Thursday, March 31, 2011

Morning Entertainment

This morning while I was down at the barn doing chores, Kalvin was acting very strange.  Brett put out everyone's hay and they all dove in.  Except Kalvin.  Normally, he eats like there is no tomorrow but this morning he kept pacing up and down his fence line.  Then he went down to the bottom of his paddock and stared at the water trough. 

I said to Brett: I wonder if he doesn't want to cross the water running across his paddock to get to the trough.  But, then, I thought I was being silly.  Kalvin has been here all winter.  We have had a lot of rain.  He loves to stand in the rain and he has been sloshing around in puddles for months.

He finally decided to cross the MAJOR waterway and get a drink.  He stepped across with his front feet but that left his hind feet awfully close to the trickle stream.  So he lifted one hind up and held it against his belly while he drank.  I kid you not. 

When he finished with his drink, he turned and jumped the mighty stream.  He landed (it was quite the scopey jump), and took off at a canter. 

It was so nice down in the pasture that I decided to turn one of the feed bins over for a seat and join the herd while they ate breakfast.  Jackson and Kalvin had to play some head games first. 

When they were done, Kalvin started in on his hay and Jackson came over to visit.  First he stood with his muzzle resting on my knee, then on the top of my head, then my shoulder.  I guess he was trying to find the most comfortable position.

This morning he is walking normal.  I took of the remnants of his poultice wrap and soaked his foot at breakfast bucket time.  It's hard to tell for sure if it is left over poultice or abscess leakage, but the area at the top of his heel bulbs looks like it may be a rupture point.  I going to keep an eye on him all day and am hoping he will still be walking normal this evening. 

The donkeys weren't with the herd so I went up to the barn to investigate.  It was apparently time for Finessa's morning nap.

It's that kind of morning, sleepy and warm.

German Pancake

Yes, of course, I'll share my recipe with you!  I bake mine in a cast iron skillet which works really well.  You can do one big one, or several smaller ones (called Dutch Babies).  I don't have a bunch of small cast iron skillets so I do the big one.

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Butter one 12-inch skillet or four 6-inch skillets (with ovenproof handles).
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Add the milk and blend well.
Sift the flour and salt onto a square of waxed paper.  Lift the waxed paper by two corners and let the flour slowly drift into the egg mixture while you are steadily whisking with the other hand.  Whisk until well blended and smooth.  Add the melted butter and mix briskly until smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan(s) and bake for 15 minutes.  If you are baking one big pancake, reduce the heat to 350F after the first 15 minutes and bake an additional 10 minutes.  The small pancakes will be done after the first 15 minutes.

To serve, you can slice up a lemon and squeeze the juice over the pieces.  Or you can top it with a mixture of fresh berries.  Either way, it should be dusted with powdered sugar. 

Bon Appetit !

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm How Old???

Today was my birthday.  51.  Last year, when I turned 50, I was sad to leave my 40s.  I loved my 40s.  But, so far the 50s are pretty good too.  More aches and pains, more hormonal "fun", but more me time which I'm enjoying. 

Today was sunny and warm, with temperatures in the 70s.  It would have been perfect for a trail ride except that Jackson is gimpy and I'm working.  But, working from home.  So, I got to sneak outside from time to time and visit the animals and my garden.

I made myself an oven pancake for breakfast.  I love these -- drizzled with fresh lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Jackson was walking pretty well this morning.  I couldn't find any evidence of the abscess breaking so I went ahead and soaked him in epsom salts.  Then I applied a poultice and wrapped him up in a baby diaper.  They make great wraps for hooves.  I always have some on hand. 

I spent a few minutes weeding my flower bed and planting a basil plant.  It may be too early for the basil.  We often get frost up until May, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  The compost I mixed into the garden box was full of worms.  Check out the little guy at the base of the plant.

I was planning to make myself a rhubarb pie for my birthday "cake."  It's by far my favorite pie.  It's my favorite dessert.  It's better than chocolate.  I've been to three markets.  No rhubarb.  I planted a rhubarb tuber a few weeks ago so I wouldn't have this problem in future years.  It has sprouted, but I don't think there is enough for a pie...

I wandered outside for awhile with the camera, enjoying the sunshine and my gardens.

Brett's been busy all day.  He was on the ride-on mower all morning.  This afternoon he was weed whacking. 

It will be time to feed and do the evening chores in a short while.  In the meantime, I'm going to take my new book of poetry outside by the pool and read.  I ordered the book a few weeks ago and it arrived today, on my birthday.  How perfect is that!

For dinner tonight we are having steak salad.  Brett is going to BBQ the steak.  I bought berries to go in the salad.  I'm also going to make some warm goat cheese on toasts to put on top.  I pulled a bottle of my dad's cabernet out of the wine cellar...  I don't plan to be in any condition to post about dinner this evening since his wine is exceptional and it is my birthday so I may just have that second glass.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


When we got home from our weekend getaway, Jackson was walking almost normal.  I attributed his slight gimp to the fact that his hoof was wrapped with so many layers of gauze and tape.  The vet said the wrapping would wear off in 5-7 days.  Today is day 5.  This morning the remnants of the wrapping were flapping around Jackson as he... limped along. 

I peeled off the bits of remaining hoof wrap and soaked his foot while he ate his morning bucket of vitamins and carrots.  Then I checked his clean sole for bruises.  No bruises, no breaks, a little soft and tender but nothing visible.  Dragnammit!

I called the vet.  Continue with bute, continue with soaking, wait.  How long I ask?  My other horses have always burst their abscess within a few days.  She says - could be two weeks.  I had a horse that took 3 months once.   Three months??!!!  It was highly unusual.  But it may take awhile.  Call me in 3 or 4 days. 


Monday, March 28, 2011

So Tired of Mud!

Brett dragged me out of town for the weekend.  Yep, kicking and screaming and asking him to hurry up and pack already so we could get on the road.  My birthday is in a few days and he treated me to a weekend in the California central coast wine country.  We left Friday morning and Thursday Jackson came up lame.  I was in a bit of a panic.  Part of me wanted to get out of dodge and part of me didn't want to leave my horse.  Our vet could tell I was concerned and she wrapped up Jackson's foot (abscess) with all kinds of good strong medications and said he was good for 5-7 days with no further attention from me.  The neighbor watching the horses while we were gone has owned and shown horses forever.  I trust her eyes and those of her mother.  So, I gave Jackson a goodbye kiss - which tasted muddy and hairy - and we headed up the coast.  It was raining when we left home.  It was raining when we arrived at our bed & breakfast.  It rained all weekend.  It was raining when we got home Sunday evening.  I am so DONE with rain. 
If the sun had ever come out, it would have been nice to sit here by the creek.  The B & B was in a beautiful place, right on a creek.

Chores last night and this morning were not fun.  I bought a pair of new muck boots at a farm store we discovered in Paso Robles.  We spent almost as much time there as we did at wineries.  The new super cute boots are now covered in mud.

The chicken pen usually dries out quickly.  Maybe friction from all those chicken feet running around creates heat...  But this time, I stepped into the pen and sunk a few inches.  Even the eggs in the nice clean, dry, hay lined nesting boxes were muddy. 

Jackson had been confined to stall rest in our absence.  He was giving me the "get me out of here" eye.  So, I took him for a walk so he could stretch his legs and I could assess his foot.  My nice calm, level-headed Paint horse had disappeared.  In his place was a high spirited, cabin fever suffering beast.  I thought about getting a stud chain at one point.  Fortunately, he did listen and walk appropriately in terms of not crowding or charging but I could feel his energy vibrating through the lead line and pulsing through his body.  Oh, and he was not lame at all.  No, no, he was ready to dance.  I left the bandage on his foot since it is keeping the hoof clean.  The turnouts behind the stalls are sloppy and the pasture is half covered with a film of water.  The ground just can't seem to absorb anymore moisture. 

This morning I took the blankets off of the horses before leaving for work.  It is supposed to be sunny and warm this afternoon.  Jackson was so nice and clean under his blanket... I know what I'm going to find when I get home and it won't be pretty. 

Did I mention that I am SICK of mud??!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New blog - yipes!

I decided to start a new blog as a place to post my small stones and musings on things outside my Aspen Meadows focus.  I've been trying to write poetry more regularly and to cultivate mindfulness.  If you're curious, check it out at Hoofprints In My Garden.  I'll continue with my regular postings here of course!

Sunday Stills, TNC: The Color Blue (no skies, no archives)

blue in the barn...

Jackson in his muddy blue blanket

Jackson's western saddle pad

My tall boot bag

Flash's grooming box

Jackson's blue bridle browbands

Brett's well-worn weed whacking workshirt

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Evening Chores at Aspen Meadows


Helper Number 1: Kersey

Helper Number 2: Puddle surveying by Sedona
Does it look like they're helping???  Actually, this is part of the evening chores ritual.  Gotta have snuggle time on the barn couch.
Extra chore: Soaking Jackson's foot in epsom salts - trying to draw out the abscess

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kalvin Gets A Muck Rake Massage

Brett made a discovery while he was mucking the other evening...

Kalvin was in the way while Brett was mucking.  So, Brett gently pushed Kalvin with the end of the muck rake.  He was careful because sometimes Kalvin is jumpy about things.  In this case, Kalvin didn't spook.  He barely moved.  So, Brett started sacking Kalvin out with the muck rake.  Kalvin loved it.  Brett demonstrated for me...

The "before" shot

Brett starts raking Kalvin

At first, Kalvin hardly looked up from his hay

Then he started wiggling his lips and stretching his neck

The "after" shot.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Sedona didn't come
  when I called.
The puppy and I found her
  beside a hillside squirrel hole
    she had destroyed.

Her brown eyes were
  bright with victory and
   a half eaten squirrel was
     held between her paws.

She grinned at me.

Now it is late.
She slowly waves her tail
  while limping her old bones
    to bed.
I notice crimson streaks
  on her paws.

Vet Visit

Yesterday Jackson was slightly gimpy.  I wasn't too worried.  It's been raining all week and we've been letting the horses out to stretch in between downpours.  I figured he took a wrong step in the mud.  This morning, he was lame on his right front.  His foot seemed fine but I noticed slight swelling just above the fetlock.  No heat, but swelling.  Yipes.  Ligament injury flashed through my brain and I immediately got on the phone with our vet.  I wrapped his legs while we waited for her to come up here this afternoon. 

Fortunately, he just has an abscess.  Painful for him, but easy to treat.  He will have immediate relief when it opens.  The sole of his foot tested very sore with hoof testers.  When she blocked the pain in his foot with Novocaine, he walked normal (almost).  So, the problem is definitely in the foot and not the ligaments.  He has a history of abscesses with his previous owner and, knowing that, we were able to pretty easily reach the diagnosis.  Now he has a big bandage on his foot.  The dressing will help dry and draw out the infection.  He got a shot of IV antibiotics as well -- and lots of treats.

Passage came out of the feed room to see what all the excitement was about. 

The clouds kept moving in, and as soon as the vet left I hightailed it back to the house and lit a fire.  More rain in the forecast through the weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

As Promised... pictures and a video from the clinic

Here we are getting ready to open the rope gate

Here's Brett & Flash opening the gate

The balloon popping obstacle.  See the pointy stick in Brett's hand?

The pole turning thing.  We had a lot of trouble with this one.  Video below...

Brett going into the scary flapping car wash... Jackson not sure.

Brett and Flash did fine.  You know we didn't...

Here's a picture taken just before Jackson charged forward, breaking the obstacle and taking the line of yellow streamers with him/us:

That's Brett to the right, looking on in horror... or fascination... not sure.  You can see the yellow streamers wrapping around Jackson's head.  Poor horse - no wonder he freaked!

And here's the cleanup crew after we wrecked the obstacls.