Life on an Arabian breeding farm in Capitan, NM.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Beautiful days…

The last few days have been absolutely beautiful. Sunday I didn’t do much of anything. I don’t know why but there are days when I’m just too tired to do anything. Sunday was one of those days. Yesterday was much better, and I decided to work the horses that April, and I hadn’t gotten to. First I took Lizzie out.  As I went past Jeri I discovered that either she was just coming into season or just going out. Normally she pays no attention to the stallions, not so yesterday. It wasn’t overt, but she nickered interestedly as we went past. She started out cantering in the round pen, all excited to be doing something different, then settled into a nice trot. At least for a while she did. In her old age she has gotten very lazy. I had to prod her some but we got in a good exercise session. Then when I put her back into the pasture she took off running, and bucking letting everyone know that she got to go out and play. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try putting a saddle on her.

Next came Sadie who despite her age shows no sign of petering out. She has the most beautiful trot, and will do it endlessly if you ask her. She has filled out quite nicely, but needs some exercise to fill out her top line. She now sports a round belly (not too unlike my own), a nicely filled out back, and good haunches. Her croup is still bony, and I’m hoping that exercise will take care of that problem. She’s a total fur ball, and absolutely filthy. I’ve brushed her out, but she manages to get muddy every time there’s even a little moisture on the ground. Marina (our other gray) always looks clean, and Sadie always looks dirty, go figure. Still, and all she really enjoyed getting out, and strutting her stuff like the hussy she is.

Next I took Sierra out. He walked out of his stall like a perfect little gentleman. Unfortunately since he now knew he could run, and play in the round pen he decided that he could do what he wanted, and not what I asked him to do. We worked a lot on the “reverse” command, and he sort of got it, but not quite. Hey it was only his second time out, and he’s still a baby. I did manage to measure him, and no he hasn’t really grown. He’s still 13.1, and he is totally downhill. Typical of a two year old he’s all out of proportion. They’re adorable as a weanling, and through their first year. Their second year you begin to wonder if you made a mistake, and try to keep them hidden as they never look like they will ever amount to the horse you had in mind. It’s not until they’re about three that everything comes together, and they start looking like the horse you dreamed about. Hopefully he will grow this summer. Even though his dam is only 14.3, his sire is 15.2. Accordingly to his measurement at about 6 months, he should come out about 15 hands, which is just right for my taste. Only time will tell.

Now all this time Espree is standing at her gate watching everyone but her get to run, and play. She doesn’t have a halter on because she kept rubbing it off one ear causing the other side of her face to rub raw. I finally just left it off. The only problem with that is that she doesn’t like to get caught. We decided years ago that she must have been ear twitched before we got her. Rudy got her to the point where he could put the halter on easily, but she has not been so good to me. It took forever for me to even be able to come up to her without her running away. Luckily she loves to be brushed, and I used that to my advantage. I wasn’t sure she’d let me put her halter on, but I was very patient, and after a considerable amount of time (playing her runaway game) she finally let me halter her. The funny thing is once you catch her she’s a perfect lady. She has wonderful ground manners. I worked her, and again I was amazed at the power of her stride. Espree is a powerfully built mare. She has filled out nicely, and is back to her normal weight. She needs to build up her shoulders, and chest a bit, but not much. Like Marina she is pure muscle only in a taller package. It will kill me to let her go before we have a foal out of her. Her only flaw is that she toes in slightly. Of course a lot of that could be corrected with a good trimming, but she has black hooves, and I know I don’t have the strength to file her feet. I have to depend on mother earth for that.

She had a good workout, or at least as much of a workout as I wanted to give her. None of the girls have been worked in a while, and just like us they can get sore muscles if worked too hard after not doing anything for a while. I kept all their sessions short, which left time to clean the barn, and get to Marina’s stall. All the stalls need to be cleaned, but just like the horses I didn’t want to over tax my muscles either. It was a good day. Even Marina, and Star got some exercise as I threw them out in the arena while I cleaned Marina’s stall. Of course I chased them first. They are beautiful to watch with endless energy. Marina is a bit stout just now, and needed the workout. Star is young, and so needs to run just to keep her sane. They both had their fun, and I left them to wander, and pick at whatever little dried grass they could find while I cleaned Marina’s stall, and paddock area.

That was yesterday. I felt great then, not so much this morning. I was a bit sore, but not too bad, or so I thought. April was supposed to come over today, only her mother was out of sorts, and she didn’t want to leave her alone. That was ok, I had planned on working Stormy, and Angel with the saddle, but as usual nothing works out the way I plan it anyway so it was no big deal. It was still a beautiful day so I went to tackle Star’s stall. God she’s a pill. Like all the youngsters when you come into the stall they think you’re there to play with them. To some degree they’re all pests, but she is exceptional. First she kept trying to get her halter off its hook, which she could just reach with the stall door open. The gator is against the stall door (for the purpose of collecting the manure), and every time I had a shovel full I had to move her out of the way. She dutifully moved with the speed of a snail, and then went back to playing with her halter as soon as I went back for another shovel full. 

That went on until she got bored, and started playing with the gate handle. That was considerable better since then I could go unimpeded to the gator delivering my shovels of manure. Well in playing with the gate she discovered that she could close the gate. That was way more fun because not only did I have to push her out of the way, but I now had to try to open the gate holding my shovel of manure. I finally got tired of that game, and chased her out of her stall into the paddock area where I was cleaning. This was still mildly entertaining. I’d chase her out, and she’d go right back in.

Finally (three loads later), my back was screaming in pain, and I said enough even though I had time to do at least one more stall. I guess I’m out of shape too. With the snow, the wind, and the rain I haven’t cleaned stalls for a while. My body was not pleased in the least. I proceeded to come back to the house, and my heating pad. Everything from my waist up hurt. Every movement was sheer pain. I couldn’t wait until it was time to take my pain pill, to which I added some Ibuprofen, and a Tylenol PM. That of course put me to sleep for a little while at least. When I woke up I could at least move. After feeding everyone I spent the rest of the evening on my heating pad (which I normally do anyway). It will be a difficult night of fitful sleep, but at least I got something accomplished, and that’s a good thing. Tomorrow I may try riding Lizzie before I attack another stall. She should be fine to ride. I just want to get her in shape, and make sure she’s rideable before I try to find a retirement home for her.  I’ll wait for April to come over before I work with Stormy, and Angel. Stormy will take a while before anyone gets on his back, but Angel should be fine the next time we work her. Rudy did start her once years before, and she was very good about it then. Still and all I won’t attempt it with no one here but me just in case. I’m not a total fool after all, or am I? One has to be at least half crazy to do all this stuff at my age without having the faintest idea of how to do what needs to be done. At least I’m enjoying myself, and lets face it, I never get bored.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crappy weather…

Well we’ve had some good days, and more not so good days (freezing cold, rain, snow, and of course lots of gale force winds). We do have water thanks to warmer weather, and I have figured out a way to cut bigger wood though I now sport a nice blister on my thumb. What fun. Since my coffers are now full, and I’m not hauling water I’ve actually had time to work some of the horses. April now has physical therapy for her hand twice a week (they think she has severe tendonitis). Great, but not being a person to let that stop her she has been able to help me out some.

We took Little Big Man out to the round pen for the first time. He wasn’t too sure about leaving his stall, but he is very trusting, and led beautifully. Then there was that big leather thing (saddle) next to the round pen. He was sure it was going to attack him, and cautiously went around it through the gate. He didn’t know what to make of the round pen. After a little encouragement he figured out that I wanted him to trot in a circle. I’m sure he was saying to himself, this is really stupid, but quickly learned that for whatever reason, that’s what I wanted him to do. He let out a few bucks (after all he had to have some fun) then was trotting, and cantering like a pro. He is going to be a joy to ride when he grows up. He has the smoothest gate, and movement like his dam. In a lot of ways I can’t wait till he grows up, and I can ride him. Then again he will only be a baby for a short while. His temperament is still so mellow it’s hard to believe he came out of Angel. At his age she was a little wild Indian, and full of it. As an adult she’s sweet, and very sensible, but you wouldn’t have known it then. He got lots of praises, and cuddles when we were done, and I hope to take him out regularly, not too much because he’s still a baby but a little like maybe once a week or so.

Next was Stormy. He has gotten very good with April letting her go right up to him to put on his halter. He’s also getting the idea that a halter means he gets to go out, and play, which is probably why he’s so willing. He did very well so we decided to try the saddle. First came the blanket (that was a trip), but after a few tries we were able to put it on, and off, under his belly, around his haunches, and around his chest. We walked with it on, and he decided that wasn’t so bad after all. It really didn’t hurt the least bit. He did so well we decided to get the saddle. Now that was a bit more for him to get his mind around. I gently put it on, and he shied but accepted it at least for a minute or two, then he bucked that thing right off. Well that wouldn’t do so we started all over again, first the blanket, then that scary saddle. It took a while but he finally decided that it was ok too, and we walked around with it on for a bit. I didn’t cinch it not wanting to ask too much of him. He did a good job, and was well praised for it.

All that was last week. Today was a nice day so after April, and I got hay we took Stormy out again. Both April, and I worked him, and April noticed that his feet were a mess. Winter is bad because there’s snow, then rain then hard dry footing so the horses that are stalled (at least some of them), don’t get their feet worm properly as they do in the summer. They get cracks, and chips, and look terrible. April asked if he would pick up his feet, and I told her I didn’t know. He did when he was a baby, but after his incident nothing was ever the same. He’s a sweet loving boy, but is very wary. She picked up his one front foot, then the other, and then went to his back. The one side she didn’t have too much trouble with, and after a couple of tries he picked it up just fine. Then she went to the other back leg, and that was a totally different story. He wasn’t about to let her pick that foot up. She went to his front, and he was ok, then the back, and he said no way Jose. After several attempts, much cooing, and soft talking he all of a sudden decided that we weren’t going to stop till he gave April his foot, and let her pick it up just fine. Man did he get the pets, and hugs, and praises then. When something clicks in their brain you reward them by not making them work any more, and making sure that they know they did good. He was so proud, he knew he really did something special. We took him back to his stall, gave him more praises, and lots of hugs. He was a very happy camper. Next time we will work on getting the saddle on again, but it has to be fun so I don’t ask too much of them all at once. He’s still very young, and I don’t want to sour him.

Angel came next. Since we are going to have to sell or lease most of our horses (all but four) I need to get as many of them under saddle as possible. Rudy started Angel way back when we lived in Auberry, but that was like seven years ago or so. We worked her in the round pen for a while first. It took a few times for her to remember what she was supposed to do, but she did just fine. I settled her down a bit by brushing out her mane & tail, which are both very short since she’s been in pasture, and then I started with her feet. She used to be fine, got regular trims etc., but after the first time we went to breed her we haven’t been able to touch her back feet. Up until we moved out here we always used a breeding hobble on the mares. Well we put them on her, and as soon as she started to walk she freaked big time. We gave up, and bred her without the hobbles, and she was so good about it that we haven’t used them since. The bad part was that she wouldn’t let anyone get near her back legs for anything.  Well when we put her in pasture she had some differences with a few other mares (she won), and scraped up her back leg. I had to put salve on it for a bit, and she decided that ok, I could touch her back legs. I still hadn’t tried picking them up, so today after I brushed her I picked up all four feet, and cleaned them without any trouble. I was very proud of her. Next came the saddle. She was being such a good girl I couldn’t just stop with the feet. April brought out the blanket, and after a few sniffs, she let her put it on. She was a little unsure of the saddle, but April does everything extra slow, and we got it on, and cinched up without too much trouble. I worked her for a bit with the saddle on, then tightened the cinch, and worked her a bit more. Next April worked her while I went to the barn to get something to drink. When I got back Angel was standing stock still with no one holding her, and I must say I was impressed she was so good. April wanted to show off so she got the lead rope back, and she got up, and down in the saddle. She didn’t put her leg over, but Angel stood like a champ with her getting up, and down. I was very proud. Angel got lots of praises, and when we put her back in pasture she got more cuddles.

All in all it was a very good day. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice again, so I want to work Sadie, Lizzie, and maybe Espree, and LBM in the round pen. Sadie we don’t ride anymore for two reasons, first she has a huge knot right below her ear, which is melanoma in her gland right where the bridle goes. Secondly when she gets over excited she will colic, and go down. Then I have to give her a shot and, walk her forever before she’s ok again. That being said that doesn’t mean she can’t get a work out since she’s now getting fat in all the wrong places if you know what I mean. Lizzie is just as bad, she has this huge hay belly, and her haunches are sunk in. I know it’s age (they’re both in their twenties), and lack of exercise so they are going to start being worked again. Lizzie when I get her in better shape is going to get a saddle on her so I can make sure she is ridable. It will be easier to find a home for her that way. I want to get Espree under saddle this summer, and LBM just needs a work out. If I still have time, and it stays nice I may ride Marina. I had both Marina, and Ibn in great shape last year at this time, and now Marina’s a bit too chunky, and Ibn looks like a skinny colt again. He’s rather narrow, and unless he’s worked regularly he gets too thin. Marina on the other hand is such a powerhouse that if she isn’t worked all that muscle turns to fat.

If we weren’t in such financial straights all this would be so much fun, but it’s hard when you are worrying all the time about whether or not you will have enough money just to feed everyone. Between April, and I we could really make things work if we had the financial wherewithal to do so. Oh well somehow we will manage, and if I can get more horses under saddle maybe I can even sell some. It’s pathetic what good horses are going for these days.  Stud fees are way down, and there are more horses out there under $1000 than you can shake a stick at, and they’re not all crap horses either. Unfortunately horses are a luxury item, and in these hard times people can’t afford to feed them.  I have faith though, and we will survive somehow, I’m not sure how, but that’s not my job. I take care of the little stuff, and God gets to take care of the big stuff. Granted it feels like He’s sloughing off, but maybe He has a big surprise waiting for us, the good kind that is (just in case You’re listening), I’ve had enough of the bad kind for a lifetime or two.

That’s about all I have for now. Winter is boring, because you spend most of your time inside doing wonderful things like cleaning house or whatever. Not my idea of fun. Of course I can always start working on the books so I can turn in our financials to the tax accountant, but who wants to do that? I know I have to get working on it, but since there are sunny days ahead we’ll leave that for another day, after all I still have a couple of months to get it all done. Good thing I’m not a procrastinator!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I have a tale of woe, but that is for a later post, for now I’ll try to catch you up on everything that has happened in the last two months, or at least what I can remember. Rudy has managed to stay away from hospitals, so my Father decided it was his turn. This time they put in two stints (about time). I recently talked to my Father, and since they changed his medication he has been getting dizzy (from lack of sleep), and finally took a spill himself. Mother is usually the one, and not to be outdone she took one too. He did a good job of it, splitting open his head, but no concussion (thank you Lord for that). He is buying us a 394 gal tank (Christmas present) that I can keep at the house so if we get into water issues again I can keep that water heated, and siphon it out as needed for the horses. Most of my time the last two months has been divvied up between hauling water, hauling ice to make water, and cutting wood. He also bought me a chain saw for Christmas only I can’t start it so it’s going back. I was going to take it back to the repair guy today, but the jeep wouldn’t start, and since it snowed last night I wasn’t too keen on taking the Fiero (gee I wonder why?). Anyway Rudy said I could use the reciprocating saw, and by gum, and by golly it worked. I now have some good wood in my pile instead of just small starter logs, and kindling.

April still hasn’t gotten full use of her hand yet so we really haven’t done much with the horses, besides I’ve been so depressed, and tired (wood cutting & water hauling) I haven’t felt like doing anything else. I did identify one water issue, the bathroom toilet was constantly running so that didn’t help our water supply. I have that turned off now, and even with the neighbors here I still have water. I even did laundry the other day without it taking all day. I put insulation around the pump house pipes as best I could, and I made a box for the pasture water faucet out of cardboard, a large plastic bag, and R19 insulation. If it works as well as the cover I made for the barn water main we should be in like Flynn. I put some insulation in the box in the barn, but that faucet is leaking so I don’t think it will be a problem anyway. I am assuming that our neighbors have turned off the pump at the dirt tank, and that is why we still have water. They left for a while because their pipes froze (city folk), and I didn’t notice a drop in water once they came back. Hopefully their water usage will be minimal for the winter.

Taggot got run over by April when she came over to feed for me while I was in Roswell (Father was in the hospital). It split his abdominal wall open so his bladder, spleen, and who knows what else was being held in by his skin alone.  The vet said it would be 6 – 8 weeks recovery time, but try to tell that to Taggot. It’s been less than two, and he’s back to his old self driving me crazy. Pena has some sort of fungus (I think) on her leg, and the little ones are filthy due to my water problems. What other wonderful things have been happening? The truck died out on me for a while, but it turns out that the last time Rudy drove it he had to use the pliers to start it, and it is now out of kilter by a quarter turn. Not knowing this I had actually been leaving it turned on draining the battery. I’ll find out when I go to get hay again whether the battery is truly dead or not. We’re hoping for not, but since I don’t want to have to put out for another battery I’m not in a hurry to find out. What I don’t know can’t hurt me philosophy.

On a good note the Mercantile started carrying compressed alfalfa for $10/bale. The only problem is they ran out so I paid $12/bale for grass the last tome I got feed. I only bought 10 bales hoping they’d get more in before I had to buy more hay. Jeri is not pleased, and has a whole pile of grass in his stall. He gets no more food until he eats what is already there. After three weeks they finally got the compressed hay in, and they raised the price to $12/bale so I’ll feed half & half (half grass, and half alfalfa) to everyone except Jeri of course (spoiled). I prefer feeding half & half anyway. I just liked the $10/bale price, who wouldn’t?

Everyone else if fine, and putting on some weight. Star has grown, she’s now 14.1 hands. She looks like a smaller version of her Dam with her graceful long neck (not too long), and long legs. I may just have to keep her forever. We’ll see what the new year brings. We could sure use some good breaks for a change, but that I suppose is too much to ask for. Let’s at least pretend it’s not, and somehow 2012 will be the bearer of happier days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

November 12, 2011

It’s hard to believe that it was only a week ago since my last post, but it was. I know I didn’t get it posted right away, but then again I never do. Somehow something always interrupts, in spite of my best intentions. We’ve had such fun this past week I just don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with the wonderful job I did on the hose splice. I’m not quite strong enough I guess to do it properly, because the pasture hose leaks. On top of that the hose is too short. I tried putting the foam tubing on the hose only to have it spray water everywhere. That was fun, or it would have been if it was summer, and hot instead of 50 some degrees out. The problem with cheap hoses is that they’re cheap. It makes perfect sense to me. The female portion of the hose spewed water everywhere if it wasn’t going straight down. Since I wanted the hose as short as possible, it went down, and then up over to the tank, which is higher than the spicket. That curve put too much pressure on the hose end so it leaked, big time. The other hose is all wrapped up so I have no clue if it leaks or not, we’ll pretend that it doesn’t.

Our wonderful neighbors came back, and for two days we had absolutely no water, then just as suddenly we had plenty of water. Their pump died. Once it was fixed we had no water again, but for a day it was wonderful. Now I have household water but little else so I’m hauling water for the horses again. The difference is it’s freezing cold out. I’m trying to find out if there is any way I can stop them from filling their pond. The amount of water allowed per well is way more than they are using. A friend of mine looked it up on her well permit, and you are allowed 3.0 water acres per well, and they have two.  That works out to over 6K gallons per day so that’s no help. The only thing might be that nowhere on the permit does it say you can fill a pond. I’m going to the permit office for Lincoln County, and see what their permit allows. I might be able to stop them that way.  Barring that I’m going to have to haul water whenever they are here. We have no problems when they are gone.

I also managed to cut more wood, but it disappears so fast. All I have available to cut is very, very, old (over ten years), very dry, and very small. Tomorrow in-between loading, and unloading hay I’m going to have to find time to cut more. I have nothing left but kindling, and the days, and nights are very cold. I did get one big project done. We moved the pellet stove (it died, how dare it) into the back room, and the wood stove that was there into the living room. The challenge was converting the stove pipes from pellet pipes to regular stove pipes. The pellet stove uses a 4” double walled pipe, and the wood stove has 6” single walled pipes. It was quite a challenge, and once again I had to become creative. Valerie from the Mercantile let me borrow a crimping tool so I was able to customize some of the pipefittings. We took the brick from the back room, and used that for a base. I was going to use the base from the pellet stove as wall backing, only it was home made, and very crooked. Every time I came out of the bedroom, all I could see was this off balanced slab of rockwork. I couldn’t stand it so I bought more red brick and made a very interesting backdrop. You see Rudy never did show me where the mortar blades were or how to use them. In order to stabilize bricks that are not cemented in I had to come up with a pattern that interlocked to certain a degree. I’m not sure if I will leave it that way or once I find out how to cut bricks go to a more traditional pattern. I kinda like it the way it is so it might just stay that way.

I had to move the stove a bit to line up the piping, and discovered I’m a lot stronger than I thought. The biggest worry was whether I would have enough draw since I went from a large pipe to a smaller pipe, with an S curve in the middle. Turns out it has better draw than our other wood stove in the computer room. The living area is quite open. There’s the living room, the TV room, the dining area, and the kitchen with no walls in-between save for a dividing wall between the living room, and the TV room. That one little stove (same size as the stove in the computer room), has the whole area up to 60 degrees. That’s impressive, or at least it is to me, and quite comfortable. Now all I have to do is clean up my mess, and do some re-arranging. I found a good use for the rock base that was under the pellet stove too. April came over, and of course I just had to show her what I was doing. She told me she wanted something for her little wood stove in her bedroom. I told her she was more than welcome to the one I have, and am not using. It’s better than trashing it, and she needs something. Besides then she can go crazy instead of me. Actually it’s not that noticeable when it’s on the floor. Because it was standing against a white wall, (it has black metal trim), it was glaringly evident that the angles were all wrong.

Speaking of April, she has three more weeks before she can go see the doctor, and find out if her hand has healed enough so she can start using it again. I’m going to have to rein her in when she can start doing things here though because I know good, and well that she is going to overdo it. Not being able to use her hand is driving her nuts. She needs, and is used to a very active life. Once she gets the go ahead, she’s going to want to do all the things she’s been wanting to do for the last six weeks.

The 28th or the 29th the hauler is coming for Cupid, and Aulina. Two fewer horses to feed Yeah! When they leave I’m going to put Rigalo, and Santa Fe in their stalls. I’ll get my arena back, and I can make repairs to the loafing barns. They have had a gay old time chewing the wood. A lot of the chewing was out of nervousness, and boredom, and it seems like they’ve slowed down, or it could just be wishful thinking on my part. The other good thing is that when I work one or the other they won’t get so panicky if they are with the rest of the herd. For one thing they will be away from each other on opposite sides of the barn. They will also have neighbors so they won’t feel so alone. All they know at this point is each other so new roomies will be good for them.  I just wish I had the time to ride them they way they need it. I’ve been so tied up with projects, hauling water, cutting wood or the weather has been bad so I haven’t been on their backs since I first rode them. The thing is I’m really excited about riding them, and teaching them the ropes so to speak. Pretty soon I will have to start working on tax preparation, and then I’ll have even less time to ride. It will all work out eventually, I just have to be patient. That’s what I tell Rudy all the time, I guess now it’s my turn to be patient. Ain’t that the pits!