Escape from Park City

Anita and I were trying to decide what to do today when there was a knock at the door. I wondered if the housekeepers came back, but no, it was someone else. She was all bundled up, but then I realized it was Kathleen! They’d surprised me!

Not Park City!

Much happiness ensued. Eventually we went on a ride in the car they rented. Whee! We went to Heber City and to Midway, both cute towns. Midway was extremely cute in an Alpine way. We had lunch and shopped at a very quaint shop.

Scenery

Then we drove around and looked at mountains and valleys and much beauty.

We sorta like snow.

There are lots of horses in this area of Utah. It was almost like being in Kentucky, only snowier. There were so many small ranches and pretty horses.

Hello, we’re horses.

The drive was beautiful. We saw so many hills, valleys, rivers, dams, and lakes. Anita, Kathleen and I ran around and squealed a lot when we made our stops.

It’s a lake! I’m huge!

Just gotta say surprise visits are good, and we are so grateful to our family got joining us for a few days. Now, enjoy some pictures!

The Urge to Collect

Yep, I am a collector. My whole life I’ve enjoyed collecting things like books, leaves, rocks, yarn, and things with pansies on them. As a kid, I had a collection of electronics components that my dad would bring me home from work. He inspected things ranging from telephone poles to potentiometers for Western Electric/AT&T. He’d bring me rejected items and tell me what they were. I had them in shoeboxes, all labeled. Later he brought some very early printed circuit boards and explained how they worked. That led to my first “real” job after high school, which was working in a printed circuit board plant – wow, some of those were HUGE, thick, and sturdy.

My collection display. See, there’s still room for more. There was no way I could get a photo without someone in the mirror, so, I apologize to Lee.

Anyway, I had a fun serendipitous addition to one of my collections yesterday. You see, right after we moved to the Hermits’ Rest, I bought a beautiful little resin horse figurine as one of our first Christmas decorations. It lived on the mantel, and I got a few more as years went by. They are from the Trail of Painted Ponies collection, which, I soon discovered consists of a LOT of little horses. People collect them and apparently pay some pretty ridiculous prices for them.

This one is ceramic, rather than resin. Sounds of Thunder, 2007. By Bill and Traci Rabbit, 1E/1018 (I think, this has weird handwriting on it). This is the side Bill painted.

As time went on, I got a few more Christmas ones, and branched out to some that weren’t Christmas, too. I like the Native American ones. Each is painted by a well-known artist, though some by lesser-known people who win design contests. A large part of the sale of each figurine goes to charity, which made me feel better for buying them.

This is the only Christmas one I bought. Poinsettia Pony, 2007. I like that she has eyes.

Originally, they were large statues in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is why so many of them feature Western themes. Since I have had a small (growing smaller, thanks to our house cleaner) collection of porcelain horses my whole life, this was a natural outgrowth. Plus, Lee liked them. The pansy items I collect, not so much.

This one is sort of busy, but the little images in the circles intrigued me. Skyrider, by Wendy Wells-Bailey, #1509, 2005. 1E/5,338

A year or two ago, Lee got me a nice hutch to display the horses in, since the mantel was getting full. It housed my ten or so horses and a couple of other nice things. Which leads us to yesterday!

Earth, Wind, and Fire, #1545, 2004. I loved the gold, the eagle, and the bear. And the scary warrior. The artist is Bill Rabbit. 3E/2,628.

I was finished with work, and just browsing around, when I got one of those random Facebook notifications that there was a garage sale coming up in Rockdale. I like to occasionally look to see if there are any glass items for my office, so I opened the link. There, in all their glory were a LOT of Trail of Painted Pony boxes. The guy said to ignore the prices on the boxes (that was good, since the lowest one was $75, and I’m not paying that).

This is another favorite. Look at all those hand-placed dots. What you can’t see is there are additional images that are not painted, all over the horse. This one’s just so cool. Thunderbird Suite, by Joel Nakamura, #1582, 2004. 3E/2,879

I asked Lee and Kathleen if they wanted to go for a ride, and they said they would, so off we went to Rockdale. How spontaneous, right?

There, we met an interesting guy who does auctions and is selling off inventory from a store he used to own (hence the price tags). It turned out the horses were all from the early years of the Trail of Painted Ponies, starting in 2004. The newest ones were from 2007.

This is one I’d seen photos of and always wanted. There’s a big pink jewel on her tummy. Sky of Enchantment, 2004. She’s the oldest one, and from only the third edition of the ponies. #1534, 4E/9,670

So, Kathleen helped me look through all of them. Not all are to my taste, but a couple were really, really cool, like Willing, here, who is a heavy metal horsie, with a fake hair tail and tassel. Whoa. You just have to have THAT.

That’s one cool and scary horse. It has a real chain pair of reins, and all that tail and “beard” hair. Willing, #1510, 2005, by Virgil Ortiz. 1E/5,973.

I ended up selecting nine horses, which was over my initial goal, but some of these were just SO cool, and I knew they were all retired (and some first editions with 1E labels) and would cost a lot in a store or on eBay (I went to a store in some tourist town that had most of them, but some were over $200, and I don’t want any figurine THAT badly). We settled on a price that was reasonable, after I made a ridiculously low bid, because I apparently can’t multiply by 9.

Lee agreed that it was a good deal, so I am happy and not broke.

This is the back of Sounds of Thunder. A husband and wife team, Bill and Traci Rabbit, did this horse, and the blue side represents the male spirit, while the white side is the female spirit. I love the image on the horse’s neck.

The seller also threw in this beautiful Fenton pitcher, since it has a little crack. I don’t care, because it’s just going to set on a glass shelf, once I have them. Right now it’s in the entry room at the Pope Residence, but that’s just a temporary location.

Fenton cranberry glass coin dot pitcher.

I love that each horse comes with a story, and that they are so detailed. They aren’t just painted, but they have engravings, accessories like leather reins, and other trimmings. These older ones aren’t labeled on the base like newer ones are, but that’s an easy way to tell which ones are old!

They are all numbered and labeled on the bottom, which is nice.

It’s hard to say which of the horses is my favorite, but two of them stand out. The Saguaro Stallion has a beautiful moonrise painting on it, along with very interesting lines embossed into the mold. I love the colors. And the base has rocks on it.

Saguaro Stallion by John Geryak, #1523, 2005. 1E/4947

The other one I love is a very traditional looking horse, all dressed up for a parade. Plus, he’s a paint.

Silverado, #12241, from 2007. He’s so silvery! By Karlynn Keyes, 1E/1,108

I you enjoyed this journey down the Trail of Painted Ponies. I enjoy looking at them every day, and they fit in nicely with the ranch theme of our house. Last year I wasn’t feeling too well, and didn’t get a holiday horse or any other, but I plan to make up for it and get at least one horse every year. It’s something fun to look forward to.

That’s what collections are for, right? Fun. Share what you collect, if you’d like to.

Thank Goodness for Family, the Equine Kind

Let’s think about what makes for a nice day. For me, it’s being out in nature with friends of the human and animal kind. That’s just what Sara and I got yesterday afternoon, only marred by how hot the humidity made us feel.

When we got to the horse area, Apache was drenched in sweat, which got us worried, but, he acted happy enough, so we decided to take our walk in a shadier area at the back of the cattle pasture, to get out of the sun. First, we successfully moved her cattle from that pasture to the one Spice and Lakota had been in, moved Lakota to the cattle pasture, and got Fiona in to walk with us. It took no time at all. Sure is nice when everyone already wants to go where you’re trying to send them!

Lakota and Fiona noshed their way through the walk, right along with us.

Then we just walked and walked. And that meant ALL of us. Lakota followed us around like he was being led, like Apache was. Sure was good to see him acting peppy again. Sara says she worries about letting loose horses walk with horses being ridden, since she got kicked by a horse and broke a bone that way once. But, Lakota was a real gentleman.

Yep, they were having fun.

It was a little spooky where we were, since it’s behind a ridge and you feel hidden from the rest of the ranch. Fiona liked it, though, and ran around exploring.

It’s very green and spooky down here!

Even Apache seemed to have fun. He plodded right along with us, only occasionally distracted by yummy grass. Going up and down the little rises was probably good exercise for all of us!

I love how the color came out on this picture! You can see the rise behind Sara.

We saw osage-orange trees, which makes sense, because the area we walked in is an arroyo/wash that stays wet a lot. Those trees like dampness.

The fruit is easy to spot.

We were happy to also see a lot of milkweed. These were green antelope horns, and they had seed pods, some of which had opened. The opened pods had lots and lots of these extra-cool milkweed bugs. Aren’t they pretty?

We went out again this morning, minus Lakota. The weather was better, but Apache was not in a great mood to walk, which makes me think yesterday’s walk made his poor feet hurt. Let’s say it was good practice encouraging him to do what I wanted him to.

This is what he wanted to do. And yes, Spice photobombed many photos yesterday. We laughed.

We also saw this incredible jumping spider. I believe it’s an Apache jumping spider. They look like “velvet ants” (which are really wasps), and are quite good mimics! They fooled us.

It hardly looks real!

And when I went to pick up my tack box, I almost set my hand down on this lovely mantid. I was able to get her back outside to go eat bugs and stuff.

Please get me out of here. There are no delicious bugs on this plastic thing.

That made me feel good, and contributed to another nice day. I really enjoyed taking my mind off complicated issues and just enjoying my walking companions, my ranch family.

Lakota, the Circle of Life, and Being Startled

I’m guessing that today you’ll be wanting to find out how our boarder horse, Lakota the elderly fancy palomino, came out after his rough time yesterday. Last we heard, he’d been sweating and heaving, and Spice was standing over him like she was guarding his life. Sara is happy to report that after he stood up and made a big poop, he walked off, normally. She did keep checking through the night.

This morning, to our great relief, he was standing under a tree with Spice, and they both had been sleeping. It was probably a rough night for them, too. They both kept yawning and yawning, and were very loving and affectionate. Poor guys.

He just let me hug and hug, and he hugged back.

Sara had a couple of ideas about what had happened. Her current theory (and it’s just a theory) is that he ate some of the nightshade (Silverleaf Nightshade Solanum elaeagnifolium) that had been mown in the pasture (because she is allergic to it). Apparently, horses and cattle don’t eat it when it is alive, but for some reason think it’s tasty when it’s cut and dried. I hope that’s all it was.

It does have pretty flowers.

Thanks to me looking up alternative veterinarians, Sara was able to get in touch with Dr. Brimlee, who works with Milam Touch of Love, and while he couldn’t come last night, we are scheduling him to come soon (Apache’s teeth need to be looked at, too). In any case, we were both really relieved to find two horses standing under the trees this morning!

Spice was a good friend and nurse last night.

After this, my morning went downhill and my anxiety went uphill, but that’s the way the circle of life goes, I guess. As I approached our gate, I saw lots and lots of black birds in the pasture. What, a crow convention? As I got closer, I realized it was vultures. I also saw this.

Brown cow guarding two calves.

I drove overo where the feasting birds were, and found one of the three calves was no longer with us, and hadn’t been for a day or two. That certainly startled me. I don’t know what happened, and I probably won’t, but it was sad and a bit of a shock to see him laying there. Circle of life strikes again.

On the other hand, the chickens are all still here! Haven’t lost one in weeks! And Hedley seems to have given up on being broody, but hasn’t started laying again. I hope she does. She doesn’t seem sick or anything. They all got quite a treat out of a bunch of tomatoes Kathleen donated to them.

Hey, this is good! Thanks! Hedley is the one by the water trough, looking perky.

Even Buttercup and Butternut ate a tomato, which is a first. Maybe they’ll start branching out and eating more than just their feed and only their feed soon. I do enjoy them, and they cheered me up.

THEN I went to drive to the office. There was a giant wasp in the car, the black kind with red wings (sorry, no ID). I usually don’t worry about them, but two of my friends have had bad wasp reactions in the last week, and it started buzzing my head. As I tried to shew it away, I ran off the road. Luckily, I just drove through a lot of long grass, and probably made County Road 140 passersby curious. I am just not having a calm day so far! I’m still shaky. On the other hand, I did find some pretty groundcherries in the overgrown office lawn. These are clammy groundcherries (Physalis heterophylla).

The blossoms face downward, so you often don’t spot them.

So, I will go do my other Saturday writing tasks and breathe deeply. Has anything startled you today?

Horses: Worry? Don’t Worry?

Two quick horse things. The farrier was in again on Tuesday. There were so many things that came up, I had to take notes. The most interesting finding was his hooves. She said his hooves were full of blood that had pooled there when he foundered, which may have been long before we realized it.

I feel better now.

Sara and I had the aha moment that perhaps the reason he was so hard to ride and kept insisting on turning around was sore feet. At that time, they looked fine. From what we deduce, the damage didn’t show up, because it was hidden.

No wonder he’s like a different horse! And I was right that something must have caused him to start acting so weird. Poor guy. The best news, though, is that his hooves are growing in really well. Hooray.

And Lakota

So, this evening I was feeling all good about stuff. We even saw a really pretty rat snake, thanks to a vigilant cattle dog spotting it.

Getting the heck away from the dog!

Poor Lakota feels bad. He keeps lying down and rolling. He tried to eat, but laid back down. We couldn’t get him up, so we called his owner.

Sad horse

Mary said he’d colicked before, and since then, he’s occasionally done that lying down thing. Still, we’re worried. Sara has called many vets, so I hope she hears from one soon. We sure can’t get him up to go to Texas A&M.

Sara put fly spray on him for his comfort.

Say a little prayer for poor Lakota. I hope it’s just his occasional issue. He’s a nice old guy. If it’s his time, that’s fine. He knows he’s loved. Spice is watching him. And Sara keeps checking.

She says he finally got up, pooped, and walked off normally. Well. Do I worry or not? Horses!

I Discovered Something!

It’s been a great day, for many reasons, and a great weekend. We took Apache out again today, and he was his old self again! He and Spice were very brave when they came upon some people building a new gate between our two pastures.

This is as close as the horses would get.

But they had fun. Fiona kept plopping down and rolling whenever she found dirt.

The flies are bothering me.

I also had fun seeing things this weekend. One is that I see signs that I wasn’t mistaken, we DO have a loggerhead shrike this year. I didn’t see one last year, and I was bummed. Today I saw lots and lots of insects impaled on our fence, though!

Plus! I’m very happy to share that another chicken started laying. Her first egg is pinkish and has little blue spots! On the other hand, Hedley, the one that lays white eggs, has started spending a LOT of time in the nest box. She did lay today, but if she’s gone broody I’m just giving her three eggs and letting her go for it.

The new one is on the bottom. Cute!

I also found two new and interesting insects. First is the extremely cool Beelzebub Bee Killer Mallophora leschenaulti, which is a type of robber fly. This things is huge, loud, and intimidating. I saw two yesterday and two today.

The other new insect is what I’m excited about. It turns out that my entry of the Long-jawed Longhorn Beetle Dendrobias mandibularis is the first one Milam county and the farthest north it’s been seen.

I’m the first!

Also, this is one of the most beautiful insects I’ve ever seen. So colorful!

Look at those antennae! And it’s so shiny!

I’ve been waiting to finally see something new and different to share on iNaturalist and I finally did! I feel so scientific.

Enter Here for Surprises and Adventures

Hmm, the adventures thing may be exaggerated a bit, but I did get a new gate to go from our part of the property to the rest of the ranch. In addition, Chris smoothed all the dirt that had been disturbed when running the water line, and did a bit of grading, too. The chicken house area looks marvelous.

It’s all smooth now. At the rate the Bermuda grass grows, it will be covered in a week to ten days. Notice the feathers on the ground, which I mentioned in my previous post. It’s your fault, Bruce.

The highlight of the day was seeing this big gate that swings open mightily and allows me to easily head to see the horses. We had the gate already, so it didn’t cost anything. It’s very sturdy on the hinge side, since Chris drilled a big ole bolt through the roof support pillar. The other side is only temporary. The fencing project is not done, but at lease those of us who have to go into that pasture can do it easily (thus, Jim could drive the riding mower over the the horses to mow this morning).

I can now go from here to there without crawling under a fence or climbing over a fence and nearly knocking it over.

The entire family was pretty giddy about getting the new fence, as Lee shows here.

That man cracks me up. And there’s Alfred before I pulled those clumps of hair out.

Surprises and Adventures

I’ve used the new gate to go visit the horses twice already. Last night, I went to join Sara to feed them, and I got quite a surprise. In the field where the 18 cows should be, there were just three cows, each with a little white baby.

Who the heck are they?

These are not the 18s. First, they were afraid of me. Second, their ear tags were in the left ear, not the right. Um, where were my friendly cow buddies? Where was 18-1, bravest calf ever?

As I walked up to the barn, the Vrazels were driving by. They warned me of another surprise, a large cow and her newborn calf were in the pens. I said, hey, um, where are the 18s? Tyler laughed and laughed. “They’re in Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Yep, they sold them all and trucked them off when I was at work one day. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Cattle ranching. Not for the sentimental. I am sure they got a HUGE payday out of those young cows, all of whom were due to calve in November. But still. Sniff.

On I went, and sure enough, there was a very large red Angus cow with a very small and shiny black Angus calf. I blurted out, “Hi, Sprinkles,” and Sara asked if I had to name everything. I guess I do. In any case, Sprinkles is cute as can be, and seems to have recovered from being sick and needing to be penned up. Mama, on the other hand, was mostly pissed off.

Sprinkles and I would like to leave, now.

She mooed and snorted and ran around until we left.

This morning, I came back to do some horse fun, around 9 am. It was NOT hot outside! But, dew drenched my shoes, since I wore the wrong ones. Sprinkles and Mama were still there. Between Sara’s dogs and Lakota having the utter gall to stand quietly tied to the gate, she was in a huff.

Lakota just stood there and ignored her. A real quarter horse! We proceeded head off down the race, to see how Apache would do. Sara rode Lakota, who plodded along like a livery stable horse and was generally uninterested in anything. I led Apache (hope to get riding permission soon). Here’s where it became and adventure, the good kind.

We walked all the way down the race, the place where he was refusing to ride earlier, and the place where he has been all nervous and pushy when we walked for the past month or two. Today, Apache walked beside me, not in front of me and not behind me. He stayed about two feet away from me. He did stop to get a mouthful of grass, but started right back up, every time. He did not crowd into me. He did not try to turn around. He did not rush ahead, or refuse to move forward.

He completely ignored all the “scary” parts of the path where there are big ruts. The scary tree got a nod. When all of the 19 heifers came thundering over to check us out and walk along with us, he and Lakota both looked at them, then kept going. The giant bull didn’t phase them. DAMN!

Sara and Lakota, with Fiona-bomb.

We then went on out to the big pasture where it floods (the bottom). We all walked and looked at stuff. Sara’s dogs came along, and no horse paid the least bit of attention. Even Fiona didn’t dawdle and pitch a fit. She followed right behind us cheerfully. Every time we went through a gate, everyone was fine. Even when Jim drove by on the lawn mower, they just stopped and looked for a minute.

WHO WERE THESE ANIMALS AND WHERE DID MY JUMPY HORSE GO?

I have no clue. Sara and I tried to figure out what was different. Well, we had Lakota instead of Spice…but Apache likes Spice. It was morning, not afternoon. He wasn’t starving. That’s all we could come up with. My attitude is the same (I am pretty calm even when he’s jumpy, to try to keep him calm).

We’re just in a good mood. What can we say?

I’m just going to have to accept that we had a wonderful morning, got lots of exercise, and ALL enjoyed ourselves (even Lakota, I think). I look forward to more of this kind of adventure and these kinds of surprises (but I do hope Sprinkles and his Mama go back to the pasture soon; she didn’t enjoy Sara and me pulling up some grass burs right next to the pen, either).

I hope you have some bright spots in your weekend!

An Evening with a Black Dachshund Mix

Hi, readers of Mama Suna’s blog! I’m Vlassic, and I’ve been hanging around the Hermits’ Rest Ranch for the past two years. I like it here a lot. Wanna know why?

I’m long, but I have longer legs so I can jump high.

I have so many friends! At night I sleep in Jim’s RV. He is so nice to me, and feeds me (I don’t go in the big house because Penney acts weird in there). When I go outside, I spend half my time with my bird buddies, Bertie Lee, Gertie, Fancy Pants, and Clarence. We like how cool it is.

Stay out of our coop, dog! The black chickens don’t like me so much.

The rest of the time I spend with my new friends, the Bull calves. It’s SO much fun there! Calf poop is so delicious, and they have a wonderful water bucket just the size for me to cool off my black coat.

Wait, Rip, it’s my turn! Photo by Meghan Land.

On good days, Mama Suna takes me with her to visit my other friends. Sometimes we ride the little bumpy car. Tonight, though, we walked. It was a beautiful night.

Rays!

I chased two of the 18 series cows, but just a little, to remind them of how we used to play when they were babies. Mostly I was good, though, because I wanted to see my friends.

Here are two friends, Big Red and Apache. The horse is jealous, because the hen gets fed first.

I love this place! There are so many smells of cattle dogs! I have many places where I simply must pee. They need to know Vlassic rules…when they aren’t here.

Take that, other dogs.

There are other fun smells here, too. I especially like donkey poop. Mmm. Thanks, Fiona. Sigh, I was disappointed she didn’t get to come out and play. I love making her put her head down and shake it.

I sure love poop. Why does Mama sweep it up?

The other great thing about where my friends live is that they have an even bigger water tub! I like to swim in it, but not when it’s full.

Big Red and I like to drink from it when it’s full!

After all the friends were fed, we went back. I had to investigate this new hay. It looks funny and smells different. Mama said it’s sorghum, whatever that is. I made sure to pee on it, so it won’t smell so new next time I come.

Funny hay. Needs pee.

As we passed the cabin, Copper the dog came outside, so I ran like the wind.

I’m outa here.

I ran and ran. Meanwhile, Mama saw a new cow patty on the road, that had appeared since we came by before.

That cow patty has a head.

As she got closer, she realized it was a turtle crossing the driveway. She told it hello, but for some reason, she did NOT call me over to introduce me! Geez! I’m nice to all the other animals!

Pleased to meet you. You can leave now.

After rolling a bit in some silage (it’s an acquired smell, but I’ve acquired it!), I ran back to Rip, Poop Nugget, and Buster, to see if they’d pooped any more.

We were just digesting over here.

Then, to end the evening right, Lee and the other dogs showed up! We played! Then it rained a little. Not enough, but it made Lee and Suna smile. We need rain, because my pond is gone!

Time to go inside.

I Competently Ranched

Actually, my neighbor, Sara, competently ranched and I assisted, but it felt darn good to achieve a series of competent duties.

As you may recall from yesterday, Apache reached over the fence and chomped into the tenants’ round bales, nearly ingesting some of the netting. We wanted to nip that habit in the bud.

It doesn’t take a detective to see the evidence of this crime!

So, we planned to put an electric strand along that stretch of fence. Hmm, there was already wire. It’s as if some large spotted horse had done it before.

So, this evening, I went to get the solar unit that was over by our shipping container. Smart me. I first checked for wasps. There was a Yellowjacket nest. When Lee came to help me, I got spray and removed that menace. Sara was relieved I’d thought of it.

Then, after dinner, I headed over to the horses, and we set up the whole system. It was teamwork! I identified which wire was which. She figured out how to open the screwdriver part of the Leatherman tool to pry it open to change the battery.

Competence! Note Big Red at back left, supervising.

We got it all hooked up, and in another stroke of ranch competency, Sara inspected the connection to see if Apache had re-damaged the wire since last night. He had! But I was there to turn off the power so she could fix it.

Sara is inspecting the fence. Apache has already figured out the power is on.

Ralph came by to see if we needed help, long after we triumphantly fed our animals. He was duly impressed! We did it.

Now, hooking up an electric fence may not seem like a big deal. But for someone who had never even been on a ranch property (other than caring for turkeys at the farm for sad children that Declan went to one summer), doing something without asking for help is a big thing. It makes me feel like I sort of know what I’m doing here! No more ranch imposter syndrome for me!

I’m just innocently eating this delicious, expensive hay. After this, it’s back to the old stuff, thanks to that darned wire.

Also, once again, we had fun. I’m just racking up the fun quotient for each day. Take that, stress.