Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why I like winter

A lot of folks dislike winter. And I understand that totally. Those folks are either unable to get out and enjoy the fresh cold air or ... well, simply don't understand how to dress for the cold foul weather.

There is a quote the Norwegians use that says:

There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

And I have to agree with that saying. Most people who dislike cold weather don't layer themselves properly. It is easier to throw on a stylish coat and a pair of nice looking gloves to go outside.

I've learned to 'layer' with the clothing I have at hand. I can't afford North Face, I wish I could, and I can't afford some of the clothing that is high tech either. However I did invest in some lower tier 'moisture' wicking undergarments, and then just went with what I had at hand.

That said, it was pretty warm yesterday when I tossed on my wool blend hiking socks, warm tights, and a pair of wind pants that I'd picked up on sale. I dressed comfortably as it was in the high teens and the sun was shining.

Why else do I like winter? My hair can be messy and hidden under a nice cap. There are NO bugs. I repeat. No bugs. When hiking in this area the leaves and undergrowth are gone so a person can see the land formations.

Which leads me to my hike yesterday. I went to seek out the Ice Caves. The KVR has a guided tour for people in February to the ice caves. I chose not to do a tour, but like to explore the reserve on my own.
During midweek, there are generally not a lot of people on the trails.

There are quite a few *Ice Formations* in the area, but I wanted to see some I'd heard about from a woman at CrossFit. She'd told me how to find them.
There is something to be said about 'networking'.

I found them fairly easily by following the tracks in the snow.

This is a 4 shot panorama done with my cell phone. It literally looks like there are islands of snow floating among the ice.
That is how it shows up while looking at it through a camera.
However there are layers of rocks with mounds of earth and trees growing on them.

I just stood for a long time and stared. As the winter season moves on, the ice formations get larger if we have the proper weather. Since we've had the wettest fall ever, I imagine the ice formations could be fantastic by February or March. That is... as long as we have good cold weather.
The sun doesn't melt these areas as the winter sun doesn't reach the face of the rock formations.

The area I live in is unique in its landscape.
What more fun can it be than to be a person that loves the cold weather and explore all of this?

I found the next 'cave' and spent a few quick minutes exploring it.

I really wish I hadn't told Rich that I would be back by 1PM at the latest.

There was more to explore for sure. And there was another location with at least 3 more 'ice caves'. I had wanted to check out the one on what I refer to as the Green Trail too.

But now I know about the huge ice caves.

I also am eager to go check out the two ice caves on my neighbor's land.

The weather today will be perfect. Snow/sleet mix with grey skies.
I already know what I will wear and I will be comfortable.

It is only a 3 mile round trip hike, but if I hustle I can do it in about two hours. There are a few hills and valleys to cross, but it may be worth it.

[This photo was from March 2018]

I do ... like winter...
It is cool...

Monday, December 10, 2018

Farm life

This summer we had a lightening strike that literally exploded a tree that was in Thor's paddock.
Thor seemed fine at the time, just very shook up. When I checked out the wires in his paddock they had been fused together. Thor didn't act much different but he started to lose some weight.

The vet said that he probably had some residual effects from the lightening strike and hadn't been struck directly but since it melted the wires in his paddock, it probably affected him somehow. Otherwise Thor seemed almost normal. The vet said there was really nothing we could do other than just watch and wait.

Thor was born on our place and was a super funny character as a donkey.

I will miss Thor's constant antics. He would take his water bucket and flip it outside the paddock. If he could find a branch...well,...

He'd hold up sticks and present them to you like a dog. Sometimes in the summer he'd stack all sticks he could find in his water tub. He loved attention and would bray at the sound of a vehicle, coyote, owl, or the neighbor's mini jack a mile away on the ridge top.
Thor was vocal. So vocal that one of the guys at CrossFit said "Oh, you are the donkey lady! The one with that loud Donkey!"

Yes, he could heart Thor from 1 mile away on certain days.

Each morning Thor would greet me when I brought him hay. It was generally a series of grunts and groans that precluded a long loud bray.

Yesterday morning, he wasn't there. I dropped his feed and went looking for him. He was laying down but didn't wake up when I approached.

He was still slightly warm but had no pulse.

Your voice will echo through this hills for a long time and I will miss you every day.

Goodbye you big goofy donkey.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Little Dog

This is the look I get when I am getting dressed to go do something and I tell Charlie he can't come.

I felt pretty sure that when I brought Charlie home that he wasn't going to be much of an outside dog.
Boy was I ever wrong.

He doesn't like the hot summer days as much as he likes the cold snowy days. And he keeps proving that over and over.

We took our afternoon walk on Wednesday to the creek and back. It was a quick walk just to get some fresh air. We hiked part of the way into the Peterson Valley and then I turned around.
I still had to finish up the fixin's for the roast and I had chores to do before dark.

Charlie charged up the ridge road ahead of me. He now knows where I am going and generally which path I chose to follow.
He also accompanies me in all sorts of weather to do chores.

Here is a photo I grabbed with my cell phone...

His chest and legs are snow and ice covered, yet he was not cold. He was searching for mice in tufts of grass and leaves. At times his head would be buried up to his eyes under the snow.

Here is a shot of his tummy...

Look how short those front legs are!
What a hoot!

He can run like the dickens though and is very fast for a dog so small.

I'm so happy to have a tiny hiking companion. Each day Charlie reminds me of why I like to have a pet in my life.
Those big brown liquid eyes that melt my heart, the eager little dog who wants to help chore, the funny little dog that sits and stares lovingly at my husband when he eats.
[He knows who drops food!]

Charlie likes to remind me that it is 'chore time'. He does this little whine thing until I get dressed and then we go out to do our chores. Even yesterday when it was zero degrees, he charged across the frozen snow and led me to each spot I needed to go.
When it was time to go in the pasture and feed the mules, he watched from the yard and porch. I got cold, but Charlie just seemed to take it all in as if IT were his duty to make sure I did all the chores properly...

Yes, I miss Morris every day. Yet Charlie is still easing that pain.

Now I am wondering how I can accommodate him if I were to go x country skiing on the ridge. can he come with when I snow shoe in the deep snow?

I guess I will find out this winter. [I may have to devise a way to carry him!]

Little Dog...
You make my

Thank you Charlie.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Love it. X-Country Skiing.

Here I am trying to explain to Charlie that he isn't quite up to going on a cross country ski adventure.
He sat on the couch and gave me that look.
Sorry Charlie.

My neighbor had emailed me and we'd talked about going skiing together on a trail. Would a day that her youngest was at school work?
I checked my schedule when I got home from CrossFit and texted her that 'Today will work if you are able..."
I received a text back and it looked like it was going to work out as an unplanned quick get away.

I packed a few power bars and some water, an extra pair of gloves, a wind breaker, extra dry socks, and the emergency space blanket. I took the old handwarmer packet out of the plastic zip lock bag and stuck it in next to my pocket camera.
I was ready.

And then we were off! I'm on the right with sweat pants over my warm tights. I have a pair of soft tights on underneath.

And off we went...well. We first did the black trail as shown on the screenshot below. Since it was the first time in a long time since I'd skied, I wanted to get a feel for things.
And I went the wrong way...

So once we did the black loop we headed off on the red trail. I had no idea how long it would take us.
Lauren had to be back to pick up the kids for soccer practice.

The trail had been packed but not groomed yet. So we blazed our own tracks. This is my favorite picture from our adventure...

Yes I edited it to look like a painting. 

When we got to the midway point we stopped and had a discussion. Could we do the whole trail and still have time to get Lauren back on time?

Lauren gave me a thumbs up and off we went. This time I led and set a hard pace.

The scenery was gorgeous.

I wasn't sure we had time to stop at all the overlooks. But I did stop and pose for Lauren.
Always...always we must goof off, right?

This was my imitation of the little person on the X-Country Ski sign.

The temperature was about 19 degrees with a light breeze. I'd started out with a light jacket and gloves but soon warmed up enough to stuff them in my backpack.

We pushed hard and finished up the trails faster than we anticipated.

Lauren and I sat in the Subaru and ate snack bars and drank water before we headed back home.

Next time we'll know how long the trails will take us.
Both of us felt tired yet refreshed.

Cold air and adventure.
It felt so good.

I can't wait to do it again.

And Charlie was so relieved to see me....

Monday, December 03, 2018

Making Cards

Well here we go again. It is time to make the Christmas Cards. I know others do it in some very crafty ways. 

Another Blogger---- > Far Side of Fifty, makes her own Christmas cards. Plus she and her husband carve and paint ornaments from ... real wood and cool bark!

My talent? I have a camera and lots of imagination. So here are some of my possible photos for Christmas Cards. 

The Creekside Bears:

Nor and Runo:

Then there is the Charlie photo. I wanted to keep up the tradition of having my pet dress up and pose. Morris was never still. He bounced all over and usually took several treats to get one decent shot.

Charlie is a dream. He is like a posable doll. He doesn't look at the camera but tends to look all around as if he is embarrassed.

But I think I have one that I will use.

Charlie is just plain tired of all the shenanigans. However, he is such a good sport about it all!

He even 'posed' on the chair but this is the look I got!
Okay. So now I've bored you to death about this.

I use a photo editing program and print out 5X7's or 4X6's at Walmart for about .06 a piece and then send them in an envelope with a note.

Is that a good idea or not? I sort of think so.

I think I need to get busy and order my prints so I can take some time to write notes. I may just print them out this year...I haven't decided yet.
I've always loved hand written notes, they seem so much more personal.

Then my next project. Calendars.

And Charlie was very relieved when I told him that we were done posing for photos.

That's it for today.
Boring, I know! the way. Sunsine is doing fantastic. It is like she never had any colic! I had to take Fred the elder mule...he is something like 33 ish inside the shed and out of the sleet. He warmed up and then proceeded to try and take apart the round pen panels. He started braying before light this morning and chasing the girls around.

All is quiet on the Farm.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

You are my Sunshine

I was throwing hay over the fence when I noticed Sunshine hadn't come forward. She was hanging back. I continued feeding hay and kept an eye on her.
She was one of those mules that just barged in making sure that everyone around got out of her way when it was feeding time.
She isn't aggressive, she just pushes her sister or others with her neck and shoulder to move her or any other mule.
Sometimes Sunshine tries to push little ol' Fred around and Fred won't have it. He lays his ears back and squeals at her. She backs off.

She avoids 15 as she tends to bite and kick.

Sunshine turned her back on the hay and laid down.
Uh oh...
In a moment she got up and walked into the group. She put her muzzle down into the hay but didn't take a bite. She was damp on her sides from laying in the melting snow. I walked around and did a quick check up on her. She didn't seem to be in distress.

I went in the house to set up a computer for Rich so he could do his Speech/Memory Therapy with the VA therapist. We sat down and had coffee and watched Sunshine out the window.
I waited until I connected Rich to his therapist and then explained that I was headed out because we had a 'sick' mule. Sunshine had gotten down and wasn't getting up. I decided to catch her and walk her.
I grabbed my stethoscope and headed out the door.

I got Sunshine out of the pasture and she seemed slightly interested in the grass for a nanosecond. Then she just lifted her head and looked off into the distance.
She wasn't bright eyed and her ears were slightly cool to the touch.
We began to walk.

Down she went.

Have you ever tried to move a mule that simply has decided NOT to move?  Her ears were cold, that worried me.

I finally got her up and took her inside the shed to the large round pen. At least she'd dry off and I could hopefully get her to keep moving.

I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and asked Google to find Veterinarians in my area. I wanted to call Apple Valley as they knew my mules and had treated Sunshine's mother years ago as well as Siera and Mica.

What came next was what was to become my worst nightmare. They would call me back.
When they did, I was told that the doctors were unavailable, one was on vacation and the other was out with a herd of cattle. They were very sorry could I call around?

I asked Rich to start making phone calls.
And he did.
One Vet said he could come out on Monday.
Another said they were not able to come out until after 5 pm. Rich kept calling...

Sunshine walked a bit and then as if she had turned to rubber, dropped to the floor of the shed.

You can see how she covered herself in dirt and just stayed there. I checked her gut sounds...and

at one point I heard nothing...
and then I heard some faint gurgling.

I kept trying to get her up when she laid flat out. Her heart beat was elevated slightly but she didn't seem to be breathing exceptionally hard. I felt her ears and they were warm again.

I took my fingers and tried a trick I'd done with puppies to make them go poop. I massaged around her rectum. I had no idea if it would work. Either by chance or design, she struggled and stretched and a huge gaseous fart erupted.

Okay. I stood up and cheered.
Sunshine groaned and stretched out again on her side. She shook her legs and I finally got her up.

Rich came out to tell me that a vet was coming from Muscoda and would be here in an hour or so.
Sunshine flopped down again and moaned. I asked Rich to get me some warm soapy water. He prepared that while I prepped a makeshift enema. Epsom salts and warm water. I dabbed a plastic syringe into petroleum jelly and headed back out the door. I soaped up her bum then inserted the plastic syringe and pushed the warm Epsom salt solution into her rectum.
Sunshine didn't even pay attention to me. There was no glow in her eyes. And for a while I thought it was a futile effort.
I couldn't get her up, so I soaped up my hand and reached in. I found dry poop her rectum and carefully pulled it out. Behind that was a nicely formed stool. When I pulled out my messy hand more poop came out. I cleaned my hand and then her bum.
She turned and looked at me.

I got her up again and she walked a bit longer. Then down she went.
A bunch of curse words went through my mind as I knelt by her head.

She closed her eyes and slowly seemed to fall into a deep slumber. I decided to let her rest and not disturb her. After all she may have been up struggling with a belly ache all night and perhaps, just perhaps she was exhausted.

Smart phone. Huh. I typed out a search *How long can a horse sleep on its side safely?* I read through the posts and decided to just let her sleep, if that is what she was doing. Sunshine was not struggling, nor was she breathing hard. She was dry and her ears were warm. I sat next to her head and watched as her eyes closed and her breathing got slower and slower.

I held my breath.
Oh please let this not be her last moments. And then: If it is her last moments, I will be with her.

After about 15 minutes which felt like eternity, Sunshine snorted and rolled up
onto her sternum. Her ears twitched and with her eyes wide open she lunged to her feet and shook.
I was on my feet next to her.
I listened to her sides and heard gut noises.

Sunshine laid down again. I left the round pen discouraged. I needed a quick drink of water and I wanted to see if Rich heard from the vet.

When I came back out to the shed not 5 minutes later, Sunshine was up, ears perked forward and she nickered at me. Be still my little boney heart!

She pawed at the gate. Wow, I thought, what a sudden turn around.

I heard a vehicle coming down the driveway. I figured it was the veterinarian. I greeted her with a huge smile saying, "I think our patient just had a break through! She is standing and alert!"

Doc examined Sunshine and pronounced her out of danger. She got a shot of banamine for the stomach pains and Doc suggested I get some from her to keep on hand. Swift weather changes like we'd been having or food changes were generally suspicious for causing colic in equine.

While we were talking, Sunshine walked over to the bucket I'd brought in to sit on and knocked it over. She was behaving like her normal mule self. little red molly mule.

You are more special to me than you know!
[The photo is of me about 19 years ago holding Sunshine in my arms moments after she was born. Cheyanne was my mare.]

I paid the vet and she instructed me on how to use the banamine I'd purchased. Doc gave me some helpful tips on colic which included the very things I'd done.

Doc said she'd rather come to a farm and see her patient recovering than to see something more hopeless. She was all smiles as was I.

I am happy to report that Sunshine is feeling just fine. She became Miss Cranky Pants when she realized that she'd been separated from her friends and suddenly she was starving..and Cranky.

All kidding aside.
I feel very lucky to have Sunshine in my life.

Thank you Dr. Mary from Riverdale Vet Clinic.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Big Adventure!

"Okay Charlie, you take care of Dad," I said as I donned my coat and made a last second check of my camera stuff.

I was only going to take my 35mm lens, it works well for night photography and I've used it for shooting the Milkway with some success.
I didn't grab the better of the two tripods and settled with the one that I trek through the woods with.

I was a bit nervous about one...meeting up with other photographers, but I figured Kristi would probably be there. [Kristi was the one I met at the fair and she told me about the Camera Club.] I got there a bit early and joined some men sitting just outside the room the club met in.
I was also a bit hesitant to leave Rich and Charlie on their own. Would Rich hear Charlie when he had to go potty? He usually doesn't even though they are only a few feet apart. Rich can be so engrossed in watching whatever program is on, that he can't seem to hear a thing.

By the time the meeting was over and I drove to the Riverside park, I was done being nervous.
The Rotary Lights were almost overwhelming. I'd seen them briefly in 2010 but had never actually gone and walked through the display.

I pulled on some snow pants in the parking lot, grabbed a hand warmer and opened it up. I dropped one into my hunting glove/mit and checked my camera settings before I even left the Subaru. The outside temperature was 19 degrees and calm.
I zipped up my coat, grabbed the tripod and walked towards the river.

I was fumbling around with my glove/mitts and tripod when one of the other members walked up to me and started to set up. It was Kristi, she said that she had decided to come to the park after all. She commented that she'd wander around until she got too cold.

I was grateful for her company. We spent an hour or so wandering around slowly trying out different settings to take photos. What really amazed me was while we were taking shots or setting up the people that were walking about were so nice! The groups of teenagers would say hello and then duck out of our way with a *sorry* or *pardon me* tossed over their shoulders.

To capture the whole view of the park, you have to drive over a bridge to another small park and you can 'shoot' the lights reflecting on the water.

I did want to do that but it got late and I realized that Rich may be worried or he may sit up and watch for me to come home.

When Kristi said she was cold and her hands were numb, I walked backed to the parking area with her.

I called Rich from the car and told him I was just leaving the Riverside Park. He sounded a bit disappointed and said that I was still an hour away.

I agreed and told him that I'd had a really great time and got to see some amazing lights.

As I came down the drive way through the woods, I could see the porch lights turn on. Yes, he had been watching.
Both he and Charlie seemed relieved to see me.

It was a wonderful adventure.

I need to figure out a time to get back there again this season. This time from across the river.

I hope to skip out with Charlie today to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve to walk along one of my favorite trails and perhaps get a photo worthy of a Christmas Card!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Jumping Rocks and other fine things

Good morning!

That is how the other members of the 6am CrossFit class greet me. The 5am class is finishing up and they all say Good Morning and actually mean it!

My husband doesn't quite get the allure of CrossFit. He calls it "Workout".

I started doing this in mid October. So what changes have I noticed?

I have something to look forward to each day and can have good social interaction and the workout relieves stress.

One of the measurable changes I've noticed is my blood pressure has changed dramatically.
I take it in the morning and the afternoon...not because I am ordered to, but because Rich is supposed to monitor his.
Earlier this summer my blood pressure readings were a bit on the high side. 

On days I don't work out it hovers at 115ish to 120 over the 70's.
After working out? 106/68.

Hmmm. It makes one think about blood pressure and exercise. It is easy to take a pill and hope for the best...but...
I'm thinking this workout deal is much much better.
[Ok, off my soap box now!]

What else?
I used to struggle with peeling hay off a round bale and tossing it over the electric fence. I opted to shove it under the fence instead.
Over the weekend, I discovered I can easily toss fork-loads of hay with no effort.

I used to be so surefooted. But the past year I found myself ...well, maybe not as surefooted as I used to be?
CrossFit works well with balance exercises. Most of the warm ups and many workouts promote balance.
While walking in the creek yesterday I came to a spot that I had to climb down a steep rocky bank to get to a place that I wanted to photograph.

Once I got down, I had a choice, get my feet soaked 1/2 mile from home, or jump to where I wanted to be. I used a skill learned from Box Jumping to launch to a rock clump in the middle of the creek.

And I stood there with the water flowing around me, grinning like an idiot. My balance was better!

See? Better!
My creek jump...the banks are about 4 feet high...

And this is all worth it. Even after hiking to the end of the valley and back, I still felt energetic.

Anyway, the reason I jumped was for this shot:

And further towards home, I straddled some logs and got some very cool Ice Fingers...

I am happy that Gun Season for Deer is over. I can wander about again.

Tonight I am going to the LaCrosse Camera Club meeting and we are going to review 'night' shooting and tour the Rotary Lights by the river.

Color me happy.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


Now I think I realize why people decorate indoors with lights and bright colors this time of the year.

It is dull and dreary outside. Well, at least in the Midwestern Climates it is. Dull with no snow, no leaves on the trees, no flowers blossoming...grey ... everything is slowly turning colorless...

However, once in a while at dawn or sunset, the sky will light up with color. But mostly.

Sounds awful doesn't it?

So we try to find something pretty about November. I see stalks of old flowers in my flower bed. The Juncos like the seeds in them so I leave it messy.
The moles are having a field day in the yard that is going from green to brown...

By Thanksgiving I am tired of fall colors and orange. Really tired of orange. Blaze Orange in particular. It seems that the 9 day deer gun season drags on forever. I'm tired of orange so I take down all the fall decorations I put up which aren't very many.
I start to eye the living room up and think about some nice pretty lights to combat the dark evenings.

I sneak out during the day wearing that awful orange to hike down in the woods along the creek. My husband says I need to stay OUT of the woods during gun season.
I go crazy when stuck inside 4 walls all day. Especially after I've cleaned all the walls. I could do windows I suppose. I should do the windows.

I'm going to sneak out and walk the creek bottom.

I take my teddy bear 'ornament' and clip the band off from his hat. This little teddy bear doesn't want to hang on a tree. Nope.
He wants to be out in the woods.

I stop hiking in the middle of my walk and sit down. As usual, I've brought all the gear necessary to take a little water 'fall' photo.
And I do....

It sort of turns out bland also.

I finally turn and walk slowly up the trail. I have to go back and make sure the mules have water. And then go back in the house to play cribbage. [I still don't understand that game at all, but Rich loves it.]

I hear bluejays and a woodpecker, I hear the water tumbling over rocks below me.
The sky is grey and yes...very dreary.

But it is okay because when I get home I can turn the lights on and be cheered. Even after it gets dark.

I may even take the rest of the day and do something 'crafty'.