Feb 22, 2013

Crying Wolf




Earlier this week, I went with my boss and our project team to Portland, Oregon for a short trip to visit one of our business partners.  Occasionally, when taking a larger group, we get to fly on our corporate jet.  No lines, connections or TSA; we can hit the west coast in a little over 3 hours.  With the time change, we left Nebraska at 6:00 AM  and started our meeting in Portland at 8:30 AM.  It’s the only way to fly. 




Our plane is a Falcon 50.  It seats 9 passengers; 10 if someone wants to ride in the cockpit with the pilots.  The galley is stocked for breakfast in the morning and lunches or dinner on the way home and yes, it does have a nice bathroom. 




Flying on a private jet gives me a total “rock star” feeling even though my job is far from rock star status.  It’s a great way to travel and makes me really hate commercial travel which is the way we go most often.




For the last week, the media has been all excited about a snow storm moving into our state.  There have been graphics on the news for days showing up to two feet of snow expected and our city as right in the bulls-eye of what looked like the storm of the season.  So much so that our corporate office was suggesting travelers return home early so they do not get stranded at other locations.   We left a few hours early but it was easy for us.  Others having to change commercial flights, not so much.  Lines were forming at the grocery stores; school was called off the next day, long before a snow flake fell from the sky.




We had a light dusting of snow the evening I got home but they kept pushing back the major blast.  I put blankets on the herd the next morning.  They were so frisky.  But still, not much was coming down.  We waited and waited and waited.    




Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel arrived in Lincoln to report on this major weather development.   Rumor has it, he rented a car and headed to Kansas City as there wasn’t much action here as what was predicted.  By late afternoon, this is all we had on the ground here at home. 


mccain prog _ snow 047


As you can see, not much more fell overnight.  By morning, it was all over.  What a disappointment!  To be fair, some areas in Nebraska had maybe up to a foot.  But no where near the moisture that was predicted. 


Granted, a few years ago we were crying “enough, already” when we got plummeted with two holiday storms in a row.  But today we would gladly take the inconvenience.  I have heard we need 80 inches of snowfall to even think about getting out of these drought conditions.  I guess we have 76 inches to go. 


Truly, I don’t know if the meteorologists can be this wrong or is it all about making the weather a media sensation these days?  



Feb 15, 2013

Valentine’s Day


While most think of flowers, chocolates and a lovely dinner on Valentine’s Day, it’s not an option for those of us who are dieting.  Although I made it through Fat Tuesday with calories to burn, I blew my diet on Ash Wednesday at the church’s baked potato feed.  Who’d of thought you could find so many meatless options for toppings on a baked potato?  So a dinner out on V-Day wasn’t in plans. 




At 40 degrees, which is okay for February in Nebraska, it was still a gloomy day for what seems like the longest month of the year.  Rather than stay home, we decided to load up the mares and go to team sorting practice at Chance Ridge just outside of Omaha. 




We’ve done this a few times in the past.  Both mares are certainly bred to work cattle but face it; we are trail riders and don’t get a lot of experience in the pens.  There was a chance of snow in the forecast which must have kept a lot of the regulars home, so we had lots of opportunities to work those cows.




The cows in the pens have numbers on their neck.  The gateman gives us a number – say number 5 – and one of us goes and cuts #5 from the herd and moves it to the other pen while our partner blocks the gate to keep the rest of the herd back.  Then the partner goes for #6, and then #7, switching off cutting and gate duties until all the cows are moved in order to the other pen.




Now in real competition, if a cow slips through out of order or comes back into the pen you just moved it from, you are disqualified.  But in practice, it is simply that – just learning how to move them successfully.  And in real life, it moves a lot faster than the speed we were moving.



To put it bluntly - we aren’t very good at this game.  But that is why they call it practice.  To get better.  I doubt we’ll ever see real competition.  We will never practice enough to be any good.  Windy was getting crankier as the night went on – I think she thought we already moved these dumb cows once – why are we doing it again?   But we had a lot of fun riding in a relatively warm arena on a cold Valentine’s Day in Nebraska.  Beats chocolate any day!


Feb 12, 2013

Tack Sale Coming April 6

An Old Fashioned Horse and Tack Swap Meet will be held on April 6 at Chance Ridge Event Center, located just off W Dodge Road at 508 N Skyline Road in Elkhorn.  Clean out your tack room and trailer.  Here is your opportunity to offer up some of the horse gear you are no longer using:  saddles, tack, show clothes and other horse related items including horse camping supplies!.  Bring it here in the heated social hall!   Information here......


Feb 10, 2013

Just Us Girls


CGW Dinner 045a


I just spent the afternoon with some of my nearest and dearest friends.  And the funny thing is, I didn’t know any of them a dozen years ago.  They all came into my life because of horses. 


Tammy M & Jules

Tammy M & Jules


Today I sat around the table with Tammy M, who introduced me to trail riding after she sold me a horse.  She stayed, the horse didn’t.  Then there is Jules, who I met through Joni and I’ve never told her this, but her spirit and quiet way has always reminded me of my mom which makes her so easy to be with and I tear up now just writing that.   


Joni & Kathy

Joni & Kathy


Joni, who is “the high school friend I never met” and if we had, we would have had so much fun and been in so much trouble!  Kathy, who put an ad in the paper asking for help building a horse trail to Loma.  We built it all right, but more importantly, we built a treasured friendship.


Me, Robyn & Tanya

Me, Robyn & Tanya


Then there is Robyn, who called me out of the blue about 10 years ago (that long already?) about a ride I was hosting and who gladly accepted a Mike’s Hard Lemonade from me following what was a harder ride than she bargained for.  Tanya, from my home town, who is not quite young enough to be my daughter but I’ll claim her as my baby sister.   


Sharron & Shari

Sharron & Shari


Sharron, whom I can’t remember ever meeting the first time but has always been there to share some fabulous riding trips.  I should also mention that her horse Boomer is the love of Windy’s life.  Really!   And Shari, who has not only taught me so much about distance riding, but has shared the trails with me in competition.  There were others around the long table who, if it weren’t for horses, I would not have met. 





We talked of Jessica’s impending marriage, we did a quick run down on our kids and grandkids.  We commiserated about our diets, jobs, hot flashes, cold weather and the winter doldrums.  We laughed about what some people (not us!) post on Facebook!  But most of all, we talked horse. 


Deb & Janelle

Deb & Janelle


At some time over the last twelve years, I have shared the trail with these women.  l know their horses’ names, breeds and ages better than I know their kids.  They cried with me when I lost Ginger and Maddie and Ritz and I cried with them when they lost Chivas and Chase, Dancer and Ol’ Red. 


Alice & Me

Alice & Me


We are the girls of Cowgirl Weekend.  A multi-generational bunch of women who each fall, leave our husbands and our kids and load up our ponies for an all horse (long) weekend.  We ride, we eat, we play games and yes, we have been known to sing a song or two.  And in the cold of winter, we play dress-up (kind of) and go to a fancy restaurant and relive those crisp autumn days all over again and plan for the next one.   


CGW Dinner 048


And then after we eat, we hit the local western store and drop a few bucks into the local economy. 


Life is good.



Feb 2, 2013

Groundhog Day




February 2.  Groundhog day.  One of my favorite holidays because it doesn’t require a special dinner, partying till the sun comes up or buying a gift.  And it’s outcome doesn’t change a thing, really.  


I’m not counting the days until spring as much as I am counting the bales of hay.  If we get enough moisture this spring so our pasture grass comes in lush, we will have enough.  If the drought continues (as it seems it is), we will need more hay.  Right now it is going for around $120 – $150 per round bale.  When it’s cold, our horses seem to go through one about every week.  To say I’m nervous about it is an understatement.   




In an effort to conserve the hay and avoid waste, I bought a net*.  The horses have to work a little harder to get their hay and there is a lot less waste.   It has taken some practice getting it on right and securing it but this last time seems to have worked okay.  I did put some holes in it when I hooked it to the feeder, but just “sewed” it up with twine.  We are on day 9 of the bale today; hope to get another 2 days out of it.  (If interested, info on the haynet at the bottom of this post.)




Earlier this week, the temps dipped down to single digits with high winds resulting in wind chills at –10 to –15 degrees.   John helped me blanket the herd the other night.  Ninety-nine percent of the horses in Nebraska survive the winter without being blanketed, but it makes me feel better when they are.  It’s still hovering around freezing right now, but the sun is now out so I’ll go out and undress them this afternoon. 




Pip loves the barn cats.  Tom, who has always cuddled up to our springer, Maddie, when she was alive, has allowed the pup the same liberties.  He will roll in the barn and she will pounce at him.  It was hard to catch a picture that was not blurry; Pip does not hold still for long, but you get the idea. 




When Tom has enough, he climbs back into the hayloft.  He is such a tease!  I love being out in the barn with the horses and the other animals.  Just wish it weren’t so blasted cold right now! 




Entries for The Distance Derby 2013 are now closed.  There are 129 riders this year, including the editor and a writer for TrailBLAZER magazine.  I am thrilled that they are publishing my story of the Distance Derby 2012 in their March issue.  Last year at this time, I had already logged over 90 miles.  This year, I have barely 35 miles.  Once we get through February – our coldest month – I’ll be more motivated.  In the meantime, I am filling the calendar with riding plans.  For the record, I have filled John in, too, even though he’ll claim he knew nothing when the time comes.  I’m also working on the Platte River Riders schedule.  I’ve asked the other chapter managers to fill in their rides and I’ll publish what I have next week. 




*I bought the haynet from Gourock.com as did several others folks I know.  I ordered 15x15 and it seems to work okay for my round bales.  It was $68 + $12 shipping.  If you are interested, here is a direct link.  It is tricky to get it completely covered but with practice, it gets easier.  We netted it this last time while on the bale fork and then used different ties (bungee cords, twine) to tie it to the feeder.