Friday, April 30, 2010

Never doubt a Mule

July 6th 2009.

I saw Sunshine limping horribly in the pasture. It appeared as if she'd broken her leg, it wobbled horribly and she couldn't put weight on it.

We eventually found out that she had torn a collateral ligament in her left knee. The tumble she'd taken in the pasture had caused nerve damage and her left shoulder atrophied.

The vet said 6 months of stall rest, with daily exercise of hand walking.

Sunshine spent 6 weeks laying in the stall, just getting up to eat and do her business [photo above].

My heart was glum. The vet's prognosis was not good, but he asked us to give her a chance.

So it is with tears in my eyes and a song in my heart that I report Miss Sunshine and I went for a ride today. It has been nearly 10 months since her injury.

She handled the ride in the woods like a pro. At first she was hesitant to leave her wailing pasture mates behind and enter the narrow path. [Let us not forget the winds that were whipping and the sound of thunder far off in the distance!]

We took an easy ride down to the creek and stopped.

I dismounted and let her nibble grass.

While I wept tears of joy and buried my face in her neck.
My little red molly mule had come back when the odds were against her.

I remounted and we rode quietly towards home, the thunder booming in the sky and the winds whipping the tree tops on the ridge above us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Hawthorne Tree

I wandered around the meadow the other day fairly confident that I would find this identifying the tree business fairly easy.

What a surprise to find that I really didn't know what I was 'seeing'. I assumed that most of the trees were some sort of wild apple tree.
Then I came across this small thorny tree that was budding reddish leaves.

To tell you the truth, I hadn't noticed it before. I only glanced at the trees and in my mind...they were simply


According to different legends, the Hawthorne Tree is where Faeries meet in the Spring.

It is also known as the May Tree.

How fun.
Perhaps I'll go out when it blossoms and see if I can spot some woodland Faeries.

I had no idea when I started this project how interesting trees could be.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Faerie Land

I thought I'd take a walk with Morris and start our journey of 'finding' interesting trees yesterday during a light rainfall.

I'm so easily distracted. I walk the path and look everywhere, yet have a hard time seeing the trees as individuals.
This project may end up much harder than I thought.

I was easily able to identify an elm tree. A no brain-er though...

Of course there are the 'scrub' apple trees that grow wild in the meadow also...
[but I have as yet found the proper name for them]

Then I got totally distracted by the 'find' of another False Morel:
I spent a long time looking not only at the ground, but peering at the trees. The simple ones I could recall.

...and there I stopped.
I knew I was going to have to get a tree guide book. Plus I was going to have to learn to 'look up' at the trees.

However I did find a nice photographic treat. A faerie land picture of Mayflowers. I imagined wood elves and faeries dancing around the May Poles and it made me smile.
[ask me what kind of trees are in the back-round...and I'll shrug...I didn't really look at them, as the Mayflowers had captured my imagination...and not the trees themselves...see? this is going to be harder than I thought!]

Friday, April 23, 2010

Love is in the air!

Badger has always had a sweet spot for Cheyanne my elderly [26-ish] year old mare. The gray mule is named Mica, she was put in the meadow to keep Chey company when I take Badger out for rides.

What a bunch of silliness they all had at first!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I need a project

Last year I worked on the identifying things in the forest like wildflowers and interesting plants.
It has really helped me learn to 'see' things differently.

While walking or riding through the woods I can look down and identify a budding plant.

*Oh look! There is a group of Bellworts coming up!*

Maybe that is not exciting to you, but to me, it is! I feel like I understand the role of the plants just a bit better.

I realized though, while I now can identify most plants on the ground, I cannot identify every tree I go by.
I can tell you the simple ones like Birch, Maple, Oak, and Elm. But I don't know how to ID others like smooth Hickory, Beech, and a variety of others.
I want to be able to identify them by the bark and shape of the tree [in winter] and by the leaves in the summer [and fall].

So I'll embark on this new photographic journey this year. Having a project like this helps me learn.
Badger and Morris will be assisting as usual in this new project.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chore Dancing

Don't dance and do chores at the same time.

But I couldn't help it.
Sunday while driving back from town errands I heard some songs by April Smith and the Great Picture Show on Prairie Home Companion.
It was by accident you know.

I loved the music so well that I did something I don't normally do. I bought the album and downloaded it from ~~ Songs for a Sinking Ship.

I then put the album on my MP3 player.

When I went out to water the large tank for the mules, I stuck the MP3 player in my pocket and put the ear buds on.
I pushed play and before I knew it, my feet started doing some sort of happy shuffle in the dew wet grass.
The mules and horses stared at me.
I didn't care... I was doing this funky little dance thing, off in my own little world... to the song: Colors.

One word of caution.
Don't dance where your husband can see you.

Rich came outside and started down towards me...he was saying something, ... so I pulled my ear buds [sheepishly]
and said:

He said: *Are you okay? You looked like you had something wrong with you!*

Note to self. My dancing = spastic looking movements to hubby.

*I'm okay, really I am.*

I held up the ear buds and pointed to my pocket.
He shook his head and murmured something about 'lurching zombies' which I think was in reference to my attempt to dance in chore boots while holding a garden hose.

So what?
I put the ear buds back on and turned up the volume. I danced and jigged while listening to April Smith's voice and her band.

I also know with great certainty that IF LURCHING ZOMBIES ever attack my farm, my mules and horses will have already have been desensitized to them.

Listen and you will have dancing feet too.

Sunshine~the Miracle Mule

Here is Sunshine.
She had torn her collateral ligament and injured her shoulder July 5th last year. The DX and prognosis was very grim.

She spent 6 months in 'stall rest'. The first 3 months were painful for her [no pain meds as the vet wanted her to limit her movements]. She laid in the stall off and on for 6 weeks.

Today she walks, bucks, runs, and plays like nothing has ever happened.

We have gotten the okay to do mild exercise on flat ground under light rider and saddle.

She is truly a miracle mule.

Monday, April 19, 2010

False Morels and a Donkey

This afternoon was bright, warm, and sunny. I didn't feel like riding as we went yesterday [okay I did want to ride, but thought I should get something else done].

So I took out the curry comb and started through some mules.
Let the HAIR fly!

When I got to Eddie, the gelded donkey, I thought it would be fun to take him and Morris for a walk in the woods.
I wanted to see if Eddie had remembered his leading lessons.

I was extremely surprised and happy to find out that he did!

Way to go Eddie!

On July 10th he will be 2 years old. He was polite on the narrow trail and followed nicely. He even decided to please me by learning how to jump a log. The log came to just above his knees.
...and his jump was very graceful.
He didn't mind Morris running around him, but was very aware of him.
This pleased me as donkeys are not naturally friends with dogs. Morris is always around ... so Morris is probably associated with me in Eddie's mind.

We hiked through berry briers and multi flora rose, following a deer trail.
I stopped in the woods and looked up towards the ridge top considering whether or not to take Eddie up on the gravel road.
I decided not to because I had no leash for Morris.

I turned my head and saw this:

A False Morel mushroom. Quite excited, I lead Eddie over and picked it. I would have left it there, but it is poisonous. Anyone not knowing what they were looking for might actually sneak into these woods and pick it.
Plus with my hands full of lead rope I hadn't brought my camera.
[I know, I always have it...but the quick trip to the woods was very spontaneous!]

What a great little experiment in the woods. Eddie did NOT miss his pasture mates one bit, and followed me politely everywhere.

Eddie will be started under saddle in two more years. Yes, I will have a iron gray donkey to ride.

...and if you go Morel Hunting ~~ please beware of the False Mushroom.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane

The title is pretty misleading.
That is unless you think the 'fast lane' is out and about on back roads and a jaunt through the woods on Mr. Mule [Badger].

The other night we went for a ride to watch the sun set over the ridge. I didn't get many sunset photos as I ended up stopping and talking with a couple of the neighbors that live about a mile from my place.
Children came out to pet Badger as we watched the sun go down.
I can say that Badger has continued to be one of the best Mule Ambassadors ever. He adores children and will become a statue when they want to pet him.
[that said, I know that an animal is an animal...and we always practice safety first]

Badger dropped his head for a small child so she could grasp his ears with her fingers. He loves that for some reason. He then gently shakes and flops his ears and the children laugh.

I remounted and rode out to the where the black top begins and found another neighbor's wayward dog. I called to him and surprisingly enough, he followed Badger and I back to his home.

A nice little adventure.
A beautiful sunset, a visit with neighbors and children, a 'rescued' dog, and a pleasant ride.

If this is the 'fast lane'...or more appropriately, the gravel lane, I am happy to be here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Morris~stunt dog

Oh for woodland adventures.
I love woodland adventures.

Yup I surely do.
I love it when we go out in the woods and I can run like the wind.
I can run circles around HER.
She watches so that I don't get lost.

Doesn't she know I watch her too?

Today we came to a very big and very rocky ravine where water runs hard and fast during a big storm.
SHE calls it a 'dry run' or wash.
I call my playground.

First you look...
Then you bunch up...
Then you LEAP with your ears catching air for balance...
Then you walk along as if it were no big deal.

We had a very nice Woods Adventure.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers Shoes

Have you ever heard of them?

I hadn't until my older son showed them to me last year. I thought *weird, they look like gorilla feet*.
Who on earth would wear 'shoes' like these?
Then my son told me he was running full time in these.

He is not a 'jogger'. He is a runner with multiple marathons, half marathons, and an ultra-marathon under his belt.
He said his feet felt great. He said his feet loved these 'shoes'.

I thought he was bizarre. I mean I'd started running in the early 70's in deck shoes and progressed to real running shoes by the early 80's. I always bought cheap because that was what I could afford and the more expensive ones made my feet sore.

So I started thinking. I'd grown up running around barefoot. My grandmother at the young age 0f 85 was still going barefoot...
I still go barefoot whenever I can in the yard, but chose to wear rubber chore boots while hiking the trails.

What if
What if I decided to try these out?

What on earth is a woman who is going to be my age, doing looking at these funky shoes?

I'll tell you more after I've received them and start wearing them mid May.
Then I too can have *gorilla feet*, albeit they will be pink and gray.

Although, I really thought the blue camo ones were strictly cool.

Who knows, I may be enchanted by happy feet to start running again [mostly wooded trails!].

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mule Adventure

There is something to be said for mules and mule-adventures.
Hmmm, what?

Ok, let me start this all over.

We caught up Opal and Badger, because it was such a nice afternoon. The pretense was, we'd go riding together and look for antler sheds.

Well interestingly enough, we hit the Jackpot. I was more into riding and looking at the wildflowers coming up, my husband was keeping his keen eyes peeled for white antler sheds.

I found flowers,
He found sheds.

We were riding in the back valley and generally just taking it easy when I heard an


He never *ah hahs* with that much enthusiasm unless it is something quite spectacular.
Which of course, it was.

Had it been a full set, he'd have had a 12 point buck!
The trail we were following has a large tree downed across it. It has been there for about 3 years and is a favorite spot to get our mules to jump in hand.
Which of course we did.

Those mules can be quite handy when coming to obstacles in the woods. Truly there is no other way over this downfall.
Barbed wire fence on on side and a rocky drop off on the other side...

We got home just before dusk and put the mules away.
What a fine spring afternoon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Into the woods

Yesterday I took a walk along the old 'cow' path into the woods. This is the trail that I maintain for riding.
I took along a small saw and a pair of nippers.
The April sun warmed the air to a balmy 60 degrees.

Because the weather has been so warm, it seems that some things are coming up a bit earlier in the forest.
The Wild Ramps or Leeks are not yet quite ready. Ohhhh, but they smell wonderful and very strong.

To my surprise I looked at the 'spot' where I'd found Trillium last year and found the leaves of the plant poking up through the oak and maple leaves.

[Last year's plant in the same spot.]

I felt a shot of excitement and literally did a little jig in the woods before I pulled out my broken Pentax Optio [the LCD is broken on it, yet I couldn't give it up because the super macro on this little camera is incredible]...
and shot some photos 'blind' hoping that they would turn out!

The spring 'bug' has bitten me.
I know the small 'pinks' are out there somewhere right now...
and the blood roots ought to be unfolding ...

Badger just brayed at me while I was making coffee. He must be able to see me through the kitchen window.

I'm thinking a trip to the woods by mule [with Morris] is on my to do list today.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Are Those Wrinkles???

Me ~ Color
Originally uploaded by Mulewings~
Somehow, somewhere, these things crept up on me without me knowing.

After all, when I look at myself in the mirror [without my glasses, or without the light turned on]...I look just fine.

Then I get this really quite nice photo taken of me by my stepdaughter whom I handed my camera to so that I could climb on the round bales with the grand kids.

I knew she knew how to use the camera. But I assumed she was taking photos of the kids.

With my photoshop abilities, I'm sure I could've edited out all the wrinkles and made myself look beautiful-er and young-er.
But what the hey...I earned all those wrinkles.

Laugh wrinkles, worry wrinkles, weather wrinkles [from being outdoors all the time], and wrinkles of wisdom?

So I am going to leave it as it stands.
This is me.
And I like me just the way I am.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Mystery of Missing Hedgehogs~By Morris

I woke up on Monday and came downstairs to play with my toys.

To my horror and, which SHE says is a constant state of mind, um the confusion part...
I could not find my Hedgehog family.
Crazy the Squirrel was tucked nicely into my toybox.

But no Hedgehogs.
I went upstairs and poked around.
I went in the kitchen and looked under all of the chairs.
I looked in the bathroom and in the tub.
I looked behind the couch.

Then I sat in the middle of the living room floor and stared at HER.

SHE must be dense because SHE did not figure out that something was terribly wrong. SHE said to HIM that I must be sad because the grand kids were gone. Oh, I was, I do love the grand kids.

They are great friends, they love to run with me and play with me. I wish I could put them in my toybox or in my crate and keep them from going home.
[then I'd always have someone to play with!]

Finally SHE realized that I only had left the Crazy Squirrel on the living room floor. SHE finally realized that the mess I normally make by spreading out all of my stuffed toys was absent.

SHE walked over to the Kid Toybox and opened it. What a relief! There was my Hedgehog family!
I grabbed them one by one out of the box and tossed them about on the floor.

Then since all was well, I could resume my duties by holding the corner of the couch down and taking a long awaited nap.

Mystery solved.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Heaves, Exercise, and Mules

By now if you've followed along, you'll know my mule has something called *Heaves* also called Equine COPD, and also called Reoccurring Airway Obstruction, ...also in some circles known as environmental asthma.

That is a lot to take into consideration.
Since his 'Acute' attack, Badger has been doing fairly well. Since my hubby also has COPD, I am following some things that we are done for humans and applying them towards my mule.

I believe that even an animal who has been compromised as Badger has [and hubby] by COPD can benefit from light exercise.

I have resigned myself to knowing that Badger [hubby] are going to have good days and bad days.
Today was a good day for hubby, a slightly less than stellar day for Badger.

Yet I came up with a reason to get out and about.
Drop the never ending things that have got to get done... ...and go get some exercise and enjoy the day.

I was positive that today had to be the day we went with mules and looked for antler sheds.

Badger was ever the willing patient. He was a good sport. When he seemed to get out of breath, I stopped and let him rest. [I am counting the days to get him out on grass pasture!]
What a good sport.

COPD patients do need to exercise even if they don't feel like it. Today we did just that.
Ask me if my husband enjoyed his exercise?
Well, just look at his face.
Priceless isn't it?
I don't think he realized my intention was some sort of 'get out of the house and let's get some exercise' plot.

Badger got exercised, hubby got exercised, and we got to watch an awesome thunderstorm build over the ridge on our way back home.

Yes, we also got antler sheds.
Badger's respiration were high when we got home, but after some intense brushing and currying it dropped down to a some what acceptable level.

The rains tonight should help with the levels of dust and pollens in the air.

I love my patients.

Good Morning


I need lots of coffee.
I should probably go into thoughts of my Easter weekend with the all the fun I had ... but I don't feel 'up to it' quite yet.

So I'm just going to sip my coffee with some Chocolate Belgium Cream and browse through the photos and videos of the grand kids and the family weekend.

I also worked this weekend, but it was all so very enjoyable.
Life is precious and enjoy each moment.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Because I can

These two shots should give you a slight idea of the kind of 'stuff' I ride in.

I rode Badger this morning early before it got too warm. The farrier said to give him mild exercise because it would help give the proper circulation to his feet. This could prevent some issues that could be caused by the hormones he was on for two weeks for his 'asthma' or 'acute heaves' attack.

In the first photo you can see one of the ditches [dry run offs] that we cross often. The log in the upper left corner nearly comes up to Badger's chest. While an inconvenience, it doesn't propose a huge problem while riding.

I dismount and jump Mr. Mule in hand over the downed tree. This morning we did that three times.
Mr. Mule has been getting grain in the AM and PM so he can take his Albuterol. I've cut the grain back because Mr. Mule started having
I decided then he would enroll in a mild exercise class we call *Badger-cize*.

I rode in my Wintec English saddle ... after looking at what we went through, I'm not sure if I'm just a good rider or extremely stupid. But boy was it ever comfy. By the way, it has no OH SHIT handle...

Morris came along and enjoyed getting full of dirt and mud in the creek. He jumped logs and tried to mark every tree. He is sleeping his morning exercise off.

What a nice morning.
Now off to water and groom critters before going to work.

Tomorrow I plan on riding again.
Just because I can.