You Ask A Mare

Hello friends!

Spring planning is underway, if only in its most speculative sense. It’s a little too early to start actually prepping anything, but we can start researching our options. 

We are currently deciding what we’d like to plant in the garden. We didn’t have much luck with the starts last year, but our seeds did okay. I tend to think it was already too hot for our little starts when they were sent through the mail, we had such an unusually warm summer. Since this winter, funnily enough, has been unusually cold, I have a sneaking suspicion we may be on the hook to deal with another crazy summer. But I could be wrong. Either way, I think we are going to stick with seeds.

I definitely miss mornings in the garden. My favorite work schedule is a couple hours in the morning, long break for a morning ride and walk around the farm, and then the rest of shift. Works fantastically well for my brain, is the correct amounts of physically being busy and mentally, but this time of year, it doesn’t quite work because I can’t trust I’ll thaw back out after my break. And it’s been so cold lately I’m honestly concerned about coming back in and needing to finish the work while feeling suddenly ill. I’ve already had a bit of a rough go of the winter cold season this year. But spending some time in the garden each morning is good for the soul. Better yet, spending each morning out with the horses is good for the soul.

Poor Nellie Belle is definitely over this weather. She’s absolutely had it with walking on the ice and snow. Makes sense, her little leg was not made for intense terrains. Luckily, we have a warm, dry covered area. Unluckily for her, it’s a little small so for exercise and in order to not be completely bored she’s got to head outside.

Yesterday she wanted to hang out in the barn, Ro wasn’t done being in the pasture, and Christopher walked out into the middle of a huge horse argument. Basically, Nellie having an absolute shout from the barn, and Ro was grumbling from the pasture while frantically trying to finish grazing. Generally speaking, I would say Ro makes the lion’s share of decisions, she’s declared herself lead mare, but every now and again Nellie throws her weight around a little and an argument breaks out. I’m not sure the exact timeline but by the time I got signed out of work and out the door, Ro was dejectedly standing by the corral fence and Nellie was happily watching the world go by from her warm barn. 

Seems like about every six months there’s a small war about who calls the shots, and I think we’re fixing to step right back into the middle of one. As Nellie gets to be a calmer and more logical little mare, she wants more and more say in how she spends her days. She’s really done a lot of growing in the last few months especially, and I don’t think Ro quite knows what to do with it all. I’m so glad my reactive little fireball has a much longer fuse now, and I walk away from many more of our interactions without injuries. She’s such a little gem of a horse. They both are.

There’s been lots of signs they’re in a little bit of a tiff again, beyond just yelling about how much time they spend in the pasture. I’ve also seen teeth marks in hides and there’s an ongoing bullying situation with Ro trying to hoard her food and Nellie’s food, but lately Nellie isn’t putting up with it. To clarify, these bite Mark’s don’t break flesh, and they absolutely would if my mares intended to, so while I hate that they nip at each other when mad, there’s not a huge injury situation at hand at the moment. 

The food situation is harder, I just generally feed far enough apart that Ro can’t easily guard both and I try to correct the bad behavior when i see it. Problem is that as soon as i turn my back Ro Is back at her antics. But i tend to think Nellie waits to school her sister until my back is turned too, because despite Ros attempts at hoarding, there’s no noticeable weight gain on her part or weight loss on Nellie’s. Ros a pretty easy keeper so I’m pretty sure she’d put on some pounds if she suddenly doubled her food intake.

But isn’t that just the way with owning horses, and especially being a mare mom. You really can’t convince a mare she’s wrong, she just has to love you enough to concede to your wishes. I’ve always loved working with mares because of their attitudes, it truly feels like a win when your mare wants to do what you want her to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sweet little gelding too! Geldings can be such little goofs with high spirits and big antics. But mare behavior is just one of life’s little joys.

You tell a gelding, you ask a mare. You don’t even get to have a conversation with a pony… you just take orders as they come. At least that’s my experience.

Until we chat again my friends! 

Signed, Your Very Opinionated Blogger

Hello friends!

Its official. I’m over winter. I’m done, got no good vibes left for it. I gave it a good shot, drank the warm caffeinated stuff, crocheted the fluffy blankets (sorta, I’m slow, so it’s like a third of a blanket, but still). I lit the winter candles, and made the fancy soups and the snow angels, and tracked the animal prints. It was fun, I enjoyed it. 

But now I’m cold and my frost free spout to the trough froze again, and I saw two degrees on the thermometer again, and I’m bitter and I’m cold and I’m over it. Everything’s frozen and slick and I haven’t seen above freezing temps in a week and I wiped out in front of the neighbors and Instagram keeps showing me #vanlife #onthebeach posts and I know it’s an algorithm but I’m gonna lose it.

Bring on spring.

Okay, time for a bit of composure. No one should ever let me write posts right after being outside. I can’t be trusted. 

A little bit of a fun fact about this blog, when I first started I would set aside an hour or two every Friday to recap the week and write my posts. But I quickly found that leaving anything to Friday afternoon was a bad plan because I am usually running on fumes by Friday. I’m very much a push through, step up, you-can-sleep-in-on-Saturday kinda person about my weekly to-dos but Friday after work is generally when the wheels fall off and if it hasn’t been started, its not getting done. So I tried a few different systems and found just devoting a few minutes every morning or early afternoon is usually the most productive solution. Which is a very long winded way of saying the blog posts are most generally formulated in smaller chunks, which sometimes allows for refinement, sometimes leads to disjointed topics, and sometimes means the only thing I can think to write is “I’m cold I’m cold I’m cold” over and over. Its probably a good thing I don’t write for a living. 

In actual farm related news, in addition to the ongoing nonsense that is trying to keep my water supply flowing, we are needing to replace the dualies on the flatbed. Its been a pretty long time coming, they’re pretty worse for wear, but after we parked with the latest hay bale I got out and heard the telltale “tzssssssssss” of a punctured tire. Pretty sure I picked whatever did it up on the highway. Probably a blessing in disguise, didn’t really realize how bad they were until I investigated. Taking it to the mechanic so it’ll all be done right and I don’t need to worry about it. 

At least the tire was kind enough to wait for payday. That’s a win.

I’ve also got taxes to contend with this week, although it should be less stressful than last year because I’ve given up straight away and hired a lovely professional like I finally did last year. Turns out if you worked for a questionable company and then abroad briefly (remotely) your taxes get all sorts of screwed up eternally. Luckily 2021 was the last year of weird job situations for a while (I hope) and 2022 taxes next year will be a walk in the park. I still may just stick with the professional. The peace of mind was miles better when I stopped doing them myself.

I convinced my dad to come with me as well, hes hiring my sweet tax professional too, because last year the computer program he used (no names, but I’m sure some of you can relate) screwed up the filing so badly that they ended up declaring my mom deceased (shes very much alive) and they never did get their return (because dead people apparently don’t get returns). I’m sure you can see why I’m throwing in the towel. Some people do this as a choice, and I’d rather pay them to figure it out. Especially since I don’t think I’m shifty enough for tax evasion and even if I was, I don’t look great in stripes.

But, jumping on a soap box for just a minute, why don’t they teach paying taxes in school? At least the basics, that most everyone will have to handle at some point? Because my sweet mother got sick before she taught me, and shed done my parents joint filing for 28 years, so dad and I were hopeless! So much googling that first year when we filed ourselves. Luckily my younger brother was able to benefit from our mistakes, but I really do wonder why there isn’t a “here’s some real world nonsense you gotta learn” class in high school? My parents tried, and I’m very blessed for that, but I know some of my friends didn’t have as much support at home so if there’s real world nonsense I completely missed, I would bet they never even had a chance. And if you screw up your taxes there’s some very unforgiving consequences. I bet a class like that could be kinda fun too.

Anyways, rant over, although apparently ranting is the mood of the week. I will say that farm taxes are easier in that they demand a set amount and that’s it. The fact that they go up every year while the services they are meant to provide seem to deteriorate is another matter. Also why are property taxes and such due on Christmas? That’s some scrooge mcduck nonsense right there. 

Well, that went entirely off the rails. Never let me blog while both annoyed and cold. And somebody take this soapbox from me, its causing me a mess of problems! 

Until we chat again my friends! 


Hello friends!

I just finished bathing the dogs. Let me tell you, that is a whole experience. Weve got it down to a science in the house, but it doesnt change the fact that it’s a big old deal to bathe the critters.

We always start with Joe. Joe has two moods when it comes to bathing. First mood is playful, he thinks its play time and wants to chase the water and blow bubbles in the soap, and he wants to paw at me and knock the shampoo bottles off the ledge of the tub. He is having a grand time and bath time is the best and isn’t everything delightful. His other mood is dejected, he goes boneless when I try to get him in the tub, lays down when I try to scrub his belly, leans on the wall to hide whatever side I’m cleaning, sighs repeatedly and loudly. Hes mad about the bath, this is the worst and hes definitely going to reach out to the ASPCA about this. 

Today we were dejected. Hes still miffed about it, and is begging to go outside, I’d assume to roll in whatever he can find to remedy the problem. We simply smell too nice, you see.

Scooby rarely gets truly upset about bath time as long as he likes the tub, the water is warm, and you move with a quickness. If anything is off he starts to get fussy. He likes the big sink in my kitchen and the tub in my bathroom, but not the guest bathroom tub. I think its a little too dark for him. Plus he rarely goes to the guest spaces on his own because he is a little too blind for the steep basement stairs. Totally understandable. 

Scooby also has special shampoo and a fancy procedure to his baths because of his skin condition. Hes always been an itchy dog and we learned that he is actually allergic to almost everything to some degree. We’ve tried a lot of options over the years but have mostly settled on, at least for now, a fancy shampoo and a glove with the nubbins on it for a cleansing, massaging effect. He sure loves that thing. The shampoo has lots of anti-itch and moisturizing ingredients so he walks away feeling so soft and good about himself. It’s pretty fantastic. Hes got some minor allergies to lots of things, including his own saliva, so anti-itch is a must.

Watson tends to always hate baths but that’s because hes so little it’s hard to warm up after hes cold. Hes so small it doesn’t take a terribly long time to get him all scrubbed up and clean, but he pouts and grimaces about it the whole time. He also tries to hide, or bail out of the bath, which means we’ve switched from bathing in the kitchen sink to my bathtub, because I was really worried he was going to escape my grasp and make a run for it on my kitchen counters. Less than ideal. Now he just gets all angry trying to climb the tub walls and eventually just starts yelling his little head off.

After bath time is his favorite part, he gets wrapped up in a big fluffy bath towel and then gets toted around for a while in his little bathrobe. Usually I end up cleaning the bathroom up and doing some minor cleaning and “puttering” around the house while hes along for the ride. I sit him down in his little towel occasionally when I need two hands and Christopher thinks he looks like little baby Yoda. All you can see is his little face popped out. Hes perfectly happy being babied, it’s just the actual bath part that ticks him off. Go figure.

I wish I had gotten some pictures of the beans in their soaking wet state but two important things happen during and after baths. I hide my phone in my room and close off the whole space in an attempt to prevent water damage and general destruction and your usual mayhem. Joe especially thinks anything remotely soft is a towel, so bedding, office chairs, clean laundry, anything within reach will smell like wet dog. The other important thing is the two and a half sets of zoomies. Joe and Scooby start immediately, I get about a minute to dry as much off as possible and then those two have to be free to run around like crazies. I’ve started strategically leaving some of their bath towels in their day beds, and usually in their crazy, gotta-run-gotta-play state they play with the towels enough to help the drying process. Watson waits until he has soaked up every ounce of his post bath cuddles and then goes for his zoomies, which is great because he can mostly avoid being run over by Joe at that stage. Joe tries very hard to be mindful of his brothers but sometimes the play is just too fun to stop and pay attention. I usually get knocked over in those moments too.

But the beans are going in for some official haircuts and spa days soon, and I will get some glamour shots then hopefully. 

Until we chat again my friends. 

All God’s Critters

Hello friends!
This week on the farm we’ve basically been perpetually cleaning up after our wilderness friends and their poor life choices.
First, we had a coyote appear to get lost and end up in the corral. Why do I think he got lost? Well, the tracks tell a pretty good story because the snow has been freezing in the early morning hours and preserving the evidence of the nights shenanigans.
Looks like this little coyote crossed the empty canal and found a tiny hole in the chicken wire we have up on that fencing. He pushed his little body through, my guess is because he smelled Cordelia’s earlier travels, and suddenly realized he was face to face with two very angry mares. The evidence suggests a very panicked zigzag pattern that ultimately leads to a new, bigger hole in my chicken wire that I am pretty sure he punched out with sheer force of will.
It definitely stresses me out that a coyote crossed the canal into my corral on a whim and my sweet girls had to handle it, but I am sure, to a point, there’s tons of midnight adventuring that I am generally blissfully unaware of. The fact that the girls seemed entirely unbothered in the morning and the only reason I know about it is the broken fence and snow marks is definitely proof toward that assumption.

We’ve also had some incredibly brave deer come down the driveway and into the pasture in broad daylight. I’ve known for a while that they didn’t fear us here on the farm, but they’ve taken it to the extreme and hang out on the nearby hill most of the day. Then in the evenings they come down to munch on my hay bale (for what it’s worth, we do not feed or actively engage, they steal it from my storage space since I can’t secure it yet). I’m glad they feel the farm is a safe place to come hangout, wouldn’t want it any other way, but I’m always worried they are going to forget that other humans are scary and should be avoided.
This week I watched as two deer calmly maneuvered around my hotwire and through the fencing on the hill and around the pasture, with a surprising amount of dexterity and problem solving. Then I continued to watch as their third friend just busted through as though the fencing didn’t exist at all. Long story short? He’s fine as far as we could see from a distance, and I gotta rebuild my fencing again. He literally just sorta did a Kool-Aid Man impression and totaled out the hotwire and everything secured around it. He also made a show of yelling at the fence in his little deer noises. Definitely don’t think it was his intention to make such an entrance.
We’ve also had a lot of birds move into the barn, which Nellie enjoys immensely as she is a Disney princess who loves all of God’s creatures. She’s been known to let birds ride around on her back as she goes about her day. I’ve even had to scrub bird poop off her back, which is a downside to being a woodland princess that no one mentions. Nellie doesn’t mind though, she’s never met a critter she didn’t at least try to make friends with.
Ro, on the other hand, is not even remotely a fan of birds. She ranges from begrudgingly putting up with the little ones that run out in front of us on rides, to a deep, angry fear of ducks and cranes. I’ve often had to come rescue her because there’s a duck on the path from the pasture to the corral. When the crane is around, she won’t use that little pathway at all. I end up either chasing the crane away or feeding a little extra in the barn itself. She will angrily yell at the pheasants when they pass through, but if you’ve ever heard a pheasant…well they make quite the ruckus themselves. We have one we call Freddy the Four O’clock Pheasant, who, unsurprisingly, cries out for his family about four o’clock every day during the summer, and Ro has some choice words for him. She’s fairly annoyed at the magpies as well but she doesn’t completely lose her mind at them.

Anyways, the birds are making the kinda mess you’d expect birds to make in the barn, and it’s not really appreciated. I obviously wont kick them out, its winter time and all God’s creatures need refuge, but I’m not excited about consistently cleaning up the messes of a little nesting community. I hope they find more suitable nests in the spring, because last year I spent a lot of the spring being chased out of the arena by angry mama birds for accidentally invading their nests. Oh well, such is farm life.
I think I’ll wrap this up here, gotta go feed the girls and do a little deer spotting on the way.
Until we chat again, my friends!