Thistleblooms Rambles

thistlebloom

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I've been reading around on BYH for awhile and am so impressed by the gold mine of knowledge here and the members depth of experience. Also everyone is so friendly!
I don't expect to add anything to the knowledge base, but it might be pretty handy for me to have my ramblings in one spot., to refresh my own memory of events.

To introduce myself, my husband and I live on 10 timbered acres in north Idaho, 70 miles or so south of the Canadian border. Our kids are grown but not too far away, each of them about 30 minutes away, one north, one south. We have animals, but I will not pretend that I do anything close to farming.
I raise a vegetable garden, keep a few hens, a couple of dogs (Bernese Mtn. dog and a Australian Cattle dog) two horses and a miniature mule.

To pay the feed bills I have a garden maintenance business. I work in the town 20 miles south of us, taking care of landscapes during the growing season. One of the reasons I love winter is because that's when I am not taking care of landscapes.
We have four seasons, the longest is winter. Our growing season is fairly short so we have to grow short season crops, or use season extenders.

I always wanted to be a farmer, and do come from a farming heritage. My great grandparents homesteaded and raised sheep and potatoes in the eastern part of the state, near the Tetons.
Many relatives on both sides of the family farmed and family reunions were often on one of their farms. My cousins were marvelously fortunate in my estimation to be living the life I admired.

We love where we live and wouldn't trade it for anywhere else.

Here's some random photos that I just pulled up in no particular order.

Riding my old guy in the State Park near me.

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Our Kid#1 and my cattle dog on a hike we took on the day of the eclipse (whenever that was, I can't remember...) It took my knees weeks to recover from hiking back down. Ugh, I am so old!
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My girls, left to right, Wren, Larka, and my mare Syringa.
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My 21 year old gelding Luke, and my 4 year old mare Syringa. This was last winter, we don't have snow yet.
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Huckleberry the little mule with a neighbor buddy.

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My main squeeze with our new bikes. We've mountain biked for years, but this is the first winter season with fattys. We're excited to be able to snow ride this year.

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A visitor in October.

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thistlebloom

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Friday morning I had a horse incident that has me sporting a big colorful shiner on my right cheekbone. In more than 6 decades I believe it's the first black eye I've ever had. It was a very discouraging event and pretty much shattered my trust and grieved my heart. Also fired me up and set my resolve.

I was longer than usual in my feeding routine Friday a.m., mostly because I had to mend holes in the horses hay nets. Syringa (the mustang) was impatiently waiting when I finally got to her. I always feed her last anyway to teach her some patience.
She is all about food.
I hung her net and was leaving her pen, she was standing back waiting for the okay, as I have trained her to, and as I approached on my way out I reached forward to rub her forehead as per usual. I may have been preoccupied and not been focused on her body language, but I'm pretty certain she wasn't exhibiting any pissy attitudinal posture. Next instant I have a closeup of bared teeth lunging toward my head. She hit my cheek, but didn't grab any flesh and leapt away as I hollered and swung. I missed the 3 second "kill 'em if you can" window since I had no tool to use and she had jumped away so fast.

I ran and got my stick and string and moved her around me in her pen at a canter, changing directions, stopping, backing etc for at least 5 minutes. I was looking for an ears forward, "yes ma'am, anything else I can do for you?" posture which she finally gave me. She spent quite some time tied to a thinking tree after, and getting moved a lot on the line before I finally unhaltered her and gave her permission to eat. I came in and showed my husband my prize fighter shiner. We discussed how big a hole our neighbor would have to dig with his backhoe. I will not pass a dangerous animal on to someone else, no matter their level of experience or commitment.

After giving it deep and serious consideration I have determined where my mistakes have been. She is a dominant testy mare that doesn't like to be told what to do. She has come a long, long way from the wild defensive thing she was when I got her, and that is encouraging. She also has made huge progress in becoming compliant and willing. Every now and then she does have the pissy ears- leave me alone attitude.
I believe that has been my greatest fail in working with her, and I just realized it. When asked to do something new, she sometimes protests with ears back and a tail swish. I have stopped asking when she exhibits the proper response ( moving her shoulders, moving her hindquarters etc.) But not addressing the attitude she does it with. So in her mind, and this is critically important, I haven't released the pressure because she obeyed, I released the pressure because she threatened me long enough. I have basically been training her to be threatening and go for the Boss Mare position.
So the new game plan is a No Pissy Ears campaign. I will increase the ask pressure until she puts her ears forward and does the movement I asked for. Back to square one.

I started the new plan Friday and she really took a lot of convincing that I would accept nothing less than obedience with a pleasant attitude. But I see some light out there at the far end of the tunnel. Yesterday I only had to work slightly less long and persistently before the yes ma'am. My sweet husband surprised me with his encouragement. He reminded me of where she and I started, and didn't think I should give up on her. I have to always keep in mind what she's capable of and not get sloppy and complacent. I really expected him to vote for the hole in the ground because he's very protective of me.

I'm glad I learned my error, and remembered what horses can do. It was a wakeup call for sure, and I'm earnestly pursuing a complete turnaround in both my handling of her and her attitude to pressure. But if it happens again she won't get any more reprieves even though it will crush my heart severely to have to make that call.
 

thistlebloom

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Have I ever told you guys how much I love all my neighbors?
The young couple next door recently approached me about doing some preschool work with their 4YO daughter. She has been attending a preschool but hasn't been too happy there. Apparently she says it's boring and some of the little girls won't let her play with the baby dollies. It's kid drama, but I have watched her now and then when her grandma wasn't available and we did a little phonics practice for grins. Her mom noticed that she seems to be learning more here than at school, and would rather have her with someone she knows who is also right next door. They will pay me what they were paying the preschool. That's nice for me since there is no income from my job during the winter. (That would be because I don't work in the winter 😁)

We officially started today, just laying some basics of alphabet names and their phonetic sounds and some fun hands on projects. She's really easy to be around, she's got horse fever and just lights up whenever we talk horse. Her grandma is my good friend and riding buddy and Brooke gets to have horsemanship lessons on one of her older horses. It was totally enjoyable for both of us.
Anyway, that is what I'm doing for 2 and a half days a week from now to June. Things are going to get hopping around here and there will be no more hanging out on the computer with a third cup of coffee like I've been doing for the bulk of the winter.
How embarassing.
Between Brooke, work gearing up, and increasing training time with Syringa, as well as my own gardening and the usual housework etc. I'm going to be a busy girl. Goodbye sweet laziness! I won't miss you too much.

Brooke teaching Larka the alphabet today.
Because you know what they say... give a dog a book and she'll just chew it up, but teach a dog to read and you improve her vocabulary for life. :highfive:

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thistlebloom

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I've been doing more of the "over here over there" exercise I described above with Syringa. I figured out the key to getting her to do it calmly was just to keep going farther down the road until it was just an easy smooth movement and she settled into the rhythm of it. I think we both had fun doing it. :yesss:
I also sat on her bareback off the fence, which I haven't done all winter. She was calm and hardly noticed, just turned her head to sniff my leg. I think the first ride will be uneventful.

Her saddle is now supposed to be done by this weekend. All of the delays are wearing me out. I was supposed to have it mid November, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I know they had difficulties this winter. I'm very excited to be getting it soon, and get riding my mare at last.

Today was a beautiful bluebird day, and by all appearances we are going to have a decently early spring. I saw a Robin yesterday at dusk! First one of the year for me. Little Miss and I had a great time together. She is catching on to her pre reading lessons well. We spent a lot of the day outside in the sunshine. She loves Huckleberry, my little mule. While I pruned the apple trees she led him up and down the driveway. I'm teaching her to tie a Highwaymans hitch when she grooms him.


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Everybody needs a little advice on pruning from their cat.

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thistlebloom

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This evening I got the 5th ride in on Syringa. And we trotted!!:yesss: She now seems to have the hang of walking haha, we made several circuits of the roundpen. I asked for a trot and kept asking (double cluck) until she broke into it. She only went a dozen strides that first time, but each succesive time I asked she responded more quickly and trotted farther. Best of all she was very calm, with just a single head toss the first time. I am over the moon! It's so exciting for me to get to this point finally. I know I already said all that but really, I'm so excited! Whenever I would imagine her first rides I expected something of a more reactive slightly explosive nature. I'm feeling very happy and thankful for her progress.😊
 

thistlebloom

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Worked today at my 92 year old clients garden. She calls me every spring for a cleanup, and I always get a little apprehensive this time of year when I'm expecting her call. It makes me so happy when she finally does call, and I can breath a sigh of relief that Anna Mae is still with us. 💝 She's so cute in her jeans and flannel shirts.
She apologized today for not keeping up with the weeds. Every other year she has been out puttering around in her yard, but the past few years her back hasn't allowed her to do much. This year I could see the difference in her. After I got her garden cleaned up she made us coffee and we sat on her back porch and chatted. She also made chocolate chip cookies and told me to take the 3 extras home for my husband. I laughed and told her they would never make it that far,
I was right. I enjoyed them on the drive home, but I did tell dh that Anna Mae had thought of him. :plbb:lol:
I love that lady. I hope she continues to be healthy and living in her own home for many more years.

And I'm getting more rides in on Syringa which makes me happy happy!
 

thistlebloom

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We have been rearranging things on the property once again :rolleyes: . Four years ago I downsized, sold the goats, and now keep fewer chickens. So that meant some pens came down, the chicken coop became my tack room and dh built a smaller coop for the handful of hens I now keep.
Then I got my mustang, which meant more corrals went back up, tack room got moved to a different spot, and Luke and Huckleberrys corrals got relocated and rearranged.
Now we have the two new metal buildings, Luke is gone ( :hit) , Syringa has moved into Lukes corral and bigger shelter, her old shelter (originally the goat shed) is the new woodshed, and her corral and round pen panels are going to be set up for a bigger turnout area for her and Huck adjacent to their current location, south of the house.

I hope you're keeping up with all this. 😄

Anyway, this will probably be the last rearrangement. Oh wait, the garden area will be in the old roundpen area next year (all day sun), and the current garden area may become a space for the dogs to be in when we aren't home, which is roomier than their dog run, it's out in front so they can see what's going on by the driveway, and is better than keeping them tied out. The problem with the current garden spot is the maple whips I planted along the driveway 15 years ago are now Very Large Trees. So too much shade in the garden and a lot of root competition. And dh doesn't want to cut them down ;).
Yes, I may have suggested it. Hey, building good garden soil takes a lot of time!

So there will eventually be some pics of the final arrangements here.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of our fantastic new buildings.

Before the hay barn...
The corral panels next to the red shelter are down as of this last weekend,
the trailer attached to the tarped tractor is holding the treated wood for the base of the hay barn. Behind the tractor is the former chicken coop, now tack room. The CP arch over the little red hutch type object is the chicken coop/run, and the CP supports clematis and hops for shade in the summer.
Then the big tarped thing is my CP hay "tube".
The four posts in the foreground are the corner markers for the base
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After. Tada!
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We moved the old hay into the hay barn this past weekend, and the tarps got pulled off the tube. Next weekend it will get dismantled and the panels will then get a new job as garden fence. My new hay will be delivered and STACKED in August, delivery and stacking will be about the same cost as a new hay tarp that the tube would have needed this year. I'm thrilled about that! The delivery and stacking is a gift to dh. He's allergic to grass hay and it just makes him miserable, plus we both get the hay lung dust cough for a week after.

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:weee

And my husbands new garage. The door was back ordered, but should be here soon.

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thistlebloom

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A neighbor a half mile away reported black bear poo on her property.
I wondered how she could tell it was black bear and not grizzly 🤔
We have them both, but blacks are more common.

Had a super ride with my friend. Got some unexpected rain showers, and the temps were perfect with the cloud cover. We did the usual trail then decided to do some bushwhacking on the way back. She had done this particular off roading a few weeks back with another friend who knows that area like her own living room. Julie and I on the other hand are sort of trail emus. But we voted for adventure and struck out through the untracked hills. We actually found our way back to the trailers after only a little back tracking, so congratulated and awarded ourselves another imaginary Trail Merit badge. The Bushwhacking Master one 😄.
Met a couple hunters in the woods at one point. elk cow season just opened, so we will be wearing our orange from here on out.
Our horses of course were the real heroes, they were steady and picked their footing well, even through belly high grass and brush with lots of logs and logging debris unseen on the ground.

Now I'm considering making myself useful and going out for some yard work.
 

thistlebloom

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Looks like we got some sticking snow finally. About 1" according to my finger meter. Just enough to practice seeing it, but not so much to be brutal. It's actually the third snow of the season, but this one I think is planning on staying. Predicted to be getting a little every day, like an inch each event. Maybe it's good to go gradual so all the nincompoops can start driving like it's really winter. That probably won't really happen though.

I practiced shoveling off the patio and taking it off the vehicles, just in case I couldn't remember. Yep, I still have the technique down, lol. The Bernese dog loves snow, lives for winter and was squirrelly and overjoyed to run around in it when I let them out of the dog run. The cattle dog is not so excited, but it does usually mean she comes in the house with me when my chores are done, so that makes her happy to see it.

The two new barn kitties get kicked out of the house every morning so they can learn to be outdoor cats (they will still always be inside at night, I hate to lose these two to coyotes as they are such personable funny characters) and they actually seemed to like the snow. They scampered and leaped and attacked it. Tomorrow is a big day for them as they are going on a field trip to town to be separated from certain parts of their anatomy.

I couldn't wait to try out my new fat bike in the snow, so the dogs and I took a spin around the gravel roads of our neighborhood.
It's much easier to handle in snow than my old standard mtn. bike, even with 4" wide tires, or maybe it's because of the 4" tires.
The snow gave some rolling resistance but not too bad. We'll see, but I don't think this girl will be pedaling in untracked deep stuff. Not unless I ride with someone who knows CPR.
Fortunately our local State park has a fat bike trail system that they groom.
 

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