Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chaco Goes Home

Well, it was without much fanfair, but with relief that we finally sent Chaco on home to his new owners.

Not sure whether I mentioned it, but Chaco our mustang has been up for sale for several months. Ohh, that reminds me, I need to take that notice down off of our website!

He's a great horse - but not a great horse for a lesson program. Ginger said he was borred, and didn't respond well to having a different rider every day. He needs someone to bond with, someone who has the confidence to stand up to him and make him behave would be great too. He was getting a little bit full of himself here.

We didn't have a whole lot of inquiries on him, but then it only takes one, right? And somehow we connected with a really great family looking for a horse for thier 11 year old daughter who is involved with a drill team. They already had horses, and have another mustang to boot, so we really couldn't have asked for anything better.

They promptly sent us the check, and asked if we could hold on to him for awhile since they live in Colorado Springs and were having trouble finding time to come pick him up. No problem we said.

Several weeks later, the snow started falling, so of course we said no problem again.

Getting on towards the end of January, it still wasn't a problem, but we were wondering just when this horse which we didn't own would ever go home.

Suddenly the owner called and said through a contact she has at Nationwide Transport, one of the biggest horse transporters out there, she'd scheduled for Chaco to be picked up Saturday. They estimated pickup between 6 and 9 pm. Huum, that WAS a problem, because we were due at the Chamber dinner function that evening. Besides the fact we didn't really want to be loading a horse into an unfamiliar trailer at night, while trying to maneuver around the snow drifts, etc.

So the pickup time was revised to between 4 and 5. Come 5:00, Ginger finally got a call from the driver -- "Hi. I'm supposed to be coming to your place, but I don't know where you are. Actually, I don't even know where I am."

Oh joy. Oh right, and his cell phone cut out at this time.

Since I was now out of the shower and dressed for the evening, I took the phone when they called back and told Ginger to go shower. By this time he'd roused his co-driver and the two of us finally managed to narrow down where they were and how he would get to our place.

I was still unsure of whether to direct him to pull into our driveway or not.. until watching out the window I saw a semi drive by (nearly full dark by now, the truck was fully lit with it's lights) and start to slow down. Uh OH.

I called him and asked if that was him. Sure enough. I asked him if they were able to turn around at a T in the road. He hesitated. I asked if they had pretty good traction in that rig. He hesitated.

I said never mind - DO NOT pull into our driveway, I'd walk the horse down to them. Ginger had left Chaco up in the round pen, so I grabbed him and made the mistake of trying to walk directly from the barn down the drive. A good portion of that path has never been plowed, so he and I got to forge through a couple of 2 foot drifts. But he was a good boy and came right along with me. It wasn't until we got down there and the driver was pulling out the loading ramp that Chaco started to get nervous.

It's quite a hike up from the ground into a semi-trailer trailer. They stand a good 4 feet high. Fortunately these trailers load from the side, so they just pulled up across the end of our driveway and the truck itself does a lot to screen away the passing traffic. It took a couple of approaches, none of which were made any easier by the fact that the traction-mat kept slipping on the nearly frozen metal ramp, but really with a mimimum of fuss Chaco went aboard and into his stall with 5 other horses in the front bay.

The guys were headed on for one more pickup yet that night and then to their 'ranch'. I didn't ask at the time, but we surmised later that Nationwide Transport must have distribution ranches around where they can temporaily unload horses and then send them off to their final destinations. Huh. Cool.

A few days later we got an email saying that Chaco -- now named Spirit -- made the trip just fine and was settling in like a pro. We hope someday we'll get pictures of him working in the drill team.


Friday, January 05, 2007

On the bright side...

As the more painful memories subside...

{{I forgot to mention that we had another trip to the vet with a dog! My what one forgets when they try real hard. Anyways, this particular one was a wound the dog came in with -- but was not the surface wound they told us it was but a puncture which got infected of course. :( }}

...I guess there were moments worth remembering...

Like the morning when my hands were freezing cold because my gloves were damp, and I discovered that sun-baked dogs' coats are a wonderful finger-warmer. I honed my method considerably by learning to discriminate between the long-haired dogs that liked to bask in the sun rather than those who liked to roll and play in the snow.

Speaking of long haired dogs who liked to bask, we had a pudgy Burnese Mtn Dog who wasn't real active or social. She liked laying in the snow drifts outside the kennel door. Dave remarked that she really needed a fainting couch and bowl of bon bons to complete her image!

Ginger, David, And our customers were just raving about the frost on the trees Friday morning after the main blizzard. Ginger went out and got these pics:

Our tractor, which has had many bad things said about since we purchased it, came through like a trouper! It never got stuck, and Dave moved an enormous amount of snow with it. Our neighbor even asked how it is ours never got stuck when his always did. I can tell you, we've never been so glad that when the lever that switches between 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive BROKE OFF , that it did so in the 4WD position!

Little Winnie (who is just a DOLL) learned one day to sit on our shoulders. And she tried it out on all three of us that day!

Our Christmas tree that was nearly engulfed by a drift with that first storm -- but not quite -- valliantly shone on and emerged more day by day.

{{ OK, editorial comment here. I was going to get this post up last night, but didn't because I didn't like my "after" pictures of the xmas tree. So I was going to go out again this morning to get another batch. Only... I forgot that it's been another 5 days or so and thus we were due for more snow. Somehow - this morning's picture just didn't do the "Emerging" state very well!!!

*sigh* DEFINITELY working from home today!}}

The dogs that came in just covered with snowballs that had frozen to their fur that first day.

How through the days the dogs wore an intricate set of paths and grooves and such into the snow that it turned to quite the snow park!

The little fat female american bulldog who would play so hard and then go into her kennel and crash, complete with snoring and tongue hanging out of her mouth.

Geeky, I know, but with such an extended period of really using our database that I wrote, we found a lot of opportunities to improve it.

On the 2nd, we had a new record breaker checkout day, bringing in $3,400. Yes, our revenues were hit by the storm, but we still made more than ever before. And now we have essentially a year's worth of actual numbers under our belts we can start to really manage a budget.

And last, but certainly not least, the horses got put into the barn on Wednesday, and didn't come out until Friday. And there was much rejoycing:

Ginger just told me she found my last blog post and she is concerned about me! LOL. Perhapse I should mention that writing the blog is my way of a stress relief and once it's down on paper... make that 'in writing' ... much of my stress goes away. Never the less, she suggested that maybe next year we'll close the kennels for a week in January and use THAT time to visit family. Huum, sounds like a plan to me!


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The holidays...

Are over, as of last night the kennel is back down in single digits for dogs, and I'm back at work. This amounts to a huge sigh of relief from all of us. Cause based on the past few weeks, I think I know exactly what my personal level of hell would look like...

To begin with there would be drifts of snow up to the eves every where and every day. Having to dig out the front door and plow the driveway with a 2 foot wide tractor bucket multiple times a day.

We'd have every kennel full of dogs and acres of fenced yards that we can't get to due to the snow.

We'd have pups who not only have little bathroom control, but diahrea to boot. Explosive diahrea no less. And they would choose to wait until after they came in from 2 hours of playing outside to mess their kennel.

We'd have a slew of beagles who don't bark in their kennel. Oh no, that would be denying that special essence that makes them beagles! Nope, it's baying all the way (and all the time) for them.

We'd have customers who can't tell us when or if they will be leaving town and thus whether their dogs will be coming to stay or not. As well we'd have customers calling from all over saying they can't get back to town so we'll just have to make room for their dogs indefinitely. And the scheduling nightmare that ensues, because it's never the dog who cancels which is assigned to go into the kennel that can't be vacated.

We'd have a washer go out and flood the kitchen with water. We'd have to syphon the water out of it and dismantle it.. all to diagnose that it must have been a freak failure of the seal. Reassemble it and reinstall it back in the kitchen. (oddly enough, we recall doing this at Thanksgiving too -- only that washer really did go kaput.)

We'd have wind that would re-drift all the snow we'd previously moved out of the way.

We'd have water bowls that freeze in just the few hours between outside play times, making it necessary to dump the water everytime we come in and re-fill every time we go back out.

We'd have a crazy Rotti who has a personal vendetta against chairs, of all things. And anytime he went out he'd have to be supervised to protect our chairs from being chewed into little pieces.

We'd have phones that go down for no noticeable cause, repeatedly. When they do go out, they would rings forever for our incoming calls so the customers have no idea that our phones are out.

We'd have customers who insist on bringing 3 quilts plus a giant dog bed, plus 5 stuffed animals and chew bones to put into their dog's 3x3 kennel.

We'd have dogs who refuse to eat for days on end, unless we sit INSIDE their kennel and pet them while they eat.

We'll have an aged dog who can barely get up from laying down by himself much less be able to negotiate in the ice and snow. And who generally is grouchy but gets downright nasty to other dogs who bump, crowd, or in any way make him feel uncomfortable.

We'd have to take time out to drive to the bottom of our drive way to meet the UPS truck, because he's too chicken to attempt coming up. (And then the FedEx guy will pull right up to the house not 10 minutes later!)

We'd have newly installed kennels which STILL aren't water sealed, making washing individual kennels very difficult without soaking the dogs on the other side.

We'd have a slew of tiny dogs who don't like the snow or cold at all and thus spend their entire outside time at the door begging to get back in and doing their best to trip us up.

We'd have customers who, for some unexplained reason live in Colorado but don't have access to a 4wd vehicle, stuck in our driveway daily. And more customers lining up behind and in front of them waiting to get by on our one-lane driveway.

EVERY dog would have an uncanny ability to make sure their bedding lies IN their water bowl, so that it was soaked every morning and we'd have to hang it up to dry.

We'd have a new snow storm come through every 5 days or so - just when we were starting to feel like the snow was under control we'd get a fresh batch.

We'd discover a standing puddle in the middle of a kennel aisle several days in a row that kept reappearing after we cleaned it up. We'd panic that it was a leak from our radiant floor heating system, since the puddle exactly straddled a crack in the concrete. Only after days of watching this would we figure out it was the dog in the adjacent kennel who had an enormous appetite for water, which subsequently ran right thorough him, drained out of his kennel and puddled in the aisle. It was so dilute that the drainage track dried entirely and left no trace where the puddle had drained from!

And through it all, we'd be aware that others are celebrating this thing called Christmas, but we wouldn't have the time, nor the energy, to even pretend to partake. "What do you mean no one can work Monday morning??" we asked our teenaged helpers. Um... because that's Christmas morning, you idiots. Oh, right.

And you think I exagerate! We had all of the above occur.. but not necessarily at the same time. And we did actually sit down and have breakfast together on Christmas morning. Granted, it was noon before we could sit down, but we did it. Never the less, we ARE hopeful we'll never have another holiday season like the Christmas of 2006!