8.02.2019

thoughts of stillness

I have started several blog posts, yet can't seem to hit publish. No particular reason. They sit, waiting to be revised. Or deleted. Idle words, that just don't seem worthy.

As for my photography, clicks are far and few between. I take photos when moved by what I see and feel. Mostly for me. Sometimes for pay. This girl doesn't need constant travel in search of the coolest thing to photograph on the planet. To share and share (and share) on Facebook. It has become a turn-off, nothing short of a competition. Don't get me wrong. I love seeing others creative work, especially of things I'll never see in person. There is SO much incredible talent in the world!! It's the one-upping, nit-picking and desperation to out do/see/know/duplicate what others are doing. It's a virtual "keeping up with the Joneses".

Not for me. I share where I am in my photography journey, every now & then. On my own photography page. Doesn't matter that my posts do not reach many. I am not in it for the likes. Altho I do appreciate those that do like, read and interact with me. Here or on other Social Media. Nobody likes to talk to themselves. All the time.

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The night sky has caught my attention this week. I dusted off my camera, and found beauty in the sights and sounds of darkness. It is very quiet on our land. The most common comment we receive from visitors.

Milky Way over our pastures
July 31, 2019

No fancy blues & pinks. The Milky Way does not look like that where I live. I prefer to keep it real. I tried to capture what I saw and felt, under the endless stars. Listening to the sound of our horses, tucked away in their stalls. It fills my cup & feeds my soul. 

Milky Way over our barn
August 2, 2019

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I'll find more words to publish sooner then later, mostly about our summer projects. I've checked your blogs a few times, it's been quieter then usual on Blogger. A sign that everyone is (hopefully) enjoying summer!! It goes by too fast. It will be Fall sooner then we can hit Publish, or at least me lol! Be well my friends!!

6.21.2019

two or three

A couple weeks ago we went to our neighbors for an outdoor dinner & fire. They had barn kitties looking for homes, so we agreed to take two. They said they tried to socialize the kittens, but they were very scared and scattered everywhere humans weren't. Hard to pick out what you can't see. Even the mama cats ran and hid. I caught a glimpse of a cute black kitty with white tipped paws and whiskers.

Imagine my surprise when the next day Brad said we should get "two or three". Shocker! This from the guy who doesn't like cats, and has put up with mine since day one. He thinks three will increase our odds of having a couple stick around.

When we went to pick them up they corralled the 8 week old kittens, or tried to. They still hid, but were easier to find. First one grabbed was a light grey cutie, which has since turned into a love bug. He is social, funny, loves to be held and purrs the entire time. He will crawl up on your lap if you ignore him.




The next one to come home with us was the black kitty with white paws that I wanted. It is small and very scared. I am still not sure of it's gender, think it's a female. This kitty is also playful and very fast. It has recently started purring when held, but unlike it's grey sibling would rather not be picked up.




Then came the third cat. Brad's cat. I told him if he wanted three, he had to pick it out!! I only wanted two. That poor third kitty was hissing and clawing, trying to escape when it got caught by it's tail :( and then by it's back leg. Dangling. Brad felt sorry for it, and promptly spoke up saying we will take that one too. Our neighbors are very kind people, I absolutely know it wasn't grabbed that way on purpose. It was just a wild crazy one. Still is.



We (mostly me) work with our kittens every day, multiple times. However my patience is wearing thin with Brad's untrusting cat. After days of gentling, I tried to kindly pick it up and the silly thing went bananas. Not that I blame it after it's past experience while being picked up. HIS CAT is going to take some serious time and patience. She (I think it's a she?) is coming around at a snails pace. There are some cats you just can't hold, and I think this may be one of them. Although Brad picked her up yesterday for the first time, and she didn't go crazy. Now he is a cat whisperer too {roll eyes} !!

My family have all warned me not to get close to these kittens. I am well aware the risk of loss with barn cats is profoundly higher. I still plan to get them fixed, feed them and give them basic vet care. I don't want sick cats hanging around, multiplying. We have not named them yet, everybody asks. I have a few ideas, but they are not all PC lol.

They live in one of the stalls for now, with tall cardboard blocking the slats. I put all kinds of fun cat loving things inside for their entertainment, most of which we had. I only bought one toy, and a soft pillow type bed on sale for $11. The little busy bodies use everything. They are a hoot to play with, chasing the dressage whip around.

The light grey kitty is sooo very sweet. I am considering finding him an inside home, or he may just be a well loved barn cat. 



Brad's cat is hiding under the far box, right flap

If you hang around long enough, all three come out to play
For now I am free feeding the kittens a high protein grain free dry kitten food. They also get a small can of shared wet kitten food most days as a treat, for less stress petting. I have high hopes that they will all survive, and stick around the barn. Time will tell. 

6.18.2019

outside shift

Our land work has shifted from the inside to the outside, weather permitting. We are seeing dryer days, or at least occasional dryer days. Consequently our barn remains a work in progress. I am not much help with bendy, building or heavy duty type stuff but offer anyways. I think I just slow down the process :/ Most of what you'll see shared is all Brad's hard work, and work hard he does.


manure pit (politely labeled) 
freshly poured containing walls
Yard work is not a priority, but lessening constant sandy dirt tracked inside by multiple large dogs (& people) is. Over a span of several days Brad graded and graded, and graded some more, before spending our first hot weekend seeding and covering the sizable area between our house and barn. We went from an extended wet cool Spring to **bam** hot Summer! 

view from house deck of work in progress
view from driveway
view mid-way 
Ticks, coyotes and mosquitoes have taken the fun out of hiking with the dogs on our property this Spring. Sadly, our daily walks abruptly stopped. From what I can see our paths have become lush and overgrown. 

We ordered mosquito eradicators for around the house & barn, with hopes that after 15 days we should see improvement. 

mosquito eradicator
We planted three Autumn Blaze Red Maples along our driveway, where the Maples won't be an issue for our horses (they are toxic). Looking forward to seeing their Fall color! Happy Mother's Day to me!!


three new little trees, mid-left
Hay will be a challenge to put up this season in WI, due to wet weather. Our hot dry summer like weather lasted briefly. We are back to cooler days, which I like. Not ideal for growing things tho. 

Brad reseeded another field to grass hay. Two fields should provide us a healthy supply, and then some to sell. IF we ever get a good stretch of dry sunny weather. He also did most of the field work to replant two of our other fields back to alfalfa to sell. 


Autumn Maples with teeny tiny alfalfa in foreground.
The neighbors lawn is mid-strip, our new hay field behind.

A few weeks later we put in four apple trees at the bottom of our property. Cortland, McIntosh, Gala and Jonathan. Not sure how much we will spray etc, might just let them grow natural. I know I know apples get wormy, so we will be looking into a happy medium.

Brad up-cycled materials to build four protective cages.
Hopefully it gives the apple trees a fighting chance from destructive deer.
We are starting to designate a couple small garden beds. Repeat after me, ONLY A COUPLE garden beds!! We have waaay too many gardens at our old house. We put them in when we were younger and stupid ambitiously passionate about gardening. As you likely know, gardens are ever changing and never ending back breaking work. I learned the hard lesson many moons ago that planting Perennials doesn't mean forever, silly me. 

Altho I still love gardening, my body doesn't. Plans are to relocate some favorites perennials to our new home, return some beds at our old home to grass and redo the remaining. They need to be more manageable. Hopefully I can hand the care over...someday. This is one hefty goal, that I know won't get completely done. I'll be happy with whatever does get done.


For now, I am enjoying annuals and potted summer camp plants at our new home.

Brads old boots are made for planting

Barn post got finished & forged iron hanger mounted
I promptly refilled and hung repurposed baskets

New barn planters I "won" (the right to buy) at a fundraiser.
Table geranium is several years old, one of the plants I still overwinter *^*

Brad finished off westside of barn

He also built one raised veggie garden bed
to try, before possibly adding a couple more


Hope everything is going & growing well for all of you! Looking forward to catching up soon!!

6.04.2019

build-a-barn ~ inside shift

After a much needed Winter break from our complex homestead project, we are back at it. Trying to finish up loose ends. Key word, trying. Both Brad and I are good at starting projects, finishing them not as much. We just keep chipping away, eventually things are completed. Here are some of those "chipped at" things:

The remaining Tack Room boards went up & got oiled...

Brad hung a sturdy wood shelf he built.
We may add a couple more on the same wall. Trying one out first. 
We decided on a swing rack for pads & blankets.

I don't care for the color but with more to hang, it will get covered. 
Sorting, so much sorting...
Jameson & Tank think our tack room looks oddly spacious, for now.

Tack room stuff had to get moved out to work on the walls.
See it temporarily in the barn aisle awaiting placement, hooks etc 
SO many decisions to be made...
Wash Stall has mats and a handy dandy shelf now. The garden hose is temporary. We use the wash area for a lot more then horses!
Our Saloon is almost completely trimmed. Almost. Next on this room to-do list is figuring out some type of counter, a refrigerator etc Not sure why we are calling it a Saloon. Hmmm? Maybe it will feel more fitting once it's done and there are a thing or two on the walls, and in the refrigerator. I am not into decorating, it's going to be a stretch. Won't have problems filling/emptying the refrigerator ;)

Saloon to date
Mechanical room door in Saloon
Our Barn Bathroom still needs light fixtures, sigh. We can't hang the mirror without vanity lights. I haven't been able to find anything simple that goes together, for both ceiling and vanity. I must be the pickiest person alive. Brad will be nodding his head when he reads this!!

Barn bathroom to date
No doubt I am forgetting other things that have been done since 2018 barn update. We are close to being done, and yet so far away. Inside work is on stand-by, for a rainy day. When WI weather improves, the inside work shifts to the outside. Outside update to come. Until then I hope everyone enjoys what is left of Spring, for too soon it will be Summer!


5.16.2019

Grazing out the Storm

After the hard wind and rain this morning, our horses decided to head out. It was still raining while they were "Grazing out the Storm" A white deer nibbled on the brush, turkey crossed the field and so did a lone coyote. Nothing seemed to faze them, not even the crack of a lightning bolt...


5.09.2019

rain rain go away...

...come again another day....I used to jump rope in grade school regularly to this nursery rhyme. The end of the rhyme was promptly followed up with counting how many times you could jump rope consecutively. Sadly my jump roping days ended a few years back, when foot problems showed up.

Too bad, because it is a fantastic quick low-cost fun aerobic
 workout. If you don't believe me, try it. Your horses won't mind if you borrow their lunge lines ;)

Reminiscing set aside, I would appreciate a break from the rain. Just long enough for some sunshine and seed sprouting to happen. If you need any rain, I am happy to send it your way! 

Our open fields got worked up and planted with Alfalfa last weekend. It's done nothing but rain ever since. Hard at times. 

It is always nice to see your efforts come to fruition, and just look at the delicate flowers below. They would appreciate some sunshine and warmth too!!

L-R Koda, Harmony and Nemo
(n
otice who isn't sharing his side of the shelter)


  


5.03.2019

breaking the silence

Somehow the entire month of April came and went without posting a thing. No words, no photos. I've got plenty of both to share, but my computer time has been limited. Primarily because living with a puppy is a life changer. His naps get used for processing photos and things like paying bills, phone calls and running errands. Things I can't do or do very long, when the busy body is awake. Tank will be 5 1/2 months tomorrow and is a great addition to our family. We love him! He is very sweet, keeps us laughing and on our toes. His favorite things to do is steal socks out of the dirty laundry, play with Jameson and retrieve anything. Thank goodness he has slept through the night since we got him, but when day time rolls around it's game on.


Tank at 5 month vet visit (53 lbs)
Our horses are all doing well. It's been a whole year since I have sat on a horses back. I'll just edit further commentary. You are welcome :)

Cierra & Brad rode in a ranch clinic last week. I took photos. WI weather continues to be wacky, so the clinic had to be held inside. Sigh. I managed to get a few pics, but shooting anything indoor is less then ideal for me.


Brad & Cierra
(extended ranch trot)

Our bobcat went back to the workplace, so I am wheeling it again. Daily. Thankfully it makes appearances for the bigger jobs like filling the feeder, hauling dirt etc. 

Brad recently put in a permanent manure pit, same location. Down the road, around the bend, through the sand pit, up the slope and into the next county...







Midwest Horse Fair came & went mid-April. We were not into it this year, and didn't watch a single clinician. No clue why. We did however enjoy an excellent Friday night PRCA rodeo, and saved a lot of money shopping for our usual horse supplies. Much to our horses dismay, we also bought a large square orange slow feed net for our feeder.

breakfast with the new net

My 10 year blogaversary passed by during my hiatus. I had a reflecting blog post started, but those take time. They are my favorite type of posts to read & write. Hoping to get back to blogging more regularly. It could happen?!! 

I'll close with my favorite photo from the rodeo. Looking forward to catching up on each of your blogs! 

Dan James


3.18.2019

Ignite Your Tank

It has been two years since we said good-bye to our remaining beloved dog,14.5 yr old Sam. It took us a long time to feel ready to open our hearts to another. Now that the chaos of a big move is over, we feel ready in more ways then one.  

Throughout the past two years we've had plenty of joy that only canine companions can offer. You may have noticed through shared photos that our grand dogs Remi (Bernaise Mountain Dog) and Jameson (black Lab) spend significant time with us. Especially Jameson, who grew up in our home. His mom is so busy, that he still lives with us most of the time. However, when we find ourselves dog-less we feel a huge void. Especially me. I get downright lonely, and feel safer with dogs around. To put it simply, I believe life is better with dogs!!

I've had mixed breeds, heinz 57, mutt's or as they are affectionately called now - rescues - my whole life. Even as a child. I began the arduous search to find the right young dog to adopt. I was looking for my favorite breed mix, a Labrador Retriever or German Shepherd. There are sooo many animals who need a home. Two common breeds, sounds easy right? Wrong!!

I applied to a local guide dog organization, because many dogs have career changes. I got a "we will keep you in mind" response...nothing more or less. One of their trainers was our reference, which apparently didn't make a difference.

I looked into a Labrador breed rescue, but they require a fenced yard. No exceptions. Say what?! I get it, but some of us dog owners are responsible off-leash owners. Something I feel firmly about. I didn't even bother applying.

I payed money to apply to a really good local rescue, who did nothing wrong. Unfortunately, the dog I applied for got adopted before we got close to getting through the lengthy process. 

The adoption process these days includes a vet & two personal references, a home visit and then board approval. We did get approved, but that is as far as we got. I have yet to see another dog similar to what I was looking for, without Plott Hound mixed into it. We had never heard of a Plott HoundI learned our area rescue's bring all their dogs up from down south. Plott Hounds are the State dog of Louisiana. I have no doubt they are wonderful dogs, but hounds are not for me. The remaining adoption process would have included requesting to adopt a chosen dog, and visiting the foster families home if selected as a potential match. If still interested in adopting after going to meet the dog, and waiting for a grace period, the foster family approves you for adoption (or not). Wow, adoption sure has changed!! 

I applied at another rescue after finding a litter of lab mix puppies, two weeks before they were brought up from Texas. I heard crickets. I followed up knowing the lengthy process we had to go through again. They hadn't even contacted my references. Only after my phone call did they contact our vet. Once again I heard nothing. Our personal references were never contacted, and yet I saw a couple of the puppies from that litter posted repeatedly on Facebook as "still needing homes" weeks after they arrived and I applied. Grrr!! I guess we weren't the right kind of owners (roll eyes)...and this is where I gave up on *trying* to adopt. 

After my experiences, I am left with the feeling that "Adopt Don't Shop" is pretty much the same damn thing as selecting a breed dog. A little less expensive (adoption prices ranged from $375-$475) with a whole lot of headache & disappointment. Of course I know the difference between the two, but IMO you are still "shopping" and let me tell you, rescue organizations, including humane societies, make it close to impossible to adopt!!! 

I decided to try something different and was in contact with a couple recommended lab breeders. With one the pups were all spoken for, another litter didn't take. I had all but given up on owning a dog. 

We recently attended a banquet, and found myself sitting next to a hunting guide. She guides for Brad, and he really likes her dogs. She contacted her dogs breeder, who happened to have one last pup looking for a home. In a matter of minutes, she found us a potential dog!

The puppy was 3.5 hours north of us. It took us a couple weeks to go see him. First the weather prevented travel and then Brad had back issues. I really wanted Brad to be part of the decision. The breeder held the pup for us, without commitment or deposit. Neither one of us can figure out why the not so little guy was left for last. She thought he would be the first to go, because of his color. It is lighter then most yellow labs. We fell in love with him instantly! He is not only a handsome fellow, but extremely sweet and smart. We met his brother, who was sold but staying at the breeders for training. We both agreed that we would have chosen our guy before his litter mate. 

He was given the name Tank. It seems to fit him, so we kept it. I know it's a bit out of the norm, but we registered his official name as "Ignite Your Tank"...here is our new boy:


10 weeks
Photo we received at banquet from breeder

First day home
Tank 12 wks & Jameson 6yrs


We are all adjusting to our new lives together. Tank is keeping us more then busy, as all puppies do. With the turn of events, we believe he was meant for us. Tank has stolen our hearts!! 


3.11.2019

ring around the feeder

The long awaited day finally arrived, our feeder is here! Just in time for our winter March storms. No more hauling bales down to the pasture one by one, yippee!!!! But first, Brad had to put it together. The feeder shipped in pieces. I didn't catch the beginning of the build. He put it together by himself. Thankfully our friend bob(cat) did the heavy lifting.

securing the roof


side panel swings wide open
for convenient loading

hauling the feeder across the field
to the lower gate, because the one by the barn
has too much snow built up and it's icy

Our new feeder is heavy, solid and very well made. So far we are very happy with it, and more importantly the horses are happy too!! It was well worth the wait! 

We plan to get an orange slow feed net for large square bales at Midwest Horse Fair in April. If Spring ever arrives, we will also add mats to help keep the feeder level and keep loose hay off our sandy soil.

Here is a 2 minute video of our horses first time playing "ring around the feeder"...





3.04.2019

reality check

In the midst of doing our dreaded weekly multi store grocery shopping, Brad called. He was home early from work. That was odd. Found out his back locked up. He couldn't bend at all, and had no clue why/what caused it. Oh boy!! It's been years, but last time this happened to him he was completely out of commission. I opted out of non-essential shopping and made the long 45 minute drive home. I found him on the couch, where he pretty much stayed for 3-4 looong days. Other then Urgent Care & bathroom breaks. Extremely unusual for my hard working guy.

I made what felt like 100 rushed trips carrying groceries in, put perishables away and promptly went to bring horses in by myself. I was on forward march. It was later then usual, dark and cold out. Neither of our boys like being brought in last. I usually bring one in and Brad grabs the other two. I don't care for squeezing two horses and myself through a human sized door maze in the Winter. I either bring them in one at a time, or open the sliding door (brrrr!) in the order of whomever is waiting at the gate. 

After our boys bucking craze simmered, I brought in Koda. Then Harmony, which made Nemo mad! I took his girl without him, and his human was MIA!! More antics. I stood patiently at the gate and talked to Nemo, until he decided to be the horse I needed him to be. Calm. The rest of the time Brad was flat on his back, turn-in/out went smooth. Horses seem to figure things out pretty quickly. They were good as gold for me and came in one by one, without throwing tantrums. It's almost like they knew... What a difference it makes to take one person out of the routine! I know you are all thinking three horses, big deal. Well, it is for me!!

Winter mornings chores go something like this: grain, haul 1-2 bales down to the pasture (the feeder can arrive any day now...), turn-out, pick stalls, wheel barrel to bobcat, dump and attempt to not miss bucket (ha!) unplug & start frozen bobcat, do houdini moves getting in/out while dressed in layers, hoping I don't face-plant while balancing on icy metal edges, yelling at asking grand dogs to stop eating every frozen horse turd on earth, temporarily warm up in saloon, put dogs in stall/saloon (cuz dogs & bobcats don't mix) while hauling to pile. I am sooo thankful for the bobcat from Brad's work, we get to use it seasonally. Then I try to not get stuck on the ice and snow, do more houdini moves, haul more hay over to fill hay bags, oops forgot knife (another trip), haul step stool to each stall (cuz I'm too damn short & it's the only way I can hang heavy hay bags with my injured shoulder) attempt to not get hay all over me (always), refresh waterers, sprinkle PDZ (LOVE that stuff, thanks Arline!!) haul bags of shavings when needed, oops forgot knife again (trip #999) fluff stalls, somewhere along the way I let the dogs out so I can say "get out" 100 more times, get two brooms and one shovel, sweep aisle around two dogs, put everything away and head into house to drop for breakfast 'er early lunch, and thaw my toes.

Did I mention we had two snow storms during this time? Well, we did. Add shoveling two large porches, and front of garage to the above. It made for long days. I also attempted to plow with the bobcat for the first time ever. It went okay, but I was very thankful when our son came out to help us. Love that kid! He did the majority of plowing our very long driveway & paths!!

Nobody plans on caring for a homestead alone, at least not this girl!!! Talk about a reality check...I think I said "no more horses" every single day Brad was down & out. 

I truly love my life and wouldn't trade it for the world, however no one is more thrilled then me to say Brad is back at it. His back is not 100%, but getting better every day. Whew!!!


winter pastures


2.14.2019

clicks from pink week

Pink Week

pink

#tinted #fog #february #wisconsin #wintermeetspring #mybackyard

soft pink
Catching up #February #challenge is #hard...not a #pinkperson.
I was going to skip this week, when I saw this #sunrise #wraparound #west
Imagine what it looked like to the East!! #mybackyard #nofilter


pop of pink

Decided to #brush #sydney and found #pink
#itworks #cat #catsofinstagram #nofilter

from the corner

Taken from the corner of our deck, looking up at the corner of the roof
#babyicicles #nopink

lined up

#linedup #pinkheart #stuckindoors #nofilter

classic
#brio #trains dumped its load & left the #train station,
see #reflection #imagination #useyourimagination #nopink
Should have set up the tracks indoors, it’s negative degrees outside! Brrrio!! 
#trainset is over 30 yrs old & outlasted three kids. 
Now the little grands play with it when they visit. 
Their favorite part is the wooden train whistle 😳🙉🤪

accent

Sunny #cold #winter mornings bring #wildlife
out seeking warmth from the sun
#coyote #february #wisconsin #nofilter #nopink


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