Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meet Murphy

He kind of looks a lot like Blaze, doesn't he?

That's because he is Blaze... or at least he used to be. After a full 3 minutes of careful thought and consideration, R and I decided to change his name to Murphy.

Why? Because it fits...

"Murphy's law is an adage that broadly states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

So... if you are a horse this broadly translates into:
  • If you CAN get your both back feet stuck in a fence... you will.
  • If you CAN be allergic to fly spray and break out in huge hives all over your body... you will.
  • If  you CAN find a perfectly placed nail out in the pasture (which is virgin prairie land, has never been built upon so there should be virtually NO nails out there) and step on it in just the right way to drive it into your hoof, and then that wound would become infected and form an abscess... it will.
And that's only this summer... We won't go into the 17 lbs of grain he got into last year (anyone for a tube up their nose??), and the various other misadventures he's had since we got him (he even has a 6" scar on one thigh from a tangle with barbed wire at a previous owners!).

Understand the name change now?

I hate to see what trouble he ends up in next...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What I've learned...

We have new next door neighbors. They moved in last week. Before they lived here they lived in the city (not far from where we used to live). I've been watching them exploring their new property... discovering the deer that live there, and the remains of coyote "dinners" in the gully, and wondering how tall a fence they'll need to keep their two little dogs from becoming the next coyote dinner.

They kind of remind me of Dh and I almost 5 years ago, when we first moved out of the city and onto our little piece of land.  As I've watched them I've realized that I've learned a lot over the years we've been here... (although the more I learn the more I realize how much I have to learn!).

I thought I would share some of what I've learned here...

  1. A good pair of mudboots is your best friend. Really. (But do try to remember to change out of them before you go to town.)
  2. A little manure never hurt anyone.
  3. You can never plant too many flowers*
  4. Don't waste your time trying to keep wild animals off your land (and out of your garden). This is a battle they will always win because they are craftier, more agile, and more persistent than you are. Cut down on stress and resign yourself to putting a decent fence around your garden (5-6' will keep out most of the deer) and planting extra for the rabbits.  If you have flowers plants that you really don't want eaten invest in some "Deer Stopper" and spray them every week or so.  Apparently deer don't like the taste of rosemary and mint oil mixed with something that smells like rotten eggs.
  5. As long as we are talking about gardening... regardless of what it says in your favorite gardening book, do NOT use straw to mulch your vegetable garden unless you are planning on harvesting hay.
  6. Respect the weather. Understand that driving in blizzards can be risky and possibly result in a wrecked car and children who, for years, are deathly afraid of driving in snow. (Don't ask me how I know this, just trust that it's true.)
  7. If you put in long hours catching up on all the work around the place, and think you're done and can finally sit and relax for awhile... you've forgotten something (or probably several somethings) because the work is NEVER caught up!
  8. Learn to say no when friends (unless they're Granny) offer you dogs they can no longer keep because you have so much land, time, etc. If you don't, you could easily end up like the people you read about in the paper who have 52 dogs, 87 cats and 4 goats sharing their bedroom.
  9. Don't waste anything, you'd surprised how important "garbage" can be. We use composted alpaca manure to fertilize the garden (see #2), made a "harrow" for the pasture out of old lumber and scraps of chain link fencing, and have learned that even "scrap" wood can be used for something... which saves not only money but also a trip to town.
  10. If you hear something yowling, after dark, and it sounds like a really big cat... don't go looking for it... mountain lions are real, and you don't want to stumble into one in the night.
  11. Stock up on food and hay before winter, keep a decent wood pile on the porch where you can get to it, and make sure the flashlights have batteries. It's not a question of if a big snow storm will start dumping... it's a question of when!

*Ok, so this one really has nothing to do with living in the country... I thought it was important enough to try to sneak it in anyway.

A brief editorial comment...

... on psychiatrists and psychiatry in general.

(I can't remember if I've posted this here before, if I have I'm sorry... but I think it's a good time to post it again.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No time to blog.... we are busy celebrating!

M turned 17 (gasp!) on Thursday, and this weekend is full jammed full... with his (small) party and Special Olympics today, and tomorrow his sisters take him shopping in the morning, and we are going to a big family get-together in the afternoon.

Squeezing into the "extra" minutes we are selling a car and mothering our little chick.

Yes, she's still alive! She looked weak and not-so-good one day, but for the past few days she's been eating, growing and doing new things... I hope that means she's going to make it. She turns one week old today!
Here she is with our youngest grandson, who was not at all sure he wanted a tiny noisy little black thing on his lap!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And so the menagerie grows...

...but only by a tiny bit.

We went to visit our friend Al the other day. That is always a dangerous past-time, but we like Al so much we keep on doing it.

Al has a little farm just north of us, and visiting him is dangerous because he is forever giving animals away, or trying to sell them. He seems to be addicted to the livestock auction and goes each week... bringing home goats, horses (always minis), chicken, ducks, etc. that he's won in bid,  or kittens, etc. that people in the parking lot have given him. We got our goat Rose from him several years ago, and Tilly and Tucker also came from his place. So far this summer he's tried to give me, or sell to me, puppies, a miniature horse, and miniature donkeys.

But I've been strong and politely declined each time he's tried to fill my barn up a little more.
I stayed strong until Saturday when the kids found a little abandoned chick in one of his chicken coops. He doesn't usually raise chickens, he gathers the eggs before they hatch... but apparently he missed one, and it hatched... and the kids found it. It looked as though it was just a day or so old...  an impossibly tiny little ball of fluff... and of course, Al said the kids could have it.

I said no, they couldn't... their dad HATES chickens!

It took several minutes of the kids following me around with the chick, begging, and me thinking about how the little puff ball probably wouldn't survive the night, before I said ok.

The kids are overjoyed...

Dh is speaking to me as little as possible.

Her name is Darling Lili (any similarities to the Julie Andrews movie of that name are purely intentional).

We are hoping she is a girl... We are optimistically calling her "she" , hoping it helps.

If she's a he, he can't stay... There will be no roosters at my house, I still have scars on my leg from taking care of my neighbor's demented banty rooster! (Of course, I shouldn't complain... I ended up with scars on my leg, he ended up in the freezer!).

Lili is incredibly noisy, and thinks we are all chickens. We had a hard time getting her to eat until we figured out to peck at her food with our index finger...

Oooooh, now she get's it... peck at food, peck at water.... this is fun! She's actually starting to grow and looking like she might survive.

Yesterday we played a game of real live "Are You My Mother?"

...with Emma our long suffering golden retriever.  (Excuse the terrible pictures, my camera was being wonky for some reason yesterday...)

Lili likes Emma, but wasn't fooled into thinking she might be her mother.

Emma didn't seem to know what to think...

Lili seems to think Emma is just a large, furry, warm, hill, and the rest of us are chickens... It's so funny to watch her run after us frantically if we take a step or two away from her. 

I'll post more pictures as she grows... We think she's a feather legged banty, and judging by the pictures I found online, she should be pretty when she grows up (unless, of course, she is really a rooster!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I was sitting outside yesterday afternoon taking some pictures to post here, when we had an equine emergency.

Blaze had laid down to roll and got both back legs caught in the fencing around the run. (The run is made of cattle panels... from the days when we had goats.)

He's just getting ready to roll here...

I happened to get this picture, before realizing he was in trouble and dashing into the pasture to help him.

He got himself out, but one leg (the leg that doesn't show in the picture) is all scraped up, and I'm needing to be outside a lot (in addition to changing the bandages on Blaze's leg, we are taking down the cattle panels and replacing them with regular horse panels). 

 I'll post again as soon as I can...

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Every Sunday night the kids and I watch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" together. It's pretty much the only prime time TV we watch. I know... it's kind of sappy and sentimental... but I love watching the houses being built, I love the "before and afters", and I really love imagining how amazing it is for those families to have a new, beautiful home (often with no mortgage!).     Anyway... it's my favorite show.

We did our own little extreme classroom makeover the other day, thanks to my oldest daughter giving me a desk she could no longer use.

Here's the classroom "before". It's basically a little sunroom/hot tub room that was created by enclosing part of an outside deck. It's small, and has some funky giant "steps" along one wall (accommodating a bit of the porch roof that was enclosed when they finished the room).

We used an old dining room table for a desk, keeping the kids school books organized in plastic bins.  We had a little computer area in the corner next to the bookcase.

It was crowded, but it worked...

Here's the "after" shot...

I think it looks a lot better.

The desk has space for the kids school books in the top...

... and a pull-out shelf for extra work room. Since we only do one-on-one school in the classroom (for bigger projects, and things the kids work on together, we work on the dining room table) one large desk works well.

We moved the computer upstairs into a little "computer nook" we created in the guest bedroom closet, so it's no longer taking up room in the classroom...


Having the classroom newly organized (and cleaned!) has all of us excited about the new school year... Of course, it's any one's guess how long the room will stay looking nice and clean and organized, our beautiful new desk could very well be buried under papers, projects and books by October!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Eleven years ago today...

... we were blessed with our fourth daughter.

She's gone from this... (she was 4 months old here and still living at Granny's house)

... to this....

... in the blink of an eye. (This is a picture of her at the Miss Colorado Pageant... she was an escort)

She's sweet...

... and feisty

....and very brave.

She is loving...

... creative...

... and when she has moods like this...

...  they (thankfully) don't hang around long. (Notice the blanket around her shoulders? It's the same one that's wrapped around her in the baby picture!)

She even looks good in the elf ears her dad insisted she put on!

Why she puts up with us, I"ll never know...

We celebrated her anniversary (of her official arrival  into our family) last night.

(clockwise around the table from the left ... me, little K (grandson), M, DH, R, J (grandson), R (granddaughter) and E (oldest dd).

R has been such a blessing to our family...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We are fortunate to live in an area that is rich with wildlife...

We regularly see everything from tiny hummingbirds

... to majestic mule deer.

Yesterday we heard a noise in the chimney. I opened the damper and two small black (or maybe just sooty!) birds dropped down into the fireplace. 

 This happens fairly often (birds seem to like to nest on top of our chimney) so I quickly grabbed a towel and tossed it over one of the birds, who was frantically throwing himself against the living room window trying to get out, and set him outside on the front porch.

Then I went back for the second bird. I looked around the living room but couldn't find him. Usually they stay by the windows, either throwing themselves against them or just perched on the window sill.. But I looked through the living room, family room and dining room and there was no bird by any of the windows.

Hmmm... what to do?

I called R (she has good eyes) and we both started searching.  Finally we found him.

This is looking into my dining room/kitchen. Can you see him?

Does this help?

It took a little doing, but we got him down and outside with his brother and they both flew away, seemingly no worse for the wear.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The kids have been keeping busy this summer with Special Olympics. They've played bocce ball and softball during the summer season. 

The regional softball tournament was today and they had a blast. They both had fun and made some good plays.

Here they are warming up before the first game...


... and with the mounted deputies patrolling the park. They enjoyed talking to them about the horses...


It was a great day!