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Twenty Below

That was at eight this morning, by the time I sit to write this it has warmed up to fifteen or twelve below depending on the source. It was kind of fun at first, a bit of an adventure, but now I am sick and tired of it. When I went out to take care of the horses and chickens the air was to cold to breath, burning nose and lungs with each inhalation. Why was I taking care of the horses? They live happily outside with their round bale and heated waterer, it can’t get any lower maintenance than that. Well other than giving them some grain in this miserable weather they wouldn’t need anything except…… 2013-11-29 13.32.41 We are trying out a new horse. Yes, a new horse. After looking high and low and mostly just for the fun of it one was dropped into my lap. I always figure that is how horses should be found. One should put in the effort, or not sometimes, and God will surprise you with what you actually need, not what you think you want.

I had decided to buy a cow, still working on that but that’s a different story, and was looking through Craigslist comparing prices and seeing what was out there. Sale barns are so difficult with a large, energetic child, we are going to do it though once the big bred cow sales start, maybe.

Anyway I was looking for cows in the Rapid City Craigslist and came across an add for an old short Peruvian Paso gelding just the other side of Chadron. I always think the Pasos move so funny, the regular riding type less so than the show horses. They are incredibly smooth though. I called. We looked. He is definitely built like a Paso with the weird butt. His legs are much lighter boned than I would like, but they have carried him soundly to twenty. He seemed perfect, zippy and responsive we had brought the trailer along it was a done deal.

Until he crow-hopped with me when I asked him for a little speed. Not a trot he doesn’t trot, very cool and smooth. That was it I said no. I wanted a very quiet well behaved horse that a small child would be safe on. She swore up and down that he doesn’t do that, that he is a safe dependable horse, a confidence builder she said. Then she offered to let us take him home for a trial. My non-horse person husband liked him and wanted to try it, so we brought him home.

I got to ride him for a couple of days before the weather turned so miserable. He is very zippy, speeds all over the place in that wonderful Paso gait, and is very light in the face. He neck reins wonderfully which is lucky since he has no clue what legs mean. I guess most people ride that way, reins only no legs, but I tend to ignore the reins and use my legs to steer. This is a bit of an adjustment for me but could be good for a small child whose legs don’t reach. If we decide to keep him, which seems likely I’m rather fond of the little guy, I will have a good year at least to make positively sure that he is trust worthy  and teach him things like stepping over to the fence for mounting, can’t live without that one even if he is thirteen hands. Need to make sure that he ponies quietly too and knows how to get gates.

Until then, I turned him in with the other two and they don’t get along. Not a surprise, Coyote hates everybody. So I am taking him extra grain, more than the other two are getting, and locking the two meanies out of the hay to make sure he is getting enough. I hate for him to be short any hay at all in this terrible cold weather.  I worry so much because of his age, I know they can go into their thirties but I have never had one make it past twenty.

Brrrrr

2013-12-03 17.11.22This cold snap is particularly miserable. After originally calling for a late start yesterday they decided to call school off altogether. We got well over the predicted one to two inches the day before and it was cold. I had been worried about chores in the bone chilling cold with the child along and was very relieved to have my hard working husband do the feeding for me. Only because of my concerns for the child not because I didn’t want to go outside, of course not.

It was such a pleasant treat to have my often absent husband home for, almost, a whole day. We Played with the stir crazy child, played on the computers, and watched movies. I didn’t get a drop of work done. It was a vacation in and of its self, he’s never going to believe that I usually get stuff done while he’s at work.

We have been working our way through some of the great Christmas classics this year. So many different versions of A Christmas Carol, the muppets, one with Patrick Stewart, a 1951 version, and of course Jim Carreys take on it. All amazingly good, if some of them are a bit corny. I think Jim Carrey is the best of the bunch.

My favorites though are the old, old classics, not that Dickens is in any way modern. I cried through It’s a Wonderful Life last night after mocking it for so long. Guess you really should try it before you knock it. What an incredible movie. Miracle on 34th st was very good ( the 1947 version, I didn’t know there was a ’94 version and I don’t think I want to try it ) but didn’t quite come close. I’m afraid I am developing a slight crush on Bing Crosby, after White Christmas and Holiday Inn. I think it’s because my dashing, debonair husband has the looks of Bing, of course he also has the heart of George Baily (Wonderful Life). Christmas movies are great, but we are saving the best for last. If not on Christmas eve this year, we are going to watch A Christmas Story closer to Christmas at least.

All this cold weather does have its down side of course. Last night in the middle of the night at 15 degrees below zero the power went out. We brought the child to bed with us to keep us all warmer. We let the cat in off of the back porch and tried to coax the dog in from off the couch, she did not want to join us. As it grew colder, even despite our cuddling, my poor husband braved the cold to head outside and dig out a generator. We have a big old monstrosity of a gas heater, that I love, but it needs power to the thermostat to run. The generator kept the heater going until it ran out of gas. There is a gas tank here on the place of course but it has an electric pump. By then The Goblin Child had finally settled in and stopped crying so we left it and managed not to freeze and even get a little sleep until power came back on about six.

Still at around 8 below my husband, very disappointed that there was no late start today, called in his own late start and did the feeding, with lots of ice chopping thrown for good measure, for me again today.

Of Cows and Snow

Remnants of the big blizzard, the second one is in the fence line

Remnants of the big blizzard, the second one is in the fence line

It is snowing, again.

That seems to be the trend this winter, periods of snow and bitter cold interspersed with beautiful warm weather. No recent snow has topped that first one, fortunately. We are, hopefully, finished with cows, all but for the feeding of. After the last snow we, the guys and Cowboy Bill, got to wean calves. I had to stay in the house and watch The Goblin Child, dang what a shame.

The next day in what was supposed to have been forty degree weather we, me included, brought the last of the cattle home from summer pasture. Thanks to my loving husband and trainer extraordinaire Paula I got to take a horse!!  I invited Paula because she lives next door to the pasture and I thought she would enjoy a cow moving with such a short drive, next door is all relative of course. She offered to drive clear down and pick me and a horse up and then drive clear back. The hope had been that with the nice weather the child could ride on the four wheeler in front of her father. It was nineteen degrees that morning. So much for planning. My cow hating husband volunteered to wait in the pick up with the child, such sacrifice.

We, I at least, had a blast. Coyote thinks he’s a four wheeler anyway and with the very brisk morning he was off and going. I meant to ask Paula if the blistering pace, I think Coyotes fastest trot counts as blistering, was all right for her but he was already going and she starts colts I figured she would think the question was silly. It was to cold to bother with bits, I rode in my halter and she in a hack, slowing wasn’t much of an option anyway.

The plan was to drive them down the road to a neighbors corrals where they would be loaded on the semis to haul them home. I was all for driving them the whole way but nobody else wanted to push cattle all day in strong wind and  twenty degree weather, it had warmed up considerably by then.

The cattle came in easy and the short drive down the road to corrals was cold but pleasant. The one thing Coyote enjoys in life is chasing cows, he is so fun to ride. On arrival at the corrals I found my hard working husband standing by the pick up door keeping an eye on The Goblin Child as she played joyously at the wheel pushing every button and pulling levers.

As soon as we left to gather the cattle the owner of the borrowed corrals had arrived with a load of panels that needed set up to make the corrals functional. Waiting behind in the pick up my child watching husband was the only one available to help. The work involved in the cattle and watching the child at the same time can be difficult to manage. Trying to do everything at once, he left the child playing in the pick up, parked right next to where he was working so he could keep an eye on her while she stayed warm.

It worked nicely until he came to retrieve her. In her button pushing she had locked the doors. In his rush to get all the work done he had forgotten the keys in the ignition, so there they sat. I got to continue playing with the cattle, helping load the semi’s, while he watched her and waited for different set of keys to be brought. All in all it was a good day and we got to hear everybody elses story of the time they lock their child in the car.

Hidden Treasures

Digging through our attic for the Christmas ornaments I came across a carefully set aside box of baby clothes. Not the modern baby clothes strewn throughout the rest of the room but far older. Baby blankets, some hand knitted some store bought but in styles so different from today’s. A few sweaters moth eaten and worn and my favorites, the delicate white dresses, embroidered with neat intricate stitches. Some stitched pink, some white and another in blue.  They feel so fine and thin in my hands, it  is hard to imagine a child such as ours rampaging about wearing them. They are crisp and unwrinkled, lovingly folded, the favorites, chosen to be saved and put away after the children were grown. I can easily picture my predecessor performing the bittersweet task, doubtless  remembering sleepless nights and first steps as she worked. That is much easier than imagining my large, gruff Father-in-Law ever wearing such tiny fragile things.

I picked out a few, of the proper size and sturdier than the rest, to try for The Goblin Child. I am at the same time horrified at such a thing and at a loss as to what the proper treatment is for these treasures. They are family heirlooms, to be kept safe and appreciated. They are rotting away, worn down by moths and time, going to waste in the attic. Some should be framed and hung where they will be appreciated for the works of art that they are. Others, by all rights, should be thrown away, covered with holes and stains.

I won’t be throwing anything away of course, instead we will make careful use of what we can and leave the rest for me to rediscover at a later time or to be found by some other mother who will cherish the tiny memories of other children who have lived and loved on this farm. As my child grows I will pick out the outfits that mean the most too me and add to the collection.

This is All My Moms Fault

Who doesn’t love to blame their parents? This time it really is though, she got me hooked. She sent me links and whined until I watched, now we, the child and I, can’t stop. This is what we do instead of Barney or what ever monstrosity they are foisting upon children nowadays. This one is my favorite, I have a thing for cute little farmer guys in white tee’s. He’s not near as cute as my farmer guy of course.

I think this is the child’s favorite

The Coming of Winter

Well corn harvest is over, most of the cattle are home, there are calves to feed and my pumpkins are rotting on the lawn,  winter must be here.

Corn harvest was delayed continually by blizzards, regular snow and rain, but all in all went smoother than the nearly nonexistent wheat harvest. A lot of the corn was laying down, I understand, but the cattle will enjoy eating it and my Father-in-law has been out baling corn stalks. We got to enjoy riding in the combine. It is a much sought after treat for all the children, and the Goblin Child is just starting to appreciate it. Plus during harvest it’s the only way we get to see my farmer husband who gets to take a small vacation from working in town to play farmer full time.

All of last weekend was spent gathering and hauling cattle. Some were there, where they were supposed to be, others were off visiting the neighbors. One way or another they all had to come home. The closest got to walk, the farther away bunch got a ride in the trailer. That leaves one bunch to go, the time and method remains to be seen, by us at least. The Goblin Child and I didn’t get to bring a horse but we got to ride a little on a four wheeler and drive the pick up and trailer. She got to skip the car seat when going across country and really enjoyed chasing the cattle. Her father even let her ride on the four wheeler and chase them for real. She got very good at “haw”ing them.

With calves here to feed it’s back to work for the child and me. Last year she was too little to come along. This year my mother-in-law is spared the dreaded job of watching the child and The Goblin Child gets to help feed. I am glad that I got to learn how to drive the feed truck last year with out quite so much help, that makes it easier this year to feed with her hanging on my arms and onto the wheel and pulling every knob and control. Her favorite part seems to be when I floor it. The engine revs, and revs, and finally switches gears and we are thrown back in our seats as we reach top speeds of ten maybe fifteen mile an hour.

On the bright side I think the child will know how to drive long before she can reach the peddles.

And One More From my Brother

I do like his choices. Mom said it looked more like it’s appy side and I said I wasn’t interested but when I looked I must admit it caught my eye. Not that Wisconson has gotten any closer, it’s still to far away, not gaited apparently, and not old and very broke.

This is one of those rare instances where a Craigslist add got it right. Decent conformation shots and a write up that sold her for me.

Snowflake Appaloosa/Walkaloosa Mare – $500 (West of Madison)

Horses My Brother Finds for Me

Ever since I mentioned that I was thinking about another horse my brother has been finding me suitable candidates. All of them in Illinois and Wisconsin (far, far away). If not for the distance I really like most of his choices. He has the same slightly twisted taste in horses as I do. We both look for something other than obvious good looks. I like to think we go for something deeper. Good bone, big hooves, staying power, general good or at least interesting character. Maybe we just like weird.

My brothers apparent favorite so far is this little Halflinger. They even went to look at him, in hopes I think of me or our mother giving in and buying it. They said it was very fat, near to foundering. My brother hopped on and tried the boy out. bareback of course. Who wouldn’t try out an unknown, green broke horse bareback? I wish I had the seat and confidence he does. The horse was to fat to succeed at bucking and willing if uneducated. Although he was willing to bring the Halfy home our mother was not and it didn’t suit any of my requirements.

My favorite is this little Morgan cross. His price is right but other than that he doesn’t fit any of my requirements either. I like him though. His hooves are huge and what a nice butt. He, like the Halflinger, is a very nice height. The poor guys head looks gigantic in the, required, really bad Craigslist photo.  He is not gaited, not old, not really, really broke. If I were looking for a prospect he might be fun.

And the runners up are:

Chocolate palomino Morgan gelding. My gelding had a brother that sold with him who was this color. Could this be him?

Possibly Saddle bred, possibly walking horse, she’s not sure. Are the pictures supposed to be of her or the horse? What exactly is she selling?

Green broke mustang stallion, wow he really takes the cake. Free to a good home or 450 to a bad one. I gotta admit I don’t see the appeal here unless it’s to give this poor, ugly, sucker a chance.

So far despite his best efforts I am keeping my horse search nearer to home. I’m still thinking the little Paso mare is the winner. I can’t stop looking though horse shopping is too fun.

By pure coincidence I came across a grey Morgan mare for sale. Not just a grey Morgan but of course a half sister to Nev. She was out of a mare I have ridden and enjoyed, Wintermoon Light Kisses, and right next door here in Arthur. I called, mostly because I was amazed to see another Morgan so close, we really have nothing but quarters and their derivatives out here. The last thing I need or even want is another one of these, it would be just too much.

Still in the lead

Still in the lead

Of course there is this one though.

Black gaited Morgan gelding. He is gaited, he is older, he is not quiet not like I need, he is not close. I am trying so hard not to be set on Morgan, trying to prove I am not one of those obnoxious people who think their breed is the only one that’s any good and everything else is trash. Sometimes it seems like I am surrounded by them out here with my not quarter horses. I really do love a good variety of breeds and types but it is hard not to keep coming back to the old tried and true. Plus my moms all time favorite came from Missouri Vally that seems like a good reason to look right there.

The Child Who Would Sleep

Unrelated I just love this sweater. Fortunately my brother didn't.

Unrelated I just love this sweater. Fortunately my brother didn’t.

I very seldom put The Goblin Child to bed. This dawned on me one evening during corn harvest when my farmer husband was out late into the night in his beloved combine and it was up to me to get the child down. Don’t get me wrong I put her down for her naps all day, it’s just in the evening that he takes over the role. Father daughter time and all that. Not that she is usually hard to get down but I tried one other time recently and wound up with a screaming, wide awake baby until her devoted father came home and rescued her from me. He had her asleep in minutes and gave me exact instructions on the procedure.

I believe that a little apprehension on my behalf was understandable. With diaper changed and pajamas on we sat in her darkened room, the hum of rain from her noise maker droning softly in the background. I read her a book maybe sang a song or two. She cuddled in close, then began to spin in circles on my lap. Around she would go then sit sprawled against me for a moment then spin again.

I was at a loss. My child expert husband had not said anything about this in his instructions. Then she looked back at me, I swear in exasperation, and pointed at her crib. Dumbfounded I carried her over to it and asked her what it was that she wanted.  Pointing at the crib again she said dat. I laid her down and she smiled contentedly at me as I left the room.

I had to go outside last night around bed time. When I left the house she was running about, playing happily. Outside for only minutes, I came in to find no child in sight. Her baffled father explained that she had pointed to and banged on the door to her room asking to please be put to bed,  not her exact words, that would have been impressive.

It is nice to have a child that wants to go to bed with out having to fight. Hopefully this is a long lived trend.

Blossoms and Bloomers

Well it is official! We made our first sale.

For anybody who hasn’t noticed the link to it, over there on the right hand side of the page under general links I believe, I opened a store on Etsy. After I started making dresses for the Goblin Child and every friend and family member I know with a girl of the proper age I decided to get serious about this. It has taken an inordinately long time with every thing else that’s going on, farm stuff, horses, child, garden. But I finally got it set up and enough dresses made to stock it, very sparsely. Ten dresses has been my goal and I’m not there yet, and I wanted to get a banner designed before I declared an official grand opening and/or made any attempt at advertising.

But we made a sale! This is way more exciting than it should be. Now I guess I am going to have to put some work into this. Winter is here, the garden is done, there is no horse to train, things should be slowing down. So this will be my first step in announcing my shop.

If you have not already please do visit PumpkinVineFarms.  If you do visit, how do you like my beautiful model? Any mention on Facebook and sharing with friends who have children or grandchildren would be greatly appreciated.