Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Life since the Holidays

Well, things have just been chugging along here at the ranch. The kennel continues to surprise us at running about 10-14 dogs a day even in Jan and Feb which we figured would be dead once the holiday traffic stopped. Au Contraire, January ended up bringing in 150% of the revenue we'd forcast, which just makes us all sorts of giddy.

As for the horses, things aren't nearly so lively. We postponed lessons, postponed again, and yet again - before finally cancelling the entire Winter session. Since we still can't see the sand in the arena, I'm thinking that was the right call. Fortunately with the kennel doing great we're not too stressed over the loss of lesson income.

Joey, the new boy, however is settling in fine with Romeo, Jack and Rio. But in taking a look at the horse fences while we were doing all this introduction stuff, sorta made it clear we're going to have to do some maintenance to the pastures here soon. We've always intended to have 3 horse pastures... Gosh, will we ever be out of fences to be built?

The last few weeks it's warmed up, which only means that our drive way does its best impression of a mud-wrestling pit every day. The ruts in several sections were getting quite impressive, and since every morning they were frozen solid again I was having difficulty getting my car out because it just plain doesn't have that much clearance. We MIGHT just have turned a corner of getting the main drive pretty dry this weekend, but try walking down to the barn and you've got to be prepared to go slogging. The dog yards, however, fortunately are still 100% snowpacked, so the dogs aren't churning up mud and making everything a heck of a mess. (yet) There are small blessings!

On the mess side of things, we received our power sprayer that we'd ordered before the holidays.. hoping that it would be here in time for the holidays. We weren't quite that lucky. It's taken us several weeks of working out the kinks (you know, pesky stuff like reading the instructions! ;) ) but I'm loving it! Cleaning kennels are now about twice as fast or better than it used to be -- but the biggest bonus is that you don't have to lean over so your back takes a lot less brunt than it used to hand-scrubbing all those kennels. Last weekend we moved all our dogs into one aisle, and managed to get all 5 of the other aisles cleaned plus the center aisle with the play set and both crates, washed and disinfected. Even when construction was just completed on the kennel, it has probably never been that clean at once.

The seemingly never ending task I've also been working on for weeks is getting all the kennels sealed so that water won't travel from one to the next during cleaning. These kennels we put up last Thanksgiving used a different back-wall method than the first half of the kennels, and this different method has proven to be terrible for water proofing. We've used up way more tubes of caulk than I care to think of. Today I spent hand-cutting aluminum angle pieces to be custom fit in place. I'm just taking a break now, for instance, while I let one angle get set in place before I move the braces to install the next.

We have gotten our retail setup going -- again since the holidays. That one probably really would have behooved us to get in place before the holidays, so as to be able to sell the Holiday Themed Toys that we purchased. Oh well -- we've since ordered a bunch more on close out for next season, so we were destined to have boxes of stuff to store anyways. But it makes for a nice addition to the office, and things sell. Slowly, but people are taking notice.

So that's our nutshell, folks. Not a lot of anything in particular to report. Just business more or less as usual.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Meet Joey

Working from home today because we had a little errand to go do this morning. Going to pick up this little Cutie-Pie!

A woman called out of the blue a few weeks ago saying she liked the look of our Yellow Pages ad. (woo hoo!!) Her daughter has been off at college for a few years now, and clearly wasn't going to be spending any more time with Joey, the horse, in the next few years... so would we like to have him? Astonishing -- but actually this is the third horse we've had given to us in 2 years. Actually it was pretty funny but when we had our vet out to do a pre-purchase exam on him, and our vet told the woman that he'd given us a horse... well that pretty much sealed the deal.

Alas, as you can see by the condition of our roundpen, no riding is taking place round these parts for some time to come. We've canceled our entire winter session of lessons.

When we got to our place... Oh, did I mention that we met with the owner at the other stable at 7 am? And that it was 8 degrees? Yes, needed to set the stage for you a little there.

When we got to our place, we had to do some horse juggling to open a welcom pen to put Joey in, so he could get to know the horses slowly. Well, our horses, particularly Jordan, threw a royal fit at being rearranged. We moved Bambi, whom Jordan aparently now thinks of as HIS mare, into the other group, and he went ballistic. Rearing and bucking on his lead line! Have to say I was a bit unnerved and grateful to not have gotten kicked. Anyways - we ended up leaving Joey in the round pen so our guys could settle down a bit before throwing a new horse into the mix.


Friday, February 02, 2007

My 15 minutes

Guess what I did this morning... I went down to a local radio station and was interviewed for Marketplace - a economic news program on NPR!

I know, I was shocked they wanted me too.

Last April I heard they had a call out for people to tell Marketplace about starting up a business and how you financed it. I answered their online questionaire, and then didn't hear back from them so I figured I didn't make the cut.

Then came the Blizzard. Two days later, at the exact moment that I was poised to take pictures while Ginger let the horses out of the barn for the first time in two days, I got a call. Thinking it might be Dave, I answered, but it was a staffer from Marketplace wanting to followup on my responses. I told her it wasn't a good time at the moment, and she agreed to call back in an hour, but started to give me her phone number in case I wanted to call her back. I really didn't, but couldn't exactly stop her. That was when Jordan was just being turned out and he of course started his 'I'm The Boss' squealing that must happen anytime the group has been separated for any appreciable time. To the staffer's credit, she cut herself off and said "I hear animals in the background, I'll let you go!" Hee. Good timing, Jordan.

Anyways, she and I talked and she said they would be in contact. Last week I got another call from Steve Tripoli, the journalist doing this series. He arranged for me to go to KGNU, the public radio station in Boulder, for an interview. This morning.

The series he's working on is how people finance their new businesses. Since we did so by selling our 3 properties and then taking a line of credit on a 4th, and then later securing a private loan, I guess we are pretty much outside of the normal responses they've got.

How was it? Eh. Went into the studio and talked at a guy who wasn't asking me the questions. And I feel like I made a fool of myself. I'm just not a very good on-demand speaker. (I much prefer writing!) I just hope he can perform miracles with his editing. In the end I'm sure I'll only have 15 seconds of air time.

Which could be all the better - leaves me 14:45 in my fame bank!%

He said it would be a few months before the series was all edited and ready to air. You can bet I'll let ya know when that will be... assuming he lets me know!


Thursday, February 01, 2007

An impromtu gathering

Last weekend Dave and I attended a reception for a new friend's wedding. Jack and Kristina were married in New York several weeks ago, but as they live in Denver they held another reception here. It was really lovely.

Jack happens to be one of the folks I met through the brokeback forum, and with whom I sit on the planning committee for the second major forum-gathering to be held in Colorado this May.

I often find weddings can be tough because rarely do we know many people there. That was especially true of this one - we'd never even met the bride! BUT, there was a handful of forum folk who traveled for the reception, as well as the others from our planning committee, so we all got to have a mini forum-gathering in addition to celebrating with Jack and Kristina.

After the reception let out, we decided to return to one of the hotels for drinks. Little did we know that her hotel was being taken over that evening for "KickDown!". Aparently KickDown is a mixed martial arts sport where, well, just about anything goes. Men and women compete. The lobby of the hotel was swarming with people in cammo pants, leather, wife-beater shirts.. you get the picture. The one ballroom we could get a glimpse in had a full boxing ring set up.

We started chatting with some guys about what the event was -- and they asked - "Why, aren't you here for this?" Um, does it LOOK like we're dressed for this in our suit and cocktail dress? LOL.

We finally connected with the rest of our group and discovered they'd moved to the hotel across the way, which had a wonderful, nearly deserted lounge complete with a pool table for our exclusive use. The bride and groom managed to join us after while -- it was a terrific night all around.

One of the group sent around a message later that her husband had had to ask her again which of us she'd met before and whom she hadn't. "What, you couldn't tell?," she asked? That made me laugh - because David asked me exactly the same thing!