What the Heck is That?

Fiona and Drew knew something was up this morning when the round pen suddenly turned horseshoe shaped.

The grass is nice and crispy here.

Then a big rolling thing came right up to where Drew was attempting to eat. How rude!

What’s THAT?

The thing turned around, stopped, and made some loud noises. But it wasn’t TOO scary. It looked tasty.

Tastes salty.

Then it made more loud noises, and that scared Fiona and Drew off for a bit. But soon, Drew had to check out the back of the big red thing.

Fascinating.

So, that thing is our other shipping container, which had been living over at Mandi’s house back when we were trying to renovate it. It’s the second part of the shelter for the horse pens. Now that it’s there, once it’s finally in place, we can empty out the other one and turn it into our tack room and hay storage.

Temporary home.

It was fun watching the unloading, so here are some pictures of how that happened. I also enjoyed talking to the wrecker guy, who knows everyone in town, of course. A fun time for all!

The Other Horse Gets a Turn

I’ve been concentrating a lot on Apache lately, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten Drew! He won’t let me forget him, anyway, since every time he sees me, he comes up to see what’s going on. That’s really a good sign! He’s doing a good job learning not to crowd me, yet be close enough for affection. That’s got to be hard to learn (they call it staying out of my bubble).

We are in each other’s bubbles on purpose, here.

He continues to learn in the round pen, and I want to try some of the things I’m learning with Apache, but I am not going to step right in front of a cantering colt to get him to pay attention. I’ll figure something out, since I do have the long coach whip. He tends to ignore it, I guess because he hasn’t felt it. The other round pen issue is that he stumbles on his back feet occasionally. I am going to have him checked to see if it is just young horse awkwardness or something else. He does not appear to be ill.

He has put on some weight and is all muscled. It’s fun to watch him run.

But otherwise, we have great fun going for walks and not eating grass, so maybe he won’t form that habit. The idea is if his halter is on, he doesn’t eat, which is a thing I’d been inconsistent with on Apache. I know Kathleen will keep me honest with that. We can all learn new tricks!

I settle down sometimes.

I really enjoy his spirit and ease being around me, the dogs, the chickens, and Fiona. He is just a fun little guy.

Wheee!

His eye is still goopy, but better. Other animals here also have it, and we humans, too, so we are chalking it up to allergies from the very wet year we’ve had. Speaking of the other animals, the other four horses here have had a nice week or so of pasture rest. They spent a lot of it licking a cow mineral block with molasses in it, and had very brown faces. But, they finished it and look more normal now.

Granny’s muzzle is back to normal. She is the friendliest of the bunch, and always comes to see me to get her daily does of scritches and pets. She remains thin, but she’s old.

All the others are looking quite healthy. Mabel especially seems much better since her injuries were addressed. She is filling out and looks like a race horse or something. Her legs are amazing!

Suna just says nice things, because she wants to ride me someday.

The two buckskins stay together all the time. It’s very sweet to watch them out grazing. All in all, they seem to be a happy herd that will be ready to do more work soon. I enjoy watching them!

We are holding a memorial service for the empty cow mineral bucket.

Fiona is a very happy donkey. She gets to wander around the property during the day, eating whatever she wants, wherever she wants to. She actually doesn’t go very far, but it’s nice to just walk up and love on her while I’m dealing with the chickens and such. Things are settling in nicely!

Feeding time for my guys. Everyone gets their own spot. I clean poop while they eat, just as I learned from Kathleen!

Oh, and one more thing! Now that I finished my Friends of La Leche League newsletter I have time to do things I should have done a long time ago, and I finally blocked the shawl I made for Kathleen. It should be dry and looking much more like a shawl by tomorrow! See, I don’t spend all day every day with horses.

This clash of colors is a bit nauseating, but I think the shawl will look cool with its little scallops on the edges.

Progress Report on Horses Drew and Apache, Plus Future Plans

Here we are at mid week, and things have calmed down at least a little. We’re getting into a routine with all the new horses and our very workable facility. While there will be improvements, like more roof and the tack room, what we have now feels quite luxurious!

Drew wishes he had Apache’s dinner, but it has very few calories, so he wouldn’t get much out of it.

It is so nice to have the round pen right there to warm up horses and to work with Drew. I’m happy to say that he is a lot better on the lunge line and now walks and trots more than trotting and cantering. Plus, he is starting to figure out that I am asking him to transition. He is also being a much better citizen when walking on a lead, and only crowds me in crowded spots. There’s work to do, but also progress. On the other hand, I have not found his “back” button.

Wow, exercise area, feeding area, pasture, shelter, and even a temporary washing station are here!

I’ve been riding Apache as often as possible. Yesterday, he acted like his right back hoof hurt and did not want to trot in the round pen, so I’m watching for another abscess. Yet, we went for a very long trail ride all over the cow pasture, front yard, and such, and he did just great. There’s a lot of progress with him, too, and I’m relaxing my feet more in the Western stirrups.

And look at this! We have trails mowed into the pasture for us, on both sides of the fence. We sure appreciate that!

The new horses of Kathleen’s are enjoying their lives very much. She’s been riding Dusty for hours every day, and they also are making huge progress. It’s fun to watch them. She walks all the horses daily and does tons of grooming. She’s the horsiest!

Dusty says, I’m enjoying riding around with Kathleen, and I’m gaining some weight!

Mabel has been looking sort of droopy, though, so she’s going to the vet ahead of schedule, just to be sure she is all right.

I’m eating a lot, but still working on filling out these old ribs of mine, says Granny Amaretto.

As for me, I know I am not equipped to train a young horse myself, so I have been talking to a local trainer whose philosophy and ideas agree with mine about getting him started the right way. She’s the woman who was the judge at the Working Equitation show we went to a while back. Starting in October, Drew will spend some time learning manners and skills, and I will also learn how to work with him the way he’s been trained.

Excuse me, I’m a teenager. I do not need manners. But, at least I’m clean, says Drew.

In the meantime, I’m going to start going to lessons with Apache, to help the two of us get more in tune and refine my riding and his horsing. I really look forward to finally getting some real lessons in horsemanship, after all these years of not doing it. It’s an investment into my future retirement fun. I can’t wait for Apache to get more balanced, so I can ride him at a trot and canter and maybe help get some of that weight off.

Tired of Horse Pictures?

Well, too bad. While sitting around with the horses and waiting for Trixie, I enjoyed getting pictures of them being themselves.

When one lays down, the other stands guard.

I’m really loving Remington. He’s about as friendly as a horse gets. He likes to rest his head on one’s head, and sweetly kisses (no nipping!) He’s even nice to Vlassic.

All the other horses have been napping and enjoying their salt blocks, especially Drew. It’s just so peaceful!

Plus, the main entry gates are now up. The big red one will no longer try to kill me when I lift it. And the big gates to the pasture will make moving cattle a breeze.

I’m also really surprised how the dogs and horses get along, other than Goldie chasing Fiona. Fiona needs the exercise, though.

Yes, We Have Gates

As I was out there riding and sweating today (and really sweating as I worked with Drew on the long lead), the real gates on the horse stalls got installed. It’s so great to be able to put them in their own feeding areas with the sand, the water troughs, and their washing station.

Clean Dusty in his new space

These aren’t necessarily the final gates, but building them will take a while. My two horses both like to knock down things and try to open gates, so that’s been getting tedious really fast.

I’m the good one. Nice new gate.

Even Lee got into the gate installation. He had fun, I think.

Don’t fence me in.

We can now arrange the pens in lots of creative ways, depending on how many horses there are and what they need. Makes me so happy.

And yes, I rode Drew today. He’s such a different horse than he was last week! Why? Well, he’s already at a better weight. He eats and eats, just like the teen boy he is.

I look normal for my age!

He also is building muscle like crazy. He now can run and run, bother the other horses, and be a young horse. All this means he isn’t the calm little guy he was before. So, he needs to be exercised a lot. A lot.

So, I taught him to do circles on the ground while wearing my new saddle. It flopped and made noise, which may have contributed to the fact that there was no walking involved. He trotted, cantered, and even galloped. I held on and worked with him on starting and stopping.

Once the rope slipped out of my hands and he keeps going. He does run pretty. But I got him back! Only after a lot of that exciting action did I try to mount him. Mostly I rode while he was led from the ground. That was good, because he wasn’t stopping well. Obviously we have a lot to work on. But we have time!

Speaking of working on things, my feet have been cramping all night. I think I was gripping the stirrups on the new saddle so hard. I have years to learn that, too.

I’m wishing Kathleen had washed ME when I was done. Note Apache trying to catch some spray.

(Sorry no pictures of Drew running dramatically and me looking competent, but we were all busy concentrating.)

Sand and Waters

I rushed to the ranch this morning to be there in time for the swimming pool company guy to show up. I had time to check the animals, and discovered Star is broody again. Fine. I’ll mark what’s under her now and see if we get any hatching. Maybe we can keep this bunch confined long enough to make it.

We are being invaded by these guys. Great. The next plague will be Army worms.

I nice young man came to talk about our pool needs and look at our property. We had a good conversation about pool quality and what we’d like. Also we figured out basically where to put it. Ahh. Hoping it won’t be too big or too small or too fancy.

Pool guy is measuring

Before we could say goodbye to the pool guy, a familiar truck drove up. It was the guy that brought our road base, this time with sand to put in the horse stalls.

A load of sand

There was lots of sand, but it quickly got moved to the horse pens, thanks to the tractor. We’ve sure gotten a lot of use out of that old thing! Then the rest of us had to shovel it into corners and such.

The easy part

I got pretty wiped out from shoveling and went back to work, but Lee and Kathleen kept going. Goldie, however, didn’t help much.

Doggie paradise!

The horses will have a much easier time navigating the sand than the clay when it’s wet. Here are some more sand shots, so you can see what we tried to accomplish with improving the drainage and such.

I think we will have a lot more success with this better dirt. And soon we will have all the gates up. So fancy, right?

The day kept growing and growing. But, I’ll write about it in the morning. Too much going on to blog much!

Rocking and Rolling, with Rocks

If I needed to take my mind of things today, I was in luck, because today we got lots and lots of rocks and pebbles delivered to make our driveway more driveway-like. That had needed to be done, um, a few years.

Not exactly a before picture, because it’s already been smoothed out.

There was a low area from when we put in the electrical lines, and a few dips that made icky puddles. So, first we borrowed a box blade kind of thing from the neighbors and smoothed out the existing driveway. That also at least slightly annoyed the grass trying to take over.

The smoother

Then, a guy came in a big dump truck with a bonus dump trailer. The dogs liked that.

Off to scare off that truck.

The dogs seemed to think they were a vital component to the whole operation.

Helping.

They were fascinated by the dumping process as well, especially Alfred and Gracie.

Boom!

After the first load was emptied, we realized Alfred thought the rock was a gift to him. but all the dogs were fascinated.

Thanks for the new hill!

The second load surprised them all, but then they sniffed some more.

What? There’s more?

It didn’t take long for all that stuff to be laid down and the area by the cars smoothed out.

Ready for more.

A Doggy Diversion

In an hour or two, another load was scheduled. In that time, we went to get diesel and put trash in our dumpster. Yes. That’s how we do trash here. Vlassic jumped in the truck and rode in my lap, cuddling, like he loves to do.

My baby!

All was well until he jumped out of the truck at the old church and took off. He trotted down Main Street and disappeared into someone’s yard. I called and called. He finally emerged with a big ole sandwich crust in his mouth. I think he thought he’d found a new family. Too bad. I took him home.

Hmph.

Back to Rocking

The second load arrived and got laid out just fine. Then we looked up.

Uh oh. Dark clouds.

Of COURSE the day you get loads of rock will start out sunny and cloudless, then end up raining like crazy. Thus, frantic rock smoothing ensued.

The tractors were flying like dancers as the rain came down harder and harder. I was really impressed.

Then came a welcome surprise! I got a path from the driveway to the front porch! That’s huge! There are two drains in it to drain rain, which got tested immediately in the rain storm.

Path in progress, with drain pipes.

I was able to help a little by smoothing the piles down to make a slightly more level pathway. It was fun to work in the rain! And it wasn’t hot! I’m glad I get to help out some.

Lee inspects the path, as the smoothing continues in the rain.

I hope to border the path with leftover limestone brick from the house, once we get it smooth and the right width. That will be so fun.

Now we have to wait for the new rock to dry, see where there are new low spots, and fine tune it. I’ve waited a LONG time for a safe, smooth path. I know it would have helped my sister when she lived in Cameron.

But That’s Not All

The front-end loader got a lot of work in today. Before all the road base arrived, it had its narrow trench digger attachment put on, and it dug the long trench for the water line to the cattle trough.

Trenching away.

And now the trench is full of water. At least all that goes in there is water line!

There are still some fun things coming up for the horse pens, like the structure to support the roof extensions and making custom gates. Oh, and a lot of welding. All those cross bars are only tacked up, I’m told.

Still, all is well. We’re getting close to move-in day. And the driveway is gonna be way better.

Corporate Life. Not for Wimps. So, Sweat It Out.

Today was by far the hardest day in the almost 10 years I’ve been at my corporate job. I know perfectly well that reorganization and layoffs are part of the standard operating procedure, especially in a company that’s growing and acquiring companies. But it’s people who are involved.

Work is exhausting

So you just hurt when it happens to people on your team who you’ve worked with a really long time. That made today hard. We’re supposed to be agile and pivot and embrace change, and I do. It’s what I signed up for and why I get paid.

At least I made someone happy today. Apache got to play under the hose spray.

But, today I was sad for the two team members/friends who moved on today. They know it’s “just business,” but it’s always a shock. So, I’m sending everyone love and get a good new job vibes. At least jobs are out there!

I’ve been dealing with the situation, which includes rearranging teams, too, by going outside and sweating. I’ve been leveling out dirt, lifting heavy objects, and helping with simple tasks on the horse pens.

Ta da. Trough.

It’s really helped me deal with my frustration and feelings of powerlessness. Of course, I hold no illusions of power. I just want to good work and support my team, whoever it happens to be.

Stalls have rails

I’ll have my horses and livestock to get me working and exercising and feeling like a contributor to the planning of an enterprise.

Other trough. Mmm.

All will be well. Opportunities abound and we will all adapt just fine. Just, today was hard. So I sweated it out.

I Could Have Worked Harder Yesterday, But…

Now, I’m not referring to my paid employment, which did get it’s time in, but to my after-work job, helping with the pens and other jobs. It was an uncharacteristically pleasant day, so I can’t blame the heat. No, it’s my little buddy Vlassic who kept me sidelined for at least 45 minutes.

I deserve attention.

I went outside around 5 to water the chickens and check on progress, and I sat down to watch the hole-digging process in the stall area. Vlassic jumped in my lap.

We are fascinated.

He obviously needed some Mama love, because he only got down once for a minute until 6 pm, when I had to get out of the hard chair and help out. He snuggled, he licked, he cuddled, and he sighed from happiness. I love when the weather lets me hang out with my doggie dude.

Before digging holes. You can see one of the water troughs set up and markers for posts to divide the stalls.

Now that the dirt is all moved, the stalls can be completed. There will be four of them (thus limiting the number of horses that Kathleen and I can acquire). Each trough will be shared by two stalls. It will be cool.

Goldie likes to be involved.

The holes in the pens were easy to drill, but there were also three holes farther out, to support a water trough area for the cows.

The new posts are past the big gate. The water line has to go way out there.

The last hole was a doozy! The auger just wouldn’t go down. It just bounced and bounced about a foot down. It took at least half an hour to get that hole dug, and the soil had to be loosened, and the auger had to go sideways for a bit. But, once it got past the hard stuff, it happened. It turns out there are a few areas of really compacted soil right there. That’s interesting, because just a few feet away, there was no problem.

Looks like a normal hole, but it is not.

The good news is that all the poles are in their holes, to make a rhyme. And I DID get some work in. I filled in some of the holes, including a large and very wet hole where the water line got cut and had to be repaired. Let me tell you what, damp clay soil is heavy. My back reminded me of that!

It may look like an area with dirt and some random fencing stuff, but that used to be a big hole.

Of course, that was all a drop in the bucket, compared to all the work that has to be done on this project, but it’s nice to get some sweat equity into my project. By the way, Lee also filled in two holes. Nice, dry holes, I want to point out.

Look at those fine poles.

It looks like, at least for now, we have all the posts needed for the horse area. Now, to just fill everything in, finish burying the water line (ugh, a great deal of hand trenching is involved), set the troughs up with their floats and stuff, and add gates.

While the “getting the horse over here” part of the effort is coming close to an end, the project will go on and on, so I’ll keep chronicling it. Why? Mainly for me, I guess. It’s fun to look back on things once they are done. I sure enjoy the photos of building our house!

The container gets to be turned into a tack room and hay storage, while the second container, once it get here, gets to be other storage. Or something. Plans are fluid. Then, the great cattle fencing stage of the operation will begin. Our ranch will look very different, and there will be lots more space for rotating cattle and adding to the herd (which, to be clear, is NOT my area, but it’s fun to watch). Speaking of cattle, the new young heifers behind us want to not only be friends with Goldie, but also the chickens!

These birds are fascinating.

Pitching in to Get Apache His New House

After taking a few days off for other stuff, we’re back in the final stretches of finishing the new horse pens over at our covered shipping container at the Hermits’ Rest. While I haven’t done the heavy digging or lifting, I’ve contributed more than the dogs have.

Why work, when you can relax beside the new giant porch fan?

Humans have been quite busy, though. Yesterday the trench was dug (by hand!) and the water lines put in for the two horse troughs and a sink/horse washing station. Doesn’t that sound fancy? No, I will not wash the horse in a sink; those are two separate things.

Once the water lines were in, it was time to move some dirt. The idea is that the ground should slope away from the shipping container, so that no pools of water will form if it rains hard from the south, or an enthusiastic drinker splashes a lot. So, more dirt was needed. Where did it come from?

The dogs won’t have their hill to climb much longer.

There’s a reason for making that small pond up by our garage. We needed to move some dirt and add it to low spots, and this stuff does the job. It’s certainly pretty soil, but rather clay-filled. Maybe that way it will shed water.

Goldie helped, when not trying to make friends with cattle.

At one point there were three supervisors and one heavy equipment operator, though in my defense, I had done some piddly little helpful things. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch the attempts at smoothing out those clay clods. And it was cool to see nothing under that shelter for the first time in many years!

Smoothing.

While this was going on, and while I wasn’t off horsing around, I did things that I could do. For one, I picked up a bunch of horse and donkey poop out of the pen where the equines currently spent much of their day, and brought it over to mix with some chicken poop compost to make some fine fertilizer for plants Kathleen is going to plant.

The other stuff I did was small, but saved some time for our tractor operator. I picked up a lot of the little pieces left over from the fencing rails. Some of it can be recycled into pieces of gates and such, and I have a feeling even the little things will be useful someday, somewhere. This was the second time I picked up scrap, and I brilliantly noted it was easier to put them in a wheelbarrow than to carry pieces in my hands. Guess what? That stuff gets hot in the sun.

And I picked up the larger pieces of rock and concrete that were hanging around the area, causing us to trip, or potentially bruising a horse hoof. They will be used in the planters, as well.

I was impressed my arms still worked after picking up all the hay on Sunday, but I was only a little sore. I even made my back feel better by riding Apache a bit, which was stalled by an unfortunate encounter with a moving utility vehicle. Apache thought it was Evil Personified. Sigh, all my fault, too. I’d forgotten there was someone down the race moving cattle. At least I enjoyed finding nature stuff to enjoy over by the new pens.

BUT. Through everything, through the rain, the heavy lifting, the horse challenges, and even some work shit that’s about to go down, I’m doing remarkably well. I did just knock on a wood product after typing that, though it was a piece of petrified wood.

Have a fun day. I plan to.