Monday, September 30, 2013

Yes She Does!

Just before hubby left to see some folks in Missouri, he and I talked about Morris and Opal.

I wondered out loud if she would ever give Morris a ride in the saddle.  Both of us figured she wasn't of the temperament to try new things.
Especially at her age.

But Sunday morning I got her out for a ride.  I tied her up to the hickory tree in the yard and let Morris loose.  He ran circles around her and stopped to smell her hooves.

Now Morris has gone on rides with Opal before and she is fine with him running under her, behind her, and in front of her.  She seems to be actually calmer when he is along and we are going solo.

He seems to sooth her for what ever reason.  I did notice that effect on Siera also when he went along.

I attached the bell to her breast collar and then put Morris on the saddle.  Morris acted terrified.  Opal turned her head and looked at me.  
I handed her a treat.

We stood there for a moment or two.  Then I lifted Morris off the saddle.
Doing that at home and doing that on the trail was two different things.  
I started out the ride with Morris in the saddle.
Both mule and dog were content.

Morris had a blast.   He ran ahead of Opal.  Then he would stop and smell and sniff.  We'd ride past him  ~ after a moment or two I'd call and he'd come blasting down the old logging trail on a dead run.

Being a mule, Opal kept a close eye on her little buddy.

And she didn't mind it when he scrambled to stay on while I mounted.

Just before we crossed the creek to head home, I stopped to let Opal eat some nice luscious grass.

Morris waited patiently and stood back watching Opal eat.  When I lifted her head and put a foot in the stirrup, he came up and put his paw on her front leg.  
Opal didn't move.
I put the tired Jack Russell on the saddle and mounted up.

She carefully carried Morris and I home.

I guess the answer to our question has been answered.
Yes, Opal will let Morris ride in the saddle!

And...he likes it!

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Lucky for me this morning that I thought I forgot a piece of camera equipment up on Kolstad Road.  I wouldn't have seen this beautiful scene.

Nor would I have seen this light on the tree leaves...


Turns out that I didn't forget anything.  I just was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the sunrise.

The fog was so thick this morning that sometimes the camera would not even focus. 

I was able to take advantage of the tripod that I brought along and some very interesting shots of dew.

Nature sure has some awe inspiring beauty.
It makes you feel small and humble.

I felt this today as I watched the sun turn the fog into an orange mist.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Weekend ~ by Morris

So Grumpy Gus also known as HIM has gone on a trip to someplace called Misery.  No, SHE says Missouri.

I don't care it is past the driveway and I can sleep with HER if I want to.

We have big plans for the weekend.  SHE promises to take me for a hike/ride with Siera the mule that lets me ride in the saddle.

We were going to have a campfire tomorrow night but there might be some rain ... SHE says we can cuddle on the couch and watch some movies.

Better if the movies were about Dogs and Cats don't you think?  I like Hero dog movies myself.
I did not like Where the Red Fern Grows at all.  I hid my head.

SHE says she is going away next week to a place called Virginia with her mom to visit her brother.  Huh, I wonder if they are litter mates or what.  I don't know my mom and haven't seen or thought about her since I came to live with HER.

Do you know how many years that has been?
9 yrs!
Here is me at 6 weeks old on my first hike:
Yeah yeah...I've gotten awful grey in the face since haven't I?  This was taken September 18, 2004...

According to some website SHE looked up, I should be 56 years old.  So that means I have a LOT of adventuring to do yet right?

One of my favorite passtimes is holding down the couch.

I hope we get out on some adventures soon.  SHE is working some night hours so is pretty grumpy during the day.

SHE really needs to learn how to chill out like can learn a lot from your dog you know.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I'm too cool by Fred

I believe the word is Uber Cool.  I don't know what an Uber is but that is okay as long as I am cool.

She came up to the catch pen with that lead rope and I knew it was my ticket to some fresh grass.
I used to be impossible to catch, but Val's got this way about her.  She always has something interesting to offer when she has that lead rope.

Sometimes it is just a walk to a place with nice grass, sometimes there is some brushing stuff going on with a bite of sweet feed.
Sometimes it is to get my feet trimmed and a haircut.

Her rides are never unpleasant either.  I mean she is never hard on me or difficult to get along with.  
I like that in a human.  I like them to be trained just right, and boy it has taken me about 17 years to get this woman trained just right.

I can almost always count on her to find me some wonderful green grass to munch on.  Today she had a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwhich.  I turned my nose up at it though, was not green enough for me.

The forest trees are dumping their leaves like crazy.  They kept falling and hitting me on my ears.  They didn't bother Val, she wears a helmet.

We really surprised some deer.  That was fun to watch Val startle.  IF she had been watching ME closely, she'd have known.  After all my ears pointed them right out to her.

Then we found a real piece of work in the woods.  I wonder sometimes who really builds these little houses?
Don't they want a roof over their heads?  And what is with leaving the furniture out.
They must have been very little people.

Val explained that it was an old deer blind.
Yup, that explains a lot.  Old.  Blind.  Deer?
I'm confused.

Anyway when I got back I told Opal and Siera all about my adventure.  Opal knew all about the Blind Deer thing.
Opal was also mad that she didn't get to go.
She promised to be first to the gate next time.

Siera nudged Opal and said SHE wanted to go.
I'm gonna keep my eye out on Val.
I may surprise them all and make it first to the gate, I gallop when I think she is coming!

Val said something about riding every day this weekend if she could.
That means I really got to keep an eye on her.  I should be her favorite MULE.  But she does take kindly to Grumpy ol' Opal, and Silly Siera.

So Pretty, Mule Riding.

There are many arguements for not solo riding, and I understand them.
You could have a spook and an accident and who would be there to help you?

But when there is no one to go with and you have the itch to ride, ... well you go.

I saddled up Fred and took him on the easy trails in the neighbor's land.  I needed to get out and ride so even though Siera and Opal came up, I chose Fred.  He is Mr. Steady Eddie.

Hubby is on his way to visit friends in Missouri so I couldn't resist taking off on a diversion.
Our fall colors are going to be pretty dull this year.
As you can see on the trail in front of Fred, so many leaves have already come off.

This was about the most color that I found today, but still very worth the time riding.
Besides, Fred did all the hard work of hiking.

We spooked up two very large does that bounded off through the forest.  Fred saw them way before I did and so we were not alarmed.

Today I put a bell on his breast collar so that we would alert deer and not come right up on them.
Besides, it makes a nice jingly noise!

I however did leave a message with the neighor as to where I was going and called when I returned.

So I am being careful.

Tomorrow, I think Opal or Siera would like to go.  If I take Siera, Morris can come with.  He is getting on in age and likes to take a ride in the saddle with me.  Siera will do that, Opal likes Morris's company but I don't believe she'd allow him on the saddle with me.

It is so quiet here in our little valley, the robins and most of the other migrating birds are gone.  Today I heard chickadees and some Flickers along with a bluejay...the crickets are singing softly.
Autumn has arrived.

And it is a gorgeous time of the year.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I am having riding withdrawals!

Seems I haven't ridden in days.  
But that could be do to my demanding schedule.
12 hour overnight shifts, day shift, night shift...all make for a weird sleep schedule.

I however did get out early the other morning with my cameras, one Nikon and one point and shoot for an awesome foggy morning sunrise.

I didn't realize how chilled I was while awaiting just the right light to get the 'right' shot.
Of course there is no such thing.
It is pure luck, either the sunrise combined with humidity and temperature make the right conditions ... or not.

In this case it seemed to have done perfectly for my purposes.

After the sun peaked over the ridge, I moved to another area to watch it rise again.
Seriously, in hill country you can do that!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered frost on the soybeans!

This last photo was taken with my point and shoot FujiFinePix camera.  I posted it to Flickr and imagine my surprise when this morning I looked at my Flickr Account and realized that I'd had 49 thousand hits on this photo.

I think this just proves that you absolutely do not need the most expensive camera in the world to take a fine photo.

It helps to have good equipment.  But this was not what I considered my best camera.  It is my haul around the woods, climbing rocks camera.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Not Quite Ready for Fall

But it seems like it is going to come anyway.

Temps later this week are going to drop.  That is a bit different from yesterday's temps of 86 degrees and endless rounds of thunderstorms.

Morris and I did manage to get out and take a couple of short hikes.
Imagine my surprise when we found Indian Pipes!

Very cool plant and very elusive unless you know where to find them.

The multi flora roses are producing seeds in the form of Rose Hips.  Pretty to look at...but the birds eat them and spread this invasive species throughout the woodland.

Their thorns have the ability to rip anything...I think!

Morris enjoyed playing King of the Forest.

You can see in this photo that the undergrowth is fading and leaves are dropping from trees.
Sometimes I don't want Fall to come along.  Sometimes I feel like I need MORE summer time.
But I understand that we have the changes of seasons and that generally I enjoy the fall just as I do any other season.

Just as I enjoy the snows and winter.

But in my heart ... as it is every year, I'm not quite ready for the cooler season.

Once it is here though, I seem to embrace it with gusto each year.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Misty Beautiful Morning with Equine

As luck would have it, I grabbed my camera when I went to feed the hound dogs for my Grumpy Husband.

Bob decided to have his say on the matter of having his breakfast delayed while the hounds were fed.

After taking care of the hounds, I walked over the the Merry Meadow.
My luck, the sun was burning the mist a beautiful orange-yellow color!

The mares and Sunshine were grazing quietly while the mist came up from the woods behind them.

I felt very peaceful inside watching them.

So the morning was stunning.  I wonder what the rest of the day will bring.
Farm work I suppose.  
One day off and many many 'Honey-Do's' for me.
Maybe I'll skip running to town.

Perhaps this evening it won't rain and Siera and I can find another adventure.

This morning was a wonderful pleasure...I love morning mists!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall is Coming!

Looking back at last year's photos, fall was full into swing by September 21st.
Cold misty mornings with bright fall colors.

A photographer's delight.  Those are the mornings I get up before dawn and drive to one of my favorite county parks and take photos as daylight comes into the valley and mist rises from the water.

These too are the crisp mornings like those I used to ride Badger down into the valley.

Sunrises are pretty cool when seen between mule ears.

I'm looking forward to some mornings of either riding around here...or hiking at Jersey Valley pre dawn or just at dusk.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Siera Spooks at...

This time out I was brave enough to go ahead and use the flash on the little pocket camera while Siera and I were out in a hay field.  
She was standing quietly watching the neighbor's cattle while they were feeding.

The flash didn't bother her at all I guess.  But one should always be careful, I've seen spooks from lesser scary things.

When we started the ride clouds had already come in and it was fairly dark.  I wore a reflective vest over my 'Screaming Yellow' Bicycle jacket that I'd purchased just for riding a few years ago.  Believe me, Screaming Yellow is the perfect name for it!

When I do night rides, I stick to the hay fields and sides of our ridge roads that are gravel and not well traveled.  It isn't exciting riding, but we can work on going away from home willingly and 'putting in time' under the saddle.

When we reached a hay strip that pointed towards home, Siera decided that she wanted to GO that way.  I allowed her to turn and then continued to circle her.  After about 4 circles, she realized that we were not going THAT way just because she wanted too.

It seemed that my ridge was deserted!  All 3 homes were empty.  I suppose they'd gone to the Fair in town.

We reached the black top and crossed the road before we turned around.  I never turn around in the same spot...mules will expect that in the future.

By the time that we came back by the cattle, it was very dark out.  I could see pretty well and obviously Siera could see even better than me.

Suddenly Siera snorted like a deer whistling in fright.  She took a large step sideways and then locked up her legs and turned to stare.

Two curious calves had started to run towards the fence.
That was Siera's spook.
She snorted at them.  I turned her so that she could watch these 'horrid' little creatures.

It was a standoff.  Mule watching calves...not moving, calves watching mule...not moving.

Siera took a big sigh and the calves turned and walked back to the bale feeder.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.  Siera walked out in a beautiful  Paso Llano (four beat lateral movement in even cadence).  I had to do a little work getting her there, but it was worth the ride!

Her spook?  If all spooks were like that I would be one happy rider.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moonlite Ride

Hubby had some 'to do's' for me after supper.

I'd already saddled up Siera in Badger's English Wintec Saddle and she was standing quietly.

So I let her be while I helped string new fencing.  Finally the fencing near the house will be in the same area as it was before the horrid, wicked storm of August 2007.

Siera stood still never brayed or even pawed at the ground.

When I got to her it was dusk.  I mounted up and we headed up the driveway.
She was on a 'mission' as my husband would say.
She was struttin' her stuff and pacing out fast.

It was a welcome change from her trying to turn around and come back down the driveway.

We strutted right along into the twilight.  
Along the way we stopped so I could check her girth.
I was using a different setup for reins and dropped them.

Siera stepped away from me and when I said, "HO!"  She turned and walked straight to me.
Lots of praise and petting.

Off we went through the hay fields and the road.  The neighbor's cattle were startled by us and we stopped so they could give us a good once over.

The moonlight was silver and I could see our shadow on the ground as we traveled along.

The air was crisp and cool ... I told Siera that fall was not far off.  She twitched an ear towards me as I spoke to her but her concentration was on what was in front of her.
She was on the move and gaiting out.

It was completely dark when we did get home.  That is...except for the moonlight...half I can't wait for the full moon! 

This was my second ride on her with the Wintec English Saddle.  She seemed very comfortable with it.  It felt good to ride in it.  

When I led Siera into the pasture and took off her halter, she stood close to me for a very long time.  She didn't run off or walk away.

A perfect end to a perfect moonlit ride.


Friday, September 13, 2013

The Natural Playground

I happen to be very lucky that my neighbor needed someone yesterday on very short notice to 'play' with the kids.
I jumped at the chance.

We decided to take a hike down the hill road and when we got there, the kids decided that they'd like to go rock climbing.

I was a bit hesitant because the area I like to go in ... is a huge dry run.  This means that over many years, this is the path that flash flood waters take when heading towards low ground.
It is filled with tumbled boulders, roots, rocks, branches, and slippery surfaces.

I soon discovered that these kids were naturals.  They climbed, hiked ... and watched out for each other.
Yes, I did a lot of helping.

But what an adventure we had.

It was incredible to be able to share my 'secret' spots with the kids.  The spots that I like to go to with Morris sometimes just to sit and relax deep in a ravine surrounded by rocks.

I wish that all kids could have outdoor experiences.  We should toss the TV's aside, go outdoors and play, make discoveries, and challenge ourselves and the children.

Not for one second in 2 hours did the kids complain or say 'I'm bored.'
They were showing the rocky dry run to me with new 'children's' eyes.

We all found some cool rocks to bring home and as we headed back [1/2 mile] we discussed about the next time we could go out and hike again.

Soon we hoped.

Nature is the best playground ever. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Does this Saddle make me look...


Is it pretty on me?
Does it match my bay coloring?

It doesn't clash does it?

Do I need to have an accent to wear an English Saddle?

Do I need Tea & Biscuits with my hay?

Oh my...
Look at this field of corn!

Nope, nothing scary to 'eat' me in here!

SHE says so!

Oh the neighbor's dog growled at me and I just stared at growly dog until the owners took it back to their house.
SHE told the people that most mules won't bother dogs unless the dog bothers the mule.  Then said mule may just reach out and 'touch' offending dog with a quick hoof-whack.

I'm not sure people should just let their dogs run loose on the roads, you know?

What a pretty sunset with my ears in the way!

We watched the sun go down and I paraded around in my very English saddle and showed her that neck reining is no big deal and that she can mount me from the either side and I will not move.

I even climbed a huge dirt pile and then carefully came down off from it.  

The sun went down and I got to graze in the yard.  Nice yummy fresh grass.

I can't wait for our next adventure.
SHE said something about trying bareback riding?
Wonder what that is?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Heartland of America

Grain Bin with sunrise...on September 10th.

The beginning of a very hot day.


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sunday's Stuff

I'm very lucky to have good neighbors.  This year it was so wet that I didn't plant a garden.
But a phone call on Thursday invited me to a neighbor's house to 'help' myself to their small garden.

After picking the veggies I sat at their picnic table and petted their dog Dutch. 
He was very happy for the company and groaned in happiness.
The veggies looked gorgeous in my old pan I got somewhere.  All I know is this is the handiest thing I've run across in ages.
My Grandma had one that we picked veggies in and washed them...and cooked them all in the same pan!


Oh what a delight!  
Last night I made some zucchini mix up.  Tomatoes, zucchini, and green peppers stir fried in pesto sauce with Parmesian Cheese for topping.
And cheap too!

Morris went for a wee walk with me.  He decided it was way too hot and humid.  He thought napping in his own personal chair with the blanket my mom made him would be much more to his liking.

About 7pm we had supper and we began to hear 'boomers' outside.  The hounds were baying and I went out to see what the fuss was about.

A storm cell was developing right over our place!

I'd planned on catching Siera and riding her but since storms were suddenly popping up everywhere, she got the night off.

It was pretty disappointing not to have any real rain out of the storms.  

But the sunset was pretty and things cooled down quite a bit.

It was nice enough for us to be busy today with putting in more wooden posts and separating Sunshine, Sundance, and Mica from the rest of the herd so they can have their hooves trimmed tomorrow morning along with their haircuts.

Sundance spent some time at a 'thinking tree'.  She was very relaxed and calm.  Aside from some pawing [yes I watched her!] she impressed me with her attitude.

She is going to make a fantastic mule for hubby.  She is smart and clever...oh yes, she is quick as ever too.

I think I am caught up.

Oh and Happy Grandparent's Day to all Grandparents! 

For Dancing Donkeys:

Head shot!


Saturday, September 07, 2013

A message in Dust...

A nice little message scrawled in the dust on our Subaru, discovered this morning while moving hoses.

Thanks sweetie...

I love you all does Grandpa!

Waving right back at you!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Summer's End

Grandpa is going through 'child' withdrawal.  Each day the grands spent here boosted his mental and physical well being.
I can hardly believe it myself.

We did a first time fishing trip.  The fish were not cooperating, but it didn't matter.  Ariel and I coaxed tiny fish to try and take her worm.  It was fun watching them try to get the bait.

Grandpa finished up chores by the time I got home on Wednesday morning and we took a trip to the creek.  Grandpa rode the 4 wheeler to the bottom then we all hiked in the water and looked at 'stuff' like rocks, plants, and animal tracks.

There is so much to be learned in just a small hike like that.  The kids learned how to look for interesting things and we left them to discover things like...walking on wobbly rocks. 

Later, after lunch Grandpa got Fred, the mule, out of the pasture so each of the kids could brush him and then he saddled Fred.

Learning about mules or any equine takes a lot of time and patience.  Ariel expressed her wish to learn to ride.
She adores the equine we have.
If I couldn't see her in the yard during the visit I could count on her to be standing and watching the mares, mules, and donkeys in the meadow.

I often reflect back on when I was a child and stayed the summer at my Grandparent's small place.  Many times I'd end up at my Aunt and Uncle's place.  They had horses.  My Uncle used to be in the Cavalry.
He taught me how to ride.  He let me explore my balance on an equine.  Other lessons came from my cousins who rode all of the time.

Other times would find me at my other Uncle's place.  I learned how to milk cows and do without running water in the house.
As children, we found absolute freedom in the woods.  We ran barefoot, explored streams, made forts, climbed trees, worked in the garden, and went swimming.

When we had to leave the countryside and go back to 'the city' at the end of summer.  I sat quietly in the back seat of the '65 Dodge Stationwagon and stared out the window ... the view was blurred as tears silently fell from my eyes.
Each summer my heart was broken by leaving the 'country' and all that freedom.

Having to go back to school where we had to wear shoes and back to our house with a small backyard seemed like pure torture.

I saw a glimmer of that when the 'grands' had to leave after their stay.
Tears fell, and nothing we could say made them feel better.

Deep in my heart I knew what they were feeling.
Deep in Grandpa's heart ... I knew what he was feeling.
We watched the kids [yes not just the grands] drive away...we were silent.

I took Grandpa's hand and squeezed it.
Now I was the Grandparent feeling what it was like to see the kids leave and feeling the emptiness left behind.

The farm seemed a little less lively.

And I was reminded of the little girl in the '65 Dodge Stationwagon so many years ago.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

So MUCH Fun!

I know my husband was just beaming when the grand kids arrived.
So much he wanted to do!

Here is a little collage of the first two days that the children visited.
Notice the smile on his face.

The children bring a smile on his face and a lift to his spirits that no medication or anything else in the world can do.

The easiest way to wrap this up is to put together a collage [via iPiccy] for you to see how busy two of the days were.
4 Wheeler rides, chores, business around the farm, road trip, learning to shoot a BB gun....

Labor Day picnic with Grandma Lenise.  Fresh sweet corn from a gracious friend.

S'mores over our little hot dog fire [we roasted wienies and marshmallows!]
Mule petting, running with Morris.
Well the list was endless.

Today we may have a 'kid' parade with Fred the Mule.  Fishing is on the plate for later today.

Family time is priceless.