Friday, May 28, 2010

Of Mules and Hearts




Two days ago we moved the mares to the meadow with Cheyanne and Mica. We left Dynah and Siera in the winter paddock for easy access for training.

Rich pulled out Dynah and gave her a nice hair cut and ear trim. She looked fantastic. He then spent quite a bit of time 'fawning' over her...and she ate it all up.

With all the mares and mules in the winter paddock, Dynah had been a bit stand off-ish. She was second in command of the herd second only to the Alpha Mare, Peaches.
Now with Peaches in the meadow, Dynah could truly rule the roost, er paddock.

She only needs to look ugly at Siera to elicit a squeal.
Dynah shows her speed and agility by spinning and whirling in place to keep Siera from approaching her 'spot'.

Dynah is showing something else now also.
Affection...we think.

Tonight we stood at the 'catch pen' gate. Hubby reached through and scratched Dynah's ears. She moaned in delight.

[Siera had been sent to the corner by Dynah]
Dynah then moved over to me. I reached through and began to massage her face and head. Her eyes closed.
Not much conversation passed, I cooed to Dynah and told her what a good girl she was...

Hubby stood back and put his hands on his hips.
*Look at that,* he said. *Traitor mule. She likes you better than me.*

*I don't think so,* I replied, *she respects you, I haven't really done much with her since she arrived last year. She's just gettin' an ear scratching.*

Oh the look of hurt on hubby's face.
I then realized that HE really adored Dynah. Not just 'liked'...'adored'. His feelings were actually hurt that she'd moved over to me.

I stepped back away from the gate and put my hands in my pockets. After a moment, Dynah shifted her gaze to Hubby and moved over to him again.
Happily, he reached through and began to rub her head, she oozed with delight.

My Hubby had actually gotten jealous of Dynah's overtures towards me!
Amazing!

I have the feeling that Niki would be very amused by this turn of events.
Her mule has stolen my husband's heart.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Barefootin'


So quite a while ago I ordered these shoes called Vibram FiveFingers KSO [Keep Stuff Out].

Monday I got tired of waiting and waiting on the back order for these shoes, so I began an internet search and ended up finding a pair at RockCreek, an outfitting company.
I spoke with a woman in the order department and she made sure these were in stock in my size.
Viola.
2nd day UPS.
Tonight I slipped them on and had heaven on earth.

And after about 4 minutes of wearing these, the odd feeling of having something between your toes goes away.

So why did I buy these?
Because basically I got tired of my regular shoes which hurt my feet by the end of the day.
I walk about and do chores barefoot and my feet are very happy except when I step on sharp rocks, or pine cones in the yard.

I slog through mud and sloppy paddocks with bare feet, garden with bare feet...so why not have 'bare feet' shoes?

As I wear them and get used to them, I'll let you know how this ol' lady gets along with the FiveFingers.

I am sorely disappointed that I have to put on my uniform shoes and go to work. I imagine these would cause quite the stir if I showed up with them on!

My hubby's first reaction to these?
*You are not going to wear those out in public are you?*

Oh yeah.
I most certainly am!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Life's Mysteries


I should say I'm guilty.
I feel guilty.

Yet I feel somewhat invigorated.
Temperatures and humidity were somewhere on the side of awful when I got home from work this afternoon.
Badger was showing stress. His meds were handling his Equine COPD or RAO ... just barely. He was in a state of stress. I was devastated...yet...

I felt this urgent need to ride.

After doing chores and making supper, I walked outside.
Hubby told me to take Opal.
After all, she is an elder mule. A known factor, a steady mule.

I took Siera.
Why?
Divine intervention,.... me thinks.
I had not ridden her since September of 2009.
But I had this feeling ... this feeling ...
that she and I understand each other...

maybe stupid,
maybe I'm right...
hell, I don't know, but when I saddled her and got on...

it was like...
well.
She understood what I wanted and needed.

So figure that out.
How could a mule figure out what I needed?
Not possible.

How could a green mule possesse the self confidence to patiently stare down all the neighbor's dogs...and the nieghbors who decided to walk up to her and stroke her head?

How could Siera patiently stand while I talked with the neighbors and explained why I wasn't riding their favorite mule, Badger?
How could Siera stand quietly and put her head gently against my shoulder while I explained that Badger had a 'lung disease' which prevented him from being his normal 'active' self.

I headed home after dark with a half moon as my guide.
Siera and I had gone across the 'BIG BLACKTOP' road. We'd faced down children, adults, neighbors, big scary vehicles, and dogs [not to mention cattle].
This is her 10th ride with me.
She handled it like a pro.

Does she know that I suffer such great grief over Badger's health issues?
Or by some divine intervention ~~ has she placed herself as my next best buddy and riding friend?
[Yeah...she loves Morris and will tolerate him on her back or on the trail...not something other mules will tolerate.]

I feel guilty for admiring Siera.
Yet I am in awe of her like I have been with Badger for the past 13 yrs.

Why did she come into my life?
Why does she look at me and speak volumes without a word?

Why is my heart breaking, yet rejoicing?

I am confused.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Re-visiting the GREAT LOG LEAP



On May 4th, I rode Sunshine who did a very good job until she did a 'spook' or a 'something'. She didn't buck but we did fly over a downed log in the back valley creek bottom and did some fast paced maneuvering.

Last night we went back to visit the scene so I could look at it...and recover a lead rope that I'd lost in the *Snowy River Ride*.

Sunshine was being a typical air-headed female last night and had decided that all sorts of common things were going to eat her alive.
Here she and Rich are deciding whether or not this old manure spreader was a monster.
[she and I have passed this many times without a glance...go figure!]

We rode into the back valley and actually found the lead rope!
Then I sat on Badger and took this photo of the Log of Leap as I call it.
We came from the opposite direction at a...fast pace...lope? gallop? not sure.

The photo doesn't show it, but there is a 1 foot drop on the other side of that log.

We took it on at full pace, leaping at the 'V' and then jumping up the creek bank that is just to my left [a 2 ft jump].
This was quite the feat for Sunshine...okay...more for me!

On our way home from finding the lead rope, we found a 'mule' eating glove in the trail [left behind by some hunter?].
After standing on it, Sunshine relaxed.
But then we had to go by the Mule Eating manure spreader again.

This time Sunshine did the predictable.
She snuck up on it and bit it.
We got home just before the winds came along with rain!

I'll be doing an update soon on Badger's health and progress with RAO.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bug Solutions you've never thought of...


Today while working in the deep woods, I tried something different for those pesky little bugs.

I'd taken a shower this morning and because I'd gotten a little sunburn on my tummy, I used *Mom's* cure all for Sunburn.
Noxzema skin creme, the old kind.

I smeared the Noxzema on my arms, face, and legs liberally. Hubby wrinkled his nose and proclaimed:

*YOU STINK!*

and yes I did.
Of Eucalyptus and camphor menthol...hideous right?

Well absolutely not! First the odor brought me back to some very pleasant and wonderful childhood memories of being smeared with this cooling cream when I'd spent too much time in the sun...

...and second...

The bugs HATE me.

It really only made sense. For the past 3 yrs, I've been 'making' my own 'natural' bug spray for myself and the mules.
It costs me about .10 cents a quart versus up to $14.00 per quart in the store.

I've used Mentholatum Ointment on the mules' ears for a couple of years now, and you have to be very careful NOT to get it below their eyes.

I use the following to make my equine spray:
Eucalyptus and Lemongrass essential oils along with a few drops of Citronella oil, Peppermint oil, Rosemary, and Tree tea oil, combined in a few squirts of Noxzema, witch hazel, mineral oil, and a few drops of Dawn dish soap to hold it together.

My husband says the mules smell awful.
The bugs stay off my mules for about the same length of time as the $14/quart spray from the store does.


And for a simple stroll in the woods?
I just slather on the old Noxzema creme and wash up after my hike.

Who knew?

Another helpful hint.
Carry 1/2 mix of generic brown colored Listerine mouthwash with 1/2 water in a spritzer. This too works pretty well.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Equine~Mule~People


Someone once toyed with the idea that equine had personalities just like humans did.

No way, right?
Well you wouldn't be saying that if you owned an equine.
I own mules and I can say that yes, each mule we have whether born and raised here or not have a uniquely distinctive personality.

What's the trick?
The trick is understanding that personality and matching your training or riding to it.

There have not been many studies regarding this.
In fact I'm not even sure how a scientist could quantify 'personalities' in an animal.

There however is an interesting article I did read called:
Equine Personality Types and it really does sum up many good points.

Dominant mule. One who likes to be in charge.
This is Opal, she likes to be 'in charge' and will often challenge her rider [at age of 26~ish].
She is competitive and will do anything asked of her ~~ as long as it is reasonable in a mule's eyes and not dangerous.

Timid mule. Wow. Don't have one!

Babysitters. We had two of these and in some instances Badger can fall into this group.
He has a cool head and rarely gets flustered in any situation. Babysitters are rarely according to the article, good animals for showing or competing.
But. They are awesome animals because of their consistent behavior and good thinking.
However I have two mules that fall into the Dominant AND Babysitter category.
How can that be?
Well, I can only say that these mules understand the level of rider that they have on their back.
A novice?
They will behave as 'sitters'.
My husband or I?
They behave as Dominant, Competitive Mules.

[What can I say? Mules are incredibly perceptive!]

Silly. Well, I don't think we have any of those...but yet again, Badger likes to be silly, not spook - silly but playful sometimes, as well as Fred and Opal our Dominant, Competitive, Babysitter Mules.

Stubborn.
Well there you have it.
A mule falls into this category because they never see the reasoning of dangerous behavior from the rider
nor
do they like to do things that they don't understand or comprehend.
They are considered sometimes to be slow learners but that is because they need to be convinced that they need to learn that particular task.
Not because they are slow.

So when I go out to ride later,
I'll pick out a Stubborn Dominant Babysitter Silly Mule and enjoy the multi faceted mount that I am riding!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Personality of Mules


..and other equine of course.

Last night I brought Siera out for grooming and a roach job.
I've been her 'handler' since she came to our place.

She has a gentle nature about her. A soft touch generally gets the job done.
She likes soft voices and soft hands.

AND she definitely has a people preference.

Hubby decided to rasp her hooves a bit after we'd roached her and clipped her ears.
When he approached and picked up a hoof, her ears dropped flat to her head and her eyes grew wide.

When he set her foot down and stepped away, her ears tipped forward and she softened in the face.
Interesting.

My hubby rode her this spring [I'd ridden her all last summer] and 'got after' her pretty intensely for some refusals in the woods. She didn't want to cross the creek or step into a mucky sucky area.
Now she needed to get 'over' this, but the hollering at her [from topside] probably didn't help a whole lot.

Now she is showing a real preference.
When I walk out past the pasture, she trots up to the catch pen.
When hubby walks out, she moves to the far end of the winter pasture.

She is a wonderful ride. She locks up for a spook. She 'wants' to please you.
But she has formed an opinion regarding her 'people'.

If I am 'reading' this mule correctly, a bit of coaxing, and not force will get you a whole lot more out of her.
She is tender hearted.

We have other mules, who could absolutely care less.
Interesting isn't it?

Eating from the land



Last night, I served some wonderful veggies to go along with our pork chops.

I mixed 'weeds' that I'd picked from around the pasture with wild asparagus. Talk about heavens delight!

Yesterday for a 'brunch' we had morel mushrooms with our own fresh eggs.

I don't hardly think it can get any better than that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Accidents...







2.5" of rain fell on our valley last night.
Lightening flashed, Thunder roared, the rain pounded the roof...
and we slept soundly.

When I awoke, I looked out the window and saw a small stream of muddy water flowing through the pasture.

Like a child, I was delighted.
This meant that I could venture into the woods and down to the creek to splash in mild flood waters.

About noon a thick fog rolled in hiding the tree tops. I decided to make my run to town to do errands [and visit the library] later when the gloomy stuff lifted.
I donned my rubber chore boots, grabbed my camera, .22 pistol, and Morris. I slid my camouflage raincoat [$2.00 Garage sale special] on and off we went.

We went on the pretense of checking the electric fence that runs above the creek. Once we neared the fence though, I could here the splash of water.
Morris and I detoured from 'fence checking' and went through the thick underbrush and slid down a muddy deer trail.

It was delightful, it was heaven to splash in the water and explore.

At one point, while I was trying to lean against a rock and photograph the run off...I thought to myself...

*Self, you should put that lens cap in a safe spot or you will drop it in the creek.*

I dropped it.
Into the muddy brown waters.

I cursed.
I splashed around wildly [holding the Nikon ever so carefully].
Guess what?
They float!

I cleaned it off the best I could and stuck it in my pocket for safe keeping.
After I was sure that it was dry, I popped it over the lens and continued our little adventure.

We came across the following tree~whose roots fascinate me.
I popped off the cover and went to shoot...
it was fogged up.

Here was the Happy Accident...I shot the picture anyway:
I couldn't have done it better if I'd actually tried.

I won't tell you about squatting to take a photo and ending up sitting in the creek...that should be saved for another time.

Take a Walk in Imagination...




Yesterday was gloomy and overcast, threatening rain.

I grabbed a raincoat and asked Morris if he would like to take a walk.

He never refuses.

And we went, wandering in the forest.
We 'jumped' up a doe.


We followed a deer trail, up
down
around
the hillside.

Morris ran, delighted to be out.
He jumped on logs and ran to their ends, leaping off...

It was quite nice and comforting to have him along.
Morris never puts demands on me other than an inquisitive look once in a while.

He never says 'it looks like rain, we shouldn't be out!'
He never complains.
He rarely gets tired.
[although, I expect when he is much older, he will slow down]

At one point he jumped on a stump and growled, peering into the forest.

I couldn't see what it was he 'was seeing'.
But I did appreciate the 'heads up.'

I imagine he 'saw' something!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pretty Picture

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Mother's Day Wish

A Mom stood on the edge of the woods of her farm on Mother's Day and watched the sun slowly fall into the western horizon.

She thought about Mom's past and present.
About her Grandmother[s]
Mother-in-Law[s]
&
her Mom.

...the long list of people who's names ended for her in --mom, or mother, or --ma.

She smiled to herself and nodded slightly as she thought of the well wishes that had come to her from her 'daughter'.
She smiled when she thought of her two sons.


She smiled at the thought of she herself now having the titles of honor...
Mom
Grandma
Mother in Law
Step mom

Titles that had huge meaning and responsibilities that went along with them.

Then she hugged her arms around her tightly ...
and whispered into the night air...

'Happy Mother's Day to Me'

...thank you Ed

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wind

The temperature outside on the thermometer reads 66 degrees.

The winds are gusting at 50 mph and sustaining at 25-30!
If it isn't nailed down, it will be gone.

There is an advisory from the NOAA that warns about being gusted off the road...or flying lawn furniture and other debris.

The electric fence is ponging and swaying. Mules and horses are laying down to get out of the winds.

When things calm down tonight, it looks like I'll have to take a perimeter walk and make sure no trees or heavy limbs came down on our fence.

I am not on the ridge top where it is much worse.

So it looks like a good day to freeze the morel mushrooms from yesterday and read a book, safe and sound inside my house!
"THESE WINDS WILL MAKE DRIVING ON
NORTH-SOUTH ROADS DIFFICULT...
BLOW
LOOSE ITEMS LIKE LAWN CHAIRS
AND GARBAGE CANS AROUND AND CAN BREAK

BRANCHES OFF WEAKENED OR
UNHEALTHY TREES.
"

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Snowy River Ride





We decided to leave earlier in the day to go riding because the winds were to pick up and gust up to 40 mph later in the day.

I grabbed Sunshine who has been absolutely perfect the last two times out [solo]. She was an eager beaver and full of energy. Hubby rode Opal, the mule who has a purpose in life...and that is to walk fast, very fast.

We ended up in the 'back valley' where I found some shriveled morels. The ground was incredibly dry.
I tied Sunshine up to a tree and wandered back and forth under several downed trees. It was HOT. I grabbed a water bottle out of the home-made saddle bags and shared with hubby.

He found a great big bag of mushrooms.
I guess that is okay.
I'm really along for the fun of the ride anyway right?

We decided to head back along the valley, on a narrow deer path. As is normal, I followed with Sunshine.
Opal stepped into the creek and I began to follow.

Sunshine and Opal had been a bit 'unnerved' on this particular stretch of valley, perhaps it was the wind picking up above us in the trees.
Perhaps it was the heat.
[Perhaps it was the Black Bear, or a Feral Pig?]
Perhaps it was nothing at all.

The next thing I knew, I felt Sunshine BOLT. I shouted so Rich would know we were having a problem.
I knew we couldn't pass Rich and Opal.
There was no room. A forked tree was on its side across the creek.

Sunshine had decided to jump through the fork.
Let me tell you.

I recall ducking.
I recall wondering if my arse was going to stay in the saddle.
I recall grabbing the left rein and pulling her to the left.

Did you know that a one rein stop has no effect on a mule who has no intention of stopping from fright?
I recall cursing a blue streak.
I recall flying through berry briers and prickly ash.
I recall getting her head pointed into a pile of multi flora rose and busted tree tops.

She stopped.
Shaking.
Both of us.

Hubby rode up slowly, he'd had his hands full holding Opal back when we went busting by her...

No harm done.
But I had realized that I should have listened to Rich and put the caveson on Sunshine.

One more thing.
Animals are animals.
This was incredibly out of character for this mule, never in 8 yrs of riding has she done this.
...and when this happens?
There is no time to think.
Only react.

You know what?
I had a good day.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Queen of the Molly Mules




Dynah~

She is the Queen of the Molly Mules.
Just ask her.

No one, NO ONE can take her spot at the bale feeder.
She will only bow out to one of the mares.
Not because she has to, mind you, but because
she
wants
to.

After 11 months here, she will now let me catch her with a halter and lead rope. She likes a scratching and brushing.
She works in the round pen [more of that this summer along with saddling!]

She runs and plays with her pasture mates.
But she alone can clear off the feeder and move everyone over so she can have a drink at the stock tank.

Hail to the Queen.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I am King of the Yard! by Morris






Make No doubt about it. I am King of the Yard.

I lay nobly in the fresh cut green grass and gaze out over my little Kingdom, knowing each tree has been christened by me personally.

It is tough work.
I have to survey the Yard constantly and make sure that HE and SHE park their vehicles in the proper place.

I go on high alert if HE starts the skid steer because perhaps HE will offer me a ride, or leave it parked where I can climb up into it and sit.

All this work can become very tiring for a small dog like me.


...and sometimes I fall asleep...

...and dream about running around the meadow....

...and Life is Good for

the King of the Yard.