Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, April 27, 2007

Air Dates!

(UPDATED 6/4/07 for latest schedule)

WooHoo! Just got my confirmation email from Steve Tripoli of Marketplace about when his 6 part series for which I was interviewed and for which we donated some ranch sound effects, will air.

The series is called "The Nuts and Bolts of Entrepreneurship", and will air on the Marketplace Morning Report on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starting June 5th.

Our segment will be the 4th week to air 6/26 on the topic of raising capital.

Marketplace Morning Report is aparently 2 different 11 minute segments that air at 49 minutes past the hour during morning edition. Typically NPR stations will do Segment A at 5:49, B at 6:49, A at 7:49 and B again at 8:49. He doesn't know just yet which segment his piece will air in, but regardless the audio will be available on their website should you miss it.

So -- mark your calendars!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Showing Off

The end of May SPR and HTDR will be going on display in a big way. We have a number of rather public events and they all are going to fall within 2 weekends of each other!

The first is the Furry Friends Festival on Saturday the 19th; an annual festival put on by the Longmont Humane Society. A big part of it is a collection of doggie related vendors who set up booths on 'Mutt Main Street.' We attended last year with our very first ever booth, and had a tremendous response, receiving a $500 of reservations that very day. So if we do any booth events this year it will be that one.

The next event is that afternoon we will be holding an Open House to celebrate the kennel's first year in business. It will actually be a year and a few months - but who is counting?. May is such a much nicer month to be inviting people to come visit us, I doubt we'll ever really be celebrating our anniversary in it's proper month of February.

Sunday, the next day, the Society for Creative Anachronisms is going to hold a reaenactment event at our place. They'll be bringing horses and their costumes and doing horse back challenges. I don't think jousting, because our arena isn't long enough for that, but probably the ring-spearing and that type of thing. In the end we're a little concerned that this will end up being too much of a circus taking up more time than we want, but it should be entertaining at the very least.

The following weekend is Memorial Day. I'm on the planning committee for my Brokeback Forum and we're planning this year's big gathering. We'll be staying at the YMCA in Estes for Fri-Sat-Sun nights. We anticipate about 100 people to attend, from all over -- so far we have registrations from 22 states, Canada, Finland, Austrailia, the Netherlands and Germany. When we leave the Y on Monday, everyone will be coming down to our place and we're going to have a cookout and hoe-down in our horse barn. This too, might end up being quite the circus, but at least we KNOW this one will be a once in a lifetime event.

So, you can believe we've been busting our butts to get the property looking good this year. Things are definitely turning green, and now I'm wondering whether we're going to have to do a round of mowing before all this happens.

But we keep saying that we love to show off the property, and boy are we going to get our chances next month.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

That's a hot one

We've heard about hay and compost piles spontaneously combusting before. Get them wet, they start to ferment, and can actually build up enough heat to combust. One day years ago I went to Jordan's barn for a ride and the fire department was there putting out some of the piles out in the pasture.

But it still seems so inconceiveable. Well, couple weekends ago I started the compost pile flipping process, that Anthony finished this weekend. I had a good portion of a pile moved (our piles are about 12 feet in diameter at the base, and 6 feet tall.) and the wind kicked up. Sure enough, smoke started coming out of the front face after I'd left to do something else. Dave picked at it, and one section was burning. The horse apples each looking just like a charcoal briquette. How bizarre. Fortunately it was a very small section which just smoldered itself out.

But how amusing it was, after having spent so much time trying to get things to burn.. and here we had things we didn't want burning doing so spontaneously.

Speaking of burning, I was returning to the house after feeding the horses last week. It was just getting dark, and Dave was burning behind the kennel screening fence. You know, the very long solid wood picket fence we have. It was a stunning sight, actually, seeing the flames leap up above the level of the fence, while also shining through the gaps between the pickets. I was nervous enough about that fence catching fire I decided to go help him. Though it got to be total dark before we finished, it didn't matter a whole lot since the fire gave us plenty of light. Well.. until we finished and put out the rest of the lingering flames, and found ourselves a really long way from the house in the middle of a field. Heh -- made a mental note to grab a flashlight next time!


Monday, April 23, 2007

Catch up

The sound lady did come out Friday. I'm afraid that our guys were all unusually quiet, even for them. She was all -- so what are the tricks to get these horses to nicker? I said -- um, there pretty much aren't any. But she did get some champion munching noises! LOL

Even the dogs astonished me by not barking at all as we walked up to the yard and in through the gates. I told her that was a huge triumph for us, seeing has how bark-concsious we are, but even I had to admit that was a bit much. Oh well, I'm sure the reporter isn't planning on filling too much time with these sounds, so I suppose she got what she needed.

Phyllis and Mike were around that morning, having arrived the evening before with their moving van and pickup truck with camper on it, both stuffed to the gills. They said it had been snowing like mad when they left Wyoming Thursday morning! We hung around a bit longer, then split up for the drive to Canyon City.

On Thursday our other sister, Nancy (in Albuquerque), called to see what our schedule was, because it turns out they found a listing for a used Chalet camper trailer on the internet -- and it was in Denver! She was thinking of trying to drive up for the weekend, and then see Phyl's new place, but in the end that was too far with too short of notice. (Besides, did I mention Nancy also closed on a new house Friday morning? LOTSA moving happing right now.)

So - Phyllis and I took a detour on the way to Canyon City to look at the trailer. Very cute little thing, and it was in impecable condition. Phyllis had brought me her digital video camera to use for another project, so I tried out my first time video taping. Now I just gotta figure out how to download video images to my computer. It appears I need some additional hardware. Anyways, Nancy is going to buy the trailer, we'll pick it up and keep it at our house for a few weeks until she can get away to come pick it up.

We got to Phyl's ranch about 5ish, take-n-bake pizza and bag of ice in hand. First order of business was to unload the camper far enough to get to the ice chests, and the dump the beer and ice into it.

What a great place! Though I do see what they mean by the house could be so much improved with some changes. But it's in a really pretty valley with a great view out the front. Lots of pinyon pines around. And I think it's really wonderful how the 3+ barns are all situated such that you can't see them from the house... Phyl thinks that is a detriment, but oh well, she already has one barn cam and she can get more if it's an issue. The barns really are impressive - far more so than the house. 3 big barns, 2 set up for animals with lots of corrals and pens, and the third that will make a great wood shop/classroom and retail store for their businesses.

We got the trucks unloaded, including the 5 foot high, 700 pound gun safe which caused us no small amount of consternation over night. Got most of the kitchen unpacked the bare minimum of furniture set up. Not bad for less than a day's work. We would have liked to stay longer, but we had a prior engagement in Boulder Saturday evening.

Sunday they were on their way back to Wyoming, and it just happened that they were passing by our place at the same time we were just thinking about breakfast, so we met them at the Mead Cafe. They'll be back through in a week or so with their 'final' move, including the first of their alpaca.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sound Check

Remember I said I was chosen to be interviewed for an NPR show? Well, that is still in the works. I exchanged emails with the journalist a few weeks ago. Looks like the series I will be a part of will begin being aired in May. It's a 6 week story, and my part should be in the 4th or 5th week.

Anyways, they wanted to send out a sound engineer to gather some background noises from the ranch, so she is going to come out tomorrow. She asked for a good time when the ranch would be noisy. LOL. Well, strange as that is to say, it's usually pretty quiet. Except for the dogs of course, and I told her no concerns there! But we'll hold off feeding the horses until she arrives to see if we can get them talking then.

Phyllis and Mike will be here. They left their house this morning with a moving truck and a big load. They'll spend the night with us tonight, then Phyl and I will try and get a morning's worth of work done while Dave and Mike go down to try and get some progress done on the barn bathroom (all around the sound engineer's visit). Then we'll drive on down to Canyon City and help unload and start moving in! This isn't their final move, but most of their stuff will be moved by this one.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back in the Saddle

We managed to just sneak by by the skin of our teeth to excape this most recent storm. We were forcast to get 6 inches of snow or more last Friday, which was threatening to severely dampen our weekend plans. Last weekend we had a storm come through on Saturday and Sunday, causing us to not get much done, then it was beautiful during the week in between, of course. So it was with much consternation that we looked forward to this next storm. Dave even hooked the plow up to the truck. Actually, I think that did it - that sent the storm to the south and beyond the 20 minutes of snow/hail type stuff that did actually cover the ground in white, the rest of the day was clear and sunny. Yea.

We had Anthony come out both days, the third of our new employees. He has a full time job so weekends are his preference for coming out. Turns out he's worked quite a bit of landscaping with his dad, so he's definitely got the hard work and outdoors experience. He hadn't ever driven a tractor before, though. Boy-howdy, did he get some practice time in this weekend!

We've been meaning to drag the horse pens because it's been about a year and the manure out there was actually probably 10 inches thick. We didn't quite realize the scope of the problem when we'd started out, since so much had been packed down firmly. We put the scraper blade on our little tractor, and found that it worked wonderfully to scrape the surface. Only... the surface kept getting lower and lower!

We put the second tractor to work piling all the scrapings into a pile outside of the pen. Eventually we went and borrowed Tom's tractor that was already hooked up to the spreader. The spreader belongs to a mutual friend of Tom's and ours, and he told us a few weeks ago he's sold it and thus will be needing it back. Thats one reason for the urgency to get these jobs done now. So by lunch we had three of us, three tractors, and we kept them moving almost non stop until about 7. It was turning into a real ballet. But we have never seen our pens look better - because we're fairly sure that a lot of what we picked up out there was there from the seller's horses, given it's advanced state of decomposition.

Sunday Dave was getting the sprayer setup to start spraying the fields, so Anthony and I and several of Ginger's teenaged riding helpers clean up all around the barn, raking up old hay and dumping that on the compost pile. Finally, I had Anthony further hone his tractor driving skills, actually that of using the front loader, by turning one compost pile onto the other to mix it all up. Woo Whee -- those were all tasks we've been trying to get done for a long time, so it felt great!

I mentioned Ginger's riding helpers - because yes we've got a full slate of lessons running again as of this weekend. Since we had to cancel winter session due to the snow, we haven't had this much people and riding activity in the barn since before Thanksgiving. Everything seemed to go pretty well, particularly having the helpers to assist with the brand new beginners. I think the helpers all love being out there, and they get extra riding time in exchange, so that works out wonderfully.

Joey has shown no more sign of his 'episode' from last week, so in talking with our regular vet about it I guess we're cautiously optimistic it was a freak thing.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Chief Inspector

I just had to write down this anecdote, it tickled me so much.

I stayed home to work last Thurs and Fri since we had so many dogs and Dave only about half time help. So I've had considerably more doggie interaction in those 4 days that in some time. Of course, the weather turned bitterly cold, and I'm finding I'd just much rather be doing things inside the kennel like cleaning, than be outside watching dogs. I think this arrangement works OK for Dave, since he doesn't usually wrestle me for the scrub brush.

We have a trio of dogs who've stayed with us several times before. Lola is a big, white, fat pitbull type dog. She is the sweetest thing, though she packs probably 70 pounds into her not so huge frame. Her 'siblings' are a pair of pugs, Angus and Brutis. Brutis is quite aged at something like 13 years old. Brutis also has only one eye and both ears look like they've suffered from frostbite. In general he looks a little battle worn. But don't let that fool you into thinking he's decrepid. Quite the contrary he pretty spry, and has this adorable little march where he flipps his front feet out and up when he walks. It's quite histerical.

It didn't take long for me to figure out that when ever I opened any kennel - whether it was to let a dog out or put one in, Brutis usually was on hand trying his best to get into that kennel -- other dogs be damned. I mostly was concerned that someone would snap at him for daring to invade their space, so I had to start putting him away first.

Inevitably he managed to sneak back into the kennel with me one afternoon, when all the dogs were supposed to be out for play time. As I'd had enough of tossing him back out the door, I figured there was no harm in letting him stay in with me as I picked up the breakfast bowls and then dished out dinner.

OH, he was in heaven. Every kennel opened he was right in there, did a circuit around the edges, and then he was ready to move on to the next one! I started calling him the Chief Inspector. Being a pug, and an aged pug at that, he has a very pronounced snorting and wheezing breathing, so I was easily able to keep tabs on him simply by listening for him. Once he disappeared and I found him in the kitchen, but one little call and he came marching and snorting right out to be with me. Then I started dishing out dinner, and most certainly had his every attention. He couldn't quite get his head up into the dog food bin opening (which is all of 12 inches off of the floor) but he sure tried. So I made a point of dropping a kibble every once in a while. Poor thing -- when he actually could see where it went he was estatic to go clean it up.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Non-Results

Well, as anticipated, Joey's blood work came back without anything determinate. There no sign he suffers from the heriditary disease HYPP, no sign that he 'tied-up', though that theory was a long shot given his current routine. His nutritional balance is normal, which is good to know at least.

So, we are left with just watching him to see if it happens again.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Had a scary incident with Joey last night. I was feeding in the evening - had thrown hay to the south pasture where Joey, Rio, Romeo and Jack are living currently, then threw hay to the other three pens. I came back to start doing grain - and Joey was laid out flat on his side, while the other three were eating.

This is incredibly out of character, and in fact all 4 of them had been at the fence eagerly awaiting dinner. I yelled to him a few times, but no response. Fortunately when I opened the gate to run out to him, he rolled up on his sternum. He didn't look colicey because he was so calm, but he didn't want to get up either. But soon he made an attempt on his own to stand so I encouraged him. But he never could stand all the way. He couldn't even get his front legs underneath him - for a while all four legs were bent, shakey and barley holding him up. He staggered around a bit, and it was with relief on my part when he finally went down again. I called the vet's emergency number, but had to leave a message (grrr) so I called the direct number for our actual vet, and left another message. (grrr 2)

About this time he did get up, and managed to stand all the way up though was still pretty shakey in the front. The emergency vet returned my call and I gave him the latest. He asked if he was interested in eating. I grabbed his grain bucket and sure enough he dug right in. Definitely not a colic issue then. The vet was about 45 minutes away, so suddenly I had time to stand around and wait -- never mind graining the rest of the horses.

And... my brother called! Heh - was as good a time as any to chat, so I filled him in. By the time the vet arrived it was nearly dark though, so Dave came down and shifted all the horses so we could get Joey into the pen with the light post. By this time he was nearly recovered, though. Standing quietly and would eat all the hay we wanted to hand feed him, but he wasn't interested in putting his head down to eat from the ground. And though quite willing to walk, he did still look discombobulated.

The vet was pretty baffled. Course we've only had Joey a few months, so don't know much about his history. Nothing in particular has changed in his routine recently. The vet drew blood to go do some chem panels... which could be very useful to have anyways since he is underweight and we need to know if he's getting the nutrition he needs. Beyond that though the vet will be looking for some paralysis type disorders. The blood results should be in this evening, though the vet didn't seem to hold high hopes that anything definitive would be revealed.

This morning he was (still) up and seemed completely normal, including grazing from the ground.

*keeping my fingers crossed*


Monday, April 09, 2007

Gettin our move on

Been meaning to for a long time, so last month we finally got around to joining the local gym. It's small and doesn't have very extensive hours. I debated over this a long time as having it close meant Dave could join too and we've always been more successful at using a gym when we could do so togther. Also, we like supporting our local businesses. We sure can't beat it's proximity just 4 miles away. So we bit the bullet and signed up for a few months starting in March.

We've pretty much stuck exclusively to the spin classes (cycling) in the early mornings before work. We figured that evenings just aren't going to happen, what with me generally not getting home before 6:30 and he being in the kennel at least until then, and the gym closes at 8:00 pm! So far we've been quite consistent (well, until Ginger left town last week and now Dave gets the early morning, mid day AND late shift in the kennel). Mon and Wed class starts at 5:45, on Fridays not until 6:00. But they ususally have 6-10 people participating, and the two instructors are quite good.

We'd never done spin classes before, though I've heard a lot about them from our cycling friends. They really are pretty fun. The bikes aren't traditional stationary bikes in that they closely resemble actual road bikes. Resistance is controlled just by screwing down a tension knob. We ride along with the leader painting a picture of what today's ride is going to be -- such as lots of rolling hills, or we're coming along another group of cyclists that we need to sprint to pass. It's pretty convincing to say we're hitting a sudden hill to crank down on the resistance and stand up on the peddels. It gives you a lot to think about other than just peddling away. Since we control the resistance you can modulate your own workout for those days you have more or less energy. And the music helps you keep pace, while providing yet more opportunities for distraction as we comment on the play list for the morning.

I've been thrilled, though, that Dave has been going with me, even at those unbelievably early hours (given his fondness for mornings). Not only that, but he's been going when I'm out of town, and this week I was totally prepared to just sleep through it but he wouldn't let me! (points back at the we're more successful going together comment.) We get home just before 7 am, which gives me 25 minutes to shower and get out to my bus. Ginger's always in the kennel by the time we get home but I asked her if Dave doesn't show up sooner on our gym days. Yes, she said. And not only that but she can tell he's awake and ready to go!

So we've been at it about a month, I'm starting to see some improvement with stamina. Think I might need to reward myself with new exercise clothes. :) Dave started seeing a physical therapist for a sore back. He's watched Ginger struggle so with her back, so he's pretty motivated to get this resolved the right way. They have him incorporating stretches and ice packs into his regimen. Seems to be working out well.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Supervising Chaos

Just in case anyone is wondering what keeps Dave busy while Ginger's gone.

Ok, ok, we do have Justin around about half time to help out, and in fact he just missed being in this pic. But we didn't anticipate we'd be running over 30 dogs a day this week that Ginger left! It's the third spring break week for local communities, so we've had a very busy month. Fortunately after this weekend things will quiet down again.

Yesterday we had another part time helper start with us. Sarah's Justin's co-worker who originally expressed interest in working for us, but who didn't have time. Well, the dog-food shop they work at is having to scale back hours, so she has time now. She came out yesterday morning to work with Dave while Justin was more or less able to hold the fort.

This morning, Anthony, another friend of theirs, is coming out to help with the kennel and /or any property jobs we can get going today. Yesterday was all freezing rain, and the forcast is for snow today, so I don't know how much we'll be able to force ourselves to do. Looks like a good day to clean kennels and work on the bathroom down in the barn.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Arrivals

I had this one queued up to post later, but in honor of Phyllis's complimentary post on her blog: thought I throw it up today. And no - we did not compare notes before writing. All duplicated sentiments were developed independently, hee.

Phyllis' Mike came by this week to drop off their two horses to stay with us for awhile until their move is done. This whole thing about moving with livestock is a real juggling act. I know when the sellers of the ranch had to move - they had about 40 horses, 20 or so horse sized, and 20 or so miniatures. And 2 trailers. One that would hold 6 horses, and the other held like 4 or 6 minis. Since they were moving locally, they could take horses over in groups every few days as they got their barns set up to keep them.

Moving across states ain't that simple. Their horses have been boarded at another location for awhile now anyways, but with their horse trailer doing double duty as an alpaca trailer (perhaps that is really their alpaca trailer doing double duty as a horse trailer!) not to mention a load-up-with-moving-stuff trailer, it was bound to be putting the mileage on regardless.

Anyhow, it worked out to be advantageous to bring the horses down now and leave them with us.

Which leads us to the project Dave and I completed last weekend -- rearranging our horse pens from two to three. We had to buy more panels and gates, of course. Seems you can never have enough of those! It would have been great to have some helpers with us, but those scheduled to come out weeks ago got snowed out, and we just didn't get organized to ask the to come back this weekend. So we shoved, lifted, wrestled, dug, and dropped panels around until we had 3 working pens. Yea.

We might have quit sooner that night, leaving them in partially finished configuration, except that we were reminded by Jordan darn near pushing over an entire section of panels because he just HAD to lean in on them to sratch his haunches -- that horses are pretty rough on pens. Though come to think of it, they are nothing compared to our friend's bull who was staying at our neighbors last year to breed his herd. The day came to load him up to take home we just happened to amble by and stayed to watch the process. Man! They had a 30 foot diameter pen and backed the trailer right up to it. Then they methodically made the pen smaller pushing the bull towards the trailer. He really was in no mind to get in, however. And it was astonishing to see him turn around, duck his head and lean into the panels and just drag the entire pen around with him.

Anyways - back to the story at hand... all the time we were working, we were also trying to keep a couple of horses inside the enclosure. They are so funny - move a fence and they go bezerk like you are completely rearranging their world. And gates that are left hanging open? Why -- those MUST be for walking through! So Babmi and Jordan spent most of the time running back and forth between the three partially formed pens feeling so smug that they got through a gate uninvited. Harley and Shadow came up out of pasture at one point to get a drink of water. But to get to the water trough they had to walk by a line of panels laying on the ground. OH MY! What are those scary things??!! Goofballs.

So, we fashioned 3 decent sized pens on the top edge of the pasture where we can keep our 3 sub-groups of horses off of the pasture while we work on spraying and seeding this summer.

Only, now that Phyllis' horses have arrived we have 4 groups of horses. Heh. Tis the story of our lives -- always feeling one step behind.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bon Voyage Ginger

Ginger leaves tonight to head out to a surprise family gathering on the East Coast. (I'm pretty confident the surprise-ee doesn't have internet access, and thus won't be seeing my blog to ruin the surprise.) It marks I think only the second time she's left town since we moved to the ranch! So we wish her a very well-deserved rest and to have a great time with the family.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Never seen that before

A few trips ago, my coworker and I were waiting to board our flight back to Denver from Seattle. He poked me and pointed out the window. Two firetrucks had pulled up facing eachother across a nearby gate. OK, that's a bit odd.

Then they both turned on their massive water jets - pointed up and towards eachother. Could that be an emergency? Highly doubtful. Even a drill didn't seem to make sense to me since the water wasn't aimed AT anything, but at the other truck. Almost like a water balloon fight between the two trucks.

Then a plane arrived and approached the gate -- and neatly traveled under this water bridge.

Have no idea what it meant - neither of us had heard of this type of ritual before. But we chose to speculate that the pilots had gotten married enroute. Hee. Or - a little less romantic, maybe the pilot was retiring or had just made his XXXX landing. Who knows - but it was certainly cool enough to entertain us for a number of minutes.