Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Three months after the flood

May 8, 2007

Same location: July 30, 2007

May 8, 2007

Same location, July 30, 2007.

For more Wordless Wednesday entries, go HERE.

Horses like their horsie-treats.

If Cliff needs to enter the big pasture, he has to go through two gates: There's the one in the foreground, and another there to the right of that shed. On the other side of the far gate, the horses are standing, plotting some way to sneak past Cliff when he drives the tractor through. If they manage to get through the gate, they ravenously gobble the weeds growing there as though they were dining on the finest alfalfa. I guess they figure if we go to all that trouble keeping them out of that area, we must be depriving them of some good stuff.


We do have part of the lot electric-fenced off. So if Cliff plans to make several trips through the pasture and back, as he did yesterday hauling iron up here, we put the horses in that part and shut them in; this way Cliff doesn't have to fight them as he drives through the gates. There's good grass and plenty of water in that section. I used to have trouble getting them to come out, when we were done.

Then I tried this: Put a few horsie-treats in a Folgers can, go to the little gate leading into that portion of the lot, and rattle the treats in the can, calling , "Blu-uueee, Blu-uuee. The first time or two, they just stood and looked at me, and I had to walk up to them and let them smell the treats in the can so I could lure them out.

But they soon learned that each of them gets a treat from my hand if they come through the gate.

As always when food is offered, Blue came through first. Right behind him is Libby. Sassy, the snobby Arabian, follows closely behind.

Every time, without fail, Tude seems to get lost. He acts as though he can't see the gate immediately to his right.

He's gradually getting the idea, though, and yesterday he came on through without too much trouble. The picture is blurred because I was surrounded by hungry horses who wouldn't get out of my way, and I was hanging onto a coffee can with one hand, trying to fend them off.

Once they're all through and have all had a treat, I close the gate.

Horses, like husbands, respond well to food.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Gate latches

We have two new gate-latches. These things cost around $18 each, but boy, are they ever worth it!

This gate doesn't have one yet; this is how we used to secure all our gates. What a pain, wrapping the chain around a post and fastening it back to the gate.


To open a gate, you just reach for that thingie...

and pull it up. The gate opens.

When you're done, you just give the gate a gentle shove and it locks itself. Amazing! Easy for humans to open, but impossible for animals.

I LOVE my new gate latches, and I love the man who bought them and installed them.

Libby's first time being ridden

I know very little about breaking horses. I've read Mark Rashid's books, but his philosophy conveys total attitude more than actual methods (consider the horse, put yourself in the horse's skin, etc.). I've watched plenty of the horse-training shows on RFDTV, but I'm not usually able to execute the things I see done there, except for the most basic maneuvers. A couple of those basics, though, really worked in our favor yesterday.

Libby tried to get away from Arick when he first tried to mount her, which was no surprise. He simply persisted, holding onto her and letting her circle as he held her lead rope. Once he was on her back, she stood like a statue.

"How do you get her to move?" he asked.

"Well, when I ponied her, I made all the noises I make to Blue, since I was on him... you know, clicking my tongue, saying, 'hup', or 'come on'."

Arick clicked his tongue, pressured her sides a bit with his legs... nothing.

I have worked Libby in the round pen, not often enough, but some. I'm a novice, as I said, and I am not sure I always did the right things. But thanks to the RFD shows and advice from Adam, who boards his horses here, I have learned how to make her go forward, and turn on command in the pen (with whip in hand that is only a prop, not something I "whip" her with).

So Arick suggested I do what I always do in the round pen to get her going, when nobody is on her back.

This worked. Once she got started going forward, she understood what was being asked of her.

The other very simple thing learned from these shows was getting Libby to flex her neck when asked; this allowed Arick to be able to pull her head sideways to keep her from bucking, and also prepared her for the commands to turn.

Two simple things that made Libby's first ride successful. I'm so proud.

We won't be taking her on any long trail rides for a long, long time. She's still young and growing, and I don't want to do any damage to her.

Here's a video taken in November, showing me "ponying" Libby, and at the end, handling her feet and putting my weight briefly on her back.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

morning ride

A two-and-a-half hour ride pushes my limits, but it was such a lovely morning!

My house is over there someplace, to the left of center, and to the left of the buildings you can see in the distance. I love Missouri's rolling hills.

I enjoy taking shadow-pictures. Blue's legs look so long there!

I decided to go the long way around, through my little town.


I turned onto a side street, figuring I'd see my daughter and her husband out enjoying the morning on their new deck.

But there were no signs of life at their house. Their dogs didn't even bark.

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's a contest!

Over at my AOL journal, I'm having a giveaway. If you're interested in getting a $99 digital camcorder absolutely free, go on over there and put your name in the hat.

My Country Life.

Time for the farrier

Blue lost a shoe on his one white foot (a back one) last week, so I called my farrier, Randy. When I looked at my checkbook, I saw it had been eight weeks since his last visit, which is really pushing the limit. I took this picture the day Blue lost the shoe; it looked much better today, since my riding him on gravel had the effect of trimming it. I noticed Blue didn't seem tender-footed at all, the five times I rode him with a missing shoe. When I told the farrier about this, he said horses carry 80% of their weight on their front feet, and lots of people only shoe the front feet.

"OK," I said. "Unless you think he needs a shoe on that white foot when you look at it, let's do that."

Randy takes off the old shoe from one foot, trims the hoof, and puts the shoe back on. Cliff was busy, so I had to try and take pictures while holding Blue. This is an under-the-belly shot.

Notice, like all real cowboys, Randy wears Wranglers. I don't see how farriers keep from having constant backaches.
He places the shoe on a hard surface and pounds it with a hammer to get it to fit the hoof properly.

After taking the shoe off, he uses a rasp, or file, to smooth out the edges of the hoof; he uses it again on the outside of the hoof after nailing the shoe on.

Since we were leaving the back feet bare, all he had to do was clip off the extra part of the hooves where they had grown, and then file them smooth. This picture, by the way, is a front foot.

He's clinching the nails here.

80$ later, Blue is ready to be ridden. Seems a little pricey since only two shoes were put back on, but I'm not going to mess with a good farrier. Besides, how many people could stay bent over like that for so long?

Hopefully I won't have to call Randy back until mid-September, and then I'll probably leave the shoes off all around.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

You know it's a dull blog day when...

When you blog about going to the car wash with your husband, that's bad. And you've really desperate if you take pictures.

Cliff used to spend half his weekends washing vehicles; he was very picky about keeping them shining. If it meant going to the car wash twice a week, fine. It was important to him that his car or pickup present a good image of him. (I wish I had half his good-housekeeping skills.) Alas, with all his hobbies these days, the car can get pretty dirty before he gets around to cleaning it up.

So we got home with groceries and he said he was going to wash the car.

"I'm taking the camera and going along," I told him. "If Ree can do a whole entry about putting up big hay bales, I can do one about you washing the car."

He just shook his head.


First, of course, he needed quarters. Lots of them. Sorry about the off-brand jeans; if I'd been thinking, I'd have made him put on his sexy Wranglers for the pictures.

He's never used this car wash; it took three quarters to get the thing started.

It's a good thing Cliff took me along, because he gave me the job of putting two more quarters in when the buzzer sounded (he wouldn't have been able to hear it).

Unfortunately, the sign is a lie. No buzzer sounded. But being always on the alert, I noticed when the timer got down to one minute and shoved in the money quickly. Am I good, or what?


I love being so useful. What would Cliff ever do without me?

He was very thorough.


He took extra time on the tires and wheels. (Dang, I wish I'd made him wear his Wranglers!)


Time was spent on ALL the tires. There are four of them; count for yourself.

Finally, the rinse part. All told, we used eight quarters.

Don't even say what you're thinking. Read the preceding entry and you'll understand why I do things like this.

All right, I'll admit it: it would have been funnier if Ree had written it. That woman is a hoot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Crazy?

The grandson and I were having a conversation about a couple Cliff and I know, a long-married twosome having some domestic differences right now. I told him that actually, they've never seemed really happy together.

"Yeah, but the way Grandpa talks, isn't she sorta crazy?" Arick asked.

I paused for a bit, then answered, "Now I'd be a fine one to call anybody crazy, wouldn't I?"

He chuckled, and wisely said nothing.

But let's face it, how many retirement-aged women spend nights out in the pasture sleeping with a dog, in a one-room shed-turned-cabin, just to get away from people? Or get up before dawn to ride a horse, three or four times a week?

You know what they say about people who live in glass houses.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

MySpace

I think I originally set up a MySpace page out of old-lady-type nosiness (that must be a word, my spell- check didn't underline it). I'd heard my grandson laughing about some of the pages his friends had set up, and I wanted to read them for diversion, just for a laugh. In order to read the MySpace pages of others, you have to have a page of your own.

I did a search of our local high school and found some familiar young names and faces. Then my son mentioned he had a page, so I added him as a friend. My daughter needed an account to keep tabs on her teenage son: another friend. I discovered the son of a former next-door neighbor, a kid I babysat over thirty years ago. Time went by and I noticed, on his friend list, that his dad (owner of a local winery), sister, and finally his mom each had a page. Ah, more friends for me! They were all kind, and added me.

I mentioned on my AOL journal that I needed MySpace friends, and that garnered me a handful more.

Sometimes I'll get a friend request from some budding musician hoping to spread the word about his music. If I like their sound, I might add them for awhile. I've been propositioned a couple of times in my comment section, but that's no biggie... probably some spammer, because who propositions an old married lady on social security? I delete those.

Yesterday morning there was a friend request from a woman. I looked at her picture and profile, and she seemed harmless... a rather homely woman, perhaps in her 60's. Sure, she can be my friend, whoever she is.

She left comments that seemed quite friendly and innocuous a couple of times. About the fourth time she did this, I realized she was including a link below every comment. Hmmmm, what's this?

It was a link to a porn sight! I'd been tricked! Somebody was using my MySpace page to advertise porn. I removed her as a friend very quickly (I'm sure it wasn't really the homely woman in the picture).

Still, I'm enjoying MySpace. Lots of people have their pages set to private, so I can't always eavesdrop on what the local teens are discussing. (I told you I was nosy.)

I found a retired local teacher who taught during the school years of both my kids and two grandchildren. Requested to be his friend. It's been two days, and he hasn't added me. Oh, the heartbreak. He probably has no clue who I am, perhaps thinks I want to use his comment section to spread porn. (Please tell me that's it, and that he isn't refusing to add me as a friend because he doesn't like me.) Whew, he added me since I made this entry this morning; I feel so much more accepted now.

So you see how caught up I can get in some trivial thing. OK, I'm heading to MySpace now to see if I have any new friend requests.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Selfish me

I had no sooner finished with the previous entry when I saw a problem with my sentiments: It's all about me, me, me.

At my age, with eternity looking me right in the eye, I should be thinking, "My time is limited; what can I do to make the world a better place?" Or, "What can I do for my fellow man?"

Oh no, not me! I'm just concerned with having all the fun I possibly can before I die. Must be a result of being my mother's only birth-child, or the baby of the family.

Hmmm, I'll have to think on this awhile.

Added later: OK, I've pondered awhile. Nothing changed. Sorry.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

As I grow older...

Any intelligent adult knows he isn't going to be on this earth forever. And yet, most people under forty don't think about it often. And a young person doesn't have any idea how age can weaken a body, and slow it down. Who knew all those old people were right when they told us how much our bodies would hurt in later life? Finally, the jokes about going to sleep with Arthur (ritis) and waking up with Ben (Gay) make sense.

These last few years, especially in the fifteen months since Cliff's heart surgery, there's an urgency about life, a sense of do-what-you-can-while-you're-able.

My knees hurt terribly when I ride my horse for over an hour. This simply reminds me that I may not always be able to ride, and I ride all the more because of it. And dismount limping and wincing with pain.

Cliff used to be a stickler for keeping his vehicles, including riding mowers and tractors, spotlessly clean. Lately, not so much. The reason? Every time it's nice enough to wash vehicles, it's also good enough weather to ride the motorcycle. It's not uncommon for one of us to say to the other, "We won't be able to ride forever."

There are so many things that, if we're ever going to do them, need to be done now. When we're not limited by time or money, we're doing our best to get to them all.

I've spent three nights at the cabin this week. That's something I could do for several years yet, but we won't always be able to keep up with these 40 acres; and when the place goes, the cabin, of course, will go with it.

Cliff wants to spend all the time here on the place "while he can". I would like to travel a bit, while I can. This is one thing we can't seem to quite get together on. If I had worked all my life and saved money, I'd just go on those bus tours I've read about. Alas, they're priced out of my range. I'm still thinking on a workable solution. For instance, I can fly down and visit my snow-bird sister in Texas for a few days in winter. And I have a good friend near Washington, DC, who's given me a standing invitation to visit.

Meanwhile, there's always the horse and the motorcycle. I'll ride while I can!


Thanks to Midlife Mom for the two awards. I'm not so sure I'm deserving, but I'll take any accolades I can get.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The grandson, temporary resident here

Grandson Arick is twenty-one years old. He was sharing digs with another young bachelor for several months, until he returned home unexpectedly one night and found his girl friend in his roommate's arms. He would have stuck it out there anyhow... after all, living expenses are high, and at least they were splitting rent and utilities. But the ex-girl friend started stealing his stuff. I told him he could crash here until he got things together, if he'd chip in $25 a week toward the household expenses and not to expect me to cook for him in the evenings when Cliff's at work. I try to cook low-fat and healthy for Cliff and myself, and I didn't want to have to cook two separate meals all the time. He's welcome to buy any frozen stuff he wants and put it in the deep freeze. Or eat whatever he can scrounge out of the refrigerator and cupboards.

He does his own laundry (rather poorly, but that's not my problem) and he's very careful not to wake me if he comes in late.

He's of age, and I told him he doesn't have to tell me where he's going or when he'll be back.

It's working all right, so far. Some weekend nights he doesn't come home. This week, he didn't show up for two nights straight during the week. It seems he has a new love interest who was house-sitting in the city, and she was afraid to be alone there.

"That sounds convenient," I said.

"Oh, very convenient," he answered.

So I asked him, "Hey, are you moving out?"


"Not unless you're making me," he answered.

This current girl friend likes to cook for him; so he comes home from work, showers, and leaves; sometimes he comes back here to sleep, sometimes not. Hey, at this rate I'll keep his weekly room rent at $25. I had originally planned to double it the end of this month.

He does live on the edge... like the time he got his truck stuck, for instance. Or last Sunday, when he called to say he'd run out of gasoline less than a mile down the road. My husband deals with such incidents, and doesn't seem to mind. I'm learning not to think too much about it. If such antics don't bother Cliff, the guy who has to go help him, why should I care? There was one little thing that shook Cliff up a bit, but that turned out to be a false alarm.

So far, so good.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Things I don't discuss on my blogs

I try very hard not to air family laundry to the whole world. It's none of your business.

If I'm proud of my children and grandchildren, I'll share my pride. If I'm ashamed of them, you'll be the last to know. Dang it, I do wish I had perfect relatives. But if I did, none of them would claim me, with all my imperfections.


I won't discuss any problems and disagreements with my husband. Yes, we do have differences at times. I'll keep that between the two of us, thank you very much. Unless I can find some humor in the situation. I may, however, avail myself the opportunity to vent a bit in your comment section, where I'm not so likely to be read by those who know me. Yeah, I'm bad like that.


Life isn't perfect here; I hope I haven't led anyone to believe that it is. We live from paycheck to paycheck. That's nobody's fault but ours, by the way. Thank God we have good credit, because that's what has gotten us through so far.


If I can help family members out and it doesn't put us at risk in any way, I'm glad to do it.I won't tell the world about it; it's between us, and personal. My parents helped us many times; we were always honorable enough to pay them back. Still, I know there were times we drove them nuts with our devil-may-care attitudes.


Enjoy my horseback rides, my gardens, and my pride in my family. And trust me not to stab them in their backs online. Surely they'll do the same for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

morning rides

Thanks to the fact that the levee is being repaired, I can get close to the Missouri River once again.

Click to make this picture larger and you'll see a heron taking flight.

The dozer men have made big headway with their repair work.

Of course, I was much too early to find anybody operating the bulldozers.

I often wonder how farmers get their rows so straight.

It's pretty darned hot, even at 5 A.M., for a ride. But that's when I've been going because it doesn't get any cooler as the day wears on. Yesterday I rode later, and was sorry of it. The temperatures were already sweat-inducing.

On that ride yesterday, I met up with an older couple in their pickup near the levee, heading out of the bottoms.

Pulling over, Cordie rolled down her window and told me with a smile, "I'm trapping 'coons."

Turns out she's been trapping them in her garden and bringing them to the river bottoms to turn them loose.

"They're terrible this year. You have corn in your garden?" Raccoons are notorious for ruining sweet corn crops.

"No, but they're taking my ripe tomatoes right off the vine!"

"They need shooting," I told her.

"I know," she agreed, "but nobody will show me how to shoot the gun!"

So this morning I noticed, from a distance behind the levee, Cordie's pickup. I saw her get out and go to the back end of the bed, and I knew what she was doing. As she and her husband headed away, Blue and I saw a half-grown raccoon cross our path in the distance, heading rapidly toward the river.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm still among the living...

Missouri dog days have begun, with high temps in the 90's. When it's that hot, I don't do much to blog about; we don't have air conditioning, so I move around very little. I'm going to my cabin in the woods often, but not doing anything of note there.

When I do have some small thing to share, I tend to use my AOL journal first, simply because that's the one with the most readers, many of whom have shared my adventures for over three years.


I'm a grouch right now. Ennui rules me.

When I have more to say, I'll be back.

Oh, and if you think you're having a bad day, try reading THIS. It certainly gives me a different perspective.

Friday, July 13, 2007

going barefoot

I have loved going barefoot all my life. People have been amazed to see my barefoot tracks through snow a few times. Mud, cow manure, rocks... nothing stopped me, or really bothered me. Shoes were for wearing to Church, school, shopping, and so forth. The first thing I did when I walked in the door was slip off my shoes. Even as a youngster I was the source of many family jokes, because I refused to wear shoes.

Until a couple of years ago, that is, when I developed plantar fasciitis, known to some as heel spurs. Suddenly, going without shoes hurt like crazy, and I couldn't wait to put on my shoes with specially-made inserts in them. It was the only way to stay pain-free. Later on, both my big toes started hurting too, when I was shoe-less; and the inserts relieved that pain also.

I sure did miss the freedom of going barefoot in the cool grass.

Then this past spring, because it was muddy outside and I didn't want to get my shoes dirty, I went out barefoot. I was taking pictures with my digital camera and also playing with the dog, and after about forty-five minutes, I realized my feet didn't hurt anywhere. Until I came back inside the house, and then within five minutes I was washing my feet so I could hurry and put my shoes-with-inserts on.

I started experimenting, and this is what I've found: As long as I'm walking on grass or dirt, I can go barefoot all day if I choose. I've started leaving my shoes behind when my husband go for our daily walk in the pasture. No pain.

It's like a gift: I can go barefoot again where it really matters... outside.

I really don't understand why, but I'll take any gift I can get. Thank You, God!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

things seen on a horseback ride

I've been riding in the mornings lately to beat the heat. Yesterday turned off cool, so I was able to take an afternoon ride for a change, and actually see people awake and working down on the Missouri River bottoms. (Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

Dozers are fixing the levee where it blew out during the spring floods.


Almost home, I saw this vulture sitting near the road kill he'd found for his supper. He wasn't the least bit camera-shy. Everyone has been talking about the unusual number of raccoons this year; farmers are trapping and killing them like crazy, and the vultures are loving it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

A morning ride


I left shortly after 5 AM and rode to the Missouri River bottoms. My plan was to ride to the edge of the river and take some sunup pictures.

Clouds on the eastern horizon.

Cliff's brother used to have a double-wide mobile home down to the left of yonder tree. It was swept away in a flood and he relocated.

Blue is alert and looking at some turkeys.

I couldn't ride all the way to the river because of all this trash, carried here by the spring flooding. Farmers have been trying to burn the dead trees.

This train was facing east....

and this, facing west... on the same track!


Less than a mile home from here.

My neighbor, Dianne, was walking her dog. I stopped to say hello, then went on home.