Saturday, December 24, 2011

Night Before Christmas - Wyvern Oaks style!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for Maddy and Artemis, who were chasing a mouse. 

The stocking were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicolas soon would be there with carrots, and dog bones, and catnip, and maybe some chocolate for me and scotch for the hubby.

The chickens were nestled all snug in their beds, with visions of table scraps dancing in their heads.

And I in my wool socks and hubby in his jousting cap, had just settled down in the bed (with the awesome electric heated comforter) for a long winter’s nap.

When out in the carport there arose such a clatter, I would have sprung from my bed to see what was the matter, except I knew it was probably just Red in the dog food again.

Away to the door I stumbled and crashed (over the dog who was not in his bed), tore open the door as I heard the food bin lid smash.

The moon on the poof of the Great Pyrenees, and the clatter of the lid set off the braying of the neighbor’s donkeys.  

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a rather large butt, and three others standing near.

With a little chestnut horse so lively and quick, I knew in a moment we were the victims of another of Red’s tricks.

More rapid than eagles I flew out the door, and whistled and shouted and scolded some more:

“Now Reddums you bratsky, now Saga you lug, now Cash my spotted one, and Taran you slug,

Back to the barn! Back to your stall! Now move it, I said, Move it you all!”

So out to the barn the horses they flew, with a mouthful of dog food, and Anie following too!

And once in the barn, through the clattering of hoofs, I heard Maddy meowing loudly, ‘cause she was stuck on the roof.

As I fastened the gate and was turning around, down the hay bales Maddy came, with a leap and a bound.

Behind her came a man with hay bits from his head to his foot, and as he dusted himself he was looking quite off-put.

A bundle of carrots he had flung on his back, and he looked rather bedraggled as he fell down with a smack.

His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like apples, though he looked kind of wary.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as snow.

The stump of his pipe he held tight in his teeth, but I reminded him that we were in a barn, so he snuffed it out in his handkerchief.

He had a broad face and a little round belly, sort of like Reddums actually, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, although Cash eyed him suspiciously, which was just like himself.

With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, he shook out all the hay bits from his suit of red.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work, gave each horse a carrot and then turned with a jerk.

And laying a finger aside of his nose, no doubt offended by the manure – it doesn’t smell like a rose!

He sprang to his feet, to the horses gave a whistle, and zipped back to the rooftop, faster than a missile.

But I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do I expect too much?

It strikes me that I am either incredibly lucky in my horses, or I am just too dumb to know that there are things I shouldn't be doing. Maybe I blindly expect too much - what do you think?
  • There's a dark, scary bridge for a four-lane highway that we have to go under to reach some of the trails we like to ride on. Sure, the first time they went under the bridge, Red was leading and his eyes were on stalks, but every time after? No problem, even when it's almost dark out and you can hear the cars go by overhead. I think it's normal for them to be totally nonchalant about it, but is it?
  • We walk on the road a lot at night these days, because it's too muddy to go anywhere else. There are people with dogs, people with bikes, holiday decorations, and deer by the bucketload. My horses don't spook at any of this stuff, although they gave the mechanized reindeer decorations a few doors down the old hairy eyeball. Is that weird?
  • Sometimes when I walk them at night, I ride Red bareback and pony Saga (and in case you think I'm totally crazy, I wear a helmet, hi-viz vest, and flashing lantern, and have my phone on me). Then we go past the aforementioned skeery stuff. I'm not worried that anything is going to happen, except that the neighbors might laugh at my belly-flop-onto-Red's-back mounting technique. Should I worry more about the multiple ways I could die?
  • We just got 170 MORE bales of hay (pictures to come) and now there is a one-horse-wide walkway in what used to be my barn aisle. I lead the boys through there like it's no big deal... but should it be? Except for the rampant snacking, of course.
I also expect them to stand patiently for baths and shoeing, load in the trailer, stand tied, ride out with the hounds (except Cash), and not freak out in an indoor arena and/or at a horse show, or just about anywhere we might go. We also do truly crazy things with them, like jousting.

I get that some horses don't want to or cannot do some things - for example, Cash cannot go foxhunting. I took him once years ago, knowing it was a bad idea, and boy was I ever right. We spent the entire 3 hours fighting with each other about speed, and it sucked BAD. Of course, he also has always gotten worked up on trail rides, and a foxhunt is just like a large, fast, trail ride, so it makes sense that he would have issues. I also get that every horse has the OMGWTFBBQ! moment about "that corner" of the arena (or the mailbox, or the trash can, or the hose, or the...). My boys do too - in fact, there's a spot on the trail where all of them are consistently weird, and Taran SWEARS that man-hole covers are actually horse-eating black holes. However, I don't go about our rides trying to  guess what they might find odd - maybe because I don't expect a spook, I don't get one? While it's important to be aware of your surroundings (in case that crazy barking dog jumps the fence and comes after you), I try to be pretty relaxed about things, and the boys seem pretty relaxed too.

I must have gotten really, really lucky with my boys, because I just don't even think twice (once maybe, but not twice) about doing half the things I do with them on a day-to-day basis. I'm sure my day will come, but until then... am I just being stupid, or do I expect too much?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Puppy monsters!!!

Because Anie is a rescued Pyrenees, I keep in touch with the Central Texas Pyrenees rescue group. I cannot foster a dog ('cause we need another animal like we need a hole in our heads), but I help out with transportation to foster homes and adopters when I can.

This weekend, we visited my parents for an early Christmas. Our drive took us through Houston, where a family had been approved to adopt two Pyr mix puppies. Since the puppies were close to our house and Houston was on our way, we chauffeured the puppies to their new homes. Of course, pictures were in order, 'cause they were absolutely ADORABLE!!!

 Little boy. So CUTE!

 Little girl. She was the adventurous one!

 Checking out the world!

How can you possibly resist these cute little faces!?!? (Kindly ignore the fact they'll likely grow up to be around 100 lbs.)

If you live in Central Texas and would like to adopt one of their siblings, please check out the Adoptable Dogs page. They are currently 6 weeks old, little monsters super cute, and come with all their shots. They also show great promise as Livestock Guardian Dogs, but should make good housepets too if that's what you're looking for

Anie says, "No, we are not keeping these. It's trying to nurse!!!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mid-week critter: Finally, success!

Check it out! After many, many attempts, Elias has actually figured out how to fit his entire body in his dog bed!!! 

 Look at the tiny little dog, with all body parts within the confines of the bed!

 Compare to this... note percentage of dog not in bed.

What's the secret to actually getting the entire dog in the dog bed, you ask? Apparently, cold weather induces dogballs. Who knew?

I admit, he seems to be less thrilled about this accomplishment than I am.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gorillas Horses in the mist

 It was quite foggy here when I left for work this morning. Beautiful, in an eerie sort of way. The world was very still.

Reddums and Saga looked quite magical in the mist, don't you think?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hay there!

And hay there, and hay pretty much everywhere!

The shipment of 840 bales of "Orchard Grass Mix" arrived from Ontario Saturday night around 6 pm. I went down to help unload it (yes, we had a bobcat, but we had to flip the stacks of 21 bales over and then slide them to the end of the semi for the bobcat to grab) and WHEW! that is a chore, even with machinery to do the heavy lifting.

Then Sunday, the owner of J&B Feeds (where the hay was dropped off) brought over 350 bales in two loads. He had helpers to take care of the first load, but it was just him for the second one, so Fuzzypony and I helped stack it.

We filled the hay storage and then kept going up past the rafters, literally all the way to the ceiling!

 The last 30 bales ended up in the aisle. Holy COW that's a lot of hay, and I still have another 70 bales coming later in the week! The boys are just going to have to eat their way out, I think. I'm sure they will be terribly put out by this idea.

 There's a marked difference between Orchard Grass (left) and our Central Texas Coastal (right). In fact, at first my hay guy was really worried that we'd gotten a poor quality batch, but a little research shows that it's just a different grass. It is definitely not the soft, thin-stemmed stuff we are used to seeing. Instead, there's a lot more variety, both in terms of types of grasses, as well as leaves and stemmy stuff. I'm really happy for the variety - Coastal hay is notorious for causing colic, and it's part of why I feed a little alfalfa on the side.

Here's  what I can identify in the hay, from left to right: timothy, alfalfa, and orchard grass. Someone from Up North, did I get it right?

As for the boys, they LOVE the new stuff. LOVELOVELOVE it. I'm trying to do a slow switch from Coastal to the new stuff, but they seem to have other ideas. If I put a mix of the two in their haynets, they flip the haynets around to eat the new stuff first. They (ahem, Saga) got into a bale of it over the gate and apparently had an all-night-snack-a-thon... and then didn't want to eat breakfast! Then of course there's the fact that they have the giant Buffet Wall to nibble on at any time...

 Giant Buffet Wall-O-Hay. I had to shoo them away to get this picture of it.

Yeah. They won't be starving any time soon.

I'll tell you what, though - after two weeks of buying fairly crappy Coastal hay at $15/bale, in batches of 10 bales ('cause the feed stores won't let you have any more, since they are trying to dole it out slowly) it does my heart good to have a barn full of hay. At $10/bale, DELIVERED FROM ONTARIO, I don't think I could have done any better.

I am very indebted to the owner of J&B Feeds, who went on this with me and agreed to buy the half of the load that I wasn't going to be able to store. Not only did he unload the hay with his equipment, he stored it and delivered it to me, and stacked it in my barn. The REALLY good news is that I think he's going to use the supplier in Ontario for several more loads through the winter, so I'm glad that will work out long-term.

Oh, just got a call from him... apparently Madalyn Ward just stopped by and LOVES the hay. Not only that, but he's going to send a sample off for testing, so I'll know exactly what's in it. WOOOT!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

All dressed up and nowhere to go

On Monday of this week, I thought I would be going to a small schooling show tomorrow. In preparation, I finished Saga's blanket clip and Fuzzypony shortened his mane.

See? Doesn't he look spiffy? Well, except for the iffy clipping job. Apparently I'm not good with straight lines.

Of course, Wednesday I decided that the weather forecast for this weekend looked too dismal, and wussed out. Now, I'm actually pretty glad I did - here's the forecast for tomorrow:

Looks wet. And cold!
I'll still take the boys out for some exercise, but tomorrow's forecast looks like a good excuse to get some more holiday shopping and crafts done. I hope everyone else is staying warm and dry!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I confess, I wimped out

Remember that fun show that I was inspired to do as sort of a last hurrah before the end of the year? Well, entries were due last night, and I totally wimped out didn't sent mine in.

BUT, I have good reasons! ('Cause you can justify anything if you try hard enough, right?)
  1. The last time I rode Saga was the Monday before Thanksgiving. Due to the rains we've had since then (yay rain!!!), it's been too wet to do anything other than go for walks on the road. I had planned to get a good ride in tomorrow and Saturday, but it's supposed to start raining at 3 am tonight and not stop till sometime Sunday or Monday. Really not the sort of prep you want before a dressage show with a little jumping.
  2. Due to #1, the likelihood of bucking/kicking on canter departs is high. I'm OK with that, except I'd rather not do it in public. Call me crazy or something.
  3. And the real reason... the forecast for Sunday is a high of 50 and raining. Apparently, in my old age I have become a total weenie when it comes to riding in the cold rain (Nic and anyone else who lives where 50 is not cold, you can stop laughing now. Please?). I mean, I dress in ski pants and a parka to go feed and muck when it's anything below 40 - let's face it, I was not cut out for cold weather! 
So now my plan for Sunday involves a fire, a second (third? fourth?) cup of chai, and a couple of cats draped on the couch. I'll think about all those poor cold wet souls at the horse show and revel in my fleece-lined slippers.

Watch, the weather forecast will be a BIG LIE and it will be 60 and sunny. Just 'cause.