Flag and Fargo make a baby (we hope)

Lauren with Flagmount's Freedom, at over 17 hands he makes wonderful, kind, jumpers.

Lauren with Flagmount’s Freedom, at over 17 hands he makes wonderful, kind, jumpers.

Caution-this post involves details of horse breeding/insemination.  Parental Guidance suggested.

Last week started our push to get our German mare, Blonder Reflection (aka Fargo, aka Grandma) pregnant with Feather’s sire, Flagmount’s Freedom.  Flag is an Irish Sport Horse stallion standing in Bryan, Texas. I have other articles about him in my blog if you want to ‘search’ his name for more information.   This mating would produce a cousin to our yearling Betty Sue and a half-sibling to Feather.  Some crazy times at our farm, for sure! Still those a pretty special relatives.

Even though I have seen others go through this ritual, I was not quite prepared for the science of getting a mare pregnant now.  I hate to say it but back in my day, we turned them out in the pasture and got what we got next spring.  Now, the equine reproductive process rivals that of any major human Fertility Clinic in the US.

Once I made the commitment to move ahead with this breeding of Flag and Fargo, and she had received a clean bill of reproductive health, we had several steps to go through.  First, we had to get the mare to go into cycle-which involved an injection.  Then we started tracking her follicles. To me they looked a lot like odd shaped balls but what do I know?

Several at the barn got embroiled in the Fargo follicle process and asked each day what size Fargo’s follicles were. Identifying the follicle size involves a sonogram (ultra-sound) of the horse’s reproductive parts.

Isabel and Lauren awaiting the daily follicle size check with Dr. Criner. Oh, life on the farm!

Isabel and Lauren awaiting the daily follicle size check with Dr. Criner. Oh, life on the farm!

By Thursday we were getting close but didn’t know if Fargo would be ready for baby-making on Friday or on the weekend.  We asked Dr. Marden with Flag for a late Friday afternoon collection.  I have to admit I did enjoy posting on FaceBook that my daughter and her friend were en route to College Station to get some sperm. I found that pretty funny until I got some blowback from the father of Lauren’s under-18 friend.  But I am guessing he is telling the story at work so he can’t be too upset.

It was Lauren’s first time to see Feather’s dad in person.  She also got to meet Feather’s full sister and brother.  They are built a great deal like Feather but one is a bay and one a chestnut.  Lauren retrieved the vials of precious cargo and headed back to the farm.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lynn Criner was checking Feather to see if we were ready to breed, but she was not.  I was worried Friday as we stored the vials in the refrigerator until we could do another check on Saturday.  I hoped this mare that I knew so little about did not out wait the semen.  The semen in the best of worlds was good until maybe Sunday (or so I had been assured).  I was terrified the mare would take her time and have the perfect follicle on Monday.

Saturday, the rains blew through hard, causing some downed limbs and another three inches of accumulation. All the horses stayed in their stalls.  Lynn showed up mid-afternoon to check on Fargo.

I have worked for OB-GYNs off and on for many years.  I know my way around the female anatomy and sonogram images.  Not so much when I was reviewing the images on Lynn’s machine.  But by this point in the process, I could id the follicles but not a lot else.

As an aside, one of the ladies at the barn needed a pelvic ultra-sound for her own reproductive issues and I volunteered Lynn and her machine.  She choose to keep her appointment with the radiology team at the hospital.  We would have cleaned the probe first.  I promise.

Anyway, Saturday afternoon, the rains had stopped (for a while) the skies had cleared but no one but the two of us (the doc and myself) were at the barn.  We got Fargo to assume the position for seemingly the umpteenth time. I said silent prayers for follicle readiness.  And yes, glory be, we had lift off!! It was time to inseminate the mare!

The semen (I have typed this word more in the last two weeks than I ever have in my life) had been ‘cooled’ and it was time to warm it up prior to insemination.  I was told to put the syringes filled with Flag’s magic power next to my skin.  I asked, “Like in my pockets?”  No, I was told, next to your skin.

If you are told to put semen in your pants, you better just do it!

If you are told to put semen in your pants, you better just do it!

Then it was soon time for Fargo to take the magic vials from their warming position and have them injected into her.  This process required a lot of cleaning of mare parts and sterile procedures.

With the tail tied out of the way (not an issue we encountered in human reproduction) Dr. Criner is sending Flag's swimmers to make a super foal.

With the tail tied out-of-the-way (not an issue we encountered in human reproduction) Dr. Criner is sending Flag’s swimmers to make a super foal.

I swear Fargo brightened up remarkably as the syringe was emptied.  When the tube was removed, Fargo gave a huge sigh of satisfaction.  I wanted to ask her if she would like a cigarette or something.

Here’s to hoping we are on our way to lovely, kind, athletic, jumping-fool of a foal.  We should know more in the next couple weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Say a prayer.  For those of you wondering, horses carry approximately 342 days.  And you thought you had it bad.

Many thanks for riding along this journey with us!

Goodbye my friends


Yorkshire Terries seem to just find me at certain times in my life.  In Florida, a friend was a breeder of Yorkies and I took her older females that were done having babies.  Jessa was my first Yorkie and had no fear standing up to my giant Irish Wolfhound that I had at time.  My Yorkies have always been small and tough.  My latest Yorkie I saw at the HEB parking lot.  I bought PuppyGirl and her brother Theo. 

PuppyGirl has had some run ins with death.  One time Feather caught PuppyGirl’s leash in her legs and sent her flying to the pasture like a soccer ball.  The last year or so, PuppyGirl has had bad seizures but we finally had gotten the meds just right and she was doing great.  Likewise, she had finally started listening and could be trusted off her leash.  She had finally put on some weight and was up to four pounds.

She had this funny little habit.  If I called her, she would wait for me, turn around then jump into my arms. I loved her so.  But she was Lauren’s dog first.  They watched a lot of crappy tv together. 

Friday night, day five of awful rain storms, Kena the Doberman got into a barking altercation with the neighbors two labs.  PuppyGirl, never one to back down, slipped through our fence and was killed instantly by the big male lab.  Our neighbor had promised us when we moved in that his dogs would never hurt my cats or dogs.  Well, the score is Peter’s dogs have killed two of my cats and now my Yorkie.

As the rain began to pour again, Lauren, Ally, Kendyll, Jordyn and I dug a grave in the slippery mud and laid PuppyGirl to rest with Bruno.

I will never forget her brave heart and strong spirit.


Although pre-arranged before the whole PuppyGirl incident, it was twice as hard to say goodbye to our corgi, Sneaky, as she went off today to live with friends. It will be a great home for her and she will get so much more attention.  Timing was bad though, as she rode off with them tonight.  

I am sad to have lost these dear friends of mine. I would appreciate a little break in the death cycle, if possible. 

Thank you for riding with us.  It makes us stronger.

A year ago…

Lauren excitedly standing in front of the house one year ago.

Lauren excitedly standing in front of the house one year ago.

A year ago I awakened to the news that my 90-year-old mother had spent the night at the hospital ER while I slept blissfully unaware only three miles away.  It was moving day a year ago and my phone was on the charger in my car.  A year ago, with that horrible break, my mom started her final spiral toward her death in August.

A year ago, we moved the horses from their six acres in Wharton to their newly built barn in Richmond.  There were four of them, Bruno, Feather, Mick and Snow.  The movers showed up right on time and everything was moved to the new house.  I don’t believe I ever went back to the little green house.

the original view down the pasture to the barn.

The original view down the pasture to the barn.







The original view inside the barn with cow troughs.

The original view inside the barn with cow troughs.

A year ago, there was so much to be done with planting flowers, running fencelines, buying a tractor, creating an arena, welcoming our first boarders, and falling in love with our new farm.  It has come a long way.  While Lauren and I were pretty visionary, thinking up ways to utilize the space in the existing barn to the max, we didn’t even begin to imagine that another barn would be built and that today we would have 15 horses on the property.

Horses have come and gone both mine and boarders.  I have a friend who does my stall plates.  I think we have ordered almost 20 stall plates in the last year with all of the changes.  She always wonders where we are putting all the horses.  They just keep moving around I tell her.

Our pastures and arena have been re-defined a few times over the past year as well.  New jumps have come to live with us, both ones we have purchased and those that have been made.  Lauren has learned a lesson in don’t make anything you do not want to jump!

A year ago, while we were scrambling around to get my mom more comfortable with her broken arm, while meeting the moving people at the new house and getting the horses settled in, up in Colorado my filly Betty Sue was born on this day. I never dreamed that such an elegant yearling would be in my pasture a year later or we would be working to breed her grandmother to Flagmount’s Freedom, Feather’s great sire. In fact, I had never even heard of this Colorado breeder. I feel we are fast friends now.

One year ago, newly born Betty Sue

One year ago, newly born Betty Sue


Happy Birthday Betty Sue!

Happy Birthday Betty Sue!

A year ago, we didn’t know Bruno, my mom and my step-father Jim, would be leaving this earth bound for heaven.  I am thankful for not knowing.  Likewise we didn’t know the joy these new friends and boarders would bring to our lives either or the closeness that would grow within my own family with Ally’s family so close by.

A year ago, I couldn’t imagine riding a horse without pain but two new hips later, I can.  My daughter followed her grandma’s lead and shattered her arm this year but it is finally getting back to normal day by day as well.

A year ago, Feather had won ONE blue ribbon.  Now she has conquered the Zone 7 Finals as grand-champion and pulled off grand-champ at Pin Oak as well.  What a distance she and Lauren have come, in spite of adversity.

A year can be a lifetime or it can be a building block for the future.  I somehow doubt (and secretly hope) that I will ever have a year quite like this one again.

What a year, what a glorious, horrible, amazing, troubling, grief-filled, elation-filled year! Thank you for always riding along with us and sharing it all!

It’s raining, we’re laughing along

The clouds moving across the sky with rain on their heels.  Lots of green grass envelopes the farm.

The clouds moving across the sky with rain on their heels. Lots of green grass envelopes the farm.

Regardless of a gloomy seven-day rain forecast Lauren and I have been smiling a lot around Six Meadow Farm.  I think there are several factors.

  1. Fortunately while the rain poured down, in fact  it did so several times, our arena and the pastures have absorbed it right in and left things pretty manageable.

    The arena soaked after the first deluge of rain

    The arena soaked after the first deluge of rain

  2. On Friday we went and picked up Kona’s almost five month old half-brother.  In keeping with our Hawaiian trend and that of naming them in honor of our departed relatives, we welcomed Maui Jim. IMG_0177
  3. This Poodle is Lauren’s and it will sleep in her room with her two cats.  It is a little like my first apartment in Lawrence, KS where I had two cats and cocker spaniel.  I am staying out of the training and letting them bond.  A puppy is always a good time even if he was more black (mud) than white after his arrival at the farm.  Not the best weekend for introducing the white dog.
  4. Since the dog is Lauren’s she choose to be home this weekend which is a rare thing.  We enjoyed our Saturday evening with Laine and Isabel playing with the dogs and grooming the horses.We watched a little TV while the dogs caught up from their busy day. Levi, the cat, was clearly awake and alert as we took pictures of the sleeping dogs.
    Greatest shot ever, Lauren!

    Greatest shot ever, Lauren!


  5. The mare, Fargo, had her OB/GYN exam in preparation for breeding. This is a huge bucket list item for me (not for the horse to have the exam but to have my own foals at my own farm).  I will spare you pictures of the exam.
  6. Lauren and I got a lot of projects done between rain showers.  We re-matted stalls, spread new shavings and planted new spring flowers. Two ponies are moving out this week and my horse is headed in, so we will move the group around a bit to adjust.
  7. Our boarder, Jo Ann got back from an epic trip to Africa.  However, she came home sick and exhausted.  We finally saw her on Saturday and heard some amazing tales of a distant land.  (I don’t want to go any time soon but was glad she had the opportunity.)
  8. Both horse Kinny and pony Molly got in some arena work yesterday afternoon.  Lauren and I decided we better get some horses worked as well.  I rode Mickey and she took Feather.  We got in about 30 minutes prior to the next onslaught of rain.

    Feather headed down the still moist but quite rideable rail.

    Feather headed down the still moist but quite rideable rail.

  9. My new mare was supposed to be in from Georgia last night but the truck had mechanical problems.  She is due in around 10 pm this evening and I cannot wait!  Expect a few dozen pictures of the new mare soon!
  10. It was just nice to have a quiet weekend without a show or lessons.  Lauren and I got have a ‘weekend off’ and enjoyed it a lot.

Thanks for riding along and being part of our journey!

Time Hop

Mr. Kid and I the last day of his life.  Still sound under saddle at 32 years of age.

Mr. Kid and I the last day of his life. Still sound under saddle at 32 years of age.


The Time Hop feature on Ally’s phone reminded her that on Friday, it had been exactly one year since I had given my 32 year-old horse, Kid, his last good day and then  had him euthanized.  Kid had been my best boy most of these Texas years from 2003 forward when I first talked Sarah into trusting me with her barrel horse that was ready for retirement. Oh, how I loved that horse and how he changed our lives here.  Leading to a new boarding barn where we met life-long friends, where we became part of something good.

I was so proud of Kid.  He was the absolute picture perfect quarter horse, not the halter-bull-dog type (as my daddy would have said) but the racing quarter horse.  Standing almost 15.2 hands and running about 1000 pounds of lean, perfect muscle.  He was the fastest horse running barrels on the Houston  non-pro circuit at age 20.  That is pretty fast.  He could also jump, take the kids for a ride or be the best behaved horse in the barn or trailer.  But make no mistake about it, he performed best for me and he was all my boy.  Lauren never had any success riding him, at least not after she past age 12.  I guess he considered her fair game then and he tested her all the time.

Looking swell at 30.

Looking swell at 30.

Since Kid has been gone, I have been on the search for a replacement.  I had Bruno back then, but never really rode him much.  I got Betty Sue and love her dearly but am not going to be riding her any time soon.  I thought the mare Kalani was my ticket back to having my own horse again, but that ended badly (except that she went to a great home).

Honestly (and don’t tell anyone), I haven’t really enjoyed riding for at least the last three years.  My hips, pelvis and knees hurt so much ten minutes into saddle time, that it wasn’t much fun. In fact, by this last fall,  I had essentially quit riding.  Then I had my other hip replaced.  I couldn’t ride then.

But some pretty great things conspired to happen all at once.  First, I have ridden four days  in a row now, and it doesn’t hurt!  I mean it is  like a miracle. Second, I found this ad for a mare named Nova who was born on January 19th.  Some of you will get this instantly.  My favorite aunt and my Godmother was named Nova.  Nova is an unusual name and yet this will be my second horse to carry this name.  January 19th was my father’s birthday and I don’t have to tell you what that means to me.  I was  looking for signs and these were good enough for me.

Nova, a paint mare, registered as Investment Art, is a pretty good looking girl.

Nova, a paint mare, registered as Investment Art, is a pretty good-looking girl.

The other things that were imperative in my next horse, was good training and a quiet nature. This mare has both in spades.   She also stands a solid 16.2 hands, so might be brought along to jump a jump a two.

What I did not realize at all until Ally’s phone Time Hopped us, was that I had just negotiated a deal to buy Nova, exactly one year to the day from when Kid took his final steps.  We will see what life has in store for me but I am really hoping this mare lives to be the same 32 years old as Kid, and I am able to ride her every step of the way.

Happy, blessed Easter day to you all!!

I love the flaxen mane and tail!

I love the flaxen mane and tail!