Sunday, October 23, 2016

Good things happen with Mules

I asked my husband if he'd like to go for a ride. He didn't answer right away.

We'd gone to the creek and back early in the morning and he'd come up the steep ridge road and was surprised in some ways that it wasn't as hard to do as it was this spring. I pointed that out to him.
Last year he had throat cancer. He'd had a stroke which affected his balance and he was sure he would never hike or ride a mule again.

I asked him again. "Want me to catch up Fred? And we could go for a little ride?" 


Well I didn't need to wait around. I went out with two lead ropes and caught up Fred and Siera.

Siera came trotting up to the gate.

"Oh look, you came when the sun did another cycle!"

I smiled and let her drop her head into the halter. Fred pushed past me into the catch pen.

"Fred is grumpy, you haven't taken him out for a while."

I caught them up and led them to the horse/mule trailer. I removed some burrs from both Fred and Siera's tails and Rich came. Siera stiffened and stepped back. 

"I don't like him. Make him go away. He isn't riding me, is he?"
Fred glanced over. "Nah, he wouldn't ride you, you are a female ditz."

Siera has never really taken a shine to Rich, maybe it is his deep voice or sometimes a bit harsh attitude when his mule won't do what he/she is supposed to do.

We saddled up and took off through the woods. We came out on the cropland at Peterson's. All the corn was off the fields.

Siera could now see the Big Scary Machinery. It wasn't so scary now. In fact it was silent.

We rode across the fields just chatting and enjoying our time out. Rich looked content and so did Fred.
Siera came to a halt and locked legs.
She turned her head and pointed with her ears.

"I see it I see it. Human sneaking along the woods!"

And darned if she wasn't right. There was a bow hunter walking along the edge of the crop land. He blended in so well that if she hadn't pointed him out I wouldn't have seen him.

We moved on down to the creek. Rich hadn't seen the damage the flood had caused in the valley. I don't know why we call it damage when there was nothing there anyway. Mother Nature re-arranged things that's all.
I showed him where I crossed the creek yesterday and Rich just shrugged and said he'd like to go back home.

We used to go on very long rides. But seeing that is was Rich's second ride this year, I said nothing and simply enjoyed that fact that he was riding.

I asked him how it felt. And he replied "Good."
And Siera seemed quite a bit more calm with Fred along. She relaxed and rode quietly with her ears bobbing out sideways but flickering around.

We rode down the road towards home. I chuckled when Siera picked up the pace and I asked her to slow down.

Rich asked me what I was laughing about.
I said. "I think I have it figured out. I had Cheyanne the flighty half Arab horse who freaked at everything in the world. 

Then I had Badger who was Mr. Laid Back Nothing Will Bother Me. 

Then I rode Opal who was like riding a mule on Speed with Attitude, who also could swap personalities and ride like Mrs. Laid Back. 

I've ridden Fred who is Mr. Chilled Out most of the time.

Now I am riding Siera who is like the Super Calm Mule who has a split personality. She is a mix of Badger, Opal, and Cheyanne the major Ditz.
She is split between calm, and pissy. Calm and angry, loving and irritable. I can now say that I have stopped comparing Siera to Badger and realize that she is her own mule."

Rich shrugged. "The Split Personality Thing works well for Siera. After all..." Rich grinned at me, "...she is a female!"

We let the mules go and both Fred and Siera stood near us for a while before turning back to their pasture and walking away.

It was a good day. The sun was low in the horizon, the temperatures were decent and we had gone riding together.

I can't think of a better way to end our day.

Oh yes. Siera did drop her head and stare at me as if to say.

"Tomorrow when the sun cycles?"

I smiled.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Monsters vs. Siera

I went to get Siera and take a nice little ride before my husband and I tackled moving our bedroom from upstairs to downstairs.

Mica was near the gate and Fred was down in the apple trees. I didn't see Siera anywhere.
So I called out.
From behind some brush some long ears appeared. She seemed to tilt her head and think about it for a moment.

Next thing I knew, she was loping towards me. Odd. Siera is pretty lazy and she is gaited so she rarely lopes unless there is a reason.

She stopped at the gate and turned her head to me.

You came! You came!

I showed her the halter and the lead rope. She stood still while I put it on her.  Fred came walking up and tried to push his way in. Siera dropped her ears and bobbed her head.

Fred backed off.

Mine, mine. My person. Go away.

Silly mule. I was happy to see that she hadn't gotten full of burdocks again and in no time at all we were saddled and headed up the driveway.

Heavy shots rang out not far away from our mailbox. Siera tilted her ears towards the noise and kept walking.
I heard a combines to the west and I thought I heard them to the east too on Peterson's. 

Well, that would stink as I wanted to ride down the camp road to the creek.

I dismounted Siera in the hay field on the ridge and decided to check out her saddle cinch and think about things for a moment.

You may notice that Siera is wearing what may appear to be a 'necklace'. It serves more than one purpose. When we are riding solo, it is nice to have a little bell to keep deer from leaping out of the corn in front of us. I used to have that occur on Opal. The result was an airborn 180 degree leap. Opal, Badger, Sunshine, and Fred rarely startled but when they did it was a real quick reaction.
The bell also provides a rather pleasant noise. I used bells on my old mare Cheyanne and found that they distracted her from traffic noise when I rode her on the roadsides in Kenosha.

Siera on the other hand generally freezes when she is startled.

Siera took the opportunity of the equipment check to see if the field contained any good food. 

Yummy! Good! Let's just stay here!

I remounted and we headed up the field and out towards 'PeeWee's' ridge so I could see if they were indeed combining the cropland.

And they were. And now that we were on the driveway it seemed the combine, tractor, and a truck were headed our way. 

The shots behind us kept ringing out. I knew it bothered me more than it bothered Siera.

Monster. Monster. Monster Alert. 

I moved Siera into a field and close enough to the road to get a good look at the equipment, but not too close as to cause her to freak out. One thing she dislikes is machinery. 

Her ears perked forward and she stiffened up hard as a rock as the huge truck and hoppers came by. The jake brake rattled and rumbled. When the driver saw us in the field he eased up. 

I want to bite it. Let me bite it. 

One of Siera's reactions to scary machinery is to want to chase it. However I had her stand still. I could see that one of the combines was headed our way.

Siera stiffened again locking her hooves into the dirt below her. I don't think a logging truck could have moved her.

After all the machinery passed, we settled into a nice pace. Siera's long paso llano strides ate up the ground and we were soon on the trail into the woods.
Siera kept her ears perked for any disturbances in the woods. She did come to a halt and stared intently at the brush. A doe walked out, saw us and bounded back into the woods.

We headed down to the creek. The crossing was ruined in the last flood so Siera and I found another way around it.

Siera has moved into another phase. She trusted me enough to go through the mud sucking creek.

This creek will eat me. The mud will eat me.

"No Siera it is fine. It won't eat you. Honest. It will be fine. Trust me."

We messed around for a bit then headed back towards home.
I stopped in the combined section of the corn field. Siera found some goodies.
And it was all good.

We had a great ride. 
I let Siera go at the gate and she stood next to me.

Are you coming after the sun makes another round? Are you coming back? We can chase machinery monsters if you like.

I rubbed her ears. "Soon."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Just Picture it!

OH I know ... I know!
I ranted about editing just a bit ago, saying take that shot, make it perfect, be...a true perfectionist.
Here is a sample of a before [above] and after editing [below]. I used a graduated filter in PaintShopProX7 to give the sky a bit more of a punch and the water a bit more blue.
The shot below is what is looked like to me in my mind's eye.

I like to change things up and sometimes when I take a fall or winter photo all the colors just seem wrong.
What I see in my eyes is not what the camera shows me no matter how hard I work at it.

For example, I was out in the pasture the two days ago and the lighting was subdued but the colors were absolutely brilliant.

There is not much difference between the Original here and the edit. Just enough added warmth added in Viveza 2, from the Nik Collection. [The Nik Collection is free for download now as they are not developing it any further.]

More of a difference here. The yellows are more defined without the saturation becoming too offensive. This is more how my 'eyes' saw it. However, my camera is set to 'natural' and doesn't 'up' the saturation. There are settings on most cameras that allow you to take jpegs on a more colorful setting.

Here is two of our elderly donkeys. On the left is Princess and on the right is Emma.

I took this shot into ON1, a program that is now my favorite.
I took a bit of liberty with how I wanted this image to brighten up.

And then there was Julie...she was kind enough to pose again.

I thought the clouds and the skies were fantastic and needed to be brought out in the photo.

For this edit, I used PaintShopProX7 and Topaz Adjust 5. I edited the sky and the foreground separately.

And then one more edit. Julie's colors seem dim in this shot now. So I went back and did a bit of dodging on her body...

I do edit. I like to keep it somewhat realistic unless I am going for something completely odd and fun.

There you go. Fall color edits with donkeys as my star models.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

And Siera Knew...

Siera was positive that the Round Hay Bales were dangerous.

So sure in fact that when her rider asked her to step up to them....
She had to bite them. After all, a good bite would ensure that the bale did not move nor attack her or her rider.

As they moved down towards the neighbor's farm, Siera decided to 'SneakyDoodle' past the offensive culvert that she knew lurked under the gravel road.

After dealing with the Hay Bales that she knew hid Mule Monsters of which her rider was not aware of, she came upon the pen of goats.

Surely if she ignored the goats they would not bother her.

Her rider assured her that they were penned up and wouldn't present a problem.
Siera knew otherwise.
Goats were sneaky.
Goats were creative.

However she eventually faced them and walked right by them. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fall Frost, Killer Frost

Since the remodel, we have removed the outside thermometer from it's old place on the old kitchen window.

When I woke up on Friday, I saw white across the yard and across the meadows. The night before was supposed to have a hard freeze, but this looked as if we'd really gotten cold!

I love the frost patterns that can be found in the yard.

Sometimes I wonder if the frost photos aren't just a bit more dramatic in black and white and not color?

All I know is that fall is so fleeting and so full of photographic opportunities that I wish there was more time to spend exploring.

I walked up to the ridge and was slightly surprised not to see any frost. But the sun had already been shining for a little while. The autumn air was heavy with a haze and the trees were absolutely brilliant in the morning light.

I love these moments and wish I could hang on to them forever.

More Burrs and Tails.

I went out to catch up Siera. I merely opened the gate and then wandered out into the pasture.

It only took her a few minutes to notice me. And when she did she walked right up to me. I turned and walked towards the catch pen. She nosed the halter and lead rope.

You came! You promised! You're here!

Oh Siera I did come.

I gave her a huge hug around the neck. Then I backed off as Mica and Fred came on the trot.
I opened the pen and let everyone in. I looked at the big gob of massed twisted burrs and hair that was Mica's tail and decided it would be a good idea to clean her tail. 

My hour or so of riding time would be better spent cleaning up mules.

I haltered her and then led her out of the pasture.

Siera stared hard at me. 

Her? You choose her? Over me?

It didn't last long, she found some long grass in the pen and started to eat. A mule's heart is truly in their appetite.

I used scissors to remove the burrs stuck in Mica's mane and then proceeded to 'roach' her mane. I didn't do as good a job as a pair of electric clippers, but it looked better without gobs of burdock in it.

I worked and worked on her tail. Mica stomped and moved about. She was tolerating the work, but not happy about being tied to a tree while there was so much fresh looking grass just for the grazing around her.

The hair mass was just nasty. Since Mica has never had a long flowing tail, I decided just to cut it and let it regrow.

When I was done with her, I got Fred out. Siera nickered and then resumed eating.

Gotta love Fred. His biggest concern was: "Don't separate me from my Girls!"

I managed to keep his tail intact only cutting out some twisted knots. 
Apparently with our remodel, we'd forgotten to mow the pastures and knock down the burdock plants.

I'll be fighting burdock in the Merry Meadow from now until hunting season.


However, everyone got some time on a lead line and had some grazing outside of the pasture.

As Siera told me.

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence.

Yes Siera, I happen to agree with you.

See you tomorrow?

Unless it is raining.

No, I'll see you tomorrow.

Sometimes mules can be so demanding.

However any time spent with a mule is more satisfying that most anything else I can think of.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Promise me

Ugh the tail!

I haven't been doing much with Siera and unfortunately she has gotten into Burdocks. I don't like burdock and I like it less in horse manes and tails.
Siera has cultivated a lovely full length 'horse' tail which not every mule can do.

However, because I've been busy painting, purging out the dressers, moving boxes, and ignoring my best equine friend...she had a mess in her tail.

I hoped that I wouldn't have to cut burrs out as I've had to do in really tangled messes of tails. Last night I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I couldn't recall where I had put my Showsheen, so I grabbed some hair conditioner and put water in a little jug. I worked for a long time. Siera would munch a bit on grass and then stop and turn her head to watch.

A few times she wiggled a bit and stomped her foot. But we talked about her tail and her remarkable beauty. I told her this was in her best interest.

She agreed. Her tail and back end were her best parts. 

Who could not stop and admire her long flowing tail and her well rounded butt?

I had to use the scissors twice to cut knots. But in the end we persisted. I need to find the Showsheen to make the tail easier to maintain.

I asked her if she wanted it braided and wrapped. She turned her head and stared at her tail.

I received what amounted to a mule 'shrug'. As long as her tail remained beautiful, she didn't care.
She swished it to test it.

Much better than that lump of burdock.

Why don't we go for a ride so I can show it off?

Of course. Why did I not think of that? I grabbed her bridle and got a leg up from hubby.

We went for an evening ride and on the way back collected the mail.

We stopped and chatted with the neighbors as they were getting wood from their wood pile. Siera stood quietly and watched the kids as they ran back and forth. They'd stop to pat her on the nose.

See? I am The Good Mule!

Off course you are Siera. You are totally relaxed, even while getting the mail! 

It was a short ride and I led her into the pasture where I took off her bridle and halter. I dropped them on the ground to hook up the gate.

Leave these. We could use them again soon. Please?

I sighed. Maybe tomorrow evening?

Perhaps. When will you braid my tail? And do I get ribbons in it? Pink is nice.

I stood. Siera stood with me. She even stood at the gate after I closed it.

Promise me.

I promise.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Out and About with fall colors

I haven't had a lot of time to go out and actively seek fall photos this year which is ... a bummer.

However, I had my FujiFinePix camera with me for errands and running back and forth to work.

Here is a few.

Crops. Beans and Corn from the edge of the road on County J.

Corn strips, neighbor's field on the ridge off from our gravel road.

The geldings, time for hay to return to the fields and get prepared for winter.
This is the aged mule lot. These guys are in their late 20's and have had a good life. They are in retirement.

The Merry Meadow in an edited 'painted' version. 

I am hoping this weekend to get around to more areas in the county and grab what color is left.

This morning we had a pretty good frost.