a walk on the wild side ~ day two

We have continued having unseasonably warm temperatures in December, some days have been over 55F!! I love nice weather just as much as anyone, but it is truly odd to not have Winter in Wisconsin. We have had so many warm days, that the frost is coming out of the ground. Northern WI does have snow, but not the lower half. Central WI had snow, it's since turned into a muddy rainy mess. Of course the season isn't over yet. My 87 year old mother assures me Winter will arrive. She is usually right.  

With all the sunshine, we have enjoyed many hikes on our property. It also prompted another walk on the wild side with Koda, just three days after our first one...

our trio relaxing early in the day
December 22, 2019
We headed out mid afternoon this time. Koda was a-snorting again, so I hung back with the two labs. I overheard Brad talking to Koda "you were just here..." it didn't seem to matter much. 

Brad pausing with Koda
Nemo took to running the pasture towards them, and that's when I saw Koda start to do the "hot feet dance". I quickly mentioned that was way too much energy for my wild eyed boy! I could see he was about to explode. So glad Brad listened, and decided not to continue walking the newly created trail that borders the lower pasture. Instead, he headed the other direction... 

a familiar place

I thought Brad was going to repeat the short wooded walk, and come out by our newly planted apple trees again - but he didn't. He chose to continue walking Koda along the looong narrow path that we created. Gulp! It borders our largest field and leads to/from our pines. The path border is old fencing on one side and a treeline on the other. Single file on a horse. We walk it frequently, but it doesn't have the best footing and needs more work. couldn't even see them, until they took the first turn that brings you out of the pines...

just out of our pine woods

they are further away then it looks

I stayed put with the dogs in the middle of the field. They love to race and dodge everywhere up and down all the paths. We will all walk them together eventually, and hopefully even ride them. Some day.

my tall shadow

walking the open area
around old fencing

coming back across our largest field

heading towards the pasture

it was total craziness after re-entering the pasture
(Koda, Harmony then Nemo) 

Below is a 24 second video of Koda releasing energy *after* several rounds of pasture antics...


a walk on the wild side ~ day one

Out of the blue, Brad asked if I wanted to take Koda for a walk. Um yes, of course!! I have only been asking him to do something *anything* with me and our horses at home for sooo long that I stopped asking. 


Koda's little kid side keeps showing up. After primarily only having handling during turnout for over a year and a half, he is being bratty, pushy at the gate etc. He begrudgingly obliges when asked to back up and wait, take a stroll down the driveway, walk behind the barn before heading to his stall, or *gasp* entering the barn last. 

Koda is very very routine oriented. If Koda could, he would put his own halter on and turn himself in/out at the appropriate time and order, where he goes first. We humans just get in his way. Koda is not the kind of horse you can just let sit. He needs a job, and to be reminded of his manners on a regular basis. We absolutely remind him of the good boy that he can be, every time he is handled. However, I am sure Brad has noticed Koda's naughtiness increasing. He tests everyone, not just me. I thought he would grow out of being the class clown, but it is part of who he is.


Brad is more reassuring then I am for our horses, so he walked the snorting dragon better known as Koda bear...

Heading down to the woods, on the wild side of the fence

Jameson (grand dog) isn't sure he want to be any closer
to the snorting machine

Tank watching Koda nibble & try to relax out of pasture sight

Nemo is very concerned

Brad & Koda took a short wooded walk
and came out by the apple trees
Walking past the huge scary brush pile

Happy to be heading back towards the pasture

walking up to the barn

Nemo & Harmony checking the situation

It has been a long time since our horses have been down to our woods, or any distance from the barn/pastures. We went for one trail ride after purchasing our land three years ago. Harmony has never explored our land. I hope her walk-a-bout days (and Nemo's) will be coming too. The first steps towards our original dream...

The dragon breathing diminished and everyone survived without incident. All is well in Koda's world, and he even got to go in the barn first :) 


santa paws

The day after Christmas, was awkwardly quiet. I had enjoyed grand dog chaos (most of it) the week prior, and as always hosted Christmas Eve. It was good, exhausting and loud. Grandkids sure have a way of livening things up! 

Christmas will always be bittersweet for me, a result of childhoods lasting affects. It doesn't matter how much, or how little, I do. This time of year brings out all the feels. Good and not so good. I practice letting go, a lot. I will never master the holidays, or letting go, but I will always try. A time of year when my heart is reminded, that less is more.

There was only one gift left under the tree come Christmas morning, for our bundle of energy. It was a doggie delight packaged deal. Tank didn't know what to do with four new toys all at once! The destructible kind that I don't normally get him. He was like a kid in a candy store. It was too cute, and as always he made us smile. A lot.

Tank (1 year old)

I hope each of you enjoyed a merry & memorable Christmas season!!


overdue horse post

I haven't posted about our horses (at home) since last Spring, whoops!! I just hit delete to no less then three crafted paragraphs, after a week or more of trying to find the right words. Instead, I am sharing an update in pictures of late Summer into Fall:

a rafter of six turkeys
Nemo's turn to stand guard
heading to their favorite corner

finished fence & path

Fall trees glow

horses hanging out in the upper pasture
during hunting season

our October early winter was beeeautiful

We are still waiting for more snow. I am hoping to find words to share before the end of the year. Just incase they don't flow, have a wonderful close to your 2019!!


our barn will never be the same

As you may recall, last summer three kitten siblings came home with us to be our barn cats. After twice a day gentling for what seemed like forever, they have all come around to be absolute lovies. Even Brad's wild tabico kitten. 

Our kitties are far from feral, and aren't really even classic barn cats. They are more like indoor-outdoor cats. Or will be, once we let them explore the great outdoors. We wanted to give them the best chance of survival by getting them fixed, shots and preventive care before letting them roam. Especially since this area seems to have an above average number of feral cats. 

With two females, we opted to take our kittens to our regular vet. We do have feral cat Spay Clinics with reasonably priced altering. However, depending on the clinic we learned cats get little to no medication and are not monitored. It was a pricey decision, times three. Call me crazy, but I even had them chipped.

July/August at 3-4 months:
Leo (a big overly friendly vocal guy) 
Purr (Brad's wide eyed cautious sweet girl)

Tinkerbell (a very quick tiny playful girl)

Tank is their favorite play toy

The kittens love "helping" with chores

September/October at 4-5 months:

Tinkerbell, randomly attempts flying at any given moment

Leo, can be frequently found lounging

Purr, always watches before joining up

Leo and Purr's favorite thing to do is "help" Brad fill hay bags. Disclaimer, no cats were fed or harmed in the filling of hay bags.

Yes, that is a cat in the hay bag (silly Purr climbed in) 
Leo always joins in the fun
Entertainment at it's finest
Brad's cat likes to be near him, if filling bags she is on him.
Purr loves him best.
Leo frequently hitches a ride

The kittens absolutely love the dogs!
Remi (grand-dog) isn't around as much, so it's extra fun to bug her
She is fluffy fun, especially her wagging tail.

Purr, Tinkerbell and Leo

November/December at 6-7 months:

The kittens spent 10 days in jail 'er heated barn saloon
healing after getting fixed (view through window)

They were so happy to get out,
where everything is a toy (Leo)

Purr loving on Tank 

Leo & Tank have become best friends
(Brads iphone pic)

There is no avoiding these lovable kittens (Leo)
Even the guy who doesn't like cats, loves them all.

Our kitties seem to like having the run of the barn. We have plenty of open windows (weather permitting) with fresh air views, mice to catch and everything is an obstacle to play with. Let me tell you, these three little furry trouble makers have changed the dynamics in our barn. It will never be the same. For the better.


eyes to the sky

Picture perfect weather has been hard to predict this Fall, it's spotty at best. I had to reschedule a recent portrait session no less then three times. Final decision is always the clients. I am a firm believer that "photos reflect the weather" and adds to the story. I can shoot in any weather, and can't figure out why no one wants photos taken in the rain?? Lol! 

The mysterious night sky has always made my soul wander. I love the unique vastness, and yet rarely spend time soaking it up or shooting at night. It's all about timing, location and not sleeping. All challenging things for this girl. 

I have an educational dark sky photo outing coming up, and the lack of night shooting finds me struggling in the dark. I need to practice!! I was so bummed when we were socked in with thick clouds on October 13th. No visible Full Moon for us.

Imagine my surprise when skies cleared by morning, and the Full Moon was setting just beyond our tree line! My favorite shot looked like a giant dandelion in the sky.

Moon Set 10/14/19 at 6:51 AM
Yesterday, Brad was on his way to the barn to let the horses out. I was sipping coffee, trying to wake my groggy head up. I had just dismantled my tripod/camera and put everything away (literally) in preparation for an overnight guest, when he came bustling back in the door "Quick, hurry come outside, you gotta see this weird circle around the moon..." a man after my heart!!!

I "ran" outside to look, gasped and went back inside as quick as my sleepy body could manage, to reassemble my camera. I was in total panic mode!! Scrambling. The sky waits for absolutely no one. I forgot more things then I remembered, and had to shuffle in/out, several more times. In the dark. I said a few choice words. Eventually the circle faded, and I thought I blew this unique opportunity. Thankfully, I didn't. 

Moon Halo 10/18/19 at 5:42 AM
I had no idea what we saw, and thought perhaps it was a Moonbow. I've never seen one. The camera picked up a little color on the edge of the circle. I learned moonbows appear opposite the moon, and what we saw was a Moon Halo. 

"Moon halos occur when millions of tiny ice crystals in thin clouds high up in the Earth's atmosphere split and reflect the sun's light bouncing off the Moon. The phenomenon is quite rare, as the ice crystals have to positioned exactly right in relation to where you are looking up in order for the halo to appear" 

Not exactly dark sky shooting, but Mother Nature is on her own schedule and practice is practice. I love learning (and experiencing) new things, morning, noon and night!!!


a different show season

2019 proved to be a different show season for Brad, for several reasons. Mainly because it was just Brad & his trainer from the barn showing Cierra. Our Ranch buddy ended up not showing at all due to family illness. Other past attending Western/English riders from the barn either moved onto other trainers, or decided showing at lower levels was a better fit. A sweet young teen we've known for years (brand new to showing) got a schooling class under her belt towards the end of the season. Intimidating level to begin at, but she grew up around horses and is a good rider.

Brad agreed to go to five shows, adding a new one this season. At the last minute, they ended up pulling out of the very first show. Cierra has developed allergies and needed medicine. AQHA shows do random drug testing, and give penalties for positive results to both owner & trainer. They decided it wasn't fair to Cierra, and didn't want to take the associated risk. They ended up attending four shows after all.

new venue (to us) was the second first show

record hot humid temps made for a very small show
our grands came to watch Brad anyways

The first couple shows Brad placed near the end of his classes. His trainer didn't do a whole lot better. I guess there were positive things happening that they achieved. I would be remiss if I didn't say after endless years of non-stop training, it's hard to watch the same struggles in the same areas. Let me make one thing clear, it's not remotely related to winning. It's about what I see, and inevitably hear. With all that *not* being said, Brad continues to be happy with his choices and that is all that matters. 

I wish he would bring sweet Cierra home, to be a horse. She deserves it, and then some. I believe she needs to rejoin her family and breath fresh air on a regular basis. Of course that means he would need to buy another show horse. Sigh. It is completely his decision on when to "retire" her, and no doubt a hard one. If only we had a riding arena, Cierra could benefit from a change over the winter. I am supportive, really I am. I'm more then thrilled Brad is living his dream!! I even slap a smile on and attend all his shows. See :))))) 

Another difference this show season is that Brad is no longer showing Cierra in Ranch Conformation. For a couple reasons. It is always the last class making the shows excruciatingly long, and she is older now. Conformation is a young horses class.

Tank (7 months) at Brad's third show
Brad really wants our puppy to be a show dog. I brought Tank to a couple shows. It's hard being the new guy, when most dogs live at the shows. There are gazillions of dogs (many run loose) and Tank doesn't know what to make of the show dog madness. He did pretty good, but I end up watching only Brad ride from afar and leaving early. It's just too many hours. I missed Brad feel the thrill of putting it all together for the first time this season. He even won his Ranch Riding class under two of four judges (out of 11) at his third show. Impressive considering the majority of his competition are very seasoned talented riders, that show a lot.

AQHA Ranch Riding continues to evolve as a discipline in the Midwest. Class numbers have increased, judges are more familiar with requirements and patterns have become more difficult. Especially Ranch Trail. Sadly Youth Ranch classes continue to have little to no entries. A sign of the future. The young gal that showed with us went in Open, instead of being the only one in Youth. You have to be 18 to show in Amateur. 

Brads show season typically ends with a four day State Show on Labor Day weekend. The venue is closer to us, so I was able to leave Tank at home. Brad practiced and waited alllll day to show, into the evening. Waiting for endless hours is sooooo boring!! I felt so bad for Brad when he scratched, just before getting called up on deck. Cierras allergies suddenly flared up. It was extremely dusty, a lot of horses were coughing. Something to do with the shavings. Brad loves his horse, and made the only right decision. They loaded the two horses earlier then planned, and took them back to the barn between Ranch show days. Thankfully Cierra improved enough to show the last day. Brad & Cierra had nice rides, and ended the show season with positive rides. 

If you are interested, below are video clips from his last rides at the State Show. Ranch Trail is first (2:40 min) For reference, three judges placed him 3rd, 4th, and 5th out of 12. The second video is Ranch Riding (1:40 min) he got 2nd and two 4ths, out of 15 entries.

Happy that Brad was able to put things together and feel good about their rides!! They practice weekly (year round) and he really loves his beautiful girl. I love watching them together, they make a good team!