Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Breakthrough! Dusty, the unbroke gelding is growing up...

As you may remember, one of my roomies, Cindy, has a horse... a project horse.

Dusty came to our farm as a yearling. He's a Thoroughbred, who was rejected from any possible racing due to a slightly crooked front leg. It's not enough of a problem that he can't be ridden in due time... he just can't stand the constant pressure of racing, even it he wanted to.

So Cindy got Dusty by way of a rescue service.

He stood about 15.2 hands and was just plain "full of it" all the time. Within a couple of months, it was time to take him from all boy, to wannabe... a gelding. So, off he went for a ride in the trailer. Smart vet... let's just sedate him here in the trailer. Well, he was gelded, got his feet trimmed, and an overall health check as well as vaccinations. Wanna bet he remembers that trailer ride?

Over the past year, Cindy has had plenty of ups and downs with him. He has a very high "play drive", and hasn't realized he can really hurt when he gets too frisky. Unfortunately, Cindy has been his target more than once. Like the time she was in the wrong place at the wrong time... couldn't get a gate open fast enough to avoid his hind hoof in back, just rib high.

We've all been nipped more than once, until finally we said, "enough is enough" and began to discipline him.

This last May things were like this from Cindy's point of view. "I have way too much respect for him, and he has little to no respect for me."

The turning point was the weekend we spent at Clinton Anderson's "Walh Walkabout Tour". Two days of highly detailed instruction changed Cindy's approach to how to get Dusty's attention, and his respect.

In just a short 2 1/2 months, Dusty no longer insists on biting us. Oh sure, he still tries when he senses an opportunity, but those are far and few between.

He spends quality time in his workouts. He's really learning to be a gentleman.

Cindy doesn't have a lot of time to work with him, and she's his only true trainer. Bev and I don't get into the round pen with him, as he's not a real candidate for "team training".

One of the most important things we did, was to decrease the diameter of our round pen from 60 feet to 50 feet. Now Cindy doesn't get tired chasing him around the pen. She's able to reach her "positions of authority", and that makes a ton of difference.

Just this month, Dusty has learned the "bareback pad" isn't something he can get off his back by bucking. This was just a run up to actually saddling him.

This past Saturday was his real breakthrough. Cindy saddled him, then bridled him, and even put a little leaning weight on him.

After working with him for about 20 minutes or so, she said... ok, now go see how you really feel about all this tack on you.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 10:55 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, July 23, 2007

Friday night small town rodeo...

It's "Day's of '47" time in Utah. Being a newcomers and not Mormon, we've really not totally captured the spirit. We're working on it though... starting this last Friday evening with the local rodeo.

I'm an "old hand" at rodeos having attended them for well over 50 years. I'm just one of those "good fans". Cindy was a barrel racer in her high school and young adult years. I know Bev was raised around horses, primarily sulky racing horses.

Well, this rodeo is definitely "small town" and fun for the entire family. The "rough stock" consisted of calves, young heifers, bulls, donkeys (yes, donkeys), and CHICKENS! There wasn't a bucking horse to be seen.

Ok, I could figure out the calves and the bulls... but the cows, donkeys and chickens had me going.

They started off with calf roping in a "boys" class. Some of those little fellers looked mighty tiny on top their horses. Unfortunately, it was calves 8 boys 0.

The girls did a little better with three of them actually roping their calves. This was "breakaway" so once the calf was roped... you simply released the rope and let it go.

Bull riding was pretty exciting... only one rider stayed on for 8 seconds. Now you know it's a small town... and full of pretty tough cowboys when this happens...

You're riding the bull... he bucks you off and you sail through the air, landing on your head. You're out cold for a couple of minutes while the announcer calls for the EMT's. Other cowboys get to you first, but thankfully, they don't pull you to your feet... you really hurt all over.

You come to, and tell the EMT's you can move your arms and legs... good thing as they roll you over to your back.

Now you don't want to embarrass your cowboy buddies so you get on your feet and "Cowboy Up!" even climbing up and over the fence rails...

That scene was repeated three times during the course of the evening... not sure the EMT's even had a "squad"... besides, the nearest hospital is over 30 miles away.

About those CHICKENS...

This is a family fun rodeo... so, let's have a "Chicken Chase".

First, the chickens... these are excess "free-range" roosters donated by local farmers.

Next, the participants... two different groups of kids. The first group about 100 aged six and younger. The second group, about 100 aged seven to 10.

The object of the game... catch a chicken and you get to take it home... even if your parents would just as soon you didn't catch it.

Here's a couple of the winners.

What about the donkeys? Where do they come in?

Well, picture this...

Assign two people teams to each of about 12 donkeys. Place 12 watermelons thoroughly sprayed down with "cooking spray" at the other end of the arena.

Now, the two of you have to ride the donkey to the other end, pick up the watermelon, get back on the donkey, and ride to back to the start line... yeah right!

Talk about funny! Why I saw a donkey standing still with two riders... the donkey shivered, and they both fell off!

We'd seen "breakaway" calf tying, where the object was to get your rope around the calf, and let it pull the rope from you. We'd seen the "chicken chase", and the donkey-watermelon race, as well as the bull riding... What could possibly be left?

How about "ribbon tying"... or in this case, remove the ribbon from the heifer's tail and run back to the starting line.

It starts off kind of weird as there's one cowboy on a horse, and one cowboy on foot. The heifer (a nearly grown cow) is in the chute. They turn the cow loose and the chase is on.

The guy on the horse has to lasso the cow, and then the guy on foot runs up and "bugs" the cow by holding her head as if to throw her down. The horse's job is to hold the rope until the guy on the horse gets off... and runs up the rope to grab the ribbon that is tied snug at the top of the cow's tail.

There's only a few problems here... the cow doesn't want to be here. The rodeo arena ground isn't the easiest stuff to move around in on foot, and that ribbon... well, it's in a very hard spot to reach... watch out for those hind hooves!

They grow our young teenage cowboys big, rough and tough here!

Barrel racing is a family sport here. The first class is for 8 year old and younger... girls and boys.

We saw some really slow times posted by little tiny tots on very old, gentle geldings that would trot to the barrel, and the very carefully walk around each barrel, and the kinda, sorta, lope over the finish line.

There was one little 8-year-old girl who is gonna be a star... She turned in an 18.35 second run... and that was the fastest time of the night. She was better than all the girls in the 15 and under class, and at least half the women in the "open" class.

The night was very long, and quite warm... at 10:30pm we finally said "that's enough" and headed for home, satisfied we had been to a small town rodeo.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:36 PM :: (2) comments

Friday, July 20, 2007

More fires... ranting about the lack of concern!

I know, it's been two days since I updated this blog. We've been a little busy here...

About 4 hours after I posted the previous pictures... I was once again out watering the sheep. I've got lots of time to look around while I'm filling a 50-gal trough.

This is just 25 miles or so west of us (thought it was more like 50... but that's the rest of the story).

Before I took this picture, I notified Bev, who began figuring out which mountain was on fire. She called the BLM Fire Supervisor, who seemed somewhat aware of the situation, as well as the Cedar City Wildfire line... they said they'd send a plane over to check it out.

After dark, we could even see the red glow of flames WITHOUT the binoculars. Heck, I could even see it without my glasses... and I'm extremely nearsighted.

Let's see, that was Tuesday, July 17.

Here's what the fire looked like just 22 hours later on Wednesday, July 18 at about 3 pm.

This time I got on the phone to the folks who should care...

I started with the BLM. After all... this is most likely on their property. The first lady transferred me to another one, who said she thought they knew about this fire and had maybe sent jumpers to it.

Just to be sure, she transferred me to the Cedar City Fire Dispatch. Well, they thought they knew about it, but couldn't explain how come after nearly 24 hours it wasn't listed on any incident sites... like Utah Fire Info.

She didn't seemed amused or concerned... but transferred me to the "Fire Information Officer", where I got a voice message... no, I'm not telling you what I said. But I will assure you that I hung up before I left a message!

In disgust, I finally called Dixie to see if she could get the message through that we had a serious fire brewing. She called our "local guys" who said "they were watching it".

Oh great... where I come from, we don't wait for it to get bigger... we go put the damn thing out!

Ok, yesterday was our twice monthly trip to St. George to stock up on groceries and supplies. Bev drives the Enterprise Senior Services Bus, and I'm a "senior citizen" so it works out very nicely.

Boy was it ever smoky in St. George! They're surrounded by several wildfires from Arizona on the south, to Zion National Park on the east.

On our way home, coming up the long hill (just south of "The Ledges") Bev spotted a huge plume of smoke... "Hey, bet that's the fire on 'our mountain'!"

An hour later, we were home safe and sound, looking at this...

Mom had even called Dixie, our neighbor to see if our valley would be safe. Dixie assured her that as long as the wind kept coming from the S-SW, we'd be fine... and that is the prevailing wind this time of year.

Finally, I was able to get the following data on this fire.

When we reported it, it was apparently a "flare-up" from a lightening strike on July 16. It was less than 10 acres when we first saw it.

Within then next 48 hours, it first grew and "they began watching it" at 100 acres. Finally yesterday, it was given a name... "The Paradise Fire".

It went from 100 acres to over 5000 acres in a matter of hours, and consumed 3 structures as well as caused the evacuation of all of Hamlin Valley.

This evacuation isn't easy as that's a very remote area. All services are "off grid"... satellite phones, solar and wind power, as well as unpaved roads.


Last night we could see the flames. It was amazing how far northeast the fire had traveled. This morning the fire (and smoke) had "laid down" quite a bit. But I would expect that it will pick up again later this afternoon when the winds pick up.

We're expecting afternoon winds in excess of 20 mph... nothing unusual here.

Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:18 AM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

That was exciting...

With the forecast of thunderstorms, I figured I'd feed the sheep a little early. Good thing I did as there was thunder/lightening all to the east of us.

While I was watering the sheep, I spotted a plume of smoke to the east... just over the mountain ridge and near Antelope Springs road... the other end from where we live. I immediately stopped watering and hurried to have Bev call it in.

Would you believe, the dispatcher actually asked us if we were seeing smoke from the Iron County Dump?

Pardon me, we're under extreme fire watch... there's lightening all around... we NEVER see smoke from the Iron County Dump... this smoke is rising to about 15K feet...

Surprise! Surprise! Look at what I saw to the south... of course we hadn't turned on the evening news yet. This fire took down power poles, and caused a county-wide outage in Washington County, starting about 15 miles south of us. The fire was in Dammeron Valley, about 35 miles or so south of us.

Now, our main concern was this little fire burning just east of us... Even the animals were paying attention.
When I went out to coop up the chickens, we were in the middle of what could best be termed a "pre-fire storm"... the wind was howling from the east at well over 40 mph... dust blowing HARD. And then there was the thunder, lightening, and reduced visibility from the smoke.

We took ALL the bird feeders down, the wind chimes... they weren't singing a happy song, and made sure things were stowed safe and sound. Heck, we even discussed hose placement in case we had to defend our little patch of tumbleweed.

You should have seen our dogs... at one point Mindy, the big black Lab was on the couch to my left. Sarah, my Finnish Spitz was on the couch to the right... and the other three big dogs... Koda, Coco, and Kiki were at my feet. They were SO undone!

Sure the weather was bothering them... outside trips were short and too the point.

But what they really wanted was the potato chips I had... of course, I felt sorry for them, and gave in.

That wasn't the end... the lightening continued until sometime around midnight.

Sarah snuggled as close as she could to me in my bed.

Cindy reported being unable to move in any direction in her bed... she had the other four on either side of her most of the night... including Mindy, who finds it a real challenge to haul her fat butt onto anyone's bed.

This morning we awoke to an acrid smell of "old smoke", but nothing visible all around us... and tonight, we'll get a repeat of last night.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:12 AM :: (4) comments

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mid-summer enjoyments... the weather, the sheep, the chickens... the horse

Oh boy... the "monsoonal flow" has arrived.

What's that mean?

Well, it means higher humidity. Mornings now start out at over 50% and only drop to the mid twenties. That makes the heat index a few degrees higher. It also means afternoon and evening thunderstorms, mostly the "dry kind".

You see, we have a lot of what is termed "virga". That's rain that never hits the ground because the air close to the ground is too hot and dry... it makes the rain evaporate in mid-air.

Lightening, is almost always the "to the ground" kind... and that's really dangerous, not just because it hit's things like buildings, animal, and even people... but because it starts fires in our tinder-dry area.

That means we spend even more time watching the horizon, looking for tell-tale wisps of smoke.

I've added a "weather underground" widget, so you can follow along with us... look in the left side-bar. Of course, you can all get more weather detail at my Weather "Wunder Blog"

So, what's with the sheep these days?

We think "Merino" is pregnant. I've been giving her a handful of "sweet feed" each morning. That supplements her normal alfalfa ration. If she's preggie... she should be due by the first of August, as she left the neighboring farm (and ram) in early March.

The rest of the girls "could" be pregnant and deliver as late as mid-October. That would be sweet as we'd finally have a crop of lambs for the spring market.

Algernon, our ram is getting lonesome...

Each time I go out to the sheep pens, he puts his front hooves up on the fence panels wanting attention. He just loves to have his chin scratched, his ears rubbed, and his name called. How do I know? He tells me so with contented (although stinky) burps.

The chickens are nearly grown... I'm having visions of chicken dinners. At least three of our young boys have learned to crow. That means they're about ready to butcher. I've got several years experience, but still find it a somewhat messy job.

All the chickens have learned to beg. "Mom" generally has treats twice a day, so whenever any of us approach the run... they all come "a running"... it's so cute!

Dusty is growing up so fast.

It's been some time since he's made serious attempts at biting any of us. Also, he's learned that water is "good", especially when Cindy holds the sponge to his face.

He's learned that tying means he has to stand still. Fortunately, we've not done anything to him to cause him not to stand still... Even placing his saddle blanket and saddle on him was ok with him.

This last weekend, Cindy borrowed a bareback pad and cinched it to him.

Sure, he did a little bucking... and cow-kicking (those are the **** you kicks)... and even got too frisky and flipped over backwards... but soon discovered it was too much effort. That pad wasn't coming off!

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:30 AM :: (0) comments

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Got up early... so took pictures

The other morning, Cindy had to leave for work by 6:45 AM. That meant both she and Mom were up before the sun came up... Oh, and so were all five dogs!

That meant Bev and I were up, too. You see, with five large dogs who love nothing more than running and jumping on beds... there's no sleeping in.

Sarah, my Finnish Spitz has learned new tricks from Koda. She now leaps from halfway across the room, onto my bed (more like onto me, the big lump in the bed). Then she proceeds to talk "Finkie-speak" until I finally give in and love her all over.

Koda likes to pounce on us... and then sit on our heads. She's such a happy dog... why wouldn't we all want her love so early in the morning.

So, out of bed. Struggle to pull on the jeans and boots with the help of all the dogs, and trudge off to let the chickens out of their coop. All of this BEFORE my first cup of coffee.

Here's a few pictures of morning at our little piece of paradise. That really long shadow is me taking the picture.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 4:22 PM :: (2) comments

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I've entered a contest... and I need your help!

Yesterday, as I was looking for ways to spiff up this blog, I discovered (thanks to "On the Shores of Carpenter Creek") a contest... one where the prize is really sweet.

You see, if I win... I GET PAID TO BLOG FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

Now, I'm in need of your help.

First, you've simply got to vote for me today, tomorrow and every day for the rest of the year. You don't have to make any monetary contributions, unless you feel it's really worthy to help fund this great "social networking experiment".

I'd appreciate a comment from you at least on your first vote.

More importantly, I really need your help getting the word out. Sure, I can do (and will do) some mailings. I'll do all the the things I've learned to do regarding marketing my site... but to make it truly viral... I really need your help, too.

Here's a quick step-by-step on how you can help.

1. Vote for me.

2. Tell your friends about my blog, the contest, and ask them to vote for me. Remember, you can vote once each day from now on.

3. If you link back to me, be sure to let me know, and I'll add you to my blog links.

4. I really love comments. They're good for you and me... remember the "search engine spiders"... they get hungry, too.

Ok, that's enough steps. Like I said... thanks in advance for your oh-so-welcome votes.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:01 AM :: (2) comments

Friday, July 13, 2007

This blog grows up a bit...

Ok, I'll admit it... I'm ducking the outside heat.

So I at least "look productive", I'm hunkering down and getting this blog spiffed up. Yesterday, and this morning, I've been looking up other "farm woman friends" and adding their links.

Now, I really expect that you'll take the time to read some of their posts... you'll be amazed at what you learn!

What's with all the extra ads?

Well, I've got animals to feed, too. It costs you nothing but a click to help me pay the bills.

This ad service is a part of a new "international, digital community" which eventually will even have it's own digital economy.

Two other things...

First... I've been introduced to a website rating service. Please stop by Farm Divas. Rate my site, and leave your comments.

If you have a site or blog about farm women, be sure to add your site.

Second... I've begun labeling my posts (as best I can). That way if you'd like to read more posts in specific topics, all you have to do is click on the topic. You'll always get a new window, so you shouldn't get too lost.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:30 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Too hot to dig in the dirt... so I've been digging up friends

Check out the left sidebar... "Blogs by friends" has become "Blogs by Farm Women".

Believe me, I find these gals great inspiration. Whether I'm wanting to whine about the weather, or whine about politics... or just whatever... these gals get me going.

Do you know any other women who farm? If so, leave a comment with their link. I'll take a look and if I find it interesting and inspirational, I'll be glad to add them.

One other thing... another new blog!

I've started a "weather blog". Each day (or so), I'll post about the weather here in "the middle of nowhere... Beryl, UT.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 3:38 PM :: (0) comments

Monday, July 9, 2007

New link addition... who, what, where we are!

I've created a new link so you can see who we are, where we're located, and what our farm looks like.

Get a clear description of the brains and brawn behind this "country project".

Discover the exact location of "the middle of nowhere".

In time, you'll get acquainted with our animals... dogs, horse, sheep, chickens, and betta.

Simply click on the link under DHA Family Farm or to make it really easy... click here.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 9:49 AM :: (0) comments

Friday, July 6, 2007

Where have the days gone?

Wow, you'd think I'd left the farm! Not so... we've just been way too busy to sit and write about it.

The cooking adventure went successfully. The senior citizens enjoyed the food, and I wasn't much worse for the wear... aside from being "dog-tired" each day. If asked, I would do it again.

Remember what I said about being about done planting? Well, I spoke way too soon. In the past weeks, we've added a new windbreak on the south side of the front yard. To that, we added a couple of Honeysuckle and a Trumpet Vine. We also rescued our Strawberry plants from the neighbor's greenhouse.

There are Nasturtiums trying desperately to grow faster than the bunnies can eat them... and they're not winning.

Our corn isn't "knee-high by the 4th of July", but we can see it growing up beyond the sides of the raised box.

We've had to declare war on the critters. The night I chased 8 rabbits from the yard three times... and they began to challenge their right to be there... that was it. Mom kept giving us a damage report each morning. Once they ate her flowers... they became fair game.

Cindy is out best hunter. So far, out of the new box of 25 shells (.410 shotgun), she's 9 kills for 10 shots. That includes pesky chipmunks (who have learned to raid the bird feeders), cotton-tail bunnies who insist on bringing more friends, a couple of jack-rabbits who's presence CANNOT be tolerated, and a weasel who was in the wrong place.

The morning of July 4th, I was greeted with our first "cock-a-doodle-doo" from one of our young cockerels. Dunno which one it was... but I'm getting a hankering for fresh fried chicken. Looks like our next project will be building a butchering station.

Our irrigation adventures continue. As we were preparing to plant the Honeysuckle and Trumpet vines, we unearthed another irrigation line. That meant dig a trench to figure out where it went, and where it came from. Well, much to our surprise, we figured that one could be useful... yeah right. The only thing useful was the trench.

First we thought we could run a line from where we had capped a leaker. Dig another 20 foot trench... That wouldn't work, as it was 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch line and we didn't know if the water pressure would be right.

Ok, second option... dig another 20 foot trench across the garden and hook it up to the existing irrigation system. About halfway across, we found yet another line laid on top and at 90 degrees to our trench... now, where does that one go... and where does it come from? Never mind... if we get a geyser, we'll explore it.

With everything exposed, all that's left is to measure, cut, glue, and fire it up... at least that's what we figured... we should know better than to figure.

Three trips to the hardware store (minimum 20 miles roundtrip), much work later... we had ALL NEW lines, connectors, and heads. Every bit of the old stuff we touch falls apart in our hands.

We nearly lost our heads the other day over a horse... We'll never learn!

While we'd love to have three horses, one for each of us... we darn near fell for another "good deal". You know, one of those deals that's better for the person getting rid of the animal. Fortunately, Cindy had second thoughts about getting yet another "unknown" hot-blooded Throughbred.

Guess we'll wait for the auctions in September and see if we can get a weanling or two... maybe even three. One of our "very horsey" friends has offered to help us. I'd love to have a weanling to train. Bet I'd drop this extra 50 pounds over the next year.

I'll get pictures up as soon as the sky clears, and the wind dies down. We're into a "monsoonal flow" for the next couple of weeks. Highs near 100 degrees, potential for thunderstorms each afternoon/evening... although not sure how much rain we'll get. The fire danger is extremely high, and we spend a lot of time scanning the area for smoke. If a fire breaks out, there's very little time to prevent a disaster.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:22 PM :: (1) comments