Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tying Up rare in Mules

Exertional rhabdomyolysis also known as tying up is a terrifying experience for any equine owner.

You may not recognize the symptoms.
We certainly didn't and neither did the veterinarian that came out the other night.

I came home an Siera was laying down.  I went to get her out of her day pen and she didn't want to get up.
When she did her back legs were tucked under her and her hind quarters were shaking and trembling.

She walked as if both back legs were lame.  
I noticed that she hadn't pooped all day so though...Colic!

She'd had food and water but kept bashing her bucket around while having her hissy fit from being seperated.
Normally when we do this, I am home and when she gets upset, I take her for a walk or tie her up and groom her.

But I was at work.

The vet came and took her CRT.  4 seconds for capillary refill.  Heart Rate of 100.  She was in major distress and pain.
Her hydration was fine yet we all concentrated on the pain and thought it was colic too.  When he arrived she had no gut noises which is a terrible thing for any equine.

After a shot of Rompun, and Banamine ... and an enema ... she passed manure but was still in extreme pain.  We tried walking her.  Doc and hubby watched me walk her around, she was acting as if she was starved so I just stopped and let her graze.

Suddenly she just laid down and began to graze quietly in the yard.  The sweat in her coat started to dry up and she seemed content.
We left her like that.
The Doc was amazed as her CRT dropped to 2 seconds and her heart rate returned to 40.  
Soon Siera stopped and began to doze.

A light went of in the Doc's head and he said, "She's acting as if she is 'Tying Up'!"

He looked at me and looked at Siera.  "In her condition," he said, "that would make sense if she was carrying on all day.  This would be more exercise than she could take."
Yes.  Siera was FAT.  Normally I start riding her in the spring and control her weight.  Not this year though.

Doc wanted Siera to be able to lay down for no more than 2 hrs at a time.  Part of the night I lay on her while she was resting.  The night was cold and I used her as a heater and a pillow.

Siera survived.  She is making a miraculous recovery.  She will get about 2 weeks of rest and mild walking aside from what she is doing in the paddock.  Her muscles in her back quarters took a beating the other night.  Think of a Major Charlie Horse and you'll probably know what she was going through.

I'm hoping that no permanent damage was done to her muscles and that we can prevent this from ever happening again.

I've searched several sites and have found no incidences of mules tying up.  But her symptoms were classic for it. 

She's fine today and acting as if nothing occurred the other night.  However she is back to her Siera-self.  She sees me and knickers.  She follows me like she is a puppy.
I really do like this odd mule who seems to think the world of me.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Siera is back ...

Well she never went anywhere, but I haven't been able to ride her yet this year.

She's been out on summer pasture and I guess it shows!  Look how chubby she is!

I normally have to seperate her each year from her buddies.  As a mule she falls in love and can't stand being away from them.

So each year, I put her in a seperation pen and let her have a fit for a day or so.  This means she paws and paces and stomps her feet.
She tosses her head and makes silly attempts at almost bucking...

In the end, she gets her act together and calms down.

Then we go to work.

I have to get her back in shape and ready for some more work.  
She is a fantastic Peruvian Paso mule and has a good head on her shoulders.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why do you pick wild black berries?

Good question.
The job can be hot
and sometimes disappointing.

But you get to be out in the woods.
You get to listen to the birds sing.
You get to see wildlife and other odd things.

As I was picking and swatting at gnats [I fooled them by putting on a head net!] I started to think about how we did it when we were kids.

Oh how much I hated getting up before dawn [was it really that early?] and trudging with Grandma through the dew dampened woods.
I can't recall if we walked or hiked to the spot, but probably not.  I'll bet mom drove us there to save time.  I can remember picking and getting wet.  I recall the berry briars sticking to me and grabbing my shirt and scratching my arms and hands.

I'm sure there were bugs and skeeters and I think we smelled like OFF and wore bandanas tied over our heads and ears.

However the past few days of berry picking have been different as an adult.  I haven't gotten up before sunrise. 
Gone is the lard pail and twine that is replaced by an ice cream bucket with a hole in it just big enough to drop berries into.
I still wear the bandana over my ears and sometimes use a head net to ward off the bugs.

But it is on my terms and there is no hurry.  Yesterday I hiked through some rather thick and over grown woods to get to an area where I thought the picking would be great.

As I slowly wandered up the old hill road, I would find  5 to 10 berries on a bush.  I picked only the shiny ones.  I left the over ripe and slightly under ripe ones alone.  I am a picky picker.  [Say that 3 times fast.]
I listened to the small waterfalls below me in the valley.  I listened to the birds.  A warbler was singing its haunting and beautiful song.  I could identify a cardinal, a wren, and mourning doves.

I thought about kids these days who can't seem to do anything without earbuds blasting music into their ears.  And then I thought what a waste it would be NOT to hear everything going on around me.
The wind picked up a few times, blowing gnats away and making the tree leaves 'sigh'.

I was concentrating on picking but also enjoying everything that was going on around me.

After hiking and picking for 2 1/2 hours, I'd come up with about a quart of red and black wild berries.
So why would someone put that much effort into picking wild berries?
Because even if I hated it as a kid.  As an adult it was a nice quiet way to spend time in the fresh air [and gnats].

And I found a rather interesting tree.
I call 'him' the Grumpy Man Tree.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dead Broke doesn't mean Dead

One of the things I like to caution people who start horse back riding is that even if you have a 'dead' broke horse, it doesn't mean that horse [or mule] will never spook or do something stupid.

You need to put hours and hours in the saddle.  You need to find your balance and reaction time.  You have to react to things in a split second when they happen.  A horse or mule can have a reaction time nearly 100 times faster than a human can.

Case in point.  Today I rode Opal.  She is 28ish years old.  She has been in parades, in shows, on hound dog trials, she has done barrel racing, and all sorts of cattle events.  She has god knows how many miles and hours of riding under her belt.  She didn't spook a couple of weeks ago when hen turkeys flew up nearly in her face.
In short, she is a broke animal.  A 'been there done that' kind of animal. 

We rode without incident solo ... to the berries where I picked and picked.  She was happy to graze while I did the work.  

On our way home we headed back up the field road.  Next to this track in the grass grows field corn.  This was the easy trail.  I saw her head pop up and tense.  Next thing I knew we were doing a half airborne 180 degree turn and she was off to the races.

I said whoa, and drew a rein to steer her left away from the fence hidden in the brush.  All I saw and heard was the thunder of a deer startled in the corn and the ass end of the thing as it bounded over the fence and was gone.  This all out of my periphial vision.

I never thought about what I was doing.  After close to 25 years of constant riding it becomes second nature to stop a runaway or a spook. 
Nice thing is we didn't spill any of the berries I had in the bucket.  That was my big concern!

Opal eyed the field corn as if it were full of hatchet wielding deer that were going to cut her heart out.  She kept an eye on the corn as we traveled back towards home.
These things happen.  It is in the nature of equine to spook at times.  A bit less for mules as they are part donkey.  But this doe blasted out of the corn 2 ft in front of us. 

The berries made it home safely and I discovered that Opal is a very good berry picking partner.  We may have to go back to the old logging road and pick and walk together.

This morning was a wonderful peaceful time.  In the woods and on the nob with Opal.  Just her and me.  You know, I never even think of that world outside when I am with an animal...riding or hiking.  It is like reality is here and now and all that outside stuff.
Is just stuff.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wow HOt!

Black Bart is doing a fine job.  He is calm and serene, and seems to put up with the 'gals' shenanigans rather well.
He is tending to his girls.  We should be expecting calves next April, if I do my math correctly.

Just a note.  The Dexter beef we've been eating is delicious.  The cattle are wonderful to have on our small farm and really do clean up pastures.
I can't wait until I have them working in the woods!

It was supposed to be cooler yesterday, but wasn't.  In the morning, I did my black berry picking up the driveway and came back with a big bunch.  Enough to freeze another pint and a half.

I ate lunch and then decided to go down to the creek and check out any bushes there.  I was disappointed so I hiked to PeeWee's knob and found myself surrounded by black berries.  I picked and picked.
I decided to check out the golden or yellow raspberry patch.
Boy was I suprised.
They were coming on like gang busters.

Morris went and laid down under an apple tree while I picked.  I'd call him every so often to make sure he hadn't wandered off.  
He was hot and not going anywhere.

After about 30 minutes of picking I quit.  The sun was beating down on us and there was no air movement in this patch.  It is hidden by thorny apple trees and huge bushes of multiflora rose.

I could feel the sweat running down my back, into my eyes, and down my pant legs.  I wanted to stay and keep picking, but felt I'd already gotten too hot.

So I grabbed the loyal Jack Russell and headed across the knob towards home.
My final take of the day put us up to about 1/2 gallon of berries frozen for this winter.

The wild grapes are in huge abundance and I am wondering if I'll be able to make grape juice and grape jelly this fall also!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Long Live Fractals

Well in between doing farm chores and some summer photography, I've been dabbling in Fractal programs again.

I like to mix my programs up and I think that some beautiful creations can be made.

One of the things I am not sure of is the perfect symmetrical flames that I've been seeing with certain programs.
Sure they are pretty but they are just that.  They don't make you go ... hmmm, or don't produce anything for the imagination.

Here is a sample of one of those fractal flames I've done.

Pretty colors but for me it is just that.  It doesn't draw the 'eye' or attention to anything but the middle of the piece.

I'd rather have something that makes you 'look' at it.  To try and figure out what is going on, if anything.

Like this:

This was created with JWildfire and Incendia.

Or this, created with Incendia, Mandelbulb 3D and photoshop...

I much prefer abstracts that 'do' something for the person looking at them.

I wonder if I am just alone in this thought or should I stick to just plain symmetrical prettiness?

My mind and heart say go the other way.  Create for fun, create for myself.

Just my thought for this evening while I render a project that I plan to mix up with some other items and make a composite image.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yesterday's Clouds

I am fascinated by clouds.  So yesterday afternoon, I headed out with my camera and decided to see if I could 'capture' a few shots of those fantastic formations.

My Grandmother used to tell me as a child...when I complained about being bored, that I should watch the clouds.  Of course, that was providing that there were clouds.
I have always found the sky interesting.
Well, of course not so interesting when it is all blue or all grey.

Different kinds of clouds make the sky worth paying attention to.

Sometimes I just like to watch the clouds and see what interesting shape they take up.

Today's duties will include picking black caps or black berries.  I never can keep them straight.
They are in abundance this year.
Keeping the gnats and misquitoes at bay are a part of the berry picking.  But I'd like to freeze some for eating this winter.
Nothing more delicious than black berries when it is below zero and snowing, right?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hot Hot Hot

Even though the day is incredibly hot and humid, ... the clouds are producing some wonderful images.

While washing the Cavalier this morning I looked up and saw this.

Hopefully this evening I can get out and get some berry picking done.
The black caps are generous this year and very delicious.

I would like to bring Opal as my bucket carrier, and she can do the walking.

I caught a great shot of her seeking grass between daisies the other evening.

My ribs are feeling better with pain management.  
Floating rib contusion and cartilage damage. 
The good news is that I should only suffer for about one more week.

But that should not keep me from picking those luscious berries!

I should also get down to the creek and enjoy some fresh cool waters!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Berry Pickin' and Mules

Oh how I love black berries, black caps...anyway.  Those beautiful black berries that ripen in the woods on or around the 4th of July.

This year they were a bit later, which has worked out quite well.

Yesterday before breakfast I was able to walk out to the edge of the woods and pick enough to go with our breakfast.

Yesterday afternoon, I took Morris and we went for a walk alongside the road.  Morris loves getting in close to the plants and picking his own berries.  Yes, he eats them!

I froze a pint and a half from that little walk.

Later on we took out Opal and Fred and decided to ride back to the yellow-golden berry patch.

Each year it is harder to get to as the multiflora rose and other plants like wild grapes begin to crowd the area out.
But we went prepared!

Here is Fred with Hubby and a couple of buckets.

Here is the stand of berries.  I think I'll need to go back and pick again later.

It is hard enough to pick these that you have to wear hiking chaps to protect your legs from the other prickly things that grow there.

For me, half the fun is getting to ride a mule to the location of the berries. 
It was a quiet pleasant ride.
And a beautiful summer evening.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Meet Black Bart

Meet Plum Creek's Black Bart.
We picked him up today from the Plum Creek Little Cattle Company.

He is to be our small herd sire for our registered Dexter cattle.

The owners told us that this bull would be quiet and docile, Black Bart did not disappoint us.

He pretty much ignored the 'girls' as they flocked around him.
I think the girls were so impressed by his good looks that they didn't know what else to do!

Black Bart was curious about his pasture neighbors.  The mules.  The mules were also curious about him.
They took a while to size each other up.

Pedro, the dun mule was more interested than any of the others.  

Soon after, they went their seperate ways and darkness fell.  Last time we looked, Black Bart was grazing and the girls were not far away...grazing also.

Country life is so much different than city life.  Of course that is obvious to most.
As we were coming home today we stopped in the road to talk to neighbors.

Everyone had to look at the 'new' bull in our trailer.  
Hay was discussed.
Weather was discussed.
The price of fuel was properly discussed.

Farming, cattle, crops, ... anything that had to do with a once over by all involved.

Notice in the photo that the road is blocked with tractors, a truck, and a trailer?
We leaned up against tires or trailers and talked farm talk for a good long while.

Not a vehicle came by.
Welcome to our neighborhood.

Where we all know each other and love to stop and talk on the road.

Life is good.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Evening Stroll with Fred

Chores were done.  Watering was done.  
I had 'caught' Opal and let her graze some in the yard after getting some grain.

Fred was nagging at the gate.
He wanted out with Opal.

I opened up the gate and let him in the pen.  I swapped him with Opal and gave him a quick once over with the curry and the brush.

Since he hadn't been ridden in a while, I tossed a saddle on him and we headed towards the ridge to watch the sunset.

He was very eager and trotted in his pony mulish way.

He spotted a large doe bounding through the neighbor's cropland.

No spook, just a watch.

We rode out and spent some time on the ridge.  I wanted to see that he hadn't lost any of his manners.  It has been about a year since I've ridden him. 
Fred was Fred.

He even stopped for a bunch of kids and let them pet him ... coo and ahhh over him.
He was rather unimpressed but took the attention quietly and without doing anything.

The kids assumed since he was a pony, that he was a 'kid' mule.  Not so. 
Not many kids could handle Fred's go-go attitude.  He is quick and responsive too.

I explained this sort of to the kids.  I may let them 'ride' him if I have him on a lead rope, but I don't send kids off on an animal, especially if they don't have experience.

Anyway Fred was the perfect ambassador.  He got to the little girls' hearts just by being Fred.

A good quiet mule is worth his/her wieght in gold.
Fred is such an animal.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Hiking in the creek is refreshing

On a hot summer day.  As pictured, I wear my Vibrams to walk in the creek.  I stay nice and cool while the heat and humidity soak up the woods.  I've had these 'shoes' now for three years and absolutely love wearing them.  That is, in case anyone was interested.

Morris and I came down through the woods and meandered along the creek.
What was our purpose?  To check fences of course and then to just wander and look at things.

We found some Self Heal growing in the woods.  This is commonly found in the pasture also.

The Elderberry bushes are beginning to blossom:

We found poison ivy [not in my woods or near the creek, but I thought I'd add it here because those who got into it last week did not recognize it and are suffering for it now.  It was located behind the mailbox and next to where they did all the work on the phone cable.]

This was hidden in with the native pink rose.

This was near the phone 'box' near the road.

Truly truly, if you live in a wooded area please be aware of these plants!

So Morris and I continued on our merry way through the creek.

He is a pretty smart little dog.  When it is hot.  He walks right in the creek instead of fighting the tall grass.  But when the creek gets too deep, he leaps to the bank and runs through the grass until he can drop back into the cooling waters.

 The grass is so tall!  He could get lost in it!

But being the 'cool' dog that he is.  He picked a shady spot and stood in it to cool off.

And then we found the dreaded Wild Parsnip.  The roots are good to eat in the early spring and late fall, this is an invasive weed.
If you break the plant while it is in blossom and get the sap on your exposed skin, and it gets exposed to sunlight, you will get a burn from it.
Not that I am going to test it out any time soon.

As a blossom, it is pretty though.

Last stop before going home was sitting in the creek on a boulder and cooling off a bit before hiking back home.
The gnats finally made it impossible to enjoy it any longer.

We had a wonderful time doing nothing but exploring.
Morris was very happy.

Morris was also very worn out when we did get home.
He napped on the couch the rest of the day.

Whatever you do, enjoy your summer days.
Remember, winter comes too soon!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Parading by Opal

It started with her calling me to come on over.  Val had the lead rope.
Sometimes the lead rope just means a grooming and brushing along with a bit of sweet feed.

And sometimes it means you get saddled up and ridden.

I guess this was the riding day.  She got me ALL gussied up.  Ribbons in my tail, a fancy necklace to wear with a brass bell, and a pretty colored blanket.

First stop was the neighborhood kids' place.  The whole family came out and that really nice girl came out and petted me on the head.  I don't let adults pet me, or get near me if I can help it.
But this girl is so nice.  I even think I like her as much as ... Val.

The other folks stood back and admired my sparkly blanket and remarked at how pretty I was.
Well isn't that nice, maybe humans aren't as terrible as I think they are.  At 28, I still don't trust strangers.

We had our photo taken by the little girl and off we went.

From what I understand, this was a Parade with only one mule.  Me.  I'd done one before with Fred.  He complained the whole time.
This one was nice as it was only me and her.

Most of the ride was pretty quiet.  We were up on the ridge where there was a nice breeze blowing and it kept the bugs away.

At the place where there is usually barking dogs that like to come out in the road an annoy you,...there were two ponies!

They came running to the fence nickering.  
"What you doing?"  
"You have a horrid human on your back!"
"What is wrong with you?"
"What is wrong with your ears!"
"They are huuumongous!"

I gave them a glance.

"My ears are for hearing better than you.  My human is not horrid or she wouldn't dress me up special to take this ride.  Besides I am NOT in a fence and you are!  I am on an adventure.
And what is wrong with your ears?  I can barely see them?"

I snorted at them and walked proudly away.  Some Ponies don't know much.

At the bottom of the hill there was a whole bunch of human people and kid people.  They all called out to Val and asked her to stop so they could come and take pictures.  Val explained that this was the 5th Annual All Mule Parade In Folsom WI.  [Yeah, one mule parade]

They got all excited and wanted to pet me.  
I gave them the stink-eye as Val explained my non-human nature.

We continued on down a steep road and into a shady lane.  Val likes this road to go down...she usually takes the valley... but this was The Parade and we headed up back to the ridge.  
Our ride would take us 6 miles and would pass about 8 houses or farms.

Notice how relaxed I am.  Flopping ears tipped back to listen to Val tell me what a pretty girl I was.  What a good mule I was.  She even reached up and rubbed my ears.  Don't tell her I liked it.

On top of the ridge I saw some horses.  They looked up at me and whinnied.  The nerve, they didn't even come to the fence and talk.  Instead they took off like the dickens.
Must have thought I was a long eared monster mule.
Silly horses.

The traffic on the roads wasn't too bad, I didn't even have to yield.

But we did see two cars on the gravel road.  Talk about eatin' dust!
Soon we got to the Folsom School.  For some reason Val likes to have a photo of the school each year.
Something to prove she was in 'Folsom' I guess.

They put a pretty new red roof on the school since last year!

Then it was down the County Road towards home.  I didn't mind the black top, it was smooth and nice and trotting was easy.
....when those Mule Eatin' mailboxes presented themselves.  I simply had to turn and walk sideways past it.

Poor Val, she had no idea how lethal those things can be, she kept telling me it was OKAY.  Little did she know that us long ears know that mailboxes will literally launch themselves at you.
Well, that is, except the one at home where she gets the mail from.  I know that mailbox is friendly.

The rest of the trip was pretty quiet.  Nice blue skies and fluffy clouds.  Val even let me stop and graze a bit.
I think I could do this again some time soon!

All in all I think we saw 3 cars, 8 people, 2 dogs, and lots of farms.
It was a good day.
And I definitely looked most excellent in my red, whites, and blues.