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Archive for January, 2007

I was so excited to get my new little ram lamb, Walter! Oh, what a cutie he was. Most of my sheep are naturally colored, meaning anything but white. Which is nice, and I like it, but I’d been wanting white so I could do some fun dying. And Walter was white.

Walter was a young icelandic, and at the tender age of 6 months he knew exactly what he was there for. The girls insisted on a bit of courting first, though…they insisted on knowing him at least 24 hours before allowing him to do his studly thing with them. And once he’d made the rounds, everyone was content.

I had a ewe named Dolly who used to get out quite a bit, and Walter realized if he stuck close to her backside he could follow along in her tailwind. So before too long, instead of just Dolly out roaming my front yard, Walter was there, too. Walter, unlike Dolly, began to get irritated with the routine of getting loose only to be put back into the pasture. He began to object. When a ram objects, you’re in trouble, even a little ram. And this little ram had horns which were growing longer each day.

One day Walter and Dolly were out grazing near the barn, but of course on the outside of the fence, when I went out to feed. I went to get some hay to toss to the sheep on the inside when I noticed Walter staring at me. It wasn’t a pleasant stare; it wasn’t even a worried “Darn, she’s caught us again” stare. No, this stare was a challenge; a dare; a “Go ahead, make my day” glare that I was receiving. I had in my hand the top of the grain can, which was just downright lucky as Walter lifted himself up on his back feet, then did what I’ve only seen the sheep on National Geographic do…he tucked his chin down to his neck and thrust himself forward towards me!

That was that. I don’t need a mean, aggressive ram, especially one that’s just seven months old! New fencing was in order, and I made certain that all the girls had been bred. Then I called my friends at the slaughter house and made arrangements for Walter to go to freezer camp.

We’d never eaten our own sheep before that. City Boy wanted to see what pepperoni would be like, so we had that and sausage made. Darling found the whole thing rather amusing (warped child that she is) and called it Wausage and Walteroni. She’d offer her friends Walteroni when they’d come to visit, and since these weren’t kids raised on a farm (it is to a farm, City Boy!), they’d often gag, and we’d never see them again after that. I think it became a bit of a game to Darling, to see how many friends she could go through before running out of Walteroni.

City Boy decided we oughtn’t waste that lovely head of Walter’s, since he had such nice horns. He wanted to find someone to clean it up, but turns out it’s a do it yourself type job. So City Boy took Walter’s face out back and hung it in the trees by his horns. Yes, it was his face. The hide was still on that head, and the eyes were still in the skull. Disgusting, really. I don’t recommend this for the weak stomach crowd. In fact, I don’t recommend it at all.
Anyway, I wasn’t really sure exactly where Walter was, just that he was hanging from a tree. One morning I walked back there with the dogs, who were busy chasing a coyote. I heard a little noise behind me and, camera in hand, thought I’d turn to find the dogs and their little friend. Instead I came face to face with Walter! Yuk! His eyes had sunken back into their sockets, and the hide was still on his skull, but a bit mangy looking. Totally gross! Be thankful I was too freaked out to take a picture. City Boy was dismayed to learn that Walter wasn’t decomposing as quickly as he’d hoped, while I was left I wondering how many years I’d be stuck with the image of Walter’s head swinging from a branch in my mind.

Once I knew where Walter was, I was sure to avoid him when I walked out back. But that didn’t keep Walter from coming to me… One morning I got up after a huge windstorm and found one of the dogs with something in it’s mouth. I called her up to the door to see what she had; it was one of Walter’s horns! I ran out back to the tree to see the only thing left, the other horn still swinging from it’s rope. The skull was no where to be found.

And that’s all that remains of Walter…two horns, a host of bad memories and a couple packages of Walteroni!
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Or…
How to Use What You’ve Got To Get What You Want

I was born with it, really. That thing known to the horsey community as Horse Fever. It’s not something that can be shed, like the flu or a cold. There is no 12 step program (not that we want one!) It’s more like a disease that eats away at your very soul…
Like many others who deal with this delightful disease, I managed to find myself in a position of bargaining with my parents in order to get what I wanted; a four legged equine. I mention four legs only because up until the time I was eight, they thought I could be appeased with the type of pony that had a cotton stuffed head and stick body. But that was just not going to do any more. And so I developed a plan…

I was in third grade at the time, and I spent my days as a member of Horse Crazy Day Dreaming Girls Annonymous. Unfortunately, we weren’t so annonymous what with those little doodles on our papers of ponies instead of math problems. But then, that was all part of the plan. Fearful that their daughter would actually fail the third grade, my parents made me a deal. Pass, and we get you a horse of your own. A real, live, four legged, no cotton for brains horse! I spit in my hand and offered a handshake. They looked at me like I was from another planet and declined, saying their word was good enough. Okay, I’ll take it!

And then I passed the third grade. And then I got my pony.
His name was Prince, and he was anything but. He took advantage of me every chance he got. One thing that my parents hadn’t promised me was a saddle, so I learned really quick that a sweaty butt on a horse was actually a good thing as it worked like glue to keep you seated when your pony decided to make an unexpected left turn when you’d just asked him to go right. Or a hasty halt when you’d asked him to jump the ditch (trust me, one non-sweaty butt ride into a ditch full of water, and you make sure your butt’s sweaty next time!)

But as nasty as that little Prince was, he taught me to ride. And instead of growing out of HCDDGA, I become the president of our local chapter.

Enter City Boy. Not a cowboy. I’ve never figured out why or how I ended up with City Boy. He just sort of appeared out of nowhere. Well, not no where. He was my mother’s best friend’s youngest cousin. He came up on vacation one fall and just never went away. He learned to ride a horse so we could go riding together. He mucked out my stall while I was in school. He drove a cool truck. Oh, yeah…that was it…he drove a cool truck! A truck that could hitch up to a horse trailer…I remember it all so clearly now.

City Boy and I, shortly after becoming engaged.

I’m sure it was the truck that snagged me…

And we got married. And we had a cool truck and soon, a red horse trailer that matched the truck. And then City Boy said, “But you’ll outgrow it by the time you’re 25.” And I said, “Um…who told you that, City Boy?” And now my memory has grown a bit hazy again, but I don’t think it was the most pleasant conversation we ever had.

When I was 25, I gave birth to a son, and my horsey life was severely crippled. Not that I resented it. Not much, anyway. Geek Boy was marvelous, he really was. But he soon began to grow older, and he went to school, and while I was alone the old fever began to creep back into my body. I began to travel south to visit my dear friend, Linda, where I once again climbed into a saddle and started riding. Oh, it felt so good! Yes, there was a twinge of acheyness to begin with, but my muscle memory was excellent, and it wasn’t more than a couple days before I was back in the swing of things.

The adorable little Geek Boy and me (far thinner than today!)

I started daydreaming about buying a new horse. There was a lovely, coppery colored mare there for training; they’d had me riding her and keeping her legged up. She was nice, and I wanted her. I went and rode three or four times a week for about two weeks, and then something strange happened. I was sore while I rode. My breasts hurt while trotting. Now, this may be normal for some women, but it had never happened to me! And then…well…I was late. And pregnant! Again…

Okay, so the emphasis on the again part, when it was only my second child, may seem like overkill. But we’d tried for over a year with no luck at a second pregnancy, so I’d given up. My head and heart had switched gears. If I can’t have a baby, I ought to have a horse. And, as experience had taught me, you can sell a horse when you get tired of it. Not so a child. But there it was…no denying it. I was having another baby, and another horse was slipping from my fingers. I think City Boy had something to do with it…

So there I was, raising two children with nearly an 8 year split. Geek Boy wasn’t terribly interested in horses, and Darling was still a toddler. I’d been horseless for far too long. City Boy had been happy for far too long. Far, far too long. But then something amazing happened. Darling saw a horsey. Darling liked the horsey. Darling’s daddy was wrapped tightly around Darling’s little finger…

Darling riding the neighbor’s horse, Boon. What daddy could resist?

And on an occasion such as this, all Desperate Horsewives find themselves re-developing the plan. Because the man in their life is no longer wrapped around their little finger, but the finger of their little girl, we find ourselves involving those little darlings in our schemes. And we’re successful, too, because no matter if he’s a City Boy or Cowboy, he just can’t stand to see his little girl cry.
And that, my dear friends, is what happens when you’re a clever and Desperate Horsewife!

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Nameless No More

Darling has finally decided on a name for Nameless…or formerly nameless, now that she’s got a name. We liked the idea of having a ‘storm’ theme. So here she is…
Sun Storm!

I’m waiting on the paperwork to get here. Supposedly it’s on it’s way. By the weekend, with a little luck, Sunny will be home where she can become adjusted to her new home. This will be her third home in just over a month! Poor girl. Quite the adjustment for any animal, really, let alone one that’s still wild at heart. More than at heart, really, as we still can’t catch her.

I’ve begun a new blog; one that highlights our adopting both Quiet Storm and Sun Storm. Not that I won’t post here about my lovely ladies, but more detailed accounts on trainging and day to day mustang life can be found at http://mustangdiaries.blogspot.com/

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Okay, I didn’t say back on my farm, did I?

With no hay barn here, and just one small Ford Ranger for hauling, I don’t tend to stock up on much hay at a time. Thankfully my friend Brigget doesn’t mind selling it to me straight from her barn as I need it. Half the price, too, of what I’d pay at the feed stores. I’m not one who’s fond of heights, nor ladders that climb up to high places, so the fact that the hay is up in the barn loft isn’t something I’m all together fond of. For some reason, this granddaughter of a dairy farmer never did master climbing the ladder up to the hay…at least not when the ladder was alongside the hay mow door. So to help overcome this small issue, I’ve begun moving the ladder from alongside the door, to smack dab in the middle of the doorway. Then I climb the ladder and toss down my bales. Since I can’t fit more than 8 bales into my truck at a time, and I feed a bale a day, I tend to spend a lot of time at Brigget’s during the winter!

Brigget, I think I’ve mentioned, raises icelandic sheep. I love photographing them! Here she is feeding them this past summer. These sheep get magnificent fleeces on them. It’s a double coat which grows a soft as can be undercoat known as thel, and a coarser, longer outer coat called tog. The babies only have the soft thel, as the tog doesn’t come in until their first winter. Their fleece grows so much in a year that they get shorn twice; once in the spring prior to lambing, and once in the fall before the cold winter sets in. The fall fleece is the highly sought after fleece as it tends to be free of the typical winter debris. Below are two of her lambs from last spring. Yes, that spotted sheep is just a lamb, and a ewe at that! Icelandic ewes can grow horns just like the rams, and they grow them fast, too!

Since we were in the area, we decided to stop at Hovander Homestead Park. I say we, but really it was just me. Darling was riding shotgun, but wasn’t too keen on my detour as it was quite chilly and she hadn’t worn a ‘walk about’ coat. But she did hop out of the truck with me as I snapped a few shots of the barn and some of the inhabitants of the farm.

Quite some years back, the park employees showed up for work in the morning and found a few peacocks had been added to their menagerie. They didn’t mind. Before long, a few more were added. Still, it’s a big park, and people like peacocks. Today, Darling and I counted 9 adults hanging out near the barn. Who knows how many are really out there. Sometimes you’ll find them on top of that big red barn! There are both the traditional blue shouldered peacocks, and there are white ones, and then there are some with stripes and speckles. I suppose the proper term is peafowl, as only the boys are peacocks, and the girls peahens. But I figure you know what I mean (don’t you?) During the summer there are always little peafowl…peachicks?…running about. The park is open year round for visitors, with a great number of resident fowl there during all four seasons. Spring brings lambs, horses, pigs and cattle to the old farm as well. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, it’s a terrific place for a picnic or feed the animals with your kids.

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Waterville

Monument in Waterville

“Watervillewatervillewaterville!” The squealing, clapping, and jumping of my teenage Darling was beginning to drive me nuts. Why Waterville? There’s nothing there but wheat farms, a cemetery and a creepy old hotel… And did I mention it was creepy? And there was nothing there?

Last May, Darling, Jen (a friend of mine) and I made the trip across the Cascades to Spokane where we attended Ride The West Horse and Ranch Expo. Of course, Darling and I had an ulterior motive; the BLM had their wild horses there that weekend, and we wanted to be part of that. So at 5 am, Jen pulled into our driveway, I hauled Darling out of bed (“No, no, don’t make me get up! It’s not noon yet!” I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard from beneath the pillow.)
We travelled down I-5, then took highway 2 through Monroe and on through Wenatchee. It’s a long drive, but we’d gotten an early start. The day was quite lovely, really; blue sky and sunshine. Jen’s not a speed demon of a driver, which I was thankful for, as it gave me plenty of opportunity to get out of the car and take pictures along the way. We are also members of the weak bladder club, so frequent stops even without the camera were welcome!

Abandoned school house

Past Wenatchee is the little Bavarian town of Leavenworth. Accordion music can be heard from one end of the town to the other, and it’s not uncommon to see people doing funny dances in lederhosen. Once down out of America’s version of the alps, you hit the vast, rolling wheat fields of Eastern Washington. To those of us on the western side, it’s such a fascinating site, to be able to see for miles and miles without your view being blocked by trees or mountains.

Looking out over farmland from the Waterville Cemetary

As highway 2 wound through the hills, Jen and I found ourselves in need of one of our bladder stops. About that time, the highway made a couple of sharp turns, and we found ourselves in the town of Waterville. Being that our bladders were so full we were nearly crying, we felt it in our best interest to stop. We ignored the tingles in our spines and the hair standing on end as we rushed for the only public rest room in town, which was a cinder building in the middle of a small park smack in the middle of town.

Jen ran on ahead as I waited for Darling to get her shoes on. She was already exiting the building as Darling an I walked in. She didn’t say a word…so we had no idea what we’d be walking into…
I don’t really even know that I can describe it well; I should have taken a picture, but didn’t. I mean, who thinks to take a picture of rest rooms in city parks? But I should have. Like I said, it was a block building, or some sort of concrete, at least. Cold. There was a wide entrance in the front, with the men’s room to the left and ladies to the right. The entrance had a huge, black, wrought iron gate with an enormous padlock, which luckily was open so we could get in. Darling and I stepped inside to find a couple of stalls…without doors! Confused, I asked her to check and see if we were indeed in the ladies room. Yes, we were. I looked for where there had been hinges, thinking that for some odd reason maybe they’d been taken off by vandals. Nope…not a mark to show that there had ever been a door! Now I ask you, is that strange, or is that strange? Or perhaps even downright creepy. I had Darling guard the outer door as I emptied my bladder, then told her I’d guard for her. Darling, however, has a bladder made of steel and said she could wait until tomorrow if that’s what it took; she was not going to use a doorless public bathroom, mother guarding the door or not!
Once out, I asked Jen why she hadn’t said anything. “Well, I figured we had to go, and it was the only option…but yeah, it’s kinda wierd.” We were back on the road in no time, but Darling, for some odd reason, couldn’t get Waterville out of her mind.

Douglas County Courthouse

On our way home a few days later, Darling asked if we could stop once again in Waterville. Since we had the time, and our bladders had been emptied prior to reaching the town, we said sure. We got out and explored the couple of blocks that made up the ‘city center’; approximately half the storefronts were empty with for sale or rent signs in their windows. The city park, aside from having doorless bathrooms, also had a large map showing local places of interest. Places such as the county courthouse and the local cemetary. I suppose this is in case you die there, your loved ones will know where to bury you and where to get the death certificate. I’m guessing the locals would die from boredom…as there really doesn’t appear to be much to do in Waterville. For visitors, it’s likely death by fright after visiting the doorless restroom and having a stranger walk in on you (I think if you live here, someone walking in wouldn’t be a stranger as there aren’t enough people in this town for you not to know everyone.)

Or perhaps you’d die at the local hotel. Now that place is just creepy. Bates-like creepy. I have no desire to spend the night there. One look at the place and I conjured up all sorts of spooky scenarios which involved axes and dolls heads and blood in showers. Well, take a look and tell me you don’t get the same feeling! The sign says Vacancy…I wonder why? Good golly, there’s a skull over the door! Creepy. Just plain creepy.

And this is where Darling tells me she wants to live. Well, not in the hotel (I don’t think! I hope not!) But she wants to live in Waterville. Darling and my red shoes….

Creepy!

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Tagged…

I’ve been seeing people with this posted, and wondered what the heck it was all about. Finally, someone’s blog stated what really was obvious…if you read a tagged blog, you must play along with your own. So here it is, and if you’ve got a blog and have yet to play the game, Tag, you’re it!

Ten things you likely didn’t know about me:

1) I’ve got curly hair.

2) I’ve got just a wee bit of Ojibwe, or Chippewa, Indian in my blood (I think it’s just a little finger, and possibly a toe…but maybe not the toe because I don’t know any dances, or at least I don’t think so…I’ve never really tried!)

3) My favorite comfort food is SpaggettiO’s. No kidding! I love them. City Boy always says he can tell when I’m sick because the SpaggettiO’s are out.

4) I grew up in this town. Never moved away.

5) I think my daughter is darling. Wait…you knew that. Okay, I think Darling is funny. Don’t tell her, but she makes me laugh.

6) My parents own a home one mile down the road, but spend more time in Arizona than here.

7) When I call myself a cowgirl, I mean it! My grandparents were dairy farmers, and I learned to ride on a cow before I ever had a horse.

8) I’ve got three dogs.

9) Forget diamonds, chocolate is my best friend!

And finally…

10) I milk sheep, do ewe???

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Have you ever gotten out of bed and thought that the day is just too beautiful? That’s what it was like here in the valley this morning. Sure, it was cold and there was frost on the ground…but, oh! It was bright and clear and just so darned pretty.

My neighbors are out of town for a couple of weeks, and they call on me to feed when ever they’re gone. With the morning so bright and lovely, I just had to pack along my camera! Here are their two girls out frolicking in the trees. Well, perhaps frolicking isn’t the correct term. Protesting that I wasn’t there at day break, and that I had the nerve to taunt them and make them prance about for a photo shoot instead of feeding them is more like it!

Remember my posting about Pepper? Well, his mamma was over on this side of the state this weekend, so I drove down to meet her for lunch. After that, I headed off to see the nameless filly (who’s paperwork from the BLM is nearly complete!) Silly girl had managed to get her halter off last night, so Steve had to haul out his lariat and rope her! I think he was concerned that it would all be too traumatic for her (um…or me…), but it wasn’t. Not for either one of us.

So Nameless once again has her halter on her.

And that’s about it. I made a frozen pizza for myself for dinner as Darling said she didn’t really want anything (she’ll likely make herself some frozen mac and cheese later), and the Boys are both working. If I could figure out how to work the TV, I’d watch something…but since I can’t, I guess I’ll just go take a bath…

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