Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beautiful Story about Love...

I am sure that many of you have already seen this story...but I am posting it anyways just in case.  

Until later....Karen and Tripp who says he has something in his eye...it is tearing up!  ;-)

Because of Love

A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks "Why do you not at least dispose of 'The Old One'. She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?"

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, " Yes, I could use a pair of new boots".

His arm slid defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her near with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied softly, "We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love."

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.

The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One".

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together before the barn. They were speechless as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down about the "Old one" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife.

Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift--

Because of love. Only Because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy... And again the peace of love filled their hearts.

This is a true story.

Willy Eagle

This is an Inspirational message sent to a small group of people. My hope is that it will make your day just a little bit better.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Summer and sunflowers...

I love sunflowers!  Each year we plant a few more, and this year Brian found a bunch of volunteers from the year before and put them around his new raspberry bushes.  He says he won't do that again...but we will get them close.  Since we have the bee hives, it makes me want to plant even more!  We used to try to keep the garden weeded, etc., but now that we have the bee hives, we leave a lot of the flowering weeds so they have something to feed from close by.

Here are a couple of bumbles... I love watching them...they are always on a mission and my presence doesn't bother them at all.

Batman says I have not been out with the camera as much as I used to, and he is not feeling very special.  So I went out to take a few pictures of the little guy playing.  What a cutie!

Another bee...if you click on the picture to make it bigger, you can see the dew drops on the center of the flower.

Bumble sillouette...

This just makes me laugh!  It looks like the bee's are getting ready to tailgate!  We had a very hot dry summer and Brian was worried about the new style hive.  It did great thru part of the summer, but I am sad to say it did not make it.  We checked it and the comb was full of eggs and honey, and we were very excited.  Then a month later the comb was dried up and most of the bees were gone.  Brian thinks that it got too hot and they swarmed, which means the Queen decided to move on and the whole group goes with her.  I don't feel as bad thinking they left.  I just hope it wasn't too late in the year and they have time to get a stash of food for the winter.

This is the small pond behind the barn, and this is the first time it has ever dried up.  This picture shows a mud pit in the middle, and where Brian is standing is still soft.  It dried to the point where I was using it for a 'round pen' and I was riding across it.

These are our tomato ladders, and this year our tomatoes did great!  We put them in a raised garden this year, put old horse manure that had turned into dirt in there, and they all flourished!

I love the sillouette shots....I just stand back and watch the clouds go over.  It is a constantly changing picture.

This is the tallest sunflower we had.  This is one of the kind that has many flower heads on it...they are all dried up now, but just the other night I was counting the flower heads and I quit at 47!  

 These are at the back side of the chicken house, and there are pepper plants in front of where I am standing.

 This was the biggest flower head we had this year.  They are so fun to grow and so pretty!

 I thought I would sneak this in the group...Brian put these in the front yard.

It is hard to believe Summer is over...
Until later....Karen and Tripp who is happy the summer flies are gone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Broom Corn...more than just making brooms...

This year was our first time to plant broom corn...the seeds are very tiny compared to planting regular corn on the cob type corn.  The original reason is Brian wanted to learn how to make brooms the old fashioned way.  Here I was thinking it might grow 5 or 6 foot tall, look like a regular corn plant, you pluck the tops off and tie them off to make a broom.  Wala - sounds easy, eh?

Here are a few facts about broom corn:
1. Broom corn belongs to the Sorghum family.  
2. Orally, broom corn is used for digestive disorders (I have not personally tried this yet, and I am only passing on information I have found)
3. In foods, broom corn is used for a cereal grain.
4. The plants grow from 2 ft to 10 ft in height.  We did not end up with any corn that was close to the 2 ft mark.  It was all at least 10 ft tall, and there were a couple of plants that were taller than that!  One other site I found said they grow 6 ft to 15 ft tall...now that is more like it!

5. (I thought this one was funny!) Phrases: “Flying off the Handle” …. A phrase for anger. Children playing indoors and with a stern “Go outside!” Ma would chase the children out of the cabin with her broom. Swish goes the broom and the straw portion of the broom sails off across the room.

6. Flat sewn brooms sweep a rough surface thoroughly well while a round sewn broom sweeps a smooth surface more thoroughly.
7. Brooms with untrimmed straw are softer.  They sweep without as much dust which make them better for people with allergies.

8. Normal broomcorn yields range from 300 to 600 lb/acre, or enough to make 150 to 350 brooms per acre.  (I have found other yield information that isn't so good...either way, I don't foresee us planting an acre of broomcorn)

These are just a few things I have found about broom corn.  Now, what I do know for a fact is this stuff is fun to grow, it is hardy, and for you horse people out there looking for the bamboo pole or stick, the stems of this stuff are perfect for it!  It will also make great Fall decorations.  If you have a fence you want to block off from view, plant this stuff.  It is attractive and a great 'fence'.  

Brian is checking out his corn crop....

 It grows tall and skinny...

 Brian is proud of his crop...this is before the tops popped out.

After the tops bloom, it grows more seed.  If you look close you can see the little red stuff on the ends of the brushy part...that is seed.  We used a curry comb to brush some off.

When harvesting the stalks should not be this long, but Brian wanted to have enough of an end on it to tie it, then hang it inside the barn.  When I was reading up on harvesting it talked about laying it flat....I think Brian's version of harvesting is kinda like me following a recipe.  It just isn't going to happen.  We make our own little changes along the way.  I really don't know what we are going to do with this, or if we will get to do brooms this year, but it was fun to grow and the wild birds LOVE it!

 While we were dragging out bundled stalks of broom corn and hanging it, a couple of the horses had to check things out.

 I really do suggest growing this.  It is fun and pretty, plus the birds love it.  I wonder what Brian is going to dabble in next year...never a dull moment around here!  :-)

Until later...Karen and Tripp who says the tips of the newly growing broom corn is YUMMY!  (We will plant it farther away from their fence next year)

Brian's Pumpkins

We didn't grow any pumpkins last year and it kinda bummed me out.  This year I told Brian I wanted to grow pumpkins again.  I didn't care what kind or how many, just as long as we had some.  The leaves of the plants are huge, the blossoms are gorgeous, and when the fruit starts to grow I get a bubble of excitement inside me like a little kid!  
Brian was the main garden person this year, and I did what I could to help him with his plans.  He also found a few blogs from people who have the same goals we do - to be as self sufficient as possible.  It takes time, but we are figuring out what is working and what isn't.  Example:  Potatoes!  We have planted a lot over the past few years but harvested only a few.  We have decided potatoes don't like our soil so we will just get them from someone who has Tater Happy Soil.  

Brian decided if we were going to grow pumpkins, he was going to do it big!  He ordered some of the Atlantic Giants.  We didn't get any 1000 pound pumpkins this year, but we did get him one that won him a prize on one of the blogs he follows!  He was pretty excited about it and I was proud of him.  :-)

Here is Brian and his (OUR) pumpkins. 

We are going to try again next year and try to figure out what the soil needs so they grow bigger.  We did have a very dry summer so he thinks that played a roll in it.  We only got a few but we are still happy about it.  
Until later....Karen and Tripp who doesn't get it....

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 ACTHA Ride for the Mustangs

Wow!  It has been a long time since I have blogged, and after loading all these pictures I remember why.  It takes forever, and it takes several times to get the pictures to load.  I am sure there are updates out there and I just have not made the time to go look for them.  But....here I am!

The ACTHA Ride for the Mustangs was held on September 10th of this year.  The original date had to be changed to 'protect the innocent' when a small outbreak of a horsey disease hit the airways.  Better safe than sorry I always say...and it did work out.

The Midwest Mustang and Burro Saddle Club hosted a ride in Kansas, and April, who has ridden and judged several of these rides was the main person who got the ball rolling on this.  She is a modest person, but I am going to say it anyways...it is my blog (hee hee!)... if it was not for her, our ride would not have happened.  She knew who to talk to, what to do,  who to delegate things to, and she rounded up a few volunteers to camp out and work the day.  Unfortunately some people who could make it for the first date  could not make it for this date.  Maybe another time...

The pictures start out in order, then are somewhat random.  I will say we had a great time and Brian and I wished we had someone to watch the critters so we could camp out with the small group who stayed the 2nd night.  We arrived on Friday and got camp set up.  That evening it stormed like a big dog!  Wow!  Then later that night the moon poked thru the clouds and the stars started to sparkle.  The next day was absolutely beautiful!  Awesome clouds and sky, sun, perfect riding temps....couldn't have asked for better than that!

Here is one of the signs to direct everyone into Eisenhower State Park just south of Topeka, KS. 


Some of us shared a couple of camp sites.

Here are our tents pre-storm...

Look how oblong my little blue tent is in the middle...that is during the storm.  Brian and I were surprised it stayed pinned down.

 Pretty sky pre-storm...

 Our ride photographer decided to make good use of the storm time...


Jessi helping to put up their tent.

How do ya like our camping chairs?  They are AWESOME!!!!  Quite comfy too...you can lay across the seat and prop your feet up.

Brian in his big chair...


Bryan, April's husband, is checking out the comfort level of the big chair...it passed his inspection.

Randy, Kristi's husband had to get a taste of the big chair too.  They all think they need one.  :-)

Here is where we all hid out during the storm...April and Bryans trailer.

After the storms we built a camp fire...it turned out to be a beautiful night.

Here is where pictures start to get out of order, but that is okay.  Bryan's mustang Zip peeking under the hitching rail.

Amy and her mustang Cinco getting ready to head to their obstacle that they are judging.

 Here is the Assistant photographer.  Her Dad was the Trail Boss for the ride, and they let Beth the photographer use one of their horses.  Beth got some tie-dye material and made up bandanas for the volunteers AND the horses!  :-)

 This was a barn we saw on the way to our obstacle...we judged obstacle #2.

Beth the photographer on Hootie.  Hootie is awesome!  He is older, been there done that, but still has the spunk of a youngster.  

 Group of riders getting ready to head out...

 Kristy and Randy were two of the founders of the Midwest Mustang and Burro Saddle Club.  Here is their mustang Isabella, a.k.a. Izzy.  She is a beautiful chocolate mustang with light mane, tail and forelock.  This is one special mare to a lot of people.  She almost made that trip over the Rainbow Bridge...they were to the point of making the decision we all dread making, and on the way home from KU to lay her to rest, Izzy had a change of plans!  And here she is today...

Riders at rider meeting.


Diana and her 2007 Extreme Mustang Makeover mustang, Nikko.  Diana trained Nikko for the very first EMM!  We were there as spectators...almost 80 mustangs showed up to that one and it was awesome!

You tell 'em baby!

Everyone getting ready for the ride...

This gal and her big mustang were safety/escort riders.  This is one of the mustangs that is used for therapeutic riding.  I wish I would have gotten more information on what all they do.  What I do remember them saying is how much the horses love getting out on the trails for a change of pace.

Riders ready to go.

Bryan and Zip.  Bryan gets the award for Best Support Husband of the year!  He did some obstacle building and whatever April needed, he was there.  Not only for this ride, but others too.

Cindy Branham and her Supreme Extreme Mustang for 2010, Tucker.  She said he was tough in the beginning because he didn't want to trust anyone, but you sure wouldn't know it now.  He had his nose over everyone's shoulders at the picnic tables and the kids were loving all over him.  He is quite a doll.  And here is another little fact about Tucker...he was a 3 striker, which means he made it thru 3 adoptions without being adopted, so he has the hip brand and was headed for long term holding.   Cindy and Tucker were also on America's Favorite Trail Horse.  They made the cut of 100 out of thousands!

 April's Bryan made a couple of saddle racks for prizes. 

Diana brought her buddy along.  This is a Boiviere.  

Dona, the other founder of the Midwest Mustang and Burro Saddle Club just couldn't keep her hands off John Wayne!  That is what her husband gets for going to a class reunion instead.  :-)
Dona did say good-bye to John a little bit later so she could meet up with her husband.  :-)

Ed and Ranger...Ranger also has a US brand on his shoulder.  Ed McCarty is a horse dentist and did a demonstration on floating teeth.  He does not power float...he does a manual float and has a way with horses.  It was one of the most interesting horse dentist presentations I have seen.

Beth had t-shirts made up for herself and her helper, Cheyenne.  Darn it, I know that her name isn't spelled like that, but I don't know how it is supposed to be spelled.  Cheyanne?  Hmmmm....she was a fun kid.  Her Dad is the trail boss and their horse is Hootie, the gray that Beth is riding.

 Here is our rescue nurse on her young Arab who has never been out to anything like this before.  They are riding in a treeless saddle and bitless.  Yay!  They did great as a team, but she also helped out when there was an accident before Obstacle 1.  A fellow got bucked off his horse and got knocked out.  He was life flighted out and did show up later to get his horses.  Had a few stitches in his ear, we were thankful to be able to throw a few jokes his direction, and his daughter who was riding with him is a trooper.  She told someone that his ear was just 'hanging there'.  Eww!!!  Thanks to everyone who helped out Jay, his daughter and their horses!  By the way, his horse has been there done that, so it goes to show that anything can happen at any time to anybody. 

Look closely and you can see the helicopter coming over the hill.  That is the view from our Obstacle 2. 

It was such a pretty day!  This was the view up the hill from our Obstacle...yes, we had to walk up that!

While Beth was at our obstacle waiting for riders, she was checking out her camera.  Check out Hootie's rhythm beads.  Jessi and I made those for Beth.  :-)  By the way, Beth just had a birthday and she now has a mustang of her very own!  She is still Godmother to all other horses out there.  Whew!  

View from the mirror...riders behind us.  

The horses were very curious about the boat that was pulling an inner tube.

This is Jazz, who has many different matching outfits!  Jazz's Mom has her own business:  http://shezablinginfool.com/  Jazz and Erika were on America's Favorite Trail Horse!  They made the cut of 100 out of thousands!  Woo hoo!  I know of at least 3 of our riders who made the cut. 

Lacey, one of the club members and volunteers.  Her mustang buddy is Beau, but he couldn't be here this time.  Those of us who showed up without horses were going crazy!  But in a good way.  :-)

Mary Lou and Nevada.  Mary Lou used to be Nevada's person, then she let April adopt her.  April and Nevada have made a great team and Mary Lou is grateful that Nevada went to such a wonderful home. 

Mary, another one of our club members, put on a rope halter tying demo, and it was awesome!  She showed us a couple of books that were totally worthless and complicated, then she showed us a book that was wonderful and easy to follow!  I ended up with one of her red halters and it looks fantabulous on Tripp.  I did get video of most of her demo...I will have to get it worked up and post it.  The girl was a talkin' and a tyin'! 

Brian and I were judging Obstacle #2, and this was at our obstacle.  In the past we have been told to clean up and bring back as much as we can, etc.  Always leave it looking better than when you got there.  Right?  Well, we thought someone from our club made the '2' because they are a very creative talented group.  I told Brian if the post comes out easy, it is probably the clubs....so we brought it with us.  Nope!  It was MILE MARKER 2 on that particular loop!  YIKES!  It belongs to the park!!!  So we took it back to the park office and asked for a post pounder so we can put it back...they said they would take care of it, which was very nice of them.  :-)  I don't know that we will ever live this one down.  

After the storms the moon came out...I could see the moon and the brightest prettiest stars from our tent flap.  Seeing as I was up most of the night (literally) I was lucky to have such a beautiful view.

 Diana take care of Nikko after the ride.

Beth taking pictures at the last Obstacle 6.  I didn't get many pictures of this one because she needed someone to hold Hootie, who was anxious to be done.

Here are our two youngest riders...and aren't they just adorable?!  They were studying their hand-out at the riders meeting.  How fun to be involved with something like this at their age..and on such cute ponies!  Look close at the black one...he has his bangs in an 'up-do'.  Ha ha!  Love them!

And they are off!

Rod the trail boss and his friend, Shannon.

Self portrait at the top of the hill...our obstacle was at the bottom at the tree line.  Right along this part of the hill is where I lost my glasses!  Never did find them...

There are couple of yurts at the park to rent.  Here is one in the background with a gorgeous sunset.  We tried and tried to get a picture with Jessi's eyes opened...but it just didn't work.  

Yurt and sunset...it was so pretty after the storms.

Here is an OTTB and this gal is riding a treeless saddle and a bitless bridle.  Yay!

Tucker is socializing.

Beth in action!

Purdy horse!

Cindy did a demo with Tucker. 

Here is another mascot.

This group is headed to Obstacle 1.  We could not go watch because we had to head out to ours.

This group of friends do many ACTHA rides together. 

The horses look like they are conspiring...

Another purdy horse.

Riders coming back from the ride.


What I would give to know what they are checking out...

Nevada wondering what I am doing down there...

One of the few pictures I got of Obstacle 6. 

Yep, pix are out of order.  This is the group getting ready to head out.

This ride could not happen without hard working volunteers. 

After the ACTHA ride was over, it was time to relax.  But just because the ACTHA ride was over didn't mean the fun was over!  To add a twist another small obstacle was set up for the top point mustang and the top point domestic horse.  The mustang is on the top and domestic is below.  I heard so many great stories, but I am thinking that the domestic was a rescue, and let me tell you what, they are a wonderful team!  CC and Shelby the mustang are too...that little horse really works for him.  This was a fun thing to finish off the day.  In each picture the rider is carrying a baby stuffed horse in front of them.  The domestic ended up getting the prize, but they are both winners in my book. 

Nevada is watching the final twist with the mustang and the domestic.  She isn't bragging or anything...but she says she can do all that!  :-)

It really was a fun time!  Here is a funny on me....before the first group went out, there was a lot of energy and excitement from everyone, riders and non-riders both.  I am getting all excited, all hyped up for the start, Dona and Mary Lou are getting everyone ready to start....it is time to go go go....I am ready...full of energy, waiting for the great departure....and there it was!  FIRST GROUP OUT!  At a walk! Yes, a walk.  Okay, some people might be reading this thinking "Yeah, well, that is what it is supposed to be."  But from someone who has been to an endurance ride and feels the energy before the start of the ride then feels it even more when everyone takes off...this was very different.  Ha ha!  Now I knew that this is more layed back, but for some reason my mind was someplace else.  Brian just laughed at me...he could tell I was getting myself all psyched out...and the look on my face when they all walked away was priceless.

So, if you have not ridden one of these rides, I really do recommend it.  Yes, there are some serious competitors who are very good, but that doesn't matter.  You don't have to be good, you just have to try and have fun, and being able to introduce new things to your horse does nothing but make you both better.  It is also a fun way to meet people with the same interests without that feeling of being in a 'pack'.  And honestly, even the best of them have days where their horse says "No thank you, not today" so instead of scoring high, they got an A+ for the fun factor.

Most people treat their horses with respect but like any group of riders there is always at least one (two in this case) who took their frustration out on their horse and yanked on their mouths.  Hard!  It is disappointing to see this happen at any event (okay, it pissed me off!), and I just hope they are able to stand back and look at the wonderful horse that they are LUCKY enough to have in their life, and either put more training into themselves and their horse both, or just learn to go with the flow and enjoy the ride...

That is it for now...it has only taken me all week to get this done.  :-)

Until later, Karen and Tripp who says the real reason he didn't go to Kansas was because he didn't think they were ready to see him looking so good being black and wearing his gold!  MIZ-ZOU!   ;-)