Sunday, September 9, 2012

All The Pretty Horses

When it rains, it pours, I guess! We were talking to the new hay guy and telling him we wanted to get some horses. It just happened that his father had some horses he wanted to! So we went and took a look at them and decided to buy three of them. But, we only wanted to bring two of them home to start with. The Sorrel gelding was used to work cattle years ago and the Chestnut mare had been ridden by kids in a round pen but never really trained. The Paint gelding has had just a little bit of work, but it was a long time ago. We decided we needed to wait and see how we did with the two first and see how we get along with them before attempting to tackle the Paint. The hay guy said he would bring them over, so we waited for him to let us know when he would bring them.

Also, my friend Teresa is moving and needed a place for her three horses to stay until she got the fences put up at her new place. She used to live on this farm, so her horses are "at home" here. She was making arrangements to have her three brought over, so we waited for her, also, to let us know when they'd be arriving.

In the meantime, we worked on fixing and strengthening the fences.

Teresa called on Saturday to tell me her horses would be brought over on SUnday. While I was on the phone to her, the hay guy called and said he would be bringing our two over on Sunday as well! Wow! Zero to five horses in one day!

Belle and Two Socks were fascinated by the sheep. It was so comical to watch them. They really startled when they first caught a glimpse of them, and then took off running in the other direction. But, after stopping to look back, and realizing the sheep were not chasing them, they ran back over to have another look. Back and forth they went until they were convinced those funny-looking, furry little cows were not predators!

Belle is more shy than Two Socks. She is a sweet little mare, very calm and easy to work with. She doesn't lead well, though, and that is the first thing I will be working on with her.
Two Socks is a big boy, standing at 16 and a half hands. That is quite large for a Quarterhorse, I am told. He is a beauty, though, and such a gentleman! He is extremely inquisitive and he and Erik have become buddies already. Erik was working on a stall door and Two Socks came over, put his head on Erik's shoulder, and was nudging him for some attention!
They really love the mineral, salt, and sulfur blocks we put in the barn for them. I couldn't believe how much they were licking and munching them!
We have done a little work with them in the round pen. Belle did really well leading in there, but still crowds and over-takes out on open ground. Two Socks does better. I think a couple of weeks of working them in the round pen and we will be ready to start riding.
Stay tuned for further adventures with our wonderful horses!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wagging Their Tails Behind Them

My dear friend, Marie, was so kind to buy all my sheep when I had to leave the farm. It broke my heart to see them go. Marie was gracious enough to buy them with the idea that there could come a day when I would want to buy them back. I didn't know what was going to happen in my life at that time, but I had a very strong hope that I would end up with a new farm somewhere within a couple of years.
Well, as things turned out, I was able to keep my farm here in northern Missouri. And, I am starting over. A lot of things have changed, definately for the better. But one thing I didn't want to change was my sheep! Marie and I worked out which sheep I would bring back to the farm and how and when we would make that happen. The plan was for us to bring the sheep home in September, after the temps cooled down a bit and we had some time to prepare for their arrival. Well, you have heard about "the best laid plans." Things just don't always work out the way you've planned because, hey, life happens! Due to the terrible drought being experienced by much of this part of the country, Marie needed to "lighten the load" on her property. So, when a cool snap hit us, she and her husband brought the sheep we had agreed on back here to Cavalli Run.
Here is Erik, getting things ready in the barn for the return of the sheep.

They've arrived!

Coming off the trailer and deciding whether or not to go into the barn: you can see Solomon (my original ram) in the foreground. That is Cooper in the white fleece, just on the other side of Solomon. He is new to Cavalli Run. I decided to buy one new ram from Marie to add some new bloodlines and color/pattern into my flock. Cooper was born this spring at Marie's farm. Just behind Cooper is Cookie, one of my ewes from before. She came to me as a lamb, along with her momma, Ursula, who has also rejoined our little farm.

Along with Solomon, Cookie, Ursula and Cooper, we also brought Cocoa (one of my original ewes), Marshmellow (ewe lamb who was born here last spring), Porthos (ewe lamb also born here last spring), and Hershey ( a ram lamb born here last spring out of Solomon and Cocoa). Due to the horns growing too close to his head, Hershey will be going to freezer camp in a month or so.

I just love the variety of color in this breed of sheep. And I am so happy to have so many of them home again.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Out With The Old, In With The New

It has been over a year since I last posted anything on this blog. A lot has happened in the past year. Many of you already know that I went trhough a divorce last year. For those who don't know, well, now you do!

I am not going to say a lot about what happened. But, in a nutshell, after 29 years of a very difficult marriage which had become increasingly toxic over the past ten years, and even more so since moving to this farm, we put the farm up for sale and I went to Texas to stay with an old friend from my days in the Air Force. I filed for divorce and was able to keep my farm in the divorce settlement. I wasn't sure what I would do, but I became re-aquainted with another old friend from my Air Force days and we hit it off wonderfully. We have spent the last 7 months getting to know each other. He asked me to marry him, and I said "Yes!" He is a wonderfu, kind, caring, gentle man. He has never been a farmer (he is a city boy, born and raised in CA), but he has a pioneer spirit and loves the outdoors. He is more familiar with the deserts of CA as he spent a lot of time on his great-grandfather's ranch, has a little, remote place in the Sequoias with a rustic cabin on it, and has enjoyed hiking and back-packing all of his adult life. He is very handy and I have yet to find something he can't fix or make. He said he was up for trying to live the farm life, so we kept the farm and moved here the first week of May. The wedding is planned for the 6th of October.

As you may notice, I have returned to my maiden name of "Courtney" and have decided to remain "Brenda Courtney" even after we are married. Not because I don't want to be "Brenda Petersen." There are two main reasons. First, after this past year of figuring out who I am...apart from being someone's daughter, someone's wife, someone's mother...I have come to the conclusion that I am really and truly "Brenda Courtney" and that is who I am most comfortable being. Secondly, and probably the most practical reason, it was a real pain in the rear jumping through all the hoops to get my name changed on everything! I really don't want to go through all that again...ever! Erik is happy for me to keep my name. I am happy to be thought of as "Mrs. Erik Petersen" but continue to be "Brenda Courtney" for legal purposes.

When we got back to the farm, things were quite a mess. The pipes had not been properly winterized, and even though it was a mild winter, we had busted pipes everywhere. Because of the mild winter and early , warm spring, the grass was up to our armpits! And there was trash everywhere. So we unloaded all our stuff and started the slow process of un-packing, getting the water running, and putting things in order so we could get started doing what we came here to do.

Erik poured a concrete floor in the tack room so that it would be a little easier to use. He will use it as a work shop for now and then, eventually it will become the tack room again (when we are able to build a proper workshop for him).

Next we worked on fixing fences in the various pasture areas to get them ready for the animals we were anticipating the arrival of (stay tuned for the next post to learn more about this).

Our next project is to build a round pen for working with the horses we have chosen to buy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ride 'em Cowgirl!

On Monday my friend Kristin, horsewoman extraordinaire, came over to give me a hand with Skipper. I had decided it was time for me to get on with the business of riding her again. I have handled her quite a lot in the past months and had been gradually gaining my confidence with her, so it was time to stop making excuses and go for it! I had asked Kristin sometime last week if she would come and give me a hand with it and she agreed to make some time for us. I'll have to admit, though, when she called, I starting having second thoughts! I think she might have used her whip on me if I'd have tried to back out of it! Seriously, though, just her coming over gave me that push I needed to finally get me to get on and ride.

Here is a little video of Kristin lunging Skipper...just to get her ready to be ridden.

After Kristin worked with Skipper on the ground, she rode her some...and then it was MY turn!

Kristin tried to get Skipper to pick up the pace a little.

It's going very well!

And let's try going in the other direction.

Skipper and I in action!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy Trails

Over this past weekend, I went on my first real trail ride. Well, it was mostly on the road, but it was still a long ride with a bunch of other people on horse back! I drove three and a half hours southeast of here to Versailles, MO. My Mom's cousin, Jay Yoder, lives there and I had been invited down for a visit. I arrived just before lunch on Friday. After having a glass of Susie's delicious mint tea, Jay and I went straight out to ride and rode for about an hour and a half on his property. He has a great trail system that meanders all over his beautiful 170 acre farm.
The next morning was the American Cancer Society's Ride For Life. All proceeds from the ride and other events relating to the ride went to benefit cancer research. Since my mom died three years ago from cancer, this cause is one I am very happy to contribute to. Especially if my contribution is from the back of a horse!
Here is the group preparing to take off on the ride. I am the one right about in the middle, in a ball cap, riding a brown gelding. Right next to me in a white shirt and sitting on a Palomino mare is my cousin, Jay.

The first half of the ride lasted about three hours. Then we stopped to water our horses in the creek and have some lunch. Jay and I decided three hours on a very hot day was enough for us and our horses, so we went home after that.

There was a BBQ that evening for all ride participants. After dinner there was a drawing for a saddle and also an auction. First, the names of all the riders went into a hat and they drew out one name. That person would win a brand new, hand made, leather head stall. I was the lucky winner of that prize! I wasn't even expecting that one! I had bought $20 dollars worth of raffle tickets for the saddle, so after the drawing for it (which I did NOT win), they continued to draw names for other prizes that had been donated. I ended up winning a pouch that clips on your belt when riding so you can carry all your important things, a brand new haltar and lead rope, a leather cell phone pouch, some gift certificates, and a tee shirt. I'd say, even though I didn't win the saddle, I still walked away with well over $20 worth of stuff! Here I am showing off my new head stall and haltar set. The haltar set is for a pony, but it fits my donkey and it is green (my favorite color). That is Jay behind me being a wise guy!

After all the drawings, there was an auction where people had donated lots of nice stuff for the cause. I ended up getting a very nice, new saddle pad for $25. I also met the lady who owned a local saddle shop just outside of town. In chatting with her, I learned she had an Australian stock saddle (which I have been looking for) and it was at a price I could afford, so I also came home with a saddle for Skipper. Here she is showing it off.

My cousin Steve (Jay's son) was kind enough to act as my personal photographer. He also took this video of me riding around on my horse. Well, the horse (Deuce) is actually Steve's horse. Since Steve was not riding, he was free for me to ride. He is a very nice Missouri Foxtrotter and he did great for me. I can't wait to go again next year.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Surprise In The Hen House

Our hens have been really busy this spring, providing us with lots of yummy eggs. We have one little white banty hen, however, who is very broody. She is always laying on somebody else's eggs. One day Greg found her laying on a Guinea egg, so he decided to leave it there for her to lay on. He gathered a half a dozen more Guinea eggs over the next few days and put them all under the banty. He wanted to see if she would actually hatch them out.

This morning he went to gather eggs and found one of the other hens laying in the box insted of the little banty, and lo and behold she had a little Guinea chick under her! He could see a broken egg shell in the box. He came and got me so I could come and see and I grabbed my camera so I could take some pictures. While I was snapping shots, Greg saw a dead chick laying on the ground. And then we saw another one. He lifted up the hen and we didn't see any in the box, but we saw the broken shells of four of the eggs. I then saw a chick on the ground. I picked that one up, and then we saw another. We figured she must have had them under her wings and they dropped out when Greg picked her up. She jumped right back up in the box, and we brought the two live chicks in and set up a box for them in the kitchen.

One of the chicks seemed a little bit older than the other one (by a few minutes or so, maybe). We weren't sure the one would make it. It seemed quite a bit more unsteady than the other one.

But, after several hours, it seems to be doing fine.

We keep checking to see if the other eggs are going to hatch out. We want to be sure and catch them before any more chicks end up dead on the floor of the hen house. I know chickens will kill ducklings, but I never heard if they would kill Guinea chicks. I have heard of people hatching Guinea eggs under regular hens, though, and letting them raise the chicks in order to get them to be more tame. So, we don't know what caused the death of the other two chicks.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Around the Farm

Now that spring has come to Cavalli Run, we have been doing some things around the farm. It still needs so much work, and we still have yet to collect all the equipment we will need to do a lot of that work. Progress is being made, however, and I know we will get to where we want to be eventually.
We were not able to put a garden in last year, but we are doing a small one this year. We don't have a tiller yet, but we're not gonna let that stop us! Last year, after we got our sheep and they had cleared out an over-grown paddock for us, we discovered several old and new tractor tires hiding under all that brush. We thought they would be great for raised beds, so our garden this year is a raised-bed, tractor tire garden! You can see the cattle-panel grape arbor in the background, and I already have lettuce and radishes coming up in my "salad-garden" tractor tire.

One tire holds pepper plants and the tomato plants each get their own small tire (we have found lots of those around the place, too).

We are getting eggs galore these days. It's just about time to start having some roasted chicken! We can't keep up with all the production, but several people have reaped the benefit our excess! With a little modification, Greg has found that his old desert uniforms work as farm shirts! I almost didn't see those eggs!

We have found many innovative ways of utilizing the various treasures we have found around the place. These old real estate signs that were left behind by a previous owner made a good lamb "baby gate" to keep little lambs out of the ram's stall at night!

Greg had some extra field fencing that he used to finish the corral area behind the barn. No more orange snow-fencing to keep the sheep where they are supposed to be! Yay! While it has come in handy many times,I detest that orange stuf.

I had a run-in with a ram this year! He didn't actually butt me, he sort-of side-swiped me. Next time he wants to be on the other side of where I am, I will try harder to get out of his way! Ouch!

Greg found this big snapping turtle making his way across one of the sheep paddocks. He had already rescued one, and lifted the fence for her so she could make her way to the pond in the horse pasture.

This big guy was quite a bit larger, though, and not near the fence, so Greg had to get the snow shovel and pick him up in order to move him out of the sheep's area.

He was huge, but he looked nothing like a sheep!