Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, January 31, 2005


Ya think these horses were happy to be back in pasture?

Midday Sunday we finally had enough of the fence up to bring them back in. We led them down to pond to see it up close, but that was hardly an easy task as they were all so excited to be in pasture again. Finally we turned them free and they tore off to the far side of the pasture - and stayed there. It seemed they weren't as interested in the new fence as we thought they would be.

Meanwhile we finished up the last of the tensioning,

And, if you can believe it, raising t-posts (after all that effort to put them in last week!) Shown below is the first of 3 differnt puller designs Dave came up with. Worked great, but broke pretty quickly. Second one wasn't so effective. Third design will have to be the charm I guess.

Finally, we finished up and left the pasture to load the tools in the truck. We had barely shut the gate when Romeo shows up inspecting the entire fence. Stuck his head through the wires even (Dave had yet to hook up the electricity).

Moments later the other two stooges showed up and the three of them had a romp up and down the new boundary.

So, they really just didn't want us to know that they were curious about the fence!


Thursday, January 27, 2005


I came home from another business trip to Albuquerque Friday evening to a quick organizational meeting between the three of us about the fencing plans. We discussed tactics, but since we've never built a horse fence before there were many questions. Suddenly, the day I spent several years ago helping the Colorado Horse Rescue build their new pastures became incredibly relevant. Fortunately Dave also helped out at CHR that day, so at least he and I had more or less of a common understanding.

The first and foremost lesson we'd learned at CHR was that you must run a string to define the line of your fence before putting in posts. At CHR we had severly underestimated this necessity and had to pull out a bunch of T-Posts as well as a number of wood posts. So first thing in the morning I ran off to the hardware store to buy 1000 ft of string among a few other last minute items.

Then, in our haste we almost broke that very same rule about planning before digging. We somehow thought that the first post would be unconstrained, so we could start that one and then run the line. Fortunately Dave had only dug about an inch - a frozen inch I might add - before we stopped and ran the string line. The discussions prompted by that ended up moving our placement of that first post by about 3 feet, and added another bend to the fence thus adding 3 more posts to our overall plan. We were now short of posts. We also determined the total run of the fence line was approximately 540 feet. Since we had a 1000 ft roll of hotwire, we were now short of that too.

So the digging commenced. In fairly short order we worked out a scheme for each of us to have a job with the tools at hand. We were estatic to find that we have ZERO rocks on our land. We were less than estatic to find that about half of our holes were close enough to the pond to backfill with water. Not wanting the posts to rot, we decided we needed to cement them in. So, 2 holes completed and David headed out to purchase more posts, cross bars, and concrete.

Mixin concrete in place

Now that's a post hole!

Ginger and I completed the other 2 holes for the critical corner and end posts, and headed in for a late lunch. By the time we all got back to it, we barely had enough sunlight to finish setting and cementing those 4 posts in place. It was an extremely frustratingly small amount of visual progress for a day's work - not to mention for as sore as we were all feeling.

Sunday we started right in on running t-posts as we had access to a large compressor and Dave had rented a pneumatic t-post driver. We knew we only had a few hours in the morning when the ground would remain frozen enough to allow us to drive the trucks into the pasture, so we deferred the remaining wood posts for a few hours.

A friend of ours, Mike, has been working on his '76 Bronco in our dog barn for a few months. For rent he helps us out with projects on occasion. Well, we were very glad to have Mike around to help this morning! He and Dave took turns man-handling this t-post driver that weighed alot more than I wanted to tackle. Ginger was laying out t-posts and marking them at the depth we'd drive them in to, I'd pick them up and locate them and hold them level, then the guys took care of driving them in. We were flying! 48 posts in under 2 hours.

We still didn't get as much done as we'd wanted to, but by sunset we had all 10 wood posts in and all t-posts set. We had to leave it to Dave to finish cross braces and figure out how to run wire and tension it, while Ginger went back to work and I went back to Albuquerque.
Now it is Wednesday night and I've just returned home to find out that in the meanwhile Dave has located and ordered a longer spool of wire so that we won't have to splice the fence. We're hoping that will be delivered tomorrow, so we still have no fence. I'm sure the horses are getting antsy in their restricted quarters - it ought to be fun when we finally get to turn them out again!


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Under the Microscope

We received the Planner's packet last Thursday in the mail. Somehow we didn't know to expect this, but it was good. The immediate feedback was that the Planner was recommending the Planning Commission approve our request - with conditions of course.

The Conditions for Approval included about 20 items like you will submit a Dust Abatement plan to be reviewed by the dept of health, and the Development Standards had 35 items like you will comply with all building codes in section x.y.z in the Weld County code. We read through these items and there were 2 in particular from the Health Dept that concerned me - both about waste/manure removal. Specifically they were saying we had to have a water-seepage-proof collection container for the manure and have it hauled away at least weekly! This is just not done at stables, and I know it. Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day, and I was very concerned that it would be a holiday, but fortunately it was not and I was able to talk to the person responsible for our application. She and I had a good discussion about our manure handling plans. She had to talk to someone else, so she ended up leaving me a message later in the day that indeed it seemed our plans would be sufficient and that she would ammend her requirements in our packet. COOL!

In the process of this back and forth with the Health Department person, we got wind of the fact that our case was scheduled in the "Consent" only section of the agenda - meaning that unless someone requested otherwise there would be no discussion about our case and the planning commission would simply vote.

This all sounds good, except that there were still a few other items in the Development standards that simply were a mis-communication regarding our intent that we really needed to get cleared up before going before the County Commissioners (like max employees needed to be 8, not 3). On the other hand, if we requested our case be opened up for a hearing, then that would give the neighbors the opportunity to comment.

We only learned of this whole Consent vs Hearing thing 4 hours or so before the meeting, and even as they were calling the meeting to order I was still trying to get feedback from our planner if we needed to fix these items today or wait. So it was that they were reading out our case and I could not decide whether to speak up or not. On one hand I wanted to see if any of the neighbors would make the request first, taking it out of my hands. On the other I knew for a fact that our neighbors to the South were there to make comment and I figured they didn't understand that they were on the verge of losing that opportunity. Finally, it was the fact that we needed these details fixed here and now that convinced me to open my mouth.

So, we were removed from the first item on the agenda, to the last. Our Planner had warned us that it was a full docket and that we might be doing dinner together if that is what happened. Fortunately several cases were deferred, so about 3:15 our case was called.

We did a reasonable job presenting our case. I think we could have been more proactive and explicit about the noise concerns we KNEW would be coming, but oh well. In total we were surprised to have 3 neighbors show up, plus a fourth faxed in a comment just before the hearing. All had no objections to the horse operations; all had strong oppositions to the dog kennel because of noise.

One commissioner was really stuck on the 80 dog limit, and it was posed to us whether we'd be open to reducing that number. I was all for jumping up and saying sure, that'd be fine. But Ginger was our appointed spokeswoman and she did a good job presenting a couple of creative options. In the end another commissioner commented that he didn't see a big difference between 60 dogs and 80, and that they'd be better off deciding on the application before them.
Lots of debate ensued. The hearing lasted about an hour and a half. The worst part was that for the majority of it we weren't able to comment - or even clarify items they were debating. Anyways, they ended up voting to pass our application on to the County Commissioners with a recommendation for approval. And NO significant restrictions on our original request!

We should have been dancing in the halls. Unfortunately we were emotionally exhausted. We did get to speak with one set of neighbors we've been meaning to meet. They were very positive and friendly. As he said - he has serious concerns over our ability to control the noise to the noise level restrictions that were placed upon us, but then he would love to have us surprise him. The big downer was that our neighbors to the south left the meeting appearing to be very upset. We're at a bit of an impass as to what to do about that. I think there isn't much we can do until we get some formal designs down regarding sound-proofing the dog barn.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Being Neighborly

Most people reading this diary already know our plans for business here at the ranch, but that was not necessarily so of all of our neighbors. Not only wanting to not jinx ourselves, but also to some extent truely not wanting some information out before its time, I have not mentioned anything about our plans to open a dog kennel in addition to the horse boarding stable.

Dog kennels are classified as commercial operations, and as we are zoned agriculture we had to submit an application to the county to be granted a Special Use Permit. Actually, we discovered somewhere along the process that some of the activities we want to do for the horse operations also are classified as special uses - such as the riding lesson program and the summer horse day camp / birthday parties.

Much of October and November was spent with us laboring over reading the county codes, researching other regulations, finding the mineral rights owners for this property, acquiring the relevant soils study, writing up about 10 pages worth of responses to the application, etc. This also required a rather detailed plot map of the property, including locations of the buildings, easements, topo lines, water features, fences, driveways, planned expansions, etc. As we knew this application was THE critical path to us being able to begin a kennel, we'd kicked our selves a ton for having delayed getting to it as long as we did. So, finally the day before Thanksgiving we got all twenty copies submitted.

Once submitted, the application is assigned to a particular planner who does the leg work to schedule things, notify the proper agencies, and help the applicant along. The first of two public hearings for the application is with the Planning Commission who review the packet as compiled by the Planner - including the Planner's recommendation for approval or not based on some approval conditions that are compiled from the conditions required or recommended by the many different agencies who care.

The Planning Commission then votes whether to pass the application along to the County Commissioners with a recommendation for approval or denial. The County Commissioners get to do the same application review at the second public hearing and then they give the final judgement.

Since these are both public hearings, we knew we wanted to be as forthright and open with our neighbors as we could. We had intended to have them over so that we could 'break the news' to them about our application personally before they learned of it in the mail. Unfortunately because it was right at Thanksgiving time that didn't happen and they received the letter from the county first. Never the less, we had our two closest sets of neighbors over for dinner one evening in December. As these two neighbors form the boarder on approximately 80% of our property line, we are certainly the most concerned for their good will.

The evening, it turned out, took an unexpected yet fotuitous turn right from the outset. Aparently the sellers had done nothing to endear themselves to the neighbors in the two years they lived here before us, so much of our conversation stemmed around how terrible their relations were and, consequently, how glad they are that we now own the property. Score One for our side!

As the evening ran down, we finally had to force ourselves to move to the topic of our application. It turns out the letter they received summarized our request in one short paragraph that highlighted the worst case scenario - basically a second residence with an 80 dog kennel. So we told them more about our plans - specifically that we were encouraged to put everything we could ever want into the request, because we wouldn't want to have to go through this process again. As a matter of fact, the whole second residence thing probably should not have even made it in. The bigger question we actually wrestled with was whether to include permission to build an indoor arena some day. We don't have the funds now, but we have already seen that our lack of indoor riding is a detractor for potential boarders. Same goes for the 80 dog maximum - I think we were originally talking about 60, and it got pushed to 80 at the last minute on a caveot that that would be holidays only. Again, it will be a long time before we will have the ability to handle 60, much less, 80 dogs. Problem is, if you ask for 80 dogs, even for a limited number of nights a year, you are still asking for an 80 dog facility which freaks everyone out.

So we gave the neighbors copies of our written application and maps, and they said they'd go read it and get back to us if they had any concerns. We frequently see one set - the 'Tom' neighbors - down when we're feeding, and one day they told Dave that they'd decided not to object to our application. Woo Hoo!

The other set, however, never got back to us. We decided last night that we should call and just make sure they remembered that today was the hearing, etc. Well - we waited a few minutes too long and they called us. Turns out they do have concerns over the kennel operation and they were forthright about their plans to attend the hearing and object to the kennel - but not the second residence or any of the horse operation. Uff Dah. Sorta took the wind out of our sails.
Since they don't schedule hearings in December, our first public hearing was set for the third Tuesday in January, otherwise known as today. And yep - you're going to have to wait for the next entry for that report.


Horse Antics - The likes of which may be the death of us

I sit here, heart still pounding and fingers shaking, not even knowing how to begin this entry.

It started just about 10 pm when the doorbell rang. This causes our dogs to go into a total frenzy, Ginger and I were both in bed, and Dave was nowhere to be found I discovered. Not exactly the state you want to be answering the door in. Got to the door and the girl apologized for getting us up, but our horse was loose. Talk about deja-vu. I just stared at her shocked. "Which one?" I asked her. I'm not sure why this always seems to be the most important thing to ask in this situation. She shrugged, but then said he had white flecks on his butt. Romeo! She said he'd been on the road side of the pond, outside of the fence. She was very specific about him being on the other side of the pond, so we figure she must be a local. I thanked her profusely and promptly shut the door in her face. (gotta stop doing that!)

Ginger and I got dressed, and I noticed the light in the barn was on so I called Dave. I told him we were heading down to the road. Opting not to stop by the barn, we grabbed the dog leashes and flashlights and jumped in the car. At the end of the driveway we confirmed that the gate by the road was still padlocked. Just after we moved in a co-worker told me a story about when she was growing up with horses that some kids were out joyriding and opened all the gates on the road to let the horses out - for fun. We promptly padlocked that gate and the lock was still in place.

We drove along the road keeping our eye out, and went about half a mile down the road and turned around with no sign of the fugitive. Coming back we debated driving down the road in the other direction when we figured he'd not want to leave the herd and probably went back up our driveway or our neighbor Tom's driveway. So we pulled in and parked with the headlights shining into the pasture. We got out to verify we still had 3 horses at least.

Just about then Dave showed up, saying he had confirmed all 4 horses were in pasture! Thank Goodness. He said he'd gone out to check and Jordan and Shoni had come right up to him, and then Romeo came running up out of no where and all three got riled up. (Harley, as ususal, stayed on the sidelines)

I suggested that the loose horse wasn't necessarily ours. Never the less, Ginger and I wanted to see them for ourselves, so we took off across the pasture by the weak light of the half moon and flashlights. As we were standing next to the pond, we started wondering as to how any of our horses could possibly have crossed the pond. Maybe they crossed at the narrow bridge that is part of the driveway? Maybe the girl was confused about which side of the fence the horse was on?

Then someone commented on all the coyote foot prints in the snow on top of the frozen pond. Oh.My.God. Surely, we said, that ice wasn't strong enough to hold a horse! It has been unbearably cold for the past week - many days with highs in the 20s, but today was in the 50s. Thank goodness he didn't try to go out there and fall through. We never would have known and he never would have made it!

We were still having thoughts like that when came into view the unmistakeable prints of a horse walking on the ice. And he didn't just go across and back - no he wandered a goodly amount to and fro. He even paused to relieve himself. By going down the pond, he was able to get out on the neighbors side of the fence, which is not fenced off from the road. This is where the girl must have seen him. We found the spot where he came back into the pasture - looks kinda like he was moving fast. We think he noticed Dave out with Jordan and Shoni and he didn't want to be left out of the fun.

I gotta say, I've never seen much of anything as terrifying as those tracks. We brought the horses in tonight, and will continue to do so until we can fence off that darn pond this weekend.


Correction, after looking at it this morning, we concluded they can't even go out during the day, since Romeo now knows how to just walk out of our pasture. We've got them split up two and two right now in the round pen and welcome pen.

Ginger, horse tracks, coyote tracks, and who knows how many other types of tracks. Oh yeah, and two piles of poop. That boy really took the grand tour.

Can hardly see anything here, but there is the fence line coming down from the left in the foreground, and the horse tracks walking right by it on the ice.

Ginger suggested we could advertise a new feature of our barn - a horse ice skating rink!
Did I mention this happend the night before Tuesday Jan 18th? Probably doesn't mean anything to you now, but this is not the best of timing - as the next few diary entries will tell.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Horse Antics - the dreaded apple!

So a friend dropped by to see the place this weekend. As he was getting ready to ready to leave he gestured to the near bushel of apples he had in his car and asked if we wanted any for the horses. I said sure! It wasn't until later that I remembered that three of our four horses don't like apples. Nor carrots, nor cookies. I've never met such a bunch of finicky eaters.

I decided to just take one apple down this morning for breakfast, sliced into eights. I figured I'd put a couple slices into each bucket and they could ignore them if they didn't want them. Jordan always does the final clean up run by all buckets, so I figured he'd finish whatever was left.

All horses had their buckets and were munching away, when I pulled out the apples and dropped two into Shoni's bucket. First off the sound startled her and she jumped away totally affronted. I rolled my eyes at her hysterics and moved on to give Harley his as she cautiously re-apporached her meal. Suddenly behind me I heard another scuffle and turned to find Shoni standing a good 10 feet from her bucket and staring at it absolutely horrified. The look on her face was priceless: "WHO put those vile things in my breakfast?!" She was clearly not going near that bucket again.

By this time Harley was also staring at his apple-enhanced bucket suspiciously. Alright! I give up. I removed the apples, and had to walk the bucket over to Shoni for her inspection before I could trust that she'd leave Harley's feed alone. I went up and dropped all of the apple slices in Jordan's tub - only to find afterwards that he too had turned his nose up and left them all for me to clean up.


Friday, January 14, 2005


So like this is just about one of my all time favorite images of Rogue, the X-Men character. Liked it so much it inspired me to do a little Photoshop manipulation. Not a ton, mind you, but I did remove the background and the dialog bubble that overlayed her hair. Enough to impress myself! Now that I look at it, maybe I should try and put the top of her head back on.

On other topics, it's just Dave and I at the ranch this week as Ginger is paying a visit to her brother in California. It's something else to have horse and dog feeding duties every morning. Yesterday I had the misfortune of having to feed our dogs at the same time I did Ginger's. This morning I tried vainly to explain to our two that yesterday was the exception and that today we were going back to the schedule that Dave would feed them when he got up. Didn't go over too well and I totally caved under the pressure.

Yesterday I brought Autumn in to work with me. It went fine, but somehow after all these years wishing I could bring my dog to work it was rather anti-climatic. She really didn't know what to make of the elevator. The closing doors were frightening enough, but then everytime it shook she stared down at the floor very suspiciously. After several trips up and down she started showing a reluctance to get in. I'm hoping her last trip made up for it though, because a boy about 10 made the trip with us and he was totally taken by her. He petted her, and talked to her by name. There is nothing Autumn likes more than attention! Well, maybe breakfast.

The only problem she posed was that she absolutely insists on sleeping in the midst of the highest traffic area she can find. Hallways and doorways are her favorite even at home. Right behind my desk is a 3-way intersection in the office, and sure enough, this was where she spent most of her day. Nevermind the dog pillow I brought in for her, or the fact that I tried putting it in three different places that were near her chosen location. She wanted nothing of it; the hard carpet and nearly getting stepped on was preferable aparently.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Caught off guard

Oops! Generally one of us has an ear to the weather forecast. Thus it was with a rather large start that I looked out the window this morning to see it had snowed! We had no idea it was to snow, and generally we bring the horses into the barn seeing as how they have nearly no shelter in the pasture. Funny how when there is snow all over there is so much more light. That's how I was able to look out about 6:20, when it is usually pitch black, and see the kiddos grouped down by the 2 bare Russian Olive trees. Bare they weren't providing much of a wind break. I did think it was odd, though, that the three boys all had their butts to the wind, but Shoni was facing into the wind. She's a bit of a strange one, but it must not have been so terribly cold. Never the less I headed out early to feed since there was light to see by. I clearly caught them unawares, because I had to call them up from the tree to feed when normally they are milling around waiting for me. It still amazes me what temperatures they can handle - none were shivering when they came up.

Pasture shelters are next on our list of improvements. We've decided to install 2 immediately, even though we plan to split the pasture into three portions. The second one we will install in a location where we can run the fencing on either side to determine which pasture segment it is on. Also, we hear that our neighbor might be interested in one as well, so we'll try and get a 3-shelter deal on the pricing.

We have pretty much selected our vendor who can install them, but we need to prepare flat landings. Knowing that pasture shelters often turn into horrible mud pits, we also want to prep the landings with gravel to minimize the quagmire. Since most of the pasture has a good slope to it, this means building up on the downhill side and digging in on the up hill sides. This is the task for this weekend, to stake out locations and figure out how much leveling / prep we get to do on the next good weather weekend.

OH! Huge news - we overhauled the last of the stalls this weekend. WooHoo! Still haven't loaded the trailer yet though - it was very mucky muddy mess this weekend.

On the never ending electrical front, the latest is that David has located the break in the supply wire from the house to the barn. It is four feet from the circuit breaker box, right where the wire comes out of the concrete floor. Again, the decision to not use conduit is leaving us flabbergasted. Dave says it looks like someone simply hit the wire with a shovel or something, because a good section of the wire is totally burned out. He also said he wish he could see the shovel that did it.

That is the good news. The bad includes the fact that the wire coming into the barn is not of sufficient gauge to carry the load it is given. And aluminum. Now, the wire leaving the house is fine. That means there is a splice somewhere in between. One electrician recommended yesterday that we just retrench all the way from the house to the barn and abandon the wire in use. To the tune of $700. The second electrician suggested that the utility finder service could at least locate the path of the existing wire, and then we, using a binary sort algorithm, could dig down and locate the splice and then re-run wire and conduit only from the splice on. Assuming this is possible this is our plan of choice.

Ok, the binary sort algorithm was my addition - I doubt the electrician said that.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

We have a Trailer!

Several weeks before Christmas we went to a nearby dealer to look at their brand new trailers. They carry a very utilitarian make which put them more or less in our price range. So the three of us went over to talk about particulars. Of course once you start talking about all the extras you HAVE to add on - by law in Colorado you must have breaks on every axel, and yet only one set of brakes comes with the base price of these trailers... the price was climbing. On a whim we went back to the dealer across the highway which also deals in used trailers. We stop in there every few weeks to see what has come in. And low and behold... there sat a used 4H slant with many of the options we had hoped for from across the street and then some. 4H, steel, slant, 7' tall, 6'6" wide, GN, kick wall on the inside, floor mats, interior lights in the trailer and tack room, and a swing out saddle rack - what else could we want? The price was close to our range, so we went home to stew.

For tax reasons we decided we probably shouldn't purchase a trailer until 2005, but we discussed approaching them to hold it for us, or give them a post dated check, etc. But what with all the hectic holiday running around, and the fact that we never seemed to be able to catch the saleswoman we liked best, we ended up leaving for California without telling them we were interested. We did keep tabs on it on the internet, however. As its listing remained up there we remained hopeful.

Monday Dave and I headed over, and it was not only still available but they were sick of having it on their lot and willing to negotiate. He and Ginger returned later that day and picked it up.

Sorry for the terrible pics, but it was unbelievably cold, almost dark, and the horses were still waiting to be fed.

Then the snow hit and it's been snowing pretty much ever since, so we haven't actually gotten to play with it at all. But we're itching to load up the ponies and see how they like it.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Happy New Year!

We had a very nice Christmas and New Year's holiday this year. Due to fortuitous timing, my project completed one phase Dec 20th, and won't pick up again until January sometime, so it was an excellent opportunity to totally forget about work.

Seeing as how we don't actually have much business yet, we decided to take advantage of the freedom and went to California to spend Christmas week with Dave's family. It was wonderful to get away and see everyone - well nearly everyone, Eric and Maria we'd love to have you come visit us in Colorado!

We took several opportunities to walk along the spectacular Monterey coastline, and even popped into the Monterey Bay Acquarium to see their latest 'guest' exhibit - an 8 month old Great White shark that had been caught by a fishing boat. I didn't know this, but aparently Great Whites are still quite an unknown species. Before this one, the longest any have been kept in captivity was 16 days. We saw her on her 101st day. When recovered from her injuries - which she looked to be well on the way to doing - she will be set free.

No flash was allowed on the shark,but I thought this pic turned out cool

Da Beach Crew

I was feeling a little guilty over leaving Ginger with caring for the ranch, 4 horses and 3 dogs, until I realized that she would probably enjoy the chance to have the place to herself for awhile. Of course she handled everything supurbly - including the storm that brought wind chill temps of negative 20! We came home to this story of horse antics:

Jordan is a doofus with his grain. Always has been - he tosses whatever bucket you put it in around so much that most of the time he ends up eating his grain off of the ground. Only once did I try to give it to him in a bucket attached to the post by an eye-bolt and snap, because he quickly yanked the eye-bolt out of the post with his head-tossing! So we turned to using a tire - in the center of which a regular feed pan fits quite snugly. While this for the most part prevents him from flipping the pan over (still, he has managed to do just that a few times even with the tire) it does not prevent him from using his lip to swish the grain all over - including up and over the rim. Oh well, what's an owner to do?

In anycase, this arrangement works quite well, except that the feed pan we use isn't designed to be sunk into the hole of a tire. There are pans that are designed for this - and they have a wide, horizontal lip that prevents grain from getting caught up between the pan's lip and the tire. So, Jordan then spends a good amount of time trying to lick the grain out that he's spilled under there. Back when he was at the boarding stable, and every feeding time was personally supervised, we used to always pull the pan out of the tire to give him easier access. Since we're now supervising 4 horses at every feeding time, he no longer gets that luxury. Never fear - after about a week of this he figured out how to do it himself with his teeth. We always know when he's finished his portion, because he yanks up on the pan and tosses it to the side. Given that the pan fits in the tire pretty tightly, sometimes this requires a considerable yank. Well, one morning during Christmas, Jordan aparently yanked - but got some rather unexpected results. The entire tire jumped up, landed on it's rim, and proceeded to roll OUT of the feeding area. Ginger said Jordan looked mightily surprised but then duitifully followed it along until he could catch it and knock it over.

New Year's we followed with the 'new' Swenson tradition of having Fondue. (Actually, this tradition has been going for nearly a decade, perhaps it's time to drop the 'new'.) Anyways we went all out with cheese, meat and chocolate fondue - it was a good thing we had until Midnight to finish with all the eating!