Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Back to work...

I had a few days off which is unusual for me!

I rode Siera Sunday night and she is coming along just as sweet as ever.

Sunday during the day, between raindrops, Morris and I went hiking.
Morris loves to hike.
Morris loves to do anything he can with me.
What a great little fellow.

We spent time in the creek bottom exploring and looking for more plants to ID. I found the deadly nightshade.
It is toxic...and related oddly enough to the tomato plant.

I'm going to be busy this week balancing 11 hour days along with 'farm' duties. Then on Saturday I start my new week of work.

When I get off Saturday morning, I plan on getting Badger and adorning him with ribbons like last year...and having my solo 4th of July parade.

Silly, but it sure was fun!

Also...I've got to keep an eye on the black caps...they are turning red!

So we'll be out there just a pickin' and a grinnin' pretty soon...Badger, Morris and I!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Riding and shooting...cameras!

I cannot believe this month has flown by! It seems to have gone somewhere and I can't figure out exactly where!

Today we've had a wonderful break in the weather. The heat and humidity have lifted and we are to have good strong winds today to help dry things out.
Not a great day to ride, but perhaps Morris and I will go check out the wild berries and see how they are coming along.

We did get to ride at Wildcat Mountain State Park on Friday. It felt much cooler under the huge green canopy of trees.
I brought a different camera along for this ride and was able to get some decent photos, although that is very difficult in the lighting situation we were in.

Photography from 'mule' or horse is not hard, but does take some special considerations.

A point and shoot pocket camera really works well.
I used one and brought my FujiFinePix [older model with an auto zoom].

My old point and shoot, an Olympus Stylus 4 megapixel camera was what I always used to take. It really still does a fantastic job.
The Fuji was nice~~I was able to take an action shot of hubby 'ditchin' and use the zoom to do some other shots I otherwise wouldn't have been able to take.

I don't think I'd take the Fuji if I was riding a young animal as it is cumbersome and hangs around my neck.
The newer pocket cameras have a faster 'capture' speed which is nice for shooting action shots.

Lastly I guess ~~ is a no brainer. If you need to take a really beautiful shot of someone from the back of your animal.
Your animal MUST know how to stand still.
[HillBillyFarmGirl writes about standing still in her blog artless horsemanship...such an important skill to teach your equine!]

[Badger hears the camera turn on and actually stops!]

You can use any camera and use the general setting and get good photos.

A steady hand and an eye for beautiful or odd things makes the trip more memorable.

A last word about cameras and photography. My father used to tell me that it did NOT matter how expensive the camera was or who had the better camera.
It wasn't the camera taking the shot, it was the person behind the camera.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yard horse

With the heat index rising too 106 degrees the past couple of days, we decided to move Cheyenne and her foal into the yard and under our large shaded trees. There always seems to be a nice breeze in the yard...so the solution?
Yard horsie and foal!

So yesterday afternoon I took a camp chair and a book and joined them in the yard under the hickory tree. [of course with a camera in hand]

Sundance wasn't sure what to make of me in that chair and circled me warily.
Was I really a human?
How was I attached to that chair with the funny legs?
How come I wasn't grazing?

I'm happy to say that Cheyenne was quite pleased with her accommodations and as you can see, Sundance thought it was a great place to lay down and nibble on white clover flowers.

Ahhhh, the life of a yard horse!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Evening Ride & C-130's

It was a day SO hot it made your pants stick to your legs. Well I wore shorts, and they stuck to my bottom while riding the lawn mower.

Just before sunset, I grabbed an old pair of cargo pants and threw them on.
I ran outside and called for Badger.
He came trotting to the gate [gosh what a great guy!]

I put a headstall on him and took him to the overturned bucket in the yard. I stepped up on the bucket and hoisted myself up onto him.

Off we rode at a trot. I wanted to get to the ridge before the sun set completely.

The air was muggy, but pleasant [how could it be anything but pleasant when you are riding???].
I was happy that Badger was doing the work and not me.

The sky was full of color and I began to take photos, while Badger stood patiently.
He is a great 'mule tripod'.

I rode towards one of my neighbors who lives about 3/4 of a mile down the road. I could see her out with her cattle.

I turned to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous, going from bright oranges to deep purples.

Suddenly I hear a roar. I couldn't figure out exactly what it was and looked around for some gigantic tractors...

Then they appeared just over the tree tops ... coming out of the valley. C-130 aircraft. If you've ever seen one of these, they are gigantic! They have a wingspan of 132 feet.

Badger merely glanced at them and then stretched his neck out to grab some long grass from the side of the road.

[Being a resident of the Kickapoo Valley we've seen these aircraft off and on over the past 15 years. They come from Ft McCoy at Volk Field and use our rugged valleys as practice fly zones for Afghanistan practice I believe.
Generally these aircraft do not scare our livestock. We've of course heard others complain, but each time I get to see them, I am impressed.]

We returned from our ride with memories of a gorgeous sunset and a nice warm ride.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

HOT Wednesday...

These were taken last night while watering.

Hot HOT yesterday and forecast the same for today.

Cheyenne and her foal are doing well despite the heat and humidity.
We've added crushed salt to her feed and she is behaving very normal now!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Momma don't go!

I have a Jack Russell, his name is Morris. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know a bit about him.
He is a bit spoiled, he gets to sleep on the couch, ride my mule, and can be a demanding little fella...plus he
my grandchildren.

I work as a part time security guard. I sort of fell into the job and have been there 9 months now. I enjoy every shift I work. I work all sorts of shifts, filling in here and there.
Tonight I work the 1st shift. Midnight to 8am.

It is warm, but I will need my jacket inside the air conditioned area and so set it out on the couch.
When I went to put something in its pockets, I found Morris huddled on it.

I think he believes if he lays on my jacket, I can't go to work without taking him.
Funny little guy, he should know by now, but it doesn't stop him from trying.

I've found him laying across my work shoes.
He has had a very hard time adjusting to my 1st shift work hours.

He is sure that I am mistaken. I should be in bed, where he can lay on my feet or snuggle up against my back...or perhaps even try to hog the pillow.

Alas poor Morris.
I am going to work.

See you in the morning little buddy!

Horse Enema

I feel desperate.
It is 4AM in the morning.
I am sitting on dew dampened ground with Cheyenne's head in my lap. I can hear the gallon of mineral oil rolling around in her stomach, grumbling in there...sloshing when she walks and stretches.

She is covered in old hay and dirt, mud clings in clumps to her mane. She has rubbed her face in the dirt also. This is not the normal horse I know who generally hates being dirty...and she looks awful. She has aged so badly in the past 24 hours that it scares me.

I hold her head close to mine and her eyes close as I rub her cheeks, eyes, ears, and scrub under her chin...all her favorite places. I think, girl, don't check out on me now. We've been together for 17 years.
17 years.
That is a long time.
Fear overcomes me and I hold her head with both hands and rub my face against hers and plead with her as tears drip down my face.
'Cheyenne, don't leave me. Girl, we have to get over this.'

I checked her gums, and thankfully they are pink and not white like last night. Then I do the pinch test. She is not dehydrated either. So the meds and IV's have done there job.

I think 'twisted gut' and know that I've seen it before and she isn't showing classic signs of it.

She just is plugged up and has a bad stomach ache.

She groans softly and nickers to her foal, Sundance prances around and tries to nurse.
A glow shows to the east, sunrise is coming. It has been a long night.

I watch the glow brighten into a sunrise through the clouds and see rays of sunlight and take them as rays of hope.

I get her up and start walking her, my arm draped over her neck, I hold onto her mane and she walks with me. Sundance darts back and forth.

She stops and strains. She grunts and groans.

I wipe the tears from my eyes and run to the house to wake hubby. He needed his rest, but now I needed his help. I pour him coffee and he takes his turn out walking Cheyenne as I get ready for work.
[having a sick horse is not an option for calling in]

I leave for work, tears in my eyes and hope on my mind. What is the vet going to say?

Later I get a call at work.
It is hubby. He'd waited until a decent hour to call the vet [after all he'd been here late!]. They discuss Chey and Rich asks if he can give her a 'Horsie Enema'. The vet says go for it and then call him, he would take his vet clothes to church and run out if this didn't work.

Rich prepares a solution of warm soapy water in a large syringe. He lubricates his arm with KY jelly and goes 'in'. He injects the warm water and feels Cheyenne make a big push. Swiftly he pulls out his arm and steps back.
Cheyenne ... well what other way to say this, but she has an explosive bowel movement, spraying mineral oil and manure every which way.

After a few moments of this, she looks bright eyed and comfortable.
She is nickering for food, takes a big drink and begins her day as if nothing bad had occured.

Equine are amazing animals. Fragile, yet so incredibly strong.

And yes gross as it is, the Horse Enema did come to the rescue.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


...on Cheyenne.

This morning it looks as if we may be back to square one. She seems to be in pain and it looks like she spent much of the night on the ground.

I have to go to work but hubby is out with her...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

She's worth it...

She was down and couldn't and wouldn't get up...she was sweating, stretching and groaning.

She wouldn't let Sundance nurse ...

We got her up and began to walk her.
Cheyenne was in a lot of pain. She was passing manure but seemed to be cramping up.
We checked her gums.
Her mouth was dry, her gums were white.
My heart did an awful thud-thud in my chest. This was not a good sign at all.

I began calling vets. The first one I called was going out of town. He recommended a vet I didn't care for.
Then I recalled the shy tall lanky vet that had come out before when we had a mule with a slight colic.
I dialed him.
He answered.
I gave him the details and he never hesitated and said he'd be at our place in a half an hour.

He was, with his daughter who called herself a 'animal nurse' not a vet tech.
Cheyenne was severely dehydrated and probably was colicky. Dr. Anderson checked her out.

Cheyenne stood, her legs quivered. She looked horrible.

5 hours later along with 6 bags of IV fluids, she was feeling quite fiesty and a bit testy at having a catheter in her neck.
Dr. Anderson along with his daughter had saved her life.
He surmised that it was caused perhaps by a feed change [we'd run out of our regular hay and had been feeding another kind for 4 days] along with the sudden onset of extreme heat and humidity coupled with her age.

Tonight he sat at my kitchen table while he and his daughter wrote up the bill and explained what they wanted us to do to encourage Chey to drink more water and how to hopefully avoid a relapse.

He handed me the bill and said quietly and almost apologetically, 'Gee, this is a lot. I hope you think she is worth it.' [He was not being smug, it was more a comment on the fact that the bill was probably more than the amount of money that Cheyenne would be worth on the market place.]

I smiled and glanced at the total.
'Yes, she is worth it, Doc. She has provided me with many years of riding and has given us one fine mule daughter that we ride, this is her second.'

I handed him cash for the bill and smiled.
My husband ushered them out the door~~it was now nearly 11:30 pm.

Doc and his daughter's last words were...'please call us in the morning so we know how she is doing.'

Yep she's worth it.
[She's doing very well right now and we'll be keeping a close eye on her.]
Thank you Doc, you are a wonderful vet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can equine really talk???

Okay first to the 'nay sayers' ... this is just my own opinion. I'm not saying a horse or mule can come up and say ~~
Well how do you do? How was your day?
Nope, and I'm not talking about what all the clinicians tell you:
'See when your mule/horse starts to lick its lips and drop its head?...'

I'm talking a different language all together.

And I have had my head examined.

For example, today I worked with a 4 yr old mule that I've been working steady now for about 3 days. Before it was on and off for a year. When I first met Siera I felt something about her. I can't put my finger on it. But it was a feeling.

Maybe I read body language of animals and don't even know it.

Maybe those animals I really 'connect' with...I really connect with for some reason?

Anyway, today was Siera's second day with a rider [me].
Some animals are particularly sensitive. Siera is one such animal. I ask her to do something with gentle force and she normally responds very well.
Sometimes she plants her feet and 'says' no.
Then a small tap of the rope or reins gets a large reaction [but not a blow up].

I rarely speak when riding a green animal. I need to keep my mouth closed so I can use my other senses.

But I do get messages from my mules. Okay not...'Hey buddy, we'd like some sweet feed!' kind of messages.
But subtle feelings.
How did I 'know' today that when I tapped Siera on the butt with the reins because I needed to get her attention back to me...

...that she was not going to blow and buck and fart...snort and breath fire.
Nope, all she did was lunge into this wonderful Paso gate which took us both by surprise.
And I swear when I got off we both looked at each other and grinned.

We had a wonderful working session.
We both understand how to go forward together

turn right,
turn left,
and whoa [with a few punts and errors, but nothing to get worked up over!]

I can say that we were both calm and pleased. Siera was pleased enough not to run off into the meadow and join her equine buddies [who were not even in sight].
She stood by me and dropped her head so I could scratch those lovely long ears.

I finally motioned her away with a flick of my hand, and she shook her head and galloped off.

We hadn't 'talked' but we certainly had made some sort of communication.
I'm a happy person tonight.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

3 mules and one day

What can I say?

It was a great day!
I rode Badger [top] in the morning to do some work on the trails, then headed off to town to do the dreaded grocery shopping...ugh.

It began to sprinkle out, so walked out to see the girls and Siera [second photo] came up to me. We made great progress! She remembered all of last year's ground work and 'sacking out'. [I'd had to stop working her because of elbow surgery].
Well today we rode in the round pen. She knows her whoas and this is very important. And she is figuring out that a 'cluck' is asking her to move forward just as it did when she was being worked from the ground.
She and I rode for an hour! Her spook consisted of moving faster and gaiting...[she is a Peruvian Paso mule].
I was extremely pleased.
She didn't seem to want to let the 'session' end.
Good Girl!

Then I needed to get the mail and there was Sunshine! [last photo] So I took her, saddled up and took the long way down the valley up the ridge through the woods .... about 3 miles out of the way so we could 'get the mail' ... and it was raining a nice steady rain.

We had a fabulous ride also.

I'm tickled pink and can go to work this morning with these rides 'holding' me over until I can get back in the saddle again.
[Tonight???? with Siera???? Whoooo Hoooo!]

Monday, June 15, 2009

A mailbox experience...

I opened my mailbox and shook my head in wonder.

"Snail Mail"!!!!....the thing of the past...was in my mailbox. A hand addressed envelope and by the feel of it,...it was a letter.

Perhaps it was just a time warp and I'd wake up in the 1960's, the age when writing letters by hand was still done. The age when 'spell check' and 'grammar check' did not exist, the age when you wrote by hand~~~and did it
so that the recipient could actually read what was written.

I can recall when my sister and I would wait for the rural mailman to deliver. It was one of the most significant events of the day in my grandparent's life. Of course, it was a big honor to get the mail for Grandma and Grandpa.
Back then the mail was not known for its volume of 'junk'.
If a letter came in the mail, it was akin to receiving a gift of sorts. The letter would carry news from far off, details of someone else's life.

We'd walk our ride our bicycles to the end of the driveway and drop the kickstands. Barefoot, we'd pad across the gravel road, or later on, the searing hot blacktop and gather the mail.

Of course we'd look both ways and sometimes we'd stand perfectly still listening for any sounds of traffic. Most of the time we were rewarded by the songs of meadowlarks and purple martins.

But this isn't the 60's and I wasn't in a dream. I was standing next to my mailbox at 1 AM in the morning. My car was idling the drivers door open...[I'd just driven home from a night shift]...its headlights pointing off into the dark.

Above me the stars are bright and to the east and orange 3/4 moon is rising.

I turn the letter over in my hands and smile. It is from a friend in California...far and away. A real honest to goodness letter by its feel. Not an e-mail and not a text message or voice mail.

I smile again and do a little happy dance as I slide the envelope into my uniform pocket. The coyotes bark in the distance as I shut my car door and head into my 'valley'.
I'll save this treat for the morning to read with my coffee.

Anticipation makes my fingers trace the edges of the envelope in my pocket.

But my surprise 'Snail Mail' will have to wait.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day Dreaming

Last night I stood at the guard's gate and watched traffic in the late evening sun. Not much happens on a weekend shift so I was in a 'day dream' mode.

The sun warmed me as it drifted behind the large ugly plant buildings. I see no beauty in the concrete structures, the cranes, the electrical cables, wires, and transformers...but there you are, I'm there and that is my view to the west.

I rather look to the east and the river bluffs, watching the turkey buzzards float on warm updrafts. I once in a while spot an eagle who's presence is more prevalent during the winter months.

The smell of the Mississippi river drifted past me. I could smell water, fish, and the scent of brackish waters.

With a sudden flash, I was back in 2001 sitting with my father on the pier in Kailuah Kona.

We'd just come back from an evening walk down Ali'i drive.
We thought we'd sit and watch the folks having a luau at the King Kamehameha Hotel along with the open air show they had for entertainment. We giggled a bit, as we got to watch the show from the pier and not pay a dime.
The show was a bit cheesy, but the dancers were pretty good and we enjoyed the music.

We talked about important things, and not important things. I think I'd just spent a day dragging him around the Big Island hunting for information on the 'wild donkey' herd.
Dad was insisting that I take the mule ride in North Kohala.
It would be a great all day trip riding mules down to the beach and back.
It would have been a great story for Mules and More Magazine.

...and it would have been just plain fun.

All this came back to me from a whiff of water and fish. Of course the rest of the night I spent my free time traveling down a mental memory lane.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adventure Time

Wednesday afternoon called out to me...

I heard this little voice say~~~ 'Let's go riding!'

Evidently Morris heard it also.

We cruised the 'first' valley and spent a lot of time looking at wildflowers and admiring the beautiful June sky. The clouds were magnificent against the bright green backdrop of the valley.

We cruised the area checking out the status of the black~caps. I noted where the healthy bushes were and began to plan on picking them as soon as they ripened.
We are now just eating the very last of last year's wild black berry jam. YUM.

Badger was ever the patient mule [or lazy].
We even spent time wandering up on the ridge at the edge of the crop land.

The corn is up now about 4 inches. We won't be able to cut across the crop land in about a month...the corn will be too high and the path alongside the field will be too overgrown with thistles and nettles.

We dropped into the woods and explored the ravine...I am so glad that Badger was doing the steep climbing!

When we arrived back at home [Badger, Morris and me], we found hubby had taken Miss Dinah out for a walking 'lesson' and had been working on the 'ear' issues.

I think Dinah would have preferred to wear a bright red hat myself. But when I took this, she seemed quite content just to pose.
What a funny and wonderful mule.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Dinah has arrived safely...

More to follow as I don't have time to write tonight.
[ I have to go to work and severe storms are moving in~~bright flashes followed by big BOOMS]

Saturday, June 06, 2009

For the love of a mule and more...

I spoke to my husband and his daughter this afternoon. They had arrived safely in Wyoming and had met Niki's sister and Eric.

Rich said an ugly storm was raging towards them and he and his daughter figured by the time they'd meet up with the others~~the storm would be in full swing.

As it happened. The sky did open up.
But with sunlight, bright beautiful sunlight that bathed the area where two horse trailers parked. One from Wisconsin and one from Washington.
Niki's sister and Eric commented that this had to have been Niki's doing.
It was as though spiritually this was the way things were meant to be.

They visited and I gather from the emotion in both my daughter's voice and hubby's voice, that this was quite a meeting.
Dinah, the mule was touching more people with her story and her life.

All this started simply by a photo comment on Flickr years ago between two strangers that had a love of photography and a common interest in mules.

A friendship developed between us ... first by comments on Flickr; soon they became emails, then many phone calls, cards, and letters.

My only regret is that I never got to meet my friend Niki face to face.
But our promise is good...for forever.


There is another aspect to this story.
I wasn't able to go because of work.
So I asked my step-daughter [I don't use the 'step' normally] if she'd like to accompany her dad on this trip.
It would be a once in a life time chance for her and her dad to do 'the road trip' thing.

All I can say is that when I've spoken to them on the phone, I could hear excitement and wonder in both of their voices.
I also heard between the words spoken something else~~~for lack of better words, let's call it a special tightening of the dad and daughter bonding.

And these things make my heart sing.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Bold Beautiful and red~~~
She is a molly mule~~~

Born some time early this morning to Cheyenne who is doing a wonderful job as a mom. The best thing about this mare is that she is super good about us working with her foal.

No name yet...we are thinking about our options, the right one will come along!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Holy Cow, What a Ride!

Rich was supposed to take me for a nice long picnic ride for my b-day, but we decided to take a ride in the neighbor's timber instead and not go too far as Chey is due to foal.

Okay, so we go to the back valley and do some tricky mule maneuvers to get through the mess that the flash floods left last year.
We ended up jumping the mules 'in hand' over about 4 downed trees. [Very cool!]

Then I decided to stop behind Rich and take some pictures. Rich's mule, Mica, was being a turd so I let them get up by the creek...
I stepped Badger into the tall weeds and grass that nearly touched his belly.

So camera in hand, I asked Badger to take one step...

He did...and the next thing I knew is that I was hollering 'OH S**t!'...

I had no idea what happened except that a hen turkey came up past my head at the same time I hollered...I felt Badger move...

~~and the next thing I think is~~~

I wonder where in the h*ll is my saddle ?

I'm holding the camera, hubby is laughing, and Badger is standing stock still like a statue.

Badger had levitated me right out of the saddle.

I was sitting on his neck!


Now how goofy is that?

Rich said Badger probably stepped on the hen and got pecked. Well Mr. Badger went straight up in the air like magic...all 4 feet off the ground.

[Badger has had turkeys fly up under him before with a ho-hum attitude]

Rich said when I hollered Badger turned into a statue.

I did an un-graceful dismount off his neck and hugged that mule long and hard.

Damn I love this mule...I surely do.

Strange but very true.

June 02, 2009

I awoke with a start.
Oh I was tired all right, very tired.
But it was a special morning for me.

It was my 53rd Birthday. I didn't want to get up early, but I had to go to work also...so I dragged on some sweatpants and a sweatshirt.
I thanked myself for having the foresight to set the coffee maker timer to 4am.

Morris bounced around my feet, he always wakes up happy.
Some days I wished I were a dog!

I poured coffee and peered out the window.
I couldn't see Cheyenne, so I donned my rubber chore boots and opened up the back door. Morris and I went out and walked down the driveway.

Cheyenne was happily munching on grass and showed no signs or intentions of foaling.

So Morris went about his business, doing what male dogs do best~~trying to 'water' every blade of grass in the entire area.

I sat down in the gravel driveway and watched the sun come up while sipping hot coffee.

What a fantastic way to start the day.

When I got home from work and finished my outside chores, the sun was getting low in the horizon.
I was alone again with Morris, my thoughts...and a cup of tea.

I decided to end my day much the same way I started.

I put my arm around Cheyenne's neck...Morris wandered around by my feet and we watched the sun perform a beautiful show as it set on June 2nd.

Monday, June 01, 2009


3AM~~ish in the morning.
Yawning, sleepy eyed.

A co-worker enters the room I'm in and sighs glancing at the clock also. I roll my shoulders and try to get the 3AM 'kinks' out.

My co-worker asks quietly if I have any regrets.
He must have seen the expression on my face in the dim lit room.

He adjusts his seat and then says:
'Are there paths in life that you wished you would have taken instead of the ones you did?
You know, how things might be different.'

[It is the 3am philosophical conversation we sometimes engage in, it passes time and is often interesting with this person]

I think for a moment. Tomorrow I turn 53 which gives me some "life" experiences I guess. My co-worker is young yet, perhaps in his late 30's or early 40's. I can recall being that age well and having doubts of my own.

I fold my hands in my lap.
'Do I have regrets? No, not anymore. Should I have taken different paths? Do I wonder how things could have turned out differently? Oh a different path may have taken me down another road and I wouldn't be here ... now would I?
I guess what really matters is am I happy? I have no sorrows about where I am in life, I'm happy now and that is what I think is the most important, don't you think?'

My co-worker smiles and says:
'Interesting, the answer so many people give is a long list of things they should have done and then they list all the mistakes they perceive to have made in their life.
You don't.'

'Oh, I've made plenty of mistakes, but you can't change the past by pondering and worrying about it. The past is the past and it is done with.
I can't change the past, I can't obsess about it; and I can only deal with the future as it happens.
My past is part of what has shaped me today.
Nope, no regrets, I wouldn't change a thing.'

Sometimes 3AM can be interesting.