Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sunday Stills (6/26/11 Sepia, Black & White)

This week's Sunday Stills challenge is black and white or sepia.

New Mexico churches are timeless and photograph wonderfully in black and white.
Old cabins and trucks also come out pretty well in B & W and sepia.

What about landscapes? They always remind me of Ansel Adams, the master of B & W photography, IMHO. 


Did you know that Saguaros are trees?

I like this shot of the foliage inside the Biosphere 2 in Tucson.
When photos don't work out so well in color, I sometimes change them to black and white. Here's Annie at liberty.

 For more Sunday Stills, please visit here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Just an hour or so to be safe from fear

I had my third physical therapy session today for my broken ankle. I actually got to pedal a bike and it didn't hurt! I have been doing the prescribed exercises, like stretching, writing the alphabet with my toes, and scrunching my toes, and I think it's working. In the last few weeks, I have gone from using a wheelchair to two crutches to one crutch to none. I've gone from a surgical splint to a walking boot to a reinforced ankle brace and now I prefer going bare. I push my ankle in all directions just to the point of hurting and try to maintain it for several seconds. Then I release and try again. I still have heel pain and my ankle is still extremely swollen and tight most of the time, probably from me always working at it. The only shoes I can wear are crocs, because they have cushy heels, or snow boots around the barn because the swelling and metal(?) in my ankle extends down almost to the sole of my foot. I hope that I can wear regular shoes soon.
I can touch my ankle all over but when I lean against things with my ankle, like laying against the bedsheets, it hurts terribly.

I made a personal goal of riding my horses as soon as I could and I did ride last week for a short time. It was hard to climb on board and even harder climbing off, but every day, I get stronger. The other day, I couldn't stop singing an old Chumbawumba song, " I get knocked down, I get up again, no one's ever gonna keep me down." I intend to get this experience behind me as quickly as possible.

More and more, I am taking back my life. Every day, it's getting easier to walk out to the barn and feed the horses. This evening, I brushed them all down. Then I decided to ride Nadia. I put the bareback pad on her and used Annie's thin halter, snapping on a set of nylon reins to the side rings of the halter. I put on my helmet and climbed up on the rails in her stall and scooted onto her back. We rode all over the neighborhood but I was reluctant to ride out back where the accident with Scout took place. It was a very pleasant evening and I wouldn't have been surprised if they were out walking their dogs. Instead, I rode along the gravel roadways in my little neighborhood and to the highway and back. We watched a fire truck go by and it never even phased Nadia. The next time I rode out towards the highway, there hadn't been any traffic for some time, so I decided to cross the road to a little grassy area and then come right back. However, Murphy's Law happened and as soon as we crossed, there was suddenly a car coming at us from each direction. I couldn't cross back before they arrived so we stopped and stood, waiting, with our butts to the traffic. I had wild thoughts that Nadia was going to freak out and run across the road in front of the cars. I could see myself falling off and hurting my ankle again. Where did that fear come from? Nadia has always been good along roadsides. Once, I had to ride her along a very  busy highway during a terrible thunderstorm for several miles. Now, she gave no indication of being stressed. Still, I was terrified for a few seconds. On another horse, I might have caused a negative reaction. They just might have gotten panicked from my thoughts. Why would I get so unreasonably afraid and how do I control my thoughts?

While we were riding around, Yalla! and Scout were running up and down the arena calling to us. He has a loud trumpet-like call and Yalla! has a shrill baby-like neigh. Nadia just ignores them as she walks along with her ears pricked forward, sometimes speeding up, sometimes slowing down. I went into the round pen and let her graze some of the weeds. Then she did the strangest thing. She stopped eating and stood still for a few seconds. Then she laid down. I was so surprised; I climbed off unto my bad foot- OW!!- and then she rose up again. I worried that she was going into colic. I walked her back to the barn, watching her, and put her back into her stall. Good thing I can walk better now.

Nadia went straight to her hay and mash and began munching. I have seen her do this before while eating. She just walks away, lays down, gets up and starts eating again, like nothing happened. Does anyone have any ideas as to why she does this? I don't see any signs of discomfort. I think she's getting senile. I wanted to watch her some more so I decided to ride Scout. He was still calling to us (me?) and was standing by the gate watching me. I really think he was feeling anxious that I haven't ridden him yet since the accident. He readily came to me and I haltered him. Then I led him over to the railing and carefully climbed up. I carefully stepped across his back. I am so careful at this point because I know that all they have to do is move away while I'm throwing a leg over and I'll fall and probably get hurt. Anyway, as I settled onto his back I could almost feel him sigh (with relief?) and smile. We rode around the arena and he was the perfect gentleman. My ankle doesn't hurt when I ride except for the feeling of the boot against the skin. I am still wearing my snow boots and the fleece inside should help, but it really doesn't. I even jogged him.

My neighbor came up to the fence to chat with me and his large dog came bounding up to Scout and I. I panicked, thinking, "Oh no! dogs are what caused Scout to rear up!," but at the same time I was glad for the test. Scout stood his ground and didn't even flinch. Of course, there was a fence between us. But, I have often ridden Scout with Sandy running alongside and she goes into the arena and 'bothers' the horses more times than I would like. I still ponder over the events that caused Scout to rear that day. I think a lot of the problem was the strange bit he was wearing. I had him in a low port curb but I usually ride him in a simple ringed snaffle. This is why, tonight, I rode him in just a halter. Yes, Sydney, I am seriously ready to go bitless on all of my horses. I never use the reins very much anyway. The dogs riled him up, but I think the different bit, combined with the uneven ground, caused him to lose his balance and go over backwards on me. Even though I didn't pull on the bit, he was causing himself discomfort by raising his head causing the bit to shift in his mouth.

The neighbor and I had a little chat and Yalla! came over to join in on the conversation. She never showed any signs of agression towards Scout, of which I was glad, and I rubbed her head as she lay it on top of his back, in my lap. Yalla! has become a terrible two year old, terrorizing all the other horses. I've seen her double barrel Scout AND her mama just because she wanted to. She needs a good put down and unfortunately, her doting mama doesn't seem willing to chastise her, rather, she backs off from the little monster's threats. Yalla! therefore, thinks she is queen of the herd now. Unfortunately, she also thinks she is above us, humans. She has kicked out at my son, daughter, and myself, on numerous occasions. My son smacked her really good on the head when she kicked out at him. I told him that was okay because she is exhibiting very dangerous behavior, but to "rub" it out afterwards, by petting her so that she doesn't develop hatred and fear of him. Then she will REALLY become dangerous. Right now, she doesn't know any better. Any suggestions? I almost always carry a crop around with me when I am on the ground, working around her, or a bucket, or something that can shield me or smack her. However, timing is everything. When I am most vulnerable, directly behind her, I will not be able to smack her because I fear retaliation. Especially now, since I am not walking well, I am extra careful around her, usually avoiding to go around her at all.

Anyway, after my ride on Scout, I carefully climbed off, using the railing, and gave him several head hugs, as I released him from the halter. He seemed extra content and I think that our ride was just what we both needed.

Just an hour or so to be safe from fear - song: Black Tie, White Noise, artist: David Bowie, album: Black Tie, White Noise

Friday Foto

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Stills (06/19/11 Birds and Bees)

This week's Sunday Stills is the Birds and Bees.
I don't have any bee photos but how about these birds?

This raven lives in my barn and every morning and evening plays sentry on the light pole.

It appears that he got his dinner already. With the blazing skies in the background, I'm thinking Bar-B-Q!

I captured this graceful duet down at Bosque del Apache (a bird refuge) earlier this year. See here for a dance lesson.
This little blue bird was far, far away. The zoom makes the photo sort of surreal, like a painting, doesn't it?
Here are some wild turkeys. My daughter and I spied these on our Colorado trip a couple of months ago. See here for my post about the Ludlow Massacre.

I wasn't able to plant a garden this summer with my broken ankle. Last year, this swallow was enjoying a wallow in the mud, or maybe he was just looking for bugs.

Hope you enjoyed my photos. For more, please visit here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The big Fall, Part 9

 Friday's Foto IS a picture of me... on Nadia. YAY!!!!

It has been exactly two months since I broke my ankle, or nine weeks, to be exact. I mozied out to the horses last night and couldn't resist the temptation any longer. I carefully climbed up on the pipe rails in the stall and, stradling the rails, talked to my four legged friends. Yalla! was so glad to see me. She kept wanting to get "head hugs".

Poor Scout! He gets bullied away by both Yalla! and Annie.
I have trained Anne to come up and stand at the rail until I climb on so I knew she would be the best one to ride first. I put on her halter and lead rope "reins" and very carefully climbed on.

Scout's not sulking in the next photo,btw. He just moved away from us because we were walking all around the pen and Annie was pinning her ears at him every time we went past. I wasn't quite ready to go into the arena yet. And that black swish in the photo? It must be Yalla!s tail. lol. Sorry about the bleached out photo, it was sunset and the lighting was terrible.

I think Scout has kind of a pouty, or bewildered look in the next photo, like, 'Why aren't you riding me?' I intended to ride him too but I wasn't sure if he'd come up to the railing or not and frankly, for my first ride, I guess I chose NOT to ride him. Oh, I know it wasn't his fault and he'd most likely be very good but I just don't want to do anything that might set things back, for him or me.

I only walked Annie around for about ten minutes but it sure felt good to sit on her back! Getting off was harder than getting on and climbing down from the rails was even harder, but I managed, with lots of careful stepping.

It was so nice riding again that I wanted more! I decided to take Nadia out for a quick trip. I carefully climbed up the stall railing again and swung my leg across Nadia's back this time. All the stable gates were already open and, since she is alone in her stall, I just opened her stall door and we were off. I rode Nadia out of the barn and towards the house. The round pen gate was slightly open so we scooted in. I walked and trotted her around for a few minutes. I always love to see her perky little ears when I ride her.
Nadia is not in great shape and neither am I, so I kept the workout short and decided to graze her before taking her back to the barn. I was unsure how to get off of her so I just unclipped one half of the "reins"and stayed on so she could graze on our meager grasses. I thought about calling my son out of the house and letting him help me off and put Nadia away but I decided I'd be better off using the railing to get off the same way I used it to get on.
Here's my bad foot. I was trying to get a picture of Nadia's four inch long eyelashes but I don't think you can see them too well.
Surprisingly, my ankle didn't hurt too much while riding although I'm not sure if I can bend it into a stirrup yet. I guess all those flexing exercises are helping. However, I can't get cowboy boots on over my still swollen, stiff ankle, so I settled on a pair of moon boots with fleece lining. You'd think it would be awful hot in the summer, wearing snow boots and sweat pants,but our nights do cool down and I was actually comfortable. Not very good support for my ankle but better than wearing crocs while riding, I guess. My physical therapist doesn't like me wearing crocs; he suggests support shoes, but my heel still hurts a lot and the crocs have cushy heels. Unfortunately, there's no ankle support to them and he worries that I'll re-twist my ankle. He told me today that I need to keep the walking to a minimum and continue to work on flexing the joint. I didn't tell him I went riding but I'm thinking that it should be okay because hey, I can be doing my physical therapy exercises while riding, like writing out the alphabet with my toes, and as long as I am very careful.

Friday Foto

Guess who?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's so Slashed and Torn, part 5

I was taking some photos of the horses the other evening and I was excited to notice that Annie's ripped ear doesn't look too bad.  It's the left one, FYI.

It's still fully split down about an inch and a half but the ear stays together pretty well, don't you think? If you recall, I had the horses out in the big field last summer and Annie ripped her ear open, probably on a barbed wire fence. Here's what it looked like then. If you want to read more about it, go here, here, here and here.

I didn't call the vet right away because when I found out about it, it was already too late to stitch up.
However, I did have the vet come out when it looked like it might have gotten infected to give her antibiotics and clean it up. He said the infection was minimal and it would have been hard to stitch up even right away. As it turned out, all the work he did on her ear was for naught. A few days after he cleaned and treated it, her ear was all dirty and crusty again. In the end, it healed by itself because I couldn't get close enough to treat it without giving her a sedative.

it's so slashed and torn - song: Under Pressure, artist: David Bowie and Freddie Mercury

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two years ago my friend and neighbor Lisa, of Laughing Orca Ranch, and I slept for a week in my barn anxiously awaiting the birth of Annie's foal. (Thanks Lisa, for being there for me!) We had to feign sleep in order for her to feel safe enough to go into labor. But finally she did, in the wee hours of the morning, and we stayed up to watch the whole delivery. There were no lights in the barn because mice had chewed the wires and my electricity wasn't working at the time so we watched the entire event by flashlight and recorded it on camera. See here for Lisa's post.

Fortunately, Annie chose to lie right in front of us for the main event instead of going off by herself into the dark corral. I felt honored that she trusted us so much that she wanted to be near us at this important time. It was painful to watch her grunting and struggling, preparing to deliver her load. Why do they say that God created labor pains to punish women for Eve eating the apple? All mammals have labor pains during delivery!

When we realized that the sac didn't break at the front end and the foal was struggling to breath, I went over to help and got to be the first to hold the precious little foal. Please go back and revisit some of those early posts. There are lots of videos and photos on both my blog and Lisa's. It's hard to believe my Yalla! is the same little foal. She like a chameleon of a horse, always changing colors.

 Happy Birthday Yalla!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Here's to the Birthday Boy, Scout, on his sixteenth birthday today and to the Birthday Girl Yalla! on her second birthday tomorrow.

Ain't got no Hair, part 3

Saturday morning, the sky was again full of smoky haze from the Wallow Fire burning in Arizona, several hundred miles away.

But it didn't stop our plans to shear the alpacas. i got the name of a shearer during the East Mountain Fiber Tour last weekend and we had a date today.

It was good to see how they catch the alpacas using two lead ropes stretched out. When my son and daughter caught them the last time, it took them an hour to corner them. It took these guys about a minute.
 Louise tends to cush at all times. She wouldn't come out of the trailer when they arrived at my place and now she went down when they approached her.

For the first time since I bought them, the alpacas are being haltered. I found out the extra large halters I purchased at the Alpaca Show in Denver last month are a little too big but they are still usable. I should have gotten the large ones for a better fit.
 Once haltered, a quick tug on the lead and the reluctant alpacas led readily across the yard, through the arroyo and into the barn. I sure wish horses were so easily managed.

This gentleman is giving Thelma some "joy juice," an herbal sedative. I cannot remember the name of it but it might be good to have on hand.
 I think Trevor and and Thelma look alike here. Big dark eyes and snarly teeth.
It was amazing to see how gentle they became, once caught.
This shearer likes to shear them standing up. It's faster and easier. However, Thelma didn't agree. She immediately tried to cush.

 It certainly took a team to shear. Sheila was in charge of filling the bags: A, B, and C. This was the blanket, the finest fiber, bag A.
 I couldn't resist getting photos of the curious equines. Annie is the 'fraidy cat and wouldn't come any closer. Yalla! and Scout, like little kids, couldn't get close enough.

It was a lot of back breaking work to shear the girls. To avoid getting the shearer kicked, Trevor had to hold the legs really tight. Fortunately, there was no spitting happening here.
Here's Trevor hanging on to those legs. 
The shearer noticed a lump on Thelma's belly, like a hernia. He suggested that I call the vet out. You can just about make it out in the following photo. I'm glad the shearer noticed it.
  Just like Thelma, Louise immediately cushed. It made it very awkward while clipping the toenails.
 I was pleasantly surprised to find both alpacas reasonably well behaved during their shearing ordeal. They never spit at us and didn't struggle much, They have obviously been handled before.

 It's a good thing her neck is so long with all the hands holding her. lol.
Nadia had a different opinion of the little critters than Yalla!, Scout and Annie. Instead of curiosity, she had animosity
 and flat out charged at poor Thelma.
 Thelma spit at her over and over but it didn't stop the attacks. Nadia would go to the corner and charge the rail. She looks so innocent standing back there, doesn't she? So does Thelma.
 Poor thing! She looks like a cross between a rabbit and a camel.
Here they are the next morning, skinny and DIRTY! I never realized how much alpacas liked to roll in the dirt before. After their fleeces are off, it's a good time to assess their weight. They look just right.
We decided to leave the halters with the catch leads (5 inch straps left dangling for easier catching) on them until we can gentle them down a little more.

Whew! I'm glad that's over for a year. It seemed much less stressful than the shearing I watched up in Denver at the Alpaca Show where the poor things were screeching and spitting away.

The shearer said the girls' coats were shorter than usual, like maybe they had been sheared in the late fall last year. Hopefully, their coats will improve next spring.

Next step, felt making.

Ain't got no Hair, part 2- song: Space Oddity, artist: David Bowie, album: Space Oddity