new year wishes

As we close out another year, I am reminded of all things held near & dear. Past highs & lows. Our ongoing shift towards spending time doing what we love. Being true to ourselves.

It is not easy, as anything in life worth doing is. 
We are judged for it. Many don't get "it" or better said "us". Hard to deal with, but I am getting better at not letting others negativity consume me. Or at least better at trying. 

2018 was a year full of big change. No need to recap, most are well aware of our move. Our dream, was is our focus. It is a beautiful life. Some days, I feel like I am living in a painting.


I was going to take a photo of Brad & I to mail out for a family Christmas card. Photo cards seem to be the thing to send these days, if one sends anything at all. That photo was never taken. 

I have been hand making holiday cards for over a decade, and this year it almost didn't happen. A handmade Christmas card did eventually come together with existing photos. It reflects where we are at with our lives, as every handmade card has in years past. I am going to enlarge this photo composite, minus the added snowflake graphics. As a reminder, of our first year here. Where we truly feel like we are home.

card cover photo composite
two of my 2018 photos)
inside stamped sentiment


My hope for 2019 is to keep moving forward with our homestead, but make time for other passions. Enjoying our critters, with family and friends, on our land - maybe even riding our horses. Imagine that?!! 

If I was to pick a word for the new year, it would be "passion". I am not one to choose words, or goals for that matter. But I have plenty of dreams, and passionate intentions - which are all one in the same. 

Looking forward to more sharing, of your passions & ours, throughout the upcoming year! Best Wishes for a Happy Healthy New Year, full of that which you hold near and dear!! 


feeder choices

The time has come for us to look closer at feeder options for our pasture, and make a decision. There are SO many choices!!

We used a wooden feeder that Brad built at our last place, and left it there for the resident horses. We would like to get a lower covered metal feeder this time. Possibly one that could be used with an orange slow feed net for large square bales, and possibly round bales. That would be ideal in my opinion.

Because of our sandy loam soil, our vet had us start our horses on Sand Clear and suggests we feed on mats under/around the feeder. 

There are the standard round ground feeders that we've all seen, and work with nets. They also make feeders that seem functional and either come with a cover or you can add a cover. 

Here are a couple square bail feeders we found to consider:

leery of the metal sections that sit on the hay
I can see those causing problems

These do not work with nets, but I like the top one that is lower to the ground. We may just go with a standard round feeder, stuff the squares into a net and build some type of cover. Any thoughts or recommendations on pasture feeders to share?


our he and she shed

It took three looong weeks to get our horse shed finished. The owner of the company we hired decide to build our shed himself, instead of sending a crew. It is nice and sturdy, and it's done. Check!

The making of our he and she shed:

looks so bare with only a few trees remaining
last view like this
leveling is so important

Brad worked hard at framing & compacting

our horses were really upset with all the building action
won't be able to see them waiting by the gate much longer
our son & Brad finishing the concrete pad 
working by the light of the moon
chillaxin by the new pad
a wet & muddy wait
lower part of shed gets treated boards 

roof truss goes up
with um, our equipment...polite people ask first...

Notice the dogs above, lower left.
Jameson (black lab, is our grand dog) had his hands full.
The builders untrained crazed puppy run amuck.
Not the dogs fault, he was actually a big sweet guy,
with a huge extra slobbery smile.

we were hoping the shed would be done on schedule,
before the cold & snow hit

looks like a tall shed & another tree (or two) has to come down
cold morning

slow progress

still waiting

side & roof are up, but supplies ran short,
so another week of waiting

Brad finished the inside off for the horses to use safely

Mats were added (plan to add a few more) & boards, cut bolts & covered
We may eventually do more to the inside?

It's amazing what a difference it makes inside the shed. Most days our horses won't need to take shelter. Either way, it makes me feel better knowing they can get out of the elements. 


horse documentary thoughts

Did any of you watch the free online "Listening to the Horse" docu-seriesIt's nothing short of a miracle that I watched ALL seven episodes!! I really enjoyed hearing many of the stories, especially from those in area's I am not familiar with. Featured trainers were from the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and the US. Accents fascinate me. I enjoyed the different wording/pronunciations, but at times with thicker accents I had difficulty understanding what was being said.

The video footage itself was stunning during key moments. They showed wide views from very high above, in a minimalistic style, of a horse & rider with their dancing shadows. As a visual person, it was captivating! At least one of the riders was Steve Halfpenny, whom I would like to learn more from. He is known for Light Hands Equitation, and has a soft approach & calming way.

Below are a few snippets of my take away's from the episodes and trainers that resonated with me:

Episode 1 (Horsemanship) 
• Allow the horse the right to search, to find release.
• Many horse problems are rooted in anxiety.
Warrick Schiller (Performance Horse) shared a trail story about horses spooking at rabbits, it spoke volumes.
• horses are "lightly started" way too young

Episode 2 (Groundwork)
• Stop pushing horses away, so they can chose to do the right thing.
Kim Walnes (heart & science of riding) trail story about her young Arabian brought tears to my eyes. I found her very interesting to listen to.

Episode 3 (Riding) 
• The best video of the series IMO, had substance and was more then nice stories/peoples opinions. I value visual explanations of what is being done, and why. Pat Parelli was the trainer (for those anti-Parelli, I am well-aware of the excessive hype) he did an excellent job explaining & showing the importance of foot fall. 

• Riders use head-knowledge, instead of heart-felt choice.
• "It's about building relationship, it's about a dance with the horse"

Episode 4 (Health) • The obvious was covered

Episode 5 (Bodywork)
Jim Masterson showed how to find the bladder meridian, and touched on the amount of pressure to apply. However, I was left wondering "then what should I do..." maybe that was the point lol.

• The featured animal communicator (aka educated observer) was interesting. I get it now.
Jeff Sanders (Spanish Horsemanship) gave a thorough basic explanation of how bits apply pressure to horses tongues, using a towel. It was an eye opener. 
Another favorite episode, that I found educational. This guy knows his stuff.

Episode 6 (The Rider)
• Ride the horse you have that day vs 
riding the saddle (every trainer on the planet needs to heed this message)
• The impact of incorrectly sitting on your horse

Episode 7 (Home & Environment)
• The obvious was covered
• A reminder that some horses live in horrific situations.

I do not recall seeing many of the larger number of trainers listed. Here are a few more that shared and resonated with me: Lester Buckley (multi-disciplinary/gifted teacher), Karen Rohlf (Dressage Naturally) and Katharine Chrisley (Natural Equine Specialist).  

I loved the overall message of the Listening to the Horse series, everything featured was clearly in the best interest of the horse. There is incredible information being touched on. Key word, touched on. The world would be a much better place for horses if all owners did what was previewed. However, I am not sure how effective the messages are via sooo many snippets of people talking at you. Those featured messages shared in-depth, stuck with me. Sometimes less is more.

Those of you that watched it, what did you think about the documentary??


build-a-barn ~ doors

The focus lately has been on getting the barn ready for cold weather. Our electricians hooked the outdoor water heater up last week, the day before winter temps arrived. Brad has been working hard on getting the tack room door up. It was no easy task:

tack room entrance got trimmed
our long awaited metal door frame arrived

Brad cut wood to fit panel areas
and attached hardware

door is hung and ready for staining
trim was stained earlier

our dehumidifier hose runs through the wall now,
it fits neatly in the floor crease, runs into the floor drain

finished sliding tack room door
Brad did an amazing job on the tack room door! It was his idea to order a stall front that matches our stalls, and I love what he did!! Now if only we could get the plumbers back out to hook up our hot water in the barn...we could finish the inside of the tack room. 
We need warm water for cleaning tack, especially now that it is cold.
 I've hauled hot water from the house, but things like blankets & pads clean better with force from a spray nozzle.


Another current project is insulating the metal barn doors:

insulation is cut to fit inside door panels

then gets covered with milk board

Brad is not done with insulating the barn doors yet. It is a lot of measuring, cutting etc. Our barn door side creases will be blocked with door strip flaps, not sure what is happening with the bottom gap. I might make some type of removable flex block for the bottom, that mice won't love. 
What do you guys use for blocking breezy barn door gaps? 

After the barn ceiling insulation get's blown in, our barn will be winterized. I think. At least we are on that busy contractors schedule. This will be our first winter here with the horses. It will be interesting to see how everything works out.


rare sights

I looked out the window while making supper, and wondered what was that red streak in the sky? It was coming up from low in the sky, or down depending on how you view things.

As mentioned in my last post, sky colors wrap around us frequently. I didn't find it too odd. I was drawn to the red beam, and couldn't stop looking at it. The color grew with intensity. I saw some faint blue & yellow starting to appear along the interior edge, and realized, it's a rainbow!!! I ran outside (well, my version of running lol) snapped a quick phone pic, and hurried to the barn to get Brad. He stopped what he was working on to oblige his sky obsessed crazy wife, and went outside to see our first rainbow at our new home!!
red sunset rainbow
(no enhancements)

We should have traded for our neighbors barn when offered,
there is a pot of GOLD in it!!
The odd part was the conditions were not the usual predictable East facing multi colored rainbow conditions I am familiar with. What?! You didn't know I was a Rainbow Predictor? Well I am ;) This rainbow faced North East, it was really red and apparently somewhat rare. 

Here is an interesting link on red rainbows. I learned finding them is different then "regular" rainbows. There is no such thing as a regular rainbow, they are all unique spectacular phenomena. This is how you find a red rainbow "if you’re watching a sunset, and there’s rain in the air, turn in the direction opposite the sun and watch for the elusive red rainbow."

The red beam started to reach higher, arc and look more rainbow-ish,
with faint blue/green/yellow interior colors
It didn't last long. I turned around to watch the sunset to the West...

No wonder there was cast light in the East forming a rainbow. I am sure my iphone does some processing to all photos. I haven't done anything to the sky pics, they do resemble what I see in person. Colors are a bit more dramatic, in particular the purple. What you don't see is the less colorful areas of the sky that balance it all out. All camera's process .jpg photos to some degree, unless you have a more advanced camera and shoot in a native RAW format. Like I do, with what I call "my real camera".

This morning I walked to the barn. Brad was working early on getting our tack room door up, his table saw caught my eye:

It was so cool! All pitch black in the storage side of the barn, except for the saw. I couldn't just walk past (I did add a filter to this phone photo). Light is such a spectacular sight!!

After chores I was wheelin' it back to the barn, looked up and saw an X in the sky above our barn:

X marks the spot

By the time I put the wheel barrel away and tried to get a better angle with my phone, the X had rotated and traveled but stayed in it's X format:

looks more like a cross

Just had to share what I think are rare sights :) I've always said, the best camera is the one you have with you - but I think I need to start carrying my real camera around with me!! 


following up on not so recent posts

For some reason I haven't been able to gather my thoughts enough to write anything in-depth, so here is a collective follow-up on some not so recent posts:

Our Barn mystery about Nemo's shavings becoming dark and damp remains unsolved. Now that it is Fall, his shavings are lasting a week and stay relatively normal. Until they don't. It happens overnight, typically on a rainy day. I believe it's due to a combination of his churning in his stall and some form of dampness. Since the mats aren't wet, and the shaving aren't heavily wet either (his soiled shavings are, those are closer to black/dark brown), we are going to move onto the other zillion things we need to worry about. 

Every horse is different, but I still find the difference in shavings extremely odd. I should have taken a photo of the clean shavings in the stalls, the dry vs damp color is more extreme. We may dig into this mystery in the Spring.

Nemo's damp shavings fill the wheel barrel.
Koda's pee saturated shavings added on top right.

As far as our moldy Tack Room and First Aid  inquiry 
I haven't added much to our First Aid supplies yet, other then I bought a new thermometer.

After I posted, our unexpected mold showed up in unusual places, like our bulletin board GASP! It isn't anywhere near tack, and right by a large entrance that remains open all day. Apparently fresh air doesn't faze mold, at least not when humid.

I threw the moldy calendars away, wiped the cork down and made an essential oils (EO) spray with whatever I had. My mix included Tea Tree, Rosemary and a Good Samaritan blend with Cinnamon, Clove etc. Our barn smelled great for a few days, altho my horse was a snort machine upon entrance. The other two horses just looked wonky at the board. I think they found it offensive, or at best different. I sprayed the board pretty heavily, and the mold has not returned. I used this good EO reference to stop the mold from growing on our board:

My mold fighting arsenal
We bought a dehumidifier for our tack room. It runs 24/7 and the humidity has lowered, although we don't have a door yet so its not as effective as it could be. The small blue bottle is my EO mold spray mix. I bought Black Rock cleaner/conditioner per Linda's suggestion. I think it will work similar to the combo we used, although ours was a spray. Once I received it I laughed out loud at how small the jar was, thinking "well, that will do one saddle"! Guess I didn't notice the size I bought was only 4oz duh. It's a great size to try it out, and I bet it will go further then appears.

I also bought Arlines recommended Ho-Cho-Line leather dressing (another small jar lol) for a few pieces of tack to store, and a couple older donate-able items. I also bought some silica gel packs & and an inexpensive brush for cleaning only. 

I am waiting on saddle storage covers, and then it's game on! Everything will get cleaned again, more thoroughly. I check the important tack daily, and the only re-offender so far is my old Circle Y saddle. Which is banished to the corner of the barn. After the initial cleaning, I wipe whatever starts growing again and keep hauling it out in the sun. When we have sun, which is seldom these days. 

Speaking of sun, our daily morning summer fog has subsided. This year the norm has been frequent cloudy/rainy days, but I am still in awe with our sky views. The weather patterns are so different now that we live north of a large river. The biggest difference I've noticed are the clouds. They are SO much closer! I like to think we are a little closer to heaven. 

On sunny days the clouds look like huge powder puff cotton balls floating just out of reach, in a sea of sky blue. Whatever Mother Nature reveals overhead, seems to surround us. The sunsets wrap all the way around overhead, and so do hints of sunrise colors. 

When we moved, I left behind a beautiful wide open (very distant) Eastern sunrise view. Imagine my surprise to see my first sunrise reflecting high above our trees, coloring our cloudy sky! Who knew?!! 

Our beautiful Western tree line also lights up with color. Sunset here is much closer, and intense. It surrounds you in a way that draws you in. We cannot see either horizon from our land, but who needs to when the skies light up like this:




Online Horse Documentary

Just incase you have not seen this offer and are interested, there is a new horse documentary "Listening to the Horse" being offered online for premier free viewing starting Monday, November 12, 2018.

"This 7-part documentary series looks at many aspects of our lives with horses, including acknowledging when our horses try, feel, timing and balance, fixing problems, working with wild and young horses, groundwork, liberty, footfall, why collection is important for your horses health, feet, teeth, general health, bodywork, healing, animal communication, saddle and bit fit, fear and confidence issues, mental health, home and environment."

The documentary includes an impressive number of equine professionals:

After one enters their email for a "ticket" aka spot to view the documentary, the schedule appears:

I doubt I will be able to sit long enough to watch allll of the episodes, but I will catch what I can - and hopefully my email won't be bombarded with sales pitches. Link to sign up for viewing in first paragraph.

Disclaimer: The images & information shared above are courtesy of Listening to the Horse.


barn mystery

We are trying to solve a barn mystery. Why are Nemo's shavings getting so damp & heavy? It's the weirdest thing!! Koda & Harmony's shavings stay dry, except of course where they pee. 

We thought perhaps it's because Nemo circles and circles in his stall, spreading everything everywhere. Into a million little pieces. Or maybe it's because he has a urinary condition. When his calcium builds up, he drips. A lot. But we haven't observed any dripping, only steady streams. Music to our ears. We may be the only horse owners that smile every time their horse pees :) Now that we don't feed hay on the floor, he prefers to do so outside. I don't find much in his shavings.

Nemo absolutely loves his window, and checks it constantly. He has to keep those in his world safe you know. It's who he is. He is a horse that could happily live outside all year, except his coat, feet and allergies say differently. In part, why he willingly comes inside. He does love hanging out in outdoor shelters, so that may change once we have one. Although I am sure he will want to come in for his grain supplements.

Maybe the dampness is from Nemo's stall/window placement? Rain could be coming at an angle in his window, and not the others. Nope. Our stall windows are closed now that it's cooler, and his shavings are still getting heavy and damp. We thought about switching Koda & Nemo's stalls for a few days as a test, but I don't think it's the horse.

The waterer could be leaking? We have checked and rechecked the mechanics. The surrounding shavings reveal no leak. For a while, we resorted to just accepting that Nemo has damp shavings for whatever reason. But emptying and re-liming his stall weekly is getting old. This week, I did it twice! There is the added expense, and then I have to make a second (or third) wheel barrel trip. The biggest reason we want to solve this mystery, is our big soulful guy deserves dry shavings. 

I've whined said from day one, the cause has to be something underneath his stall. Condensation? I don't know. Our water drain from the wash stall runs under Koda's stall, in PVC. Every stall has a water line housed in PVC.  Maybe his water line didn't seal completely? Brad is convinced the damp shavings are caused by Nemo's churning, but that doesn't make sense to me. It is literally the whole stall. I am sure you are thinking, what's the big deal? The consistency isn't too far off from heavily peed on shaving, minus the stench. I doubled the lime I used this last time, and the shavings seem to be holding up better. 

Brad is considering pulling Nemo's mats, and looking around. No doubt just to shut me up lol! Last thing Brad needs is more things to do. It will be worth it IF we can solve the mystery!?!!


weather forecaster

If you want an accurate weather forecast, observe Nemo. Unlike our human weather forecasters, he isn't wrong on a daily basis. Nemo is the first to let us know when Spring is coming, and feels weather before it happens.

Just yesterday, I was getting ready to leave for a photo shoot at our trainers barn
when Nemo started running. I thought it was odd. It was starting to cloud over, but the birds were chirping and it was warm. Rain wasn't forecasted until overnight. I caught a small part of the warning round-up on my phone:

Shortly after I took the video, the thunder rolled. By the time I got out to the barn it started raining, hard. It looked partly sunny where I was headed, but called the photo shoot off anyways. Glad I did, tornado warnings were added to the general area shortly after. I was surprised to hear there was a touch down in the town where I was heading. Nothing major, just down trees. I am far from a storm chaser and prefer to enjoy their mysteriousness from the comfort of my home, altho it could have made for interesting equine photos.

Thank you Nemo, for always keeping a watchful eye.

I sure do love Brad's special heart horse!