The Event of the Season

Trigger warnings: vet stuff, needles, vaccinations, minor injuries, general farm medical dramas

Hello friends!

 It was farm call day last week, where all the critters on the farm that can get vaccinated, do. 

This one was definitely a little rougher than the others, not going to lie. But it all worked out in the end. Allow me to explain.

So, Ro, Watson, Joe, and Scoobs are pretty much seasoned pros about the vet. Scooby admittedly gets pretty nervous when we go into the actual vet office, and he does try to hide, but when it’s all said and done he stands quietly for his checkup and shots, he just needs a little more reassurance. Totally understandable. And, since I started scheduling farm calls, it’s been much more pleasant for him, since he has no idea it’s checkup time until it’s already in progress. No time to get worried.

Nellie, on the other hand, has a sixth sense about vet call days. We can do everything like normal, heck, there have been times I’ve forgotten the vet is coming out, but she knows. She knows. She will decide the level of crazy she wants to bring when they arrive, but make no mistake, she’s stewing on it beforehand.

The last few times she’s been fine, this time unfortunately she surprised us with how quickly she hit meltdown mode. She was trying really hard, ate some cookies from the vet’s hand and the lovely vet tech’s as well. But she was getting more and more nervous. After that fact I learned that the stray dog that had caused quite the ruckus earlier in the day had come back and my dad was attempting to prevent him from coming back into the corral, I’m assuming that was a large part of why she melted down so quickly, because while she likes dogs, she doesn’t like scary yappy jumpy dogs. And Ro doesn’t like dogs at all so the vibes were off.

(For what it’s worth, we tried to catch this dog forever, and when I called my neighbor she was pretty sure he lived down the road, so we are fairly certain he made it home and was just out on a walkabout)

Anyways, after she ran me over and kicked the vet, we opted to just let her live her life, which I believe was the right choice safety wise, but then after she calmed down she was so in my pocket, like she knew that wasn’t the best behavior and was trying to be especially cute. So, she definitely did not have a great time. It’s so hard because once Nellie has decided there’s an issue, that’s that, she can and will hold on to being suspicious about it for days. Unfortunately the vet and I will need a little recovery time as she grazed him in the shin and strained my shoulder (we’re fine now though, mostly just bruised egos).

While we vaccinated the dogs, we were discussing what to do with Nellie, as I love her too much to let her go unvaccinated, and we ended up with a two part plan that eventually leads to our happy ending. First, we discussed how to get her comfy with the vet, and we decided it probably made the most sense to either get her more comfortable with the needle or more relaxed around the vet so she isn’t thinking about the needle.

So, we decided that first I would try giving her the shot myself a day or two later, and if that went poorly we could give very light sedation so she was just a little bit safer and we could react just a little faster than she could. 

As you can imagine there was one idea I liked significantly more than the other, although neither sounded like the makings of a fun time. 

I won’t keep you in suspense, Nellie was such a good girl that two days after the vet call I was able to give her her vaccinations myself. At first the plan was to hide the needle and sneak attack, but she was on to me immediately. Honestly I should know better by now. So, I showed her the needle and spent about an hour holding it up to her neck, pinching, and feeding a cookie as reward. I kept waiting for the meltdown, but she was all here for the game. After she had thoroughly convinced me this wouldn’t be a big deal,  I spent an additional 20 minutes psyching myself up because while needles don’t bother me, poking those I love does. 

But we did it! She stood so still and nicely that I honestly didn’t know what to do, she was such a good pony. My technique wasn’t great, so unfortunately there was a little swelling and the equivalent to a little equine bruise from a shaky needle, but a couple video calls with the vet and he wasn’t concerned. She was even friends with me after the fact, which was totally new because usually she needs a little alone time to reevaluate what happened. 

As of today, now a few days later, both girls had the teeniest of injection reactions in the form of sore muscles and lethargy, combine that with a string of poor weather, and they have had many days off. Nellie was super touchy about her neck (understandable) but she’s coming around now. Like I said, she just needs a little extra time to process things occasionally. 

So all in all we came out fine. A little more eventful than last year, but the girls are healthy and vaccinated, the vets brushed shin was remedied with some donuts delivered to the clinic, and I can lift my arm above my shoulder again. Plus Nellie Belly and I have a whole new level of confidence since we handled vaccinations all by ourselves. Nellie requests I work on my shot-giving form though, so suggestions on how to do that are appreciated.

This has been a bit of a longer tale of farm shenanigans, so I better wrap this up here.

Until we chat again, my friends!

Everyone Loves a Good Back Porch

Hello friends!
Its officially work outside season, which is, of course, the best thing ever.
Not only is there actual outside work to be done (like redoing the gardens) there’s also just “work that can be done outside”. Luckily, I can usually swing a couple hours outside with my work laptop before the battery starts screaming. It’s a pretty solid little battery, I just usually put it through the ringer trying to develop for, and test against, large scale usage. Obviously, I can’t easily mimic hundreds of users on my local machine, but I can do enough and that’s hard on the battery, among other things.
I absolutely love being able to work outside, although admittedly the farther from the router I get the sketchier my slack notifications become. But I think my coworkers are fairly used to me at this point.
Our Wi-Fi very suddenly cut out this week and would not come back for anything. I was pretty annoyed because a few months ago the radio equipment our ISP provided failed unexpectedly and it took about a month and a half to get it all fixed. A very stressful month and a half when you work from home and are trying to use your phone as a hotspot. My phone has literally never been the same, and I am thinking I may need to upgrade soon because the battery now gets hot enough to fry eggs on.
I used to have a backup connection in town (I used to work entirely in town because we couldn’t get reliable internet access at the farm at all) but I had to cancel that recently as they tripled the price of the service and it was rivaling the cost of my entire electricity bill for the farm. Too much for something I hadn’t used in months.

Buds!! As seen from porch!!

Of course, about a week after I cancel, queue the farm internet suddenly going down. Like i said, I was beginning to get really frustrated and annoyed because I didn’t not want another six months of them being “sure it wasn’t their equipment”. But they got someone on the problem right away, because apparently it wasn’t just my farm that lost service, and the cause? A maintenance person accidentally slicing through a very important cord somewhere in the ecosystem. So only three days down for service, not six weeks. Thank goodness.
An update on Scooby now that he’s had some time to adjust to being a visually impaired pupper. He’s mastered most of his usual routes, and the four steps on the porch. He’s gotten weirdly comfortable with just walking over the top of, or through the legs of, Joe instead of going around. For Joe’s part, he’s gotten very good at standing or laying very, very still while Scooby goes about his travels. He’s pretty patient. He also goes out after Scoobs if he gets too far out in the yard or too close to the retaining wall.
Scooby does still struggle when things are out of place, sometimes he sees them, sometimes he doesn’t. He noticed the Easter eggs on the floor this morning and avoided them but didn’t see the work boots and stumbled over them. I tend to think it’s a depth perception and color thing. Both the carpet and boots are tan, the Easter eggs are decidedly not tan.
We are very lucky to have some very caring folks are part of our “pet raising village” too. Scooby has regular visits with our groomer (they all do) who I truly believe loves these critters like a crazy aunt loves her niblings. She takes special attention to Scoobs now that he has a hard time navigating new or rarely visited places. And our vet has been coming out to the farm for the yearly checkups/vaccinations but is now more accommodating than ever, letting Scoobs stay up on the porch, so he feels comfortable. They also have bumpers they put up in the rooms when he has to go into the clinic so he can’t get stuck under the furniture. We have some amazing people in our lives.
We have blocked up a few places for Scoobs too, although he still gets stuck under the dining table once in a while, he’s a lot better at working out where he is. He’s such a brave little trooper.

And a happy little guy too now that I can pop open the back door while I work, and they can hang out on the porch. They absolutely love being able to hang out outside and in the afternoon when the sun peeks in. Its covered and gated so the littles are protected from predators and Joe is theoretically protected from cars, tractors, the horses, or whatever else he’s decided to make friend with. Although he creates danger for himself because he likes to force his head in between the railing slats.
I occasionally joke about being a “boy mom” because when I describe the everyday chaos to my cousins with human children, our stories sound suspicious similar. It sounds like I just have three young toddlers waddling about. It also helps that anytime someone addresses one of my critters is sounds a lot like “hey Scoobs, where’s your mama?”
(Real talk though, as much as I love being a fur parent, I absolutely realize it is 4000x harder being a parent parent. I only make those jokes around those who unequivocally know I’m joking)
Welp, I’ve prattled on for a while, so I’ll leave this one here. Otherwise, I’ll write a whole book and the editing will be a nightmare haha.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Fix It Lists

Hello friends!
The funny thing about spring time is that it’s always fix it season. It makes sense when you think about it, most things have sat around all winter, cold, unmoving, and without the general mini maintenance that comes with daily use.
We have a little irrigation pump that we use to water the pasture and arena spaces with the canal waters each year. It’s a tough little guy, and mostly comes out of winter unscathed, except for one little valve that breaks every year. Every single year we end up replacing this little brass fitting and pipe section. Weve tried just about everything, it now gets taken off and stored, last year in the garage, where, despite being bone dry and out of the elements, it still cracked. This year we stored it in the basement, but it got so unreasonably cold I don’t know if I have high Hope’s. We will know soon enough, when the frost warnings are past, the canal is full, and we can safely use the pump.

This is when it first started running, it’s not usually this grimy and muddy. Also please ignore the humming, much like a llama I tend to mindlessly hum when I am happy, and any sign of spring makes me happy.

For the first time since moving next to the canal, I was actually outside when it start filling up this year. I was walking Ro into the arena, which backs right up to the canal, and we first it come crashing through some of the tumbleweeds that had settled in the dry ditch. She had one of her rare spooky moments but settled fairly quickly. Funnily enough though, she panicked anytime any of her humans walked too close to the rushing water, which makes me wonder what her past water experiences have been, since no one here has ever fallen in or anything. We ended up mostly just standing near the canal chatting so she could come up and check on the water and then retreat as needed. Nellie was not bothered at all surprisingly. She was completely nonplussed with the whole situation.

This photo doesn’t really relate BUT my girls never share this nicely so I had to share the moment. Please ignore how gross the trough is, it actually got cleaned the morning after this photo was taken and the pvc protecting the heater got resettled

To be honest, I have no intuition as to what this horse will decide is scary and what isn’t. Every time I think “Nellie will fear this” I’m totally wrong, and I have about the same success rate with “Nellie will be fine with this” thoughts too. As long as she’s learning it all comes out in the wash I guess.
We called in the sprinkler guy for our yard sprinklers, because theoretically that thing is all a computerized system. I don’t think the automated part of it has worked for more than a week at a time the entire time we’ve owned it, and the system in manual mode has never made it a full season without breaking down. I’m very grateful for our sprinkler guy, he has the patience for the system that I simply never will. It fouls up like crazy. I don’t know how the previous owners utilized it, or perhaps they had the same issues.
We’ve had significantly worse luck with other tradespeople lately, which makes me even more grateful for our sprinkler guy. I tried to hire a landscaper to help with the ever-growing craziness that is the yard. I can manage the day to day, but the previous owner planted some questionable things in questionable places, and I have bushes threatening my sidewalks, arborvitae growing tall enough to be a problem, trees that need love, and a severe amount of mint… everywhere. I’ve more or less just tried to maintain them until I had solutions but it’s getting a little crazy. I thought maybe someone would be able to help me out, and lots of people responded, lots of people gave me dates and times they’d come give me a bid, and a lot of people suddenly never contacted or responded to me again while I waited for them to arrive. Those that did respond mostly said things like “you’re too far out” and “I don’t work in your area anymore” which is a touch annoying since I clarify my address several times with people (we’re…. not the most Google Maps friendly address). But I assume people suddenly realize I’m not near Boise and it’s not worth it, which is fine, but a cancellation notice would be nice. I missed a fun dinner out the other night because I was waiting for someone who no-showed on me.

Last week my sweet brother started trying to tackle some of the jobs I had hoped a landscaper would help with. I appreciate it so much, he’s really handy when he has time, and my aunt said she’d be able to help me relocate some of those bushes when she comes later in the summer as she’s a hobby botanist. So now I just need to find a dedicated tree guy, and an exorcist for the mint. (I like mint a lot, have always grown it, but in pots, where it can’t rapidly consume whole garden beds. I don’t understand just throwing it out in the beds all over, because it’s truly everywhere now.)
Ah, oh well, worst case scenario the gardens will overgrow, and I’ll lean heavily into the “garden witch” aesthetic. We will call that a solid plan b.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Brave Little Mares

Hello friends!
I’ve been absolutely loving the warm weather we’ve been having! Its officially spring and I am all sorts of here for it. I’ve been digging the warm days, the longer evenings, the little storms that pop up. I am a warm weather baby through and through.
Ro and Nel never cease to amaze me. We’ve been slowly getting back into our work patterns as the weather gets nicer and they are just so keen on it. We’ve had some stiffness and sore muscles, which really shouldn’t surprise anyone since this winter you couldn’t hardly walk around with everything as frozen as it was. But they’ve seemed almost excited to work and play, even when scary monsters are afoot, like the fire breathing dragons (the ditch guys burning the underbrush) and large horse eating goblins (the neighbors taking down a tree with a front loader). Ro yelled at them a lot, stomped about and got all huge, but she didn’t spook or run over me, she handled herself really well.

Nellie did too! She did try to stress eat my mounting block, but we all have our vices. To be honest, she regularly tries to eat the mounting block, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. She was a cribber when she first arrived, but her anxiety has chilled out, especially lately, so that problem more or less solved itself. She doesn’t really crib on the mounting block, she sorta just makes a lot of noise, chews on it, drags her teeth across the ribbing (the texture-y non slip stuff so you don’t eat it off your mounting block) and does her best circus impression by trying to step up on the block. I try to correct where I can because I don’t want her hurt, but her sass during the whole process actually warms my heart a little because she’s gotten confident enough to be defiant.
She is learning that privileges come with listening ears. In the past she’s had to watch from outside the arena when I’d ride (don’t worry, she always has a turn to come out and work too, in her own unique way) because she likes to pick on her sister when Ro’s attention is focused on me and it would slowly turn into a big argument if I didn’t step in. She also loved to crowd the mounting block and rush in between Ro and I while I was tacking up. Then she’d be upset when I’d ask her to step out of the arena. To be honest it broke my heart a little too. But she’s starting to put it together now that if she waits patiently while I tack and mount up, she not only can hang out in the arena the whole time, but also gets invited to practice ponying and other skills.

The whole springing forward thing with daylight savings has really goofed but my sense of timing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the later evenings, and since I work pretty early in the morning the slightly longer dark mornings don’t really bother me, just gives me more of a chance to catch the sunrise. That being said, getting out of bed on time and not falling asleep on the couch early is still a work in progress. I definitely didn’t actually go to bed around 7 pm three nights this week. It seems like it’d be an easier adjustment, but I swear it actually gets harder every year. Falling back goofed me up too, but in the opposite direction.
I’ve heard they are discussing eliminating daylight savings time as a whole concept. I, personally, don’t mind the idea of never changing clocks again, as I find it to be mostly antiquated and not terribly useful for my particular lifestyle, but I’ve seen some arguments for those who still utilize it, so I won’t be upset either way. I’ll moan and complain twice a year and then not think about it at all any other time.
Either way, I love the later evenings and the fact that it marks the beginnings of those long summer days. We just had the first day of spring, the spring equinox, and it’s really starting to feel like it around here. I feel bad for those in the northeast with their winter weather warnings and those in the south with those crazy storms but feeling very blessed to have warm weather and sunny days and spring grasses popping up as the markers for our springtime. We’ve only had a couple of good sized storms, which is about average for us.
Speaking of that sweet spring grass, I have some inpatient mares waiting to be let loose into the daytime pasture, so I think I’d better scoot. They take grazing very seriously ya know.
Until we chat again my friends. 

Sunshine Musings

Hello friends! 

I have been basking in the sunshine! It’s been gloriously sunny and warm for a few days now and it’s just the absolute greatest thing! It’s been in the 50s! 

It’s been so nice for melting the snow and drying things out and lifting spirits around here. Of course, everything is sunk now in the mud, which is going to continue to be a big old issue for things like driving to maneuver out of my driveway and getting deliveries, but it’s a temporary problem. I have been trying to look at getting a load of gravel hauled in this summer maybe, to help fortify the driveway and to maybe build a drainage system.

I’ve mentioned this a bunch, but work has been pretty crazy lately, and I’ve totally let it get that way. The thing about remote work, at least in tech, I guess I can’t speak to it across the board, is that even the kindest bosses are probably not keeping track of your time like you are and are possibly heaping work on. They don’t mean to, but it’s simply not as easy to notice when the little slack “online” icon has been green for 14-16 hours. And even further in his defense, I’ve said nothing because I figured it was a temporary thing. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve accidentally trained my lovely team that I’m around and working all the time, and that’s never a good thing, but especially not good as it’s getting closer and closer to seasons of outside chores and I can only sit at a desk for so long before the sunshine and soft nickers win out. 

Look at these muddy, happy ponies out basking in the sunshine! Such beauties!!

So, I’m trying to slowly work back into signing off after 8 hours, setting somewhat stricter “reachable” hours, and getting some of my free time back to be outdoors. It’s an ongoing cycle with me, seems like almost every 6 months I have to correct some sort of work/life balance issue, because when your work is always three steps from your bed, it can be hard to disconnect. 

That said you couldn’t force me into an actual office role for anything anymore. I’m far, far too happy to not have a commute, to work on projects in sweatpants, and to be able to eat lunch whenever I feel like it. Remote work is definitely what I am built for, even more so when I can set my own hours (mostly) and work out on the porch. I’d be miserable in an actual office, I now officially can’t be away from my animals for more than an hour or two. Otherwise, I absolutely lose my mind.

Plus, it helps that, despite my complaining, I actually really like my job a lot. It’s not a case of “if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” because, frankly, I think that’s nonsense, but I think it’s about as close as you can get. I think the saying should be something like “find a good team, doing work you find mostly enjoyable, and work will be a manageable task each day of your life” …. but maybe catchier. 

Because let’s be real, even when you love your job like I do, if you wouldn’t do it for free, you’re working.

Anyways, all that to say, I’m trying to arrange life around riding and farm chores again instead of work, and I’m so excited about it. I have had a few days now where it’s been heavy sweatshirt instead of a coat weather, and I am now thriving. When it gets to t-shirt weather, I’ll be unstoppable, and also never at my desk. Those are the days where I suddenly go “oh no, I was meant to finish the blog today!” And I quickly haul everything out to the porch, so I don’t have to go inside to publish it. 

Such a model, always gotta find the best angles

It’s also the season of listening to the doves coo, which is such a warm and nostalgic sound for me. We did not have doves in the pacific northwest so each summer when school let out and I got to come over here to my lovely valley, that first morning waking up to dove coos was the sweetest day of summer. Doves cooing meant I was in my favorite place on earth, where I can read under ancient ash trees, go play with baby farm animals, take long walks with my camera, and write on the back porch to the sounds of running water and twittering birds. 

Now as an adult I’ve been able to add “can fall asleep in my own bed, cuddle my own horses, and have halfway decent internet” to the equation and frankly, sometimes I have to pinch myself. To think I was annoyed when I first moved here, because it wasn’t the plan after college, I had to give up friends and, at the time I thought, the career I’d just worked so hard for as well. I don’t blame past Amanda for being scared about those things, while I’m so happy to be here, it’s not always been peaches and roses, and it won’t always be peaches and roses going forward. But I wish sometimes I could go back and tell her how good it works out, that her friends stay around, mostly online but they do come to visit, that she ends up purchasing two amazing mares, that she still gets to have her career. 

I guess, in summation, take this small piece of advice my dad always reminds me of: “your plans and Gods plans may differ, but it’s only because you don’t know to dream any bigger”. Maybe you and I can both work on going with the flow more, it really seems to work itself out each time better than we can imagine.

Until we chat again my friends. 

A Very Scooby Story

Hello friends,
Well, we need some extra good vibes (and prayers if you do that) for our little Scooby this week.
Little guy has been dealing with cataracts for a while, the vets have said with his age and allergies surgery wouldn’t be an option but assured us that many dogs live long happy lives with cataracts after they get used to it. I know this to be at least anecdotally true as my childhood pupper spend the last few years of his life a very happy, very blind little boy.
Scoobs’ cataracts have shifted and grown again, the vet thinks there’s also a sinus infection situation that is not helping in the slightest, and Scoobs really cannot see at all at night and no longer has any depth perception in lit areas. Poor little bean is suddenly needing to learn how to adapt.
He’s a happy boy for the most part, still comes and sees me in my office, goes and hollers at Christopher when he wants attention, still gets occasional zoomies. Good appetite, good digestion, the vet is certain he’s gonna adapt and it’ll be just fine.

Mom! Stop with the camera! Come on, you’re embarrassing me!

However, he is also getting so so so upset when we try to help or rescue, and he gets unbelievably annoyed at his brothers for helping. Granted his brothers need some lessons in being gentle and kind in their helping, but it’s meant with love.
Scooby used to help his older brother, my childhood pupper Winchester, when his cataracts got bad, so I’m hoping Watson and Joe eventually figure out how to appropriately “help” too. Scoobs used to direct him, and shake so Winchester could hear his collar, and would come get our attention is we hadn’t seen something he thought was important. He was a little star and seemed to really enjoy having a “job”. I don’t necessarily see Watty and Joe-Joe being that involved (which is totally fine, every personality is different, and they are not beholden to be their brothers’ eyes) but I hope they eventually get to the point where they realize, especially giant Joe, that Scoobs can’t see when he’s in the way or hogging the food, etc. Joe’s almost run over Scoobs a couple times because he got excited and expected Scooby to move. It’ll be a work in progress.
But if, in the course of your day, you feel like thinking good thoughts for Scooby and his new normal, I’m sure he’d appreciate it. Also, if you have any ideas on how to help him out more, lay them on me! I’ve put up some more night lights so any dark spots are more illuminated, and I’ve been researching soft corners and furniture gap covers (but most of our problems are with tall furniture, so I’m thinking decorative storage boxes might be more helpful for actually blocking that space). He’s in the phase right now where he gets so cranky if you help him out at all, so we are trying to give him his space, but also, I’m not going to let him get frustrated under the table where at every turn he’s just bumping his little head. Ever since he was a puppy, he gets so annoyed if you help him with something he perceives he can do, jumping into the car, arranging the blankets in his bed, etc. He’s a very independent little bean.

Zzzz Zzzzz

Joe and Watson are not having the best time sharing the spotlight. Scoobs has always been my chill boy, he’ll seek me out if he wants cuddles, and occasionally he will put up with my insistence about snuggle time for a few minutes, but much like a cat, generally he’s just happier to exist in the same space as you. Lately however, I’ve been a little more in his business and apparently Joe and Watson (who have already been battling it out for the title of attention hog) are simply feeling neglected.
Joe’s taken to just coming in and sitting on me. He’s tall enough he can just sorta pop his little rear end up on my lap and wait for pats. He also likes trying to find my feet to sit on. This is a little tougher because he’s all knees and elbows and thus it kinda hurts when he sits on your feet. But I’m certainly not going to teach him otherwise, if the boy needs love then he needs love, that’s all there is to it.
Watson is a little more intense about how he demands attention. He always wants to be the center so it’s a constant case of him yelling while following whoever he’s focused on (usually me) around. I can’t even call it whining, it’s this fun little squeaky grunt that just sounds like he’s one important announcement from full English speaking. He also has a habit of getting under foot due to his excitement and is perpetually being told to chill, that he needs to move out of my personal space while I’m walking. Not that I don’t love having him around, but especially if I’m carrying something (or someone, with Scoobs needing rescuing occasionally) and I can’t really see where I’m stepping, I’m always worried I’m going to squish him, or kick him, or fall over/on top of him.

Had to be sneaky here, because he was technically breaking some rules and was up on the couch without asking, but he was too cute so we ignored it

Although when you have three opinionated puppers the house, falling over excited dogs is just a state of being. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Until we chat again my friends 

Spring Fever

Hello friends!

We’ve seen some sunshine and temperatures above freezing, so yours truly is a happy girl! 

The girls are happy too, not only is it warming up a little and the sun is out to play in, but yesterday they had a nice little spa day with the farrier coming out to trim up their feet. They love that.

They both had just a little bit of a hard time standing still, but I think it was mostly excitement, they love Jimmie, our farrier, and they both can develop a good case of happy taps when excited. Jimmie is just such a gem of a human, I’m so glad he was suggested to me as a farrier possibility because I now count him a friend. He’s pulled my tail out of the fire a couple times and I can always count on him to have a joke and some helpful advice. 

The warm temps in the day time have creates a couple interesting scenarios here on the farm. First, due to the run off and refreeze each evening, there are parts of the farm, mostly the little concrete patches in the driveway, that are a couple inches of pure, slick ice. To the extent that it’s getting difficult to get the car out of the garage without sliding about a little. Not ideal.

With the runoff and refreeze, the other issue is that doors and equipment are freezing and completely stuck. The building we call “the dirt floor garage” which functions somewhere between an equipment shed and a catch-all, as well as Cordelia’s main home, has been completely frozen shut a couple times. Once it took three of us to work on it before it came loose, once we sorta just gave up and fed a Cordelia on the porch. I don’t think she minded. We also had to perform an early morning repair on my parents car as the ice buildup had managed to catch and pop loose the little air dam on the front. It looks pretty rough, it cracked the plastic and scraped the paint, it also broke the little clips and needed to be fixed up before it sat right, but I think it’s mostly going to be a cosmetic thing, unless it makes a habit of falling the front of the car or something. 

The warmer temps have also meant that there are places where you’d lose a shoe to the mud if you aren’t wearing the right boots. Especially around our lower elevations, since were on a little bit of a slope, the corral and lower driveway are basically a lake. I’m looking around to find a gravel company so I can get quotes and start saving up to add some structure and drainage to our mud. It’s been a particularly wet year.

Nellie and Ro are still having just a bit of a power struggle, but something interesting has occurred. Nellie Belle has more or less set her boundaries and will enforce them with a quickness whether I’m around or not. Usually, she stays pretty chill when I’m around, but it appears shed had it with her sister

She’s run Ro out of the barn area a couple times during feeding, stares her down, and then let’s her in a moment after, which is very uncharacteristic for Miss Belle. She doesn’t try to hoard the food but doesn’t let her sister hoard it either. 

I’ve also seen several instances now of them sharing their food piles with each other (willingly) which has never happened before. I usually feed in two piles a minimum of a couple horse lengths apart so if anyone wants to guard the food, they have to at least really work at it. 

Joe has been having a hard time with the warm temperatures too, he wants so desperately to play outside and run and play fetch, but it’s still cold enough I worry about him getting soaked and then getting cold and ending up with a doggie cold. We’ve had some of those go through the house this year and convincing a dog with a cough to sit quietly and rest is darn near impossible. So, Joe has done a lot of small trips in the yard, taken a few extra warm baths, and does a lot of staring out the window. 

I have a serious case of spring fever, and much like Joe am struggling with wanting to be outside but not wanting to get soaked and cold and eventually sick. I’ve definitely spent more time in the pasture, and the dogs outdoors times are creeping longer and longer. We’ve had some of the most beautiful sunsets lately, I’ve been trying to figure the best way to capture them for you, as I’m sure you all know, a simple phone snap usually doesn’t cut it with sunsets, but I haven’t had quite the time to get a true camera shot set up (been working longer hours at work, so the sunsets kinda sneak up on me). But I’ve got an extra day off coming up and I am already excited to use it to get all my camera gear set up for spring again (I tend to not get out with my camera much in the winter, a learned behavior from my time in Seattle when it would rain solidly from September to April and, at the time, I was a broke college student who couldn’t afford rain gear (and was not going to trust my camera to a plastic bag or something similar). I have to remind myself that its different here. Although this year it was so cold for so long, I had battery drain and cracking parts issues which are a whole new thing to contend with. Anyways, I’ll figure it out and hopefully you’ll get some sunset photos soon. 

Until we chat again my friends! 

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! 


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!