Ranchin’ Time

I had fun today getting reacquainted with the ranch and its inhabitants. I sure was glad to see that Peeper, the only chick we ever got past babyhood, is still peeping and growing. She has her comb coming in, and she looks like a darker version of her mom.

The dogs were glad to see me, ranging from black and white to copper and gold!

And of course, I was so glad to see the horses and Fiona. Apache is as furry as a teddy bear, but sound and happy.

I’m not out of condition; I’m fuzzy.

We went for a ride with Kathleen and Mabel. We had a good time until suddenly Kathleen disappeared.

Where did they go?

I looked and saw them zipping away. Mabel was dancing around. Finally Kathleen got off, and we went to check things out. She was waving and Mabel was kicking at her belly.

Kathleen yelled, “bees!” and I saw a bee around Mabel’s legs. It appeared to be a ground bee. They hadn’t bothered Apache, but Mabel must have stepped on their nest! Finally, the bee that chased them stopped on Mabel’s belly and Kathleen killed it with her shoe. Poor horsie!

After that we tried to ride again, but neither horse was remotely interested. They wanted their saddles off and some petting. As did Fiona and Remington, who were out with us.

Enough drama for one day.

Everyone was apparently starving by dinner time, because Fiona kept grunting at the dogs, and when she was done, she tried to drag poor Remington’s food away from him.

Remington is not pleased. Note strongly braced donkey legs

We guess she was tired from her own antics, which included getting into the swimming pool when I was riding. Sigh. And we were worried about the dogs! luckily, the new fencing that should keep donkeys out of the area around the house is being worked on now.

More to come tomorrow! But now it’s time to get some rest, because tomorrow starts another work week. Once again, Anita and I will share an office, except when I have to talk. I’ll show you why she can’t work in her own house in the next post.

Sunset, dog, and ranch stuff.

Consistency is Dull

Sorry, y’all, but there’s not much new around here. The two chicks are still with us, so that’s fine. I’d like that to stay boring.

Dang, we can’t get out.

The pool guys are still tiling. They spent a lot of time smoothing the edges, but did get some edging cemented in. They are so careful. That makes me happy. They also work like 11 hours a day. Ugh.

They were just leaving when I took this.

And the horses are fine. I’ve been so tired this week that I haven’t done much with them, but today I took Apache and Fiona out for some fun. First, Apache got to try out the new poles in the round pen. He tried to avoid them at first, but then started to have fun trotting over them. He even cantered really nicely for a bit!

Reward time.

We went for a good walk, practicing good manners, and exploring. Of course Fiona came along. She seemed to enjoy the view.

Whee

It really seems to me like these two have as much fun as I do wandering around and checking out all the different plants, hills, and trees.

Let me out!

And the promised house offer has not happened. Not surprised. No news is no news!

So yeah, it’s not exciting. The blog visits have plummeted. But, I’m employed, I have friends and family who care, and I’ll keep on keeping on, with a good attitude. Thanks for reading, all right of you.

A Little Trail Ride

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

Look at me, I’m in the cow pasture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watermelon Fun Overload

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

This looks suspicious.

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

Brr. It’s cold!

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

Hey, what’s this??

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

This is fun.

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

Watermelon is for chickens!!

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

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

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

A Date with Nature and Livestock

Nature’s creatures have nothing to do with human organizations, judgmental humans, or unnecessary drama. Their drama is, at least, necessary. So I dumped social media and went outside on this nice day.

It’s a nice day, because we’re in it.

Half the day I added to my collection of observations for our Master Naturalist group’s summer bioblitz. I missed the spring one by being in North Carolina, so I wanted to make up for it. Here, enjoy some things I found:

The rest of the time, I hung out with my animal friends. I’m sure if I had grandchildren I would not take so many pictures of animals.

Enjoy what really matters in life and let other stuff go. You’ll be healthier!

Very Happy Students

I’m really happy, relieved, and looking forward to the future now. You know I’ve been frustrated lately with my inability to communicate well with my dear horse Apache when he’s under saddle. Today I finally took the long-anticipated step of getting answers to my questions and start to improve the communication and make riding and learning fun again.

We went to our new trainer’s place for the first time, which was a learning experience in itself, since Lee had to drive someone else’s truck and trailer over there. Luckily, Apache loaded easily (more easily than I opened the door), despite the loud creaking sound the trailer door makes (I will get some oil). I had hay ready for him, but that made it hard for me to tie him up. While I was occupied with that, I heard a noise. Just guess who had voluntarily loaded herself?

I’m coming too, right? Photo and editing by Lee.

I asked Fiona to get down, and she looked all bummed that she could go with us. I think she had more fun at home. In any case, we made it with a couple of minutes to spare, then embarked on our learning fest. I was so ready to learn some techniques that worked better than the ones I was using before and to get some tips on keeping Apache engaged.

Hint: there will be much less of THIS going on.

I got all that, and more. It was a pretty learning-packed lesson for both me and Apache, even though I’d forgotten my reins (now I know how to make them out of my lead rope, which worked very well). I now know how to make the round pen work more of an exercise in mind and body for both of us, and how some of the things I learned before actually weren’t a great idea. Little modifications really helped.

And when I was riding, I got all the stuff I’d been trying to figure out on my own, explained so much better and more clearly. It was such a relief to get this information and try it out. I kept smiling with joy that I was doing things well and Apache was figuring out what to do more and more quickly. It’s such a relief to have a patient and reassuring teacher who frequently reminds me that this stuff will take a while, but will be worth it.

It’s very pretty where we went. And so many horses!

My hands and legs need retraining, so I’ll just keep repeating things the new way, which makes sense, so is quite worth it. I have great homework to do, as soon as I can make myself a cone and circle setup. I ordered some cones, but may have to borrow some until they get here. But hey, I know much more subtle ways to start, stop, turn and go in circles already. Oh and backing up. Yes! I can’t wait to get to practicing and to teaching Drew some of the round pen stuff I learned.

But wait, you know what was the BEST thing the trainer told me: Apache’s weight looks good! She said it more than once! All that hard work HAS paid off. Hooray!

Lee spent a lot of time looking at clouds. He said this looked like Hercules. He didn’t even notice the dragonfly.

I haven’t had this much fun in an hour in AGES. Neither has Apache, though he was ready to get that saddle off when we got home! Lee was darned ready, too. I think he really hopes the other driver will be available next time, the one who is interested in horse training.

Donkey versus Dog, and Other Ranch Sights

Maintaining my detachment from things out of my control is a challenge right now, so there are LOTS of nature walks going on. The benefit is that you get to see drama, birth and death, and beauty throughout the day. This morning, for example, I went out to do the usual chicken feeding and horse moving while it was still relatively cool out. That meant all the animals were frisky, especially the dogs and equines. As I was trying to give Apache his daily hay, Goldie was “helping,” as usual. She made the mistake of getting between Fiona and the hay, and Fiona finally connected with one of her kicks, and got poor Goldie on the side. Much yelping occurred.

Goldie may even be taller than Fiona at the shoulders.
Perhaps too extreme of a close-up, but it’s worse than it looks here. But, Goldie is fine and her usual cheerful self.

Fiona has been warning Goldie and the other dogs to keep back by flattening her ears and back-kicking (to the extent that I no longer stand behind Fiona when dogs are around), but she’s just so fascinating to Goldie, who is her match in size, but not in bulk. Carlton has learned to keep his distance. I’d like to say Goldie has, but the photo above was taken AFTER the kick.

There’s always someone kicking, scratching, or biting someone else around here. That’s how they maintain their pecking order (literally, in the case of the hens). I also got to enjoy watching the beautiful swallows figuring out their pecking order from their morning launch station. There are always dozens of them sitting on east side of the house each morning as they get those insects.

Lee is always telling me how observant I am, and I know that just comes from a lot of practice going on hikes and entertaining my younger son with all the different bugs and flowers we saw. Anyway, this morning was one of those sparkling mornings with lots of dew. Also some of the really ephemeral parasol mushrooms that appear and quickly fade away were up. They are so delicate that they tremble at any slight breeze.

A little later in the morning, it was Lee’s turn to want to get some nature walking in, so I accompanied him. We went over to the dam, and found all sorts of interesting things. The MOST interesting is that there are dozens of baby catfish in the overflow area. There are so many of them, and I know that water will dry up way sooner than our other ponds, so I think I will try to catch some and transfer them.

Look at all those little guys!

When I was young, my mom caught some baby catfish in Noonan’s Lake near Gainesville, Florida. She put them in our goldfish pond, and we watched them grow and grow. By the time we moved away, they were a foot long and we loved to try to drop food straight into their huge mouths. The goldfish were also really big. Dad did a great job on that pond.

When we turned around to go back, after enjoying the fishies, I saw lots and lots of insects on the velvetweed. At first I thought there were three kinds, but when I uploaded to iNaturalist, I realized I saw juvenile and adults of the same insect, the eastern leaf-footed bug. There was a stink bug of some type, too, but I failed at taking its picture well enough to ID it, as you can see below. Well, and there were zillions of differential grasshoppers, zzz.

Well, that just shows you what you can find if you look hard and are patient. Focusing on the teeming life all around you reminds you that you are just a small part of the big picture. And watching the animals handle their disagreements with no hard feelings is a good lesson for us, too. Now if I can just maintain that feeling of oneness with the Universe, detachment from unhealthy attachments, and goodwill to all!

When You’re Irritated, Go Outside

No matter how many times I try to convince myself not to care to much about my work, I keep doing it, and the way things are set up now, I really need to just roll with the changes. But, I’ll try to do that again, next time.

Goldie is rolling with the changes. Keep on rolling, keep on rolling, as REO Speedwagon advised.

So, today I made a point of going outside and enjoying a relatively cool August day with the animals. I did some excellent breathing, then went out to see how the horses were doing.

What, I’m supposed to be rolling? Usually you make me stop!

I got Drew out and tried to groom him. Oh my gosh, he, too, had been rolling. In the sand. While sweating. He was now an orange horse. He had clay-like clods in his mane that would not brush out. I got my exercise in!

I don’t know what she’s talking about. I look just fine…from a distance, backlit.

We went for a walk, which was fine until Harvey took off after him and he bolted away. Drew is very pretty when running. And he waited for me. I took a deep breath and we finished our walk. Then we went in the round pen, and Drew totally made up for running off. He has improved so much! At least I feel like I’ve taught him something. He slows down, stops, turns, and comes to me when asked.

I’m not so bad. Also, Fiona’s empty dish tastes better than mine.

Then I fetched Apache, who was much less filthy but more bothered by flies. I see why Drew was rolling in the sand. Both got fly spray, so they will be better for a few days. I put Apache in the round pen to see if he’d move better after some pain killer the night before.

Yep. He’s trotting.

He acted like normal Apache. He trotted around and around until I asked him to stop. He turned around when asked. He just kept going. I think maybe it’s just he abscess growing out.

Look, you can almost see my ribs!

We had a good walk, and when he started wanting to eat every time I stopped, I practiced starting and stopping after different numbers of steps. That made him think, and his head stayed up.

My head is up, geez.

Sara has me reading a depressing article on sugar in grass. It makes me feel doomed at slimming him down again until winter. I can’t let him out only between 9 pm and 3 am. Sigh.

I can’t help it. I was born this way. Or mismanagement. Or something. This is my bad angle!

By the time I did all this, I felt better. Keeping myself centered to work with the horses helped a lot! Animal therapy. I’d say it’s free, but horses are not cheap.

Donkeys are cute and cheap!

Going Cuckoo over Gloomy Beauty

It’s time for another post with mostly photos. The rainy day brought a lot of sights, from a bird and insects I’d never seen before to animals dealing with water. That’s right, the title of this post isn’t an insensitive ableist phrase, I actually saw a cuckoo!

In the center is a yellow-billed cuckoo!

I knew we had them here, but I’d never seen a cuckoo before. It must have been recovering from the most recent downpour. I read that these birds are called storm birds, because they tend to sing after a storm. This one wasn’t singing.

Close up.

The other fun part of today was enjoying the wet animals. Poor Fiona thought she was trapped in one of the pens until Apache walked over and showed her it wasn’t a lake.

I’m outa here!

Here are some other images from around the pens.

Here are my insect finds. most are new to me, but not the fire ants. They messed up my foot night before last.

I’ll close with more moody weather photos. It was a pretty interesting day after all.

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