Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rock of Ages

My stock trailer, which serves as storage for about 30 square bales, was empty as of mid week. Mr. Fry bought 3 bales to get us through til we could make a hay run to Aubrey this morning. Pony Girl would be dancing in the street if she could get hay for $7.75 a bale for clean, green hay that's been indoors.

I called Nita to see if she wanted to ride. She said yes, but I had to come there. She broke her glasses, doesn't have a spare, and can't drive anywhere. My two really need exercise, but I wouldn't be a very good friend if I expected her to come to me all the time. And there's hay in the trailer, so I can't take one out there. I'll probably go tomorrow.

Our land is so decimated from the drought. The whole back pasture is just dirt and rocks. I had intended to save enough money to seed and feed in April, since the time we did it last August ended up being a total bust. It rained too late and not nearly enough. I need to get an almanac to see what it says about the chances of rain this spring. I'm not going to waste the money again if the same thing is going to happen.

Whenever it does rain, more rocks seem to come to the surface all over the property. I decided to enjoy the sunshine and pick up the rocks in my round pen. I got 2 buckets full, some of them good size rocks. The round pen is really getting nice -- soft and sandy. The horses love to roll in there. Glad to oblige, Boyz.

I started spiraling outward from the round pen and got 6-7 more buckets (2 piles like this) before I decided to not get so overzealous, I'm ruined for tomorrow. The little John Deere's battery is dead, so I couldn't pull my little cart to haul them. I just put them in piles and Mike will move them if he needs them someplace else.

The soil and rocks here hearken back to when the tectonic plates upon which Texas sits (we're on a huge fault), were in a constant state of flux, spewing lava.
We're actually atop a massive, volcanically created mountain range, which then got pushed back down, deep within the earth. Then we were covered by an inland sea that gradually ebbed until the (approximate) Oklahoma border was the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They don't call it the Red River Valley for nothing. The rocks are generally flat, part of a massive, broken up sandstone/shale strata. They are deep red, which is much more obvious when they are wet. Sometimes you find fossil evidence of small prehistoric sea creatures in the rocks, sometimes the shells themselves.

This is an old piece of wood (actual size about 2.5" x 1.25"), but not quite as old as the rock. The texture caught my eye. I believe it to be part of an old gate, fence, or wagon slat. We found an old piece of iron gate hardware back there after they graded for the round pen.

And of course, those worthless, good-for-nuthin' Boyz. They are at the very back of the property, overlooking our closest neighbor's place. There's not a blade of anything back there, poor things.

Although, as you can tell, they aren't starving by anyone's standards.

Falling Down #4

Garage — Prosper, Texas

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I admit right here in front of God and everybody: I am a sucky rider. I had some marginal lessons many years ago, then didn't get on a horse again until I got Jaz in January of 2007. I've had a few lessons with Heather and Nita, but mostly, we just ride. If I have a problem or issue, they can usually talk me through it, or I'll load up you-know-who, haul him out there, and we work it out. Heather is one of those rare people, like mugwump, who has the ability to convey training concepts so clearly in writing, I am able to walk out the door and put them into practice. My hope is that at some point in 2009, there will be enough money that I can take western lessons, which I can't get from Nita or Heather. It's not looking good so far, but it's only January.

I glean anything I can from the trainer bloggers. Well, right up to the point when my eyes glaze over anyway. When they start talking about turns on the forehand, flying lead changes, etc. -- this stuff is beyond my current level of understanding, much less my ability to implement. I'm still trying to get my seat, posture, balance, and communicate basic things to my horse in a way we both understand. It keeps me humble.

The last time I rode with Nita, I felt as though I had a moment of clarity, where the concept of cueing sorta kicked in. Rather than having to think "inside leg, outside rein," and tug his head if I have to, it suddenly made sense. I was able to communicate what I wanted; he began to respond to the first two, so I didn't have to do the third. It clicked.

I'm home from work today because of the ice storm. It is cold and yukky, but the Boyz were already wet from some light rain yesterday, in addition to what's still coming down. I don't want to put blankets on them until they're dry. Both felt warm and were not shivering earlier, and they've been eating hay and periodically dashing around, warming themselves, so I'm not worried about them. That's one good thing about being fat and sassy.

I'm sharing my big bowl of real, cooked oatmeal with whole pecans, raisins, dried cranberries, and just a smidge of Vermont Maple Syrup. That will stick to our bones for awhile.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Falling Down #3

These photos were all taken at the same location along FM 1385 in Denton, TX. There is no farmhouse or residence, just these two structures and a handful of young cattle. There was a tank and a round bale. I don't trespass, so these are taken from outside the fence.

I like the pattern of the light and shadow.

I decided to leave them in color. Look at that rusty bucket.

But maybe, it's just because green is my favorite color.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

En La Casa #2

Sign above the doors leading to our bedroom

Custom made, handcrafted cedar bed

01-22-09 The Lemonade Award was given to me by Lisa (cdncowgirl) over at NQHOTR. If I get the gist, it's for keeping a positive attitude — you know, "when life gives you lemons"? And you're supposed to nominate ten blogs, etc., etc. This award has been 'round the block, so to speak, so everyone I would nominate has already received it. I'll just say, if you see yourself in my blogroll, you are entitled to this award. I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.

FYI -- if you have given me an award and wonder why I don't keep them in the permanent layout of my page, it's not for lack of appreciation, I assure you. I only leave them up for the length of the current post to keep my page from both becoming cluttered and from bogging down as it loads. I want it to load quickly, especially since I like to post lots of photos.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cafeteria Lady's Revenge

When I got home, the Boyz were standing with their cheeks sucked in, as Mr. Fry says, which means they had eaten all their hay. I went over to say hello to Poco and he put his ears back and turned away. I made him leave, but he only walked a few steps and turned his butt me. I growled and herded him down toward the dry creek bed.

I tossed 3 piles of 2 flakes each. Poco ran Jaz off any pile poor Jaz chose. I ran Poco off again, but no sooner had I turned to walk away, and he was right back at it. I ran him off yet again.
Piss me off, why don't you, you snotty pony?

As I prepared their buckets, I had a wicked idea. Poco had already "assumed the position" in the loafing shed, waiting for the cafeteria lady to deliver.
I set his bucket inside the back door. I made a big fuss about giving Jaz his food, and I stood right beside him with my back to Poco, so he could eat his dinner in peace.

I wish you all could have seen the drama queen carry on! He paced, he tossed his head. He stood and stared at the food pan. "Surely there must be some mistake!" Numb nuts even tried to challenge me for Jaz's food. Oh, I don't think so. I would have tossed the bucket at him, but I was between them in the loafing shed, and had I thrown it, they both would have bolted. When Jaz was all done, I went inside and got Poco's bucket and stood on the porch with it until his demeanor was respectful. Then and only then did he get his food.

There are days when I wonder why I love that fat-assed, muley headed, couldn't-have-been-gelded-soon-enough JERK so much.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Texas Critters

I almost hit a bobcat the other morning. Roadkill (or near) around here can be interesting. I got to thinking that could make an engaging and educational post, so I scrounged around the web for pix of critters with which cowgirls share rural North Texas. This list is by no means complete, just a snapshot. I did not take any of these photos. Some of them are from a guy named Van Vives web site — thanks, Van. Other photos are from Wikipedia.

First, is the aforementioned bobcat. I count myself fortunate to catch site of one every now and again.

Next is the coyote. They're pretty much everywhere, aren't they? No matter, I am blessed to hear them sing their wonderful songs.

I did not realize until the last year that these guys are all over Texas. I always think of them as from other parts of Texas and Arkansas, but I've seen 2 that were roadkill. I've never seen one alive in the wild. These suckers are large, dangerous, and they can tear up the land. I saw photos of the erosion of a mountain top from their rooting. They damage fences and crops and can kill a dog.

The most endearing varmint we've got — the Nine Banded Armadillo. For the longest time, I thought they were born belly-up dead on the side of the highway. They're basically armor-plated rodents that carry leprosy. They remind me of the singular uniqueness of Texans.

Cleaning up the roadkill is the Texas Turkey Vulture aka Texas Turkey Buzzard. These are BIG birds.

Not exactly wildlife, but nothing says Texas
more than a Texas Longhorn.

And where there are cattle, there are Cattle Egrets
around here, just cow birds.

Me and Mr. Fry, the Wild Turkeys

We had guests from the east coast come to visit. When I pointed out a Greater Roadrunner, one looked at me kind of funny and said something like, "Oh, is that all they are?" To which I replied, "Were you expecting them to be as big as a coyote and purple?"

We see a lot of Box Turtles because we're so close to the Lake. They really don't fare well on the highway, so I make it a point to brake for turtles. I'll stop, get out and move one to the side of the road. Hey, I had box turtles as a kid.

Another critter that appreciates our Lake, the Great Blue Heron.

Cotton Spider, or at least that's what we call them. Don't let her scare you. Although large, they are completely harmless. They build the most wonderful webs that are incredibly strong. And they eat lots of bugs. Every spring and summer one spins a web between 2 of the yuccas outside my kitchen window. I try not to disturb her.

I think I'll leave you on that note and not get into scorpions, snakes, fire ants, chiggers, etc. They all remind me of the just plain mean orneriness of all things Texan.

There will be a short quiz next period.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Falling Down #2

Recently, I shared that I have a fascination with structures in a state of disrepair, and made it my goal to finally stop and photograph them in 2009. This house was actually my second choice. The place I wanted to photograph collapsed earlier on the very day I had resolved to stop! I'd been driving past it for nine years and I kept telling myself I'd get around to taking pictures ... but not today. The moral of the story is to not put things off or you may miss it altogether.

This little house is on Hwy. 380 West, just north of Frisco, Texas. As recently as last summer, a family called this 'home'. I always found it amusing that the house was collapsing around them, and in the right side yard stood a full-size trampoline.
It just seemed so random. What would they do if it did fall down? Live under the tramp?

You don't really get it from the photos, but this house is leaning into its center from every side. Walking in it must have been weird.

Note the curtains still hanging in the windows.
This place had to be miserable — no AC and not a fiber of insulation.

I thought the place was completely abandoned,
but then I saw these guys.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

En La Casa #1

When Mr. Fry and I designed our home, it was to showcase items we have collected in our travels. As an ongoing regular feature, I'll be sharing photos of some of these items. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Talavera ceramic lizard and papier mâché Virgin of Guadalupe from Mexico. The candlesticks are branding irons; one of the bases is the outline of the state of Texas, the other is a cactus.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter Walkabout

Ye olde hitching post.

Jaz and former Mom Nita.

Check out my Wildman Rockstar's frizzy do.

Me n' Pokes.

Home safely.

It was a crisp, sunny Sunday, perfect for worshiping at the Heavenly Church of the Divine Walkabout. With temps in the upper 50s and not much wind to speak of, I could have done without the long underwear top under my long-sleeved T-shirt and fleece vest. It was gorgeous.

Jaz, of course, is always a good boy, and did not disappoint his other mother.

Poco started off the day by being snotty. I drove him away from Jaz and me because he kept wanting Jaz's pile of hay, regardless of which of the three piles Jaz tried to eat. He calmed down and was pretty mellow on the ride. We came across a couple areas in the shallow drainage ditches where there was lush grass from the last rain, and both horses were reluctant to stop eating and walk on, especially chow hound Pokey. We aren't heartless, and did let them graze several times. Lord knows there's nothing but nubs on our land, so this was a big treat for them.

I had two slightly hairy situations. We were on the way back, walking along the easement, and this particular section was deep, dry, warm sand. I knew it would feel nice on his feet, so we walked through it. Damned if I didn't feel him start to drop to roll. I caught him before he dropped and pulled his head up. I don't believe he was being intentionally naughty or was trying to ditch me. We were being kind of quiet and I'm sure that warm sand was calling his name. I think he just kinda spaced for a second that I was there. As soon as I pulled his head and told him 'no,' he was fine and kept walking. Can't take a nap on that one.

Second adrenaline rush came as we walked by the fence with the goofy Labs. We were already past it I heard the dogs heading towards us. Poco heard them, then caught sight of them out of the corner of his eye. I was just about to turn him around so he could get a good look at them when Jaz spooked behind us, which caused Poco to spook hard. I kept his head cranked around to slow his momentum (cuz he wanted outta there) and we'd no sooner handled that when he spooked again. I managed to stay on and and he calmed down in a matter of seconds. Once I got him to calm down, turn and look at the dogs, he was fine and we were on our way home without further incident.

This was only my second ride in my new saddle and I have work to do — holes to punch in billets and I want to try bringing my stirrups up a little. I was having a hard time keeping my feet in the stirrups today, for some reason. Hell, I had a hard time mounting without a block today. I've started back on a decent diet and am already feeling better and stronger, but I have a long way to go to get back into the kind of shape I like to be in.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

'Movie Horses'

Blame this post on Chelsi. Her flight of fancy on movie horses fueled a train of thought this morning that could not be derailed.

Back in the day (1994) when we actually had scads of disposable income (imagine that), Mr. Fry and I acquired a limited edition print of a watercolor called 'Movie Horses' by the actor/artist
Buck Taylor. Son of the legendary character actor Dub Taylor, Buck may be best known as Newley on the old 'Gunsmoke' TV show, but he has also acted in many movie westerns, including 'Tombstone' (Val Kilmer, Bill Paxton, Sam Elliott, et al).

'Movie Horses' was painted on the set of our absolute favorite western, 'Conagher' (1991). If you look very closely you can see Buck's penciled title and personalization at the bottom.

This is a plot summary of the movie, not penned by me. It may be from the back of the DVD case (I'm too lazy to look). "He conquered the range. She conquered his heart. From the Louis L'Amour novel. Conn Conagher admires a woman with nerve, and the widow Teale has plenty. But that doesn't mean he's ready to show up at her door clutching posies. Precious little time for that, what with deadly rustlers cutting in on his livelihood. Besides, a fenced-in life with a missus just isn't Conn's way. Not yet, anyways. Conagher is both a hard-riding actioner and a character-driven look at Western life. Katherine Ross plays Evie Teale, widowed after coming West and forced to prove her mettle in many ways. Sam Elliott plays Conagher, a cowhand who, when not tracking rustlers, drifts in and out of Evie's life. Something about that frontier woman keeps drawing him back. But can Evie ever keep from drifting out again?"

I tried for over an hour to find and download the trailer, to no avail, but you can watch it here.

I have had a thing for Sam Elliot since the early 1970s. He is my kinda cowboy (as is Tom Selleck — catch them together in 'The Sacketts'). One of the many things I love about him in this movie is how he talks to and about his horse. He has one of those low, raspy-yet-melodious drawls, and in his solitary drifting, every once in awhile he just starts mumbling to his horse. Most of it is hard to catch, but it's great stuff. At one point, Evie's stepson Laban asks if he should give the horse some grain. Conn says something to the effect that if you gave that horse grain, he'd think you were trying to kill him. Cracks me up.

What is your favorite western movie and what is its appeal for you?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

Butt blanket of a big blue horse — McKinney, TX

Pulling taffy — Mustang, TX

Monday, January 5, 2009

80° No More

OK, which one of you hexed us with your nasty weather? A high near 80° Saturday, to a high yesterday and today of 30° — dang! We blanketed the horses last night and what a muddy mess they are this evening. They are wet, but they are nice and toasty warm up under their filthy blankets.

This yucca looks pretty pitiful.

Even poor Jorge looks cold and pathetic! He is our Mexican Day of the Dead figure that guards our front entryway.

A big THANK YOU to Tuffy Horse for the Golden Horseshoe Award! I'm honored.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Other Priorities

Has your house ever been so dirty that you were actually looking forward to cleaning it? If not, you are a far better housekeeper than I. This was the point at which I had arrived over my four-day New Year's weekend. No resolution about it, the place just hadn't been seriously cleaned in far longer than I care to admit. Well, when ambition strikes, I need to go with it. It's way too easy for me to blow stuff off. I did most of it Thursday and Friday, but left the worst until last.

My laundry room does double duty as home to all horsey products and tack except the saddles themselves. It is also the stopping place for a lot of dirt that would ordinarily get tracked through the rest of the house. Not only did I clean it, I reorganized it.

That was a job and a half, but it was nothing compared to my office/hobby room. Sweet Lord, have mercy. It took me all freakin' day yesterday. It was so dusty, I'm still stuffy and sneezing the morning after. It also involved not only cleaning, but reorganization, mostly of my hobby (dollhouse miniatures) stuff. I needed to put it up because I have other priorities — work, writing, horses — right now. I'll come back to minis one day; I always do. I donated 10+ years of craft magazines to the public library, and gained the entire top shelf in my closet for the effort. I can see the surface of not only my work table, but my desk. What a novel concept.

Mike didn't get home until late afternoon and asked why I was not out in the near-80°weather. Cuz I'm cleaning your house, turkey! He sat in the driveway with some brewskies, a cigar, and some classic rock and had a couple of nosey nosers in his business the whole time. They do love beer. At one point, doofy Jaz just stood there and licked Mike's whole head like a dog.

I'm cracking up! I didn't notice until just now that ole Jaz was (ahem) letting it all hang out. It was a good day to be a guy.

I sat down with them and Pokey came to visit me, but sadly, I had to chase him off. He approached me with his ears back (not pinned) and got really close — too close — to me without my permission. He was mouthy, but not in a gentle, curious or playful way. I tried to correct him gently and enjoy the moment, but he was being pushy. Mike doesn't get it. "He's trying to be sweet." No, he wasn't. He was being rude. He's been in one of those moods for a week or two now and I've had to be very assertive. I love being close to him, but it's not an option when he's being disrespectful. The price for such a lapse would be paid later, in the saddle.

I may have missed my opportunity to ride, because it's supposed to be windy and colder today. This is Texas, however, so we'll wait and see what the day brings.
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