Saturday, May 31, 2014


Common Dandelion, not thought of as beautiful by most, but considered a great subject for photographers.

Common weed in forest floors.  Often overlooked because they are so small.  Very distinctive leaf patterns and cheery yellow color to the flower.

Honeysuckle or Wild Columbine.
These add such a delicate and beautiful color to the woods and are found surprisingly enough even growing on the sides of mossy rocks!

Not a wildflower, but a definite favorite of mine, the Maidenhair Fern.
Bright, green, and with a gorgeous pattern.

These shots taken while I was hunting poison ivy in the ravine.
I did only find one patch and it should be eradicated now.

Friday, May 30, 2014


I AM a skeptic.  Really I am!  I was told by our neighbors that Roundup was bad and they ordered special weed killer vinegar over the internet and that it worked.

Then I read that you can use household vinegar to spray weeds. 

Um, I experimented.  I used household vinegar, table salt, soap, and a touch of mineral oil mixed it all together and went out to spray some of those pesky weeds like burdock and thistle.

In less than 30 minutes they looked very sickly.  In two hours they were brown.
Imagine my delight in finding that vinegar actually worked.
It didn't do as well in the shade, but still wilted the heck out of the burdock.  
I tried apple cider vinegar and regular vinegar.  
I used the mineral oil in the mix so that the solution would stick to the leaves better.

I also use either type of vinegar in my homemade 'horse' fly spray.  It doesn't do quite as well as the $22.00/quart of certain kinds of commercial fly spray, but it does knock those pesky flies down.

I used some left over white vinegar in one of my sinks that was looking kind of crummy.  I let it soak for about half an hour.

I drained it and wiped the sink spotless.  No comet cleanser used here. Just stupid vinegar and water.

Last night I soaked my poor feet in vinegar and water.
Why?  Mom the 80 yr old wonder lady told me too.  My feet were itchy from wearing my hot boots. They had a heat rash from sweating and I thought...well, why not? 
My feet felt like heaven.
The heat rash died and went away...

Two days ago I mixed vinegar and cool water and used it to ease the pain of Ariel's sunburn.
Yeah it worked.  

I'm not a chemical engineer, but I do know that vinegar has a 5% acidic value to it.  I'm sure that is what helps kill the weeds and cleaned the sink among other things.

I think when 'Googled' uses for vinegar, I was very surprised.  I didn't really think I could use it in so many ways.
One of the things I have been trying to do and I can thank my neighbors for try to lessen the use of chemicals in cleaning and around the house.

I've found that there are so many things that I can use instead of harsh chemicals, and perhaps I won't make a dent in the world, but I surely am enjoying trying other things.

One exception to the vinegar weed killer is going to be poison ivy.  It grows generally in the shade and I purchased some special spray for it. Although, I think I will experiment and try some vinegar and salt on it just for kicks.
I'll take before and after photos to make a comparison.

PS~ for Equine enthusiasts, a wee bit of apple cider vinegar in your equine's grain per day and it will make a fur coat shine.  It has been said that it aids in repelling bugs also.  Not sure on that one, but I can say that it works on the coat!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Let's Garden and other Things

The crew that is installing fiber optic lines in our 'neighborhood' was here yesterday.

What a hoot.  The 'inspector' was an old Geezer from Georgia who really buttered up all the ladies he ran across by calling them beauties.

Hey, why not right?

I heard the guys were working  just up the road from our driveway, so I grabbed Siera and saddled her up.

She needs to understand that machinery won't eat her and that strange machinery is fun to stare at.

We did just that.  The crew really liked her and stopped a bit to pet her and ask questions.

Then we hustled off through the woods and headed home.  

They drilled and dug down our driveway and put down the cable.

After a little 'country' visit they left.

Then our 'up top' neighbors showed up in force.  All wore sunhats and carried seeds, hoes, and gardening tools.

Last year I suggested we do a family shared garden.  I had the perfect garden spot and plenty of it.  They don't have any great garden spots and so I thought it could be fun to do one together.

Dad made a 'Sunflower' Spiral so the kids would have something to run through like a small maze.

I believe there are cucumbers, tomatoes, squash [3 kinds], watermelon, peppers, green peppers, hot peppers, and broccoli started.
Tonight we do the boring things.

Like the straight lines for lettuce, carrots, beets, and green beans.

The corn will be planted on the outside of the garden so it gets morning light and shades the plants that need less sun.

Hubby was quite amused by all the activity.

Silly fellow even posed for a photo with Terri's sun hat on!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Being a Grandma

Some days are absolutely worth getting up for early.  I rose at 4am [yeah crazy huh?] ... and got Ariel up at 5am.
We hopped in the Subaru and headed to the ridgetop where I parked on the side of the road.

I wanted to share with her the wonderful pre-dawn hush of the world before the sun awakened the day.

I'd told her that she could come with in her PJ's and we'd enjoy the early calls of the pheasant and robins as light came to the ridge.

I'm pretty sure by the look on her face that this was a very cool experience for her.

Because I didn't want this moment to be forgotten, I set up the camera on a tripod and used the flash and remote to take a 'sunrise' selfie of us.

Surely, this will not be one photo tossed soon.  


We discovered by a small rash, that Dennis had gotten into poison ivy the day before.
We found it rather quickly...or should I say his mom did.

Treated it right away with some hydrocortisone cream and then Jewel Weed soap and a gauze wrap for the night.

Imagine my surprise when the kids pitched in on their own to help do the chores yesterday morning.
I was pleased as punch.

I do think that letting them chose to do it and letting them figure things out on their own was a good thing.
They were very proud of the fact that they did this on their own.
They engaged in pretty tough work and I must say, I was impressed.

I'm thinking that this is what great fun it is to be a grandma.  Not only to infants, but to kids and to watch them grow and do good things.

Of course I've been a 'grandma' now for 10 yrs and it has been fun.  But never quite have I had a weekend like this.

I'm sure looking forward to a whole week of 'Grandma & Grandpa Camp'.

I'm pretty sure we are going to avoid Poison Ivy and Sunburn!
Well, do our best anyway!

If anyone told you it was not fun growing older and becoming a Grandma, they have NO clue.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Morels Morels Morels and more

There was also beautiful wildflowers that were everywhere if you were to look closely.

This is a wild strawberry blossom, barely larger than my pinky fingernail.

Let's of course not forget the cute little Dexter calves we have.

Here is Whodunnit after eating some grain.  He sure has grown!

I hope to get back out again and hunt for more of those beautiful tasty morel mushrooms.


These little devils are pretty sneaky.
They must hear you coming and hide!

Hush of morning

I had to work until 4am on Saturday morning.  

I was a bit grumpy about that until I was headed home and realized that I could possibly be seeing one of the spring's most amazing sunrises.

I parked my Subaru on the ridge and got out.

I leaned against the warm hood and listened to the ticking of the engine as it cooled.

I watched glorious colors arrive slowly on the horizon.  Mists covered the pasture below me.  Birds began to call from far off and the world was still mine, sleepy, but still mine to behold.
In that moment between dark and dawn I came to realize that I was all right with the world.
I was all right with me.

And if one were religious [never was raised that way], I felt I'd been touched this morning by something I cannot explain.

I felt whole, I felt clean.  I felt cleansed.

And I lingered there until the light made day and then went home wishing I could hold all of that inside forever.


Friday, May 23, 2014

I'm pretty sure I have NO talent for this, but here you go.

I wanted to present this house in a manner of sadness and awe.  I chose black and white to do this and then added it as a slide show.

I used Magic Music Make from Dell to compose and edit my own music.

I hope I did this justice.

This is photos from the practice or Training Burn done last week.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Siera and Me, the perfect ride.

Siera and I have been struggling this spring.

She has been herd sour and 'home' sour with great intensity.  Tossing her head, trying to turn, and even an offer to try and buck.  She seriously sucks at bucking so each ride has been a small struggle.

But apparently the frequent rides and steady persistence pays off in the end with something like a perfect ride.

Up the driveway and down the road we went last night away from home without any hesitation.

[Oh yes, she is in a big need of a mane roaching!]

I chose the wide open spaces on the ridge to 'go visiting'.  We ran across the crew that is putting fiber optics in.
We stopped and chatted.

One of them, the foreman, was the grandson of one of the very first mule person's I have ever met.

Siera was quiet, relaxed and incredible.

All in all we ended up riding the roads, then some forest trails and then out to get the mail.

It was all good.

I think we are getting in the groove again.

Isn't this an odd looking creature!
Our shadows were not flattering to Siera at all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I saw Elvis and many other things...

First off ... I am going to kick myself for NOT having my camera out of the bag when I saw the vision of Elvis.
Yes, he seems quite fine and alive.

He also rides a decked out Harley which blares Elvis music from its sound system.

The hair was perfect, the sunglasses were too.  He wasn't dressed quite so flashy...maybe he didn't want to attract too much attention, but yes...I saw Elvis and he is doing well.

I went hiking with my son Ed and we had a great time.  I got to see so many beautiful spring wildflowers that at times I was just overwhelmed.

Jack in the Pulpit

White Toad Lily

Toad Trillium

Then there was the Giant White Trillium:

My son probably got tired of all the *oohhhs* and *ahhhs* as I kept finding incredibly beautiful plants.

Of course then there were the pines where we spend a long time checking out 'owl pellets'.  

We found rodent jaws and small bits of bones.  

Morris and Teslin ended up taking a bit of a dip in the 'frog pond'.

After that adventure we headed over to where the Training Burn was being done by the Somers Fire Department.

The day was very long and enjoyable.

In fact it was one of the best days I can recall in recent history.

Even the dogs were tired at the end of the day.

I guess the photos tell the story.
My visit was absolutely the best.

What I didn't mention was all the fun I did have with my mom also.  That can be saved for another post.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I'm just a travellin' Man... by Morris

I can't believe it!  Finally SHE remembered to take the most awesome-ist navigator with her when she left home this time.

You have no idea how tiring it is to have to navigate Her when she drives.  We drove a very long long way to The Grandma House where one of my Gal Pals, Sammy lives.

It was exhausting getting Her through the traffic.  I mean, you just have no idea!

First off though I had to make sure to step on the door lock buttons and make sure to set the Subaru up so She would have a hard time getting the doors unlocked.

Then after getting fuel, I stepped on the seat heaters and turned them both on.

Well, what can I say?
I got so very tired in the nice warm seat that I had to take a break and take a Nap.
 You must understand that my inner GPS was working overtime while I had my eyes closed.  I was acutely aware of any minor deviation that She might have made off course.

I wanted to make sure She got to the Grandma House without any mishaps.

Thank goodness.

We made it just fine!

I was so very happy to see Sammy but Sammy told me I was pretty annoying and had too much energy for her tastes.

We even had a big Dog Greeting.
Tank, a big huge lab from across the street came over to meet me.
Then The Grandma's Friend brought out Chuck Norris [the dog] and things got interesting.

We all ran around with wagging tails while Chuck did some fancy foot work and tried his best to pull his leash holder right over.

I saw another people with a big dog and headed over their until She yelled for me to come back.
I guess those people and dog where not the friendly sniff your behind kind of folk.

She picked me up and I growled at Chuck and play time ended.

Good thing, I was getting tired from all that travel.

The Grandma finally settled down in her chair and had been complaining that her ear was bothering her.

I decided to clean it.

Then The Grandma settled down to watch the news and I thought I'd help her stay put by laying across her lap. 

I can be a good lap dog, seriously...I can.

Soon enough, it was time for bed.

I sneaked out of Her bedroom and guess where I was found?


SHE called me a traitor.  I'm not a traitor, I just know a Good Grandma when I meet one.
Got to take advantage of that right?

Besides that ... The Grandma has a special place that she keeps dog cookies.
And I know if I go outside and come right back in after doing my business [so many little time!], I get a cookie!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Siera and me.

This photo proves it, I've been riding Siera off and on for nearly 4 yrs.  She has a severe separation issue every year.

Yesterday was a prime example of it. 
We went into the meadow and rode.  At first she went along nicely but the further from the gate we went the more head tossing and walking sideways she went.

She reined pretty well around the trees until she decided not to.
In one place the ground had some standing water and was mushy.  This is when she got down right angry.  Okay, maybe not angry, just pissed off.

Her ears went flat, she refused to go forward, she backed into an apple tree.
So I went about it a different way and we did get through it with some coaxing.

I let her gait out as fast as she wanted away from home but not towards home.  This too made her upset.  Enough for her to try and bolt once and make an effort at a buck.

I started to get frustrated so I just made her stand still.  We eventually went back home and then I took her into the forest loop.  She came to a log that she has stepped over and launched it.
Well then we worked on crossing twice more.

She then did the forest loop with no issues, paying attention to where her feet were going and what she was doing.

A deer popped out of the brush and she did nothing but stare at it.

I'm also wondering if she may be in 'heat' and that is part of her recent issues.

No matter, we did fine towards the end of the ride.

This morning we did some basics in the round pen and then she spent some time while I did yard work...learning patience.
She was tied to a tree where I could watch her.

After pawing a while, she stood still.

I think I have to get more 'wet' blanket time on her.

However, it seems that the little red mule, Sunshine, needs some riding time too.  She after all, is Badger's little sister, and out of my wonderful old red mare.

Some days I miss the likes of Billy Bob, Jim, Badger, and Buck ~ they were all geldings and quiet.

Siera has 'tude, which I like.  I love her gait, I love her looks, and most days I even love her ride.

Just sometimes we both have a 'bad' day.
Though I realize nothing can be accomplished if I am an Angry Rider.

So she'll have the weekend off while I go visit my mom and my older son.

Back to work soon Siera!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Please don't Feed Your Fingers to THE Donkey!

The kids from the neighbor's place wanted to come down and see me work with Princess in the round pen.

It is really not a spectator sport but I said sure they could come and observe.

Princess was not pleased to be inside a building in a round pen away from her buddies.

Interesting.  When I walked away from her she paced like a high strung horse.  When I was with her she was pretty quiet.

After a bit of lunging, I put a saddle blanket on her.
Next a saddle.

Just a light one to see how she'd react.

She really didn't care.

Being smart I decided to fit a bridle on her also.

I was monkeying with the headstall when Princess spit out the bit.

I didn't think.  I knew better.  Really I did.
I used my finger to push it back into her mouth.

Her teeth clamped down on the odd sensation in her mouth.  Which happened to be my finger.

Now I know this fact:
It has been said that horses can bite down with 80 thousand lbs per square inch.
Normally they cannot release the pressure until their teeth touch.
I figured the only release was to 'skin' my finger clean to the bone.

Not a happy thought with a 7 and 9 yr old girl standing and watching.

So I said through clenched teeth, without swearing, cursing, or crying...or fainting, that I'd gotten my finger in a very bad spot.

I lifted her head and showed them.
I then tried like hell to figure out how to get my finger out of there without skinning it or breaking it...or getting it bit off.

I can't say how long I stood there before I was able to use my other hand and shove my fingers up in the back of the mouth and dig with my fingernails on the roof of her mouth.
Meanwhile she was grinding those powerful big teeth.

By dumb luck she may have gone for a better grip on the strange item in her mouth...or it may have been my fingers digging into the roof of her mouth...

but she moved her teeth slightly, and my finger was out.

I showed the girls my slightly mashed finger and told them that this was a great lesson to learn.

Never do what I did.

They nodded in solemn understanding.

I did fit the bridle properly and then worked some more with her.
I did some limited lunging and put weight in the stirrups on each side of her.
She was curious and not alarmed.

If I laid across her back for several moments, she did take a few steps which was okay with me.

I know spots on the lens, from dirt and dust.  This is after the finger incident.
Ambrosia took this for me.

And this one.

Princess did everything right and I think we will make good progress.

I did put her back after the girls brushed her.

And the first thing they told their mom when they got home was...*Guess What Val Did!*

And they said they NOW understood why never to put their fingers in a horse or any other equine's mouth.

I guess I went through some real pain to get a point across?

This morning?
The finger is swollen but I can use it.
Painful yes, broken, I don't think so.

But a lesson was well learned.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Mother's Day Fun

Hubby had to go get hay.
The weather forecast said RAIN and thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Siera and I hadn't been out for almost a week.

So I saddled Siera up and grabbed my Drift HD POV camera and clipped it into the helmet mount of my old riding helmet.

I thought it would be fun to see how the video of us would turn out.
I hadn't used it before because my old computer took forever to convert and save a HD version of the videos.

Unfortunately, it takes forever to upload to YouTube with our internet speed. It can be even longer if you are trying to upload HD quality.  4+ hours in fact.

So here is Siera, Morris, and I on our first part of the ride.

One of the things is, Siera is very herd bound each spring.  She gets antsy and a bit excited.  She doesn't buck or spin, she just tries to go fast and faster.

I thought I'd take her on our ridge road which is steep going down and let her 'pace' off some steam.
Morris wanted to come along.  He and Siera are buddies.

Sorry for the poor quality.  If you watch this, do it in a small screen, the big screen stinks!

Morris got exhausted after two turns up and down the hill, as you can see he was running full out.
Siera can pace at 12 miles an hour, by the way.

After a few rides up and down the hill, we were good to go through the 1/2 mile trail in the woods.  
Giving a mule a slightly more difficult terrain to navigate helps them put their mind into their work.

Yes, Siera does a lot of head flipping but that is her natural way of going when she is excited.  Once she calms down as you may see if you watch all the way through on part two, is that she finally drops her head and gets to work.

This includes going over a huge log that she refused to go over when we first went out.
Note this.  THAT log was between her and her home, so she decided it was workable.

Siera is a speed ride compared to old Badger.  But after a few more spring rides she'll settle back into her good old self and calm down.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Princess the Donkey makes new friends

Princess is a nice polite Donkey.  I've had my eye on her for a while wondering how she might be as a riding donkey.

Normally people don't consider donkeys for riding.  It is rare to go somewhere and see a person riding one in the United States at least.

I decided to see how Princess would lead away from home and how she would do just walking some trails in the woods.  I wanted to see if she'd be patient or herd sour.

She was patient.  She was not herd sour.  She was polite of my space and learned quite quickly not to walk into me.

Princess of course decided she could help clear up some of the brush that I was cutting.

She was a willing partner and very attentive to everything I was doing.

I like that in any equine.
Gentle, polite, not pushy, and completely relaxed.

Of course this idea of just walking around with a donkey on lead while hiking came from a blogging friend of mine.

Her blog is called The Dancing Donkey.

I want to thank her so much for writing about her adventures with her donks.

After losing Opal and knowing that Fred is pretty aged [a chart on equine shows that 30 yrs old is equivalent to about 90 yrs old in human age.  I am not sure that it applies to pony mules though]....
I figured I best get an animal trained for riding that was reliable, quiet, and very dependable.

Princess was one of my first choices.

There is still Eddie of course, but he has more attitude than Princess.

After our hike in the woods, I decided to take Princess up the drive to get mail.

She had no issues with that until she saw some odd creatures whizzing about on bicycles.

She had to think about that for a moment by locking up her legs and watching.

After she decided that the creatures were not going to eat her, we got the mail.

And the creatures decided to introduce themselves.

After much petting and admiration from the neighbor's children, Princess was not sure she really wanted to go back home.

Stay tuned.
Princess will be getting her first saddling pretty soon.

I'm sure that will go as well as our hiking did.

A Donkey may not be the most glamorous animal to ride, but in some ways I think they can be the best mounts.

I have ridden donkeys and contrary to popular belief, they are nice and smooth.
And they make mules look clumsy.

Here's to donkeys and making new friends!

Mom ... Mom Day.... Mothers Day

So I've been thinking about Mother's Day.  Surely it is a Hallmark made up card type of day but it is a nice thing to think about.

After all you only have one Mom.

I was visiting my mom a week ago and we went to lunch.  During lunch she sort of complained about her laptop computer being slow.

I sort of chuckled and asked what was wrong with it?

She said she just couldn't get onto Facebook and into her games as fast as she used to.  It was too slow and 'Slotmania' was almost boring.
I said maybe her old laptop just wasn't working as well anymore.

I suggested a Google Chrome Book for her.  She gave me a look and inquired as to why ... don't computers last ages and ages?  
No, I told her, they really don't.

We went to her house and I looked at her computer and guided her around to her games.  She huffed a bit when the screen started and stopped while she was playing 'Texas Hold 'Em'.

*See there!* she said.  
I know her grandson had gone through the computer and made sure it was updated and there were no viruses so she was good there.

Then I had to laugh.  Mom is 80 and her laptop 'doesn't go fast enough' for her.  Plus she was a bit miffed that an old computer didn't last forever.

This from a woman that still had her ration book from World War II.

I told her to use the machine and see how it went.  If it was still not up to her standards of speed, I'd get her a speedy Chrome Book that could race through her games.

We decided that when I made my next trip down in 2 weeks, that we'd have a late Mother's Day and go shopping for jeans together.

I may just set her up with a new Chrome book too.  
After all, she is hungry for speed and power in her games.

And she wants to see what is going on in Facebook from her friends.
She rarely types a thing but loves to browse.

Yes, I have one of the most unique mom's in the world.

Hungry for Tech Savvy stuff yet she can turn around and whip up a batch of jams and jellies or some great pies without the blink of an eye.

The woman who raised me for better or worse.  After all, I think I turned okay and I definitely learned right from wrong and how not to cross the line with her.

Happy Mother's Day to a pretty neat lady.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Going Morel Hunting?

The first time my husband asked me to go hunt Morel Mushrooms, I had no idea what he was talking about.

Hunt wild mushrooms?
Little brainy looking things?

Double ick, as I'd heard the picking mushrooms can be quite dangerous to your health.

18 years later, he doesn't have to ask any more.

Because I am out looking for them while hiking for wildflower photos.

I've also learned that you don't want the false Morels.

False Morel:

There are helpful articles on being able to tell the difference between the two.
The photos above are grey morels, usually they are not the giant ones that are found later on in the season after things really start to heat up.

Those ones are of a browner color and can get to quite a size.
I've posted this photo before on some other blog, but this happened to be the only thing I had to give the viewer an idea of the size of the morel I found.

Thank goodness you don't have to shoot them!

I know that I am looking forward to looking for morels very soon.