Up and Around

My clean bedroom before surgery.

My clean bedroom before surgery.

I have become intimately aware of the details of my bedroom. For over 30 days now, I have spent at least 20 hours ( if not more) laying on my bed praying as time passes, my new hip heals and the pain subsides.  Not that we are going to focus on this today (because we aren’t) but many of you know elderly friends and relatives that were walking right after a hip replacement.  Because of my non-elderly age, my hip prosthesis is not glued into the femur bone.  My new titanium femur and hip socket (all seven inches) was forced placed into what was left of my femur bone above my knee.  Over time bone will grow around the metal and be way more stable, but in the meantime it is a slow go.

View from my window on this cold day.

View from my window on this cold day.

My animals have been great companions,although the poodle sometimes wants to have a closer relationship than I really desire, wrapping his big self around my head or laying across my chest with his friend the cat.

Poodle hat?

Poodle hat?

Poodle Cat?Poodle Cat?


Enough of that.  I am headed back to work in one week.  Pretty frightening right now as I have not done much of anything for weeks.  Last few days (New Year’s Res and all that) I have pushed myself to get up and get going.  Jordyn has been protégé for much of my new workouts and attempts to get my life back to normal.

I heard once that it takes many weeks to build muscle but muscle starts to deteriorate in as little as ten days.  I am a poster child for deterioration of muscle.  Wow.  I headed to the barn intent on cleaning and clipping my mare Kalani that broken-heartedly I have put up for sale. I just will not have the ability to work with her or to ride for a couple more months.  I guess my dreams die first as Lauren and I have agreed we must pare down the horses we own.  I hope to find her a terrific home.

Anyway, on unsure legs, I headed to the barn.  Kalani is a very quiet mare.  Even so I needed help getting her halter on.  I approached her with the clippers and had difficulty keeping my balance even with this simple task.  Lauren takes over and it is easily completed.

Lauren left for the evening and Jordyn is stuck with me to get the horses hayed and watered for the night.  Jordyn is seven, tall for her age and knows her way through the barn chores.  Together, (okay it was mostly her) we get a bale of hay into the wheelbarrow and head to the barn.  We had some precarious balancing acts as we tried to get the wheelbarrow up into the barn and down off the concrete to the next barn. But we did it!

Before we went in for the night we put all 13 buckets of freshly made morning feed (in order by stall) into the wheelbarrow and left it in the first barn. This morning, 45 degrees and a howling north wind greeted my first breakfast feeding of the horses since the beginning of December.  As I shambled out along the drive to the barn, Jordyn ran on ahead and had all the first barn fed before I even reached the gate.  Together we moved the wheelbarrow with the eight remaining buckets onto the next barn.  I really did not do much feeding but getting up and out accounts for something!

I have to admit I got a little overwhelmed with the thought of getting all the horses out to their respective pastures.  Jordyn can handle many of the horses, walking them to their daily destinations, but the thought of holding and walking a horse with my unsteady legs conjured up immediate thoughts of me lying face down in the cold mud with hoof prints on my back or me flying airborne behind one of these magnificent steeds as he scampered off for morning grass.  Either way, I was too scared to try.

Lauren, followed shortly by Ally, Luke and Kendyll, took over the morning chores as we waited for 70 bales of hay to arrive. I guess this was a pretty usual day on the farm, but it is the first one I have participated in for some time.  Linda and Richard came to deliver the hay.  It was good to have company and be part of the chores even if I did not really participate much (okay, I sat in a chair the whole time).

Getting up and around is a whole lot more fun than hanging out in my room.  It is all about small steps toward getting fit again.  Lauren got FitBits to measure our walking, sleeping, etc.  Lauren set her goal at 12,000 steps per day. I set mine at 150 steps.  Seriously, I have not walked anywhere but to the bathroom for a while.  At the barn last night, I was startled by my wrist vibrating.  My FitBit was telling me I had reached my goal!  Wow, 150 steps!

When I got back to the house I moved my goal to 1500 steps a day and I think I just might make it. Step by step, day by day…getting back to life.

As always, thanks for riding along and another big thanks to all of you (especially my boarders) that have helped out this month.  Lauren, Ally and especially Jordyn have helped keep the farm running smoothly!

Holiday Pictures

Mickey, Feather, me, Kid, Mimi, Lauren and Bruno in the one moment when they all stood still.

Mickey, Feather, me, Kid, Mimi, Lauren and Bruno in the one moment when they all stood still.

The last time I got the great idea to do Christmas pictures on the horses, it was 1999.  Amber was home from college, Ally was becoming a beautiful teenager and Lauren was six.  I didn’t have three horses so we borrowed a couple from our barn friends, the Detweilers. Lauren, in a certain odd foreshadowing, was up on the biggest, grandest horse, named Magnum.  He looked a lot like Bruno.

Ally on Soleil, Amber on Ginny and Lauren on Magnum.

Ally on Soleil, Amber on Ginny and Lauren on Magnum.

Despite all our plans that day to get a great picture, the one captured here was not that simple.  Amber is a superb athlete but not necessarily a horse lover.  She has ridden some but was not all that comfortable, bareback up on Ginny.  Lauren was way too small for Magnum and we are lucky she did not fall off during the photo shoot.  Ally was the only one confident and secure on her favorite ride, Soleil. 

I have not sent a horse Christmas card since then.  Lauren and I wanted to do that picture this year with our band of horses all together.  First, obviously we needed a photographer.  My dear friend Linda Potter volunteered and we started to seriously think we might be able to pull it off.  Have I mentioned that Mickey HATES Bruno?  Or that Feather kicks ol’Kid every chance she gets?  And the chance of getting them to line up, five horses with just the two of us to handle them, well, it was minimal at best.

First, we had to decide on outfits.  In our original picture we choose garland and red and green shirts but thought with standing in front of the horses, the garland wouldn’t really show.  Then we found Santa hats at WalMart and modified them with elastic straps.  The horses were not impressed with their hats and pretty much refused to put their ears forward in the desired position.  For little Mimi, we found a candy cane headband that was darling on her little head.

Oh, little Mimi, the devil wore candy canes!

Oh, little Mimi, the devil wore candy canes!

Lauren and I picked out matching shirts (what is a Christmas card without matching holiday wear?) .  I sewed the elastic to the hats, Linda agreed to meet us and we were ready to go.  Except we had a monsoon of a rain storm a couple days ago and everyone was covered with mud.   We spent an hour or so cleaning everyone up and finding old leather halters to fit all the horses so they would all match.  Thankfully, Mimi came with her own little halter or I could not have found one to fit her.  Through all this preparation we kept watching the sky.  It looked like rain was going to come down again.  Don’t forget the whole Bruno cannot get his foot wet thing.  If it rained at all, even if it cleared off, we were done.  

Linda arrived ready to photograph us.  I headed to the arena with Mickey and Feather.  Linda actually went and got Kid.  Just to get the three of them lined up was chaotic.  Kid had taken a couple of hard kicks from Feather earlier and wanted no part of standing by her side.  We were doing pretty well until Lauren approached the arena with Bruno and Mimi in tow.  We had put a stud chain on Bruno (a chain that goes through the halter and helps control the horse).  Why we did not put one on Mickey is unclear.  He is the bolting, pulling, bully and that’s just under regular circumstances.  Today, he was out to KILL Bruno and was going to do his best to get at him.  My nice little line scattered.  Lauren had her hands full with Bru and Mimi and I was getting pulled around by Mickey.  Feather just wanted to run away.  I dropped Kid’s leadrope and just let him fend for himself.

What a mess!!

What a mess!!

But in the end, we got a good shot.  I will get Christmas cards out this year!  When we finally got back to house after chasing Kid down as he wondered away in his Christmas hat, Lauren looked at me and asked why the dogs weren’t included in the picture.  Gee, I don’t know Lauren, maybe because we barely survived this photo shoot with just the horses.  Oh, holiday pictures, we will look back on this and smile!

Happy Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving crew, starting with me clockwise, Dodie, Rick (Luke’s parents, Jake-Luke’s brother with girl friend Christie then Lauren, Jake’s daughter Kayla, Jordyn, Granny Nanny, Ally, Kendyll, and Luke

I don’t know how many years it has been since I shared Thanksgiving with my mother, like maybe sometime in the ’90s back when my Aunt Nova did Thanksgivings.  Recent years, we have been here, and mom has been with Jim’s big extended family in Tucson.  I have been fighting strep throat and an upper respiratory infection so I have not had much time with mom the last few days.

Lauren, Jordyn and I got our share of the food done yesterday.  Lauren is  a good cook.  She makes homemade macaroni and cheese.  We used my mom’s old recipes for green bean casserole and pumpkin pies.  Ally and her extended family provided all else.

Ally’s in-laws, their son Jake and his girl friend Christie have become our family in Texas.  It was with great joy today to add my momma as the matriarch of the family while adding four-month old Kendyll as the baby of the family.  Life extending at both ends.  The food was great.  All of us have had some issues this year, some serious health things, a big move for mom, a new baby for Luke and Ally.  I think that all of us had tears in our eyes as we circled the table saying what we were thankful for this year.  The list was simple but endearing.  We are so blessed to have momma here now and have her with this us.  Dodie (Luke’s mom) has had an incredibly tough year with multiple health issues.  But she still compassionately listened to mom tell her stories of growing up in Oklahoma. 

It was a terrific day.  We got mom back for her after Thanksgiving nap.   Both Lauren were exhausted from the day and being sick.  We came home and watched the Texans go into overtime again!  I couldn’t yell-have no voice but again was thankful for the big finish and another one for win column.

We finally had to go do something with the horses.  We have not felt well enough to ride once this week.  We had planned to ride today but just were not up to it.  Maybe in December, we will get things on track again.  We had a rush trip to the vet yesterday to continue care on Bruno where Feather had kicked him Sunday.  The vet took one look at him and said in awe, “now, that is a big horse!”.  We got him fixed up and got some more antibiotics and medicine.  He will be fine.

Just before horse dinner time, we thought we would try Bruno on the lunge line to see how he was doing with his foot.  He looked really good.  We caught a picture of him at the trot that shows how huge his stride is.  This horse is really going to be able to cover some ground. 

Bruno looking good with Mickey and Feather watching from the gate.

I am grateful for many things, from our terrific weather, healthy family (pretty much), my momma being back in my life on a daily basis, my terrific family (here and in Denver) and my Taylor family that are now just regulars for all our holidays and having my wonderful animals safe and sound (mostly) out in my back yard.  These are all dreams come true for me.  It is overwhelming how good life can be and how our traditions have grown and expanded to be even better than ever before.

Hope your Thanksgiving day was blessed as mine.  I am thankful for all you who take time to read what I write each time.  You all are blessing as well.  You have given me a voice.  Thank you and God Bless each one you.

New Adventures-Meet Bruno-A Bruno Story

Fiddler’s Pilgrim-aka Bruno

Life is never static at the farm.  New adventures, new animals, new opportunities abound for us.  Tomorrow it is off to Zone Finals for Lauren and Mickey.  Anyone that has followed this blog even minimally knows that Mickey had a very rough summer.  So sick with the pythium fungus he could barely catch his breath.  We didn’t know if he would show again.  But he did, he has and he will go into the ring Saturday at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center for Zone Finals in the Low Amateur Adult Jumpers with fences approximately 3’3″ to 3’6″ in height.  We hope for a clear round and a chance to get into the jump off.  The little man can fly.  I am thankful for all of your support and prayers.

Tomorrow after Lauren rides Mickey in a couple of practice rounds, bathes him and gets ready to head for home, it will be with a new horse. I know that sounds a little crazy but sometimes things just come along in life that are meant to be.  The new horse is another Off the Track Thoroughbred (OTTB).  His name is Fiddler’s Pilgrim (if you want to look him up you will find AP Indy, Secretariat and some other hotshots).  He was certainly bred to race and run.  But he’s a pretty laid back guy and thought a racing career was not all that much fun.  He is a big horse-17 hands and once filled out with granny’s feed probably will be over 1300 pounds.  He looks a lot my old horse Mac.  If he does half as well as Mac, we will all be pleased.  Bruno (he is from the east coast) is only five years old so we have some work to do.  He has a hoof that is healing so he will be enjoying some quality downtime while it gets better.

Mickey, after finals, will be going into semi-retirement, which he has certainly earned.  We will pull him out for a few shows next year but our focus will be on the youngsters, Bruno and Feather.  Sounds like a mob boss and his girlfriend, doesn’t it?  We will have Mimi, the pony coming home from the trainers soon and will be looking to place her in a pony home.

So very exciting times.  I was not seeking a new horse when the opportunity for Feather in Florida came up.  I bought her sight unseen and had her shipped home.  She has not disappointed us at all. Well, maybe during those weeks when we struggled with the trailer loading, I did want to kill her a couple of times but other than that, she has turned into a beautiful, talented mare.

Likewise, Bruno came to us from a top trainer in the area, Sherre Sims, one for whom I have the greatest respect.   We first met Sherre when we were admiring her Corgi, Nordic.  Nordic and Lauren’s Corgi,  Sneaky had an ill-fated love affair.  Anyway…Sherre’s parents live on the east coast  and their friends bred and trained Bruno.  He got sent to Texas to become a jumper.  Due to Sherre’s limited space and his hoof issues, he needed to go to a new home.  So, once again, I am taking a horse, sight unseen, this one I can’t even work for a while, all because I believe in what he can be.  I think this one is going to be a real special guy for us.  Gee, I can’t wait to see him!

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?