we are sure

Cierra's breeder sent me a message late last year wondering why AQHA had contacted her and not Brad, to confirm Cierra's parentage. She asked "Brad is listed as current owner on Cierra's papers, right?" I was looking at her papers while I replied, yes. He transferred papers and has owned her since she was weaned in 2010. How odd.


My first post about Cierra was when we went to meet her at 7 1/2 weeks old. 

Cierra and Brad

She officially became ours after her Futurity Show on September 2010. Cierra came home with us when she was two months old.


Brad contacted AQHA to get things cleared up. He got the related paperwork filled out, completed and sent in along with Cierra's required tail hairs. 

I learned AQHA requires DNA proof on bred mares. Regardless of previous testing on file. Brad waited and waited and heard nothing from them. He finally called. They said her DNA came back that she was a stallion.

You read that right.

AQHA told Brad that 
Cierra is a stallion.

He said that was impossible. We are sure Cierra is a mare! We don't even own a stallion!!

If we are sure we didn't make a mistake on who we collected hairs from, then they would send her DNA back for additional markers (aka testing). 

I can see how this confusion might happen at large operations. Not with only four horses at home. Especially our four. The only other black tail horse we have is Koda. He is an Appaloosa and would have raised different markers. Nemo is also an Appaloosa. Harmony is a sorrel Quarter Horse, but cannot be registered

Again, Brad heard nothing. When he called AQHA to follow up, Brad got another surprise. He was told Cierra inherited a Y chromosome. What?! Females have two XX chromosomes and Males have an X and a Y chromosome. Apparently females can also have a Y chromosome. Sometimes they are sterile mares, called XY Mares. Here is a related article. This is likely not news to a breeder.

Brad received a follow up letter and test report with an overview of Cierra's results. All this, to tell us what we already know. Cierra qualifies as offspring of her parents. What we did not know is "...it appears your horse has a chromosome abnormality..."  

UC DAVIS Equine Parentage and Genetic Marker Test Report results and interpretation on Cierra:

"...based on additional testing, it appears MJK Dudes Dream Girl has inherited a piece of a Y chromosome translocated into another chromosome"

"This chromosome aberration is unlikely to affect fertility".

We plan to ask our vet about this. He is scheduled for Spring shots early March. It doesn't change anything for us or Cierra, but it sure is interesting.

(March 2022)


the beagle

Cierra has entered her third trimester. Brad has been proudly sharing with anyone who asks, about our Beagle. Well, it's really Cierra's Beagle. Not an actual Beagle. According to this Equine Pregnancy Wheel her foal is the size of a Beagle. 

Next month (9th month) Cierra's foal will be comparable to the size of a Dalmatian. The foal will grow faster. Gaining about a 1 pound a day. The website highlights interesting info.

I am beginning to get excited and nervous at the same time.


A couple days ago, we briefly saw that shiny thing in the sky that has been eluding us.

I walked past our windows and noticed three of our horses out in the pasture, all lined up. Equally spaced out and facing the same direction. Soaking up the sun.

By the time I got my camera, the horses had broken formation. Of course! It happens every single time.

I watched as Cierra saundered out to the pasture. 

Wondering. Who would she choose to join, or be alone?

Much to my surprise, she chose Nemo.

She always goes by either Koda or Harmony.

Nemo is usually not nice to Cierra. He tries to keep her separate during daily herd actions. He will not let her in the shed with the others. Cierra keeps her distance and has to wait to do everything. Until Nemo decides it is okay. She is definitely at the bottom of our herd. In his eyes.

I watched as Cierra interacted with Nemo.

The conversation between them was very sweet.

I wonder if the horses know about the Beagle?

Apparently I was interrupting their conversation.

Why is SHE watching us?

I left them to continue being sweet horses, under a warming sun.


our gypsy girl

Something has been missing from our barn. Better said someone has been missing from our barn, mid-August to late December.

Tinkerbell on her throne

last seen being silly on August 12, 2022

My emotions varied while Tinkerbell was missing 
from our barn for four plus months. What if...wondering why...and eventually being hurt/mad at not even being worthy of visiting.

Mostly, I don't understand her disappearance. Brad doesn't get it either. 

I lost a lot of sleep over our missing gypsy girl. I even woke up to a dream that I had found her wandering in an airport. The airport was full of couples (and only couples) that we knew. I was asking our friends if they had seen Tinkerbell. Then I found her and was carrying her around the airport talking to them, without a cat carrier. 

My thoughts circulated between, should I re-home Tinkerbell? Should I try making her an indoor cat? Lock her up in the barn? Let her live her best life? I chose the latter. Besides, I would have to find the sneaky girl first.

I came to terms with her not wanting to live with us. 
I have given Tinkerbell everything I can. She is fixed, chipped, inoculated and was kept worm/flea free. Free fed dry food and fresh water 24/7. They get cat treats. Our three cats also share a can of wet food at night, when we bring horses in. Beside cat loving stacks of hay, our barn includes a range of comfy cat beds and a gigantic liter box. They have a warm safe place to live and most importantly love. Hugs and kisses every day.

My long-time close friend is a cat lover (she currently has 8 cats/kittens, in her house) she said "Tinkerbell will come back when it's cold. When she does, lock her up for about a week to remind her where home is". 

There is one very valid reason for Tinkerbell's disappearance. She hates Leo. I've had cats my whole life. Never any that don't like each other. All three cats were all raised together as kittens. 

Occasionally Leo likes to pick on the girls. Nothing malicious. It is more of a friendly chase & batt game. At least Purr thinks so. Apparently Tinkerbell is not amused. 

Anyone who has cats knows they are territorial, independent and all different. We have worked with them, and Leo gets in trouble if he picks on the girls. Tinkerbell must be one of those cats that would be better without siblings. However, she seems to like our next door neighbors cat. I was told "they have sleepovers". I asked them to let me know if they see her, so I could come get her. They have seen her, but she is fast and fleeting. 

I have also seen Tinkerbell, on our trail camera's. That is where the hurt/mad feelings come from. I have evidence of her on our trails, day and night. Tinkerbell loves our dogs, and usually comes running and rubs against them. I KNOW she can hear us. Sound clearly travels in our valley. I get that a cat wouldn't want to be caught by a human, but cannot believe she wouldn't at least say hi to the dogs.

We have a lot of different cats roaming our property. Mostly neighbors cats. Some likely feral. New ones show up on our trail cam's every year.

Tinkerbell has a twin that appears frequently. Markings are very similar. The only difference is a white blaze, and the twin cat is a little larger.

not Tinkerbell

Right before Christmas, my neighbor sent me a photo of Tinkerbell. They said they don't mind having her share their cats space and food. I am grateful for that, but I wanted to try bringing her home. 

Tinkerbell eating the neighbors cat (Pearl) food
December 21, 2022

I went to get her. My neighbor said she runs away when they enter their shop. Tinkerbell came right up to me, when she heard my voice. In true Tinkerbell character, she escaped from the incorrectly latched carrier while we were chatting. It gave us all a good laugh. I put her back in and told them she will be back in about a week to visit Pearl. I plan to get them a bag of cat food for helping keep her fed.

our gypsy girl

Tinkerbell is back home!! 

she was very hungry

looking healthy, not a hair out of place

She spent the wicked cold week we had around Christmas locked inside the barn with Leo and Purr. I got her late afternoon, so we kept her separate the first night. The very next day, Tinkerbell instantly remembered our barn routine.

she always "helps" me clean stalls
12/22/22 (18 seconds)

"I missed you, where have you been?"

The day before we planned on testing her chip on the cat door (before releasing her) the sneaky girl escaped through a door. The next morning, Tinkerbell was inside the barn. She came in on her own!!! My friend was right. She needed to be reminded. This is her home and we all love her. Dogs included. 

12/28/22 (18 seconds)

I am both thrilled and surprised Tinkerbell has willingly come home daily into the new year. She can be found hanging around the barn frequently <3

1/5/23 (29 seconds)

When the weather warms up, I absolutely know 
Tinkerbell will leave for more long cat safari's. My hope is she keeps living here, or at least visits often. I love Tinkerbell! She is sweet, so funny and deserves to live her best life. One that includes two indoor homes, whenever she wants them. 



about that project

Brad and I worked together on a very special project this past year. Each season, another layer of progress was accomplished.

Similar to healing, heart projects do not happen all at once.

The project I am referring to is my mom's memorial area which began with her tree planting and bench unveiling on the first Mother's Day without her here with us on earth (2022).

It has become such a special serene place for us. 

This area is the first thing you see when you get to the bend of our long driveway.

The memorial area is not about the bench perse. It is about connection. Spiritual and otherwise. Feelings of remembrance, joy, sorrow, natures awe and inspiration. To name just a few.

It brings out all the feels.

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail close-up

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch and Bubble bee
sharing late season zinnias

Late Summer, a Berry White Hydrangea was planted (pink blooms above). My mother had a prolific white one growing in her backyard. It is my first time growing Hydrangeas. Fingers crossed. 

Zinnias grown from collected seeds

The flower pots also had overwintered Calla Lilies.
They bloom before zinnias.

I thought Spring crocus named Remembrance would be a perfect way to add early season color. My plan is to naturalize low profile early blooming bulbs in the general area. Brad reminded me, he will have to work the area up in order to plant grass. 

I came up with Plan B for the bulbs I had already purchased. Several packs of crocus and species tulips were planted inside a triangle shaped area, within 3 existing pines. There is a stump in the middle, so it won't be worked up. I can't wait to see what blooms!! I can always relocate the bulbs, or better yet ~ plant more! 

Late Fall, Brad poured a colored concrete base for the bench. Notice the two circle indentations he added. Great idea! The two pots that flank the bench are in full sun & wind exposure. The pots dry out quickly and frequently tip over. Even with a rock base. Setting the pots down inside the circles will prevent tipping and they will still drain to the ground. He added drainage rocks as a base inside the circles. 

Over the Summer, the bench stayed on a pallet so it could be moved with the bobcat.


While walking our woods, another idea crossed my mind. 

I asked Brad if we could stamp the concrete base with actual leaves.

Poor Brad. I always ask for the unusual. Which translates as complicated. I never do things the easy way. Not intentional, it is just how I am wired. After all these years together, my requests no longer surprise him. Brad is more practical and we balance each other out. Stamping concrete is nothing new to him, but stamping with leaves is. He said yes, we could try :))

My mom loved trees. I think in part because she grew up with very few of them. She was born and raised in a big city (Madrid, Spain) where few trees grow in selective areas. In addition, the Fall month of September is both her month of birth and death.

I went on a mission collecting whatever leaves I could find that still had pliable life. It was slim pickings this late in the season. I noticed some semi-vibrant Maple leaves in our woods, high above on branches. Maple leaves have a distinct shape. I thought they would work great. 

I remembered t
he three Maples we planted a few years ago along our driveway and was happy to find they still had a few leaves. I climbed a ladder and plucked the few remaining leaves. No doubt my neighbors (rightfully so) thought I was nuts. The wind was whipping and there I was on a ladder collecting leaves.

For weeks, I kept all the collected leaves in plastic bags with moist paper towels. Waiting for the "concrete stars" to align. And they did.

Brad finishing the concrete base

A few of the Maple & Oak leaves were gently pressed into the concrete, after it formed up for a while. We left them in overnight and Brad carefully removed the leaves in the morning. The imprints turned out just as I had imagined!

See random leaf imprints (front area)

 Brad will probably add some concrete sealer and might stain the leaves to help them stand out. 

My mom would have loved the many detailed reminders of her…in disbelief she would have said "all this for me?". To which I would have replied, “Yes mom. All this, and SO much more love ~ all for you”.

Brad backfilled the base with black dirt

Mom's memorial area will be considered completed, when Brad plants grass in the Spring. Making it feel more connected to us, instead of a separate island area. 

I really wanted to add something during the Winter months. Brad made more of my wishes happen. We added 3 trees that light up on each side!   

notice the light crystals

light twinkles above the bench

We are considering adding a water feature of some kind in the future. Perhaps a stand alone rock bubbler, or a ground stream that flows to another water feature. If you know me at all, then you know the aura of water is an important part of what fuels me.  Adding year round flowing water or a large wildlife pond somewhere on our property has always been on our original wish list. Perhaps someday. Or not. I am totally okay, either way. It is nice to dream.

View from behind

Somehow, the three trees on the right form a distinct heart shape.

We were so surprised!! 
I will have to get a better photo with my camera.

My mothers memorial area is so healing just the way it is. Love can be felt, in every season.