Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thank God for Horses

In a few minutes I will head out to chore my horses. I'll walk the depth of the little farm and the cool morning air will be a balm to my skin. My feet and legs will be soaked in the dew. As I get close to the horse pasture. I'll give them the "I'm coming" whistle. They'll nicker and call and run. They'll fill my eye and refresh my spirit.

Thank God for that.

Pip, my darling blonde, is a haflinger. So, friends often send me haflinger stuff. Pictures, articles, etc. Recently a friend sent me an entire magazine that featured an article on haflingers. Much of the information I had but I did learn that haffies are not draft horses. In this country, they are usually billed as the smallest draft breed. This was new information for me. According to the article, they are performance horses. That sounds so cool!! (Have no idea what it means however)

I have seen Pip perform though. She is the queen of popping an electric fence. Then it shorts and she can visit around the area. Last fall as I was out fixing the fence again she decided to show me how it was done. I had the fence off while I was tightening, splicing, wrapping etc. She touched the wire with her nose. All was good. She reared ever so slightly, putting both feet over the bottom wire. Then lowered her head and shoved it under the top wire. Then she proceeded to wriggle her way through, like a child putting on a shirt. This is where she had gotten when I tried to stop her and get her backed up. She swung her head around to look at her predicament. Then gave me such an expressive look as if to say, "I can't back up.... there's a fence in my way."

I let her through while muttering expletives. I figured she would high tail it next door to visit with Cisco... but she didn't. Instead she went around the truck and inspected my work. Checked out the pliers. Found the spare wire. Then checked out the contour of the truck hood with her lips. Found the door handles. Discovered stuff in the bed of the truck. Then , with all of the joy of a husband that just found that there WAS a bag of chips in the cupboard, she pulled out the water softener salt. She would yank the bag around and salt would tumble out the opening and she would crunch away.

Now according to that magazine article, not only are haffies great with fences but they can also do dressage and jumping. She is the perfect creature... just what I am needing today. So, I shall now pull on my shoes and grab another cup of coffee and head out. I'll walk the depth of the property and whistle up my horses and refresh my spirit.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


De-sensitization... that's what it is called now. It's smarter. It has a reason. It is a process of teaching a horse that something that appears scary, really isn't. Now, you have to use some judgement. First what is the horse worried about? Let's say it's those crinkly, floaty bags you get from the grocery store. You could start by tying one to the fence wire then doing approach and retreat... always giving plenty of retreat and thinking time. Then start using the bag. I use it to carry treats to the pasture. After a few days of that then the horse will be chasing the things around the pasture. Then you are ready to tie the bags to your stick and rub the horse all over.

You take your time... you make the horse braver.

The old way of doing this had nothing to do with thinking. It was called sacking out. If your horse spooked over anything you tied them up tight to a post, snubbing their heads down good and beating them repeatedly with a saddle blanket. Apparently, this started out to get a horse over spooking about having the blanket and saddle thrown over their backs. I would see it used for everything. Your horse spooked over anything, back to the post and go at them with the saddle blanket.

I suppose it worked in that the horse was terrified of showing his fear. It didn't make him not have any fear. Inside they either went numb or crazy.

My mother is a practitioner. She is the queen of emotional sacking out. It used to be that she suffered so from the poverty of her youth. Then she suffered so taking care of Dad when he had congestive heart failure. Now we are being beat with "the Dr says she is going to die at any minute." Inside, I run away. Outside, I am just frozen and numb.

Last Sunday, as I mentioned before, she got the girls down here to talk about her dying. As she left, Kate, Evelyn and I walked her out to her car. Evelyn was running around, hopping like a grasshopper. Mom was still droning on about dying. As she got into the car, she said, "I don't want you girls to be sad. Evelyn, tell your mommy not to be sad." Evelyn turned and looked at Kate, who stood there with a big smile on her face. In a totally chirpy voice she responded, "Oh I'm not sad!"

Mom shut up.

In that moment, a beam of light streamed through the clouds in shades of pink and blue and gold. There were angelic voices of heaven. No doves, but that's okay, there's plenty of bird poop here already. As the beam of light receded, the chorus finished with a lengthy...AAAaaaa-men.

To this tired, beaten up horse, it was a beautiful thing.


Monday, August 29, 2011


It's really a shame how other people's grandkids are so average. I have been blessed with rather charming, attractive and intelligent grandchildren.

Plans became rather impromptu this weekend. Oldest daughter, Michal, ended up with all of the kids on Saturday morning, so we got up to her place as quick as we could that morning. Mostly, it was so we could play, but we told her it was for moral support. When we got there, most of the apartment population was in time out. So, we took over the kids, Michal finished making breakfast and Micah went for coffee.

The coffee is key here, because it really wasn't very good coffee. I like strong coffee but when it gets that acidy taste and goes bitter with a hint of burn on it... then you lose me. The kids were settled down with their plates at the short kids table and I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to sit with them. I took a big gulp and exclaimed.."Oh shit!" I headed back to the kitchen to load it up with milk and over heard Micah saying to the kids, "Grandma said a bad word, didn't she?" There must have been a response here that I couldn't hear and then he proceeded, "Grandma was naughty, wasn't she?"

Back into the living room and I was greeted with some very sober expressions. I was sooo busted!

So, I did what any grandma worth her salt would do, I apologized.

"I'm really sorry. I had a surprise, a really horrible surprise and it startled me and I said a bad word. I shouldn't have done that. I'm so sorry."

Evelyn, in her most serious little voice said, "That's okay, Grandma."

Everyone was in the kitchen sputtering to keep from cracking up while Micah reveled in his ability to get me into trouble. Micah does that.

Sunday was another impromptu day. My mother, Great-Grandma, tricked the girls into coming down. Without my knowledge, she said that a family meeting was planned to discuss her "final arrangements". She is a tricky old broad and we have to watch out for her. Not only did we not discuss anything, but she left some stuff that she can't live without so another meeting will have to be planned so she can get her stuff back. But the good part of the day was, as always, the kids. Baby Oscar was an angel all day. He only got upset when hungry. Then he rolled over on his tummy and did an interesting little jackass kick to let us know he was serious about his condition.

Edgar and Evelyn went outside and ran. They ran down the driveway. They ran back up the driveway. They ran across the hill. They ran across the back yard, followed the track to the pasture. They ran the circles that I mowed to mark the round pens... all four of them. They ran up and down the row of hazelnuts. Then the big seventy foot round pen.

A small break was taken to look down post holes.

Then they ran down another path toward a woods, they ran along the hazelnuts again. Back down the track, back along the pasture. Across the drive and over the front hill. We went into the front woods. They hung from tree limbs. We inspected sticks. Then ran across the hill again and to the house. Evelyn went inside and showed Grandpa her muddy shoes. But Edgar found a small frog on the rock pile, and couldn't bring himself to go inside. We watched the frog for awhile. Then we went to the old garage trench that is still full of water. We threw rocks in the water and watched the big green frogs jump and swim. Then we ran down the path where the bunnies hide. They scurried away, which is always fun. Then we took a ride on the mower. Edgar was very serious about this. Serious about the placement of his feet. Serious about exactly how he held the handles. He didn't say a word, but glowed with pleasure.

I don't know... after spending time with my grandkids, watching them try things, talking with them, seeing their eyes light up, I have to say that my heart goes out to those "other" grandparents... those grandparents with the average grandchildren.


Friday, August 26, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The good, the bad and the ugly. That was my day yesterday. Luckily I did start out with the good. I had taken a load of water out to the horses with the truck. They were given their pellets. I unloaded the water. Then made a spur of the moment decision to walk their pasture lot quick and see what trees I had on the ground down in the woods. Logs of the right size can be made into easy jumps, or edge a drive, block an area, so thought it would be good to make an assessment.

I went under the gate wire, walked past the munching horses and descended into the little woods. Some of the logs had been cut and just left where they had dropped a very long time ago. Most of those will be burned in place. Some will be cut for erosion control. Some will be chained to the truck and get pulled out to be used. While I was grading the downed trees I turned to look at a couple of standing trees that I wanted to cull and saw Pip coming towards me.

I was a little surprised by her approach. Due to heat, rain, extreme sun burn, poison ivy, you name it, it has been awhile since we played, and she had grown aloof. At feeding time, I would put my hand over the fence and look away and wait for her touch. It didn't always come and I feared that I had lost everything we had accomplished. I tried to not watch her approach and just continue what I was doing. Cut this one, burn that pile, cull this one. And then there was a great blonde head, resting quietly against the back of my arm. Head down, ears relaxed. I turned slightly and gave her jaw scratches. Her eyes drooped and she let out a contented sigh. Together we worked our way through the little copse of woods. When ever we stopped she became my pocket pony. When we walked, she stayed about a foot behind my arm. Each moment of our time was sublime. It was perfect.

I could have spent the day there but it motivated me to get going! I have holes to dig. A decent fence to get up. A play yard for me and the girls! I drove the truck up behind the house where I have been working on the post holes. I then decided that I would proceed with a new method. Instead of digging on a hole until it was done, I would start a bunch of holes and get them filled with water and soften up the clay. I'd work smarter , not harder. So, I hopped into the truck, turned the key and ...... click, click, click. Okay, that's not good. Turned the key again..... click, click, click. Every time I turned the key, the same clicking. This was the bad part. Not only have the years, the miles and genetics been unkind to me, but now my mood was pretty ugly too.

All this and it wasn't even 11:00! I really hate getting bad news before noon. I then spent the afternoon trying to settle my own mood and figure out how to tell Mac in a fashion that wouldn't upset him. I managed to keep it calm. It helped that I could throw in a comment from a friend, "Larry, thinks it might just be the battery cables"

Well, around seven he went out to check it out. As he got into the truck, I again went through all of the symptoms. He got in and turned the key. It sounded like it wanted to turn over, then went into the clicking. He turned the key back. Waited a second then tried to start it again. It turned right over. As a matter of fact, it started right up six more times. I didn't know if I should be relieved, or totally honkin' pissed off! The truck had made me look like a ...... woman!

Good thing I have my horse, because my truck is totally a traitor!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

When I grow up...

I am fifty-three years old and I still haven't figured out what I want to do when I grow up. I always have ideas, and to be honest, some of them are ...FANTABULOUS!!! But no matter how much I push, how much I prep, how much I learn and try to mold the situation, it just doesn't happen. Sometimes I think there is something wrong with me.

A long time ago I had the opportunity to visit with a man who worked assisting micro business start up. We talked. I kept throwing out ideas and talking about directing a business... things that could be done... possibilities. After awhile he got quiet and then he said, "You know, You're a visionary." Well, it was very nice of him to say, and I will always treasure it. It is much nicer then "a silly dreamer who will never see anything come of her notions"

So, now I sit here and recollect all of the dreams that I have dreamt. All of the things that I wanted to become and couldn't. All of the failures. Amidst all of this rubble, I want to start a new dream. As a part of making the little farm a reality, I also want to make it a satellite Parelli facility. Parelli doesn't actually have such a thing.... yet. But I feel it coming.

The hospitals left me feeling like a shell, with so much claustrophobia. The horses heal me. I feel like I have to go this direction. I feel a bit driven, truth be told.

So whether it is a silly dream or a vision... when I grow up, I want to have a little farm where I grow mushrooms and make syrup, and people will come from all over to become horsemen. They will come empty and they will leave full. I will be something and it will be good.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Me, Myself and I

The dynamics of our family changed somewhat when Mac was diagnosed with leukemia. His original diagnosis was over five years ago. Recurrence, a bit over two years ago, then the stem cell transplant, two years ago. Venal occlusion of the liver was a year and a half ago. Graft vs Host is still current.

We all take care of Mac. The girls do an excellent job of going out of their way to do the things that make him happy. Doctors have taken care of him. Nurses have taken care of him. Anyone who has ever heard that he has had leukemia tries to be positive and nurturing.

I'm thinking that there are so many people taking care of him that maybe it wouldn't be noticed if I took some time and took care of myself a bit. I'm needing something more then a nap and a hot bath. No one else can. It's up to me

I know a lot of people just don't get it, but nothing brings my strength back to me better then my horses. Precious little makes me as happy. They transport me out of my troubles. So... I am putting myself and my horses in the top spot for a little bit. Just the thought of that makes me inwardly cringe.... makes me feel guilty. But I feel myself slipping away. Yet the chance of my own redemption , as it were, is trotting across the ground, back there, now.

Nobody takes care of the caregiver. So, I need to give it a try.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dante's Inferno

When I was in high school there was some hubbub about reading Dante's Inferno. So, like other Americans I get my classics later in life, as an animated feature. It was the kind of animation that Mac likes... extreme, gruesome, a lot of sword play and large animated breasts.

It was compelling for me and brought home to me that since Mac has had his stem cell transplant, I have a great deal of rage. It shouldn't be that way. I know myself well enough to know that I can make it through tough times if treated with a little respect and given a little wiggle room. But in Iowa City, Mac was to be processed and I was just something they kept tripping over. I question where we ranked on the level of humanity. I think I was nothing and he was "job security".

Now I am f**king pissed off.

My rage is inflamed when people dismiss me because Mac was the sick one, and apparently *I* did not go through anything. But I was the one that was awake. I was the one that kept staff from giving him medications he was allergic to. I was the one who argued with staff when they didn't want to give blood products pre-meds. I was the one that cleaned him up when he threw up, got a bloody nose or had diarrhea. That's okay. I'm his wife and that is what you sign on for. But they shouldn't have made me feel insignificant. They shouldn't have tried to make me helpless.

Now I have rage, and some days it is incredibly close to the surface.

I would like to pluck the anger out of my heart, because it keeps me from getting things accomplished. It burdens me.

I need to get this figured out.


Monday, August 22, 2011

What Shall I Do Today?

I had a list of things that I wanted to get done today. It was all outdoor chores. Then this morning, we were awakened by a spectacular lightening display. Then a pause in the pyrotechnics for a sudden downpour, then the fireworks resumed. I have never lived anywhere that compared to the lightening activity here. The closest was one night when the family camped in the Smokey Mountains when I was a child. We were closer to the heavens that night, but lately it seems that the heavens have felt a need to be closer to me.

One chore that was slated for today was the laying out of the new fence line and round pens. I had it all figured out.... finally. There were just a few more lines that needed measured out. The twine was outside the door .. ready for me to snatch and pull between stakes to mark the line for the tee posts. I had already mowed access in the grass to begin the fence line. Today I was going to mow the round pen circles and get a feel for how they lay.

I was going to do the last measurements and find the center then mow a circle while I held on to a twine measured the distance of the radius. If there was time I was thinking of marking the four small round pens as well. Today was going to give me a sense of order and well being. I needed to feel closer to my goal, but then, the heavens visited.

I sit here and watch the continued dripping of the rain. Wonder about the possibilities of the day. What shall I do? I need to have something to show for my time. Winter will come and I fear I won't be ready.


Friday, August 19, 2011

What I Used to Know

We stayed up late last night... too late. I'm totally worn out today. We stayed up and watched the DVD of "To Kill a Mockingbird", which always leaves me feeling a bit nostalgic. Scenes like when Aunt Stephanie calls in Dill for bedtime, followed by Atticus calling for Scout and Jem. There were no secrets in a small town. Every thing was shouted from the front porch.

Then there was the scene about the mad dog.As Atticus took the sheriff's rifle and shot the diseased dog I asked Mac, "Remember when we were young and the teachers all made sure we knew what an animal with rabies looked like?'


"Do they teach that stuff anymore."


And it got me to thinking of what I used to know. By fifth grade, we were taught not just to recognize, and stay away from, an animal with rabies, but life saving skills. Saving drowning people. Pumping water from the lungs before commencing cpr. If a person was in shock elevate the head and keep them warm. Simple things.

I could split wood with out cutting off my foot. I could start fires and cook over them. Not well, but I could do it. I could climb trees and I could build forts. I could catch minnows bare handed.

When I was twelve I often had sole responsibility for my infant brother. By fourteen, I could run a household.

Some parts of it were good... some parts weren't, but it seems to me that maybe, it would be a good thing for young people to still know what a rabid animal looks like. Maybe it would be a good thing to skip one year of keyboarding class to learn to build a tree house. I think it would be a good thing to know some of the stuff I used to know. So it seems to me, anyway.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Politics in Iowa

Well, once again it is a presidential election year....... dammit! That means that politics is on the menu in Iowa. It isn't enough that we have the first caucus but now we have to suffer through the indignity of a straw poll and the corn kernel vote at the Iowa State Fair. Inevitably, some idiot will shoot their mouth off and that particular idiot will end up on film and be shown on MSNBC or Fox News. It leaves me depressed and ashamed. Almost everyone I know here in Iowa would be considered more of a moderate, perhaps with conservative leanings but usually just more trusting that the government knows what they are doing. Those people really don't have a party anymore as there are no longer any moderates in the Republican party and they just don't quite feel like they can go so far as to vote democratic. Unfortunately, party loyalty usually runs deeper then family loyalty, so what's a person to do?

I'm trying to figure out just when the straw poll emerged. It is actually more of a fund raiser and it equates more to fraternity popularity contests.... and yet they had to pick Iowa to come and crap on. WHY couldn't the straw poll be in New Hampshire!? It's an embarassment!

The corn kernel vote which is sponsored by a very conservative news channel always has a very conservative outcome.... what a surprise! Again, just something stupid to make us all look like rubes.

Then there are the myriad of polls, most of which are conducted by phone. To be exact they are conducted by land lines. Most of the people I know that are younger then fifty do not have land lines anymore, they just have the cell phone, so I really question the relativity of polls anymore.

Then there are the issues that probably make me the angriest ... abortion, gun control and global warming. First, abortion and gun control really aren't issues. The republicans have been in power for most of the last forty years and if they had really wanted to change those issues up, they would have done so. They are topics that get brought out to rile people up when they are behind in the polls. They are triggers, not issues.

And global warming? Only an idiot will argue whether or not it exists... yet the battle rages on! Considering we are just thirty years away from the tipping point, we had better damned well be working on that point.

Okay... that's done. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest cause it is a long ol' stretch when politics come to Iowa.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I had promised Mac that I would get up with him this morning, seeing how it was his first day back to school for the year and all. But I was sleeping so hard! Didn't hear the alarm at all. Finally woke up when he plopped on the bed to put his socks on. I was involved in a very complicated dream.

There was a manhunt involved. I was the person hiding said man and oddly enough it was Daniel Craig. EVERYBODY was hellbent on finding this guy. The only person to be trusted was the Dr. from the "other side of the tracks" All of the good and decent citizens were to be avoided at all cost. Somebody or perhaps a couple of somebodies had suspicions, because I was being watched. I had Mr. Craig stashed away, hiding under blankets and some debris when Mac came and sat on the bed.

So, I don't know how this is going to turn out. Perhaps he is there still, waiting under the blankets, waiting for me to come back and tell him the coast is clear. Tell him he can safely get away. Or maybe that story will just defuse ... dissipate into the cyberspace of my mind, like so many lost posts.

I tend to have some very complicated plots in my dreams. Do other people do that, or is it just one of my weirdness traits? Mac says he used to often dream of flying, which is funny as he has a fear of heights. I have only dreamt of flying once. I had a little trouble taking off at first.... probably my low center of gravity. Then when I got good I spied George W. Bush down on his patio strumming a guitar and singing. I swooped down and snatched his guitar and told the bastard to shut up. That was a good dream.

But it's time to wake up now. Time to get busy. Daylights burning. It'll be night again before we know it.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm Disturbed

Well, Mac has put it off and now today, he must go in and do prep work for the school year. Ridiculous really, considering he doesn't get paid for his time... oh well, what can you do?

I kind of had a loose idea of what I wanted to d today. Poking around outside. A little more prep work on the mushroom beds in the woods. Laying out some lines for fence posts. But it's raining. I'll be stuck in the house. I can't sweat, as I seem to have gotten into some poison ivy.... again. Sweating just makes it spread.

Itchy, tense, restless... overall I just feel disturbed today.

But the rain is good for the grass aka future hay. So, I guess I will haul out some of my books and do some farm research. Do a little farm math. Try to keep my mind off my skin.

I don't think I can keep my mind off my skin...... it's crawling around quite a bit this morning. grrrrr.

I think today is just going to be my day to be disturbed.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Thought for the day

Actually my thought for the day is actually kind of a scary thought.... Mac and I have had the best summer! The best that we have had in years. This despite starting out with torrential rains. Many people in the midwest lost their homes. The floods were followed by the heat wave from hell. There was the one Dr. visit that caused a great degree of angst..... but there was only one! And there were no hospital stays!

God knows I didn't accomplish anything here at the farm. Despite all of my plans there just wasn't any money and no equipment for heavy lifting. As a result, we sat and talked and waited. We planned. We made goals for the farm and goals for Mac's retirement. In short... we got on the same page.

So, I am sitting here looking at my half done projects, the house I can't seem to keep clean as the result of too many piles of construction materials, looking at my checkbook, that just spends too much time empty, and I can still say... this is the best summer we have had in a very long time.



Friday, August 12, 2011


I woke up the other morning with some strange bruising on the tops of my feet. Each bruise was a small circle... a perfect circle. How odd. On the left foot was a pattern that resembled a collection of crop circles. On the right foot the bruises formed the points of a perfect equilateral triangle... like War of the Worlds!

I slept soundly and have no recollection of hovering in the air, bright lights, little gray men with large eyes or of the inevitable rectal probe. But this idea gave me pause...... hmmm, with such advanced technology it would be a small thing for them to fire up the ol' laser and zap a bunch of fence post holes in no time flat!

We could make a deal. For ten fence post holes they can have a urine sample. Another ten and they can have a blood sample. For twenty fence post holes they can do a rectal probe. That one is going as cheaply though. What the hell, I'm at the age they tell me I need to get a colonoscopy anyway. If they just finish off the job I'll just go ahead and get my med records for them and throw in a copy of Bach... the one that's floating off through space on Voyager.

If they're nice about the whole thing then I'll invite them back to see the round pens and the horse play grounds and we'll have some cake.... sour cream chocolate cake.

You know... I think this plan could work out!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Keys to Success

I'm sitting here and drinking coffee... thinking. That is how I begin my day. This is enough of a routine that it feels unnatural if my day doesn't start with coffee and thinking. While I might not get too many places, my brain is quite the traveler. Others cannot see it but some of my most difficult work, some of the most rigorous work, takes place while I sit here.... sipping coffee. The cleansing part of the operation is in the doing, the sweating, the fruition.

It has been a bad summer to try and get something done. First unrelenting rain and then unrelenting heat. Bugger! So, I am having coffee. Sipping and thinking. There has to be a way around this.

I went out the other day to change out the handles on my post hole digger. I wanted to get to work. It was the age old problem. I had round ended handles and I needed square ended replacement handles..... round peg, square hole= I'm screwed.

There is something in my nature that keeps screaming out that post holes should not be this difficult!

I don't know what else to do but go back to the beginning and try to rethink this. Get another cup of coffee and think. If I even had a decent hand saw I'd start working on an above ground fence, like a buck fence. There is a way past this. I just have to figure it out. Just find my keys to success and there will be fireworks, angels will sing and I will be ushered to the next level of he game and a new problem...... and a fresh pot of coffee.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I woke up with a ripping headache. Now days I only get headaches when the weather is about to change. I don't get the stress headaches I used to get when we lived in town, or when I was exposed to diesel fumes working at the casino, which was a smallish river boat. So, I sit here typing and wondering about what other changes might be coming. Like Mary Poppins, you just don't know what the wind will blow in.

My daughter Bevin's baby sitter is getting out of the business, so I will be watching the boys for a while. Another change. I never get to see enough of Edgar so I am looking for ward to that part. The kids will help me get the place in shape so it is okay for me to take the time to watch the boys. That will be good too. I'm mostly concerned about the distance.... concerned about being off the place. It will be more changes.

They are going to pay me. That's another change. I tend to be one of those people who do someone a favor and then expect a favor in return later. Well, favors don't buy concrete. I have so many projects stopped for the want of concrete. Maybe one of the changes will be getting things done around here.

You just don't know until it happens. So, we will see.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm thinking...

I'm thinking about what I need to try to accomplish today. It isn't easy. I reviewed my to-do list but since that heads in so many directions, it confuses me more then clarifies. I think I will let crisis management take over. The horses need access to more grass... as usual, so I think fencing has to go to the number one spot right now.

I have a project in mind to get some fence up next to a row of hazelnut starts. This is what I hope will someday be a hedgerow. I think I have enough supplies to accomplish this one section. It will be a start and it will be the start that I want. So, post holes in the morning.

This afternoon I think I better get some weeding done. Things got away from me while I was auditing the horse clinic. Weed and mow and get after the bugs again. The little bastards relocated to a different tomato plant. So I'd better try another method of extermination. I think it will be picking and drowning in soapy water today.

I think the best part of today will be not having unbearable heat and working where the horses and I can watch each other.

I'm thinking, maybe, the best part of today will just be taking it slow.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Blister Beetles

It had started as a random conversation.... someone I knew was talking to someone that they knew... and the someone that they knew couldn't sell their hay. They had a bug in the hay. A really bad bug. After a bit of conversing another person threw i that it was a blister beetle and stuck in a link to read about the offensive little creature.

I suppose it was fortuitous. Just the day before I had gotten a bug in my tomatoes. I didn't know what it was. Started to research it on the computer and really couldn't find anything similar. The closest photo ID was from the blister bug article. This made me cringe to think about. Five to ten of them consumed in hay can cause anything from a devastating bout of colic to lethal poisoning. We have had the right weather conditions too. Long hot dry periods following the arrival of grasshoppers. Sometimes you will only get thirty and sometimes you will get a whole swarm of the blister beetles.

So, I was trying to submerge myself into the world of the blister beetle. All of the university information was the same. Pretty much what I have written here. Some though said in certain stages of the life cycle the blister beetle is a beneficial insect. At larval stage they feed off grasshoppers. No doubt some dumb ass has helped spread them around the country. Just like some dumb ass introduced kudzu to the south as a good ground cover and another dumb ass introduced the asian lady beetle for the soybeans. Then I found this blog.... this wonderful blog! It was a gardening lady and she had more info then all the university pages combined. She also had comments of other wonderful gardeners that told how they had dealt with the blister beetle problem. The big caveat with the blister beetle is not to squish them with your bare hands. The toxin in them will cause large painful blisters, hence the name. Garden Lady recommended a mixture of garden lime and all purpose flour to be liberally dusted over the bugs. She did not know if this killed them or caused them to leave the vicinity. Some of her people that had shared comments suggested knocking the bugs into containers of soapy water. The dish soap would cause them to drown.

I thought about that for a bit..... dish soap. Dawn saves wild life because of it's ability to break down oils when creatures get caught in oil spills. A lot of the time things that creatures exude is of an oily nature, so perhaps this toxin is too. Screw mixing anything! I went to the garden with my dish soap. I was squirting the little buggers straight from the bottle. Anything that moved got a shot. The second the soap touched them they dropped to the ground. Then when it looked like I had the plants cleaned off, I got my garden lime out of the greenhouse and liberally dusted the area. The soap really caused the lime to stick to the bugs. Within ten minutes nothing was moving.

I haven't seen anymore of them but I do need to maintain a watchful eye. The last thing I want is to have these creatures in my hay. There are certain strategies I can use in future. Don't plant alfalfa in my hay. They are very much attracted to flowering alfalfa. Plant only early varieties so the majority of my haying is done before they ever arrive. If I don't have grasshoppers then I won't have blister beetles. So to get rid of the grasshoppers I will have more birds. I will have more bird habitat... more hedgerows. I need to start getting some chickens out there in chicken tractors.

As for the garden beds that the bugs occupied this year... they will have eggs. So I will need to turn over the beds this fall and I will burn on them. Next spring, I will cover them with compost and fresh horse manure, cover them with black plastic and let them cook for a year. They can go back into production in the following year.

I'll also mow my perimeter,as the beetles don't seem to like crossing open areas. Forget which source I read that one in.. I doubt it's truthfulness but I will try everything. Many of the sources said that the beetles would typically be found on the edges of a hay field not the interior, so I will mow and I think I will do my liming in the fall as well.... just in case it helps.

So.... I think I have a strategy for this. I'm ready for the next project which I think will be getting the new handles on my post hole digger. I don't want to look at the big picture. It is too daunting. Next project is four holes... just four holes. Project after that is another four holes. Then six holes. That's all. It doesn't sound near so bad when you say it that way!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Motivation.....what motivation?!

It seems that every time I get that much needed motivation then my life has to unravel a bit. At least, far enough that the motivation is lost. That's the way it felt after the Dave Ells clinic. It was one Eureka!! moment after another. I could see why the Parelli program unrolled the way it did. Thought I could even see the steps for the continuation of development. I felt so jazzed! then comes the emotional battering of a doctor visit. I know, I know.... a doctor visit should just be a doctor visit. Mac had only one more visit to go to be past his *magic* three year mark when they found that his leukemia had recurred. So a doctor visit for us is more of an immersion in angst. Plus we have had the general busyness of our two and a half year old grand daughter, Evelyn.

Typically, my hurdles have been enough to quell any motivation.

I think the heat wave may be over now and I think I have my big girl panties are cinched up just right. Mac is better. I possibly have two quilt orders. It rained pretty good yesterday so might be able to get out there and start digging post holes. Things could be just fine.

We could do this... really! I still have my motivation. I'm still pondering over everything that I have learned recently. I've learned new ways to do stuff. Not just horses but lots of farm organization methods. Brains are so full that I keep getting pressure pain in the right frontal lobe.

As long as I have my motivation....I can do this.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

We're back

I am exhausted. Nothing wears you to the bone like scary doctor visits compounded with six hours worth of driving. However it was a day of small miracles. First, this time there were actually two mistakes made by the med history program. Kind of obvious it isn't me. So they added back in the drug that had been somehow dropped out in cyberspace. The other drug that keeps resetting to a different dosage they decided to just leave and told me to dispense how I chose to. Whew! no lectures!

They are going to start weaning Mac off the prednisone. They said it could be a lengthy process as he has been taking it for so long. He will still be taking the steroid gargle for now. It will be a long transition but still it is a transition that makes us feel like we are moving into a positive direction.

Mac's big miracle for the day was the way everyone came in just GLOWING! to tell him congratulations he had made it to the two year anniversary of the transplant. We kind of got the feeling that if the leukemia, the transplant or the complications were going to get him, they would have done it by now. I don't know if that is what they were waiting for or not but they let me ask questions. I got answers. I feel like I know what my job is to be for the next four months. Then he will go back over for a follow up visit.

Four months.... November 30th. It won't be hanging over our heads as we go into christmas. Whew!!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Iowa City

Tomorrow Mac has to go see the transplant oncologists in Iowa City. The only thing that keeps him there is that he has the smallest amount of graft vs host. I do mean the smallest amount. Just a small lumpy bit on the interior of his mouth smaller then the size of a quarter. Oftentimes not even noticeable. I have read about treating the GVH with gancyclover and being done with the issue. So far, Iowa City has dicked around with this for over a year. Dragging it out with miniscule doses of steroids. To me, it seems that they are maintaining the problem, not treating and curing.

As we get close to the Iowa City visits, the stress in the house is palpable. Little things set Mac off. He doesn't want to eat. He just tries to bury himself in the internet or exploding aliens on one of his games. It's hard. I try to explain to them that their inaction is making the situation worse. They do not acknowledge me there. They do not believe that after thirty-three years I know what makes him tick. They do not believe that I have the capacity to learn and to keep up with various treatment options. Over there he is just another cog in the wheel... it's a big place. They refuse to take advantage of the fact that I am his walking chart. I've got the details in my head, and I have never seen any individual over there whether on the floor or in the office, check HIS chart. They update his meds but the med page on their computer program has an automatic reset or something so it is typically wrong. That usually gets them upset with me and I get told EVERY F**KING TIME that I have to be sure to give the proper dosage and I get lectured.

I don't want to go. I don't want Mac to go. I don't want to have to be there and have trouble breathing and have my stomach hurt. I want it over.... really over this time. I want Mac to be okay. I want to finally be able to live in my "happy place"

Tomorrow Mac goes to Iowa City and I will be afraid until it's over.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Shifting lanes

I had the most awesome time at the Dave Ellis clinic. I learned so much. He has such a great ability to leave with you feeling like you did good. If you learned something that made you equipped to master a skill, then next year we can just REALLY go to town. Throughout the clinic he stressed Pat Parelli's eight principles. Of the eight, the ones he especially stressed were 2) Don't make OR teach assumptions.... 3) Communication is mutual, two or more individuals sharing a thought or idea... 5) the ATTITUDE of justice and 6) body language is universal.

There was so much information under each item. And it was so incredibly exciting to be able to just forget everything else and think about the horses mentality and abilities. I so don't want to forget ANYTHING!

But life shifts lanes. Little Evelyn is staying with us for a week. As I watch Mac and Evelyn dance in the living room to Yo Gabba Gabba, I have to wonder .... wonder if they would notice if I slipped out to the garden.... maybe the woods.... maybe to the pasture... anyplace where I can't hear Yo Gabba Gabba.