Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving thanks

It's a shame that it takes a recognized holiday to be reminded of our blessings. This coming Thursday would be a good day to take a few minutes to revisit the positive aspects of our lives, and in that spirit-I offer the following lengthy list :)

In no particular order:

I am thankful I have found the love of my life, and that we are forging a future together. For over ten years, he has filled the emptiness I did not realize I carried within me. Within his arms, I am complete and sheltered and safe. It is more than I ever had, and I cherish the man.

I am thankful I have a quirky, funny, creative, and brave young son. He is much more competent than I was at that age, but still needs daily reminders for chores. But that's okay-like I tell him: It's his job to do the chores, and my job to remind him to get them done ;) He's healthy, eats anything I put in front of him, and is my best helper when his Dad is away working. Most people remark how well mannered and polite he is-and he is.

I am thankful for the boss I have, who has kept me on for over 20 years now. I feel fortunate that the boss continues to place his trust in me, year after year. It's a great company and while I know I will never go further than where I am-and that's okay, I really, truly like my customers. I enjoy problem solving and helping folks and for this, a major part of my life, I am truly blessed.

I am thankful for the new property....Not only do I have a "real barn", I have space for the garden and greenhouse-and the grounds are starting to look nice too. It's a treat having the small arena at my disposal, and I love that we seldom have traffic on our road. I enjoy hearing the wind in the trees and seeing heavy snows bending the branches too, the many birds that visit and the wildlife that ventures through occasionally.

I am thankful for the horses in my life. They are both healthy and happy and Sully in particular has taught me a lot. Because of him, I am much more observant than I used to be and his past issues started me down a path of learning.

I am thankful for the friends in my life. They keep me laughing, support me when I'm in a blue mood, and while we may not always keep in close touch, we can always count on each other.

I am thankful for my hay customers too. For their patience and understanding as I work my way through each van, trying to get them what their horses need. I am especially thankful that I have the hay growers' confidence and support, I would not be able to do this without him.

I am thankful for the life I have that affords me these blessings and opportunities. What I have accomplished, or learned, or grown beyond or into-they all play a part in my happiness. When you live by the Golden Rules, when you live true to yourself, when you love and give, when you can laugh and cry, when you are at ease with yourself and your life-you can say:

Life is good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And another busy week.....whew!

It's been an up and down week so far, and I don't mean the thermometer ;)

The salmon project is done for a year, and it's likely the best we have ever done. It has great texture and flavor and the jars look marvelous-I am thrilled to have them to enjoy and savor this coming winter, yum :)

Monday I went back to work, by myself for the rest of the winter. It turned out to be a very busy day with customers and numerous phone calls-which is great, I do prefer being busy, to being bored! Part of the busy work was determining that my trusty old HP machine, which copies, faxes, scans and prints, wasn't working. This was after replacing the keyboard which also had decided to just bite the dust.

So Tuesday the boss got me a replacement unit out here, and in late afternoon I started hooking it all up. Put the power to it after unpacking, then popped in the CD to load the software. Hmm, seems the CD thingy isn't working either-try again. Again. And again. Hunh? Rats, off to the HP website I go, to find the download. Luckily this website is fairly well organized so I find the right download in short order, and try to download it. After a while, it becomes obvious I am going to be running late so I check in with boss and home.

At 6:30 I gave up and went home. Wednesday morning after a flurry of business things, I had time to think about this. So, after one more botched try (stalled at 94%) what seemed like forever, I unstalled the partial and the previous software. I managed to fax what I needed to, and did some house cleaning on the machine before leaving for the evening.

This morning when I arrived, after tending to customers, I went back to the website and began a new download. It was on the machine inside of ten minutes, and full install was completely successfully inside of 40, total. Wow, what a difference! So now I am back up and running here and I can print from my computer, woohoo! Small triumph but oh so annoying when you can't, lol

On the horse front, everyone is doing fine. Reba is getting better by the day, but I know we won't make real progress until she sheds her false sole and we can get her frog back in contact with the ground. It's easy to see by looking at the hoofprints in the snow, that she is still toe stubbing-but is much improved with just two trims a month apart. She was much better about the trimming too, than previously-she is getting accustomed to the hoof jack and is figuring out none of this hurts her. Next appointment is the maximum interval-six weeks out-but I will call if I see too much toe on her, as we need to establish balanced hoof growth. Of course I could roll the toe myself, but I feel more confident in Gisela's ability, than my own, haha If the weather does not permit and it needs doing, I'll do it of course. It's been a treat, watching her personality emerge the better she feels and the more comfortable she is. While not quite a Wingnut, she is friendly and curious and interested, yet respectful-can't ask for better than that!

Yesterday we got a fuel delivery at the house. For the first time in a couple of years, I didn't have a stroke over it, lol The wood stove looks like it will pay for itself in about two years at this rate-even with the price down about $1.30 a gallon from this spring. It's a lot of work and does require regular attention, but there is nothing quite so nice as walking into a toasty warm house and warming in front of the stove. I haven't managed to get a fancy trivet for it yet, or even a fireplace tool set, but that's okay-Christmas is coming.

This weekend is milk test, and we are going to do Thanksgiving on Sunday since my hub will miss it this year. I am so looking forward to the meal with all the trimmings. We are pretty traditional and at this point, I only make what I know everyone really loves: The bird and dressing, smashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, one vegetable. And of course, pumpkin pie. I have a nice little sugar pumpkin waiting for me to cook up, a big hit. If you haven't tried cooking your own pumpkin, I do recommend it, its lovely.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's been a busy week!

So much for relaxing with time off, ha!

It's been a busy week and then some. On the home front, I have managed to get the first batch of cranberry ketchup done (for those who are scratching their heads....its basically like a dipping sauce and nope, you probably would not use it for french fries, lol, it's rich and flavorful) the sauerkruat is safely in jars, and I am in the midst of canning the smoked salmon this weekend. I also tackled some indoor chores that have been bugging me for a while now, and now that those are done I can give some thought to better office organization.

On the horse front, the Princess seems to have recovered fully, yippee!!! I have started her on a very soupy small mash nightly, and she adores her messy treat very much. Right now, it is just beet pulp and senior, with v/m sup, on Sunday everyone gets their weekly bran mash too. Reba is not thrilled with mashes, which I find rather odd-but she sure loves getting a handful of "grain" in the feed pan every evening. I have been cutting back and cutting back on the hay and I have to tell you, I think I bought a true air fern-not a horse! The recent snowfall has softened the ground of course and now she romps and trots, showing only minor tenderness from the deep bruising of a couple weeks ago. Another couple of trims will help a bunch, and I have one scheduled this morning.

We still have to make it over to pick up the horse trailer, which should be in the next day or so. Hopefully, they are all plowed out over there and it won't be an issue getting it home. We are plowed here too, and I am delighted that I have some good snow cover for the arena. Yay for finally getting snow, lol (And yes I must be certifiable, but honestly-no snow until mid November? What's up with that?)

In other gossip-I have heard some curious things this past week, really.

First, there is our old buddy Mark. I have been asked repeatedly what happened to Bullseye Feed, and for a couple months I couldn't provide an answer. Then I heard that they moved to a new location, which is seriously a death knell for a feed store. Since they stopped advertising, no one knows where they are (hunh??) and not only that, he is not above calling to complain to anyone who brings up hay as being his "competition" and can even be pretty nasty on the phone. I am pretty sure he is still advertising on CL, trying to peddle his inventory, instead of spending a few bucks on advertising and doing it right. The way he treats what he views as competition is surely shooting himself in the foot-who wants to do business with someone like that? I surely don't, and I buy feed pretty regularly just like other horse owners up here. Besides, you have to be in the know, to know the new location, lol!

Then I have had a couple people call up to brag how cheaply they managed to get hay here from outside. Sigh. Ok, and your point is? lol, I know it's comparing apples to oranges, the difference in quality. It's no skin off my nose if they want to do all the work and shoulder all the risk from an unknown supplier on unseen hay. The $64 question would be: Why would anyone want it? Stemmy and over mature with totally blown seed heads-this I could get easy too. But it is a far cry from what people have come to expect to see me unloading. I am just amazed that boarding operations would compromise quality of diet for cost-but of course this is happening all over the US, not just here.

As prices continue to rise, margins are shrinking and cuts must be made somewhere. That penny or two a pound difference must work out to a lot more on the bottom line than it would seem using a calculator ;) Of course to make up for the lesser quality, they usually feed more grains-and that is not something I personally am willing to do. I feed all horses in my care very generously when it comes to hay-and very little when it comes to what goes in the feed pans. To each their own, but it works for me :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This, that and the other

Ok now that the election is over, I can pick up the strings of normal life and move forwards. Sure was a polarizing event for this nation, wasn't it?

Let's see.....First, Chubs did get moved successfully, but the trip was not without mishaps. You know how it is, nothing ever goes smoothly when you have to haul! We did not use my own truck because we don't have a break controller-and I just will not haul in the winter without trailer brakes. So I managed to strong arm a good friend into hauling Chubs. He loaded just fine, and we met the trailer on the road to lead them to the new location. Everything seemed to go fine until we turned off of the main (dry) road onto the other (icy!) road and the truck and trailer stopped. The driver popped out, shaking....no brakes on the truck at all-eeks! So we crept on down the hill and stopped on the longish flat spot and conferred over what to do. Too far to walk, couldn't drive truck safely with a trailer on, etc. I called the new boarding place owners, and after about an hour we ended up with another truck to tow the trailer the rest of the way. Chubs was a perfect gentleman the entire time we were stopped, which was wonderful. The last little bit of that road includes a short, steep grade and a hard turn to the right at the bottom-good thing we had swapped vehicles because there was no way to negotiate that without full braking!

Upon arrival, Chubs was quietly unloaded, and after a short while, was turned into the new pasture with new horses. Boy I have to tell you, that except for a couple of completely scary bellows out of the old fart-it went as smoothly as one can hope. He can defend himself from the one pony who is a bit of a pill, and has buddied up with another. He is seemingly very happy with his new digs and has established a place in the herd. The pasture looks to be about three acres in size, which is perfect for him :)

Second, I took some time off from work. Naturally this has meant being busy every day so far, and I haven't managed to get done half of what I need to, haha At this rate I will be going back to work to rest up! The time change has really been an issue for me, first time in my life. But I am making some headway on a few things I was determined to tackle.

Third, I am disheartened to relate that I have had my first colic here. Honestly, I have no idea what caused the impaction because I always make sure there is water available at all times. But yesterday morning I went up and the Princess was laying down. A bit odd, she got up as I put out the mornings ration of hay to them all. My stomach turned when she did not bully her way next to her buddy and instead walked away. Yikes! I checked for gut sounds but didn't hear anything-but then the roosters were crowing and the radio was going. Back to the house I went to try to find my stethescope. Stethescopes are very interesting to little boys and it took me a while to find them (and now they are at the barn where they belong) When got back up there, she was laying down again, and I thought, OH NO!!! Got her right up and tried to hear any gut movement......maybe a little something? I was not sure.

Back to the house, try to find owners land line number. Ten minutes of searching and I realize the only place I have it is on my work computer! So I call the cell phone. No answer. Rats! Wake up son and get him into the shower, back to barn. Still the same, but not laying down, but she isn't eating either. She isn't sweating or panting, but I know something is way bad wrong. Back to the house, call cell phone-no answer. I hustle my son into school clothes, get his stuff in the car, and off I go.....dropped him at the sitters, and then drove quickly to the owners' home. After waking up the household there, I head back home, check on the pony. She is laying down again, quietly, not trying to roll, so I get her up and dash back to the house to grab cell phone, home phone, coffee, etc. Shortly after this the owner arrives and in about two minutes we determine we need to call the vet.

It seems to take forever for the vet arrive, and during this time the pony is slowly getting worse. She is not dehydrated by pinch test, but is starting to breathe harder and is obviously terribly cramped in the abdomen. She does go down a few times but each time she is walked until the cramps relax and then is allowed to stand quietly. The vet administers banamine and eventually, with many tears and much emotion, the decision is made to get her hauled to the clinic. Of course, my trailer happens to be where Chubs is (doh!) and so I manage to borrow one from another friend who lives not far away.

I really sweated out the news all day yesterday. The owner and I had a number of discussions about what may have caused this. The owner contacted the previous owner, who said (and I quote here for a good reason) "Oh she does this every winter, you need to give her soaked alfie cubes with mineral oil" and "she does not drink enough water in the winter anyway"

The point of repeating the above is that the previous owner DID NOT MENTION this to the owner......there was no way for either of us to know! Don't you think that might have been important for a new owner to KNOW? Especially for a 25 to 35 year old pony? Good lord, I was upset, to say the least.

As of early last night, the pony had passed manure, YAY!!! She is not out of the woods, but since the vet only gave her a 50/50 chance, I will take that as a positive. If she makes it, we will all confer and figure out a way to manage her diet so that her water consumption is assured. I feel just sick that my own management (with lots and lots of quality hay) may have contributed to the colic :(

I will be hearing more news this morning I am sure. Keep your fingers crossed. The Princess is sorely missed by her companion, the hony........

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Providence provides :)

It just takes faith.

Yesterday morning, I was beyond despondent when the one possible solution for Chubs evaporated. I do completely understand the pressure I inadvertently applied to the other person, honest I do. Taking in a strange horse and an old one at that, is a big thing, and one should not jump into these situations willy nilly and then regret a hasty (if not downright emotional) decision on down the road. Kudos to this person for even considering it! Many horse owners won't, they don't want the responsibility, the stress, the hassle, the work. It's easier to squirm and blurt out no, trust me, lol

Of course I never seem to have these "second thoughts" before I step foward and open up my heart to them, haha Which is how I ended up with Chubs in the first place ;)

So, I put up yesterday's entry and pretty much mentally beat myself into a meltdown at work. I knew I needed to call the vet before 10 am, to firm up the appointment. At that moment, I could not think of any solution that wouldn't break the bank-if I could find a boarding situation willing to take him on in the first place due to his behavior issue. And since most places have very small paddocks (absolutely the wrong situation for him) I was just stumped.

On a whim I signed into chat, looking to vent some emotion with a friend. Not many people online at that hour of the day, but one such was....and that friend reminded me of a possibility. I immediately picked up the phone of course....and voila!

Success! Chubs has new digs. He isn't there yet, as he gets hauled tomorrow, but I am thrilled that the Chubster gets another reprieve!

So yesterday afternoon was filled with a flurry of phone calls and planning out what needs doing. Have to go through all the blankets and find one that fits him better. Have to load up some feed to take along and a bit of my imported hay. Have to get the haul arranged. And etcetera :)

You know, Chubs was about 20 minutes from the point of no return yesterday morning.

Again, providence stepped in and he was granted another opportunity in the nick of time.

Maybe I should just call him Nick?