Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunny Winter Day

The snow from the storm is very fluffy.  It's the kind of snow that you see in movies and on postcards.  

View from my back deck.

The snowblower I bought in November and only now had to use.  Unheard of up here.  Be proud, very proud.  I used wrenches and mastered it.

Diva in the fluffy snow.  Neat contrast with the black and white.

Ryder the wimpo dog.  I think his feet were cold (it wasn't too bad today) but he still wanted to play.

Searching for the ball.

In pursuit of the ball.  (Which he eventually lost in the snow.)

The watcher.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


It's been so mild for so long that I had begun to think that winter no longer resided here.  Well, for the last 48ish hours we've been under a severe storm warning.  It's been downgraded to a snowfall warning.  We're supposed to get 10-15 cm  (1 inch is about 2.5 cm.) of snow.  Right now it's been snowing steady since some point in the night.  Based on the amount of snow I removed from my driveway and decks I'd guess we've passed that mark.  At least it's light and fluffy snow...

The large dump of snow meant figuring out my snowblower.  Before, when I was on the farm I used a tractor for snow removal.  Now that I'm on an acreage I bought a snowblower.  There I was this afternoon studiously reading the operation manual.  Carefully, I pushed it out of my garage, filled it with gas, and started it up.  With caution I began working the levers occasionally ending with a face full of snow.  After I got the groove of operating it I began to have some fun.  The dogs were slightly frightened but willing to come to me for pets when called.

Putting the blower away I shoveled off my two decks.  In total it took me just under two hours to clear my driveway and decks.  It's still snowing and the snow is expected to fall until late tomorrow so I'm sure I'll have another opportunity to shovel or clear the driveway.  I must admit to having some heavy feeling arms and shoulders right now.  Even my abs are tight.  Moving snow is a righteous workout!  Pictures to come tomorrow!

Monday, February 20, 2012

On Running

Dear reader, you may or may not want to read this.  It really doesn't have much to do with animals.  It's really just my rambling about running right now.  You see, a long time ago I was a real runner.  I ran consistently a minimum of four days a week.  I ran in sleet, rain, snow, cold, and with a sinus system full of buggers.  (I did warn you about reading.  Although the sleet part may have been an exaggeration for effect...)  After a health enforced running holiday I'm back on track.  Well, kinda.  I've been a wee bit inconsistent.  A fair weather runner if you will. 

Today, after scarfing down 3 (3!!!) Red Velvet Cupcakes fresh from the oven, I waited 30 minutes and then changed to hit the treadmill.  It had snowed here over the past day or so and fighting a head cold I just wasn't up to slogging through the snow, while telling myself I was enjoying myself.  Running on the treadmill has some advantages.  One, it takes less clothes - thus saving my laundry.  Two, it's conveniently located.  This was my first time running on the treadmill in the evening.  It was a bit disconcerting running into my reflection on the window.  Now this is probably TMI (TMI= too much information) - but I'm gonna tell ya anyhow.  So when I run on my treadmill I like to wear a pair of shorts and a running bra. 

*shocked silence*

Just wait for it.

Tonight while I was running into my reflection I noticed something.  I noticed that I seem to run crooked.  So with my cupcakes sitting like lead in my gut, I persevered and kept running.  Kept working on my technique.  Even when gurking up slime in my throat (I did say I was fighting a head cold.)  I kept my eye on my reflection and made corrections to my form.  It was then that I noticed something.  Something odd.  Ready for more TMI? 

Brace yourself.

My boobs were jigging like crazy.  Now, I don't see myself as one of those, uhm, endowed people.  I could if I should choose, get away bra free.  There I was running away, watching the sway from side to side.  Jiggling like Jello.  Fascinating really when one doesn't expect to see it.  There I was wondering: have I always done this?  Or is this one of my weight gain side effects?  Either way the decision was made to purchase a new sports bra.  Just in case. 

And readers?  *crickets chirping* 


Dear readers I'd like to report that I am officially over the hump.  I'm officially running 20 minutes easily and comfortably.  It seems I've got my running groove back.  Next steps will be to stretch out to 30 minutes or if I don't have time to up the intensity. 

For your viewing pleasure (or horror) here's a pic of myself taken at the Melissa's Road Race (10K) a few years ago.  

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.  Full effort is full victory.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Critique

So as per request, I took a video of Ryder working on my Blackberry.  I'd like to ad this disclaimer - it's very, very difficult to figure out what your dog is doing while trying to keep the Blackberry on him and somewhat steady.  This video was taken a while ago, and he was fresh off a break from work.  We have definitely progressed past this point.  He's now doing nice clean little outruns.  He still doesn't have his flanks down.  He's doing fairly distant drives (albeit with little to no direction).  And I've cleaned up the lie down - which it was my fault it had gone away in the first place.

After editing this - it was five minutes of bad - here are some things that I need to work on.
1) Tone of voice - you could really tell when I was annoyed he wasn't doing his normal awesome work.  Clue - when distracted dog will play...
2) I know he cut his top (and this is now cleaned up) but to be aware of keeping him correct.
3) Don't push - his dive bombing the sheep was because I didn't support him and gave him too much freedom too quickly.  His flanks aren't concrete enough to do what I was asking.
4) Stop with "ah" or "uh uh".

But here it is..... warts and all...

Oh!  Apologies for the sniffle nose...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Roomba Makes Me Happy

I have a Roomba.  For those of you poor schmucks who have not heard of a Roomba it's a robot vacuum.  Yes!  Robot!!!  Every morning when I leave for work I pick up the dog toys, click the green button and walk out the door.  When I come home it's like magic - my floor is vacuumed.  This makes me happy.  When one has dogs that shed in one's house, one needs to do an inordinate amount of cleaning which takes away from fun stuff.  Then all I need to do is to pick the hair balls out of the brush and empty the collector.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I alternate between the kitchen area and the living room area during the day.  In the evening I move it into my bedroom and turn it loose there.  While I still need to do a proper clean it significantly cuts down on hair balls and floor dust.

FYI - Mine came from Costco and is a Pet Series Roomba.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What's the Deal With Color??

As I obsessively and compulsively scroll through the horse ads, I've come to the conclusion that some people have a twisted sense of right.  In my humble opinion, anyhow.  There are many, many ads of stallions at stud.  Are they trained?  Nope.  Have they done anything?  Nope.  Why are they stallions?  Of course they have outstanding dispositions and wait for it....


Yep, the trend seems to be if it's a cremello, or my personal favorite a dunskin, then this horse qualifies as breeding material.  Many of these studs don't have proven bloodlines.  They are to be blunt, just horses.  This would be the same as me leaving Guinness intact because he's a nice horse.  Why?  What's the point?

I also don't understand why there is this trend for color.  Last time I checked the color does NOT make the horse.  It seems every time I turn around there's some new color.  Seemingly made up.  Seriously - Dunskin - then in small print it says registered as Buckskin.  Seriously.  Crazy making.

Also crazy making?  The people who are looking for horses but will only buy a (insert color here) horse.  How does riding a horse in a roan wrapper make them a better ride?  Better trained?  Better suited to be a performance horse?  I have never gone out looking to buy a horse with a specific color.  In fact, my favorite color is a dark chestnut - that mahogany color.  Yet, I've never owned one.  Ironically enough I've had horses of color fall into my life.  All without actively looking for it.  Isn't that what one is supposed to do?  Judge the horse based on other criteria.  Criteria like conformation, disposition, athletic ability, suitability for the activity, training, and price.  Would that not make sense?

Phewf!  I feel much better now!

Rant is over...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Changing of the Guard

The most interesting thing has occurred.  It seems a change has happened within my pack.  Last month I would have told you that Tessa is the boss dog, followed by Ryder, with Diva pulling in the third position.  Yesterday out at my parents farm I was stunned to see Diva walk off with Tessa's ball.  This is something I've never seen.  Tessa willing to let one of her treasured toys go??  Never!  We're talking a new B-A-L-L here.  There it was - Tessa turned her head and Diva walked up with cat like feet, daintily picked up the ball and walked back under the table.  Tessa didn't move a muscle.

The next clear clue occurred between Ryder and Diva.  Ryder is a temperamental eater.  He often won't eat his meals unless I'm near by and relaxed.  I've taken to feeding him in the kitchen while I eat my breakfast/dinner.  Diva, who gobbles down her meal, I feed in the living room.  Last night Diva shoved aside the barrier walked up to Ryder's dish (with him at it) and began eating.  What did Ryder do?  He walked away.  I was flabbergasted.  Little Diva has made and conquered a run at the top of the pack.

*On a side note - hot chocolate made with water just isn't as satisfying as when made with the real thing.* Said as I sip my treat, berating myself for not stocking up on groceries.

Back to the story....

We're having our pre-bed play.  I've been working with Ryder on waiting.  Diva tends to be a watcher and I want her to have opportunity to play as well.  I often separate them when playing just for that reason.  Because I'm lazy, I've been working on lying down Ryder, encouraging Diva up for some play, then switching off.  Last night Ryder voluntarily took himself out of the action and Diva stepped in to play.  Even when it comes to things like sitting beside me, Diva is starting to take the place of honor more often than Ryder.  He stays back.

This has left me with questions.

Ryder has been a bit of a brat when on leash in public lately.  Could the two be related?  I had chalked it up to him finally realizing he was a boy and made plans to work on it.  The other thing I've noticed is when the two dogs are free playing in the yard or on a park walk - Ryder has been really rough with Diva, complete with making her yelp.  I recognize dogs play different than we do.  I also recognize that what seems rough to us is often normal for them.  However,  it's different than it was before.  Again, I had thought he was just being a rough boy.  You know, like the little boy's boy on the playground rough-housing.  I've started intervening in the play.  Making him tone it back a notch.  Yesterday he knocked Diva so hard she rolled a good metre (about 3 ish feet).  And yes she let out a hey J...a..s that wasn't nice yelp.

What strategies do you use when dogs are getting rough or starting to posture?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I'm A Dreamer Too

Merriam-Webster defines the word dream as,
4. a) a strongly desired goal or purpose 
 b) something that fully satisfies a wish
I have been contemplating the importance of dreams for quite a while now.  Today I had the opportunity to hear Ray Zahab speak.  It brought home the importance that I have dreams.  You see, my dreams have kind of taken a bit of a backseat.  I had forgotten how to dream.  My daily grind had taken over.  I need the dreams to feed my soul.  I need them to bring a sparkle to my eye.  I need them to light a fire in my belly.  Ray's talk also made me feel slightly guilty.  While I have faced hardship, I haven't necessarily been placed in a situation where I have had to put every ounce of my being into developing a positive outcome.  I haven't necessarily physically challenged myself.  Instead, I've allowed roadblocks change the flow and direction of my dreams, and in some cases suffocating them.

My mission?  To take back control of my dreams.  Here.  Today.  I pledge to allow my dreams to flourish.  I will put plans into place to allow my dreams to become reality.  I will challenge myself and test my limits.  I will commit.

One dream that I allowed to drift away was my goal of running a marathon.  Health set back caused me to table it.  Really, after hearing Ray speak I'm being slightly ridiculous.  Will it be hard?  Yes.  Will I need to be careful and smart about it?  Yes.  But hear me now - I will do it.  My goal:  Las Vegas Marathon.  Let's be real here - I'm not entirely sure I'll have time to train.  I'd have to start training for it in September.  That means work, school, dogs, and serious running. This is a major time commitment.  However, if I plan to "just finish" then I can get by with only running 3-4 days a week, keeping my long run day on the weekend.  Plus it's a flat course so I can also get by with just running - no fancy training strategies.  Plus I have a sneaky suspicion that the NFR rodeo will be on at the same time...  Hmmmm....

I have other things I'm bumping up my list and adding to the bucket list too.  Why?  Because I'm a dreamer too!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Guinness - The Mule?

Saturday was horse day for me.  I hauled Bacardi to Jason's where she had an awesome work on the flag.  He noted that she's improved a tremendous amount since I've bought her.  Not enough to make a nonpro cutter - sooooo, if anyone's looking for a nice cattle penner, ranch or perhaps even working cow horse - the price is right!!  Would even do a trade for a decently cutting bred baby....  *smile*

Where was I?  

Oh yeah, I rode at Jason's and had oodles of fun.  He popped me on his turn back horse (NCHA earner) and let me work the flag on him.  LOT'S of FUN!  Have I mentioned I had fun?  

I drove out the the farm next.  I wanted to work on loading Guinness.  With Bacardi as the "babysitter" and my dad's help.  Guinness was loaded and unloaded.  He was pretty good.  The trailer is very high (over his knees) and he had to work at getting in and was a bit worried about getting out.  But he did it.  Nicely and quietly too!  I also worked on tying up, leading and turning around on the hind.  I wanted him to cross his front feet over, which he did, and pivot on his hind.  Working on this for the halter classes this summer.  

I really wanted some nice pictures of him.  Except, I've discovered he's rather obstinate about standing nicely.  The moment the camera came out he gave his best knock kneed mule impersonation.  I must say I find that rather frustrating!  He's actually very nicely put together in real life.  

Tie Up Lesson

Mule attempt #1

A bit better - now stand still you little fart!

I give up.  Here we are.  To give perspective in how tall he is - I'm 5'8".  (In my very attractive farm gear!)

Hard to believe the little fellow is already closing in on 8 months old!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012