Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Hello friends!

I am once again calling on your expertise! It’s Christmas time officially and I need some no cost holiday fun ideas for little kids. We’ve been a house of busy working adults for so long that we sorta have our Christmas spirit in batches, and the kids are losing their minds about it.

I also need some very inexpensive but very fun Christmas gifts ideas for these kiddos. Santa is really broke this year because they’ve literally tripled my food and utilities costs and I wasn’t exactly pleased with the budget beforehand. Gotta love when a single tank of gas is your entire commute budget for the month. But I digress. 

The boys have been loving napping under the tree

I plan on making some reindeer snacks for Christmas eve (and the reindeer will enjoy them sometime after the kiddos go to bed). My parents always made it look like the reindeer were super messy eaters, and I think this year that sloppy reindeer might just make a comeback. Carrots and apples for sure, and cookies for Santa.

I was planning on involving them in the cookie making process if they wanted. We always make almond butter cookies instead of sugar cookies, they have a little bit of a deeper flavor and are just a little less sweet. I’ve never heard any complaints so I think the kiddos will like them, and they make up very similarly to a sugar cookie and can be decorated just the same. We usually make a batch of chocolate almond butter cookies too, as well as a couple specialty cookies. Although I learned my lesson a couple years ago with red velvet cookies. It’ll be a while before I try those again. Messy and gross to boot. I think I messed something up, but frankly you have to use so much dye there’s not really a second chance. 

I’ve added a new sweet treat to the mix since I’ve taken over the cookies portion of the holiday. We now also have no baking peanut butter chocolate bars, a recipe given to me by a friend of my grandma’s. They take about ten minutes to make and about an hour to chill (you melt and reset some chocolate) and then you have super cute little snack sized bars to eat. They are super rich but super addictive, so I always have to put them somewhere out of the way to help prevent calamity. I love little treats like that though, because for the most part, I almost always have the ingredients on hand and, other than the small scale crisis caused by attempting to measure peanut butter, they are really easy to make. Same principle as keeping premade cookie dough in the fridge, you literally never know when you might need a sweet treat.

Pretty sure we are going to have something akin to a white Christmas. I don’t know if it’ll snow or have a lot of accumulation specifically over those days but I definitely think that the conditions will be there and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Last year it was -2 degrees Christmas morning, we had around a foot of snow, and it started snowing more that afternoon. Made it difficult to feed the animals but it was really quite beautiful. 

It was really funny though too, because, and I think I showed you guys in pictures, the little walkway that I throw food into the barn from was completely covered in snow. There was a large pile from the roof to be climbed every time we wanted to feed in the barn. I definitely fell off that pile several times and the horses definitely laughed at me several times, which…fair.

This year so far the snow has been… mushy? Not structures building snow so it doesn’t build into drifts or create those wind balls. Kinda just gets everything wet and muddy. I think the kiddos would like it a lot better if it was the fun fluffy stuff. 

I’m somewhere in the realm of 80% done with my Christmas shopping. I’m one of those weirdos that starts planning in October and as soon as we get Halloween squared away I start slowly enacting my plans. Doesn’t always work, I definitely still have to do the December 23rd quick trip. But I’m getting more organized each year. I have to, my holiday season is packed, have you seen the size of my family? I have events every weekend of November and December and lots of weekday craziness too! This year there’s a color-coded spreadsheet. You know I’ve hit full first born, obsessive planner mode when I bust out the excel formulas. Putting on our serious Santa hats.

(It’s really quite pleasant to see all those pretty little cells though, you gotta admit).

Until we chat again my friends!

Calling All Recipe Sharers!

Hello friends!

The weather is really starting to get to me. Anyone have any good tips for cabin fever? Bemoaning old man winter is becoming a hobby in its own right and I don’t think I like the person I am when I’m stuck inside haha. Grumpy is an understatement. People are crossing the street when they see me. My RBF is strong this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty, but I think it’s a textural thing for me, I despise being wet for no good reason. Swimming? Fine. Bathing the animals? Fine. Watching the rain from a  window or porch? lovely! But I despise being soaked because of the rain or snow. And I cannot deal with being cold. I’d flourish in the tropics…maybe.

The girls haven’t been loving it either. The blankets are heavy. While it’s better than shivering and being cold soaked, it’s still not ideal. They have a place to go and stay dry, but sometimes I think hell will freeze over before we get to that point. They would rather stand out in a blizzard than go into the warm barn, and I’m pretty sure if I forced it there would be a small scale mutiny. Nice, warm, cozy barn with multiple heat lamps? Nah, we have a random stretch of fence to guard tonight. Nellie sometimes decides she’s simply not having it and spends the evening, or overnight if she prefers, without a blanket because she is bigger than me and some battles are just too dangerous still. She’s got a pretty nice winter coat so I figure she’s old enough to know if she’s not interested. Doesn’t mean I don’t spend the whole night worrying about her. 

Joe is also a big blanket fan

Honey officially has all her initial shots and blood work and is properly spayed. She was such a good girl for the whole ordeal. She was pretty upset in the car and during the initial checkup understandably. I was really worried after being locked up for fasting, left at the vet, and then being on bedrest for a couple days (starting in the Joe sized travel kennel and then in the woodshop) that as soon as she got her freedom she’d take permanent leave of us. But she’s such a sweetie, she marched right up to Christopher and demanded some cuddles. She’s definitely his cat, or more accurately, he’s her person.

She might have a small meltdown when she realizes that she needs a booster shot very soon. But it’ll still be a lot less traumatic than the whole surgery thing. She’s a trooper.

In other news, I’m in need of cost friendly, large scale dinners if anyone wants to share. The kiddos that moved in with their dad are all growing like weeds and eating me out of house and home. I’m over here trying to not go broke and still make sure they are getting all they need, I’m trying to teach myself to coupon, and I’m upping my bulk buy game. 

I’ve been making some pretty wild leftover “casseroles”, which just sounds better than “threw things in a pot and hoped it worked”. I hit on a pretty good one yesterday, leftover taco chicken, garlic rice, frozen spinach, and some cream of mushroom soup, plus a little seasoning. Topped it with some fried onions and let me tell you, it sounds weird but was quite warm and tasty. It was a big hit in our house, and wasn’t hard at all. I’m pretty brain dead after work, so easy is the name of the game.

Haha so ya know, not a big ask, just super cheap, super tasty, super easy meals to feed 9 people. Simple! Easy! No biggie!

(If this suddenly turns into a cheap eats blog, you know I’ve officially lost my mind. Also, if you have a favorite cheap eats blog, send me links! This girls gone full on frugal).

We do have some very cute elementary school art projects on the fridge now, the littlest one came flying in from school yesterday to tell us all about it, so it’s all worth it. I’m a sucker for a happy little kiddo. And these are some ridiculously cute kids.

All in all, I think it’s going to be an interesting holiday season. I had planned my holidays this year around the idea of relaxing calm, since last year’s holiday season was crazy busy and stressful. I definitely don’t think it’ll be calm anymore, I don’t think my house will be calm for a while, but I think it’ll be fun!

Until we chat again my friends

Rampin’ Up

Hello friends!

We are officially in the “i really should move to phoenix” time of year. I am trying to remind myself of all the good things about winter time, but I AM COLD and being unnecessarily dramatic about it. I’m currently under two blankets, with Watson hiding between them, in front of my heater, hugging a mug of warm tea, and hunting and pecking at my keyboard in an attempt to uncover as little from the blanket as possible. Cold. 

But I have very, very exciting news. My trailer is back! It was living temporarily with a gentleman across the river while he built a custom ramp so Nellie Belle could have an easier time getting in and out. He did a fantastic job, I’m so so so pleased!

Isn’t it nice? It’s a little dirty here because I was standing out in some very severe winds. It was freezing but I was excited!

Currently there is one small, teeny, itsy bitsy little problem to resolve before it’s absolutely perfect. It weighs more than me and as such, I can lower it down, but it’s unwieldy enough that I can’t quite get it back up on my own. I kinda think it’s as simple as adding a second grappling point so I’m not trying to lift it straight from the ground to eye level, instead I can maybe swap to a better hand position half way through. But Dad thinks for safety it might be better to have a little bit of an assist. I tend to agree since in my last determined attempt I dropped it on my leg and I have some pretty serious bruises. But it’s a fixable issue, I’m wondering about a pulley assist or maybe something spring-y? We just haven’t puzzled it through yet, but the trailer is still very much work in progress and as we are getting colder I’m not in a huge hurry. (If anyone has cool trailer ramp lift assist ideas, I wanna know, share please!)

But overall I can not overstate how truly happy I am with this ramp, it’s so nice. The guy put a really nice non-skid mat on it for Nellie and the angle is perfect and he reworked the door handles and latch system so everything lays flat when it’s all closed up and it’s so perfect! I cannot even express to you my excitement. 

I have a couple more metal works projects I’ve been putting off on the farm so I fully intend to ask my “trailer guy” to help me out again (that’s the designation next to his name in my phone, does anyone else do that? I have “Name McName (New Farrier)” and “So and So (Grandma’s Friend with the Peaches)” for example). He was such a gentleman, first of all, which I really appreciated. While I consider myself a pretty independent human, I’ve taken to bringing my dad or brother with me when meeting with new people, especially guys, because so many don’t take a girl seriously (or worse, but we don’t need to have that conversation today). Around here it’s incredibly common for me to call a service professional only to hear “sure, but can I please speak to the man of the house?”. I hate that but I’ve also learned to roll with it a little more in order to get things done. My dad, for the record, is a total legend about that and when they ignore me to talk to him he just puts his hands up and says “talk to the boss, she’s in charge”, and refuses to answer the questions. I was a little more understanding when I was a fresh faced 20 year old trying to get stuff done, but uh, I’ve got some patina on me now, no one’s accused me of skipping class or truancy in a very long time.

We’re going to paint it for rust proofing, but I didn’t have the correct paint on hand yet. It’s on the list!

But anyways, got off topic, my trailer guy is such a polite human, and absolutely went out of his way to help me out. He even delivered the trailer for me when he was done because he felt bad it took a while, even though we had decided it was no rush whatsoever (because he was doing a big job for one of the GIANT ranches around here and that’s the kinda job you want callbacks and referrals from). I really wanna get him some cookies or a coffee card or something to show some extra gratitude (I’ve mentioned before on this blog how important it is to be friendly with your favorite tradespeople, they truly make this world go ’round and can do things this girl can only dream of) but I’m worried about stepping on boundaries since he’s new and not used to my loud personality. Maybe I’ll just wait until I call him for the next project and give him something then. 

Anyways, I’m off to go stare at my pretty trailer again, shout if you need me.

Until we chat again my friends!

Poppin’ and Snappin’

Hello friends!

Little Ro-Ro had a chiropractic adjustment again. She always loves a little pampering in that way and this time she really needed it. Seems like she’s got a set of stubborn ribs that like to occasionally pop out of place and while she’s a total trooper, speaking from experience, after a while that nonsense gets old. So when she starts telling me her ribs are sore, or acting out during schooling, I call McKadee. We love McKadee and her lovely dad, who was my farrier for a long time and will be again, when I can get my trailer together (he stopped traveling, which he’s totally allowed to do, but I had to find someone else in the median. Our new guy is nice too, no shade here, and with time I think he’ll get better at working out what my girls need, but Jimmy was just absolutely amazing and I miss him).

Ro gets a spa day any time McKadee comes out, and I usually get an education because I am incredibly nosey and generally will make a nuisance of myself if allowed, especially when it comes to learning how to better care for my horses. Little 16 year old Amanda gave her trainer and her mom each a heart attack when the vet asked if I wanted to “help” with a tooth grinding and was then allowed to fully put my hand in the horse’s mouth and learn about tooth spurs and the medical tools to take care of them. I also have a baby horse tooth as a result of a similar situation. Never ask me if I wanna shadow you unless you mean it, I’m down to try almost anything once. Except for diving out of an airplane, I feel like I’ve learned enough about gravity from the horses, thank you. But learning a new skill? I’m all here for it. As an aside, if anyone wants a marginally annoying, overly excitable, relatively clumsy shadow while welding, lemme know. I really want to learn to weld. But I digress. 

McKadee has studied equine massage and chiropractics and she is crazy knowledgeable about the biomechanics of a horse, which I love because I used to be in judges training, which means I have some knowledge of what “preferred” or “correct” movement should look like, but not nearly as much as I would like about what creates that motion. She can usually tell by what I describe just what’s up with Ro, and if I’m not making a lot of sense, she can tell by feel. 

This time poor Ro was all sorts of crooked and out of joints. She had super sore spots in her withers and back, and those had started to cause sore legs and neck from moving incorrectly. I’m really excited to see the changes it makes. You could definitely tell that Ro wasn’t pleased with the amount of scary popping and snapping, but by the end of it she was moving more freely, and she even went trotting her way out into the pasture, which she hasn’t done in a while. 

She wasn’t really showing signs of discomfort until just a few days ago when I called McKadee. Or perhaps I should clarify, I’m really used to drama queens (mare and gelding) so when Ro very subtly says “hey Mama, I’m a little sore” I don’t always catch on right away. I’m working on it. I write down her and Nellie’s behaviors during our interactions each day, so that I can spot patterns quickly each time there’s a sore spot. Luckily sore muscles and out of whack horses aren’t super common here on the farm because we take life at a leisurely pace. But my little girl is also a trooper who would rather have fun than be on pasture rest, so I think sometimes she toughs it through when she certainly doesn’t need to.

The day after a chiropractic adjustment Ro is usually a little crazy pants and this time was no different. She ran and ran and worked herself up into quite the lather yelling and bucking and racing. I finally made her slow down because It was hot out and I was getting a little worried. Then I made the decision to hop on in usual form, with no tack. Less of a statement on my riding skills and more one about my lack of self preservation skills. We both survived and then she got hosed down and I got a half shower by proxy. Nellie looked on with curiosity until she got a little close to the hose and decided being wet without consent was a crime. She flounced off pretty quickly, but I made it up to her with some scratches and a good brushing. She’s very opinionated about such things though.

Gotta go hug some horses now. 

Until we chat again my friends!

A Little Different

Hello friends!

So! I changed up my work schedule a few weeks ago. I swapped to a 4 10s* schedule

(*Realistically I’m still never really off work, but that’s the danger of remote work, some people are just boundary stompers). I am loving it! I have chosen Fridays as my extra day off because that way I can still benefit from the Monday holidays and such.

I really enjoy it because, well, first of all, I was regularly working 5 10s, or 5 12s, and getting super burnt out and resentful by Friday. I know people do that all the time, and sometimes willingly, but I was not built to sit in front of a computer and do math for 12 straight hours. Heck, I’m currently typing this on my phone sitting under the trees in the pasture, because I couldn’t stand to be inside any longer. And also we don’t get overtime at all, nor do we earn any extra PTO, so it’s legitimately just free labor built on guilt. And making a big, team facing schedule change has allowed me to stick to my hours a little more diligently, because “I’ve already been here 10” sounds more convincing. I also don’t answer anything that isn’t dire or blocking on Fridays. Proud of myself for working on those boundaries.

It also means I get a little more sleep. I average 4 to 6 hours of sleep on a work night, and about 7 on weekend nights, so swapping one for the other is ideal. I get to sleep in a little, am much happier when I get up, and have more energy for Friday activities, like grocery shopping and little kiddo riding lessons. It also gives me an extra couple hours to work on hobbies. I’ve had an issue for a while with people needing “one more thing” after work, that hobbies in general got pushed to the side. I joke that my boss has a sixth sense for when I’d settle in to draw or write or whatever, and suddenly there’d be a slack message. It was uncanny. Now, I don’t stress about it so much, because I have more protected time on Fridays (unless I’m on call, which is a whole thing that I shouldn’t get started on because I have OPINIONS. Anyways).

Christopher has been really enjoying it because I’ve been doing a little extra baking. We’ve had another tres leches cake, some cookies, parfaits, and pumpkin breads are in the works. Let’s just say Fridays smell good in our house. It also makes me more likely to experiment with dinner, which has mixed results. But you never know until you try. You can blame the fact that I rewatched Ratatouille recently.

My mom has been liking the schedule because on Fridays she doesn’t have to wait for me to get off work to ask for help with projects. To be honest, I often pop out when I have a few minutes break to check on her, but we’ve tried to enforce the idea that at my desk is no different than at the office. But, for example, when we were in tears because we dropped one of our little knick knacks while cleaning, I found a little time while running a test suite to bust out the gorilla glue. But now she very cutely saves things like winding yarn balls, things that are still a little hard or frustrating, for us to do on Friday mornings over breakfast together.

Dad likes having another day where I can help on the farm earlier. Really good timing for all the winterizing happening. Plus it’s a nice way to kick off the weekend productively. And it means if we are rained out or stormed out Saturday it’s not the end of the world.

The horses and dogs like it because they aren’t battling work for my attention and I am not carrying around the annoying black box that beeps and buzzes. They don’t have to listen in as I answer a quick slack huddle or google hangouts call.

Can you tell the 4 10s is a big ol’ game changer? Can you tell I’m really excited about it? I worked 4 10s at my very first big kid job and I adored it and haven’t been able to get that schedule since. I was honestly shocked when my boss not only signed off on it but said he hoped others would also be interested. I did a happy dance. Much needed after a hard few months at work with lots of frustration and growing pains. I know 4 10s doesn’t solve everything but somehow being frustrated 4 days a week is a lot easier than 5. Go figure.

Anyways, we will be back to our regularly scheduled farm content next week. I just wanted to gush a little today, and I think sometimes a little real life context helps understand why this blog is the way it is.

Until we chat again my friends!

**For those who maybe haven’t seen that terminology 4 10s is common slang, at least in my field, for 4 days a week, 10 hours a day, whereas the usual salary work schedule in a large portion of America is 5 days a week, at 8 hours a day. Sorry for the potential confusion.

Why I Have Grey Hairs

Hello friends!

So, my neighbors think I’m nuts. This is not necessarily a new development but I am reminded of it fairly often and just recently it happened again. So, my sweet Ro, a relatively steady, bombproof little mare has opinions on birds that range from “these wee things annoy me” to “this is clearly a horse eating monster”. Most of our resident birds, like the magpies and robins, fall into the annoying category. Quail are suspicious, as is our little chicken friend. But ducks? Ducks are horse eating monsters. Ducks are pure evil put on this earth solely to torment and abuse Ro. That’s their entire purpose. Ro loathes ducks.

So, I’m sure you can imagine how well our schooling session was going after our first trip to the far side of the arena was interrupted by an angry flapping duck. To her credit, Ro stayed very calm in the face of great mortal danger, she just skittered away and refused to walk by the bush. Problem was, suddenly every noise, anything that moved weird, every critter around looked a lot like that duck just waiting for us to let our guard down. Ro has to be alert and on top of it because clearly her mom was simply not understanding the true gravity of the situation. Didn’t understand that surviving the ride meant keeping our heads on a constant swivel, even if it meant not paying attention to moms riding cues.  A sacrifice Ro was willing to make. 

We kept at it and continued on with our work, but it was getting progressively less productive with each passing minute. Finally as we passed the chicken coop again she decided it was too much and let me know we may have to make a run for it. I wasn’t really annoyed at her, I understood that she was just worried, but it was making it difficult to get the focused work I had been hoping for and something had to change. 

So, I did the only thing I could think of, I loudly marched over to the bush, hoping to scare away the duck beforehand, grabbed my lunge whip, and proceeded to make a big showing of dramatically whacking at the bush, just to ensure any and all horse eating monsters were thoroughly chased away. Ro watched with concern, then growing interest, and finally walked over to investigate. I must have convinced her that I was scarier than the duck because I was able to hop back on and we managed some pretty good work by the end of our ride. She’s a very good girl.

This 100% is not the only reason my neighbors think I’m nuts, but probably one of the more recent offerings. I also lost my mind at the dogs the other day, but it was justified. Here’s how this went down.

I was running the farm mostly solo for a couple days, no big deal, Dad took Mom on a little getaway like they used to and Christopher was trying to help but he’s been buried in work. Like I said though, no big deal, I got the irrigation all going, let the chicken out to wander for a while, let the girls out in the pasture (they got a couple days off during this since it had been a while since they’d had a vacation anyway and when I’m the only one on the farm, a couple of my family members get really squigged out by the idea of my riding without a spotter in the same county, we haven’t worked out a compromise to that yet).

Then I let the dogs out to play for a bit and set up my desk temporarily on the porch. I do this often in the mornings so the dogs aren’t locked inside while I work, although when it starts to cool for fall we will inevitably have to quit because I’m chicken. Anyways, I realized I needed to go move the hose in the garden from the last of the tomatoes to the very last of the potatoes and I thought, my senior guy Scoobs is asleep on the porch, Watson and Joe have been underfoot all morning, I’ll have them walk down to the garden with me so they don’t pester Scoobs. Joe gets to go on adventures like this occasionally. He loves to help on the farm (he can’t just be out all the time as he hasn’t met a plant he doesn’t want to eat, a critter he doesn’t want to befriend, or a car/tractor/implement that hasn’t magically stopped for him and therefore lives blissfully unawares of the potential vet visits just lurking about). Watson almost never goes on adventures because he is very tiny and gets nervous in the big wide world. 

So, off to the garden we go, Joe did great, his heel and general recall is really coming along, Watson hung pretty close all the way down too. BUT then, Watson saw his opportunity and pulled a sneaky hide away from his mom. In the half second it took to move the hose from one line to another he disappeared from my view, so I called for him. No recall, no noise, no sign of him. I call a few more times then start to panic, Joe seems wholly unbothered but Joe regularly underestimates the level of concern necessary in the room. Finally, after I’m at near screech hollering for Watson he emerges from under a weed pile, then, realizing mom’s having a panic, takes leg bail for the arena and finally out into the neighbors field. At this point I’ve gone from screeching to the tone I reserve for scaring some sense into those around me, and he finally tucked his tail and slowly walked back toward me. I scooped him up, we made a beeline to the house, Joe being a good boy and naturally following in heel, and Watson spent a little time thinking about his life choices from inside the house. My neighbor texted me a little bit later asking if I needed help, she had seen my struggle but had her grandbabies around so she couldn’t engage. I told her we were all good, but Watson for sure took 10 years off my life. Crazy little bean.

He’s stayed pretty close since then, he’s usually not a runner, that was always Sherlocks trick, so I dunno what got into him. I always get a little suspicious of a change in behavior after little Sherlocks sudden departure but I think this was more just “cool things” overload followed by not wanting to be in trouble. Which to be fair, he wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t run, and even then, 10 minutes inside without his brothers and a stern talking to was all he got. 

Scooby slept through the entire upheaval. Had no idea. 

Until we chat again my friends

Two Steps Forward…

Hello friends!

Anyone else ever get to feeling, sometimes, like they are just forever reacting to things instead of actually accomplishing new tasks and making any actual progress? This has been the whole farm this summer, seems like I cannot for the life of me get ahead, I just keep reacting to issues as they arrive. It’s not the world’s greatest feeling.

Take, for example, this water trough. I’ve been having consistent issues with it, finally thought I had it fixed and now we are literally back to square one. Basically, after the hard winter the frost free had no pressure and when it did, my auto waterer wouldn’t turn off. Then we got the pressure back and the valve itself wore out. Got that fixed, and the auto waterer working, but by that point the trough had gotten bad enough from not being circulated enough that it needed more than just a spring clean. So I very carefully tried to work around the auto waterer, emptying the water slowly through the little release valve instead of just dumping the trough. Got it clean, filled it back up. Now the auto waterer leaks again and on top of that, the little seal has started leaking too. I have checked and tightened, looks like I’m going to probably have to seal it with an external product, probably something like flex tape (I’m not necessarily recommending that product, I don’t have much experience with it, but the couple times I used flex seal I was pretty impressed). Seems like I can’t quite get the water situation solved.

Too cute for her own good (tried to crop her swollen leg for those who don’t enjoy that sort of image)

Same seems to apply to the sprinklers and the misters in the barn, constant leaks and blockages and cracked hoses, and whatever else you can imagine can fail in a sprinkler or mister system. I almost lost a huge chunk of my pasture because one of my lines just wouldn’t stay cleared. Craziness. 

Kinda feels the same way with my sweet mares this year too. While every day is a wonderful chance to spend time with them, and I am really loving our time together, work or play, this year any time we attempt to accomplish anything the horse in question goes lame. Poor Ro has limped her way through the summer so far, effectively halting our work on lope transitions and bravery on trail rides. We’ve been trying more on the latter but it’s hard to be brave when uneven, rough footing is hurting you. So we have slowed down and tried to be a little more cautious about that. Nellie’s leg has been huge most of the summer due to the high temperatures and while the vet isn’t necessarily concerned, I’ve been warned to go very easy on that leg. It doesn’t seem to hurt her as much as it seems to annoy her when her range of motion is affected.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money this summer trying to aid these issues, but we kinda seem to be spinning our wheels a little. Like I said, it’s never time wasted, I love working with these sweethearts no matter what the pace is, but it’s funny how it seems to be the summer of setbacks. 

When you can’t hold your own head thoughtfully, have your mom do it

On other news, we have had a nice little potato crop. After a lovely roast potato dish the other day, we’ve had enough continue to grow  that we took some to my grandma as well. Potatoes are such a  lovely crop to grow, and something we eat a lot around here, so I definitely think more of the garden will be devoted to potatoes next year. 

As well as kohlrabi, because that’s also been a hoot and a half to grow. Super cute plant, very tasty payoff.

Unfortunately a decent amount of the garden got eaten by something, and what it didn’t eat it slept on and squashed, so I have been doing a little bit of research into container gardening in this part of the country. I did a little of it when I lived in Seattle and it was helpful for the critters there. It would also give me more potato space for next year. Win win. 

potatoes!

Anyways, I won’t catch up with farm chores by complaining so I better get back to it. Lots to do, especially the stuff that needs doing before the heat hits each day.

Until we chat again, my friends.

The Word of the Day is Leisure

Hello friends!

It has been one year (and a few days) since my fall off Ro that tore the ligament in my elbow, cracked a couple ribs, and ultimately left me with a pretty good concussion. I’ll remind you all that this fall was entirely and completely my fault, I made poor choices and acted before thinking things through. We got away lucky, coulda ended up so much worse.

Why am I bringing this up today? Well, because this week was fear facing week. I knew we were working on our solid foundations and we were working really well together. I also knew that with her sore hoof the last couple weeks that she was bored beyond belief of schooling the walk gently instead of working on new skills. So it felt like an appropriate time to try heading out into nature again. 

We are taking it super slow, because both Ro and I have a new set of nerves around leaving the arena. But we need to face the music and get out there if we are going to move on. And we have. 

Breakfast on the back porch means horse spotting

Mostly we are just hanging around the property as I haven’t gotten permission from the neighbors to ride on their land yet. I try to ask every year. I know a lot of people don’t because the roads are considered shared, but it’s still theirs and worth respecting. I just haven’t seen them out and about yet and haven’t made a sweet to justify walking up to their house and knocking on their door, ya know?

Ro has been a total trooper but I can tell she’s nervous and feeding off my energy, whereas previously she liked being out and about. I feel so bad that fall wracked her confidence too. It shouldn’t surprise me though, she worried about me so much after the fall that she inadvertently made some farm chores harder. She’s an incredibly kind hearted little mare.

I think our kohlrabi might be just about ready for the first harvest. At least, that’s what Google says. Jury’s out, because I haven’t ever grown it so I haven’t a clue what to expect. I also have never cooked it so if you have kohlrabi recipes, please share them with me. Otherwise the plan is to roast it similarly to potatoes. Hoping that works.

We also have some very happy potatoes, another crop I haven’t tried before. I think they are just about ready, maybe another week just to put some weight on them. I was walking by today on my way to the barn and I noticed a fully grown potato just sitting there next to the plants. Kinda looks like it had gotten washed away from its parents and was just waiting to be found. I was quite excited to see it, although I will admit I am not sure what to cook with a single yellow potato haha. 

My lone, first potato

Had an absolutely awesome birthday last week. Twenty six years around the sun, but i definitely still feel like a dumb teenager most of the time. I definitely don’t have it very together yet, despite serious attempts. But it was exactly the kind of relaxing birthday I had wanted. Slept in until about 6 am, lazily went down to the barn and had lots of fun with the girls, then had a lovely breakfast on the back porch while the dogs played. See, I had taken a few days off for my birthday. I’ve never done that, never bothered to take much of any time off unless I needed to help friends or family. I rarely schedule “lazy days”. But it has been so pleasant and made for such a warm and special birthday. It’s also why I am just getting around to writing about it now. My family picked up a yummy snickers flavored cake and they picked some truly thoughtful gifts. I told them not to worry about it, but they always manage to find the most heartfelt things. This year my parents picked up a couple things for my room (I’ve been working on it, a story for another post) that they knew I probably wouldn’t prioritize for myself and my brother got me some cute video game themed notions. Will always be a cozy video game nerd, with a soft spot for stuffed animals. I know, I know, it’s not the most adult thing ever, but I think I have officially stopped caring if I look immature, if my space makes me happy and is a nice retreat, who cares, right? We should all be able to indulge in our interests a little, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone, why should it matter? Very grateful to have a family that understands that and doesn’t judge me about my stuffed animals or video games or anything else for that matter.

Anyways, I digress, and I need to go check the water trough (I’m refilling it), so….

Until we chat again my friends!

Makin’ and Takin’ Calls

Hello friends!

Well, we finally got the new Farrier out and he did a pretty good job. I was really worried because so many people in the horse world can grow callous and harsh and my girls so look forward to Farrier day that I really didn’t want to ruin that. But they needed trims and I just can’t get my trailer pulled together safely enough to haul up to our regular Farrier for now. He totally understood too and was such a sweetheart about the whole thing. I’m really hoping to keep him as my friend l even if for now I can’t keep him as my farrier.

The girls have sore feet now, which worries me, but it makes sense when you think about how long their hooves had grown in the time it took me to sort out this Farrier stuff, and how much trimming he really had to do. I worry though the soreness is due to the angles being potentially off, or nerves being accidentally hit, which are very unfun for the horse and also can cause longer standing issues if not addressed. I’m definitely keeping my eye on it, because if that’s the case I need to chat with the new Farrier and give him a chance to make it right at the next trim. But it could all be general soreness too, and I’m sure it’s that, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Nellie Looking for some cookies while I cleaned the feed I spilled

We’ve changed up the way on-call works at my company, and it’s become a bit of a thing now. Whereas it used to be much more casual, there’s a lot more structure, rules and consequences now. Makes it much more complicated. 

Used to be, you were expected to hang around if you put out new code. And that’s just the general etiquette. But a lot of people don’t follow through on that, or others will push your code out for you if they think it’s done enough, so, couple that with the volatility of an online real time system, and we have to have an on call system. Unfortunately we weren’t so much asked as told and weren’t so much rewarded for participating as punished for asking for grace while we worked it out. It was a bad launch for sure. And, it meant modifying a lot of my life because I had to make sure I had someone out with me when I worked the girls because we are supposed to have a 5-10 minute max response time and we are never supposed to be away from wifi. This also essentially houselocked me as in rural communities finding business wifi that’s shared is highly unusual. Needless to say, I’ve had to get creative. Luckily it’s only about a week a month. So hopefully we will get used to it. 

It made me super nervous this time with the Farrier because technically I am not supposed to make any appointments while on call (and my boss specifically called me and one other dev out because we have hobbies, like horses, that require some extra “teardown” and sometimes specialty appointments midday, so I knew I couldn’t ask someone to cover.) But the girls needed their feet done so I made the closest appointment I could, my on call week, and crossed my fingers. Luckily I also have a super supportive family who offered to jump in if I got a call. Luckily, we managed to sneak through with no issues. I actually got extremely lucky and only had 1 major and 1 minor incident, so I can’t complain too much at all. 

Whatcha doin’ down there, Mom?

It was also kinda funny, as I have a unique ringtone set up for our on call numbers, the animals on the farm learned pretty quickly what that means. The horses pretty much just stand down on whatever we were doing and wait for my dad to come get them untacked and cooled out (I make sure they are at a safe point, or I wait for someone to come grab them for me, they aren’t left alone saddled or tied or blazing hot or anything like that, and i’ve shown my dad exactly what to do in various situations to make sure they are cooled out enough) and the dogs all just make the pilgrimage to my office and lay there patiently until they’ve decided I’m not anxious anymore. It’s actually a cute little system they devised.

Anyways, I’m done complaining about work, unfortunately I don’t have much to share otherwise because I was a little chained to my desk and I haven’t quite worked out how far I can push the boundaries on this on-call thing. But hopefully it’ll get to be routine and won’t be such a thing always.

Until we chat again my friends.

Just Workin’

Hello friends!

We had a very magical moment on the farm recently! Junebug had a solo ride with Ro! What a wonderful moment for all involved! June was so proud of herself, as she should be, because she had to be incredibly brave and she had to remember everything she had learned. She had to convince Ro that she was confident and capable enough to be in charge on her own. It’s hard to convince any horse of your skills when you’re just learning, but especially a mare. Especially a full sized mare when you’re just a bit of a thing riding in buddy stirrups. And especially when you’re a little nervous because your big cousin has always been there to catch you and now she’s half way across the arena (I’d have made tracks though, and I still had the lead rope in hand, just in case). Plus there’s just a lot of moving parts to riding and even when you have been riding for a long while, it can be easy to let the frustration bubble up if you miss a cue or can’t achieve what you hoped. Sometimes it feels almost like ballet or something, a constant practice towards unattainable perfection, something I still have to grapple with. Also, horses are living creatures with their own opinions and worldviews and sometimes you can do everything right and still “fail” because it’s a partnership that takes 200% (pretty sure there’s a star trek quote in there somewhere, oh well). Ro loves working with the little ones, and she takes it very seriously, but she will see exactly how far she can push an envelope, and June got a small taste of the stubbornness only a mare can produce. It’s the stuff of legends.

A rare mare share! The girls sharing one of the mineral licks!

I was told an old cowboy saying once “you can tell a gelding, you can ask a stallion, but you have to discuss it with a mare”. I think that fits Ro pretty well. She’s rarely truly naughty, but sometimes she would rather know “why” than just agree. June had to answer the “why do I have to listen to you instead of my mom” question a lot as well as the “what happens if I just refuse to walk on”. June handled it like a seasoned pro, and when both horse and rider got a little more serious than I liked, we hopped off to go practice other things.

I’ve had to laugh this week, as the most stereotypical, the-universe-said-no thing happened. So, I really should drain, clean and refill my stock tank. I like to do it in the summertime, when it’s hot enough that the inevitable, giant mess I make evaporates quickly. This year, since sometime in April, my auto waterer was leaking like a sieve and would flood out the corral if left on (a bad trait for an auto waterer, it has but one job). I’ve had to manually check and turn on the water several times a day, which is no big deal really, but planned on replacing it because I don’t want something to ever come up and leave the girls low on water, ya know? Anyways, I figured, since it floods out all the time anyway, I’d just leave the auto waterer on, let it flood out in the 100+ degree weather, it would cycle the water out, I could just suck it up and do the cleaning when the water was overflowing, and it would sorta save me having to manually drain and refill. I’m sure you see where this is going…. It stopped leaking. Works fine now. Has worked fine for days. I’m not complaining, they aren’t necessarily cheap to replace, but like, really? It’s just confusing. Oh well.

I also put up the pool noodles on the metal gates. It’s the tackiest looking thing, duct taping pool noodles to your fencing, but I prefer to not scorch my hand every time I wanna go through the gate. Plus with little ones I really need to up the safety factor around those things, because a burnt hand is annoying to me, but could be a whole day ruined for a little one. This year, instead of full sized noodles, the dollar tree was carrying slightly skinnier ones. I thought this was going to be a problem but it actually worked out better as the noodles had a stronger grasp on the fence making them easier to install. I had hoped to get green duct tape, but couldn’t find any easily accessible this year, so teal it is. Learn from my mistakes here, don’t zip tie them to the fence. Yes I’m sure the duct tape is going to melt and I’ll probably have to saw the pool noodles off at the end of summer, but I had to do that with the zip ties too, plus contend with the mares spinning the noodles and then cutting themselves on the little end bits, they weren’t as secure, and if you move them too much through day to day use, the zip ties will saw their way through the noodles all on their own. Trust me, find another solution. And then share it with me. 

Alright-y, well that’s the news of the farm, thanks for hanging out for another week. 

Until we chat again my friends