Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cowgirls Don't Cry

Granddaughter Jade came out for the weekend last Saturday. We first went to Gage's football game (they lost). Jade displayed the same love for the game as I have. (Is it over yet?)

That's Gage at center front of the picture, one of the relatively few times he was on the field. We all cheered him on--well, maybe not big brother Lane so much, and despite all of the years attending Brian's games, I still have no idea what is going on. Just wait until it's over and hope no one is hurt. That's me, and Jade seems to share the feeling.

Afterwards we stopped at the swap meet looking for treasures. Didn't find much of interest and continued on home to Jade's main event--PONIES! She told me that she knows they are ponies, but she calls them horses. This was to be Jade's first ride "all by herself." Before this visit, she had been led around while riding Lucy or Desi. Now we were going to trail ride with Lucy just following me and Flicka. Jade wasn't too sure until I told her that we had tried it out with Gage riding during his last visit. Lucy would follow Flicka. She might get a little behind since she is smaller, older, and doesn't walk as fast; but though she might trot to catch up, she wouldn't run off. We watched an episode of Julie Goodnight on the DVR dealing with being the boss and making the horse do what you wanted. It also talked about the proper way to hold the reins, etc. Jade was ready, so out we went to saddle up.

She was READY! Larry supervised Lucy while I mounted up, and off we went. Larry said he put the rein over the saddle horn so Lucy wouldn't stop to eat--I didn't think much of it. When I checked back, Jade's expressions ranged from uncomfortable to terrified when Lucy trotted a bit. I figured as long as she wasn't screaming, we were good. I love it when a plan comes together. I bought Flicka partly because I knew Jade couldn't learn to ride when her horse was being led. I also didn't want to lead the horse for miles until Jade was tired of riding. If I could just get Lucy to follow me on another horse..... It worked! We came back to the house and prepared to dismount.

I dismounted and turned just in time to see Jade tumble off over Lucy's head. It seems that although Larry told me he "wrapped" the reins around the saddle horn, I heard "looped" the reins. I didn't know they were, in effect, tied to the horn. When we stopped in the yard, Lucy decided it was time to eat, so down went her head with some determination. There is no back cinch on the saddle, so it tipped forward, and off went Jade! Good thing Lucy's short--not too far to the ground. Besides, Cowgirls don't cry! Better luck next time.

Next time came the next morning. Jade was ready to go! This time no tying of the reins; she would hold them and figure out how to grab the saddle horn if she needed to. We shortened the stirrups a notch so she could manage the trotting a little better. Off on the trails we went. A little "City Slicker" looking, but not so scared. She was able to learn by watching me, and she decided she was having fun. The dismounting went off just fine, and we decided to tie the critters out to eat in the yard for awhile. Jade wanted to leave the saddles on so she could go for another ride in the afternoon. Ahhhhh... a child after my own heart. I recently read in a magazine that one way to find contentment was to return to the activities one loved between the ages of 10 and 13. Those were the Montana years for me, and horseback riding was everything. I'm Back!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'll get you closer!

Just got back from Grand River below the Pensacola Dam. We've had quite a lot of rain, causing GRDA to be running full generation and to open several floodgates. Time to go catfishing! I don't fish, but I read, hook up to tree limbs if Larry wants to wet a line, and give my Kodak easyshare a workout. It's tough sometimes to get pictures of wildlife because, well, it's wild and unapproachable. Don't have telephoto capabilities, but Larry tries to indulge me whenever possible and detour toward the banks. We passed a hole up on the mud bank, and Larry thought something was in there. There were two of them, whatever they were.
"I can see something, but I'm not close enough!" I whined as I looked through the viewfinder.
"I'll get you closer," replied the ever-helpful Loved One.
One of the critters made a break for it.

"It's a beaver!"
"I can't see it very well," I claim, still focused on the tiny viewfinder. "Can you get me closer?"
"I'll get you closer," came the resigned, long-suffering relpy.

Yep, it's a beaver alright! Now, the thing about boats is that when they are gliding in a direction, they don't necessarily stop on a dime. We continued toward the bank, I snapped one more photo and raised my face from the viewfinder.....

YIKES! All I can think of is Jeff Foxworthy telling a story about some guy getting his nipple bitten OFF by a BEAVER! And those are some scary orange teeth right there!

Fortunately for me, the fight/flight choice was for flight. I looked for less scary subjects. How about birds? I love the egrets and herons that populate the shores.

I can't get too close to them though. It does amaze me that such a beautiful, graceful creature can produce such a harsh, discordant utterance. I would think they would produce something more melodious, not the jarring croaking that comes out of them.

Anyway, it was a good trip: cool weather, deserted campground, 18 catfish, 1 drum, and a big ol' carp that was fun to catch and throw back.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


The feeders are going! They look a bit like alien invaders, but they are actually barrels on legs filled with whole corn and fitted with a device that throws the corn out at set intervals. We start them up, three of them, every year at this time and keep them going until around late February or so. It's a hunter thing. Other landowners around here have feeders going in addition to food plots planted just for game attraction. There are no croplands close by. That's part of the attraction of the property for me-- no chemicals running off onto my place. However, it limits food availability for wildlife.

During the fall, feeders attract game animals to the property, and they help the animals make it through the winter. As is the case with all hunter sponsored wildlife activities, non-game animals benefit also. Once the feeders are going and there are signs of activity, it's time for the trail cameras. They are motion activated and have a flash for nighttime. Pictures include a date and time stamp to identify patterns. Although this big boy came in during the morning, once the season starts he'll become more nocturnal, coming in after shooting hours.
Hopefully, these bandits will keep visiting the feeders instead of visiting the henhouse. Other critters-- rodents, rabbits, and squirrels--sometimes attract predators. We've seen bobcats and a fox on trailcam pics.
Yes, a hunter would gladly harvest the buck, but a doe with a spotted fawn? Uh-uh. A barren doe? Sure. Turkeys? Sure, if the season is open. Somehow during the spring turkey season, these guys are not on the place. It's good to see these guys though because few hunters had a shot at a turkey this last season. Proves there're some still around.
We only harvest animals we're going to eat. I'm not too fond of squirrel or rabbit, so as far as I'm concerned, those guys are safe. Other pictures show crows, bluejays, and other birds. One picture showed an armadillo visiting. I really enjoy looking at trailcam pictures.....ahhhhhhhh, the country life!