Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, November 17, 2008

Woah! How cool is THIS??!

(click for bigger images)

The organizer for this weekend's SCA event and her husband real quick like built this drawbridge to be part of the equestrian challenge. It was fantastic! So much so that when the competition was over and the course was opened up to let us all just play - most of us went back for the photo op. Heh.

(Ohh, and we finished my lance this weekend - complete with the leather hand guard that I'd made with the help of the Leather Guild folks.)

It was another fun event - this was a Toys for Tots drive, so the fees for participating in the tournament were toys. There were equestrian, archery, heavy and light fighting tourneys. The table holding the astonishing 700+ toys gathered that day was an amazing sight!


On a somewhat related topic, we did have a nice relaxing weekend for a change - seeing as how we had ZERO dogs in the kennel. Huumm - not a great thing for business, but on the other hand it has been over a year since we had a whole weekend with an empty kennel. We've had a rather dramatic down turn in our kennel numbers since the end of summer. It's been bizzare several months, June, July and August were all record high months. September has typically been slow as kids go back to school, etc. But October and November have utterly failed to rebound as they have in the past 2 years. Even our holiday reservations for Thanksgiving are showing the effects. We're slowly creeping up, but we are still only 1/2 full. So, we've scaled way back on the staffing plans, but I hope we don't get that last minute rush that finally fills us up and we aren't ready with people to work...


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Outside means... OUTSide!

Sunday this past weekend once again found me in front of the sewing machine. Not, this time however, working on anything medieval. No, this time it was something utterly mundane. I was working on a problem we've had in the kennel for a long time, but have never found a solution.

The kennel has 6 aisles of kennels, 3 on each side, running perpendicular to the center aisle. When we let dogs out, they usually are so excited to get outside they head directly for the door. But there is a portion of our dogs who are more interested in checking to see what they might find in the other kennels instead. They'll cruise around, disappearing down an aisle so that the person manning the door can't see them -- sometimes they get left inside!

From what I've seen, there are 3 basic types of cruisers:

SCAVENGERS -- this is pretty typical. Those dogs who are just insatiable and will look for any hint of food left in another kennel that is accessible. Even if it isn't accessible there are those that will lie down on the floor and stick out their tongues to amazing lengths, or poke their arms in as far as possible to get at that one errant kibble. One impressed me by pulling on the corner of the blanket that was sticking out of the kennel - to drag the big stew bone closer to the front of the kennel. Not that he could have gotten it out, but by golly it was RIGHT THERE! His disappointment when I kicked it AND the blanket back out of reach was palpable.

TOY CRAZED -- These are the dogs who just have to have a toy in their mouth. We have several who pick up their own toys specifically in preparation to go out. Now, of course try and keep all personal toys inside their kennels. So when we approach one to let them out, and they are standing there with toy in mouth, bouncing back and forth from one front leg to the other, we know we're going to have to do some serious body-blocking to try and wrestle the toy away from the dog before they get out of the kennel. On occasion, they manage to slip by us, and then it's up to the door-keeper to be the second line of defence to keep those toys from going outside. Even when we do successfully de-toy them before leaving their kennel, some will go in search of any other toy sticking out from another kennel. This, then, causes havock as we know the purple dinosaur toy doesn't belong to the dog that is currently carrying it around... but heck, who DOES it belong to? (And some of our customers don't understand why we insist on taking an inventory of everything they bring to the kennel with them)

Then there is that special kind of cruiser. Fortunately we haven't had too many of these, that I know of. The BUSY-BODY. Some dogs just think they need to be up on what all the other dogs are doing at all times. They will cruise the kennels, literally, just to see who is still in. In some cases just to torment them. Though they may all be perfectly friendly out in the yards, put a dog in a kennel and then let another approach from the outside and it isn't uncommon that the one inside the kennel feels threatened and will lash out. Which of course makes the tormenter snarl back, and it gets raucous very quickly.

But no, the ultimate Busy Body dogs we ever had were the pair of Basenji's who lived with us for 2 months. That's a very long time and it's natural that they would start to feel somewhat entitled there. They were something else, though. They would refuse to go into their kennel - until every other dog had been put into theirs. If you haven't met a Basenji, you may recognise them as the breed of dog known for the fact that it doesn't bark. Yes, well, don't be fooled for a minute that that means they are quiet dogs. No, they hiss, yeowl and screech instead. Believe me, it was FAR simpler to let them stay out until all the other dogs were put away, and then they would go into their kennel just as pleasantly as you pleased. They also got upset if they weren't let out first in order to supervise all the other dogs going out into the yard.

Anyways, we've frequently lamented that we didn't just have a way to close off entire aisles and curtail some of the cruising. We don't really want doors as they'd be expensive and unweildy. The traditional dog-gates for residential use aren't long enough, nor high enough to keep many of our dogs out. We'd want them easy to store as we'd only use them at select times (such as when we're pretty full). They need to be easy to put up / take down.

And... Voila! Bungie corded canvas panels!

They haven't been really put to the test yet, but we have a number of ideas for improvements if they become necessary.

Holidays, here we come! :)


Monday, November 10, 2008

Keeping it Regular

So there's this group out there promoting the act of blogging, and has thus issued a challenge to folks to blog every day in a month. The month of November, actually - so they are well on their way into this challenge -- amusingly called Na Blo Po Mo. (National Blog Posting Month)

Now, exactly why they think it's a good thing to encourage daily blogging, I'm not all that sure. And the thought of doing so myself was so ludicrous that I never got beyond the incredulity. But I have been thinking that I need a schedule to aim towards, to keep me writing. And to keep you visiting.

So I've decided to blog once a week. Ideally by Wednesday. And isn't it convenient that I already have 4 week's track record! ;-D

Here's to seeing ya around --


Monday, November 03, 2008

Working, and Playing in Washington

The Dark Knight (for any of you have been living under a rock) is the latest Batman movie that came out in July, staring Heath Ledger as Joker. You can imagine how highly anticipated it was amongt my cronies, being Heath's last completed role. (We're now eagerly awaiting the release of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus -- which he was shooting at the time of his passing.)

Anyways, I'd mentioned to my Boeing contact that it sure would be great to have to be in Seattle that week so I could catch the opening with my girlfriend Ruth. Really, I mentioned it only tongue in cheek, but Cathy scheduled for Laura, my brokie friend whose been working with me for the past few months, and me to come up that week! :-D not only that, but she planned a day to take us sight seeing around the Hood Canal, over on the Olympic Pennisula, in celebration of our recent milestones. Dave even flew up to join us, so we had a grand visit.

Early in the week Laura and I grabbed dinner down at the Mukilteo Ferry Landing, and walked the beach by the public boat ramp a bit before the sun set. There's a large beach there with a bunch of drift wood logs pulled up around fire pits. It's quite the popular hangout spot.

Dave got in Thursday evening, to news that Laura and I had gotten tickets to TDK that nght at midnight. We already had tickets to see it with Ruth on Saturday, at the IMAX, but couldn't resist whan we found midnight tix available at the nearby theater. So we had dinner, went back to the hotel and napped (because we are late-night wussies), then out to the movie.

It was fantastic! After all the build up, not to mention the fact I'd been waiting for this movie for over a year, I was afraid my expectations would be too high. Not to mention afraid of my emotions at seeing Heath again. But all fears were unfounded - Heath so owns that movie. He completely transforms into that character -- something that is no small feat, as brokie after brokie attested that they really can't see Heath underlying that role. It is ALL Joker. And all FABULOUS.

Friday morning Cathy picked us up and we had a wonderful day touring the Hood Canal, one of Cathy's life long favorite haunts. We started out with Cathy apologetically saying that Cliff, her husband, thought it necessary to take us over the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Absolutely I said! Shoot, I saw the video in high school physics class, and think about it frequently when I'm at Sea-Tac airport, so that was a necessary trip as far as I was concerned too.

The narows aren't nearly as narrow as I'd thought! LOL. Didn't get good pics, as we were temporarily camera-less, having given our camera to the horse camp program and our new one still on order. So I took some w/my phone, which I have just never been impressed with. Thankfuly Laura had hers that day. All the good pictures, below, came from her.

We stopped at a number of beaches, Cathy showing us how to dig for clams. They hadn't brought their clam pot, so no steaming clams on the beach for us, but we had fun watching Cathy go after them.

Many beaches were covered with oyster shells were certainly impressive and unique to us. And covered with shore life as well of course.

We stopped in the really cute town of Hoodsport and went wine tasting, had lunch and did some shopping. I got a call, here, from my buds who had gathered in Chicago to see the movie... I was so torn when they'd invited us but we were already locked into the Seattle plans. :-( At the winery we bought some rhubarb wine and raspbery wine - both really yummie, perfect for drinking on the beach later.

Heading back we took the Kingston - Edwards ferry, then met up for a late diner with Ruth at one of our favorite seafood restaurants near Boeing. (LOL - interestingly enough back down at Mukilteo Ferry landing!)

What a day!

We really enjoyed seeing the movie again on Saturday, that time in an IMAX theater -- though by now having seen it 4 times I'm not really of the opinion that IMAX is better. Though I do admit the flying scenes really are spectacular. Never the less, it was great to see it with Ruth, and we managed to stop for a beer and burger after the show before we skeddadled back to the airport.