Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

You're only 80 once

As I mentioned, the first weekend in March Dave and I went to California for Dave's dad's 80th birthday. It was the first time we'd seen all of Dave's family at once for quite a few years, and a bunch of extended family and friends came too. It was fantastic to see everyone, and finally get to meet some of the folks I've heard mentioned often over the years.

We flew in Friday night and came back Monday. Most other folks came in just for Saturday night, so we had a good time to visit with Sarah and Roy. We usually have to twist some arms, but we got out for our walk at the Asilomar beach - which is always breath taking. I'm always glad to see that I'm not the only one who gets a kick out of stomping on the kelp bubbles to make them pop - Sarahs an avid stomper too. Many of them sink into the sand, or are cracked, so they are disappointing, but once in awhile you get those ones that burst in a very satisfying explosion that you can feel through your shoe.

The big event was held at a local hotel. They's set up tables out on the patio outside of the banquet room, however it was just too cold and breezy to go out there. So we spilled out into the hallway, which worked just fine. Caroline had assembled a slide show of pictures from Roy's life. What a handsome devil!

Dave's neice Janel had written an essay at school about whom she thinks should get their likeness on a stamp - she'd written about her granddad Roy. So she read her essay and the rest of her family each said something. It was touching.

Sunday morning we took the mountains of left overs from the hotel banquet over to Uncle Don's house for brunch. Don has an amazing house in Carmel with a yard to be envied, so gatherings there are always grand.

David even got to put on his toolbelt, so to speak, and helped replace a thermostat that Don had been wanting to have put in. Nothing like family gatherings to get a few chores done! (I think Dave was really hankering for a simple task that didn't involve contracors licenses or backhoes) Unfortunately a day or so later Sarah wrote us that Don found out that the problem wasn't so much the thermostat but a cracked heater core (do furnaces have heater cores?) Anyways, his entire furnace needed replacement! Bummer.

As always, we ate spectacularly, both courtesy of Sarah's cooking and out at the Monteray Fish House, where I snuck a pic of the soon to be newlyweds (Eric and Maria) smooching.

We got to get lots of scoop about the wedding in September, so we look forward to seeing everyone again then!


Monday, March 20, 2006


Today marks the first day or our second month of kennel operations! Wow, how time flies. I'm aware that we really haven't posted much about how it's going. 'Good' is the answer. It's just that now a whole lot of the action is taking place only when I'm NOT around, so it's hard for me to write about. I may start twisting a couple of arms to get a couple of entries written from the view from the dog yard so to speak.

Never the less, I wanted to comemorate our first month with a list of first that we've encountered these 4 weeks. Such as:

Uuhhf Dah - I wrote the first draft and decided ending on the downer note was really not the way I wanted to go. So, I'm going to start with things for which we are very greatful we have NOT yet had a first time for. (Some of these may sound far-fetched, but everything below is something that either we worry about or that someone on the dog daycare forum has mentioned happening to them within the past month):

First vet visit with a customer doggie
First contageous dog illness
First dog-staff bite
First fire drill
First irate customer
First power-outage
First law-suit threatened
First hole dug under the fence
First County / State regulations tussle threatening to shut us down
First Customer whose stolen something from the office while unattended
First weekday without any dogs - yep, we're still running with a perfect record in this regard. (Thank goodness for our 2 5-day a weekers!)

*knocking on wood*

Now for the fun stuff:

First new doggie customer: Shadow
First nearly rejected doggie customer: Shadow
First returning doggie customer: Ruby and DJango
First 10-day pass sold: Ruby and DJango
First pee-spot in the kennel: Cisco. YES, OUR CISCO!
First rescued foster doggie: Sweetie
First escape artist - from a kennel: Sweetie
First escape artist - from the kennel building: Riley
First actual rejected doggie: Riley
First multi-week boarding reservation (August): Kattan and Rory
First Thanksgiving reservation: Kattan and Rory
First minor doggie scuffle: Ruby/Autumn/Cisco (And there have been plenty others)
First injury to staff member: David - thumb scratch
First cancelled new doggie: ? didn't even get the dog's name.
First night with 7 boarded dogs: Maggie, Calvin & Suzi, Harley, Jericho, Josh & Misty (This is more than 25% of our capacity!)
First $1360 in revenue!

What with the 6 dogs we have boarded this week for spring break and our 3 regular daycare pups coming in, today will be our biggest day yet with 9 dogs.

Yesterday we met with the new Berthoud Police Chief who is moving here from western Colorado. His wife breeds and shows Great Pyranees - they have 6. During their re-location they weren't sure they would have a place for the dogs, so they contacted us to see if maybe we could help them out. It's still not for sure, they may have gotten a good lead on a place to buy this weekend, but we may be able to help them out for a few days... we'll see. But they were very nice and not a bad contact to make regardless.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Where's the Fire?

A few weekends ago David's dad celebrated his 80th birthday with a big old bash at a local (local to Monterey, CA) hotel. Dave's sister put it all together and had secured the date with the family some time ago. Of course at the time we agreed to commit we didn't know that the kennel would only be in it's second week of operations... We'd tried to locate someone to help out for the weekend, but as it was starting to look like we wouldn't have much demand we were letting it slide.

Of course in the end we turned away several dogs that weekend - 3 who'd requested daycare not understanding that we don't offer day care on the weekends (our website got updated). But then also the woman who literally drove up an hour before we headed to the airport saying she had her dog in the car with her. She was in a hurry - could she just drop her dog off with us for the weekend?! Um. NO. Besides being short staffed for the weekend, we require a day of daycare before accepting boarding clients. Besides - she couldn't even call first?

Anyways - we had a great time in CA, which will have to be another post. Meanwhile Ginger 'had some excitement' while we were gone. Those are always the words you love coming home to. She assured me by saying - "I wrote it up for the blog". So it must not have been TOO bad.

Sunday, March 5, 2006


Things at Sun Pony Ranch were going smoothly for the weekend while Dave and Monica were in California for the big family party. As often happens when the weather starts to turn nice in the Spring, people begin calling about riding, and sometimes want to schedule impromptu lessons. We had one of these calls this weekend, and I was starting a group lesson for 3 girls at 1:00 PM on Sunday. We were still in the ground work portion of the lesson when we heard a siren coming down County Road 1. I remarked to the girls that it was unusual to hear sirens out here in the country, when, the sound got much closer. Much to our surprise, the small fire truck was coming up our neighbor's driveway parallel to ours! I put the lesson on hold as I needed to find out if our property was in danger. There was no other fire truck action, and we could just see a small billow of smoke over the rise on the south side of our arena. Being a bit worried about where the fire might be going (toward our picket fence and dog barn??), I ran to take a quick look, grabbed the camera, and rushed back to the kids. They were curious, but the horses were all standing patiently waiting. The fire was on the south end of the pasture and our property didn’t seem to be in any imminent danger.

So, we mounted up and began the riding portion of our class. Soon, more screaming sirens began coming down the road and the smoke was getting thicker and higher. We counted 6 fire vehicles of various sizes and shapes, all with sirens and flashing lights. A couple of the fire trucks even came up our driveway and used the open gate in the wire fence between our properties.

Missy, Harley, and Shadow were all nonchalant and behaved perfectly with all the ruckus going by the arena. Even though the smoke was thick in the air and smelled strong, they didn’t seem bothered much. So, we continued our lesson and I snapped a few photos as we went.

When the students left, I went up by the house and dog barn to look over the burn area. The fire appeared out, but some of the trucks were still up by the house. Our neighbor came driving up her driveway and stopped when she saw me. I asked her if she was just getting there and she said yes. She said the next neighbor over was leasing their south pasture this year and was doing a “controlled burn” when it got out of hand. Our neighbor's son had called her and said, “Mom, the fire’s getting a little close to the house and I’m a little worried!” Looking at the burn area, yeah, it got a little to close to their house!

And, we’re sure glad the winds weren’t strong like they have been lately. If winds had been coming from the south, we would have been the ones in trouble.


Friday, March 17, 2006

This still makes me giggle

Chatting with Brian this morning about the hybrid. He said:

"Perhaps all Toyota, Honda and other companies need to do to sell more hybrids is to implement more hybrid-like features in their other cars like the ever-present gas mileage indicator and features that don't work when your using too much gas. Then everyone will start thinking like hybrid owners"

" Now theres an idea -- install a blinking red message everytime you are idling at a light:"



So very anti climatic

Happy St. Patty's everyone!

Anyone bother to ponder the A/S problem? I can't blame you. See, the true answer is just so much less interesting than speculating it had anything to do with whether I used the key or keyless entry to get into the car. Maybe I should also have tried hopping on one foot while I pushed the button. Now THAT would have totally changed my fellow commuters impression of me when I got out at the stop light to lock and unlock my door. So much so I may well have had the road to myself for the rest of my drive... Huuum.

Anyways, I felt utterly foolish yammering on about it on the forum.

Except that several other people were also yammering along with me. Not to mention the original poster who had actually had his car at the dealers - more than once - for this very issue. Gosh, makes me wonder how those dealer tecnicians feel now. They, of course, probably aren't reading the forum so they are still blissfully ignorant and selling their clients the keyless entry line. I dunno - it could be his car has an actual bug where as mine is operating as designed -- but really? Whos theorem is it? Occam's Razor? The simplest solution is probably the right one.

When it's really cold I have to run the defroster to be able to see. (duuh) When the defroster is on it sounds like it's blowing gale force winds so I turn it on and off only as I really need it. When the defroster is on, the AC is on. When the AC is on, the A/S doesn't engage because it needs the gas engine to power the compressor. Therefore, when it is cold outside the A/S engages sporadically.

Which makes me think -- using the AC must be pretty rough on your overall mpg. Something to watch once the weather warms up...


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Say what?

The other day David reminded me that he'd just remembered that we'd never notified the electric company that our condo had been vacated, and to thus change the billing address to us. It was vacated last October...

Furthermore, since it's been occupied since we moved to Berthoud, we seriously doubt that they would be able to find us even if they did have records that we were the owners.

Suddenly, we were very concerned that the electricity had been shut off. It has electric heat. I'd gone by in November or so to check on the place and at that time had turned the thermostats on to 55 degrees to make sure it wouldn't freeze, but we haven't been back since.

It was Saturday, but I figured the billing department would be open. Of course I had to manoever my way through about 1239 iterations of their automated system:

"Would you like to find your account by your phone number or your account number"

Well, seeing as how we haven't been billed for this 'account' for several years, it certainly isn't under any of our phone numbers. I didn't enter anything.

"Ok, would you like to enter your account number".

No, again, I wouldn't know the account number either.

"Please enter your phone number"

Out of desperation I enter my cell phone number.

"I can't locate an account for that phone number, please enter your phone number".

I try our current home phone thinking that eventually it will figure out I don't have the number.

"I can't locate an account for that phone number, please enter your phone number".

Dave tells me to try our old home number. Which he then amazingly managed to dictate to me from the top of his head.

"I can't locate an account for that phone number, please enter your phone number".

I hit 0 hoping that would break me out of the loop to talk to someone.

... No reponse. Finally I realize it's waiting for the other 9 digits of the phone number. I start hitting numbers at random. Now, that was amusing:

"I can't loc... Please enter ... your account ... mber or account num..."

Then the magic words: "Please hold to speak with a customer service agent."
So I get connected and tell the person that we have a vacant unit that needs to have the billing address changed.

So she says - "OK, I'll transfer you to someone who can help you with that. What state would that probably be in?"

I burst our laughing. Now, I know it's been a few months since we've been there, but the last I looked it was "Probably in Boulder Colorado". I can't describe the looks that Ginger and David, listing to my side of the conversation, gave me at this time. Suffice it to say I had to mute the phone to explain.

In the end, the guy confirmed for me the power had not been turned off. Yea. So then I bit my lip and asked how much the balance on the account was.


I said yeah - there must be some unpaid month's worth of power bills. He said "Oh, it's just been sitting vacant." Ummm, yeah, I'm very aware of that but it isn't like it's not using electricity. I said but the heaters are on... He insisted it was just sitting vacant.

OKAY THEN! I stopped arguing and ended the call.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The rabbit hole

I guess it's time for an update on the Hybrid. Yeah - still have it, still driving it. Still spending way too much time while I'm driving thinking about driving. Oh well, I got a lot of time on the road with not much better to do.

Very cool news is that I've now filled up 3 times (yeah, only 3 times since Jan 24th) (and see what I mean by spending way too much brain capacity on my driving habits?) and the mileage is consistently calculating about 46 mpg. Twice or more than what the Subaru got, so that's great.

My issues with the AUTO-STOP, however, continue. My last entry on this was way back when, and I'd learned from someone on the online forum who'd been to his dealer a few times for this issue that when your A/S stops engaging, that unlocking the door with the key, as opposed to with keyless entry, would resolve the issue. And so it seemed.

For a few weeks.

Then we had our first snow storm in Denver. Not only did I have to drive all the way to DTC that day, but I also was taking Ginger to the doctor for her procedure that prohibited her from driving (Roger picked her up). Anyways, that was a record 3 hour commute that included GETTING LOST ON THE WAY TO WORK.

AND, the A/S was not engaging. It was an extremely cold day and I'd seen references to the hybrids not performing well in the cold, though as to the details of 'not well' was I hadn't paid attention. When I dropped Ginger off I got out and unlocked the doors with the key, to no avail. There were some other things going on which served only to brighten my mood even more. Then I got on the highway, amdist the dirty slush, and found out I couldn't spray windshield washer fluid on my windshield. I was so blinded I finally managed to limp off of the highway, but by the time I found a place I could pull over and clean the windshield, I was in a totally unfamiliar industrial neighborhood where I could do nothing but make wrong turns trying to get back to the highway.

I ultimately ignored the issue and it eventually resolved and the A/S worked again.

Then it snowed again. And it stopped working again. The engine has to warm up to a critical temperature before the A/S even kicks in - so by that time you're well on the way to work so stopping to unlock the doors isn't really an option. So I resorted to whining on the online forum again.

Which is when someone else posted that I had to not only unlock the doors with a key, but lock then unlock with the key. Then, if that didn't work, believe it or not, to try dinking with the climate control in the car. Turn it on to AUTO matic climate control, or turn it off. Then lock / unlock... Really pretty unbelieveable. But, I'm in software development, so I replied that I'd play along -- the next time the car misbehaved.

It snowed again on Tuesday, and yes, once again that was my day to go to DTC - hrumph. A/S didn't engage, but I didn't care. Wednesday I was in the mood to tinker. When 15 miles from home the A/S didn't engage at a stop light, I turned off the car, got out and locked / unlocked the doors with the key. (nah -- I didn't feel a bit foolish) This didn't work, but I didn't have the rest of the trouble shooting instructions with me, so I went on to work.

At lunch, armed with the instructions I headed out. I've started to recognize the hiccup that the engine does when it's warmed enough to A/S, but then it decides not to. It did the hiccup 2 blocks before I got to the restaurant. So I turned the climate controls to AUTO. Voila, the next stop light the A/S engaged! And did so into several stops back from lunch, so I took it out of AUTO mode, and immediately it stopped working for 2 stops, back in Auto, worked for 2 stops!

I went back and immediately posted my findings to the forum. I realized that the reason my problem shows up when it's cold is most likely because it is then that I typically flip the climate control in and out of auto mode because I don't like the defroster in auto mode.

And then -- all the speculation came to a screeching halt. Any guesses?