Saturday, April 30, 2016

About Me

No post today except to point out that I posted a new page (tabs across the top).  It's labeled "About Me" and gives a bit of my story with horses.  I know I love reading these pages on others blogs, and thought I would do the same for you.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Random Friday

1.  There was a goose convention in the front pasture yesterday morning.  When we went out to do the morning chores at 6am, a group of at least 20 Canada geese were walking around and honking.  Flash and Tex just kept on grazing but the noise was deafening; imagine 20 cars honking their horns at the same time, without stopping, for 30 minutes straight.  I thought I was going to get a headache from the din.  Finally, six of the geese flew off and the others settled down to their usual intermittent honking.

2.  Earlier this week we had a bit of rain in the afternoon.  Jackson was snug in his roundpen with a view, and the others have run-in sheds in their pastures.  When I got home from work, Tex and Flash were a bit wet (who needs a stinkin' run-in shed) but the girls were completely dry.  Lucy was waiting for me at the gate when I went to muck the girls' pasture.

Thank God you are here to take me to the barn.  I'm ready. Let's go.
Lucy, the rain stopped.  And you aren't even wet.
It might start again.  It might be worse.  I might get, OMG, wet!!
Lucy, the sky is clear.  The rain is gone.

I proceeded to push the muck cart to the first pile of manure.  Lucy ran, tail and head high, the length of the pasture and then came sliding back.

Take me NOW!  I can't believe how mean you are!
Lucy, even the Queen of England spends time in her country home in Scotland.
Yes, but its a castle.  I need to go to my castle.
Give it up.  You aren't the queen and I'm not taking you to your castle.

A few minutes later, Brett showed up with the hay cart.
"What the heck got into Lucy?" he asked.  I just shook my head.  It's Lucy being Lucy.  Our resident prima dona.

3.  Thanks for all the feedback on my "I don't feel like riding" post.  It gave Brett a bit of a scare.  I assured him that I will probably want to ride again; I just don't feel like it right now.

Monday, April 25, 2016

What if I Never Rode Again

Would that be so awful?  I'm not so sure it is.

A few years ago, it would have killed me to give up riding.  And when I mentioned it to Camille, she was appalled.  But Mom, its part of who you are.  It makes you so happy.

And, she's right.  I've been riding since I was ten years old.  To say it has been a passion of mine would not be an exaggeration.

And, maybe, this feeling will pass.

I still love horses.  I love how they smell; their sun warmed skin and their warm hay breath.  I love to groom them and just hang out with them.  How I feel about riding them has a lot to do with my age, my aches and pains, and my need to take my stress level down.  Way down.

Brett's pretty tired of me barking at him. 

Competing is out of the question.  When I'm in competition mode, I get very focused and very intense.  This is a good thing when it is my only area of intense focus but that is no longer the case.  I'm not much into intensity these days.  I'm into calming activities like grooming and gardening.  And acceptance is my word for this year; acceptance of my 56 year old self.

The feeling about riding (or not) varies in intensity between my three horses.

Lucy:  She's my best friend when she wants a massage.  She follows me around her pasture like a dog, begging for a rub here and a rub there.  She's also a hot mess about 50% of the time.  I'm not really interested in riding a hot mess anymore.  She's never dumped me or been naughty, but the feeling of riding a bottle cap about to blow can be... stressful.  When I ride her, I stand on the mounting block and take deep breaths before climbing on board.  I have to ride her with laser sharp focus, ride every step, and manage her desire to race around.   ...I don't enjoy that nearly as much now as I did when I was 16.  Lucy is 14, with pain in her joints, and because of that is sometimes reluctant to canter.  If/when I do ride her again, I expect I will keep it to the trot.  Lucy has a lovely trot -- and she doesn't lose her mind so much at that gait.

Tex:  I am having a blast working with Tex on the ground.  We're building a strong bond and enjoying liberty work.  I'm not following any particular method; we're finding our way together.  I don't know if I'll ever ride him or not.  For now, the liberty work is creating the kind of bond I crave -- and I think Tex likes it too.

Jackson:  Obviously, I can't ride Jackson.  Of the three, he is the one that I miss riding.  When I spend time with him, grooming or just hanging out, my heart cries out in longing for the days when we rode.  I did everything with Jackson  -- trails and dressage and chilling in the sprinklers, bareback, on hot days.

Maybe when things are quieter at work, when my sciatic recedes completely, and when my confidence and energy surge, I will ride again.  In the meantime, I'm just going to hang out with the herd.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Jackson's New Stall

During the winter, when the ground is soft and any sharp ridge of mud or small stone can lead to an abscess, Jackson lives in the small arena by the goat area and front pasture.  This works out great, for the most part.  However, the sand is not deep and when it rains it becomes rock hard.  There is also no shelter from the weather -- wind, rain or snow.

When winter storms come through, we move the horses into the barn.  They are perfectly happy in their pastures during a light rain but in biting wind, slashing rain, and freezing hail... well, they prefer their large stalls.  The four stalls are spacious and they have large, long run-outs so when the rain stops, the horses can go outside.

Notice that I said four stalls.  We have five horses.  And Jackson would not do well with access to a wet run-out.  So, his stall is the covered round-pen that is attached to the barn.  It has very high walls, all the way around, with an entry from the barn aisle.  When we moved in, that door was a tall sliding, solid door -- so, when the door was shut, Jackson was in solitary confinement.  Not good.

Brett installed a gate and we use that instead of the sliding door when Jackson is in residence.  We keep the sliding door closed otherwise because Kersey likes to go in and swim in Jackson's water trough.  Jackson is pretty happy in his round-pen, as long as the other horses are in the barn as well.

When the storm passes, we turn everyone back out into their pastures.  Jackson goes back to his arena, because left alone in the barn he screams.  Seriously.  He screams all day long.  Let me out! Where is everybody?  I'm all alone in here... and I'm scared. And, back in his arena/pasture, he promptly gets an abscess or two or three.

We decided to take out the top of one of the panels of the walls of the round-pen.  This would give Jackson a view to the outside world and remove the solitary confinement feel to the round-pen.  We chose a wall that faces the boys pasture, with the ability to also see the tie-rails, the house, and the girls' pasture off in the distance.

Jackson immediately hobbled over to check it out.

He approves.  Now we can keep him on dry, soft, sandy ground and avoid those abscesses.  When the rains stop, the ground dries, the weather is consistently warm, and his soles get nice and hard, he will go out to one of the pastures.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Random Friday - Personality Profiles

I thought I would use the random format to give snapshots of each of the horses.  We brought them into the barn last night, ahead of the drenching rain that is soaking and blowing today.  It went like this:

1.  Jackson was standing stock still when I went into his pasture/arena to clean.  When he stands statue still and stares at me, I know he has an abscess.  He was standing by the fence and twisted his head towards me so I could slip on the halter.  This is, oh I don't know, abscess number five or six for this spring since I took off his hoof boots.  He hates them, lifting his leg and vigorously shaking it in an effort to remove the offending boot.  They also make his feet stink in a very unhealthy way.  It took 40 minutes to navigate the short distance from the arena to the covered round pen.  Jackson was very unsteady, and almost fell a couple of times.  For each three-legged hop forward, I rewarded him with bites of grass.  Once in the round-pen, I mixed up some bute (for pain) with a big serving of sweet feed and molasses.  He ate 2/3 of it, complaining the whole time, eating it just to make me happy; rolling his eyes, shaking his lips and shooting me unhappy looks.  Jackson hates bute.  He is picky picky picky -- no peppermints, no sugar cubes; he only eats one brand of horse cookie, and carrots or apples.  He prefers hay to his bucket of vitamins.  Jackson is 13 years old and has been retired since he was eight.  I have tried every shoe, hoof boot, and medication known to man; he's been worked up six-ways-to-Sunday.  Our farrier in Southern California didn't think he'd still be alive; that he would progress to the point where he couldn't be managed.  But here he is.  Sweet Jackson; loved by all.

2. Flash was next.  Brett has started him on stronger arthritis medication because his over-the-counter supplement was no longer working.  The pills are the size of my pinkie finger nail; Flash gets 1/4 pill daily.  Brett bought a box of Fig Newtons and slips the pill fragment inside.  Flash is responding well to the Previcox and loving his daily cookie.  He has gone from moving verrrrrry slowly and painfully to a normal gait.  Flash will be 20 years old next month.

3.  Tex came up to me in the pasture while Brett was putting a halter on Flash.  He's still wary at first, so I stand next to him talking about how beautiful his is, before offering the halter.  Yesterday, I stood for longer than usual with my arm around his neck, holding the halter in front of his nose.  Eventually, he dropped his nose and I slipped it on.  As we walked out of the pasture gate, I dropped the end of the rope as I reached to push the gate.  Tex jumped backwards, "Don't beat me, don't beat me, PLEASE don't beat me!"  Then he looked at me, dropped his head and walked calmly through the gate.  He bumped my hand a few times as we walked to the barn.  "Um, sorry about that.  I forgot where I was for a minute."  Tex is 12 years old.

4.  Pistol crowded in front of Lucy when Brett and I walked up to the gate to the girl's pasture.  Brett had to shoo her back to get inside, which caused her to toss her head in annoyance.  Then she stood still for her halter and quietly followed Brett to the barn.  Like Flash, Pistol is also 20 years old but, unlike Flash, she is perfectly sound.

5.  Lucy dove her head into her halter and we went out of the gate before Pistol and Brett.  Half-way out, she decided to spin and snort.  My sciatic has settled down and the last thing I wanted was for her to pull on me and cause it to flare again.  So, I got angry.  Normally, I'm firm but quiet.  Yesterday evening, I was firm and forceful.  "Knock it off Lucy.  Quit being a prima dona and walk like a lady." Everytime I felt her energy rise, I gave the lead rope a sharp tug and used my voice to reprimand her.  "Don't shake your head at me."  "Would you just chill." "You are not Queen Lucy; you are just Lucy.  Got it?"  She did knock it off and walked quietly beside me; a few head shakes and tail swishes but no spinning, rearing or snorting.  Lucy is 14.

(I used Buffy's portraits of the horses for the post.  Thanks again for the awesome photos.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Therapy of the Garden Variety

Last week was incredibly stressful at work.  Actually, its been incredibly stressful since November but last week I couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel.  I developed a kind of inertia, I quit caring -- and my colleagues noticed.  I'm not normally a bubbly sort but I stopped smiling, talking, or engaging more than was absolutely necessary.

Over the weekend, I did a lot of thinking.  And I spent almost all of my time in the garden.  I didn't solve anything, but I did recharge my batteries a bit and went back to work yesterday in a more positive frame of mind.

Brett finished building me another raised bed.  We bought soil which I mixed with compost.  After the bed was full, I laid out my drip lines and weighted them down with pots.  The drip line comes in a big coil and it kept wanting to twist and turn itself right out of the bed.  Brett put a sprinkler line in, from the chicken faucet over to the bed, for my drip lines.

I spread compost under the fruit trees.  I noted that the nectarine has canker.  We will have to take drastic measures when the weather is consistently warm in a month or so.  The tree was in the garden area when we moved in, very neglected, and never really recovered.  Canker attacks weak trees (peach, nectarine and cherry) and there is no cure -- other than cutting off the affected areas.  This tree has canker on the trunk, which is splitting.  We will cut it almost to the ground and see if it comes back.

I sat with the dog and the cat, when I got tired, and watched Brett work.  His batteries last twice as long as mine.

I have always found solace in the garden.  What brings you comfort and healing?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Random Friday

1.  I got a call from our vet a few days ago with the results of Tex's blood work.  It came back negative, on everything, so that is good.  No PSSM, no special diet, no grazing restrictions, no complicated management.  He is still getting magnesium twice a day but will transition to a once daily maintenance dose after next week.  He will be on the ulcer meds for three months; the medication is in the form of a powder and he doesn't like the taste at all.  We've found that adding some sweet feed and molasses turn it from "hell no" to "yum."  He's settled down a lot.  It used to be that he ran laps in his pasture everyday and rarely, if ever, laid down for a nap.  Now, he only runs when the wind is brisk and no more than the rest of the horses who all get a bit wild in that kind of weather.  He takes naps everyday and enjoys mutual grooming sessions with Flash.  He still more spooky than the average bear but is improving.  He is consistently sweet and well-mannered.

2.  Brett finished painting the trim around the windows on the first floor of the house.  When we had the siding replaced last fall, we had painters do the backside of the house and the trim on the upstairs windows.  Brett doesn't like heights and I'd prefer he didn't go up a ladder, so that worked out well.  After he finished the windows, he painted the kayak rack that he built, so it matches the porch deck.  There are a number of projects in the queue right now; it feels never-ending.

3.  Brett's friend, Marv, who lives on the dirt road that winds behind our property, went onto hospice Monday.  It's been a sad week for both of us, but for Brett especially.  This is the guy who first befriended us when we moved in, who gave us the history of the house and everyone who ever lived here, who showed Brett where the water lines were, helped Brett split our wood, mend our fences and cut down dead pine trees.  He was outside at 7:30 every morning blowing leaves off his deck and driveway (I never thought I would miss hearing that sound, but I do) and he didn't stop moving all day.  Brett, who works harder than any man I've ever known, could hardly keep up.  His wife is an artist and avid hiker -- she took me on a number of hikes when we were first settling in.  Eggs are one of the few things he is still able to eat and enjoy.  The hens are in full production, so we are keeping him well supplied.
When the chickens see me, they crowd up close "Got any weeds for us?  Maybe some with muddy roots hiding juicy worms?"

4.  Sometimes it feels like we live in a bird sanctuary (which is fine by me).  The donkey pasture is currently housing a couple geese and, more recently, a pair of Mallards.

 Then, of course, there are the robins and killdeer and, my favorites, bluebirds.
These are actually bluejay feathers -- bluebird feathers are much smaller.
We have a million acorn woodpeckers; very colorful; very destructive.  They drill holes in our siding up near the eaves.  There are so many holes that you don't need a light when you go into the attic, the light shining in the holes is plenty bright.  Also present in large numbers are quail, doves, towhees, finches, sparrows, swallows and hawks.

Wishing everyone a sunny weekend full of birdsong.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Making Sourdough Bread

I've been using the same sourdough starter for about fifteen years.  I brought it with me when we moved, stashing it safely in my temporary housing refrigerator until we found this place.  The thing about sourdough starter is it will stay dormant in the refrigerator for months; in this case, I think its been at least a year since I made sourdough bread.

I pulled it out of the refrigerator last weekend and fed it three times a day, Saturday and Sunday, and then put it back in the refrigerator to rest until this weekend.  Thursday I pulled it back out, fed it that evening and twice on Friday.  My favorite sourdough starter recipe calls for feeding three times a day, at 4-6 hour intervals, but on a work day that isn't going to happen.  I use this cookbook, which goes into excruciating detail on each step (the recipe for starter is at least five pages and the recipe for the bread goes probably ten more).  But, the results are amazing and once you have a feel for making bread, the instructions can be condensed.

The thing is, feeding the starter this way yields a bubbling, cracking, totally alive starter.

Saturday morning, I measured out enough starter for the recipe and then poured most of the rest back into my jar to keep for next time.  I added flour, water and a smidge of yeast (not needed but I'm superstitious so I do).  I kneaded it until it was fairly smooth, covered it with a towel for 20 minutes and let it rest.

Then I sprinkled it with sea salt and kept on kneading.  When the dough was smooth (like a baby's bottom) and starting to push back, I put it in a container to rise.  I marked the height of the dough on the outside with a marker.

When it had doubled in size, a few hours later, I took it out, divided it into two pieces and formed them into loaves.

I have these cool forms for shaping bread.  I line it with a clean linen towel, shake some flour on the towel, then set the formed loaves into the bowls.  I covered them with plastic wrap and let them rise an hour or so before putting them in the refrigerator.

Having them spend the night in the refrigerator slows down the fermentation and gives the bread better texture and better flavor.

This morning, I pulled the loaves out of the refrigerator.  I took off the plastic wrap so the tops wouldn't get soggy, and wrapped their towels over the top (floured).  They were on the counter for a few hours, coming to room temperature and doing a bit more rising.

In the meantime, I put my pizza stone in the oven and cranked up the heat.  The stone was in the oven for an hour before I added the bread so it could absorb all the heat.  When everything was ready to go, I inverted the loaves onto a piece of parchment paper set on a baking sheet so that I could easily slide them into the oven.  I slashed the tops so they could spring up in the oven.  Last, I sprayed the baking stone with water to create steam and then slid the loaves into the oven.

I sprayed again, twice, during the first five minutes of baking and then left the bread alone; other than turning it once to get even color.

One loaf didn't spring much -- I don't think my slashes were exactly right: too shallow and too straight.  It looks like a fat frisbee.  The other one came out perfect.

I'm mafrdeoup for dinner and the bread was perfect.  I had one bowl of soup and an unspecified number of pieces of bread.  I love bread.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Things I Cannot Do

Lori asked if there is anything I cannot do, in response to my mention in my post yesterday that I was going to bake bread this weekend.  Comments like this crack me up because, for most of my life, I felt like an epic failure at doing stuff. I do well at the handful of things I enjoy -- horseback riding, gardening, cooking, making bread.  Hard stop.

Did you notice that all these things are solitary activities?  Brett and I live a quiet life, far from busy suburbia, and we are very happy.  But, I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, in a town where social games were prevalent and I never felt like I fit in there.  

The things I suck at -- starting with my life as a child:

1. Tennis.  Tennis was big in my family; both my parents played and my sister was very, very good.  I liked it well enough, but I never could get the backhand down very well.  Coordination is not my strong point.

2.  Dating.  I hated dating.  I hated listening to guys go on and on about how wonderful they were.  I hated spending time with a guy just so I had a date.  This drove my mother nuts.  My sister was dating this guy or that guy, going to parties, looking cute... And I preferred to be home with a book.

3.  Dancing.  My friends tried to teach me, they really did.  But, they gave up.  Disco was the thing when I was in high school and college and I just  Still can't.  It makes dressage a bit of a challenge too.

4.  Sewing.  My mother was an accomplished seamstress and she taught my sister and I how to sew at a young age.  I could not, and still cannot, sew a straight line to save my life.  I tried quilting because I love, love, love quilts.  I can do the handstitching and appliqué alright, but I cannot piece it all together... Because that requires a straight line.

5.  Parties.  Save me!  This is the phrase playing in my head the entire time I am at a social gathering of more than four people.  It doesn't matter if it is friends, or family, or work; I do not do well in large social functions.  If I have to go to one, you will find me in a corner somewhere talking to one person, maybe two.  Fortunately, Brett hates parties as much as I do.  And dancing, too.

6.  Color, design, dressing.  I can copy an outfit off of a mannequin, and over the years I've settled into a professional wardrobe that suits me.  I wear a lot of black and grey to work, with an accent scarf.  It's hard to screw that up.  Camille tries to help me.  She's got a strong artistic streak and I rely on her advice when decorating.  I've gotten better over the years, but it is mostly smoke and mirrors.

7.  Plumping Pillows.  If you are sick, don't come to me for sympathy.  I'm likely to give you a barf bucket and tell you to come back when you feel better; and please stay in your room so you don't give me your germs.  Just ask Brett and my kids -- I am not the most sympathetic person on the planet.  Of course, if you are seriously ill or injured that is a different ballgame.  I will do what needs to be done, and keep a pretty level head in a crisis.  I got this gene from my mom.  She wasn't all warm and fuzzy either.

8. Shopping.  I hate malls, department stores, Home Depot and CostCo.  I buy everything I can online.  The only exceptions are tack stores (sometimes) and nurseries (always).

Growing up, I felt very odd, very misunderstood, very much an outsider.  Brett is the only person who has ever made me feel completely understood.  (Except my kids, of course).  We're both introverts who thrive on our quiet life; on time spent kayaking on secluded lakes in the summer and watching the snow fall in the winter; on caring for our animals and living amongst fragrant pines and towering, twisting, oaks on our ranch.  I fit right in up here in the mountains.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Random Friday

1.  I keep forgetting to post pictures of the bread and the rhubarb berry pie I made for Easter.  I was proud of both; they came out pretty and tasted good too.  We spent Easter with some friends and shared the cooking.  I brought lamb for the BBQ in addition to the pie and bread.  Our neighbor was a bit dubious about the pie since her only experience with rhubarb was as a child at her grandmothers house, a mushy compote foul tasting thing.  My pie changed her mind about rhubarb -- it must have been the Skoog Farm rhubarb.  Kyle came up from Berkeley so that was a really nice, unexpected, surprise.

2.  I pulled my sourdough starter out of the fridge and have been feeding it.  I'm going to make a couple loaves this weekend -- a nice rainy day activity.

3.  Last year, we replaced the shower and remodeled the master bathroom because the shower was leaking, and dripping from the downstairs ceiling onto the counter.  The other day, Brett noticed that the paint on the ceiling by our breakfast nook is bubbling -- and sure enough, it's right below the tub in the second upstairs bathroom.  So, we will need to replace that.  The tile is really old (and the grout is shot, ugly, kind of green even after multiple applications of bleach).  I won't be sad to see it go -- but this wasn't in the budget.  Sigh.  It's always something in an old house. By the time we finish, we will have replaced everything I'm sure.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Barn Cat

I never write about our barn cat and she's a bit irritated about that.  After all, with the exception of Flash, we've had her the longest of any of our animals.

When we were in Southern California, and built Aspen Meadows, we almost immediately had a rodent problem in the barn.  We got a kitten which lasted two weeks before the dog got her (not Kersey of course), then two more who quickly succumbed to feline leukemia.  We swore off of rescue kittens at that point and set traps for the rats.  We were regularly catching big rats and some mice when we learned that our neighbor's feral cat had kittens.  We offered to take two, a brother and sister.  I named them after two dressage movements, Passage and Volte.  I wanted to name them Piaffe and Passage but the kids vetoed Piaffe (pronounced PEE-off).  So we named Passage's brother Volte (Volte-A) instead.  Passage (Puh-sahj) was a great hunter and kept the barn rodent free.  Volte caught a couple lizards but mostly he liked to purr in your lap or sleep.  After a few years he started leaving for days at a time, returning sleek, groomed and well-fed.  One day he didn't return at all and we assume he moved on to the cushy life of being someone's house cat.  Passage didn't care, she was aloof, skittish and independent.   She was happy in the barn and didn't appear to miss her brother one bit.  She ran off every other cat that ventured onto the property.

We brought her with us to Oak Creek Ranch.  Initially, we kept her in the feed room in the barn where she had her den (cat carrier) and summer bed (by the window).  After a few weeks, we let her explore the entire barn and eventually just go where she wanted.  We crossed our fingers that she would survive on our new ranch with its frequent visits by wildlife.

Passage is now 12 or 13.  She has become an extremely affectionate cat since the move, meowing for attention in the barn and following us around the property.  She doesn't curl up in your lap, purring, for hours but she happily weaves in-and-out of your legs, with an occasional jump up onto your lap for just a minute or two.

She continues to be an awesome huntress.  We never find rodents (except the dead "gifts" she leaves by the tack room door) in the barn.  She is particularly skilled at nabbing gophers and will spend hours watching a hole in the ground, before pouncing on the gopher foolish enough to stick his head out.  We've also seen her dragging off squirrels and rabbits -- which are bigger than she is and makes for quite a sight.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Good Days and Bad Days

Saturday was not a good day with Tex.  Remember when he used to meet me at the gate and drop his head into the halter?  Yeah, me too.  He didn't do that on Saturday.  The message I got from him, loud and clear, was:

If you are only going to come into the pasture with that halter when you have a tube off goo to squirt in my mouth, I'm not interested.  

And, really, can you blame him?  In my defense, I worked late a few nights last week and by the time I got home there wasn't time to do anything but medicate him before dark.  And Saturday, my sciatic flared and I wasn't good for anything.  I didn't do anything all day long other than chores, and those were done slowly and painfully.

When I went into the pasture with the tube of goop in my back pocket, a couple cookies in my front, and his bowl of magnesium + sweet feed... he walked away.  He stood behind Flash, then he herded Flash, and just plain old wouldn't get near me.  I sent him away if he turned his back to me, but otherwise I just stood and watched, and waited.  I asked Brett to take Flash out of the pasture and, sure enough, with his herd mate gone, Tex was much more willing to be caught.  But, he was flinchy and distant -- and it bothered me.

Sunday, I loaded up on ibuprofen and was able to get around without too much pain.

Can I digress and say that getting old is not very much fun?  When I was younger, if I got hurt or tweaked something, I was back to normal in nothing flat and could usually just push through the pain to the other side.  Now it takes very little to cause a tweak or a pull and the pain lasts for eons.  Well, actually, it never completely leaves.  I know the sciatic pain is part of the injury I had when I came off Winston.  So, we get cautious; really, really cautious.  I like the person that I am on the inside better now than I did when I was young, but I'm not too thrilled with the packaging.

So, back to Sunday.  It was a gorgeous day.  I mean a GORGEOUS day.  Highs in the low 70s, sapphire skies, birds singing, geese conversing as they dug in the marshy part of the pasture... life felt pretty dang good.  I decided to spend some time with Tex and see if I could re-establish our bond.

I went into the pasture with nothing but the halter and pocket full of cookies.  He circled warily and then stopped at the far end.  He let me approach and gave me a sniff.

I don't smell ulcer meds.  You can stay.

We just stood for awhile and then I held the halter in front of him.  He dropped his nose a smidge.  I waited.  He dropped it some more and I slipped it onto his face.

We spent a long time under a tree; Tex grazed while I groomed him.  I did a couple Masterson releases.  He sighed and blew.

Then we wandered around looking for the tastiest grass growing around the barn.  He was relaxed, soft, affectionate.  I was very happy.

Meanwhile, Brett took out Flash, who was caked in mud, and gave him a bath.

I put Tex away first and he waited at the gate until Brett brought Flash back.

Fortunately, Tex only has two more days of paste left.  Until then, I'm going to make sure I don't limit my interaction with him to medicating.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Climbing Toy for the Goats

A number of months ago, Brett saw a picture of a climbing apparatus for goats in a magazine.  He's been thinking, and plotting, ever since.  At Aspen Meadows the goats had huge boulders to climb but here, other than their igloos, there isn't anything to climb on.  And goats love, love, love to climb.
Black goats: Whiskey & Cowboy; Thistle in the air, Bear to the right.  Jackson in the background.

Brett build a three level goat jungle gym.

There are rocks to clamber on for getting to the fist level.  Bear doesn't need them, but the smaller goats appreciate them.
Cowboy and Whiskey

There is a gangplank between the levels on each shelf and then a jump up to the next level.
Bear in the foreground, Whiskey on the first level and Cowboy checking it out on the right.

Bear was the first one up; followed by Cowboy (the larger of the black goats).  They immediately had a head butting contest, which Bear won.  The posts are great for rubbing those darn itchy spots, especially during the spring when they are shedding.

Whiskey thinks the first level is a great place to take a nap.

In the evening, Bear climbs to top level and happily surveys his world.

We haven't seem Thistle (who is cautious) up there yet but I'm sure we will soon.  Bear says the view is awesome.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Random Friday

1.  Brett has been busy building a climbing "toy" for the goats.  He has two of the three levels done and its already a huge hit with the goats -- especially Bear.  I'll take pictures of it, completed, this weekend.  He is building it next to the pile of rocks in this picture.

2.  Tex has been a good sport about taking his ulcer paste.  We have a routine: I go into the pasture, halter him, show him the tube of paste and let him get a good sniff so he knows exactly what's coming, he steps backwards one step and says "ewwww", then he stands quietly and accepts the stuff.  Next we walk to the gate where his bucket of magnesium mixed with sweet feed is waiting.  He loves this part, and licks all the way around the bowl when he finishes to get every last morsel.  We only have five more doses of ulcer paste left.  He has also been started on ulcer medication.  Sweet feed wasn't enough to make it palatable so I add a smidge of molasses and that does the trick.  I'm hoping that as he gets used to the taste, he won't require the molasses.  He'll be on this medication for three months.

3.  We have a beautiful weekend on tap and I'd really love to ride Lucy but don't think its in the cards.  My sciatic is better, but not gone.  Every time it stops hurting, I do something stupid like lift a pail of rain water and set it off again.  Grrrr.  Somehow, I don't think trotting is going to be a happy thing for my back if I can't even lift a bucket or take off my boots without pain.

4.  We've been keeping Jackson in the small arena, next to the pasture where Tex and Flash hang out.  He stays pretty sound (he's always gimpy when turning) as long as the weather is dry.  But, with each of the past rainy spells he has gotten an abscess.  I don't like to put on trail boots because his feet get stinky, wet, warm inside which is a prime environment for thrush.  We are looking into lowering a section of the wall around the covered round pen.  That way, he could stay on dry footing but he could see outside to his buddies as well.  Right now, he doesn't mind being in there as long as the other horses are in the barn. But, that is rare and the roundpen is super claustrophobic with its high walls that go all the way around.