Our family, meaning me!, has been immersed in clicker training for the last few weeks.
It’s good when spouses can share passions, by which I mean that we can both be totally obsessed with our individual passions and not mind that the other is preoccupied. He is still working at the tractor GPS thing and I have the horses.
I finally took the plunge and got the horse tricks 101 academy. The Goblin Child has been watching the videos with me, a little, she has the attention span of a gnat. We saw a horse playing with a ball and I told her we could teach Princess Onna to do that. I didn’t realize she would remember much less with such enthusiasm. I thought I would sneak out and get Onna started so G.C. would be able to see more progress when we tried together. I expected Onna to respond well, or at all.
The first time I messed with her she stood looking at me blankly. I was getting decidedly worried about being able to keep my promise. Fortunately I was able to work with her a couple of times and she started to get it.
We, both children and I, were going out for a ride. I had all three horses tied to the pickup, the proper two saddled, and realized I had to put one of them away. I told G.C. to make sure 8 didn’t get under the horses. I ran Rusty back to the pen and got back to find G.C. giving 8 cereal. She informed me that it was like clicker training, she gave him food and he followed her.
But that’s not the full story of our young trainer in training.
We had the pleasure of “helping” our friend, Paula, with a pony she’s training. The pony’s person (people?) are the same age as The Goblin Child and she wanted to see how the pony would do with someone of that size. The Goblin Child is a good, aggressive rider and was happy to help.
The wind was howling the day we went over. Fortunately the place has a nice indoor arena, even in there it felt as though the walls would be ripped away and moment. The pony stood quietly. Paula hopped on in The Goblin Child’s saddle and the two were off like a shot, in a speedy little pony trot. I had a few moments of doubt. But I trust Paula and if she says the pony is safe I believe her, with only a little trepidation.
They came back at a much slower pace and we threw G.C. up. She stayed on the lead line at first, then we turned her loose. They did great, pony wasn’t very interested in listening and G.C. wasn’t overly enthusiastic about going that day. Paula grabbed her horse and they rode around together for awhile. Then G.C. was done. Once she has declared that there is no point in pushing her any farther.
I got to get on Paula’s horse and they handed 8 up in front of me. Our neighbor, Tanna, who comes over to ride with me had come along and she swung her incredibly long legs over the pony’s back. They didn’t drag the ground, it’s a perfectly sized pony. Together we played around in the arena until Paula offered to let me try her horse on the cutting dummy. I jumped at the chance, he’s a good cutting horse and I hadn’t had a chance to play like that in a long time.
He was awesome, I was not so great. I allowed him to creep in on the dummy and we kept ending up right on top of it. It was a rush getting to feel a good cutting horse under me again. Then she let Tanna try him. She did her best, he took advantage a little. For a sport that is supposedly all about letting the horse work by its self, it’s amazing how much rider input is sometimes required. Tanna has been coming out and getting some lessons and is doing incredibly well for a beginner rider. She has a great seat and is willing to listen and wants to learn but we spent our lives learning seat aids, leg cues and how to do this stuff, she still so young. If only I had started paying attention to this stuff at her age. She is going to be a great rider and this was an excellent opportunity for her to learn.
Then Paula got back on and fixed all the things we had broken on her horse, just before their first cutting of the year. Hope she was able to get everything back to normal and does great this weekend.
The kids had gotten along so well. The Goblin Child and Sabbath weren’t too surprising, there had been some concern that Sabbath wouldn’t like having to share Grammy but she did such a great job of spreading the attention evenly, she must have been exhausted, and The Goblin Child had Different Papa and her aunt and uncle to be fascinated by. The immediate rapport between 8 and Truly was a quite surprising. They’re babies, nearly, but were best friends at first sight, interacting more than I’ve ever seen children that young do. Not that I have much experience with babies.
We always hate to say good bye but the parting was made slightly easier by lack of sleep and the travel packages mom always makes for the kids. Planning ahead of time, something I’m not capable of, she chooses and carefully packs, for each grandchild a very personalized bag of treats. We saved them until we had been on the road awhile. Grand Island to be exact. They slept until then and we listened to our audio book in peace. The first book in the live ship traders trilogy, Ship of Magic. (Dad, highly recommend it) This was a peaceful time, the last we were to enjoy.
At Grand Island they woke up, we ate lunch at Runza, then we gave them their bags. They loved them of course, as always. But it did not keep them entertained, we did not get to enjoy our book further much less finish it. The Goblin Child loved her dolls, insisted I read her her books immediately and ate on her snacks. Then she wanted 8’s tractors and he was not allowed to look at his own books, she must be read those too.
We stopped at Broken Bow to exercise them. Then encountered a herd of cattle being moved down the highway. Not a novel happening but somehow more fun and unique seeming when away from home. Despite, or perhaps because of lack of sleep there was none of the hoped for napping done for the rest of the trip. Instead we got to experience the dreaded “Are we there yet? Now are we there? How much farther?”
So much fun. But finally we did arrive and turned them loose outside to run and use up some of their pent up energy before we all collapsed, exhausted into bed. Glad to be home while wishing we were still away. It was good to see family and hopefully wont be too long before we see them again.
We got to Lincoln late and went up to see my brother and his family who had beat us there. The children all climbed in the tub with my brother for a quick swim, it was a big tub. We picked up Runza! and brought it to the hotel for a late supper when who should show up but my parents. Not that we were surprised but they were certainly taking their time getting there. It was long past everybody’s bed times so we went to bed looking forward to seeing everybody again the next day.
The next morning my husbands aunt joined us for breakfast. We were so glad she was able to come see us, we always love to get to visit with her. It was far to brief and somewhat interrupted by the hotels fire alarm going off. We were sitting next to the door and there was no sign of smoke so, other than my husband, the dedicated father, going to find The Goblin Child who was off with the rest of the family, we didn’t see any need for alarm. They finally got it shut off, it was a false alarm, about the time we were ready to go and we headed off to the zoo.
The zoo was fun and exhausting. After dragging our tired selves out of there we went to Romeos for a belated birthday supper and stuffed ourselves to the gills.
That night the two older cousins enjoyed a sleepover with Grammy and Different Papa. For some reason they wouldn’t take the two yearlings. The party animals stayed up till all hours of the night, ate popcorn and did some more swimming in the hot tub. And got treated to breakfast in bed the next morning. Grammy and Different Papa are SOOO much fun.
Sunday morning was a little more relaxed. We ate our usual, not relaxed but somewhat leisurely, breakfast. Then it was off to the pool. The Goblin Child had the inner-tube that Grammy and Grandma brought last time, technically it was for 8 but she was making good use of it.She was nearly fearless with it’s assistance paddling around the pool and even jumping in.
We frolicked until lunch time then The Goblin Child got to ride in Sabbaths bike trailer and we were all off to Valentinos for lunch. Again we ate until stuffed then headed downtown to the museum. My crazed brother again riding his bike pulling Sabbath this time.
The UNL campus is beautiful. Lincoln was beautiful. All over trees were in full bloom, filling the air with their scent and pink, white and purple flowers. We walked around looking until the museum opened, The Goblin Child clinging to her beloved Different Papa the whole time. My mom used to bring all the kids she baby sat to elephant hall, we’d see the capital and do stuff downtown. It isn’t until I had kids and tried to do things with them that I realized how impressive that was. This was before mandatory car seats, she watched a lot of kids and squeezed them all into the little hatchback. She is awesome.
After we wore out there we went to yet another park near by, A waterway had been developed with playgrounds and bike paths and fountains. It was very nice, the kids loved it, we could have skipped the zoos and museums and played at all the parks for free and the kids would’ve had just as much if not more fun.
The Goblin Child got to ride clear back to the hotel on the bicycle. A very long ride. It was warm still when they left and I put a light wind breaker on her. We got back to the hotel and they weren’t there yet. We let 8 nap, hung out and visited, they still weren’t there. Finally we spotted them pulling into the parking lot, from the third floor window we could see her little head bobbing as she slept. It had gotten much colder as they traveled but she was cozy back there sound asleep.
They had another sleepover that night. Again lots of fun, swimming and food followed by breakfast in bed. We were doubly grateful for this sleepover as 8 was up screaming most of the night.
The next morning it was time to tear ourselves away and head home.
We left for Lincoln bright and early Friday morning. Ok, not too early but we got on the road by eight. And started off on our long drive. To town where we played at the playground while the car got washed. We had decided to take the northern rout instead of the southerly and more direct rout because we always go that way and wanted a change of scenery.
Since we were going that general direction anyway I thought it would be interesting to go a little farther off course and go through the area my Grandpa grew up in. That part of Nebraska is beautiful, not that most of the rest of the state isn’t but I am partial to the big rolling hills and huge oak trees.
We found Fullerton easily enough. A beautiful little town with big old houses and the typical main street. It was much bigger than my vague remembrances as a child. Nobody could quite remember the exact location of the house my great grandparents had lived in after moving to town and I was a rather small child at the time. I found an area that seemed vaguely familiar and decided to call that the place.
We also stopped by what may have been the farm, or at least the general area where the farm used to be that my Grandpa grew up on. I used to love to hear the stories about rooster fights he would encourage, terrible injuries incurred by he and his brothers and, most of all, about the teams of horses they farmed with. I loved to hear about Prince and Bird and all the others long forgotten, how as a very young boy, five I think, his dad would put him to driving the team, at the end of the field he would come and turn them around and put my grandpa back on the reins.
The only hint as to the location of the old place was that part of it had been sold as a church camp. Sure enough my searches found Whispering Cedars Baptist church camp in just the right area. So we drove up and looked at it. High on the bluffs just as it had been described we found it. Maybe we drove past the old place too but we had no idea where it was. I thought about stopping by some nearby farm and asking, rural memories often go back that far, but that seemed a little excessive. We had found the general area and that was enough.
Then in to Genoa to the cemetery to visit my great grandparents graves and back on the road, rushing to Lincoln.
We had never gotten in to town for the yearly Easter egg hunt before. The kids were just too young and there are people, we try to avoid that when ever possible. This year we were going to go. Then it snowed. We had to run to the big city for groceries and thought we could be back in time, brought snow suits and everything. We were ready.
Then they postponed it. Just because of a little snow and cold weather. Wimps.
The weather was perfect this time. Sunny and warm, the whole town had turned out for it. I think The Goblin Child was a little over whelmed, she was pretty clingy. 8 wanted to eat the gravel in the parking lot.
Finally it was time. They called the children in age groups to their respective areas. Ours were separate unfortunately. I had hoped to watch 8 but The Goblin Child and I had to line up. They pointed out that we could spread out down the line as far as we wanted so we went clear to the end where there were no other children and talked about where we could see eggs to pick up. They were scattered thick on the grass.
Then it was time, she was off like a shot grabbing all the eggs she could get. And in seconds it was over, after all that waiting. But she had eggs, lots of them and she was happy. Walking over to find 8 we were still finding candy laying on the ground.
8 had not been overly interested in the whole thing. He loves the plastic eggs and just wanted to play with them. He had a decent haul though so he, or somebody, must have picked a few up. Leaves were more fun to pick up than eggs, unless they were in other peoples baskets. Those he was willing to try to get.
We met up and dumped the eggs, the plastic ones go back for next year. Then they played in the park. A boy came over to GC on the swing and I thought he was going to try to take it from her, but no he was a friend from preschool who wanted to say hi. She was very glad to see him and followed him to the slide. It was good to see so many children playing nicely together. The chamber of commerce does a really great job putting on their Easter egg hunt, we’ll have to get back next year.
For as long as we have been bathing children my very cautious husband has been warning me to be sure that NO toys go down the drain. We have a strainer that goes in the drain that is supposed to be used with every draining and nothing had ever gone down the drain. I was pretty comfortable with it.
There were no small toys in the tub only big things that I didn’t need to worry about. 8 had a fit about getting his hair washed, I got him finished and in bed then came back to finish The Goblin Child. She wanted to finish with a shower. I pulled the plug without putting in the strainer and she frantically began to grab her toys away from the drain. I started to laugh and tell her they wouldn’t fit down the drain but she was so worried I let her protect them and helped her out a little.
Then it slipped passed her fingers. I saw it as it rushed towards the drain but not soon enough to stop it. The nipple from big baby’s bottle, carefully removed from it’s ring and of course unscrewed from the bottle. I dove, hand first, down the drain after it and caught it with the tip of my finger. There was still water in the tub and I could feel it tugging at my flimsy grasp on the nipple. With teeth clinched I hung on with all my might. The last of the water finally passed and still it was there almost within reach yet totally beyond my grasp.
To make a long story short I tried to get it but only pushed it farther. I finally accepted the inevitable and told my husband. He had been warning me of the disastrous consequences should this happened. I expected to be in trouble. He was very nice about it and when he came home from work that night he started in on the plumbing.
He tore everything apart, hoping to dig out our addition, only to find that the pipes were rusted through, paper thin and leaking already. I wont go as far as to say it was in any way a good thing that we washed toys down the drain but it is lucky that he found the leaky pipes before they burst altogether. Then he started looking for the nipple, it had somehow disappeared. He started asking me if I was positive it had gone down the drain? Had I seen it?
I got in there with him and we stuck things up the pipes from each direction and poked and prodded. Nothing was to be found with our explorations. We were dumbfounded. There was no way it had made it past the P trap and it certainly hadn’t come back up the drain, it had to be there. I gave up and proposed flushing it out with water. Saner heads prevailed and he gave it one last try. And got it! It did exist! The day was saved and we got new plastic pipes and a shiny and handy new shelf in the bathroom cabinet. And a new strainer right it the drain so this can never happen again.
Not like rain floods, more like basement floods. Nobody ever goes into the basement up at the big house anymore just the kids when they are playing down there. Fortunately on Friday someone did. A pipe to an outside hydrant was leaking into the basement. Not inches of water but a slowly saturating spread. Of course the kids still had stuff in their bedrooms down there, this time by kids I mean my husband and his sisters. Who ever moves out and actually takes everything with? My husbands former room was hit the worst and of course he had the most stuff still there. Unfortunately mostly books, his collectors edition hard covers and very old books from his grandparents and other family. He’s the only one I’ve ever met who is as obsessed with books as I am.
He and his sister set to work cleaning out the basement, vacuuming up as much water as they could, setting up fans, rolling up carpet and hauling stuff out. We hauled two very full pickup loads to the dump and rushed the books to the only place we had room to spread them out, the playhouse. As I loaded soaking old books on to the table I couldn’t help but glance through. There was a happy birthday 1911 inside the front cover of one and, I haven’t gotten to read it over thoroughly, but what looks like a tax paper listing all of his grandpas assets from the fifties or sixties if I remember correctly. These are treasures that need to be saved. And we are working on it, they are damaged for sure but salvageable, only one that was so completely soaked it doesn’t show any sign of drying.
That took a couple of days and the job isn’t done yet. But it was Easter! So we stopped to celebrate. The Easter bunny paid a visit and brought lots of candy. No potatoes got planted but food was eaten and eggs hidden. Not dyed, they experimented with fake eggs that unfortunately wouldn’t take color. I thought that was the whole point? Why make fake eggs to color that won’t color? But other than slowing the fun down a bit, and we just had other fun while that got worked out anyway, it didn’t bother anything at all. We just got out the markers.
We had dyed our soon to be deviled eggs the the night before anyway.
We were supposed to get a blizzard. Luckily it hasn’t happened, but that didn’t stop the weather from making everything and everyone crazy. Coyote went insane getting cattle in yesterday, I keep telling him he’s nearly twenty he should be calming down. And I’m always kind of glad he doesn’t listen.
This morning trying to get children ready to go feed I really thought I was going to have to kill them. Then I turned this on and we were saved.
It has an amazing affect. The Goblin Child isn’t as crazy about it but 8 will sit and stare. For whole minutes at a time, and he never sits still. Hopefully he will try to emulate them as he grows up. Mixed in with these cute little guys is Little Fred and, as always, Farmer Derek.
This is our kind of TV. Up at the in-laws house the other day they were watching real TV. I was as always shocked and horrified. It’s amazing what people will willingly sit and watch and it confirmed once again that I have no interest in getting cable (or Dish whatever)
The first I heard of it, the weather radio went of and they were talking fifteen inches of snow. Fortunately once I calmed down and listened to the whole thing that was for Goshen county WY. We weren’t officially under a blizzard warning like they were but we were supposed to get many inches and high winds. We are of course calving.
So Tuesday afternoon I went to get Coyote to go help bring the cows and calves in from the corn stalks and get them nicely tucked in behind sheltering windbreaks. As I led Coyote in I meet the father-in-law headed out with calf chains (they look like a choke chain for a dog, used to slip around a calves legs to help pull it when the mom is having trouble). He said a cow in the pen of old, crippled and fence jumping cattle was having trouble. There was one on the ground and she had legs sticking out. Apparently he was going to pull it out in the pen. I thought it sounded like an interesting plan and hurried to saddle Coyote.
As soon as I was on and down the lane a little, I could see over the fences that he was walking the cow down the lane towards the barn. I turned around and started working to clear a path into the barn to put her in the chute. He got her up to the last set of gates, on his fourwheeler by now, she stepped through the gate and stopped. He hooked the chains on the calf, gave a good pull and the calf came out and slipped to the ground. We all held our breath for that long heart breaking moment until at last, it took a tiny shuddering breath. It was alive!
We left it lay there trying to come fully to life with it’s concerned mama licking on it, once in awhile, and went to get the rest of the cows. Oh but wait! As we tried to clear a path to the barn I rode Coyote up to a closed gate preparing to reach down to open the latch when he leaped into the air spun about and took off the other direction. I shook my head at his antics and we tried again, it’s just a cow in there silly I told him. As we rode up to the gate again he did it again. This time I realized it was a cow and a rooster! That must be perfectly understandable then. He did it one more time before I got off and lead him through the gate. Had I known the ride this was foretelling I may have given up then and taken a fourwheeler.
The first cows came easily enough, the like to trick you that way into thinking it’s going to be an easy job. In the next bunch one shook her head at him and he lost it. Lost it worse maybe? Not sure he had been there to start with, must have been the coming weather change. He spent the ride leaping and spinning, prancing and trying to bolt. I know we were a little help, although the father-in-law likes to spend most of his time coming over to move the cow that’s going in front of me. I’m sure he just wants to be helpful? Maybe he sees the way Coyote is acting and thinks he needs to save me? We don’t need saving, this is how we roll. I don’t know what’s up with that but I do know that as rotten as Coyote is I’ll be sad if he ever realizes he’s getting up there, he’s going to be twenty next year when did that happen? Hopefully he never starts to act his age. He can be a little difficult. Some of those moves got quite painful to ride, by the time we were done I could barely move, it felt like I had been hiking down Pikes Peak, full body sore. He makes me feel like I can actually ride though, instead of perch up there and try not to fall off like I really do. And then I think he’ll make a kids horse some day? I must be crazy.
We got them all tucked away nicely and fed up against the windbreak this morning. We were ready. But the bad snow never started. It rained, that cold windy awful rain that makes everything miserable. There are going to be lots of sick calves after this, but luckily no blizzard.
The horses are cold, only Princess Onna looked like she was shivering any so she got the blanket. The barn has the cow and twins in it, I think they need it worse. I gave the horses some more feed up against the windbreak they weren’t using and it felt pretty warm to me standing there. I’ll go check again latter and maybe switch the blanket around to a different horse.
Rusty, recent recipient of my current obsession with clicker training, came when I called, while the others, seeing me trying to lead them to the windbreak, ran off and I was able to lead him, with no halter or anything useful like that, away from feed, past big mean Coyote and to another pile of feed. I am so loving clicker training. And rather fond of Rusty.
In case you ever wondered what it was like to ride a crazed, zippy, bouncy Coyote. Not doing anything overly interesting, I can stay on through his high school moves, airs above the ground and such, but I like my phone and don’t think I should try to stay on and hold a phone. And maybe part of the reason we were only a little help.