Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Van - part Deux

The second half of Laura and Nina's first evening with us was to help us feed the horses and turn them out, and then go let the dogs out for their evening potty break. We actually were down to a very small crew - just 6. And for some reason they were all extremely -- boring! Like they could hardly have bothered to come out. Just that day Josh and Misty had left, what a difference the addition or subtraction of a single animal can make!

KOD and Savanna were doing their cute little Basenji thing and charming all of us. David started telling us how much he thinks KOD looks like Lance Armstrong... ?!? "You know, those little squinty eyes..." Later we tried doing a photo merge of KOD and Lance -- and I just don't buy it! LOL.

We didn't get dinner served til nearly 9:00 that night and I was suitably mortified. Not to worry, however, they said their last stay with a relative of a former co-worker in Kansas who farms seeds didn't get around to dinner until about the same time the pervious night! Hey -- good to see we're fitting right into the farming/ranching mold.

While we were out we were commenting on our near total lack of rain this year. Which indeed seems strange as it had been overcast with dark rain clouds since they arrived. Well, true - we've been getting those several times a week for the past month or so. Problem is -- you can see WHERE it is raining, but it almost never is at our place! We have seen rainstorms come right at us, split, and rain north and south of us on its way east. Talk about maddening!

For Tuesday Laura and Nina were thinking about heading to Boulder, but had a little work to catch up on in the photo business. Since they have outfitted the van with battery packs to work on the go, we suggested they pack up and take the scenic highway from Estes Park to Boulder -- stopping along the way to do their catchup work. Now, THAT is the life, to me.

Years ago when I and 4 coworkers were working out of Brian's house since the company had closed our northern office, we used to joke all the time that we should just rent an RV with a satellite connection, and NO ONE would be any the wiser. We'd travel through the Rockies, skiing, biking, hiking -- what ever. Dang, these guys have nearly achieved that. Point in fact, Nina biked part of their route that day along the Peak-to-Peak highway.

A few questions came up as to how the weather would be. Pishaw - we haven't had rain all year! Might be cloudy, but if you get out before noon most likely to be clear. It poured down rain. LOL. Well, at least at our house it did. They did such as stopping on the roadside to nap, and bike and such, so I guess it wasn't too horrible up there. ;) We, meanwhile, were floating away. Our soils are very clay-based, so it doesn't take too much rain before it starts pooling everywhere, and any area that isn't on the rock-topped driveways becomes a quagmire. Phyllis and Mike learned that the hard way on a recent visit when they pulled off to the edge of the drive way to park - ostensibly trying not to take up too much space near our garage. Yeah, that only makes a mess.

Laura and Nina left our place Wednesday, headed towards Alpine, WY and my sister Phyllis's place. We wish them well in their adventures to come!


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Van Visits

Monday my -- well, my cousin's daughters, whatever that makes them to me -- came through Colorado and stopped for a visit. They have been road-tripping through the US this summer, paying their way by doing digital photo work for friends, family and anyone who will pay them along the way. Very Cool Idea! They stayed through this morning, and I hope our portion of their grand tale is as entertaining to others as so many of their experiences have been to us.

They had a unique stay with us, actually, in terms of what is 'normal' for us. They showed up just as a custom group horse lesson was getting underway. This was a lady who had her whole family coming in for a reunion of sorts, so she had 5 grandkids from 10-15 who wanted to go out and ride horses. Well, stables just don't do that much anymore due to insurance hassles. It's just too risky to give a stranger a horse and say 'have fun'! Never the less, income is highly desireable to us right now, so Ginger offered to give them a group lesson and if the kids did well she'd take them out on a trail ride around the property.

Well, they showed up with 2 additional kids -- who were each 6. With my help Ginger decided we could throw them up on some leadline horses and not include them in the trail ride. WHY don't we ever learn? These kids were all beginners, so the arena immediately turned into mass havoc. One of the 6 year olds started having an alergic reaction to something so his eye was all red and swollen and running. I called Dave and asked him to bring down some saliene to wash out his eye with. By the time we got that squared away he was too nervous to get on the horse. We eventually got him up to just sit there, but even that didn't last too long. The 10 year old knew something about horses -- but it was mostly enough to make her afraid of them. She asked to switch horses to Shoni, which required a swap of saddles. The other 6 year old actually did pretty well, until later when she started driving me crazy.

Finally we'd had several turns around the arena, doing basic steering and a little trotting, Ginger took 4 of them out. The 10 year old and 6 year old girl stayed in the arena with me. The 10 year old actually started to get the hang of things. I felt bad because I was wrestling so much with Harley that I wasn't able to give her much advance notice on my instructions -- so it ended up being -- "OH! Turn left NOW and then go around that barrel to the right." It wasn't pretty, but on the other hand she started doing it, so I guess she was learning.

Harley, on the other hand, was making a total pill of himself. He got so upset that the other horses left the arena he surely wasn't going to do anything for that little girl. So I kept having to haul on his bridle, which is not an ideal way to lead a horse. Finally I told her I had to take the reins over his head to be able to lead him. That worked GREAT -- from my perspective. No so much from hers. "Do you think I can have the reins back now?" Well - maybe, we'll give that a try. As soon as I put the reins over -- he'd stop and turn to look where he could hear the other horses, and start whinnying. At least she thought it was funny to sit on a horse while he whinnied. So I hauled on the bridle, dragging him around the arena, and pretty soon - "I think he's walking by himself now!" Um, no, in fact he isn't, but we can try. Sure enough - he stops and turns to stare at where ever the trail group was now. What a ding dong. And of course - during all this I was trying to watch the other girl and think of intersting patterns to instruct her to steer Shoni through.

So, Laura and Nina got to watch this whole process. They said it was entertaining. I thought it was kind of them to be so generous, LOL.

The 10 year old actually may come back for a week of camp since she lives in the area, so once again, we can't say it was a total loss!


Monday, July 24, 2006

Just another Saturday morning

Some days we're lucky enough to have a group of dogs that are so copacetic that there is really nothing we have to do in terms of keeping the peace. And today is just my lucky day! So I decided to grab a notebook and pen to see if I couldn't eek out a blog entry out of it.

(excuse me while I yell at Dakota to quit chewing the tree!)

I started out this morning as we often do - Ginger takes the dogs out for their morning potty break, and I prepare breakfasts and put bowls in their kennels. That way brining them in evern after a relatively short play session is quite easy since they mostly are all interested in breakfast. Though they can be pretty wound up after all night in their kennels!

Our one and only checkin was due 9:30-10, so we went in for our own breakfast and chatted about the weekend to come. Tomorrow is our 2 year anniversary of moving to the ranch! Incredible in so many ways. We decided to go out to celebrate.

(excuse me again because Savanna keeps coming over to chew on the end of my pen WHILE I'm writing.)

I remember that then that it was the second to last stage in the Tour de France, so I tuned into the website that posts minute-by-minute updates of the race. I at there refreshing and relating highlights AS FLOYD LANDIS CAME BACK TO EARN THE YELLOW!!! to David and Ginger while they ignored me and finished eating. They just don't appreciate real drama when they hear it I guess, haha.

As it was 9:30, I headed back out to the kennel and busied myself with computer odds and ends until Brody arrived, around 10.

Brody is a cutie-pie! 6 month old Shepard cross rescued dog. Yesteray was his evaluation day -- actually Dave had a record 7 evaluation dogs in yesterday! That is a huge handfull, and he didn't have a helper after Ginger left to do camp until Patrick came in the afternoon. But, as I didn't get a big dramatic update, I guess things went OK with that.

So far this morning Brody seems the ideal daycare dog. Plays well, obeys verbal commands, etc. We look forward to having him with us regularly.

Dakota, unbelieveably, is my problem child today. And that is saying a lot when this 2 year old big, loveable golden retriever is the biggest problem in the group. He is just a ball of fun-loving (and water-loving) fluff. You absolutely cannot turn on a hose without him showing up to stick his head into the stream! Bites it, jumps at it, you name it. Consequently he always shows up at our place beautifully clean and fluffy -- and leaves as a dirty muddy mess! We warn people that their dogs will likely show the after effects of a long hard day at play when they take them home... but Dakota is unique in the degree that he takes that to.

But he is also has a non-stop curiosity: whether it is chewing on the tree or pawing at the gate that David just left through, he can be a handfull. David affectionately calls him Duuh-kota.

Josh and Misty have stayed with us a number of times. Josh is a big black boarder collie type. Very acive and excitable -- but today after his 30 minutes of rough and tumble he has settled down nicely now. he's a good dog - just hates to be in his kennel more than about an hour at a time. One of our barkers. I swear he seems nearly capable of jumping straight up and over his 6 foot kennel, but not quite. 4 feet at least.

Misty is nothing like Josh - a Korelian Bear Dog and incredibly cute. Well, I'm partial to the spitz type dogs! Mostly black with white legs, belly and tip of her tail. She is not socialable at all with the other dogs, but she usually manages to stick to herself peaceably. I try and get her alone away from the crowd and love on her there because otherwise she just wont relax.

Shasta - is huge! We'd forgotten how big she was from when she stayed in our basement over Christmas. Shes a Shepard mix too -- but with a lot more German Shepard in her than Brody. And a big one too. She belongs to a coworker of mine.

I was worried about her at first because it was my shift where she would be introduced to the other dogs. I did so slowly, as always, but she seemed very agitated around them. Since it actually was starting to thunder outside and that worried her, I eventually put her back in to get all the others out. Since none of them wanted to stay out any longer than necessary, we ended up going indoors to play. So I tried to bring Shasta out again, but she still was very concerned about the other dogs. I put her away again and warned Ginger and David about that.

Well, it seems someone switched out dogs on us over night because come Friday she had no concerns over the other dogs and is working out great! Who knows -- maybe the thunderstorm had more to do with her nerves than I thought.

Jerico is another repeat boarder. VERY sweet Great Pyraneese mix -- though you'd know that only from his double dew claws on his hind feet. Can't say enough about how gentle and sociable he is. he has lovely deep brown eyes with a thick application of bleck 'eye liner' around them, and he love to just gaze at you silently.

Daisy is a lab mix of some sort. Very shy dog. She cam for eval earlier this week and is back now for 6 days. Nice, but even after her eval and then first day of boarding David was unable to get her into the kennel. Not as in her individual kennel -- into the building! First dog that's been this difficult. Dave, Patrick and I went out to try and herd her back in, but fortunately Ginger showed up and Daisy ran to her at the fence and Ginger managed to grab her through the fence. Once caught she's fine working with anyone. But allowing herself to be caught - entirely different matter. This morning Ginger held her while I introduced myself, and now in the yard she comes over freely to be petted -- as long as I'm sitting down. Huum.

And this brings us to Kayodee (KOD) and Savannah. My, aren't they just a couple pieces of work!

You may recall my post about the email we received some time ago addressed to us from -- the dogs. Their parents were going to Europe, so they were looking for a place to stay for a month. Welp, they've been with us since the end of June and go home next weekend. Actually, I'll be quite sad to see them leave.

They are Basenjis. Never having met one before, I have to say they are unique! Dave saw a saying that they are cats trapped in dog's bodies, and YEAH, seems about right. They are small - about 14-16 inches at the sholder. Very short, coards hair, and have heads just like the dogs you see in egyptian paintings. They also have corkscrew tails, which actually screw in the opposite directions from each other.

They are an egypitan breed of hunting dogs. So they are feisty little things. But good natured and friendly too. They don't bark, per se, but they are far from mute. They hiss, growl, snap, and another sounds that I can't really describe.

The other night when we were playing indoors, I was sitting on the floor and KOD was standing next to my leg enjoying a thorough head, neck and shoulder scratch. Jerico was also laying with us - head on my thigh. (did I mention he's such a sweet dog?!) When I moved my hand to pet Jerico instead of KOD, he let out this.. YEEEEEOOOOOWL! What the hell? I was totally taken aback because I had no idea what that sound meant. Was he jealous and wanted more pets to himself? I petted him again, then turned back to Jerico again, YEEEEOOOOWWL! I was dying laughing -- truely the strangest sound I've ever heard a dog make. Make that 'dog'.

I told Dave about that and he cracked a smile and said "Yeah, he does that sometimes."

Savannah, Ginger has taken to calling our little social director. She always has to visit every other dog in their kennel when she is on her way in or out of the kennel -- usually driving them crazy in the mean time. She orchestrates play in the yard, generally putting herself in the middle of it. When she invites a dog to play, instead of doing a typical play-bow, she stands up on her tiny hind feet and waves her front legs around like for a hug. The bigger dogs she'll run up and bite the rough on their neck, then hang on for dear life. And Chase -- they are both very fast and again are alwasy in the middle of the pack regardless of what is going on.

(excuse me one last time - our neighbor is out stacking the hay bales from the adjoining pasture, so all of the dogs have run down there to bark their heads off. We really have little problems with the dogs barking while in the yard -- except when something happens OUTside of the yard that captures their attention. Unfortunately this something can be as silly as a cow walking across it's pasture. The days are very long when we have those dogs as part of the crew. Fortunately, that is not the case today. Yelled at them once -- because I'm too lazy to get out of this lounge chair if I don't have to -- and I guess they've decided Tom isn't all that interesting after all. LOVE this crew!)

Well, it's now after noon and it's time for the dog's nap. Wish me luck getting Daisy in!


Ok, problem not yet solved, Daisy would not come in for me, but Ginger came out just then and caught her. I've since gotten Daisy in on my own -- but just now Dave came in for lunch and had to leave her out. Poor thing, has some real fear issues, looks to be worse with men then women.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Berthoud Day Parade

Seeing as how it's the 4th of July, I couldn't resist posting about our recent parade. June 3rd is Berthoud Days, the biggest event held in our little town. Typical town event with pancake breakfast, a fun run, parade, vendor booths then a concert that night. Makes for a long day.

We signed up for a booth, and also to be in the parade. Since the horses were going to be there anyways, we asked if we could park our trailer next to our booth and then have the horses there after the parade. They said that would be fine and set us up with an edge booth site. Unfortunately, we didn't hear about this until the night before, but we worked it out. Dave and Roger went over early to drop off the table and tent stuff, and get the scoop on the parade. It wasn't until they were coming back that they figured out that the street to our booth was to be shut off at 10 - before we were planning on leaving for the parade! So that caused us a big huge panic. There was no way we'd be able to load the horses and get the trailer to the booth before the streets shut down. So we adapted and decided we didn't have to have the trailer. I grabbed the rest of the booth stuff and the dogs and parked the car next to the booth spot, then walked the dogs back over to where Dave, Ginger and Roger were unloading the horses.

This was the second serious faux pass of the day. They parked the trailer where there were several other sets of horses off loading as well. We know all the horses were to be grouped at the end of the parade, so that looked like a logical place. It wasn't. It soon became clear that we were near the front of the staging area. So Ginger and I got up to ride down to the end where we'd rendezvous with Dave and Roger in the truck.

HA! Easier said than done. I had been nervous enough about riding in the parade, but that was a piece of cake with everyone organized and going the same direction and pace. Trying to walk down from one end of the staging area to the other was easily any horse's nightmare. People milling all over the road, balloons and flags flying, marching bands standing around or practicing, honking horns, ATVs and Motorcycles zooming all over... And the first thing we had to do was cross across traffic on the main drag.

We'd taken Shadow again, because he was such the trooper for the Parade of Lights. We also took Romeo, since Harley wasn't such a trooper last time. Tacking up we didn't know what Romeo was going to do, but he was seeming pretty agitated. Ginger mentioned that she might well be getting off to lead him through the parade.

But we pushed on... and kept passing obstacle after obstacle without any serious complaints from the horses. They pretty much took most things in stride. Romeo, the ding dong, did his biggest spook -- at the big rocks surrounding one business's driveway. Seriously, Romeo - it's a ROCK.

Half way down that street we came upon a huge empty lot where all the folks who'd done this before knew to park their trailers and stage the horses. Gee! Would have been really handy to know this!!!! So we stopped there to hang out and our guys definitely preferred that company.

We didn't know where the truck was, but as all the horses were to be at the back of the parade, we figure it'd show up eventually. But then someone came around saying all the horses were to get ready and all go to their spot -- at the front of the parade. Huh? We said no thank you, we're riding with our float. So they all left us. If you know anything about riding in a group, horses do not like being left behind by the others. Eich. We finally resorted to letting them graze since that was the only thing that would divert their attention.

It was a very long, hot wait, because unfortunately a boy in the parade was injured, so we all had to wait for the ambulance. (He wasn't seriously injured). Finally the truck showed up and we snuck into line behind him. I don't remember who was driving the float behind us but they were very considerate and gave us a lot of room. But like I said, the parade itself was a piece of cake!

After the parade Ginger and I just rode over to the booth area, expecting Dave and Roger to come over to drop off the muck bucket, water bucket, the halters, etc. Well, not exactly.

During the parade some spectators pointed out that our truck was leaking coolant. Dave had Roger turn off the AC, but all that idling and very slow driving was more than it could take. At least it made it through the parade, but as soon as it stopped, it wouldn't start again. So they set about walking around town to get fluids and getting the thing running. That took an hour or more. Meanwhile we had two people and two horses and a booth to manage. Wow, that was fun.

Eventually the guys showed up, we got the horses bridles off of them and a drink of water, and the rest of the afternoon -- all 2 hours of it -- went really well!

Animals are of course a big attraction, so having them there was a really big draw. That was Ginger's stroke of genius. Not to mention that it's a natural segue to say and oh, you have dogs? So we kept up a steady booth business all day.

I ended up running home mid afternoon to take our dogs home and also to let the kennel dogs out for a bit. Then I came back first in the afternoon as well since we had a kennel customer checking out at 5:00. Good thing this was our local parade and we were so close. It was a long day packed lots of hurry up and then wait. But it was a success overall.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Still kickin

Yes, we're still here, but not doing much writing, obviously. That old momentum thing strikes again. It's been a MONTH - never been a month before between posts. Thank goodness my last post posted on June 1 -- it would be really bad if my archive links were missing June 2006. Gotta work harder at that.

The kennel is going great. Ginger started summer camps the first week in June and they are going well too. It has been the hottest June on record here, and still very, very dry.

We have 17 dogs with us today, and have been hovering at 10 or more for the past two weeks. This is good, but leaves us very little time for anything else. Tomorrow ought to be interesting, being that many of our dogs came with special instructions as to how to cope with fireworks. We got tranquilizers, we got instructions to blast the radio, you name it. Actually, last year the fireworks were all very far away, so hopefully inside the kennel they won't hear them at all. Keep your fingers crossed.

We had some friends over for dinner the other night just to, you know, create the appearance that we still had a social life? Well, seeing as how I was shopping for groceries not 45 minutes before they were to arrive and nary a vaccuum cleaner nor dust cloth had yet to be employed -- I'm afraid that appearance wasn't very convincing. LOL. But good friends being good friends, we had a great time regardless.

I've got a queue of topics that I need to write up for entries, so I guess I'll end this year just to say HI, and Don't Forget About Us!

Have a Happy 4th!