Thursday, August 27, 2009

Catching up with myself

All these photos and things I want to remember that I never get around to posting? Today, I'm throwin'em on here in no particular order. I just gotta do it or give up on it. So I'm doin' it.

Luke's 18th bday
Luke turned 18 in June. Then he left to go to be a camp counselor in Michigan. I haven't disowned him or anything. He's absent from my blog because (sigh) he's absent from my life (except for my lifeline, the cell phone). We picked him up from camp on Sunday and got to see him for a whole seven hours as we drove from his camp to his college and dropped him off in time to meet his roommate, sleep, and start classes the next day. His summer at camp, he says, was "amazing."

Logan YMCA Rockies
In July, Tim and I took Logan and his friend, Burge, on vacation out west. Here we are playing volleyball at YMCA of the Rockies. That's Logan spiking.

Yip-pe-yi-o steakhouse
After Colorado, we drove to the Grand Canyon and met my Danish friend, Janni, who I worked with at Camp Kern twenty years ago. She is married to Chris from India. Here's all of us at the Yip-pee-yi-o Steakhouse near the canyon.

Grand Canyon 09
Me with all the kids; a Grand Canyon sunset.

Janni and family
Chris, Janni, Savanna (10) and Daniel (5).

Logan, Tim, me.

Logan and Daniel
Daniel bought a book at the giftshop; Logan read it to him.

Janni and Savanna
Janni and Savanna.

Cowboy Daniel.

At the end of July, Logan turned sixteen. I did get around to posting about that.


Courtney's b-day
My great-niece, Courtney, turned fourteen. We had to interrupt Monday night volleyball to sing Happy Birthday and eat hot fudge cake.

Tim piggin' out
Some of us really like hot fudge cake.

Logan got his license
Mid-August, Logan passed his driving test and became a licensed driver. Tim is giving last minute instructions before Logan drives off by himself for the first time.

Logan license
Logan being agreeable when what he really wants to do is burn rubber out the driveway.

And then, two days ago, Logan's school started:

Logan sophomore
Obligatory First Day of School Photo under the maple tree.

Logan & Tim
Photo totally just to ogle two of my good looking guys.

Logan driving himself to school for the first time.

Life is good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What to do with a Speckled horse?

You can see it in the video (above): Speckles is a very good boy. He is willing and a good worker, especially when he gets to work outside. (Indoor work, he says, is Borrring.)

So here's Speckles working, being ridden by his reining trainer. He's been with this trainer for three weeks. The trainer tells me, "if we're going to go on with reining training, it's time to get tough with him." The trainer and I have had conversations; he knows I don't have a stomach for "getting tough." When I left Speck with him I told him I didn't want him to tie Speck's head around (he said he'd call me if it came to that), I asked him if Speck got a reward after he worked (no), I asked him if he got turned out (no). The guy knows I'm a softy so he's warning me.

As I was walking Speckles, cooling him out after the ride in the video, I realized I don't have what it takes to get a reining horse to the top. I don't know if Speckles has what it takes or not and it would take a lot more training to find out. But I know I don't have it.

I want to ride Speckles, fast, in the fields and woods around our house. I want to give him treats after a fun ride; I want him to go outside on these lovely summer nights and hang out with Buckles and Darby and eat grass.

I want him to be a horse.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Darby Diaries - Lines in the sand

Buckles is now allowing Darby to eat in the same area code as him. This is a big achievement to Darby.

While things with Buckles are going well, Darby and I are having a little battle over whether or not it is okay with me if he bites at me. Let me be clear, he has not bitten me but he swings his head around at me in a rudish manner as if he is going to be the one to decide where I am allowed to stand around him. Needless to say, I yell my pirate war cry and chase him, again, out the back door of the stall.

Let's just say Darby is testing boundaries, like a two-year-old child does, and I am busy drawing my lines in the sand.

I want to remember that among the little things we are working on are the very important manners of backing away from me (especially when I am delivering his grain and his hay) and moving over (from the lightest touch).

And he is learning his name. I say it every time I give him his food. I also say Buckles when I give the big guy his food, which Buckles probably thinks is strange because he has known his name for a long time. But now I want Darby to know that Darby stands for him and Buckles stands for Big Boss Dude.

Well, for now Buckles is the big boss dude. But look at the photo again. Buckles is 16'3" which is pretty darn big. Darby is a yearling; he's gonna be huge. Buckles better lay down the law now or Darby is gonna make his life miserable in a couple of years.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Making Salsa

Mom and I spent yesterday making salsa.

We started with this:
(The garlic and the bells peppers were purchased at my local farmer's market but the tomatoes, onions, and jalapeno peppers are out of my garden.)

Mom squishing up the tomatoes.

Me stirring, and stirring, and stirring.

The finished product:

We had a fun day working together and ended up with fifteen jars of salsa.

Here's the recipe:

12 cups peeled, squished tomatoes (drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water until the skins split (about 30 seconds), remove to a large shallow pan to cool and the peels will come right off. Also, it works well to squish the tomatoes and remove some of the excess juice from them before you put them in the cooking pot. The more watery juice there is, the longer you will have to cook it down.)
2 large onions, diced
2 cups bell peppers, seeded and diced
3 jalapeno peppers, diced (if you like it hot, leave the seeds; lessen the heat by lessening the seeds. I say leave the seeds or this turns out very mild.)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
Add the following ingredients after you have skimmed off the excess watery juice:
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl. salt

Wash your jars in the dishwasher and leave them there until needed (or boil them for ten minutes or so in your canning pot.)

Mix all the vegetables in a large, heavy pot, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer. Using a spoon, begin skimming off the excess water/broth into a heat-proof bowl (you can let this cool then freeze it for soup starter). After you've removed most of the excess water, add the cider vinegar, sugar, and salt. Continue to simmer. Stir frequently to keep the salsa from scorching on the bottom of the pan.

If you sterilized the jars in the dishwasher, now is the time to start the water boiling in the canning pot. If you sterilized your jars in the canner you should already have water boiling in there.

When the salsa begins to thicken, set a small pan of water to boil; place the lids and rings in the boiling water for five minutes. When you've removed a good bit of the excess water and the salsa is fairly thick, spoon it into the sterilized jars (a sterilized funnel is a big help here), then cover with the boiled lids and rings. Place jars in the canner and boil for 12-15 minutes. (The original recipe does not call for the boiling in the canner but I do it anyway as a precaution against any mistake I might make in getting my equipment sterilized. I really don't want to kill my peeps.)

When you remove the jars from the canner, Remove the rings and wipe the jars clean. Listen for the tell-tale ping of each lid as it pops down and creates a seal that lets you know your food is safe. Any half jars should be stored in the refrigerator and used first, or else eaten right away as a taste test. Don't be alarmed at how mild it is - the flavors ripen with age and it gets a little thicker, too.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Darby Diaries - The little things

Darby's been here for two weeks and one day and we have done a lot of training in that time. For the first ten days he was nervous and squirrely and I may have been nervous, too, but I hope I wasn't squirrely.

We are working on little things: standing still, for instance. Standing still out of my personal space. Keeping his nose and teeth off of me. Combing his mane and forelock (today I even combed his tail). Cutting his mane and bridle path with scissors. Being petted on his face without flinging it around and hitting me. Picking up his feet, standing tied, leading, stopping, backing.
When I feed in the morning I spend time cleaning the stalls while they eat. I want Darby to be used to me being around, even when he's eating. I don't want him to think he has to challenge me for his food so I make sure I'm constantly in the background while he eats. After breakfast, I close Buckles and Darby in the pen/barn, give them their hay,and leave.

I come back in a couple of hours with treats in my pockets and commence training - maybe I will tie him (using an old innertube around a post in his stall) and brush him all over and pick up his feet. It takes five to ten minutes and about sixteen treats. When he stands very nicely, facing forward, I click my tongue and give him a treat. He learns his lessons fast and is standing tied like an old pro.

I don't want to make it sound all peaches and cream, though, because sometimes he still swings his head around as if to bite me. When he bites at me, I roar at him (it comes out like a pirate AAAARRRRGGGG) and chase him out the back door of the stall. Hopefully, he'll rethink the whole biting thing because it's not working for him. Also, I am now walking comfortably around behind him; he no longer feels the need to protect his hind end from me.

In the afternoon I do another short training session - maybe a leading lesson around the pen. Then I pick out their stalls again and give them more hay before I leave.

In the evening, I feed again, pick out stalls, and then they get the best part of their day: turnout and grazing. They look so much alike, it's no wonder I fell in love with Darby when I first saw a picture of him. In this photo, Darby's up close and Buckles is in the background.

Another photo of Buckles at dusk. He has his go-go fly socks on because the flies really bother him.
It has been a productive, successful, and good two weeks.