Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Girls

Isn't Izzy's color fabulous?  I love the stripes on her legs too!  Still haven't sorted out a proper name for her, which I need to accomplish this week.

I was standing outside trying to get some good pictures of the horses - not easy when they all crowd around you...  when I looked up and saw this...


"I'm hungry.  How come she doesn't have any food?"

"Hey Sheepy, I think you missed some hay.  Mind if I help myself?"

"Nothing like a walking smorgasbord!"

"Where's our dinner?"

The End Is Near

It is that time of year.  A time when most people look back upon the past year and forward to a new one.  A time of fresh beginnings.  Looking back I did not accomplish many of the goals I had set out for myself.  I had wanted to have Reba ready to compete with but she is still no where near that level of training.  I keep telling myself slow and steady win the race.  

This is the year that Joey entered my life and Buddy left it - both irreversibly connected in a manner I could have never predicted.  Joey has filled my heart with such joy and happiness and Buddy left my confidence shaken.  I believe everything happens for a reason and I try to learn from all the experiences that come my way.

This is also the year that Tessa broke another leg.  I am so thankful I took the opportunity to have Vickie Close take professional pictures of her on sheep.  They will be a keepsake for all our time together.  It is becoming very clear that Tessa will have to have a limited working career from this point on.  She'll need to work to be happy but she'll not be able to complete the training required to do field work.  And perhaps this was the kick in the pants I needed to get more focused with poor neglected Reba.

Reba's training needs to be my focus for the upcoming year.  She deserves to be finished and I need to see what she can do.  

My horse goals are somewhat in limbo.  I need to know if Whiskey will remain to be sound and I want to make one final attempt to breed her.  With luck she'll catch and not have twins!  If she stays sound I'd love to get her going English and try my hand at jumping her.  She's big and powerful so who knows.  Roxy and I head off to Jason Hanson's stable tomorrow and she'll begin cutting training.  I really should sell her but keep getting stuck on the "what if...", as in what if she's really good?  And little Izzy gets to hang out being a baby for a little longer.  Because she hadn't had her feet done before coming here her hoof angles are not very good and I want those correct before she does anything.

My goals for 2010:
1) Work with Reba and Joey a minimum of 4 days per week.
2) Enter Reba and Joey in at least one competition.
3) Run a half marathon (21 kms) in February.
4) Start Izzy and Roxy.
5) Fingers crossed I get accepted into my Master's program - I'll know in Feb.
6) Keep an open mind.

As my friend Jeanne always says, "There's plan A, and then there's what really happens!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I have to admit I'm one of those people!  You know, the person who scorns Christmas, who waits until the absolute last minute to complete their shopping.  (Yep, finished it this afternoon!)  Today I started wondering when the joy of the season became dread.  

Looking back Christmas was a big deal in our house.  The house was decorated to the nines, we went to evening mass, opened gifts and had a huge schmozz with tonnes of family over.  And for the most part I loved it.  I enjoyed the baking and took immense amounts of pleasure in wrapping my brothers presents creatively - read so they couldn't open them.  One year this involved duct tape and bricks.  Over time I became more cynical.  The spirit of Christmas seemed to be lost.  

I hated the commercialism of it.  I hated the snarky people rushing from place to place, making rude gestures when you dared to obey the traffic laws.  And I really hated the intensely crowded malls, looking for the perfect gift.  To be honest, I really love giving presents.  I like thinking up what would suit the person, and imagine how they'd feel.  But I don't much enjoy finding said gifts.

Now I procrastinate.  I despise driving into the city, dealing with the traffic and crowds, generally putting off the torture until I can't wait any longer - read today.  But I've learned the art of power shopping.  I have a list of things I'm going to get and I go directly from each place purchasing the gift and then move my rear end home as fast as I can.  All said I completed my Christmas shopping in under 3 hours.  Not bad considering the wait time in line ups.  

Something I've thought about a lot is showing Christmas spirit which for me are the spirits of generosity, giving and gratitude.  I think a worthwhile endeavor in the future will be to volunteer at one of the many Christmas dinners for the needy.  And to never forget all the wonderful things I have to be grateful for.

So for all you happy shiny faces out there - may the season bring joy and love to your homes.  May you and all those you love be safe and happy.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The last two days I've been home wickedly sick.  Tuesday morning after spending a miserable night running the highest fever I've ever felt (I had considered shoving my head in a snow bank at one point), I rolled out of bed to go feed my crew.  In fact, I didn't even bother getting dressed, instead pulling my Carharts over my PJs.  As I stumbled through the snow drifts dropping piles of strategically placed hay I realized Roxy was being abnormally docile.  This filly is not social and is usually a bugger to catch but let me walk up to her and pet her, without walking away.  

Thinking it weird I was too tired to worry about it and continued about my not so merry way.  Making my final hay drop trip (when it's this cold they get a lot of hay) I caught Roxy laying down in a snow bank.  Freezing, I stopped and watched, at which point I realized she wasn't eating, was biting her flank and pawing the ground.  This could only mean one thing - colic!

Cursing under my breath, visions of my bed going up in smoke, I went into the house to call the vet.  They wanted her hauled in ASAP.  With no vehicles plugged in this was going to be a challenge.  She would need to be walked and kept on her feet until Sam was finished surgery or the truck started - which ever came first.  I'm not sure who was staggering more, me or the horse.  When she'd start to go down I'd wrap the lead around my waist and let my body fall into it, to force her head around and up.  

Eventually, my mother came out and sent me into the house.  She was concerned I was going to get frost bite.  I looked at her baffled, because I wasn't cold.  In fact, my toque, and hair was covered in a frosty condensation.  My fever was so high that I didn't feel the -27C temperature (around -20F).  My pajamas by this time were soggy with fever sweat.  

Sam arrived and gave Roxy some drugs to make her more comfortable, with the instruction that as soon as the truck started to make our way to the clinic.  By early afternoon, Roxy made her way to the clinic via my father where she was tubed and spent the night.  It was with relief to see her perk up, and happiness to have her return home today (once again via dad) and be her normal spunky self.

She'll be getting a warm bran mash for the next few days to make sure she stays happy and healthy.  And I am also feeling much more spunky after a lot of much needed sleep and some powerful prescription drugs.  (Dr. was worried about pneumonia.)

Border Collie For Sale

It is with some trepidation that I've officially listed Joe for sale.  I really want him to find his forever home but I know that may be a long slow process.  I've priced him extremely low for a working dog with the philosophy that finding him a home that's right for him being more important than money.  That being said he's not free because I want his new home to have some investment in him.  Plus it helps weed out people.  

Joey has trust issues due to the abuse he received, however once he bonds with you he is a devoted dog who shadows your every move.  He has some basic commands and has learned to respond to your body pressure when on stock.  He'll work both sheep and cattle, has a looser eye, lots of power, and is not afraid to bite.  He's an honest dog on stock.  He's also very well bred and comes with his CBCA papers.  Starting this weekend I'll be putting more daily time into his training working on rate, come bye and away to me.  

He travels well, actually perhaps too well, as if your door is open he'll be riding shotgun before you can get in!  Loves to help with chores and go for runs and plays tirelessly with other dogs.  He's a very sweet and lovable dog who I adore.  But I never intended to be his forever home, I just wanted to keep him from being shot.  And it's time for him to move forward to the next stage in his life.  

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reba's New Digs

Deciding I was going to have to move Reba into the house until the cold weather broke, I was scrambling for options.  You see, our weather was not supposed to warm up until next Wednesday.  And that, my friends is a long time for her to hang out in a crate in the house.  Talking with my mom, she came up with a brilliant plan.  The garage is insulated and has a large mounted space heater in it.  We'll run the heater until it's time for bed before turning it off.  This raises the heat in the garage but not so much it'll overheat the dog.  

Next, I moved a crate into the garage and to insulate it, placed a horse winter blanket over top.  Then I put some fresh straw in the bottom - one of nature's supreme insulators.  Viola!  Reba's new digs!  I'm leaving her blanket on.  Our temperature without windchill is supposed to hit -38C in town meaning it'll be colder out here.  Also meaning I'll be doing frequent checks on the critters to ensure everyone stays warm and safe.  

Here's Reba enjoying the snugly goodness of her improvised house.

Update: 9:00 pm   Reba is now in a crate in the house.  She just couldn't seem to warm up.  And Joey is in the garage.  He seemed to be doing okay but was really frosty which makes me nervous.  I'd rather err on the side of caution when it comes to the critters and cold.

Reba's Rags

Reba is now the proud new owner of a jacket.  Today when I returned home from the vet with Tessa (splint change) I noticed she was shivering.  Quite badly.  All the dogs had been loose since morning.  I thought they'd be better off if they could run around and play or choose to go into their houses rather than be stuck in their dog runs.  Because it was only 2pm and sunny - so considerably warmer than what it will be tonight I was a wee bit concerned.  (Temperature with wind chill was about -40C.)  

While the vet was changing Tessa's bandage I had been telling her about Reba.  She said some dogs just don't "winter coat" up.  I'm thinking Reba may be one of them.  Last year I had blamed it on the fact that she was a puppy.  This year she should have a thick luxurious winter coat.  But she doesn't.  

So I delivered Tessa into the house, got back into my car, turned around and drove back into town.  Going to the local pet/livestock/feed/pharmacy superstore I went digging through the doggy blanket (pardon me "jacket") bins.  Reba was 26" around her belly and 23" from her shoulder to bum, so the lady told me to go up a size and get a 24" jacket.  Let me tell you there was quite a variety of jackets to see.  I ended up with one that had a nylon outer and fleece liner.  It wasn't as heavy as some of them but they were all cotton.  What I wanted was a Cordura similar to a horse blanket.  I know they make them but they were all sold out.  

You know, I would have thought Reba would have a bit of a freak out when I put it on her but she didn't bat an eyelash.  She hasn't been bothering it and seems quite happy to be wearing it.  Unfortunately she's still shivering, although not as bad.  It seems I'll need to do some problem solving.

I might hang a space heater in the chicken coop and move the dogs into there, but I'm always scared of fire.  The other option is Reba move into the house which is a bit of a problem because Reba and Tessa have a love hate relationship - they love to hate each other!  And Reba's not housebroke.  

I don't have any magic answers but I do know something will have to be done.

Friday, December 11, 2009

To Blanket or Not Blanket?

To blanket or not blanket, that is the question.  As a horse owner I've always been in the blanket camp.  Even when I was younger I had a summer sheet on during the summer and a winter blanket on during the winter.  You have to remember, during this time period it was unusual to see pasture horses blanketed - that was reserved for the fancy show horses that lived in a stable.  

But today, as we head into the cold snap (well, a deepening cold snap), my horses stand naked.  Well, not including their natural winter coats.  And I while I sort of feel I should layer them up I have to wonder where this "you are an evil rotten horse owner if you do not have the best winter blanket available on your horse" attitude has come from.  Really, do they NEED winter blankets?  Probably not.  In reality, if your horse has food (enough calories for the weather), shelter (from the wind) and water, they should be able to naturally survive the winter weather.  

I have to wonder what has caused this change in attitude on my part.  Thinking back, it may relate to all the skin issues Whiskey had last year.  Towards the end of the year I gave up and pulled her blanket off and she hasn't had one on since.  Neither of the babies have ever worn one.  And I'm okay with that.  Let's face it, they're all just hanging out.  Nothing is being worked.  They have shelter, proper nutrition, water and a routine vet and farrier plan.  Do they need blankets?  

Ironically enough, I'm considering purchasing a doggy version of a blanket for Reba.  I'm just not happy with the amount of hair she's grown.  To put this in perspective her coat is probably as thick as Tessa's who lives in the house.  While Reba is not a long (or rough) coat like my other dogs I feel she should have more hair.  I have to wonder if I put a blanket on her if she'd try to shred it.  Of all my animals she's the one I worry about the most and check on when the cold gets harsh.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Darn Bella!

Before the cold weather hit, I had gone to the effort to build Bella a straw house.  In short, I took square straw bales and built her a shelter.  Yes, I know most guardians just live out in the open and find shelter where they can.  But this is my dog and I have this compulsion to take care of her properly!  So I built her a house.

I had noticed the roof seemed to be caving in but didn't have time to shore it up.  Bella had been nesting on her collapsed house so I'm guessing she's the reason the roof fell in.  After all, why go into the house when you can sleep on it!  Knowing a wicked winter storm was headed this way I strategically placed some plywood on the back and on one side creating a lean to.  Would that blasted dog go into her house?  Nope!  Instead she chose to lay on the ground in front of her house.  Once the snow stopped, I pulled the roof off her house and she is now, once again, happily nesting in her deluxe bed of straw.  

Of course I still worry about her.  It's been bloody cold here.  But how do you force a dog to seek shelter?  Especially one as large as this one?  Sigh...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Ventures

For the past year or so, I've been planning something of a new (or old) venture.  I would like to create a website for myself based on the stock dogs and the horses.  My friend Dee, who has taken graphics at school has provided me with some advice.  She'll create business cards for me, and has provided some input into building a website.  

The key stopping point for me at this point is a name.  I need a name.  I would have loved to use my heritage to create the name - but my grandfather's brand really does not lend itself to a snappy name.  We've never had a "farm" name so that's out.  I don't want to name it after where I live because I may not always live in this area.  Dee wants to see me name it specifically to stock dogs but I'd like a name that works as a farm, because for me, the horses are part of this.  She likes the name "Clean Run Stock Dogs" I kinda like the name "Clean Run Farm".  My other friend Jeanne had thought of some cute "fun" type names but Dee vetoed them because, well, they were too cutesy.  
All of this naming stuff is giving me fatigue - but I need to start making some choices.  Sigh!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Thousand Words

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Winter has arrived in the land of the Great White North!  This was snapped tonight at 5:50 pm.  Not only is it dark out (during the summer we have light until well after 10:00 pm), but the first "Severe Storm Warning" has been activated.  In fact, we've been in the throes of a winter storm all day.  What the picture would normally show is my cement pad in front of my door.  Yep, that's right, I opened the door and took the picture!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What's In A Name?

What's in a name?  There are some theories out there that say whatever you name something or someone be careful how you choose it - as they will live up to it.  (Erhm - the little boy named Rowdy, who was, well, Rowdy...)  AQHA lost Izzy's paperwork when her breeders sent it in when she was a foal.  The breeders have spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with AQHA trying to sort it out.  As time passes and the end of the year nears, they've given up.  Instead, they have sent me out the registration forms to complete (along with the money to pay for it) and send in.

This is a mixed blessing.  Fabulous because I get to pick her registered name and rotten because I have to figure out her markings!  Plus her color has changed to be significantly darker - darker even then the color on her hocks.  I do plan to get some fresh pictures of her (if the impending blizzard does not hit the area like its forecasted) to show everyone.  Gray horse + white background = not so fabulous pictures.  

Genetically, horses of her line have luscious long and thick manes and tails, plus she has really lovely movement.  But what's in a name?  I chose to call her Izzy because Bella was already taken by one of my animals and I do think of her as an Isabelle type creature.  Look at Roxy, I tried so hard to call her Stella and it just didn't stick.  (She really is a Roxy!)  

But a registered name is pressure.  This is the one that counts.  The one that she will be known as for the rest of her life and the one that will go on record for any of her progeny.  So what precisely should I call her.  She is Quarter Horse and they tend to have some wacky (in my opinion) names.  But I want her to have both a cool and classy name.  After all, I do have dreams of competing on this horse.  Wouldn't it be nice to hear and the Grand Champion is *fill in the blank here*?  

AQHA has rules around names.  The name can be no longer than 20 characters including spaces and cannot contain any punctuation marks.  It cannot sound the same as any other previously registered name, unless you put initials in front of it.  So... within those parameters what are some of your ideas?  For those bloodline junkies out there - her sire is Fintry Hollywood Jac and her dam is Hooks Jewel.  Some of the famous names in her pedigree would be Hollywood Jac 86, Topsail Cody, Easter King, King, Grey Badger II, so there will be many variations on those names already in use.  (I'm not one of those people who needs to have "pedigree" names.)

Some ideas just off the top of my head: Hollywood Jewel (I know not very original!), Canadian Cowgirl, Ciao Bella, Imahand, Luscious Lady, Salsa Dancer.  Not sure if any "fit" her though, haven't really tried them out.  

I need 6 to short list to AQHA.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guardian Girl

On Saturday, as per routine, I tied up my shoelaces and snapped Joey and Reba onto their leashes to head out for our normal run.  We headed south down the road, pulling to side with each passing car.  All very normal for us.  100 meters down the road we had pulled over for a car when I noticed Bella following us.  As we were still close to home, I gave her trouble and told her to get home (she was just off the property line).  Thinking nothing of it, we continued on our way.  A mile down the road I shoulder checked for traffic, seeing a huge snowbank I thought to myself, how weird I don't remember passing that.  And then the snowbank moved.  

Realizing Bella was following us, I turned around and we headed back towards home.  Bella is a very smart dog.  She knows when she's being naughty and responds with a tail tucked under and a sad look on her face.  She also know what I expect from her.  In the past when Bella was a "bad girl" and crawling under the fence to go into the ditch I could holler at her "Bella, bad girl, get back to your sheep!" and she would bust a move back to where she is supposed to be.  As I neared to where I had last spotted her, I kept a keen eye out for her.  Not seeing her I thought she'd returned home.

You can imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw her leading me home, just as she leads the sheep into and out of the pasture.  Stopping, I shout at her to get home, tell her what a bad girl she is.  And... she ignored me.  Her tail didn't drop, she didn't speed up, nothing!  This is not normal behavior for this dog.  When I stopped for traffic.  She stopped.  When I began to move, she began to move.  

Puzzled, I kept heading home.  Once we reached our land, she pulled back and as I turned into the driveway, she ran back out into the pasture.  Initially, I had thought she wanted to play with the other dogs.  But if that was the case, my giving her trouble would have sent her on the way.  She literally acted as though she was guarding me - much as she guards the animals on the place.  Her behavior was the same.  I don't know if it's because we've had a lot of predator action lately or if it's because I've been sick and she decided I needed watching.  Either way, she was in definite guard action and I was the animal she was taking care of.

Anyone who knows Guardian Dogs knows that when they bond and when they go to work, there is very little you can do to dissuade them from doing their job.  In the future, I won't be leaving for my runs without someone watching Bella to keep her on the property.  

Bella - good dog or bad girl?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Stinks!!

Many parents with young toddlers "child proof" their houses.  I Tessa proof mine.  Tessa has a deep and long lasting fear of baby gates, so of course I use them strategically to block off spaces I don't wish her to enter into.  Right now this means she cannot access the stairs (dog + splint + stairs = potential catastrophe).  The furniture is all blocked off so she can't jump onto any chairs or couches.  Instead she has three dog beds located in various parts of the house and water on both floors.  

Last night I went to bed with her snoring on her bed beside mine.  This morning I woke up to notice she didn't seem her perky happy self.  As she hopped in front of me on the way to the door I realized she was packing her broken leg - something she doesn't do much of now that it's in a splint.  Bending down to put the IV bag on the bottom of her splint (keeps it dry and clean when she's outside doing her "business"), I noticed her leg seemed to be bent more than normal.  Feeling her leg I could feel the jagged edge of the hard plastic splint.  She broke her bloody splint!

How she did this I'm not entirely sure.  And off, once more to the vet we go.  (Oh yes, my vet is out of the country and the other vet at the clinic normally is not in today.  He's coming in just to fix my dog's leg, after all his other calls.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Foundation Bred AQHA Colts For Sale

First off, sorry about the poor pictures.  You see, in July when I took these I had no idea I'd use them in the future as advertising.  

The breeder I purchased Izzy from has two colts (half brothers to her) for sale.  The reason the two colts are for sale is the breeder has had to purchase hay this year due to extreme drought conditions.  This is a first for them.  Normally, I wouldn't be inclined to sell them but two things have occurred: 1) Izzy has a stellar personality and has handled all the strange new things with style and class and nary a tantrum in sight, and 2) Brad has said he can't feed them which means they sell, even if it means they end up at the canners.  

Both colts are more conformationaly correct than Izzy, they're shorter in the back etc.  Both colts are taller  and should mature out in the 15 hh range.  For those of you who follow bloodlines here's what you can expect.  The following names ON the papers: Hollywood Jac 86, Easter Gentleman, Lads 50.  Fourth generation you'll also find Topsail Cody, and fifth generation Cutter Bill, with many foundation names up close.  The added bonus is their colors - you have funky palomino and grey - both of which likely carry dilute genes.  If Izzy is any indication they'll be athletic with sweet personalities.  These colts should work as cutting, working cow or reining horses.  And all he wants is $500 CND for each.  What a steal of a deal for a performance prospect!  If you want more info fire me off an email (on profile page) and I'll forward the phone number.  They are located near Coronation, Alberta. (East Central)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


When I was a child I spent most of my waking hours on a horse.   As a child I had an unique horse upbringing.  First, I was surrounded by people who stated breed does not matter - it's the quality of the horse that counts.  Second, my mother did not believe in having children ride in saddles.  As such, I rode bareback until 4-H loomed and I needed to learn how to ride in a saddle.  Third, once I started 4-H I began riding English.  With the exception of those first few years spent in a Western saddle the majority of my youth was spent in an English saddle.  For many children this would be considered normal.  For a farm raised western kid, perhaps not so much.

As a teenager I would ride the 1/4 mile to the nearby grazing reserve and spend the day having adventures with my trusty steed Smokey.  All in my beloved Fels Bach All Purpose English Saddle.  When the 4-H group went cattle penning, Smokey (my flamboyant Egyptian Arabian) and I would load up and go - complete with my English saddle.  (You can imagine the looks we received!)  During the 4-H extravaganza at Northlands, we would run gymkhana - yep, you guessed it, in my English saddle.  I loved that saddle and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.  Looking back, I realize it might have something to do with the fact it was not a cheapo special (the western saddles sure were).  

As a young adult I grew fatigued with my English show world and I moved on to new adventures, with new horses in new disciplines.  I bought myself a fancy Vic Bennett Rope saddle and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  During this phase of my life I said good bye to my beloved English saddle.  The small seat no longer fit my much larger seat and the narrow tree would only fit the necks of the horses I was now riding.  Years passed and an unfortunate accident blew out my shoulder sidelining (at the time I thought ending) my roping life.  So I sold my fabulous rope saddle and bought a Ross Ellas Cutting Saddle.  After all, cutting would be the next best thing.

I regret not having an English saddle but recognize the Fels Bach had served it's purpose with me and needed to find a more suitable home.  I really regret selling my rope saddle now that I know I can rope again.  Don't get me wrong - I love my cutting saddle.  You'll have to pry it from my dead lifeless fingers.  Some days when I'm feeling down I'll go over to it (its in the house) and smell it's leather smell.  Love it!  

Here I am with one saddle and so many horsey things I want to do.  So tonight, I began doing some Internet searches.  I'll often drop into the Vic Bennett site to check stuff out but right now I've decided the priority saddle will be to find an English one.  
I feel somewhat lost in my searching as I don't really know what I'm looking for anymore.  I know I want an interchangeable gullet system as that's the most practical for me.  But I don't know what size and I don't know what type or what brand.  And into the scary old but new world of saddle shopping I go...

Pictured is my cutting saddle.


Tonight I realized my one year "blogging" anniversary had passed with nary a thought.  It's made me think back to why I started this.  Initially, I wanted to write.  Period.  I looked at the blog as a strategy to work on my rusty writing skills.  Now, I'm beginning to understand it's metamorphosed into something else.  I still enjoy the writing component even though the time I have to write has been in short supply.  Mostly I enjoy sharing my little furry family.  When I chose the topic, I chose to write about my animals because I know writing what you know is so much easier.  

Here's to blogging...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Say What!?

The day dawned crisp and clear! Today was the first day of the Northlands Stock Dog Trial and Tessa and I were entered up. Only I made the trip into town alone. No black and white furry companion. Yesterday morning Tessa began three legged hopping with her left hind held up in the air. This morning she continued hopping and was not weight bearing at all. So I made the trek to Farmfair to scratch her from the competition.

While making the trek I called the vet, who wanted to see the dog today. So, I made the trek back out into the country, picked up the dog, turned around and drove back towards town (the clinic is on the outskirts). I explained to Sam the history and what I thought the problem was. She did a brief exam before stating she was going to get the x-ray machine ready. And off we went for pictures. I had told Sam that if she told me the dog had a broken leg I was going to start crying. She looks up at me and tells me she needs to get a box of Kleenex.

My dog, my pampered well taken care of dog, has broke a second leg in the period of a year. As I write she is lying behind me with a splint and bandage while we wait for the swelling to go down, after which point it'll be decided if she should be casted or if we'll stick with the splint and soft bandage.

Sorry, no pictures as my Macbook died and is off getting repaired.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Puppies on My Mind

The last few months I've had puppies on my mind.  I keep telling my self, "No, no, no!" but I just can't let go of the idea.  There are a number of well bred border collie puppies around right now.  Here's the rationale:  Reba is turning two this February.  If I got a puppy now then it would be ready to start when she was three.  By the time it would be trained Reba would be four or five and Tessa would be geriatric.  

The other thing I've been contemplating is breeding Reba during her next cycle.  This would get her first litter of pups out of the way and wouldn't interfere with her competing and working.  But if I were to breed Reba I'd want to breed her to something with good lines and proven working ability.  I'd like something a little uncommon pedigree wise.  Reba herself is extremely well bred and she has the talent to work so I'm not worried about her.  All she needs right now is time and work.

Reba is by Corey Perry's Ben who has won many prestigious arena trials including the Northlands Farmfair trial.  Ben goes back to Norm Close's Joe and is out of Abe Marshall's Mist.  Her mom is a working ranch dog who works cattle easily in addition to trials sheep.  Her mom is Keith Mulligan's Clair.  Clair is by Ron Gale's Whip and is out of Jack Knox's Keli.  Keli goes back to Gonnet's Moss.

All of Reba's "star" breeding is up close.  The question at hand is what lines would cross well with hers?  I'll be doing some research and will keep you posted as I come to a decision or decide to wait.

The Sneak

This weekend my brother and sister-in-law, along with their 6 month old German Wire Hair Pointer (Kobe) came to visit.  We had been sitting in the kitchen having coffee before Eric and Crystal left to go home and the dogs had been enjoying some free time in the yard playing.  As Eric and Crystal began loading up their car all the dogs with the exception of Reba continued with their wild ways.

Crystal called me down stairs.  You see, Reba had snuck into the house and they couldn't get her out.  As I walked around the doorway she went into hiding.  Finally, I sat down and called her to come for a treat.  Which she did.  It was very strange.  She curled up on the floor beside me and put her head in my lap.  Later, once Eric and Crystal left, I left her in the house.  All she did was lie down near the door and chew on one of Tessa's left over rawhide pieces.  

Finally kicking her out, I went to change into my running clothes planning on taking her and Joey on my jaunt today.  But the phone rang, and the person on the other side was someone I hadn't visited with in a long time.  Sitting on my bed I began to catch up.  Only to hear this whining sound.  Looking around I see Tessa sound asleep by the bed - and no noise coming from her.  Opening my blinds I see Reba sitting up against my window crying.  (Walk out basement, so in my room the window is level with the ground.)  She must have heard me talking and came to the window.  When I asked her what was wrong she put her paw up against the glass.  

So once again I go to the door and let her in.  Once in she didn't want to follow me, she was quite content hanging out in the boot room.  Even when we finally got going on our run she was "off".  Not her normal spunky self.  I have to wonder what made her feel so clingy and needy.  It could be the disruption in routine with Kobe here.  It could be I'm just not giving her enough attention.  And it could be plain bad behavior.  What do you think?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Furry Family Portrait

I must say I've been wanting to get a picture with myself and my four dogs for a long time.  May I say this is a challenging endeavor!  Today, I managed to get three of them in the picture with me.  Bella, deciding something was up ran off into the field to be with her sheep!  Even with treats she could not be coerced back into the yard for the photo op!  
In the picture: Left: Tessa, Front: Reba, Right: Joey.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Running in Town

I accept that some people may think I'm crazy but a few weeks ago I had decided to begin training for a half marathon.  A half marathon is 21 km long or about 13 miles.  To help me reach my goals I decided to register in a clinic run out of the local Running Room store.  As part of the clinic we meet on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday of each week to run or learn about running.  Tonight was "speed work" and because I hate running without my dogs I brought Reba into town with me.

Poor Reba has been somewhat neglected in her exposure to different situations so this was a bit of a rude awakening for her.  First I unload her in a busy parking lot.  Next I take her into a very busy recreation facility.  And then I run with her in town.  All of these are new situations for her.  

I was soooooo proud of my dog!!  She was awesome!  You could tell she was scared while we waited in the recreation facility.  After all it was noisy and filled with people going to different areas.  (This facility has swimming pools, skating rinks, indoor soccer fields and a gym/fitness area, in addition to offices - so it's large.)  She was very happy to leave the building and run outside.  

She handled the city noise and hustle wonderfully, watching me and attending to what I was doing.  The only "scary" things were the little marker flag on a wire stick that she didn't notice until she ran over it - I had to giggle because she tucked her bum and scooted like something was chasing her.  And the other "scary" bit was the fire hydrant - and really can you blame her?  It's not like those are normal things in the country.

When we worked on the drills portion of our run in a nearby parking lot I actually dropped the leash only to have her go to my jacket and lay down on it.  She paid very close attention to where I was.  When we finished and I began my stretches she laid down by my feet and waited patiently.

For my little country mouse's first trip to the big city she was a superstar!  I can't wait to see how this dog continues to develop!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Love Letter

Last night my doctor put me on notice.  Get my stress under control now!  He gave me some strategies I could do without using drugs - because he knows I'm pretty much anti-drug unless absolute necessary.  And I concede - perhaps I may have too much on my plate.  One of the strategies was to increase the time you spend doing the things you enjoy.  And today I have been successful for the most part.  You see, today, I have not read a text book, I have not marked a paper, and I have not paid a bill.  I didn't even go grocery shopping!

It appears I had forgotten about my little furry lovelies and was spending too much time doing things I don't love so much, as well as focussing on the negatives of having said furry lovelies (expense).  

Horses, What I Love About You:
  • I love how Izzy follows me around.
  • I love how after 8 weeks of no handling I can put on a halter, and the farrier can completing trim all four feet with no issues with a horse who had been running free 3 months ago.
  • I love how Izzy's color changes with the seasons.
  • I love the horsey smell as Whiskey puts her nose up to my face.
  • I love how I can walk away and return to have my farrier trimming Whiskey's feet with no one holding the rope.
  • I love how agile Roxy is, even in pastern deep mud!
  • I love the plush softness of the horse's coats under their manes.
  • I love watching the two yearlings grow.
  • I love pulling up to the house after work and have the horses and sheep run into the corral to greet me.
  • I love how the horses go to their own buckets for their grain.
  • I love how the sheep walk under Whiskey and she just stands there.
  • I love the feel of a good ride.
  • I love the wind in my hair when galloping through the field.

Dogs, What I Love About You:
  • I love Reba's bright eyes and lop-sided ears.
  • I love Joe's toothy (well, kinda toothy) smile as he looks up at me when I pet him.
  • I love Tessa's howl of joy when I come home.
  • I love how Bella leans up against my legs, then flops at my feet.
  • I love how smart they are.
  • I love Bella's silky softness when I pet her.
  • I love how Joe's hair crimps in the hair - kinda reminds me of how you used to see girls crimp their hair in the eighties.
  • I love Reba's squeaks of happiness when I come home.
  • I love how Bella, giant sized dog, can run in such little circles while doing her mad racing patterns.
  • I love Reba's red mud flaps (hairs along hind legs).
  • I love how Tessa is always up for a game.
  • I love how Tessa groans her pleasure when chewing a toy.
  • I love how Bella tries to play tug but never quite gets the game.
  • I love how Reba, Bella and Joe play with such abandon.
  • I love how they make me laugh.
But most of all....
I love how they love me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dog Days

As the weather has turned less than friendly the dogs are getting a significant reduction in attention.  In part because I haven't had the time to work them, and in part because I am not motivated to sit in my lawn chair and watch them play.  They have figured out how to apply sad eyes and thus creating feelings of guilt in their human.

Both the outside collies Joe and Reba live in dog runs, however they get a fair amount of "free time" in the yard.  This is their time to run about and play as they wish.  During the summer I sit in my lawn chair and watch them while they play.  Now that fall is turning nasty (as in snow and rain) I've taken to kicking them out and returning to the house.  

Reba goes to the door and jumps up on the handle until she shoves the door open.  Pleased with herself, she lets herself in the house for some human companionship.  Of course, this puts Tessa in a major snit as she is the only dog allowed in the house.  And to prevent a world war, outside Reba once more goes.  

Joe has a different tactic.  He goes up on the deck and looks in the deck door, wildly wagging his tail with a hopeful look on his face.  As the wind blusters and blows he remains there watching you.  Can you feel the screws turning in my heart?  There are times when both Reba and Joe sit wagging at the window watching you inside all nice and cozy.  The worst is when you look out the kitchen window to check on them and Joe sees you and comes running up to the door.

Tonight the guilt got to me.  I just couldn't bear it anymore.  Bundled up I went out and played with my dogs.  They were just like children.  "Hey, watch this!  Watch me toss my toy and pounce on it!  Are you watching?"  "Look, look!  I'm chasing Bella!"  Their shenanigans were interspersed with leans up against my legs for some quality pets.  Joe seems to be the neediest.  He really wants to be with you.  

It breaks my heart to know that I'll have to give Joe up but I know there is another home out there somewhere better suited to him than mine.  I can see him as a truck dog.  You know, the dog that travels with it's human everywhere, or running along side the horse helping move huge herds of cattle.  He is the dog that wants a human to love and work for, everyday spending time with them.  But for now he's mine to love and I'm his to shower his affection on.  Even if it makes me feel guilty!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello, My Name Is...

Hello, my name is Andrea and I have an addiction.  I am no longer able to deny my problem.  I am addicted to Kijiji.  To be specific, Kijiji livestock ads.  I sit in my office chair, foot eagerly tapping the floor as I click and scroll my way through the ads.  Gasps of delight or dismay escape my lips.  Snorts of disbelief cause my dog to look up at me in consternation.  Fingers twitch and hover over the reply buttons.  

And yet I don't buy anything.  I won't buy anything.  Good lord knows I have enough animals as it is.  But I want to.  Badly.  Right now I'm on a big Thoroughbred off the track eventer prospect kick.  Would I know what to do with one if I bought it?  Nope, not in the slightest.  And still I dream, and ponder, and wish.  Kijiji is my weakness - simply because they tend to be cheap and the bargain hunter in me is always on alert for the next great "deal".  However poor it may be.  

My name is Andrea and I'm addicted to Kijiji!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dread Cough

Izzy has the dread cough.  This summer when she was in jail she had developed a cough.  A cough I had attributed to eating hay off the very dry and dusty ground.  Only now it's fall and I've started adding some hay into the horses diet again - not much, just a bit for added nutrition.  And the dread cough has returned.  

She's only a long yearling and I'm left wondering if my little girl has heaves or some other issue.  I'll be doing some research to see if she fits any symptoms and if it gets worse I'll call the vet, even though I'm not entirely sure what a vet could do for that.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This weekend, a friend of mine got on a plane and flew around the world.  He flew to a place called Afghanistan.  While I don't care much for politics, I do care for my fellow man, and this man has a job that does make a difference.  You see, he's in the army and will put himself at risk to try and make this far, far away country a safer and better place for all people to live.

As a teacher I have a firm belief that education is necessary for people and cultures to improve their quality of life.  Part of this man's job will be to train the members of the Afghan army so they can keep their country safe (allowing education to occur) and my fellow countrymen (and women) can come home.  I also have a firm belief in supporting the members of the armed forces who are doing a job most of us are not willing to do.  Politics has no place in this for me.  Whether you feel it's right or wrong - it is what it is.  

And for me this issue strikes close to home.  So for Jay - God speed, do what you've been trained to do, (I know you'll do it well), and don't forget to see the simple pleasures of life.  Thank you.  We here in Canada are so lucky to live the lives we lead...

For those of you safe at home - what are you thankful for?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Touch Choices

My animals are running me ragged.  I just don't have the time to put into each animal the way I feel I should.  After some serious thought the decision has been made that somethings got to go.  I have three horses and three working dogs, in addition I have a full time job that runs me about 60 hours a week and a university course that takes up about 10 hours a week.  Quite frankly, I don't have time for the animals I have.
Of the animals I have both Tessa (dog) and Whiskey (horse) are permanent residents.  Reba (dog) is my up and coming prospect (if I ever get the time into her) and I really don't want to part with her, even though she'd be easy to sell.  The two yearlings are a tougher choice.  Izzy has a stellar personality and is so willing to try things for you.  Roxy has outstanding conformation, is ridiculously athletic and agile.

Joe, my rescue dog from this spring has made wonderful progress.  He's sane in the yard and no longer crazed on the stock.  The only big concern with him is his trust issues.  He adores me, however he is not keen about 99% of the rest of the human population.  I can see this being sales issue, however he is the stock dog I've slated to sell.  It'll have to be the right fit for him to be successful.  

Of the horses, Roxy is the one who's personality I like the least.  There's nothing wrong with it or her.  I just don't think she's a great fit for me and for this reason she's the one I'll put up for sale.  In January she'll still head to Jason Hanson's to begin cutting training and I'll have him look at finding her a new home.  

My biggest problem is I like my animals.  And I can see the potential performance successes with them all.  However, I also know if they are going to be successful them need the time and energy put into them.  For this, I'm stretched too thin.  

Stupid or Plain Bad Luck?

A couple weeks ago my dad shipped some cows and all the calves to the auction market.  He borrowed the neighbors stock trailer and made two trips.  The first trip delivered the cows to auction about thirty minutes away.  The second trip involved having a vehicle on the highway force him to a stop.  The vehicle could see a leg sticking out from under the stock trailer.  

Upon his arrival home he unloads the poor calf, gives it a shot of Alamycin (long lasting penicillin) and leaves it.  This is a Tuesday.  In exactly seven days he had a trip scheduled for Germany.  Five days pass and he continued kinda sorta doctoring the calf who spent the majority of his time lying down (Really do you blame it?).  At about day five he starts giving me instructions about the calf.  I look at him wild eyed when he tells me "It's not that bad." and tell him that cows are like horses - there's actually stuff inside their hooves.  

Once he leaves, my mom and I make our own plan of action.  We lock the momma cow in with the calf (dad had been letting her in twice a day to feed him) and start feeding her my horse square bales.  The next thing we do is I call my farrier and she calls the vet.  The farrier tells me what should happen if the calf is salvageable (we were prepared to put a bullet in him to end his suffering if need be) and the vet reinforces what the farrier says.  The vet bandages the calf and we move him out of the open corral into a panelled shed.  The goal is to keep the calf dry and clean.  Not so easy when we are getting snow and are not set up properly.

Momma cow is bug eyed and snuffy making her a treat to work around so with the help of my brother's two friends we moved implements and set up a panel runway to the automatic waterer.  This way we don't have to haul water for her, instead let her out twice a day.  

The vet comes tomorrow morning to see how the poor little fellow is doing.  I'm happy to report he's starting to stand a bit more and is starting to eat his grain and some hay.  Needless to say I was a wee bit aggravated with my father leaving me to deal with his problems.  The irony is the stock trailer he borrowed had had the floor boards replaced a few years ago.  

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Go Big or Go Home

As I left the capital region and entered an area that is mostly crown land it became clear to me just how alone alone can be.  I was enroute to High Prarie to help out at the Alberta Stock Dog Association Field Trials Finals.  Having travelled I can assure you Alberta is one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially when it comes to natural beauty.  My lonely drive (I didn't see cars, houses or lights for some very long stretches!) took me through majestic forests, over gigantic hills (when I was in Quebec they called hills like this mountains), and past scenic lakes.  Unfortunately this time the drive in both directions was mostly done in the dark so no pictures to share.  

When I finally arrived in High Prairie, I unloaded my truck, including the dogs and settled in for the night.  Reba is turning into a seasoned traveler who handles strange situations with aplomb.  I was very proud of her.  (Joey had to stay home - he has nervous pee issues and I didn't want to bring him for that reason.)  Tessa was overjoyed at having some action and sang her happiness.  The next morning we drove out of town to the trial location.

The land in this area is so large that you and your dog had better go big or go home.  To give you an idea of the size and distance of the field I've posted a picture of Carl setting sheep (letting them settle at the appointed spot for the competing dog to gather them).  He's close to where I was stationed and my camera was at it's furthest zoom.  The actual dogs will travel 3-5 times further than the distance he's located from me.

The weather was crisp and overcast causing all of us to bundle up in our farm chic clothing.  While chilly for the humans it was excellent for the dogs and sheep, keeping everything fresh.  Here you can see me by the sheep's holding pens trying to stay warm in my many layers.  Way off in the distance, behind the edge of the trees and my shoulder is the main area where handlers set up camp and sent their dogs from.  (Just to give you an idea of just how far these dogs will run to fetch the sheep.)

It was a great field for a trial and the sheep were superb making it one of the best trials I've been involved with yet.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Friday I make the trek up into Northern Alberta to work at the Alberta Stock Dog Association Field Trials.  On Tuesday, my dad moved cattle and shipped his calves.  Tessa, who was fine when I left for work was three legged hopping when I got home.  While dad hasn't said anything I'm wondering if he didn't "borrow" her to help him.  This is causing some stress in my life as I'm supposed to "set" sheep for the trial.  

What this means is I'm supposed to keep the sheep in a nice quiet circle until the handler who is competing has sent their dog and the running dog is close to the sheep, at which point I call of my dog and get out of the way.  Tessa would handle the job just fine.  A lame Tessa can't do this job.  I'll be bringing Reba with me as a back up but am scared as she hasn't done much off the place.  She is a great listener on stock but animals always act differently when they are worked elsewhere.

Another big stess is Whiskey is lame.  On her front this time.  I really do wonder if I'm cursed.  I've also decided I'm going to put Roxy up for sale and have been struggling with how to figure out how much she's worth and if I should wait until she's started training.  I feel like one big mass of nerves right now.

I know I'll go to High Prairie, do my job and be fine.  I know all I can do right now is give Whiskey some time to see if it helps.  And I know I'll eventually figure out what to do with Roxy.  

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Adventure

The day I had been awaiting for finally arrived!!  I had been running like crazy, training for my first 10k (6 mile) race since my dose of chemo three years ago.  You see, three years ago I ran the same race two weeks after my final dose.  This race was for me a celebration of life.  It was not a personal best run.  In fact, it was not even close.  I was ecstatic to finish.

Time passed and I spent a fair amount of time in the physiotherapist clinic working on some of my long term side effects involving how the drugs had impacted my muscles and the resultant issues (like my knees being pulled off track).  In the three years following my treatments my running has become somewhat sketchy.  I'm not in as good of shape, not as fast, and am carrying twenty more pounds than my previous life.    But I do run because I love it.

In the last couple of months I've been working very hard at increasing my mileage and endurance.  Last night I drove the three hours to Calgary where I met up with my best friend Jeanne, incidentally the same person who ran the Melissas with me the only other time I made the attempt.  Today we woke up and prepared to drive another hour to the stunningly beautiful town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies where our race was to occur.

Unfortunately, we had not factored into our drive time the time it would take to drop Jeanne's dog Scout off at my brother's in Cochrane (a town on the way).  Let's just say we were running tight on time.  Our adventure began with my pushing the speed limits and expressing road rage at a very erratic BMW who for some reason was taking it rather personally when anyone tried to pass him.  This made me a wee bit grumpy.

Crawling through construction we pulled into the town of Banff.  It was 10:20am.  Uh - the race started at 10:30.  I pulled into one of the public parking lots only to follow the most painfully slow driver as we wound our way to the top to discover there were no more stalls left.  I began the slow parking lot trawl looking for a spot, any spot!  Finally, parking beside the yellow painted curb we hoped for the best (no ticket) and began speed walking towards our start.  May I point out the race has begun by this point.  After a pit spot of the washroom we broke into a run.  

Watching racers running in the other direction we optimistically ran to the starting line. (About a kilometre.)  Crossing the start line, breathing heavy after our sprint I requested a walk break to catch my breath.  Yep, we walked the first part.  As in just past the start sign.  

Finally we were underway.  We ran following the odd runner in the distance.  Looping around the course I told Jeanne I thought we needed to cross the bridge and follow the big crowd we had passed earlier.  A man in a vest on a scooter pulled up and shouted at us to go under the bridge, follow the path.  So we did.  At the one mile marker we encountered one of the many sign holders.  The lady was yelling encouragement.  She shouts "Good job!  Only twelve more miles to go!!", without missing a beat I respond you mean 5, we only have 5 miles left.  Uhhh... it was at the point in conversing with some of the other runners we discovered that we were indeed running the half marathon route not the ten k route.  Yikes!!

Jeanne tossed out some ideas and we decided to keep running.  I was feeling great!  My calf that had been tormenting me in the weeks leading up to the race was silent.  I had a full tank so to speak.  At about the 4 or 5 kilometre mark I started to notice something funny.  I wasn't sure if it was the sunlight dappling through the trees or if I was seeing flashy lights.  The next darker stretch I focused on some shadows only to have my vision flickering and flashing.  

I occasionally get migraines.  My migraines have auras.  Hence the flashy lights.  Anxiety flooded my body.  As Jeanne chattered on about all our options, I worried about being in the middle of nowhere, running a half marathon and getting a migraine - with no meds, no nutrition.  I started worrying about my blood sugar crashing - I had not planned on running this far.  I can and have run 10k with no water, gels or food.  My mind ran through scenarios of me crashing in the middle of the wilderness.  The gorgeous wilderness that I was no longer enjoying.  

As the kilometres ticked past my walk breaks became a little more frequent.  I had not planned on taking walk breaks but I had also not planned on the woozy, nauseous feeling that accompany the migraine warning.  With 10 k sign in sight I opt for a serious walk break.  

My hip - which I normally don't have issues with - was seizing and cramping up.  I was trying to walk normally but failing miserably.  In the end, we walked about a kilometer before once again picking up the run.  In total we ended up doing 15 kilometers at which point we returned to the town site and said screw it and went to get nutrition.  

Gathering our goodies we returned to the car where I standing on the sidewalk began to switch out shirts, and in the backseat of the car pants.  Grabbing my purse I dug out my trusty Advil Migraine strength pills of which I promptly chugged 2.  Once upon a time I had prescription meds for the headaches but I've progressed and now can usually prevent the headache if I take the Advil quickly enough.  

After eating (I was starving) we headed home for some well deserved naps.  Hours later my headache is under control.  What should have been a simple and fun race turned into a gong show.  I ran farther than I ever have in my life and did it battling a migraine.  And I ran a personal best 10k finishing in an hour and five minutes!  Life is all about the unexpected and as Jeanne likes to say "There's plan A and then there's what really happens!"

Check out her blog on the same race at All About the Canadians.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dry Spell

Normally, the only problem I have with writing my blog is finding the time to do it, but I appear to be going through a bit of a dry spell.  My brain is empty of stories.  I have nothing to tell.  I've had a number of experiences the past few days that could be translated into stories.  My brain is just empty.

Perhaps it's because I've started a graduate course (Facilitating Communications and Understanding through Utilization Focused Evaluation), or maybe it's because I've been feeling under the weather.  It could be that I've been spending so much time training for the 10k (6miles) race this weekend that I'm just running out of things to say.  (Heh heh - get it - running... sigh...)  

I've done quite a bit.  Saturday I took the dogs to Ken's place and worked them - and they were awesome.  Tuesday I had my riding lesson and jumped a course!!  (Well, a pattern anyhow.)  Today I saddled up Whiskey and she's not lame!!!!!  You can tell she'd been lame for a long time as she's off balance and has some muscle dysfunction.  Strangely enough she didn't do her normal bucking routine.  

But no stories.... sigh.... surely my brain will get up and running sooner than later.  I hope...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On a Dark and Windy Night...

Once upon a time, in a land as dry as the Sahara Desert, lived a girl.  This girl loved animals and spent a tremendous amount of time living, breathing and thinking about them.  She took her responsibilities very seriously.  All this work and no play made the girl very tired until one night she forgot to do her chores. 

A cold wind from the north began to blow and darkness rushed in surrounding her little farm.  Sitting in her cozy chair in her well lit house the girl gave a jolt of surprise, suddenly realizing she had not brought in the horses from the field!  Leaping up, she rushed out into the creepy dark so panicked she left the dying flashlight behind.  

Hurrying, she called for her darling four legged friends.  With the floodlights doing a meagre battle with the enveloping blackness, she began her routine of mixing up grain and supplements.  Realizing she had once again forgot to buy more oats she left the friendly well lit shed to tentatively feel her way to the cold isolated granary.  She knew she would be able to find an oat barley mix for the cows in this shed.  She would use a very small amount of this mix to put the supplements in for her pampered horses.

The granary door opened with a protesting screech.  Relentless, the girl forged on.  Taking a deep breathe she took a tentative step into the black hole.  Using the grain scoop as a sword she felt her way past stacked hay bales until she came to the grain bags.  Carefully, she reached into the bag only to discover it was the wrong type of feed.  Completely surrounded by black, she edged further into the building, with a sigh of relief she saw a faint white glow of a grain bag.  

Taking her grain scoop, she reached into the bag.  Down deep into the bag, wiggling the scoop in the search for grain.  At the very end of her reach she touched something solid.  When all of sudden the bag gave a rustle and the girl felt cold little feet run up her hand.  Giving a whole body shudder the girl grunted out "ungh, ungh" sounds while shaking her arm, all the while backing rapidly through the dark to the safety of the door.  

Shaking, she stood and looked into the building from the murky light outside.  Torn between her feelings of responsibility in feeding the supplements with her fear on little critters with cold feet she stood.  With a final shudder and shake of the hand the girl shoved the door shut and walked away.  Surely it wouldn't hurt the horses to miss getting their supplements one night?  

Feeling obligated to treat her loyal steads for coming in to their names she instead shook out some hay for them to munch on.

The moral of the story?  Do your chores during daylight!