Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween


The kids are grown, the grandkids live on the other side of the continent, but I still have fun on Halloween. This is my welcoming committee of the week.

The character sneaking in on the left is the resident Barbados Sheep, acts like one of the dogs, we call her 'The Dawg'. Yeah, I know, odd....

The Dawg can Read! Amazing! She stops her investigation long enough to get my OK. We don't have to worry about intruders around here, with 'Watch Dawg' on alert.

She has found a new best friend.... check out the snuggle time. I sneak her snacks all the time and she NEVER snuggles with me.

So much for the 'not having to worry about intruders' theory.....


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Clowning Around

Sunday we had the annual gymkhana with our riding club. I was the coordinator and one of the judges this year. It was a beautiful day and we had a great turn out. Being the weekend before Halloween, I planned a costume class and encouraged riders to wear their costumes all day. The Trail Class had a Halloween theme and it was a hit; horses spooked more than usual and we were all quite entertained. I didn't get many pictures since I was busy trying to keep things running smoothly. Jerry won Hi Point & Runner-up Hi point for the day. He won the Trail Class on that cutie little mule Pistol. He rode both his horse and the mule in all of the events. We were dressed as rodeo clowns, I looked like a freak. I did Jerry's clown face and then he did mine.... judge for yourselves... His excuse was that he wasn't very experienced with make-up.... sheesh my face looked like a camouflaged soldier.

But I had FUN! The day was filled with laughter.

I am certain that someone will have a picture of this clown on the mule, but I didn't get one.

We had a great turn out, both riders and spectators,

I liked Cynthia's little Devil dress. She was very cute.

Janis the Indian maiden and her appy, he didn't like the rain slicker OR the flower pots by the bridge.

This construction zone required the horses to back through a caution taped curve. This was one of the few that actually did it!

NEWS FLASH! I have the NEWS on as I am posting this. I experienced an EARTHQUAKE just an hour or so ago and I didn't even realize it! My FIRST California Earthquake, I don't like that it snuck up on me like that. The house did rumble and shake, I went out with the flash light to check the trees around the yard. Nothing was out of place so I just figured a big truck must have rumbled by. Not sure why I thought of a truck, they never have rattled the house before.
Jerry is out of town for a few days, I just tried calling him but he is not answering his phone. I am sure he is in bed already.

I thought I was out of the Earthquake zone. I am not too crazy about this.....

Monday, October 29, 2007

Looking Up

Autumn in California brings more than wildfires, wind and rain. We were blessed with these skies today. This morning was cool and breezy, blue skies and white puffs.

This evening, before sunset, storms clouds were gathering. We rarely witness thunderstorms and lightning so it was quite exciting when the lightning show started in the distance while we were out back putting grain away.

The layers of clouds were capturing the sunset to the west of us. The clouds in the east were blackening rapidly providing an excellent background for the vivid bolts of lightning. We were counting seconds between lightning and thunder starting about 15 or so.

I left Jerry feeding the horses before the rain hit, ran to the house, grabbed my camera and ran back out to play around a bit.

I had a few minutes to capture some color before the sun was set. I need to learn to use this camera better. I know the very basics and plan to keep experimenting. Di emailed me a very nice complement and request involving a very simple photo touch-up and I had to decline due to my computer ignorance. I'll work on it Di!

I know this one is blurry, unfocused and disturbing. But it was very satisfying to catch that one lightning bolt. I deleted a whole bunch of views of blueish grey sky just moments after a bolt.
I finally figured it out, just as the rain started and we ran for cover. Plus that lightning seemed to be getting shockingly close. ;-) I quit counting the seconds at 3 or 4.

I hope your evening was as lovely.

The gymkhana went well Sunday and I hope to have some pictures for you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

So what's new????


WENT TO WORK..........




Monday, October 15, 2007

Allergic to Work

I experienced a most curious response to my first case this morning. Walking into the treatment area of the Clinic, I was greeted by the local 'Wildlife Rehab' guy and a recumbent fawn. He had recently picked up the baby; it had been hit by a car, was hypothermic, non-responsive and had a badly fractured jaw. The humane decision to euthanize her was made. Minutes after placing my hands on her for the exam and injection, I started gut-wrenching sneezing, then my face-neck-arms and hands broke out in intensely itchy welts, one eye lid swelled, as did my eye ball itself; my cornea looked like a jelly filled balloon, my throat was constricting and my chest tight. The tech searched the hospital for antihistamines and finally found some just as I was thinking I'd have to give myself an injection of diphenhydramine (benedryl). She assured me that she would have intubated me or tried a tracheotomy if I had stopped breathing. WOW... was that supposed to be reassuring??? Several hours later I looked almost normal again. Took meds a couple times during the day. Now I am ready to get to bed after showering tonight and started feeling it coming on again. I had to tear the place apart looking for allergy pills, I finally found a bottle out in my Tahoe. I'll sit up and wait for them to take effect. I wonder what it was that set me off? Very strange. A fawn allergy?

We spent the weekend house shopping again, with very discouraging results. It is amazing the number of properties on the market. We had a list of eight to drive by but looked at more than twenty. There are For Sale signs everywhere. None a match though. The search continues......

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Exciting Out-of-State Visitor!

Jerry is home from Colorado. They had a wonderful time and I am glad to have him back home.

Today I was excited to have a surprise visitor from Illinois show up during my lunch break. He is quite famous and has had a book written about him, but I haven't read the book yet. I love to have visitors and there is so much in this area to show those who haven't been here before. He spent the afternoon visiting with me at the Veterinary Hospital. We spent time getting to know one another.
His name is Stanley Lambchop and is called Flat Stanley by his friends. He is a friend of my granddaughter Kayleigh. His wonderfully colorful traveling clothes were chosen by Kayleigh, isn't she fancy! He started his travels at her school and will be spending a week here in California as my guest.
I will be sure to share his travels in California with Kayleigh's classmates. Then he will head out to visit someone in a new place. I hope someone fun will host him for the next visit.

Flat Stanley was very interested in looking at RADIOGRAPHS with me. This is a view of a dog pelvis and hips. Those little white spots are pellets, the poor dog got in the way of a pellet gun sometime in the past. The pellets are not causing the dog any pain now.

Flat Stanley watched as I performed a dog surgery. He was very quiet and polite as I worked.

Flat Stanley was very thin and had spent days and days traveling to California. We took him out to dinner to the 'Back Forty' B-B-Q place. I thought that he would be very hungry, but he really didn't eat very much at all. He is very polite and a lot of fun to have around.

Thank you Kayleigh for allowing me to visit with your friend Flat Stanley. Love you, Nana

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sawbucks & Deckers

We like to travel into the back country, destinations reached only on foot or hoof. We like to eat, stay warm and dry, and sleep comfortably. Our supplies for several days are laid out. I am
glad I can take more stuff than I can carry on my own!

There are two basic types of pack saddles in use today; the Decker and the sawbuck. There are basic differences between the two types and different knots and methods of securing your load. I don't have a preference between the two, since I am quite the novice, but Jerry prefers the Decker. There are lots of straps and leather and ropes to keep the saddle and the packs secure on the pack animal. I am not faking it in the picture, I really can put the pack saddle on a mule.

These two are loaded up and ready to hit the trails!

All your supplies can be loaded into 'panyards', which are containers that you hang from the pack saddle. Or wrap everything in a tidy little package and tie the 'manties' to the saddle. The packages can be referred to as mantees and the canvas sheets can be called mantis. Yep, for you spelling buffs, I did spell it three different ways: mantees-manties-mantis, all are correct.

The Decker saddle is stronger, has metal D-rings to tie to, can be adjusted to fit mules or horses. The cinch goes around the animal's girth and holds the saddle on; the breast collar fits around the chest to prevent the saddle from slipping back when climbing steep mountains; and the breeching is snug around the mule butt to keep the saddle from sliding up on his neck when going steep down hill. A good fit is critical.

Lots of good strong rope and very special (secret) knots are used to secure the mantees to each side of the pack animal. The loads should be of equal weight and make sure they are loaded evenly. This is BJ, my friend Sharon's horse getting ready for her first trail ride carrying packs.

Ropes go over, around, under, through, over some more, and tucked: all in a well orchestrated and planned design. I am still an apprentice knot securer. This photo illustrates why I need a short pack animal.

Sharon's first time leading a pack horse, BJ's first time being a pack horse, and Cocoa's first time being followed so closely by an animal carrying such a thing.

Why do we pack? So we can ride out to places few people get to visit and set up really cool camps.

Escape from the city, traffic, worries, work. A time to relax, refresh, reflect. Stand in an icy clear stream, listen to the mountain music, get lost in the rhythm of the wilderness.

And if the trout out smart you, don't fret, you won't go hungry because steaks, potatoes, corn-on-the-cob and even a romantic bottle of wine are in the cooler that the mule carried up the mountains.

Happy Trails to all!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


The Mule is a cross between a donkey stallion (called a jack) and a horse mare. Hinnies are just the opposite - a stallion horse crossed to a donkey jennet.
Mules are considered hybrids, a cross between two species. They are sterile, the females cannot bear young (a few extremely rare cases have been documented) and the males cannot sire offspring. They exhibit 'hybrid vigor', are tough and are long-lived.
I never had much interest in mules until I started riding in the mountains and developed an interest in packing as a means of traveling in the mountains. I took a few Pack Classes as a member of the Back Country Horsemen Assoc. and was intrigued by the mules.
On my first Pack trip to Colorado with Jerry, I packed in with a little black old-timer of a mule. He was quite the character, intelligent, and fun. Then Jerry and I took a trip to 'Mule Days' a weekend of fun filled mule competitions.
Mules come in all sizes and many colors. Yes they can do anything a horse can do.... except reproduce. Personally I think they are best suited to packing, I just love packing with mules.

I watched mules run barrels. Not too bad if you don't compare them to a horse. They just don't have the grace and speed of a quarter horse. And if one decided it wasn't a day he wanted to run, well, he just didn't run.

Mules are awesome jumpers! They can jump over 4 foot high fences from a stand still, easily! But when it comes to a hunt course, they just don't have the flowing beauty of a nice thoroughbred. (I mean that with all due respect Dear Jane!)

And I know this is a prejudice on my part, but it just doesn't look right for a tall, lanky, ruggedly handsome cowboy to be sorting cattle on a mule! And no mule I've watched seems to be too thrilled with working cattle.

Now this is more like it. Mules are BAD ASS PACKERS. They are super sure footed on mountain trails. They have a strong sense of self preservation and seem to 'think' things over. Not as much of the flight response that horses exhibit when they perceive a danger.

These mules sure seemed to be having fun. It was a Pack Scramble Race. They were a hoot! I can't believe I just wrote 'hoot', but it seems to be an appropriate mule description.

And then finally I got to take a week trip to Durango. Riding and packing mules. This little fella is very cool and in his mid 30s! That is when I decided that I should have a mule one day.

Jerry and the two cutie mules he packed up to the cabin in Durango. They carried all of our supplies; bedrolls, food, drink, clothes, and assorted supplies for the cabin. Nice of them.

This handsome fella is 'Pistol' a three year old. He is new to trails and Jerry has been riding him a lot this summer. We don't own him but I would like to. I have gotten very attached to this sweetheart. He comes running to me from pasture when I call him, he has a real soft unique heehahaw, and he loves to jump in our trail and go on adventures! Soon he will learn to pack.

I never imagined that I could become so attached to a mule! I just need to convince his real owner to give him up!

Tomorrow A Pack Lesson.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Just Blah

October 1st! Autumn just slipped right in and made itself at home. Rain again today, not much, and some grey skies. I spent the day indoors avoiding everything and suffering one of those lousy sinus headaches. I've had several now with the rains showing up early. Living down here in the central valley has aggravated some of my old allergy issues.

I am more than ready to move back up into the foothills. We have very specific ideas on what we want to buy but have not had much luck in our real estate search. To be quite honest, we really haven't devoted much of our time to the search. We scan the ads and quickly eliminate almost everything we find. We have gone out doing drive-bys a few times and that has been discouraging. And the rumors you hear are true, California real estate prices are insane.

We've discussed buying property and starting from scratch, but both agree we are too old to take on that project: We've discussed buying a place that is being divided up and converting an old barn into a house, but never got further on that one than just being an idea: We've discussed moving out of state, but I like it here ALOT, Idaho and Colorado are very tempting but then I remember the WINTER. I only like winter while I am skiing and then I like to leave it behind. I can do that here, easily. So we are dragging our feet on the moving issue, we both keep fairly busy and when we aren't working we always have something better to do than house hunt. Yes, I know one isn't just going to magically appear. And it is very nice living here on the Ranch, except for these crummy sinus headaches!

I heard from Jerry again today. He left his 'city slickers' up at the cabin while he made a trip back down with a horse and 2 mules to haul up more supplies. He says David is enjoying everything and should have some good stories to tell. We all know how much David likes his stories. It will be nice for him to have 'new' ones. *smiling* They plan to leave the cabin on Friday and enjoy the big 'cowboy doing's' in Durango. I reminded Jerry to keep a close watch on David Friday morning. He just may try to hide and be left behind there in God's Country.

Oh by the way; The picture I've posted above is not today's, it's just how I feel today -soggy-. That was taken here on the Ranch last winter after days and days of rain. I didn't live here then, the mare and I were just visiting.
Does anyone else see the similarity to Southfield in the spring?