Hail, Winds, Joe, and Other Forces of Nature

Farm Update Time! Lots to talk about this week in the weather category. I should warn you, the pictures are not great, as they were afterthoughts while I ran around trying to deal with the weather. You’ve been warned. Also, side note, I was so bummed, I had literally just plugged in my Go-Pro to charge (I’m the worst, always have at least one dead camera battery) so I could potentially time lapse a storm in the future, and about two minutes later the storm, that you will see in a minute, came on through. How cool would that have been? Ugh.

Oh my goodness, you guys! So, Monday, I had some errands to run, and I noticed some seriously dark clouds, but I figured, no big deal, we have weird stormy weather come through all the time around here. Especially in the spring, it can be sunny one minutes and just miserable the next. I figured, worst case scenario, I’d have to chill a moment and let it pass. Nope! No, I walked out of the CPA’s office and it was starting to rain and thunder some, barely made it to my last stop, and decided it was in my best interest to make it home before it got worse. Super glad I did because the rain was coming down so hard my wipers could not keep up while on the highway. It doesn’t really rain here a whole lot, so it really threw everything for a loop. I normally don’t mind driving in the rain, unless it’s really dark or stormy, but this one was super difficult.

The first front rolling through, as shot out my window, don’t mind the glare

After we got home, it rained a little longer and then calmed down. We could see some clouds forming again in the distance, but the very cool thing about my specific piece of property is that I sit between two forks in the valley, so while I get a lot of storms, usually I can watch the most intense parts in the distance, but they avoid my home and either crawl across the valley toward town or break off behind the hills towards our nearest major city. So, I wasn’t worried at all, the horses were in the daytime pasture, the chickens were out clucking around, and I was heading in to get cleaned up for the evening.
Smash cut to walking into my bedroom, I see this absolute crazy cloud moving incredibly fast towards the farm with the craziest lightning. I have never rounded up the horses in the corral and accounted for all the critters as fast as I had that night. I think it also helped that it was freezing, and I was in my pajamas (I’m going to need you to reserve judgement here, sometimes when you live on a farm you gotta do what you gotta do, and that sometimes looks like chasing horses into the corral in polka pajamas and hair in a towel). I barely made it to the porch before the storm hit.
I’ve seen some fun lightning since living here, remind me, some time I’ll post my old picture of the lightning bolt, it’s blurry and I took it purely by chance, but my point is that I’ve seen some cool lightning. This storm was really spectacular. I, of course, remembered to document literally none of it, which is very on brand for me.

That’s hail, not snow, and it actually got a little worse before it stopped
The ice build-up from the hail hitting the window,

It then started hailing, which immediately changes the storm from “fun, somewhat dangerous” to “ah shoot, this is bad”. We don’t get hail all that often, and we certainly don’t get marble sized hail. The foothills and mountains do, but here on the valley floor its not common. It hailed enough to look like snow, and had not melted off the next day, which made my commute a little sketchy. All in all, it got to a point on Monday that I was beginning to have concerns about riding the storm out, which usually is not a big deal, since we’ve got something of a storm routine.
In non-weather-related news, we’ve been trying to get back into working shape around here, and Ro is not sure she’s into it. She has been running into the arena wanting to play, but she’s not been enjoying the less-than-ideal weather and the fact that she needs to behave while working. She has been enjoying all the cookies, brushings, and picture taking sessions that have been happening again, although she thinks she looks her best when she’s about 2 millimeters from the lens.

Ro, being particularly dramatic about the wind, while doing some groundwork

Joe has been particular humdrum about the weather, because he loves to be outside. He’s made quite the nuisance of himself, but he’s also Joe so we really can’t be mad at all. I’ll introduce you properly to all the canine critters in a future post, but for now all you really need to know about Joe is that he is a 90-pound black standard poodle. We forgot to tell him to stop growing so he’s all knees and elbows. So, when he intends to be the center of attention, he absolutely succeeds. Like, I said, I think the pack needs an introductory post to truly capture the dynamic here.

If the blog post is ever late, you can assume this is why. Hi, Joe!

Other than that, not much has been going on, it’s been rainy and windy all week, we were able to pull off the socially distanced wedding of my cousin’s dreams (well, the wedding bit, I doubt anyone dreamed of socially distancing), no pictures of that though because privacy. It was so much fun, and mostly DIY, so pretty economical. But I have been exhausted since, it was a mad dash to set up everything, have the wedding, and then tear everything down.  But it was beautiful, and my cousin was beautiful, and her groom was so nervous and excited he practically floated everywhere. And I’ve been taking my week kind of slow to recover, which means for a fairly boring blog, but a fairly happy soul overall.
I hope you all are having an amazing week, and that you enjoyed the farm update.
Until we chat again, my friends!

Meet Nellie and Ro!

We are wrapping up an exciting and crazy week!

My rare time on the farm has kept me sane this week, among all the craziness that comes the week before a DIY, socially distanced wedding. Don’t get excited, I’m a bridesmaid, trust me, you’d have a lot more details if I were getting married, but for now, there’s no danger of that.

It’s been so warm and beautiful these last few days, I’ve been able to spend some time outside with the girls, riding and working. I think it might be time for formal introductions.

Deer, they were gazing at deer

Oreo is my 7-year-old paint mare, she came to us on October 8th, 2020 after I fell head over heels in love answering a craigslist ad. Funnily enough, she had already been promised to someone else, who backed out due to her medical condition in her front legs. I’m retired from showing and rodeo, so the fact that Ro needed a slower pace of life and a little extra care on her legs didn’t bother me at all. I’m hoping with proper management her legs won’t bother her much at all for many years. She was also born blind in one eye, which doesn’t slow her down at all, but it does mean she has the sassiest little head tilt. We are learning how to be retired from competition together… it’s a little hard sometimes.

Ro is a very patient little mare most of the time, unless you’re holding up dinner, which means she puts up with my hugs after a bad day, my I’m-too-exhausted-to-ride-so-lets-just-goof-off days, and she is always willing to give kisses. I love her to the moon and back.


This little girl has put up with my nervous rider habits coming back in force after realizing I was in this on my own, has put up with the litany of goofy mistakes I’ve made as I get back to full time riding (college has a bad habit of killing hobbies). Ro has made me a bolder rider, and a more confident horsewoman, because she makes no bones about telling me when I’ve done something wrong or right. I was a little worried, Ro-Ro can be a lot of horse, but I love the team we make, and sometimes it’s all I can do to actually go to work and not hide out in the pasture all day. Her affections can be bought with peppermint cookies and applesauce.

My absolute favorite thing about Ro though is her giant emotions. She wears them all on her face and in her body language. I never have to guess what Ro is feeling or thinking, most of the time it’s happy, bossy, or annoyed… a typical mare. Just yesterday she jammed her leg while having a goof, which ended our fun a little early (she’s fine, just limped a bit, I just don’t push things health-wise when I don’t have to). She was so disappointed the fun was over, and she kept trying to get my attention to check in, “You aren’t sad, are you, Mom?”, with little nibbles and earnest eyes. Lots of cookies and nose pats solved the moping issue, but it simultaneously warmed and broke my heart how much she cared that our “work time” ended early. Such a special little mare, I’m lucky she’s my girl.

Then there is Anela, my 12ish year old mystery mare, who has many names of endearment. Most commonly we call her Nellie, but she’s also referred to as Nels, Nellie Belle, Nella Bella, and Miss Belle. Aaaand if were being entirely honest she gets the lion’s share of “sweetheart”s, “baby-girl”s, and “little one”s. See, Nellie is our resident rescue, and she came to us about two weeks before Ro. She was an accident, and I joke, my craziest impulse buy ever. Here’s how it went down.

I was trying to look up Ro’s Craigslist ad again, by searching “black and white mare”, and Nellie’s picture came up. The ad said she was permanently lame and looking to be someone’s pasture mate. I knew I wanted two horses, as horses are herd animals and I find it cruel to keep them solitary, but the plan had been two riding horses, since i have some little cousins who might grow up to be cowboys and cowgirls (cowfolk? I dunno). So why I responded to the ad is beyond me. But that night I scheduled a midweek visit to the rescue.

I brought a giant bag of treats to donate and walked out into the rescues herd to meet Nellie. I was warned she was shy of everyone, especially males, so I brought my dad along (I wanted to make sure this shyness was something I could feasibly handle). She cuddled right up to me, actually took some cookies from my dad, and the rescue coordinator asked when she could drop her at my place.

I told the coordinator I wanted to think about it, that I didn’t have the adoption fee on me, and I’d call her when I knew. Smash cut to the next day, I get a call from home, while I was at work, asking why there was a horse trailer parked outside my barn. Ten minutes later I was squealing to a stop in my front drive and running down to see what on earth was going on.


Turns out the coordinator had decided Nellie and I were soulmates, and I am to-date the only person the rescue accepted a check from, because I’m not in the habit of carrying adoption fee amounts of cash. Nellie and I spent most of the next few days together, and got pretty close, but she was terrified of everything and cried anytime the train whistle blew from across the valley. Shed hide from my dad and brother. She almost killed the vet. I think the vet held similar feelings in return. I questioned my sanity taking on an abused horse.

See, Nellie had good reason to fear men. Some terribly mean men had decided that she was too feisty and needed to be “cowboy’d” before she could be ridden. They tied her head to a fence and left her for hours, they incorrectly hobbled her and managed to permanently damage her leg, bone and tendon, and when they realized the damage meant she would never be a saddle horse, they abandoned her.
A couple people had tried to rescue her, but she’s a lot of horse, so her placements hadn’t lasted, and she had no reason to trust I would keep her. Were about 2.5 years in and she just now is coming to terms with the fact that she’s found her forever home.

But it has a happy happy ending, this crazy tale.

This girl has grown so much. Today she shouted her good morning at my dad when he threw breakfast and gave him kisses. She came running in to the arena when it was time for exercise and tried to bully me for cookies (she won). She loves her farrier, is curious about the horse trailer, and no longer cries at the train. I’d even venture to say my kind-hearted little mare can get bossy. She uses her thinking brain way more often than her reactive brain now and is such a cute little bean.

And as for that leg? A lot of time and effort later, she runs everywhere, bucks and kicks, dances and plays all day. She’ll never be able to hold the weight of a rider, but there’s so much more value to horses than that. The vet swears I pulled a switch and there’s no way it’s the same horse. It’s a fantastic feeling.

I knew I’d own horses someday; I’ve been riding since I was 13 in some form or another and i swear half if my sanity relies on hearing nickers every so often. But I didn’t realize it would be so soon after starting my official, adult, real life… post college Amanda changed literally every part of her life, some voluntarily, some not-so-much, but I don’t know how I ever made it through my day without horses outside my window. 

Until we chat again, my friends!

Let’s go!

Oh, Deer!

So, the most amazing thing happened the day after my last post! We had a baby deer decide our yard was home. They just hung around for a few hours, eating my flower beds and antagonizing the dogs. I say baby, they’re probably a couple months old, but still little and clearly new to the world. And concerningly, not terrified of humans yet.

I promise I was inside, not too close

So, for a little context, the farm is about ten feet of asphalt away from a neighbor’s grazing land and about two miles beyond that is BLM land, or in other terms, government land set aside for whatever they please. BLM in this instance is Bureau of Land Management… you can imagine my initial confusion when the news first broke earlier in 2020. Why tell you this? It explains the abundance of deer, and other wildlife, that hang around the farm most of the year.
I am not against hunting per say, as I live in a poorer, rural community and I understand that sometimes hunting on their land is how some feed their family, in general, I’m personally not a huge fan of hunting as a sport or hobby. I do not allow hunting or trapping on my small property and most of my neighbors take a similar stance.
And if you poach, I have made it my mission to make your life as truly difficult as I possibly can.

Look at this face!!

This is the secondary reason I end up with lots of wildlife, they are smart enough to understand an ally, and they know the farm is a safe place during hunting seasons. The herd near my home, which fluctuates each year between 50 and 200 deer, have gotten to know my car, and will wait until I turn my flashers on and block the road before they cross.
Well, most of the time…. Sometimes the blind trust is a little dangerous.
I can honestly say however, that this is the first time I’ve been a deer babysitter. This is the first time a mama deer has dropped her baby in my flower beds, gone off to do whatever a mama deer does to survive, and come to get them later. I was honored and concerned, because what if mama deer hadn’t come back? It wouldn’t be the first baby abandoned around here, but I don’t know if my mares are ready to be substitute mamas, although I’d bet they’d try.
This little one has been around a lot this week, and I am beginning to feel a little worried because I have yet to see mama deer at all.
We have a rule here, we do not feed or interact with the wildlife unless absolutely necessary. Usually this means some sort of crisis or issue needs to arise before we engage. The feeding rule is a little hard however, as I have yet to meet a fence, gate, wall, or enclosure that is deer proof if they want it, so I accidentally feed the deer any time I bring home a new bale of hay.

Those ears!

Speaking of hay, we got ourselves another bale this week. The girls are eating so much teff hay right now, because the pasture just can’t sustain them. They have been back out for exercise now that the lion’s share of the snow is gone, but they come back in on their own accord when it gets cold (have I mentioned that they have a run of about 90% of my property? I’ll introduce them properly in another post, you’ll love them)
It’s a funny thing getting hay, because I “buy” it from my great uncle, a fun, quiet man who has lived his whole life on a farm and has a limit of words each day. He will talk until he’s used them up, and that’s it. I think most males around here have that problem, and you’ll never know how many words a day they get. But my uncle loves to visit and tease, as long as you hold up your end of the conversation.
But I digress, I use quotes around buy, because when it’s feasible, my immediate family and I try to lend a hand on his property (He has 200+ acres right now, a bunch of cows, and usually a few strays around) so he always claimed I’ve earned my hay fair and square. I think I’m coming out well ahead, but he won’t hear an argument, and honestly, I’ve been raised not to sass my elders. I also don’t want to waste any of his words on arguing.
In other news, things are finally starting to dry out a little which means it’s getting safer and easier to work with my horses. In fact, we are slowly getting back into training shape. If I’m being honest, I need more conditioning than they do, but they did get a little more winter weight than I had hoped. I think there’s a couple family members of mine sneaking sympathy treats to them when it gets cold. Ro got to try on the two saddle pads I got this winter at a screaming deal, hopefully soon we can try them with the actual saddle (I might need to put it all back together, my leather cleaning day got interrupted).

Photo Credit to Christopher. Ro would like you to refrain from judging, she’s shedding her winter coat and her ears were on backward in this photo. Not her most glamorous look.

We also finally got that tree trimmed back up away from the power lines on the garage. It was a pain, both figuratively and literally, but much safer and brighter in the old chute now. The girls even “helped”, it was a joy watching my sweet mares puzzle through why branches were falling from the tree and then run away with them like dogs with a bone. Crazy horses they are, absolutely nuts.
Well, I think that’s us for this week, I’ve got a couple cakes in the oven for a birthday this weekend, and Costco run to make. We are hoping this week to run the disc and harrow over the “arena’ (my work in progress) to break up some of the mud-turned-concrete, and bathe some suspiciously smelly dogs. We might have seen the last of the frost and I for one am so ready for springtime.
Until we chat again, my friends!

Ever seen a tree attacking a Dodge Flatbed? Now you have.

New Beginnings

Alternatively titled: I have no idea what the first post should be about.

So, I’ve agonized a little over what tone I should take, what topic should be first, basically how I set up this first post to launch the blog, and I’ve made it a much bigger deal than it probably is. But it has to be perfect, or so I told myself, and thus walked away from the computer three times under the guise of needing a break.

Then I went to my uncle’s to pick up a new bale of hay and I met this guy and his mama:

OMG, right?!

Just like that, I decided he had to be the topic of the first post, because how could he not be? He was born 12 days ago and is just figuring out all the ins and outs of this big, old world. So far he’s proven to be quite the ornery little guy, choosing to lay down and nap in his mom’s food and headbutt the fence (to be fair, I’m told the fence started it).
But he’s mostly just so excited to see EVERYTHING. Everything is exciting and new and must be tried, tested, and investigated. This included me:

That’s not my hand, for the record

So, I decided to take a run from his playbook. If everything is exciting and new, then this blog must be exciting and new. Definitely not something to stress over, because it’s too EXCITING, right? It does not matter if it is not perfect, because it won’t ever be, and it won’t matter in six months when we’ve settled some post templates, tried new things, kept some and abandoned others, post scheduling has inevitably changed, and I find at least 12 typos despite my best efforts. This post just needs to launch the process, clutter the empty page, function like a brain dump page,  and, quite frankly, put a little check on the “launch a site” checklist so I stop obsessing about it.

So, along with how unbelievably adorable this little calf is, and how wonderful the weather has been (you can tell, my photos are all sorts of blown out, because the sun was so lovely and I refused to stand in the shade), I’ve decided to gush about all the exciting and new things I want to do with this space. Luckily, this should also give you a rough idea of all the cool things to come.

To start, eventually, as I get more adept at this, I think I want to have a few different post types. I want to have a this-is-whats-happening-on-the-farm-update post, a cool-thing-we-did-that-we-want-to-share post, and weird-anecdotal-stories-that-will-work-as-exposition-and-context-so-things-seem-slightly-less-crazy post. They won’t happen sequentially, or even with a balanced array, but these are the things that I am super keen to write about and I can’t wait to get started.

For a little context:

  • this-is-whats-happening-on-the-farm-update: These are going to hopefully look like those Slack messages that cemented this whole idea, that is, they will be a summary of all the little fun things happening on the farm. For example, in the past I’ve touched on engagement photo shoots for a family member, being buried in snow, and losing a battle with some giant tumbleweeds. These I think will be the easiest posts to write, as there’s always some sort of shenanigans happening out here. Plus, I have like 4 million family members living within shouting distance, so if I do not have anything going on, you can bet someone else does, and could use a hand. I also have quite a few critters living with me, one of whom is actively trying to remove my hand from the keyboard as we speak, and they will make most of their appearances here.
  • cool-thing-we-did-that-we-want-to-share: This is going to be projects that I am really excited to share. Think like what some people creatively post to Instagram stories, but with me happily chattering away at length about it. For example, I have a damaged water trough that I want to turn into a bench, I’ve been asked to make more of my homemade gnocchi, and, at some point, I need to build a cover to the alleyway on the barn (I throw hay from this alleyway, but currently there is enough snow to cover my knees in there, and at one point it was at eye level). These are projects where I think it could be interesting enough to warrant their own post, but definitely not a how-to, because you should absolutely be learning from someone more qualified. Some might even end up how-not-tos, but that’s the fun of a vague idea, a nail gun, too much confidence and too much Pinterest.
  • weird-anecdotal-stories-that-will-work-as-exposition-and-context-so-things-seem-slightly-less-crazy: Well, or crazier, potentially. The fun of this category is that almost no one believes me when I tell these stories, and then they come visit, and suddenly it all makes much more sense. I live just outside a small town (technically a city by population, but I’m mildly convinced they lied on those numbers), and I spend a lot of my time in this crazy, confounding little place, because most of my family lives there. This small town has a little bit of everything, from a “Wolf Lady” to some secret tunnels, a town whistle that’s always a couple minutes late, and (in the pre-plague times) lots of festivals and parades that we all take just a little too seriously. You are talking to a seasoned parade float builder, hopefully we can all get back to that soon. Everyone asks if I live in Mayberry, but my brother more regularly calls it “Disney’s adaptation of Twin Peaks”. That is, it is just a little sideways, but in that quirky way small towns are.  

I’m hoping with each of these types there will be lots of photos, videos, weird scraps of memorabilia, and some tips and tricks. Especially the project posts, I hope they turn out kinda like a big, pseudo-helpful scrapbook. I do have a companion YouTube account, Instagram, and Twitter in the works, but as I am about the worst ever at social media, I wouldn’t get too excited about those quite yet.

I’m also weirdly excited about tweaking the colors and header panorama for each passing season, so expect to see the cold, snowy winter theme move on soon in favor of some (hopefully) spring greens. Little design tweaks to make the site better and more functional (I’m looking at you Social Media Widget) and all the fun little learning experiences will continue to improve this space. Most of all I’m excited that all my silly little farm experiences can live some where that someone might find them, have a laugh, curl up with a warm drink, and enjoy a little break from the humdrum.

So, that’s the plan.

I do hope you’ll stick with me for the ride.

I wonder if anyone would notice if I stole him and kept him as a pet?