Escaped to Another Ranch

To celebrate my job change and help me wind down, the family surprised me with a getaway to Bandera.

It’s a different place than we went last year, though nearby. We are the first guests in the guesthouse at Farmer’s Daughter, so everything is fresh and new. Even the trees are new. But it’s also really familiar, with horses, cattle, a bunch of dogs, and rustic stuff.

Looking through the gate

It turns out you can bring dogs and horses here, so we might return! I’ve walked around and identified some plants, you know, because I do that.

This is virgin’s bower.

I also am thrilled to have a horse to pet. This fellow will show you how Drew will look in a few years. He even has a snip on his nose like Drew.

The cattle are two longhorns, one friendly, one not. The bull is so beautiful!

I’m doing my best to relax, though I’m annoyed I didn’t know there would be a hot tub. Mine is all wire, so no good yet! Because I’m just wiped out, I’m going to just going to share some scenery and sign off.

I’ll be more coherent tomorrow. Now I shall eat my celebration cake and drink wine.

Is It a Rebar Sculpture?

That’s what I asked myself when I went out to check on the Pool of Dreams after work. It’s looking very sculptural.

The flat area is our “beach” section, where you can bask in shallow water, or if you’re a dog, slurp.

They’ve been working on the rebar framework for the pool for a couple of days now. The idea is they make a ten-inch grid on all the surfaces. That’s for the gunnite to stick to when they build the shell of the pool.

The hot tub looks really cool. The part you can see through will be the waterfall. Ahh.

I learned from the men in the family why the rebar sits on bricks. It can’t touch the dirt, or it will rust and degrade and cause problems. They thought it was gonna do that and got all worried. But, the pool boss guy assured them anything touching dirt would go away when the frame was done. Yep.

You can see the bricks from this angle. You can also see where they are making a seating ledge in the deep end, for sitting and drinking wine.

It’s been fun watching the shape of the pool come to life. I’m figuring out where the skimmers will be, where all the fancy lights will be, and stuff like that.

What it looked like yesterday.

I also found out that because our fire feature will be propane, not natural gas, we can’t put those fancy glass rocks in it. We have to use lava rock. Why? Because propane is heavier than LP gas, and it would get trapped under the small pieces of glass. It would go boom. Not good.

And there’s always the sky.

We enjoy sitting and watching the clouds and animals now that the evenings are cooling down. It sure helps with the anxiety, which is better today.

Carlton really wanted to get into the disabled machine (its track thing burst).

Tomorrow is a big day for me, so send me lots of positive energy if you have any to spare. As a reward, I’ll share some pictures of my animal buddies. It is so pleasant outside with clouds, a cool breeze, and normal September temperatures!

Apache Rocks, and So Do Rocks

I’ve needed a self esteem boost for a few days, but this morning Apache made me feel really dim, and I didn’t need any more of that! I went to get him this morning for a lesson, then noticed Drew was still in his pen. I went to release Drew, and saw Apache head out the gate to his pen, which I’d not shut. He then went through the gate to his little paddock.

I wanna go back out.

That’s okay, I thought. Then I saw the gate to the big pasture was open and Apache was trotting right through it. Sigh. Off he went to join the Buckskin Buddies. I went over to get him and he trotted away. One he galloped. But, in the end, he let me halter him, saddle him, and load up.

After that, all was well! Our practice has paid off! I was amazed at how well he did on the circles and figure 8s. Even when he messes up, I’m getting better at correcting. That’s important. Now we are refining techniques. Wow, that feels good.

If I’m so good, why didn’t I get anything from Dairy Queen?

And we started a slalom formation where I learn to bend and turn, speed up and slow down (transitions). I was really surprised at how far we got on it today. Of course, there is a lot to learn, still, but it was fun to get to start so soon! Then, the trainer told me what great progress we are making quickly. It’s rewarding to be figuring this stuff out, at last.

I wanna be free.

And Apache rocks! No grass eating all lesson.

Speaking of Rocks

Remember yesterday, when I found that we have a layer of light rock a few feet down? One of our readers, Trisha, mentioned that it may be an aquatic layer.

White rock

So, I went out to look at the rock up close, to see if I could figure anything else out about it. The layer is very thin and powdery.

This shows the layer.

When I touched the rock, it crumbled. It doesn’t hold together like limestone usually does. It falls into little chunks or granules, whereas the soil above it sticks together and is very clayey.

Clay

Also in our soil are large rounded rocks. They have a flint-like interior.

Rock on top of the clay soil.

Anyway, the white stuff seems to be a chalk, which makes me think there was some point in the past that this area was covered by water and supported something with shells, but not for too long.

Hunk of chalky stuff.

I saved the piece above so maybe I can get it analyzed. And I’ll try to figure out when we were underwater more recently than the Paleozoic period (this rock isn’t that deep).

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!

No One’s a Fan of the Crop Duster

This morning, loud noises started. Now, we are used to the sounds of airplanes flying fairly low, because a neighbor has his own runway, and he has just gotten a new plane, so it’s been going around and around, taking off and landing, over and over for the past couple of weeks.

However, today it was real loud. The first couple of times it happened, Goldie and Alfred were barking away, since they are the two who hate deep sounds the most (they also hate what we call “growly trucks”). We humans knew what it was, since we’ve lived here a long time: the crop-dusting plane was here to spray the defoliator on the cotton.

I was worried

What? You city folks may wonder what that’s about. Well, when the cotton has made pretty white cotton bolls, the current practice is to kill all the foliage (leaves). This makes it way easier to harvest. So, one week there will be happy green fields and the next week there will be sad brown fields with little white snowballs in it. So, there you go. Here, that is done by a plane, especially on small fields.

Also, I have a lump that needs to be looked at tomorrow by the vet.

Once we took Goldie and Alfred outside and they could see the plane, they lost interest.

Zoom.

The newer horses, on the other hand, were not thrilled at all. Kathleen ended up putting all her horses in the pens, so they could settle down. Drew huddled up with them, but he sure was on the alert for that dang loud thing.

I don’t like that thing.

Apache has been there and done that, since he’s lived here most of his life, and Fiona seemed to figure it was better than Goldie chasing her all over the pasture (which happened yesterday).

We are not pleased.

I’ll watch to see how long it takes for the cotton plants to die. They contributed, though. That’s good, I guess. But now you know why cotton isn’t the greenest of crops. It requires a lot of chemicals when raised in the modern way.

I’m better now.

Good News BONUS

I heard from the swimming pool dude, and we don’t have to wait until September 20 for them to start…they start tomorrow! We’ll have all the fencing under control by then, so no problem from our end. The family teased me that now I will have endless blog material. I promise to talk about other topics. No one but me (and Kathleen) is THAT interested in giant holes being dug, and I realize that.

This is going well.

No doubt I’ll have many things to rant about or long-ass horse stories. It’s a wonder I get any blog hits at all!

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.

Shameless Insects and Encouraging Horse Time

I took yesterday off. After some errands, I just sat and read all day. I’ll tell you what makes it hard to concentrate, though, and that’s the thought of MORE grasshoppers in my future.

Hey. We’re pretty comfortable here.

I was trying to read and talk to my family when I realized my chair had become the grasshoppers’ special place. Uh. Nice. As if we hadn’t had a plague of these already this year.

Rocking and rolling on my rocker.

Well I guess it was good, because I could get a really good picture of how the male twists around to manage his role.

He snakes his abdomen around. Huh.

I’m fine with no more lengthy experiences with grasshopper propagation. They kept going a long time. obviously I didn’t blog yesterday because it was not exciting here.

On Another Note

Let’s move on. Apache has been doing better with his schooling. He still sometimes wanders way off the circle when trotting. But today he did a whole circle without hitting a cone. I felt like he was feeling well, so we went into his grazing area and walked and turned and stuff. He was mostly good, and even his disagreements with me were smaller than usual.

We were heading back to dismount when we had a surprise. A skunk walked across our path and ducked into the red shipping container. Oops. Apache stopped very nicely and waited until the coast was clear. We calmly walked over to share the skunk news, and Apache was so good, we kept going.

After the ride. Super clean and sound horse.

He did his stopping and grabbing grass thing twice, but otherwise was just great, like old times. He went up to say hi to Goldie, walked all over the front pasture, up to the gate, and across the pasture where he often goes nutty, but he didn’t! We made it back, all sweaty but happy.

I feel pretty.

To thank Apache, I gave him a good bath. Ooh he finally got really clean and dander free. I even got him to hold his head still and let me wash it. I was amazed to go back later and find he hadn’t rolled yet!

Glad he didn’t roll on one of these velvet ants, since they are actually wingless wasps.

It’s so hot today that I can’t help do outdoor stuff like I’d hoped to. I’ll cram everything in from 6:30 to sunset, I guess.

What Counts as a Journal?

I know, I know, whatever you think is a journal will count as a journal. But Lee and I were talking about our journals. One of us said, “I’m down to just one journal.” Then they (I) realized that nope, there was something else the probably counted as a journal, and hmm, maybe something other than that was also one…I figure this blog is really a journal of my thoughts, just online and not printed, and mostly for me and a couple of friends. I also have my lovely bullet journal that I started in February. It’s still going strong, and covered in cheerful stickers and inspirational notes to myself.

In which I frantically try to cheer myself up.

So, that makes two journals that I update daily. But wait, what’s this other thing? I do believe it’s a horse journal (if it wasn’t one, it should have been). I get given a lot of journals with horses on them, so I figured I might as well use one of them, and started this one the day I got Drew.

As you can see, some days I write a lot, and some days, not so much.

I’m surprised to admit that I have written in this one nearly every day, and never missed more than one day. It’s been really useful for keeping up with the progress of Drew and Apache’s training and health, and I won’t lose important information like what they’ve been eating, when they got their vaccines (I am pro horse vax), and how they do mentally every day. Uncharacteristically for me, I started out using a pink pen. I’m still using it, so the notebook is pretty consistent (one day I left it). Pink is not a Suna color, but I’m trying to embrace my traditionally feminine side, I guess. I even painted my nails.

Ooh, aah.

Lee got to thinking, and he realized he mostly uses his one journal, which is not inexpensive but is consistent and looks good on a shelf. He writes a LOT in his journal, including gratitude, things to do, deep thoughts, and so much more.

A man’s journals should coordinate.

And Lee does something I find it really hard to do, which is re-read his old journals. I get all cringey when I go on and on about my latest favorite person or things I did that I now wish I hadn’t. But it was ME, so what gives? Lee is really enjoying reading a journal from around 2010 and is culling out interesting things he says for a collection. That actually sounds like a fun project.

Lee typed his, punched holes, and filed them, with headers, footers, and all sorts of organizational cues. Hey, I have page numbers!

The person in the family who has the most journals is Kathleen. She lives a journaling lifestyle. I’m in awe! It has to help a lot with organizing thoughts and goals.

I must say that all my various journals are helpful to me, and I’m glad I have a mundane journal of notes and dates, a blog journal of all kinds of other thoughts, and a horse journal. I just never thought I’d end up with so many journals.

Ha, especially since I hate to re-read my old stuff, this seems to be an odd place to end up journal-wise. But, I think I can re-read these, at this stage of my life, where I’ve figured out most my self-destructive tendencies, negative self talk, and insecurities.

Do you re-read journals? Can you even FIND your old stuff? Maybe I’ll share about some old stuff I recently found…

An Equine Visitation

Yesterday marked another milestone in working with all the new horses around the Hermits’ Rest and Wild Type ranches. Sara and Aragorn paid a visit to us. After the challenge I had riding Apache over there a couple weeks ago, I was really hoping this visit went more smoothly.

Everybody’s happy (even Vlassic, who hung around for the whole visit)

The lesson I learned was the ole Scout motto of “be prepared.” I thought I was doing a good job by heading out to open all the gates to our pasture, but I had not thought hard enough about the fact that horses are very observant prey animals. I figured Kathleen’s horses wouldn’t even notice Sara and Aragorn approaching and riding toward our barn…until the sound of thundering hoofs told me otherwise. At least it was pretty watching them run, especially Mabel, with all those legs. On to Plan B.

Who’s that cute donkey over there?

So, I told Sara to go on the other side of our fence, and I’d let her in our back yard, since dogs aren’t scary to Aragorn. I hoofed it on to the other end of our area, managed to shut the dogs into the house (yet another minor miracle), and opened the gate. Now, poor Aragorn was far from home, surrounded by weird things, like the pond, and getting distracted. After a bit of circling, Sara got off and led him (she had thought to bring a lead rope, so she was prepared!).

We got over to the horse pens with no further incident. Hooray! Then we were able to have a nice visit, discuss our training progress, our career progress, our families, and normal friend stuff. Since I rarely see others during the day, other than to say hello or goodbye, that was a real treat!

Aragorn is focused.

When it came time to go, I got to watch Sara ride Aragorn for a while, which was fun, since he’s so pretty and strong. I was more prepared for them to leave, because I shut my horses up in their pens, and shut Sara’s up in the outer pen (they had conveniently all come up to see what was going on, which was mighty nice of them).

Making circles.

I was able to go ahead and open all the gates, and Sara had a very smooth ride back home! I think we can do it again sometime! And one day, when I’m allowed to do more than go in circles and figure 8, I can go again, too (at least we’re doing well with the circles and figure 8, and I am happy to take our time).

On their way home

Other News?

At least here at the ranch, there’s not much other news. I needed this weekend to relax as much as possible in preparation for a hard work week, so that’s great. I do think a couple of the new hens have started laying, since I had four eggs this morning, and two were smaller. I hope the colored eggs start soon!

Artistic egg display.

Trixie comes back to work on Drew again today, I’ll get the start date for the pool tomorrow, and I think the other shipping container will show up soon, to complete the pen arrangement. All those things are good distractions from hurricanes, COVID, and other illnesses.

It’s always something, because that’s life! I’ll just do my best to be prepared and keep sending out that lovingkindness to the world.

Some Help for Drew the Colt

As you may recall, I’ve been concerned that Drew, age 3 or so, seems really unbalanced and has trouble standing on three legs. I reported that in my Drew’s Clues post last week. Some of it may well be just growing pains. He’s definitely in growth mode right now. But, when Trixie last looked at him, she was pretty sure he had some issues that were causing him to hold one hip higher than the other, making balance difficult. So, today was the day to prod Drew in earnest to see if we could give him some help or relief.

This is my favorite picture of Drew and Trixie in relaxation mode. Yes, Drew has a hole in his mane. But it’s growing back in!

Some of the stretches and other manipulations she did could have been a bit painful to him, so we constructed a fake chute to put him in. It protected Trixie and kept him from squirming.

He looks skinny here, but he’s really fine. This is his “chute.”

Both Trixie and I were impressed with how well he took to all the handling and odd positions he got put in. She said he really has a good disposition and can be a forever horse for me if I keep doing the right things for him. That made me happy, because I get really good feelings about him, too, even when he’s being a bit of a teenager.

Picture for reference

I took the above photo for his trainer, to show his muscle development and such right now. One thing I can tell is he’s gotten lighter in just the time I’ve had him, and his legs have more muscle. The biggest difference is his neck, which is filling out well, considering it was pretty skinny when we got him.

By the end of a lot of muscle movement and massage, a couple of miracles occurred, at least for Drew. He is able to stand on either back leg and even cross each leg way over to the other side of the one on the ground. I was shocked at the improvement.

And, his hips are even. Granted, he’s standing a little funny in the picture below (he looks “cow-hocked” but I am assured he isn’t normally), but he looks much more balanced. I hope that by getting him worked on a few times in the next month, he’ll be able to be balanced in training.

Nice healthy poop, too. His tail has grown at least an inch this month!

Many times we’ve noticed that the horses really get relaxed after being worked on. Well, Drew was really REALLY relaxed. I told Trixie I bet he laid down as soon as we took his halter off.

Tired little teddy bear.

He looks about like I feel. As hard as I try, my mental health is not holding up. But, don’t worry, I also went to the doctor! I had my first telemedicine appointment today, which was an interesting experience. It worked great.

That leads me to my big message for today: if you need help ASK for it. And be glad you aren’t a horse, who has a hard time asking.