Friday, October 2, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
We even gave the Biggest Cowgirl, and the Redheaded Cowgirl some driving lessons! They really liked that!
While we have learned a lot and really enjoyed our BIG team, they are..well... BIG!
For a neat comparison here is the Biggest Cowgirl with the Littlest Pony (one she was "training" for a friend) and the Biggest Draft Horse - aka Bowers!
Being somewhat practical minded folks... we thought that if we had a smaller team we could ride them as well as drive them. So we advertised our big team for sale. Barney sold first to a carriage company in Ft Collins, CO wear he will be giving carriage rides downtown! We'll even be able to visit. So Bowers was here on his own for a while. Necessity got us to hitch him to the cart as a single....
He is a gorgeous animal! We never got the picture "just right" to show how much action he has in his feet, but it was really fun to watch. We hooked the cart to the pasture harrow to spread the manure from the winter feed ground.
Bowers has found a home as part of a team here in Wyoming. He will not have to work too hard, he'll mostly be used for "fun" stuff and a little bit of farming. His new teammate "Duke" is a good match. He's HUGE (heavier, not taller), a little darker, but a nice matching blaze. They'll look really sharp!
Sooooo, this is where I got to go shopping! (I'd MUCH rather horse shop than go to the mall!) I had spent quite a bit of time over the winter researching "small draft horses". I got really interested in the Haflinger breed. The are little... shorter than most of our quarter horses. But STOUT! They probably outweigh our quarter horses. They are very strong, gentle, and used for farming, parades, and often as kids riding horses. So I started looking....
I found lots of teams in the Midwest, but getting them here seemed a challenge. Eventually I found three registered Haflingers for sale in Colorado. The three were a package deal, at a good price. Two mares, mother and daughter, and a stallion! So with the potential of 5 haflingers come next spring, we made the deal. Getting them here was easy, but NOT simple!
The gal who owned them lived about two hours south of Craig, where we attended church when we lived in the area. She was able to deliver them to Craig immediately. We were already planning to attend a wedding in Craig a few weeks later. So I just needed to find a place to keep them for a few weeks, in order to combine the trip for the wedding and retrieving our new horses. Pastor T and Miss Debby don't own horses, but they do own about 35 acres surrounded by tall "elk" fence. So the horses were delivered there, and Pastor graciously took pictures and sent them to us.
Eclair of Forte - aka "Lilly"
Enchantress of Kildue - aka "Peanut"
Finally, the time arrived and the Three Cowgirls and I headed out with truck and trailer... We delivered Bowers on the way (well, several hours out of the way, but that's life!) enjoyed the wedding, paid the Pastor's pasture bill (say that five times fast!) with a bottle of Scotch, visited, stayed for church on Sunday, and loaded our new horses and brought them home!
While visiting a friend down there, we also acquired a milk goat, "Star" and her doeling kid which the Cowgirls dubbed "Twinkle". Not a surprising twist if you know me at all! LOL!!!
Little Bit and his Girls!
And since we always like a good challenge.... Here's the stats on the new horses. Lilly is 8, and was broke to drive but hasn't been used for some time. Peanut, Lilly's 3 year old daughter, is halter broke. Little Bit, who we gelded this week, is 5 and broke to ride but has only been ground driven. All this means we are back in the training business! Oiy!!!! Plus learning how to milk a goat!!!
Maybe bringing a nice, proven, broke team from the mid-west wouldn't have been so hard after all! But it's okay, I'm already in love with these delightful little horses! They are smart, friendly and beautiful!
"Never a dull moment" is an understatement!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
That's the biggest cowgirl, sitting on her heifer, Betsy. She bottle raised Betsy from less than a week old. It took Betsy a LONG time to realize she was a bovine, since she lived with horses instead. But now she lives with the cows, and is hopefully in a "family way".
Does this look like fun? I took this one from INSIDE the house!
A week ago, Monday, we were blessed with 24" of snow! It came down FAST! About 2-3 inches per hour! Thankfully we had watched the weather forcast and had some idea of what was coming. So, Sunday afternoon in lovely 50+ degree weather, we rode out and gathered the cows to bring them a little closer to home. When the snow started to pile up so deep and fast, we moved them closer to the haystack. By the time we finished feeding, the snow was up to the doors on the 3/4T pickup! I didn't take any pictures for the first few days. But I did finally take the camera along, when the sun came out.
The rest of the week we fed with the team. We actually had a blast! They really improved a lot with each day. Here you can see Bowers really getting down and pushing into the load. This was a huge improvement from just two days earlier.
Another way the team improved was in that we could let them stand without someone on the cart, or trying them to a post. They were quite happy to have the rest between bales!
Even the animals have fun here! The cats, Lizzie, in the window on the left, Mr Kitty, the black cat in the window on the right, Grace, at the end of the tie rail, and Clifford, in the middle of the tie rail, are all enjoying the sunshine!
And today... it's snowing again. We turned the cows back out yesterday in the sunshine. The snow has melted enough that they can get to the grass again. But with the snow this morning they are hanging out at the gate saying, "Hey!" I mean "Hay!" Poor girls, the Rancher and I went out with the pickup to "pull" them over to the area of the pasture where the grass is best. (They'll follow the truck anywhere, even with no hay on it!) They followed us there, and even started grazing. We rolled up some electric fence, and then drove back to the house. Within 10 minutes they were back at the gate saying... "We don't approve of your April Fools joke on us!" And we say... get to work ladies! It's your job!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Well, then I issued the challange to my friend. "You know if (other crazy friend from church) was here, we'd have this carpet out in the next ten minutes." Come to find out I have more than one crazy friend from church! She took the challange and we started cutting and ripping out carpet. Oh how proud the Rancher was going to be! New floors and very little expense!
**It must be noted here, that the plan to remove the carpet and put in new hard floors (wood or laminate) had already been discussed and all partties were agreeable.
I was basking in the glow of polished harwood, when the next tug on the carpet revealed...... plywood. About half way across the room the floor changes to wall-to-wall plywood. UGH! Now I started to sweat! What would the Rancher say when he came back to find heaps of carpeting on the porch and the naked half hardwood/half plywood living room floor! We finished ripping out carpet, but I was nervous! Finally I called the Rancher on his cell phone, so he wouldn't get the surprise visually... Blessed man just laughed at me! That cheerful, loving, I feel for you, you big goofball, laugh. I love my husband!
So, for my friends far away who wish to help me now with my dilema and wanted photos... here we go. And for my friends who were hoping for beautiful ranch pictures... maybe next time!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The boys did GREAT! We did have a little snaffoo on the second bale. It was a very hard pull either because of the snow in front of it, or it was frozen down. The team didn't pull together like a team should, and they couldn't get it to move. Bowers was thinking, this is WAY heavy, and so after a few tries, he would back up when we asked him to walk instead of trying to go forward at all. It was apparent that if we continued with the same approach we were going to teach him to be very balky about pulling a load. So we unhitched from the bale (not from the cart) and the Rancher drove them around for a few minutes with plenty of stops and starts, so that they could regain their confidence. While he did this, I removed the snow from in front of the bale. Then we hooked a chain between the cart and the bale roller so that the team could walk forward a few steps before hitting the load. This worked well, and they were able to break the bale loose. We then removed the chain and hitched the cart back to the roller, and away we went.
The pin is removed and the frame is placed around the bale appropriately. The pin is then placed in the whole on one side of the frame and lined up with the center of the bale. Then, the fun part. Grab the closest sledge hammer and pound that pin through the center of the bale.
Oh, and just because the sun was shining doesn't mean it was WARM! Yesterday was a big goose egg when we left the house, and today was a whopping 10 degrees F with wind chills below zero! But we had so much fun, we didn't think of the cold (okay, 6 layers of clothing and Carhart Extremes help, too).
Monday, January 26, 2009
That's "Bowers and Barney". Bowers is the one on the right (in the photo) with a blaze face. He came to us early last fall. Sadly, Steve Bowers passed away about a year and a half ago. This 3 year old Belgian colt was one that he had bought, but hadn't yet started. Peggy, Steve's wife, sent him to us to "give him a purpose". I don't know who has gotten more of an education, Bowers, or the Rancher and I! Like I said, it's been 17 years since my internship and I have only used a team a handful of times since. Thankfully, Steve Bowers, lives on in the books he has written. We have poured over and over the one we have, to learn and re-learn how to do this so as to teach Bowers the right way.
Barney, we bought at a draft horse auction in October. He's a tried and true sleigh ride horse, and who knows what he did prior to that! He's about 15 and has been-there-done-that. He's a good horse, but truth be told, Bowers is well on his way to being better. But they are the team we have. We've been ground driving them while the Rancher has been building all of the equipment neccesary to get the job done. He's built single trees, double trees, and a neck yoke. We don't have a sled to hitch them too, but we have pulled a small pasture harrow with Bowers, and hitched Barney to a borrowed cart.
We decided last night, as we looked out on the foot of snow, that today would be a good day to hitch them to a hay bale, and feed the cows. We hooked the double trees to the home made bale roller that the Rancher uses behind the pick-up. Then we hitched up the team. Bowers seemed to notice the new weight behind him, but didn't let it bother him. We fed two bales this way and then headed 'em home. It was quite a workout for the Rancher and I since we walked the whole way to the cows, walked for the feeding, and walked home. The Rancher replaced the shaves on the borrowed cart with a tongue later this afternoon... so tomorrow we won't have to walk as far! If all goes well! It will be the first time Bowers will be hitched with a tongue and to a wheeled vehicle, but we're counting on the deep snow, the breaks on the cart, and of course, his good training to bring us through!
If we live to tell the tale, I'll post about it!