too much of a good thing

Rain is a good thing. Except when you get too much, too fast. This summer the Midwest is all about storms, and hard rain. The kind that gutters, rivers and sewers can't handle when it comes down all at once. We don't have flooding nearly as bad as some other area's in WI, but it's still prevalent. The storms seem endless. 

We get water in one area of our current unfinished basement, when the hard rain hits just right. Basements of those living closer to rivers are completely flooded with multiple feet of water. There are many cancelled events. I always feel for the animals that can't help themselves out of situations. 

In our future house without a roof, we have our own lake developing...

basement view

starting the endless squeegee job
at the drier end

what doesn't come in through the open windows,
drips down to the basement, through the floor

Our second group trail ride date is rapidly approaching. The reserve we were hoping to ride at is under water, and trails are closed. More storms forecasted for this weekend, and heat warnings continue. Below is a screenshot they posted from one of the roads along the reserve. It looks like we will either have to cancel plans, or try to find open prairie type trails away from rivers. Sigh. 

There is a lot more happening in our world then rain. Hope to share a barn update sooner then later, before it gets too far along. Not that being far along would be a bad thing!


a ride in the woods

Drum role please...we went on our first trail ride of the season!! It really does deserve a drum role, I honestly didn't think we would get out on the trail this year! After our visit with Cierra's breeder, we wanted to do something together again before her intern from Australia leaves the States. I suggested a trail ride, and who'da thunk - it actually happened! 

We drove from opposite directions, and somehow pulled into the park one right after the other. Couldn't do that again if we tried! The weather was perfect, flies a bit pesky in spots - but over all not too bad. We've never ridden together, and it was sweet how everything worked out so very nice! 

On the trail: Brad (riding Cierra) Ashley (riding Prince, a 3 year old from her breeding program. The grulla colts stud, now gelded from my recent post) her 8 year old adorable daughter, Natalie (riding Smoky, an amazing pony) Brandi (riding King, a retired Outrider) and new (to us) a college intern from France, Mat (riding Dixie, Natalie's buckskin horse). Enjoy a combination of Brad/my phone pics taken throughout our 3 hour ride:

Koda's view of us heading out
(Prince, Smokey, Dixie, King, Cierra)
(Smokey, King, Prince, Dixie)

water break
(Me, Koda, King, Cierra, Dixie, Prince, Smokey)

after a long climb, the terrain opened up to beautiful prairie
(Koda's ears, Cierra, King, Dixie)

Koda led across the bridge at the first mud water crossing
while the group watched Cierra try. Koda & I were also unsuccessful.
Only two horses braved the downhill deep mudslide,
King followed by Prince

Prince in the thick of the mud water crossing
Prince trying to help Cierra at the second water crossing,
after she had jumped it in hand. It was a no go.

Koda had crossed multiple times with no problem and
helped his sister ride through it a couple times.
Brad did a great job, and ended successfully.

(Smokey, Dixie, King, Prince)
nothing beats a peaceful ride with good company
(King, Dixie, Koda, Prince, Smokey)
Brad & I do not normally ride with a group, it is usually the two of us. We were pleasantly surprised how well our horses did with their new friends, especially the pony. A first for us. You know how little kids are, they ride all over the place and break "rules" about space without fear. She learned a lot, and took guidance in stride. That adorable little duo was our favorite thing about the trail ride. They can ride with us anytime.

It was such a refreshing change of pace. Reminded us, we need to stop and smell the woods more often. We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch together before heading out, and made hopeful plans for one more future trail ride before the interns head back to their respective countries. 


never ending layers

It's been pretty uneventful around here these days. Work, work, and more work. We spent the majority of the long holiday weekend - you guessed it, working on the land.

Remember the hay we spread all over our house site last Winter? It was spread thick to prevent frost from sinking deep, so we could get digging early Spring. As Winter came to an end, that stinky hay mess got pulled off and piled to the side of the building site. It kept breaking down, and became an even stinkier mess. It was far enough away that the huge pile went unnoticed, unless the wind was blowing just right.

We are getting our septic system put in this week. The hay and some of the weeds 'er dirt piles, were in the way. So your's truly got the lovely job of moving the hay. One stinky grapple bucket load at a time. 

I used a rented trac bobcat, while Brad ran the other one doing various things. I quickly found out I really like tracs, better then wheels. Have you ever tried picking up loose hay? Yea, well - it's frustrating. I finally got the hang of it, and was determined to move the entire pile myself. I was hauling it around the dirt piles, down the hill, and around the corner to the other end of the field. Piling it up to ferment, then eventually get spread. It was a bit of an obstacle course, but I had a great radio to keep me company. Good thing too, because it took me the lions share of the day to move that pile!

It was peaceful at times...

heading down the hill with a full load

boring at times...dangerous at times....
Brad had a hay bale smash the window/door on his bobcat.
Thankfully he did not get hurt!!

...and down right exciting at times! I came up over the hill, and couldn't believe my eyes! Stopped me in my tracs, literally. You might want to turn the volume down and zoom in a little to see what I saw...while I was jamming to whatever was on the radio :)


Doesn't show up very well on here, but I saw a doe & her twin fawns in our designated horse pasture! One little brown & one glowing white baby!! Albino's are a novelty around here. Now the neighborhood is on the lookout for the new baby! We have three that I know of: a young buck, an older buck (we've never seen him) and this new little one. Isn't he/she cute?!!

I thought I would never finish moving that darn hay, but I finally got it done. Even if it made for a long day, it felt good to be helping with the never ending layers of work that need to be done.


pasture dreams

After we sold first crop alfalfa, Brad promptly tilled & seeded the horse's future pasture. We planted a custom seed mix, with no Timothy Grass. Nemo is allergic to it. 

Every time we are on our land, I look out towards what will be the pasture and try to imagine what it will be like...to look out the window and see our horses. Every day. To take care of them. Every day. I miss that. We long for it. It is our dream. 

You have no idea (or maybe you do) what a dream come true being together will be...you know, when our horses are in the land photos. It's been so looong awaited.

view of pastures from our house-to-be
We plan to have two pastures, so we can rotate. Two acres each. Below is what we've discussed to date for the pastures. Same photo with yellow designation added. 

(L-R) The arrow shows the recently planted pasture running north-south. The dotted line shows approximately where the dividing fencing will be. We plan to have a bordering path between the pasture & the rest of the alfalfa field, for access from the barn to our trails. 

The debate is ongoing as to where the auto-waterer & (south facing) shelter will be. On the near edge, in the middle where the two pastures meet ? or closer to the barn is always ideal ? Either way, it will be a duo-purpose shelter/water with swinging gates for access to either pasture. 

What a predicament, how to best access the lower pasture?! One of my pet-peeves is "run in alley's". I will NEVER have one (said with heels firmly dug in). No offense to anyone who has one, they just don't work for me. We have yet to decide which shelter/water placement is the worst of two evils. 

What to do? what to do? In the meantime, I'll just keep dreaming...


gotta love reactions

We just wrapped up show 2 of 4 this season. I've been answering a lot of general questions about shows to non-horse people. The top five things that surprise them the most are:

1) length of the show...five days long - really? Yes, and longer. 

2) points vs awards...
can't believe people show just for points. It's more then that!

3) unpredictable schedule...b
e prepared to wait for hours, possibly into the wee hours...results in a shocked look. 

4) variety of classes...
there are different disciplines/classes/age groups? Duh.

5) many competitors stay overnight on show grounds...yes, trailers can have living quarters

People are so funny. Gotta love their reactions!


On a related note, Brad & Cierra had a good show. They practiced trail during a couple lessons between the first & second show, and it payed off. They took second out of six, under both judges - and earned his first trail point! His ride wasn't perfect, but the pattern was a hard one. I am really proud of him! He is showing against a tough experienced group, who show way more then he does. Most have older horses. Brad & Cierra also picked up 6 more conformation points. Cierra has been dubbed "the diva" by barn mates. 

Here they are doing the trail pattern:


it's hard to say no

When you are tagged in a foal video of Cierra's half sister, because they have similar dispositions, and a breeder/friend you trust gives you first dibs on a special baby horse, it is really hard to say no.

We were not looking for a new horse, but we drove 1.5 hours one way to visit in person anyways. Mostly to visit our friend at her new place & see her kids again. But yes, to see the foal. It had been a good six years since we had seen each other, unless you count a brief encounter at fair. We used to meet for lunch, years ago before life & jobs changed. I thought maybe the foal would sweep my off my feet, and I couldn't live without her. We could possibly board her there, or at our trainers. 

But we came to our senses. We would never see her. The timing just isn't right, and that speaks to me. We are in the middle of building two forever buildings, then moving, along with everything else that needs to happen with our current house, work, and life in the next year. It just wouldn't be fair to anyone, especially this sweet foal.

There were a good 5-6 horses, all three babies, to a two year old, to a broodmare, to the former stallion (foals daddy, was gelded by a different owner before she bought him back) that could have come home with me. I don't know how she does it, her horses are all sweet and good natured. You should see how gentle they are with her little kids, and no - it's not a gimmick. Here is her webpage, they also do horse transportation. I highly recommend them for either.

For those of you into bloodlines, here is the foals & Cierra's dams pedigree. The mare is foundation. Here is the foals stud pedigree. And here are but a few of the photos from our fun, memorable visit...

Yes, I am still trying to get her out of my head. Can you blame me? Next year, there will be a whole new crop of foals - and we will hopefully be settled into our new place. Where we can love on them every single day. Doesn't make it any easier to say no.


one down, three to go

The show season is well underway for many, while others are just getting started. Like Brad.

Cierra has been very looky in the show ring, especially at the main venue. 
She is getting noticeably better, but it is still obvious. Therefore, Brad's trainer wants her to get more show exposure. Brad had made the decision early on to do the same four shows he did last year, and no more. His priority this year is getting our house & barn built. There were other things out of our control that went on for months, and he didn't feel ready for an early start. He simply didn't get enough training time in the saddle.

His trainer took Cierra to an early AQHA show and showed her in three Ranch Classes: Pleasure/Trail/Conformation. We went to watch, and helped care for Cierra. I tried to talk Brad into at least showing her in Conformation, but he wouldn't budge. She came home with a few halter points, and the circuit champ conformation award. It's really nice, but not as meaningful if the classes were larger and Brad had showed his pretty girl. 

Cierra's circuit award
Cierra's second show was in Minnesota. We trucked up to watch the ranch riding classes. It was the only ranch they offered. I don't recall the placings, but it wasn't noteworthy.

One year ago, Brad made his AQHA show debut. I remember he was so nervous you couldn't even talk to him. He didn't remember a thing about his rides and showed Cierra in Conformation for the first time, with zero prep. Surprise! But he did it. 

Fast forward to his first show of this season - at the same venue. What a difference a year makes!! He still has some nerves, but manageable, and is doing flying lead changes. Although Brad's rides weren't perfect and he has things to work on, he also has much to be proud of. Including two first places in Ranch Riding (out of 9 entries) and two firsts in Conformation. They have already qualified for the World Show.

The video above is of his first place ride. You'll notice some transitions need work, and a pole clunk - but don't blink or you'll miss the lead change :)) Speaking of missing, I didn't catch the very beginning, and the end of the pattern (they walk, and back). Everyone watching cheered loudly. I was very happy for him, they've come a long way.

The second set of judges were not Ranch judges, they were Western Pleasure judges. Suddenly the Pleasure horses started winning everything, and all the true extended ranch horses were bringing up the bottom. Go figure. It's far from all about winning, but that was ridiculous.

Any new readers wondering why I don't have photos of Brad showing, it's against AQHA rules. Altho other people do it. I can't. The show photographer who shoots all the shows, got her undies in a bundle last year and complained. Now I get written permission every year from the local organization, just to take photos of my husband and horse during non judged times (insert eye roll). Whatever, I like to keep the peace.

Cierra's trail classes have left something to be desired. Needless to say, they've switched lessons to include trail work. Thank goodness we can finally ride outside, most of the time! 


build-a-barn ~ one section at a time

They started pouring the flooring inside the barn this week! The wash stall, feed room & tack room floor are in!! Thanks to Brad, our son, and a few wonderful employee/friends willing to put in extra hours at the end of a long day to help us out.

Brad installed the wash stall drain (lower right)
& put insulation down in the front room.

He ran pvc pipes to the stalls for waterers,
one for each set of two stalls.

Plumber will eventually run the water lines through the pvc.

We now have a real floor in three rooms!

The yellow arrow points to the wash stall drain, where the
concrete was slightly pitched in all four directs towards the drain

Notice anything else that was done with the flooring?

Brad is grating & framing up the next section in preparation for another upcoming pour. Basically it's the center aisle, around the long drain. We also plan to finish hanging insulation this weekend, and hopefully the remaining tongue & grove board on the storage side. I will be SO glad when that part is done!! It's fun to see the flooring come together, one section at a time. 


Build-a-barn links: 


how much wood can a woodchuck chuck

None, at least not in our barn. 

We need everything to dry out, so the barn doors have been staying wide open for now. Of course that is an invitation for curious visitors. We have found many tracks inside the barn, across house flooring, and over the mounded peaks of remaining dirt piles. Our wild critters aren't shy!

Basically, we've created a play land for all the animals that have lived on our land long before we started building. 
That's all good & fine, until you come face to face with one...

Me: Um, there is something black & furry in our barn. Everyone stops what they are doing and comes to look.

Brad: What did it look like? 

Me: I don't know, black & furry. Low to the ground

Brad: It's probably a woodchuck, let me go get something

Daughter: Plops on the ground. I think I see it!!

Me: Be careful!! They can be nasty & bite! Especially when cornered.

Jameson (daughters dog): Ma!! Ma!! I think it's over here!! 
No wait, maybe it's over here?? I dunno. Wag, wag, wag. I love this place, it's so exciting!!

Look at the brave guy with the super long piece of rebar trying to rattle everything so black & fuzzy will run out, lol! Yes, I know - I am allll the way across the barn by the opposite exit. Yep, I am the braver one ;)

Brad: Well, that didn't work.

Daughter: Plops on the ground. I think I see it!!

Mom & Dad: Be careful!! They can be nasty & bite! Especially when cornered.

Daughter moves the styrofoam. Risking life and limb getting bit, while her faithful companion stands by wagging up a storm.

Daughter leaps on the styrofoam, because she doesn't really want to get bit. Meanwhile brave guy rattles the pallet until black & fuzzy makes a break for it. He scurries out leaving the barn unharmed, in search of some wood to chuck.

Brad: Aww, it was just a little guy

Daughter: What are you talking about?? It was HUGE!!!

Me: Will you guys stop playing with the animals and get to work!


expect the unexpected

Not sure where I am going with this post, but hopefully by the end it will be clear (er). We have had more then our share of a very wet cool spring, and it makes me think. About life. About expectations. About purpose.

Our horses are an important part of our life. Every time we seem to get past "things" as they occur, we take a turn. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, and many times just different then we expected - or hoped for. Which is practically the same thing. 

Nemo's allergies are back. Did we really expect them to go away? We sure hoped they would. They are not as bad as last year, but his allergies are back. I don't think it means the subcutaneous immunotherapy isn't working, I think it means he is still being exposed to high environmental allergens. Once we have him at home, we can limit exposure much better. At least with Timothy Grass, we planted a mix without any. 

Grey Horse Matters (or other's with related experience) did your daughter do anything in conjunction with her horse that was on allergy shots? or did the shots control the allergies? Feel free to message me if you prefer.

We've got a call into the vets to see if he has anything more to add. We are already doing the basics (masks, adjusting turn out time etc) but maybe there is something else??

Life these days revolves around the land/building X2. Last night we agreed to cancel our upcoming annual trail riding trip up north. I keep telling myself, it's just this year - but will it be? Who knows what life holds in store for us. 

After a horseless weekend, we arrived to the barn on Monday with high expectations of riding and spending time with our horses. All I can say is, our move can't happen soon enough! No use whining about all the silly stuff. I'll just say - Brad couldn't ride Nemo and I chose not to ride Koda for long. I wasn't a whole lot of fun on the 40 minute ride home.

It had been a week since I've ridden Koda, and my last few indoor rides were marginal. When you add feeding time and commotion, he get's his appy-tude on. There were waay too many riders that are never usually there (surprise!) to get anything accomplished, and it was wet and sloppy outside. Sigh. When do I get to ride and be with my horse?? I had such high hopes. Patience. I have learned some over the years. I always say I was in the bathroom when patience got handed out ;) it's not one of my better virtues. 

Then there is this thing nagging at me, called purpose. Brad thinks my purpose in life is to drive him nuts. That's true, I do it all the time - hah!! But seriously, life's purpose makes a person think. I try not to dwell on it, but who wants to aimlessly float down any ol' stream of life? Not me.

Photography? Sure. It can be a beautiful thing, with purpose. But I don't want to snap photos, just because I can. The whole entire planet is doing that. I've been trying to figure out my style/purpose. My most recent effort lasted 56 consecutive days, almost to the end of February. It's further then I thought I would get, but a whole lot shy of 365 days. The daily challenge was more "pressure" and less purpose. Now I only shoot the days I feel compelled to. Most people who accomplish the 365 challenge year after year, do it for fun. Some do it for recording daily life, others enjoy sharing detailed life out loud. 

My self restriction was no phone photos, and no quicky photos just to get it done. I wanted to practice with my camera more, take thoughtful photography, with hopes that there would be a revelation. I may try the challenge again under different circumstances, but it simply wasn't serving my purpose. Whatever it may be.

Woodland ~ 96/365 photo challenge

So much for clarity. Welcome to my overcomplicated brain. If you've got all this life stuff figured out, do tell.


Expectation is the root of all heartache.

 ~ author unknown


build-a-barn ~ a months progress

It has never been more apparent then in recent weeks, how many times you have to dig the same piece of ground in the building process. You dig it, fill it in, re-dig, re-fill - just to dig it up again!! 

My last barn update was over a month ago. The guys dug a trench, and poured a support "wall" for our room. More (re) digging was required for services to go inside the barn. Brad rented a mini-excavator to get that part of the job done...

front room is dug up for services
from house to be connected
stall side wall gets dug up for water to run off outside
stall wall pvc pipe is secured
outside gets re-dug for pipe extension
We did a lot more then dig this past month. Brad & I hung up insulation, and covered it with plastic. What an itchy mess that was, altho we were well protected. Our daughter came out to help us hang tongue & groove board. Things go much faster with an extra pair of hands!

long outside lower half of wall is done
Brad and I set the second half of the wall using two ladders. The boards are super heavy, especially the ones that aren't completely dry. Wish I had the upper body strength and nerves to climb an even higher ladder, to finish the top row. Sigh. 

so much done, and yet so much wall left to do
including the end walls, and trimming
The horse side required a lot of work done for sections of concrete (not the stalls) to be poured. Last weekend Brad needed "fines" (ground up rock, that compacts) scooped from a pile outside the barn, brought inside, dumped in strategic locations, and spread. Our son was too busy to help, so he asked me to run the bobcat for him :)

Nothing like coordinating 2 feet and 2 hands to raise,
 lower, move and spin ~ including inside the barn!
 Yikes, t
hank goodness I didn't hit anything!!
It was tight (for me) near the floor drain that was already set
while I hauled, Brad compacted
and compacted
and shoveled
(my view from inside the bobcat,
waiting to finish dumping the load of fines)
I got better and faster with the bobcat as the day progressed, except I kept hitting the horn accidentally. It is strategically placed on the back side of one handle. Scared the crap out of me every time. We had us some good laughs!! 

front room has gone through multiple phases
to get to this stage
more digging happened to connect key areas
Brad also framed the other room(s) floor
plumbers did some work (and of course digging!)
the pressure tester is temporary
The last photo was taken yesterday. That pretty much sums up a months progress on the barn. Whew, didn't think I would ever get this post written! Thanks for reading and scrolling along. Hope everyone is having a great weekend, and enjoying better weather then we are ~ brrr!!

Build-a-barn links: