flaky thoughts

Hellooo Sunday! I woke up to a beautiful Winter day. With snowy flakes falling from the sky. A snow globe surrounded me! Inspiration for trying to capture a flake or two. I really should have looked up my previous snowflake photo specs. I didn't.


After the fact, I quickly checked my phone for photography notes. Some previously written flaky thoughts came up:

One Snowflake at a Time

I've forgotten the beauty of the first snowfall

Pines dressed up in their finest

Puffballs of snow, clinging like a bow

A white carpet awaiting your arrival

Soft falling snow, creates stillness

You can hear the pines whisper

If you listen. 

~ aurora ~


Went outside to try again, but the snowflakes were clumping. Too wet. I look forward to many more snow globes, photo attempts and flaky thoughts.

Most of all, I look forward to walking among our majestic snowy pines.

Listening to them whisper.


that's a wrap

We recently received pleasant news from this past show season. Padame got Reserve Champion in Level 1 AQHA Ranch Riding!

The fourth and last WI AQHA show that Padame attended, was the large State Labor Day show. Brad wasn't able to ride over the summer as much as he would have liked, and decided not to show. He didn't think it was fair to her. Riding in the practice ring would benefit them more during this transitional year. However, Padame was shown by her trainer. I did not attend the last show. Sorry no iphotos/videos.

If you missed previous show posts they are were in early June and late June

There have been some issues with the venue, and numbers decreased. The WI Palomino organization joined the show and held classes in conjunction with some AQHA classes. The Pally folks were recruiting participants. Although it was not part of their show plans, Brad ended up showing Padame in Palomino Conformation. His pretty girl ended up receiving some firsts and earning Palomino points.

Last Tuesday, I did a horse photoshoot at our trainers for an upcoming project of hers. While I was there, we also took posed photos of Padame. Brad chose the photo below. He will receive a nice prize (custom chaps/chinks!). Padame's photo will be in the WAQHA Directory & end of year award banquet slideshow.

Although she is still coming into her own, there is something to be said for showing up and doing the work.

Padame (5 yrs old)


musical horses

No, this post is not about the all too familiar horses musical tootin'. It is about switching horses around to find peace. You know ~ musical horses. 

Putting Cierra in with Hope and Harmony went well the first couple days. Until Cierra turned into an over protective Mama. It was not unexpected, but we had to try. 

Clapping, whistling and yelling "don't let her do that" could be heard, when we noticed Hope trying to nurse. One would think Cierra would tire of this normal baby behavior, especially if/when it hurt. I watched Cierra position herself, even when Hope wasn't asking.

Thankfully, Cierra stayed dry. However, she frantically tried to keep Hope by her side. Key word try. When Cierra wasn't doing that, she was keeping Harmony away. Not only from Hope, but the feeder too. It was a non-stop job. Cierra was going to run herself ragged, cutting between Hope and the world that surrounds her. Even Hope got tired of Mama's possessiveness and threw one of her baby fits. Wish I could predict them and capture a video to share. They come out of nowhere and are so funny!

water tank gossip
(Cierra, Nemo and Harmony & Hope)

While all this was going on Nemo was busy in the neighboring pasture, keeping Koda away from the girls. Our split herd hangs out together where the water and gates are. He was not allowed to cross an invisible line, but kept trying. 
Not ideal for a horse recovering from lameness. I could see Koda was stressed around Nemo, when we brought him in. 

Cierra cannot be in the same pasture as Hope for now. We don't need a possessive mare, so Cierra went back in with our boys.

The original 3 sharing

Nemo, Koda & Cierra

Everything went well, until it didn't. Now that Cierra has release her hostage, Nemo is less concerned with her. It is all about keeping Koda away from HIS girls! Needless to say, we are currently back to half day turnout. Chores 3X a day it is. Alternating Koda and Nemo daily. What. A. Pain!!! Meanwhile Hope hangs out with Harmony in the neighboring pasture. 

Harmony & Hope in lower pasture

I will be the first to say I am a bit surprised. Koda and Nemo have been together their whole lives. They were born one day apart (same breeder) and have lived together for 15 years. WTF. Excuse my acronym, but we were expecting our happy herd to be reunited. Our horses let us know they want to be together. If only they checked their opinions at the gate.

Nemo & Koda indoor reunion test
10/14/23 (16 sec)

Nemo has always been herd boss, but has become very possessive. Our third pasture behind the arena is coming in nicely, but will not be ready for horses (er' maybe just one) until next year. 

There are times over a horses life that requires a switcharoo. We humans do need to let them work things out. Let them be horses. Within reason. We refuse to throw horses together and watch vicious behavior. Like the horror story a local acquaintance recently told me. "A young four year old mare was purchased and put into a pasture with the resident herd. The nicest calmest gelding beat the crap out of her. She stood shaking in the corner. You could see him take chunks out of her. It went on for days. Eventually it stopped and the young mare was brought in. Bloody and bitten all over both sides."

Who knowingly allows this?!! That poor horse. Not us. Instead, we will continue playing musical horses. Even if it is added work for us.


fast six months

Well, that was a fast six months! On October 10th, Hope turned six months old. A lot has changed, and just as much has stayed the same. 

Perhaps you noticed, I took an unplanned rest-n-reset from Blogging. Somehow my hiatus turned into three months. Sincere thanks to those who reached out. You know who you are.

Life has been good. We have enjoyed a quiet end to a hot dry Summer and start to a cooler wet Fall. These days are all about wrapping up the gardening season, and getting ready for Winter. Along with a continuation of endless projects.

My last post about Hope was on June 27th. Unless you count the July 14th dunk-a-thon video. Those dunk-n-days are long over. Cue a not so brief update of all things Hope:

Daily indoor turnout came to an end.

June 2023

July 2023

August 2023

Hope was weaned at four months. It went well, just some normal calling. In preparation, she spent some time away from Mama Cierra each day. First in the indoor, and then in the outdoor arena.

August 5 (21 sec) indoor

August 6

August 7 (1:04 sec) leading out

August 7

August 7 (22 sec) leading in

August 10 (1:42 sec) outdoor zoomies

(note: arena was intentionally left to grow)

We changed things up, again. Hope began daily turn out alone in a (rotated) paddock in the middle of the upper pasture. Koda & Harmony hung around outside the paddock and kept her company. Cierra was turned out with Nemo in the bordering pasture.

Around 5 1/2 months old, we progressed to turning her out with Harmony. I pulled Koda out of their pasture just before Brad released Hope. We watched interactions for weeks, and really thought the trio would work well together. Hope is stalled between Koda & Harmony. We decided not to risk it after Koda started his usual pasture antics. Sigh. Our Appaloosa geldings have made horse care challenging lately. So far our girls have all been easy.

September 23
Hope being shown the fence line.

Adult horses L-R (Koda, Harmony and Cierra, Nemo)

I believe mixed herds are more natural and ideal. However, we really upset the balance within our mixed herd. We may try putting them all together some day. Maybe. Our current plan is to keep the mares & geldings separate. We are trying Cierra out with Harmony & Hope. Fingers crossed it goes well without incident or (re) lactating. Edited: Girls are all together today! 10/14/23

In other news, Hope got her first (Fall) shots on Wednesday. She is growing like a weed and has had her feet trimmed 3X already. I have yet to see her do the baby mouthing thing. Brad said he has seen it a little.

almost 4 months old

One thing that has not changed, is how much Hope continues to amaze us with her sweet trusting personality. On harder days, she reminds us ~ there is always Hope.


butterfly bonanza

My butterfly garden may look like it is lacking plants and color, but the butterflies don't think so. Activity has increased dramatically, ever since we have been blessed with rain. The garden has become a butterfly bonanza! Many species float in and dip, dive and duck. Landing and feeding together. I love watching them all fluttering about together!

There is SO much activity and variety that I cannot count them fast enough. 
I've tried to capture the flying frenzy several times on video, but it doesn't come close to doing the experience justice. So still shots it is. Inspiration to use my big girl camera. It has been collecting dust for around three weeks.

Great Spangled Fritillary stole the show! I knew it was a fritillary that was capturing my attention, but had to look up which one. Coppery metallic orange flashes and glimmers off/on in the sunlight. SO pretty! They sure are fast fliers.

Left side
Note the tongue, 'er proboscis.

Right Side

Closed up


I changed my focus to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

A second swallowtail showed up and they took off. Not sure what the dance was all about, but it was fun to watch. 

The butterflies are enjoying all the garden blooms, not just the tall verbena.

feeding on Hoary Vervian

I have noticed the Monarchs seem to be boss. They scare other species away. They eventually settle and can be spotted sharing.

there are three winged wonders in this frame
(Monarch, Fritillary and a Spotted Skipper)

We got a little more rain last night (YAY!). I am heading down soon to see what is blooming and fluttering about. I think I'll bring my camera :)

I added a couple captures from today:

Black Swallowtail

Monarch & Black Swallowtail in flight


nature of things ~ butterfly garden edition

This has been a different gardening year. Without rain, only the hardiest plants grow in our sandy soil. Mostly weeds. Tall Verbena is the only plant that reseeded itself in the butterfly garden, regardless of rain. I saved a lot of different seeds in 2022 and purchased several packets that never sprouted. Even with hand watering. 

The good news is, 95% of the purchased perennials plants returned! The ones I grew from seed and transplanted did not return. Except for some Milkweeds. I have yet to see a native milkweed take in the garden bed. Odd. They grow willy nilly all over our land. I've tried planting saved seeds (chilled and not) and transplanting with roots intact. They can be enjoyed growing elsewhere.


Looking back at where the butterfly garden was when we started...

"My mind wanders with endless possibilities...a path to ride through? a place for my old horse bench, after refinishing? a solar water feature? a stone walking path? a butterfly house or three, made out of wood and/or my really really (really) dried gourds? rock features? or just a big beautiful patch of wild flowers, flutterby's and future foto fun?!!”

It is easy to see where those dreams are (not) today. The only thing from that list that exists is the dirt-n-weeds walking path. I am back to not riding, unless you count a four wheeler. I think it's safe to say I am more of a dreamer than a do-er *^* 

My Butterfly Garden was planted last May, 2022. There was SO much hope the first year, for colorful blooms & flutterbys. I enjoyed seeing my hopes come to fruition. Every single time a butterfly floated to and fro, or landed on the blooms. Spreading it's beautiful delicate wings.


Our parched land finally got much needed rain late July. It was amazing what the rain water did for the butterfly garden! Much to my surprise struggling plants started flourishing. Blooming ~ and ~ my saved annual flower seeds sprouted!! Zinnias & Marigolds popped up everywhere, and even a few (originally from Val) Four O'Clocks! YAY! It is late in the growing season. Many are now in bud and should bloom IF we continue to get some rain.

I tried seeding Cosmos and Cleome this year. Annuals I easily grew at our previous home. The Cosmo's I grew indoors from seed are trying to bloom. Nada from the sown seeds.

I might cave and plant Monarda. Perhaps it will behave here, and not mold. I yanked it at our last home. No Yarrow for me. Never (ever, ever) planting that again. Extremely invasive. Nothing kills it. We tried everything. Pretty sure it is still growing where it didn't belong, in the yard. Too bad, both can be pretty.

Perennial seeds from last/this year stayed dormant. Echinacea, Black Eyed Susan, Milkweed, Delphinium, Penstemon and more. It appears planting plants are a much better bet here. I am waiting for the native plant sale to add a few more. Hehee.

Tall Verbena (self reseeded) 7/16/23

Hoary Vervian (returning plant)

Cleopatra, Coneflower 7/25/23
(returning plant)

White Swan, Coneflower 7/16/23
(returning plant)

Cheyenne Spirit, Coneflower 7/16/23
(returning plant)

Tall Verbena with snapdragons, alyssum and marigolds.

Yellow Coneflower 7/19/23
(returning plant)

Pale Coneflower  7/19/23
(returning plant)

NONE of my Black Eyed Susans returned. I know they are short lived perennials, but... Last year I had a nice patch of blooming plants, started indoors from seed. This year I reseeded, and eventually bought another sale plant (and split into two). Both are on the struggle bus. Black Eyed Susans will likely be included as plants I cannot grow.

I am a firm believer of grow what grows for you.

More Purple Coneflowers (grown from seed) were transplanted and seeded this year. There is one plant left. Sigh. Last years similar efforts vanished. 

Black picky Eyed picky picky Susan
(New plant)

My orange Butterfly Weed plant also came back and bloomed. I started orange & yellow versions indoors from seed last year. They are currently re-blooming!

I started this post early July. The garden still doesn't look like much, but it is trying. Surviving parched among the weeds is not easy. Even for plants dubbed as drought tolerant.


yes, I am back to weeding

Patience. Not one of my better virtuous. As you know, it takes a good three years for perennials to establish. Longer for wild flowers. I am really looking forward to plants filling in, like the Verbena. It has become a large vibrant purple thick patch. A butterfly magnet.

My whole self smiles when I watch butterflies fluttering about.




our double dunkers
6/12/23 (22 sec)


a first for Hope

Our farrier appointments are scheduled every six weeks, before he leaves our place. Like clockwork. He is a good farrier and therefore a busy man. He has more work then wanted. It's hard to get on his schedule otherwise.

All horses get trimmed, in random order. This post baby visit, Cierra got trimmed at the usual spot. At the front of the barn, closest to his truck. Once again, she didn't mind being away from her baby. Hope on the other hand did mind and let us all know she felt left behind.

8 secs

I tried to calm Hope down, and it worked. Not a peep once I started scratching her.

14 secs

It was Hope's turn for a trim.

first trim at 10 weeks

being a big girl

picking hooves
(17 secs)

rasping after a trim
(9 secs)

Hope got her front feet trimmed. We didn't even try the back. She will also have them trimmed next visit. We need to do more work with holding her back legs up, so she won't resist and can figure out her balance.

Hope was such a good girl!


back at it

Padame attended her third AQHA show of the season. Her first show was practice riding only. They continued working on overcoming Padames fears in the ring. We did not attend, it was held earlier in the season in MN.

I wrote about their second show earlier this month. It went well and progress was made. Our trainer showed Padame and Brad rode her in the practice ring. 

Brad is back at it and showed Padame for the first time! 
The third show was on Fathers Day weekend. He has not shown for four years. Since 9/2019. He planned on showing Cierra one more year, but in 2020 the whole world shut down. She retired early.

I am very proud of Brad!! Showing is a hard thing to do. It is even more intimidating at big breed level venue's. Especially on a young horse. Changing horses is hard too. We raised Cierra, he knows her very very well. Brad is building a partnership with Padame. It takes longer when horses live elsewhere. It will be fun watching them develop into a team!

making friends with a guy from Iowa

waiting, waiting (and waiting) SO MUCH waiting!

Friday's pattern was challenging

Brad's showing debut with Padame
(2:15 mins)

This big three day show was well attended. 247 classes! Stalls in both pavilions at the venue were full. There were people, horses, dogs (ton's of dogs, many owners breaking rules and letting them run loose), e-bikes, golf carts, kids on hover boards with flashing lights etc. It was a horse show circus!

Ranch classes were still small, with multiple new faces. Brad's class had 7 entered. If you watch the video's, you will notice area's need work. She wants to go! Brakes need to be softened. Doesn't matter. What matters is that they did it!! Brad is really enjoying his new girl. She is a good horse, with looks to boot. He received many compliments on her throughout the show.

Our trainer showed Padame in two classes. Same pattern as above. The open level class had 5 entries. She was two of them. I learned two horses are the max you can show in the same class. Padame was also shown in the open Western Working Rail class, with 6 entires. They call out gaits, so no pattern. Brad opted not to show that class. Padame will eventually also be shown in open & amateur Ranch Trail. When she is ready.

Friday was a LONG day for everyone! Especially the horses. I left the show the minute Brad got done and made the 50-ish minute drive home to do evening chores. Hours late. I was thankful our horses at home still had hay and were not hangry.

Sunday was a different story. Padame started her pattern with our trainer (open classes went first). The big bad tractor that raked the arena started up just as Padame got to the end of the scary arena. She had to face what was now a moving tractor, just a few feet away. Padame got scared, and it kind of went down hill after that. Nothing terrible happened. Padame is young and basically shut down. She stopped listening to her riders. It wasn't as visible in her first class. 

Sunday's pattern was much easier

I missed the entry part of Brad's pattern because, um, I was chatting. Whoops! The video starts after the extended trot entry to end of the arena. It was a bit scary. I thought we might be in for a rodeo (which apparently happened during a practice ride) or Brad would stop the pattern and walk Padame out. Instead he finished the pattern, the way he felt was best for his horse. Good job Brad!

quieter part of the pattern
(2:33 mins)

Padame was scratched from her third and final class (Western Ranch Rail) after our trainer said "she is not receiving information". Instead of forcing a tired young scared horse to show, like so many would do. Or leave. She simply took Padame into the practice pen and went back to work. It took around an hour of riding for her mind to come back. Of course, we stayed too.

Alllll those gobs of show people had long packed up and gone home. The pavilions were empty. Only the devoted ranch riders packing up remained. No clue why Ranch is treated like a red headed step child. Always last on the show bill.

It was stifling hot. After a long exhausting show weekend, there was our trainer. On Fathers Day, still working late. Talk about one step forward and two steps back. She said "this is like the MN show all over again". She didn't want to leave Padame thinking, getting scared at a show = going home. She did what was right for the horse and we are thankful for her.

A fellow participant commented to me on Friday, that they were really glad Padame ended up with Brad. She continues to be about a year behind mentally & physically. She is more like a four year old and needs time to mature at her own pace. Whatever rate that may be. No doubt Padame will get there. When she does ~ they are going to be a show stopper!



changes with Hope

Our time with Hope continues to fly by quickly. She will be 11 weeks on Monday. I had to look at what I last shared about her. She was 6 weeks old, wow time flies! A few things have changed with her, but the majority is the same.

We have not registered her yet. I picked favored available names a long time ago, but Brad wants to wait until Hope is a bit older and 
sheds out. I am still trying to get him to change his mind about ownership! Hope should really be his filly, but I guess she is ours :)

Of course Hope has grown. She's gotten stronger and continues to be curious. She hasn't gotten any sweeter, because I don't think that is possible. She is very (very) sweet! We truly hoped the personality trait would get passed down, and it has. It doesn't happen with all off spring. Just like human kids. The filly that was bred the same and born the year after Cierra, didn't get the sweetness passed down from their parents. 

The second you stop giving Hope attention, she walks towards you asking for more. 
Hope just loves people, dogs, cats, being brushed, scratches and just about every interaction. Hope nickers when you walk into the barn and calls out at us across the pasture. 

little outdoor whinny
June 2 (7 secs)

heading to the paddock
June 7

One thing that has changed is Cierra has started lunging at Hope in the stall. She doesn't want to share hay. We put two separate piles in their stall in addition to the hay bag, but it doesn't really help. Cierra is a very hungry mama, and has become a bit of a diva. She also continues to drink water like it's going out of style. All normal things. We feed and water them throughout the day. Cierra may be drying up some and/or Hope is consuming more. Brad thinks we may have to wean Hope a little early. Either way, weaning day is coming up fast. Yikes!

familiar scene at 6-6:30am every day
June 7

Hope has been a bit more trying in hand. Just normal baby stuff. Can't blame her for wanting to run, especially with Tank. I can barely hang onto her when she decides to pull away, or go all hi-ho. It was happening more frequently. I decided it would be better for Hope if Brad was the outdoor handler for now. Don't want her to get into tug & war. I still interact plenty and do shorter leading with her. 

we dress fancy like
June 19 (1 min 21 sec)

The biggest change with Hope is allowing touch. She rarely pulls away when we reach across her neck and has become really good about haltering. Hope only wears her halter while being led. The best part is I can wrap my arms around her now and give her a hug :)

not as stocky as the first two photos make her look
June 11

Hope at 9 weeks
June 11

Hard to believe I only used my good camera once to take photos of Hope in five weeks (above). I do not enjoy taking photos of her in the paddock. Besides the ugly panel background, she follows me too close. Hope does get turned out in the indoor in the evening. I need to remember to bring my camera to the barn!

Sleeping Beauty
June 14

I woke her up, can you tell lol
June 14

We feel extremely fortunate to have this beautiful sweet girl in our lives <3