Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mid-week critter

Recently, DA gave me a really nice Ariat zip-up fleece that just didn't quite fit her (thanks DA!). As luck would have it, it's great for me, except that the cuffs on the sleeves were a bit tight.

So, Maddy came in and helped me fix them.

She mostly snoogled on the fleece while I ripped out the elastic on the cuffs.

In between angling for pettings, it's important for cats to lay on objects to hold them down. We wouldn't want said objects to escape, after all.

By the time I was done, Maddy had made herself right at home and decided to stay inside for the night. That's OK, she's a good cuddler and she purrs a lot!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mid-week critter

This week's critter is completely new. It's Reddum's mustache.

Yes, I said "Reddum's mustache." Every winter he gets this little 'stache going.

Do you think he's going for the Tom Selleck look? (BTW, did you know that Tom Selleck's mustache has its own Facebook page? I do not make these things up...)

Maybe I should get some wax and do this baby up right. What do you think?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The barn - now with a roof and walls!

The metal on the barn got finished mid-week.

First, they finished putting up the roof.

Next they put up the west wall, and the section of the north wall.

Then they framed out the front of the barn, including the door into the workshop and the two windows. (Note Maddy - over by the door - inspecting their handywork.)

And finally put the R-panel on the front of the barn. I'm mostly happy with the way this looks, but I think it will look even better when the driveway is finished, the extra roadbase is removed, and there's some landscape put in.

We started framing out the interior walls this weekend too, but that's for another post. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Every morning when I go out to feed the boys and muck, I have a little routine.

I fetch their alfalfa, then unlock the gate to the paddock. As I plop down a flake for each of them in their respective feed bins, I call out "Room Service!" Of course, they're too busy nomming their alfalfa to notice much.

Next, I fetch the pitchfork and wheelbarrow. Since at this point the boys have their heads deep in their feed bins and I don't want to spook anyone, I call out "Housekeeping!" as I trundle in and start to muck.

Maybe they don't care, but it amuses me to no end. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011


Because I spend most of my time after work doing outdoor spring-cleaning chores these days, most of my recent riding has involved quick rides down the street with a loop home through the woods. I often ride Red bareback since he's nice and round, and pony Saga. Riding bareback while ponying another horse probably fits under the category of things that aren't that smart to do, but I wear a helmet and often a body vest as well, and let's face it - Red's not all that far to the ground. :)

However, this week MC came over to ride Red, and I actually got to ride Saga on a real ride. We went down the street and took the loop almost home, ending in the field behind the house where we actually did some work. Saga wasn't having ANY of it. He was forward at the trot but was having fun throwing his head and then pulling me downward - BRAT. I was riding in his Happy Mouth bit which pretty much has no brakes anywhere, so that made it doubly fun. To the left we lacked steering and had a lovely time falling in on the turns, although he was OK to the right. At the canter he contemplated running me into a mesquite tree, which was just awesome. The only good bit was that he's really unfit, so he got tired pretty quickly and settled down to listen. Of course then he got sticky and sucked back at the trot and contemplated "hopping" into a canter, so we worked on going forward when asked (sounds easier than it is). We actually had some really great moments, especially considering that I haven't been riding with any sort of intent for a very long time.

Red was, of course, an absolute angel. MC even had two really nice canters (go MC!), but I think she got most of her entertainment listening to me yelling "NO! BAD PONY!" at Saga every two seconds.

Maybe I should ride more often or something. ;)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's not just the barn...

This week, we got the other half of the house re-roofed.

We were waiting to get the front porch put on before having it done, but now... well, the house is starting to look pretty good! I really think the front porch makes a huge difference, and I can't wait to get some landscaping in!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mid-week critter

Finally! A critter other than kitties!

Today's star is Elias, who demonstrates that even though he's a goofy dog most of the time, occasionally he can be a classy gentleman and sit properly with his paws crossed.

Excellent form, don't you think?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New farmlet name, and simplifying

First off, you will probably notice that the blog looks a little different. Congrads to DA for suggesting (offline) the name for our little farmlet - Wyvern Oaks. The wyvern is on my hubby's coat of arms, and symbolizes our love for medieval recreation, and of course the Oaks part is just a wonderful way to describe the land as we have so many oak trees. DA, I owe you cookies! Also, many thanks to Zhizhu for making the lovely collage you see as the blog header. I think it really exemplifies everything that makes life here so wonderful - it's a beautiful bit of artwork. Again, thanks!

In other news, I have recently been reading quite alot over at Simple, Green, Frugal and taking notes. One thing I am really trying to do this year is simplify - get rid of stuff we don't need (and HOLY COW is there a lot of STUFF!!!), cut back on what we bring into the house, and just generally take things that complicate our lives out. We have so much going on, we really could do with a little less.

So, in the vein of simplicity, I have decided to close down the Saga Chronicles blog and reinvent this blog as a combined horse and house (house and horse?) blog. The house and the horses are integrated now that we keep them at home, so this make sense. In addition, I started the Saga Chronicles blog to keep track of my progress with Saga in eventing. However, since I've had him for a bit, I've realized that the competitive bug isn't so strong in me as it was 10 years ago with Cash. Instead, I really enjoy trail riding through Sunset Valley after work, and foxhunting in the fall and spring. I miss the lack of goals sometimes, and it's fun to get gussied up and strut our stuff, but that's not where I am right now with my riding or my life. That's OK with me - I rather like the horses being less pressure and more fun time than it is when we're showing. Besides, for those of you who event, you know what a huge time commitment it is - riding 6 days a week for an hour a day, plus all the prep for shows, lessons, etc. - it's exhausting and you can get burned out really quickly. Not having that pressure is, well, kinda nice.

So, welcome to Wyvern Oaks, we have cookies. And horses, chickens, dogs... and oh, the barn. It's looking AWESOME. I'll have more pictures tomorrow, and I am holding out hope that they'll have all the metal up. WOOOT!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Half a barn roof

They've got half of the barn roof put on - woohoo! It's looking great!

Not sure how much they'll get done today, but fingers crossed that they'll be able to at least complete the rest of the roof and maybe some of the sides too.

More later...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Barn update

The barn's been at a bit of a standstill this week. The framing is complete and has been inspected (passed with flying colors, woohoo!), but then we had a bit of a snafu when we ordered the metal for the roof and sides. To make a very long story short, after two groups of people measuring everything three times, and putting in the order and having all the metal cut, a THIRD group (the guy who's actually putting the roof on) came out to measure and told us we'd screwed up. AAARGH!

After moving panels around and recalculating and double-checking (and the hubby actually going to the metal fab plant and talking to the very nice folks there twice), we figured we could get by only ordering three new pieces, plus a slightly different roof peak. Fortunately it wasn't that expensive of a mistake, thank goodness (if you haven't priced metal recently, it is NOT cheap). We'll probably end up using the extra panels to build a new chicken coop, so it's not a complete loss. Still, it made for a very tense and frustrating day while we got everything straightened out.

The good news is that the metal will be delivered today and they should start putting it on today as well - or if it's too windy, tomorrow. Which means that we should have a completed barn by the middle of next week! Well, minus a whole lot of interior finish work, of course. Still... the end is in sight!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I haven't mentioned this before because we were still deciding, but now that we have...

Two days after we started building our barn, I got a call from Paint Creek Ranch, where Cash is retired. The owner, bless her, left me a message that started with, "Cash is fine!" and then proceeded to ask me if I could please call her back. I did and we chatted for a while, and she told me that she's selling her farm and moving to Dallas.


Ok, so it's not as bad as it sounds. She's bought a new place near Dallas and offered to take Cash there if I would like that. She also recommended a boarding facility about 30 minutes away, but I looked at their site and they want to "get into" geriatric horse care. Um, no thanks, I don't want to place Cash somewhere that's not accustom to dealing with older horses. Or, of course, I could bring him home.

I've mentioned before the reasons why I left Cash at Paint Creek even after we moved here. The biggest reason is because it's perfect for him - he's fat and happy and healthy and has buddies that don't beat up on him too much (he's a wimp). He's got hills and grass and his own swimming hole, and Claudia (the BO) is just AMAZING with older horses. She takes care of him better than I think I could, and that's why he stayed.

So, after lots of discussion with the hubby about all the possible alternatives, we have decided to bring Cash home. The funny thing is, when we were planning the barn we actually talked about what we would do if Paint Creek were no longer an option, and we ended up building a slightly bigger barn... just in case. And lo, just after we started building it - Cash needs a home.

Sometimes it's hard to believe it's just all a coincidence.

I am both excited and anxious about having him with us. Excited because I really miss him. I wish I could see him more often and I feel guilty that I don't (and yes, I know that he doesn't care as long as dinner is delivered on time). Excited because I might get to ride him occasionally, bareback in the back field. He's my heart horse and even if we can just go for a walk, just a little bit, it would bring back so many of my old memories of us flying together.

Yes, flying.

But anxious because he's really high maintenance. He's accident-prone - he once managed to hang a hind shoe in a v-mesh horse-safe fence, and in the ensuing flailing pulled the cap off a t-post and stuck it through his neck, missing his jugular by an inch. He's ripped his back open on a low tree branch, and shredded his face on a bois d'arc tree that was three feet on the OTHER side of his pasture fence. He's super colic-prone - until he went to Paint Creek, he colicked about 3-4 times per year, and when he was 17 I almost lost him (like, we drove out to the vet to put him down. We're still not sure how he pulled through). He gets sunburned easily and needs a fly mask (with a nose) every day. He has no eyelashes on his pink eye and it gets goopy, so that needs to be sponged regularly with warm water and sometimes treated with ointment. So I am afraid I won't be able to take care of him well enough and I'm going to do something that will... well, kill him. Of course I know all creatures have their time, but still. I'm afraid I'm not up to the job.

Too, when you have an older horse who's got a medical history, and who you don't see often, you say goodbye every time you visit, because you know it might be the last time you see him. I guess I've tried to distance myself from him - and now that he'll be in my backyard, I'll be allowed to get close again. I'm looking forward to that, but I'm also afraid - because it will just make it that much harder later.

There's also the question of how Red and Saga will behave towards him. Fortunately they are both pretty low-key, but Cash is really only pasture sound and won't be able to get out of the way quickly if something goes badly. I can feed them each separately with the new barn, so at least that won't be a hassle. I'm considering taking Saga out to pick Cash up, so that they'll hopefully be best buds after the hour-long trailer ride home. And of course, Cash and Red knew each other when they lived at the same barn, before I retired Cash. But still, I'm worried.

OK, enough of the maudlin stuff and back to planning. We don't have a date yet when we're bringing Cash home, but we will definitely have the barn COMPLETELY finished before we do. We have some fencing improvements to make too, and there are a number of spring cleaning projects I want to get done to the pastures to make them even safer than they already are. I'm guessing a month or two at the minimum, which is OK since I have 2-3 months before I have to move him.

Monsieur le Spot

It's funny, I just remembered - I used to count the spots on his nose every night when I left the barn. I'd (gently) poke each one - which annoyed him - but feed him his treats when I was done. Guess I get to do that again.

There are 7 spots, in case you were wondering. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mid-week critter

While Maddy follows me around every evening to "help" me feed and muck, Artemis has definitely decided that she is more of a shop cat.

Note the possessive paw on the armoring hammer. The hubby found this particularly entertaining!

Holding down the hubby's gloves is also an important task.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Naming contest!

We need a name for our little farmlet.

We started off calling it "A Little Piece of Heaven" because we thought it was cute, but we don't like the religious connotation that the name has (just click "Next Blog" and you'll see what I mean). We're not religious people by any means, so we're looking for something different.

I'm not keen on calling it a "farm" or a "ranch" because let's face it - at 1.99 acres, that's a bit pretentious. (Ok, maybe having any name at all is a bit pretentious, but work with me here.) I do like place names such as "Oaks" or "Haven" or "Acres". Something small-sounding.

Here are some names that we like but aren't in love with for various reasons:
  • Dunvegan Hills - The hubby loves Scottish stuff, especially Dunvegan. However, our property is flat - no hills here! And "Dunvegan" means "little castle" - which certainly doesn't fit our 1951 ranch house.
  • Sunset Acres - We live in Sunset Valley so this seems like a good idea. However, to me it sounds like a retirement/assisted living facility. We're not in our dotage yet!!!
  • CRS Ranch - CRS stands for our horses - Cash, Red, and Saga - who are the reason we bought the land. However, CRS also means "Certified Residential Specialist" for a Realtor. My mom's a Realtor, and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to get over that association. Also, the hubby doesn't love it.
  • Philos-i-pharm - Ok, this is cute and I actually really like it. The hubby and I are both Ph.D.s... but that's not really what makes the ranch.
  • Serenity Acres/Oaks - I love the word Serenity - it's how I feel when sitting sipping my tea and watching the critters. But we watched Firefly and Serenity makes me think of that show, and suddenly we're on a spaceship and... no. Plus it sounds like a retirement facility, although not as much as Sunset Acres does. Halp!
  • Fourteenth Century Farm - Also very cute and I like the way it sounds. The hubby and I do medieval reenactment and our chosen time period is the 14th c., so it works for that. However, 1951 ranch house? I'm not sure it works for the property.
  • Haven - Well, it is! But too short, too close to "Heaven" and... see above.
Other things that might help with the naming ideas:
  • We have mostly oaks and cedar elms on the property. No hills, creeks, or anything like that.
  • We are surrounded on two sides by greenbelt - so the idea of a "corner" or something is appealing, just not sure if it works.
And lastly, please, no combinations of our first initials or our last names. Our last names are both unpronounceable (trust me) and our first initials don't go well together.

So, ideas? Suggestions? I'll send a 35 oz jar of Mrs. Pasture's Horse Treats to the person who suggests the name we choose... or if you prefer, a batch of homemade oatmeal, chocolate chip, or pecan butter cookies. And if you're overseas, we'll figure something out!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Waiting list

I have once again posted on Craigslist for free manure. This time I have managed to get rid of the entire pile - about 5 full-sized pickup truckloads full. Gardening season must be in full swing!

The funny part? I now have three people on a waiting list for a couple of weeks out, when I have another couple of loads of manure. They don't even care that it's not composted!

I am sure this infatuation with manure is temporary and will go away once the spring garden season is over, but for now, demand for the stuff is greater than the supply!

Friday, March 4, 2011

No Tresspassing!

It's funny - a year out in "the country" and my views on lots of things have changed. When we lived in a subdivision, I thought nothing about people walking across the yard. Now that we have the horses at home with us, I am uber-protective of our property. The gate stays shut and locked at all times. We have padlocks on our other gates too, and sooner rather than later I plan to replace all but the front gate with solid fencing. Anie, our guardian dog, always lets us know if anything is amiss. I love that the police drive by every 15 minutes or so, and I'm on a first-name basis with most of our officers.

Therefore, on Tuesday when our contractor told me that someone had stopped by, poked around without introducing himself (even after our contractor said hi to him twice), then gotten back in his truck, I was rather alarmed. It sure sounded like someone was casing our house!

We called the inspection company to see if an inspector had dropped by, even though no inspections had been scheduled. We called the city to see if one of the guys that does the permits might have stopped by. And finally, we called the police to let them know what had happened.

The next morning we got two calls from the city - one from our permit guy's boss and one from the Mayor, apologizing profusely. Apparently the permit guy, who's been a little difficult to work with, had been collecting brush and decided to stop by and, as his boss put it, "stick his nose into things that aren't his business." He didn't introduce himself, leave his card, or ask if he could come onto our property. Nothing - and he hasn't apologized to us. We've been assured that it won't happen again, but still - this is the guy that does permits. He should KNOW better!

I did a little research into Texas trespassing laws, especially for equine establishments. Apparently placing "No Trespassing" signs provides an indication that consent to enter the property is required. Of course, fences are supposed to do that too, but just to be certain the point is made, we might consider putting a sign like that up. We should probably put up a Texas Equine Law sign too, but... I don't really want to be the annoying neighbor with all the signs up. What do you think? Is it worth putting some signage up to protect ourselves or is it not worth it? Will signs really stop people from coming on our property, or will they just make people more curious about what it is that's behind the fence?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Looking more barn-like every day...

The barn is coming along really well and it's looking great!

End of the day yesterday - slab poured for the tackroom and workshop, and framing around the top of the barn.

End of today - the roof is almost framed out! It's a little taller than I think we were expecting, but the roof will be tall enough to get the horse trailer in, which could come in handy during really nasty weather.

They should finish out the framing by end of day on Saturday, and the metal goes on starting Monday. We'll have a lot of finish work to do after the contractor is done, but still... so exciting!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mid-week critter

This week's mid-week critter is our house guest, Ginny. She's staying with us while her mom, MC, is out of town.

She's been an excellent guest - with her tiny little "mew!" voice, sometimes it's easy to forget she's here!

She's adopted the green chair in the living room as her hangout. Since she's extremely poofy, she's left a lovely mat of tabby on said chair.

Supposedly MC is going to pick her up next weekend when she returns, but I dunno... these cute little white toes are going to hard to give up!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Did I mention the front porch?

The same contractor who's building our barn also gave us a very reasonable estimate for building out a small front porch. We took down the hideous aluminum awning last year and have needed something to dress up the front of the house, so a nice entry porch seemed like the answer.

Posts are up and basic frame is done. They had to cut into the roof to tie it in, which actually worked out really well since the roof decking was rotting out in that area. Someone had drilled an eyebolt through the shingles at some point, so of course eventually water took its toll and caused rot.

Today they got the roof decking on (a lovely tongue-and-groove to match the rest of the house) and most of the flooring as well.

Tongue-and-groove decking. LOVE EEET!

It really makes a HUGE difference on how the front of the house looks. I cannot wait to have the whole thing done and some landscaping added - it's really going to look SOOO different!