Thursday, September 29, 2011

Going Fishing

I said "Let's go Fishin'!"

In two shakes of a lamb's tail the car was packed up and we were headed out.

What better time of the year I figure to take photos of the Mississippi River?

Oh yeah, in between day dreaming and playing with my camera, I'm supposed to put the worm on the hook thingy and cast it out into the water.

My husband gently reminds me that I should practice casting.

I laugh and say...
*Oh yeah? Well, I meant for it to land right there!*..and point to the obvious spot. *And even better yet, if I catch a fish, I really really did mean for it to go exactly there!*

He smiles as if I am his 'daft' child.

I hoot as my bobber disappears and goes under. I reel in a fish. It is bigger than my hand.
*Keeper?* I ask, knowing damn well it is.

He nods.
*See I meant to cast right there then, even if it looked like a flub. I should practice those flubs more, eh?*
I put the fish on the stringer and mess around with the worm a bit, then toss, er cast it back out.
He looks at me.
*You meant to put it there?*

*Oh yes, it is further out.*
I cast it further out so I could brace the pole against a rock and take some pictures. But I don't tell him that, I'm sure he's figured that out.

He mumbles and sighs. Changes his little lure thing and puts another thing on the hook. The line zings as he casts the perfect cast.

I pick up my camera and realize that the bobber has disappeared again.
I pull in another nice sunfish.
I look over at him and shrug.

*How come you are catching all the fish?* he asks to me, as much as to himself. I know he works hard at it and I don't.
I string the nice 'purply' fish admiring the pretty colors. I call it my purply - pink fish and he calls it a blue gill.
I argue that it is NOT blue, but pretty hues of purple. It should be called a purply-pink gill.

He rolls his eyes. He knows I'm just messing with him now.
He wonders out loud as to why I am catching so many fish.

I smile and pat him on the backside.
*Well, honey, you know I am a Fish Whisper-er!*

I pop a starburst candy in my mouth and grin.

We leave as the sun sets with a stringer full of fish. I know he has kept count, but I have not.
We both agree it was a perfect day.

We'd had a lot of fun.
And now we had some purply-pink gills to eat, to boot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Keeping your Equine in Tune ~ a Debate?

So I was on the phone the other day with a friend of mine who had gotten a new horse.
The horse was supposed to be broke.

But my friend said the mare was having issues with her bit, her cinch, and would misbehave and not respond properly.

I suggested to her that she should find out exactly what kind of training her horse had and perhaps do a bit of ground work or even ride her about an hour every other day in a small pasture just to get to know her habits, likes, and dislikes.

I told her that I often took my ani-mules into our small round pen to check their attitude out especially if I was changing any tack or trying out a bit on them.

My friend seemed horrified and upset. Why her horse was purchased trained and she never did any further training on them.

Frustrated, I tried to tell her that each time she handled a horse, she was inadvertently training it.

I told her that even my aged mules got a 'tune up' every once in a while. Sometimes I just brought them inside the roundpen to saddle them and see what their attitude was that day.

It didn't hurt and it was all for the safety of both rider and animal. After all hadn't she complimented me on my working with Opal so that she was easy to catch and easy to saddle? Opal was 28 yrs old by our closest estimate. She definitely benefited from retraining and re-tuning.

No, no, no. My friend insisted. Just get on and ride.

No, no, no, I insisted. Be safe. Know your animal inside and out.
See that they remember the word 'Whoa'.
See that they remember their manners.

See that they adjust to any changes in tack. Work with them often and they will come to respect you so much more and become eager to please.

Then I realized that we were at polar opposites in thinking about our equine.

She attributed my having to 're-educate' and 'tune up' my riding animals to the fact that they were mules.

She had Arabs, and they didn't need it.

I decided to be diplomatic and not get offended.
As I hung up the phone, I sat back and stared out at the rain driven sky.

How many hours of training had I put into Badger, Opal, Sunshine, Patchy, Cheyanne [my old mare], and now Siera?
Hours upon hours.
Tune up, training, handling, and not just riding.

This lead to respect and bonding between me and my equine.
I'll continue to 'tune up' my ani-mules occasionally. I'll continue to work with them each time and keep it in the back of my head that
I ride
or handle
an animal
training it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mules are Smart?

It has been rumored that mules are 'smart'. Well I know a lot of 'smart' animals [my JRT is not counted amongst those, sorry, Morris].

But mules do sometimes exhibit interesting behavior.

Such as Badger, the tallest mule in the meadow, picking apples for himself when he feels like it.

The others that reside in his 'meadow' see him picking and know that when he grabs one from a branch that others will fall.

That is why you see the donkeys leaving the hay pile and watching Badger in this photo.

Donkeys are not dummies either. Maybe they are even smarter than the mule as they let Badger do the work for them.

Then here is Siera, sporting her new haircut.
She wasn't exactly super co-operative, but we got the job done without any fighting.

I consider that extremely important with a mule. If you can get the job done without a fuss, the mule will be so much happier with you.

And your relationship will be better especially if you get into a 'sticky' situation.

She is muddy just like all of her buddies from the recent rains.

Are mules smart?
Oh you bet your _ _ _ on it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Turn a blah photo into a Wow Photo

I was driving home from town up from the valley on a back gravel road.

The colors of the trees were gorgeous.

Yet somehow I knew that what I saw and what I shot with the camera would not be the same.

Here is the original:
So enter my friends the Topaz Plug Ins and Photomatix Light.

I began with a single exposure and just for kicks dropped it into Photomatix Light to see what I could do with it.

PL helped a bit, but the sky wasn't working for me and the photo looked a bit off but I did love the colors in it.

I deleted it and went back to Topaz Adjust, just for a few minor tweaks.

Normally at this point I just hit the 'delete' button and decide to hunt for a better photograph.

This time I decided to see what I could do with what I had taken.

How far could I go to making this believable?
Copy the backround layer.
Copy some sky from another photo and put it on its own layer.

I used the sky and changed the layer blending mode to linear burn... Whoops, a bit too dark...and the cloud layer is affecting the gravel road

I decreased the opacity to 87% and used the eraser tools to eliminate the 'cloud' color on the gravel road.

Much nicer.
At least the sky now had some hint of color and clouds and it looked fairly natural.

The gravel road itself, I felt could use a touch more detail.

I copied this layer and used Topaz ReMask to 'cut' out the road and isolate it.

Then I used Topaz Detail to bring out the 'gravel' texture and accent the tracks.
Oh yeah, it was a fun little exercise in Elements 5.

A bit of editing really helped this little back road shot come a long way.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Photomatix Light Whoops!

I didn't intend to make this photo at all.

What transpired though did intrigue me.

I started with 3 different exposures of the same scene and combined them in Photomatix Light [nice review by Photoluminary].

What I did not realize is that I also had inadvertently included this photo:

I ended up with a photo that had a hidden texture in it...well actually another hidden photo.

Pretty cool eh?

What it should have looked like was this:

[anyway, my version of it...]

I've also found that combining Photomatix Light, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Detail, Topaz Remask, and Photoshop layers that you can do some amazing things.

Next post, I'll talk about that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Autumnal Equinox

The Autumn Equinox is the first day of the autumn season and occurs when the sun passes the equator moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere. The North Pole begins to tilt away from the sun.

So what did Morris and I do about it?
Well we went out and enjoyed the day!!

Morris and I had a very long hike.
We enjoyed the fall colors that are beginning to change in 'the valley'.

It was a bittersweet walk. Summer was ending, Autumn was rushing in at a great speed.
As usual I looked for colors in the leaves.
This forest and valley lacks the red maples. So I have to wander further next time and try to find the brilliant reds.

Oh how we do love fall...or do you say Autumn?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just Ride

After my Endurance experience this weekend, I decided that Siera was the next perfect candidate to replace Badger.

Badger has COPD or Equine ROA.
He can no longer compete.

Yet there is Siera.
Very cool.
Very forward.
Everything you might want in an Endurance or LD ride animal. She is curious, she is fast, she has stamina.

She also has issues.

Tonight I took her to the BIG Scary Creek. After 30 minutes she decided she could walk across it.
[This is something I've been setting up for about 6 months. A crossing that I could convince her...that it was her idea to walk across.]

Tonight it paid off.
And we followed IN the creek for a half of a mile.
No hesitation on her part.
She walked as if she was supposed to be there.
She walked hard and fast with a purpose. Just what you want in an Endurance animal.

In Short?
She was freaking awesome.
She marched down old deer trails as if they were something to be conquered.

I laughed, I smiled inwards and outwards...maybe I even gave out a War Whoop.

After the ride, we practiced a trot out. And then I clipped her mane.

She is now a working girl.

And I am dang proud of her.

Colorama Classic 2011

Just a few pictures from the ride camp.
If you missed it, missed a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Live To RIDE! ~~by Morris

So SHE asks.
*Wanna go for a ride?*

Well duh.
What great and smart dog would pass up a chance to go for a ride on Badger and get to run down trails and find marvelously smelly nasty icky things
and make HER

*Icky Morris, Icky!*
But Badger is a cool dude. He was pretty sick this spring and summer but is feelin' pretty fine right now.

He is my pal.
I love to jump against his front legs when I am tired.
He'll stop walking and wait for me to get put up in the saddle.

I'm guessing that makes him pretty awesome.
We went to the 'Lost Valley'. Whatever that means.
It isn't Lost.
We aren't Lost when we are there.

Maybe it is just Lost for those who can't find it.
Anyway we found some ultra cool stuff on the trail.

One dead mangled raccoon body. SHE would NOT let me eat it or roll in it.

Some kind of 'coolo' 'shroom that SHE would not let me sniff or eat.
Lots and lots of water in the 'valley' stream.
Badger found a real deep crossing that came up to his chest.
I had to swim.
I think that I should have been allowed to roll in icky stuff since I had to swim the creek.

SHE did not think so.

We did a lot of stopping and just looking around.
SHE does that a lot.

I wish she'd be more like me.
Like to sniff at stuff and roll in things.

I'll keep trying to get her to 'see the light'. But somehow, I just don't get a visual of her chewing on road kill and bragging about it.

Until then, I'll just be happy any time I can go riding with HER.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sunset Moonrise ~ From the Back of a Mule

There is no place on earth that is more pleasing to me than to be on the back of a good solid likeable mule.

Badger was feeling exceptionally well again as the weather cooled off and the winds died down.

I called out to the pasture where he and Opal were.
Badger beat Opal [although she is a little bit more wary when seeing a lead rope and halter].

I haltered Badger and pet Opal. She almost seemed to be disappointed that she wasn't chosen.

I saddled Badger quickly and we were off to enjoy an evening ride and watch the sun go down together...something we hadn't done in quite a while.

Let me tell you.
There is nothing like sitting quietly on a mule and watching the day come to an end.
Watching the deer move across the fields as the full moon rises in the east and the sun sets in the west.

Nothing better either is there than talking to a neighbor down the road.
Me, sitting on Badger.
Her, sitting in her skid steer with her cattle dogs sitting obediently next to the machine.

Naturally we discuss what interests us.
Animals, hers and mine.
She has known Badger for a long time.

She gets out and gently brushes her hand against his head.
*Fine mule,* she says.
From my neighbor, that is a mighty nice compliment.

I sit on Badger, she returns to her skid steer and we wave at each other.
She has chores to finish, and I want to get home before it is too dark to see.

Although the moon rises full.
I shrug. No hurry then.
The moon will light the way.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Magical Skid Steer

Every farmer should have one of these magical machines.

Only when you don't have access to it [hubby won't let me touch it], do you realize how wonderful they can be.

They can haul hay, water, plow snow, clean up a cow pen, dig a hole, move small trees, help with fencing,...they are magical.
If you can run one.

Hubby is sick right now and out of commission. So today I hauled 100 gallons of water in the back of his truck for our cattle. I longingly looked at the skid steer thinking how much easier things would be if HE would educate me on how to use it.

I could fill the bucket with hay and feed the cattle. It wouldn't take 3 or more trips with a wheel barrow up the driveway.
I could could do as he does when watering the cows. Not have to lug 5 gallon jugs by hand.

Heck, I'm thinking he won't let me learn how to use it because then I'd be doing cool stuff with it all of the time.

I'm wondering if he'd notice if I just got in it and started 'teaching myself' how to use it?

I sure could use one of these magical machines today!!!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Badger + Kids = Fun

I've learned never to underestimate the strength and attitude of a good mule.

Badger has been feeling better with the cooler weather. This fall air has done wonders for him. Or perhaps it has been his time with Opal? :)

So when the grand kids came to visit, I took advantage of his moment of better health.
So I offered the kids a 'pony' ride on Badger and they jumped at the chance. I asked the neighbor kids if they wanted a ride too.
The older girl jumped at the chance.
I can recall as a child myself how wonderful it was to have an adult toss me up on a horse and lead me around. It hooked me on a life time of becoming a horse - equine person.

[I'm the one in front and my sister is the one behind me...we had our first pony ride on my Uncle's paint horse. It sealed MY fate with equine.]
The kids enjoyed it.
Badger loved the attention. He was his usual Mule-ambassador self. Quiet, well behaved, and very careful with his precious cargo.
It is days like this that I can pretend that he really isn't sick and my heart swells with pride and joy.
Even our young grand son enjoyed his ride with Grandpa. I couldn't tell who was smiling more, Grandpa or Dennis.

I'm hopeful that I can keep Badger healthy. Ariel asked if Badger was 'better' now. I told her sadly that no, he really wasn't. Only time would tell and I would hope that he didn't pass on.

The kids watched as I put Badger back into the meadow with the donkeys and Opal.

Ariel quietly said.
"Well, I guess it is in God's hands now."

It brought a lump to my throat and I couldn't say a word. But she was right.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mix Kids and Water, Stir Gently and Sit Back

It is really quite easy you see.

Take the kids on a hike down near the *Secret Place*.

Once there they discover rocks, water, sticks, ...
and imagination takes over.

They begin to make plans to build a dam, or perhaps a 'fort'.

Rocks are very pretty, they decide on which ones to take home and show their moms.

No fighting over toys.
No ringing phones.
No cell reception.
No computers or computer games.

Imagination at work only.

Just sit back and let nature do its thing.
Kids doing what kids should be able to do, with fresh air and exercise as a bonus!


Monday, September 05, 2011

It Wasn't a Dream

Truly, this was not supposed to have happened.

On July 5th it was doubtful that Badger would live another day. His respirations and heart rate were off the chart.

The 100 degree heat indexes, dust, and allergens, along with a very tough winter and spring had turned Badger into a listless wreck who had lost a lot of weight.

My husband was prepared to dig a grave for Badger's final resting spot.

What happened? I lost hope, stopped the daily meds and monitoring and put him out in the large donkey meadow.

He would make it ... or not. Strangely enough his coat began to shine and he began to put on just enough weight to cover his ribs.
His respiration and heart rate was still high, but since he seemed happy....
I let him be.

The temperatures at night have dropped to 40 degrees. The air is dry and without allergens. The recent week of rains has knocked down the dust.

Badger's respiration rate had dropped somewhat. He brayed to me and trotted to the gate.

I had no choice but to take him out for a walk/ride.
Was I ever surprised.

He seemed content to walk down the valley and at times carry Morris [who was ecstatic!].
He was the old calm Badger I was so used to. He knew the trails, he walked with purpose, ...
he did not cough.
He only ran out of breath once when he followed a deer trail up a steep hill. [His choice, I let him make the decision...]

Wonderful Badger.
He stopped towards the end of the ride, suddenly alert.
Through the woods down our 'mule' trail came two deer on a dead run. I don't even think they ever saw us.
Badger sighed and we moved on.

For a small part of the afternoon I felt reconnected and strangely content.
I didn't want it to end.

I didn't want to wake up and find out it had been a dream.