Tandem Random(ness)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Random Thoughts and Photos

Well, I survived the first full week of school. I'm pretty sure there should be some sort of fanfare, but I'm just too pooped to whoop *laugh*. Sixth grade is exhausting: it's nothing but Go-Go-Go all day long over an eyeball crossing amount of stuff (gotta find that groove in the new schedule ;o) The weather here has gone back up into triple digits - we're hoping it's the last gasp of summer or something, because ick. Praying for all those in the path of the storm, including some of our family (an uncle and cousins). Mighty scary stuff. Hope all of you are in a safe place. I thought you'd get a kick out of the hay sculpture; apparently we have some creative geniuses bopping around out there in the pasture (it's the Moo Crew's hay roll). They've either got Halloween on the brain or [more likely] our resident hoovenile delinquent and escape artist Mad Max is staging a non-verbal protest over being under so much increased supervision. Big brother is watching you...Ha.
This next photo is for Grace, who asked about Sara's ability to see through the fly mask (this post). I was kind of curious how things looked through there myself, so I took two shots of Taya (sneaking grass in the visitor walkway). It was a little awkward trying to hold the mask properly and take a picture of Taya at the same time, but I think you get the idea. It's clearer than I thought it would be, to be honest (kudos to Farnam and the SuperMask II):

I did a double take when I saw Cinnamon in the pasture sporting a rather unusual passenger awhile back. I can't believe I had enough time to make a mad dash for the camera, but I did ;o) He flew off before I could get any closer though. Rats. I've seen them parked on cows periodically, but never on a horse. I wonder if he's playing connect the dots...
I found this cool little bird's nest that was actually lined with hair from someone's tail; looks like it's from Rina or Sarbear (red and black). Isn't that wild? Ha. Well yeah silly, it literally is isn't it? ;o)

I have to tell you a funny; because it's just too good to keep to myself ;o) The planets must have lined up, and congress been in complete accord because DH finally had a day to do some more work on the "outhouse". Our favorite volunteer [Mr. Ron] was here to help and they had pulled off all the siding and were framing up the walls. DH asked Ron to check the dimensions of the patio door (our current tack/feed room) because it was wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, but he couldn't remember if it was supposed to be 34" or 36" wide. DH held the 2x4s in place while Ron looked around for a tape measure (the doorway was only a few feet away from where they were working). Spotting a tape laying just inside the door by the feed buckets, Ron grabbed it and quickly pulled it across the opening. 
He stood there, looking down at the tape for a long minute without saying a word. Now most of you know that measuring the width of a door is not exactly rocket science, but after waiting what seemed to be far too much time for so simple a task DH finally said, "Well?? What is it?" Ron tilted his head, squinted slightly at the reading and said, "I'm not sure exactly what this means, but according to the tape this doorway is nine hands wide." *giggle* Poor Ron; he'd picked up my horse tape (1 hand = 4 inches). Good thing the man has a great sense of humor because it cracked us all up. You gotta admit they do look exactly the same until you actually pull the tape out, that is....Here's a progress picture for you. You can see the *ahem* doorway on the left-hand side of the photo:
Random Drawing
We ended up with only three entries, which should probably hurt my feelings; it makes for awesome odds though. *laugh* I suppose I'll just have to try again next week with something that interests you more (so be ready :o)  I'm not making them too hard, am I?
Congratulations to Susan! I'm hoping you're here reading this, but I'll send you an email just in case you're not.

Still trying to coordinate schedules with DD and the weather (too hot!)  to get some video clips and pictures of Max. With the insanity of a new school year, I haven't worked with him at all over the last two weeks (Ack!) Hopefully he hasn't forgotten what we've done so never know.
Rina and I were delighted to learn that the phrase "fist bump" has been added to the dictionary and is now official. Somehow, we have gotten into the habit of doing this each morning and afternoon at feeding time as I walk past her stall. The first time was an accident (I was closing her door and we "bumped"). I laughed and said, "fist bump!" Since the horses understand the power of positive laughter (because sometimes it means, do it again and you might get a treat ;o) she did indeed do it again. It wasn't long before I was walking by and Rina was popping her nose out for a fist bump on a regular basis. Sometimes you just take your entertainment wherever you find it *grin*. Have a blessed week everyone!

Fly Mask Fashionistas (picture happy post :o)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't forget the back to school giveaway!
If you haven't already entered, you can toss your name in the hat by adding our fundraising widget (top left) to your blog, page, or forehead (still kidding), follow us here and like us on Facebook (top right), or tweet your favorite post. Donations count for two entries ('cause we need 'em :o) Drawing will be on Friday, August 26 and the winner will be announced on that weekend's post. A special thank you to "The Old Geezer" <--not my choice of words) for getting us to 100 followers - Woo! Definitely worth checking out (love "The Green Thing" post). In case anyone is wondering, I did not finish my office before school started, but I did get a little closer. Meh :oP We still have to construct my ginormous craft table; it's going to [hopefully] be a masterpiece. I'll letcha know. *grin*
Sarabear has had some trouble recently with her eyes. They were kind of goopy, puffy,and very watery and even with the fly sprays the gnats were making her crazy. She started rubbing her eyes on the wood around the stalls which was, in turn, causing me to develop a nervous twitch in my own eye. I just knew she was going to poke her eye out, get a splinter, or something. Eeek. We decided to try a fly mask, although I admit I had some doubts as to whether or not she'd actually wear it. Sara had been sent to a very abusive trainer early in life - not by us - for the halter show ring; she's an Anglo-Arab. Whatever he did, and that's all I know is it was a male trainer, caused her to be extremely head shy and she is still very afraid of having her ears touched. We're working on it :o)
Instead of starting with the mask right away, I let her see it first and then just hung it on the stall and put her halter on because I wanted to start with success (above photo). Then I took the halter back off and asked Sara if we could try the fly mask (after we gave it a good snuffle or two of course):
This is where a real relationship is invaluable. You can see that we are "outside", so Sara is free to leave. This means there is absolutely no pressure on her, other than what she is willing to accept. The other girls are still in their stalls (this was right after supper) so there is no one to bother us. In addition to the greed factor [treats], the horses genuinely seem to want my attention and approval, which just blows me away with stuff like this. When I lifted the mask to put it on, Sara said she wasn't ready (Photo below L) by raising her head high [fear] and flicking her ears back and forth [uncertainty]. I dropped it back down so she could think about it a bit more (below R).
Right here is often the point where horses and humans part company (at least for me). The internal urge to just "show" her it's no big thing by putting it on is huge and I have to fight it every stinkin' time. We just want to go ahead and do it so they will see that it's not a bad thing at all. Horses don't work that way, though. It's a thousand times better in the long run to let them decide on their own when they are ready, and they really will tell you provided you have good communication going between you (you'll see it with Rina further down). In reality, it takes far less time to drop it down and give Sara another minute than it would to chase her head around anyway (or worse, cause her to stress to escalate to the point she leaves). That extra minute was all she needed - what a good girl Sarabear. You stylin' it now sistafriend! *laugh*
Since DD was available for a bit to shoot a few more pictures after Sara, I was curious to see how the other girls would react to the mask; they were still in their stalls. I asked Rina if she wanted to try it on...She gave it a good sniff (below L), then said "nuh-uh" by pulling her head back partway into her stall (R): 
I'll add that I am sure I could have gone into her stall and gotten her to put it on, but I opted to go with the flow and move on to Taya (you'll see why in a minute ;o) 
Taya was curious too, and happy to let me put it on her. Good job Taya!
Bella had about the same reaction as Taya - ummm...ok - What a good girl!
Now, here's the part that really fascinates me. After I let everyone out, guess who came marching back up to me and wanted to try on the fly mask? Yep, it was Rina. Is that cool or what? Horses are just too awesome for words sometimes (and yes, I was so tickled with her request and willingness to put the mask on that I let out a happy little whoop and clapped for her...forgot I wasn't at elementary school [work] just then. HaHa. Silly me, I know. ;oD

Miscreant Max and I have started our home school lessons; otherwise we couldn't have played around for the camera here - he would have broken my nose for sure. It took me two solid weeks before I was able to give him a reward. Not kidding. Sometimes you need a magnifying glass and an awful lot of time to find that one positive thing. He'd do something that mostly passed for "good" (Max has a sliding scale ;o) and then immediately do something completely obnoxious and render me unable to give him a reward. It was making me crazed.  
We have had several chats about broken stall boards (one of umpteen patches visible in the photos), picking fights, spatial relationships, (you can see in the photo above he's not much on that stuff) crawling under fences, climbing up the stall wall (literally), general obnoxiousness, attentiveness, and just trying to behave a little better overall. Max has come to the conclusion that being a good boy is not nearly as awful as he thought it was going to be, so he is going to try his very very bestest to do it more often and stay out of trouble...
Have a blessed week everyone, and a wonderful back to school experience this year! Kids too ;o)

We're currently under destruction

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I'll just bet you thought that was a typo, didn't you? Ha; 'fraid not. DH's hours have gone back up at work, so while I'm waiting for him to find the time to finish our visitor area (I am SO not a builder or plumber). I decided to address my office/craft room's current decor of Early American Hoarder to something a little more efficient by replacing the floor and moving some things around. I managed to talk DH into ponying up enough money to replace the floor and buy some track shelving for the closet so my computer was unplugged for several days as a result (hence my absence and the tardiness of this post). I found a long piece of painted plywood for $3 at the Habitat Store that was nice and thick and perfect to host my printers. Some cheap 2x4's (DD hit 'em with the router for me) and a leftover laminate shelf netted me a nice long printer table (below left) with lots of storage space underneath for less than $10. Boo-Yeah! To little Miss T.L. - you see where the cute ceramic snail you gave me is, don't you? Right there next to my calendar :o)
Although I'm making progress, I'm currently alternating between snarling at those idiotic tiles and kicking myself for not having started this about a month ago (back to work next week - ack!) The idea that started out as Jen's little office makeover fantasy has morphed into a death by vinyl flooring tragedy (yeesh - what the heck was I thinking?!?). I have made a spectacular mess; one so colossal I'm betting even #1 son, slob extraordinaire, would be duly impressed. I did find the top of my desk, which I haven't seen for a couple of years. You know how you have those "catch all" drawers in the kitchen? Well, my office was the catch all for an alarming amount of stuff. File piles, craft piles, scrapbook piles, medical paper piles, piles, piles, piles...miles of piles *sigh*. One of my piles - a ginormous towering one - avalanched the other day (which is what set off this re-organizational bender), and I found myself just sort of sitting there looking at it with absolutely NO intention of picking it all up. I'm now praying I can finish before school starts next week.
Last week things got a little heated around here (literally). Temperatures shot back up into the triple digits, with heat indices (isn't that a weird plural?) creeping up as high as 110 - blech. The horses are, of course, sweating like crazy (ha, me too!) I do love to see Rina's coat in the summer sun though - it shimmers and shines and the tip of her mane turns a fiery red, which is supercool. As much as I don't want to go back to school/work this year (and how awful is that? ;o) I am ready for fall temps. It occurred to me the other day that this is the first summer since 2005 that I have not had either surgical procedures or really big medical issues. Can you believe that? Woot! I'm tickled BC survivor pink to be even semi-productive. How about you? Are you ready for fall? I walked outside to feed the other morning and got a good look at the sweltering sky and thought I was someplace else on a desert safari; look how unbelievably hazy it was (this is straight out of the camera, too. Wow.)
Since we are headed back to school all over the country, maybe we can have a little giveaway to brighten things up a bit. A lovely little hodgepodge of goodies just in time for fall. Let's see what we can find around here...Aha!
How about this cute little tote that was donated to us by a teacher friend, an awesome horsey book cover, a horse story, and a totally cute little "School Buds" photo frame from the Second Chance Thrift Shop. I might even find another little item or two to tuck inside. I'm going to try really hard to visit the Second Chance periodically and see what kind of trouble things I can find over there to use for giveaways. I love doing them - it's like Christmas *grin*. All of the shop's proceeds go to the local animal shelter and their items are very inexpensive, so I figure that's just about perfect all the way around. 
To enter, you can add our new fund raising widget to your sidebar, web page, or forehead (kidding). It comes in many different formats (just replace the old one if you added it the last time - it's expired), you can follow us here and like us on Facebook, or you can tweet this (or another) post. Leave a comment letting me know what you did and I'll put your name in the hat. If you do more than one of these, I'll enter you more than once. Donations will count for two entries each. Sound okay? Winner will be chosen on the 26th of August, and announced in that weekend's post. Thanks so much for helping us out, and good luck!
On Friday, I was invited to visit some fourth graders at a local school to talk about horses. Because it was during science, we talked about teeth and bones and hooves and vision and all kinds of cool stuff. Since no one fell asleep - if they did, they didn't snore - or threw anything, I think it went okay. I ended up speaking to three different classes and about 60 kids. I had a great time and although it's been awhile, fourth grade definitely still rocks. I told the kids I had to go back to school next week and mentioned that I was in the fifth grade last year. One of the girls looked me up and down and gave me an "I don't think so lady" look that made me laugh (although she was too polite to say it out loud) and another asked me if I was a teacher. I explained that I was an interpreter for a deaf student and got a collective Ohhhh ;o) I guess most of them paid pretty good attention to what we talked about because they did a bang up job answering all the questions I asked them at the end...
Speaking of school, Mad Max has recently been enrolled in a home school program - albeit belatedly - and I'll have some photos and progress reports for you in the next week or two (I hope). I haven't figured out how to take pictures of myself and Max working yet *laugh* so I'm at the mercy of DD's schedule. When you consider where we're starting, he's got lots of room for improvement. Max is quite possibly the most obnoxious horse I've ever met and needs work on absolutely everything. He does not stand still at all, but dances around in your space (for which he has no respect) and gets up in your face ducking and dodging the whole time because he knows it's annoying. He's like a bull in a china shop, and it's been quite a challenge trying to find something (anything!) to reward him for. I've got bruises all over the place from him dancing around and knocking into me. The other horses bite him, kick him and run him off constantly because he's such a pain in the posterior. It'll be interesting to see what happens (I feel like I'm about to partake in a cliff diving lesson, go alligator wrestling or some other ridiculously dangerous endeavor ;o) I'll let you know how it goes; or maybe I should say IF it goes *laugh*. Have a blessed week everyone!

Forget the dogs: The Horse Days of Summer

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You can tell that it's almost over; the days are flying by so fast I can't get a ride in edgewise around here. I did finally make it back to my friend Sandy's house (this post and this post) for the long-awaited trail ride. She had babies everywhere, including this handsome [and unexpected] little fella. Seems the people she bought his mom from sold her because she was not fulfilling her duties as a broodmare. After a few months, Sandy contacted them and asked if they were sure she was not bred because she appeared pregnant; they were absolutely positive. No way. Imagine Sandy's surprise when she walked outside one fine day to find this little guy had arrived during the night (not to mention the previous owners, who were most unhappy with the news they missed a baby - oops *laugh*).
Since his daddy is a Tennessee Walker and his mom an Appaloosa, that makes Nicodemus here a Walkaloosa (and no, I did not make that up). There is even a registry for that particular cross (here). Too bad he didn't get any markings from mom though; you can just spot (haha) her pretty polka-dotted derriere behind baby. DD coaxed him near enough for a scratch or two:
I took lots of pictures to share with you; Isabella and Jackie Chan's baby is due this October and I want to go back for another visit. I've never seen a baby donkey before. I'm trying to talk DH into going with me this time (then I can stay lots later and it won't matter if I zonk out on the way home *grin*). This is Jackie in the photo on the right - isn't he cute? I just love that little face :o)

Below is a photo of Jackie and Isabella:

Seems like everywhere I looked there were little ones running around. Shrek and Fiona had two little bitty pea hens (peacock babies), which I don't think I've ever seen before, have you?:
You know after looking at the one on the right (in mid march) a couple of times, I must say I suddenly felt considerably better about the big honking U-boats attached to my ankles (little booger has got some feet - *giggle*).

I heard rumors of a foal snatching epidemic in the pasture; seems Nico's mom was not the only one who wanted him. Sandy said he didn't appear overly concerned about who mom was exactly until it was time for lunch (then he got rather picky ;o) Looks like the pasture wasn't the only place experiencing parental pilferage. Does this look right to you? Besides the blur, I mean:
I don't know if Sandy loves to read as much as I do or not, but I did notice she kept this beautiful pair of bookends in her backyard (I dubbed them Frick and Frack ;o):
I took a little video and some stills and slapped it all together below in case any of you wanted to go with us on the trail. Have to say I love that little white spot on Dotty's ear. She is blind in her right eye, which is why she turns her whole head to the right to look around periodically. And yes I cleaned my lens when I got home - had no idea how dirty it was until I hit that little patch of sunlight (yikes! :o)
Happy Trails from Jen on Vimeo.
The best surprise of all? Wait until you see what Sandy has hanging around her backyard. She said there are about eight of them living in that tree - Awesome!
Hummingbirds have to be the hardest thing I've ever tried to photograph. Those little knockers are QUICK!
Well that's all for this week. I hope you enjoyed your visit as much as I did. I think we were all pretty tuckered out by the end of the day...
Have a blessed week everyone! Be sure to smile at somebody somewhere (just because you can ;o)
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