Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I hate that!

Well the temps got up to 75 degrees or maybe higher today.
Time for Badger to get his spring haircut.

He's very good for me ... he just stands there and lets me take the loud obnoxious clippers to his mane and roach it.
Good boy.
In fact today he dropped his head so I could do between his ears and not have to stand on a bucket.

All the animals are showing some sort of heat stress from this unexpected heat wave. All of them have a slightly higher respiration today.
The only other year I recall it being this hot in March was the year we had a drought in Wisconsin.

Yes, it is terribly dry here too.

When I went to take Badger's picture, I discovered that my darling wonderful pocket camera had suffered an impact to the LCD screen at some point and of course half of the view does not show up!

I hate that! The new LCD screens are nice to look at, but I'm thinking that they may also be vulnerable to my abusive ways.
I've put 4,500 'clicks' on this camera.
Dang I hate this...
Dang I hate that!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Grandma I miss you...

I called my youngest son on Saturday to wish him a Happy 29th Birthday.

Now how in the heck did he get to be that old?
I don't know, time just creeps on you I guess.
After we talked for a bit, he handed the cell phone to his daughter Lily who was in the car with him, while he ran into the gas station to get something.
Lily is 5 yrs old.

I told Lily that I missed her.
She said she missed me.

I said I missed her more.
She said she missed me more, more.

I said ~ More, more, more!
She said [after a long pause]~ Grandma I miss you around the world more.

Well I could not top that now could I?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

No words

[It's a work weekend!]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hunting for Skunk Cabbage & Leeks

It didn't start out that way.

I took off through the woods with Morris to where the wild leeks grow. I was sure that they'd be up and I'd be able to pick some for myself and my new neighbor.

Well, the leeks, or "wild ramp" as they are also called were up...but only about 2 inches.
Okay, I should be patient, maybe in a couple of weeks.

So I marched down the creek bottom where I know the skunk cabbage make an appearance each year for a very short time before they leaf out green.
I was happily rewarded for my hard fast walk.

Skunk Cabbage, a whole patch of them.
Of course I was scouring the ground, looking for them, when I looked up and saw Morris...
looking at me as if to say....

Hello...Duh...look at by my feet!

And there they were, hidden somewhat by dead Queen Anne's Lace and tall Streamside Fleabane.
I do get excited and thrilled over small things don't I?

But this is such an odd plant, I just love seeing it each year. The plants are very good indicators of when spring has begun to warm the soil.

On our way back home we followed our 'winter' deer trail, which is almost impossible to follow with the human eye.
But thank you Morris, for knowing the exact path to take up that steep hillside.

Let's Ride

Siera and Badger


Me: Oh honey let's just go now...
Him: Well we got some work to do...fencing...
[I heard yaddah yaddah yaddah]

I gave him my best 'come hither' look and put my hand on his shoulder.

*The heck with work today, let's go play.*
..and he listened!

We gathered up Badger and Siera. Siera has had several short rides and one ride on trails at Wildcat State Park, and hasn't had a blanket or saddle on her since September.

Today we were going through the rough woods, dry runs, steep ravines, creek bottoms, and non-trail other words...
brush busting.

To Siera's credit, she did not act wild and crazy and remembered most of what she'd been taught.
We found that she disliked ditches, creeks, and the really rough stuff. Several times Badger had to 'show' her the way.
Several times Badger and I had to sit quietly and watch my husband work Siera so that she would cross the ravine.

Once she figured it was okay, off she'd go.
She even walked up the creek bottom...but it took some convincing on her part. Sucking mucky ground was not her favorite.
Again, Badger showed her that she would not get sucked into a bottomless Mule Sucking Hole.

I did find an antler shed and carried it home.

We didn't get home until sunset.

There is something so lovely as having a mule that has been there and done that.
It was dark as we wound around through the woods towards home. I couldn't even see the trail that we normally followed.
But Badger knew it by heart.

I tried to impress my husband by saying 'right by this tree!' or 'hang a left by the birch!' as if I were calling out directions to Badger.

He laughed and said, 'That mule has been down this trail SO many times, he could do it in his sleep.'
True enough, and I was glad.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When Spring comes March~ing in...

It is great to feel good again. Yep, I am past the hump I think!

I've been doing chores regularly and tending carefully to Badger's medications. He is doing so well, you'd have never known that last week he was in trouble.
His respiration and heart rate are back to normal, no heaving, no coughing, no signs of distress at all.
It pretty much warms my heart.

I had to laugh tonight as I prepared for doing chores.

I lined up Cheyenne's special mix of sweet feed and Equine Senior Feed and set it aside to soak on the counter.

I prepared Badger's meds and mixed them in a handful of sweet feed and set that next to Cheyenne's bucket.

I grabbed the puppy's food [Dottie] and checked to see if I'd missed anything.

Our kitchen counter is not what one would think of as a normal kitchen. Looks like we cater to animals first!
Let's not forget Morris who sits politely and stares intently with hopes of sending the message: FEED ME directly to my brain.
[If that doesn't work, he is very good at nagging.]

When I went outside with my armload of goodies, I was greeting simultaneously by one mule braying, one puppy jumping and barking, and one elderly mare nickering.

When I finished chores I stood in the [now dry] driveway and watched the 'gals' play buck ~ fart ~ chase ~ and act silly.
I was encouraged to see Dynah join in the silly games.

My husband came out and we messed around until dark. The sunset was quite pretty. Strider came over to the fence and I got a 'terrible' shot of her.
But with some bizarre editing, I came up with something to remind me of this beautiful March evening.

Badger seems bored in his small lot. I'm moving him tomorrow to another area. I swear he asked me tonight if we could go riding tomorrow.
Really...I think he did.
I swear it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mule Talk

Sunshine to Sundance: You see that? Favoritism. That Badger is the apple of HER eye. No fair.

Sundance [little sister to Sunshine]: Well, I heard he was sick, so she is being nice to him. Wasn't SHE nice to you when you got hurt?

Sunshine: Well, yeah.

Sundance: ...and doesn't SHE brush and curry us every day? ...rub us and tell us what good girls we are?

Sunshine: Well ~~ yeah.

Badger [who is nibbling grass on the long end of a lead rope while SHE sits in the yard]: Hey girls, you wouldn't have wanted to feel as bad as I was feeling. But just so you know?
SHE is my favorite human. If you want to be her favorite, stand in line.

Sunshine: Huh, that is rude.

Sundance: I think SHE really likes us all very much you know.

Badger and Sunshine: Whaddya know ... you're not even a yearling yet!

Sundance: I keep my eyes open and my big ears open. I hear talk. You want to be HER favorite? Behave like Badger and never argue with HER, always keep her safe, and give her them big sad muley eyes.

Badger blinks his big muley eyes and gets a rub from HER...glances at the girls and winks.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Mule

Yes I admit it. I am obsessed by my animals. My life circles around them, and their health.

Sure I can have sternum cartilage that is torn~which believe me hurts like the devil...and by the way, it is getting better.

BUT one of my animals gets ill or seems to be in distress and I literally feel awful. I had such a sense of dread when Badger was having so much difficulty breathing.
I think it may have been the very first time that I had to face the fact that some day he may not be in my life.
And that, my friends is unimaginable to me.

I cannot imagine life without those big ears, calm eyes, soft bray, and the ever so steady mount that he is.
He and I have a bond where most of the time I do not even have to verbally communicate with him.
Some days when I ride him, ...
I think of where I want to go...
and he goes there.

It is as if he knows my thoughts.

In reality I know that after 14 years of being riding partners, he can read my body language like a book.
I am grateful that I also pay acute attention to how he is doing or this could have been a disaster.

Today his Heart Rate is normal. His respiration rate has decreased, and he looks absolutely wonderful.

Put a mule in your heart and he/she will keep a portion of it as their own.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Badger Update Asthma ATTACK Mule!

Badger ~ 16 yrs old, the prime of a Mule's life. He has allergies. What he had was similar to an Acute Asthma Attack.

His normal respiration is 9. After a hard work out and 15 minutes rest it is up to 11.
Yesterday it was over 72...I couldn't count any faster.
At the vet his heart rate was 38, 36 is his norm.
His respiration was 54, normal 9.

She was not able to hear any wheezing or evidence of severely compromised lungs.
She also said that the fact that I removed him from what 'I thought might be the cause' [where he was and the bale he was eating from] probably saved his life.

It is a good thing to know your animal intimately, I guess.

Anyway the DX was an Acute Asthma attack. Apparently Badger is sensitive to dusts and molds. He will be on oral Albuterol and a steroid .... which will be reduced to nothing in two weeks. The steroids help with the inflammation in his lungs and the Albuterol will make it easier for his lungs to process O2.

Badger is now in his own grassy movable pen, I soak his hay, and he is very good at taking his meds in a handful of sweet feed.
I can handle maintaining him if need be on meds.

After all he is VERY special to many people...
Need I say more [Grand children Ariel and Dennis riding Badger]

Many people have emailed me and called.
He is loved not just by me, but many many people.
I was touched.

PS~ I checked the 'oat hay' bale he was on... I mean I DUG through it with a knife. The interior was black spoiled and nasty. Normally my hubby digs through the bales and makes sure they are good.
The bales were taken out of the other lots and will be spread out on the meadow pasture to reseed and decompose.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Badger is it Heaves or Equine COPD?

I've had an extremely close relationship with this mule called Badger since 1998. We have grown together and been a part of each other's life.

Some days, I think Badger has been a more intimate part of my life than any human. He knows all of my secrets, my fears, my doubts, my hopes, my loves, and my joys.

About a month ago I noticed that I 'thought' Badger was breathing slightly higher than normal. When we did endurance together, his resting respirations were 9. After a 26 mile Limited Distance ride he vetted out with a respiration of 11.
I counted his respiration and it was slightly elevated.

Two weeks ago after our last ride ... in which I noticed that it seemed he got out of breath ... or was lazy [I didn't know] while walking up a hill, I mentioned to hubby that I thought something might be wrong with Badger. Hubby looked at Badger and shrugged, *Maybe he has a cold?*

[Follow your instincts folks!]

Two weeks ago our normal hay supply had run out and we'd bought some 'oat hay' round bales. Everyone seemed fine with it.
Yesterday after not being out with the mules for about a week because of my injury...I went up to where Badger was laying in the dirt.

I panicked. His respiration rate was so high that I could not count it! To me it screamed~~

Something in the Oat Hay and exercise set off something like an asthma attack.

This morning I called the Equine Vet Specialist in our area. At first the girl said March 25th. I said
I told her in a shakey voice that my mule's respirations were higher than I could count. Elevated heart I did NOT take his temp, clear eyes, slightly pale gums....
Long story short Dr. Clay Dean decided he would see him ASAP tomorrow and was re-arranging his schedule.

I moved Badger out of the pasture with the oat hay and made a make shift electric single fence in my yard.
Tonight he ate some of his soaked hay.
I sat on the ground near him until dark.

Yes, Badger and I talked, the way we always do. He seemed sad [silly me]. He rested his head on my knees and I stroked his face while listening to his labored breathing.

I'm guessing he may have Heaves which is now known as ROA...Recurrent Obstructive Airway...

There are things we can do to make him healthier. But he'll never do endurance again [fine by me]...
Anyway I am jumping the gun.
I am frightened for my best friend.

I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

E-Filing Taxes

After I got home Morris and I took a walk in the woods. He needed to run around and find yucky things, I needed some fresh 'woods' air.

The woods are not muddy much to my surprise. There is still a trickle of water running down old dry runs.

We didn't go far because tonight was the night I'd chosen to do our taxes.
Yeech...Yuck. Ick.
I'd put them off long enough.

This year I tried E-Filing. What a bizarre feeling when you hit that button called 'submit'.

Poof ~ you are done.
And...well, for this person who always always has done it by pen and felt strange.

I felt like I should wait for the laptop to spit out something. I felt the strange urge to run to the mailbox.

I felt like making printed copies of the returns and just...
holding them.

Wow. Done.
Just like that.

Well hopefully more sunshine and more walks for me and Morris with all the time we saved!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Crocus Smile

I'll bet you are wondering what the heck a 'Crocus Smile' is...well, it is pretty simple really.

Think about how long winter has been [for those not in the south]. How the snow piled up and the temps plummeted the winds howled at night, and you wondered was winter ever going to let up?

Then on a muddy March afternoon you walk across your yard and notice that after the snow has melted, the brownish grass is littered with sticks and other detritus that needs to be picked up and raked. There is so much yard work to do before warm weather.

One of the 'cluckers' follows you around making soft chicken noises.

You stop and look up at the sky and for the first time in months, it looks pretty with fluffy white clouds.

You can smell the mud and the sun feels strong on your face.

A robin sings and you see a red wing black bird.

Then for some reason you stop and look straight down.

There is a yellow crocus beginning to open at your feet.

You sit down in the yard to get a good look at it.

~~~and you smile.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Grounded, sort of...

Since I'm still recovering from the 'torn cartiledge' in my sternum~~ well, I've been grounded. I did walk around in the muck yesterday to help hubby when he got stuck.

It was not a pain free walk. I cannot believe that such a little part of your body can have such an influence on everything you do.
Imagine having to consider how you stand, sit, and gosh...lay down to sleep.
How you walk.

I don't quite yet dare try the muddy woods, for if I were to slip, I'd have to grab something to balance me.
This would NOT be good.

Good things about this:
Can't vacuum.
Can't sweep. [tried these and boy it wasn't pleasant!]
Can't shake rugs. [did it but shook them like a wimp]
I told hubby that I was unable to cook...he was not convinced.

However I did manage to go through some of my photos from my little road trip last Friday and enjoy messing around with them.

My mules need brushing.
I know that is not going to work.

But I've watched 2 movies and read 3 books.
I'm getting cabin fever.

Thank goodness I have to go to work or I'd surely get on hubby's nerves.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rites of Passage into Spring.

Him: I'm going out to hook up the hay hauler to the truck.

Me: Oh, okay.
[Get's busy doing some laundry until I hear the roar of the diesel engine. Over and Over.
Walk to window, peer out,
Him is in the truck trying to back up into the squishy part of the yard, the truck is flinging mud...uh oh]

Me: [above the engine roar I make a slice across my throat... he stops and I approach]
Um, why don't you go get your skid steer and pull the hauler out onto solid ground and then hook up the truck.

Him: Truck's already here, I'm hooking up...maybe with the extra weight I can get out.

[I scratch my head and look at the truck which is in 6 inch holes with all 4 tires gummy with clay and muck...thinking~~this would be a Kodak moment, why didn't I bring the camera?
Then thinking his reasoning makes no sense what-so-ever.]

Him: [Jumps in truck and revs it up.
Vroom, Vroom! The mud flies the wheels spin helplessly.
I am reminded of a scene from the movie *My Cousin Vinny*.
He grits his teeth and revs harder twisting the steering wheel this way and that.]

Me: [Make large motions in front of him so that he knows he isn't going anywhere. I make the cut motion again.]

Him: What??? [an irritated What]

Me: You are stuck, you are only about 4 inches from the undercarriage of the truck now.

Him: [Opens door and looks down.] Damn. [He says another curse word or two and then steps out of the truck. He looks at me and points at the truck.] You'll have to drive it! [Slugs off through the mud and muck.

I enter the truck, not much of a step up for me as it has sunk so low into the soft clay.]

Out comes the skid steer.

He maneuvers it in front of the truck and attaches a logging chain to the front of the truck.
He slips back into the skid steer and eases back slowly until the chain is tight.

I've done this many times so I ease the truck into gear and put my foot on the gas. Gently, steady, sturdy...the skid steer bucks a bit as the tracks with spikes dig into the hard ground under the driveway muck.
The truck moves forward, I know I am still in muck because the truck won't steer, we are just sliding out.

Him: [Motions for me to stop]

Me: Good job!

Him: Gotta get going!

Me: Okay!
[He drives off the mud caked and goobered tires flinging chunks as he goes.
I look back at the mess and wonder why when he first got partly stuck, what in the heck made him think that going at it harder would get him out?]

It is our Annual Right of Passage into Spring.
The soft ground, soggy, mucky driveway,...and getting stuck.

Yes, several robins flew over my head as I watched hubby leave.
Mud Season.
Gotta Love It.

Some Healing Time

I've not been active with adventures for about a week.

Well you know what I did last week if you follow along with my blog.

I am getting better! So there is actual hope...


I am severely disappointed in myself. This is one of my favorite times of year. The snow is melting with warmer temperatures and rain.

This is the time of the year where things get fun in the dry washes and creek bottoms. Water flows in places that only occur during a major rain storm or flash flood otherwise.

I love to go down by the creek and watch the water boil with mud and leaves. It is like a renewal project.
The spring melt cleans the bottom of the creek and gets things 'freshened' up before Spring arrives.

I would like to have 'cursed' my doctor who was very smart and only gave me enough pain killers to take one at night to ease the throbbing ache in my chest.

She looked at me and smiled...'only for bedtime,' she said, 'if I were to give you any for during the day...I know you'd be trying to do something you shouldn't. Let pain be your guide.'

She knows me too well.

So I let pain be my guide.
Which stinks because of course I want to go wandering in the woods and have some adventures.
I may just have to crack open another book and read.

...and let things heal a bit more.

Here's a shot from a couple of years ago...

Monday, March 08, 2010

A big word for such a small thing...

Today's word is Costochondritis.

That's what the doc said I have.
She said I tore [ripped, shredded pieces of] my sternum's cartilage.
Yes, it hurts and it will take approximately 6 weeks to start...

Guess no riding for me for a bit.
Shhh, don't tell hubby. I'll still go for walks when I start feeling a whole lot better!

Looks like a lot of rain this week anyway and by the time I get out and about again, the snow may be a thing of the past.

What a way to 'bring' in Spring.


Okay so I haven't been back since the 'riding' disastrous incident. I had the pleasure of having grand kids for the weekend.

...and my chest breath, to sit, to move, to anything.

So I figured it would get better right?
Well it hasn't really.
So I wondered if I pulled muscles in my chest?
When I called this morning for an appt, they seemed to think I should be in there ... like yesterday...

So I'm going in a couple of hours to have it checked out. Perhaps I pulled some muscles in my sternum...which would explain why it hurts to breath and nearly 'kills' me to try and shout at someone...

It sucks to get old.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Some days I'm a disaster

You'd think by now I could go riding and 'be safe'.
In fact I was.
Our ride was stupendous.

It was the afterward that was disaster.

Lesson ~~ don't come home after dark and try to 'untack' in a big yank cuz hubby is calling for supper, your cell phone shows 2 missed calls from work, and hubby is saying .... *You gotta call your Sgt.!*

Well the sun had gone down, the temps had dropped..
I yanked the saddle, the pad, the bridle and whipped around the the old tractor
[that is parked 'conveniently' in front of the garage~~NOT]
squeezed into the garage and went to whip the saddle onto the stand...

and caught my foot on the latigo I hadn't bothered to put up correctly.

Bent glasses...again...
[thank goodness it only takes 3 minutes at Walmart to put them together]
Bruised knees [save the saddle! never drop the saddle!]
Sore chest [said saddle's horn rammed me in the chest]

BUT we did find the lens that popped out.


Supper was good and lesson learned...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Of Life and Beauty

There are so many things that we never seem to stop and take the time to see.
[In the foreground is the fresh kill of a den of coyotes. This is Mother Nature, it is necessary, it is real,... and
it is part of life.]

The snow melt water was rushing down the creek bed...
I suppose one could say that that the water is no big deal.
To me it is...I love the sound.

But today was geared for a different adventure.

It was about reconnecting after a long winter.
About fun, about adventure, about...
just enjoying the day and the moment.

Who knows when it will come along again!

Mule Withdrawal Cured

I was getting cranky these past few weeks.
I couldn't figure out what it was all about. I tried hiking harder, walking further, and trying to get into some good books...
Nothing seemed to work.

Something was missing. I had an ache, a need, a want...
But I couldn't nail it on the head.
I was cranky, irritable, short tempered, tired, difficulty sleeping, listless, ...
in short I wasn't feeling very good.

What was bothering me so much?

Yesterday morning as I was putting water in the stock tank, Badger walked up and made his silly mule noise at me.
I smacked myself in the head.

IDIOT! I said to myself.

You've been suffering from MWRS.

And what is that?

I looked down at the ground. The ice was melted, slushy sloppy snow was under my feet. The driveway was muddy and sloppy. The sun was shining brightly and the warmth caressed my face...and well. I wasn't cold!

Badger let out another pitiful mule bray.
He must have been suffering too.

So I had to.
I just had to.

I needed the Cure.

One does not realize exactly HOW much they miss riding until the bad weather, ice, and cold keep you from it for weeks.
I'm so glad that I recognized the symptoms.

I don't think MWRS is fatal.
But it sure can be hard on those who may live with you.