Saturday, March 28, 2015

This was the view the other day...the  26th on our way back from the Madison VA Center.

Photographers call these rays of sunlight 'God's Rays'.  Now I won't argue anything about God or no God, but when this occurred I was struck with awe.

I used my crappy point and shoot camera through the windshield.

I know this farm so it was sort of a special thing for me.

Well on to another sunlight day.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The C word has come to our house

On March 13th, Friday the 13th...

And who really believes in that bad luck stuff anyway?...

My husband was diagnosed with Throat Cancer.

His Ear/Nose/Throat Doctor confirmed the pathology report on Monday and gave it a name.

We will find out more after a PET scan and a meeting with the oncologist and those doctors who will be guiding us through this.

I will probably create another side-blog for following this and I'll let my readers know where that is.

For the moment our life seems on a perpetual hold until we 'know' more. Whatever that means.

Our days are up and down of course.  Because after all no one ever expects it to happen to them.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Enjoying the Brown Season

Here is the view from the saddle.  Oh Siera, your mane is unruly and you look shaggy!

Thank goodness you have such big ears so that we can tell...almost that you are a mule!

Fred,  you and your most handsome rider appeared to be happy and very content on the nice easy trail!

We were supposed to be looking for antler sheds but I was enjoying just being out with Siera and my favorite riding partner.

We rode out to look over the back valley.

You definitely want a mule here that is not suicidal or crazy.  Last year I was barely able to keep Siera standing still in this area, nor was I able to get her down this steep trail to the point.

Fred and hubby are at a rock point and I think it could be at least 100 feet or a bit more straight down to the valley floor.

The view is incredible though.

Fred and hubby continued along the top.  Siera and I meandered around looking for things.

In the summer this area is so full of undergrowth and the forest canopy is so heavy that you can't see the other ridge.

I was pretty proud of Siera though, she and I took on a very steep and nasty dry run.  A year ago she would have refused and we would have had a fight on our hands.
But I've spent a lot of time building up her confidence and she has spent more time maturing.

It was muddy, slippery, and steep.
I got off afterwards and rewarded her with some loving while my husband laughed.

Siera is not like his mule.  Fred, after all has about 20 yrs more riding experience than she has had.

After a hard climb out of the valley we stopped to let Fred catch his breath. Siera being a youngster was ready to go.

But she also needs a bit more 'patience' training.

She has actually come a very long way since we started working together.  I think she is going to be an exceptional rider for me.
She has the speed when I want it and yesterday she showed that she can dawdle along at a nice slow pace if need be.

And thus we enjoyed the 'Brown Season', the time before things turn green again.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

You are not like any of my Grandma's

Quote from a 10 yr old that I went hiking with yesterday.

I think that is one of the nicest compliments I could ever receive.

Of course this after we collected 'Owl Pellets', the jaws and the skull of an old buck, inspected a skeleton, found cool rocks, and did some creek jumping.

Of course I was very excited to find Skunk Cabbage emerging in the valley bottom.

We even hiked to the farthest end of the valley and found the remains of ice.  

We followed the ice up to the spring and then decided to climb the ravine side.  Crawling was more like it.  
We made it just fine, I was a bit out of breath but I guess I didn't do too badly from being a LOT older than my hiking partner.

We found Hepatica leaves dotting the east hillsides.

And then we decided to head home.  I'm pretty sure that my hiking partner would have stayed out there with me until past dark.

But we decided to do this again.  Of course, when schedules would permit.

My husband said it was good that I had someone 'my own age' to play with.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Shhhh, I've been playing

Just messing a bit with different fractal programs.

Incendia and JWildfire.

No, I don't like that log,...seriously...

Everything is muddy and slippery, well in the areas I like to hike, that is.

Yesterday I decided to take Siera again on a hike.  The last time I took her we still had a lot of snow.

This time it was all muck and slippery mud in the woods.

We came to the first dip in the trail that has a big log across it.
I carefully stepped over and asked her to follow.

Her front feet slid into the log.  She sort of put one hoof on the log and then decided...

Forget it.  I am not going over.  I am not going to move.
You can't make me.
I don't want to.
I will stand here forever and stare at you.

I played her game for a while and let her try and decide what she should do.
This was a narrow trail with trees on each side and the briers are so thick that you cannot walk through them.

I finally got tired of the waiting game.  I know I can't coax, pull, or get her forward when she locks her legs.

So I carefully walked up to her side and then to her hindquarters.  I tapped her butt and said, "Siera, step!"

She sighed with her whole body and stepped over the log with great care.

She is a drama queen.

We then continued on our walk and she only hesitated once more when she thought we should take a different trail up the hill.

Instead I took her into a narrow valley and we crossed tangled logs, muddy ditches, and slippery obstacles.  I know this was harder on me than her!

We stopped in an open area so I could rest.  Siera looked through the woods and then decided while I was resting she'd look for something to browse on.

Soon enough we headed back on the trail and then took the uphill trail.

She only glanced at the other trail that leads back home and didn't offer to balk.

We came out on the road on the ridge where I stopped and had a 'talk' with her.

Shh, don't tell her that I was catching my breath from the steep climb.  She didn't seem out of breath at all!

One ear forward and one ear back.  She probably was thinking about the glove I tossed on her back so I could grab the camera and attempt a shot of the two of us.

We went down the road a bit, she walked on a nice loose line 'heeling' perfectly to me.
We picked up the mail on our way back from taking a look at the neighbor's sugar maple buckets.

And our hike ended.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The melt is over!

I went out on our 60 degree day and walked my riding trail after exploring the creek.

The snow melt is over.  The water was dripping off from the rocky wall on the north side of the creek.  I just love the details in moss, it is so delicate and beautiful.
It is also the spot to find 'green' this time of year.

I found ice still on the rock wall that rarely sees sunlight.  I expect that it will slowly disappear this week with the above freezing temperatures also.

I found a toy that we'd lost in January in the wall!  How odd is that?
One of the 'My Little Ponies' that my grand daughter had given me to take photos of had disappeared.
I didn't know where on earth I'd lost it.

Apparently when they were visiting in January for the day, and we'd taken a hike to the Ice Wall, we left the pony behind.

Well no harm done!

The March winds have come in blowing like crazy.
We are under a Fire Concern because of the dry winds.

Funny how quickly we can go from snow and ice to dry conditions!
We have no rain forecast for a few day.  Now we are hoping for rain as it will make things green up around here.

Oh, and the Robins have come back!
Looks like spring intends to stay.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting the mail.

Siera has never been a mule that was willing to leave home very well, especially first thing in the spring.  And especially solo.  Usually towards the end of summer she has decided that it is okay.

So I've been taking her on walks to do such mundane things as to pick up the mail on the ridge.
It involves her least favorite walk.
Up the driveway and away from her buddies.

I used to have to wait for her after she locked her legs.  I could force her but I want her to cooperate as her own idea.
You can force a mule, but it doesn't always seem the best way of training.
Siera is very 'sensitive' whereas Badger was not.

Up we started, Siera was doing the perfect job of 'heeling' me on the leadline. Her head was dropped and she plopped along as if there was not a care in the world.

That is until Fred and a couple of the mares whinnied.

Then she stopped and looked around as if coming out of her zone.

I let her stand and take a quick look, then asked her with a jiggle of the leadline to please pay attention to me.

I took a step forward.  She stepped a bit sideways.  I said quietly, but firmly, "Siera, walk."

She did.  When we walked passed the entrance to the woods trail, she looked over and stepped slightly in that direction.

Routine can sometimes be the best and worst training method for a mule.  But I think if I establish a 'routine' about leaving home with me while not saddled, it will become a non-issue when she is saddled.

We walked up the steep hill and every once in a while she stopped.  I let her take a look around and then simply said, "Siera, walk."  
And she did.

We got to the mailbox and I gabbed the 'junk' mail out.  Siera looked past me to the corn field and the gravel road which goes east to a secluded farm and to the south which leads to the ridge.
When riding we go both ways.  

I walked her passed the mailboxes and down the road a bit.  She walked like a big obedient dog.

I needed to return home but would have liked a longer walk with her since she was being so incredible.

But home it was...half way down our steep driveway Siera stopped and looked around.
I let her because it seemed she was in no hurry to join her friends.

Suddenly her eyes widened and she leaped sideways.  The lead rope never tightened in my hands.  I consider that a good 'spook'.  I looked over my shoulder to find the mule monster.  
Really, I expected to find one?

Then Siera did something very funny.

She dropped her head and stepped around to face me.  I don't normally put human emotions with animals, but it was almost as if she was apologizing.

She then lifted her head and stared off towards home.

She made no move forward until I asked her to.  And the rest of our walk was about as exciting as watching paint dry.

I let her read the junk mail when we got home, but she was more interested in trying to find a bit of grass.

I would have loved to walk with her in the woods, but the north hillsides are mud/ice, the south hillsides are slimy slippery mud, and level land is saturated.

So for now we are sticking to the roads.  I hope to take her on a longer walk next time.  Maybe I'll toss a saddle on so she can give me a lift on the way back!

Good girl Siera.
I am proud of you.