Remember December ~ part 1 of 2

My camera did not get used a lot this past year. I did intentionally take some photos, most were a result of "snap before it is gone". My favorite kind!

There is something to be said for that which presents itself in it's own unique way. One that is not fabricated.

I usually look at what I captured, but frequently leave photos unprocessed. Sitting in front of a computer is no longer where I choose to spend my time. If you don't understand why, try doing it as an occupation. Let's just say I have a long term love hate relationship with computers.

Yesterday, I went through my December (personal) photo's and found a few to share. I am always surprised to see the dates, or maybe it is the lack of.

The two shots I used to make a composite holiday card photo of Hope:



I love watching Hope grow and learn from the comfort of our home. She tries to get Harmony to interact with her. It is really funny! Harmony puts up with Hope's antics for a while, then kindly reminds her she needs to mind her elders.

Harmony is doing a commendable and patient job guiding Hope as she grows up. Just like she did when Mama Cierra was a baby. 

Cierra & Harmony
(2010 archive photo)

Harmony at 23 years old

Hope at almost 8 months 
(shot from our deck)

If you read my last post, then you know Hope joins up on our walks most days. All by her big girl self. She is always a source of smiles!!

Hope and Cierra at the top of the pasture



Light presents itself so differently in the shade

Hope is quiet, especially for her age. She is frequently deep in thought. Watching and learning about the world that surrounds her. Hope is still a baby and of course does what young horses do. Act silly and test boundaries.

Wait for meeee!

(L-R: Harmony, Cierra, Nemo and Hope)

Haven't seen her catch air for a long time

Running like the wind

Our trainer came to our place in December, to visit and work on the project I am helping with. She got to meet Hope. Her first reaction was "wow, she has a lot of Cierra in her" and we agree.

Hope at 7 months (minus 1 day)

Hope inherited what we lovingly call "the Birdie lip" to a lesser degree. Her Grand Dam has a lower floppy lip (barn name is Birdie). Cierra's mom was the quietest horse I have ever met. We fell in love with her (a Perlino!) but she was not for sale. Birdies value increased (a lot) and Cierra's breeder eventually ended up selling her oversea's, years later. 


Hope's mane hasn't decided which way it wants to go and continues to change colors. I love multi colored manes! Our Nemo also has one.

Hope at 8 months

I am thankful for photos to help remember December!! Yes, I snuck a November photo into this post. Why not, it was already processed. A reminder that I really need to go through ALL the photos on my camera cards! It could happen. Maybe next year.

Remember December ~ part 2 of 2 to come


highs and lows

The highs and lows of 2023 are continuing. Right to the very end of the year. 2023 is part of back-to-back loong years, that for the most part I do not care to repeat. I was am truly looking forward to starting fresh in 2024. There is so much to look forward to, and yet one cannot ignore the reality that will spill over into a new year.


Our vet was out to check Koda's lameness. Again. His uncommon "right front Straight Sesamoidean Ligament" injury improved, but he never became fully sound. Lately, Koda has been very lame on his left front (with lingering soreness on right). Sigh. The left soreness appears to be associated with his Navicular. However, Koda is showing uncommon Navicular related reactions. I am not convinced it is his Navicular. Equine suffering with Navicular typically find relief from soft footing. Koda's lameness gets significantly worse on soft footing. 

Not sure what I was expecting.

Our vet will be consulting with Koda's MRI specialist vet again. I won't know more about their recommendations until 2024.

Reality rearing it's ugly head again.

For now, we are trying to lessen Koda's pain. A short round of Bute will be replaced with Equioxx. A new drug to us. I believe Blogger Linda had her beloved Cowboy on it for a while. 

I learned
Equioxx was originally a canine pain medication. Oddly enough the equine pill dose given to a horse is also for the size of an Dachshund.

Our vet also wants us to continue giving Koda Cosequin, and said it may help him down the road.

I guess I should be happy that there is a road to go down. 

To this I say, how lucky am I to be able to care for a horse like Koda. 

Below is one of the video's I took to show our vet how Koda walks throughout his day. It does not show his worst limp. That happens inside the arena.

Koda comes when called.
Head into the barn for his mid-day switch with Nemo.
12/27/23 (26 secs)


The most exciting thing to look forward to in 2024 is that Brad and I will be starting a new chapter together!! He decided to retire, and sell his half of the concrete company at the beginning of 2023. Yesterday was his last day.

Super happy for Brad! His retirement is so well deserved.

January 2nd he will officially no longer be a co-owner at a company where he worked his ass way up from the bottom to the top. Brad mentored many and set a standard no one has/can duplicate. He was the foundation (no pun intended) of the company for over three decades (37 yrs). It took three guys to "replace" him. Although you cannot really replace experience or his work ethic. However, the 76 year old company (it grew from 40ish when he bought in, to 145-60 full time employees) will adjust and operate differently. 

Brad's goal was to put in 40 years (
longest employee) but changed his mind after - well - if you read this blog then you are aware. He promised me "it" wasn't the reason. Instead he says "it opened his eyes" and that 40 is just a number. Brad wants to be home with me and our animals, working and enjoying our land etc. Living our dream.

I don't know what I did to deserve such a love.

We will have so much more time to share with our horses in 2024!! Like our newest girl, who gave us so much Hope throughout this trying year. 

Hope joins us on our daily walks

12/15/23 (24 secs)

12/23/23 (26 secs)

12/23/23 (10 secs)

12/23/23 (12 secs)


Merry Christmas 2023


Hope at 8 months

inside sentiment

Hope has brought more joy into my world than words can explain.
Hence the sentiment.

Wishing each of you a very joy-filled Merry Christmas
and a New Year filled with health & happiness
 ~ and Hope!!


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.