Saturday, October 31, 2009

Unfortunately, the digging out after a big snow isn't nearly as beautiful and picturesque as the snowstorm itself. 

If fact, it's often a muddy, exhausting mess...

Yesterday the kids and I tried to get the car dug out and the driveway cleared enough to get to town. We got the car dug out, and even cleared an area in front of the garage so I could pull the little tractor with the snowplow out of the garage and plow the driveway.

I'd plowed one strip when the belt came off the tractor.

Without the belt the tractor won't move...

We couldn't get the belt back on.

M and I even hauled Joe's hydraulic jack out through the snow to jack up the tractor (because, of course, the belt came off in deep snow, nowhere near the garage!), thinking surely we'd be able to get it on once we could see what we were doing.

Nope.. it wasn't happening.

So we pushed the tractor out of the way, hauled the jack back to the garage, and decided we'd  clear just enough snow by hand to get the car out.

We worked hard, for a long time, but we never did get the car up the driveway.

We did make it halfway up the driveway once, and got the car stuck several times (having to dig it back out each time)... but ultimately all we accomplished was rearranging a lot of snow.

A fencepost and a little berm of snow from our shoveling  is all that kept me from sliding down the hill sideways during this attempt up the driveway...

After getting disgusted and leaving the car stuck in a snowbank for an hour or so, I went back out and dug it out (again!) and just parked it back in front of the garage. I decided I didn't want to go to town badly enough to keep digging and sliding.

I did the get the trail to the barn dug out though...

After the frustration of trying to get the car out, clearing the path to the barn was really kind of fun. It's nice when a job has a clear beginning and end, there is nothing mechanical or high-tech to malfunction, and when you're done you can immediately enjoy the results of your work. (I was getting very tired of slogging through the deep snow each time I had to go to the barn!)

(Here's M showing how deep the drift on the trail to the barn was...)

Joe (and his SUV) are home all weekend... so for the next day or so we'll just steal his car when we have to go to town, and hope that my car can make it out by Monday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 2 of the storm...

It's still snowing hard...

.... I like the icicles outside the kitchen window. Check out the gravity-defying slab of snow hanging from the roof...

... it only lasted a few more minutes before sliding off and crashing to the ground.

This is my poor little dwarf peach tree. It hadn't lost it's leaves before the storm hit and now it's just about buried in snow.

I took this picture before the wind started going wild. It's been windy with this storm, but since this morning, the wind just keeps stronger... right now it's howling down the chimneys and the trees are swaying and creaking with the force of it.

There are drifts everywhere...

The deepest drifts right now are hip height (on me). It's going to take awhile to dig out.

R and I went out to the barn around lunchtime to check on Murphy and the donkeys. Even with the door closed all the way, the snow had blown halfway across the barn...

... and when I opened one of the doors on the east side of the barn, I found it blocked with a nice little wall of snow.

R took this picture of me hauling a bucket of water through the door. The snow is up past my knees... There is nothing like hauling buckets of water, in a blizzard, through knee high snow, to get the heart pumping! :) 

We fed Tucker and Murphy a little lunch to help them keep warm and let Tilly into the barn to help herself.
Remember when I blogged about working with Murphy and Tucker, and how each of them have different "work"? Well, this is a picture of Tilly's "work"... being completely spoiled and doted on. After being so badly abused by humans for so much of her life ( and living in constant pain from that past abuse), I figure I owe it to her.

Tucker was, of course, bent out of shape at not being allowed into the barn with Tilly. (He has a nice stall to go into, but it's not equipped with endless hay the way the main part of the barn is!)

My poor little ice covered donkey...

He tried his best to talk me into letting him into that barn.

It was hard to say no.

So the wind is howling, the snow is piling up, and it shows no sign of stopping. It looks like it might be a good day to play some Monopoly.

(R, earlier today, proudly showing how deep the snow was then...)

I wonder if it's going to be another year like we had in 2006, with all the blizzards...

(R shoveling snow, while Joe plows in the background... Dec. 2006)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hmmm.... It's looking like Wednesday is not the best day for me to make plans.

Last Wednesday we were supposed to go to the stable for therapeutic riding, and in the evening we were supposed to go to a homeschool group get-together... but it was snowy and icy. So we rescheduled horseback riding for Friday, and postponed the homeschool group get-together for a week.

So here is it Wednesday again, and we're supposed to be at the stable this afternoon, and the homeschool group get-together that we postponed from last week is tonight.

But... I won't be going to either of those places because it's snowing again.  It's looking like we could end up with a foot of snow.

Here's what the weather service says:
Elbert/Central And East Douglas Counties Above 6000 Feet

Winter Storm Watch:

Issued at: 9:13 PM MDT 10/26/09, expires at: 5:15 AM MDT 10/27/09

A winter storm watch remains in effect from Wednesday morning through late Wednesday night.
Rain will develop Tuesday evening and then change to snow after midnight and will continue through late Wednesday night. Snow may become heavy at times from Wednesday through Wednesday night. Snowfall accumulations may range from 6 to 12 inches. Gusty north to northeast winds will produce areas of blowing snow and reduced visibilities from Wednesday through Wednesday night.

So... it's looking like we aren't making to down to the stable today, or to the homeschool group get-together this evening. We have a few inches of snow on the ground so far, but it's coming down hard... It looks like a Christmas card outside.

It's a  good day to stay home... stay warm... load the crock pot up with some soup... make some bread to go with it (Mmmm)...get lots of school done... maybe watch a movie... drink some hot chocolate...shovel the path to the barn... drink some more hot chocolate... shovel the path to the barn.... drink some (well, you get the idea).

If you're in Colorado... stay warm! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Picture post.... R's party

I wanted R to have a "big" party for her birthday this year. She turned 13 and it seemed like a major celebration was in order...

Since her birthday is in October, and she loves Halloween (despite the fact it's my LEAST favorite holiday) we decided to have a birthday/Halloween party. The party was Saturday and was so much fun I'm thinking we might have to make it a new tradition!

Here are some pictures from the day...

R, M and S (who sometimes seems like my 5th daughter!) showing off their costumes right before the party. M and R were Hogwarts students, S was a 50's girl.

S, R and friend Z having fun with the karaoke machine...

E, (DD#1 AKA Mrs. Incredible) and granddaughter RR (AKA Violet) dishing up ice cream at RR's ice cream stand... they did quite a business!

R, with help from B (dd#2) working on reassembling Mr Bones (he was taken apart and his bones hidden around the room for the kids to find... scavenger hunt style).

Joe's (dh) original costume was a "Rutger's Law" tee-shirt, a cowboy hat, a "scary" hockey mask, and a chain saw. (We decided he must be dressed as a homicidal , hockey playing, lawyer from Texas). Later, he ditched the hockey mask, cowboy hat and chain saw, and put our fish costume on. It's one of our coolest costumes ever, made for R years ago by an old friend... it fits over your head and you look out the mouth. Here Joe is tipping his fish head back to talk to a couple of little ones.

M and S dancing...

I'm not entirely sure what's going on here.... I think I might be dancing with my fishman husband, while he talks to one of our grandsons and daughter K dances in the background.

M's "girl" came (the one he took to homecoming a few weeks ago) and they danced..  aren't they too cute?

Here's most of E's *incredible* family (her dh couldn't make it to the party, but yes... he has a matching costume!), the grandkids are 5, almost 7 and 2 3/4 years old now.

And finally... the whole family (when I look at this picture it just amazes me... the little family that started with just Joe and I has GROWN so much over the years!)

(Starting on the left with M (ds)and going clockwise... me, holding grandson "little K", S (unofficial family member), Joe holding gradndaughter RR, then birthday girl R (dd#4), E (dd#1), holding grandson J, B (dd#2) and K (dd#3).

The last four pictures in this post were taken my Liese, a friend and fellow homeschooler. Thank you so much Liese.... I LOVE the pictures! :)



October 26, 2009

Outside my window... Everything is frosted with white, the snow is glazed with a thin layer of ice that crunches and crackles when I walk on it.

I am thinking... I'm tired of trying to figure things out, an easy spell would be very nice.

I am thankful for...Rhianna's party going so well, it was wonderful to see her so happy.

From the learning rooms...I am working on gathering materials from the "Circles I: Relationships and Intimacy" curriculum to adapt for the kids. It looks like it would be perfect for the kids, it teaches about relationships in a concrete, and easy to understand way. I can't afford to buy it, but I'm finding bits and pieces of it free online.

From the What's a kitchen, isn't that a place to store leftovers and dirty dishes? We've been living since Saturday on pizza leftover from the party. I suppose I should pull it together and cook today.

I am creating...a large poster type visual to use with the "Circles" materials

I am hopefully find some time this week to get down to town and start pricing some stuff for the house. I think we're finally going to start "phase 3" (or 4, or whatever it is) and finish up the last few major projects on the house.

I am reading...not much these days.

I am hoping...that today is a good day.

I am hearing... very quiet bubbling and gurgling sounds coming from the boiler, Joe moving around making his breakfast, the hum of the computer.

Around the house...the roofers are supposed to start today. They aren't really roofing much, but they are going to install some vents, and fix some flashing and gutters and things. Maybe FINALLY the roof in the family room will quit leaking!

One of my favorite things...the small smooth wooden "holding cross" my friend L got me. She gave it to me last spring, just days after an incident with M during which we could easily have lost him. (It was the "closest" of his close calls so far...) I've carried it with me ever since...

A few plans for the rest of the week... school, therapeutic riding, homeschool group Halloween party, and working at the library. It's going to be a busy week!

A picture I am sharing... my holding cross, isn't it beautiful?

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Friday, October 23, 2009

We headed south today to make up the stable time we missed on Weds. because of the snow...  I took the camera, looking forward to getting some pictures of M riding (R's instructor couldn't be there today, so she didn't get to make up her lesson...) and having some fun taking pictures on the way there.
The stable is about 20 miles south of us, just a little north of the Palmer Divide and the Black Forest... if you know where that's at! If you don't know where that's at, it's in an amazingly beautiful part of Colorado about halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs.  If you're really curious about the Palmer Divide, you can read about it here like I just did. (I had no idea it was a ridge separating two river basins. I just knew that, because we are on the downside of it, we end up getting more extreme weather than the rest of the Denver/Front Range area...)

Anyway... I was looking forward to getting some great photos and pulled off the little two lane highway we were on several times to take pictures. I took pictures of Pikes Peak, majestic and blanketed with snow, forming a beautiful backdrop to the fields and pastures we were passing. I took pictures of Castlewood Canyon, a stunning cleft in the earth that is barely visible until you are almost standing on it's edge. I took dozens of pictures, and when I got home I realized that I really need to replace my camera... almost none of my pictures turned out.

There were a few pictures of our day that weren't TOO bad...

Here's a little of Castlewood Canyon...

...and a picture someone else took that shows how beautiful it really is. We drove over this bridge today...

At the stable I got M settled with his helpers...

... and while he rode, R and I went outside to soak up sun and visit the horses.
Here she is with Tex, the horse she rides for lessons...

... and Lucy, who got her name because everybody loves her.

When I went in to check on M, I found he was having WAY too much fun.  He's supposed to be doing physical therapy on the horse, but immediately after taking this picture he started laughing so hard (at something one of his helpers did ) I thought he was going to fall right off onto the ground!  I think he thinks he's there to entertain his helpers... he's even perfected doing the "chicken dance" on horseback. He can't get his "tail" moving while sitting in the saddle, but he's got the rest of the dance down! (Luckily the horse he rides seems just about 100% bomb proof!)

I ended up taking 52 pictures today and only a few of them turned out...
... but here's one that's worth posting.

Can you guess what we did this afternoon?

Yep, we carved pumpkins, and we got the house decorated for the party tomorrow... R can't wait for the party, she is beside herself with excitement!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today we were supposed to go to the stable for therapeutic riding (M) and a riding lesson (R), and this evening I was supposed to go (ALONE!) to a meeting of our small, group within a group, of Common Ground homeschoolers who are homeschooling kids with special needs.

But the lessons and the meeting have both been postponed because it looks like this outside...

So except for a quick trip to town for the last few supplies for R's party, we stayed home.

The kids are hoping it piles up enough for some sledding.

I'm not sure it's going to make it...

It's supposed to be warm and sunny by Saturday... 

I just love the changeable Fall weather.

Monday, October 19, 2009



October 19, 2009

Outside my window... the sky is still dark, with just a few tiny porch lights twinkling in the distance.

I am thinking... worrisome thoughts.

I am thankful for... this quiet early morning time.

From the learning rooms... I'm hoping to get a lot of school done this week, last week wasn't terribly productive.

From the kitchen... been running around too much to do much cooking (last night we just had leftovers!), a pot of soup might be good today though...

I am wearing... blue jeans, gray tee-shirt, blue corduroy shirt

I am creating... the Halloween costumes for the kids that I didn't get done last week.

I am going... out to the barn in a little while, I've got extra work to do out there this morning, so need to go out earlier than usual.

I am reading... a total fluff historical fiction book that I can't remember the name of.

I am hoping... that God is watching over us right now.

I am hearing... Joe getting ready for work, the refrigerator opening and closing as he makes his lunch... the coffeepot dribbling in the background.

Around the house... We're trying to get an big, old (and incredibly heavy) doghouse moved from the back pasture into the back yard (to turn into a little coop for the kid's chicken). So far the score is doghouse - 2, people - 0. I'm about ready to give up on the whole plan...

For the rest of the week... not as much running around as last week, but I need to call ADMH and TCH and get intakes set up, and call the LPC and ask her to help with that process. I also need to find respite for the party on Saturday, and finish the party planning.

A picture I am sharing: (taken after coming in from the barn) this morning's sunrise... a gift.

Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Saturday, October 17, 2009

working with Tucker

Since I blogged about working with Murphy, our 14 yo Appendix (Quarter horse/Thoroughbred cross) gelding, the other day... I decided it was only fair to blog about Tucker (one of our donkeys) too. Especially since Tucker is mine, and I haven't written about him since forever. 

Working with Tucker is MUCH different than working with Murphy. For one thing a donkey isn't just a smaller, rounder, horse... It is a very different animal (smarter, for one thing...) and has to be approached in a different way. Also, Tucker came to us as a 5 year old with no training, no handling at all. He was just a wild little donkey... Actually he was kind of a wild, big donkey. He looks small compared to Murphy's 1,200 lbs, but at about 850-900 lbs he's a good sized donkey.

Here's how it looks when I work with Tucker.

I usually work with him in our small pen, I can work with him in the pasture (where we lunge Murphy) but it's harder. Also, he's calmer and easier to work with when Tilly (his mother) is in the pen with us, and since it's easier to leave her in then take the time to separate them, I usually just let them stay together.
He's been haltered and brushed in this picture... a small thing, but something that would have been impossible just a year and a half ago. (For some reason my camera is being wonky again, sorry about the too light pictures!)

I'm cleaning his hooves here (what an unflattering angle!), it's not something he likes, but he allows it.  Check out his body language... ears back a bit, and head turned away... "Maybe if I pretend she isn't here, she'll stop doing this and go away"

Usually Tucker's "work" is just holding still and allowing regular care and grooming. But... just for fun... I decided to start working with him on allowing weight on his back. I'm NOT going to try to ride him... this is a donkey who can bolt at nothing... but I thought it would be good experience for him to be used to having something on his back (maybe he can be a pack burro, or even be ridden someday!)

You have to take little baby steps with donkeys... they don't like change at all. Even little things like moving the hay feeder, or someone different feeding them will throw them off.  So with any new thing, I start very small... Just draping his lead rope across his back gives him the feel of something back there. He's not really sleeping in this picture... I'm pretty sure this is his "thinking face". 

Next an old, heavy saddle blanket I have goes on.  Each time I add something, I add it casually, and then ignore him for awhile... just so he doesn't think it's any big deal.

I let him walk around a little with it on, to get used to the feel and movement of it on his back.

Next I added something new... a bareback pad. He'd never had it on his back before... it adds more weight and a different feel. But he's still calm and doing ok... (He doesn't even seem to mind the jangle of the buckle hanging down.)

At that point I started wondering if he'd let me buckle the cinch. He'd never had anything tightened around his belly before, so I wasn't sure how he'd react, but he let me reach very carefully under him and buckle it. He didn't even flinch.... He's such an awesome boy!

He seems to be looking at me with a "This is weird... What's the point of this again?" kind of expression.
I let him wear the bareback pad (and all the other stuff) around for awhile, then took it off and let him out to graze... He deserved it.