Spring Musings

This week we are finally getting some weather that feels like spring is here. I love the long days of sunshine and blue skies. Most of this month has been cold, windy, and wet. The wet I’m all for because it brings spring flowers and puts moisture in the ground for the hay crops.

I also like spring because it brings Memorial Weekend. The reason for the weekend is to remember the men and women who gave their lives so we can live free. I always donate money for a small red memorial poppy. There is a woman who brings them around in a basket at the Sumpter Flea Market. I’ve been attending this event with fellow author, Mary Vine for over five years. We set up a tent and sell our books over the three-day weekend. It has become as much a fun weekend with a friend as it has been about selling books. The fun part is having fans come back each year to buy the latest books.

Sumpter booth

This month I’m also trying to finish the third book in the Spotted Pony Casino mysteries. It has been slow since I’ve been attending track meets to watch the granddaughter that has been living with us the past two years. If I don’t have it finished by the time I go to Sumpter, I’ll be writing in the evenings. It needs to be finished because I’m going on a week-long trip with my sister-in-law to research the next book in June.

With the sunnier weather, I plan to get out and ride my horse more. As I get older, I have become a fair-weather equestrian. LOL I enjoy riding with the grandkids and riding by myself. My horse, Jan, is a mellow fellow and he has a slow easy stride that I like. I hope to go on several long trail rides this summer. If I do, you’ll see a post about it here.

Me and Jan

Earlier in the month my hubby traded some hay for a manure spreader. We weren’t sure what he was getting as an older man we knew called him up and asked if he wanted it. When he drove up with the spreader on the trailer behind his pickup I smiled. It is the cutest thing! The size is perfect to pull behind my little purple tractor and to use in the two small fields we use or the horses and steers.

That’s the end of my musings. I hope you enjoyed this brief look into my life, both writing and personal.

Horses, Hooves, and George

Last week we finally found a new farrier. A person who trims horse’s hooves and puts shoes on them. Ever since moving to SE Oregon I’ve had trouble keeping a farrier. They either move or stop doing it. There are a lot of horse around here that need their feet taken care of, but many of the ranchers do their own hoof care but don’t do it for anyone else.

I can understand why they would need to stop. It is hard on a person’s back. And if you get too many horses that don’t like having their feet messed with, it can even be dangerous.

Luckily, we found a young man, who will, hopefully, keep at it for a while.

My daughter, who lives down the road, brought over two horses and two ponies to get their feet trimmed. She also brought one of her older boys and the two littlest grandkids. The littlest grandchild, tried to help her mom load up, her pony, Candy.

And I had my two horses and George the donkey’s feet trimmed.

Two littles visiting George when they first arrived.

As you can see, littlest grandson thought it was warmer to lay on my gelding Jan.

The horses and Goerge all now have nicely shaped hooves.

Earlier this week, I went for one of my hikes on the hill and was happy to see a buttercup in bloom as well as yellow bells and lupine peeking through the dirt. A sure sign of spring though we had a very dry winter.

Buttercup

The other day, hubby was loading up his pickup and a trailer to take items to an equipment auction. He asked me to help him but using the backhoe to lift up tires. Here’s my view while working.

That’s the thing about living rural, there is never a dull moment! always something to do, whether it’s fixing fence, feeding animals, building something, or moving equipment. Not to mention cutting, raking, and baling hay in the summer. Or going for a walk, riding my horse, or sewing. Yep, I don’t understand people who have nothing to do…

What Came Before

Sunday mornings when the sun is shining, I like to hike on the hills and ridges around our place. I call it my Sunday morning church. I believe in enjoying the world that God or the Creator built for us.

My hubby always meets with other farmers and ranchers for coffee or breakfast on Sunday mornings so I leisurely eat my breakfast, feed my horses and the cats and then Harlie and I take to the hills. Roaming around taking photos and studying the ground.

This time we- well Harlie- discovered an old horse’s hoof. I’m sure it had to have come from a horse that had died many years ago and the hoof either made it’s way to the top of the ground and an animal packed it off or an animal dug it up and packed it off. Either way where we found the hoof wasn’t a spot where an animal could have been easily buried. My best guess is something picked it up somewhere and dropped it where we found it.

The hoof doesn’t look as if it has been chewed on but it is definitely dried out. The outside looks like weathered wood.

The inside is smooth and gives a good look at the shape of a hoof with out the bone, muscle, and tendons.

I found this discovery interesting as you can tell by the three photos. 😉

I always find something that piques my interest when I am walking in nature. How about you? Do you keep your eyes on the trees, the plants, or the ground as you walk through the wonders that were put on this earth for us to enjoy?

Chores are not a chore

While there are some mornings that I linger inside before donning my weather-proof pants, heavy coat, stocking cap, and boots or walking shoes, I still make sure I get out and feed the horses and cats by 8 am. It’s part maternal instinct that drives me out to take care of them and part being a farmer, living with animals to take care of my whole life.

Patty eating her grain

I know the importance of keeping animals fed and watered in the cold weather. They need the feed for fuel and the water to help them digest the food and keep them hydrated so their bodies can function in the cold weather.

Animals have been my friends longer than I’ve had people for friends. Growing up we lived rural and at a time when a child was allowed access to the phone. We were 12 miles from town. During the summer we would only make a trip to town when our grandmother who lived with us went for groceries. I’d go to the library and check out books. We didn’t see friends except on my birthday in June. Horses, dogs, pigs, cows, and sheep were my friends. I’d talk to them, talk among the herds and talk to the animals that were curious.

When my children were small I raised hogs that farrowed in time for 4-H members to purchase weaner pigs for fair projects. I enjoyed going down to the barn and cleaning out the pens and feeding them. At the time my children were in grad school. The hogs were less demanding and were always happy to see me coming. LOL My kids complained about food, clothes, not getting enough time to play or watch television. Yes, I enjoyed my unconditional love hogs!

my daughter’s piglets

I didn’t mind feeding the cattle we raised when the kids all started leaving the nest. Many times I’d climb onto the tractor and pulled the trailer piled with hay out into the pastured and stop, dump some hay off, get off the trailer, walk to the tractor, move it forward, stop, and do it all over again about ten times until the cattle were fed. This, of course, was in the winter while I was wearing insulated overalls , boots, and gloves.

It seems the animals need the most attention when the weather is at its worst!

Chores have been a way of life for me. As a child we had rabbits. The pens had to be cleaned and the rabbits fed every day. When the pile of rabbit droppings grew too large under the pens, we had to fill a wheelbarrow and take it to the garden. Sometimes it would be frozen, not fun!

I don’t mind chores and I love having animals. The wild animals that have no one to take care of them are always fascinating to me. Do you like chores? What about animals?

From Angel to Badger

One thing is for certain, life always keeps you on your toes and humbles you.

On the last day of the 2021, I walked out of my house dressed in snow pants, a sweatshirt and my coat and snow boots ready to take on the bright snowy day. After feeding the horses, steers, and cats, I decided it wasn’t too cold to go on a walk.

After walking past the house and the area the dogs run around making lots of tracks, the landscape before me was white, unmarred, and beautiful. I stood there for a few minutes taking it all in and decided I wanted to make a snow angel.

I found the perfect spot with just enough slope I could get up hopefully without destroying what I’d made. I sat down, laid back on the snow and waved my arms and legs feeling giddy. It had been a while since I’d even made a snow angel. The day had just felt perfect for letting my joy loose.

When it felt like I’d waved more than enough, I sat up, pushed down with one hand and managed to get out with out mangling the design too much. See photo below.

My snow angel

Humming to myself, watching Harlie, our dog running joyously up and down the side of the ridge, I continued on my walk. My usual path is a dirt road alongside our hay field. On days when I feel crunched for time, I walk down to the end of the field, about 3/4 of a mile, and back. That was my plan this day.

The road isn’t flat, it wanders up and down small inclines and even tilts toward the field. As I was walking the white untouched snow covered road, I was also staring off at the ridge where a hawk sat watching me. I stepped and my foot continued downward. I caught my balance and looked down at a badger hole that I’d stepped in.

You would think when a badger hole is 8-10 inches in diameter that the snow would go into the hole and therefore make an indention in the snow. But it doesn’t. the snow is level over the holes and you can’t see them when they are covered with the white stuff.

I commented on I should mark the hole with something and continued on my walk. Once again staring up at the ridge and the bird that was soaring around. At this point, the road was at a slant. I looked up, noticing something moving on the ridge and put my foot down. This time my foot fell into a badger hole. My whole lower leg went into the hole and I fell forward.

Lucky for me, I have solid and not brittle bones. I pushed myself up and had to work my foot around to get it out of the hole. Once I had it out, I stood and decided I’d have bruises and few pulled muscles in the morning but nothing worse. However, I made another vow to mark the hole with a stick.

I finished my walk and sent this photo to my hubby.

The badger hole that I went in up to my knee.

Luckily, this was an old hole and I didn’t have a badger gnawing off my foot while I was trying to get it out. If it had been a fresh hole, I would have seen dirt around the hole and wouldn’t have walked right over the top of it.

As I said in the beginning, life keeps you on your toes and humbles you. I went from the top of the world, playing in the snow to wallowing around in the snow to get my foot dislodged from a badger hole. And that is rural life!

Slack Week between Holidays

Daughter and son-in-law packing their Christmas tree we cut down.

This week between Christmas and the new year gives time to stop and reflect and look forward. While the days seem to be lost during this time, I think it’s because we give ourselves permission to think about so much that happened over the year and think about what is to come in the new year.

Reminiscing with family and friends over the holidays is a fun way to look back and remember good times. There is sometimes sadness mixed in with the good, thinking of people who are no longer here, but there is always the brightness of knowing we have another year to look forward to.

Christmas in SE Oregon was white and cold. I loved it! There is nothing like a white Christmas to make the day feel even more festive. The week following is cold. It makes taking care of the animals a little more difficult. Water troughs freeze, the animals are cold and need extra food.

After the chores are finished, it is comfy to sit at my computer with a heater under my desk or in front of my sewing machine while I work on quilts. There is always something to do inside, if the weather outside isn’t pleasant.

I have a hard time understanding people who say they are bored. As a kid I might have uttered it a time or two but as an adult, there is never time to be bored. I can always find something to do. In fact, I never have enough time to do everything I want to do.

What do you do during this week between Christmas and New Years? Do you work, take a vacation? Maybe just spend your time when you aren’t working watching movies or working on a hobby?

The Best Part of This Season

Me in the forest-my happy place

I’m probably not the only person who can’t wait to get their Christmas tree up and decorated. For me it’s not just the tree with lights, sparkly bulbs, and tinsel, it’s the whole process of finding the right tree.

Earlier this week I went with my daughter and her family to get our Christmas trees. My hubby doesn’t like to go, but will if I insist. This time he happened to be out of town, so I hopped in with my daughter and her kids and away we went!

About 2 hours from where we live is the Malheur National Forest. There was 6 inches of snow at the Idlewild campground. The kids were ecstatic! These Alaskan grown kids love their snow! They hopped out of the van and started suiting up in snow pants, boots, coats, and gloves. Then they tied sleds to the back of the pickup.

We headed off on a forest service road toward King Mountain pulling two sleds and three kids. The first part of the road had mostly pines. We were looking for fir trees. At the same Y in the road as we’d stopped the year before, we pulled over and the kids started playing in the snow, building forts and snowmen, while the grownups and the littlest child headed out through the trees looking for the prefect Christmas trees.

Hiking through the forest looking for Christmas trees.

I found my tree first. Or at least I thought it was the tree I wanted. We cut it down, put the permit on, and hauled it back to the pickup. We checked on the kids, who were having a wonderful time and headed a different direction looking for a tree for my daughter.

We marked an X in the snow by one tree along the road and kept looking. We found a small grove of about a dozen trees. My son-in-law and I liked one but my daughter thought the one by the road was better. We hiked back to that one and she said, no, the others were better. So we hiked back to the small grove and she cut down the one we all liked that was there.

It was nice having helpers to get my tree.

When we returned to the truck, the kids were busy rolling large balls of snow and making snowmen. My daughter and son-in-law joined in helping one of the younger siblings make a big snowman. Once everyone agreed they were hungry and ready to head home, we tied down the trees, and set out the sleds so four of the kids could ride the sleds back down to where we’d parked the van.

Snowman in the works.
Enjoying my tree.

Back home, I hauled my tree into the house and realized it was going to take up too much room. After toppling it once, drilling holes and putting in limbs where there were bare spots, I decided to cut the bottom 3 feet off the tree to make it fit where I wanted in the first place. The limbs I cut off went to my daughter to make wreaths and boughs for decorating her house.

With my tree chopped down to a size I could decorate by myself, I enjoyed putting on the lights, ornaments, and tinsel. It isn’t a perfect tree, but it makes me smile when I look at it.

I hope you all have a special event you do each year that makes you happy!

Best Laid Plans

Sunday mornings are usually spent hiking on the hills and ridge on our property. I enjoy communing with nature and think about the past week and what I need to work on in the coming week. Today, I had finished my morning chores- feeding horses and shop cats, watered my outdoor potted plants- I headed up the hill behind the house and when I reached the top. I looked out to take a photo and…

The 2 to the right are escapees.

Of the 50+ cows that are being pastured on our hay field, 2 had crossed the fence at a low spot I had told my hubby about three days ago. To which he replied, “They’ll be fine.”

Backtrack several hours. Hubby left at 5:30 this morning to take a load of hay to a buyer three hours away. And he planned to spend the night with his mom because he has a dentist appointment in that area tomorrow.

As I stared at the 2 cows in the wrong field, the other cows were piling up at the spot where I’m sure the first two went through. I texted hubby. 2 cows are out. His response. Close all the gates.

I hopped in the Suzuki Samurai we call Sami and headed out to close gates. These are gates that lead from the field they 2 cows were onto the county road. As I headed to close the last one, I spotted the neighbor in his side-by-side with his dog, herding the 2 cows down the fence line to the gate into the field they’d fled. Hubby had called him to help. By the time I reached him, he had the cows in and the gate closed, with the whole herd pushing at the gate wanting out. We chatted a few minutes about how hubby and the person who’s cows they were, both knew about the low fence and had done nothing.

He headed home and I headed to the corral to grab an extra panel to tie up in the hole in the fence. I was able to slip it through the roll bars on Sami to haul it out to the spot. And using the ever present baling twine, I tied it up and hope it will keep the cattle in until they are removed this coming Friday.

It was not the leisurely morning I had anticipated with hubby gone. And as I told him. This morning is a firm reminder of why we not longer raise cattle. They always get out when hubby is gone!

Second Favorite Place

A large portion of my family tagged along on my annual birthday trek up on the Steens Mountain. I would have to say that it is my second favorite place to visit. My first, of course, being the Oregon Coast.

Rockaway Beach

The mountain is never the same. Some years when we go up the end of June on my birthday, we are met by blankets of wildflowers. Other years, not so many. And one year we couldn’t even get up on the mountain until July because of so much snow.

snow pack

This year there was still some snowpack. The 77 degrees was welcome since it was one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had in June. The temperature wavered around 100. The wildflowers weren’t as tall and easy to see as they had been in years past. Many of the colorful blooms were hidden in the sagebrush. The aspen trees were green and lush. Fish Lake was blue and inviting. The grandchildren who went with us all took a swim in the lake while the adults watched.

Fish Lake

Standing on the top of the Steens, looking down at the green circles of irrigations pivots around the dry Alvord Lake bed you get a feeling of the vastness and contrast that is SE Oregon.

Looking down at Alvord Lake bed

The abundance of wildflowers either hiding in the sage or hanging precariously on a rock thousands of feet from the valley floor, is one of the unique things I enjoy about the mountains.

Kiger Canyon

I can find beauty in all the outdoors but I do believe nothing is better for my soul than the Oregon Coast and the Steens Mountains. Although, staring at the Wallowa Mountains, also stirs me and brings me peace. Hmmm… I need to spend some time there soon.