“Become dust - & they will throw thee in the air; Become stone - & they will throw thee on glass." Muhammad Iqbal *Beyond the bushes, boiling with dust, is 4Shoes West boundary road.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Magic is WORK

To preface this post I'll say that, for me, it's always been about horses. I grew up riding anything that I could catch, often with nothing but a couple lengths of binder twine tied to the halter ring as make-shift reins. Bareback & leaning low over necks with clumps of mane weaved through my fingers, hurdling over square bales in fields of stubble at speeds that only the bravery of youth could ever think wise. 
As a young woman, I found the racetrack... as soon as my boots crossed into the backstretch, I knew I was home. It was a long & deeply rewarding career & I was sad to retire, but life moves ever forward & now my husband & I have a small farm in a whole different part of the country. Outside my windows I gaze, still with wonder & exhilaration, out on the 3 gorgeous horses that will likely be my last in this lifetime... & I am so grateful for it all!! 

Over the years I have been fortunate to have had a few horses who made life easy; they were well trained & experienced enough in their respective disciplines that they knew their jobs & did them well. Qualities those particular horses shared were no-drama personalities & honest try that made them admirable on all fronts. Make no mistake though, horses such as those commanded appropriately high dollar price tags!

Conversely, I've also felt lucky to have had a few horses who did not leap to bond with me, took a ton more work than I imagined they would, made me question myself & seek new ways to communicate, tested me sorely before trusting, & made me work harder than ever to be a better rider/leader/partner to them.

You will not be surprised to learn that each one of those hard cayuses eventually proved worth more than their weights in gold. 
Connecting on the deepest level with those really talented but tough horses who required that I prove myself to them has been my absolutely most rewarding human/animal experience. I forged such solid partnerships with those horse precisely because they refused to dumb down their performances, because the required me to up my game on all levels, & because - once the understanding was reached - they leaned into the traces with me & we became fearless, together.
If you just want a dependable, sweet-natured packer that will do every possible thing to keep his rider safe (even at his own expense), there's not a thing wrong with that, so long as you keep in mind that all credit is due the horse who makes you look good. Write up your shopping list, do your homework, ride lots of prospects, & be prepared to pay for all the work that someone else put into making that horse your agreeable dream unicorn. 

But if you want a true partner up under your butt, that's a different kind of commitment to the cause. I'm talking about the kind of partner who always meets the challenge, who never lets you down, who you have 110% faith in, who will ford a raging river without hesitation, or face off with a snorty bull without backing down an inch, a horse who uses his brain, his body, & his heart, a horse who would leap through a wall of fire for YOU... That relationship cannot be bought, my friend. 
That kind of partnership is the result of clear communication between you & your horse, hard work, long days, & wet saddle pads. It cannot be paid for in cash, it takes time to build, it must be nourished & validated, & it must survive being tested before it can truly flourish. 
This article was originally, & still is, intended as encouragement & support for anyone who may find their journey to partnership with a new horse is less than 'easy'. Sometimes the higher the fruit, the sweeter the juice.

Thank you for reading.
Getting a new horse is like starting a new romantic relationship; you have to go in with an open heart, but you cannot be foolish or you are in for a big hurt. An open heart holds hands gently & starts out with a kiss on the cheek; a foolish heart gives out his passwords, his bank card, & the keys to his home before you know his middle name. 

Horses are not fools. Horses are hardwired, first & foremost, to protect themselves. A
"I want to understand you. You are safe with me."
new human is an unknown; understandably some of the horse's defenses are going to go up!

In a new relationship, the rider cannot afford to be a fool either; taking it too far, too fast is rude & it can get you hurt. Not talking about a broken heart here either.
You must take the time to learn ABOUT your new horse FROM your new horse. You need to make the sincere effort to learn about your new horse through observation, slow progression, & application of gentle pressure to first find the sensitive spots (both physically & emotionally) of your horse. Once you've really taken the time to get to know him, then you can begin to mold your relationship, gently, as a artist molds clay into pottery on a wheel.

"Let's start out Slow & steady. Cool & Calm."
There is no rushing this process! As soon as you are too rough or move too fast, the clay may refuse your touch & collapse on the wheel. Similarly, as soon as your approach becomes rough or impatient, the horse may refuse your leadership & collapse in his own way - it might be balking, or bucking, or simply a mental shut down. 
If you have caused your horse to collapse away from you in any way, how you handle yourself in the moment & how you address the problem is critical. If you blame the horse, any significant progress is blocked & the relationship is jeopardized entirely due to your temper & lack of commitment to your goal. Make no mistake, horses cannot be fooled by a false smile or sweet words; they can read your underlying body language & know your heart better than you do - FACT. Foolish attempts to trick your horse will not inspire trust & respect.
It's not always easy, because sometimes your horse is going to act like a butthead in spite of  himself; do him & you a favour & always look first for a legitimate cause of the attitude (pain, confusion, fatigue). You'll likely find that most problems start & end with you. 
If you cannot calm yourself & re-engage properly, you are better off to give him one thing that you know he can do, let him do that thing one time, then appreciate it, reward him for the try, & turn him out to pasture until tomorrow. Positive energy is an invaluable tool in working with horses; don't ever make the mistake of forgetting that your mindset is the biggest factor in the results you are getting on any given day. That said, when you have developed a real partnership with the horse, he is likely to forgive you the odd shouted curse so long as you can take a breath & get right back to the same level of performance that you are asking of him.

Sometimes you might find yourself in a little over your head - that's not a bad thing because it affords you the opportunity to learn more than you already know. The fact is, there is always more to learn, there are always ways to grow & improve. Consult with other horse people whose judgement you trust & who you respect; sometimes what you really need is someone to shake up your perspective & help you get back into a positive frame of mind & moving in a productive direction. 
A word to the wise, when it comes to 1000lbs of horseflesh, if you ARE in over your head - get good, experienced professional help SOONER rather than later. Recognizing that you are out of your depth can save you a lot of trouble & heartbreak. More importantly, for your horse, YOU getting that help that you need could mean the difference between a harmonious riding partnership in the future, or that poor horse someday riding in a packed, stuffy cattle-liner on the way to slaughter.
If you find yourself discouraged & feeling as though the horse is deliberately trying your patience, remind yourself that horses don't really have the capacity to plan out being a giant pain in the ass. It is far more likely that he either does not understand what you want from him, he is in pain or fatigued, or that you have not inspired enough trust for him to freely give what you are asking.  

From the viewpoint of the horse - how can he surrender his perfectly natural fearful instincts until you have repeatedly demonstrated that you will calmly & consistently work to earn that from him? You cannot expect your horse to substitute your judgement for his own in moments of doubt until he believes deep down in his heart that you are a capable, wise, & fair leader!

Honest interaction, clarity of understanding, patience & fairness, in addition to real dedication & persistence in achieving the lofty goal of true partnership all play equal parts in your success on any given day & also in the long run.
If you can just enjoy the initial honeymoon period, engage fully in the mutual getting-to-know-you phase, & stick out the inevitable testing the boundaries period with a positive, consistent, & committed attitude, THEN

  • You begin to understand the individual thinking process of your new horse
  • You feel the tenuous trust beginning to form 
  • You strengthen the bond by consistent, fair, & reasonable leadership
It's a wonderful thing to come to that point with your horse when you truly appreciate him as a unique, & possibly quirky, but absolute individual who gives freely what you ask of him because he has placed his trust in you at last. Never doubt that there may be moments of backsliding; even my most trusted partner occasionally has opinions that differ from mine. He is allowed to call me on my shit because I'm not perfect either & may need some transgression or another called to my attention for correction, & I know that we've put in the work that ensures we always end up on the same page. 
In the face of all that work, from the outside looking at us, we are MAGIC. 

~Joining up with AIM link party today~

Cool Beans ~ Many Thanks!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

DIY Two-Tone Wooden Garden Path

Sounds a lot more hoopla than it is really. "Herd sire' only sounds vaguely impressive on the surface, but realistically(?) Does a bull with a harem of two to maybe four heifers get a spot on the podium so early in the game? Happy? No doubt. Famous? Not so much.
Everything seemed slow - I blame the weather, obviously.
Up my Garden Path SE
What do you think of the new two-tone "boardwalk" style garden path that Mr Shoes built from free pallet wood*?  Red Green always says, "If the women don't find you handsome, at least they should find you handy."?
Mr Shoes gets a 'green thumbs up" on both counts.
Little does Mr Shoes realize, I like the boardwalk SO much that he will soon be adding on...

July 12... Down my Garden Path NW 

 DIY A 2-Tone Boardwalk Path

1.  To build a charming two-tone boardwalk-style wooden Garden Path like ours, work smart, not hard. Constructed from reclaimed pallet wood, the path is made in 4' sections, which makes the path both versatile & easily reconfigured. Sections also afford ease of access to hoses or pipes, etc laid underneath the path.
2.  To start, choose good, strong, newer pallets with clean boards. Using a power sander, give all the sides & the topside a light sanding til just smooth so that the path is more comfortable for bare feet. You will save yourself a lot of work & cursing by not breaking down the pallets.
3.  Level the ground for path way. Do not skip this step; your boardwalk will not be stable, it will shift & move & it will not look right.
4.  Cover the ground with multiple layers of wet newspaper; cover the newspaper with heavy *paper* (such as cut open stock feedbags), cut & fit to size - this is your weed barrier so don't skimp & don't use plastic because paper will actually work better, longer.
5.  Lay the pallet sections tightly together on top of your weed barrier, customizing where necessary (such as around the vegetable bed) so that the walkway is solid & fits tightly into the space & up against flowerbed edging & raised beds.
6.  At this point I stained the boardwalk with a grey semi-transparent wood stain to match the garden bed & the flowerbed edging.
7.  Now for the fiddly part! With a metal blade on his reciprocating saw, Mr Shoes ripped down some pallets & harvested & sanded the nicest boards.
8.   Painstakingly measuring each gap between the stained boards, he cut each filler board individually to fit. It was a lot more work than sanding the whole pallets but it takes the path from rustic to 4Shoes chic.
9.  When Mr Shoes pronounced the walkway complete, I gave the whole thing 2 coats of water sealer.
*The fence around the garden bed is also made from pallet wood; however, the Strawberry Tower, the flowerbed edging, & the base of the raised bed is not.*
             Mr Shoes says that's a big one. I don't know if it's so big. Do you think it's big? Or is that man-math?              *Update: It's 9" long. 9" is not just man-math - 9" is a BIG one! Yummy yum yum.*

July 12... Cucumber, mesclun, radish & green onion salad was on the menu & the first whole "dish" where all of the ingredients had come out of my own garden! Mr Shoes said it was the tastiest cucumber he'd had in years.
Now that I understand the actual space requirements of cucumbers & zucchinni, I have put in my formal requisition for a second raised bed next year. True understanding, you feel me?
Rather than, say, believing the assurances of a circa 1970's square foot gardening guide, maybe, y'know, just as a "FER instance". Because NOone can grow 2 of each in 4 square feet without a lot of twine & an absolute willingness to wield scissors or shears.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

How to Protect Yourself from a Rapist

 This is a re-blog in the interest of public safety.
~Mrs Shoes
FYI - Through a rapist’s eyes! A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:
1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid, or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.
2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women whose clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.
3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.
4] The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots.
5] Number two is office parking lots/garages.
6] Number three is public restrooms.
7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.
8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming.
9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.
10] Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you’re not worth it.
1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: "Can’t believe it is so cold out here, we’re in for a bad winter." Now that you’ve seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.
2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.
3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.
4] If someone grabs you, you can’t beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh - HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.
5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy’s parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you’ll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he’s out of there.
6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.
7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don’t dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you’d feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.
I know you are smart enough to know these pointers but there will be some, where you will go “hmm I must remember that” After reading forward it to someone you care about, never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.
1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.
2. Learned this from a tourist guide to New Orleans: if a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you…. chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!
3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.
4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON’T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS , LEAVE.
 5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
   a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be hiding at the passenger side , peek into your car, inside the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. (DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB) .
   b. If you! u are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
   c. Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
 6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).
7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!
8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well-educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
  Send this to any woman you know that may need to be reminded that the world we live in has a lot of crazies in it and it’s better safe than sorry.

So please re-blog this…. Your one re-blog can Help to spread this information & maybe save one vulnerable woman.

 (Source: itssofluffy-im-gonna-die)

Friday, 10 July 2015

Funnel Cloud is just another name for Tornado

I do not want any part of this shit!
The Weathercasters can call them funnel clouds all they want, but what I hear is TORNADO.
I posted about our recent spate of shite weather - turns out I didn't know the half of it.
We were just lucky that the feeder being struck, flipped & thrown was all the trouble that we really had @ the 4Shoes on Saturday past!
The power in the area was out for 5+ hours due to a lightning strike on a transformer; without power the 4Shoes has no telephone so we were really in the dark (literally). Archaic, you say? I know; most of the time archaic is the way I like it.
Our immediate area recorded 5 1/2 inches of rain in 5 hours; in case you are not sure, that is a lot.
All the neighbours around here with basements were flooded;  they were bailing water out in buckets while Young Boot & I obliviously played marbles by candlelight & scarfed down barbeque-baked pizza.
We also had no idea that 2 1/4 miles from us, a 'funnel cloud' touched down (making it officially a gatdang tornado) & completely took out a row of old maples. I'm kind of glad I didn't know about that; I probably would have crapped my pants.
We do have a tornado shelter (of sorts); it's a dirt-walled root cellar attached to the 100 year old original homestead house across the yard. Yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.
Tornado or no, you are not likely to catch me down there amongst the spiders & the tiny little frogs... If I do see a funnel cloud, I'm much more likely to hide out in the bathtub here in my cozy little decade old home. Besides, the root cellar was probably flooded.
Some of our hay was cut down today; I say 'some' because the ground is too wet to even get at most of it. We had been hoping to dry bale the hay this year, but it may need to be packaged as silage for cattle. *sigh* 
Guess what they've just forecast for the upcoming Sunday?
If you guessed 'rain', you're a winner!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Wicked Weather

Feeder flipped by lightning strike, July 4/2015
Well Sir, the last week or so Mother Nature has really seen fit to kick some 4Shoes ass.
Luckily, no one has been injured (that is, other than the pelting I took by the golf-ball sized hail on June 27th) & the animals are all none the worse for wear.
The horses had been standing in the pasture when lightning struck & flipped one of the feeders but, at that point, they decided to take refuge in the bush for the remainder of the day.
Wise move.
A perfect porcine palace for 2
BaconBobMarley & SausageSteveEarle both wisely snored away the day inside their cozy little shelter, burrowed down in the straw, just as snug as 2 bugs in a rug. Smart porkers. 
I cannot convince the two of them that they look fairly well fed
The whereabouts of BarnCats #1 & #2 were quickly ascertained; they were both holed up in the tack room &, when discovered, vainly tried to convince me that they are in immediate danger of starving. To death. Really. STTAAARRVVIIIINNGG.

Fearless Saint spent the day inside the house, her one "secret" fear being nasty storms.
She lay by the door, nervously checking out the window & breaking explosive, evil smelling wind every few minutes.

Manic slept through the entire afternoon,
obliviously curled up on the back of the couch.

The power was only out this time for a little more than 5 hours, which we spent reading, playing games by candlelight, & supping on pizza baked on the barbecue. The only real hardship is that the well pump is electric. No water = conservative flushing. The stock troughs all had plenty of water (thanks to the relentless, pounding rain), but I didn't see hide nor hair of any of the critters again until this morning.
Note to self: We ought to buy a big back-up generator... 
All in all, I can safely say that I've spent worse days.... but still, I think I would just as soon go back to a regularly scheduled summer now, without all the weather drama.