take two

Cierra's ultrasound was today. I tried to get a photo for Shirley. Do you see a baby in this ultrasound?

Nope. Neither do we. Exactly what we expected after we found out yesterday that Cierra was back in heat. It was better knowing ahead of time, then showing up to her ultrasound appointment all excited only to get a big let down. I wasn't sure why we both made the long drive (separately, we were going opposite directions after) up to the appointment, other than apparently it is possible for horses to show (false) heat and still be bred. She wasn't. It happens.

The photo above is one of Cierra's ovaries. I learned ovary measurements tell the vet where she is in her heat cycle. He said when in heat the ovaries increase 3mm a day. I assume until they ovulate. He shared some other details but I didn't catch them all. It was a bit chaotic with five people, two dogs, the employee running around etc. Cierra's ovary actually measured to 31mm, which he said was good. I snapped the photo quickly. The ultrasound machine is worn on a belt and the screen is at weird angle. Makes sense, when the vet is the one who really needs to see what is going on inside her. Poor girl, that did not look like anything close to fun. I assume the vet will share the screen when there is something more positive for us to see.

Cierra is getting rebred on Thursday, much to my surprise at our place. We had planned to bring her home after a positive ultrasound, so I re-cleaned her stall/waterer/grain bucket yesterday. Then heard the not so good news. We have a routine vet appointment scheduled at our place for Thursday. I guess Brad decided to bring her home regardless. Much to my surprise. The good news is, Cierra is coming home!! The clinic orders more semen tomorrow and she gets another shot that will make her ovulate, for take two. Fingers and toes crossed these are better swimmers! Nothing is easy. 


it must have rained onions

This morning I found the most peculiar thing on what has become my daily walk.

a dog growing in my raised beds

I found something more peculiar than Tank waiting for me in his new spot. Actually, he is waiting for cherry tomatoes. Silly boy! 

I found something on the mowed path that has our large hay field on one side and the Y path woods on the other. It wasn't there yesterday, and is not near a road... 

a smaller yellow onion

It is about half the size of my fist. No teeth or claw marks. The onion skin is completely attached and unmarked. It is clean with no roots, most likely store bought. 

Can you explain where this onion came from? Because I can't. Clearly it must have rained onions.


perpetual excitement

Disclaimer; this post has absolutely nothing to do with equine, and everything to do with art.

My art background goes back a loong way. I have always loved all forms of art. Some of my first memories related to art are of my third grade flamboyant art teacher. She wore flowing bright colors with her hair up in a thick bee hive. Always encouraging the many
 "I can't do it" students, like me. She would walk in between the desks and if she heard "I can't do it" encouraged art efforts by loudly saying over and over "you CAN, you CAN, never say you can't, you CAN!!". Obviously, it stuck in my head.

In middle school, I had another amazing dedicated art teacher. By this age, art was an elective. My favorite and final project (the only one I remember) the teacher cut large profiles of whatever artist students chose to learn about. We prepped the wood, researched the artist and wrote a short report on them. Of course there was a classroom art show. The artist profiles were everywhere wrapped around the room. The biggest challenge was painting in the chosen artists style. I chose Salvador Dali. I loved his warped clocks, and he was from Spain where my family is from. My mom kept my Dali for many years. Eventually she needed to downsize, and I didn't want him. H
e was huge. Sadly, I don't think I even have a photo of it.

I was fortunate to have more supportive art mentors in high school and college, and enjoyed dabbling in many kinds of art. I love drawing best, even if I am not a natural at it.

I am a firm believer that art is 90% practice and 10% talent.

Over the years, kids, work and life filled my time and doing any kind of art became wishful thinking. And clutter. My art easel and other college art stuff moved with me from place to place, collecting dust. Including an air compressor, and air brushing tools. I took the more practical and employable commercial route and became a Graphic (and eventually Web) Designer for many years. The field evolved and it became 100% computer work. You wouldn't believe how it was done back in the day! There is little creative and a lot of busy business type work, and babysitting. Lots and lots of babysitting adults. It all suited me well, but thankfully those days are all but over. 

An ad for a Perpetual Phenology Journal came across my feed and caught my eye. I had no clue what Phenology was. Shortly after another blogger 
(Far Side) mentioned similar. It was as if someone was trying to tell me something. I watched a video, read up on the concept and decided to give it a try. If interested, google it. There is gobs of related info online.

Phenology is "the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life" in other words, taking note of what you observe in nature.

Decisions need to be made on how/often you want to revisit what you observe. For me, the perpetual part of my journal allows me flexibility within a month. I made 6 two page monthly spreads that represent a year. Some people date their journals daily or "week of" but calendar dates change every year. I wanted to eliminate pressure and be able to draw when motivated.

I chose a 6" x 8" journal with blank water color paper
80 double page spreads will last me forever

I think you all know by now I am a procrastinator. Sometimes even I surprise myself. Just like my third grade teacher said, I CAN do it!! I have not drawn anything since college. Starting over isn't going to be pretty. I hope know I will see improvement the more I draw and clear the cobwebs. I quickly found out my brain has all but forgotten how to distinguish shapes relationship to each other, and then transferring those observations on paper. It is 'um hard. Erasers are my friend. Regardless, I am super excited to re-learn and be drawing again!! The habit most likely won't last, but I consider drawing even once a win. Maybe my journal will morph into something else?

My graphite and colored pencils from college are still good. A few additional nature-ish colors would inspire me. So I found a coupon, picked out some new colored pencil shades, a couple Micron ink pens and couldn't leave this behind:

mini watercolor set
(was surprised that I love the water brush!)

Most Perpetual Phenology Journals are done in ink and water color. Both scare me, but I am willing to try. Again. For now I am drawing in pencil, coloring in pencil and highlighting in ink. I tried my mini portable water colors on my monthly fun color labels, to get a feel for the brush.

I used random colors for each page

my first drawing was Sydneys snow drops

It got kind of mucky. I've always struggled with over working my drawings, in my feeble attempt to be "perfect". Wow, water droplets are hard to draw. I'm planning to add some white gel highlights on the droplets and flower. I have to get back to the craft store, my white pen dried up. They sure don't last long, even in a ziplock.

My second day of drawing was a crow feather, from the crow encounter. I love feathers, and plan to draw many of my fine feather finds.

our first blue bird nest
in one of the two nesting boxes Brad (and Tank) made for me

My third day of drawing was extra humbling. Perspective is hard for me to draw. I also screwed up the interior of the nesting box. Sigh.

The sky is the limit on phenology journals. From the media used to the paper (many journals are homemade, even the paper) there are phenology wheels, specific types of nature/ways to study and absolutely endless approaches.

Phenology drawings are suppose to be done in the field. I might do some, or at least sit outside in "my spot" and draw from reference among the pines. Field drawing makes it more daunting for me. How does anyone draw a bird in the field, when they barely stay still long enough for a camera click? In my opinion, you make it your own. For now, I am using photos as ref and doing my journal my way. However you do it, is right for you. Don't feel the need to compliment or critique my drawing efforts. I am all too aware of my (lack of) drawing skills. My goal was to start. Check!! I had to blog about starting my journal, since I actually did it ~ ha ha! Maybe it will even motive someone to get outside and enjoy natures benefits in whatever way.

Looking forward to seeing where this drawing path leads me. I think it will be fun to figure out the monthly layers of drawing in future years, and see what changes. In nature, and in me. I CAN do it!


an even dozen ~ build-an-arena

The builders finished their part of our arena build on Monday as planned, bringing Phase 2 to an end. Or close enough. There was a problem with the human arena door, and you already know about the weather vanes. Someone from their company will come back to install those when replacements arrive.

end of day 12  (18 sec)

Next up is Phase 3, the finishing stage. It will be slower as sub contractors schedules vary, and the interior finishing involves a lot of Brad's time. Boo hoo!! It will be worth it in the end. So bring on the late supper times, too much alone time and more waiting on riding.

Brad is bringing home a metal picker upper from work, even though the arena builders left the cleanest job site I've ever seen. He pushed a bunch more dirt around last night, and we discussed gutter and downspout colors. Sigh. There must be a ton of tin manufacturers out there, no one seems to color in the same color box.

His biggest job will be hanging wood paneling, his idea. It will go all the way around the inside riding part of the arena (not the barn wall). Same height as our barn interior. It was a hard decision, but we decided against angled kick walls. 

wood paneling height goes to the top of
the shorter 2" x 4" pieces of wood on wall
(without brown braces on bottom)

The builders offered to add Brad's additional 2 x 4's in between theirs. He wanted to make the building extra sturdy for the paneling. I give Morton Builders 5 stars! Sub contractor jobs to come include gutters, blowing ceiling insulation, electrician, hanging tin above the wood paneling. Oh, and the garage door guys. I am probably forgetting something. 

end of day

So close, and yet so far. Of course towards the finish line, there will be more fill hauled in for our sand box!!


girls stick together

Padame update: she has gotten used to wearing a bit in her mouth (she was broke in WA with a Hackmore) and they have been saddling her including during ground work lessons. I guess she has really grown, and it sounds like light riding might begin next week.

Brad mentioned Padame is still shedding heavily, and that she was out with Cierra when he arrived. He took photos of his sweet girls out in the pasture:


Padame has big shoes to fill.



an unexpected flower

I went for a walk in the woods with the labs yesterday, between the rain drops. It was a gloomy wet weekend. I had not planned on getting us all wet and muddy, but realized I was antsy and needed to stretch my legs. And visit my beloved Sydney's grave.

April 11 was the one year anniversary of the day I put our house cat Sydney to sleep. He was almost 16, and it was time. I will spare you the details. I've had/have many cats and love them all, but he was truly special. A one of a kind cat. Sydney loved everyone, but he loved me the mostest. The day his heart stopped beating still haunts me, as does his last look and meow at me. No regrets, it was absolutely the right thing to do at the right time. Love is just never easy, and lingers in our minds and hearts.

I have tons of photos of Sydney, not that I need them. He is vivid in my memory. Sydney was featured in my Sunday Stills post if you want to see a few pics. He was a tree trunker in his friskier days, and got vacuumed on a regular basis. Always with his family, even towards the end when he wasn't feeling well. The most unusual thing about Sydney was his love of water. 
If you turned a faucet on, he appeared out of nowhere in a nano second. He showered twice a day his entire life, up until the day before he was laid to rest under my favorite pine tree.

I planted some daffodils near him, that were blooming at my old house. They have yet to even bud. However, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a different flower blooming right above him.

I did not plant anything directly above him. How could this happen?? 

one tiny white flower

I fought back the emotions, straightened his heart wreath made of loose pine cones before continuing on our walk. Trying to absorb finding an unexpected flower blooming, in this location, on this specific day.

 Sydney's heart

The mini daffs are planted back by the pine. They are so cute, and smell wonderful in bloom. They probably just need more time to get re-established. I am going to add a couple different daffodils I transplanted that are blooming right now in other area's of our property.

I noticed a couple more snow drops leaves next to the flowering one. They will do well there, and can spread all they want. They were never among my favorite, but they are now.

By the time I got back up to the house, I figured out how that white flower got there. You may recall last Spring I transplanted a lot of bulbs and plants from gardens beds that we removed at our old place. I had buckets of leftover dirt, and must have brought some down to cover Sydney up. Even tho I don't remember doing it. We covered his tiny kitty casket with the sandy dirt we dug out. But I vaguely remember adding some dirt on top later, when the ground kind of sunk down. Like it always does. I didn't transplant any Snow Drops intentionally anywhere, and only had them growing in one garden area at my old place. It is all together possible a few bulbs or seeds got mixed in with daffodils. The only logical explanation.

This is what google says Snow Drops symbolize:

"It has evolved to symbolize sympathy and consolation. The white of the snowdrop symbolizes innocence and purity. Because it is the first flower to bloom at the end of winter and the beginning of spring, it also symbolizes hope."

one of Sydneys last photos


three of these things are not like the others ~ build-an-arena

Another week of our arena build has passed. Some days the builders worked all day, some partial days and one day they didn't work at all. I am sure they have their reasons for when and where they choose to work, while juggling multiple jobs, sharing key equipment and dealing with Mother Nature.

I walked past my window and took a few photos of the outside action from the deck:

colorful shirts working on the roof

two big truck lifts arrived to put on the roof

one truck lift on each side of the arena


three of these things are not like the others

There was some miscommunication about the weather vanes. When the sales guy asked me if I wanted the cupolas to look the same, I said yes. However, on the contract we signed I didn't notice the weather vanes were listed as "M"  (one damn letter!) my bad. So, they put M weather vanes up on the arena with the first letter of their company name. Ugh!! Who the hell wants mismatched weather vanes? Not me. They were nice about the whole thing, and we all agreed if that is the worse thing that goes wrong on this build we are golden. Needless to say, we have horse weather vanes ordered. 

we have a roof 

back of arena 

end of building day nine (16 sec)

Brad working on blocking for the fans

end of building day ten (15 sec)

back of arena 

outside walls are finished 

big ass fan motor
(we will have two arena fans)

fan blades (in the corner) are about 14' long

day 10 was all about insulation

The arena should stay warmer with insulated walls.

We hired a company to blow insulation into the ceiling, once it is up.

Purr loves the arena, and the extra insulation

arena with a roof at a distance

day 11 half the ceiling went up

It was a half day in more than one way.

The builders told Brad the sky track lift is not working
so he used this piece of equipment

See the pallet...I shared some words and left.
Didn't want to watch Brad misstep and land on the ground.

wall insulation is covered with plastic barrier

Thank goodness Brad went to get a man basket from work.
Much safer. Once in a while he listens to me.

The builders plan to finish putting the ceiling up on Monday, and then come back when the door and weather vanes come in to finish up. With walls and a roof, it actually feel like an arena!!


what is in your basket?

We are in a stretch of rainy/cloudy/cooler days. The kind that make me think, waaay too much. In the process of getting things ready for an ongoing project that I've been procrastinating about forever, my mind spiraIed down a rabbit hole. It happens all too often. 

I wanted to find my color pencil list that I created several years ago. I know it is on my computer, but there are no visual colors on that list. The hard copy lives in my pencil container (I've had them since collage) which lives in my basket.

Doesn't everyone have a basket with colored pencils in it?

When I looked, the list wasn't in the container. Hmm...and so begins the rabbit hole. I emptied my basket and found dust bunnies. No clue how they got under all my stuff, but they must have fallen out of the rabbit hole.

Now I have to vacuum.

My basket is special to me. Our friends gave it to us as a house warming gift (filled with helpful things) over 25 years ago. As I emptied it, 
I noticed it held a little bit of everything me. Wow, I couldn't believe how much my basket holds - and how many interests I have. This isn't even close to all of them!! I should have taken a photo before I emptied the basket, but I was too busy looking for my list.

In order to find my list, I have to sort all the things in my basket.

 my physical therapy shoulder & foot binder
at the very bottom was a little pilates book I had completely forgotten about

These were relocated downstairs.

a signed photography book from my night sky mentor
and a photo magazine worth saving

These were relocated downstairs.

I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines.
Real Simple is the only one I continue to subscribe to.
I still can't keep up with it!

Several are unopened, a couple saved, several started.

These went back in the basket. I am hopeless, not likely to change.

Several years ago I was active in a Ladies, Locked and Loaded group
that teaches safety in a supportive un-intimidating environment.
This magazine was a promo.
It collects dust, I've never actually read one.

Brad & I took a Conceal & Carry class in-person (key word) to get our permits.

Definitely not going back in basket. Note to self; cancel this.
Gun safe info was filed downstairs.

Some old horse magazines with key topics I want to re-read

Back in basket, can't deal with these right now.

Dog magazines to recycle
They come automatically with Tanks registration.

Leader of the Pack went back in basket, I want to revisit info

Stamping catalogs

Current one went back in basket
Others are under review. I likely saved them for a featured technique.

Review and recycle

Plant catalogs

Current ones went back in basket.


Catalogs & word search got recycled. Saved recipe went in drawer.
Costco magazine, back in basket to read (they have good recipes).

Book my sister gifted me

Used frequently, back in basket!

My one coloring book

Stays in basket, as well as my beloved ancient pencils

I adore mandalas and used to draw them in my youth

I don't color in the book often, but it is helpful when I can't sleep etc
Look, my list! I was using is as a page marker.

Back in my basket. Well, list went back in the pencil container.

What is in your basket?

Doesn't everyone have a reading basket plus,
everything and anything that has to do with their life?


moving forward with plans

Brad wanted to have Cierra bred in April, so she would have a March baby. He picked a month in between the halter foals born early in the year and foals born late Spring/early Summer. I remember Cierra's first Futurity horse show when she was so much smaller than the halter babies she was competing against. Not that it matters as she is not being bred for halter, but middle of the road suits us well. April is here, and we are moving forward with Brads plans.

Cierra was confirmed in productive heat a couple days ago by our vet. We find comfort in knowing he specializes in Artificial Insemination. Our clinic takes care of everything. They
 ordered the cooled semen, so it would arrive the day after Cierra was given a shot that makes her ovulate. Everything with AI is time sensitive. 

She was bred yesterday (April  8). I was not there, so I lack details to share. Brad was not there either, it is a long drive for a very short procedure. In 15 days our vet will recheck Cierra to confirm she is in foal, and make sure there are not twins. If there are, he pinches one off. If all goes well with her AI, she will come home!!


My last visit to see the girls was well over a week ago. It was obvious that Cierra was really missing Brad, following him wherever he went and asking for more attention. She even wanted (and got) some love from me. 

Brad & Cierra

Padame continues doing well at the trainers. They started turning her out in the round pen last week. On Brad's lesson days, the goal seems to be for them to continue figuring her out together. Recent lessons included giving Padame her first WI bath and working in hand with obstacles in the outdoor arena. Brad said Padame was really good with all of it, and he is too. 

 a brighter place to call home
sorry for the crappy, uneven phone pic)

His girls started being turned out together this week. Brad was updated that they get along perfectly! Yaay, Cierra and Padame for the win!! This makes me so happy to hear for them! It will be short lived, but should help for potential reunions.