Life on an Arabian breeding farm in Capitan, NM.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Foiled again…

Before I go down to get my mower parts, I call to see if they’re in. Yes, they’re in now I can get some work done. I go down get the parts, then go to Ruidoso to get my other belt, and some meds for my father. More than half the day is gone when I finish my running around so I elect to put things together in the morning. I was getting ready to bring the mower up to the garage looking at the new parts, and something just didn’t look right, so I get the old mandrill to compare it to the new one, and wouldn’t you know the new one is about 2” shorter than the old one. I swear someone just doesn’t want me to mow down those weeds. I take both the old, and new mandrills to Randy with my book. He just shakes his head, and goes back to the computer. He finally finds the correct part, and yes it will take another four days for it to come in. That puts it at Monday before I can hopefully get my mower back together. I can’t believe this. All I want to do is what everyone else has already done. Keeping grasses, and weeds mowed down is imperative for fire prevention. Even the county mows all the roadsides. Besides all the tall grasses etc. make a place look unkempt. Oh well, such is life at least such is my life.
I did make some discoveries. The other day while watching our hummingbird wars a bird happened to fly between the trees the hummingbirds gather in, and their feeders. I have seen the hummingbirds fight each other, but have never seen one of them take on a larger bird. Well that little bird had another thing coming if he thought he could fly in the hummingbird territory. Here’s this little hummingbird chasing a larger bird off his turf. He chased him around, and around till the other bird finally took off. A little later I went into town, and I find the little bird the hummingbird chased off. Every year about the same time the hummingbirds come to town, flocks of these little birds arrive lining the power lines. I’ve never really taken notice of them except for the fact that they’re there. I take out my phone to see if I can zoom in enough to get an idea of what their markings are. In flight they seem to be a sort of swallow without the forked tail.  I get a fair enough picture, not good enough to be a pretty picture, but good enough for me to try to discover what it is.
I found a website that has pictures of all the birds that either pass through or live in NM year round. Turns out that the little bird is a swallow, a Bank Swallow. It’s called a Bank swallow as you find it around riverbanks. Riverbanks in the desert? As a matter of fact there are rivers around here. There is a creek that runs in the monsoon season that winds around our area. There are even rushes, and reeds growing there during the summer. Lots of insects mean insect eaters including the Bank Swallow. I also discovered that the birds that make their nest in our garage every year are called Say’s Phoebe another insect eater. The bluebird that’s here year round is a Mountain Bluebird, and the Jay that takes up residence around the chicken coop (eating leftover’s) is a Pinion Jay. Who knew? We have the normal sparrow, and a Dark-eyed Junco. Once in a while you can find a Roadrunner, or hear an owl, and I have a picture I took of one I can’t identify. We have a falcon, but I haven’t seen it recently. The eagles are more often in Ruidoso, and last, but not least there are the Turkey Vultures. These are the birds I see around the ranch.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No not yet...

Finally I get a day when I can actually mow without worrying about it raining on me. I get the deck belt on, and off I go. It doesn’t feel quite right but it’s mowing, then the belt came off. I go back to the barn put the belt back on tightening it as tight as I can, and go back out. Then I see smoke. This is not a good sign so I take the mower back to the garage where I have more tools. I take the blade off, and put it back on numerous times, but no matter what I try I can’t get the pulley to stop wobbling. I give up frustrated, take the mower back to the barn, and go back to the house. I know I have to take off the top bolt, but there’s just no getting it off. Next day I try again spending hours on the thing using what I can find. I can’t find our pipe to give me more leverage then I end up starting to strip the bolt with the one socket that does fit. I give up in frustration yet again. Rudy suggested using the pipe wrench, which turned out to be the best idea yet. Next day I get out the pipe wrench, using a crescent wrench for more leverage. Finally the bolt breaks, and I get it off. I take everything apart, and take it to Randy’s to see if anything is usable. The top bolt is stripped, the pulley is stripped, and there is this thing on the bottom that is detached. I have no idea what it was having never seen the whole assembly before. Randy confirms that it all has to be replaced. There is a top bearing that is totally missing, and the thing I couldn’t identify is what’s left of the bottom bearing. Then he asks about the housing. He shows me one, and tells me what to look for, mainly cracks if the housing is good otherwise. I go back home, and proceed to take the housing off. It’s totally blown apart on the bottom. It’s made out of aluminum so it will blow apart instead of ruining the mower. Makes sense to me. I call Randy, and he orders me the entire assembly. Unfortunately it will take three or four days to come in, and it’s Thursday. The soonest it can come in is the first part of the following week. By now the sunflowers, weeds, and grasses are in some places taller than the dogs, and they’re not small. On top of that things are starting to seed. It looks pretty, but… 

It continues to rain almost every day, sometimes a lot sometimes not so much, sometimes in the late afternoon, and sometimes at night. Now the sunflowers are starting to bloom. By the time I can mow they may be taller than the bloody mower. I can’t ride in the arena because it’s a mess of weeds with a little grass trying to come back. The flies are thick even though the inside of the barn is almost fly free. Can’t I have even a little bit of a break? Ok so the sunflowers seem to have choked out the tumbleweeds I have been battling the last few years, but I would like a bit more of a break, like something going right for a change. I did get the garage cleaned, and organized again. Rudy left it a bit of a mess the last time he was doing things, and with the dogs shedding, and the wind blowing all kinds of debris in it’s a disaster. I also got all my wood (even the little stuff) cut, and stacked. Now it’s time to go get more. There’s some good wood over at the state land, and another stash across the way where a creek begins. There’s wood everywhere around here, it’s just a matter of going out, getting it, and cutting it. Hopefully by the time winter comes, I’ll have a good enough stash so I don’t have to cut much in the freezing cold again. I also got the weed eater out, and cut the grass around the house. That was a chore, but at least the house looks better. It would have only taken me an hour or so if I had my mower, and a lot less back strain, but oh well such is life. We have the big weed eater fixed enough (temporarily) so when April comes on Sat. she can cut around the horse panels down at the barn. By then I should have my mower up, and running, and the barn, and arenas will look like they're supposed to. God I miss my mower. Now if I only had a tractor!

The days are beautiful, and the hills look like an emerald green island. The horses are doing well on half, and half. LBM is still skinny even though he is getting more than anyone else (except Jeri of course). He’ll start filling out as soon as he gets a break from this new growing spurt. I can’t even use the round pen so no one is getting worked. It’s ok, I’ll take the rain any day. We get so little as it is I don’t begrudge the couple of months of wet. By Sept. things will dry up, and I’ll be riding to my hearts content. I can finish Star, and get Stormy started. I’ll work with Ser-Haat, and maybe even Jazzy. As much as we hate to I think we are going to give up on the idea of continuing to breed. Like so many small breeders, I think we are going to have to divest ourselves of all but a few horses. We have the knowledge, and the stock to be successful, but not the wherewithal. In order to be known you have to show, and showing is expensive. That’s what we get for living out in the middle of nowhere. I’m trying to wrangle my way to a TB farm, just so I can be around babies again. The worst part is the more I hear about the breeders the more I have no desire to meet them. Their trainer has over sixty horses to get ready for next year, and there are over eighty babies on the ground. Most of those horses will go to auction, and God only knows what will happen to them. I don’t understand that kind of breeding. They are breeding as many horses as they can in hopes of getting one winning horse. Still I don’t know them or their breeding program so I can’t really judge. There may be some method in what seems to be irresponsible breeding. Then people wonder why there is a glut of horses on the market. I don’t know, racing is a whole different world of which I know nothing about (except bad). We breed carefully, minimizing weaknesses, and hopefully bringing out the strengths of dam, and sire in the resulting foal. Everyone wants a winner whether it’s at the track or in the show ring. Even with the best of records, and winning bloodlines you just never know until a horse matures exactly how well you did in selecting the correct dam, and sire. Then you have no idea if the resulting foal will be a good breeder or just a good horse, especially when you’re just starting out. Sandy has been breeding for over fifty years, and her bloodlines consistently produce a quality horse. We started too late in life, and at the wrong time. Part of me will probably never give up the idea of starting over, and trying again, but right now we’re having trouble just keeping our heads above water.

Today is a beautiful day, a good day to go out looking for wood. Oops, I forgot to put the last battery (chainsaw battery) on the charger. That means I’ll only have two batteries to cut with. Somehow I have to find the money to get a larger chainsaw with a lithium battery. Doing it the way I’m doing it takes forever. Maybe I’ll do some grooming first, and then go out looking for wood. Father is going to be gone most of the day today (they’re have an activity day at the senior center) so I might even do some housework, ugh! I need something to lift my spirits, not bring them down so I’ll more than likely only do housework as a last resort. Hey I have a barn to clean, and a clean barn is much more important than a clean house. We’ll see, horses first, wood next, then house, and who knows maybe even me!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Stymied at every turn…

Do you ever get the feeling that all the cards are stacked against you? Last week was a total washout. We finally got some sunshine, and the mower died again. This time it was the lower deck belt. I called everywhere in town, and no one had one (of course). I ordered one from Western Auto (they just became a Husqverna dealer) but it’s going to take 4 – 5 business days. That means another week. Then I get a call from one of the places I called and unbeknownst to me they had ordered one. It came in Sat. Now I have two. I’m all excited because now I can mow down all the sunflowers, and
grasses that are getting much too high. The need for this is further emphasized by the fact that one day Bear was carrying on something fierce. I went outside to see if someone was coming up the drive, but there was no one. I went inside, and he started in again. I went out the back door to hear a rapid rattle. Great, there in the garage was a young rattler. I’m pretty sure that it was a Western Diamond Back Rattler, that’s mostly what I’ve seen up here. It was still very dark in color, and of course I completely forgot to take a picture of it just like I have forgotten to take pictures of all the other snakes we’ve seen. So here I am in the garage with a young rattler curled up ready to strike, and nothing to capture or kill it with. You see it’s all curled up behind the jeep next to the portable air compressor, which is in front of all the tools that are long enough to do me any good. Meanwhile April is down at her mothers, and I am patiently waiting for her to come back. It’s almost feeding time. I was able to grab a broom from the house just in case it decided to go somewhere, but that’s not really going to do me a lot of good. I can’t leave it so I wait, and wait for about half an hour. Finally April comes back, and I yell at her (she’s mostly deaf) to go down to the barn to get a certain shovel. I keep it there readily available should I find a rattler in the barn. Unfortunately this particular rattler decided to come visit at the house. Because of where the rattler is even with the shovel I have to bob him on the head first to make him move (without striking) then catch its head in just the right place so I can cut it off. Poor thing it was not a quick death, but I had no other option. I finally got its head in the right position where I could slice it with my knife, and still be protected from his fangs with the shovel. I have learned that one always carries a knife with you, and a very sharp knife at that. I hated killing him, but with my father around I can’t take the chance, and since I don’t have one of those snake crooks I dare not try to capture one to re-locate it. The constrictors are no problem I simply pick them up, and move them to a safer place. I was impressed however, that Bear didn’t try to attack it. He just barked to let me know it was there. Since it wasn’t moving the other dogs didn’t even take notice. Bear is definitely earning his keep these days.
This all happened on Friday so I told Father to be sure to watch where he is walking. I learned as a child to always walk with your head down watching what you might be stepping on. Not so my father who is not very observant to begin with. I also told him not to walk anywhere where the grasses were tall. Since we were going to town on Sat to pick up the mower belt I suggested that he get himself a pair of boots. I explained that Levi’s, and what serves as snow boots for him were not sufficient protection should he come across a rattler on one of his walks. At 89 my father is a very different man than he was while I was growing up. I suggest, he does. It’s very strange. Anyway on our last stop before going home we stopped at the boot store. I found a pair of work boots that will protect
him from any strikes. I don’t normally like the square toe, but it seems to suit him. This is his first pair of boots ever so I have no idea if they fit right or not. He’s walking on the treadmill to try to break them in, but since he doesn’t know how a boot is supposed to fit in the first place it makes it difficult. I’m going to put Neetsfoot on them tonight to soften the leather a bit. That should help. He feels very insecure walking, and he’s using muscles that he’s never used before. You have to remember he’s 89, a city boy, and not too steady on his feet to begin with. This is a whole new experience for him, which I think is good. He needs new experiences. He’s fighting dementia, and anything new keeps his brain active.
So no I haven’t ridden anyone, I haven’t mowed (too wet, and boggie), and I was out for a week with a terrible headache that refused to go away. I stopped drinking caffeine for about three months, and have had trouble with pain ever since. I’m drinking regular coffee now, and my pain level has dropped to a more reasonable level. Now if the rain ever stops long enough for me to do something maybe I can get something accomplished. I was able to get some more wood, but it has been too wet to cut. I really need to increase my woodpile.
There have been controlled burns all around us (there’s one going on now), and at first I was startled, then I remembered going into town that the sign was up for controlled burns Mon – Fri. After last year everyone around here is a little skittish whenever they see smoke myself included. In fact my neighbor called a little while ago asking if we were burning, and I told him no, but that they were doing controlled burns. He called to verify, and yes they are doing a burn. Of course it’s so wet that even if there were an uncontrolled fire it wouldn’t go far. Thank God for all the rain. I may not be able to do much, but we so need the rain. Our water table is up too. I haven’t had to get water since the monsoons started. All the rain also means the flies, and mosquitoes are out, and since I haven’t mowed the flies are thick, at least when it warms up. I’ve only seen one mosquito, but I won’t stop worrying until I can get some mowing done.
The rains have also cooled things down dramatically. I’ve been giving Jeri oats with his dinner to try to make sure he keeps warm. I’m also giving him some alfalfa, which he has actually been able to eat. It’s not very stemmy (thank you kindly), and is a hotter feed. He still hasn’t gained much weight, but he’s holding his own. Rudy keeps saying that for a 25-year-old stallion with no back molars he looks great. He certainly feels great especially when Penny goes into season. He’s Johnny on the spot showing off whenever a girl catches his eye, and if I take some of them out to the arena to play he really struts his stuff. Actually all the horses are looking pretty good with nice shiny coats (when they’re not full of mud). They need exercise, and it shows, but otherwise they look good. Sierra is going through another growing spurt, and is all skinny again. I swear it was just the other day when I thought he was getting a little chunky. Marina, and Penny got to go out, and play in the arena before it got too mucky. All signs of lameness are gone so once things dry up a bit I'll take Marina out again. Till then she'll have to suffer a while longer in her stall. I'm not taking any chances on her straining something again. I've switched to half, and half (alfalfa/grass) on all but the pasture horses, and all seem to be doing well. I have an idea we are in for a cold wet winter so all the weight I can put on them now will serve them once winter sets in.
NOAA says that we won’t have sunshine until Wed, and then again Sat, and Sun. I love the rain, but I do need a little sunshine (hint, hint) to at least get things in order again. Maybe tomorrow will be better. If I can get some mowing done, then maybe I can get a ride or two in. Who knows if it dries up enough I might even get some stalls cleaned!!!