Monday, January 31, 2011

Flying Geese.... and dogs

The rain stopped at some point during the night, the wind blew away the clouds, and the temperature dropped way. down. low.  I woke up this morning to find rain drops frozen on the windows, the barn roof pure white with frost, and a thin veneer of ice on the ground.  It was very pretty and I was sorry that I didn't have my camera with me while I was feeding.  There is a tree stump in the orchard that I use for a seat or to rest my gardening tools on.  Kersey likes to jump up there in the mornings for a belly rub.  This morning she ran through the orchard, jumped on the stump, hit the veneer of ice, slid across the top, through the air and landed on her doggy butt on the other side.  ...looking very confused.

The sun was out and the sky was pure blue so the ice started melting fast.  While I was mucking in Kalvin's paddock, I noticed that as he was happily eating his bucket of vitamins he had a large amount of steam coming off his back.  I walked around him to other side and, sure enough, he had just rolled in the mud. 

After finishing at the barn,  I hustled up to the house and got ready for work.  As I was driving north on the freeway I saw a big flock of geese flying in formation.  We see ducks fairly often but geese are rare in our neck of the woods so it was very cool. 

That's the news for today! 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Goodbye Sunshine; Hello Happy Horse

This morning we woke to cold grey foggy skies.  After barn chores, I came back up to the house for a warm-up cuppa java and Brett's scrambled eggs (the best).  Then it was back down to the barn to get a ride in before the rain hit.  It was still cold with no sun to take the chill away and I tacked up Jackson as quick as I could.  I whipped off his blanket and whipped on the saddle in nothing flat.  Jackson was behaving more like his registered name, Twistin Turbo, than his barn name.  I'm not sure if it was being comfortable in the Passier or the weather.  Probably both.  He was forward and supple and we got in some very good canter work.  Jackson did insist on lengthening down the long side and got high headed if I tried to bring him back.  I think we went 4-beat a couple times.  Whee!!  Of course, in the cold my nose was going drip drip drip.  Riding in cold weather is so attractive... 

After my ride, I took some pictures of my Bates saddle.  I posted it on eBay and hopefully it will sell.  It's in really good condition - only a year old.  I'm fanatical about my tack.  I clean it after every ride, keep it oiled, etc.  So, I'm crossing my fingers.

I took a couple pictures of Jackson who was being a goofball, trying to sniff the camera and fogging up the lens.
I got the idea for this picture from Kate at A Year With Horses

Flash and Kalvin were busy doing the mutual massage thing.  Flash likes us to think he's above that kind of behavior, being the alpha horse and all, but now I have proof on film.
Yeah, that's the spot, riiiiiiight there.

Tuffy and Finessa were hoping for treats.

The rain started around noon.  It's a storm from the Pacific Northwest so it's cold and the wind is forecast to gust up to 50 mph.  The temperature didn't budged much from 42F all day.  I decided to make chili.  I tried out a new recipe that was pretty involved.  It's from Cook's Illustrated which is Christopher Kimball's publication.  I find him very interesting but sometimes the recipes very involved/labor intensive for just a smidge of improvement.  This time, it was worth the work.  The chili was awesome.  I made cornbread to go with it, Brett poured a nice Zinfandel (it was too cold to drink beer) and we feasted.

I assembled all the ingredients.

There were two kinds of dried chilis, which I toasted

Chilis, spices, cocoa and cornmeal ground together

Brown onions and jalapenos

Add tomatoes, molasses, ground chili mixture and garlic

Brown steak

Deglaze with beer, then add meat & beer to other stuff

This is how it looked out of the oven, 2 hrs later

And this is how it looked in my bowl with avocado, onion and cheese

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Girls Day

This morning Brett and Flash left early for mounted patrol training.  After mucking, feeding and doing Jackson's fecal count (day 7 of 8, almost done), I headed down the mountain to get Camille.  We went to yoga class, then lunch, and then got pedicures.  We tried a new nail place close to where we had lunch.  They had a big display of the different designs you could get on your nails.  Camille picked a plaid design and the colors she wanted.  Unfortunately, they didn't have any clue on how do do it.  There was this gaggle of manicurists surrounding her, discussing and trying to decide how to tackle the problem of plaid.  She has had plaid before and told me it usually takes about five extra minutes. took 45.  Sheesh!  No truth in advertising, I guess.

It's been below freezing the last few nights and a cold front is moving in so I've been putting Jackson's medium weight blanket on at night.  He's a wuss sensitive to the cold so I brought the medium down with me so he could see it when I took off his sheet.  Otherwise he would have pitched a fit complained.  He sniffed the heavy blanket, sighed, and let me switch them with no comment. 

Dinner tonight was comfort food.  Pork chops, butternut squash and popovers.  Oh, and wine.  Of course.  My parents live on the Central Coast of California (wine country) and my dad makes wine.  Or, he did until recently.  One of the partners died and the other moved away so they have pretty much stopped.  But, we still have a couple cases in the wine cellar -- good stuff too.  Tonight we finished a bottle of 2005 cabernet that we had opened last night. 

Fried pork chops

Roasted butternut squash with brown sugar and butter


Friday, January 28, 2011

Vive la différence !

First, a little housekeeping responding to some excellent comments and questions.  Linda: I do like the western look, just not for mounted patrol.  When Jackson and I compete in competitive trail trials, I ride in a western saddle (which I don't think fits him anymore either).  It's easier to drag logs around when you have a horn and on rides that last hours and hours, it's just more comfortable.  Plus, I feel like I am drawing attention to myself when I do the rides in dressage tack - I can feel people looking at me and thinking "stuck up English rider."  I much prefer to just blend in with everyone else and feel sure I am being judged on how we do and not how we look.  On the mounted front, I just really like the look of tall boots, black English tack, and crisp uniforms.  When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle took me to a horse show where the Canadian Royal Mounted Police performed.  They've been my gold standard ever since.
Dom wanted to know if bareback is an option.  Yes yes yes!  I rode Jackson bareback in my lesson warm up today while I waited for Brett to finish his lesson.  I plan to ride in Brett's saddle when I can and bareback when I can't.
Carol and Lori had wonderful comments about saddle fit and brands.  Carol has a WOW saddle which has air panels but is also custom.  The Bates Isabella is strictly off the shelf so I'm sure the fit isn't as nice as she has.  I've never heard of WOW saddles - maybe just available in Canada?  Or haven't made there way onto the California scene yet.  Personally, I think there are so many brands and styles and twists because there are so many body types.  What I love, someone else doesn't.

Today, after Brett's lesson we put his saddle on Jackson.  Our trainer, Gayle, was very pleased with how it fit him.  I was surprised since when I bought Jackson that saddle didn't fit him at all -- way too wide.  So, I was able to take a lesson!  The Passier felt wonderful.  My leg naturally fell in a straight line and I was able to sit straight with no effort.  I think the Bates tilted my pelvis forward a bit and it was a struggle to keep my leg correct.  And, O.M.G., Jackson was in heaven.  His walk was immediately full of swing and he was stepping under.  I felt it and Gayle could see it.  The whole lesson was like being on a different horse.  I didn't have to ask for forward.  I had to ask for "don't run."  He took the contact, lifted his back and carried himself.  I was able to take him deeper and he stayed light.  He hardly argued at all.  I was thinking maybe I should get a Passier but Gayle suggested keeping the appointment with Custom.  She likes the fitting support they provide and the saddle has a deeper seat than the Passier.  If I don't like the Custom saddles as much, I will get a Passier.

On the way home, I was talking to my good friend H. about the saddle situation.  She expressed surprise that I needed a new saddle already since the Bates is only a year and a half old.  That got me thinking about how much Jackson has changed -- in his topline, particularly.  He didn't change a whole lot until last September when I had his hocks injected.  Since then, he's changed completely.  Once he was able to carry himself comfortably behind, he was happy in the work and "presto!" - new horse!  ....and new saddle.

At the beach a few months after his purchase.  September 2009
First show.  November 2009
Same show.  He has no butt or topline.

And now....

Lesson January 2011.  He's getting a butt!

Starting to look like a dressage pony!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Saddle Search

The decision on what to do about a new saddle for Jackson has been consuming all of my grey matter.  I've bounced things off of Brett until he's black and blue.  I've talked to my current trainer, texted my former trainer, emailed the massage therapist... you get the picture.  Fortunately, all the roads have led to, or confirmed, the same conclusion. 

Last night, my thoughts went something like this.  If I buy an off the rack saddle, I am going to have difficulty finding a good saddle fitter to work with me and I'm very spoiled on that front.  With my previous horse, I splurged and bought a Trilogy saddle.  The Trilogy saddle fitter came to our place and I tried a number of saddles before picking the one that fit my horse, Auke, and me best.  Then the saddle fitter came up every six months or so and adjusted the saddle to my horse's changing shape.  She was awesome.  I would ride Auke in the arena and she would watch his movement.  Then she would adjust.  I would ride again.  Repeat until perfect.  Auke never had a sore back.  I was thrilled with the saddle.  When I sold him, the saddle was part of the package.  I don't expect to ever have another extra-wide horse and it fit him perfectly so I was happy to see it go with him to his new life.  I want the same experience with Jackson.  The woman who sold to me and then worked on the Trilogy saddle went to work for Custom Saddles.   She said she thought the Custom saddles were a bit better.  Unfortunately, that totally awesome saddle fitter up and relocated with her family to the San Francisco area.  The nerve!  I sent an email to her replacement down here (who I think fits Steffen Peters' saddles so she must be pretty good too) and we're trying to schedule an appointment.  Albion does the same thing and a number of people have recommended their saddles.  One of my good friends has an Albion and she loves it.  I've tried a ba-zillion of them and they just aren't comfortable for me.  It's something about the twist.  I must be built weird since everyone else loves them.

In the meantime, my current trainer and my former trainer have both told me that they ride in Custom saddles and love them.  The woman who comes up to do massage on the horses said "I told you so."  True.  Last time she was up she noted the changes taking place in Jackson's muscling and predicted that the current saddle's (a Bates Isabella) days were numbered.  The Bates saddle is comfortable for me and I like how my leg hangs, but I'm not thrilled with the air panels.  I don't think they are as forgiving as wool and you can't do the custom mushing around of the padding to make a perfect fit. 

When I got home tonight from work, I went down to the barn and tried Brett's dressage saddle on Jackson.  He has a Passier and has been really happy with it.  When I bought Jackson it was too wide for him -- Jackson had that narrow TB build and Flash is stock horse built all the way.   From what I could see under the barn lights, the saddle fits Jackson now - nice clearance, no grabby spots.  So, maybe I have a saddle to use until I get a new one.  I'll have to be really nice to Brett so he'll continue to share.  We won't be able to ride together unless he uses his mounted patrol saddle (Tucker trail).  Out here, mounted patrol is like old west posse.  It's not the totally cool Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol look.  It's black jeans, western saddles, and cowboy hats.  Yech.  But I digress... 

At any rate, I'm on my way to a new saddle and that feels good.  ...except for the pocket book part.  That's gonna be painful.

Small Stones #18

white breasted nuthatch:
a bright black face
and a black striped head.
Quickly climbs the entry post,
surveys the eaves,
and just as quickly leaves.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The chiropractor was just here.  I mentioned to her a sore spot I noticed on Jackson's back after riding this morning.  She confirmed he was very sore there and suspected that he had been kicked or bonked.  But then, hmmm, he had a mirror image spot of soreness on the other side and two more spots up by the withers.  So, it's the saddle.  I had the saddle fit to him when I bought it but that was when we were starting on this dressage journey.  Since then, he has put on weight and muscle and changed enough that the saddle no longer fits.  I knew this day would come and I purposely bought a used, not super expensive, saddle when we started.  But still.  $$$$$  sigh.  And, of course, I am grounded until I get a saddle that fits.  And I know it's the correct diagnosis.  When the chiropractor (also a vet) told me, my brain went "bingo!" not "...maybe."  He's been cinchy the past few weeks and generally not happy about the saddle.  So, I have a call in to my trainer asking for saddle fitter recommendations.  I had a great one with my previous horse but she had the nerve to relocate. 

I need a drink!

Training Log: Schooling

Today is sunny with enough wind to make you turn up the collar on your jacket.  The sky is unusual for us with high clouds instead of our normal clear blue.

Brett's training flag was really whipping around    


 Jackson was very good despite the breeze.  We have a lesson on Friday so I wanted to confirm everything we have been working on since the last one.  He was light off of my leg and willing to listen.  The trot work, overall, was good.  There were a few times where he resisted bending but he came back quickly.  I'm learning to move him off my right leg, quickly, while leaving the door open with the reins.  He ends up doing a leg yield which brings him back onto the aids.  By the time he is consistently on the aids, our leg yields are going to be awesome.  I was particularly happy with our canter work.  I kept the outside rein steady to give him confidence and he relaxed into a very nice balanced canter, with jump and carrying himself correctly -- both directions.  I praised him to death and his ears went happy happy happy.  ...and he tried to go deeper.  He's such a funny horse.  I could feel him saying "You liked that?  Well, watch this!"  

On my way up the house, I found a daffodil bud.  Funny how that can make me feel so happy inside.  

The apricot tree has buds that are ready to burst as well.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Small Stones #16 & 17

#16: At the Theatre
Two couples arrive together.
The husbands dutifully shuffle to their seats
guided by sprightly wives
with hair silver bobbed and curly white.
The men remind me of my great uncle on the farm -
Plaid shirt and crumpled polo shirt;
wispy white hair, balding;
both with sloppy suspenders
pulling up their trousers to mid-back
and exposing ankles.
Outside, milling around the lobby
boys in slouchy shirts mingle with
girls in skinny jeans and black boots.
Clad in middle aged neat attire
we take our seats in the rows 
between slouchy and suspenders.

#17: On the Train
Small hands rest on my knees.
I look up from polishing a small stone
to see a child in pink sweats with sparkle and bling.
She gazes up at me in welcome
then turns slowly to her mother in confusion.
I wonder who she was expecting.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trail Ride

This afternoon we finally went on a trail ride.  We woke up to clear skies but a strong, cold, gusty wind that had the horses wound up and us trying to stay warm.  So we waited for things to calm down.  It was still breezy and cool after lunch but the gusts were no longer violent and most of the trail is in a ravine so it's sheltered somewhat.  With all the rain we had in November and December, the trail was washed out in many places and there was all kinds of debris -- fallen limbs, etc.  So, Jackson got good work on obstacles and I tried to do everything from my legs and not touch the reins at all.  We were both pretty successful so even though I was tired and cold when we got back, I'm calling it a good ride.

Jackson trucked right on over all the logs.  Good boy!

Our mountain is popular with skydivers and hang gliders.

Our mountains: scrub oak and chaparral

The crazy obstacle

Brett and Flash went first

Jackson took notes and then we went.  He did it!  Very good boy!

I just love mesquite.

The view from the highest point of our ride.

Jackson likes to eat this stuff.  Nasty prickly bushy thing-

Small Stones #15

With a blanket around my shoulders
and the warmth of the morning sun on my face,
I sit by the window and watch
a solitary brown sycamore leaf
turn end over end;
bumping across the orchard grass
and skidding over the gravel garden path;
Catching, finally, in the
bare bushes bracing
for the next gust.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Worm Wars

This morning while I was walking Kersey after her breakfast I noticed worms in her poop.  Aargh.  First the horses, now the dogs.  Of course, its only logical given the dogs' habit of snacking in the compost pile - which is full of parasite tinged manure.  So, instead of going on a trail ride this afternoon I was down the mountain getting wormer.  It's the same stuff we use for the horses, just mixed with water so it's not so pasty.  Sedona took her dose in a very lady-like manner.  Kersey tried to eat the syringe.  If you are a lab, everything is a very tasty meatball.

Kersey is still on stall rest.  Fortunately, we had another warm day so I spent all morning outside with her on the veranda.
This was my view from the couch.  Not too shabby.

I read a whole stack of magazines while sitting here.

The weather this winter has been strange.  It rained an unbelievable amount in December and was bitter cold.  This month, we have had hardly any rain at all and a lot of sunshine.  With daytime highs around 60 and the lows in the mid-30s, it feels more like spring.  Brett has already started mowing the grass which is getting thick and tall.

Since I felt like a slug today, I made a fairly ambitious dinner.  I think I was born with a spring in my butt.  I just don't do well with sitting around doing nothing.  I roasted some beets and tossed them with a honey lime dressing for our salad.   The main course is roasted chicken with cognac (and a very fancy french name).  Here is my mise en place:
onions, carrots, potatoes, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, cognac

First, the veggies were tossed with olive oil

Then I added the chicken and the cognac.

The whole thing was covered and went into the oven (very hot) for an hour.  When it came out, I boiled down the sauce a little to thicken it.  It was quite yummy.  The recipe said that it serves 4 but only the wings were left.   And the beet salad was to die for.  Brett pretty much inhaled his. 

Tomorrow afternoon Kersey can get dirty and play with Sedona.  Yes!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Small Stones #14

The heirloom pear was sick.
The tall strong tree 
With fruit heavy, sweet, juice dripping on my chin
Had leaves blackened and dead.
To save it, we cut away all the diseased limbs.
All that remained was the trunk 
and two small short skinny sorry limbs.
Today there are fat blossom buds
ready to burst.

Babysitting Kersey

Kersey, the puppy, is on stall rest after her surgery (spayed) yesterday.  She can't get dirty.  She can't play with Sedona.  She can't get wet.  That's not easy to do with a ranch puppy.  She's used to running all over the place, jumping into any and all water containers (the pool, the water trough, puddles), and being active.  Brett put a puppy pen across the front entry to the house so the front veranda is enclosed.  All day I alternated between having her in the crate and sitting outside with her on the veranda.  Fortunately, it was a beautiful day so sitting outside wasn't too painful.  But still boring.  I tried to close my eyes and listen to the different birds singing but Kersey kept chewing on my arm and that was distracting.   I couldn't leave her alone outside because she was chewing on the cushions and we were afraid she would scratch at the doors and windows.  Brett conveniently had to go down the mountain and talk to a judge about a search warrant.   Suuuuuure, leave me with babysitting duty. 

I did manage to ride Jackson.  We worked on forward and connected.  He did well.  We worked on transitions.  He did well.  I worked on staying off his face so he could go forward.  I did pretty well.  The canter departs are getting smoother and less like charging out of a starting gate.  Which is fun... for me.. but not well liked by judges. 

Question for my blogger friends:  When the nights are above 35, I use a rain sheet on Jackson with a cotton liner.  It's not cold enough for his medium weight but too cold for just the sheet.  But, the cotton liner rubs - no matter the size I buy.  So, I bought a shoulder guard slinky thinga-ma-jig.  He HATES it and it doesn't seem to help.  Last night he was downright unacceptable in his behavior when he saw it coming.  We had to have a little discussion about respect -- he came around really fast.  I had huge issues with respect with my last horse so I was on that one like a fly on honey.  But, I know many of you are dealing with harsh weather and varying temperatures and I'm wondering what you do on those nights that are too cold to go bare but too warm for a medium. 

Brett has been told to watch his diet relative to high cholesterol so I'm trying to cook with that in mind.  Tonight we had whole wheat pasta with spinach, mushrooms, lemon zest and a little ricotta.

After dinner, he wanted me to proof his most recent post.  I don't know if it was the wine or the writing or both but I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.  He won my heart with words in letters and notes -- and he hasn't lost his touch.  Check it out at Pop's Compost (on my sidebar).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Small Stones #13

Waiting to meet the vet
we sit in the truck cab,
facing west toward the mountain.
The afternoon sun is warm on my face
and I close my eyes
listening for the crunch of gravel
beneath the tires of the truck
bringing back my puppy.

Sedona Has a Hard Day

This morning Kersey went to the vet hospital to be spayed.  Sedona was beside herself.  She didn't understand where Kersey went and her "job" is to take care of that puppy.  She gave herself that job (being a shephard/kuvasz mix) and she takes it seriously. She felt that she had failed somehow.  She refused to eat her breakfast.  She spent the morning in the backyard, with her head on her paws, depressed.  After lunch, I went outside to do some gardening and took her with me with the hopes of cheering her up.

The first thing she did was head to Brett's truck and thoroughly sniff out the back end.   Kersey left this morning in her crate, in the bed of the truck.  I don't know how Sedona knew.

She found a corner in the garden and laid there, watching me.

Sedona disappeared for awhile and I could see the tip of her tail going this way and that; looking for Kersey in all their usual haunts.  She came over to me at one point and as I bent down to pet her, I got a big whiff of her doggy breath which had the distinct odor of manure.  The compost pile is one of their favorite places so I guess she was snacking while she was looking.

When I finished with the gardening, Sedona followed me back into her yard and finally ate her breakfast.  We brought Kersey home late this afternoon.  She is pretty tired from her surgery and is enjoying the benefits of the pain medication.  In other words, she is sleeping.  Once in awhile she opens her eyes and thumps her tail.  But mostly she sleeps.  I brought Sedona in as soon as we got Kersey settled and she was thrilled.  They sniffed each other and then Kersey crashed on her side, sound asleep.  Sedona stretched out on her own bed with a watchful eye trained on the puppy. 

Last night we had a not so healthy dinner: pork roasted in the crock pot with mashed sweet potatoes and mango salsa.

So tonight in an effort to balance that out, I made a big salade Niçoise.  Brett ate most of the ingredients.  I can't get him to eat tomatoes but he loaded up on green beans so that balances out, right?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Small Stones #12

Jackson is fetlock deep
in green grass;
muzzle searching, choosing;
teeth ripping, chewing.
Me ~
sitting on the slope
soaking up the sun
and happiness

Excellent Ride

Brett and I rode this morning before the vet was due to arrive with needles, vaccines, and other fun stuff.  One of the things I have as homework from my last lesson is to keep Jackson in front of my leg.  He is naturally sensitive and I need to encourage that trait so once he is soft, I ask him to go forward.  If there isn't a response,  I tap him.  I only need a light tap with Jackson.  Soooo nice.  We did our warm-up on the buckle going around the block on the bridle trails.  We worked on forward.  Instead of our usual walk of one. two. three. four., I had a very nice 1-2-3-4 walk.  He was perfect except for the three spooks - from the usually unflappable Jackson.  The first spook was at a parked car.  Maybe because it was in a driveway instead of inside the gate?  The second spook was when two pit bulls charged their fence, barking.  Totally justified.  The third was at three mourning doves who flew up from the other side of the road, in plain view.  Stupid spook!  Once in the arena, I had very good work from my boy.  He continued to be nicely in front of my leg.  He was soft and round for the trot work while keeping the forward energy.  His transitions into left lead canter were along the lines of buck and charge -- but he got the correct lead.  We'll get there.  I'm feeling VERY optimistic today.

Who, me?

The vet arrived around noon.  All the horses received their shots and she did a ulcer test (fecal blood) on Jackson.  It came back negative.  She suggested that I do daily fecal checks on Jackson for 8 days so we can get a feel for his parasite rhythm.  She suspects that he has a sensitive stomach and is more bothered by worms than the average equine.  She said she had been trying to figure out why I was finding any parasites since we muck twice a day and the pasture is dry.  She figured it must be the donkeys.  They typically carry a heavier load than horses and commonly tote around tapeworms.  Ewwww.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Small Stones #11

Small brown birds hop along
the wood beam,
surveying the porch eaves.
Are they choosing a nesting location or
reclaiming the remains
of last year?

Small Stones #10

Pointed green noses
poke through the orchard grass.
hidden within.

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Award!

Many thanks to Calm, Forward, Straight for this award.  It's my first!  Woo-hoo!  Please check out her blog if you haven't already - she's one that I regularly follow and enjoy. 

So, there are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Seven things about myself....  this may be a challenge...
1.  I'm 50-ish.  Some days my body feels 70-ish but inside I still feel 19.
2.  I'm fortunate to be married to the love of my life -- the guy I fell in love with when I was 19 but didn't get to marry until I was 40.  Long story with a happy ending.
3.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be a novelist or a horse trainer when I grew up.  Between the blog and Jackson, I'm doing both.  The day job...  pays for the horse but not part of the dream.
4.  I'm secretly French.  I don't have a drop of French blood in my veins but I love the culture, the food, the wine, and the people.  One of my very closest friends is French.  I want to eat baguettes and croissants and be stylishly thin.  
5.  I have no self control when shopping at a nursery or a tack store.  My two favorite places to be are in the barn or in my garden.  
6.  I love to cook but only when I have someone to cook for.  If I lived alone, I would eat cereal and popcorn.  I am fortunate to have a husband and kids who love to eat and don't mind being culinary guinea pigs.
7.  I hate writing about myself.  I like writing about my world.  Phew!  Done!

I think most of the blogs I follow have already been nominated so I'm going to have trouble with this last requirement.  The blogs I follow and truly enjoy -- eagerly reading their posts -- and that have not already been selected are (in no particular order):

A Glowing Ember
Just Another Day on the Prairie
The Skoog Farm Journal
Spring Creek Basin Weblog
Life at the Rough String
The 7MSN Ranch
Doll's House Days

Signing off... gotta go notify my nominees.

Hay Wars

Brett and I disagree on the easiest way to load hay from the shed into the hay cart.  I like the bales to be laying down on their side so I can easily peel off the flakes.  He likes the bales standing on end and lifting the flakes from the top.  I whine and complain but I suck it up because 90% of the time he is the one loading the cart.  This morning I was on my own for barn chores and I had to reload the cart.  When I opened the shed, there was a bale laying down waiting for me.  It made me ridiculously happy.
I spent most of the afternoon with a good friend/barn buddy.  I met her when I had the Friesian and we used the same trainer.  We went to lunch today and then to the tack store.   So, it was an expensive lunch date even though it was her turn to buy so the lunch part was free.  I can walk into a mall and back out again with no purchases.  Piece of cake.  I can't walk into a tack store without spending $100.
A few days ago, Kalvin's owner came up.  Her mother came along and took this picture.  I love the way it captures their bond.
Katy and Kalvin
And, lastly, Brett blogged about his lesson.  It's quite amusing: Pop's Compost