spring cha ching

Yesterday was a highly anticipated day at our barn. Our vet was out for an extended appointment. All four horses got the usual Spring shots, and three had other things addressed.

For the first time, we signed our horses up for the annual care plan our vet offers. It made the Spring Cha-Ching a bit louder, because you pay up front. There is a savings in the long run and includes things we rarely do like tape our horses. 

Harmony was the easy horse this time. There were no concerns, she just got Spring shots etc.

Harmony is 22 and taped at 1217 lbs

had her teeth floated, and was checked (ultrasound) to begin the arduous route of AI breeding. Again. If you missed last years failed breeding saga, you can read about it here. It was determined Cierra hasn't had a strong/real heat yet this Spring. She will get rechecked in 3 weeks, or earlier if we see strong heat symptoms. Doubtful of the latter, with the cool Spring weather we are having.

A few weeks ago she was put on Jump Start supplement by Equi-shine. Created by the other co-owner vet. She doesn't like it and picks out her regular supplement Strategy. Brad has been adding a little molasses to the Jump Start. I don't think it's making much difference.

I truly hope for Cierra's and Brads sake, she takes this time around. She is being bred to the same stud Whizkey N Diamonds. He is a popular guy so we are trying to get on his collection schedule earlier in the season. 

Cierra is 12 and taped at 1257 lbs.


Nemo also had his teeth floated. He was checked for sediment build up in his bladder. We have only noticed him dripping a little over the Winter, but have seen him do some shifting before peeing. We got good news. He had a normal amount of calcium built up in his bladder. Which translates to no bladder flushing!! Music to our ears! Wow, it's been so long since he has had to have that done. There were years in the past when Nemo had to be flushed bi-annually. Moving him here and changing his diet to what we grow (no Alfalfa or Timothy grass) has made a big difference with his calcium and allergies issues. YAY!!!

Nemo is 15 and taped at 1277 lbs.

was the first to get his teeth floated. They really needed to be done. We had requested a lameness check for him. Years ago he had extended issues with his left front and was on stall rest for a long time. It made him crazyI dread the thought of him ever going on stall rest again. Although it wasn't the cause, they noticed early signs of Navicular. That was 10 years ago. He also had a tendon sheath injury on his right front, from our rock river bed accident 8 years ago.

Over the Winter, I noticed Koda was sore at the trot. Out in the pasture, lunging and under saddle. Consequently we didn't ride much. When we did, I kept him at a walk. I feared his soreness was related to Navicular.

Of course, he showed no lameness while lunging 
when the vet was here. After observing Koda, flexing, feeling and doing the hoof test etc, the conclusion was Koda has some arthritis developing on his right front. It makes sense. After the river accident, they did tell me arthritis was a good possibility as he ages.

Koda is 15 and taped at 1350 lbs.


Our vet suggested Koda lose 100 lbs. He would like to see all our horses around 1250 lbs. Koda needs to cut back on his food consumption, and get more/regular exercise. Hmmm, sounds familiar! There are no concerning fatty pockets on Koda. However, I think we'll all agree being over weight is less than ideal for anyone. We talked at length about ways to make that happen with our current feeding system. With one of us being home most of the time, he had no concern with using a (breakaway) muzzle on Koda at our hay net feeder. I am not a fan of the idea.

Brad & I are still mulling all this over. For now we will cut Koda's evening hay down even more than we already have. The vet said if he is grazing all day, we could cut him down to one flake overnight. Gulp! Can you say angry ('er hungry) horse?! Brad promptly announced to our herd that our vet would be doing their chores for the next week. Ha ha! We might eventually need to get down to one flake overnight, but there are other things we can try first. Brad is testing putting out flakes in the turnout feeder, instead of the self serve netted big bail they have all year round. I don't think feeding a given amount during turnout is going to work well for Cierra, not to mention the added labor. Will see. We might try some kind of pasture only option with Koda muzzled, or bring him in early or ? Ohhh boy, he will hate being muzzled!

I know our vet isn't a big supplement guy, but I asked about them anyways. He suggested trying the well known Glucosamine for arthritis and said if we do, to give it a month to (hopefully) work. He said it seems to make a difference in some horses and not others.

I plan to do some research on all of this, along with the feeding trials. I am just glad my riding days with Koda are not over. 

Padame, remember her? I don't post much about her because sadly I never see Brad's new blondie. 

Her Spring vet visit was earlier this month with the whole show barn. Our vet shared some stifle locking concern. It happens when she is lunged, but not while collected. He is hopeful she will grow out of it. He mentioned Padame seems to be a year behind on overall growth, and looks like a three year old to him. Right in line with what her breeder shared about her. It was interesting learning about how the stifle and related ligament work together.

Padame is 4. No clue what she weighs.

She is at her first show of the season 
up in Minnesota to train right now. Brad opted not to go. It is a small group of horses with three trusted friends. Brad received a photo from his trainer this morning:



Sunday Sights

Sunday has become a funday of sight seeing. After eating a delicious breakfast at one of our favorite spots, we detoured on our way home. Taking roads less traveled is nothing new. Brad is known for driving different routes every time he goes from point A to point B. I made sure to pack my camera.

I could see pelicans flying in the distance above the bay. They are easy to spot. There were guys working on piers, causing the pelicans to keep their distance from our parking spot. It was super windy and very cold. I was prepared with my camera, but had dressed lite for breakfast. Brrr!! 
I froze and could barely tolerate the cold wind. I was very thankful for the headband and gloves I keep in my camera backpack, and a warm truck. 

American Pelican

there is always an Eagle in this distant tree

We drove around looking for a new viewing spot. They are only a few, among the many water front houses. I was hoping to photograph less common ducks. We saw a gazillion gulls and viewed a lot of eagles in different scenarios along our detour.

If you ever want to practice tracking birds, I highly recommend finding a hot spot for gulls. They are really good for practicing in flight bird photography. Not just tracking, but how the light hits them and their ever changing flight patterns.

Ring-billed Gull

If the wind wasn't so bitter cold, I would have practiced shooting the gulls more. I could sure use it!! I was really mad at myself for missing out on what could have been an amazing shot of an eagle flying nearby. Instead I got marginal more distant shots. Oh well. Photography is a life-long learning process.

The highlight this Sunday was watching one of the many Eagle's we saw, dropping down to the water in slow motion. It was so windy, the eagles wings were extended but curled forward. Ever so slightly flapping in slow motion. The eagle was trying not to get blown backwards. Hard to describe. It was SO cool!!! No photos as we were driving along a narrow two lane highway part of the river, that has curvy little hills and frequent traffic.

Over by the ferry crossing (which is not open/running yet this year) I spotted a bobbing duck.

Bufflehead Duck

We continued over to the dam. It was flowing for the first time in a very long time!

I have never noticed dam rainbow colors before

we crossed the bridge to the other side of the dam

A few crazy fishermen were off frame to the right. Between the wind and the roaring dam turbulence, their fishing boats never stopped swaying. Brad and I both agreed we would have gotten seasick (or river sick). How they stay on their rocking boats while standing up, is a mystery to me. 

There is sandy shore to the right of the popular dam viewing park lot. Sadly, many people think it's a swimming beach and have drowned. The most recent was a father who saved his two children that had floated off towards the dam. There are so many warning signs posted everywhere...I just don't get it.

popular fishing spot, just out of the current

On our way home, this cute little guy caught my eye:

American Kestral

Kestrals are so colorful! I hope to catch one in flight someday. I always thought they were the smallest Hawk, but I learned they are actually Falcons.



leave it behind

Have you ever wondered why I don't post more photos of our horses, this is why:

Cierra at feeder, Koda in pasture,
Harmony and Nemo in dry lot

(March 17)

Cierra ranks lowest in the herd and often standing guard
Harmony, Nemo & Koda L-R

(March 19)

Spring cleaning horse turnout areas is on the list

Can you sense the excitement for an action photographer?
Harmony, Koda & Nemo L-R

(March 21)

Jameson, Tank and Remi waiting to go for a walk

(incase you are wondering, that is my dormant strawberry bed on left)

trying to connect with a brighter side

Bonus points if you spot the flying crow that was suppose to be in the middle of the tree opening. Hint, look the direction I moved my camera phone. 

old fungi has been reappearing
old ones on top and side, new (?) ones coming up in between the wood

the clouds finally cleared making Monday glorious

kite flying & videoing are hard to do at the same time
(5 seconds)

we've had to walk down to bring our lazy horses inside lately

After three rainy/sleety days in a row, I let the overcast weather cloud my mood.

However, Stinker Tinker always makes me smile.

Tinkerbell has the tiniest squeak of a meow
(March 24)

It only took a second for this appropriately named girl
to fly to the top of the stalls

Tinkerbell got down the same way she got up
(17 seconds)

Last night was my turn to cook. If you know me, that is an instant recipe for crabby. 

I received a familiar text from my hubby "need anything from the grocery store for supper?" My one word reply "sunshine"

Brad brought some sunshine home, just by being here ~ and my meal was delicious! I made a new pork chop recipe, served with roasted cauliflower & cheddar biscuits. Yum!

I left my clouded mood behind me. After all, every day is a new day.

Look familiar?
Nemo and Koda

(March 25)

tiny white downy feathers in the same area as last Spring

Tank in "attack" position, waiting to harass Jameson

Most of the ball fungi reappearing this week has a hole poked in the top

Some of what I am seeing are old oak galls that dropped, but this trio has stems.

more than fungi is popping up

(lillies, daffodils & tulips)

Monday gave us more than sunshine, it brought out the wildlife. I spotted what I thought were turkey in the distant field behind the barn. Brad joined me. We looked across the indoor arena and out the service door. He confirmed, yep those are turkey. 

I went back to the house to get my camera. I've decided to try and get photos of more common birds to add to my new ebird list.

Imagine my surprise...

six "turkey's"

If it sounds like a dove, and looks like a dove ~ then it's a dove. Hey, I got it right this time!

Morning Dove

We might see some sunshine on Sunday, before returning to more of the same dismal weather. I hope to go back to the big pond where I saw the swans to photograph a duck, duck, duck ~ and maybe even a goose!

Have a wonderful unclouded kinda weekend!!


getting flakey

We are half way through the month of tease, I mean March. It can give us a glimmer of Spring or full blown Winter. Consequently, I spend a buncha days trying to enjoy rainy/sleety/windy/snowy weather. Like today. 

Bleh. I try to keep in mind, we really need the moisture.

Inclement weather makes me think. It also makes me walk dogs in the slurry of it all. Good thing I don't mind walking in wet or cold stuff. It gives me a contemplative mindset. I spend more time indoors and get a few things taken care of that would otherwise have waited.

Things like discovering more about photography. Cue, photography speak.

I have avoided getting into Macro (close-up) photography. Not because I don't like it. It is actually an amazing way to see incredible nuances of nature. To achieve good close-up results, it requires yet another specialty lens and ideally a ring light. I decided early on not to fall into the endless glass trap. Instead, embracing multi purpose and range (aka zoom) lenses.

I really like snowflakes and the uniqueness they offer.

I like watching them, playing in them and even catching them. I have wanted to photograph snowflakes for a long long time. Close-up. My zoomy lenses don't do snowflakes justice. I've tried. So I saved up for a Macro lens and recently researched them.

I found out one needs a different Macro lens (for different photograph ratios) to shoot different kinda stuff up close.

I should have known. I have to decide what I want to shoot, prior to purchase. Easy decision, snowflakes! What if I want to shoot another subject up close, like insects. Nah. Creepy crawlies are not my thing. Flowers? Yes, please. I decided not to purchase any Macro lens. If I fall in love with shooting Macro, then maybe. Don't hold your breath. For dabbling, I settled on a much less expensive option. Extension tubes.

The kind that click onto your lens. Not the cardboard toilet roll kind you duct tape onto your lens. Ohh the things one learns when they hang around other photographers lol.

Can you say "learning curve"!?!

Not sure if I found it difficult because of the extension tubes or because it is Macro. Might be both. In my defense, I didn't get a chance to practice much. That 'ehem requires snow! The flakey pretty stuff. Not the icy pellet good for nothing crap we got most of this season.

I found out how hard it is to isolate ONE single snowflake.

Not just any snowflake. Nope. One must find THE perfect snowflake! When it snows there are SO very many snowflakes dropping at warp speed ~ and ~  they don't listen. 
Even if you yell and swear at them. 

I was reminded when it is snowing, it is almost always windy.

Like sideways windy. I must have looked like an idiot trying to catch a flake, then run for cover. Only to have the snowflake blown away or be joined by all it's flakey friends, during my attempt to whisk one flake safely under cover.

Getting flakey is tough!!

Snowflake #1
(January 2022)

I used my hat as a landing base. I learned I need to find a better base, get much closer and  ~ wow ~ is it hard to focus on a minuscule snowflake!

Snowflake #2
(February 2022)

I found a better base (my neck gaiter). It was still very hard to focus during my second attempt. The sweet spot in manual focus is a sliver of a turn. I learned to preset. My camera functions don't speak to my extension tubes.

Snowflake #3
(early March 2022)

Snowflake #4
(same snowfall in early March 2022)

I was also reminded when it snows it is almost always cloudy.

Hence the need for a light source. All those incredibly perfectly detailed snowflake photos you see floating around the 'net use one. Doubtful I will go that route.

There is a related tripod vs handheld debate. Always. I went the handheld route. I don't need the added frustration of adjusting a tripod over and over.

I do need to try out different focal points, angles and a lot more clicks. I took very few photos during the three above snowfalls.

I am looking forward to continuing to discover the unique delicate beauty of fleeting snowflakes.

One flake at a time.


more than 7

The past few years my focus for photographing waterfowl has been on American Pelicans.

I really wanted to photograph Swans this year. 

They aren't going to find me. I have to find them. I decided to go swan hunting last Friday. With my camera, of course.

I drove past the open water part of the river, and a scenic route along a water way where I have photographed pelicans multiple times. The only open water was in the middle, very far out of camera reach. I could see white bird moving dots of some kind. The only vantage point is along 
a curvy two lane busy Hwy, with narrow shoulders. Very unsafe for parking.

I kept driving and decided to make the drive to Goose Pond. Swans had been sited within the last day. The pond was pretty, but um frozen. Sigh. I decided to try another recently reported hot spot. It would require driving through the big little city. I got skunked. I did not take a single photo all morning. I saw nothing but a few Mallards & Canadian Geese. As well as a couple hawks while driving, and crows. 
At least I got some errands done.

Oh well, I gave finding swans a valiant effort!

On Sunday, we headed out to a pond well known for waterfowl. I've been there once, but would rather not walk the secluded area alone. I think Brad felt bad that I got completely skunked on Friday and agreed to come with me :)) Our efforts were well rewarded!!! We got out of the truck and instantly heard loud honking!! It was easy to decide which direction to walk.

Have I ever told you birders are the nicest people?

We ran into a birding couple and chatted for a long time. Turns out they are neighbors of some friends. Small world. There were a few other human interactions with birders, all looking for the swans.

I could have sat watching all day, the water entertainment was AMAZING!!

we watched a lot of chases

and graceful glides


the swans were very active

water walking cracks me up

There were more than seven swans-a-swimming. I counted 158 swans with my binoculars. I looked left to right counting sleeping swans first, then down into the water and back up to count sleeping swans etc. It worked well. Most water movement went to the right.

I also noticed Greater Scaup & Hooded Merganser Ducks on my photos. No doubt there was other waterfowl. I was focused on the swans.

wider phone shot

(24 seconds)

those wings!!

sometimes you gotta take the high road

Trumpeter Swan & Hooded Merganser

swans can be so graceful

some swans had darker necks, likely juveniles

We were told this large flock was all Tundra Swans. We were told wrong.

You only know what you know.

After a closer look on the Trumpeter swan website I learned a few differences that help with ID.

Tundra (L) see yellow by eye

Trumpeter (R) some photos show a red band on lower bill

smaller swans, bigger swans, sleeping swans
soooo many swans, I was SO happy!

the chasing Trumpeter swan was so mad he was spewing sparkles

the Tundra was running for his life!

we went for a walk and
a flock of 6-8 swans suddenly appeared overhead.

I managed one clear shot with a full bird/s, and they didn't even poop on us! It was one of those OMG OMG moments when my camera was shut down.

On our way back to the truck we noticed the swans were quieter and much less active.

walk to your own beat

Perhaps my favorite shot.

Just because it made me laugh out loud. This Trumpeter reminds me of me.

I am happiest just doing my own thang.