Mail Call

Hello friends!
Joe got some fun mail today, and he’s incredibly excited about it. See, ever since he was a puppy Joe has loved toys, especially Kong safestix, but he’s hard on toys because he’s an aggressive chewer. I try really hard to make sure about the time the latest toy needs to be replaced, we have new Stix in the wings.
But I sometimes miss the mark and we have to remove the old toy before the new ones arrive. This exact phenomena is why Joe has gotten really used to the Chewy signature blue box (not sponsored, just the only place I can easily get a hold of his favorite Stix).
This crazy dog recognizes the box from the moment the driver pulls it out and waits not quite so patiently at the counter as I cut all the non-dog friendly packaging away. Then one by one (I usually order three or four, in some combination of medium and large sizes for my giant teddy bear of a dog) I hand them to him, and he goes about showing anyone nearby his new treasures. The only downside to this is, thanks to the size of the Stix, if you are standing nearby, you should wear kneepads because he has no concept that he is suddenly a wide load. 

After he’s taken his new Stix, one by one from the box, around the house to show everybody, and finally over to the living room (the most wide open space and thus the best for playing), I get a happy dog tackle hug. Without fail, he hugs and cuddled until I relent, and we are sitting on the floor while he chews, shows off, and inspect the new toys. Sometimes he will hand his Stix off to me or anyone else who’s joined us on the floor so we can play too. But pretty soon he’ll need it back for chewing purposes.
The rest of the work day I get more than my share of the steps in because anytime I sit down to work at my desk for more than 20 minutes, Joe comes in and begs for more play time, and who am I to say no. He loves his toys so much.
Scooby liked toys a little when he was younger, but he has always been more of a zoomies kinda dog, enjoying playing tag with us and other dogs over playing with toys, I think because his big brother, my childhood pupper Winchester, was the king of human vs dog tag matches.
Watson (and Sherlock, sweet little guy) were never as into toys, I think in large part because toys generally aren’t made for their size and if they are we would have to monitor so Joe didn’t eat them. Sherlock did enjoy the occasional rope toy, but his favorite thing was crawling up into the toy box and falling asleep. I have some cute video on my old SD of him quietly puzzling through how to crawl up into the bucket and promptly laying down (before looking up, seeing his mom filming, and diving for my lap). I’ll have to see if I can easily get to that SD.

Editing Amanda here: could not get into the box with the SD, it’s in the rafters of the shed and needs more hands than I have)

Weve had some crazy repairs to make on the flatbed, and we realized that, at some point in the future, were gonna have to tear apart that engine in the name of actual preventative maintenance.
Looks like whoever owned it before us had a penchant for breaking the heads off bolts and then completely ignoring the problem so that weather and leaks and such could get in there and make triply sure those bolts would never move again. It’s an effective technique that means that teardown for cleaning is a pretty lofty goal at the moment.

I really hope this video upload things works….. please, please, please, please, please!

We finally were able to find a small, reasonably priced generator for the farm. It’s not a whole home backup, which is still on my “wants” list for the property eventually, but it’s a lovely little portable generator that will pull double duties on farm chores as well as whenever we do have a power outage and need a little emergency power to run the pump or fridge temporarily.
Dad was quite excited because it means he now how power anywhere on the farm he needs it, which has been an ongoing issue for a while. The way our farm is laid out, all the outbuildings are congregated on one side, which is perfect about 90% of the time, but not great when you realize two thirds of the farm doesn’t have outlets so things like electric chainsaws and weedwhackers and things become a problem. Since we have lots of fence lines that collect scrub trees and tumbleweeds like they are Pokémon, a generator to run those things and keep the fire risk down is a must. Clean fence lines can function as a small-scale fire break.
That’s about it for now, lots of new “toys” on the farm this week.
Until we chat again my friends 

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! 

Hippity Hop

Hello friends!
Easter was fantastic at our house; I hope you had a lovely Easter too! (Or a lovely Passover or Ramadan).
We got incredibly lucky with the weather. It poured all day the day before, and it actually snowed and blew and rained and hailed, etc. etc., basically the entire week before. We got approximately two hours of clear skies on Friday to try to clean up the yard and we did our best.
But amazingly, it was beautiful and sunny on Easter! Cold, definitely large-jacket-weather, but so sunny and pretty. I got lots of family photos so hopefully with the lighting some of them turn out well.
We hid 350+ eggs and I am still convinced we haven’t found all of them. I think we got close though, the kids absolutely loved it. Each kiddo got a bucket and a little toy, either a stuffed bunny or a little set of pocket cars they could choose from (among the youngsters in my family stuffed animals and pocket cars are valuable riches, you see). After that it was off to the races.
This year there was enough youngsters that I had to send some grandparents and a grand uncle to the basement to supervise a Veggie Tales screening, because there’s too many bright sunny open windows upstairs to peek through, and the Easter Bunny is shy, you know.

(Most of my Easter pictures include family who would like their privacy respected so please enjoy these photos of some of the decor)

We had a lovely potluck dinner, I made ham and some chip dip, and lots of desserts. My extended family brought, in turn, turkey, some potato and pasta salads, some warm casseroles, and a couple more desserts. My mom tried her hand at deviled eggs and a little pasta salad kit, with supervision, and she did pretty well. A lot of the steps she remembers, it’s mostly just timing and remembering the safety rules, as well as reading the recipes. This is a huge improvement from even last year when she could hardly stand in the kitchen by herself without becoming overwhelmed. It’s easy to forget all the progress she’s made post strokes, and it served as a good Easter gift.
I also had set up an ice cream bar with lots of toppings, so the kiddos were very pleased. And very sugared up by the time they left. That’s my job as the fun cousin, although I think the parents were on similar sugar highs, we really did go dessert heavy this year. But we are a family of sweet tooths… sweet teeth?
Before we ate we had a nice reading of the bible story. This worked out well because, while I had made an Easter Bible Trivia set, everyone was so keen to be out in the sun we ended up forgetting about it entirely. I’m super glad we were able to get at least a little of the true reason for the holiday into our celebration. I think sometimes it’s really easy, I know I’m super guilty of this, to think about the Easter bunny for the kiddos and the food and the games and the yard and forgetting the whole Jesus thing. I’m guilty of that at Christmas too.
The kiddos also got to feed the horses some multicolored carrots, courtesy of our neighbors. The local research station rents land from my neighbors, and I’ve gotten to know some of the field workers. Since they are allowed to take home any harvests afterward (the research station is currently interested only in the seeds) I often get gifted some of the excess, this time, easily 15 pounds of various carrot varieties. I’m so grateful, not only that they think of me but also because its gorgeous, meticulously grown produce. I’ve been cooking with them lots, sharing with family, and feeding them to the girls, and even then, I don’t know if I will be able to use them all in time. Can you freeze carrots? Anyways….
The horses and kiddos had lots of fun, especially because purple carrots stain little fingers and horsey tongues, and little June was telling her little cousins about how she rides Ro and how “Manna” can give everyone lessons. I might be on the hook for a couple more tiny novice cowpokes this summer.
We got to try the new ladder golf setup, and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. I was a little worried about the tethered balls flying with the little ones around but for the most part they are pretty good about staying out of the game zone. My family tends to get a little competitive so the wee ones have learned pretty quickly to not get involved unless they really want to play.
I also bought a game called Throw Throw Burrito, but with the wind a little blowier than usual we didn’t think an outdoor card game would work exceedingly well. No worries, next get together we will throw three-foot inflatable burritos at each other, we have the whole summer after all.

I hope you guys had as magical a weekend as we had. I need to spend today cleaning up, my house looks like an Easter bunny exploded, so I’ll leave this here.
Until we chat again my friends! 

It’s Blowin’

Hello friends!
Winds blowing like crazy again. It does that this time of year, but it seems like it’s a little crazier this year. A little harder, a little colder, a little meaner.
The other day it was blowing hard from the west, just a mean, terribly biting wind. This was especially odd since we almost never get winds from the west. Northern winds sometimes, southern winds most often, but never western winds. Or at least, we don’t notice them because out hill often disrupts that pattern before it bothers us. (Eastern winds are a metric we can’t really gather because of the hill as well).
But today its blowing terribly hard, absolutely rattles the house when it hits, its brought some nasty storm clouds and driving rain too, although no thunder yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if that came along soon enough though.
I’ve tried to be a little less of a helicopter mom with the animals during rough weather days now. When my mares first came home, I would keep them in the corral area with food and stand near them supporting them if it even rained. Then I was reminded that all I was doing was teaching them that I found unpleasant weather scary, and they should too. Well, that’s not what I wanted because short of the severe winds like today, or hail, tornado warnings, etc., weather isn’t a big concerning thing. So, i started trying to just do the occasional check in but mostly let them ride it out. I still bring them into the corral when the wind gets really bad or the thunder starts really rolling, because they have to walk under a tree to get to the corral for water and shelter from the pasture and that gets exponentially more dangerous the deeper into the storm we go.

Here’s Joe, because I really don’t know how to capture “wind” effectively and don’t really want to soak my camera or phone in an attempt

But, it also means I get my steps by walking back and forth from the kitchen window to my desk about a million times, and out to the living room picture windows to monitor the weather. I’m still a nervous pet parent.
Weve been so unsettled this year that I think the girls are really getting used to the insane weather, yesterday it graupeled (I have no idea how to verb that noun) multiple times, and then would be sunny three minutes later. They didn’t so much as flinch. When it got pretty loud in the house, I stepped out just long enough to see if they needed to be under cover, and they ignored all attempts at attention getting in hopes of eating a little more grass before they were called in. Usually if they’re ready to go in the corral, whether for the evening meal and tuck in, or to come hangout while I clean the barn, or to escape the weather, they’ll come get me at the corner of the gate. They can go in by themselves, and they do regularly travel in and out, but if it’s a little spooky that day for some reason, they’ll wait for me to walk down to the barn, so they have someone friendly on the other side of the scary space.
The weather though, has been so exceptionally spastic this year, the girls have started to be much more brave about their daily activities, and pretty much only start to get worried if the wind picks up or I come put to usher them in.
It’s been a couple days since I wrote those earlier paragraphs, and we’ve had two major wind advisories since then. One, later in the evening, I was home alone and had luckily just taken the boys out to use the restroom and gotten the girls bedded down and fed for the night. No sooner had I grabbed my dinner and snuggled in with Project Runway (it’s taken me a while to catch up with the most recent season, don’t judge me), suddenly I was on the phone with family members letting them know that they needed to either stay where they were and settle in, or come home NOW because the winds were getting out of control and the dust was getting so thick I could hardly see across the pasture.

Here’s my dinner, because I really don’t know how to capture “wind” effectively and don’t really want to soak my camera or phone in an attempt

Luckily Christopher made it home (he’s been taking care of a friend’s house for a bit while they are off having a couple babies, so he had to secure their animals) and shortly after so did mom and dad, but not without crazy stories. By the time they got home the winds were sustained about 35-40 mph with gusts closer to 60 mph. It came up so fast.
Christopher’s car was hit by a bunch of debris and dad and mom watched with horror as the camper trailer in front of them on the highway lost its awning to the wind. Shattered and scattered debris across the highway. I’m so grateful they made it home safe and feel just awful for the camper trailer owner.
Even as I type, the wind is gusting 60+ mph and the freezing rain has me panicking about the animals getting too cold. I just spent the last hour with them and am soaked through. Ro has a blanket on, Nellie only recently decided blankets might not be scary so this storm has convinced me she’s getting one this week. Hopefully my local tack store carries Nellie sized blankets.
All in all though, I will forever be grateful that my “crazy” weather stories are so mild, and send all my love to those where the weather has cost them their homes, and in worst cases, their lives and the lives of their loved ones. It’s a terrifying weather year, that’s for sure.
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! 

Basically I Wrote a Long Form Do-To List

Hello friends!
I finally was able to get a dog grooming appointment and the boys are so much happier now with the shorter, more manageable cuts.
Scooby especially absolutely hates being too hot, so the extra hair is making him nutty. Joe just gets harder and harder to keep clean and Watson ends up with tangles in his ears because Joe continually uses him as a napkin.
Scooby and Watson always get a modified poodle look, fluffy ears and topknot, clean body, bottle brush tail. It’s usually our intent to do something similar with Joe, but he often is so messy we go shorter on his ears and topknot. Makes him look more like a curly haired Labrador retriever than a poodle but is better suited for his crazy dog lifestyle.
But they are looking cleaner and more content now. Of course, we managed to finally cut their hair the same week old man winter decided to blow one last time (I hope) but I think even with the chilly temperatures the boys appreciated the haircuts.

Kinda hard to see how soft and short he actually is, but we also leave him a touch longer for allergy reasons

The colder temps have set everyone on edge again. Especially when the snow falls. Luckily, we’ve not seen really any new accumulation but nearer our capital city it got pretty gross. There’s been some pretty crazy wrecks because of the snow flurries and sudden colder temperatures.
Generally speaking, my head has been terribly unhappy with the constant change in weather, which is in turn not fantastic when you have lots of fun mental tasks to complete at work and at home. I’ve been just a little under the weather for most of the winter season, and unfortunately, I think it makes the sinus pressure of rapidly changing weather much more noticeable during the day to day. Usually, I don’t have anything near the kind of headaches I’ve had lately, other than the occasional hereditary migraine, which I have many years of experience handling. Oh well, just another reason to be excited that spring is here.
I’m slowly getting things together for Easter, as that’s my holiday. I love Easter, I love the important story behind it, I love the timing, with warm weather and sunshine, I love that the flowers and critters and everything seem a little extra happy, and I love that the Easter bunny gives us a fun way to get the kids really involved in the holiday. I don’t talk about my faith outright a lot, because I am admittedly not a great Christian and I am a staunch protester of modern organized religion, but I am very excited that my little cousins are going to be able to grow up learning about Jesus like I did, and when they are old enough to make their own choices, at least they will be well informed about what the resurrection story is.

Lots of sleepy doggos in my office with me

I also go waaay overboard every year on eggs, you see, the Easter Bunny and I are tight, we work really well together, so I end up with a ton of eggs, and when parents show up Easter Sunday, I recruit them to help me hide all the eggs. My little cousins are already asking if the Easter bunny has texted me yet. I believe last year we hid something like 250 eggs? I’ll probably end up hiding a few more this year because we have some new family members who are of perfect egg hunting age.
Which reminds me, I need to buy candy! And eggs!
(I did already order the ham though, so that’s gotta count for something, thank goodness Costco started delivering some frozen foods)
I love putting together lots of the food and the eggs, although admittedly I usually bribe family members to stuff eggs while I’m at work, because there’s simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. I’ve also started making every holiday a “bring a dish” holiday, sometimes potluck, sometimes we sign up for things, but there’s just too many of us now for my food budget to stretch. Just since I’ve been home the last few years the family has grown by 7 and is actively growing more!
For anyone worried, I actively plan for any “kiddo” under 18, and usually have enough eggs hidden that the adults (that didn’t hide them) can hunt some eggs too. I almost always grab an extra basket or two, just in case a friend or extended family member I don’t know of comes along too, I try to prepare for all possibilities. Then I bust out the camera and try to catch some of those fun Easter moments so later I can put them up for family in a Google drive folder. Theres also usually lots of lawn games and card games so that all ages and mobility levels have things to do. So, there’s a little Easter magic for everyone, hopefully.

All that being said, it takes a lot of prep work to pull it off, so while I’m excited, it’s also nervous season. I still have most of the decorations I handmade the first year I hosted (I had Martha Stewart dreams at one point) so generally I just add a few little banners or things I find and let my sweet mom go crazy, as decorating has totally become her thing. The food is always tricky because you can only pre-plan so much before it simply comes down to timing. The eggs can be stuffed ahead of time but need to be kept some place cool so the chocolate doesn’t melt. I need to take stock and refill the toy bins with age appropriate toys, and make sure there’s plenty to do for the little ones.
Oof, welp, I stressed myself out, so I’m going to grab my to-do list and brain dump all the Easter tasks.
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