Thursday, March 31, 2011

Badger's Big Heart

I went in the garage and noticed Badger's headstall hanging from where I'd left it in December. I picked it up and stepped outside with it and headed towards the horsetrailer to put it away on its hook.

Badger picked his head up and suddenly was alert. His ears popped upright and he stretched tall...and let out a big ol' bray. He walked over to the paddock gate and stood.

I looked at my husband with a raised eyebrow. As if to say, *Did you see that?*
My husband said, *That mule is bored, he wants a job to do.* He nodded at the bridle.
*Give him a job, obviously he wants you to take him for a little ride, just make it easy. Trust me, he will enjoy it.*

Badger's breathing has not gotten better nor much worse. He still breathes hard at rest. But it was terribly obvious that he wanted out of the paddock.

I saddled him while Morris ran around under him.

He accepted the bridle without fuss [shhh, don't tell anyone that Badger sometimes can be a butthead about accepting the bridle].

I mounted and we took a short slow ride through around the hillside. When Badger needed to rest I let him rest. He picked the pace, which was slow [a bit slower than Badger's normal slow]. He was alert and seemed to enjoy himself.

He even dropped his head down for Morris and Morris stuffed his nose into Badger's ear and gave it a lick.
What an odd couple.

On the road he picked up the pace as the footing was better. We got the mail and then headed home.

After I returned him to the paddock he spent the day alert and watching for me while I did chores around the yard.

Hubby was right, Badger still wishes to do a 'job'.

...and as long as he can tolerate gentle exercise, well, we will just have to make sure I can accommodate this mule's wishes.

[looks like soon Badger will have to get his spring haircut, as most of our mules will!]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Restless the woods call me...and I think I'll go.
Badger, me, Morris.

Perhaps we can find the skunk cabbage?
Badger looks lonely, Cheyanne looks tired...
Morris looks eager as always.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I've become a Dexter Cattle Baron-ness?

[Pygmy Acres~Anne]

How did that happen?

Well 'someone' had the idea that we should get some cattle to graze our land and change the taxation base from recreational to pastureland.

Even though we've pastured donkeys, mules, and horses on the land for the past 15 or so years, equine is not recognized in the State of Wisconsin as Livestock for Tax purposes.
But, you do have to register your farm if you have one Equine, or even one chicken as 'Livestock Premises'.

Go figure.

So my husband found this neat little breed of cattle called Dexter Cattle.

Dexters are the smallest British breed of cattle and are established as a dual purpose breed with the average weight of cow being some 350kgs and standing approx 36" to 42" at the shoulder.

The breed comes in three colors, predominately black, but also in red and dun. Being a mountain breed they are extremely hardy and can live outside all year round. Their size and versatility makes them an ideal smallholders cow."

I'd truthfully never heard of them and thought ... no way!

They were awaiting me today when I came home from work.
I helped hubby unload 6 of them from our horse trailer and into a pen we'd made for their acclimation to our place.
OH Damn, are they ever cute!
These are yearlings behind my husband, playing "butt-head".

It took me but a few minutes to absolutely fall in love with them.
There is 'Chuck' currently a bully boy, but soon to be a Steer:
Then there is T-Bone a yearling bull, soon to be a Steer:

He has such a great 'do'!
Oh my...then there was...
um, well...
we found her registration papers...
she's the most contrary little Dexter out there...her... um, name is...

Oh yeah. But I think she's darned cute!
So now we have become Cattle Barons.

I have to reluctantly admit that my hubby had a very good and wonderful idea when he decided to get these little bovines.

More about these fun little creatures later...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Incendia a Freeware Fractal Generator

This is something like you have never seen before, I found this free fractal program while browsing Fractal Groups at Flickr.

I emailed a person who'd made a creation with Incendia and asked how they liked it. They enjoyed it and found it easier than Apophysis 7X.

I do enjoy Apophysis 7X and have spent great quantities of time getting familiar with it. So I thought I'd take a look at Incendia.
The program eats up huge amounts of memory on your computer and I have a fairly fast one [well...I did when it was new 18 months ago!].

Incendia has a fairly good help page and instructions at IncendiaWiki.
But like any program there is a learning curve.

After creating an Apophysis Flame in 7X, and a fractal in Incendia, I took both elements and combined them in Photoshop 7.0.
Apop 7X Flame:
Incendia Fractal:

I mirrored the Incendia 3D fractal and used an Apop 7X flame for the backround.

The result to me, was simply stunning and quite fun.
Give Incendia a try, I only heard about it by mistake.
Don't let this beauty pass you by if you like 3D fractals.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rainy Day Blues

Yesterday the wind howled, the rain and sleet came down.
The day was gray.

..and I wished I were waterproof and freeze-proof.
The trees had ice hanging from their branches and the temperatures dropped quickly turning the world into ice.

I wanted to get out in the woods and walk and look at the spring run off. But I guess that wasn't in the cards.

Besides, I decided to dive into some creativity and see what I could do by following some tutorials about Photoshop online.
Interestingly enough, I learned quite a bit.

I used Apophysis 7X and came up with a 'blues' fractal.
Then I went further and tried to follow an Apophysis tutorial and got side tracked into creating another piece of 'artwork'. Some call it Virtual Artwork.
I'm not sure what to call it except that the colors intrigued me as well as working with the fractal editor.
I used a photo that I'd taken of Morris this summer and decided to give it an other-wordly sort of look.

Many layers later I came up with the creation at the top of this blog post.
I'm not sure that the piece is done yet, but I'm leaving it for the moment.

This morning the sun is shining and I'm headed back out to the Forest and the Creek. I expect to find some interesting ice formations.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rain Moon Thunder Skies

March is a month of contrasts.
Last night it began with high winds and sleet which turned into a heavy down pour of rain that was sustained for hours.
By 8am the rain lightened up enough for me to get off shift and head towards home.

I could see the water ponding on top of ice in the ditches, in other places it was running so hard that it had created areas of foam.

This is what the forecasters had feared for our area. Over night the Mississippi River had risen a foot, with this heavy rain combined with snowmelt and runoff, many low laying areas became instantly under 'flood watch' by the NOAA.

No~my place is not in any danger at all. The creek will run hard and wash away this winter's debris ... Mother Nature's way of cleaning house for Spring.

At 11AM a thunderstorm moved through our area with heavy lightening and thunder. The first of the year.

The wind and rain have quieted this evening and dense fog is arising from the snowpack that is left.
In two days we are supposed to have snow and sleet.

However, we did have some rather pleasant days so far and this is the 'mud season' around our farm.
The skies have been prettier and the moon 'fuller'.

I watched with joy as the Robins began to pull earthworms out of the ground. I saw a bluebird, a redwing black bird, and the surrounding woods were full of birdsong while I did chores this evening.

Welcome Spring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


With all that has been happening in the world this past year I felt it appropriate to post only this today...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Ice Falls

The month of March creates an uneasiness in me.
A sort of a wanderlust feeling.
The days grow warmer and longer.

I feel like the weather ought to snap into full blown Spring.

I am impatient.
I can be really impatient with other people at this time of year.

I am however patient with animals [and generally kids].

The woods call to me, the hills, hidden caves, water, ice, mud, and snow.
It is all very fascinating.
...and I feel comfortable in that environment.

I think if I could, I'd stay in the woods until dark. But if I don't come back in a reasonable time frame ...
someone gets worried that I'm injured or lost.
Do I look lost?
Nope, I felt great.
I felt like a pioneer.
...and I knew that I was the only human within a 1 mile radius.

...and I knew that I was seeing some of nature's most spectacular displays of art and beauty~~

The Ice Falls.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Ice Cave

Do I look happy? I actually am.

Really I am not scowling, but I am squinting and looking into the sun.

I'd just completed one of my annual hikes with a difficulty rating of ... well let's just say it was not easy.

The climbing down the slippery ravine...or should I say, grasping at any damn thing I could to keep from falling...with a backpack of two DSLR's and a tripod, .410 shotgun...and yummy snacks...was pretty amusing in itself.
Once I got to the ravine bottom, I realized that I was on snowpack. Well the snowpack was soft and in places my foot would go down to the 'great beyond' ... somewhere up to my thigh.

Rocks, boulders, and logs were under me. Yep, I do know I should be careful and not break anything.
But dang this is such a sight to see.
Worth the risk.
Worth the arduous hike.

March makes me uneasy. It gets warm enough during the day so that I can wear light clothes instead of coveralls.
The nights are below freezing so mud turns to rutted patterns.

The sun is warm during the day.
My body is trying to make an adjustment between winter and spring.
It isn't sure of what it is supposed to do.

I want to hike.
The northern hillsides are still covered in knee deep snow and ice.
The southern hillsides are muddy and brown.

From the weather pattern I figure that the melting and the freezing at night has created a fantastic view at the 'ice cave'. If I go and make the effort I will be pleased.

The Ice Cave or Ice Falls does not disappoint.
It is probably the most incredible display of water and ice that I've seen in a very long time.

I could climb [if that's what you call slipping and sliding...grabbing at any damned thing to keep you from free fall...] into it every day and listen and watch.

That is it for today. The snow melt is starting in earnest.
As I returned from the hidden valley this afternoon I noticed that the creek had changed.
No longer was it running crystal was clouded by run off from the ridges above.

March is an exciting month.
I love it.

The Great Laudry Experiment Failure ~ Sigh

The dryer belt broke in December, in fact it broke in the beginning of December.

I tried hanging out 'his' towels and jeans so they'd be stiff and scratchy.

The other day he asked if I wanted to remove everything from the shelves surrounding the dryer [it is an apartment dryer and is in a storage area]. This is a major task and it means a mess.
If he didn't immediately get the part and repair it on the spot, it could be...
let's say a month or so of walking around the dryer in the kitchen while he considered his options.

Besides the day was nice out.

I...well, I am getting used to the fine art of winter laundry drying.
Besides, perhaps I've saved tons of $ in electricity.
Perhaps I've contributed to the global health of the world's climate.

Perhaps after so many months of not using the dryer ... I'm looking at it as a tool that isn't really a necessity.

But then there is this.
If someone stops by to visit on laundry day, they most likely will see the type of underwear I use or socks that should be 'whiter' or...old t-shirts...or my bedsheets.

Nah. That doesn't embarrass me at all. The occasional bird dropping a prize on my clothes while flying over the line does tick me off in the summer though.

So for right now, I still hang the laundry in the morning when frost is heavy on the ground, and watch the weather to make sure the clothes are not going to be double rinsed with rain water.

I'm still undecided about the dryer.
I've gone so long without it, do I really need it?

Perhaps,...if I ever get the house remodeled....but THAT is another story.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sunshine and Sunset

I fully intended on taking Siera out for a short 'first' ride of Spring, but lo and behold, it was Sunshine who came to the gate and stood with quiet expectant eyes.

I'd been brushing the mules in the 'pen' for a few days now, so I suppose she was expecting a grooming.
She volunteered and seemed a bit surprised that I saddled her up also.
Our last ride had been August 23 of last year. [Sunshine in August]
Badger came to the gate of his pen and gave me a look of sadness and brayed softly, then stood quietly watching. [Yes, this ritual of the March ride has always fallen to him...]

Note: We don't usually trim the mane's off until the weather settles into a milder pattern. Usually by April everyone gets a nice tidy trim.
Sunshine is Badger's little half sister out of my first owned horse Cheyanne who by the way is still creaking along despite the predictions by the veterinarian.

Sunshine was a bit apprehensive about walking off away from the farm as she has been with the herd all winter long.
We dipped into the woods and when she bellied up [seriously...snow up to her belly~~she is 13.5 hands] in a snow drift ...she merely sighed and refused to go further into the snow.
Smart mule.
Smarter than me of course.

We rode up to the ridge and sat quietly and watched the sunset through the trees, then rode home.

Short ride, but enough to make me feel good inside.

For those curious about her bridle, she normally rides with a snaffle. The bit she is wearing could be harsh in harsh hands. But when riding solo, you do need brakes and she doesn't have brakes in a snaffle during a dash through the woods.
A quick lift of the reins and a whoa with this and we avoid run ins with trees.
99% of the time she is an angel.
There is no circle or emergency one rein stop on a 10% grade hill with rocks and trees.

Anyway we had a wonderful quiet evening.
I hope Siera will come on Wednesday evening. If not, Sunshine and I'll go for another Sunset Ride.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness

I hear the expression "March Madness" each year.
It really refers to the men's NCAA basketball tournament.

I think they are very wrong.
It should refer to March weather.

In the day time temps can rise to the 40's and 50's or perhaps even higher.
It can snow six inches one day and melt off the next.

The winds can howl up to 50 mph, blowing anything that is not tacked down to another county.
The next morning you awaken to an incredibly beautiful morning of fog and hoar frost.
[Beautiful if you are not driving in it.]

It is the mud season.
Chores have to be done before it gets warm out as any bare spot exposed to the sun will instantly turn into a muddy quagmire that can suck your chore boots right off your feet.
If you are using a tractor or skid steer when the ground goes soft, you may just have to leave it there until it dries out or freezes.

This is the time of year that the 'boot bucket' emerges in front of our house.
Feet are rinsed before they come in the back door.

You get the urge to clean the entry way rugs, then think better of it and just shake the mud off them and put them back.
It is March Madness after all.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Morris on Dating

I'm really just a dog you know.

SHE called it a play date.

A friend brought her little Corgi over again and this time we went to the creek. Daisy brought her human person on a leash.

As I romped around her in circles through the snow and the mud, she told me in hushed tones, that she had to keep her human on a leash...she was afraid her human could get lost in the woods.

I contemplated that for almost a second and replied that my human, Val...otherwise know as SHE, was pretty good in these woods and never got lost.

Val at one point reached over and unhooked Daisy from her little harness. Daisy's human nearly had a conniption fit and Daisy quickly ran back to her to comfort her. Daisy's human said that Daisy didn't know well enough to come when she was called.

[Daisy said that she didn't always
*want* to come when called and there really was a huge difference, humans just didn't get it.] But she allowed her human to hook her back up.
She said that she could keep better track of her human better this way.

I ran down the trail to the creek and came charging back, trying to impress Daisy and her human at how good I was about sticking around and NOT running off.
Come to think of it. I've never ever run off.
Not. Once.

Daisy said I wasn't a real true blue dog if I'd never run off on my human. I simply said that SHE carries a pistol, that was enough for me.

[ Truly, SHE would never harm me, just make sure coyotes and 'possum never harmed me.]

I related this to Daisy and she simply put her nose up in the air.
I told her she was stuck up and ran around in circles again.

We finally hit the creek bottom and boy were the scents ever fantastic!
Daisy and I agreed that since we were having fun we would no longer argue. We just enjoyed each others company and let our humans do this thing called *girl talk*.

Daisy was amazed at the creek. She'd never been in one before.
On our way back to the farm we decided to play tag. Daisy circled the humans, Val was holding the leash and spun with her.

As we walked our humans passed the donkeys and to the house, Daisy heard her human mention 'bath'.
I cringed.
I know what a 'bath' is.

Any good Jack Russell never takes a bath, well....

at least NOT in front of a Corgi.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Night Mare

When I was a child I heard the 'adults' talking about 'someone' whose child had had a Night Mare.

What a mystery that was to me. They made it sound terribly awful.

I knew better.
A Night Mare was simply a magical horse who appeared when you where very tired and on the edge of sleep.
She knocked at your window and offered to take you on a ride.
You only needed to hang onto her black silken mane and lean close as she whispered wonderful secrets and showed you the moon and the stars.
Of course she flew with the night sky and a child's dreams of wonder.

...and always brought you somehow, softly back to awaken with your head on your pillow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Equine COPD, does anyone really know?

From the site: COPD in Equine

*Most often caused by allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a long-term, non-contagious disease that can cause severe respiratory difficulty and distress in older horses. Severely affected horses can suffer "asthmatic attacks" caused by the severe inflammation of the airways in the lungs. The disease typically worsens with age, as the horse's lungs begin to develop chronic and abnormal changes of the airways, which worsen over time with continued exposure to the offending allergens.

The cause of COPD is usually an underlying allergic response to one or many allergens in the environment. These allergens may include hay, dust, molds, feeds, straw, pollens, and trees.*

From Recovery EQ:

*Corticosteroids (prednisone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone)
These help decrease smooth muscle contraction and reduce mucus production. They suppress inflammation, providing the horse with fairly quick relief. Corticosteroids can be administered by mouth, by injection, or by inhalation. When administered by mouth or by injection, therapy usually begins with a high dose and, as is reduced to a maintenance level as the horse improves. Inhaled steroids provide a high dose within the airways and minimal systemic side effects but a special mask is necessary for administration.

While corticosteroids are helpful in the short-term, those with potent anti-inflammatory effects are also more likely to cause problems, particularly cardiovascular, immune and wound healing ability problems, when used for long-term therapy. Corticosteroids may be given in oral form or through an inhaler.*


You can search the internet until you are blue in the face. You can ask questions vets and other horse people and the answer is the same.

*We don't know.*

There is much to be said about treatment and homeopathic remedies. But COPD is chronic, it does not get better, it does not go away. It does not resolve. It only truthfully gets worse as each 'asthma' attack does more scarring to the lungs and more damage.

Doctors and advisers say, move him into a pasture. Others say if the animal is allergic to pollens in the pasture, put the animal in a stall.

No where does anyone have an article on what to expect as the animal reaches 'end stage'. Rarely does anyone mention that the respiration rate should never be higher than that of the pulse rate. No mention of what to expect [other than call the veterinarian] if this happens.

Currently Badger's Heart Rate is running about 35-40 BPM. His respiration's with or without meds fluctuate from 25/minute to 60/ minute on a bad day.

My heart rendering conclusion is that no one can tell me what to expect. So I will keep details for other folks out there with an equine that may be this sick.

From November to December Badger was fairly normal. No dusts, no molds, moderate to cool temps.

In the spring with rapid temperature changes and the onset of pollens and dust, he does much worse. This with or without medical therapy. Heat and humidity are especially hard on him at times his respiration goes above his heart rate.

In short. Eventually Badger will begin to suffocate.

This is probably the hardest thing for me to admit out loud. No one else seems to want to say this awful bald truth, except perhaps our veterinarian. Badger will eventually and possibly soon have another 'asthma' attack in which he will not be able to survive.

Right now he has been moved to an area within sight of the kitchen table window. He is getting extremely clean dust free hay. He is outside where there is no dust. Yet daily he has bouts of difficulty.

I curry him daily, check his vitals and watch him carefully.

Last night I finally broke down and cried. It is true. I have lost my equine-soul partner to a progressive disease that I am helpless to control at this point. I will not let him suffocate and die a horrible death. I feel as though I am on a death watch.

Link to when we first discovered that Badger had Equine COPD, ROA, or Heaves:

Badger, is it Heaves or Equine COPD? March 2010

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Apophysis 7X ~ Review of a Fractal Renderer

I've spoken before about Fractals and different freeware programs. I've had great luck with them and have used a program called Apophysis for quite a few years. Unfortunately, due to my lack of skills or frustration levels, I never could seem to do much with them except make interesting patterns.

So I decided to try a combination of both a fractal made by Apophysis 7X and some simple backround filters that work in any Adobe Photoshop program with a Flaming Pear Flood plugin.

Oh I couldn't resist making it a bit complicated you know.

Opened a blank canvas in Elements.
[black and white for backround]
Filter>Pixelate>Mazzotint>Short Strokes

Filter>Blur>Radial Blur>Zoom
copy layer
Filter>Distort>Twist [in the opposite direction]

Choose colors for each layer.

Drop in a fractal from Apophysis 7X

Edit colors as you wish.

Filter>Flaming Pear>Flood

Flaming Pear is not free, but there are other freeware programs and Adobe Filters that can imitate this.

Other quick graphic edits:
Bubble Fractal

Fire Fly Dance:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I'm ready for Spring

I really do like winter and have enjoyed it very much this year.

However it is now March and I am ready for a warming trend, not this Winter Storm Watch 'stuff' that is being shown on the NOAA.

I want to be able to hike the woods and not walk on snow pack or fall through the snow pack...or slide down a ravine because of the ice under the snow.

[That was quite a ride! Morris was amused, I was not. But no harm was done!]

The mules and horses are starting to lose their winter coats. Although it can't be due to the increased amount of sunshine, because our days have seemed to be mainly dreary.

I'm actually quite anxious to get out and get some riding done. I always promise myself that I'll do more winter riding.
...and each winter it seems that the cold and the ice keep me from riding.

Time to get out and get moving.
I wonder what cool things await us in the Forest today.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Dreary Days = Fun in Photoshop

First there was a 'need' to 'create' something wild and crazy. I had a comment on this creation that it was nicely thought out or something to that effect.
In truth?

I just started playing around with brushes and fractals, moving the layers, adding something, deleting it, trying 'this' look and 'that' look.

I used the crack brush, a smashing brush [deleted it], stars, different odd lighting and a nebulae backround that didn't come through right because I mistakenly moved that layer below another layer and added a black canvas size. To my surprise, I felt it just looked right and quit.
Then later on that evening, I decided that it had been way too long since I'd done something called OOB or Out of Bounds. Tutorial here OOB Tutorial on Flickr.

I thought it would be fun to have Morris in on that and that he and the stream appear to be coming out of the frame.
I enjoyed it.
I'm looking forward to trying to create something newer now.
Of course great ideas come while you are driving to work or trying to get to sleep.

I'll have to do a review of Apophysis 7X. Right now I'm still exploring it. I find it much more intriguing than the previous form of Apophysis. Although I'm not ready to give that program up yet.

On another note. Those who follow along who want to know how my mule is doing. He has been holding his own, he is being weaned off the steriods and seems to be comfortable.

The jury is out on his riding capabilities, but he will go on mild easy slow rides if he is able to. After all he must stay exercised.

Dish Faeries, where did they go?

Not your run of the mill Forest Faerie and Nymphs, they are hibernating because it is so cold out, awaiting the warm sun and spring.

I'm talking about the Dish Fairies.

You know, the ones that come in while you are not looking and wash that grungy stack of dishes that your hubby left while you were at work. [or in my case ~ was gone for 4 days]

...and speaking of the Dish Faerie, ...

who in the heck is holding the Window Washing Faerie hostage? HMMM?
She was supposed to do my windows this winter sometime, I know this.

Sigh, at least the one that does the laundry is not a mystery to me. I look in the mirror and find her...

Alas yes, the Faerie that should come and fix the dryer must have also gotten kidnapped or very lost.

I wonder if I spread Faerie dust around the house and put out Faerie treats, will they come?

You think?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Free Photoshop, Elements Brushes

What on earth can you do with brushes? They are just that itty bitty tool hanging out on the left
side of your Elements or Photoshop screen...



This creation done with only gradients and brushes, and some PS filters.
Approximately 15 layers of messing around.

Most of the brushes came from Obsidian Dawn.
Quite the cool brushes if you ask me.

Even better yet?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Mule Asthma Attack Again?


Yesterday was an extremely bad day. He had a sever asthma attack.
I went to where he stood and he was wheezing, respiration 60+.

Administered Albuterol oral.
Began a steriod treatment like last March.

Moved him closer to the house.

I talked with Badger.
He told me many things.
[you don't have to believe if you don't want...but he did]
My world shook for a while, but I do know at some point he will not survive another attack and he wishes me to be there for him.

Went for a walk and screamed at the woods telling Mother Nature it was just un-freakin' fair.
Sat down and tried to cry.

So I hiked and took beautiful shots to remind me that this world is indeed beautiful.

Now for the pleasant.
Strider's eye:

Westby Church, I've never shot an HDR of a church before:

This morning Badger is doing well. He as acclimated to being with Sundance and Eddie in our pen close to the house.