calm after the storm

 What a difference one day makes, or maybe that is one fence.

Cierra & Nemo were next to each other off/on

I hope he was saying sorry!

Harmony & Nemo lying down, Koda & Cierra munching

As far as I know, Nemo & Harmony never left the dry lot yesterday. Koda and Cierra ventured further out into the upper pasture at times.

I truly believe they are a bonded herd. They have spent many years together off/on, in various configurations. Hopefully we can put them back together in the future, and eventually integrate Cierra's plus one. 

Nemo & Harmony are in the upper pasture today

Koda (against distant pines) and Cierra have no problem grazing away from the other two. They are probably welcoming the peace.


herd aggression

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you already know Nemo's dislike of Cierra first became obvious back in our boarding days. More than one person at the show barn told us they knew when Brad came out for a lesson on Cierra. Nemo would be agitated and trash his stall.

It wasn't always this way. I couldn't tell you a single instance between them while she was growing up. Things visibly changed when Cierra went into training. She became Brad's show horse and was ridden more than Nemo. Much to his dismay, Nemo had to share Brad.

At our place, Nemo makes it his job to keep Cierra away. Allowing her to join the herd on his terms. In January, things seem to change between them. I witnessed a softer relationship. She was bred and he seemed to know it.

Things changed again and the aggression returned, and then some.

We needed to restore the peace in our barn and recently moved Koda in between Nemo and Cierra. Incidentally, Koda's sloppy plops have magically disappeared. Nothing else in his diet or routine has changed. One of those things that makes you, hmmm...we moved Koda for Cierra's sake.

Pasture dynamics continued as usual. Cierra has always done an admirable job of staying out of trouble.

I walked past the window yesterday and saw all four horse running up from the pasture into the dry lot. Medium pace. No big deal, probably a deer or whatever. It happens almost daily. I grabbed my camera while "the dancing" continued. Thought perhaps I might get some fun action shots as they settle into eating at the feeder. Instead, I watched a nasty chase ensue. It all happened so fast. I didn't even have time to change camera settings. 

Nemo took off after Cierra with a vengeance.

You could clearly see he meant business. But why?? Nemo is usually a milder mannered boss. I was horrified!! He chased poor Cierra all over the lower pasture, then all the way up to the top of the dry lot and back out again. Our Appaloosa geldings are significantly slower than both Quarter Horse mares. Cierra tried to get away and out run him the best she could, with her large swollen belly :( 

Nemo slipped in the dry mud and it made him even madder

Normally Cierra would have smoked Nemo and gotten away. He usually gives up issues with any horse, long before things escalated. Mostly because our herd listens to him. She may have sent a signal otherwise, but it is not what I observed. 

poor mama has bite marks

Thankfully the chase stopped. I watched from the window and considered taking Nemo out of the pasture. I noticed Cierra paw off in the distance, asking for something. To come back or whatever. 

the stare down

neither one of them moved much for over an hour

At one point, Koda left the hay bunk and was staring at Cierra. Perhaps wondering what she was doing waaay out there. Who knows what that unsaid conversation across the field was about.

Eventually Nemo went out to pasture, with Harmony following. She follows him everywhere. Like an old married couple. The next time I looked out the window, Cierra was glued to Koda at the very bottom of the dry lot. No doubt seeking comfort.

Cierra & Koda

Everything went back to normal herd interaction for the rest of the day. All four horses doing everything together. Needless to say, the herd is separated today. Two in the upper pasture and two in the dry lot/lower pasture. 
A temporary solution. There is no shelter/feeder/auto water in the upper pasture.

Ohhh Nemo...

We are strong believers in an integrated herd. However, it is just not going to be possible for a while.

It is as if Nemo thinks Cierra is holding a part of his herd hostage. 


signs of spring

For some reason, I flip-flopped my day yesterday and did chores first. Not sure that was the best decision, or maybe it was. I might have missed welcoming signs of spring.

Leo & Tinkerbell hanging out (together!) in the warmth of the saloon.

Tinkerbell has decided our barn is a good place to live. Leo is okay and humans are fun to harass when doing chores. She is still inside every single morning and waiting for us all but a few evenings.

No doubt Tinkerbell will choose to go on extended safari's when the weather warms up, but hopefully not for another 4+ months! 
She keeps us laughing and shaking our heads. Definitely the craziest of our kitties. I love cats, they add sooo much to our lives.

Tinkers being lovable on the cat throne

I wish I had checked for an updated weather forecast. Hind sight is always 20/20. If only I had walked the dogs first -or- waited for the rain to stop. Who knew when/if that would happen during daylight. It did, right when we got back home. LOL. Go figure.

I don't melt (much) and the labs are water dogs, so off we went trudging through consistent rain.

the labs & I got soaked

Tank kicked up what I am almost certain was a quail. It might have been a female Spruce Grouse, but it looked most like the Northern Bobwhite below. I was so excited!! I've never seen either on our land. Wish I was 100% sure so I could add this unique (to me) bird to my list.

Just a few feet further into the pines, I saw a pop of bright yellow!! 

I was also surprised to see many of my spring bloomers peeking out. Alliums, tulips, iris, daffodils and crocus ~ oh my!!!

waiting for spring is hard

(tank and granddogs remi & jameson) 


mixed bag

What an interesting time of the year this is. Waiting (and waiting) for Spring. Full of so much anticipation. Along with the traditional mixed bag of weather. The mixed bag has an uncertain grip on us. Shaping our days and minds.

Harmony and Nemo

Some days seem full. Others not as much. The latter finds me
asking "what am I going to do with this one beautiful day?". Fully knowing, we are not promised tomorrow.

Change continues revolving around me at a dizzying pace. Many friends and family are seeking clarity with all that ails them. I try not to dwell on what cannot be changed, but change itself does make me think. A little too much. 
Mostly about the future. 

I try to live in the moment, but am not very good at it. 
Clinging to what is familiar, or the memories. Until they softly fade away. Sounds sad. The reality is, we too shall become a distant memory. As generations pass, not even that.

I started reading books again. They distract me from what one could perceive as life's heavy thoughts.

2023 books I've read to date include Mad Honey, Hello from Heaven, House in the Pines, Then She was Gone and I am half way through Daisy Jones & The Six. Already a record reading year for me, without even trying. I would probably read more, except I feel guilty unless it is late at night.

Have you been reading any good books?

I have also read half of The Menopause Diet Plan. I really need to finish! 
It is an informative health book (not an actual diet) written by two registered dieticians. 

If only I could be more like our horses & dogs, who always live in the moment.

Speaking of horses, Brad has been checking Cierra. Last night, after bringing the horses in he said she was starting to bag up. I said "no way" and looked myself. Um, yah. I guess we are getting closer to doing this foaling thing.

It seems early. If I counted right, yesterday was
 day 313* of Cierra's pregnancy. I read if bagging happens too early, it is considered a concerning sign. Online resources vary greatly on this topic in general. I found time frames for mare's starting to bag up, ranging from days to 4-6 week windows and everything in between. I think Cierra bagging up is normal. 

*recounted & changed to correct day

starting to bag

We swapped Nemo & Koda's stalls. Nemo seems more irritated lately. We noticed a big increase with him kicking and ear pinning etc towards Cierra. She doesn't need or deserve that. Nemo does similar to Koda, but not nearly as much. Koda is in between them now, and our barn seems to have regained calmness. 

When it is closer to foaling time, Cierra will move across the aisle to the double stall. We plan to shift the other horses (stalls) closer to her.


I've been thoroughly enjoying our snowfall this past week. If we can't have Spring yet, then why not. I snowshoed in the woods several days in a row, then switched to trackers. Easier to navigate the mixed bag of snow/ice/bare ground on our trails. Tomorrow's predicted rain is going to make a big ol' mess out of everything. Again.

The early morning bright light was so beautiful yesterday! It lured me outside in the freezing cold. Everything was sparkly and backlit. So pretty! I only took a few photos before heading back to warmth.

What the camera didn't pick up, was the
sun kissed pinkish-purple ice reflective tones and the hope that a sunrise offers.

sun rising across from our house


leapin' labradors

In February, I made a conscious effort to snap phone photos of our leapin' labrador. I have to walk with my phone on the ready. Keeping it held low and my focus ('er eyeballs) elsewhere.

If I make it look like I am taking a photo or heaven forbid bring my real camera, Tank comes running and can be found two inches away from me. "Whatcha looking at? Me? me? is it ME? a stick? a toy? me? wanna play with this STICK?!" and he does.not.stop!! Until I put whichever camera away. Sigh.

Tank has ruined more photo opportunities than I can count. He has also given me countless photo opportunities that I would never have without the photogenic camera hog. Tank has to stay home if I want to try to take photos of something beside him. He rarely stays home on my walks leaving me with two choices. Take obscure phone photos or none at all.

If you are tired of seeing photos of my dog/s, f
eel free to scroll on by.

Most of my time is spent with the rascal/s, so yah I take a lot of dog photos. One of my fav subjects to photograph! No big tree branches this time, just snow play. 
If you click to enlarge, the snow Tank pops up to catch is visible in most photos

Without further adieu, I bring you just a few of Tanks classic snow play moves: 



favorite leap (area)

Wondering how often the leapin' happens? Every day and anywhere there is snow. The entire walk. Unless there is no snow or when the snow is crusted over. The poor guy trys but gets scratches on the top of his tender nose.

When the snow disappears and there are no water puddles to be found, he continues trying to pop dirt/sand up. Silly boy! Dirt doesn't pop up well, but that doesn't stop him. Tanks eventually gives up (or gets told to stop creating holes) then goes back to playing with tree branches or sticks. He is ALL play!

More leapin' labrador moves:

one legged leap

over the shoulder leap

I can almost reach it leap

distant leapin'

too close for comfort leap

I can walk on two legs leap

one legged head tilt leap

almost flip over backward leap
(which has happened more than once)

bunny hop leap

Leapin' is even more fun with Tanks friendly shadow:

happy to be headin' out leap

ears up leap

goose shadow leap

flying belly leap

deer shadow leap

creepy conehead leap 

leaping never ends leap

Soooooooooooooo many more funny leaps!!

It looks like Tank might get another chance to leap-n-play in predicted snow tomorrow, before it becomes strawberry tomato stealing season.

I promise you, Spring is coming!!


spring is coming

Happy to report our horses were well behaved at their Spring vet appointment. Even after being stuck inside for two days. They all got Spring shots and are working on shedding their Winter coats. Which means, Spring is coming!

Both boys had their teeth floated. Harmony is on a Fall rotation. We held off doing Cierra's, because she is pregnant. Ideally she will be able to wait until Fall. 

Cierra was up first. She taped at 1324 lbs (up from 1257 lbs) The vet said she looked great, and was big. No changes with her care.

We talked in general about birthing, and foal expectations. Brads said no again to stitching a small digital device into Cierra, that would alert when delivery starts. I agree. If we miss the birth, we miss it. And we might. Especially with the rapid speed it typically happens. The clinic uses the device with mares brought in. Many of those mares are there for high risk equine birthing, where unpredictability is even less ideal.

Key things our vet wanted to make sure we knew: Any scenario other than both legs & head first, is an emergency call. I was surprised to learn one of their dairy vets comes out for birthing emergencies. Due to frequent practice.

Not to worry, we aren't completely clueless. The basics are familiar. Brad has life long experience with various livestock birthing, although it's been years.

We truly love sweet Cierra! I sure hope things go as well as possible for her. Our level of concern, combined with nerves and excitement (and sleep deprivation!) will only heighten the closer we get.

Also mentioned, was leaving the foal alone to lay on the ground at first. As long as the sack is off their face. Better for cord disconnection etc. Their goal is for the foal to nurse within 3-4 hours and they want to check the foal after 12 hours.

The figuring out timing conversation came with some humor. The two things mentioned as good indicators were milk drop (usually 24 hour window) and calcium drop. I had not heard of testing calcium hardness as an indicator.

We did ask about Cierra's chromosome abnormality. The vet had the same response we all had. Surprise. Of course our vet has heard of the abnormality, but said the mares are usually sterile. 

Brad recently picked up some nice large bales of wheat straw for bedding the double stall. Those empty stalls are finally going to get used for something besides cats! We still need to pick out a foaling camera. There are many, open to recommendations. We continue thinking through different turn out scenario's vs potential future needs. Can you predict the future? Me neither.


Nemo was next. He taped at 1252 lbs (down from 1277 lb). 

Nemo getting teeth floated, with Koda watching intently


Koda was the horse needing the most care this visit. He taped at 1288 lbs (down from 1350 lb). Evidence Brad is doing a great job adjusting hay portions!! Our vet would like to see another 70 lbs come off. It will help with his lameness. Which has not gone away, and needed to be addressed.

He walked out of his stall gimpy. No need for additional observation. Koda has shown soreness off/on, more than usual lately. It was time for xrays. 

such a good boy standing still on those small blocks

getting pretty pink playdoh pressed into his hooves

larger platform for view from underneath

We all got a good chuckle when Koda decided to mess with the vet and casually move his foot off the larger platform at key times. All I said was "welcome to my horse" he is such a player/tester. I swear I saw Koda smile ;) 

Our vet saw no signs of arthritis. His earlier diagnosis of Navicular (at 8 yrs) showed no sign in Koda's right foot, and at this check deterioration was barely visible. Koda's left side showed a slight increase. He said Koda is a bit young (coming 16) but recommended trying Osphos shots. We are catching it at a good time, and gave him his first shot.

Osphos studies have been done and it is not recommended for young horses. Apparently it is used in the racing industry and there has been evidence of bones not forming correctly on young growing horses that were given Osphos.

His trim looked good, although taking slightly more off the left toe might help. He will connect with our farrier & send xrays. No shoe recommendations at this time.

Brad & I are really hopeful the shot helps. Time will tell. I will be thrilled if Koda can continue to be ridden at home in the arena's and on our sandy trails. Home is where we are happiest. Hauling to other trails just isn't as important anymore. 

We are keeping Koda on Cosequin. We got a couple more suggestions to try for his less than ideal ploppy digestive system. 

- probiotic supplement
- senior feed
- small amount of metamucil and/or sand clear
- feeding some alfalfa pellets

Basically, changing/adding things that are easier to digest. I was going to try giving Koda yogurt, but read mixed reviews online. I decided not to. We have friends who swear by yogurt, and have given their equine plain yogurt for years. I suppose beet pulp might be worth trying down the road. Will pick one thing at a time to try. I'm thinking probiotic.


Harmony was seen last and needed the least amount of care. She taped at 1183 lbs (down from 1217 lb). Our oldie has done so well here, and staying sound barefoot. 

It will be interesting to see how she interacts with Cierra and her baby.



orchid escape

In the midst of the rain and ice gloomies, I decided to immerse myself in the tropics. No, I did not actually go to the tropics. Although that would be nice. I did the next best thing, and visited Olbrich Gardens Bolz Conservatory. It is a tropical wonderland!

I used to take my kids when they were willing littles. I've soaked in all the various glories this garden haven offers, inside and out. Mostly with my mom. I have not gone back since we were last there together.

Olbrich has expanded in so many ways. They draw crowds with many unique fundraising events and charge for most everything now. The outdoor gardens remain free most of the time. One of the long running seasonal displays my mom & I enjoyed together is now called "Orchid Escape". 

I used to be an orchid collector. I had a small collection of 19 various orchids at one time. I didn't offer what the needy things require to grow and rebloom. Humidity trays and misting only do so much. They all eventually perished. I only grow the easier common Phalaenopsis orchids now and enjoy the more exotic orchids elsewhere.

Wish I could share the warmth, sounds and scents of my tropical get-a-way.

I found the conservatory buzzing with eager children and educating parents. A few kept busy redirecting young ones. Practicing patience. Been there. The squeals of young delight, just add to the wonder of the atmosphere.

There were birds chirping and free flying overhead, koi swimming in flowing streams, waterfalls and constant eye discoveries. Many pairs and small groups of adults, having in-depth conversations about who knows what. There were many silent types too. Women still life drawing, meditators, students and others soaking up the serenity. Like me. 

The layout and lush vegetation magically drowns out noise.

If you are also in need of an escape, think warm and take in a long scroll. A tiny portion of the marvel of nature thriving in the Bolz Conservatory. There was a cute theme to the Orchid Escape display. The ** reflects my favorite finds.

a unique vibrant purple **

where fruit grows, even in the Winter

sooo many patterns

massive Epiphyllum (epi) Cactus growing waaay up in a tree

I have an epi that blooms big gorgeous red flowers. I started it from a single section of stem my old neighbor shared. He was my gardening mentor and a Master Gardener. Paul donated the mother epi plant. I've seen it displayed seasonally at Olbrich conservatory :))

waxy sweet scented Dendrobium
growing and hanging out of a wooden basket

Coturnix Quail roam free.
They are native to Asia and help with insect control.

Devis Tongue

One of several dark weird blooming stinky plants. No I did not take a wiff, but it was comical watching those that did. Pyoo!!

tightrope walker adorned in orchids

Cycas seemanii from the Pacific Islands

Cochliostema from Ecuador
(was more of a vibrant blue)

strong man ('er woman?) pressing huge orchid baskets

grows from Mexico to western South America

Peacock with orchid plumes

hot air balloon adorned with orchids

a seal being playful with orchids

some type of pitcher plant

elephant orchid displays were a big hit

small elephant

big elephant

tropical sounds provided by Yellow Canaries

finally spotted a Waxbill waay up high
(backside view)

Renanthera was a very popular orchid

chocolate scented tiny blooms

Guinea Chestnut tree bloom**

This cool bloom was near the ceiling, in a huge sea of green. I spotted it while walking the upper level deck.

notice the white on the fern frond, with um legs
(probably a mealybug)

snnniffff, ahhhhh

a long cascade of deliciously smelling Cymbidium orchid blooms **