Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Equine Chiropractic & Head Shaking?

Last week I had the good fortune of going out for a little Christmastime coffee and pastries with friends.  We hadn't had a chance to do that much these last few months, so there was a lot of catching up.  During that time together, Cowboy's condition was discussed...briefly, but enough so that one of them forwarded me a new article on head shaking. 

I thought I'd read and heard it all, and maybe I did read this, too, but it sure seemed like a new idea....chiropractic work for equine head shaking.

I know a lot of you use chiropractors, but I never have and have never wanted to go down that road.  My feeling has always been that a horse will naturally work things out.  I respect that others do it, and I've seen one in action and was very impressed with her technique and knowledge, but it just wasn't for me.

Yet, I have this competing mental twitch--I always look for patterns, in life and with horses.  I kept thinking...Cowboy broke his P3....he stands with his left foot out all the he's shaking his head....head shaking has to do with the trigeminal nerve....BRICK WALL.

Maybe it's not a brick wall after all.  Maybe, just maybe, his head shaking is from pressure from his back putting pressure on or pinching his trigeminal nerve. 

I have calls into various people, and I'll soon know how to proceed, but I can assure you, the next thing that will happen is a chiropractic consulation for Cowboy.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with this?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thoughts on War Horse

Peace="Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you."

To me, War Horse was all about the uselessness of war.  Set in WWI, you know that Germany's aspirations to invade, and control, Europe were never successful, though look at how many people had to die before things could return back to the way they were in the first place.  And these poor horses and innocent people who were caught up in it. 

The pride and excesses and laziness of the father, the materialism of the landlord, the cruelty of many and the wasted nobility of some.

It got me thinking about how much we could benefit if everyone followed the above formula for peace.  There's wisdom in loving our enemies--if nothing else, trying to figure out what we did to instigate their hatred in the first place and, maybe, if we're lucky, be able to make it right. 

I don't think anyone likes war, yet there is always war.

I loved the movie.  It was about a lot of things: friendship, loyalty, perseverence, change, materialism--and maybe more of a willingness to see all those things neutrally since it's largely wrapped up in the journey of a horse.  It's easy to get and stay angry at people, but harder to do so with animals.  It was interesting that though they fought each other, each nationality could love the horses that passed through and even, at times, suspend their fighting to help them.

I thought that Christmas was an appropriate day for it to be released.  The theater was absolutely packed and, when it was over, everyone clapped. 

Did you see it?  What were your thoughts?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Card With Bloopers

You'd never guess how much work and play goes into getting one good shot!  Here are the rest of the photos from this morning--a little grooming, a little loving, a little mischief, a little fear of candy canes!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Story: Missing my Lost, but Found, Cat

"When the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him."    Rudyard Kipling, The Cat That Walked By Himself.

See the poster above?  It could have been written by me, but it wasn't. 

It was written by the Orange cat's original owner and it hung, for three months, at our vet's office.  Copies of it, in color, hung at every store in our town.  The one in the picture above is the photocopy our vet made for us when we realized we had that cat.

In fact, we'd named him Odey and neutered him.  Poor guy.  (He was just a little too trusting.)

There were a lot of things that happened in three months, as you can imagine--calls made to neighbors to see if they were missing a cat, a plea on facebook, but deep down we thought he'd been dropped off, like sometimes happens with dogs and cats. Yet, there was something about him and the way he loved to be loved that didn't speak of a drop-off.  I told my husband, over and over again, someone loved this cat.

And, as you can see from the flier above, it was true.  Four days before Christmas, Odey was reunited with his family.  Somehow he'd surivived a six mile trek through coyote territory and a crazy, busy highway, and found our house on his way home to South Dakota.  His parents had just moved here three days before his disappearance and, apparently, his homing device had gone awry. 

His confidence and sweetness saved his life.  If he'd been skittish, he'd never have come into our garage and so easily made it his new home.  He'd never have befriended us or us him. 

I've always thought this about domestic dogs, horses and cats--if you teach them to love people, they'll never be without a home. 

Oddly enough, I'm missing him today...even though he was an outside cat, as all ours are.  Inside, outside, it doesn't matter, they get into your heart.  Although, all I have to do is think back to last night's reunion between them and him--I'd never seen a cat look so happy...or a human mother of a cat--and it helps to let him go.

It was a very merry Christmas for "Orange cat"..."Odey"...."Bootsie".

Saying goodbye to Odey.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

War Horse

Christmas is a week away, and I'm getting excited about a certain movie that will be released that day...War Horse.

This movie is by none other than the great Steven Spielberg, so I'm sure we can expect superb story telling and cinematography. It's based on a children's book of the same name and is set during WWI.

We can't get there fast enough!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Horses Never Forget Human Friends

That is the title of the article I came across today.  Click here.  It was especially interesting to me since my farrier and I had just had that exact same conversation when he was here yesterday morning.  He's been in the business for almost 40 years and grew up on a ranch in Montana, and out of all that experience he had these words:

With horses, less is really more.

I know others have said that, too, but coming from someone who gets under their feet every day, it has extra value.  After all, he's risking his life for that philosophy. 

He went on to say,

If I was to come in here and treat your horses bad, it would take me coming another 8 times, at least, and treating them good to undo the damage, and with some it might never get undone.

If you've been around horses at all, you know they have good memories.  I've seen my horses reunited with old members of their herd and witnessed them become ecstatic to greet their old friends.  I've seen them grieve a lost human buddy, too.  (Red's story). 

More and more I've come to believe less is much, much more as long as when you are with them it is quality time--you expect respect and you're fair, kind and clear.  If you're not going to be doing anything of value with them, in my opinion, they're best left with their herd. 

I don't believe horses need to be worked with every day.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say they need to be left alone for good chunks of time.  On the other hand, when you're really starting them under saddle and you want to get going on the trails, you do need more time....riding.

And that was the other thing he said.  He said they used to pull the young horses off the range, take them into the roundpen and train them for the saddle and bridle, ride them a bit in the roundpen and arena, and then get the heck out of there and onto a real job with cows.  He thinks that's the way their bodies and brains are meant to go: let them move out and give them a job.

I've been following that philosophy for the last few years and every time I go out with any of  my horses they take right up where we left off.  My farrier's last words to me before he left yesterday were these:

All of your horses are big sweethearts.

I will tell you, there is no greater compliment than that to me. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Heartland & Terra Nova

I'm not a fan of television. There was a time in my life where I didn't allow it in the house at all (that was short-lived). When I have had it, I've always wanted it banned to some nether-room of the house where I can't hear it. On school nights it has never been allowed unless we are all watching something together--which, in the past, was very rare: Modern Family, The Middle and football games were about it. (As an aside here, last spring I did get one installed in my kitchen so that I can listen to Sirius radio.)

This year I had a couple of epiphanies:

One, the computer has replaced the television as the time-sucker of choice.  Where I might feel like I've done a real service turning off the television, it seems to have been replaced with a family with their noses in their laptops and smart phones. Is that healthy?

And two, a lot of families watch shows together and then have something to talk about. Have you ever been in a room of people talking about Dancing with the Stars? Survivor? Big Brother. If you don't watch the shows, too, it sounds like this:

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Nod head.

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


(Is this what people hear when I'm talking about my horses?  Please say, no.) 

You kinda feel left out.

I'm still against watching too much television (and being on the computer too much), but I decided to incorporate some recurring television shows into our family activities, and I found a new one on Fox, Terra Nova, and another on DVD, Heartland.

My kids and husband were slow to follow the new trend, so I found myself sitting alone on the first few Monday nights of Terra Nova, but thanks to DVR, they were soon caught up and eagerly awaiting Monday nights at 8:00 with me.

We love this show. It has dinosaurs, science, action, romance, heroism, family secrets...everything that keeps you tuning in. Unfortuantely, though, I don't think they advertised it very well and it doesn't have the following it deserves. It may not be renewed for a second season, which would be sad.

There just aren't enough solid family shows out there where you can suspend your disbelief for an hour and be entertained. Everything today has to be "reality" much so that they keep looking for the more and more ridiculous realties to keep everyone's attention. Personally, I have enough "reality" of my own.

Heartland is a Candian show, so we don't get it here in the U.S. (that I know of). I had to order the first season. Let me tell you, if you're a horse lover, it's a GREAT one. It's all about horses, horse training, horse rescue, drama between horse people...horses, horses, horses.  I was crying in the first ten minutes of the first episode when the main character and her mom were trying to rescue a horse during a storm.  Sad. If you haven't seen it, you might want to check it out on You Tube. I believe they have many of the episodes uploaded there. Here's a link to the first episode--the part that made me cry.  The music is gorgeous. I became an istant, insane fan of Jenn Grant. Click here for a sample of her music. (Check out the song, Paradise Mountain.) I bought all three of her cds.

In retrospect, some of my best memories of growing up were watching television with my family--Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Gilligan's Island, The Six Million Dollar Man...I could go on. 

Do you have any favorites you watch with your family?  How do you feel about watching television?

Friday, December 9, 2011

After the Winter Warlock's Visit

The Winter Warlock visited us today and, oh my, it was gorgeous, enchanted, spiritual, inspiring, invigorating (insert many more positive adjectives). You could point your camera anywhere and get a great picture. Here are a bunch we took...trees, dogs, horses, goats, icicles, the moon, recently neutered cats, soon to be spayed cats (as in tomorrow morning)...a real hodge podge.

You may wonder what this's the hole where the kitty's live. When we released our two neutered boys today, they ran into that hole with their mother. This evening we went out and caught the girl kitty and the orange cat who adopted us and we're taking them in for spay and neuter tomorrow morning. If you're in Spokane, I highly recommend Pet Savers--a 501 C3 non-profit. They're wonderful!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Business Adventure

"Yet, knowing how way leads on to way..."

Last Christmas I received a Kindle, and that gift opened up a new path and a new way of thinking about the power of electronic publishing.  It hit me that if you know how to do anything, have any experience, bit of wisdom or story tucked away in your brain, you could unleash it quite easily through e-publishing.

And why not?  It's easy. 

To test it out, my husband and I dusted off an old pamphlet we'd written to go along with our Parent and Child Contract Software--PACCS.   He beefed it up and made it a mini-book on how to deal with teens who are using drugs, and we uploaded it to Create Space.  Soon after, he uploaded it for the Kindle.  His philosophy (our philosophy) is that you do not need "experts" (like him) to tell you how to react, you need common sense.

About the time we were finishing up that project, April of 2011, my parents gave me a very old gardening book for my birthday--The Bouquet: Containing the Poetry and Language of Flowers, from 1846.  Poetry and gardening have been a passion of mine, so I was thrilled to get it.  If memory serves, I believe I hugged and kissed it after unwrapping.  It was very old and fragile and as we were talking, my mom and I had the idea for me to reprint it in a new and healthier format using Create Space and Kindle.  I hinted in my blog at the time that I was going to "try out" Kindle and e-publishing, and this is what came of it.

I never "sell" things on my website, but I will drop a hint here--it's for sale on Amazon.

I started to rifle through my antique flower books and next to be published was Emblems and Poetry of Flowers.  (All my cover art comes from my own garden pictures.  "Emblems" cover is my very own Columbine.  The Bouquet cover is my Royal Star Magnolia tree from last Mother's Day.) 

All of this was very time consuming.  I tried to use OCR, but found it had way too many mistakes, so opted instead to hand-type the entire book.  After several proofs, I had what I hope is a mistake-free collection of flower poetry. 

And next, do you remember last spring when I got excited about learning to paint with watercolor?   Well, that took me down yet another road of painting my personal flower journal and, on that topic, I found an extremely rare and out of print book in England titled, Flower Painting for Beginners.  I purchased a copy, very old and a bit moldy, and set about retyping it and "cleaning up" all the illustrations for republication. 


                                                                           New Version

Each book has taken me about three months to complete and I'm working on a new one now.  Actually, the one I'm working on now has been really fun (and helpful) for the subjects I like to paint.  (hint, hint).  More on that one when I release it. 

I don't know where this will lead, but it has been a fun project.  I started a business around it called Wonderful Life Books and, if nothing else, it does allow me to "write off" all the books I'd love to purchase anyway and all the book hunting trips I would have taken anyway. 

I meant to write about it long before this, but wanted to have finished a few first so that I could give you a better idea of the whole process and they took me longer than I thought.  Now that the Kindle has come out in color, I do plan to make the Flower Painting book available on it.  So far, I've only added The Bouquet to the Kindle list.  The others are available to purchase in hard copy.

Have they sold?  Yes.  I got a very small royalty check in the mail from Kindle last month which made my husband and I laugh, but also made me a little, tiny bit proud, and my royalties from Create Space have grown every month, but they post them directly to my account. 

Eventually, I 'd like to publish other live writer's (current) work if it centers around creativity or memoir.  I was even thinking of publishing a collection of all my horse blogging friend's personal essays on how their lives have benefited or changed from these powerful connections--if I have enough horse blogging friends who would like to do that with me.  I've found that the lessons from our horse lives--finding courage, grace, forgiveness, strength, healing--are the kinds of themes we all love and benefit from.  They're beautiful and timeless.

Honestly, I don't know where it will lead, but I've learned that life does take us on some crazy, meandering paths if we're open to exploring them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

              Song For Autumn

In the deep fall
    don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
    warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
    inside their bodies? And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
    the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
    vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
    its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
    the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

                                                        Mary Oliver

We've started the countdown to T-Day.  Turkeys are defrosting, shopping is done, beds are all made and waiting for company to arrive, and the kitchen is ready for a day of baking. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey

How many of you are in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year?  When our family gets together there are about 18 of us at the table(s), so we have to get an early start.  There are a few things I want to try this year that will be new.  1.) Making the mashed potatoes ahead of time and putting them in a crock-pot, 2.) Cranberry sauce from Trader Joes, 3.) Making the turkey gravy ahead of time, 4.) Making my dinner rolls 2 days in advance, 5.) Smoking a turkey, 6.) Cooking a traditional turkey in a bag, 7) Brining both turkeys for at least 24 hours.

Usually I don't try new things before a big dinner like this, but from past years I've learned how stressful that last fifteen to twenty minutes in the kitchen can be, and I want to avoid it.  As for the turkey in a bag, my friends have done this and they love it.  I don't see how I can go wrong.

1.) Mashed potatoes.  I am the mashed potato queen in our family.  I've been in charge of making them since I was a little girl.  I LOVE mashed potatoes.  But nothing is worse than making them while whisking gravy, while carving the turkey, while checking on all the other dishes, while getting everything to the table.  So, I googled "Making mashed potatoes ahead of time" and read through a zillion suggestions.  I'm opting to make them about an hour ahead and put them in my large crock pot.  Have any of you ever done this? 

2.)  Cranberry Sauce.  Usually I get the cranberry sauce in the can and carve along the lines.  I'm not a big cranberry sauce lover, but one year I tried to skip it and it didn't go over.  It's a tradition.  So, I googled again, and what I came up with is that Trader Joe's makes a wonderful cranberry sauce for about two bucks.  I'm going to give it a try this year.  

3.)  Turkey Gravy.  Same issue as #1, but this year I'm going to bake 8 turkey wings ahead of time and then prepare a gravy from the drippings using a chicken stock.  On the day of Thanksgiving I'm going to pull that out and add my boiled giblets and some of the turkey drippings.  I hope it will make the gravy much easier. 

4.) Dinner Rolls.  My mom gave me one of her first cookbooks from 1968--Blue Ribbon Recipes.  These are recipes compiled from County Fairs that won the blue ribbon.  The bread recipes in it are wonderful--they always turn out.  I'm going to make about 50 rolls, place them in Ziploc bags and reheat them in the microwave before serving.

5.)  Smoked Turkey.  My husband and I practiced smoking a turkey about a month ago and it was delicious.  The smoker is a little tricky on cold days, but they're predicting the temps will be about 40 on Thanksgiving.  Our turkey is 17 pounds, so we'll probably start it at about 5:00 am and if it's done early we'll just set it aside and reheat.  I'm thinking I should start brining it on Monday or Tuesday.  Any suggestions?  The lady at the checkout stand said her husband starts a week in advance. 

6.) Traditional turkey in a bag.  My friends have said that turkey in a bag turns out moist and delicious every time and they'd never do it any other way.  I got a 17 pound Butterball and I'm going to give it a try this year.  Again, any suggestions or advice are always welcome!

7.)  Turkey Brine.  I'm looking for a good recipe for the brine, especially for the smoked turkey.  I'm not sure that brining my traditional turkey is a good idea since I went with frozen this year.  In the past I've ordered fresh turkeys, but I never tasted a difference.  This year I figured I'd just go back to the good ol' frozen variety.  But I have read that you shouldn't brine the frozen ones since they're injected with a sodium solution already.  Any thoughts on this?

As for pies, another family member is bringing those.  Whew! 

I'm setting the table a day ahead of time (Wednesday) so that won't be an issue on T Day. 

Here's my menu: (I'll be preparing it while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!)


Goat cheese rolled in cranberries served with crackers
Stuffed mushrooms
Crab dip

2 turkeys (smoked and traditional)
Giblet gravy
Mashed potatoes (kept warm in crock pot)
Stuffing (I use Stove Top because I grew up with and LOVE it.)
Green Bean Casserole (french cut green beans, mushroom soup, water chestnuts (chopped up small), and French's onions)
Green Salad (thinking about nixing the green salad this year)
Cranberry Sauce
Deviled Eggs
Cherry Salad (whip cream based)

Local wines--Townshend T3, Grande Ronde Cellars, Arbor Crest, and Barrister  (We'll have a couple Rieslings.)

Sparkling cider for the kids

Pumpkin and apple pie with ice cream/whipped cream

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?  How do you handle your menu and the time issues?  Do you watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?  Are you going to get out at 10 pm for the Black Friday sales?

And here's the final picture of the sunroom after we moved the furniture in. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let it Snow!

The horses LOVE the snow.  They are at their healthiest and happiest when it's 32 and snowing.  However, this morning they seemed a little too happy....and not all that hungry when I went out to feed.

Turns out, they pulled alfalfa bales down from our breezeway pile last night and had a feast.  They even wasted a bunch!

But that did not stop them from asking for more.

The goats going out for their morning walk.  We let them have the entire roam of the property all summer and they did great.

The sunroom project is coming to a close.  Today we'll move the furniture in after a few last minute touches.  In a month or so, we hope to install a wood stove.  So far, we LOVE it.

Happy Snow Day, Everyone!