Aug 31, 2009


Most of August, I have slept with the window open. I love hearing the night sounds; even the sound of the highway is comforting. And now that I have chickens, I hear the roosters in the morning. As they get bigger, their “cock-a-doodle-doo” is more robust.

This morning, I am in that half-awake state. The alarm hasn’t gone off yet, but something has awoken me. I hear it again. It’s farting and it's not coming from John’s direction. Our Springer Spaniel, Maddie, is usually sleeping on the floor at the bottom of the bed but maybe she has moved next to me. I reach down to feel for her and she isn’t there. Surprisingly, there is no smell either. A few minutes pass and I hear another fart. My gosh, can is it the boys? Can I hear them farting from their rooms?

I dozed back off until the alarm went off and after hitting the snooze button a few times, I finally rolled out of bed. I look outside as I always do to catch a glimpse of the impending sunrise, too dark now at this time to see the horses clearly in the pasture. Then I hear a fart again! I look down. My small herd of horses has gathered outside my bedroom window. Two lying down; I can’t make out which ones. Butter and Ginger are standing up. As I watch from the window, Butter lifts her tail slightly and passes gas. What a way to wake up.

Couldn’t help thinking…. you might be a horseperson if, you wake up to horse farts outside your bedroom window.

Aug 29, 2009

Sunday Still ~ Sounds

Today's Sunday Still's Challenge, as directed by Ed, is to "take a pic that without description (no captions) conveys sound. It should be a pic that if you look at it you should hear whats going on."

The first couple were taken yesterday with this challenge in mind. And others pulled from the archives.

Sound 1

Sound 2
(I have to help out those who aren't horsepeople with the above picture. The sound is "snorting". When horses see something they are uncertain of, they will snake their neck down at the object and "snort". Sometimes several times! When Cooper did that yesterday, I thought "There's my sound picture!" but knew it wasn't easily identified if you aren't around horses. Thanks for asking & commenting!)
Sound 3

Sound 4
Sound 5

Can you guess the sounds they are conveying?

Aug 28, 2009

A Sight to See

It's almost seemed like they were hamming it for the camera. I was shooting from the front porch, about 1/4 of a mile away. Obviously that is Windy doing all the galloping! We always said if she had the heart for it, she could outrun her mama, Ginger, who is doing all the bucking. Even Blue throws in a little crowhop there!

If I could never ride again, I would spend my days just watching them.

Then Ritz runs down to see if he can join in the fun. He is so intuitive to what I am doing. If I get my boots and go to the tack room, he knows I'm wanting the horses and will head down to the pasture. More recently, he has figured it's Windy whom I usually get and will single her out. This time, I think he must have been watching me watch them & wasn't quite sure what to do, so he went to investigate.

It's Maddie you hear whining in the background. I don't know if she was whining because I was on the porch or if she was just watching Ritz. In her old age, she whines a lot.

Ritz caught the attention of the horses as he was making his way through the alfalfa field. I didn't know what they were looking at at the time; I was trying to stay steady with the camera. Once Ritz made it down there, much to his disappointment, the horses stopped their play.

Ritz is definitely my buddy, my keeper. He's laying on the porch right outside my office window right now. If I get up to go into the kitchen, he'll be at the patio doors on that side of the house almost before I can get there. He's my good guard dog.

Aug 26, 2009

Mowing, Mowing, Mowing

Did I really just post a blog called “Riding, Riding, Riding?” Seems shortly after that post I have been doing anything but riding, riding, riding. And the worst part is, we have had wonderful weather considering it is August. Well, up until today that is. And being that I live in farm country, one would argue that today wasn't a bad day weatherwise either. But to me, after 1.5" of rain, my day was ruined, ruined, ruined.

I decided to take one for the team last weekend and not make any riding plans. There were a lot of things to be done around the place. Yard clean up -- Bo tends to drag around everything! We also needed to mow the pastures where the grass was thick and coarse and ungrazed, hoping to attract the horses and cows to the undergrowth. We had a small hayfield that needed mowing in hopes of picking up a few more small bales.

The boys were both home - we had all hands on deck. Well, McCain's hands were under the hood of his car much of the time, but he did push out some effort being the "gas man". We really need one of those big barrels of fuel on the property – I can’t tell you how many times we needed him to run for more gasoline to keep all the tractors and mowers going.

By Sunday night, the place was looking pretty good. The pastures looked groomed, that pesky tree bug problem was under control and we got a good start on weed-eating – although I don’t think that project will ever be done!

I decided to take today off and made plans to ride with the Platte River Riders North group this evening. Since it is a couple hour haul up there, some friends and I decided to make a day of it, head up early, ride and have a late picnic lunch between rides. Twenty percent chance of rain. Heck, that’s nothing! So we thought.

I woke up to overcast skies. Kathy called and said it was raining at her place. Hmm. She’s south, we are heading north. The Big Fat Lying Weatherman still says only a 20% chance of rain here and where we are heading. We should be good. Called Sam, whom we were meeting, and she suggested we hold another hour and just to see what happens. Well what happened are the heavens opened up, up, up! While hooking up the trailer, the lightning started flashing. I got in the house in time to shut down the computer. And shortly after that, I lost all power in the house. In less than an hour, we had almost 1.5” of rain. Radar didn’t look promising in the direction we wanted to head. Nope, nope, nope.

No one ever wants to be the first to say, “forget it”. We were all thinking it though. Finally, Kathy, who had the farthest to drive, said she didn’t want to risk that many hours on the road and get rained out. We all concurred and scratched our plans.

I sat in my dark house without the hum of the refrigerator for about 2 minutes. No computer, no tv. It was too quiet. In the dim light, I went to the closet and rummaged around for clothes that appeared to match and quickly changed out of my boots and jeans. Ran a brush through my hair, put makeup on as best I could without lights and went to work, work, work.

Aug 23, 2009

Sunday Stills ~ The Open Road

This week's Sunday Stills Challenge is The Open Road.
My road is usually the road less traveled.

Riding the Outriders Trail near Chadron State Park

Like Father, Like Son

Slow Down, Your Movin' Too Fast

A tight squeeze going up to Harney Peak

Aug 21, 2009

Riding, Riding, Riding

During and after a brief hot spell earlier this month, I was lacking ambition to saddle up, which is quite unusual for me. I took a short trip with my kids and sister which wasn’t horse related. Combine that with getting them ready for school and all that entails, it just seemed my horses were on the back burner. I was looking forward to camping last weekend when the rain started. Can’t complain – we got close to 2 inches which we are thankful for since our alfalfa was just cut. All things considered, I am about 30 hours behind my August riding goal.

There are a lot of things coming up next month that Windy needs to be legged up for. Heck, I need to be legged up for it!

• Labor Day weekend camp trip
• Competitive Trail Ride mid-month
• Annual Cowgirl Weekend

All these events are multi-day rides with many hours in the saddle. Although a few weeks off isn’t the same as coming off the winter hiatus, it seems the mind needs to get conditioned to working once again as much as the body. I’ve had Windy out every day this week and it seems she has forgotten we have a purpose to riding. Meander. Ramble. Traipse. Stroll. Eat. (Hmmm. I’m not sure if it is describing her or me, but you get the picture. )

A new friend and neighbor, Amy, is also doing the September CTR. We live just 10 miles apart and have found a quiet gravel/dirt road just about half-way in between our homes. It is an old railroad route, the tracks long ago pulled up. It takes us from Czechland Lake to the “ghost town” of Rescue. There is little traffic and lots of trees. Shaded and quiet. Almost perfect for road riding. We can get in an easy eight miles and since it’s close to home, only be MIA from the family for a couple hours.

Assuming this was once the Rescue General Store

Robyn and I chose to forgo our respective Platte River Rides this past week and meet at Two Rivers for more conditioning. She is also planning on the CTR as well as the APHA ride at Ft. Robinson. There were storms all around us that evening and the skies were just beautiful!

This week’s weather has seemed almost fall like. The mornings have been in the fifties and the days in the low to mid-eighties. Is Nebraska summers becoming the new San Diego? Don’t laugh! This is the second year in a row that we have only had a couple weeks of very high summer temperatures. For the most part, it’s been a mild summer, and although we always ask for more, we’ve had fairly adequate rainfall. I’m hoping these current conditions carry through the “real” fall. And keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t have an early winter.

Aug 16, 2009

Sunday Stills ~ Clouds

My friend, Kathy, on Hat Mountain near Deerfield Lake Resort in South Dakota

Clouds. I couldn't wait to put together this week's collection for Sunday Stills. I have always been fascinated by the clouds. And some days, it seems the sky just can't get any bluer or the clouds any fuller. It's hard to capture in a photo what the eyes are seeing.

Two of the photos were taken this week. The others were pulled from my archives just waiting to be shared!

We were up on the buttes at historic Ft. Robinson when we saw this storm move in. We came down quickly and started running our horses back to camp. The lightning was sharp, but we got back before the rains hit us.

Still on vacation at Ft. Robinson, this was the view from our picnic shelter after the storm moved through. I truly think I have never seen such beautiful colors in the sky.

This was taken on our vacation last year at Deerfield Lake in South Dakota. We had just watered our horses in the lake and continued along the edge toward our camp. The clouds almost looked animated.

Following some friends down the cow trail at Big Canyon this past June.

We were all outside in our yard this past week when these clouds above us started forming. The boys noticed it first and encouraged me to go get my camera. No rain or storms came out of it, but they were sure pretty to watch. Almost reminded me of the ocean.

We plan to horse camp again this weekend, so will schedule this to post on Sunday. I'll catch up with your collection of clouds later that day! I can't wait to see what you have to share!

Aug 14, 2009

Our Horse Personality

We horse people are an unusual bunch, albeit a motley crew. We don't have much use for anything other than "the horse" and "the horse activities". Our car and our clothes usually relate somehow to our horse life. Our jobs may not necessarily be horse related, but it is a means to the end - that being horse related.

How we personify ourselves might likely depend on our audience. When talking to horse friends, how many times with regards to your horse have you quickly, almost apologetically said,

“It’s not [insert horse’s name] fault, it was mine. I shouldn’t have been [doing this, that or the other].”

I’m guilty. I recall saying something similar when Butter smashed my foot or when Windy almost took me under the downed tree when stung by nettles!

“It wasn’t her fault, I had my back turned.”

“It wasn’t her fault, it was the nettles.”

“It wasn’t his fault that he launched me like a rocket head first into the ground!”

We never want our horse to look bad and would rather take the brunt of the criticism ourselves! After all, they are “our baby”. What we ride defines us. And if our horse appears to be psycho, what on earth does that say about us?

Now when talking to non-horse friends, the goal is to exemplify bravado. When hobbling into work, you may mutter something more to the lines of this:

“The damn 1,000 pound horse stepped on my foot. But doing okay – had my boots on, you know…”

“Crazy mare took me under a downed tree. Wasn’t for the helmet, I’d have quite a concussion today!”

“Yep, he shot me off his back like a bullet. He’s got a new name: ‘For Sale’.”

Whether we’re taking the blame for our horse or garnering new bragging rights, horses bring out the extreme ends of our personality. From rage to embarrassment to forgiveness – maybe all wrapped into one. Not unlike parenting, really, where you are most anxious to brag about said child, don’t want to hear advice from those more experienced and turn a deaf ear/eye to undesirable behavior. (Ugh, was this out loud?)

Fess up. What has your horse done to embarrass you lately and whose fault was it; yours or the horse?

Fresh Salsa

This blog is not about home & gardens. So I apologize in advance for going off topic. But I thought this was worth it.

I try to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. John is by far the better cook in our family. But it is August and if you are like me, you have some fresh produce. So I really want to share a quick salsa recipe with you.

A little history. The Pioneer Woman has become a sort of cult hero in our house. If I even breath her name while standing at the stove, the kids know whatever we are having is going to be good. And don’t think I’m lying! I am 48 years old and never ate a sweet potato in my life until The Pioneer Woman introduced us to her way of doing sweet potatoes. And now the kids say sweet potatoes are their favorite food. And they are pretty high on my list, too. Who’d of thunk?

The Pioneer Woman recently launched a new website called Tasty Kitchen. This is compiled of recipes submitted by her readers. I’ve become quite a fan in short time, as I have found some "little work" recipes. Although they aren’t technically “Pioneer Woman” recipes, I just tell the kids they are & they eat it.

But back to the salsa. It's awesome and easy and fresh and sassy! Don't get all nervous - you don't can it. It makes about 3 pints; just enough to put in your refrigerator. We put a jar in our cooler and take camping with us. If your family is anything like mine, you’ll be through it in a week. All you need is a blender or food processor and quart or pint sized jars with lids (mayonnaise jars work).

Fresh Salsa (or Fresco as John calls it)
1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes OR
6 or 8 small peeled tomatoes from your garden
1 green bell pepper
1 to 3 jalapenos (your taste preference)
1 medium onion (peeled)
3 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 bunch cilantro
½ sm. can tomato paste
Seasonings to your taste to include
Sugar or Brown Sugar
Pepper (I use fresh ground)
Italian Seasoning

Start with tomatoes in blender or food processor. Add the rest of the veggies one at a time. Finish with the cilantro. (You can reduce or eliminate the cilantro if you aren't a fan). Pour in canning jars and serve when cold. This is fresh & not canned, so you’ll want to use in the next week.

The last time I posted cooking pictures on Horsetales, someone caught a glimpse of a spur on my counter. So I paid a little closer attention to what I was photographing this time!

And I'll have a horse related blog to follow quickly. I promise.

Aug 12, 2009

The Dog (and chicken) Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer. Hot, sultry. Stagnant. And it seems to be the time the horses have amassed every fly in the county on every body part. I remember the first time one of the farmers saw our horse in a fly mask: “John,” he said, “Those horses can’t see!” John assured him they could. Up until this year, I haven’t bought fly sheets, but poor Blue is getting bit so bad that I think if any of them warranted one right now, he would. I can about imagine what the neighbors will think when they see the horse in the complete ensemble – sheet and mask! I’ll get back to you on that….

McCain thought he wanted to be a chicken farmer this spring and bought some chicks. Thinking back, it was kind of a weird project for an almost 10th grader who spends little time at home as it is. His interest in the poultry lasted about 1.2 weeks. We now have “free range chickens.” Surprisingly, I’m kind of enjoying having them roam the yard. They are very colorful and quite animated! You should see them run! They are so funny! John caught me saying "my chickens" last night. So I guess they are. But I think the horses think they are their chickens. And they seem to have attached themselves to each other – I’m sure lured by the swarm of flies at the horse’s legs.

One day I was quite amused to find the black chicken by my black horse, Blue.

The red two-toned chicken who’s coloring remarkably resembles Butter, who is a red dun.

And a sorrel colored chicken by Ginger, who is a sorrel herself! Yep, it doesn’t take much to amuse me.

Last year, August was unusually pleasant and I racked up more riding hours than in any other month. I’ve given up before I even started this month. We just finished the weekend of temperatures nearing 100. Instead of riding, I’m just taking care of business. Got the dog neutered. Had the farrier out. Car shopping, school shopping. Haircuts. Trying to figure out how to get rid of a bumblebee nest. (You should see Case & Ritz run when the bees are in hot pursuit!)

In case you were wondering, according to Wikipedia, the phrase "the dog days of summer" refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the northern hemisphere they usually fall between early July and early September. Dog Days can also define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.

The term "Dog Days" was used by the Greeks after Sirius (the "Dog Star"), the brightest star in the heavens, rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather. Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and frenzies" according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.

There. So now we know. I can kind of relate to “growing mad” and having “hysterics and frenzies!” Thank goodness school starts next week!

Aug 11, 2009

Belated Sunday Stills ~ The Elements

I missed this past week's "Sunday Stills" challenge. We were to photograph "the elements". I started the project. I thought I had some greats shots of Ritz drinking from the hose for my representation of "water", but they weren't as crisp as I'd hoped. And the overnight rain washed out what I planned to use for my "earth" picture. I took pictures of our jeans blowing on the clothesline for "air", but never did get any photos of fire. In a nutshell, I flunked the challenge and ended up posting nothing. But it continued to haunt me. I still wanted to play.

Today I was looking through the pictures from last year’s Black Hills vacation and it occurred to me I may be able to redeem myself in the challenge yet. I think I found all of the elements from our ride to Harney Peak.

In all the years we have been trail riding, the trail to Harney Peak – and the ride itself - ranks among my favorites. It was an all day ride. On our flatlander horses, we rode about 13 miles and climbed over 2,000 feet that day, to the highest point on this side of the Rockies. The pictures couldn’t capture the real beauty, but I’ll never forget it.

" Air"

I can still smell the freshness


This was found just below the look-out at the top of Harney Peak


Might be stretching it a bit, but John is having a smoke...


Ginger resting once we reached the peak.

Aug 7, 2009

Car Shopping ~ A Necessary Evil

When I first started and subsequently the Stable Talk column, I didn’t know I was blogging. I don’t remember the first time I heard the word “blog” and related it to what I was writing, but I guess I’ve been doing it undefined for about five years. Blogging. It’s such a strange little word. I just started writing because the home page needed something more and I wanted it to be fresh when readers logged on to my website. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed writing until I had a forum to continue. And it seemed with horses, I always had a story to tell.

On the trail this week, I met Pat, an English teacher who mentioned she reads my blog, and I have to admit I was a bit intimidated! I never know if my stories are grammatically correct or considered well written. (Let alone if anyone reads them or simply moves on to the Classified section!) I can usually see the glaring mistakes after I hit “publish”, but it is those that aren’t so obvious or the mysteries of the English language that I have never fully understood that will catch me with my literary pants down! I always wonder if my former English teacher, Mr. Witty, taught me enough to not embarrass myself!

I try to update this blog a couple times a week. This week it didn’t happen and even though my deadline is self-imposed, I was starting to get the shakes! I don't deal well with tardiness, especially my own! It wasn't that I lacked things to write about – there is a non-stop monologue going through my head - but sometimes by the end of the day, there is a big disconnect between my brain and my fingers. And this week I lacked horse related activities. Although I did ride the last two nights, my time has been sandwiched between taking the boys to Worlds of Fun and scanning Craig’s List and AutoTrader.

I'm a few weeks away from the end of the lease on my Honda Civic. I really don't know what got into me when I leased it other than predicting the price of gas was going to go up -- and it did. Although the thirty-six miles per gallon was the only bright thing when we were being raped by the oil companies last year, I am really not a Civic type of gal. And there are a few things about Hondas that I have never gotten used to.

  • Why do you have to use the key or the key clicker to lock the doors? Why can't I just hit "lock" on the door panel? (My hands are usually full when I get out of the car!)
  • The wipers are on the wrong side of the steering column! (I'm always turning on the lights instead of the wiper -- even after 4 years!)
  • I can't charge my cell phone when the car is turned off!
  • Oh, and switching on the bright lights is backward!
Mechanically it was a good little car, but these things bugged me to no end. But what it comes down to is this. I miss driving a big gas guzzling SUV! And I'm willing to pay the higher fuel bills for a vehicle that fits our horse/dog/kid lifestyle a little better.

As much as I'm looking forward to having another vehicle with a hitch, I dread shopping for said vehicle! The internet has made it somewhat easier. I have researched those that interest me. Narrowed it down to what-will-do-what-I-want-it-to-do-for-the-price-I-want-to-spend! But sooner or later, I'm going to have to leave the house and actually see it, drive it and worse, DEAL on it! I'd rather put a needle in my eye! And although my husband is multi-talented, his personality does not lend itself to wheelin' and dealin'. (Don't tell him I said that). I'm sure as we dicker with the salesman, John and I will bicker. Since temperatures are going to soar into the high 90's this weekend, I may as well bite the bullet and go looking. I would hate it worse if I had to miss a good riding weekend at a used car lot.

Saturday Evening Update: Just as I was aiming for my eye, I found it! A Dodge Durango with a V8 Hemi! It's perfect!