Life on an Arabian breeding farm in Capitan, NM.

Monday, February 28, 2011

As Promised…


As promised yesterday was cold, and windy. What I did not expect was that there would be snow. There was to be little or no precipitation especially in the south. There were no 70 mph wind gusts (thank you Lord), but it was cold and windy. Personally for me it was a good day to be cold, and windy so I didn’t have to feel guilty about staying inside doing absolutely nothing. I was exhausted. I guess my body just isn’t used to riding every day anymore. It’s probably been more than six years since I’ve ridden this much. I’m in good physical shape, but I suppose I will have to give my body some time to get back in the routine of daily riding. There was a time my body wouldn’t have cared, but those days are gone. It’s the pits.

Today was a different story. I awoke refreshed (or at least not so tired), and feeling as good as the day was beautiful (well, maybe not quite that good). Today was Marina’s day to ride (moan & groan). Not only is she overweight (for her), but this winter her fur grew a little too long, and now she is shedding. While the little birdies in the barn surely appreciate this little nesting gift, it’s a pain. You brush, and brush, and it seemingly never ends. The worst part is having it fly up your nose. I hate that. It flies everywhere, and sticks to everything. The payoff is that the horses won’t look like fur balls. Marina especially with her fine iridescent coat glimmers in the sunshine during the summer months. Like Ibn she somehow remains clean, unless she sunbathes in the mud. Ibn is too prissy, he doesn’t like to get dirty, and he doesn’t. Don’t ask me how, but he doesn’t.


Having been ridden a few times, Marina is not only getting in shape, her energy level is increasing. She really wasn’t as high as she was the first few times we went out, she did however, have more energy. I took her straight down the road towards the grassy knoll I found with Ibn. She was fairly well behaved until she saw that knoll. It was just too tempting. After about five minutes she started trotting. I kept her at a trot because after all I’m supposed to be building up her stamina (like she needs it). We took the knoll as far as we could east, till we came to a fence. I hate fences, but like us, people have the right to fence in their land. While once you could have gone all the way to Ft Stanton, I don’t think there a way to do that anymore. Too many people have fenced in their land either for cattle or privacy. I could see the Spencer Theater though. It’s the slanted white building on the right of the picture.


Since we couldn’t go any further in that direction we turned back across the knoll. Then I found another trail. It went slanting down the ridge on the other side. We came across another maintained road, and followed that till it petered out. I was thinking we had gone far enough anyway so we headed back up the ridge. This time Marina couldn’t help herself when she came to the knoll, and took off at a canter. I let her canter only holding her from going into a full gallop. She had to have a little fun after all. She got all hyped again, but I keept her to a slow trot, and then to a walk the rest of the way back to our road. She wasn’t so pleased about that. When we got to the main road I looked at the pedometer, and we hadn’t gone as far as I thought. Ok, there’s another gas line road off to the left. It has a rather steep hill, but what the heck.


The road is nice for a while till it starts climbing, then it gets super rocky. In fact, at the top it is pure rock, like slabs of rock. I made her go down at a trot, and then up again until it leveled out when I brought her back to a walk. I saw a car, but then it went out of sight. When I got to the road I could see that it was private drive, and then I saw the gate. Oops, it was a gated drive. I came in the back way, that’s not fenced so I had no way of knowing. We turned around again. I was hoping to be able to go around in a loop, but that was not to be. We would have to go up that steep grade one more time. Marina wasted no time cantering up the hill of rock. I just hoped she knew what she was doing (which of course she did). We don’t shoe our horses because of breeding, and at that point in time I was very grateful for that seemingly small fact. I shiver at the thought of metal hitting those slabs of bedrock. That’s just me, silly child that I am.


Up Marina went without missing a step, or so much as stumbling over a single loose rock. I gave her, her head, letting her figure out the best way up. From that point on I had to keep reining her in because all she wanted to do was run after that. I kept telling her that she had to cool down before we got home. She really didn’t care, but she did walk. When we came to the last stretch, she calmed down, knowing we were almost home. She was in fact cool when we reached the barn. I checked the pedometer, and we have gone a little over eight miles just where I wanted to keep our rides for now. Later I will nudge it up to ten miles. I’m not sure how I will accomplish that once I start working. I will probably have to shorten our rides, riding in the evening except on the weekends when I will have the whole day to ride. They may not be as well conditioned, as I would like, still I think we can pull it off. Marina just goes and goes, and Ibn while slower, rarely breaks a sweat. During the summer it will be different, but if he’s in good enough shape, he still won’t get too sweaty. Their constitutions are so strong I don’t really think it will be a problem. We’ll have to wait, and see.

Tomorrow after I ride I have to go to town to get the mail, and Wed, I have to go get hay. One of these days I have to clean the barn stalls. Between the weather, and all the work that entailed, the barn has suffered. As long as I keep building up stamina, I should be able to go back to my routine of cleaning stalls every day, lets not get too ambitious, say every other day instead. Who knows maybe every once in a while I may even clean house.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Fine Morning…




I slept late only I didn’t know it because I hadn’t opened my eyes yet. It was so nice, warm, and comfy cozy in bed. In that space of time before you are completely awake everything is right in the world. There’s no pain, no cold, no worries, only the feeling of being safe, and protected, then the phone rang. That’s when I knew I slept late. I also discovered that it was a beautiful morning with no wind. If I hurried I could still get a ride in on Ibn. It was going to be another wonderful day.

Unlike Marina, Ibn needs constant, and consistent work. Whenever we’ve shown him Rudy has worked him just before the show, and Ibn has been less than perfect to say the least. I’ve often told Rudy that I think some of the problem is that we haven’t had the time to work him consistently. Each time I have worked Ibn these last couple of months, I have changed up our schooling routine, never doing the same thing twice in a row, and yet repeating the basics. Each day I have seen improvement, and each day he stops fewer, and fewer times. That’s his way of letting me know he doesn’t want to do whatever we are about to do. That’s why I carry the quip in my back pocket. Today he got a bit frustrated with me as I was trying to get him to do a side pass. He tried putting his head over the fence, he tried going backwards, he pawed in frustration, and eventually he accidentally did a side pass, in both directions as asked for.  Those are the moments you look for, and he got many praises for doing it. One of these days he will actually figure it out, and do it the first time.


I try to keep the schooling period of our workouts fairly short so as to keep Ibn from getting bored. Unfortunately, I forgot to put on the pedometer so we had to go back to get it. Ibn’s not very good about standing still, and these days it’s difficult for me to get up on him. Ibn’s 15 hands, making mounting him a long stretch for me. I had taken a muscle relaxer before working him so my legs stretched a bit easier than yesterday on Marina who is shorter. We went further on the road I had taken Ibn on the last time I rode him. We took it all the way to the end, which turned out to be not much further, and ended in a gate, Oh well. It did give me an opportunity to make him go up a rocky rise. He did not want to go up at all. Unlike Marina Ibn totally pays attention to where he is placing his feet. He’s also a bit of a woose. Yes he like all Arabians is a looky lou, with his ears going every which way listening to every sound, but he is also very careful where he puts his feet, and tentative about going over difficult terrain. It’s not totally his fault as for all practical purposes he was a city horse first, and a gentleman stallion when we acquired him. This is the first time he has had to deal with rises, and gorges full of loose rocky soil, and sometimes just plain rocks. There’s no sign of civilization where we ride, just rise after rise of never ending hills. Marina loves it, Ibn prefers the comforts of his stall with its long run, his mares close by, and his kids around him. He’ll learn, and he’ll change, and one day he will enjoy these excursions as much as I do.

Since we came to a dead end we went back, and took the road I had taken on Marina the day before. When we came to the large meadow I decided to follow it to the end to see how far it went. It wasn’t over grazed as I thought, but mowed. When we got around the bend I could see the fence line, and buildings on the other side. I could also see the definite rows of a mower, and cleared trees. I imagine the forest service maintained this beautiful meadow for fire safety. Like CA, and AZ fires are a big worry here. This grassy area would be great fuel for a fire if let go. We followed the road for a while, and I could see it went on, and on. I stopped for pictures, which Ibn was not pleased with. He really wanted to go home. I looked at the time, and we had been out long enough so I gave in to him. I was also starting to have problems with pain in my legs and arms. Ibn knew we were going home so he picked up the pace. When he started trotting my legs started giving out. I would have loved to let him trot, and even canter, but my body couldn’t handle it any more so I had to pull him in. When we got past Baker’s land with the two horses I’m not sure what happened, but the reins caught the pedometer, and knocked it off the breast collar. I tried my best to not have Ibn step on it, but it also meant I had to get down, and pick it up. I got off, and thankfully it hadn’t been harmed. I put it back on, but when I went to remount, I couldn’t do it. I had little to no strength left in my legs. There were nice deep ruts in the road, so I tried to position Ibn on the bottom of one of the ruts while I stood on the high part. Unfortunately that put him facing away from home, and he would have none of it. He wouldn’t stand still for anything, so I looked for another rut where he could face towards home, and I would still be on the high side.  It took a few tries for me but I finally managed it.


By this time I wanted to be home as much as Ibn did. Every muscle in my body was screaming at me, and they were not nice words. I didn’t want to go back down the road so we went across back through the meadow. At first Ibn wasn’t so pleased, but as soon as he figured out that we were still going home he was fine. We made it back to the barn and I slid off him. Rudy called about that time giving me a chance to recoup before I had to unsaddle Ibn. He stood patiently now that he was actually home. I unsaddled him and when I looked at the pedometer, we had gone almost eight miles. As with Marina I rinsed him down, towel drying him before I put him away. He had a little breakfast left over, and he attacked it with gusto. He deserved it. This is the most work he has had to do for a very long time.

Finally I made it to the house, took pills, and collapsed. I don’t know how I am every going to be able to do ten miles a day for three days. No matter how much I work at it instead of getting stronger, I keep getting weaker. It’s very frustrating, and I don’t know how to stop it. I think next time I go riding I will wear my back brace, well it’s not exactly a brace, it’s more like a corset. It supports my back, and that’s the important part. I slept a couple of hours getting up just before Rudy came home, and it was time to feed. At least I felt better. We had a wonderful evening, and so ended another day at the ranch.


Now that’s a new one on me…


Today was Marina’s day for riding. It was supposed to be yesterday, but it was an ugly day. Tomorrow and Sunday are going to be bad as well. I was hoping for maybe a morning ride tomorrow, but the wind has already started. By Sunday we are supposed to have 30 – 40 mph winds with 70 mph gusts. Definitely indoor days, my body needs a rest anyway. It was not happy with me at all today.  As soon as I got on Marina’s back I knew I was in trouble. Oh well such is life.

The day began beautifully. The only problem was I hurt, and after feeding everyone, I took one of my muscle relaxer’s. The only problem with that is this particular one puts me to sleep. I heard on the news that it happens to be one of the hot ones on the underground prescription drug list. Seems it’s very popular with people who have no reason to take such a strong muscle relaxer. Why anyone would want a drug that puts you to sleep is beyond me, but then again why anyone would want to take any drug is beyond me. I do what I have to, to remain ambulatory, no more. That put me a little behind schedule, so I didn’t get started till about noon.

Not being a fool I let Marina run herself out in the arena, brushed her down, and saddled her as normal. Marina is so good I don’t even have to tie her up while she’s getting saddled even though I do. I had to look for our breast collar it’s been so long since I’ve used it. I don’t need it, but that’s where I put the pedometer. Yes, I finally got one. Now I’ll know for sure how far we are riding.


In a lot of ways even though Marina is an uncomfortable ride for me, she is also a gas to ride. We did some schooling before we went out. It’s amazing to me that no matter how long it’s been since she’s been ridden she never forgets anything, well almost. She did mess up on flying lead changes, but was perfect on everything else. She even did a slow spin for me. The inside of my legs were tightening up so I didn’t do a lot of what she knows. She even remembered how to canter while doing a side pass. I don’t know what the proper term for that is in dressage language, but she does it flawlessly. If she weren’t so hyper she’d do great in dressage. Once I get her to do her flying lead changes again, maybe I’ll try lead changes in a straight line. I don’t know what they call that either.

It was a bit gusty when we took off, but strangely once we get past a certain point the wind cuts out. Marina wasn’t quite as high as she was the other day, still I had to hold her in at first. She settled down after a bit, and then I had to keep reminding her to watch where she was putting her feet. She is such a looky lou. Arabs are very aware of their surroundings, constantly looking for whatever might come out, and eat them. Marina just likes to look. She wants to take it all in. There’s not a sight, sound, or smell she is not aware of. On the other hand, she is so busy looking everywhere, she misses the fact that the ground is uneven, and stumbles. I had to keep reminding her to pay attention to where her feet were landing. When we would come to an especially rocky area, I’d have to tell her to be careful, because there were loose rocks.


We went past Baker’s land, and then went east. There are gas lines everywhere out there so there are plenty of roads to follow. This one seemed a well-traveled road so we took it. I had never been in this area (I haven’t been in most of these areas), so all the sights were new, and what beautiful sights they were. I love this country. Yes it’s all the same with large meadows, and areas thick with Juniper, and Pinion. There are steep gorges, and rocky hilltops, yet they are all different. The skies today were NM blue with a few high thin clouds sprinkled, here and there. The air is fresh, and clean as you can only find in the country. People think I’m crazy wanting to live out in the middle of nowhere where there is nothing to do. What they don’t understand is with all the beauty, and serenity that surrounds one here in the middle of nowhere, you don’t need to do anything. It is enough to simply sit, and allow the land, and sky to fill you. The city sucks the life out of you, while the country fills you with life.

We rode on only taking one break, and finally headed back home. It’s always faster going back so when we came close to home, and still had another half hour to go, I took another road that went west. This road crossed the hills, and valleys, so there were steep ups, and downs that Marina took at a canter. When I’m riding on the trail I let whomever I’m riding go at their own pace. They know better than I when it’s easier to trot or canter. Granted Marina gets a little carried away so I have to pull her back to a walk once the hard part is over, otherwise I let her have her head.


We got up to the top of one of those hills, and I figured we had used up enough time so we headed back towards home. Once at the barn I took off the pedometer to see how far we had gone, and it was about 6 ½ miles. Not quite 10 miles, but I was played out. My body couldn’t take anymore. We still have plenty of time to work up to 10 miles. Marina had gotten all sweated up, so in spite if the fact that’s it’s a bit chilly still, and we don’t have hot water at the barn I rinsed her off. I was careful not to get her too wet, squigged her well, and rubbed her down with a dry towel. Then I went back to the house got the truck, and went to get hay. I called before I went riding to make sure that Penny would save me 20 bales in case she ran low.


My body was still complaining, but too bad so sad, I had to get hay, and I had to unload it, and stack it. Once that was done I still had about 45 minutes before feeding time so I went back to the house, and died. Well first I took some Tylenol, and my afternoon meds, then I died. Now comes the weird part. When I went down to feed I fed all the barn horses then went back to Marina to brush out her fur. She was quite dry, but her fur needed brushing for the cold night that was coming. I did one side, then the other, and when I went under her belly I noticed that the inside of her back legs needed a good brush also. Imagine my surprise when I found her lactating. No she’s not pregnant unless someone got to her while she was at Sherry’s which I highly doubt since she was in pasture with her baby, and mini mares, and one mini gelding. I’ve never had a broodmare lactate so long after weaning, and it was good white milk too. I emailed Sherry to make sure that this was not that unusual in broodmares after a good workout. It’s a new one on me for sure, but then again this is Marina, and if anyone is going to do something off the wall for sure it will be Marina.  We’ll see what Sherry says tomorrow.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Duh I don’t know how to do that…


Today was Ibn’s day for riding. I have to give him credit for one thing, he wasn’t as barn sour as he has been. That doesn’t mean he was a totally good boy however. As usual he gave the girls a nicker or two on the way to the barn. We saddle up on the barn extension next to the tack room. His ground manners are perfect, well almost. He doesn’t like taking the bit into his mouth. Rather than fighting with him, sticking my finger into his mouth etc., this year I decided to try putting some molasses on the bit. He still makes a fuss, but he takes it. Moraddinn was great about taking the bit he just wouldn’t let go of it. What is it with boys?

We went into the arena to warm up, and he even stood still for me without too much trouble. We started walking, and I decided that today was going to be a schooling day. You have to keep changing things up or they get bored, and misbehave. I know I get bored doing the same thing all the time, I can just imagine what a horse thinks when they have to do the exact same thing every time you get on their backs. If you change things up it’s more fun for horse, and rider.

So today we were going to do some simple schooling, walk, trot, and canter. Ibn was cool with the walk, he even collected nicely after some prodding. After all walking takes no thought or energy. He minded my leg cues, and everything. Ok let’s trot. No, I want you to do it when I say, not when you decide you want to trot. Then I had to slow him down. I wanted him to do an easy trot, and I wanted him to collect too. I am so demanding. We got that down finally, and of course the next thing I asked for was for him to canter. That was just too much to ask for, so he decided to conveniently forget that he was ever trained as a show horse. It was as bad as training a green horse. All he did was trot faster. I hate it when they do that. You expect it out of a young’un who is just learning the ropes, but this was ridicules. He’s fifteen, and he definitely knows better. Out came the whip. I don’t like to use whips or spurs, but Ibn can be so stubborn that it’s the only thing that will make him do what he knows he’s supposed to do. Once he decides that he’s not going to get away with not doing what you want, you can put it away. He’s such a little brat.

I finally got him to canter, but not on my cue. Fine we’ll do the canter, stop, walk, canter thing. Eventually they get the drift of it, and do it on cue. Ibn was just being stubborn about it. We did this several times around the arena, and finally my leg gave out. Next time we will do the back up, canter, stop, back up, canter. That really refines the “do it on cue” idea. I did that forever with Moraddinn, again I think it’s a boy thing. Of course I’ve only ever had two boys, Moraddinn, and Ibn so I don’t really know if that’s true or not, it just feels that way.


We’ve worked for about an hour at this point, so I take him out on the trail. He’s getting real good about going up to the gate of the arena, letting me open it, back up, and go through.  When he wants to he’s great with leg cues. Like some people have selective hearing, he has selective memory. Ibn goes up the drive with no messing around until Marina screams. He stops, but not for long. This is a vast improvement from the first time we went out. He didn’t want to leave his mares for anything then.

I take him to the right (same way I went with Marina), and make him trot for a little bit. My right leg is still sore, so I don’t do it for long. Rudy told me to take him over ditches where he will have to jump, and I know where there are ruts where I can take him back and forth for him to jump over. That didn’t work, so I say forget it, and I stick with the rough terrain. We meander around going towards the road past the gate our neighbors put up to keep the ATV’s out. We come out just about where the two horses are, and Ibn says hello. I’ve never been beyond Baker’s land so we keep going up the road, and I do mean up. I find the end of Baker’s property and there are lots of side roads for us to explore. I keep on the main drag taking a few pictures. We’re now in the area where the little mountain between our house and the Sacramento’s is. I take a new view of the Capitan’s. We are higher up, and further south. I can get both mountains, and the saddle in one shot.


It’s just about time to go back, so we turn around much to Ibn’s satisfaction. Like all horses he has a great sense of direction, and knows when we are going home. Magically he’s walking faster, and perkier, even trotting. We have one steep hill to climb, and then for the most part it is down hill. He takes that at a canter no problem. All the way out he was doing lookey lou’s, tripping over his own feet because he wasn’t paying attention, always taking the easy route, avoiding anything that might be difficult. Now he doesn’t care, rocks, ditches, whatever, he’s game. Yes he’s still barn sour, but not as bad as before.


We get home just about the time I wanted, schooling for an hour, and trail for an hour. Ibn’s just fine, cooled down, not breathing hard, and perfectly happy to be home. I on the other hand am a wreck. I may have the horses ready for the Ft Stanton ride, but I don’t know about me. I put him away, go back to the house, and make myself a cup of coffee first off. Every muscle in my body hurts. I took a muscle relaxer, and some Tylenol before we left, but evidently it wasn’t enough. It’s a good thing I go to the chiropractor later. I try to lie down for a bit before I have to change, and go to my appointment, when Rudy calls. I’m exhausted, but talking to Rudy is far more important. Still and all I got a little nap, went to the doctor, got my pedometer, and came home in time to feed. I also got to see land I’ve never seen before. They say you can ride all the way to Ft Stanton on horseback. It’s supposed to be about 15 miles. I don’t plan on doing that, but there’s a lot of land to explore between here and there.

So what if I’m getting fat, old, and ugly with muscles that don’t want to work right, and keep me awake at night with pain. As long as I can still get on a horse, and ride where there are no fences, I can deal with the rest. Just think, tomorrow I get to do it all over again on Marina. I’m living the life of Riley.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Marina's turn...


Well there are three posts today for a very good reason. First the windstorm gave me problems, and I had the Internet only intermittently, or at least I thought it was the storm. I wrote my posts as usual, I just couldn’t post them on the Internet. Well today I finally decided something was terribly wrong, as I couldn’t get anything. I called our Internet provider, and they ended up replacing my modem. I’ve had problems with that thing for a long time, it just finally gave up the ghost.

Today as promised was a beautiful morning (weatherman gets a few points for that). I fed a little early so I would be able to get a decent start on the morning. I had to go back to the pasture to turn off the water, and as I rounded the curve, I saw a doe at the water tank. Unfortunately the gator is too noisy so I couldn’t get the camera out before she took off. The horses share their tank with a small herd of deer, and some elk during the rut. One of these days I will get some pictures of them. There were interruptions, so it was actually about 11:00 am before I went back down to the barn. Marina was taking a nap, and must have been really out of it because she didn’t get up when I brought the gator around. I went into her stall, and she was still lying down. I went over hoping there was nothing wrong, gave her some pets, and then went for her halter. When she saw the halter she finally got up as if to say ok, I’m awake. We proceeded to the arena, I unhooked her, and she took off like a bat out of Hades. I guess there was nothing wrong.


Marina carried on racing around the arena like a little idiot. All I did was stand in the middle, and take pictures. By the time she got done she was huffing, and puffing so bad I thought she would have a coronary. I tried to let her just walk around, but she knew we were going riding, so all she did was wait at the gate for me. I took her out, and started grooming her. That calms even Marina. By the time we were ready to go she was breathing normally again. She is so out of shape, and so fat for her, I decided we would just calmly walk around the arena for a warm up. Right. She did pretty good for Marina. We got around once before she had had enough of that. She started chomping at the bit going into a trot, and then a short choppy canter when I heard the dogs barking. I had told the Internet tech that I was going riding so it would be better if someone came in the afternoon. I walked Marina to the house, and there was Gray checking the DSL line. I asked if that was the problem and he said no, it had to be inside somewhere. I told him to do whatever. He knew where everything was having been here before, so I let him do his thing, and I went out the gate for a calm leisurely ride.

Well the leisurely ride lasted till we got down the road a bit, and turned to an ATV track down our property line. As soon as Marina came to a flat spot she wanted to take off at a gallop. I kept telling her it was going to be a long ride, and she needed to pace herself, to no avail. I rode her to a spot where she had to slow down because of the terrain. Finally she began walking till she came to a spot where the footing was sound again. I swear every meadow we got to she wanted to gallop across. She never did anything wrong, she never does, she was just so excited to be out on the trail, I had to fight her half the time to get her to walk, or at least trot at a normal pace. That’s all we’re supposed to do, slowly walk up hill, and down dale. Unfortunately slow isn’t in her vocabulary. Still it was a nice ride, and we covered a lot of ground.


We made it to where a neighbor is keeping a couple of his horses, and she said oh boy! She hasn’t been around strange horses for a while, so again I had to make her behave herself. I told her if we did the ride in July there were going to be a lot of horses she didn’t know so she had better get used to it. We walked, trotted down the road a bit, and then turned around to go back home. We had been out for approxamately an hour. The road is not kept up there, and there is a steep part that is very rocky. I told her to watch her step, and let her go. When the terrain is bad, they know best where to put their feet. Once you get to the top of the hill it is a maintained road, and she finally walked quietly. Unlike most horses, when she knows she’s at the end of the trail she slows down to try to make it last longer. What can I say she’s Marina.


Once at the barn I took off her saddle, and her whole front end was all sweated up. The last walk did cool her down however, so I wasn’t worried of her catching a chill. I brushed her out as best I could. She really needed a rinse down, but it’s still too cold for that so I put her in her stall, and went for the carrots I forgot to bring down. She gave me a good workout, and deserved a treat. Somehow that sounds backwards but that’s Marina. I don’t even want to think about her being in shape, and us going for a trail ride. Maybe by then I’ll be in better shape too. She thankfully ate her carrots, and went to finish her nap. By now I needed one too so I followed suit. She should have been a racehorse, and if I were into racing I would breed her to a good racing Arabian, and clean up. That’s a world I have no desire to enter. I wouldn’t mind the breeding so long as the baby were sold invetro. It would be cool to own the dam of a winning racehorse, so long as someone else owns the horse. I love racing, I just don’t like the racing world, and for the most part it is too cruel to the horses, unless very conscientious people who have a lot of money, and clout own them. I have neither. I would get chewed up, and spit out before I knew what was happening.


The rest of the week is supposed to be the same as these past few days, until Sunday I believe when the winds are supposed to be up to 60 mph gusts. The more nice days there are the more I can ride, and hopefully get both Marina, and Ibn in shape. Come Summer I can ride in the early evening. By then I should be working again, and my life, as a rancher will be over. If I could find a way to make money at home, or win the lottery, life would be perfect, and I could spend all my time running the ranch. Still I am grateful for the time I have had even if it has put us in the poor house. To be able to do the thing you love most is a precious gift if only for a short while.


The Winds of New Mexico


When we decided to move here six years ago, we fell in love with this beautiful mountain village. It was winter, and a good year for snow. I, being a desert rat, was concerned about the snow, but I was assured that it never lasted more than a few days. It never occurred to us to ask about the wind, and no one ever mentioned it. It wasn’t until I was searching for property in the spring that I first felt the extreme winds. When looking at one property northeast of Ruidoso, it was an exceptionally windy day. I asked of it always blew like this, and was assured that it was only a couple of months a year that the wind blew so. Silly me I believed them.

The first year here we had 65 mph winds (those have not been the worst), and it didn’t last for only a couple of months. I swear it blew all winter, and spring. The air above Albuquerque is truly unique which is why the balloon fest has become a worldwide event for balloon enthusiasts. If the conditions are just right, you can rise, fly around the city, and descend back where you started. It is a unique phenomenon of the thermals above the city. You go up, and across, rise, and catch thermals going in the opposite direction.

The White Sands are known for Holloman AFB, but no one talks about the wind effect. Nature created a truly remarkable place there. White Sands is not far from here, a few hours drive between the San Andres, and the Sacramento mountain ranges in the Tularosa basin. Long before you get there you can see the sands as a bank of white at the base of the mountain range. It’s not really sand at all, but a large Gypsum dune field, in fact the largest in the world. These are the marine deposits of a shallow sea, which were finally deposited in the Tularosa Basin. It is the freezing, and thawing, wetting and drying of the selenite crystals that creates the white Gypsum sand. On days like those this week when the wind howls, it carries the white sand aloft causing the Sacramento’s to seemingly disappear in a light fog. The wind breaks down the crystals until they are scratched and broken into beautiful white sand. Without the wind, there would be no White Sands, NM


The weather here is greatly influenced by the effects of La Nina, and El Nino. They determine whether we will have a mild winter or heavy snows, a dry year or a monsoon year of great flooding. When the jet stream dips down, and kisses the warm air of the south, there is needless to say turbulence. We have had up to 75mph winds, tearing branches off the trees, and sometimes toppling the trees themselves. I can understand why here in the south, the prevailing trees are Pinion, and Juniper. They can bend with the wind loosing at most a branch or two. We have lost branches but never a tree, and we have 41 acres of heavily wooded Pinion, and Juniper. We have one tree, that I swear is at least 200 years old, it is so big. That is how long it takes for a Pinion to mature. I hope when we finally leave that whoever gets this land will leave that one majestic tree to stand.

This year has been for the most part (discounting the two artic blasts so far) a mild, dry winter. The winds come up late morning, and generally are gusty as opposed to sustained winds. It makes cleaning stalls a pain, but riding is not out of the question. Before our artic blasts, and all the below 0 temps, I was able to ride quite a few days a week. The rest of this week is supposed to be the same. I rode Ibn before the windstorm, and again today. He wasn’t as good at the jumps today because I raised them, but he will rest tomorrow, and I’ll ride Marina. That should be interesting. I haven’t decided, but I may try jumping her. She knows what its all about and loves it. She gets so excited that if you don’t watch it you can get unseated as she does little cow hops after you jump. While both are perfect on the ground, Ibn is the exact opposite of Marina. He’s all laid back, and lazy, and she is all get up, and go. I get all tuckered out riding Marina from having to hold her back. With Ibn you can get all tuckered out trying to get him to move. Even though he was timid about the jumps today because he wasn’t sure he could jump them, he was all excited before the jumps. That’s just a matter of building his confidence. That I can do, it’s making him believe he likes something that is impossible. He likes jumping he’s just not sure he can do it. Lets just hope that there are enough nice days so I can get both him and Marina in shape for the Ride in July.


At long last…


I spent most of this morning on the phone again, and finally talked to Mother’s Social Worker. She at least gave me some usable information. The poor horses have to wait until I have talked to Mother, the nurses, and Father before they get fed. Mother will be at the re-hab center for some time, which I’m sure they will be most grateful for.

Today was an absolutely beautiful day. I’m getting spoiled again. Marina as usual greeted me first while I checked to make sure that the pipe I had to repair was dry. Hey maybe this day will turn out all right after all. I got everyone fed and happy, and carted myself off to Capitan. I had a list in my head of the places I had to go, and the things I had to do. Ok so I missed the first two stops, I’ll get them on the way back. I got to the Mercantile, and found the coupling I needed. I also got extras of the ones we were running out of. Next on the list was dog food, can’t run out of that.

I finished my errands, forgetting at least one thing of course, and started on my pipe. I had talked to Rudy about fixing the coupling. He told me what to do, and what not to do. I go down to the barn with all my gear in hand. He said I should only have to dig up about a foot of piping to be able to get the coupling off. Yeah right, in your dreams. I dig up about five feet of the pipeline, and I can finally slip the pipe from the coupling. Now the coupling I bought was a little shorter, but I figured it would still work, all I have to do is to pull the coupling off the other end of the pipe. Easier said than done, finally I unscrew the entire piece from the brass fitting. Try as I might, I cannot get the coupling off. The only other choice I have is to do exactly what Rudy told me not to do.


I take the one piece of piping with the coupling still on, and glue the heck out of all the joints. There’s no way this sucker is going to leak if I can help it. I take the sandpaper and clean out the inside, and outside of what will be the new joint. Now I have to try to screw the piece back on. I had to dig out some more dirt from the bottom in order to screw the pipe back on. Don’t ask me there just wasn’t enough room. I prime, prime again, and then glue the two pieces back together, slipping the pipe into the coupling. Then I take my primer and glue and slop it all around the joint. “Du Piece de Resistance” is of course Vet wrap. I love my vet wrap, and use it for everything. I let it sit for a while then up to the pump house I go to turn the water back on. I wait a moment to ensure that the pump is working correctly, and go back down to the pipe to see if it leaks. I yell out to the kids that they have the best mom ever. There are no leaks, yes!

Unlike Rudy I clean everything up, burying the pipe again, putting my tools away, and gathering up whatever is around, to throw in my bag. It looks beatimus. I do believe I have become a master plumber. My timing is perfect as it is now time to feed everyone. Of course Marina thinks she should have been fed as soon as I came down to the barn to work on the pipe. This time I was blessed to have a beautiful day in which to work my magic. The skies were clear, the sun warm, and a gentle breeze kept me from becoming too hot. What more can one ask for? At one point Lance, who is going through a growing spurt, decided it was time to play, and raced around his paddock kicking up his heels, bucking, trotting, running, and sliding. He was having such fun I couldn’t help but stop and watch. He can be such a silly. Already you can see the Aulrab characteristics changing him from a gawky teen to a handsome young horse. There’s a lot of Sadie in him too. She adds refinement to all her foals, giving them a more majestic stance.


Now as I sit writing the wind is howling with a fierceness I have only seen here. The storm was supposed to hit this afternoon, but instead waited till all were safe, and cumphy in their stalls with full bellies. There will be at least one day of winds, maybe two, then a small respite before rains spoil the weekend. The winds here can last days, before they blow themselves out. I’m used to storms that come, and go all in the space of an afternoon, not storms that stay long after they have worn out their welcome.

I’m off to bed with the wind singing its war chant through the trees. I will post this in the morning since I can barely keep my eyes open, besides the orchids need their sleepy time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

At long last…


I spent most of this morning on the phone again, and finally talked to Mother’s Social Worker. She at least gave me some usable information. The poor horses have to wait until I have talked to Mother, the nurses, and Father before they get fed. Mother will be at the re-hab center for some time, which I’m sure they will be most grateful for.

Today was an absolutely beautiful day. I’m getting spoiled again. Marina as usual greeted me first while I checked to make sure that the pipe I had to repair was dry. Hey maybe this day will turn out all right after all. I got everyone fed and happy, and carted myself off to Capitan. I had a list in my head of the places I had to go, and the things I had to do. Ok so I missed the first two stops, I’ll get them on the way back. I got to the Mercantile, and found the coupling I needed. I also got extras of the ones we were running out of. Next on the list was dog food, can’t run out of that.

I finished my errands, forgetting at least one thing of course, and started on my pipe. I had talked to Rudy about fixing the coupling. He told me what to do, and what not to do. I go down to the barn with all my gear in hand. He said I should only have to dig up about a foot of piping to be able to get the coupling off. Yeah right, in your dreams. I dig up about five feet of the pipeline, and I can finally slip the pipe from the coupling. Now the coupling I bought was a little shorter, but I figured it would still work, all I have to do is to pull the coupling off the other end of the pipe. Easier said than done, finally I unscrew the entire piece from the brass fitting. Try as I might, I cannot get the coupling off. The only other choice I have is to do exactly what Rudy told me not to do.

I take the one piece of piping with the coupling still on, and glue the heck out of all the joints. There’s no way this sucker is going to leak if I can help it. I take the sandpaper and clean out the inside, and outside of what will be the new joint. Now I have to try to screw the piece back on. I had to dig out some more dirt from the bottom in order to screw the pipe back on. Don’t ask me there just wasn’t enough room. I prime, prime again, and then glue the two pieces back together, slipping the pipe into the coupling. Then I take my primer and glue and slop it all around the joint. “Du Piece de Resistance” is of course Vet wrap. I love my vet wrap, and use it for everything. I let it sit for a while then up to the pump house I go to turn the water back on. I wait a moment to ensure that the pump is working correctly, and go back down to the pipe to see if it leaks. I yell out to the kids that they have the best mom ever. There are no leaks, yes!

Unlike Rudy I clean everything up, burying the pipe again, putting my tools away, and gathering up whatever is around, to throw in my bag. It looks beatimus. I do believe I have become a master plumber. My timing is perfect as it is now time to feed everyone. Of course Marina thinks she should have been fed as soon as I came down to the barn to work on the pipe. This time I was blessed to have a beautiful day in which to work my magic. The skies were clear, the sun warm, and a gentle breeze kept me from becoming too hot. What more can one ask for? At one point Lance, who is going through a growing spurt, decided it was time to play, and raced around his paddock kicking up his heels, bucking, trotting, running, and sliding. He was having such fun I couldn’t help but stop and watch. He can be such a silly. Already you can see the Aulrab characteristics changing him from a gawky teen to a handsome young horse. There’s a lot of Sadie in him too. She adds refinement to all her foals, giving them a more majestic stance.

Now as I sit writing the wind is howling with a fierceness I have only seen here. The storm was supposed to hit this afternoon, but instead waited till all were safe, and cumphy in their stalls with full bellies. There will be at least one day of winds, maybe two, then a small respite before rains spoil the weekend. The winds here can last days, before they blow themselves out. I’m used to storms that come, and go all in the space of an afternoon, not storms that stay long after they have worn out their welcome.

I’m off to bed with the wind singing its war chant through the trees. I will post this in the morning since I can barely keep my eyes open, besides the orchids need their sleepy time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yea! We have water at the barn, sort of….


Today was a nice peaceful, warm day, well at least the middle of it was. When I went down to the barn to feed, I checked the water in the barn, and was dismayed to find that there was still no water. This was after I spent about three hours on the phone talking to nurses, relatives, etc. I was actually upset with the nurse on duty in the ER, because she was the first person who would not give me any information over the phone. My powers of persuasion totally failed me. I didn’t push it because she really didn’t have any more information than I already had. Mother was going to be moved to Observation, and I knew that once there I could get all the information I needed.

Back to the barn, where I fed all the inside barn horses and proceeded to the outside horses. I went to check to see how much water was in the tanks, and lo and behold, I heard the trickle of water. It was the most beautiful sound I had heard in days.  I was able to fill the pasture tank, but I only filled Marina, and Lance’s buckets half full because the pressure was so low. There are a lot of lines at the barn, and our well can only produce so much water at a time. It’s in the wrong spot as we have two large underground rivers on either side of our property, either of which is capable of producing all the water we need, and then some. Of course that also meant that I wouldn’t be able to take a shower, but what the heck, I had a shower yesterday, and when we first got water at the house I had eight days with no shower. One day is totally no biggie.

I got all the animals fed, and was actually sweating with only a sweater on. We were having an actual heat wave. It was such a beautiful feeling to actually be sweating. Hey after days of below freezing temperatures I have a right to get giddy about a beautiful, clear, warm morning. I quickly got dressed, and off I went to town. First stop was the bank where I was trying to get some on line ID’s and passwords fixed. Come to find out the person I was working with was on a totally different page than I. No damage was done to my on line banking, but I still didn’t have my problem fixed. That’s about right, everything seems to not be going my way lately.

Next stop the post office to renew our box, get a package, and pick up the mail. Naturally I forgot to pick up the mail. The grocery is right down the street, so on I went for fruit, and nuts. This grocery has the best fruit in the area, so whenever I am close I stop. The last time I stopped, unfortunately I saw this beautiful orchid. I haven’t grown orchids in years, and I couldn’t help myself. I’ve always had problems getting them to bloom again so I stopped to talk to the florist.  There just happened to be a woman there who is an orchid collector. I was in second heaven. She showed me photos of some of her orchids, even minis. I didn’t know there were miniature orchids. She gave me a lot of information, things that I had never heard, or read of.


I left singing a happy tune. I went next store for some floral Styrofoam for my orchid, naturally no luck there. Next I tried Ace hardware that has everything, well almost everything. There’s no foam there either. I continue to my ultimate stop Walgreen’s. There are a couple of florists somewhere on the way, but I don’t see them. Just before you get to Walgreen’s, there is a nursery (one of the places I am forbidden to go to). I walk in, and immediately moan & groan, there are so many pretties. A young girl asks if she can help, and I inform her I’m not supposed to look at anything (as I wander among the beautiful plants, and planters), and ask if she has the foam I need. She says no, but the Dollar Tree has it. Just about that time I spy two orchids. The one lost its buds, but there are green shoots coming up. I can't help myself I ask how much. I wait (dreading the answer) while she pulls the orchid out of the pot it’s in, and replies $39.95. My heart sinks, as we are so tight on money I can’t afford to spend that much on a luxury. Then another girl comes over, and she says “with a 75% discount” My heart fairly leaps as I say “you mean there’s a 75% discount on these?”  Yes was the reply. I can afford that, and not feel guilty about spending the money. I ask about the second orchid she has, as its buds are still soft and green. She told me it was the same color as the one I wanted, so I just got the one for a little over $10. Now that's a bargin. I think it's the same orchid I bought previously, but what the heck for $10 I don't care.
Triumphant I continue on my way to the dollar store. Of course there are two Dollar stores, and the one I go to first is the wrong one.  I go to the next dollar store, and find the foam I need. By now I am feeling that all is right in the world, go down the street for my prescription, and head on home, stopping only for gas.

The boys (Taggit, and Bear), and Bree greet me, and clamor to see what I brought home. I tell them there’s nothing for them, but their tails wag as if I had brought them wonderful treats. It’s only about 3:00 pm so I have time to take my orchids out of their containers, and put them in bowls sitting on the foam exactly as the lovely lady told me. Of course the wood is totally dry, and makes a mess all over everything when I take it out of its container just as Rudy calls. We talk several times a day, and he wants to get an update on mother. I reluctantly put my orchid down, and talk to Rudy. Not that I don’t want to talk to him, I do, I’m just excited about my orchids.


We finish talking, and back I go to my orchids. I find bowls I like, cut the foam in half, and place the first orchid on the foam held down with the sticks holding the blossom. I wanted to water them before I put them in their new home. Well that didn’t work, and everything fell apart. Ok, so I soak the foam, and the wood, place the orchid on the foam, and push the wood back into the roots of the orchid. I do the same with the second orchid I bought. Its blossom stem broke off, which is fine since it wouldn’t have done anything anyway. I can’t keep them where I wanted (in the computer room where I spend most of my time) because they need sleep time, so one goes in the dining area, and the other in my bedroom. We have very little direct light in the house, and most of it is western light. That’s no good, I was informed by the orchid lady, it has to be morning light. The bedroom has morning, and the dining area, while having western light, has blinds closed to protect the birds from the heat, and cold of being close to the window. It should be ok. Of course later I put both orchids back in the computer room where I spend most of my time. What's the fun of having them if you never see them?

It’s now time to go feed. I didn’t know it then, but I was to be rudely brought back to the reality of running a ranch. I take the gator, and head to the barn. As I approach the water main I just repaired, I see a little river of water from my repair job down the road. I inwardly groan, as I was so careful to make sure that there would be no leaks. I go on to the barn, and find that the barn water didn’t turn off completely when I left in the morning. Another mess to clean up. I hit the shut off handle a couple of times with my foot, and the flow of water finally stops. I take the bucket that is overflowing, and dump the water in Lance’s bucket. Water is not to be wasted in the desert. I feed the barn horses, sweep out the water on the barn floor, and proceed to feed the rest of the horses. First I go down to the pump house to turn off the water, grab my bag of supplies, and return to the water main. Off comes the cover, and I inspect my plumbing job. There’s plenty of water, but I see no water seeping through the insulation of my repair job. Out of the corner of my eye, I see water flowing from the ground. We have no natural springs here. I get my shovel and start digging. I find the pipes, which are barely 6” under ground. No wonder they freeze, they should be at least 3’ underground. Of course it’s much easier to dig out 6” of dirt so I’m not too upset. I clean out the mud and water to expose the offending pipe. I see no cracks or breaks. There is however a 45-degree coupling, and the glue has deteriorated allowing the water to seep out.

I return to the house, as I can’t fix it now. The sun has set anyway, and it will soon be dark. I don’t believe there is a coupling like the one I need in Rudy’s plumbing box. I come back to the house, and start making phone calls. My aunt Gail left a message wanting to talk to me about Mother. First I call Gail, and we talk for a while. It’s time to call the hospital, and they inform me that there was nothing unusual in the CT scan from last night. I talk to mother and she is all over the place in her conversation. Father calls in the middle of the conversation, and I tell him Mother is making absolutely no sense. He got one number for the hospital wrong so I give him the correct number. He will call Mother in about 10 minutes so I can finish talking to her. I talk to Mother a little longer, hang up, and Robert (my brother) calls. We talk about Mother, and I tell him what the CT scan shows, which is absolutely nothing. I am frustrated because there is definitely something more than normal aging going on here.

When I finish with Robert, Rudy calls. He too believes that something is definitely wrong with Mother. We talk for a while, until he starts to fade. Now I too am beginning to fade, as it is now nearly midnight. At least the middle of the day was relaxing, and fun. I love plants, gardening, the whole nine yards. Here gardening is out. The land is caleche, and rock. If you manage to get plants growing the deer, and elk eat it so I haven’t done any gardening. Well that’s not entirely true. When we first moved here I tried planting some fruit trees, which promptly died, that is all except the pear tree, which the deer ate. I didn’t have any indoor plants, until Rudy went to the hospital, and the village sent him a philodendron. Now in addition to that I have a hibiscus, and my two orchids. My promised green house has yet to come to fruition. I pray that the orchids do well, and someday perhaps I will have more plants. Currently that seems an impossible dream, but if we don’t dream we have nothing to aspire to. I prefer to dream, and pray that one of these, day’s God will take pity on me, and let at least a few more of my dreams come to fruition. Who knows, someday we may even win the lottery. Of course I would have to buy lottery tickets for that to come true, but it could happen.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

And then there was more fun…


Well we had water for one day, and then the temps plummeted again, and you guessed it, no water. Anytime spring wants to come I’m game. Rudy went back on the road, and I hauled water. Well at least I got in one good shower. We froze for another two days, and then I got water in the house. Father went home from the hospital on Friday, but in the meantime Mother fell, and she ended up in the hospital too for a short time. I have to get them to move out here to Roswell.

The last two days have been beautiful, up to 52 yesterday and 60 today, but still no water at the barn. I decided to go to Ace Hardware, and get parts to fix the broken ball valve. I was certain that the valve was stuck closed, and replacing it would give me water at the barn. Silly child it couldn’t be that easy. I cut the pipe, and found a piece of ice at the bottom of the corner. The way these pipes are put together is scary. Instead of coming from the house the barn main comes from the middle of the road. That means the water comes from the house to the barn. There is a tee going across to the side of the arena, and up to the water main, then back down to the automatic waterers. Right, it makes absolutely no sense just like everything else around here.


I dug down around the bottom of the corner, put fiberglass on the ground covering the corner then covered it with dirt. You see they didn’t bury the pipes deep enough, and I don’t really feel like digging up the whole line to insulate it, at least not now. Maybe during monsoon season I’ll think about it. I put in the coupling (that’s the professional word I was told), the ball valve, and then straight pipe in between. I left enough room so if this needs to be done again there’s more pipe to play with.

It’s now 3:00 pm, and I still have to water the horses. It takes three tanks to get everyone some water. I start with the mares. The outside mares fight when I first get them water till one of them has enough, then the other gets her fill. Little Big Man is getting more aggressive about getting his turn. Lizzie, kicks the waterer, bites the wire fencing between them, and does everything in her power to keep LBM away. She’s a TB and she can’t skinny her head down deep enough to get the water when it’s low. LBM being a baby still can, and that really ticks her off. I let her show her dominance up to a point. LBM needs to learn that mares rule, and young’uns need to learn their place. Horsy etiquette is especially important if we are to keep him a stallion. It will make it easier to teach him in the future.

I empty one tank, and get another tank full. I feed everyone first, then fill the boy’s tanks. There’s a little left, which I give to the pasture mares. They drink it all up before I can leave to get another tank full for them. It’s starting to get dark, but I only have this one tank to go. I will fill them the rest of the way tomorrow.


I did get my laundry done, but the rest of the house is a mess. It seems I haven’t stopped since the cold snap, and it’s supposed to get cold again on Wednesday. I did get to play with the kids while watering. Ser-Haat has gotten so good. He let me groom him while he was waiting for the tank to fill. I sprayed his mane, and tail, and they glisten in the light. Ser-Haat hasn’t started shedding yet, but I used the curry on him anyway.

Lance is growing like a weed. It took him a while, but he is finally growing taller. He is going to be a beautiful young man. He has that Aurab neck which is so powerful, and Jeri’s delicate head. His mane and tail are thick like Ibn’s, and long like Jeri’s. I love watching the kids grow. Each one is different. Some grow evenly, and never seem to go through the gawky stage. Some, like Storm look terrible until they are about three or four. Storm is just now coming into his own. Sierra (LBM) is downhill now. He looks so silly with his back end higher than his front end. I was able to get pics of his cottontail with the dun stripe in the middle, his freckles under his tail, and his eyes. They still haven’t turned completely, but I think they will be hazel. I wanted green but hazel is close. Soon I hope to introduce him to Marina with Lizzie in the arena. He has to be able to get along with mares as well as the boys.


It was a long day, and I’m beginning to fade. It would have been a perfect day to ride. Oh well perhaps the pipes will unfreeze tomorrow. It would be nice. One of these days I may even get to the house. It could happen, you know. I just want warm days where I can play with the horses, clean my poor barn, and get in a ride or two. Running a ranch is wonderful. The only problem is that maintaining a ranch is a lot of work. I don’t like being bored so I can’t complain. It’s a wonderful life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why can’t life be a little more boring?


First thing on the schedule for today was to get a plumber to repair the leaking pipe. I had gone outside for a minute, and didn’t hear the phone ring. There was a message from my mother. I was going to get to it after we got the plumbing situation taken care of. Because of the extreme temperatures, half of Ruidoso, and Capitan have burst pipes. Rudy found a plumber in Capitan, but no go. He couldn’t get out here for a while he was so backed up. Meanwhile, I was looking for a business card from a gentleman we sold our tractor to last summer. He does remodeling, and I figured he would know of a good plumber. As it turns out it was a good thing that the plumber Rudy called was too busy because Steve said he had used him, and was not pleased. He gave Rudy the name of a plumber in Ruidoso who was good, and fair. Unfortunately, he was booked solid until Friday. Finally Rudy called Collin. He did our new leach field, and Rudy found out (Yellow pages) that he has expanded into plumbing as well. He too was extremely busy, in some cases having to re-plumb whole houses, but he knows us, and knows we have livestock so he said he would try to get someone out here today. Yes!

I started answering a few emails when Mother called again. She was very upset. During the night Dad woke her and told her to call 911 because he was having chest pains. My Father will be 87 in July. In 1975 he had double bypass surgery. He has had a few episodes since then, but it generally was due to the fact that he forgot to take his medicine. Other than that surprisingly, he hasn’t had any problems through all these years. My Mother is on Oxygen, and has severe Fibromyalgia. She has to use a cane at times or a walker, and is very frail. She will be 83 in June. The EMT’s told her that they were going to take him to St. Joseph’s Hospital, and that the hospital would call her. She had to stay at home because she can’t drive. Well she hadn’t heard anything, and was frantic by this time. I told her not to worry I would find my Father.

They live in Tucson, AZ in an Independent Care facility. They just moved there this past fall. Mother didn’t want to move, but she had fallen, and had another concussion, and the doctors said the next time she might not survive. This was her third concussion, one of which was so bad they had to do brain surgery, and pick out the solidified fluids in her brain. She was knocked unconscious, and therefore didn’t know she had fallen. It was two weeks later that she started having problems, and was rushed to University Medical Center. Of three surgeries her surgeon had that day, all with the same problem, she was the only one to survive. Anyway I finally convinced her to give up the home they had been living in for over thirty years, and move to an independent care facility.

Getting back to Father, I called St Joseph’s, and they had no record of him being admitted. Rudy told me to call the fire department, but I couldn’t find that number, so I continued calling hospitals. I also had to email my brother, and let him know what was going on. Mother tried calling him, but he didn’t answer. Rudy found the number for the fire department, explained the situation, and then turned the phone over to me. He’s not immediate family so they really didn’t want to give him any information. Also they were asking question he didn’t know the answers to. I talked to a wonderful person named Norma and gave her all the information I knew. She said she would find out where my Father was, and have the hospital call me.

Norma was fantastic. Rudy left for Alamogordo, and shortly after that, I started getting calls. Father was at St Joseph’s, and had been admitted for observation about half an hour earlier. I spoke to his nurse, but she couldn’t really tell me anything except that he was doing fine. The doctor hadn’t written anything on his chart yet, but she would call me in about an hour (yeah right, that never happened). I still had to feed. Then I got a message from a person named Ed Marsh. He gave me a number to call only it was the wrong number. Why am I not surprised? I finally tracked him down, and he told me that they believed it wasn’t a heart attack, but a gastro problem. With his history, and his age they weren’t going to take any chances, so they were keeping him for observation overnight, and tests. Ed felt that Father would probably be released the next day.

I tried calling Mother but there was no answer, so I emailed Robert (my brother) and gave him an update. Mind you we still have all these problems at the ranch to take care of, and the horses still haven’t been fed. Off I go to feed the horses, and give them some snow to eat till we get the plumbing fixed. Some still had a lot of snow, but others had no more left in their stalls. They may have been thirsty, but food was top priority.

I got them all fed, went to the house to feed the rest of the animals, and then sat down to try to reach Mother. This time she answered. She was still frazzled, as she hadn’t heard anything from the hospital. I told her I found Dad and gave her all the information including his room number so she could call him. Needless to say she was greatly relieved. One of the first things she said was “you need to be here” With her deteriorating health, and memory, she can’t do the things she used to. While we were talking, Rudy called, and said Collin called and would have someone out today. I talked with Mother a little while longer, and by the time we were finished, she felt much better, and quite relieved.

Next I had to get hold of my brother. While all this was going on we lost our Internet line. In fact the only phone that worked was our main phone. All the extensions couldn’t connect. I had two numbers on my cell for Robert so I called the first. Well that was a Baptist Church, so I knew that number was no good. They had moved a couple years ago, and I figured it wasn’t a good number anymore, but I tried anyway. I called the second number, which turned out to be his cell so I got him up to speed. I also asked him to call Mother as this had really scared her, and she needed to talk to him. I also gave him Fathers number so he could call Father.

Finally I could sit down for a minute, when Rudy called, and said a couple of Collin’s guys would be here shortly. So much for that rest period! They showed up about fifteen minutes later. I took them out back where the leak was. It was one of the pipes connected to the water heater. Luckily, it was easy to get to as it was on the edge of the house. We took out one piece of skirting, and the pipe was right there. It was a little more complicated as there was a T joint involved. Still, and all, it only took about twenty minutes and they had it all done. I went down to the pump house to turn the pump back on while they watched for leaks. The pressure was holding and they could see no water or drips. Water at last!

It took a little while for the pipes to fill up so I took the opportunity to have a cup of coffee, and eat a grapefruit for breakfast. Once the pipes filled the first thing on my list was to empty one of the johns. The horses could wait that long. I went down to the barn, and opened the pipe down there. I went round to the automatic waterer’s, and had to chisel out ice. Some of them I had to chop out ice from the floats, as they were frozen solid. I got the water tank, put it in the gator and went up to the house to fill it. Two of the barn horses have buckets and water wasn’t getting to the far side of the barn. I got them first, checked the boys (whose tanks were filling up already), and ran up to the house to put air in one of the back tires. With the weight of the water tank (65 gallons), it was flat as a pancake. By this time Rudy was back with gas for the generator. The pipe in the barn was frozen and I couldn’t even turn on water. He was very frustrated and disgusted. The generator wouldn’t start. I told him it didn’t like me, and it was punishing him for letting me try to start it. He didn’t buy it. I told him not to worry about it, it’s nothing to haul water for the two barn horses. He went back to the house and was supposed to wait for me to fill the tank again and help me with the pasture horses. Well he didn’t quite make it. I found him taking a nap. Doesn’t matter, I’ll figure out something.

I got the water tank down to the pasture horses. They knew exactly what it was and were quite miffed that they were the last to get water. I went inside to look at their tank, and try to break up the ice. Silly girl, there ‘s no way on God’s green earth that I was going to be able to get rid of that ice. The girls were clustered around me, and the tank so I made a break for it. I ran up to the gate, while they stared at me as if to say, “what the hay are you doing?” Quickly I opened the gate, got the gator inside, and the gate closed before they reached me. As usual there was plenty of left over hay in the dump, so that kept them occupied instead of causing trouble for the most part. Lightning as always, wanted to see what else was in the gator to play with.

It takes a while for 65 gallons to empty so I took the opportunity to brush Sadie. I started by skirtching her forehead. She had her ears laid back (she’s so tough), and slowly but surely her head dropped lower and lower with her ears pinned back. She had all these scabbies on her forehead most of which I got out, but it bothered me. I checked her neck (she practically purred with that one), and it was clear but her back was not. Out came the currycomb, and I brushed her down real good. Sadie was in second heaven, still with her ears pinned back. She has to let you know that she’s a real tough cookie, right.

Next Lightning came over to see what she was missing. She is four, and trying to prove that she’s a dominant mare now. She runs away from me, but then her curiosity gets the better of her, and up she comes. I gave her pets and started brushing her. I also measured her, and she is now at 15.2 hands with more growing to do. She just might make it to 16 hands after all.

Whenever I’m in the stalls or the pasture doing something I always make time to groom the horses. It’s a natural thing for animals to groom one another. It strengthens the bonds between them. Humans are the only animals that don’t seem to do this. I love it, and so do the horses. Arabians especially are very connected to their humans. They need the show of affection, and closeness of their humans. They not only love hugs, and skirtches, but also will seek them out much more quickly than some breeds. To them it’s a show of affection, a bond between human and horse that is magical. It’s not a chore, but rather a special time to connect, and become one with your best friend. It is as special for me as it is for them.

Finally I’m done. They’ve had their fill of snacks, and water, and are contentedly standing around. I make a dash for it, and get through he gate before they catch up to me. I’m all puttered out, and the only thing I want by now is a cup of coffee, and a little something to eat. Unfortunately I didn’t look at the time but drank my coffee with tortillas, and cheese. When I finish I look at the time thinking that I might be able to take a small nap. Think again ding-dong, oops it’s 5:24 pm, and way past feeding time. Off I go back to the barn to feed. I get everyone fed including the dogs, and go to wake Rudy from his nap. His head hurt too bad for him to eat which was a good thing since I’m not hungry any more, and I certainly don’t feel like doing anything like fixing dinner. We both sit in our chairs watching TV as we have no energy for anything else. Rudy goes to bed early, and after a while I sit at the computer to write. I still have to clean the house, which is a total disaster, wash clothes (I have nothing left that’s in any way clean), get hay, run to Alamo, pay bills. And do my chores down at the barn. I’m tired just thinking about it. It has been a long stressful day and it’s time for this child to pass out.