Thursday, April 29, 2010

Good day...

Wednesday... I had another riding clinic with Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez. My trainer Rex and her mom also rode in the clinic.

The weather was lovely - it was warm with blue skies and sun. Wind was supposed to pick up later in the day (it did) but I was the first ride of the morning and wind wasn't an issue.

We opted to ride outdoors since the arena had dried out and there weren't any mud holes or slick spots. Just as I was about to mount up, the farm turned out a yearling along with two older horses in the pasture next to the outdoor arena.

The baby was galloping back and forth, working the older horses up until there was much bucking, squealing, farting and monkey business... I hesitated to get on Sera. I still have a little residual weirdness from the whole "get on Rosso and having him dump me while I'm climbing on" bid'ness.

Sera was alert and watching the antics next door... her little red ears pricked forward with interest. I took a deep breath and stepped into the stirrup.

Nothing happened.

Of course not! This is SERA! She may have taken advantage of the situation a few years ago, but she is really quite happy in her work and has settled at the ripe old age of 10.

She seemed awful happy to be OUTSIDE! Fresh air! Sunshine!

She warmed up faster than she does in the indoor... she moved out more... happy with the room and the "largeness" of being outside. The outdoor arena is much larger than the indoor so we decided to worked on extensions.

Debbie asked if I'd been sitting the medium trot.

"Yes... however it's still not great and it's a little more like the Sera and Shanster Comedy Hour" Oh do I have trouble sitting that medium trot! One teensy, tinesy ounce of tension anywhere and I begin to fly out of the saddle...

Debbie watched my medium and said it wasn't that bad. She discussed some medium trot strategy for me in a test.

The transitions are scored along with the actual medium trot movement. There is definitely a clear upward transition from working trot to medium trot... and many riders begin to fizzle out by the time they reach the end of the line. This means there is no clear downward transition from medium to working. Lost points.

One way to assist is to rebalance slightly and ask for a small half halt - a pause if you will - halfway through the line. It conveys to Sera that she will need to come back... gives her a chance to rebalance and it gives ME a chance to rebalance as well (before I begin to look TOO much like a 50lb feed sack strapped to a horse flopping around up there). Then we continue onward in the medium to the end. It is a slight thing that lasts a moment but I could definitely see the impact of it.

It also helps when a horse is going gang busters in medium trot and doesn't want to come back down to working trot when the line is over. More lost points...

And we shouldn't sweat it and think it is all lost if Sera should break in the medium trot into canter because we still have the transitions to improve our overall score. Do not give up should she break stride. Rebalance, half halt and focus on a good downward transition. Then use your corner to your advantage for deepening and rebalancing.

I suppose our horses are supposed to be ready for whatever we throw at them, all balance and lightness in our hands, under our seatbones and straight between our hands and legs. (when you have that all the time, let me know m'kay? Tell me how you did it!)

The slight half halt is a nice check and rebalance if they are not all lightness and brilliance. I forget to throw this check in as often as I should.

We also worked on working canter to medium canter. FUN!

Sera wanted to keep going here. "I'm a thoroughbred! I must gallop onward!" Our downward transitions to working canter were pretty ugly. Hollowed back, head thrown skyward. We worked on the half halt and emphasizing the downward transition with a 10 meter circle to get us back to good - rebalanced and round.

By the end of the lesson she was much better, however, I was instructed to do "a million of those". Throw them in whenever and where ever as I ride.

The beginning of the ride Sera was a bit stiff in her neck - Debbie wanted me to work the bit around in Sera's mouth. Not the see-saw motion - nothing obvious - but many times Sera will tick tock her head. (I realize this means she isn't completely thru and committed to the bridle but I also don't want to encourage it with my hands!)

I was hesitant to do this.. but we discussed that Sera needs to be round and deep when I ask and not when she feels like it. I need to capture her in my outside rein and I need to be more firm in my request. Not so giving. Shorten my reins and use one to get her round. Don't use both - hold the other very firmly - give when she gives.

Also with my leg... if Sera blows my leg que off, she now gets a sharp tap with the stick. Hey, listen up. I mean NOW my dear, darling, red-headed Sera Sue.

I have lots of good homework until the next clinic in May.

Once done I asked Rex and Carol if I could help groom their horses. Carol took my up on my offer to untangle her horse's tail by hand with a bottle of spray in conditioner. Adding as an afterthought, "Oh, and be careful because he kicks and doesn't like his tail messed with"

I about died laughing. Here YOU brush through my kicking horse's tail by hand... He did not kick, nor did he threaten to kick while I hand combed his lovely tail by the way.

Rex and her mom texted later asking if Furry and I wanted to come over for wine and cheese to celebrate our wonderful horses and the beautiful spring weather. Yes, of course!

I think our celebration irritated Mother Nature tho, cuz we woke up to snow....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Goat Love

I was going through some goat pix on our computer because our first retail account for Star's Hollow Farm goat milk lotion wanted to print pictures in their e-newsletter.

We have plenty of pictures with ooey, gooey, placenta and afterbirth covered screaming kids fresh from the oven and me in old clothes that don't matter if they are smeared with blood, mucous and goo. The old clothes however make me look a little like a crack whore who crawled out from under a bridge....

Somehow I don't think that is the look or feel they are trying to convey in their online marketing.

These pictures are maybe a little more on target?

Our first doe, Sonata...
Old Christmas picture... uck... who wants to see snow? We're are done with that! It's spring. I spit on the snow - patooey!Spot and Chocolat in repose... Spot is still unable to climb spools or quonest huts... I know she's planning just like Wil E. Coyote. The UPS guy keeps delivering ACME boxes to her and just like Wil E. Coyote, she's discovering that company has serious quality issues

Awww Chocolate is sleeping... shhhhh....

Savannah, Sonata's daughter. ALL goats like to get IN their feeders.
Except Spot.
But that's only cuz she can't figure out exactly HOW to get in there.
Oh, she WANTS in there... she wants in there bad.

Poor Spot - doomed to walk the earth terrestrially... there's nothing physically wrong with Spot... she just can't seem to figure out how to climb like... er ... um... well ... like a goat.

Are you SURE goats are not descended from T-Rex?

Monday, April 26, 2010


Furry Husband placed third in his division this weekend at his disc golf tournament. Hooray Furry!

A couple of his friends met up at our place Sunday morning to carpool to Red Feather and they all returned quite wind-burned. I knew they'd all be tired from a day in the wind so I made lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies..... I certainly wasn't going out in that wind! Was nice to be home baking! MMMM

I had a nice lesson on Sera Sunday and lucky for me the sun shone and the wind died down for the 3 hrs I was at the barn cleaning stalls and riding. Once home, the clouds and wind kicked right back up.

Fine by me!

I never mind being stuck indoors with chocolate chip cookies....

A very nice man I work with brought me some raspberries from his yard last summer and they were so delicious. I asked him if he might dig up some of the suckers they send out this spring and I'd transplant them into our yard.

He brought them today and I'm so excited! Raspberries, raspberries, raspberries! It's all about the little things in life isn't it?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

47.6 miles per hour

Is the our latest wind gust with a 26 degree wind chill. Bleah. At least the wind will dry up the mud from 2 days of constant rain but I'm stuck inside today cuz no one wants to be outside in this wind. Poor Furry Husband is playing in a disc golf tournament in town this weekend. He is suffering for his sport. I, however, will not be riding horses - no suffering here!

The goats are tucked into their houses, the horses are standing stoically in their lean to's. All dogs and cats are inside with me.... maybe I'll get some more of my never ending quilt project done today?

Furry Husband poured wine at Wine Fest last night, a fund raiser for Disabled Resource Benefits, an organization providing support and services for people with all sorts of disabilities in our area.

I went to the event with a couple friends to taste some wine and sample some food. I ran into Ted... a guy I knew back in college. He sort of got around back in the day and I always called him "Bed Sled Ted". I don't think we were ever each other's type and I always really liked him as a buddy. He was in a suit and his wife was with him... Feels a little surreal to have your crazy 27 yr old memories colliding with your almost 40 yr old self!

My friends and I had a lot of fun and I'm glad I was out and about socializing cuz I am mos' definitely house bound all by myself today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Closet clean out

Being so heebie jeebie'd about the spider yesterday, I took everything out of our closet last night, vacuumed, shook clothes (so the spiders, if any were lurking, would land on my feet! durr) moved furniture, vacuumed behind stuff, made sure there were no cobwebs in corners... NO MORE SPIDERS.

I talked to my friend Laurie last night. She says it's a good thing I wasn't bitten because our hospital is completely out of antivenin for black widows. She would know since she runs the pharmacy... she assured me there would be an emergency number to get some however, we were both glad that my lively hood didn't rest on her shoulders and I was not bitten!

Today when I got dressed I peered into each article of clothing, laid them on the floor, got on my hands and knees and pressed every inch of them so IF there was a black widow there, it was most certainly squished and squished good.

Toe thought this a really fun game. He rolled all around on my clothes and bit at them like they were new toys, his stump wagging a million miles a minute.

Dogs must think hoo-mans such an interesting and unpredictable species!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I live to see another day....

I watched this show called "I Shouldn't Be Alive" and there was a story about a 17 yr old kid in CO who was bitten by a black widow that was in his freshly laundered sock. It must've been in his sock drawer?... and I guess mostly the bites aren't life threatening but he was the 1 in a million who was affected big time... ended up in the hospital and almost died.

This morning I'm getting dressed for work; it's cloudy, rainy and muddy so I want to wear comfy jeans... pull out a top... and then to dress it up a bit I pulled out this corderoy swing jacket I have... it's loose and baggy with 3/4 sleeves ... I put it on as I'm heading into the bathroom.

I felt some thread or something in the sleeve... I hadn't worn it in a long time and there could be a loose thread ... I get in the bathroom to do my hair and this BLACK WIDOW SPIDER drops out of my coat sleeve.

I started screaming like a friggin' tree monkey on full alert....oooooAAHHHH oooooAHHHHH oooooAHHHHHH

The spider is on the floor and I'm tearin' off my jacket faster than the speed of light. Toe comes over to investigate all the excitement, sees the spider and walks over to sniff it... I grabbed him lightening fast and threw him out of the bathroom by his loose skin...

Furry Husband was sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper and sipping hot coffee... he looks up when he hears me screaming, sees Toe thrown out of the bathroom and comes to see what is up.

I am frozen, staring at the spider... I point it out. He killed it and flushed it.

He said he's never heard a sound like that come out of me! We were laughing... even tho' I was actually pretty freaked out.

We had black widows in the milk room last year. Remember I caught them for that nature/science center in town because the entomologist there wanted them?


Lemme tell you, it's one thing to see them from a distance... "oh, look - nature!" vs. when one is DROPPING OUT OF YOUR JACKET SLEEVE!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Milk Test Continued...

M'kay. Milk test.

Reading through my paperwork to see what I need to do, I read that the scale I use to weigh my milk needs to be calibrated and documentation sent to Meadowlark Testing showing my scale was calibrated.


Where in the world does one calibrate a scale??

I looked in the yellow pages under scale and called some 800 number. They told me I had to schedule them to come to CO and it would be a minimum of $100 for the trip out.

I paid maybe $20 for my scale. Not gonna go that route.

I called CSU to see if a science department could calibrate my scale. That poor person was like wtf??? Completely confused by my question. "You want to do what? We don't have anything like that... Who ARE you?"

I told her I knew I could take soil samples to CSU Soil Lab and have that tested, I thought maybe the science department could help me with my scale.

"What? Ohhhh! That is the Agricultural College - THEY are the ones that test soil! (much relief in her voice) We don't test soil here. You want the Soil Lab. We aren't the Soil Lab.

sigh. I don't want to test any soil... I want to calibrate my scale.

"Well, we aren't the Soil Lab. You want the Agricultural College"

K - dead end there.

I e-mailed my scientist friend who works at an animal health business to see who calibrated the scales in their lab. She said they have an out of state company come to do it but she'd ask around to see if there was a local place.

Then, while drumming my fingers on the phone book - open to the 'C' pages from my previous call to CSU - I found the PERFECT place. A business called Colorado Dairy Assoc in Loveland! They will know! They have to know!

I talked to a guy who told me they could regulate my meter.


When I asked him exactly what 'regulating a meter' did, he replied that as milk passes through the line into your bulk milk tank, the meter reads the flow of milk.

Ummm, and what do you do if you are milking by hand?



Then a polite, "Well, m'aam I thought you were a more high tech operation than that. We don't work on those type of scales."

Fully flummoxed, I called Meadowlark Testing to see if they could recommend a place. The very lovely woman who runs Meadowlark paused and said very slowly, as if I might be a bit slow on the ol' uptake, "We calibrate and certify the milk scales"

OHHHH! Thank-you so much! I'll send my scale in with my ppwk!

I hung up the phone and felt much relieved my scale search was finally over. shew!

When I got home that night, I started telling Furry Husband my story. He interrupted and asked, "Why don't you just call Meadowlark Testing?"

Holy Schnikees... maybe I AM a bit slow on the ol' uptake! grin.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Milk Test....

Everything's been fine, I guess I've just been distracted with stuff and haven't blogged much...

I want to go on a milk test this year ... what in THE heck is a milk test? Well... that is what I'm finding out.

Basically someone comes to your place and takes a sample of milk from each doe, verifies the weight of milk she gave from a certified scale and sends the milk sample into a lab. This happens every month.

The lab gives the composition of protien/butterfat etc. in each doe's milk. Purty nifty! The weights and percentages of stuff in the milk is sent in to the American Dairy Goat Assoc. (ADGA) for official recording.

For a tiny and I do mean TINY operation like mine, it's mostly to show prospective buyers what my does produce and what they might expect from my doe's progeny. I think it'll be interesting to see just what each doe is producing and how their milk composition breaks out.

It's best to go on test within the first 45 days after kidding and the does hit their peak at 60 days. I have my packets o' information from ADGA and from the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) testing association I'll use in Carpenter, WY called Meadowlark Testing Assoc. (MTA)

Acronyms = fun!

I'm filling out ppwk and my buddy Karen agreed to come test my milk once a month.... o.k. not MY milk cuz I ain't lactatin', but my does' milk. We watch a CD with testing info, take a short T/F test and mail it in, along with my membership application and lab testing fees to Meadowlark.

Meadowlark assigns me a herd ID number and I fill out more ppwk to mail into ADGA so my info will be recorded "officially".

Fun times...

More baby pix to follow! Ol' Doc Wheeler is coming out tomorrow at 7am to disbud them. (stop their horns from growing in)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I was at work yesterday and I received a call from Furry Husband around 4pm.


It surprised us. She is due Sunday and I didn't think she'd go that early... I've been checking in with her each evening. My guess was Friday. Whoops.
I told him I'd be home right away and rushed out of the office.... he sounded pretty stressed out.
When the does pop, the scenario has always been that we are either both home or I'm home and Furry Husband is the one on the way home. He's never been the lone attendee of goat birthin' and it freaked him out!
On my way, I called to see how he was holding up. He sounded a lot calmer and I heard our horse vet in the background shout out "Everything's fine!"
He broke down and called in reinforcements before I could get there. grin.
Speck had two buck kids.... 6 and 7 lbs. Normal presentation - little front feet with a nose on top and she would have been just fine.

Poor Furry Husband.


The pix above were taken about 3 hrs after birth. We dip their navels in iodine and by this morning they were dried up and looking ready to fall off. Not so ... 'gooey'.
Sammy, our border collie mix, gets very protective of the new babies and Little Toe was thrilled to death to meet the new additions - very wiggle butt happy to each little buck. Bequia is smart enough to steer clear of all the commotion. I suppose it doesn't hurt that the kids have lots of colostrum/milk on their chins for Sammy and Toe to clean off!
We bottle raise them with heat treated/pasteurized milk for the prevention of CAE, which can be passed to the babies in raw milk (to goats only not to humans).
It's time intensive and not all goat producers do it. It's not wrong - just different than how we decided to do it. If I learned anything about raising goats, it's that there are LOTS of different ways to do things. As in all aspects o' life I suppose. (So profound! *snort*)
Mom and babies are doing well! Spot's next. May 20 is her due date....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fun movie...

I like old movies... black and white, the funny sayings in them like "that smells like five day old fish and I ain't buyin' it"

I like that they aren't in your face with sex and violence... shrug.

I like current movies too but there is just something comforting about a good old black and white now and again.

We watched The Egg and I last night. Released in the 1940's - it's about a city couple who move out to the country. First of all so much of it rang true for me since we are city kids on a hobby farm and didn't know nuthin' bout nuthin' when we moved either... the colorful people you meet in the country who are completely lovable yet wacky. The hard work needed to make your place home... the cluelessness... and it wasn't over the top slap stick either. It was SUCH a good movie.

I loved that the dog in the movie - Sport - is an English Setter...

There were some odd things in it because of the time. The wife leaves to move back in with her Mom in the city, she's pregnant and her husband doesn't know. She comes back to him 9 mos later... "oh wait here... I have a surprise for you!" and in comes baby. Weird. (whatever, it's 1940's - babies apparently appeared out of thin air back then)

And in the beginning there is reference to the husband having served in the war.... he says something like "You know what I thought about while I was held up in my fox hole with bombs and shelling all around me? Raising chickens!" Seriously? Chickens? He thought of chickens?Of course there is no PTSD talk or any other emotional issues with having seen the horrors of war. (the beauty of the 1940's again)

If you can look past those odd quirks - this is a really fun movie. If you have NetFlix, go out and put it on your list. (also listed as "No Time for Love" starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray)

Let me know what you thought of it... I just loved it. Laughed out loud several times and Furry Husband was entertained as well...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I colored my hair this weekend... it's more Burgundy than red. Furry Husband says it's not his favorite color, it's sorta "purple".
And I say GO ROCKIES! grin.

Anyway - I stopped at the gym on my way home last night and decided to do some cardio on the treadmill. Oh my cardio is so truly pathetic... but pathetic as it is, it makes my hair all sweaty. Dripping in sweat.

And that is when I noticed my hair color was seeping... dripping pink dots o' sweat onto my t-shirt.

I didn't think about the color being too new to stand up to a full on sweaty head! Wonder if anyone noticed I was covered in lil' pink dots?

Lucky for me, my face goes bright red from the cardio so if my face was covered in pink streaks no one could see!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Toe's Track

I don't want to keep anyone in suspense. We did not get our TD title. (did I just hear a collective sigh of empathy?)

It was a complete and total BLAST! Toe did an excellent, excellent job and I was a good handler, staying out of Toe's way and I really did "just follow my dog"! Joelyn said both Toe and I did a stellar job.

Below is the judges map. The solid line is the track left by the track layer, the dotted line is Toe's progression of the track. It's pretty cool to see it after the fact since all you know is you were out in a wide open field....

There is a driver who takes you to the field, you get out and the judge points you to the starting flag. There is a second flag 30 yards further up the track to show which direction the track goes. After that you are alone with your dog in a wide open field.

The judge stays far behind and as long as your dog is working, sniffing and figuring out the track, they let you continue. When your dog obviously quits or takes a wrong path and doesn't back track or come back to find the true track, they blow a whistle to let you know it's over and you went off course.

The judges leave you to find the next dog in line, but the person who left your track stays with you so your dog can continue on and find his article - in this case, a glove.

The area marked where Toe went off track was a jogging path which people had recently used. We think the stronger scent got 'im and lured him off the track.
He hasn't experienced "cross tracks" (fresh tracks left by other people) before and it is an open space park. You gotta work what you have... no matter if a herd of deer wander across or a jogger cuts across your track leaving a fresher scent.
They use cross tracks in the TDX tests but not the TD tests.
The judges told me he was a really strong tracking dog, they thought I had it for sure. Both said I did nothing to fail my dog. It was simply his inexperience since he just started tracking this past Oct./Nov.
I gave him LOTS and LOTS of praise when we were back on course and he found his glove. I was very happy with my Little Toe! 9 dogs were entered and 2 dogs passed.... it was a fun day with beautiful weather!

The tracking committee goes out the day before to plot the course and they give each exhibitor a copy of the plotted map above.

This is Toe just as I sat down to the computer, the little fella is flat out now after having chewed his nylabone for a bit. He is plum tuckered out!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wish me luck for tracking & the Kobayashi Maru

Toe and I go to Denver for our tracking test tomorrow. The draw for the order of go is at 7:45, I'd like to get there by 7:30 so I don't feel rushed or panicky which means I'll leave our house at 5:45am... yikes.

It's supposed to be a nice day and if he tracks like he's been tracking and I "follow my dog", things should be fine and I hope to report he'll have a TD for tracking dog behind his name at the AKC.

Furry Husband and I also presented our goat milk lotion to a buyer at a larger corporate chain. She will pass it out to her staff and get their feedback. We're to call her in 3 weeks to discuss things further. If they say no, they say no but it's one more learning curve and one more sales call under my belt.

She had an interesting question. She asked what the preservative I use is derived from. I couldn't answer her but I told her I'd find out and get back to her. I called my supplier confident they would know... nope. I turned to the web. I couldn't find anything other than what my supplier could give me.

I discovered which laboratory made and sold the preservative. I called their customer service department. I asked them what Optiphen is derived from. The woman told me that question was too technical and she'd patch me through to a skin care scientist.

A man with a foreign accent picked up the line. I'm pretty sure he had more smarts than your average bear... usually when you are a SCIENTIST you're pretty 'effing smart! I asked him if he could tell me what Optiphen is derived from.

He was silent. You could hear him trying to figure out how to answer me...

"What do you mean 'derived' from? It's not derived from anything.... we make it. It's synthetic. We synthesize it."

I persisted...

"It's phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol... that is what it is. There is no 'derived from'. "

He put me through to a microbiologist who responded much in the same way. I know in the cosmetic/soap industry, there have been paraben scares, petroleum scares and evidently while discussing this quandry with the skin care scientist, the latest scare is propelyne glycol because of butylene contained within it. Caprylyl glycol does not contain butylene.

I made sure to point that out in my e-mail to the buyer, along with the chemical composition of the preservative, the material safety data sheet provided by the laboratory for the preservative and the conversation I had with the scientist and microbiologist. I hope that is enough information. I won't know til we speak again in 3 weeks!

It's a bit of a sticky wicket - this preservative issue. Without SOME sort of preservative, my liquid based lotion becomes a petri dish of cultures, bacteria and fungus. Harmful, harmful beasties. However, the 'all natural' crowd wants to feel good about buying everything green with no added chemicals or preservatives.

The natural preservatives - vitamin E, C, or A, grapefruit seed extract, essential oils etc. - aren't, in my opinion, safe enough and broad spectrum enough to cover the possibilities. Large companies have the labs and resources to find different preservatives - when one is labeled "bad", they easily move onto the next chemical without the offensive ingredient.

It's an interesting issue.

Sort of the Kobayashi Maru of the lotion/cosmetics world.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Worry, worry, worry - fret, fret, fret

The brotherhood of evil mutants.... awaiting the birth of their leader... from my goat, Spot.
This time of year, as the does get ready to kid, I begin playing all sorts of weird scenarios in my head.

This year a fellow goat lovin' friend sent me an e-mail from one of HIS friends who had a doe in labor. The doe couldn't pass the baby, the owner went in and tried to see if she couldn't pull the kid... something just was not right. She took her doe to the vet and the vet performed a C-section.

The doe had a TWO-HEADED kid in there! It had a perfectly formed body and head with a fully formed 2nd head coming out of it's neck. They immediately put it down.

Add that to my list of things to worry about with goat birthin'. Two headed kids.

The other things I worry about?

What if with all the breeding issues I had with Spot this year that she has 2 sets of kids in there?
What if she did take the first time and then when we gave her the shot for her cystic ovary a month later and bred her a 2nd time... she took again?

What if one of them aborts and something goes awry and I'm at work and I come home to a dead doe and little malformed, unfinished kids?

What if I have to go in to sort out kids - untangle them - and I tear the doe's uterus or something?
What if I pull the leg off a kid trying to pull it out? (not completely rational but it does go thru my head!)

What if the doe gives birth to a mutant?
With super powers?
Who is evil incarnate and it destroys the world as we know it?

Aren't you glad you don't live in MY head?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

'Nother Debbie Clinic...

This clinic was supposed to happen 3 weeks ago... cancelled due to snow... cancelled cuz only 3 people could ride in it... cancelled cuz Debbie got the crud.

Today it finally happened!

My ride was at 9:45. I left the house at 8am leaving me plenty o' time to get to the Johnson's Corner exit and a couple miles down the road to Bey Breze Farm. I arrived at 8:45. Ahhhh - plenty of time...

I unloaded Sera from the trailer, took her on a walk about in the mud and muck. We were supposed to get 3" of snow but only got enough moisture to make things muddy. In fact I had to put the truck in 4X4 to get it through the farm parking lot. uck.

I tied Sera to the trailer with a hay bag full o' hay. I groomed and tacked her up while she contentedly munched said hay. I did NOT want to go thru the mud in my freshly cleaned tall black riding boots, so I grabbed them and marched through the slop into the barn.

I'm glad Sera stands well enough for me to hold her while I take muddy Blundstones off to put on shiny dress boots...

I put my ear piece in (fancy mic and earpiece gig!) and mounted up. She was pretty stiff today... shrug. She can be that way... My lesson started and we worked on getting her round and through, Sera gives it up pretty quickly. Counter flexion, half halts and inside leg to outside rein get her where she needs to be.

We moved into haunches in, shoulder in, renvers... she went from shoulder in to renvers easily but when asked to go from renvers to shoulder in? Not so pretty. We worked on that a bit...

Moved on to collected canter. Sera's rhythm was MUCH improved from the last clinic when she'd get sorta funky in her collected canter. It wasn't that she was having a tantrum, which she can have, I think it was more about being hard for her to find her balance and rhythm in collected canter last clinic.

We worked on medium canter from collected canter - the up transition was good - the medium canter was good... the medium back down to collected? Not so good.

I was supposed to tickle her with my whip coming to collected to keep her from falling out.. keep her collected, using her hind legs and moving onward vs. losing her frame and looking sloppy or dropping down to trot.

Sera didn't think much of the whip idea... esp. coming down from the excitement of the medium canter! She gets awful pissy about the whip. She's got to get over it... I ignored her flattened ears and both hind feet kicking out. I touched her with the whip various times throughout the ride and she accepted this.

We worked on our turn on the haunches - she needs to move quicker off of my leg. Again I had to use my stick, tho' she accepted it well. No kicking...

It was a really fun ride. Sera Sue works HARD for me. I love her to death, we've been through so much to get to this stage where we are truly a TEAM.

I took her to the trailer, untacked her, put her wool cooler over her ears to tail sweaty self and walked her about. We found a lovely patch of fresh spring grass in a sunny spot for her to munch while she dried out.

Good, good mare.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Laura Crum mystery series

Another blog I read is Equestrian Ink. It contains posts from various published authors who include horses in their writing. Through this blog, Laura Crum offered her latest book in an exchange for a review post.
I am all about free stuff!

I searched for, purchased and read the first 3 books in her mystery series. The main character, Gail McCarthy, is a horse vet who seems to wind up in the middle of big trouble regularly.
It's fun to read a book incorporating common horse issues, people and sports tho' I'm glad my horse vet doesn't have as much drama in her life!

It's a pretty cool series and I'm looking forward to finding the other 7 books and having a read. You can find the titles of her other books here. Perfect for summer!

The latest book, "Going, Gone", finds an older Gail McCarthy, more in tune with her family and living a slower paced life. The imagery of the trail rides she takes with her son are lovely and you almost feel as if you are right behind them.
Her family has experienced loss and the story touches on how to explain death and loss to a child.
Don't you worry, there is still mystery and intrigue for our heroine, Gail! She finds herself looking for a way to clear an old friend's name of murder while staying true to her family. See if the climatic chase scene doesn't have your heart beating a bit faster...
If you get a chance, check her series out. I'm hoping to get Furry Husband hooked. He likes mysteries but hasn't read a female author before. I think he'll enjoy the horse references mixed in with bloodshed and mystery....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Finnish Proverb...

The quote of the day on the Information Week Newsletter is:

If you are short of trouble, get a goat.

Speaking of... Speck is due in 2 weeks. She has a little udder and teeny, tiny teats the size of your pinky finger. It makes my big man hands hurt just looking at them and thinking about milking her.

We shaved her backside this weekend. I shaved, Furry Husband stood on one side so she couldn't jump around. Clippers tickle! I clipped all the hair on her tail, down the backs of her legs and on her udder. One year, I didn't shave the does, thinking "oh, how messy could it be if I leave the hair?"


Plenty messy.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Little House

What was up with Blogger yesterday? I tried to post and couldn't so there are 2 posts today...

Last week definitely felt like spring! My day lillies are showing up... the yarrow is beginning to show some green fronds, I think I've spotted some iris greenery...

I don't know what else is under there because I'm a lazy gardener and pretty new to gardening at that. I need to clear out the debris (today's chore).

My gardening goes like this: If the plant lives and I like it, I keep it. If I don't like it, I pull it. If something can't tough it out on our place, I don't keep trying. I don't baby any plant. I hope I remember to water.

I planted a bunch last year! I had free mulch and a ton of free divided perennials from a friend.
This year I hope to keep away from planting and focus on:
Creating a drip system for the plants who've been hardy enough to survive my minimalist gardening.

Finishing my wine bottle border idea.

Complete the wicker weaving in the front gate

Making a functional gate for my garden square.

And (sigh) we will sow native grass seed again this year. (third time's the charm! says the eternal optimist)

My vision is to have a native prairie grassland with some cheerful wild flowers one day... enough that we won't have to mow or water much but it still looks charming and "Little House on the Prairie" -esque vs. the current state of "Deliverance".
Ooooeee! You got a purty mouth....

Signs of Spring...

Goldfinches losing their winter drab and turning fabulous 'lellow! Cat mint spreading into places I didn't expect

Muddy horses.

Is that an iris peeking thru?



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Now THAT'S a nun!

I was at that tracking test last Sunday and there was an older woman competing with her GREAT BIG German Shepherd dog. It was sort of an odd looking match because she was tall and thin, older - maybe 70 with white hair, arthritis fingers... sort of frail looking and here she has this great big intact male dog.

I met her at lunch - Sister Sue. A nun. Oy, I haven't seen or talked to a nun since my days at all girls Catholic school with a convent ATTACHED to the school. It threw me a little. I think I stammered my name --- she had to ask me to repeat it.

At lunch I asked if I could meet her dog, Storm. She had him out to potty and I was on my knees, in his face, scritchin' his ears.

She tells me in her quiet, peaceful, reverent voice, "Oh yes, Storm is a wonderful dog. We do some agility and of course this tracking. (She smiles benevolently down at Storm) And he's trained to Schutzhund level 3*... wonderful protection dog."

Gulp. Maybe I should not be smack dab in this dog's face, so close to his mouth? He seemed very happy and stable...

Boy, ya sure wouldn't expect that from a nun would ya? Are nuns allowed to have hobbies involving attack dogs?!

Anyway - people sure are interesting aren't they?

*for those who don't know Schutzhund training is specialized training for personal protection, level 3 is the highest level... they also compete in obedience and tracking and are evaluated for temperament