flowers are springin' up

My earlier irises are in full bloom, just in time to keep the Spring show going. The daffodils, tulips and crocus are done. All my iris are transplants from my previous home.

the mystery iris

I am happy to report one of two (new last year) different Lavender plants made it through the Winter!! 

I thought they were both dead and bought one new Lavender variety to try. Oopsie doodle.

my allium bulbs are also in bloom & look better this year

(Leo photobomb)

The butterfly garden plants I ordered during an early bird sale in January arrived yesterday!

Guess what we will be doing this weekend? 

I started two seed trays indoors earlier this year. Wave Petunia seeds for my hanging baskets & pots. I've been growing the original Wave from seed since they first came out. I also planted more of last years purchased seeds: Asters, Lupine, Echinacea, Orange Butterfly Weed, Hello Yellow Milkweed and Black Eyed Susans. The test butterfly weed I started last year, came back this year :)) 

I also have milkweed seeds for the new butterfly garden, collected from our property. A ton of collected Zinnia seeds and Four O'clocks seeds Val collected, for me to try for the first time.

The tall Purple Salvia and Pink Salvia I tried starting from collected seeds didn't do well. Only one Purple Salvia seed sprouted. Hardly a success. It will go in the new garden.

mid-April seeds sprouting

My mom gave me this incredible seed stand as a present, many moons ago. She knew what made me happy. I got my green thumb from her.

four trays & adjustable height lights

Our veggie garden is already planted! Two weeks earlier than last year. Last season I grew a new (purchased) pepper and fell in love with them: "Escamillo" yellow sweet peppers. They were fantastic!! Similar to my favorite red "Carmen" sweet peppers that I have grown for many years. I gave up trying to grow orange peppers from seed or plant. They never produce for me. I am not fond of green peppers anymore, so red (and hopefully yellow) it is. Thank goodness I have a few yellow pepper seeds. Can't find the plants this year. I started four plants from collected seed :)) Will be very interested to see if they produce.

Gardening and experimenting go hand-in-hand. 

Sandy loam is very hard to grow, most anything. I am up for the challenge and a firm believer of my long time gardening mantra:

"grow what grows for you"



Exciting news, Cierra is bred!! For real.

Nothing short of a miracle.

With the exception of one recent above average temperature week, we have had a very cool Spring. Mares in this general area are not cycling. Many breeding attempts have and continue failing. Our vet said it is very humbling. He has been doing everything medically that he can.

No one completely controls Mother Nature.

Cierra wasn't cycling on her own either. She was given a series of shots to help. They checked and rechecked Cierra, to ensure ovulation timing. Once again, we were told the timing was ideal. Semen was ordered.

On May 5th Cierra was bred for the first time this year.

2022 stud card

The collection we received was the best one we were sent. Our vet checked the motility when he returned to the clinic, after breeding Cierra. It was still at 70%. Pretty good considering semen loses potency with time and exposure. Our chances were higher than in the past. 

We didn't get our hopes up. Last year her first breeding was April 8, then bred again on April 29. She was bred a third time on May 18. Her fourth and last failed breeding was June 5.

Today (fourteen day wait) we got good news. Thankfully, her fifth (on the fifth) overall breeding took.

round circle = good news

We learned the bred follicle (the circle above) floats around unattached until about 17-18 days. It continues forming attached to the uterine wall. They suggest rechecking the embryo 28-40 days and can hear a heartbeat around 28 days. We asked when they look for twins. The vet said they would have been able to see them already.

Cierra has one very early stage foal, beginning to develop.

WOW...it looks like Brad might get to live his dream after all. We are fully aware there are a jillion things that could change or go wrong. There is a very very long time to wait. 320-362 days, depending on the resource. If everything goes well. Gestational calculators put Cierra foaling in early April (10th or 8th). She is a maiden mare, so who knows.

We are already further ahead than we were last year. One baby step at a time. I am SO happy for Brad (and Cierra)!!


Timing is everything.

If it is meant to happen it will.

At the right time.

For the right reasons.

 ~ author unknown 


two things for sure

We made it through an unseasonably hot week of record high temps (and some highest lows) set every day. Nothing compared to what some are dealing with in their respective worlds.

Our Spring to-do list is ridiculous.

It was hard to get much done last week. This upcoming week is catch up time. I am beginning to think the work will ever end. We are back to just talking about riding, biking, hiking and working on our property. Sighhh.

One thing for sure, we will never be bored. Maybe two things for sure. Our animals are spoiled.

I went outside last night right before the weather breaking thunderstorm hit, hoping to find Leo.

He usually comes in when the horses do, but not last night. Leo can't let himself inside the barn. Our cat door doesn't work for him because he is chipped too far back. I called & he came screaming and running towards me. The rain started to pelt us. I let him in the barn and "ran" back to the house, while quarter sized hail formed and covered the ground. 

We don't have to ask twice for the horses to come inside. Our barn stays cool.

The dogs still get their daily wooded walks, come heat or high water. Leo hasn't been tagging along lately. It is too hot for him.

Granddog Remi requires shorter walks, earlier and with longer breaks

What Leo thinks of hot weather


twenty two

I went to Kickapoo Valley Reserve for a Spring hike and met gal pal Blogger Val (say that 22 times really fast!) before the record setting heat wave. Guess what?? I was 22 minutes EARLY and didn't get detoured or lost. Like I did last year. I also wasn't struggling with such a heavy heart.

What a difference being on time makes!

Val planned a wonderful hike for us. With all the right stuff. Rolling hills, unexpected discoveries and wildflowers. There was instant

Flowers were just emerging. They were so delicate, yet commanding attention with their stunning shades of color and tenacity. 

Ferns were just emerging

We immersed ourselves in nature and caught up with each others lives.

Val's dog Charlie provided cuteness and was a good patient trail boss. Tank stayed home. I wanted to relax and as awesome as he is, Tank has endless energy on the trail. I knew I made the right decision when I found out dogs should be leashed on KVR trails in Spring. Tank is rarely leashed. My arm would have been at least a few inches longer.

Part of Vals master hiking plan was for us to hike a path near an old stone foundation. You might not know this about me, but I LOVE rocks!!! Big ones, little ones, old ones, new ones, you name it. I have always loved looking for rocks! They fascinate me. I still tumble rocks, have them everywhere in my gardens and place them along our house ledges. 

the stone foundation looked so far away

We walked up and around the trail a short distance, and much to my surprise there it was. SO cool!! We both lost track of time exploring all it's wonder. Like two kids in a playhouse.

looking down, into the old structure


Anyone know what the metal thingee across the entrance is???

close-up of the end of the metal bar

There were cool things inside the stone foundation. Some of them growing, others were glowing.

a colorful cove
(lookee at the shades in the rock!) 

There were many funny memorable moments throughout the hike that made us laugh out loud.

Laughter is good for the soul.

Perhaps the funniest moment happened at the stone foundation.

I was so excited to explore the stone structure. Without giving it a thought, I scrambled down to get a closer look inside. Ducking under a very low down tree, while carrying my heavy long lens/camera. My big travel camera backpack got stuck and I had to 
get on my knees to crawl through. I said a few choice words. I did not notice how Val got down to the stone foundation entrance.

You think I would have chosen a different way back up to the trail.

Nope. It was a repeat scene in reverse. Once again I ducked under the tree branch, and had to crawl on my knees. I stood and looked up to my left. There was Val. Standing above me, up on a dirt bank. Grinning from ear to ear "you know you could have just taken this way" LOL!! 

Guess you had to be there. Apparently I have to do everything the difficult way. 

(by Val) of me getting off the ground

Throughout our hike, Val took mini Lego/Squatch photos at key locations. I am always amazed at how fast that woman moves!! Blink and you'll miss your opportunity to get a shot of her setting up her masterful mini scenes. I managed a couple shots of her in action. You can view them on her blog (link above).

low growing colorful fungi

(Val instantly knew the name, me ummmm...)

so pretty!

You didn't think our walk in the woods would be without finding faces, did you?

Val was looking for a tree she saw on a prior hike, that reminded her of me. Here it is: 

squooshy face

I wasn't sure if I saw the face on the tree at first. I don't usually look for them. If only I had a photo of Val making a squooshy face. Confirming what I saw.

There were a couple down trees off the trail that caught my eye. I couldn't get a good vantage point of the first one, but this tree bump made me smile:

See the parrot face?

After our hikes, I always wonder why I did not take more photos ~ and then I remember. I was too busy enjoying myself. Soaking up nature in realtime. Not through a lens.

We both had a really good time!!

My favorite photo of the day. A big smile, that you don't have to see. During another funny moment at the stone foundation. It says it all...



from april to august

I try not to let weather rule my world. When we go from a cold April, to record setting hot humid sticky yucky buggy windy sweltering unbearable heat overnight ~ it does.

This icky weather resembles our August weather.

We WI folk are hardy and very used to weather swings. It is part of what makes 
living here so interesting. We get to experience a little bit of most everything, many times in the same day. This weather swing came on fast. It is extreme, extended and our bodies are simply not acclimated to it. Yet.

I am trying to catch up with Mother Nature. I was waiting for it to warm up 
to garden...now everyone is scrambling. Farmers included.

What's a cold weather girl suppose to do?

Turn on the air. Get outside earlier. Stay hydrated. Garden in the shade, if possible ~ and ~ think snow.



Sunday Sights

Sunday was a good, but long anticipated hard day. It was my first Mothers Day, without my mom.

Mom's tree & inscribed Bench

I wrote my mom a long two-sided letter in Spanish. I haven't written any letters, especially in Spanish, in what feels like forever.

After folding my
heartfelt letter, I sealed it with a small heart cut out of red Mulberry fiber paper. She loved mulberries. We had them growing in our yard.

The same red fiber paper was used to wrap and line a small cardboard box, to hold some of her cremains.

Two ribbons adorned the box. One translucent red, the other a bright 
accent yellow. The colors of Spain. Her beloved home country.

 bloom cut from the orchid she gave me, was added to the box topShe loved orchids. A similar orchid is laser cut into her bench, along with her favorite bird. Cardinals. 

I cut out paper heart shapes for the grandkids to color. Our younger daughter decorated her own. We planted my letter, their heart shapes and my mom, along with her memorial tree.

Crab Apple Tree "Showtime"

Everyone pitched in and helped fill in the dirt. 
I truly hope this special tree thrives for many years.

My moms bench was a surprise for all our kids. We unwrapped it together.

Brad suggested a great location, it overlooks our property and allows us to put the tree and bench together. He worked hard at clearing the area of scrub trees, piled up dirt and remaining junk. Left behind from previous landowners. There is more to be done. I will post a finished photo in the future.

We plan to pour a concrete base and secure the bench, add a few more trees/pines/shrubs and finish landscaping. The area looks SO much better already. I look forward to peacefully enjoying the beautiful landscape, sunsets and clear night sky views. With my mom in mind & heart.


A couple Winery sights from last week:

walking through the wine cellar for more wine tasting & cheese pairing

I thought of Shirley when I saw the largest Helleborus I've ever seen (it went up to my knee).

Mine never looked anywhere close to this pretty and healthy.

At the winery I learned if storing their full bodied red bottle of wine over 3-5 years, it should be opened and allowed to rest for a couple hours. I mentioned an old bottle of wine I have. My friend suggested opening it on Sunday, in honor of my mom. What an absolutely PERFECT and meaningful idea!! 

My oldest daughter and I shared the bottle. I opened it a couple hours prior. No one else in our family drinks red. They thought we were crazy. Much to our surprise, the wine was delicious! Tasted exactly like the table wine my grandmother served with every evening meal. I think my Aunt gave us this bottle, when she came to visit around 1988. Notice the little attached bull decor.

34 year old Spanish wine


Last but not least, some not Sunday bird sights:

Yellow-rumped Warbler

No photos (yet) from this years Hummers, Orioles & Whippoorwills, but they are back!! 

Yellow Warbler


Midwest Horse Fair 2022 ~ in review

Midwest Horse Fair (MWHF) had not been held since 2019. For two years, all events were cancelled at the large unique venue. It became our areas largest COVID testing site.

Three years later, MWHF is back!

We attended Friday in endless driving side-ways rain. Saturday was much better weather, still very windy - but - it was the first day you could get in the fields. We stayed home and Brad got all our Spring field work done.

We should have been more excited about the return of horse fair
, but we were not. A lot changes in three years. In a nutshell, it lacked luster and the excitement of years past. At least for us. In detail, it was like this: 

CLINICIANS: None of the clinic topics/clinicians peaked our interest enough to sit on hard uncomfortable seats and watch. Not that the clinicians were bad. Chris Cox had a big following.

Over the years we've learned it is really hard to take away quality info in such a large in-personal setting, and even harder to put into practice. 

RODEO: We usually enjoy the PRCA rodeo on Friday/Saturday evenings.
There was a lot of unknown when rodeo tickets went on presale in January, related to masking/testing etc. If you don't get tickets early, you end up in the nose bleed section. We decided to skip the rodeo this year. I heard Saturday was a sold out crowd, and the rodeo was "okay" but there were not many riders. 

We decided to attend fair for the shopping, although our favorite vendors are no longer there.

SHOPPING: We missed catching up with familiar faces we've become acquainted with over the years. There are hundreds of other less personable vendors. Many sell junk made in China. Larger vendors that offered great horse care deals, have gone out of business. A vendor friend that does custom leather work told us it doesn't pay for them to attend fair.

Custom water bottles must be all the rage, because they were for sale in abundance. As were soft shell jackets. Along with all the none horse related stuff, like kitchen food saving snap ware and miracle creams. Yes, horse people use these things but I for one don't go to fair to buy kitchen stuff.

I was looking around for things related to arthritis (for Koda) and got sucked into a vendor booth.

The couple had a top secret miracle gadget! SO secret they couldn't have a website, a Facebook page or even a business card. Because "cancer organizations are after them". They kept asking for my phone number to send me a video that shows me how their gadget works. "You turn it on, and wave it over your ache-y place." I kept politely declining. OHhhh but their gizmo heals, 
cures cancer and ~ gasp ~ it even takes away wrinkles!! Said the woman with a face full of wrinkles.

This miracle healing gadget is ALL over Europe, but hasn't been approved in the US. Hmmm, perhaps there is a reason the cancer organizations are "after you". I couldn't help myself and nicely asked "isn't that just a ramped up hair dryer?" YES!! they both replied in unison "that is EXACTLY what it is"!! Say whaaat.....??! We saw another vendor selling a different version of a ramped up hair dryer. Buyer beware.

We did pick up something useful, a couple more orange slow feed nets. One for Padame to use at shows, and one as a backup. Inventory was low and like everything, when they make the next batch prices will go up. We really like our orange nets. They do last longer, but not forever. 

Shortly after arriving at fair, I came across a new (to me) handmade earrings vendor. She was REALLY good at what she does! Sell her earrings. This non-shopper spent way more muhlaa than I should have. After we walked away with no less than 4 pair of earrings in hand, Brad said we were there for 40 minutes. Whoops!

Below is the earring style they are know for. You twist-n-twirl them onto your ear, so they can't fall out. 

The other earrings I purchased go in a first or second ear hole. They go up your ear lobe, and look like a buncha ear piercings. I can mix & match them. They had hundreds of color combinations and styles. What can I say, buy three get one free only makes sense when you are buying two anyways.

I used to be really into wearing jewelry and am a sucker for quality handmade unique jewelry. I found out, this vendor has been making the backless style earrings for 9 years. Oh, and the couple lives about 20 minutes away from us. I found out two of my friends have earrings made by Decorate your Lobes, and they said the same thing. She is really good at what she does, and every time they see her...cha-ching!

MISSING FROM FAIR: There was something, or better said someone missing from fair. I mentioned to Brad, I it was odd the Booms were not in Stallion alley. For the past 15 years a well-known super friendly older couple, who always had time to chat horse with you was not at fair. They were always together. They trail rode their stallions ALL over the US and had a big presence in the horse community. The follow day, we found out why they were not in Stallion alley at fair....cue waterworks. 
The elderly husband and two daughters walked her beloved riding stud, saddled with her boots in stirrups backwards, at the MWHF stallion review. It was her studs last appearance at fair. I cannot imagine the strength that took, after losing Charlene just a few weeks prior. We do not know the Booms personally. 

Among other accolades, the couple received a lifetime achievement award for the many things they have done for the horse industry. Including organizing their local club and an annual trail ride for years. It was very well attended. We almost went once with Cierra's breeder. That year over a hundred showed up. 
If interested, here is a link to their breeding program. They also raised Dalmations. They have a large equine business property and a lot of horses. 

OTHER EVENTS: I am glad we decided to go back Sunday afternoon and watch the MWHF Top Hand Showdown finals. The top five women and the top five men prequalified, out of 50 original competitors. They competed on the SAME horse in five events: Breakaway Roping, Pole Bending, Steer Stopping, Team Roping Heeling and Barrel Racing. The event was really interesting to watch.

We watched the Red Rock Riders drill team, r
ight before the Top Hand finals. Always fun.

3.92 seconds Breakaway

The young gal above had one HOT horse. She handled it like a pro and scored well in most events. I was sure she would take first place. Unfortunately, she got a no score with penalty on the heeling portion and ended up in second place.

The women competed against other women, and men against men.

3.81 score (not the fastest)  Breakaway

This riders total points won him the mens MWHF Top Hand title & award.  

The MWHF website said there were: 61,000 attendees, 350 volunteers, 500 vendors, 700 horses, 300 clinics, lectures and performances. An $11 million economic impact.


Sunday Sights

Another Tuesday, another trip north to the car dealer. This time to replace transmission lines on my truck. I figure it's better to spend two & a half hours waiting inside with all their amenities, than stranded on the side of some road.

I almost went straight home afterwards. Almost. 

Instead, I went back to the hot spot I was at last Tuesday. Before it is overflowing with fishermen and all the waterfowl go somewhere else. I have been there more than once and not seen anything but a seagull or two. 

Of course, the first thing I saw were American Pelicans. They are in all larger bodies of water around here right now. There was a good sized flock of 35-ish floating around. I couldn't help but shoot one as it flew overhead:

A Blue Heron flew within reach of my camera:

Red-winged Blackbirds were making a fuss

Pied-Billed Grebe

Any idea what bird this is?

It was small, and ducked under water for extended dives. It was floating alone. Notice the white tipped bill & red eye. Perhaps a juvenile of some kind of red-eyed waterfowl. An Eared Grebe??

Update: the above bird is a Horned Grebe!! The difference between Eared & Horned is this bird has a white bill tip & thicker/flatter head (and is not rare). I used Merlin’s photo ID for the first time, to confirm.

I will try to get better photos of these two, someday:

Bonapart Gull

American Coot

The three amigos below caught my eye right way. 
I had no clue what they were. They floated on the log the entire time I was taking photos, until I pointed my camera at them. 

Double-breasted Cormorant
(male, female, male)

Apparently they don't like their photo being taken and took to the water. These photos are very cropped. They were waaay out in the water.

The older male went last (see trio pic above, he is far left). His mate was floating the entire time, even further out. He eventually flew over the other pair and landed near her. 

They took off so fast!! Double-breasted Cormorant have big webbed feet. It looked as if they were walking on water. I've never seen them before. They were my favorite find of the day.

A mature pair of Wood Ducks caught my eye at the very end, right before I headed home.