Monday, June 18, 2018

Fireflies and Fun

If you live where the fireflies come out in the summer, you need to stay up late to enjoy the Dance of the Fireflies.

Fireflies are beetles that fly and they blink and glow to attract their mate? I guess. All I know is that I don't have the opportunity to share this special show often to guests. Timing is everything. Temperature, humidity, time of year, it all depends on those neat little beetles.

This year I was able to share with my Kenosha friends, the Dance of the Fireflies. The first night we had some amazing views. Fireflies, Lightening, and stars all in the same sky.

The shot is blown out from the lightening, but look above the bright spot. There are stars! In the black area, there are streaks of fireflies. I doubt I may ever see something like that again.

The storm circled around us and headed east. We oohhed and awwed at the sky show and alternately turned to the west to watch the fireflies glow and fly.

I woke up at 5am which is my normal wake up time. The day was going to be super hot but it was Amanda's birthday and she wanted to go for a ride.
I took them out and we went riding just after daybreak.

And we rode. I took video of our ride Daryl got some great shots, but mostly I concentrated on making sure my guests were properly mounted and were ready for the obstacles we encountered. That is my backside taking them down the camp road.

I took them out the ridge first and then down into the 'rough' stuff. Mule slides, ditches, climbs, brush whacking, and branch dodging. I was afraid they wouldn't like it so we stopped to give the mules a breather and I asked.
"So...are you guys okay with this?"
"YES! Awesome!"
As we put the mules away afterward I offered them a second ride on Sunday morning.
Yes. Yes!
Most of the time when they visit, we try to go somewhere cool to do a sunrise photo shoot together.
It was set, we'd ride again on Father's Day.

The rest of Saturday was fun. The adults took naps and I went with the girls to visit the neighbors and see the baby goats.

The girls and I set up a bean bag game that also served as 'ladder ball' and another toss game to be played later.

The Gang wanted to go to the creek and so we went and spent a couple of hours in the creek bottom.

Big Dog and Little Dog played themselves out chasing each other. Scout played so hard. He is not a quitter. Charlie on the other hand would walk over to me and try to crawl into my lap for a rest.
We stacked rocks, and Daryl went off to explore and get some 'quiet' time. It was amazing how nice and cool the creek was. I don't think anyone wanted to leave and go back up the ridge road to the farm.

But chores had to be done and we were getting hungry also.

Everyone was sleepy after we finally had birthday ice cream cake. I was stuffed. But it was time to try out the games. The competition was fierce.

Then the Fireflies started to put on their show again. This time I walked up the driveway and looked east towards the meadow.
I was astounded and called out to my friends. They in turn were amazed also and Daryl went and woke his girls up so they could come and watch.

And we were again transfixed by the incredible show of what my friends' called Nature's Christmas lights.

We went to bed, as we wanted to ride out again in the morning before it got too hot.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Outta here ...

I used to only ride and talk about mules. Mules were my entire life as was riding.

Here is a morning shot of the 'herd' sleeping and lounging.

Here they are in the afternoon. Fred is peeking out from behind the red headed sisters. He is 33-ish years old. Mica is the white-grey mule, aged also. If my calculations are correct, she should be 20ish. Sunshine is 19 which isn't old for a mule at all.
Siera is somewhere around 14 years old.

Holy Cow. Can these mules all be so old?
Sundance is only 9 and she was to be Rich's mule. I don't think it will be too difficult to make her into a saddle mule. She is always eager to please and seems to have a fantastic temperament.

I had Charlie yesterday when we came back from our adventure in the creek. I put Charlie on his little line and started to carry him through the mule pasture.

He wanted down. The red heads saw us and it happened again. Charlie glanced up at the huge creatures and ignored them.
Sundance, Sunshine, Mica, Siera, Fifteen, and then Fred all lined up single file behind Charlie and I as we walked the pasture.

Our mules have touched many lives over the years...

I won't bore you with all the pictures.

But this one was from last year.
And then there was this last August.

Well there you go. Mules and horses have always been such a big part of our lives.

I'm finally catching up on things around the farm...I think, and can concentrate on our equine.

This weekend I hope to take some friends on their first real all mule ride.
We will be celebrating two June birthdays and Father's Day also.

I will be stashing my laptop this evening and leaving it hopefully until Monday.

I will leave you with one of my favorite evening shots from a sunset ride with hubby and Fred... in 2009.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Just Mules...

So many times I have been asked why I ride mules.

Well. I have 4 mules that I can ride and one that needs starting under saddle.

The real story is that a gazillion years ago I met a man who rode a small mule named Fred. I was riding Cheyanne an Arab-Quarter cross who I loved to death. She and I were a good team.
The man told me that Cheyanne would make a good 'mule momma'.

Anyway. That is how our Rich and my Romance began. A mule named Fred and a grade horse named Cheyanne.
I started commuting to his place and riding with him on his mules.

The rest is history. And Cheyanne produced Sunshine.

And later...

I fell in love with mules and their interesting ways.

I like my red headed half sisters.

I like riding. I've decided that riding is a way of reducing stress and improving mental health.

What can I say?
Here I was on Mica tonight...

So there it is. Mules... summer... evening. Hubby can watch TV and I can have an adventure.

It works.

Just mules. The 4 legged kind not those that need a gas engine.

What to live for

Yesterday was a busy day. We'd gone to the VA for appointments on Tuesday and it felt like we spent the whole day going from one place to another.
Actually we got in early and were seen early which is not the usual way things happen.

We have the Kenosha Gang coming this weekend. They aren't actually from Kenosha but I met them while living in that county.
So I was anxious to get the yard work started and at least do some picking up and preparing for their visit.
Rich's meds in the morning make him light headed and dizzy. Two inhalers plus a nebulizer treatment in the morning seems to make him wobbly. He feels constantly stuffed up and we asked the ENT folks Tuesday to check that out. They are following up on the Throat Cancer, fingers crossed...all looks good.

It seems one of the meds for prostrate enlargement is making his sinuses a bit swollen. It is a side effect. IF anyone can have an unusual side effect from medication, it will be my husband.

I looked up his meds and yes, they keep him going but sometimes I wonder if the meds are doing as much harm combined as they could be doing good? I think a major review of the medications are in order. So many of his meds have dizziness as a side effect.

The good news from the CT scan with contrast is that the aneurysm in his brain has not shown any change, nor are there any signs of new strokes.
The bad.
He feels lousy, he has no ambition or energy, he feels dizzy and out of breath often, he has tremors, and emotionally flat most of the time.
The grumpy Gus I used to be married to no longer oversees my fencing or corrects the way I do projects. He shrugs and watches Netflix or takes a nap.

Yesterday morning he sat with his coffee after eating breakfast and said, "I'm just slowly dying, fading away. I wish I could feel like doing something or just trying to do something."
I said nothing. What could I say? He was right. My husband was fading before my eyes.
The man who used to be the Take Charge Man, no longer shows interest in most things.

Hopefully our meeting next week with Neuro-Psychology will prove helpful. In a way Rich felt as if it would have been kinder if the doctors had not been able to remove the two clots in his brain and had just let him go.

So he went to bed for his morning nap and I told him that I was going to go outside and work. That is what I do when I am frustrated and feel helpless.

I started up the weed eater and attacked the long grasses next to the shed. Then I went after other messy places, those places that are so hard to mow.
After my hands began to hurt, I put the ''eater' down and started to trim with the little mower. I took breaks often, but got all the trimming done around the house.

After lunch Rich came out and mowed a portion of the yard and then went to lay down again. He said he'd finish the rest of the yard after a rest.

I proceeded to work on the new/old chair after I watered and rotated the Dexter cattle to a different section of the woods. I sat on the porch and took out my paints. I'd worked out my frustrations and now it was time to let my creative juices flow.

Remember that ugly chair?

Well I have been working on it a bit at a time.

I usually don't plan things out and just let it happen. I wanted bright cheery colors so I used brilliant yellow spray paint on the legs and added some aqua. I used silver on the back of the chair. I don't know why but just did.

I had some old white paint that needed to be used up so I painted the seat white. Boring old white.
While I was at it, I spruced up the wooden spool that we use as a porch table.

I finally got around to doing the edges....not shown here.

The plain white boring seat bothered me, so I did some touching up here and there and then started to experiment with some masking tape.

That was fun, so I began mixing the aqua, blue, green, and seafoam colors in a cap and creating my own colors and made more stripes.
Okay. Nice looking but not FUN!

The stripes aren't perfect, and the paints aren't perfect, but it had its charm. However it needed something else.

Now I am completely charmed by this old chair. If it lasts a season or two on the porch I will be happy. My butterfly happy colored chair.
It fits in so nicely with my spool table and funky table top...

Ready for company!

Charlie was exhausted.
All that supervising wore him out.

The day was still 'young' after supper was cleaned up.
Remember I said I had the Kenosha Gang visiting this weekend? They want to go riding. So I am saving some time and saddling each mule we will take with the saddle that will be used on them with each rider. Amanda will ride Sunsine in my Western saddle that I modified. So last night I saddled Sunshine and took her for a rather boring but peaceful ride on the gravel roads and hay fields.

Sunshine is out of my original horse, Cheyanne. She is half sister to my all time favorite mule Badger who is no longer with us.

my day
was complete...

Well in this life you must find something to live for
Cause when darkness comes a callin'
You'll go back to where you were before
Cause this life is as
Fragile as a dream, and
Nothing's ever really
As it seems...
~~Lily Kershaw
"As it seems"

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fog and Pasture

We used to fence off the neighbor's meadow and keep it clipped and grazed by the equine for quite a few years.

After my husband's stroke last May we sold most of the equine. I tried keeping up on the weeds vs. the electric fence last year but lost out. Without my husband clipping it with the mower, it became a tangled mess of multiflora rose and other nasties.

However, it still presents as a beautiful place to watch the sun come through the fog on those typical Driftless mornings.

Charlie and I walk back almost every morning to check on the status of the mules and Fifteen in the back.
And whenever the small herd sees me, the come up to the gate.

On the other side of that crooked-ly fence is the Merry Meadow. If I could drive a tractor and operate the mower, I'd clip the meadow just to keep the weeds down and create a nice place to ride with the kids. Hmmm, I wonder if I could get my husband or the neighbor to clip a trail????
Anyway, that was just a fleeting thought to be filed for later.

This particular morning, the fog was incredible.

Layers upon layers of mist rising...or fog.

And well, the rest was just nice to stand and watch.

I am currently working on putting up some fencing in the woods behind the meadow. I should say I am working on repairs and replacing part of the fence.

We haven't used the 'wooded' pasture since 2009. The posts are there, but there is some fixing to do.
I am just going to work on half of it.

I guess that is the one thing I do love about electric 'rope' fence. I can make a section just about anywhere just clear the weeds and underbrush and put in the posts.

Maybe I should just take some photos or draw it out. Hmmm. Thinking again!
My goal by mid summer is to have good rotation for the 5 head of cattle and the 5 head of equine.

The Dexter cattle are experts at browsing the undesirable weeds and cleaning up brush.

The ladies doing their job. They gleaned this pasture and are out working on the ragweed and other grasses in the large winter pasture.
Soon they will rotate back to their favorite lot.
I think I call that #4.

Well there you go. More than you wanted to know.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Creek

There isn't much to say about ... the Creek. Except that I love the creek. I love going there and just wandering.

I like rainy and overcast days the best as the lighting seems more mystical. There have been times I've gone after a rain ... and the sun came out hot and brilliant which created a fog over the water.
Here is a shot from a few years ago...2011 to be exact. Mr. Morris was still a brown faced Jack Russell!

It was cool this time and the sky was overcast, but at times sunlight did drift down.

I went alone which meant I didn't have to watch over any dogs and could spend my time just observing and looking at rocks.

I walked from the western neighbor's side towards the east, going downstream.

I guess I don't have to explain the sense of awe I felt right in this spot. The lighting, the water, the greens, the brilliant rocks, and the moss all seemed to create the perfect scene.

And I did find the fog rising over the creek near where the trail had just been redone.

I didn't follow my usual route and instead of ducking under one end of a fallen tree, I went around to climb over near the stump end.

I normally just duck under the above tree and continue to walk...but I didn't... and...

I was presented with a beautiful site.

You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
~~ Saint Bernard

Friday, June 08, 2018

Lessons from Charlie

Yesterday I took a break from the 'CareGiving' organizing and scheduling for both Rich and MIL. I took Charlie out so he could inspect the bulldozed ridge road. When we got to the creek, he calmly walked through the mud and silt picking up each leg higher than normal as he boldly inspected.

I really think he noted the difference in the bottom. He looked right, left, and slowly turned around and then spotted the trail going up the other side of the creek and took off trotting. He stopped and glanced back at me as if to say "Coming? Human-slave?" 

I was coming. 
However on our way through the mule pasture, I noted that the gate was not hot so I decided not to really explore any more but to go back and figure out why the fence was not working. I would have preferred to walk the whole trail all the way to the back fence, however the thought of loose equine turned me around.

I asked Charlie to come and he turned back and we headed towards home and the meadow.
[Note! Charlie is coming most of the time now when I call him, especially in the woods! He still likes to play catch me if you can in the yard sometimes.]

Often he stopped to listen to noises in the woods. I know he is close to the ground so he can't see over the brush and undergrowth. But he does listen and seem to think.
I heard a robin, a Titmouse, and in the distance I heard a wren scolding something while I stood and waited for him to check things out.

Charlie took a keen interest in the deer tracks on the ridge road. Probably looking for delicious deer poop. Not something I'm going to try any time soon.

In the meadow I had to set him down to fix the fence. First I had to introduce him to the mules who were all curious as to why I was in their pasture and why I had Charlie with me. I let the redheaded mules sniff Charlie in my arms. Seems that they don't perceive dogs that I am close to as threats.
They will chase down strange dogs and try to kill them. Charlie is so small, I think they don't believe he is worth chasing. They don't chase the cats that walk through their pastures either so I wonder if they think he is a cat?

With Charlie ignoring the mules and sitting between my legs, I found that the electric wire had gotten wrapped around barbed wire by some animal. Perhaps a raccoon had been chased through the fence. I've seen the girls do that before too. I fixed it and Charlie insisted on walking [with his cord attached to him of course] through the tall grass. I'm sure we looked rather funny.
Tiny dog, Human-slave, and 4 mules in single file walking through the meadow.

Did you know how interesting straw is? We have to stop, inspect it, and then chew on it. How about that bumble bee on the wild geraniums? Stop, inspect, watch, and then move on.
We eventually made it back to the house and Charlie flopped onto the rug I have on the porch. I brought him and I some cold water and we enjoyed the light breeze and the shade for a bit.

He was panting so I took him inside and let him rest. Rich was still napping. I had fence to rebuild and wasn't looking forward to using the post pounder but went back out and did it anyway.


The lessons really came much later. After dark Charlie asked to go outside. I was in my PJ bottoms so I went out with him. He did his business quickly and then ran back to the piece of carpet on the porch and sat. I sat on the carpet too. He crawled into my lap and leaned against me.

His head kept darting back and forth. His ears would perk up when he heard the tree toads on the west side sing. Then his head would dart back to the east and suddenly he leaned harder and stomped his feet. I could see him trying to figure something out. Then it dawned on me.
Charlie was watching lightening bugs. He was listening to the toads and the June Bugs were buzzing in the Hickory tree nearby making the tree sound like it was electrified.

So I sat for a long time on the old chunk of carpet on the concrete with Charlie in my lap.
We listened to the toads.
We watched lightening bugs [he growled softly a few them].
We listened to the June Bugs in the tree.

Fast isn't always the answer. Sometimes just sitting quietly and using your senses is the way to go.
Charlie is an expert at chillin' out.

It is a good lesson to learn.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

The day of the Dozer

Our driveway was a getting washed out, and the culverts were plugged. Both my husband and neighbor had done some repair work to it over the past.
Farm Friend came with his bulldozer and started work on the driveway. He smoothed it out, reshaped it and fixed the 'water run offs' for us.

He arranged to have the gravel trucks show up and ... the next morning at 7 AM I had gravel being dumped!

This is just the hill section of the driveway, but even before the new gravel, I think it was looking so much better!

Jeff is a master at dozing. He worked many years for our county doing bulldozing, grading, and of course snow removal. He is retired now and farming with his son full time and 'Dozing' part time.

He repaired our driveway in 2007 and I'd say it has lasted a very long time. He also made a trail through our woods and a crossing in our creek bottom that washed out completely in 2016.
He asked if we needed a touch up of the trail. Yes on the other side of the creek the trail had become over grown and trees had fallen down.

And so...
The Dozer went on a mission...

This doesn't look like much, but the old ridge 'road' was getting filled up with obstacles. It was fine in the winter and spring but it was becoming more like a deer trail.
Looks like I need to start spreading grass seed.

Then I trotted down and watched him work his magic machine in the bottom.

Here Jeff considers the best way to move earth and rebuild the crossing so we can use the 4 wheeler to get to the back of the property and even the skid steer if need be.
Our Kenosha pals would like to hunt out 'back' and last year there would have been no way they could have brought a deer back up through and over the 10 foot bank.

In our area we have steep hills and valleys. So our land seems to be in a constant state of change depending on Mother Nature.
Jeff considers the way the water will flow during a large storm and rebuilds to avoid that if at all possible.

Then he makes the 'ramp' down into the creek.

I actually think he loves doing this work the best. He can be creative ... and he can play with trees and rocks. Sort of like a HUGE sandbox.
I sort of said that to him and he smiled from ear to ear...

After he finished the crossing he touched up the 'back' trail and knocked down two huge box elder trees for me. They were dead and leaning towards our nice shed. We'd worried that Rich wouldn't be able to cut them without them falling onto the shed.
Another worry was that a windstorm would topple them onto our shed.

Now they are laying in one of the little pastures to be cut up and burned.

Jeff finished up and then offered to reshape the west side of the yard where a huge pile of sand and rock sit right now. I would have said go ahead but I know that Rich really wants to do it.
We decided to leave it for now and if Rich couldn't do it with the skid steer, we'd re-address that issue next year.

I took a lot of video of Jeff working his magic, but since it only really was interesting to myself and Rich, I won't bore you with it.

I hope to get down to the creek and see what it looks like this afternoon.

Day of the Dozer.