Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Name Game

I get to play kennel-staff on the weekends when we have boarders with us. All day on Saturdays Ginger has horse lessons going on and we rarely see her until nearly 6, and more on Sunday.

With all these dogs coming and going, the hardest part is remembering who is who! We have two frequent visitors that look not only very similar to each other (lanky, active dogs, pure black with long boarder collie type fur), but they also look just like our neighbor's dog! Shadow and Josh both routinely get called Jake - our neighbor's dog's name. Josh's saving grace is that I think I've successfully associated him with one of my co-workers named Josh so I'm getting better. My apologies to my co-woker!

We have two dogs with the same names as our horses: Harley, whose a big, young shepard mix so he's nearly horse sized anyway, and again Shadow mentioned above.

Last week we had two new dogs from two different families - both called Sammy. Both are back this week for boarding.

Some other notables: The malamutes Yeti and Raz, whom I can't keep from calling Raz-ma-taz. The afghan hound Artie looks JUST like a Disney cartoon come to life. Calvin and Suzi the miniature Schnauzer twins, and Kaely and Trixie. Ally's a Visla who has this face that looks freakishly like a person-dog-morph. Her brother Mac and their new Katrina-rescued sister Maggie (one of our two Maggies) are smaller wiry terriers. What a unique trio - all very different yet bear a lot of resemblences to each other. Jericho gave me no end of troubles because that was the name of our cat when I was a kid. Rory and Kattan - how cool are those names?! Bluevon belongs to the contractor guy who built our kennel. Sweetie the rescued boxer isn't coming any more - I keep meaning to ask if that is because she got adopted? That would be great because David was getting awefully attached to that one!

But yesterday's takes the cake for cuteness: A tiny terrier named.... McFudge. Haven't met him yet, but I'm dying to based only on his name. He's due back this weekend for boarding, so guess I'll get my chance on Saturday when I put my Dog Supervisor hat back on.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bowled over

A number of people attended the Kennel Grand Opening whom we'd never met before - mostly fellow members of the Berthoud Chamber of Commerce.

A few days later one of those folks contacted us and explained that he was also active in the Mead Chamber of Commerce. Mead is the TINY little town behind our place. (read, 3 streets, one stop sign. Or there abouts) I guess we're actually closer to Mead than Berthoud. But other than Dave having gone over there to the agricultural co-op to get tractor diesel, none of us had really been aware of the town. Which really, is very foolish of us who are trying to make a couple of businesses from our local kid and dog population.

He was calling because the Mead Chamber is organizing the first ever Sugar Beet festival this fall, and he was wondering if we'd be willing to bring some horses and offer pony rides in exchange for a free booth. Well, yeah - we probably would.

And remember our first introduction to Sugar Beets? I guess Weld County is one of, if not THE, largest sugar beet producers in the country.

And so it began. Miguel, it turns out, is not just active in the Mead Chamber but is one of the founding members who got the thing off the ground just over a year ago. He's been not only aggressively recruiting us, but he's also been aggressively promoting our business to the Mead Community.

He invited us to the annual Chamber dinner, where we discovered that a number of folks we'd met through our riding program were also members. At that dinner, he asked if they could get 150 of our dog-bone-tied-magnetic-business-cards to stuff into their new home welcome packets. We'd about wore ourselve out tying all those bones for grand opening, but how could we decline? So we got all the bones together, but on the weekend they needed them we had another engagement so we offered to deliver them on Monday. "No Worries," he said, "leave them on the porch and I'll pick them up." Okay.

Not 4 hours later he called back to say that that day the chamber was running a booth to collect donations for two different charities in town (it was Mead Spring Cleanup Days). And, well, since he had this big box of bones sitting right there and the majority of people stopping by the booth had dogs with them, they decided to just start handing them out! And furthermore, most of those folks hadn't heard of our kennel so this was a really big exposure for us. Once again, we were speachless at his generosity.

"So, we're going to need more bones for our packets." *sigh* I think that box of dog bones and stack of business cards are going to become a permanent fixture on the coffee table.

I went to their membership meeting this month - 7:45 AM on Wednesday? Odd time, but it works for me where as Ginger and Dave already have their hands full of dogs by then. Pretty big turn out, I thought, and they asked me to give an introduction about both SPR and HTDR. It's fantastic to be getting the attention, but it's a little diorienting. Like getting tackled from behind.

In May they are holding a classic car show, their third year to do so, and looks like we'll be out there with a table. Ginger will be at home giving lessons, so if we have any boarding dogs that weekend it will be me and Dave trading off table duty for dog duty. Its becoming increasingly obvious (course, when was it NOT?!) that we absolutly could not have taken on this project without all three of us. I know we're doing more than what most people on the doggie daycare forum do, but I'm totally flabergasted how so many of them manage to start a DDC on their own!


Friday, April 14, 2006

Whose Idea Was This?

Unfortunately, I think it was mine.

Last weekend we took a relatively free Sunday morning to do a little exploring of the neighborhood on horseback. We've been talking forever about trying to find a nice local ride that we could take without risking ours and our horses' lives trying to ride on County Road 1.

We had some moderate success. The horses got to meet the longhorn cattle that live 1 neighbor over. That didn't go over incredibly well, but no harm done. We didn't get all the way through to the road to the north but we now have more ideas. To the south we know a series of irrigation ditches run, one of which we own shares of water in. Ditches are accompanied by ditch roads, so we've also been meaning to explore that road.

So last night we were coming home from the Chamber event. It's rare that we're all three in the car together, so I said lets just drive the ditch road. So we did.

We were about 100 yards down the dirt road, which in places was little more than a track, with grasses and weeds scraping the bottom of the car, when someone finally spoke up -- we own two pickup trucks, a 4-wheel drive CRV, a 4-wheel Subaru, and what car did we bring on this little adventure? The hybrid. The one that has about 3 inches of clearance. *head smack*

Oh well, fortunately we only hit two worrysome parts, and ended up backing out 50 yards cause Dave "didn't want to push you out because you tried turning around in some field". Hee.

Still no direct trail connections, but we're learning a lot more about our 'block'.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Odds and Ends

Lots of fragmented things have been going on lately. Some hugely significant, some merely amusing.

In the hugely significant ring we have the fantastic financing deal we just got through an acquaintence -- so that we can now pay off the balance on our HELOCS for a greatly reduced interest. *the treasurer does the happy dance*

In our first 4 weeks of operation we made about $1400 in reciepts. Our 5th week was spring break, and in those 9 days we brought in $1200. And while things have slowed down considerably this week - we still have 3 dogs boarding with us through the weekend and had at least 3 brand new dogs in for their evaluation days.

Two of our new dogs are monsters of fluff - two malamutes both over 110 pounds. One, it turns out, isn't all that well socialized as we discovered when she dragged me around the introductory pen whilst Dave tried to rescue the other dog who is a slippery little eel. Stupid little eel wouldn't get away from the monster who seemed to want nothing better than to crunch her. Oh well. Looks like we'll continue to accept the malamutes, but they won't be co-mingled.

We've started one dividing fence for the dog yard - the shortest bi-section possible. But with deals for dogs like the malamutes it's inevitable that we're going to have to put in the long divider fences soon.

Very interesting that Cicso has never been a retriever. He loves chasing balls and such, but would never bring them back. Well, a few play days with our daycare dogs and suddenly he gets it! Weird.

We set up a second retaining pen in the horse pastures so that we can more easily address weed spraying / seeding and not have to move the horses in and out of the barn daily.

I got a ride in with my big pony yesterday - first ride on Jordan in about 8 months! That was a welcome treat.

We've looked at a couple new lesson horse prospects for summer camp, but no luck yet.

We were contacted by a dog groomer who is interested in getting going again with another kennel / day care operation. She came by yesterday to talk with Ginger and David and seems to have a lot of experience and great ideas.

Dave and I saw Brokeback Mountain a few weeks ago and I so totally now have a new favorite movie. It's just an amazingly touching story, so well done. I was literally shocked to hear the movie is over 2 hours long, I had no concept of that when we saw it. Soooo.... Today is my Birthday and the DVD came out last Tuesday... YEA!!!!

Today is my Birthday. I've been trying to set the stage for me to take it off of work for a couple of weeks. I managed to get yesterday off, but I had to come in at least for this morning. And it's gray and rainy today. BLECH. Anyways, should finish this up so I can get my work done and possibly head home early.

Asta everyone!