Monday, August 31, 2009

Our neighborhood Icon...

Small communities.

Some folks complain about living in one.
Yes, everyone seems to know everyone else's business.

Two days ago I was coming home from a night shift and it was about 8:30 in the morning.
On our little gravel road, there were two trucks and two cars stopped. One truck had its 4 way flashers going.

There were old neighbors and current neighbors standing in the road.
When I pulled up, I put my car in park and stopped. The road was somewhat blocked and besides...we never get this kind of crowd on our gravel road. I had to see what was going on.

Our neighborhood icon, Gabe, who is the Great Pyrenees dog pictured above, had been on his morning walk~~and quit. He gave up. His back legs wouldn't help him go any further.

Gabe has been on our ridge ever since I moved here in '96. He has always walked with his masters each morning. On the mornings his 'masters' stayed home, Gabe walked on the side of the road...well, sometimes down the middle...but you could count on Gabe every day like clock work.

Gabe is quite aged now, as you may have guessed.

But Gabe belongs to us all on the ridge in a way. All of us have stopped for him in the road, we've all pet him, or fed him when his masters were gone off the farm. Gabe knows all of us~~silly as it seems, I always felt he was looking out for us also. [he was named Gabriele after the Angel]

It wasn't until I counted everyone that had stopped to help out offering to pick up Gabe and take him home, that I realized how important this animal was to our small community.

I called his 'mom' today and she said Gabe is doing okay. But he probably won't be doing many more walks and his health is beginning to fail.

I really cannot imagine driving down our gravel road and not seeing him.

Here is to you, Gabe.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coming Home...

When I pull in the driveway at 1AM, the garage light guides me to where our house is. I shut the car door and turn off the outside lights. I can see the bright stars if the sky is not cloudy. It is quiet except for the chirping of crickets and perhaps a nicker from a horse or bray of a mule [who like to announce the fact that I have arrived]

I go to the back door and open it quietly.
And there he is

He is my happy little Jack Russell who shows his exuberance by rushing into the living room and grabbing a toy to bring back and show me as I take off my coat.
He nudges me on the leg as I pet him and tell him how my evening went.

He is mostly a good listener, sometimes though he is distracted by more important issues, such as ~~ going outside for the last 'duty' call.

If I don't change fast enough, he is there to egg me on. He wants to go to sleep in the 'big' bed. Meaning, he wants me to crawl under the covers so he can hop in and snuggle.
[which of course is very nice on a cold winter night]

Right now my shifts have been 4-midnights which I assume will change when another guard takes vacation and I sub for them.

But I must say, it is awful endearing to have a nice little fella to meet you at the door a sloppy grin on his face and his tail doing 90 MPH.
Sorta makes you feel like coming home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Just a morning on the farm...

I start the morning with making sure that all the water tanks are filled and are nice and clean.

Feed and water the hound dogs...
This is Pressure, sitting nice and pretty.

Morris decides to supervise from on top of his favorite piece of equipment we own, the mower!

Then I spend some time with Eddie while I fill his water tank.
He never refuses any attention...
A little physical therapy with Sunshine and some time out on the yard grazing. You can see the difference in her shoulders. Surrounded in a pink outline~ the nerve damaged shoulder and leg...Sweeny shoulder. Still unknown with a prognosis.
This is what the other shoulder is supposed to look like.

Clean the trailer from yesterday's ride and of course wash the floor nice and clean...
Work with Siera. [She is coming along nicely]
Then by noon get lunch ready...or dinner as we call it in this part of the country.
I then have an hour or two before I have to get ready to go to work.
I generally spend that time relaxing.
[this may include grooming Dynah, Cheyenne, or playing with the foal, Sundance]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hunting Treasures

This is what I like to do on my hikes into the woodland. I hunt treasures.

A treasure can be a very cool and gnarly looking root...
a wildflower that just stops you in your tracks [False Dragonhead].

This year, I've been 'shooting' wildflowers as I find them. I have a guide book for Wisconsin and it has helped me to identify many of the flowers I've found.

I plan on putting together a table-top book of photos with my collection of flowers and wild - cool - things that I've found within hiking and riding distance of where I live.

This will be a winter project.
I think I'll have a lot of fun with it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pretty blues...

I love this flower...the Blue Lobelia...

what more can I say?

Monday, August 24, 2009

A little hike today

I like hiking as much as riding.
So this afternoon I took 'the dog who thinks he is a body attachment' ~~ Morris, and Eddie the donkey for a little hike into the woods.

Eddie was extremely happy to get out of his paddock and go for a stroll in the woods. He was even more pleased to follow me after I'd picked an apple from a scrub apple tree and gave it to him.
I think he suddenly believed that I could pluck apples from mid air.
I'm not a firm believer in 'hand treats' but if Eddie believes I have something, he is much more willing to travel along.

If anyone has ever tried to lead a reluctant donkey they will know what I mean.
Meredith Hodges who is a world renowned mule and donkey trainer does advocate treats as a means of impulsion for donkeys. But only in the beginning stages.

Well, this being my first donkey from birth to saddle, I'm taking all the help I can get. If Eddie will follow in these beginning stages with a little incentive, then later on he should follow because he is just plain happy to.

Pictured are some things we found on our hike.
The snake is a Brown Snake and eats slugs, snails, and earthworms.
The second picture is of some newly forming Turkey Fan Fungus.

It was a very pleasant day for being with my equine and canine friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Morris Rides Again...

As Morris sees it:

You know, when I see Val get out the curry comb, I just know there is a chance that she'll be taking Badger on a ride into the Big Big Woods.
I like taking hikes with her, don't get me wrong.

But going with that big bay mule is nice. We go into all sorts of places and stop to look at things. Val usually gets off and takes pictures of things that of course...I have to come along and 'mark'.
[After all, I have to 'make' it my territory.]

Badger is cool. He never is bothered by me walking right on his heels or when I dart between his legs to go roll in something very yucky and disgusting. In fact, I think he laughs a little when Val goes *OH NO Morris, bad dog!*
Sometimes I like to grab some mule poop just to make her cringe.

Today was nice and warm and we went far and far. I don't know, but I think I went the farthest because I kept running ahead and circling behind Val and Badger trying to get all the good sniffs I could.
Lots of good sniffs out there, too bad people can't smell like I can.

When Val and Badger headed up the ridge road past the fields I decided that I was tired. So I started my routine of looking absolutely pitiful and giving Val those sad Jack Russell googly eyes.
Panting heavily works too.
Along with jumping on Badger's front legs.

Badger stops and Val tosses me in the saddle. She remounts and we are off, me...sitting in the lap of luxury while Badger does all the work.

Nice view from up there, and comfy too.

Don't I just look absolutely cute and adorable riding?


[see the humming bird on the branch?]
I was feeling a bit distracted, somewhat at a loss...and a touch blue. Why?
Gosh only knows, it seemed to be one of those days that I felt myself in limbo.
My hubby said, *Hormones*...yeah that got a smile.
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to pick something to blame things on?

I grabbed my camera and headed towards the wooded pasture. Perhaps some time spent looking through a lens would help chase away this feeling of unrest.

I made it to the 'wash', evading the mob of jennet donkeys that wanted my attention by ducking under the hot wire. Once there I thought of climbing down into the creek bottom, but decided against it this time. I sat down on the trunk of a downed maple and considered what exactly did I want to do?

I was in the middle of hundreds of 'snapweeds' or 'touch me nots'. I sat with my hands in my lap waiting for a strike of inspiration.

What happened next was a total and complete surprise. I heard chirping and whirring. I sat very still as dozens of little gray hummingbirds began to seemingly appear out of nowhere. I watched as they darted and dipped in the dappled sunlight~~whirring from one orange touch me not to another~~so fast as to be nothing but a blur to the eye.

I lifted my camera and suddenly they were gone. I put the camera back in my lap and sat still as stone.
After a few minutes of patiently waiting, they were back. Chirping, whirring, and dancing amongst the flowers.

I watched and listened to them for quite a while.
They sure taught me the value of patience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Long Ears in Service

Mules and Donkeys in the Marines...

This is a Fox News report which doesn't really surprise me much at all.

My father who loved books gave me a couple of books he acquired when he learned of my intense fondness for mules and donkeys.

One book is published by the War Department Office of the Quartmaster-General. The book was originally revised in 1916 by order of the Secretary of War, H. L. Scott, Major General, Chief of Staff.
It was reprinted in 1981.
It is called: Manual of Pack Transportation
Published by Quail Ranch Books, Santa Monica, CA.

It literally is a 'how to' manual of packing Howitzers, ammunition, and even how to use a mule as a one or two stretcher ambulance.

In our day and age of high tech and mobility, it seems the US Forces goes back to learning the value of the mule and donkey.
The long ears have had a place in military campaigns for many many years as far back as the Civil War mules have been in the service. [I'm not a History buff, so if I am incorrect feel free to do so.]

We come around full circle back to mules [and donkeys].
My hat is off to these often not very well appreciated members of our Armed Services.

Another interesting site to read:
Horses and Mules During WWII

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Day of the Animals

Some days are just fantastic, you know? I like those days.
First off, I ran to town to get groceries and hurried home [after chores] so that I could have some nice, peaceful time to ride Badger.

Of course, I had to contend with the 'guard pony' when I got home. He does move when you either honk or roll your window down and ask him to step out of the way. [This is Lil' Richard, our all natural 'weed wacker'.]I got the groceries unloaded, lunch made ... and well, what else is there?
I got Badger out and we went for a nice long quiet ride.

Just me...Badger, and the noise of leather creaking.
scent of
literally hundreds of queen anne lace blossoms...


A deer trail...and a creek...
The ravine with the cave...

And of course...a favorite stop at the apple tree to grab a munch or two.

Now comes the exciting news.

I rode Siera outside the round pen yesterday.
First we went through the basics inside the round pen.
Then moved out into a paddock so she could have distractions.

Then we moved to a bigger field where she could have space and distractions.
We worked together for quite a while, who keeps track of time while mounted?

No pictures of our workout though. I don't allow myself to be distracted with
a camera while working a green mule.

As the sun set, I hand walked Sunshine.

I was able to say that my day was wonderfully filled with equine.
Ain't it great?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Eddie Files

The Eddie Files:

More donkey learning ...

Laundry does NOT eat you.

Little people are very nice.

Walking in the woods on a deer trail can be fun and interesting. There are many obstacles to overcome...yet with a gentle hand on the lead rope...Eddie is willing to go anywhere.

...and Eddie is willing to have Morris follow along and not be a distraction.

Eddie has learned.

Morris is okay...
Kids are kinda fun, they scratch ears...
Laundry blowing around on the line is not going to eat you...
The trails in the woods are cool...and interesting....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Sunshine Saga continues...

The official diagnosis as it stands right now is 'Sweeney Shoulder'.
I have certain reservations about that as it also seems to involve some traumatic injury to her ligaments in her knee. So we have more than one issue happening here....

Yet I think it is important to follow this through on this blog, so that others may gain some insight if they come to a similar problem......

You can read about it here:
Sweeney Shoulder...don't give up.

Many people would ask themselves if the time and effort combined with the dedication for physical rehab of an animal such as a mule would be worth it.

I think you only need to look at the photo to understand what I think.

It may take 6 months. She may not come out of it.

But what is 9 yrs of work compared to 6 months?

Hope Floats...
Hold Tight...

The end of the story may not be happy, but we must not give up on hope.

This is the tenacious thread I hold onto.

I expect to go through some up and downs with this [yeah, I've already been doing that!]

But we will wait .. and we will see.

I like the word *Hope*.

Another Sunshine update...

We thought she was getting better.

Go ahead and think...right?

Last night I pulled her from her stall and noticed that within the past 4 days since I last gave her a real good 'touch over' ~~

I was quite shocked to see that she had atrophied in the chest and shoulder much so that you can nearly see all of her scapula and elbow.

The whole 'works' wings in and out as she tries to walk. ...and she can barely walk very far.

I'm waiting on a call from the vet right now.

Sunshine doesn't seem to be in pain, but tolerates stall confinement. Once we move her outside...or if she tries to quickly turn around in her stall, she nearly falls, crossing one leg over the other.

I am heart sickened.

I'm not asking for prayers or sympathy. Just wanted to let you know that I am being self indulgent between work, Sunshine, and everything else going on here.

My waking sleeping and working moments are interrupted by flashes of Sunshine laying in my lap when she was born...all gooey and messy.

Times I called her names...

The pride I felt on our first solo ride...

You get the idea. I'm hosting my own pity party right now ~~ I didn't think it would hit me like this.

I know, I should wait to hear what Doc says. We'll probably have to take her in again.

I'm feeling quite grim.

More news when I know something.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grand Children Recipe for Fun

You take two healthy grand children and give them an animal to pet.
Add one scoop of Grandpa to do chores with...
A little running room...

A stock tank with water in it to cool off in...
...and one very willing Jack Russel dog to play with...

Stir and stir and until it they are well done...

Tired happy grand kids....

Priceless Right???

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Just a few

Sunshine is not extremely happy with her stall rest. Though we are thinking that this is doing her some good. Let's keep our fingers crossed that she gets through this ligament tear and it heals with 4-8 weeks of stall rest.
She'd rather be out playing...alas....

Sunshine's half sister Sundance is now two months old. She is the opposite of Sunshine! Total attitude! Here she is trying on a halter after a game of 'catch me if you can'. This will be remedied today by a new paddock with a 'catch pen'. She will get caught each day from here out and handled.

Let's not forget to mention Morris. He is not an equine, but my JRT who is my side kick and always accompanies me everywhere.

Indian Pipes:
They are coming up in the woods now. Such an interesting plant. They are considered part of the blue berry family and have no chlorophyll!

Well off to catch up 5 riding mules for the farrier.
Enjoy your day...touch an animal and make your life better.