Training and Raining

Hello Friends!

Much has happened since we last caught up!

We had the vet out for our yearly checks. Nellie actually did pretty good all things considered. She didn’t let us vaccinate (I did that later) but she also didn’t really kill anyone, so ya know, we count our blessings. The other critters acted like the vet professionals they are and handled it with grace. Ro is on some anti-inflammatories now for some arthritis aches, and so we mitigate any unnecessary damage. Nellie is supposed to be wearing a mask now, as her little pink skin around her eye is just primo skin cancer material and the vet is worried. We are working on it.

Unfortunately, this vet visit caused a bit of a spiral in Nellie’s behavior and I’ve had to employ some tougher love lately. She started getting pretty aggressive about haltering and the barging and kicking officially put us into dangerous territory. So as much as I hate giving the girl any sort of uncomfy consequences, I had to take off the mama hat and put on my trainers cap, remind her and myself that allowing bad behaviors like that is a huge disservice to this horse and her cleverness. I’m happy to report that while it’s still a massive work in progress, she seems to have a lot of pride in the new, tougher consequences style work. Unsurprisingly I don’t have to dole out consequences often when the right answer is easy.

We’ve had some interesting storms rolling through. I’ve been trying to capture what I can, I’m still not great with the GoPro and lately, these storms have come with so much dust I’ve worried about leaving it outside alone anyway. I know they are tough, but I don’t have any sorta tough weather case, just a little tripod and I usually tie it to the porch post.

We’ve had some dry lightning, and lots of rainstorms. Although, we’ve had a lot more drizzly days than usual too, normally it’s a downpour and done, but the gray drizzle has persisted this year. We’ve also had our usual share of windstorms, which always stress me out. At least with the roof replaced I don’t worry so much about another waterfall from my kitchen light. My favorite thing about the storms around here is that often they come in the evenings, after you’ve already put in a good day’s work, almost like a little reward. But they are also usually gone by the time bedtime rolls around, so you aren’t often sitting up late worrying over the weather. 

The rainy day cuddles are adorable

I was out at the ranch the other day when a little cell went through. In theory I was out there to help my aunt with her scanner, it wasn’t scanning again, but it kinda sorted itself out. I’m not exactly sure what changed but it was scanning by the time I left. I’m a little afraid to ask if it’s still scanning to be honest, I don’t think I really want to know the answer. Anyways, while I was there I got to see the latest batch of babies. Love me some little cows. We met Little Boy, Sue, and Esuni. Little Boy got his name exactly how you’d imagine, but Sue and Esuni have cute stories. Sue is named after my great great grandma, because they share a birthday (how my great great grandma would feel about sharing a name and birthday with a cow is a question for another time) and Esuni was supposed to be Sunny, but they realized she was out of Eve’s line, and they try to keep with the same leading letters to make lineage a little easier. Luckily Sue is out of Sissy, who is out of Sadie. Remind me to tell you all about Sadie cow one day. It’s a cute story (have I told it before? Maybe, doesn’t matter, it’s worth a retelling). Little Esuni was born so small, she literally weighed less than one of my grain bags. They were worried about her, but she prevailed. Those little guys can be hardy when they wanna be. I helped my aunt count the herd, and, of course, we did it in a rainstorm, while that random cell went over. Didn’t rain a stitch before or after. But it was fun riding around with my aunt goofing off.

We’ve had lots of fun things happening around here lately. We’ve had a new baby born to the family, my uncle has a new little girl named Sadee (yes, I know, I don’t think anyone else put it together, but Sadie the cow spells hers different, and has since gone on this year after a long and happy life anyway, so I am not saying anything). Another of my cousins is graduating high school this week. We’re prepping for the Fiddle Fest and I’m very excited, because a dear friend of mine is coming down to visit while it’s going on. 

Lots to look forward to, can’t wait to share it all with you soon!

Until we chat again my friends!

Catching Up

Hello! Friends!
Well, we had a little thunder, some rain, some higher winds, but luckily it looks like maybe the snow is mostly over for the year. There’s been a lot of sad gray days, but that seems appropriate for the last couple weeks. I won’t dwell long on the sadness, we’ve had some truly heartbreaking moments trying to find a new routine without Scooby and watching my four legged family members work out that Scoobs isn’t going to come tippy-tapping through the door. It was particularly hard watching Joe’s face light up when he saw Scooby’s blanket for the first time again, and then look up at the shelf where I had arranged all of Scooby’s things when I went to tuck them in later that night. I know it’s silly to attach human ideals to critters since they truly think differently, but I swear it seemed like he was saying Good Night to Scooby.

Our raccoon has stuck around, although he’s realized we won’t feed the cats while he’s around so he’s now terrorizing the horses and Dad as well, which is grand. To clarify, we still feed the cats, but differently now, they are not going hungry, in fact, our sweet Honey has gotten quite the filled out figure. She’s not fat, but she could very easily get there. In her defense, it’s hard to exercise in the winter. No one wants to move in the cold.

Sunrise on a stormy morning… it was a lot less purple on my phone

I cut my hair finally a couple weeks ago. It was almost waist length and now it’s just above my shoulders. It’s cute, not terribly what I had hoped for, but I forgot how much my hair will shrink up when cut wet and I didn’t let the new stylist know. It’s cute though, so even though I was looking forward to chest length, I have a sassy little short cut, with lots of bouncy layers, and it’s like a bonus! But please, share with me what to do with short hair stylewise, because the last time I had short hair was middle school and I also had bangs and none of that was a good choice haha. I want to make the most of this bonus hair “phase” and do cute styles with it. I love the new stylist though, she’s amazing, and I am officially a loyal customer. It’s nice, I haven’t really clicked with a stylist since middle school, so haircuts weren’t fun or a priority. It’s kinda a fun, indulgent little treat to do something new with your look in a chill, supportive environment. Low key might be considering a balayage in the summer if I get bold.

I finally got some art hung up in my room again. There’s not much more to say on that but I am pretty excited about it. Good way to spend the stuck-indoors time, since unfortunately it looks like we still have a few weeks of mud and rain to mess up plans.

On one of our rare sunny days, I tried hopping on Ro to see where we need to start training wise and…she needs some medical attention. Her arthritis is a little rough right now and she’s pulled something in her back and I’m not surprised, but I think this year is going to be a rebuilding year. It was a wake up call, her little soreness we’ve been managing isn’t just because of the cold, I reckon.  I want to focus hard on getting her topline stronger, working out the best solution for her arthritis, since she’s clearly not mentally ready to not be working (she instigated the initial session, she just got cranky when she got sore, and if she doesn’t get at least a little work occasionally she goes slightly mental), and I want to work on our teamwork, which can be done in saddle or on the ground. As for Miss Nellie Belle, my goals for her are more mental. I really want to expand her horizons, work through her still explosive fear response, and our teamwork… which is a trend. She’s such a clever girl, she deserves to not be scared of her world.
Joe has been spending more time down around the barn with me. I still try to keep a fence between him and the girls, but he’s been doing exceptional with his heel, sit, and recall, so I am slowly becoming more confident with having him around. I still don’t think he will ever hang out with me while I am working directly with the girls, mostly because Ro has no patience for dogs and Nellie is still a lit firecracker when overstimulated, but less so because my sweet overgrown teddy bear can’t listen. Although, spring fever hit him hard and being still pent up inside means our inside the house listening skills are slacking like crazy. He’s taken me out running around like a banshee a couple times already.

Until we chat again my friends!

A Little Shopping…

Hello!

It’s been a little warmer here on the farm, which has caused a very premature spring fever in everyone. The horses have been fussing like crazy, taking apart fencing, loafing in the sunshine, bullying each other (happens every spring, it seems) and getting all sorts of muddy and dirty. The dogs want to be out in the yard a lot more, especially Joe, which is fine when it’s warm enough, but since someone has to watch them at all times they haven’t gotten to go out quite as much as in the summer. The temperature itself hasn’t really even been too bad, but we have had a persistent icy northern wind for days, and it can physically hurt to be outside.

I did take my crochet out and sit in the sunshine while they roamed a couple days ago. I took some video so I could share it with my friends in Seattle, who were still fighting snow, so maybe I’ll cut that together and share with you all too!

I was on-call at work for a large part of the last two weeks, which means no leaving home or being away from the computer, so this last week has been a mad dash to catch up on all the errands that need running and chores that need doing. I had to go get more grain, run grocery shopping, pick up some cat food (which is a story I’ll share in a moment) and run to get my taxes done. All of which was in a different direction from one another so it took multiple trips. Crazy busy!

We also got to run some fun errands, I made everyone come to the used bookstore with me again and we all have some new evening reading materials. We have been trying to turn off the tv more often in the evenings, sometimes we talk, share news, and sometimes we read, enjoying each other’s company without needing to engage. It’s pretty common for us to do that in the summer on the porch, but in the winter we sometimes get a little attached to our shows. I, of course, got more mysteries, but also Pride and Prejudice, which has been on my TBR list for forever.

Christopher and I adventured a few towns over to check out a store called the Vintage Nerd too, a game store we had never been to. It was much bigger than we thought and we took about an hour and a half to walk through and browse, and I still feel like I probably didn’t see everything. I may have gotten some stickers, a game from my childhood, and some dice. I don’t talk about it a lot here, but when it’s cold and stormy, a favorite way to decompress after work for me is video games. I don’t play super often, at least not nearly as much as I did in school, but I do enjoy them. It should surprise no one that I love a good farming game.

I mentioned that I needed to tell you about the cat food. That was a bit of a misdirection because I don’t actually have much to say about the cat food (other than I tried to fetch it in a windstorm and I learned my local BiMart isn’t windproof). The currently ongoing story is that of a very large, very mean raccoon. He moved a few days ago and has totally trashed the tractor shed. He has terrorized the cats, broken some of the irrigation pipe that was stored in there, pulled wiring out of the hand tools and the lighting. He also got into some stuff a family member was storing in my shed and now I have to replace their stuff too. Luckily it was nothing major but still, I feel bad that their stuff got messed up. They were expecting me to keep it nice while they moved, ya know?

Then this little jerk decided to start camping out on my porch trying to work out how to get in the house. He’s super bold, and doesn’t seem to fear people at all. It’s worrying. He opened the tractor shed door himself, and for context, I can barely wrestle that thing open sometimes. He’s a chunky, clever little thief who is hellbent on food.
So, if anyone has any ideas how to handle that? I’m all ears.
Until we chat again my friends!

It’s a Busy Home…

Hello friends!

My house smells so good right now! One of those rare moments when I wish the blog had smell-o-vision (although, etymologically speaking, shouldn’t it be tele-olfaction? …anyways). Usually you probably wouldn’t want to smell the blog, I’m guessing it smells a lot like horse manure, eau-de-farm-doggie, and diesel. Just a hunch. 

But, for real, we made almond butter cookies and my house smells like a hallmark movie. It literally smells like a good day in here. It smells like christmas! (It smells like warm vanilla, almond, and unsurprisingly, butter, but let’s be poetic for just a moment).

I generally don’t super enjoy baking, and admittedly Christmas cookies aren’t an exception, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE eating Christmas cookies so I will do my part to get the reward. Love almond butter cookies. They are a bit involved so even though every year I say “I should make these more often”… I don’t. 

It’s been a crazy week on the farm. We had a water pipe go south on us that required digging up a part of the yard and calling a plumber. Then calling a diagnostic imaging company because they couldn’t find the pipe. THEN calling back the plumbers when we found the pipe four inches from where they dug the first giant hole. I’ll attach a photo of the yard now, because you can only dig a hole so many times before it turns into mud. I’m not exactly sure why it happened, something about a nylon joint going bad, but I’m just so grateful it wasn’t the septic system. It also put it on my radar that I should really have the septic system serviced in the spring. Added to the planner.

Second thing that happened was two of my lovely cousins, who are skilled tradespeople (or skilled tradespeople in training) came over to put in an outlet for me. So my cloffice is official! I have power! Now to get shelves and such. I need to paint, because the wiring in this house, and the wall covering too, is a thing of its own. So we had to punch a few holes, and accidentally turned the power off on my dad mid shower, but it’s in and other than the color differences there’s no sign that plug in wasn’t always there. It was so cool seeing my cousins work, and my cousin who did the electrical is an apprentice, so she was really excited to do a solo job. I had to wash everything because I traded plaster for sheetrock in those holes, and both create just the most invasive dust. (Side note, there’s some potentially very dumb cleaning content headed your way, it made me laugh too hard to not share, so you’ll all have to cringe along with me next week).

My room is currently a pretty, but faded, green, and I like it a lot, so I might try to match it, BUT, I’ll add a couple pictures of the room as it is currently, and if yall have ideas I’m all ears. I’ve also, occasionally, had the urge to do some fun paint or wallpaper tricks, so I’m open to those, but wallpaper, even the peel and stick kind, is seemingly out of my price range for now. And honestly, paint feels a little less like a serious commitment, and I don’t know if I’m looking for a long term relationship with my decor choices. I don’t want to feel bad doing a refresh a couple years down the line, ya know?

The snow of course made both of these things a little harder, since windows couldn’t be opened and the ground was frozen. So obviously paint will be waiting for warmer weather. But thinking about it now will prepare us for spring. And it’s just kinda fun to day dream. I’m also minorly entertaining the idea of painting the cloffice a soft pink. Of course with that thought came my brain replaying that scene from steel magnolias on loop:

“My colors are blush and bashful”

“Her colors are pink and pink”

Might be fun though.

Until we chat again, my friend

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