Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Weekend Camping - Day 2

The next morning we all had a great breakfast together (I brought fresh eggs from our chickens) and afterwards someone had the brilliant idea to bring out a puzzle - which quickly became a community effort! I wasn't too keen on puzzles, but I found a piece and then it was addictive, I had to hang around and find a few more.

The dogs spent most of the time with us on leash, but occasionally they had to hang out in the yard while we were at meals.

I distracted them by giving them chewies to work on while we were having meals.

After lunch Dave got into a card game.

Eventually the dogs got so comfortable in their yard they started wrestling and playing - it was nice they had enough room to run around a little bit off leash!

Our van, along with several other large tow vehicles, were recruited as 'wind breaks' to help shelter the gathering area from the chill winds that were blowing through pretty much all weekend. That actually worked pretty well, and when someone had to move a truck to drive into town, we really missed it!

This was Navi's first camping trip, and she did great. We gave her dramamine before leaving, but she still threw up on the trip down. She was a bit nervous about all the attention, even though Barclay was setting a great example of how to schmooze people for treats and lovin', so she went with a 'bark first, ask questions later' policy. She did pretty good though, she just needs to get out more. For the trip home we gave her extra dramamine, and she still threw up. Poor pup! But she was such a good sport about the whole thing.

Soon, another great long weekend in our Airstream was over. Everything in the trailer worked fine. It's so nice that the trailer has finally gotten most of the bugs worked out. Once we got home it gave us a little trouble emptying the black tank, and the last night there we ran out of battery power, but all in all, it did really good, and like always, it was a comfortable place to call home base.


Memorial Weekend Camping - Day 1

We arrived in beautiful Trout Lake, WA, at the foot of Mt..hey, where's the mountain?

This is our annual Memorial Weekend trip to meet our Airstream friends. This time we had about 10 trailers, which is a smaller party than usual. A lot of people had to cancel at the last minute. 

Many of the regulars were there as usual, and brought instruments, because it just isn't a party until the music starts up.

We got our little trailer setup, along with the new 'dog yard'! This really worked brilliantly. The dogs enjoyed having space to hang out and watch the goings-on.

When we were just hanging out in the trailer, it made the trailer seem bigger because the dogs could be outside enjoying the sunshine.

The weather was kind of crazy. Storms kept blowing through, and it was one of the coldest visits we've had there! It's been a late spring all over in the NW, and this place felt like it could have snowed at any time!

Dave wanted to snap a picture of me and Barclay in front of the mountain. I tried to smile, I don't know why it looks like a grimace!

We spent downtime hanging out in the trailer until the storms passed.

When the sun came back out we took the dogs for a walk to see the stream where it crossed the main road. It was really high and roaring!

We got a glimpse of the mountain at last.


We cooked potato-dish for the potluck and then hung around the campfire, catching up with friends.

Even though it was cold, the mountain rewarded us with a pretty show at sunset.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Something killed a couple chicks :(

I went into the coop this afternoon to gather eggs and found two of the mama hen's chicks dead in the coop. It looked like something had bit their necks. This was one of the gold ones, and Speckles :( The blue chick was nowhere to be found, so I guess whatever killed them carried him away. There are just two nervous gold chicks remaining. This is the worst luck ever. I started with eight, and I'm down to two! First time we've had any predation in the coop too. I've lost a few hens to the local hawks, but this was clearly something that went into the coop and attacked them while they were sleeping.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Where I volunteer

They made this great video to help explain what they do for kids. I'm proud to be able to help out here!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rode a horse today!

Today Dave and I worked in the yard for an hour or so, cutting down blackberries, fighting with the lawnmower, and using the new electric string trimmer. So my back was getting tired by the time I left for the barn in the afternoon.

I got to the barn and no one had cleaned the stalls yet, so I got to work on that. My back was aching a bit, but I just remembered to lift with my legs. Cleaning stalls is good exercise! I got the stalls done just as my boss came out and she started sweeping up while I did the water buckets - more heavy lifting.

We got the stalls all ready and were waiting for the kids to show up for afternoon riding, and since there were only going to be two kids, and they already knew how to ride, she said we could ride with them and we'd just do some follow-the-leader in the outdoor arena. At first I was like, oh, I don't need to ride, but she encouraged me to give it a shot, so I said 'which horse?' She said I could use Ashley, because she is pretty big and stocky. Since I had been helping little tiny kids ride Ashley last weekend, I knew she was very mellow and well behaved, so I said ok. She said if Ashley senses you aren't a skilled rider, she just goes slower, instead of taking off with you.

Well, the kids didn't show up, so the four volunteers ended up just saddling up and heading out and riding around for about an hour. It was fun to just be free-riding around, doing figure eights and walking around the arena, watching the horses and cows out in the big pastures. I had to convince Ashley to trot, maybe she thought I wasn't up to it! I'd say that's good judgement on her part - I need a lot of work on riding a trot! But it was fun to try a little!

I took it pretty easy because the riding wasn't much easier on my back than the rest of the day had been! It was great fun, that's definitely a fringe benefit of helping out at the stables! When I'd had enough I let someone else ride Ashley and I took one of the other horses back to the barn and got her un-tacked and ready to go out for the night, then I helped bring in the horses who were going to spend the night indoors, and take food out to some of the ones that were staying outside. There's always lots of work to do, but it's fun too. All in all, a great day!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Working on the car!

Working on my pony. I decided to stop ruining clothes every time I worked on it by buying the least flattering coveralls in the world. Well, what can you do, it's hard to look glamorous when you're up to your elbows in a greasy old engine! I do appreciate them when I have to crawl under the car though!

Today I got most of the hoses removed, along with the alternator. I got the fan shroud removed, but a hardline from the tranny to the radiator is holding up removing the actual radiator. I'm also still contemplating how to remove the power steering pump. I have the shop manuals for my car, but all the info on power steering says 'all except mustang' - that's helpful!

If I can get the PS pump and the AC lines out of the way, I'll be very close to being able to pull the engine. I'm thinking of pulling the engine separate from the tranny, leaving the tranny in place. My top secret goal would be to get the engine rebuilt and put it all back together enough to run and drive to the Mustang show at the end of July. Extremely unlikely, at my pace I won't even have gotten the engine out by then, but a girl can dream!

Jack has settled back in just fine

Jack is pretty happy here. He's back to his normal self. I guess he's a keeper.

Family portrait! I liked this shot because I got three neat pictures out of it!

Cropped to just the eskies...

cropped to a strikingly symmetrical Barclay. Fun :)


Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken update

The little baby chicks I got in March are all grown up - half size, to be exact. Here they are in the back behind two of the full grown chickens.

Here's a couple of them roosting next to an adult hen. The chicks are very sweet, and I can pick them up without much fuss. They are going to be nice birds. I'm tempted to keep the whole group and have a nice flock of Buff O's next year for selling hatching eggs out of. Maybe I could put that giant incubator to work.

I finally captured Mama Hen's babies and put them in the brooder. She had completely abandoned them, and they weren't even feathered out yet! They were all huddling together out in the yard, getting rained on, and I decided enough was enough! I want to see these little girls (I hope) grow up, I'm particularly curious to see what 'Speckles' looks like.

About two weeks ago a friend gave me back a hen I gave her last year as a chick.

The hen is a Splash Orpington. My friend and I bought ten chicks last year to split, and I ended up giving mine to her as well. She raised them, had some trouble with coyotes, gave away the roos, and ended up with just this one splash hen left! Since she was switching her flock over to dark egglayers, she gave this girl to me.

The first day she was here, I got a call from the neighbors asking if I had lost a chicken. 'Maybe', I said, 'what's it look like'. 'It's white'. 'Yeah, I'll be right over'. Apparently the other girls had run her off, and she'd gone looking for greener pastures.

This morning I heard the dogs barking, and went out to see what was up, and she had jumped out of the chicken yard again, and apparently the dogs had chased her all over and finally cornered her under a bush. When I got out there Jack was watching, Navi was running in circles, and Barclay was barking at the poor chicken from about 6 inches away trying to get her to run so he could chase her some more! Her tail feathers were scattered all over! While I was rounding up dogs (calmly, and telling them how good they were for not eating her), Navi ran up to her and sniffed at her and ran away again. I was glad to see nobody was actually trying to kill her! Finally I got the dogs put away and got the chicken back in the yard where she belonged. She's lucky all she lost was her tail! She could have been doggie breakfast!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Little black kitchen ants

Every spring our kitchen is invaded by little black 'sugar ants' - tiny little black ants that send their scouts in looking for any drops of sugary juice we may have left on the countertop. Usually these invasions are short, we wipe up the mess, keep the kitchen immaculately clean for a couple weeks, and when they can't find any food they go away, and we can quit obsessively sweeping up crumbs. I believe in 'live and let live',  and the ants are really pretty harmless, so every spring I just wait them out until they move on to outdoor food sources.

But perhaps because of the long wet spring we've been having, the ants moved in to stay. They were here for over a month when we started to get really tired of them. They would find something to eat and lead the whole column back to devour it, or there would just be scouts crawling all over the place hoping to get lucky. We cleaned the kitchen several times, and they disappeared, only to turn up in the master bathroom - they had found an open bag of cough drops!

I got rid of the cough drops and cleaned the bathroom spic & span, and they moved back to the kitchen. There always seemed to be some little speck they would find in the sink or on the counter, and the invasion would commence once again. The final straw came when Dave brought home a milkshake and tossed the cup in the garbage, and the next morning the garbage was overrun with hundreds of them swarming all over the cup! Enough was enough!

So I looked up on the internet for ant remedies. I didn't want to be putting poison down that the dogs might get into. I didn't want to be spraying poison all over the place. I finally saw a remedy that looked pretty harmless - sugar and Borax. It said the ants would take it back to the hive and feed it to the queen, and that would be the end of the ant hive. Ok, I felt a little bad about that, but my kitchen was crawling with ants, and I occasionally spotted them in other parts of the house, just looking for more cough drops, and it was time to draw the line.

So I mixed 50/50 sugar and Borax in a small bowl, and sprinkled some on the ant highway behind the sink up against the backsplash, and put the rest in a tiny bowl under the cupboard by the garbage can. I never saw the ants go anywhere near either. However, the ant population in our kitchen dropped drastically and immediately. The next couple days I only saw an ant or two, and for the last week - not a single one! I would not have believed it would work so quickly or completely, and using stuff I actually had in the house. So, sorry ants, I hope it didn't wipe out the whole bunch of them, but if they don't come back next spring, it's not like I'll miss them!


Jack came back!

Jack was so depressed at his new home, despite the constant attention of a stay-at-home mom and visiting grandkids, and daily walks, and a woods to explore, that he stopped eating! So they called me up and said they didn't know what else to do for him, he was so sad and mopey, and they just wanted him to be happy again. An hour later he was back at our house, bounding around and wagging his tail and playing with the eskies.

He's a nice dog, so I can't complain too much about him being back. I was really enjoying having only two dogs for a week there. One good thing is that I was finding I didn't want to take one eskie and leave the other one at home alone, and now whichever one stays home will always have company.

But I'm still trying to figure out how to take these guys camping at the end of the month.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bird fight!

I was sitting outside with the dogs when I heard a commotion and spotted a big Red Tail Hawk heading in our direction from the trees south of us.

Then I noticed he was being tailed by a gutsy little crow

They fussed and cawed and screeched as the crow chased and dive bombed the big hawk, until the crow decided the hawk was far enough away. The crow turned and flew home, leaving the hawk to do a few lazy circles over our pasture before heading off towards the hills to the north.


Flying dogs

I was out having fun taking pictures of the dogs this afternoon.

I wanted to get a picture of them playing stick-ball.

That's their 'flirt pole', is a ball on a rope on the end of a stick. I swing the stick around, they chase it and jump in the air to grab it.

They do the most amazing, acrobatic high jumps snatching the ball out of the air, but it's really hard to photograph, partly because it happens so fast, but also because my hands are full with the stick! Barclay particularly does some incredible calculating to guess where the ball will go and is often hanging in the air waiting for it when it arrives!

After that catch Barclay got distracted by Dave coming home, which left Navi a chance to chase it without Barclay the Stick-Ball-Hog getting in the way!

But finally Barclay swept back in to show her how it's done!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Out with the old...

The first pair helped me lose 33 pounds in 5 months, lets see what the second pair can do!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Working out at the barn

I was planning to run a c25k routine this evening after I got home from volunteering at the barn, but instead I got some unexpected exercise. First I got there and got to clean stalls and refill water buckets, which I consider excellent strength training! Then I was helping a little 5 year old girl ride a shetland pony, Buttons, and instead of working in the arena, they decided to have class outside in the outdoor arena. Unfortunately we didn't realize until we were out there that it was pretty muddy in places, easily up to my ankles here and there, just a few inches in other spots, and you never knew from one step to the next if you'd be sinking in or not! I was glad I wore my heavy hiking boots!

So we started out walking around the arena, and here's something funny - we stopped because I saw something come shooting out of the grass in front of us and onto the dirt, and it was a 2 ft long garter snake, and it was chasing a bright green tree frog! The snake lunged and caught the frog by the foot, and the little girl was so surprised she dropped the pony's lead and ran to watch, and that snake swallowed that frog whole, and then slithered back off into the grass! I've never seen anything like it!

So we were walking around the arena and it was some hard walking for me, sticky mud and heavy boots! We got the girl mounted up and I was leading her, and then I unhooked the lead and my job was just to walk alongside her and make sure Buttons didn't take her for an unexpected ride. Well, she was a confident little girl, and about half the time she wanted to trot! So I'm jogging alongside trying to keep up, then we'd walk, then we'd trot, round and round for about 45 minutes! Towards the end I was thinking I had done about all I had in me, and I think the teacher saw it too and said 'lets just walk Buttons now so she can cool off before we put her away' and I was like 'thank you!' - we all had a laugh :)

So I think that was my intervals for the day. Running in that mud was SO hard! I thought about wearing my Heart Rate Monitor before I left but I thought, oh, I never really get my heartrate up just walking around the arena, so I wouldn't count it as cardio anyway - apparently I should have worn it, I'd like to know how hard I was working - my perceived effort says I was working pretty danged hard!

Afterwards we put Buttons in her stall and brought her some carrots and apples and I showed the little girl how to hold her hand out and feed her her treats, but she was scared and just tossed them on the floor for Buttons to eat. I fed Buttons a few treats out of my hand, and she was very gentle. What a sweet little pony! As always it was great fun helping a kid ride, and this time I enjoyed getting my exercise for the day too!


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Dog Yard for the trailer

We have a camping trip coming up, and I'm planning to take both dogs. I thought having a little 'yard' for them would be a lot of help. Our trailer is very small, and space around the door is crowded. So I took our X pens and spent most of the day making this:

I can make it bigger by adding more panels. Most of the time was spent figuring out how to work around the step.

I ended up cutting a panel in half, and then cutting one of the halfs in half again, and made this three piece panel to go under the step. I topped it with some flexible water pipe to protect our hands (you can see the pokey side on the right I have yet to do). This will make it so we can just open the trailer door and let the dogs out into the yard. That will be really nice for morning potty breaks! Also I won't have to worry about Navi dashing out the door running off to annoy the neighbors.

Barclay's ready to go camping. He's waiting in the van!