Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Keep on, keeping on

The dogs and I have been keeping up with our walking activity on most days.  How exciting...not.  But, I have noticed that my legs seem to be more conditioned, which is encouraging.  Out of 7 days last week, we walked only 3 days because we had a fair amount of rain, and I do have to look somewhat presentable at work.  The trails are quite muddy in the park now, so our walking is limited to the pathways that have wood chips or on the sidewalks and roadways.  Technically, the park is still closed for winter so that works in our favor because there's no traffic to contend with.  The dogs are loving it!  I enjoy it too, but would certainly look forward to my walks more if I had someone to walk with.  The dogs aren't much for idle chit-chat.

Last weekend, our son Justin was here from Nez Perce, Idaho.  He has a buyer for the Porsche that we've been storing for him, so bye-bye car and hello camper.  Justin brought down an old camper for his dad to fix up.  It's the strangest thing.  It's really more of a 1/3 camper, as it's only about 4 feet long and fits inside the pick-up box with about a 6-8" hangover on each side.  It has 2 seats and a little table in the center and windows on each side, and a full-sized door in the back.  There's a slider window in the front that matches up with the slider window in our truck.  You can remove the table and it converts to a single-wide bed.  We're thinking to use it as a dog-hauling camper.  :)  Cool!!  I'm sure the dogs won't agree, but they'll get used to it.  They are just too big to be in the cab with us when we go on trips or whatever.  Annie sprawls all over between us and poor Ruby ends up on the floor, or sitting atop of Annie.  Just a little too cozy for our comfort!  So after hubby replaces some of the wood, which has dry rot, we'll make good use of it.

My friend Claudia delivered our second order of fresh produce from Bountiful Baskets.  You don't have to order, but if you want the produce, it's available every other week.  We did pretty well with the last delivery, eating up almost everything that we got.  Except for the two sweet potatoes and a few remaining apples, everything is gone.  We ate the spinach a couple of nights ago, and oh my!!!  It was heavenly!!!  I'm going to be preparing fresh spinach a lot more often...delicious!  I rinsed the leaves, removed the large stems and cooked it in a frying pan with about 1/2" water, a pat of butter and about a teaspoon of minced garlic. I didn't even add any salt or pepper and it was just too good to be true!!

Here's this weeks' bounty of goods.  There's a 5 lb. bag of baby Yukon Gold potatoes, 2 large pieces of broccoli, 2 bunches of lettuce, some Fuji apples, oranges, lemons, limes, blood oranges, 2 papayas, a piece of ginger, a coconut, 2 pineapples, 2 vanilla beans, carrots, leaks, bananas and some fresh mint.  I think that's about everything.  Whew!  I love having all this fresh produce to pick from.  :)  I'd never seen purple or yellow carrots before, but they taste the same as the orange ones.  Who knew?  I think I'll try making chips or mashed potatoes out of the sweet potatoes.  They are not favorites of mine, or my hubby, but we'll eat them so they don't go to waste.  And, they're really good for you.

Here's one of our dinners from last week.  Steamed green beans, spaghetti squash with a little butter, salt & pepper and a hamburger.  Oh my, the spaghetti squash was delicious!!  I'll definitely be buying that more often.  And so easy to prepare.  Just cut in half (this is the hardest part) and lay face down in a shallow pan with some water.  Bake for about 30ish minutes or until you can easily scrape the squash out with a fork.  So good!  Oh, and don't forget to remove the seeds.  Silly me, forgot that part!  :)

We had a very quiet weekend.  We took our little horse trailer down to the local car wash and pressure washed the mold and dirt off of it, and washed our truck too.  Amazing how much better everything looks when they're clean!  We stopped at the local feed store and bought a few bags of Purina Senior for the horses and then stopped at the grocery store on the way home for some milk and some bread.  I love how there's so much less shopping to do when fresh produce abounds.  Justin took us out to dinner to our little Mexican restaurant in town, and it was delicious.  My hubby ordered his usual Taco Salad Cazuela and JP and I ordered veggie burritos.  My favorite!!  They grill all kinds of fresh veggies, add some rice and beans and roll up in a giant tortilla, add some burrito sauce and top with sour cream and guacamole.  So good!!
Good grief, all I'm doing is talking about food.  Sorry...told you it was a quiet weekend.  :)

I haven't yet ridden little miss Sugar, but I want to.  I think our weather's supposed to clear up a bit, so maybe I'll get a chance this week.  I hope so!  It sure doesn't take much rain to muck everything up again.  We're still doctoring Harley's eye.  He has a corneal abrasion in his left eye, which formerly was his best eye.  Now, with this most recent injury, he's seeing pretty much nothing.  I feel so sorry for him.  It's actually been much worse since my boss came out and debrided his eye.  I'm not sure if that made it more sore, or if the eyeball itself suffered more damage when the abrasion was being scraped.  All I know is that we've been faithfully putting the medicine in his eye morning and night, and he's been on Banamine twice a day for pretty much 2-1/2 weeks now.  Without the banamine, the eye still swells dramatically, so I'm still giving it to him.  I can tell that it's still painful because he's always squinting and the eye tears all the time.  I don't know what else to do.  We keep his fly mask on if it's even a little bit sunny out, not sure if that helps or not.  I've had to put the bell on Kadie again, because poor Harley totally freaks out if he doesn't know where she is at all times.  It just breaks my heart to see him upset and uncomfortable.  I hate to think what he's going to be like when something happens to my sweet, old girl.  I can't even bear to think about that.  Harley's my baby.  He was born into my arms and he's just the most sweet-natured horse ever.  Shouldn't have happened to him.  I just hate it!  But there's not a damn thing that I can do about it.  I pray all the time for healing and recovery, but for whatever reason, my prayers are not answered where Harley is concerned.  Faith isn't always an easy thing.  And especially when someone we love is hurting.  Sure wish I understood why...not that it matters.  It is, what it is.

This is a picture of my sweet Harley peaking above his beautiful momma's neck.  He still had his sight then, and we had no idea what was looming in his future.  His mom had bum luck in her life too.  She had laminitis or chronic founder.  We were never able to figure out why because all tests came back negative, she had never over eaten any grain, or spring grasses, wasn't overweight, none of the usual suspect things.  She never had retained placenta either.  The only thing we could theorize was a cause, were hormonal changes that occurred each spring when she began having heat cycles.  We tried for years to keep her sound, but eventually had to let her go.  She was a perfect horse with unsound feet.  She was an angel and I still miss her to this day.  I still feel blessed to have loved and cared for her though.  And she loved her boy, more than anything, she loved Harley.  They were quite the pair.  He looks very much like her.  Dear, sweet Scooter.  Her registered name was Mis Star of David and she had an impressive pedigree in the ApHC with several famous horses in her lineage.  We got her because she was built like a tank and had the most beautiful coloring that I'd ever seen...she was my dream horse.  I rode her only a handful of times, and then sweet Scooter gave birth to a little Harley.  I was right there when he was born, and I'll remember it always.  Incredible, awe-inspiring miracle of birth.  I'd never even seen a puppy or a kitten being born before that.  I was all alone that morning, and I was terrified and so very excited.  I stayed with Scooty the whole time, petting and talking softly to her, and then when the foal was halfway out, she took a break.  I cut the sack from Harley's nose and he looked into my eyes and blinked several times.  I was in love!  We'd planned on selling the foal, but there was no way!  When Scooter was rested, she finished her job.  True to his nature, Harley layed there nickering and looking around for almost 2 hours before he even thought about getting up. When he was ready, he got up and nurses.  He still prefers sleeping in to waking up early, even now.  That's my boy!  He's relaxed and always takes time to smell the roses.  :)

Blessings everyone,
Lorie @ Cingspots

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Love is in the air

Maybe you think I'm still in Valentine's mode?  Nope, it's not me!  It's Ladde!!  He's in love!!  I mean he's in LOVE...with Sugar!!  That horse.  He is something else.  He's always been a lady's man, er lady's horse, ever since he was a small fry.  The clinic I started him in years ago, when he was but 3 years old was made so much more difficult because of a certain little Paint filly that he thought was "his".  It's been the same way throughout his life; wherever we go, he loves the mares.  Now when I say he loves the mares, I mean that he seduces the mares.  He nickers deep and low in his throat, he nibbles at their neck, he rubs his lips down their neck and onto their shoulders...he licks their lips; and when they're like butter in his hooves, he draws them into his chest with his head and neck.  Whew!  Is it getting warm in here?  :)  And I've never seen a mare yet who can resist his charms.  Nope, not even one!  If mares could bat their eyelashes and swoon, I do believe they would.  I'm starting to think I should have named him Valentino, or maybe Don Juan!

Docs Windy Night aka "Sugar"
Saturday afternoon, Sugar arrived.  Within about 10 minutes time, Ladde was getting acquainted and it had been determined that she was his.  Sugar was oh, so willing...and in heat.  No squealing, no striking and no kicking.  She was like butter in his hands.  It was a little sickening to watch.  The poor thing didn't stand a chance.  And that first night in the barn?  We had to switch Ladde and Harley, so that Ladde was next to Sugar.  Seriously, there was gonna be no peace in the barn if we didn't give in.  He had poor Harley so upset that he was screaming, sweating and almost unmanageable.  Within about 2 minutes or less after the switch, everyone was quiet.  Quietly munching their hay, and Ladde kept walking over and looking in on his little woman.  Sugar would stand close enough so that they could touch noses...pathetic, really!  The very next day, they were turned out together because Ladde kept getting into disagreements with anyone who dared approach the fence.  Sheesh!

Sugar and the boys
Since that first afternoon together, we have put Ladde back out with the herd, and Sugar is in the corral by herself.  Whenever she dared go near the fence and attempt to check out anyone else, Ladde promptly herded her away from the fence.  Sugar doesn't particularly enjoy being herded (and rightly so), so Mr. Bossy Britches was removed from the scene.  Poor girl deserves some peace and a little free will.  Males!!!
Anyway, she seems to be a genuine sweetheart, and is very relaxed, quiet and respectful to handle.  I think I'm really going to enjoy her personality.  I haven't ridden her yet, we're giving her some time to get to know us and settle in.  She seems to have pretty much figured everything out though.  Smart girl!  I'd say she was maybe 15.1, not 15.2 like Sheila said.  She seems tiny to me, compared to Ladde, Eagle and even Harley.  I think she's a little taller than Kadie, who's 15 hands on the nose, but she's got a bigger build than Kadie.  Nice size, actually.

I have noticed that she favors her RF especially when making turns, but it doesn't seem to slow her down any.  My boss and I reviewed her x-rays from OSU and their notes regarding the lameness exam, which was done last May.  She definitely has bone degeneration in the RF, and even a little flattening of the navicular bone in the LF.  We'll have to keep her toes short, wide web shoes with her heels elevated a bit, and maybe give her some Bute when I ride her, but Rick says that trail riding won't cause her anymore harm.  I might even do some checking into the current prices of the drug Tildren.  It's not FDA approved here in the states, but we've used it several times on other horses before, and it's quite beneficial in helping bone regeneration.  But, since you have to get prior approval from the FDA, jump through the hoops for customs, pay all their fees, do skads of paperwork and pay for the drug itself, it's not what you'd call cheap.  If given as a profusion into the feet themselves, you can use 1 vial per foot, which is not the best use of the drug.  However, if given IV for systemic treatment, you have to use an entire 10 vials, but it works much better overall.  Along with that, the cost goes up exponentially.  We'll see...I sure wish everything in life wasn't dependent so much on money.  But, that's reality I guess.  And it's not like we didn't know what we were getting into.

Time for a little nap

Our weekend was over in a flash.  We bought some replacement 2 x 6's for the corral to ensure it was safe. We removed an extra gate and replaced it with boards, and straightened and reinforced some of the posts.  We spent almost all of our time outside with the horses, brushing and just getting acquainted with Sugar.  She is friendly, curious and pretty easy to be around.  Nice mare.  I had a nice work session with Eagle Sunday afternoon.  I wanted to ride him again, but after playing "chase the horses" for easily 30 minutes, my time set aside for horse activities was definitely shortened.  Little buggar just didn't want to be caught that day.  We had to catch Harley (blind horse) and remove him from the herd for his safety, and ours, and then Ladde so Harley wouldn't be upset in the round pen alone, then when we had them narrowed down to 3, we cornered them in one of the outside shelters.  Good grief, you'd think I worked his butt off every time I caught him, instead of grooming and easy work!  Gaa!  Anyway, he was a bit goosey after all the running, bucking and out-maneuvering he'd just done, so our session was short and sweet.  In the end, it was a good time.  But, I was tired, still had to fix dinner, bring the horses inside, feed them and get cleaned up for a little downtime before going to bed and heading back to work the next morning.  No rest for the wicked indeed!!!  :)

Pretty neighboring ponies and evening skies

Neighbor horses

Sweet Kadie 

Shad being a stall potato

Our pretty Doves

Eagle, the brat boy after the shenanigans

At least Eagle is photogenic.  :)

Our weather was lovely, even if cooler for the entire weekend.  We've had such an overall mild winter, it's really been quite nice.  Certainly nothing to complain about!  I'm sorry this is such a long post, and so many pictures, but I have trouble choosing.  The dogs and I continue to walk at lunch time in the park, we're eating lots more fresh fruits and veggies each day, and I'm trying to drink more water.  I'm going to get some green tea and see if that's easier to drink like Jenn advised.  Water is so boring!  One of these days before long, I'm going to buy a bathroom scale and do the dirty deed.  I hate to think about getting on the scale, but have to keep reminding myself that's it's just a way for me to keep track of my progress (hopefully), but what really matters to me is overall shrinkage, building muscle and strength, and feeling more energetic and dare I say it???  becoming more graceful.  *flutters eyes*  Yes, I know...but I'm determined to try.

Stop laughing!!

Until next time, Lorie
@ Cingspots

Friday, February 15, 2013

It really is a wonderful life!

I am just so happy that I really can't believe it.  Everywhere I go, all the blogs I follow, there is just so much joy and so much gratitude everywhere!!  Is it because of Valentine's Day, or are people just acknowledging their blessings more and more?  I'm not sure what it is...but I am feeling the love and the sense of happiness everywhere I go, especially today.

Last night my dear hubbs and I went to a small Italian restaurant in our town and had a magnificent Mama Mia pizza.  The meal was delicious and the company was perfect.  We had a cozy dinner for two, then headed home, relaxed a while and went to bed fairly early.  I was a bit wound up the previous night to sleep very well, but last night, I slept soundly and woke up feeling happy and refreshed.  I am feeling blessed indeed.  :)

And our weather is simply spectacular today!  Beautiful, clear, blue skies and sunshine.  It's so warm and absolutely feels like a spring day rather than winter.  I'm loving it!  I had a couple of errands to run at lunch time, but finished them quickly so the dogs and I could do a quick lap around the park trail.  Was so warm, I considered removing my vest.  And sweet Annie chased so many squirrels that now she's a bit of a gimpy girl this afternoon.  She's a spring chicken no more, and neither's her momma!  But we've been walking four out of 5 days this week.  Not doing quite so well at the water drinking, but I am drinking more than I used to.  I have to remind myself to drink water, just haven't really felt thirsty.  Gah!  I'll keep at it, and hopefully it will become habit.  We've been doing fairly well and eating our fresh fruits and veggies too.  Last night was special, and doesn't count!  Otherwise, we've been doing pretty well.  I still have a lot more healthy inclusions to put into practice, but little by little I'm trying to incorporate more healthy options that will soon (hopefully) become habitual.  Baby steps...

Spring truly is just around the corner, and with the longer days and warmer temps, the easier it will be to remain active longer into the evening hours.  And you know what that means?  Yep!  I'm going to start trying to get some evening riding into my daily schedule!!  So excited about that, especially with our new girl arriving tomorrow afternoon.  We're going to a different church tomorrow so we can get our worship service earlier in the morning and be home by early afternoon to welcome Sugar to her new home.  I can't wait!!

These days where everything feels so right are truly blessings.  You know those days where everything just falls into place and you really feel, deep in your heart, that you are exactly where you are meant to be?  That God truly loves us and absolutely is in control and works hard to ensure that our paths are made straight and true?  Yes.  Like that.  I am so thankful for all the blessings in my life.  I'm very thankful to have a loving and generous husband who really is my best friend, my partner and my sounding board in all things.  I'm thankful for our humble little home, and our little farm, and all our dear, sweet animals that look to us for their needs and creature comforts.  All this and more, I am deeply thankful for.

And for the beautiful bird song in the mornings and the frogs that I hear croaking after nightfall.  These little things that we can oh, so easily take for granted...I am truly grateful.

Resting in assurance...blessings everyone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A very special Valentine's Day

A special kind of Sugar is coming into our lives this Valentine's Day.  Not the usual kind that causes tooth decay, or the rising of glucose levels, or even of the chocolate variety...

Although that kind of sugar is nice.  This is the best Valentine's Day that I've ever been gifted with.  Yep.  Ever.  :)  I am feeling profoundly blessed today.

I'm feeling like God is smiling upon us today...

We are getting a new family member.  Her name is Sugar.  I know, I know.  We don't need any more horses.  Trust me, I've questioned my sanity more than once.  I've wondered just what are we thinking by taking on another horse to care for, to feed, to provide for, to clean up after?  More hay to buy, more vaccines to purchase.  The list goes on and on and on.  I know.  Horses are expensive.  Horses are a lot of work.  We already have 5.  And yes, there are only 2 of us.  And we don't get to ride all that often...there's nothing that anyone could say that we haven't mulled over in our minds already.

But we have a spare stall.  We have more than enough love to go around.  And Sugar needs a new home.  Her owners are moving across the country and are leaving next Wednesday.  The house is sold, the belongings are already shipped, the horse trailer has been sold.  Sheila has been trying and trying to sell her horses.  She's tried giving her horses away.  But she wants them to go to good homes.  Homes where they'll be cared for and loved.  Not used and abused, unfed and unloved, only to end up in rescues.  She was at her wits' end when I received her tearful call.  She was calling to speak to the doctor about euthanasia.  But she was reaching out to try and get help.  One last hopeful chance at relocating her beloved horses.

Yesterday, she called me again.  She said that a friend of hers that was also a member of the riding club she belongs to would take the younger of the 2 horses.  Sugar, the 18 year old registered Quarter horse who has been trained to work with cattle and has been used extensively for trail riding.  But her friend wanted to pick Sugar up for a trial with her "trainer".  I felt the familiar flutter in my stomach.  That feeling of dread that often comes when the word trainer comes up.  I've not got a lot of respect for so many of the people that call themselves "trainers".  Sheila told me that her friend was hoping to find a back-up horse for her to use in cattle sorting, but that she wanted her trainer to ride her first and see if she passed muster.  Those were her words, not mine.  I wanted to caution Sheila, but felt it wasn't my place.  I felt some disappointment because I had told Sheila that my husband and I would be willing to take her if she was unable to find another good home.  My husband and I had prayerfully made the decision together.  We decided to leave it up to God, and if He wanted Sugar to be with us, then He would make it happen.  So, I accepted Sheila's decision and hoped that it was a good one.

Just before I was to leave the clinic last night, I received another tearful phone call from Sheila.  She was heartbroken and said that her "friend" and the "trainer" had ridden Sugar so hard that they had lamed her.  They said she was limping on her RF foot.  They said that she would walk it off, but every time they did hard rollbacks to the right, she would limp afterwards.  Sheila had cautioned her friend when she came to pick Sugar up for the trial ride that she was an 18 year old mare, who never needed spurring, or riding hard to sort cattle.  She told her, just sit deep, leave your reins alone and let Sugar do her job.  Be gentle and quiet with her and she'll take care of you.  And remember, she's out of shape and hasn't been ridden since last summer, and that right front foot has been diagnosed with navicular, but she hasn't had any signs of lameness in several years now.  She trusted that her friend would be respectful of both her, and her horse.  She was apparently wrong about that.

Anyway, to make a fairly long story shorter.  Sheila said that stepping out of the trailer, Sugar was covered in dried sweat, saddle marks and looked very tired.  They had ridden her very hard, but she was showing no signs of lameness.  She brushed her down, rubbed her with liniment and put her up for the night.  She said that if we would be willing to take her, she would deliver her to us this weekend, write us a check for $500 to help cover her hay expenses, and give us everything she had that belonged to Sugar, including her medical records and x-rays from Oregon State University where the original diagnosis of navicular was made.  I made a phone call to my husband, and he said, "tell her we'll take her".  I love my husband's sweet, and so very generous heart!!!  What more could I ask?  He told me, "tomorrow I'll start getting her stall ready for her".  :)

We just might be taking on a lame horse, not just an additional one.  But, I work for an equine veterinarian who specializes in lameness.  I might be able to get her help if she needs it, easier than someone else.  I might have to put that money towards something other than hay for now.  We'll see.  But we're going to do the best we can by her.

And I thought of something else, maybe an additional blessing in this whole thing.  Many of you may or may not realize that my confidence has taken quite a blow the last several years.  My horsemanship and riding have suffered because of fears I've developed that I never used to have.  My riding has been almost non-existent for the last 2 years, and I worry about never getting my confidence back.

Maybe, just maybe...Sugar will be the horse that I need to help me rebuild my confidence.  Sheila says she knows that Sugar will take good care of me.  If I can rebuild my confidence, that will carry over into my work with Eagle.  Eagle is a horse with many fear/trust issues and needs a lot of work, but more than anything else, he needs a relaxed and confident rider to show him the leadership he so desires.  I know that's the key to success with Eagle.  He will be an amazing horse with a confident rider aboard.  I know that.

God really does work in mysterious ways...and I'm just gonna roll with that.  :)

Oh, and Tootsie, the other mare?  Sheila called me last night and said she's delivering her to her new home this weekend too.  Tootsie's being adopted by a loving grandmother, for her granddaughter, who's wanted a horse of her own forever.  She's finally old enough to join 4-H and she's getting a horse of her very own.  Only she doesn't yet know it.  How cool is that?  Sheila says Tootsie loves children and will be perfect for this little girl.  Apparently Tootsie used to be the lead mare at Skamania Lodge in their trail riding program, and before that was a State Champion showmanship horse.  God does indeed, work in mysterious ways.

Four days ago, Sheila was contemplating euthanasia for her 2 beloved horses.  This weekend, they're both embarking on a brand new beginning in their lives...

All smiles and feeling blessed this Valentine's Day,
Lorie @ Cingspots

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A "Garden Variety" of Happenings

We spent a nice, quiet weekend around home doing a variety of things, without really doing much of anything.    That's perfectly clear and understandable, right?  It makes sense to me.  :)  

Saturday afternoon, our dear friend Claudia delivered our very first Bountiful Basket order.  I was so happy to see a nice variety of fresh fruits and garden vegetables.  Just look at what we got!  Cabbage, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, comice pears, mandarine oranges, bananas, apples, spinach, sweet potatoes, an english cucumber, and some grape tomatoes!  It was like a Christmas package, and so much fun seeing what was inside the box.  And all for just $16.50...what a great deal.  Now to get creative and make sure we eat everything up!
 Last night, we ate the cauliflower.  I put some olive oil and some chopped garlic in a plastic bag, added the entire head of cauliflower florets and shook to coat.  Dumped the contents into an olive oiled baking pan and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.  Baked at 400 for about 15 minutes, then took out to stir.  Put back in the oven for about 10 more minutes, then removed and sprinkled with parmesan cheese...oh my, this is my favorite way to eat fresh cauliflower.  I call it roasted cauliflower with garlic.  Original huh?  So tasty!

 My boss and his family headed out of town for the weekend, and asked if we could watch their dog, Jackson for them.  He's no trouble, and we were happy to keep him.  I call this shot of the poor, abused saps..."muddy paws".  You'd think they'd all just endured a beating the way they look in this picture.  :)  They lead such rough lives...

 Sunday morning, Jules called to see if she could come over and have some farm girl time with the horses.  It's always a good excuse to head out to the barn and scrape some mud off of the ponies.  Since Ladde is the biggest chore and always such a sucker to come when he's called, he was first.  When he realized he wasn't being beckoned just to receive a treat, he was not a happy camper.  He didn't want to stand still and was being a bit of a pill, so big boy got to blow off some steam in the round pen while everyone else just relaxed and watched the show.  After 10-15 minutes of running, bucking, snorting and pitching a little hissy fit, he dropped his head, blew the cobwebs from his brain and came over to my hubby, ready to please...Ladde was back.  :)

Amazing what a little free choice time in the old round pen will accomplish.  He decided he would much rather stand quietly while tied, munch some hay and receive grooming and pets.  What a hard choice!  

He's a very good boy, standing respectfully and quietly for the little girl to brush (scrape) the mud from his coat.  It's a rough job, but somebody's gotta do it!  :)  Jules just turned 11 years old, and in such a short time has come from knowing nothing at all about horses, to fairly accomplished around them.  She's a very good student, and definitely has the bug.   :)

 I love  this picture of Ladde's expression!  He's looking down as if wondering what she's going to ask next of him.  Now, that's more like it!!

 I just love how children have no fear issues around horses, and because of that trust, the horses are generally quiet and very relaxed with them.

 Miss Kadie was next to get a good grooming.  She looks so innocent, doesn't she?  She was in a bit of a snit on this particular day herself.  Must be something in the air...

Shad ready for his dinner...we've been giving him and Kadie a small flake of alfalfa in the evenings with the rest of their rations, and it certainly has taken them no time at all to expect the special "mint on their pillow", as my hubby refers to it.

 The evil-eyed llama.  We've had Merlin for about 17 years now, and in all that time, he's never, ever liked being touched.  If he even thinks you're going to try and pet him, he moves away and gives you the old stink-eye.  He never spits, but he looks like he'd like to.  So anyway, last summer he gets an eye injury and we have to catch him daily and treat his eye.  What a picnic!  Turns out, it was much simpler than I'd ever have thought; certainly much easier than trying to doctor any of the horse's eyes.  My point here is, that after the eye-doctoring incident, now for whatever reason, Merlin's decided that we really don't aim to rip his head off and feed it to the dogs!  Now, more often than not, he's peering over my shoulder trying to see what I'm doing, and following me so closely that if I make a quick turn-around, I bump right into him.  I think I preferred when the smelly old coot was all weirded out, thinking we wanted to "get" him!  He lets me pet him, remove sticks and such from his wool and everything.  Go figure!

 I love this green stuff mom!!

 Just put the alfalfa down and move away from the pile...
My sweet, little old lady who thinks that just because she's retired, she really doesn't have to do anything.

 Spooky-eyed Ladde.  More than likely banging on his gate in that double-action way of his that gets twice the noise for his buck!!  I love that boy!!  His noise?  Not so much.  :)

The formerly "Mr. Clean"...I do believe he's been taking lessons from Ladde in how to get the most out of your rolls in the mud.  Eagle more often than not these days, sporting some mud of his own.  *sigh*

Who ME????

Jackson being a goofy dog.  Loudest, most obnoxious bark.  ever.

 Poor Harley.  :(  For about a week now, we've been treating his eye.  This time it's a corneal abrasion and is obviously very, very painful.  I even had to call out Heather, the doctor on call last weekend and have her come take a look at exactly what we were dealing with this time...there was so much swelling, and the eye was closed, so I couldn't get a good look at the eyeball itself.  Once sedated and numbed, we saw the tear in the cornea.  We're still giving him pain meds twice a day and putting the antibiotic ointment in the eye twice a day, a week later.  Hoping we won't have to have Rick out to debride the eye, but that's what I think may have to happen to achieve proper healing.  It should have been much better than it is by now.  He's our blind horse, and things like this are much more common than we'd like.  Keeping a fly mask on helps, but sometimes he rubs them off.  There's just no perfect solution...

 Proof that I can scratch and pet Merlin whenever and wherever I want to now...isn't  that special?  :)

 This is a pretty good shot of Harley's cloudy and very painful eye.  I still ask why it had to happen to this horse?  He's so sweet, and such a kindhearted, gentle spirit...why always the good horses????
Just sucks.

And lastly, my newly mud-loving Mustang...Eagle.  I love this horse so much!  Listen to me...I love them all.  They're each so special, so unique, and so very important to us.  I can't imagine life without each and every single one!

It was a mostly stay at home, quiet and laid back weekend.  Perfect for mid-winter, I guess.  Saturday night, I did fix a casserole and we drove about an hour away to our AHA riding club meeting.  It was good to spend some time visiting with our dear friends and make a few plans for outings with the horses when the days are warmer and longer.  It's not really that far away.  I sure hope that Eagle and I will be able to participate in a few of the rides we've got planned.  We need to create a lot more wonderful memories, my boy and I.  I had planned on ride #2 last weekend, but just ran out of time and it didn't happen.  It will soon. I'm really looking forward to it!!

We almost had another addition to our little equine family.  A client from work is moving to North Carolina, they're leaving one week from today, and she's had no luck at selling/re-homing her two horses.  One is older and hasn't been ridden in a few years, but the other one we agreed to take if she wasn't able to find an alternate home for her.  She's an 18 year old QH mare, 15 hh, sorrel, named Sugar..."Docs Windy Night", and she's been used for cattle sorting and trail riding mostly.  Nicely trained and so sweet, but an alpha mare.  I was actually beginning to get a little excited about getting her, but this morning Sheila called me and said that a friend of hers will take her.  I had told God that it was up to Him, if it was the right thing for us, we were willing, but if not, let someone else have her.  I guess we got our answer.  I'm a little disappointed though.  Not that we need another horse, I know...but my heart was willing.

Until next time, blessings dear friends!
Lorie @ Cingspots

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My need to shed

As in some weight, not my hair.  I want to lose some weight and get into better shape.  I'm just not sure how to go about it.  Ok, in my head I know the things to do.  The challenge is in keeping to it on a daily basis.  I'm a great starter of things.  But long-term, not so much.  And I've been on this merry-go-round more than a few times so far in my life.  But that picture of me on Eagle the other day freaked me out.  My butt looks too big to fit into my saddle, and my butt has never even been my problem area!  I can only imagine what was going through my horse's mind...sheesh!  I don't feel as athletic as I did a few years ago, so I need to do something about it before I get too out of control.  I also realize that my weight and lack of athleticism is more than likely my main reason for feeling so much less confident in the saddle too.  I know that for sure.

So...what to do?  I need a plan.  Something that won't leave me feeling short-changed or like I'm being punished.  I've considered joining weight watchers on-line, but find myself not really wanting to go that route.  I know the diet industry is just that; a huge, corporate, money-making industry that preys on overweight people and their hopes and wishes of becoming thin.  They make it sound all too easy, and I for one, know it's not all that easy.  If that were the case, we'd all be appropriately thin.  My doctor has advised going to Overeater's Anonymous meetings.  They're a 12-step program (amazingly familiar to Alcoholic's Anonymous) that's based on the premise that we are not in control of our lives, that our lives have become unmanageable and we need these meetings to bring us back to sanity.  Not sure I agree with that, nor do I necessarily think that's the case.  However, I do like the idea of a group of people with similar feelings and issues that might be helpful in staying accountable.  I've just never been a real fan of that type of group setting, baring ones' soul to strangers and all that.  I don't know, maybe I could attend a meeting and see what the "feel" of the group was like.  Guess I could commit to one, anyway.  I did join weight watchers once, and did not enjoy that group setting at all.

I'm going to try making a few small changes at first.  And slowly, incorporate more healthy choices into my daily routine.  Another problem is, my husband.  He doesn't want any changes, which makes it even harder for me to incorporate real change into my life without affecting his.  I've used sneaky tactics before, and am certainly not "above" going this route again.  :)  What hubby doesn't know, doesn't hurt him.  Quite the contrary really.  Would be of great benefit to him as well. He could stand to lose a few pounds too, I know he'd feel better.

I'd appreciate advice, suggestions, ideas for what might be helpful.  What you might have experienced in your own life, what's worked for you, and what hasn't.  Frankly, I'll accept all the help I can get!

My first step is to drink several glasses of water each day when I'm at work.  I've begun taking a multi-vitamin each day, and now that our weather is a bit better, I'll start taking the dogs and walking with them at lunch times again.  I'm of the opinion that even a little exercise each day is certainly better than none.  Couldn't hurt, right?  Problem is, I know that's not enough.  My body hangs onto this weight for all its' worth.  I need a lot less calories on a daily basis incorporated with an exercise program.

A good friend told me about this community garden co-op program called Bountiful baskets.  They have them in various parts of the country, and we have one locally.  You go online and click on what you'd like.  You buy when you want to, and don't when you choose not to.  What could be simpler?  A full basket consists of about 50% fruits and 50% veggies.  You never know exactly what will be in your basket, and it varies by what's in season, what they can get and so on.  If there's something you particularly don't like, you can make that noted and they'll try not to include that item again.  There's several options for adding on as well, including breads, citrus packs, cookies, home canned goods in the summer, extra veggies if you have a larger sized family and so on.  The add-on options vary.  This month they have 20 heart-shaped cookies that come with red and pink frosting for you to decorate yourself.  Cost was $10...I wanted those cookies, but did not get them.  (patting self on back)  So, for starters this coming weekend will be our first fulfilled order and we'll see how it goes.  The cost is $16.50 for what sounds like approximately 20 lbs. of produce.  My friend has been getting this produce for a while now, and she says the quality and variety is wonderful.  I'm excited!  This is one way of adding in more fresh fruits/veggies into our daily diet year round.  They also have a blog where they post recipes, preservation tips, etc.

Onward and upward my friends!  Keep me in your prayers if you will, and I'll keep you in mine as well.  My annual doctor's appointment is coming up fairly soon, and I am so not looking forward to stepping on that scale.  :(   *crap*

Blessings all, Lorie @ Cingspots

A beautiful vintage picture in honor of love, best friendships and of course, Valentine's Day!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

I finally did it!!

We had a perfectly beautiful, spring-like weekend to welcome in the month of February.  I awoke early Saturday morning to find sunshine streaming through the bedroom windows, the smell of freshly brewed coffee and a fire in the wood stove.  Rise and shine, indeed!!  My hubby was already outside feeding the horses and cleaning their stalls, so I got to relax by the fire, enjoy a cup of hot coffee and watch the horses eat their breakfast in the sunshine.  What could be better?

We had a bit of breakfast and decided to take the dogs and head up into the woods for a brisk walk.  The place is called Raine's Tree Farm.  Ralph Raines is an old guy whose family has owned this property for many, many years.  He posts signs that welcomes hikers, hunters and horseback riders, but strictly no motorized vehicles.  Years ago, we used to bring our horses to these woods quite often and ride the old, and many abandoned logging roads and trails throughout.  What isn't owned by the Raines family is owned by Stimson Lumber Company.  

Remnants of an old Ford

What's left of the old Ford and the guy's pants

Posing for the camera...
 We had a nice walk, enjoyed the chance of soaking up some sunshine and getting some fresh air.  And, as always, the dogs had a blast!  They're so easy to please.  They always make me smile.

Bird seed buffet

Pretty Blue Jay

These pictures aren't the greatest, because I was shooting through my dirty, sliding glass door, across the yard, and the small pasture and was pretty close to full zoom.  But I always enjoy watching the horses eat.  They're relaxing and so peaceful.

Then on Sunday, we still had pleasantly warm temps, but no bright sunshine.  We remained fogged in until around mid-day when the fog burned off, but the high clouds remained.  It was overall a very nice weekend.  We did some housecleaning, re-loaded our firewood box on the deck, got about halfway through chopping our berry garden back, and got all the clippings hauled to the burn pile.  I made some Minestrone soup with lots of vegetables, kidney beans and chunks of chicken and had it simmering on the wood stove.  Smelled wonderful in the house!  Then we made our way down to the barn to work on the chores.  I decided to get Eagle and work with him a little bit.  He was spot-on!  This horse hasn't forgotten any of his lessons and is just so sweet.  This is only the second time that I've done anything with him since last fall.  Since he was doing everything I asked pretty much perfectly, and was so relaxed and with me mentally, I decided that it was now or never.  I saddled him up and got on him.  Now, to be honest here, I must back up just a bit.  I was scared.  Heart racing, butterflies in my stomach, as nervous as heck!  I must have stood on that mounting block for between 10-15 minutes himming and hawwing...came very close to thinking that I just couldn't do it.  I kept putting my foot in the stirrup.  Then I'd pull my foot out again.  Back and forth.  More deep breaths.  Then a little prayer for courage and protection.  I mounted Eagle.  I just sat there quietly, stroking his neck, rubbing his rump, adjusting and readjusting myself in the saddle.  Took some more deep, cleansing breaths.  The whole time Eagle did not move a muscle.  He was in freeze-frame, and just waited on me.  Patiently waited for me to get my s*#t together.  What a good horse!!!  

When I finally decided to ask him to move out, he was very reluctant to move his feet.  It took a lot of asking.  I got him turning in both directions, and we walked around the round pen a little bit.  He was being so very careful with me.  I think he realized my hesitation, nervousness and lack of leadership, and didn't really trust that moving was what I wanted him to do.  :)  After a little walking around, we stopped and just sat there for a while.  I petted his neck, and spoke to him quietly.  I asked for some bend each direction in his neck without moving his feet.  He complied with everything I asked of him.  Then I dismounted and made a big old fuss about what a wonderful horse he was!!  I was so happy that our first "ride" was a success.  It wasn't pretty, but it was calm and quiet.  That was good enough for a first ride.  

My husband was with me the whole time.  He snapped this (horrible) picture of the two of us.  Eagle looking calm, cool and collected.  Me, not so much.  I wasn't anticipating a photo opp when I headed to the barn.  So, lavender vest, purple sweatshirt, peg-leg, old, highwater jeans with my red-topped boots is definitely not
the fashion statement I would want to make...it is what it is.  And you'll notice that I even donned my new riding helmet (just in case).  But, I'm happy.  I'm smiling, and not crying.  :)

It's a start.  Hopefully, it's onward from here.  I'm hoping and praying that this is the beginning of a long and close riding relationship between my Eags and me.  I'm a happy gal (even if I do look like a dork).

Lorie @ Cingspots