Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Forest Floor

The Forest is my sanctuary. It is the place I go to 'get away' and relax.
notice that I did not
That I go away and 'think' about things.

Not at all.

When I enter the woods, time and the outside world magically slip away. It is like having my own 'Secret Garden' that is hidden in plain view.

Others enter the Forest and never leave their worries and anxieties at the threshold.

Is it a bewitching spell? Or something else?

That first step through the fence, down the path, or across the meadow brings a sigh and a weight off my shoulders.

I spent my hike mostly observing the Forest Floor. The leaves have come down now, and beautiful patterns are there to admire.

This is the same photo as the one above, but I removed the colors from it and added some detail.
Patterns emerge that I wasn't seeing in color [but imagined that I might while looking through the lens].
I think this was a fun experiment.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A bit of Fun with Fungi!

This month has seen our area hit with incredible amounts of daily rain. Last week we had 4" of rain in 2 or 3 days.

Today we've had at least 1/2" or better of rain.
It makes for miserable weather for the farm animals. It makes bringing in the corn and soybeans impossible.

It makes yucky boot sucking mud everywhere else.

In the woods, it makes for beautiful creations and designs from Mother Nature as the fungi take advantage of the moisture.

Everywhere I went yesterday, I found fungi and mushrooms growing.
It was rather a delight.

I thought I knew the names of the fungi or mushrooms I saw and photographed, but as I've learned over the years, they are not easy to identify.

I'm pretty sure the middle one is commonly called the Turkey Fan Fungus, as it looks like a turkey tail.

A really fantastic site to visit and browse through fungi and mushrooms photos for identification is American
It is laid out so that even a novice can guess at which category to look into.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It is about patterns and textures

After the color has been driven away by hard frosts along with winds and rain, nature leaves us with a part of the year that is mostly colored in browns or variations of browns.

Those are the days it is hard to get excited over photography.

The brilliant skies are overcast...
There are no brightly colored wildflowers to make you pause in your step...

That is when I turn my attention to the details.

Like the forest floor, full of fallen leaves that have lost their colors.
Yet they are fascinating as they hold beautiful patterns~if you look closely.

The Field Corn stalks are yellowish brown, and not the pretty vibrant greens of summer.
Yet the corn leaf's veins have a pleasant pattern too~~if you really look for it.

Then there is the corn itself. As it dries, the kernels 'dent'.
The corn is a bright yellow contrasting against the worn out looking husk around it.

This part of 'fall' can be beautiful if you use a different 'eye'.

[Tomorrow~~the Fungi Hike!]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Today's Lesson


I repeat, DO NOT~~


hit the alarm after an '8' hour lay over on a shift [meaning get off at midnight and needing to be back at work at 8am, for example] and even think~~


*Oh I'll just grab a wink or two.*

Because guess what.
I overslept and was late to *Weapons Training* yesterday.

Which means I got 'dinged' for what is called 1/2 a point.
It has ruined my perfect attendance.


~~and question for the day.

What is up with buying size small for sweatpants and having them be WAY too big?
Is the new size 10 the new size 5???

This Award Thingy...

Accepting this award comes with the following challenge~~~~
The challenge is to answer the below questions using one word only.

Here are the questions, and here are my answers.....

1. Where is your cell phone? Car
2. Your hair? Flat
3. Your mother? Missing

4. Your father? Gone

5. Your favorite food? Brownies

6. Your dream last night? None

7. Your favorite drink? Chardonnay

8. Your dream/goal? Ride
9. What room are you in? Living

10. Your hobby? Photography

11. Your fear? Blindness

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Riding

13. Where were you last night? Work

14. Something that you aren't? Tall

15. Muffins? Yuck

16. Wish list item? Arena

17. Where did you grow up? Mixed

18. Last thing you did? Hiked

19. What are you wearing? Sweats

20. Your TV? None

21. Your pets? Loved

22. Friends? Different

23. Your life? Unorganized
24. Your mood? Happy

25. Missing someone? Yes

26. Vehicle? Cavalier

27. Something you're not wearing? Shoes

28. Your favorite store? Tack

29. Your favorite color? Red

30. When was the last time you laughed? Today

31. Last time you cried? Tuesday

32. Your best friend? Animal

33. One place that I go to over and over? Woods

34. One person who emails me regularly? Son
35. Favorite place to eat? Kitchen

I am supposed to ask 6 people to also do this [cough cough]. I may have to wait a bit until I can have an actual day off from work to do this.

My time is limited right now between work and the 'farm'.

Thank you Mancos Mule MJ for asking me to do this!
I hope you are able to learn something from it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

...and all is well tonight...

I promise this is one of the last updates on Morris the Magnificent for a while.

He is resting comfortably now catching up on all those lost doggy naps that he has been missing since last Saturday.
He has also regained his appetite and his bright eyes.

He bounded up the stairs this evening to ask to go 'out'.
[I was taking my nap before my midnight shift]

I spoke with Doctor Piper yesterday and he was very encouraging. He said that Morris would pull through with flying colors. [He was very good at making the human feel much better!]

He said not to be alarmed by the fact that Morris may want to do nothing but sleep for the next couple of days as he was probably exhausted and hadn't gotten much sleep.

Today we curled up on the couch together and watched a DVD. The rain sluiced down outside~~the cold wind whipping the last of the leaves off many trees.

By this evening, Morris wanted his regular dog food and while I was cooking he walked into the kitchen with a pull toy and dropped it at my feet. He gave a half hearted shake to it before heading back into the living room.
But it did make my heart happy.

Some gnarly ol' grouch of a hubby was pleased also.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicken and Rice...

15cc's of water at 10am and at noon, along with some cooked white rice mixed with baby food chicken peaked Morris's interest in both eating and drinking.

He is resting quietly now and seems content and not in pain.

His eyes were brighter and he wagged his tail.

He's on the rice and chicken diet for a few days [he seemed ravenous for it, yet ignored dry dog food].

He is gaining ground!

BTW~have you ever smelled that chicken baby food? Nasty!
Must be why Morris likes it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on Morris...

Some may find this a little ridiculous the fact that I am giving daily updates right now on Morris, but if you think that~~go ahead and skip this post.

I'm doing this for those who have personally emailed me and posted on my blog site. Morris has a huge following on Flickr as the adventuresome Jack Russell, so those folks are also linking to my blog and reading...and asking about him!

I think that is SO awesome!

For three days Morris was almost unable to walk.
Yesterday he got his first shot of Rocephin at the Vet's office. we have been letting him sleep on the floor downstairs on one of my old sweatshirts.

I awoke to the sounds of a whimper around 2AM. Morris had climbed the stairs [14 in all...a great feat!] to ask to go outside.

After I let him in he struggled to come up the first two stairs so I carried him up. He slept on the end of the bed [I put him there~he usually jumps with no effort] until early morning.

Let me say that this is a great improvement over the past few days.

He drank a bit of water and ate part of a dog biscuit.

Dr. Piper said that he felt we caught this early enough ~~ even though the symptoms appeared to be rather severe and all at once.
Loss of apetite
Symptoms of arthritis
Yelping from pain for no seeming reason
[Lyme's disease makes the joints hurt like heck]

He feels that with the strong antibiotics and the 21 day regime of doxycycline, he will be cured and should 'hopefully' suffer no more ill effects.

The next 2 days are critical of course and we are hoping for the old Morris to come back and annoy the heck out of my husband.
[who by the way has been sitting on the floor, petting and talking to Morris, giving him words of encouragement and telling him how good a fella he is...I think hubby likes Morris more than he lets on]

At this point my biggest concern is dehydration, as Morris is barely taking much interest in water.

[and no, my flash did not make his eyes close...that was how he was sitting]

We are to report progress on Thursday morning.
I'll keep you posted~and thank you for all your wonderful thoughts and words....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Morris update...

Who would figure it?

Lyme's disease?

The early signs of Lyme disease in dogs are supposed to be loss of appetite, fever and lethargy. Lameness may occur at the same time or may occur later.

All of this happened at once ~~

Of course we thought he'd eaten a piece of equine hoof and got it stuck in his gut.
He has 3 weeks of doxycycline [antibiotics] to take and 3 days of Rocephin [which is a mega antibiotic used for treating Lyme Disease].

The vet said Morri's turn around should be remarkable.

I am breathlessly awaiting for that happy dog to come back around.

Troubles with Morris

Most of you have heard stories and seen photos of my little Jack Russell who hikes with me, rides with me, and yes, even jogs with me.

True to his doggy nature, he 'got' into something he shouldn't have. It was partly our fault. Hubby had trimmed a mule and hadn't picked up the hoof trimmings.
Normally they give him a belly ache and he is fine by the morning after he 'does his morning duty'.

But he wasn't.

He seemed a bit better yesterday but spent most of the day laying around in the sun.

Last night I realized that he hasn't had anything at all to drink and I tried to convince him to take a drink of water. He hasn't touched his food either and is walking like an old man.

I picked him up and stuck him in bed with me and listened to him emit small groans all night as he shook.
A trip to the vet this morning is a must.
[All night I had horrible visions of him dying while I was holding him. Many tears shed silently, while feeling helpless about doing anything.]

One small problem, I have to go to work in an hour.
I'm going to try and get my hubby to take Morris in to the small animal vet in town ~~ Dr. Piper is wonderful and has a soft spot for Morris.

I am passionate about the animals I have. If one hurts, I hurt. Sometimes my hubby thinks I am too passionate about our animals.

My comical little buddy is one of the 'centers' of my life [my husband says I love my dog and mule more than him...!!! Not quite true, but close you know?]

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Meet Cheyenne

Meet Cheyenne:
Quarab Grade Mare
14 hands
Sorrel [Flaxen mane and tail]
Aged: 23

I've owned Cheyenne for 19 years, or should I say, we've had one heck of a wonderful relationship for 19 years. I've had a relationship longer with her than either of my marriages. [I'm not knocking being married!]

I bought her as a 4 year old Green Broke horse. I was Green Broke at the time also. [I'd grown up with an uncle who trained horses, but was not an accomplished trainer or rider at the time.]

Chey and I learned everything together, we made mistakes, we made headway. We did what seemed to work for her and I.

Through her years, she went on Wagon Trains and was used by 4-H novice riders in the Horseless Horse Program. She and I spent countless hours riding down the back roads of Kenosha and Racine counties in WI.

She is also a very important horse. On a Wagon Train a man riding a mule named Fred came by and told me what a beautiful horse I was riding...and how he thought she'd make a wonderful 'mule momma'. [Yeah, I married that fella...I promise to tell that story!]

She retired somewhat when she moved here and I began to ride mules.
However she is the momma of Sunshine who is now 11 years old, and this spring she gave birth to Sundance~~another molly mule.

Cheyenne literally floats when you ride her, her gaits are smooth and extremely comfortable. Perhaps it is the Arab half coming out in her?

In June we nearly lost Cheyenne. See: She's Worth it...

Cheyenne has never really recovered 100% from this episode and kept losing weight. We weaned her foal at 2 months~~a choice made to save Cheyenne's life.
Chey is on a special diet and is making some headway. She even tosses her head and nickers in the morning while waiting for her feed to arrive.

Sometimes she'll even shake her head and prance proudly.

Her foal, Sundance, has done extremely well and is growing like a weed.

Like the other 'aged' animals we have, she has a long and wonderful history. Of course she is pretty special to me as she is the first horse that I owned and trained in my life.

I'm pretty grateful that she tells no secrets, for we've had many over the years.
...and yes, she has made a good mule momma.
She was supposed to be at our wedding as the

Mare of Honor,
but had a date with our Jack, Bruce in Missouri.
[but that is another story...]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Meet Fred

Fred with a first time rider [in the middle] ~~ after the ride.

Fred with my daughter in law on one of her first ever rides.
Meet Fred

He stands about 52 1/2 inches at the withers.
Aged: 24ish
Gelding/ John Mule
Blood Bay
Unknown Heritage

For his size, one might think that Fred wasn't a very impressive animal. In fact most people would immediately decide he was 'too small'.

Fred is dynamite in a small package. He can do it all. Ride, Drive, Coon Hunt, Coon Jump, Gymkhana, Pull Logs, Work Cattle, and Drag Deer or Pack.
He will pony bigger and younger mules with ease and determination.

He is also our company mule. When we get company who would like to ride~~
they ride Fred.
He is an original 4 wheel drive mule.

He is also directly responsible for my husband and I getting together and Fred attended our wedding.
He is my husband's original mule, he bought Fred when he was a 2 or 3 year old and has been riding him ever since.
When my husband rides him, Fred is on his toes, ready to rock and roll.

When I ride him, he is ready to get out and boogie, but to a slightly lesser degree, unless we are racing [yes I've arena raced him!].

When we have someone who hasn't a clue as to how to ride, they ride Fred. Fred steps as though he is on eggshells with these folks, and gives them a gentle and pleasurable introduction to riding.

With the Grandchildren he constantly moves to keep them on top...he seems to know these are precious little people.

I've even seen him just sigh as a novice rider put his bridle on backwards.

One of the nicest things about Fred?

He is SO easy 'on and off'.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fare Well Leaves...

The leaves in the forest are dropping softly as the rain/snow/sleet mixture hits them today.

I am so sorry to see those colorful beauties hit the ground...

This is a maple leave, shot while sitting on my mule the other day.

I back-lit the leaf with the sunlight for a soft glowing effect.

Nature is not perfect, but neither are we....but Nature sure can put on a show.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Wave

There is a certain protocall to waving when you reside in a rural area.

Furthermore~you will receive more waves IF you are driving a truck.
It matters not what make, model, or the size...but it needs to be a truck [tractors are even more 'wave' friendly].

You can give and receive waves while driving a sedan, but unless the other driver actually knows your vehicle very well, this is not as likely.
I've been driving in Vernon County, WI since 1996 and have studied this phenomenon.

There is the one finger wave which is Acknowledgment.
[you give or receive this basically to just give 'nod' to the other driver]

The two finger wave is a bit more Formal.
[you give or receive this probably with a smile and a nod]

The 'hand' wave is very Friendly.
[this one is more complex as you do not remove your whole hand from the steering wheel~but you are giving a nod, smile, ...and probably even know the other person. this is purely a back road howdy which can sometimes result in the two parties ~~ if both gave the hand wave ~~ stopping for a bit to chat and catch up on the local gossip]

We will Rock You

Running shoes [Nikes]
Blaze orange hooded sweatshirt [Virginia Tech]
Stocking Cap [Virginia Cavaliers~okay call me clash!]
Old Sweat pants [note: need running gear!]
MP3 player
Leash with Dog

Rock Music for tempo and encouragement.
Queen has a great pace~~~

I think I am suffering from an old addiction. Running.
Right now the time and distance doesn't matter like it once did.
This is for fresh air and keeping myself in shape [long hours as a guard...too much sit time...].

Morris runs right along on a loose leash as if he has been doing this all of his life.
What a good dog!

The wind was cold today, but refreshing. That heavy feeling didn't appear in my legs.
In fact~
I think my son would be impressed slightly if he knew that I actually ran ~~ slowly ~~ to the top of our driveway to warm up!
Today I felt good enough to add distance.

How far? I don't know.
To the neighbor's farm and back, to PeeWee's gate and back.

Two renditions of Queen's 'We Will Rock You'
La Bamba....
Chantilly Lace
Mony Mony
Hawaiian Suppa Man
Rockin Robin
Wooly Bully
I Like it Like That
Little Bit O Soul
What's Love Got to Do With It....
Rama Lama Ding Dong
You Can't Always Get What You Want

Oh my, you should see me do a the little funky dance steps as I run along. I'm not embarrassed, I'm having a damn Fine Good Time.

There is another benefit to this madness.
Morris is having a blast and he is surprisingly a very good pacer.
He sees the orange sweatshirt go on....and goes nutso when he sees me lace my Nikes.

Dang Life is Good!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back in the Saddle~~~

Back in the Saddle Again...
The cold air on my face
The leaves falling gracefully around us as we walked down the damp deer trails.
Badger and I.

The woods are so much quieter this time of year. Most of the song birds have gone south by now.

It felt good,
It felt right.
It felt more than wonderful.
Somehow, I don't think that words can really explain~~

So I created this 'short' video of photos along with the music that was playing ...
in my mind...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What I do.....

Sunrise through the review mirror....
Frost on the windows...

I work for a power plant called Genoa Power Plant, specifically the old section called LACBWR. I work for a combined area. I am part of the Security Force for the decommissioned Lacrosse Boiling Reactor. You can read about it here:
Wisconsin's Atomic Power Plant.
If you have time to peer at the article you may find it interesting.

I am a 'watchperson' soon to be an Armed Officer. Sounds boring, but I can assure you that it is anything but. I simply am a very 'customer service' oriented person who checks everyone into the plant and out of the plant during all and any shifts that I am scheduled to work.

Let me say this.
I love my job.
I think I do well...and the uniform is pretty cool too.

I can get a call in the middle of the night to be asked to come in.
I'll leap out of bed and throw together something to eat and run to work.
That is how much I like it.

Sometimes I get so see magnificent sunrises...or sunsets.

Sometimes I get enough free time to work with my mules and my favorite donkey Eddie and newby~~Siera.

Most of all, I have fun with my job.
For many years I tried to be such a stuffy office person. I worked in more
'fields' of service...more than I can count.

I only know this.

I am having fun.

I love to ride, train...but I also have a fondness for my job and my co-workers.
So I juggle.

Tonight, I played guard, housewife, farmwife, vet [donkey with an abcess], and trainer.
I worked a back to back shift with 5 hrs of sleep...then a 10 hr day and ...
had a blast.

This lifestyle suits me.
I must be crazy right?

Well perhaps not.
I love to work.

I love to ride.

I love to train.

You help me figure it out!

Tomorrow is another day....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Killing Frost!

This morning I awoke to the dreaded 'killing' frost.

It is 20 degrees outside. [looks like I'll be warming up and scraping my car!]

I have to be to work at 6AM~~needless to say my schedule this week has been hectic with last minute changes and odd hours to help out during the 'outage' [this is when a power plant shuts down and is re-tooled...100's of contractors show up and we have to deal with them along with the deliveries! It is quite a hectic and interesting have to be literally on your toes!]

We are expected to have rain and the possibility of snow today.
Welcome to the Fall of Wisconsin.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Of rain, running, and air~~

I have to blame my sister in law for this...

I hadn't intended to...
but she politely invited me to 'run' or jog, if you will, with her while I was visiting Virginia.

This morning I realized that my excuses I'd used before perhaps weren't valid.

[Midnight shifts, strange working hours, too see the pattern]

In fact after 4 days home, I missed our 'jogs'.
I thought, gosh, I could kill two birds with one stone.
I could put Morris on a leash and we could both get our daily exercise in.

This morning was overcast...

At first those legs of mine screamed 'stop! you are killing me!'
When I reached the tobacco shed, the legs said, 'okay, where to from here?'

On the way back home my body said, 'are you really going to run up that itty bitty hill?'
And we did.
Morris and me.

I was warm and alive all over.
Morris was happy.

I'm happy.

~~and it is all my sister in law's fault for showing me that I can do it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well I did make it home~~

My husband missed me, as well as Morris.

[Morris was terribly confused but very happy to see me~~and has literally clung to me since I've returned!]

The 'Dish Fairy' didn't do the dishes much while I was gone. Oh they were rinsed though and stacked on the counter. [I don't think my hubby's hands know how to handle dish soap???]

Since I've returned we've had some pretty nasty weather. Very cold and rainy...along with some absolutely wicked winds today.
It was a good day to stay inside and admire the fact that we have heat.


I'm sort of missing that Virginia weather right now.

Things are back to normal.

Soon I'll restart some of my mule bios.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Bear Bait, the Virgina Way...

On Friday, my friend from Richmond came and picked me up.

She is an equine enthusiast also, so we were looking forward to some fun time together and visiting.
We chose to go visit a place called Dark Hollow Falls on the Shenandoah Parkway.

The fact that I could hike a trail and SEE waterfalls was doubly exciting.
Debi picked a 'round about way out of Charlottesville so we could stop off at the Dover Saddlery shop and take a peek.

[I ended up buying a saddle of all things...more on that later]

We ended up at Dark Hollow Falls and began the long hike down the Falls trail. It was steep, beautiful...
we sort of wondered how in the heck we were going to get back up it.

Along the way we found a very helpful sign:

[Don't you just love the stick figure?]

I found a couple of spots to get a 'little' bit closer mid way down and sat on a flat rock to take some photos.

Some other folks walked by telling us that they'd seen a Sow and her two cubs. Debi and I kept an eye out and tried to remember our black bear protocol.

When we got to the bottom of the falls we asked another set of hikers if there was another way other than just going back up the steep rocky hill ~~ to where we'd parked.

We did the happy dance when we discovered that we could walk a well marked open path back to the road and then 1 mile back to the parking area along the parkway.

The Black Bear was on our minds. Debi and I walked past some other folks and continued on the trail marveling at the general beauty~~
discussing horses and mules.

We noticed some people hiking towards us ... pointing and grabbing their little point and shoot camera.
We stopped
A Sow and her cubs.

I rammed my Nikon up to my eye and took a shot.
Then we decided to sort of start easing away.

The hikers behind us caught up and everyone started gathering and pointing.

I whispered to Debi:
Let them be Bear Bait~~

and we carefully slinked away keeping an eye over our shoulders.

We giggled like little kids and made all sorts of plans of how we'd avoid the Bear. I could run faster than Debi, but she said she was stronger than me~~and would toss me at the Bear.

Point taken, so we decided that we'd make ugly faces at it, and then if that didn't deter the Sow, we'd throw our pocket digitals at it...and my camera bag.

Debi said she would take photos to the last living second...
and we giggled some more.

Then Debi said we could throw my Nikon D40 at it since it was heavier.
Now those were fighting words.

We ended up the day tired, happy, and satisfied.
We'd had a great adventure.
Now if we'd only lived closer together we could have more fun adventures!

Bear Bait Hikers: