15 August 2020

Out Riding

For the Goblin Child’s birthday this year she got a lovely little bay Arab mare. Tiny and delicate like she is,  they are working towards becoming the perfect pair.

Lady got a couple of days off with the start of school. Over the weekend we have been making up for that. Friday we saddled up and took long walks around the yard and down the drive letting both children get used to her. On a lead line.

They will be staying on a lead for awhile, until everyone is perfectly comfortable and used to each other.

Today we did it again. At the end of the lead. I told The Goblin Child that she was in charge of steering. I was only here as a safety so she didn’t get run off with. They had to fight the pull of alfalfa on one side and corn on the other. It was tough going.

We made it to the mail box and back though. On the way back Lady walked happily right down the middle of the road, not going after food and not caring at all about the sharp rocks. She’s got some nice feet.

In the yard we came across 8 who had just finished working on a pivot with his father. He jumped out from behind the trees, running and playing. Lady didn’t bat an eye. He led us to the crab apple tree where tiny tart apples were ripening. Red and tempting and just out of reach. We marched right into the front yard and used Lady as a ladder to pick apples from.

They were too tart for children and even Lady delicately turned her nose up at them 😆

8 wanted to pick apples too so we switched places, and helmets, then The Goblin Child helped heft hi into the saddle. He took his turn picking apples then  enjoyed a short ride back to the house.

11 August 2020

Leading Lady

I was busy moving electric fence to enlarge the bottle calves pasture. it requires lots of trips back and forth and is very involved and more complicated than a simple electric fence should be.

Having children helping or even playing around the house and yard doesn’t help matters.

On one trip through the yard to check on them as I went I spotted them running back and forth to the horses gate. They enthusiastically told me they were getting corn for the horses! I stepped in the house for a drink and when I came back out they were working hard, together, to haul a bucket of water to the gate. Lady was standing there chewing happily on the grain offerings they had hauled earlier. They weren’t fighting. They weren’t trying to get out of work. Instead they each strained at their sides of the five gallon buckets handle, working together to get the job done.

I was so proud of them. So I tried to help.

Let me grab Lady and bring her out! You don’t need to haul the bucket any farther and  you’ll be able to play with her easier, I said as I walked towards the gate, halter inn hand.

NO! The screamed! NO Lady screamed, turning and taking off the other direction. I had ruined everything and they let me know it in no uncertain terms.

I apologized profusely.

They climbed the gate calling desperately for Lady to come back.

The whole herd came thundering up and they were quick to get back to the safe side of the fence. Luckily Lady came through and went through a gate that no one else did. I was able to redeem myself from me earlier blunder by shutting the get and getting them Lady all by herself again.

They hauled her hay and more water. My son and I had a chance to discuss how horses can only eat so much corn. They can’t have as much as they want or however much we feel like hauling for them. My daughter grabbed her halter and was trying to figure out how to get it on Lady. That sent Lady off again. Luckily the gate was shut. We had her trapped.

I was able to convince her that she should let us up to her. As she’s making friends with the other horses she’s less interested in us and not enthused about being caught. We’ll get that changed just like all the other horses, she’ll come running when she hears us before too long.

Giving the rope to my daughter she lead lady out of the corrals and into the yard. There they tapped and grazed and finally decided that sitting on Lady while she grazed might be fun.

It’s hard to get used to the feel of new horses. It’s also hard to get used to the feeling of new people. Lady walked quick circles around me as soon as I sat my daughter up there. My daughter clung to my hand and the mane. Once they both got settled and held still we were able to graze until everyone relaxed.

What better reinforcement, for both of them, than still quiet time spent grazing in the yard. Moving will come soon enough, there’s no rush.

28 July 2020

Adventuring

We’ve been going over at least once a week and checking on the heifers. In a pasture near them there is a water hole. It’s fed by a spring that at some time someone cleaned out and dug a big hole around. It is quite the bubbling spring for this area. On past it the creek runs water. Before it, nothing.

We’ve gone before and thrown our fishing lines in. Not really in hopes of catching anything. We can see lot of fish but they are tiny. Instead just for something to do while we hang out together.

We went again today. Both kids had a pole and were left alone to figure them out. Or not. There was some success. Then they, one of them, got bored and started to wander. Across the creek  and up the ‘cliff’ on the other side. Eventually we followed. Up the cliff and across to the old windmill.

The windmill isn’t used any more. The tank under it is empty and collecting junk. All around it was more junk. Great junk. Foundations and remains of old buildings. We wandered thinking of what once was. We discussed how people would have chosen this spot to settle. No, not the trees near by but something to do with them. Yes, probably because of the spring. An easy close place to get water in this dry empty land.

On down the fence away from  the old building site then back down to the water, A different water hole. More big cotton woods offering shade and music. In  this hole we could see bigger fish. Still not big enough to eat but who wants to actually catch them anyway. Our poles were back at the first water hole though. Out on a fallen tree 8 decided to dip his feet in and Daisy decided to follow. We found a baby turtle shell, minus the baby turtle. Now we all had treasures to carry along.

The fastest way back was to follow the water along the base of thee banks. Or not. It quickly became too steep and there were nettles. We ended up climbing the cliff, with me carrying the pipe, turtle shell and a weird round thing I wanted. It was alot to carry up a cliff. Some how we made it then back down our original path and back across the water.

We were too tired to go back with fishing rods as originally planned and went on to check cows instead. We’ll come back next time. I hope.

26 July 2020

Endless Summer

This summer that seemed endless just a few months ago is winding down. School is set to start as normal in a couple weeks.

I am looking forward to it with relief and excitement bit also with dread and disrepair. While a little time away from the children would be nice once in  awhile, for the sake of the cleanliness of this house and to get work done on my job, I also hate to see them go and never feel like we took full advantage of summer while it was here.

We have been doing our best not to waste a moment of the time we have left.

I needed to run to the library to get some work done on the summer reading program we are doing. Better late than  never and better on line than not at all.

While I recorded the book reading and played on their tablets in the cool air conditioning of the library. With that done went downtown.

The children love to stop and get smoothies at the coffee shop in town. I am happy to oblige them whenever possible. When we went to get them though we noticed the coffee shop was doing lunch. It twas a bit early but with their father out working summer fallow we had all the time in  the world. We put in our order for lunch then took our smoothies to the park. Playing and eating I loved every time they exclaimed over how small the toys had gotten sine our last trip there. It had been awhile.

When it was time to go pick up lunch we took it to eat at the gazebo. Between bites and after they ran to the little park next to the gazebo park  and played on the toys. There was a new piece of equipment they had been wanting to try. Apparently it wasn’t as good as it looked or it was just too hot. Before long they were ready to go.

I had thrown goggles and towels in  the car and we took the gravel road home past the lake. We’ve been making good use of the thinngy that lets us play music from the phone through the car speakers and love singing along together to Peterson Farm Bros and Farmer Derek. Pasture Road has been our theme song for checking cows all summer. We drove and sang and were to the lake in no time.

The good spot to get to the water, down at the end of the road was empty again. We waded, I waded, they snorkeled and ran through the water until their teeth chattered with cold on the hot sunny day. Laid out inn  the sun then waded in again. The Goblin Child puts her face down inn the water and swims all over the place like a fish. 8 build sand castles and gallivants about splashing and making a huge ruckus.

Then chilled to the bone it was time to go home. Another day of summer carefully not wasted.

15 July 2020

Vacation

We been running and working so hard all summer there hasn’t been time to breath, much less get out and do anything fun.

Other than work.  Work is fun.

I still can’t believe it isn;t early spring. Summer should be just coming not almost over. When I realized that school was going to be starting shortly, maybe, I  decided we had to get out and do something.

Wheat harvest was just finished, short and sweet this year. Just a few days long and not much wheat in what was harvested. The next day was supposed to be unseasonably cool. I had  been waiting for a day like that. It was time to take the kids to Toadstool!

My hard working husband even took the day off work and came with us.

We went to the Cook Shack first. It was on the way. The kids haven’t been  here before. They were fascinated. Everything had to be explored. They ran through the town like real old west hooligans terrorizing the locals. The slated their thirst at the bar with a root beer.

I had one goal while we were there and had to get pictures of the infamous horse skull with the halter grown in. It makes the rounds on social media regularly and I wanted to show it in it’s natural habitat.

Then we went to Toadstool. It was packed. We got the last parking spot and grabbed a picnic table. I had packed lunch and we were getting hungry. The children drank their root beer and could barely contain themselves long enough to eat.

Once freed 8 took off down the trail. Or somewhere near the trail. Or not. He climbed every peak and tried to kill himself. It was the best playground he had ever seen. We gasped, held our breath, squeezed out eyes shut. Somehow he never did fall down a cliff or off a mountain. The Goblin Child followed behind at a much more sedate post but still did her fair share of climbing.

After making a lap around the short trail, with children walking quietly beside us by the end, we got back inn the car and headed into the depths of Sioux county. I wanted to go past Montrose and see the battle sight and church. There was a pickup backed up to the door of the church and the sound of hammering coming from inside. The kids and I went to look around the cemetery then wandered back towards the church. I had thought there was a plaque somewhere telling about the history of the area but didn’t see it anywhere. Maybe the people working would know.

Inside a young man and his grandfather maybe? Were hard at work. They were restoring the church to its original state and doing a wonderful job. They had no idea about a battle ever being fought there though or any historic plaque. I think it was out in the pasture, way off the road. We weren’t going to try to drive out there in the car. We would have to read about it at home.  The battle  and the town

From there it was back south towards the hills again. There was a small park I remembered stopping by years ago, before the fire that had cleared most of the trees out of that area. I could only hope the park hadn’t burnt too. It was marked on the map we had so maybe it was there. The children were restless and my farmer husband is not the fan  of the badlands that the rest of us are. I hoped I didn’t disappoint everyone.

After winding through the creek bottom and worrying that we had missed it somehow we came to the place, marked by a big entryway sign. Coffee park. We pulled in and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. There was an old set of playground equipment. The dangerous kind the kids love with a huge set of teeter totters that nearly gave me a heart attack, even after their escapades at Toadstool. A babbling creek that ran clear over rocks. Carefully mown and maintained out there inn the middle of nowhere. We ran and played and wadded and sat on the bridge and read, relaxing in the cool shade.

From there it was up Pants Butte road, the closest we come to mountain climbing out here. I loved it. The kids were not impressed.

Fort Robinson was on the way home so we stopped at the Ice House Ponds, not a place we had ever been before. It was beautiful but everyone was tired and getting grouchy. After a bit of playing and fish watching we headed for home. It had been a great day and a fun mini family vacation. We’re going to have to try to make it up that way every summer.

18 May 2020

Riding

My daughter used to be a great and fearless little rider. Between loosing her perfect little mare and a few other things she doesn’t want to ride so much anymore.

I convinced her to go for a ride with me today while her brother was riding in the tractor with his father.

She noticed my new cinch right away! If that’s the first time she’s been around while I had a saddle on with my new cinch it has been awhile since we rode together!

Throughout the ride she kept saying how much she liked the cinch. It is beautiful in my favorite colors, all purple and orange.

By the time we finished the ride it occurred to me that this could be useful.

If you keep riding and start doing this more often, I told her, we can see about getting you a cinch of your own. When we get home we’ll look through her page and you can chose the colors and design that you want.

She was thrilled.

At home we sat down at the computer and looked at Lexy’s page. As we looked m daughter decided she wanted a unicorn! In purple and pink. Oh dear.

Since I had an on going message with Lexy I told her we could ask and see. It seemed like a bit of a stretch to fit that onto a cinch.
Lexy answered immediately and was very sweet, not only willing to try to get a unicorn on a cinch but encouraging my daughter to keep riding in order to get it.

We’ll see if she keeps up the riding or not. Hopefully this will be the extra push she needs to get back to it. She did a great job riding today!
Lexy’s fb page is here if anyone else is craving a purple and pink unicorn cinch, or even something a little less extra https://www.facebook.com/LNCustomCinchesMecatesMore/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

3 May 2020

Positive Punishment? Negative Reinforcement? A Little Of Everything?

Sometimes the lines between the quadrants aren’t as clear as we would like.

My daughter hadn’t been sleeping. I need sleep, I found this to be very strong Positive Punishment. Walking through the days in a tired foggy haze made me grouchy and miserable to live with. That was not strong enough positive punishment to keep her from coming into our room every night just wanting someone to come back  to her room with her to stand there until she fell asleep, over and over again.

We tried all sorts of different techniques to get her to stop. After the first few times which were nightmare induced, it wasn’t because of fear so much as habit. She would be up and headed to our room before she was even fully awake. We tried patience, I admit I yelled a few times, my husband made her a noise machine that played audio books for her all night long. Please just lay there and listen to your book instead of coming to get us every time you wake up, we begged her.

None of it worked.

We were exhausted and our tempers were getting short.

This is where the lines start to blur.

I have been making the children come with me to feed in the mornings since they have been out of school. It’s good for them and they enjoy it once they get out there, even if they beg not to have to go every single day. It’s a fight to get them out the door.

It’s good for them, everyone needs to learn about work and responsibility. To them it is positive punishment though.

I told her that if she could make it through the night without waking us up she wouldn’t have to come with to feed.

It worked. She said the next day that she had been out of bed and almost to our door before she remembered feeding.

So she went back to bed.

What  category does this fall under?

Not positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement would be offering her a reward for doing the thing we wanted. We are, but only in the form of relief from  punishment. The one receiving the punishment, or reward, is the one who gets to decide what is punishment or reward, not the one giving it.

Had she not slept I would have been applying positive punishment by making her continue to go feed with me.

Positive punishment isn’t always a bad thing. We think of it as punishing, cruel and hurtful. By the scientific definition it is anything that stops a behavior. In real life the punishment I offered is something that is far better for her than not to be punished. So often we, our horses, everything, look at things that are good for them as a bad  thing. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’s hard to do. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best thing to do.

We would  like the lines between the quadrants to be well defined and clear. Punishment bad. Reward good.  Really though life is a constant weighing and re-balancing of the scales.

She is still sleeping through the night. She is still not going with to feed. Responsibility and the importance of work in life will have to be taught at some point, right now getting to sleep through the night weighs far more heavily on my scale.

14 April 2020

PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPppppppppppppppppppppPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP[PPpoOOOOOOPPpPpppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp-ppppppppppppppppppppppppp chips I want chips mama!!and mick and ike. I want water!

 

I told them to write something. I guess this counts.

School is still going good most of the time. Yesterday I let them stay in instead of coming with to feed and it was awful. Today I made them come and they were great again. Apparently they need lunged before getting down to work 😉

The Goblin Child flies through a days worth of school work in an hour when she’ll sit down and concentrate. They each get one Mike and Ike, or whatever candy we have on hand for each paper finished then a jackpot of free time on the computer when school is finished.

My favorite part is when they work together, usually on math. The Goblin Child quizzes 8 on the answers and they work through them together, on her math homework that is. Nothing cements knowledge like teaching someone else.

It’s been really cold the last few days but when it’s nicer out they are coming with to feed and helping feed the bottle calves.We have three right now and it’s a big job for them. The Goblin Child is old enough now to hold a bottle on her own. It can be pretty intimidating and heavy. The both got hammers the other day to help do repairs to the calves windbreak and didn’t even bash themselves in the face.

They come with most of the time to check cows. 8 is very good at driving the 4wheeler he can drive all the way through the pasture and is getting really good at backing it. The Goblin Child wont try yet but she will drive it through gates, which is better than nothing. They both are good at working the controls in the feed truck and helping with that.

 

 

2 April 2020

Great Timing

Now. Now when riding your horse isn’t politically correct, The Goblin Child has decided she wants to ride horses.

All this time I’ve been trying to get her to participate, to get her to do ground work or just sit on a horse and she’s refused.

I was working with Harvey the other day and she ordered me to lead him over to a place where she could get on. Of course I let her. The next day she decided to sit on Rusty while we worked and go for a ride. Yesterday I saddled Smoke for her and we went for a walk. 8 decided he wanted on behind and the four of us walked out to the mail box and back.

8 decided at the mail box that he wanted to walk. He is very slow. Smoke was headed home and going fast. It made for an interesting trip.

 

28 March 2020

Pony Poetry

This was a prompt for a poem for little kids. Kind of a fun looking project I thought. The kids not so much.

It took me a few days to find time and get them sat down.

From The Goblin Child about Harvey.

As black as the night  (never mind that he’s actually a bay -my comments not hers)

Like coal

An elegant pretty horse

My pony is as pretty as they can get

 

From 8 about Smoke   -some help from me

As old as a mole rat (?!) The Goblin Child thought turtle

Like an old weathered tree

A goofy fun nice horse

My pony is tall and really good

 

My demo about Rusty

As smart as they come

Like a dog not a horse

A beautiful red boy

My pony is practically perfect

Not exactly great poetry but it was kind of fun for the five minutes I was able to get them to sit still and think a bit.