Jan 29, 2010
It started out a very cold four degrees this morning. Sunny, but did I mention it was FOUR degrees? I work at home on Friday mornings and because it was FOUR degrees, slipped on my fleece riding pants and a sweatshirt. That's the cool thing about working at home - no dress code.
I usually get off at noon on Friday but had some things to finish up and before I knew it, it was 2:30. The weather bug on my computer finally hit 20 degrees. A heat wave! There was no wind. The sun was still shining. I put on another layer of clothes and headed for the barn.
After slipping off her blanket, I turned Windy loose in the arena to let her run or roll or both. Half the arena is snow packed, the other have frozen and dry. She did her best Arabian imitation; her tail flagged as she snorted and pranced. All I could think of was, "there is no way I can have her ready for Expo in six weeks". Ah, but I'll save that worry for another day.
I snapped the lead on and tied her to the hitching post. After a quick brushing, I saddled my mare and together with the dogs, we took off down our country road for a quick five mile ride. Putting on those fleece riding pants this morning must have been a good sign. It felt good to be back in the saddle again.
Jan 26, 2010
Our refurbish project is going slow. We have some paint on the walls, a fixture hung and the rest is still in a state of disrepair. So no horse news. No house news. It's time for Lucky Shots!
I probably have posted the above photo before. Correction, "award winning" photo! I entered it in the Nebraska Horse Expo photo contest a few years ago and won! And it was truly a lucky shot.
The evening I took this picture, John and I were riding with the Platte River Riders. I started out on Blue and he was getting all nerved up at all the boats and jet skis on the lake and was becoming quite a handful. If I remember correctly, I had just had a cast removed from my ankle and didn't have the strength to ride him out. So we switched and I got on Ginger. Despite not liking boats, Blue loves water. As John took him out into the water, I took my 4 mega pixel Nikon out of my saddle bag and snapped this picture. I never tire of looking at it.
The boys were playing on Butter and Ginger in the round pen. This picture is unusual in the fact that McCain is riding Butter. He never riders Butter. Note the cast on his arm from an earlier accident when he fell from Blue while going thru a gate. No doubt, playing with this rope between the two horses was probably just another accident waiting to happen - but we somehow dodged the bullet that day! (I don't think that loose helmet will help save McCain's head either. Jeesh, who's his mama?)
I had the camera on continuous shooting as I sometimes will do when the boys are riding. Although Case is cut off in this picture, I just loved the look of Ginger. You can tell her soft trot, see the sun in her tail. The horse appears to be having as much fun as the child.
I took this picture last spring on a conditioning ride. As usual, John had rode ahead of me. I liked the contrast between the road and the sky.
This picture was taken on the river near Fullerton, Nebraska. I was laying in a lawn chair in the water with my friends when "the boys" came riding through.
And finally, we were riding at Camp Moses when the boys came upon this deer. It stopped and watched as the kids approached. There is no hunting at Camp Moses and the deer are used to campers and riders. It's amazing how close you can sometimes get before they scurry off.
Jan 24, 2010
Each week I try to participate in the online Sunday Stills challenge. This week's challenge was simply "Sports". I took the above picture & the one immediately following at our Trails Committee's annual game day fundraiser where we compete in what is generally mounted games, such as barrel racing and pole bending.
My friend, Mary Hanson, is an avid driver. She competed in the games using her team of Morgans. Her husband, Dwight, is on the back of the cart. His job is important to keep the balance of the buggy. The dust from the wheels show the speed in which the cart was moving. It was really quite exciting to watch.
This past summer, I stepped out of my comfort zone and actually did compete in a couple of Competitive Trail Rides. This picture was taken at Smithville Lake, Missouri, as we picked our way along the trail. It had rained five inches in 2 hours the afternoon before, which brought many challenges to both horse and rider.
Looking at some other Sunday Stills pictures reminded me of these shots taken while on a riding vacation in South Dakota. The boys took a time out from horses to go fishing at Deerfield Lake.
Jan 21, 2010
Thank you for all the comments on my last post. It was pretty exciting when we started working on the house all those years ago. Over time, our circle of friends has changed. And I forgot that many didn’t know the history of our home. To most, it’s just another old farmhouse.
The refurbish has slowed this week. John has to make some repairs to the office floor before we can continue to finish them. Hopefully we’ll see more progress this weekend.
Horse related? I can’t believe it is January 21 and so far this year, I have only been on a horse for what seems like just a brief moment. And although I miss it terribly, I just haven’t had the itch. I am just not up to riding in these conditions. There is a mixture of ice, mud and snow that makes footing impossible to negotiate. It just doesn't look like fun.
I know you all are sick of hearing me whine about the weather, but it really has been incredible. I swear there is a man behind the curtain playing with the weather buttons just to see what he can stir up next. The trees seem to be permanently flocked in a layer of frost. This past week we have been under a layer of fog which won’t go away. And if fog alone isn’t bad enough, I heard a new weather term: “icy fog”. What the heck is that? Pretty as it is, I'm so bored with it all, I can't even get excited about taking pictures of these latest weather conditions. I need some sunny days. Or Prozac. Or both.
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
Jan 19, 2010
A little off topic, but thought I would share what we have been up to lately. Our house is a very, very, very fine house. But it took a lot of remodeling and renovating to get there. The “before” picture above was almost twenty years ago. Before marriage, kids and horses. Before we grew up. Way back when, while driving around the countryside, John and I stumbled upon what the kids would call “a Scooby Doo house.” Old and rundown. Scary. But we had a dream.
Looking back, it was probably more of a nightmare, but we were romantic and idealistic. So what! if the house hadn’t been lived in by anything but raccoons for 30 some years! So what! if there were no windows and there were holes in the roof. So what! if we are going to have to move it over 30 miles before we could even begin to think about fixing it up. In our pea-brained mind, it was all very doable.
Somewhere in between getting married, having babies, both of us working full-time and my horse obsession, we got it done. We even moved in an old barn to make our farm complete. Since we did all the work ourselves, it literally took us years and several different color palettes to complete. And we swore we would never do it again! Give me a two bedroom ranch any day!
Fast-forward about eighteen years. After being snowed in and watching way too much HDTV, my house was really starting to bug me. “They” told me on HDTV that we really should update every five years. I am a decade overdue. As I glanced around my rooms, I wondered what is up with my pink/lavender/grayish walls? Was that my choice of color? Why didn’t we redo the floors instead of laying carpet? Why, oh WHY, did I insist on wallpaper. And who let the dogs in? Yep, it’s time to refurbish.
This first phase of refurbishing includes the living room, dining room and office. Don’t tell John, but the bathroom and kitchen are next! It won’t take eighteen years; you'll be surprised at what we can accomplish with a few more snow days!
Jan 16, 2010
My next set of Lucky Shots are favorites I have taken of Windy. I have more pictures of her than I do of my kids, so I am not surprised a few turned out worthy of being printed some day.
The photo above was taken while she was at the trainer last spring. Brenda was working on getting her to have a more collected lope. Windy doesn't appreciate collection in the least. It's been a struggle for both her and me and I am probably still too lax about asking her for collection. What I liked about this picture is the look on her face and her tail. It says it all. She is not a happy camper, but is trying to oblige.
This picture is my "for sale" picture. No, dah! She is not for sale. But if she were, this would make a great shot for an online classified. This was a morning shot taken at Rock Creek Station the last week in September. I thought the trees behind her were so pretty. Her look is familiar as she always perks up when I call her name.
An interesting angle. John and I were out riding our roads last spring. Although we hadn't opened up our pastures yet for the horses, the ditches along the road were greening up. We stopped so the horses could get a taste of it. I was sitting down next to her and something in the distance caught her attention. She looked up and I snapped the picture.
I'd been out taking some pictures in the pasture. I don't think Windy realized I was there until this moment. Again, her ears perked up and she started coming my way. I just liked everything in this picture. If you look closely, it was the change of seasons. Some of the grass is starting to dry up and the leaves are turning. In other shots, you can tell the horses coat is getting thick and more vibrant in color, as well.
South Dakota. Deerfield Lake. The water, the sky, the horses. We were in paradise that day. I love the look in her eye as she watches a boat on the water. She had raised her head from grazing; you can see the grass still in her mouth. In the larger picture size, her mane is so black, it almost has a blue hue to it. One of my favorite picture!
I've always liked this picture, too. It was taken in the spring as the grass was starting to green up. The sun was going down. I think Windy was just 4 or 5 in this picture. She was starting to fill out, looking more like a horse than one just coming of age.
And finally, this one was just a fun shot. I really don't think she is eating the crab apples; perhaps just had her face in the tree to scratch it.
The sun is shining on my back as I type this post. It is suppose to be almost 40 degrees today! As I look out the window, I still see nothing but a blanket of snow. But hopefully, the little break in temperature will start the meltdown! I might even catch some saddle time!
No Sunday Stills for me this week. We are doing a little updating in our house & the office has been temporarily disassembled. Hope to be back on task next week!
Jan 13, 2010
What a relief to feel the temperatures thirty degrees warmer than they were last week. Its not like 27 degrees is exactly warm, but it is all relative after the last week of menacing wind chills. And a two-week vacation plus another 3.5 days of being snowed in with the family is a little TOO much togetherness. Have you ever just woke up mad and not know why? I kind of felt a bit like Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. Coming back to work on Monday was a welcome relief. The only casualty of the weekend was a rooster, but I was on the edge.
And more good news: the last few snow days only put me up one pound. Good news why? Well, I was sure consuming more than a dozen Pioneer Woman Molasses Cookies would cost me more than that! If that was the only pound I gained though the holidays, I would be thrilled, but alas, now the ten that I wanted to lose to get me 5 pounds slimmer than where I was pre-holiday has morphed into 10 pounds to get me to where I was when I started. Did you follow that math? Don’t bother. It’s depressing. I walked out of Curves almost 3 months ago and it cost me 10 pounds! I walked back in to Curves this week. Here we go again!
Perusing the blog lists, its fun to see everyone’s 2010 horse goals. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of talking about it and am ready to go out and start riding! But at this point, the footing is almost too poor to trust my own feet. I catch myself walking like an old woman. When did that happen? One minute it seems I was running and sliding and laughing on the snow covered sidewalks and then BOOM! Twenty-five years fly by and now I have broken hips on my mind.
On Sunday afternoon, I bundled up in my coveralls and cold weather gear. I went to the tack room and took a halter and lead off the hook and headed toward the corral. Windy waited for me as I approached her, dropping her head and slipping softly into the halter. I led her over to and sidled her up next to the outside feeding bunk. Between the bulkiness of my coveralls and my molasses cookie laden thigh, it took me a couple attempts to swing the leg over, but once there, I felt her warmth. I leaned down, tying the lead rope to emulate reins, burying my nose in her mane, my arms around her neck. Then picked up the rope and softly clucked her into motion and had my first ride of 2010. It anchored me. And the anger I felt that morning was no longer there. It felt good to be home.
Jan 10, 2010
As always, I try to keep my posts horse related. I have a few of Blue that seemed to really capture his personality. But I also think I may have posted them on this blog a time or two. And I have more pictures of Windy than I do of my kids! So I cheated a bit. And started another series of posts called Lucky Shots. There I can showcase those that just didn't quite fall into the "favorite" category, but that make me smile nonetheless.
Here is my all time favorite 2009 Best Shot.
This picture was taken this past June at our ride at Big Canyon Ranch near Basset, Nebraska. It was late in the afternoon and our bunch road out into the east pastures. We started climbing some of the higher hills. Several of us tackled an even bigger hill while the rest of our group rested on this bluff. When I came back down from that climb, I took this picture of the valley which reaches all the way to the Niobrara River. It truly looks like you can see forever. But when I downloaded this picture, what I really appreciated about is were not only the colors, but the other riders. Their expressions or lack thereof. All of them in their own little world, taking in the same beauty that I was seeing through my lens. This is why I trail ride. It just doesn't get any better than this.
And the second runner up, goes to my boys. Kind of horse related as it was taken when we were putting up hay. Once again, what I like about this picture is how it captured their personalities. McCain is looking away from the camera. He is not avoiding it. He probably has no clue I am taking the picture. He's a dreamer. Nothing bad about that - he takes after me. And I can tell he is caught up in one of his big dreams at this moment. Probably picturing himself doing anything besides putting up hay. And Case, he sees the camera and no doubt, the shot before this and the shot after, he has some sort of funny face happening to try to ruin the picture. And the boxers coming out of the jeans? I have no idea where that look came from! Finally, Ritz, the dog. He is the most obedient dog I ever owned. Just last night I had him doing similar poses on snow drifts. So I tell him to get on the bales for a picture, he gets on the bales. And isn't he photogenic? That dog doesn't take a bad picture! So my boys, all three of them, garner the spot for my second favorite picture of 2009.
I have to give Ed credit - when he offers a challenge, he makes me think not only about just capturing the subject, but taking a good shot. Can't wait to see what our photo assignments are for 2010.
Jan 9, 2010
This next set of Lucky Shots I took because of the sky. I remember thinking that the sky just couldn't get any bluer and hoped I could capture it in the photos and happy that I did. Other than reducing the size, these photos weren't Photoshopped; they are straight out of the camera.
The next few pictures were taken on our trip to South Dakota in June of 2008. When we rode Deerfield Lake, the sky was changing all day long. It provided a back drop for dozens of pictures. These are a few of my favorites.
We had stopped for a break on top of a hill which provided us with a breathtaking view of Deerfield Lake. Our horses were tired. We tied one to a nearby branch and unhooked the reins from the bridles on the others horses and let them graze. They weren't going anywhere. They were, however, quite curious about a lone boat on the lake. I can't remember if it was motorized or not, but I took some great shots of the horses while they watched the boat.
Coming around the end of Deerfield Lake, look how the clouds are reflected in the water. I was really disappointed that I had inadvertently changed the setting on my camera and this print would not blow up to an 8 x 10 with the necessary clarity.
I took this picture of my friend, Kathy, near the summit of Hat Mountain, also in South Dakota. Kathy is afraid of heights and although the area was quite large, it was a pretty steep drop-off behind her, if I recall.
This picture was taken this past June at Horsetales Big Canyon ride near Basset, Nebraska. I loved the puff of a cloud behind the riders.
It's interesting that some of my favorite sky pictures were taken in June. I wonder if the temperatures have something to do with it or the time of year. Not saying the sky isn't pretty other times, but I have noticed in June it just seems to be above and beyond the norm.
Jan 8, 2010
I'll try to give a quick weather update without using a plethora of expletives, which right now, isn't easy. Seems no one around these parts is saying "the weather" without inserting what seems an appropriate cuss word:
"The ^&*%* weather".
(By the way, no one around these parts uses the word "plethora" either, but it is a rather cool word in the right circumstances.)
In my best weatherman voice: Overnight temperatures dropped to double digits below the zero mark with 30 - 40 mph wind gusts. Snowing has stopped, but temperatures remain brutal. My weather bug showed -9 this morning with a -24 wind-chill temperature. Tonight the air temperature is expected to drop to -25 below zero. Who knows what that makes the wind-chill. I can't count that far backwards.
Our county road is still blown closed, as is our driveway. We aren't going anywhere soon, it would seem. Most area schools remain closed for the 3rd day in a row. This is some crazy *&^#* weather we are having!
Although it is still -2 at 1:00 this afternoon, the sun is shining and the wind has dropped to a steady 10 mph. John made the boys get up early today and bring in fire wood from a pile out yonder. They were pretty sure this was some sort of child abuse as they pulled on their coveralls, balaclava and the other normal attire which John and I have been sporting for days just to take care of the livestock. I can already hear the embellishments they plan to tell their kids about their blizzard workload! I’m glad to report there were no casualties while performing this sadistic chore, although they most certainly thought they were Going. To. Die. It probably took them a good thirty minutes before their fingers warmed up enough to play video games again!
I’ve enjoyed reading your comments from my prior posts. It seems many of you have also had an unusual weather year. Yes, we have all had enough already! Midwesterners are pretty tough, but jeez, it's wearing me out! It’s time for a warm change.
More Lucky Shots coming up later. Clicking through thousands of digital pictures has been a nice distraction.
Jan 7, 2010
While perusing my picture inventory, I started pulling out other favorites. I take thousands of photos. At times, I concentrate really hard to get that truly good shot, but most of the time, I am just snapping away and get lucky. That doesn't necessarily mean that are photography quality, but just that I like them. That I can feel the moment.
So I started pulling some of those lucky shots to share with you. And boy, there were more than I thought! So rather than put a few dozen pictures on one post, I'll make "Lucky Shots" a regular "filler", posting when there is nothing else to post about except the weather (to which I am getting sick to death of posting about!)
Butterscotch and the Hen: I had the horses out grazing in the yard this past summer and the chickens were following them around. The poultry seem to find a never ending supply of bugs around their equine friends. On this particular day, the black chicken was following Blue, the red chicken was following Ginger and this "red dun" colored chicken was following Butter. I found it interesting that they were all color coordinated. Coincidence, no doubt. But I'm easily entertained. I like this photo because when shown in it's larger size, it almost looks 3-D.
Ah, Glory Days! This picture was taken in 2006. The kids had finally learned to saddle their own horses and ride! They would spend what seemed like hours in this early spring running their horses up and down the pasture road. On this particular day, not long after I shot this picture, McCain hollered at me to come & help him. He had fallen off of Blue coming through a gate and had put his arms out to break his fall. Sure enough, fractured wrist!
The horse is dirty, the picture kind of out of focus... but still, I liked it. Taken in March of 2004, I had opened up the corrals to let the horses out in the yard to just run! Blue was passing under the weeping willow tree when I took this photo. By this time of year, their winter coats are faded and dingy, just waiting to be brushed out for the spring thaw. My black horse looks brown - and not a pretty brown, either!
Later that same year, John had Baby fitted for harness and built a skid to teach her to pull. After a trial run or two up the driveway, she was ready for passengers! That is Case and his cousin, Jayden, who is visible. McCain is on there as well. That is my brother following behind. I love the expressions on everyone's faces... the kids', John's and even Baby's.
This shot was taken last March. Things were warming up. I can't remember how I twisted John's arm to come ride the pasture with me; perhaps just checking fence. And someone needs to put some time on that draft horse!
I remember not so long ago using my 35mm camera and taking a roll of 24 photos in for developing and being so disappointed in the outcome. Why was it so hard to take good pictures? And as I look through my digital files I find the early pictures weren't much better than those 35mm shots. What I learned is it just takes practice. And a lot of pictures! And a photoshop program for those that need just a little help!
Jan 6, 2010
Jan 3, 2010
Yep, I caved and put blankets on the horses. It made me feel better.
There is nothing like another couple inches of snow to brighten my day! It’s my last day of vacation and I absolutely have no idea what to do with it. One-degree temperatures do not lend it to very much. I’ve cleaned closets – two of them, and the pantry. And I had a mouse fall on face. If that isn’t a hazard of cleaning, I don’t know what is! A lot of good those three cats are doing us. I am thinking maybe they should get a taste of the one-degree weather! Seriously, we haven’t had a mouse in the house for years. But then we never had a dog that could open (and not close) the exterior doors. Dang Ritz anyway!
And if you think I am pretty blasé about a rodent on my face, you are wrong. Granted, mice don’t freak me out like snakes do. If a snake fell on my face, I would never come back in my house again. Ever. I would have to live in the barn. And you think I’m kidding! Not!
In the case of the flying mouse, I jumped over three dogs and one cat as I ran out of the room screaming. Ritz took that as an opportunity to chase the cat, which may have went for the mouse, had the dog given it half a chance. But then again, look at him! Probably not! After I woke up Case to tell him what happened, I abandoned the pantry job until John could secure the area. I was pleased to see the little critter’s lifeless body in a trap the following day. Sorry, PETA folks, I’m a farm girl. We eat beef and kill mice. Excuse me while I go wash my face …. Again!
To make this horse related, there is one cardinal rule when riding with me. If you see a snake on the trail, don’t look at it, don't point to it and don’t tell me about it. Just keep on riding like nothing is there. It is truly a phobia with me that is not the least bit funny. I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it right now. When I was young, a neighborhood kid threw a dead snake at me and I still feel it touching my leg like it just happened. And that was forty years ago. I don’t forget or forgive; God rest that kid’s soul, whatever his name was....
At Cowgirl Weekend 2004, I was riding John’s horse. Ginger had always scared me and I never quite trusted her. When a rattlesnake was found on the trail, there was no getting around me not knowing about it. The only thing I could do was get the heck out of Dodge. It was the first and only time I have ever opened Ginger all the way up and let her run. And run we did. Fast! You'd have thought a den of snakes were after us. Although the memory of the snake still sends shivers down my spine, that race from terror still makes me smile. We were flying.
I realize I may be opening myself up to torment by admitting this online. I’m sure some prankster will think, “let’s scare Tammy” and want to sneak up on me with a snake. My husband knows not to do that, my kids know not to do that and those close to me know not to do that. Broken trust is the quickest way to end a friendship. Ask the boy from the hood all those years ago!
And with that said, I’m going scoop snow. Again.
Jan 1, 2010
The New Year. Resolution time and all that jazz. Beyond hoping for a happy and healthy year, I don't go much further in forecasting its outcome. I can barely keep up with the day to day lists. With that said, it’s easy, however, to set horse related goals because riding is all I want to do. The challenge is keeping those goals realistic when there is only so much time in the day and days in the month that have to be shared with those other family activity, work and miscellaneous mundane tasks that make up life. But I’m the queen of shuffling things around to make it all work or at least appear that way.
Here is my short, but important list:
Trail Time Hours: Exceed 2009 hours which exceeded 2008 hours which exceeded 2007 hours, etc. (Trail Time is a ride program sponsored by the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee.)
The Herd: With John & the boys riding less and less, I have three more horses that need some saddle time, too. Include those horses in a regular riding rotation or invite a horseless friend to come ride with me.
Competitive Trail Rides: Ah, what’s another couple rides! And maybe a Limited Distance Ride, too!
Ride New Trails: Plans are underway for our biennial trip with the Newbergs and we will be blazing new trails!
Camp More: Just do it. I’ll regret that I didn’t do it more when the snow flies in the fall!
Lose Weight, Again! (Wow! If that picture doesn’t scare the heck out of you, nothing will!) Two years ago, I worked very hard to lose almost 40 pounds. Truly, it was more difficult than when I quit smoking. At least with that bad habit, once I was over it, I was done. I don’t need a cigarette to live. (I know, try telling that to a smoker!) But with food, it’s always there. I need to feed my family. I need to eat. Not to mention all the social events which seem to center around food. It’s easy to eat more than I should.
I have proven to myself that the true secret to losing weight (hang on to your hats now) is diet and exercise. (Surprise!) I’ve been kind of lax in both lately and I feel the pounds creeping back. So, believe it or not (and as cliché as it may be), probably the most important goal for 2010 is not one of those listed above, but to get back into my size 10 Levis which I worked so hard to fit into in the first place. My horse will thank me. And I’ll feel better, too.
So that’s it. Short & sweet and all very doable. What are your horse related goals for 2010?