Away Dog Pack! Away!

I really don’t want to think about how this is obtained

I wrote a few days ago about my cats getting killed by something in the night.  Most regrettable, was the loss of favorite cat, Chloe.

Jordyn came down to spend the weekend.  She was sleeping with me when the frenzied sound of my dogs barking awakened me.  A quick glance at the clock told me it was 2:36 am.  I leapt from my bed mostly because I wanted the dogs to shut up and Jordyn not to wake up.  The dogs were riveted toward the barn and barking like maniacs.  Knowing that I was likely to find coyotes or dogs out at barn, I still headed outside in my make-shift pajamas in the cold (45 degrees) still of morning.  I didn’t have a gun (don’t own one unlike most of my Texas neighbors) but I was thinking about the shovel I had left out by the barn.

As I rounded the corner I caught sight of a pack of four or five dogs surrounding Mr. Kid. They had barricaded him against the barn wall next to Mickey’s stall.  Both Mickey and Feather were in their stalls but Kid is allowed to move in and out of his stall at night.  My cat, Alice, was perched on top of the ten-foot high gate and two other cats were on the roof of the tackroom.  Under the full moon, I went screaming at the pack of wild dogs.  They went running, no doubt frightened by the sight of me in pjs, screaming with a shovel in my hand.

Sunday morning I found blood all over the cat’s bowls.  I did not find any dead cats.  This morning found another kitten dead in the pasture, the cat food container still sealed but found lying on my drive-way and all my cat food bowls thrown haphazard around the my front yard. 

I understand I need to put all the cat food away so the dogs are not coming here to get food.  They are not eating the cats and kittens that they kill.  The are just killing for the sake of killing. Today I got a lot of advice on what to do to stop the killing by the dog pack. 

Here are the top suggestions:

Have someone sit outside all night until the dogs appear and shoot them dead. 

    A) It could be a long, cold night

    B) They would be lucky to get one shot before the others scatter

    C) The sound of a gun in the middle of a quiet night will scare my horses to death

Fence my entire property with solid-mesh fencing that dogs cannot cross through.  I just spent a lot of money (I thought it was a lot of money) to fence a small section of my property.  The cost of fencing my entire property would probably be more than what it cost me to buy this little house.  Good solution, but not practical for me right now.

Find something to keep the wild dogs off my property.  The number one internet solution?  Bear urine-I am not kidding.  Bear urine and wolf urine were both equally recommended, however, the wolf urine does come with a disclaimer that it could attract wolves.  I do have some questions.  A bottle of bear urine is about $30.  You are supposed to leave four or five droplets every two to three feet around the perimeter of your property.  Do you have to repeat every time it rains?  How long is bear urine effective in dry weather?  Does it come in a spray bottle?  (I found on another site that it does come in a spray.)  What do horses think of bear urine?  Will I be cantering along only to have Mickey bolt in fear upon suddenly sensing bears are approaching?  For those of you better at math than I, how far will 32 ounces of bear urine divided into four or five drops every two to three feet go-like, do I need multiple bottles?

Two kittens that are left.

I want to stop the senseless killing of my kittens.  I have moved my one remaining neutered male and Lauren’s favorite cat, L’Orange into my front room.  I see that momma kitty has moved the two remaining kittens to the tack room.  Hopefully, momma can keep the kittens from playing outside in the moonlight.

I also understand that citrus peelings spread around the perimeter may stop the dog packs as well.  My friend at work suggested getting a lemon tree.  And waiting how long for it grow, I asked? Wow, we are going to need a lot fruit.  But until the bear urine gets here , I better getting working on the fruit.  Anybody want an orange slice?

Horses-winning the game

Watching Lauren compete at Zone Finals 2009. Pretty intense-with baby Riley Roo!

I started off as a young child, playing the game of horses.

It was an endless game for me.  I could come up with more combinations, more games, barrel racing, jumping, running the Derby.  As a child they were all games I could win.

In my teens, I had a top barrel horse.  But I did not compete him too often.  He was state champ one year when I was 15.  I did not like the anxiety and pressure of competition.  After that year, I seldom rode for ribbons again.

A few times in Florida, mostly because we had gotten Ally a top horse and she was too green for Ally to ride, I went in and showed the mare.  But mostly, I have choosen to sit on the sidelines and cheer on my kids.

It is hard to compete.  You do your best, you practice, you work, but things in the ring do not always go your way.  Even when you are a top rider on a top horse.  Our Olympic riders did not meet the expectations a lot of the country had for them.  They just did not get the rides they needed from the horses they had.

Lauren had two falls last week.  Mickey was jumping well, breathing well and Lauren was riding well,  except for the two jumps where she fell off.  A lot of you have had that perfect barrel run except for tipping a barrel.

It is frustrating, maddening and depressing, especially sometimes to be the parent of the child who is riding.  We all want our kids to be successful and yet, we know we cannot all bring home the blue ribbons.  Unless we are riding the leadline class and most of us outgrew that a long time ago.

Tonight I salute the parents of the athletes, riders. ballplayers, swimmers, whomever you may be.  I know how hard you try to do ever thing possible within your control to help your child be the best.  The hours spent learning to play the game (whatever it is), the time spent finding that right horse or equipment, then finding it again as your child moves on.  The delicate balance that must exist between the coach, the child and the parent.  Watch an episode of “Dance Moms”.  Why in the world would they train with that rude woman?  Because their kids win.  It is simply the most difficult thing I will do (we will do) to know how to support, challenge, promote and back-off from your athletic child.

It is not about money, or strength, or courage, most often it is about love and finding the balance to help your child succeed and keeping them in the game so that at the end of the day, they still can be happy when they do not take home the big trophy or win the big game.  Are they still happier on the back of a horse or out in the ball field than anywhere on earth?  Then you have given them the best chance you can to know and find happiness.  I salute all the parents tonight who wanted the big win so bad it almost made them ill but smiled and hugged their child as they came back to the dug-out after the last at bat.  You have given them the best opportunities that you possibly could.  They will be richer all their life for thess sorrows they face when “playing the game” (insert riding the horse or whatever is appropriate).

All Around

 

New fence-sun going down on another day

The world is spinning.  I will update on the latest events that have been going on here at the farm.

Momma has had a good week following her deep dive into the world of Alzheimer’s last Saturday.  The nursing home had to move her room around due to some state regulations and that left her a little confused.  She awakened and fell Wednesday night.  We had a trip to the hospital but she is okay with sore back.  Thank God it was not worse.  That said, she has been brighter this week.  Actually, in spite of the fall, getting out of the wheelchair more and being more active.  Jim and Jay sent her three boxes of clothes from Arizona and I cannot wait for her to see them today.  She has been so excited just anticipating them.   She looked real pretty last night, in pink of course, excited about dinner.  She has been getting some cards and loves to look at them over and over.  Message me for her address if you would like to send her a card.  It means a lot to her.

I have been troubled by a rash and pain in my leg.  The doctor confirmed that I have shingles and it is slowing me down significantly.  The drugs are starting to kick in and I am just now feeling a little better.

The fences are done.  The gravel and sand have been delivered, dumped and grated.  The weather changed this morning with cooler weather and rain expected.  I think all these wonderful updates will help get us through the winter, higher and drier.

Caitlyn is off to Washington D.C. to ride the Washington International Horse Show Medal final.  She had a stellar ride in the hunter phase today.  Tomorrow will be the jumper phase (the area that she and her horse usually excel in) and then those called back for the final will ride Sunday.  The horses are stalled in tents on the hard pavement of the Capital’s roads.  I do not think most horses would have adjusted as well as KY.  I am sending my prayers for Godspeed and great rounds.  If you want to watch an amazing horse jump feat tune in tonight for the Puissance live at www.WIHS.org  

Tonight is the salute to the Military and features the heart-stopping Puissance competition. Horses will jump the great wall until only one horse remains without knocking it down. The Washington International is one of the few remaining shows in the US to offer this class. The record to beat is 7’ 7-1/2,” set at Washington in 1986.

It should be on live about 8:00 pm central time.

Jordyn is coming to visit granny.  Tomorrow we will ride and Lauren is off to a haunted house.  Sunday will be a family dinner.  And we just found out that maybe Amber, Ryan and the kids might be able to make a quick stop in Texas for the Christmas holiday.  Yay!

Life goes on.

My Cats, My Dilemma

Chloe

I was deathly allergic to cats growing up and my mother hated them so I never had one.  Occasionally, I would sneak a stray into the house but my tell-tale runny nose and swollen almost-shut eyes were a quick give-away to my parents.

Oddly, it was when my top-barrel horse, Brandy, colicked and died when I was in college, that I got my first cat.  A friend gave me a little black female.  I did not want a cat, I wanted my horse back.  Reluctantly, I accepted her gift but told her I wasn’t even going to name it-it could just be “Kitty Cat”.  She told me,  “you can’t call her that!” I compromised with “fine, I will call her Tiddy Tat” and I did.  She was affectionately known as “Tid” and I grew to love her dearly.  My allergies had backed off so that was okay.  I treated her like a dog, taking her in the car, back and forth from school in Fort Collins to my parent’s home in Denver.  She went on airplanes with me and moved from apartment to apartment as I started my career.

Additional cats came and went.  I occasionally spent a lot of money on cats, dabbling in breeding Persians, owning purebred Burmese and Balinese Cats.  I brought two cats from Florida to Texas but my newly rescued Doberman Abby killed them the first day home.  That was enough for me.  During the reign of Dobermans, Abby and Wally, we did not have cats.  When we moved to Wharton, a mama kitty showed up in our tack room and soon kittens followed.  They were wild cats.  It took a couple of years and a few generations of kittens to be able to handle them. 

I tried to round up each subsequent batch of kittens, get them inside, tame them and neuter them.  Many ran off, got hit on the road or died of natural causes.  In the past year or so, I have neutered maybe 12-15 cats which proved to be expensive and worthless.  Of those cats, two are left. All the others killed or murdered at my farm or on my road.

There are now maybe eight adult cats that are not neutered, two females and the rest males.  The two females are feral-wild and near impossible  to catch.  I should try harder but this routine of spending money, caring about them and having them die is taking its toll on me.

Riley with Chloe-she was patient enough for the roughest child

Chloe was a two-year old neutered female.  She was my favorite cat.  You have probably seen pictures of her in my grandchildren’s arms, riding along in the saddle with me or the kids.  She would jump from the fence posts into the saddle with you as if it were just as natural as the world for a cat to ride a horse.  She walked every night with the dogs and I to the back pasture. 

I  noticed she was gone Thursday, the first day we were gone to the show.  I hoped she would show up again.  Then we noticed all the cat food we left out on the front porch was disappearing.  Dead kittens were littering the lawn in mornings having been savaged the night before.  Lauren and I spotted large canine tracks in the arena that were roughly twice the size of our Doberman’s (she is a small dobie).

I was headed out last night to pick up yet another dead kitten from the pasture when the fence man stopped me.  He told me he had buried a dead female on Friday.  It had to have been Chloe.

I don’t know what to do.  I try to be the responsible owner and capture as many as I can and get them neutered.  My vet in Wharton has worked with me and given me discounts.  A spay-neuter place in Houston has been more affordable and I have tried to use them when I can.  Dr. Criner has offered to come do spays and neuters on my dining room table if I will help but I haven’t quite got up the desire to be that involved.

My problem is, the ones I tame, then take care of, inevitably are the ones that are killed.  If it is not this current pack of dogs, it is coyotes, the highway or the cats fighting one another.  I am emotionally flattened by the loss of my Chloe cat coupled with the sight of kitten corpses across my pasture.

I know I can’t save them all.  I cannot have them all inside either. I am just sad and without a plan as to how to proceed.  I will not have another cat like Chloe, maybe ever.  I love them and I cannot protect them.  I am at a loss.

Postscript- Just now coming into the house after feeding the horses, I found another young cat murdered by the fence. I am so tired.

Rainy Season

Hoping this is a view that happens every 100 years!

I heard from my friend Gaylyn that this winter is supposed to be 33% wetter than in the last several years.  Some sort of El Nino effect that is supposed to play out across south Texas this year.

That will not work out for me.  I need the forecast to be updated and changed.  A long, wet winter will be difficult for us to get through.  I guess I should have caught on initially when we looked at the house and found it was in the 100-year flood plain, but then ever calculating my odds, I figured, once every hundred years, we should be fine.  The mortgage company made me buy flood insurance-again I should have figured there must have been some risk of flooding.  My house is raised about three feet off the ground.  If only I had been able to raise my barn, arena and pastures off the ground a few feet, we would be better off.  But you deal with what you have.

Yesterday as part of my work, I went on a tour of a refinery that is located close to my home.  While many things were interesting about this tour, I  was able to reflect my farm experiences on the experiences of the plant.  They showed us a retaining wall that was built two years ago when the refinery, also in the 100-year flood plain, flooded .  I had the same problem.  Then they discussed how last summer’s drought caused them to have extensive water worries.  They had to go to an area near my town of Wharton to divert water for the plant.  They didn’t have my growing hay concerns but lack of water at a plant that bases many of its processes on water was certainly a problem. It was redeeming in a way to see my petty farm issues played out on this giant canvas.

So, this winter is to be wet.  I jumped into action to do what I could, with limited resources, to make my horses and farm a little more friendly in the wet conditions.  I have had tractors and workmen on multiple projects this last week.  One is bringing in a gravel based sand that will raise the path from gate to arena, pasture to pasture and along the front fence line where water always pools.  Another is redoing part of our fence.  Initially, the posts were loosened by the flood waters.  Then the long, summer drought caused the earth to crack and the posts to lean.

The new posts up but no fencing yet. The new walkway between front and back pastures will help with the sucking mud of South Texas. The arena will be good once it is dragged and level.

Today, they are re-doing our backyard fence which keeps my dogs separated from the horses.  Mickey, and Leo before him, liked to hang his head over the back fence in hopes of getting some grass from the yard.  Of course, the dogs charge the fence and a lot of barking and running ensues.  The new fence will have wood across the top that the horses cannot bend.  The old fence was bent to about two and half feet high, we all know that Mickey could leap over that if he ever put his mind to it.

The projects will make my arena look nicer, provide a better base for jumping and working our horses, fix some dangerous situations and hopefully give us some walkways when the winter rains come.  Oh, Gaylyn, I hope you and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are wrong about the winter predictions, but if not, we are preparing the best we can.

Feather investigating the arena with no fence line. She asked if we were going to start doing dressage instead. No, Feather-the fence will be back.

Mr. Alz Launches a Blizzard

 

Saturday when I got to mom’s one of the aides was busy with her, helping her wash her hands.  I have to say from an ego standpoint, that the moment in each day when she figures out I have come to visit is a big one for me.  Normally, she will look intensely at me, I will say “hi, momma” and she will say “Cindy!! This is the best surprise ever.  You came at exactly the right time”.  With that kind of feedback, it is wonderful to be there each day.

Friday I did not make it over to see her.  We got tied up at the horse show and did not get back until late.  I could have gotten over there but I didn’t.  I was tired and worn out, but so what.

When mom turned away from the sink, there was none of the searching in her eyes.  I think she thought I was just another person that worked there. I told her who I was-still nothing.  She wasn’t tracking along with anything I was saying.  Old Mr. Alz was sending the snow deeply in her mind and I was not breaking through. 

I mentioned that Jim and Jay were coming after Thanksgiving.  She wanted to talk about the stain on her pants and how we should soak it best for it to come out in the wash.  Except I did not see a stain and I do her wash.  I was excited to tell her that three of her favorite people from the church in Denver had reached me (Elysee, Shirley and Adele) and wanted to call her.  I told her about their emails and promised to read them soon.  I got nothing from her.  She tried several times to get up from the wheelchair and go work on that imaginary stain.  I was afraid she would fall.

I brought out my best and most exciting thing-going out to dinner on Sunday after the horse show.  Nothing.  She said she needed to use the restroom.  Finally, I got her ready for dinner at the facility the best I could.  Even the little things like smelling her favorite perfume were not penetrating the storm that Mr. Alz had brought -not today.

I was heart-sick when I left her.  She had dutifully kissed me goodbye but it was empty like being forced to kiss that creepy relative when you are young.  I sent my girls a text message.

I blamed myself for not visiting the day before.  I was worried sick that I had seen the last of my mother, that I had lost the little pieces that were left.  The blizzard was storming hard around her brain taking the little she had left of memory and leaving this little shell.  I talked with Amber and she told me that probably there would be more days like this but still some days where she might know me. 

I know this is just my individual experience and so many have faced this before me.  I have lost my mother and grieved for her so many times as Mr. Alz has rained down on her. 

Yesterday, she was back to some degree, infinitely better than Saturday but not like the week before.  She recognized Lauren and called her by name.  It was a good day. 

I wish I could banish Mr. Alz and all his tricks.  I would give my mother peace of mind if only I could.  The best I can do now is ride out the storms by her side and try to keep her safe as I can.

Courage

Its a blur-would you want to take the chance of falling from five-feet off the ground going 25 miles per hour?

The show has gone well.  Yesterday not as well as Thursday, but solid rides for Mick and Lauren.  Today, they headed into the 1.0 meter (approximately 3’1″) division called the “Low Adults”.  This is the division she will ride in the finals coming up in three weeks.  Lauren has traditionally had issues with this division.  They have successfully jumped 3’6″ inch courses for the last four years.  But when we go into the division and call it “the Lows” something psychologically comes over Lauren and she does not do as well.

Today maybe five jumps into the course, Mickey refused. He stopped and Lauren went off hard into the jump.  We have done this scene multiple times in the past.  Lauren came out of the ring, angry and embarrassed.  She was mad at Mickey but it was her approach to the jump that made him stop.  At this height, she needs to set up him for each jump or he is not going.

Lauren wanted to quit.  She said she was so tired and Mickey was worn out.  Probably so.  I told her that was fine but we would not come back to ride finals.  She needed to go back in the ring and try the 1.0 meter class again.  We could not give up, then come back in three weeks and think she was going be successful.  She did not like my answer.  Her trainer gave her some tough love.  He told her if she rode well, Mickey would jump well.   Neither Dev or I were giving her an easy way out.

To the degree I can understand this as I have never faced a three-foot jump, I get that galloping at high-speed toward a solid object on the back of horse is frightening.  Lauren has been thrown countless times.  Been hurt many times, as well.  I understand that giving up is easier than facing down her fear.

Dev and I looked around to find Lauren before her next class.  She had disappeared.  I was not convinced that she hadn’t gone back to stalls and given up.  Then I spotted her at the far end of the arena, she wasn’t happy but she was hanging in there.

I sat next to a dear friend who assured me Lauren would be okay.  I wasn’t so sure.  Neither was Lauren.  The first jump was good.  Mickey stopped and refused at the second jump but Lauren stayed on.  She got her crop, hit Mickey once to get his attention, circled around, sailed over the jump and finished her course.  Dev said that Mickey was jumping as well as he ever jumped and Lauren rode like a pro.

Facing down your fears, when you want to quit and give up takes courage.  Nothing about this sport is a given.  Equestrian sports with the strong connection between horse and rider are exceptionally difficult.  What other sport do you share with a thousand pound partner-counting on them to keep you safe?  Lauren showed courage (we kind of forced her into it) today and I couldn’t be prouder.