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Wild Child

How in  the world is this child supposed to be ready for school in two weeks?

He has spent the summer mostly naked, covered in  mud, and as feral as a wild animal. He wanders the garden eating tomatoes like an apple. Is in and out of the pool or hose constantly through out the day. He drives fourwheelers, and some times the pickup.

He is fearless and tough as nails. Except for his feelings, those are tender and soft. He will often cry after he has accidentally caused hurt to someone and say that he’s mad because he hurt his own  feelings.

He can’t sit still and loves adventure. He loves tractors and computers, helping the guys do their work. He’s funny and kind when he’s not driving us crazy.

Hopefully school can  handle him, and not break that spirit.

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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.

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.

Rain

We spent the day getting the combine ready to go. The wheat was dry and the next day supposed to be hot. Miserably hot.

It was time for wheat harvest to begin.

Getting the combine cleaned up and ready to go is a family affair. Like all things in farming are. The kids love to get out there and help, they think the combine is one big jungle gym. We love to encourage them to get out and work, to learn to love farming, and tractors, and being with us.

Finished with the combine we worked in the garden, weeding and admiring the fast growing pumpkin vines. Watching them reach towards each other we talked about how they can grow up to six inches in a day. We took pictures so we could look again the next day and see how much they grew.

Towards evening clouds began to grow.

It’s been so dry. Rain would be good.

Rain is just as scary as it is hoped for on dry years. During drought we are just as likely to get hail, or dry lightening strikes, as we are rain.

The thunder rumbles grew closer and the cloud was growing right on top of us. When the rain drops began to fall they were big and heavy, scattered across the sidewalk. Then it started. Our son said it was raining ice. Technically he was right. I love the names kids give things. He was frightened and worried by the ice rain. Honestly everyone was.

My husband stood in the open door and watched. I couldn’t and stayed in the kitchen, hiding, as I cooked supper.

Lacking the wind to drive it the hail fell straight down, scattered and small. It didn’t stop though, going on and on. Then the skies opened and dumped hail in a frozen downpour. I buried my head in my cooking. My husband cursed it from the doorway.

Once it finally stopped and the lightening moved far enough away we went out to survey the damage.

Tree litter covered the sidewalk. Hail stones still covered the ground. Glancing towards the garden told me I didn’t want to inspect that any closer right now. On the fourwheeler, as a family, like farming always is, we drove to look at the corn fields. See how bad it was.

It could have been worse. It could always be worse. We’ve all seen the corn completely destroyed, beat back down to bare ground. The trees stripped completely bare and killed in one summer storm. It was bad enough though.

With lips drawn tight my husband stared silently across the tattered fields.

In the distance lightening still flashed in the dark clouds as the sun broke through the clouds. A rainbow lit the darkness.

It’s been a rough year. We will be alright. As always, as a family.

Fire Season

Yesterday was the hottest day yet this year. Temps creeping into the hundreds. Rain has been nearly nonexistent. The winds that have howled all summer have sucked away the few drops we’ve received before the thirsty grass could take it in.
We had to go to town. On the way home as our frozen food melted in the trunk we drove towards clouds. At first it was exciting, the chance of rain to quench the parched fields.

As we drove though the lighting began hitting the ground ahead of us.

Watching the lightening come down out of the narrow strip of rain makes your stomach clinch and churn. It takes a lot less than that to make everything burn.

As we turned south towards home smoke was visible rising up to meet the clouds. From there I could tell though it was too far off to be us burning.

The relief of that is as great as the guilt for being glad it is someone else.

All evening small storms continued to roll through. Stepping outside to look at the sky and scan the horizon regularly I finally saw what I had been dreading.

Smoke.

Thick black smoke in the direction of the pasture where my cows are spending the summer. Staring intently and carefully gauging landmarks I decided it had to be north of them, the wind was still hard out of the south. They should be safe.

Just to be on the safe side I texted my husband to tell him I was going for a drive to check it out. Almost home from his job in town he said to wait, he’d go with me.
In his car we drove out. The smoke was well away from us. I texted a friend, yes it was by them but they were alright.

This morning the local fire dept. posted the story and pictures. 400 bales of hay and a few acres. Another one over a hundred acres of pasture.

Thankfully it wasn’t us but the drought shows no sign of breaking. Not this time doesn’t mean not next time.

We’ll keep watching the horizon for smoke and praying for rain.

Walking

I’ve been enjoying walks along the creek in the pasture.

Not sure anyone else is, but I sure enjoy it.

We’ve been going over and checking on  our heifers. They are in a pasture over there with the other heifers, and Poppy, and I want Ghost to remember that she is tame. No  problems there. I was nearly smashed today because ALL of the heifers, and Poppy, think they are pets.

The creek  bottom is full of poison ivy and the creek is mostly dry. It’s still fun, in our boots and jeans.

There is a really good spring in  the bottom. The moss bright green where the water comes up. The deerflies were plentiful too. The Goblin Child was very confused at first. She said she thought a butterfly just bit her! Why would a butterfly bite her? We stared for a long time at the fish, small minnows and bigger somethings swimming about. The water rippled violently with the shear number of minnows flocking away from our presence.

As we climbed through the sprawling branches of a big willow the children following behind called for me to come back! They thought they had found a lizard!

Going back I found a big? Not caterpillar. Not grub. Something though. With its long body looking somewhat like a lizard sticking out of the cow poop. I had walked right over it but they noticed. We stopped and looked. Poking it gently in curiosity. Then continued on our way.

 

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Knight In Shining Armor

We had a storm blow through last night.

On the radar it looked like we might get rain, it showed clouds coming.

As the line of clouds got closer we started getting high wind warnings. Then the power went out.

As the clouds came over head my husband called us out to see the dust cloud. It was clearly separate from the storm clouds. A brown fog billowing beneath the grey. We stood watching it in horrified fascination. Until it hit.

We saw the wind hit the trees in front of us and we were pelted by gravel as we dashed for the house. Safely inside we watched the dust cloud envelop the yard. We could barely see across the driveway. Staring out in horror we were transfixed. Until my husband said the gecko was blowing away!It was a gift a few years ago. A well loved pool toy that they had gotten out to play with in our little pool. In getting everything else put away I had forgotten about the pool.

As I ran to look I saw the little green inner-tube fly past. It was gone no hope of saving and cheap to replace. I couldn’t see the Gecko though. My husband nearly knocked me over running to the door. Of course I followed.

Outside the drive was being scoured by wind. Dirt filled the air. The gecko was flying north, carried by the wind. As I dashed across the road after him I saw it hang up for a moment on his parents house. We might actually be able to catch it! Then it was gone again. Through the yard, over the electric fence, and off, into the hay field. Out there there was no wind break. The gecko was gone.

Still he ran after it though!

It hesitated in the lee of the trees, enough of a windbreak that he had time to catch up and grab the treasured toy.

Now all we had to do was fight our way back into the wind, carrying a kite, and keep from being blown away. In the house we scratched at scalps covered in grit, and used the precious remaining water, because there was no electricity, to wash the dirt from our faces and teeth.

There never was any rain with the storm. Only dirt and wind. After the wind died down a bit there was some lightening, no fires that I heard of though. 8 was traumatized by the whole thing. Terrified of the wind.  My husband was awesome though. He had saved our toy instead of staying inside out of the wind and filth. Now that was chivalrous.

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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

A New Pedestal

My sister in law has decided to clean out the shop. It’s a pretty impressive undertaking. Stuff has been accumulating in there for decades.

In the cleaning I have found quite a few items that will work as horse toys.

Out of the large collection of tires carefully stored away there were some smaller ones that I thought I might try for small pedestals. The first one I tried was for a three wheeler. It was too thick. I wanted wobbly but it was too wobbly.

The next one was an old fourwheeler tire.

I drug it out and screwed a small piece of plywood also scavenged from the shop to the top and tried it out. It was smushy but not too wobbly like the thicker one. When Rusty got both feet on it smashed almost flat. It would work.

I needed to take it back apart, trim the plywood to fit and add some of the rubber, also found in the shop, to the top so it wouldn’t be slippery. I asked where to find a saw. Starting to do things myself usually ends up with my husband deciding he needs to do them for me. Not entirely a bad thing 😉

A saber saw made quick work of the plywood. A carpet knife cut the scrap of bed liner surprisingly easy. Screwing it all back together was a little harder. The screws didn’t want to go through the tires, there was no getting them back  in the old holes. When  I pushed hard enough to go into the  tire it pulled right through the rubber on top. My husband found a scrap piece of metal tubing just the right length to hold the tire up and the screws went right in. Washers would also have solved the problem.

I may fill it with expanding foam at some  point or leave it as is. Part of the purpose of pedestals is to teach a horse to trust and step onto things that aren’t perfectly steady when we ask.

Once that was completed I started off to add some scrap pieces of old baler belt to my bridge! In horror my husband came to do that for me too. Between baler belts and the rest of the bed liner the bridge is now slip proof.

Now I just need to get out there and try it out. I wonder if the horses will be bothered by the new look of their old toys?

Oops, just realized after writing all of this out that it was on the wrong blog! I meant to put it on Rusty’s blog, it’s a piece for the Academy. Sometimes it’s easier to get longer ones written out here, or there 😉 then copy and paste after some proof reading. I guess I’ll leave it here because it doesn’t really matter where I put it.

 

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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.