Friday, April 30, 2021

The calm of the Forest

Day two after Vaccination. Rich told me I had to rest and relax and chill.

I told him I was fine. He argued that I wasn't. Our vacation from MDD is on its way out. He is entering another black zone. It creeps up quietly and it ebbs and flows. Things are worse when you combine MDD and dementia. Anyway I won't write about it here much. I'll drop my thoughts in The Long Road later.

First thing I did was go searching for the trees that could possibly help me find morels. According to the experts, Ash Trees don't produce tons of morels. I will beg to differ with them. The ash trees in our woods have always produced as they die from the emerald ash borer.

Below is the inside of the bark I found at the base of the tree where I find the first of the morels each year. There is a stand of trees that are slowly dying off and ... well, if we get rain, I should have more morels. Well, that is the hope.

I did pick the one I found and cooked one single one for Rich. Seems a steak and morels always make him smile.

I found this tiny bee working on a dandelion in the pasture. My pony and the goat just adore the dandelions blossoms!

For your entertainment. Goat and Pony at work in the Junk Yard section. MIL's car is there. Hubby is sure there is stuff he needs to get out of the trunk. He is sure it runs. He is adamant that nothing is wrong with it. So having it hauled away is proving to be an issue....but I digress...

I did find Black Tulip Fungi while seeking out trees. They are related to the Red Cup Fungi and is a sure sign that spring is here. 

These two were growing nearly side by side in a tiny grove of dying trees.

They were growing close to some forest lilies that are very small. It was here that I sat on a log and watched the wrens flutter about picking nesting materials. I really think I could have stayed there all day.

I did go back to the house. Rich went back to bed and slept for most of the morning. I decided it was a good morning to wash the porch windows, screens, and then the siding on the porch. Then I cleared the porch off and sorted everything.

A rinse was in order. Perhaps it was my spring cleaning of the porch! 

I'll wash the ceiling of the porch later this year. I have to work on plants to put along the front of the porch. I haven't decided what I want yet. Something colorful and very heat tolerant. 

The year I had zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers was so fun. I could watch the bees and the birds from close up. The other half didn't like it. 

Photo from my 'porch' garden two years ago:

I spent the rest of the day doing stuff, like grooming the mules and cleaning up the spring flower gardens. 

It was exciting to watch a storm cell come in and we actually had rain for a bit!

[Infrared shot of the storm cell coming across the pasture. The clouds and sky really pop out with IR.]

This weekend I plan on finishing up pulling and piling dried burdock to get rid of and put the 'kids' out in one of the wooded pastures.

And that is it.

I have a hiking date today to show Bill how to get to the bird blind to watch cranes and geese nesting in the ponds.

Late this afternoon, I plan on working on my Forest Garden. Thank goodness for spring and all the work I can do in the forest.


Thursday, April 29, 2021

I got shot! ....

Ok. No drama here. I'm talking about the vaccination. 

The nurse that gave to me was excellent! I never even felt the poke. 
Drink LOTS of water I was told by my neighbor who works at my Dental Office when I dropped off my payment. The folks at the Department of Health said the same thing.

"Lots of water. Listen to your body. If you feel tired...nap." 

You know what is kind of weird? I enjoyed visiting with the nurses and the girls while waiting for my 15 minutes. I enjoyed visiting with my neighbor who works at the dental office. Yeah. I felt like it was a BIG day out. 

Plus I got to catch up on the ridge information. One neighbor had a quadruple bypass and a prefab house is going in on the corner. That makes 3 brothers from the same family moving onto what was once cropland that was inherited about 25 years ago by their father.

My upstairs neighbor and I got our shots at the same time and plan on having outdoor coffee or wine together in 2 weeks to celebrate.

Other interesting things. 

We watched crows hunt down a rabbit. 

Mica the white mule has heart failure stemming from breathing issues and heaves or equine COPD. One part of the day she is fine, the next? She seems tired and naps a lot. Rich has had her for 20 years. She is not in dire distress, her heart rate and respirations are normal, but she has "regurgitation". The blood backflows because her heart doesn't work like it should. 

The super dry conditions aren't very helpful for Mica. I moved her to a grassy area with Fred and the 2 of them did fine but were obsessed about not being able to see the rest of the herd. Stubborn old mules! They ate the nice grass and pounded paths of worry with their hooves along the fenceline. I'm going to try another tactic if we don't get rain soon. 

~~ Last night when I went to bed my arm started to ache and I figured I was in for a bad night. 
I slept soundly except when Rich dropped stuff in the kitchen around midnight getting his nightly snack. I'm a light sleeper and I bolted out of bed. I thought he fell. All good, ... he dropped frozen pizzas on the floor while fishing out the ice cream bucket.

~~ Insert Eye Roll here~~

I woke up and was surprised that my arm didn't ache like it overnight. I did chores, gave Mica some meds for her breathing and took a walk at daylight with Charlie.

Do you see what I see?

One black Morel.
I find this very interesting because it is so dry here. The moss is brown yet a morel found enough moisture from under the leaves to come up. The tree above it is in its first years of dying so I follow the root system each year and come up with one or two black morels very early in the morel season.

Today's plan. Drink lots of water and take a nap if I want to. I'm not going to do a lot of Farm Work. I'll move Lil' Richard to trim around my MIL's old car and Sven the Goat to do some trimming next to the old tractor.

Maybe I'll go and scout out some trees. 

Here is our home in black and white [Infrared]. This is the north side of the house.

This is the tidy view that doesn't show the wrecked garage and the mess that would be behind me. I love this place. 

Stay well. I'm chillin' today.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

What is your dream?

I've been thinking about this for a while. I had all sorts of visions years ago while I was still working about what I wanted to do when I retired or semi retired. The thought was I'd work part time for quite a while. It suited me.

I was going to travel around our state and camp/stay in motels and have a photographic adventure of all the cool waterfalls and neat state parks. I was going to be able to wander aimlessly about. After that, I would look into some of the longer trips. Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Bad Lands, and lesser known areas. I'd go back to the Big Island and be able visit areas I wanted to ... and take my time taking it all in.

Well. Then 2015 happened. That led to a different path. By 2017 I had to stay home from work and become a CareGiver. I'm not officially recognized as a full caregiver by the VA, but I am told by them that I am one. Confused? Nah, don't be. 

I'd gotten a message the other day asking if I'd like to see my grand kids this summer if it could be arranged. If it all worked out, they'd be staying with my ex husband and his wife for a week. The drive to go see them would be a rather long one. My eldest son pointed out that I could sleep in the Subaru and I laughed. Indeed I could.

So of course I started 'dreaming' again about how fun it would be to take off on a trip. 

I haven't been on a trip in 11 years. But who is counting? I love travelling. I haven't taken a trip for any length of time since 2017 when Morris and I took a road trip three weeks later Rich had a stroke.
I did go for a quick visit in 2019 to see my eldest son's house. It was a whirlwind trip. I went Friday afternoon and was back by Sunday morning.

The arrangements were complicated. I had to arrange for chores to be done and meals for Rich. 

A summer trip would be easier. The mules could be out on pasture and the meals could be prepped ahead of time.  I'd ask his daughter to stay but she has her own family and there is this whole vaccination, pandemic, thing going on. I know my neighbor would help but gosh, I sure hate imposing on her.

So I can dream about what I'd pack for a camping trip and where I'd go. How nice would it be for once not to have to be so responsible? 

Dream trips.
I am a gypsy at heart and the open road keeps whispering to me each time I get in the Subaru and go for groceries or to the feed store.

So I am going to go do some daydreaming now and have some coffee. That world awaits just at the end of my driveway.

Monday, April 26, 2021

tiny tiny Tiny

We had a hard frost Sunday morning. I thought I'd take a walk to the creek and around the pastures to see if I could find anything 'frosty' and cool. 

I pulled out my 30mm macro lens. The one that you have to get down and dirty with. Well, not really down and dirty ~ but only if you want to...and I often can be found nearly laying in the dirt or on the forest floor bugs be damned. 

First let me say that we have an incredible forest around us. There is so much to see that it is overwhelming. I have to go to the ridge to get a landscape shot. The woods becomes a place of little things to notice and see. The tiny flowers, the moss, the lichen, the fungi, and the insects. I seem to notice and enjoy finding the little things sometimes more than the Big Picture.

Here is a dandelion from the yard on Saturday. Those little curls just beg to be photographed. The flower on its own isn't impressive, but what is inside

[Shot with the microscopic feature on my TG6 Olympus pocket camera.]

I have no idea what kind of insect this is, but it has pollen on it from the dandelion so I imagine it uses it as food? Shot with the 30mm lens. The frustration of this lens is my inability to 'get' all of the insect in focus.

So I went searching for frosty things and bugs. The sky was unremarkable other than the sun just coming up. I spotted a doe who whistled at me and ran off. But I was more interested in the tiny things I could find.

I was pretty excited over the dandelions. When I showed these to Rich his reaction was rather ambivalent. 

The ice crystals were pretty damned awesome.

I decided to head on down into the woods and see what I could find along the creek. Was it warmer near the creek? Or was it colder? 
My shadow in the frosted pasture.

It took me a while to get to the creek. I kept stopping to peer at tiny flowers coming up and looking at the violets that were still closed against the cold. Berry briars had frost on some leaves as did the multi floral rose bushes. 

The sun was peeking into the creek and a tiny bit of steam was rising from the water. By mid summer this creek will be obscured with Jewel Weed and other plants. The view in early spring is always amazing.

I went in search of moss. Who would have guessed?
This type of moss had leaves like cups that caught the moisture in the air. I thought this was ingenious. No wonder moss could live through droughts. This moss was just above the creek on a rock.

And this moss was on another piece of wood. I noted that it was 'flowering'. Well they really don't flower but do release spores. The blue is the creek just below the moss covered log. I have NO idea what type of moss it is. 

Imagine my delight to find some more moss that looked like the little spore things had exploded!

I think the proper name for this may be Sporophyte but do not hold me to it.

Here it is cropped in tighter....

I also found many ferns beginning to unfurl. The maidenhair fern is one of my favorites but I found about four different kinds.

I do like tiny things. That world is so fascinating.

Looking forward to today's weather as we are supposed to warm up to nearly 70!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Adventures with Charlie

This is the look I get from Charlie when I lay his stuff out on the arm of the couch.

I have his buzzer/ringer collar, his remote, his mini leash, and some tiny treats in a plastic bag. This is how we go places. Charlie is not very tall and he can be a bit bullheaded so the collar has been a huge lifesaver.

I can call him off from chasing skunks or deer with the collar and use it to remind him to stay by my side. We entered a different phase of training with the collar. I ask Charlie to stay with me and not try run to every human he sees. Not all humans wish to pet him. He doesn't really 'get' that. He loves people and just assumes they love him.

So an Adventure to the Subaru Dealership was in order. We'd be there an hour while they did a bunch of maintenance stuff.  This dealership caters to people with pets as well as those with children. They have a nice playroom and and an open waiting room as well. There is a dog 'park' where you can let your pup off leash and he/she can run around smelling all the Pee Mail.

I browsed the 2021 models while Charlie did business. Yeah, this red is my favorite color.

I like the new features that are standard now on all Subaru vehicles. Alex who sold us our last two 'Rus came out to chat with me. A salesman can't help themselves but suggest and hope you'd purchase a new one. 
He ended up showing me photos of his Dachshund mixed dog and talking about dogs.

Charlie was outstanding. He walked on a leash without pulling and was not annoying when we took some tours through the showroom to drool over some of the hotrod 'Rus. 
I checked out the Forresters and went back to the Outback to peer at the new ones. I really do have a dream of one day camping out of the back of the Outback. 

Charlie wears a mask...

The waiting rooms filled up and the show room floor had quite a few people in it, so Charlie and I spent the rest of our time out in the Dog Park working on The Sit.

The air outside was nice even if we were in a city...LaCrosse. When I went to pay for the upkeep, one service guy came over and asked if he could pet Charlie and hold his leash while I paid. 
The service fellow then asked if Charlie could have a treat. Of course! He broke up a big treat and offered a piece to Charlie who took it very gently and gave the fella his big Googly Eyes of gratitude.

I'm so glad that Charlie has a friendly attitude and a pleasant demeaner. It sure makes it easier for me to take him places. 

Last note. I went out to my car and ... wow... it looked so dirty parked next to all those clean cars! Our gravel roads are so dusty and dry right now that any vehicle that moves on the roads appear as a moving dust storm.

Charlie seems to be adjusting more to his car rides. One day he may even look forward to them!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

We need rain!

I walked down the valley today with Charlie and Sven. 

My hiking pals in the summer meadow. Sven is easy to hike with. He never gets far behind and basically is a pain in the butt if I squat down to look at something. He likes to pull on my hoody or nibble the back of my baseball cap.

He is sure I have dog treats in my hair.
[Yes, he loves tiny little dog biscuits. A way to a goat's heart is through his tummy.]

His coat looks pretty rough because I used scissors the other day to cut out the burdocks he had stuck in his coat. He looks better once he sheds out.

Charlie and Sven have been best pals since Sven was born. Sven turned two years old in February and is achieving full size now. He is a La Mancha goat that was orphaned at birth.
Here is Sven at my neighbor's house when he was two weeks old:

Sven always cries out when he sees Charlie and I heading into the woods. He is a pain if I am working on fencing. If I set a tool down, he'll pick it up.
However, he is really nice to have along while hiking. He continuously checks in with me. Oddly enough he never wanders away.

But...he has no sense of Personal Space! 

The moss I'd photographed 3 weeks ago was turning brown. Brown enough that at first I didn't understand what I was seeing. Brown moss? I took a few shots of it so I could record it in my Naturalist Book. April 21st ~ moss going dormant from lack of moisture.

The skunk cabbage 20 feet from the creek was brown and the leaves stunted. Was this from the cold snap or the lack of rain? Questions I don't know if I can figure out. Perhaps it is a combination of both things.

The skunk cabbage was doing well in the Big Spring. But the water was notably lower in the spring than it had been weeks ago. The vibrant green moss on the logs was dry in places.

The marsh marigold was sparse. 

Our meadow pasture is dry and the grass is not coming like it normally does. 

I should just fence off the yard which for some reason is looking lush and long in places.

Then I remind myself that this is April still and that normally things are still brown and fairly dreary. Those warm days confused the trees and the plants. 

I looked back on past years and see that the pastures really don't get going until May so I remind myself to be patient and hope for some nice easy rainfalls.

Charlie and I are going on an adventure today. It is time to take the Subaru in for some work at the dealer. They welcome dogs at the dealership and even have a little dog park for pets. It is not unusual to find customers with their pets in the waiting room or walking with their pets to look at new 'Rus on the display floor.

Last time we were there together, one of the sales people let Charlie onto the sales floor from the dog park. I didn't have him on leash. Before I could grab him, Charlie followed the salesperson into a room where they were closing a deal.

The buyers asked Charlie if he liked Subarus. Charlie gave his opinion by squirming and looking cute.

I think everyone at the dealership also carries dog treats in their pockets!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Frigid Farrier Fence

So I was looking for words that described my day yesterday. It was Farrier Day here. I convinced Rich to get out and visit with Dan and Danny. Son and father Farriers. The father is licensed as an international farrier and he is not your fly by night type of guy. We had a lot of those around here in the past. 

Let's just say a good farrier is worth his weight in gold. No hoof, no horse right? 
No pictures of us working. I am the mule getter and catcher... along with the mule holder and groom while all of the trimming is going on. 

Rich had a great visit and actually stayed out and talked to the guys for almost an hour. We consider that a huge feat. There have been a few times that Dan and Danny have driven out just to visit with Rich when he was recovering from his stroke and Pulmonary Emboli. We have learned a deep appreciation for each other. 

With the trimming done, I decided a good cold day would be perfect for picking up the electric line from the 'line' fence. I'd put hot wire up when we had Dexter cattle in the woods. They were great for cleaning the woods but did not respect 4 strand barbed wire fences. The photo below is of our fenceline with reverse insulators. This half of the fence belongs to my neighbor to maintain. This is actually pretty good compared to the portion of fence I need to keep hot wires to keep my mules in and HIS cattle out on the south pasture. There is maybe one rusted wire. IF I was really young, I'd hire someone to come in and redo all the line fences and then send half the bill to the neighboring properties.

But I am not and I won't be spending the next 20 years here. So I repair areas to keep my critters safe and the neighbor critters out. This barbed wire is not something horse owners really want as a fence. However, if you look at the fencing you will see that there literally is no reason for my mules to try and eat on the other side of the fence.

The only danger I've ever had from hardwire fences is that we had two young champion jumping mules.
Opal and Fred were first in their height classes for Coon Jumping.
Here is a sample:

That is Opal. 
There is a poor video of her jumping Here
Fred is 35 and doesn't jump anymore. He will respect hot wire and that was the only way I could keep him in at one time. He would simply jump into the neighbor's grassy pasture and eat and then when he was done, he'd jump over the fence and join the other mules. Mules who Jump bump the fence first to check its height, then they step back and leap it like a deer. Hot wire keeps them from checking it out. Though Fred was our escape artist and once upon a time took 4 other mules on a walk about with him. 

I have a couple more connections to make out in the woods and then the woodland pasture fences will be set up again.

I do miss the donkeys who were experts at stripping all the multi flower rose bushes. 

I had an odd message on our answering machine. A guy called and wanted to know if Rich still had mules and he was looking for a 'good' one. I need to call him back.

No we don't have any for sale. We sold off all of our stock mules/horses/donkeys and cattle after Rich's health took a dive.

I have Mica and Fred ... very retired Senior Mules.  Sunshine and Siera are my riding pals. Mica has equine COPD with heart issues so she just is here living the Life. Fred is 35 and is here because he is Rich's first mule and he attended our wedding as Best Mule. 

Okay, I went way off track. 

No fencing jobs today. These old hands hurt like the dickens in the cold. 

This is what most of our fencing looks like:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Smile with your Butt Cheeks


Excuse the photo. It was a quick snap.  Siera will get a roaching mid May, until then we go with the wild look.

I thought it would be fun to take Siera for a tiny spin on Sunday afternoon. Just around the yard and on the neighboring meadow and up the lane out back for a bit. I didn't bother with a saddle ~ But I DO wear my helmet. Siera is pretty easy going and since she is gaited, it is a very comfortable ride. Her prominent back bone though will get to you after a bit.

Siera is fairly 'herd' sour. She is sure she will die without her pals. She gets better after a bit and settles in. She will ride so far and then ask to turn around so she can see her buddies. It doesn't help that 15 screams bloody murder for about 10 minutes any time I take her out.

By about the third spring ride, I can usually just ride her up the drive or through the woods without much ado. With another mule though she is just fine.

We rode for about a half hour. Up and down and all around the farm. Finally she stopped offering to turn around and head back towards her pals. 

So I rode one last time out into the neighbor's meadow and tried to weave through the standing burdocks. As we returned home, I asked her to stand quietly and just stand. Standing still is the most important thing I ask my mules to do. She sighed and we stood.

I asked her to walk and we took several steps and when we met the patch of short grass...

Siera did a magnificent sideways 90 degree turn that came out of nowhere. I was amazed and surprised. So I turned her back and we stood again. 

Years ago I was offered some interesting advice regarding equine. I'd purchased Cheyanne from this crazy lady. She told me that Cheyanne would do stupid things and not to get angry over it. 

When a horse pisses you off, smile with your Butt Cheeks. 

That didn't make sense at first until I realized that getting angry when my animal didn't behave properly wouldn't improve my situation or my animal's situation. So when Siera lurched, I decided it was just a brain fart or an attack of killer grass. No sense in getting worked up about it.

I asked Siera for one more go around the field without any attacks from the Killer Grass. She did it, calm as a cucumber. Her mule brain started to function again and she was her old self.

I got to the Killer Grass and slid off her. I let her graze on the grass for a bit, then we walked back home where I let her in with her pals.

That ride must have been extremely difficult. 

She had to get down right away and erase all memory of me from her back.

Poor thing. She got up and walked over to another gate and sulked as if I'd tortured her. Her pal, 15 came up and sniffed her then walked away as it to say. "I have NO idea why I had to scream for you!"

Meanwhile the red heads came up for a grooming and some time in the yard too.

The grass seemed to no longer be a threat. In fact Sunshine decided it was just wonderful to graze on for a bit.

Smile with your Butt Cheeks. 

It always makes me laugh.

Monday, April 19, 2021

History of Horses and Mules

For my friends with equines. I have a fun post. Show me memories!

I'm going to give a nod to Aurora for making me think about this. 

I started out riding and falling off as pure entertainment for my mom and her family. My uncle gave us rides his old horse Babe. To get two rides done at once we'd often ride double. After this shot was taken, my sister and I got to giggling so hard, I fell off and got stepped on in the mushy mud by Babe. I'm the one with the glasses. Yes, we could ride Babe in the pen with no bridle, she was that cool of a horse.

This was to be the first of many misadventures while spending time with my cousins in the summer. My uncle trained horses and had come from one of the last Calvary units in WWII. He was quiet and never raised his voice, but we knew he meant business when he got after us kids. MMMM. Like the time he made us wash the inside of his 3 stall mini barn after we'd blown up mice with firecrackers in the feed barrels and got into a manure fight.

I often got to ride one of Lyle's clients' horses. Very often there wasn't enough saddles to go around. If 4 of us went riding. Only 2 or 3 could have adult saddles. I often got a pad to ride on or went without.

If we went in a group, I'd generally get the shit little pony we all loved and hated. His name was Thunder. If you can see in the photo, Thunder has a snaffle tied to a leather strap and I have twine strings for reins. 

My cousins and us would head out at night after our parents headed out to the bars or to dance. We'd ride the back roads and look for trouble. Yeah. We found it often. We'd even saddle up and head to the dump where we'd shoot rats. No TV? No internet? No problem!

My uncle died. Our horse summers were over. But my wish to have my own horse never ever left my mind. Eventually I was able to get a horse. My first one was Red. An ugly headed red horse that was incredible. He was calm as a cucumber and powerful. He was supposed to be a quarter horse. Next was Cheyanne. I purchased her as green broke. I was green broke too. I had no idea what I was doing and had wished that I'd spent more time watching my uncle train horses.

There was Rocky who came to our place for retirement. An elderly Saddlebred who was trained and had been shown and... had been a lesson horse until the owner no longer wanted him. Nothing fazed him ever. Except leaving the property. Nope, to get past the property line you had to hand walk him sometimes backwards and then he seemed to be okay with it. I am sure I never became the horse person to understand all of his intricate cues and level of training. 

I'll skip through the next few years. I kept Chey, sold Red to my sister, gave Rocky away... divorced...met a man who had mules...married the mule man. Ceremony on mules. 

Mule man thought Cheyanne ought to be bred to a Jack. He also thought we should buy a Jack Donkey and that I should own and train ... and show a mule from said Donkey named Bruce.

Mind you, I was still STILL no trainer. And the Huge Lanky 3 year old mule was Green Broke. Those who owned him didn't like him much and didn't think he'd amount to much.

I'm going to skip the whole training thing. Basically because I am not a trainer. The equine train me and mules have taught me to be a partner in every sense of the word.
Badger. 15 hands. Here is with me waiting while I scour the hillside looking for Morel Mushrooms. Hubby had a custom saddle built for me. 
Nice saddle. Not my favorite as it is heavy and my shoulders sucked.

Badger at WildCat with Sunshine. I'm riding in my Simco with a britchen. Yeah, I swapped English leather for the western ones. My knees like it and I can swing my feet out of the way of stumps and brush in the woods. The britchen keeps the saddle from sliding forward. Mules generally do not have much in the way of withers. Back cinch and britchen or crupper keeps the saddle secure on downhill mule slides.

After the elbow surgery, I thought I'd go this way. Why not? This saddle was easy to put on and great for ridge riding. Sucked at hills. This is Siera. Badger was ill at this time and I was working with another mule that was training me.

Opal the hateful mule. She hated people. In the last few years her life, hubby turned her over to me. A mule who could not be caught, who was ear shy from the old methods of earing down, and who DID not trust humans...became my friend.
It took months and months for this to happen. And when we bonded? It was amazing. Hubby told me I'd never catch that Bitch. Opal was purchased by hubby specifically for team penning and gymkhana. It was a real Hate relationship. But she would preform under saddle.

I scored this Stonewall saddle all beat up and not all there. I called Stonewall and had them ship me the missing pieces. I'm going to say this is my absolute favorite saddle. Super duper lightweight and easy to ride in.

Don't read the link above on Opal if you don't have tissues handy. 
She was still with me and riding at 28 yrs young. And she was a speed mule, she could turn a barrel... and when a deer spooked her by actually springing out of a cornfield and running into us...

Opal did a 180 mid air spin and land at a gallop. She was an amazing athlete. Yeah, I think I nearly wet my pants, BUT I didn't lose the berry bucket!

In this photo, she is giving me her idea of waiting while I pick black berries in the woods.

There is Mica, who I still ride once in a while. She is a non comitted mule. She won't commit to a favorite human. They are just beings to serve her. If you are in the mood to groom? She is your friend. She is mostly retired now.

Photo below is at WildCat, a picnic break on the Yellow Trail I think.

There is Fred. He is 35 years old now. 

Our littlest mule. And most loved mule. 

Fred has probably the longest list of riders on him. 

And that leaves me with the last photos. Sunshine. The daughter of my first horse. Truly a beautiful red head. A good trail mule. A nice sized mule.
I've had her now longer than I've had Badger. We are getting there. 
I mean ... we absolutely are THE best of pals.

I was there when she was born.