one up close at the collection at College Station but I’d rather see them live! I guess this one had just joined up with stork pals for a while.

It was beautiful to see them all fly off, too.

Bye!

What a happy ending to a day that was already fun.

Why was today fun?

No, not because I did my favorite work task, building an e-learning video. It’s because it was Dusty’s turn to star in a horse activity, and it’s fun to watch him bask in the glow of attention.

Dusty eye. He has blue swirls.

Sara needs to practice trimming hooves, and Dusty had four that needed attention. So she brought all her equipment over and worked on our old buddy.

Me? I’m the focus? Not attention hog Apache?

Sara is doing so great, too. As I expected, she is learning fast. It only took her an hour to do the trim, which is a big improvement!

Yep, it was time!

She had a lot more training to do, but she’s well on her way. Dusty did fine and was quite the gentleman. He had to rest his feet some, but that gave Sara a break, too. We were all happy with the results.

Everybody’s happy, and Fiona is also an attention hog.

It’s just so fun to watch my friend learn and hang out with my horse buddies.

Drew got his attention, too. Scratches with Sara’s gloves went over very well.

Life does not suck right now. It’s good, in fact. And it’s getting better! Woo hoo! Enjoy some more hoof fixing photos!

Hey, I skipped a blogging day. It was both busy and sorta boring. But I’m almost finished making the squares for my little macho camouflage blanket! I used my time wisely!

I Never Get Tired Of…

Sunsets. Tonight’s even featured some rain in the distance. And a cute dog.

I got to enjoy this sunset because I had a nice dinner with my friends Mike and Martha. I got so used to not doing things with friends that it’s been hard to get back in the habit. The last two weeks have helped!

Fancy girl

The other thing I’ve done for the last couple of days is look at horse hooves. Nope, I’m not tired of that, either. I’m learning a lot by watching Sara learn farrier skills for her own horses. As the above picture hints, I found Soltara and all her mane a bit distracting.

It’s a good thing I didn’t have rubber bands!

Yesterday I learned a lot about Apache’s foot journey, and I’m glad it’s good now! Lots more some got scraped off even though he’d just been trimmed a couple of weeks ago! Interesting.

Happy foot.

And wow, Aragorn’s therapeutic shoes are complex. I’m in awe of both Tarrin and Sara for knowing how to do this work. Still, glad I can pay Trixie for my farrier work when possible! Who knew I’d learn so much about this stuff!

Work in progress.

I’m pretty good with bugs, though. I never get tired of taking pictures of them. Too bad disaster has befallen my naturalist friends. The iNaturalist site went down! Oh no. Thus. Here are two red and black insects.

I’ll be back tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be more interesting.

Horse Home Decor and Spa

What lucky horses I have. Also they are so sweet and good that they deserve to be pampered. Why do they deserve it? Wow they are well behaved.

Yes. Me. I’m getting my hooves trimmed right now.

Trixie came today to trim the horses’ hooves. You may recall that when I got Drew he could not even lift his back leg. Today was another story. She got him trimmed in less than ten minutes. No arguing or anything. By the time she was finished he was dead asleep and I had trouble getting his halter off. I just stood there and petted him and loved on him. It was fantastic.

I love my spa day

Apache was the same. Just stood there and took a nap. It’s so great to see his feet in perfect shape after struggling the past few years. My heart was so full just being with these calm animals. Trixie just exudes calm with horses.

Even though my ears are back, I’m good.

So yep, these precious beings deserve nice things. Or maybe I deserve a nice thing to support them. But today the crew did more work on the tack room. They built a nice shelf for the supplements right over the feed bins.

Feeding station

They also put excellent hooks and hanging pegs on the wall. I can’t wait to see what Kathleen and I do with them!

You may have to zoom in to see everything.

You may see a hat on the wall. It’s not a hat! It’s a riding helmet with a “brimmer” on it. It’s made of real palm fiber. It will give me lots more shade on my face when I ride. Sara got one, too. The helmet may look slightly dorky but it’s not too bad. My head will be safe and shady! that’s what counts.

Trying on my brimmer.

The other thing they added inside the tack room are hooks to hang each horse’s. Rifle and halter with his or her saddle. There is still a shelf or two to be built, but I’m pretty thrilled as it is.

So nice. This will be great for us.

The thing I like best about the tack room is the big, wide steps outside the door. I won’t fall down when carrying heavy items. I am just so impressed with how thoughtful they were in building it!

My new happy place.

We got everything done in time to close all the windows and put away all the outdoor furniture in preparation for yet another tornado warning. This one was even closer. I went in the storm room.

Not happy.

It missed us again. But it hit very very close. Not my favorite thing. People were hurt in nearby Salado and in the tiny town of Burlington just to our north.

Yuck. Much worse elsewhere.

Day Is Done. Not Work, Though

Yeah, the sun has set, horses are fed, and it’s my usual relaxing or educational time. But I have classes to teach every night this week. I don’t mind a bit, since this isn’t a frequent occurrence and I think Asian people ought to have a chance for training during their work day!

Sun setting over scenic Walker’s Creek

I haven’t had much to write this week because I’ve been productive at work, which is fine, right? Since I’m working in the evenings, though, I took a few hours off this afternoon to get things done.

Ooh, that feels good.

Actually, Trixie did all the work on the horses. Drew got a little body work and was medium well behaved for his hoof trim. Apache was good as gold, though, and we are happy to say his hooves are perfect.

Also, very clean, unlike the rest of him.

I had to leave Trixie to finish Apache so I could go help the resident offspring move more things from the church. We managed to get a heavy dresser and a bookcase loaded into Lee’s Tahoe ourselves. That church sure has lots of stairs.

Other cabin addition

I was busy working and trying to avoid electrical sparks (workers blew a transformer and knocked power out on us), so no photos of that. Instead, look a the cool door the resident nephew found hiding at our Ross property! It fits the cabin, and will sure be a cool entry.

All I have is some happy flower images from the arrangement I got for Kathleen (the rarely resident niece) for her birthday. It was not too bright of me to assume she would be here that day, knowing how plans change so fast!

But flowers are cheerful from afar, too. Sending love to all who are struggling. You’re never alone when I’m around!

Drew’s Clues

I’ve talked before about my concerns about my 3-year-old colt, Drew, and his issues with balance. He can’t get his back feet cleaned, because he can’t stay upright on three feet long enough. And he’s fine with the front feet. And he stumbles on his back feet when he’s running. Something seems wrong.

Can I hold him up with this? No, Fiona.

Today ended up being farrier day, because we had a schedule mix-up, but it all ended up fine. I told Trixie about my concerns, wondering if he was just lazy, as had been suggested, or if there was another reason.

Checking Drew out.

Trixie felt around and tried a few things. She agreed he has a problem. His pelvis is tilted, with one side higher than the other. That makes it hard for him to put weight on one side, and hard to bend the other side. I asked about how he clamps his tail down, and he said he was doing something to his sacrum with than (I forget what; forgot to take notes).

Perhaps this Vulcan mind meld will help.

Her theory is that he could have scar tissue or adhesions from being gelded in a popular way I’ll not describe here. That makes sense to me. So, she worked on him. He loved neck stretching but not foot work, which didn’t surprise me.

Ima fall down! Help!

Not much helped his pelvic area, though his head and neck felt good, from his reactions. Trixie will have to come back Monday and do some other stuff.

Do what you have to do, ma’am.

I’m so glad I paid attention to the clues he’s been giving me, so I can get Drew in better shape before he goes in for training. Luckily there is good news! Drew let his front feet get trimmed pretty calmly for a first timer! I’m proud of my little boy.

Meanwhile, Apache slept through most of Drew’s stuff and his trim, even though we had a few little showers. He was a model citizen and even stood perfectly for his back feet!

It is NOT sunny.

The weather is so weird. It’s so pleasant outside that I can sit and enjoy Lee’s pond after spending some time with the horses. It’s August. It should be 105, not 77 right now. And the grass should be brown, dang it.

Weird

Fun in the Sun with the Farrier

I lied. The sun was not fun, and I got pretty overheated, but it was another day out with the horses. Around mid-afternoon, Trixie showed up to finish working on the horses, which she couldn’t do last week because of the rain. Sara came over to join the fun, so it was a day of friends, too.

Apache wore his “dress halter” for the occasion.

The buckskin buddies did very well getting trimmed. They knew what was going on, and handled it great. I know they’ll feel better with more even feet.

Remi always likes attention, so he was good.

Trixie looked over the two new horses, and that provided some surprises. She estimated Mabel to be around 9 years old, younger than we were told, but she thought Amaretto was WAY older than we heard, like late twenties! Kathleen was absolutely right to call her “Grandma,” so she may have a new barn name! Both horses need to eat, which we knew, and she agreed that Mabel is probably a gaited horse, from her looks. Her guess was a Tennessee Walking Horse. That would be okay with us!

I’m a fancy horse disguised as a sad, skinny mare.

Mabel is not very friendly, though she’s compliant and calm. I hope she comes out of her shell when she realizes she has a home and is safe now. Anyway, Apache and Fiona’s trims were calm and normal. They sure are good guys.

Also, I looked pretty. Like my tassels?

Drew was a whole ‘nother story. It’s a good thing he didn’t need a trim, because he needs work on picking up his back feet. Trixie showed us a technique for practicing that without risking getting kicked, which I was really grateful for. I’m thinking our Andrew needs to get some training by someone who knows what they are doing.

Who, me? I need training?

Wait, what’s that you see Drew and Trixie in? Is that a round pen? It is! While Trixie was working, the panels that we aren’t using as cattle fencing magically turned into their actual purpose, a portable round pen! All it needed was the spare gate, and boom, it was set up. It will most definitely work for now, and make me feel a lot better working with Drew.

The sun did this cool lighting all by itself.

Trixie was kind enough to bring her lunging/long-line training equipment to show me how to use it with Drew (after a debacle in trying to catch him again after I let him go). I was a little relieved to see he was as hard to get started gracefully for her as he was for me, though she got better and better results from him.

Drew is a fan of speed.

He did walk a few paces, and she got him to slow down a couple of times, which was good progress. Still, he mainly trotted at top speed and cantered as he traveled around and around. The way Trixie was doing it, he could only go one direction at a time, because of how the long lead was attached to his special Tractor Supply halter. He was not pleased to not be able to turn around. That is where the special very long training whip came in handy. She could direct him without getting on top of his teenage jumpy self.

Happy ending to lesson

The best thing, though, was that she got him to stop on her instructions twice. Slowing down was not of interest to him, so that was hard. She ended the lesson at the above state, with him stopped a respectful distance away and paying attention to her, not his ideas. This was a great way to end.

Drew isn’t ready for fancier lunging (or however you spell this; I am confused), but I do know what equipment I need to get, and I do now have a round pen. He will be a lot of work, but I hope it will be worth it in the long run! And of course, I also have to work with Apache and get some running in with him!

So happy to have had the lesson and to have our pens all ready to use. It’s fun feeding the horses now (Kathleen loves doing it, so she mostly handles it…she’s very good).

My Best Accomplishment of 2020

Now that it’s getting near the end of the year, I guess we can look back and see what we’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that so many of us are still here, and sad to have lost others in this pandemic. But, in a more cheerful vein, I learned only today what my best accomplishment of 2020 has to be.

This is a hint

Happy Horse News

Yes, today at his farrier visit, Apache was declared to be in his best physical shape ever. Trixie kept repeating how good he looked. He also is in great mental shape, because she also remarked many times about how well behaved he was.

Here is Apache behaving well during a delicate procedure on his back quarters. You can see his heart-shaped chest patch.

His feet look really great, and that’s a tribute to how carefully Sara and I have managed him since he got all lame after eating spring grass in the big pasture. I’ll be able to ride him now! I’m very grateful for all of Sara’s and Trixie’s help and advice (and everybody else’s, too), because apparently putting him in the little pasture with poor fodder and supplementing with last year’s hay was what he needed.

He is at his ideal weight!

Not only did he lose the fat, but his coat is in much better shape now, too. Even his winter coat is shiny and soft. That may be the result of worming him sufficiently, for which I thank Sara very much. His mane and tail are growing back in well, too.

Yes, it’s a horse’s butt, but it’s an important image. That is a straight tail.

Best of all, now that he’s lost weight, Trixie can see what’s going on with his skeleton and musculature much better. This let her figure out what might have been causing his tail to veer to the left so significantly. So, she was able to don some gloves, put on some lotion, and manipulate some “intimate” areas to where they are looser, which loosened the tail.

Whee, my tail feels good. So does the rest of me.

We decided not to photograph exactly HOW happy the manipulation made him, but it was mighty impressive. We thought it might hurt, but apparently it was quite the opposite.

Through all the prodding, tail pulling, and leg stretching, Apache was a true gentleman gelding, albeit a happy one. In fact, when a leg stretch didn’t quite work, he cooperatively picked his foot up and angled it over to Trixie as if to say, “Try again, I’ll do better this time.” At a certain point, Trixie and I just stood there grinning at how great he was doing. She said that this is why she does what she does, seeing an animal with an improved quality of life like Apache has.

“Who am I, chopped liver?”

Not to be outdone, Fiona was quite a little lady as she got her tiny little feet trimmed. It had been twelve weeks, and all the little issues she’d had were also completely grown out. It amazes me how Trixie can sit on the ground and trim Fiona’s feet, with Fiona just standing there and picking up whatever foot is asked for. This is most un-donkey-like!

“Look, as long as someone is petting or brushing me, I can stand here all day. Treats never hurt, either.”

Even Fiona’s health seems better. Her normally pretty dull winter coat has shiny parts, too, though she’s still a bit plump. It just doesn’t take much to feed a donkey, even one as active as Fiona.

“You’re gonna WHAT?”

Trixie and I talked about getting her a little cart and sending her over to learn driving (cart, not car), if Trixie’s first donkey-cart training client goes well. I think that would be incredibly fun. However, we’re pretty sure Fiona won’t be thrilled at the idea of having to work for a living, having gotten by on cuteness for all these years.

I am SO proud of having the patience and receiving the good advice needed to help my horse friend back into good health. He’s back to cheerfully going wherever I lead him and doing whatever I ask him to. He and Fiona run happily together. And I get the benefit of the love my horse and donkey give me.

Horse Improvement May Be Expensive

The good news, for sure, is that Apache is walking a lot better. The bad news is that between the vet yesterday and the farrier today, plus new medicine, he is one expensive pet. But, I knew going in that horses are not for the penniless.

Apache declares’s he’s worth it. That’s me, watching him on FaceTime.
This is NOT dignified.

Yesterday, while I was at the closing on the Ross house and helping stick colored glass in the floors at the Pope house, Dr. Amy came to the ranch to float teeth on all the equines and give them their shots. I was so sad to miss that, since I’ve never been there when their teeth were floated (that is when the veterinarian takes some sort of giant buzzing raspy thing and makes their teeth even, so they can chew more easily and won’t hurt their tongues on sharp teeth.

She ended up doing all of them, even poor Fiona. Of course, they said what a great donkey she is, etc. I felt sorry for her with the giant mouth-opening appliance in her. The good news is that they do sedate the animals for this undignified procedure.

I’m smiling, really, Fiona says.

Since I could not be there, Sara was kind enough to FaceTime me, so that I could see everything. That’s why my head is in most of the photos.

Apache was very good for his floating. I am sure it was easier to keep him still, because he wasn’t wanting to walk very much.

He made Dr. Amy laugh.
No fun for anyone.

He also showed that his feet weren’t TOO bad by picking each of them up so that Mark (Sara’s friend who used to train thoroughbreds) could paint some goop on his hooves. I think he thinks Apache is gonna croak at any moment, but we think he is already getting better.

Dr. Amy prescribed some powdered Bute, which I went and bought for $45. Of course, he hates it. ARGH. We agreed he needs to eat empty calories, and she prescribed some food that fits the bill (though his current beet pulp does, too), as well as a supplement with a lot of turmeric in it. I take it, and it helps ME!

I haven’t seen the bill for that yet, but I feel a lot better having him with all his shots up to date and with an actual doctor looking at him.

Today, Trixie came by to do the long-awaited adjustments on Spice that she’d been holding off on until she got her teeth floated. As always, that was fun to watch. She also did Lakota, but I missed that part, because I was at the other work. Anyway, she said Spice is incredibly stiff. She’s coming back in a few weeks to work on her again. On the other hand, Lakota is in such great shape she could not believe he is in his late twenties. She kept gushing about his conformation and how great shape all his joints are in.

Lakota is Mr. Popularity.

Fiona was declared fine, so she didn’t get any farrier work. YAY!

But, Trixie was fascinated by Apache’s feet. Like I’d noticed before, his hooves do not feel hot to the touch (usual for laminitis, which is his current diagnosis). She also said his hooves looked pretty normal, not like the hooves of a foundering horse. Hmm, that’s what I thought, too. Maybe we’ve caught the issue in time to get him better.

Your feet are fascinating, Patchy.

What she DID see was that the bony area in the middle of his foot, around the “frog” area was longer than the hoof. Now, that’s like walking on your nail bed. It would hurt like the dickens. She trimmed him all up (and again, he stood on three legs just about as well as he normally does), and we are waiting to see how he does. It’s a short trim (someone was concerned, so I am adding this), but will be fine and allow healthy hoof material to get to the end of his foot faster.

Being a good boy and holding his foot up.

I’m sure none of the horses feel all that great, with all those shots, scary dental appliances, and hoof trimming. To be kind, we have delayed worming, which would be a final indignity, until two weeks from now. Lucky guys.

Damp and Dreary Can Be Cheery

Today started out bathed in fog, and as the sun sets it’s still drizzling. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day. You can find beauty anywhere if you just look around! Just look at all these beautiful water droplets!

Anita stayed over last night, sleeping on my gradually softening air bed. Shoot, that was a GOOD air bed. We had the nicest discussion, just Anita, Lee, and me, as we drank our hot beverages and finished cleaning up after last night’s delicious Thanksgiving dinner. I felt so relaxed, with Carlton curled up in my lap, and the fog draped over the trees outside.

Web of glistening sparkles.

I got Anita to walk the dogs with me and pose like she is out on the misty moors. It was fun to walk through all the tiny air droplets. It wasn’t too cold, so it was good walking weather.

Continue reading “Damp and Dreary Can Be Cheery”

Donkey Feet and Horse Teeth

So, I started yesterday feeling all fancy and business-like as we got our pictures taken by the Chamber of Commerce, because Hermits’ Rest Enterprises is the July Business of the Month. Mandi and I had on nice clothing and jewelry, and Mandi’s hair was all straight and fancy. (See the Hermit Haus blog for more details.)

Then, by mid-afternoon we were back at the ranch, and I had morphed into Cowgirl Suna, with jeans, boots, and hat to meet Trixie the farrier to look at the horses and Fiona. I asked Mandi to come along, since she’s the one who doctored Fiona and knows more about horse health than I do.

Fiona’s Footsies

Fiona went first, and she was pretty good, though she did get the idea to try to file her own hooves. It didn’t work out.

Now that I’ve got this thing, how do I use it?

Trixie said that Fiona’s “bad” foot was really interesting, and that she’d never seen one like that. The footbed still seems longer than the outer hoof wall. We went over a lot of possibilities for what could have caused it. We settled on the bag abscess she had on that front hoof causing the outer walls to not grow like usual, which caused separation and other issues.

Continue reading “Donkey Feet and Horse Teeth”
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