Tuesday, June 18, 2019


What I wanted to write was all about 'stuff' and things that are irritating me. But I won't do that here.

It is said that you shouldn't air your problems in the public eye. I see too much of that on Facebook and social media. Got a problem with someone? Make a statement on Twitter, FB, or somewhere else.
I'm not into public shaming.

However I sort of wish I could do that. Unfortunately once you let the cat out of the bag and it becomes public on the internet, ... it doesn't ever really go away does it?

I have a sense of right and wrong. Deceit and truth. Lies and secrets, white lies actually do more harm than good.
I've even heard a new term called the *Fiblit*. It is often used with those folks with dementia who ask over and over for something or in some cases need a small Fib to get them through the day.

Fiblits are a different matter.

Maybe that is why I like animals so much. They can't lie. A dog will always tell the truth about someone. A mule won't lie. If a person has done something to them, their body language will speak volumes.
Another thing. Animals have a great way of forgiving too. We can learn a lot from them too.

That's all I will say.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Wonderful Saturday

The morning started like any other except that Molly had asked if I wanted to go riding.
Well, of course I did! Mornings are the best time to go for me on the weekends. In the afternoons there are guys that race around with loud 4 wheelers and I just don't think mules and loud machines would mix well.

Not a great shot, but I just took the camera and pointed behind me. Molly's mount is Mica. She used to be a roper/heeler and team penning mule but has now retired into a life of quiet trail rides. We didn't use her for about 5 years and I pulled her out of retirement and found that she was excellent for novice riders and as a rock solid dependable mule in all situations.

I rode Siera. Molly wanted to ride her. But Siera can be funny on her first trips away from home. She can be obstinate and when it comes to black sucking mud, she will sometimes prepare for a down right refusal to move through it.
Putting a newer rider in that situation is not a good idea.

And I knew my chosen route had mud sucking holes that the 4 Wheelers had created. [No photos of the mud sucking route nor the creek crossing that was similar to the swamp of Sorrows ~~ Movie reference to The Never Ending Story]

My hands were totally full of convincing Siera she would survive the black muck holes of death.
We had to cross the valley floor but the 4 Wheelers and made deep ruts in the already saturated valley. Instead of trying to cross to the other side, I walked Siera upstream on solid ground to the snow mobile crossing.
Less stress for her and probably safer too.

We finally made it to my favorite destination. The Back Valley, The Lost Valley...well, the 4 Wheelers have beat down a trail there too. However I took Siera upstream and she didn't mind at all. At one time it would have been a bit of a fight. Not any more. In fact she was being Miss Perfect by this time.

Maidenhair Fern Hill

I was pleased as this was her second ride away from home this year. Too many variables in my life had to get straightened out before I could take the time to ride again.

As we left the Back Valley we had a steep slippery trail to go up. I told Molly that these guys could do it easily, just let Mica have her head and lean forward, keep your balance, and trust her to do the proper thing. 

It was a hard incline for both mules, but once we got on the old logging trail, we let them catch their breath.

Mica is aged but in much better shape than she was in last year. Both mules are a bit soft in muscle and endurance but that is because they don't get ridden enough. I am aiming to fix that.

We eventually made it back to the first valley. The Black mud sucking valley of ruts and black water and muck. 
When I crossed the creek I offered Molly the opportunity to ride Siera. She didn't hesitate. We swapped mules and I rode Mica the rest of the way home.
Siera knew the way home up the camp road and was not going to offer up any resistance.

Molly had met Siera the first day she came to visit and fell head over heels for her. I have two other teens girls who have done the very same thing with her. Siera is that kind of mule. She loves attention. 

Molly beamed all the way home. 

I took Molly home and told her that around 3pm I'd be taking Sundance out for her next training session. We took a vote and decided to start calling her *Sunny*, Sundance and Sunshine are just too much of a mouth full.
Sunny, it is.

The funny thing is with Sunny and her sister, it that they are the two that were born on this place and raised here. Both out of my slightly nutty but fun mare Cheyanne who is no longer with us. Both mules are extreme people mules.

In one respect it almost makes it a bit harder to train Sunny. She doesn't want to trot around the round pen. She wants to hang out with the human.
Trainers like those that they can force into lunging and moving. 

Sure I can lunge her. But then I can also work with her a bit differently and use her human trust in other ways.

Put strange things on her back. Toss balls around. Ask her to follow me over killer tarps. Kick a ball.
All with a curious attitude at first then a Ho Hum attitude.

Crinkly Mule Eating Dog Food Bag. At first it was a mule eater. After a while it was a grooming tool. Legs, stomach, ears, back and then a neck decoration.


Finally. A saddle. And a jug with rocks in it to make annoying noises as she walked.
Look at the jug, walk, listen to the jug. 

Ho Hum.

I let her trot the pen with the saddle to feel the back of it bouncing around. I'll use the back girth next so she can feel that. Then add a breast collar and crupper and perhaps a britchen.

I stood in the stirrups on each side and laid across her. She just sighed.

And that was the end of the session.
I was pleased. I recalled watching a video of an old mule/horse trainer who commented that in truth training the animal should be as about boring as watching paint dry. You don't want snorting bucking and challenges every step of the way. I agree, but to me it isn't boring. It is more about watching her reactions and body language to everything we are working on.

I put things away and she followed me.
...as if to ask...

What's next?
Admittedly, this was to be Rich's mule to train and I kept holding out the hope that he'd get interested in her again.

But she is doing so well.
I am simply awed by her calm attitude.

Let's hope it eventually translates to trails!

Friday, June 14, 2019


Well, I finished clipping the manes of the mules. Tah Dah!

Sundance is dealing with strange items resting on her ears. Yesterday we just spent an hour dealing with plastic pipes on her head, straps of leather, a cardboard tube that she thought was neat to blow into and make noise.
She takes a bridle just fine, but isn't quite comfortable with hands and objects touching the base of her ears.
I didn't force clippers on her, but used scissors instead, we will eventually work up to the clippers.

She was calm and cool yesterday and not the panicked mule that I'd had the day before. We revisited some of the things I'd done in the fall. She recalled all of that work.
I need to make time every day now.

Lil' Richard has been trimming and fertilizing the 'lane'. I dislike mowing it so I thought I'd use him to trim along the fence and the hillside. It is working out well. I have to rake his deposits out, but it works out quite nicely for the both of us.

Fred, who is now about 35 years old enjoyed some time with me in the yard after his grooming and clipping yesterday. He is still doing well for his age, but has slowed down and his hips and back are showing age as well as the grey hair on his once very mahogany colored face.

He is not one mule who likes getting caught, but he was pretty compliant yesterday.

Teslin is still here and she enjoys her time out in the yard. She tends to 'think' about wandering off once in a while. Yesterday afternoon she surprised me by playing with Sven for a few minutes.

Mica got her mane roached last night also. She was her usual quiet self. But the trim makes her long ears and neck stand out much nicer.

She has taken Fred's place as the Novice Rider's learning mule. She is much taller than Fred, but is in some ways more compliant than he was.

After supper I caught up Siera and took her out for a sunset spin.

I had forgotten how comfortable my hand made saddle was. It always felt too heavy to put on her before. Um. I guess working out has really helped with that. It wasn't much of an effort to put it on last night.

And we watched the neighbor plant corn.

It was a great equine day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mixed Bag

A horrible shot of Charlie, but evidence that now the two dogs are tolerant of each other.
Charlie was a bit put out by Teslin taking over that side of the couch. He preferred it when she would lay in her cozy little bed or go upstairs. She has quit going upstairs now and prefers our company.

She has decided that Charlie's food is better and has gained a pretty good appetite. Teslin will come and stare at me when she wants dry food. She has free feed food in her own bowl. That is fine with me. When Miss Picky eater is hungry and she gets food.
Both dogs went with me on a long walk yesterday. Mistake. Don't let Tes off leash, she has a way of deciding to take her own way and wander. My son said she isn't deaf, but she is when I call her.
So she was put on a leash and our hike was rerouted towards home. Coming through the meadow ... I had to carry Charlie. The grasses were so thick and hip tall on me.
Note to self. Stay out of the tall stuff with the dogs.

I took an afternoon to start to clean all of the saddles and gear. I sat on the porch Sunday with the dogs and cleaned 5 saddles and oiled britchens.
After pulling a tire off the zero turn mower, I took it in for repairs and then spent the evening trying another first.

Rich has always roached our mules' manes. So I decided to use the clippers this year as I'd used scissors last year with okay results, but it took forever.

So there is Sunshine with her Shaggy Messy mane.

Clipped! And I did her ears too. She looks much better. I used an old set of clippers on her. I asked Rich why he had quit using them. He said something about not cutting or some such thing. I thought I'd find it's manual and well...

Holy cow! I fixed them, cleaned the blades, oiled it, and then used the clippers on Sunshine! I even watched videos on YouTube to see if there was an easier way to clip. I followed a video and it worked out better.

Siera was a cakewalk. I used the large clippers on her. I'd taken them apart and cleaned and oiled them also. See? I am learning!


Last night I caught up the youngest mule. Rich said she hated clippers. I put her on the tree and turned on the quiet clippers. Sundance lost her mind. I know Rich had twitched her in the past to do it. But I am in no hurry. I left Sundance tied to the 'Naughty Tree' while I put everything away.
I was going to have to calm her down and we'd take our time regarding clipping.

Sundance and I went to the round pen and worked for a while. She decided that the goat in his pen was a mule-eating transmorgifying monster of some sort. Eventually she walked over and stared at Sven who just talked to her through his pen.

Sundance thought he was okay to look at. But I was still the enemy and I was NOT going to touch her at all. This was my own fault for not properly dealing with her clipper issue. But at the same time, it opens up a door for us to work together. She was doing so well last fall and it fell apart last night.

I worked with her and as soon as she turned, dropped her head, and walked to me with a kind look in her eye...I praised her and then took her back to the pasture after a short time grazing in the yard.
I let her loose in the pasture and she decided to glue herself to me.

I think I was forgiven. Her sister, Sunshine thought she'd like to get caught again.


I think I am glad I didn't do a vegetable garden this year. I'm hoping to spend a lot of time working with Sundance. My goal is to have her under saddle this summer at some point.

Here is where we were last year when I had to end our lessons in the round pen.

~~ This is where the large square hay bales are stored for the winter. I dislike having to use this space but hopefully I'll work something out soon enough.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

My Doggy Vacation ~~ By Teslin

I acted all sad and unhappy when my 'Dad' left. He is a good guy but I know when he comes to the Mom house I think he may leave me for a doggy vacation.

This time was really different. Morris wasn't there. A little black doggy with a funny face was there instead. 

So my Dad left. At first I decided I would just wait for him to come back and watch out the window. 

I got tired of that and took a nap. Then Charlie said we could walk around and look for Dad.

Charlie isn't so bad after all. He is little but seems pretty nice.

And I even went and sat next to the Rich guy. He talked to me and asked me if I was okay. I wagged my tail but wasn't sure I wanted to be petted.

Well now. It seems that Dad is letting me have my own vacation. I did a lot of walking around the yard with Charlie and then we both laid down on the porch and watched the Mom person water plants. I decided that maybe I better make 'nice' with her since she seemed to be in charge of the Food Things.

I like food stuff. People food is much better. I've never seen a human beg for kibbles and that is a fact.

When the Mom lady sat on the couch [Charlie was sleeping on the porch], I borrowed her phone to see if Dad had texted.

I looked at the thing called Facebook and had seen where he posted that he was starting an adventure. I couldn't hit the like button or reply. I'll get the Mom person to help me.

It is nice to be able to spend time outside sniffing things. I met Sven, the goat. Not impressed. He has no ears and eats grass for real. 

The Mom has a great big huge monstrous pony too that eats grass in the yard. I stayed away from him.

I stick by the Mom now. I follow her into the bathroom and keep near her. I think she thought the fact that I pushed the bathroom door open was pretty funny. She laughed.

I ate food on the landing. Charlie leaves my dish alone up there. He just sits and watches.

Then later I had my 'good' stuff. Charlie ate his food at his feeding spot and I ate my 1/2 can at the same time. Charlie didn't even come over to take any.

So maybe Charlie isn't so bad after all. The Mom is still pretty nice and Rich guy is pretty nice too.

So while Charlie chews on his bone, I'm going upstairs for a nap.

Maybe this won't be so bad of a vacation after all!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Little Happy Dances

Above is a snap of me sitting with Charlie on the porch. There is the little weed whacker that my hubby bought me for my birthday a few years ago.

At that time I wasn't as strong as I am now in my shoulders and arms so it was a chore to use it for any length of time and I was always sore afterwards.

[Yep, I'm giving CrossFit a bit of a nod here. Not only has it helped but my first happy dance of the day was in CrossFit class. I had a PR of 82 lbs in the Back Squat. I know that may mean nothing to most folks but to me it was huge! My first back squats were with a pvc pipe and I actually graduated to a weighted bar. It wasn't until this past few months that I actually added real weights. 
Anyway when I finished my little PR, I did a joyful happy dance and rang the bell.]

Well, I decided it was time to get after those pesky straggles of long grass that Sven couldn't keep under control. So I fired up the Weed Eater and went after the grasses.
Whoops! The little trimmer string wouldn't advance.

Uh oh. I know last year I just asked the boss to help me. So I poked my head in the house and asked Rich, "Do you recall how to do the string 'thingy' on the weed whacker?"
He looked at me and shrugged, "Nope. Sorry."
There was a time that he'd take charge and I'd be the go-fer. I'd get the tools and he'd take care of what needed being done.

I recalled seeing the manual to this Toro Trimmer in the *Manual Drawer*. It is a dresser drawer in the basement that has every manual that ever passed through this property. I rummaged through until I found the Toro Trimmer Manual. I made about 10 trips to the spot where Rich keeps tools [this area will get organized eventually!] and came back with two wrench things that I could work with. The instructions were nearly as clear as mud.
So I looked at the pictures and followed them, but was stumped when I couldn't get the bump nob off.

So I used my Smarty Phone to look up similar issues. How odd. A Yahoo Question and Answer discussion came up with the solution. The manual said to turn the bump knob counter clockwise [Lefty Loosey], the discussion said that was wrong. Clockwise.

And they were right!

I followed the suggestions to clean the spring the knobby thing, and all the other parts. While I was at it I cleaned up the shield and dabbed a bit of oil on the other suggested parts.
Then I proceeded to follow the written instructions on how to re-string the trimmer and put it back together.
I started it and went at the weeds. Imagine a sort little happy dance while whacking down long grass, thistles, and burdock. Giddy again.

Success! I set it down after I was finished and went to put the manual away. On the very next page it had some instructions on how to clean an air filter. Oh, I don't ever recall having that cleaned.

Looks like I have some more work to do.

I never imagined I'd be happy over being able to just string a little trimmer.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Meet Molly

Molly is 18 and just graduated from High School.

In the fall Molly will be starting an Equine Science program at a Tech School in Iowa. How I wish they'd had a program like that when I was her age! She says she will learn to ride, train, AI a horse, collect from a stud, be present at the birth of a foal...and many other cool things. When finished with her program I hope she will be able get a great job.

A few weeks ago I was lying on the ground trying to clean grass gunk out from under the riding lawn mower. I was full of grass goo, dirty, hot sweaty, and frustrated. I'd just learned to change the oil in the simple little mower and had wet juicy grass to unclog under the large mower.

Molly came walking down the driveway. When she walked up to me, she smiled and stuck out her hand to introduce herself and let me know that she and her family had just moved in on the ridge to the house that had been empty since last spring.
I stuck out a gooey hand and we shook.

Molly explained that she'd heard there was two people on the ridge who owned horses was I one of them? I laughed and said I had one horse, but I owned mules.
She commented that she'd never met a mule and that her dad said they were stubborn and mean.

I laughed and immediately took her to my mules. She was surrounded by the red headed sisters and Siera, all who were curious and wanted to a pet.
I took an instant liking to this 18 year old and decided to ask her if she wanted to learn a bit more about equine before she went off to school in the fall.

Last week she came out and helped me curry some winter coats. I introduced her to some of my basic safety rules to have around the mules. We quickly went over body parts and I showed her how to saddle Siera.

Sunday morning she arrived along with my neighbor farmer Linda. Linda had been checking her field for planting above our place on the ridge when she'd seen Molly walking and offered her a lift.

We visited and then got to work.
Molly hadn't forgotten her saddling lessons, she did everything properly. I explained what a crupper was and why we used both a crupper and a breast-collar while riding in our hills. Most flat work doesn't require it, arena work doesn't require it... but we were not going to be on the flat or in an arena. I was going to show her a different aspect of riding.
Hill riding. We first worked in the relatively flat area of the pasture in front of the house.
Molly had learned mount and dismount and how to softly drop into the saddle. She had to combine that with making sure that Mica didn't walk off while she was mounting or dismounting.

Mica can be a 'creeper' when she wants to.

Her posture in the saddle was nearly perfect. And once we worked out all the commands, I took her on a small trail ride. Mica had been a roping mule at one time and she was a 'heeler'. She'd also been my husband's team penning mule as well as his speed event mule. 

I didn't take any photos of us down in the woods other than a view from the top of Sunshine...who really needs a trim on her mane! That will be one more job that I will inherit. Rich says he won't be able to do it.

We ended up doing a bit of brush busting so I could locate the path that takes me to the neighbor's ridge top and snowmobile trail. I hoped to take Molly on a ride through the neighbor's land one of these times.

I told her that what I was introducing her to would be a lot different than the riding she would do in school so I hoped I was not teaching her any bad habits.
I also told her that she can share her knowledge that she gains!

Since Molly works part time at a Dairy Farm, she will now have Fridays and Saturdays off. I know she has duties to be done at home but we are hoping to spend a bit of time each week to work with Sundance and some riding.

I'm pretty happy that Molly came walking down my driveway.

What a great young lady.