4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses

4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ~Langston Hughes *pictured: '4Shoes Bookends'

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Creature Comforts

I often enjoy watching the activity around my various bird feeders; I find it very soothing to watch the littlest of God's creatures go on about their daily business, come what may.
Saint & Manic also keep a close eye, though it's clearly not so much enjoyment as it is  outright reconnaissance...
But I've been distracted lately; my family will be lucky to get any kind of gifts for Christmas kind of distracted. 
Yet, amidst all the current emotional turmoil & sad  neglect of my regular tasks, it took a little squirrel this morning to remind me that I cannot just let everything go to hell in a hand basket. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Padre: Cowpony Working

My friend, Sabine (Friendly, Hairy Creatures blog) & I were talking and I was bragging up the cowponying skills of my reg'd Morgan heart horse, Padre. This photo is Padre (Rancher Ray in the saddle) @ calving time on the Coyote Flat Ranch, circa 2006.
Padre still loves to work cattle anytime he gets the chance, & YES, he still looks this good doing it!

photo credit: Lisa Hammel (Padre's Breeder & Trainer), Coyote Flat Ranch

Friday, 1 December 2017

Bleeding Joy

Our nephew, Sandals, has been in a coma now for 91 days; I can't begin to tell you how much more emotionally difficult it is to deal with this extended period of grieving than I have known sudden grief to be.
Had this sweet boy just died on the day that car smashed into him, or sometime in the early days after, we would all be moving (at our own paces of course, but moving) through the stages of grief & coming to grips with loss.

This is completely different. 
Extended grief is more like a wound that will not close...
 Open, raw, & slowly oozing the blood of joy from the soul.
I imagine that anyone who has had a loved one linger on has also felt something like this.

Did you know that some comatose patients open their eyes?
That their eyes will move?
When you pray so hard for it to be true, it can be very easy to convince yourself that open eyes mean seeing. Maybe even comprehension.
That there is some remnant of the person that you love behind those eyes.

But when four separate medical teams in 2 different provinces & three different hospitals tell you clearly & repeatedly that it is not so - that there is no chance of any improvement, let alone recovery...

Yet, his parents are not ready to let him go.
And so we all wait, slowly bleeding joy.

Billie Holiday - I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


There is a mat, but it's there for you to wipe the bullshit off your boots before you step into my house.
Pretend you don't understand this at your own peril.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Happy Turkey Day

Y'all probably know how I feel about chickens in general... To me, turkeys are much like chickens, but WAY bigger, & therefore = even more flop sweat.
My Dad used to say that turkeys are so dumb that they will stare up into a rainstorm with their beaks open & drown themselves; not sure if that is an actual farm fact
(Turkey experts, feel free to weigh in with facts.or my Dad pulling my leg).
"Turkey" was also my Dad's favourite thing to call us kids when we were acting the fools. 

This close up of wild turkey feathers actually surprised me; I had no idea their feathers were so colourful & beautiful. However, I'm still not inspired to have a Gobbler on the 4Shoes. Unless someone else has already cleaned, plucked, & stuffed it into my oven, that is. Turkey: King of the holiday table. 

We Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving last month already because, Great White North here. Nonetheless, the sentiment of the holiday lingers.
From the 4Shoes to all our American Friends,
~Have a Happy & Blessed Thanksgiving~

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Cripple Buddies & Horseshoes

This pretty, tanned gam sporting a full leg brace belongs to my niece, SockFeet. She slipped on ice at her workplace & torn her meniscus & some other ligament, so she'll be needing surgery. These braces work really well, but they are hella uncomfortable!
There was already a good amount of snow on the ground here & temperatures had gone from Autumn to Winter in one day, dipping as low as -18* (-2*F). However, Monday & Tuesday were very mild - it got up as warm as 0.9* (33.6*F); gotta luv those 30* temperature swings,eh? 
It was riding weather for sure! 
Sadly, I had no camera that day, so I'm subbing in  this Padre photo from 2006 in Alberta. Trust me, Padre was feeling just about the same way as he did in this snap. Super fun ride down the snowy trails!

It was also the kind of weather I needed to be able to chip the mess out of the rabbit hutches. Mother Nature sure did catch me with my pants down this year; I was still cleaning out the gardens when winter arrived & I did not yet have the Rabbit Shack set up for -18*! 
In the summertime I bed the rabbit houses with pine shavings over a dusting of Stall Dry (dries pee quickly & eliminates odours). For winter though, I switch that out to lots of straw bedding instead; partly because it's super easy to clean up, & partly because the buns weave the straw together with haystalks (after they've eaten the seed heads) to make nice cozy nests.
Ever the joker, Mother Nature sent us some light rain late Tuesday night, which made Mr Shoes' commute home a white knuckle drive.
Just getting back from doing chores yesterday morning, that dirty slick of ice pulled my leg out from under me & threw my arse down flat on top of the back of my heel while simultaneouly hyper-extending my ankle to the front. 
I pretty much obliterated this same knee in 2010 & haven't had 100% functional bend for the last 7 years, so Holy Ballz, it hurts. A really lot. I legit had to just lay there & cry it out for a good 15 -20 minutes before I could flip over & get into the house. Good thing it was only -6* (21*F).
So SockFeet & I are cripple buddies for a bit; having worn this brace for 6 months originally, I already tipped SF off to place a soft, thin piece of flannel between the back of her leg & the brace to make it less irritating on her skin. Eh, wisdom comes from strange places sometimes but, however you acquire it, might as well share your knowledge.
 Hearing about my fall, Slipper was attempting to be comforting when she said to me,
"Well, at least none of the screws popped out through your skin Mom." 
Ack, even just the thought of that makes me gag. 
On the bright side, I have found an unlimited source of free, used horseshoes.
I don't need 2 good legs to play with my treasure boxes full of fun!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Knitter DESPERATELY Needed!

Manic Min Pin needz one 2 pleez...
 However, Saint the Good Shepherd does NOT need a hat.
Or velcro booties. Or sweaters. Or jackets.
Or clothing of any kind.

Saint is a dog.
Saint is covered in dog hair.

Saint is clearly made for harsh Canadian winters.
But still, let's be real, a LazyBoy is meant to be used.  "Ahhhhhhhhh... Zzzzzzzzzz"

& then there's Manic....

*deep sigh*
Manic has needz, & feelingz, & strong opinionz...
Manic does not like to be cold. Like, ever.
Manic is a dog, & she does have some hair.
Short hair that is pretty much embedded in every piece of furniture we own. 
And, I'm embarrassed to admit, our bed sheets.
*Head hanging, deeeep sigh*

But Manic is oddly smooth from the base of her chest all the way back to her hoohah.
Nekid... as in buck nekid.
Manic is a dog, but...
a dog who 
clearly is not made for winter of any kind. 
Manic has so many outfits that she has her own closet.

Yeah, you did read that right - her own closet.
I don't have my own closet - I share with Mr Shoes. 
*Manic demands that I point out to you her buck-tooth kangaroo, which is her most favourite squeaky of all time.*
Straight from the hairless little dictator's ungrateful mouth, just now,
"I am being held hostage in the frozen tundra here; please send me a warm knitted hat with cougar ears, size small.
Better yet, will some kind Aussie please send me a first class ticket to Sydney? I will not need all my clothes down under, so I'll only have a carry on bag.
I do so love kangaroos!"

Saturday, 11 November 2017

War is Hell; Soldiers are Angels

This Remembrance Day post is Dedicated, with deep admiration, to our future Son-in-Law, 

CombatBoot is 29 years old & has been a soldier for over 10 years; being a military man is all he ever wanted to do. Since enlisting at the tender age of 18, CombatBoot has risen by his own merit to the rank of 
'In Country Training Sargeant' 
Canadian Army Active Forces.  

As an instructor & team leader, CombatBoot dedicates himself to training young recruits all the discipline & skills necessary to carry out orders given in any situation, from training exercises (where live ammunition is used) to active combat arenas all over the globe -- whenever & wherever they may be called to deploy.  

In service to Canada, CombatBoot has already done 2 tours of duty overseas & been decorated multiple times for heroism. When he dons his dress uniform, his chest is covered in medals; not hard to see how this particular man in uniform caught the eye of our beautiful daughter, Slipper.
A wall in their home is papered with CombatBoots' commendations. I noticed one in particular that he was awarded in recognition of bravery; CombatBoot was leading a foot patrol when an IED went off, badly wounding several men. Without hesitation, before the dust had settled & the explosion still ringing in his ears, CombatBoot ran back through the frags of debris to save his men.
Reading it, I felt a depth of gratitude - on behalf of those men, of my country, & on a personal level as well. 
Mere words seem so inadequate...  
CombatBoot is the embodiment of all the very best that a man can be -- brave, loyal, selfless, intelligent, & decisive. 
He is one of that rare calibre of man who stand always ready & willing to lay down their lives in service to country & countrymen.
How can a 'Thank You' ever truly be enough? 
Yet it's all I have to give, & it's packed with emotion. 
Somehow, for the true Heroes among us, it is enough.  

Dear CombatBoot: 
On behalf of Dad & I (& our entire extended family), 
please accept our most heartfelt gratitude. 
Sincerely, Thank You for your Service, Sgt. Lee-Mac.  

Monday, 6 November 2017

It Just Got Real

Photo Flashback to "Rippin', Winter of 2007"
Nephew, Nike, going for broke with Saint in hot pursuit 
Saturday we had planned to travel south a couple of hours to visit Nike's folks & to go see Sandals in the hospital where he remains semi-comatose & unresponsive (his parents have decided to wait a year before making any further decisions regarding life support). 
But, as often happens in The Great White North, a storm threw a spanner into the works, so instead we stayed home & tucked in around a roaring fire in the woodstove, watching the snow fly off the edge of Mother Natures' temper. We might have had to draw straws to see who had to go out & do the farm chores, but it wasn't quite that cold, despite the arrival of full on Winter (it is -12* today - that's 10*F for my American friends). 

Yesterday was calm but cold as Mr Shoes got the first plowing of the season under his belt, pushing clear paths to the Rabbit Shack, the Borg Chicken Collective, the shop, the barn, & clearing the barnyard so that I can walk out to tend every animal without getting snow inside my boots. I hate snow inside my boots; sometimes I'll stand on one leg & try to empty a boot before the snow makes a puddle around my heel, other times I just power through it & turn my boots up over a register when I get back into the house. 

I pair down to a single birdfeeder in winter - that may seem backwards thinking, but the feeder that I keep hangs right out there on the back porch where I get to enjoy seeing all the activity. The Chickadees seem semi-dependent on that feeder - it needs filling every 2 days, which attests to the thriving blackcap population on the 4Shoes. There has been a single Blue Jay flying in to raid the feeder - sometimes a swarm of Chickadees will drive him away. I know he's on his own (so far) because when there are a pair of them, they take no guff even from an organized effort by the small birds. That Jay is almost impossible to catch with the camera, but I'll leave you today with this happy winter scene.   
The view outside from my dining table; these merry little birds always make me smile. So long as I'm alive, they will always be well fed. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Forever Remembered

In Memory of my Brother who is 5 years gone today.
Daniel George
May 31, 1971-November 4, 2012

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Ferocious Unicorn

Raaaiiirrrr! Bitey Face Unicorn!!
So scary, right?
"Yeah, I was trying really hard to be scary, but then I sneezed while Mom took the photo. Not a bad fake, eh? Watch this now as I demand payment...
(Puppies, a word to the wise: Always make sure you get payment for whatever shenanigans your human wants from you!)
Mom, you promised me a milkbone if I put up with the nonsense - 2! I want 2 milkbones!
2! I totes deserve 2 milkbones!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A Horsey Halloween

By carving into the pumpkin flesh to differing depths, the artist was able to achieve the intricate shadings that reveal this pretty paint pony.  
Andy Gertler does A-MAZING pumpkin creations! I'm only featuring horse-related pumpkins today, but do click on the Knights' horse to view more breath-taking work (particularly the baby elephant & the rabbit chef) by this Master Carver.
A Halloween masterpiece that entwines a gorgeous rearing horse backlit inside a rope of classic celtic knotting, by Amelia Parker.

Of course, no Halloween would be complete without a version of The Headless Horseman!
I couldn't resist this plow horse driven by his hardworking farmer, all very cleverly made up of pumpkins & gourds.

Finally, from The Trail of Painted Ponies, this beautiful Halloween pony is a featured holiday e-card! Just click on the Painted Pony to send a greeting to someone that You love. 
Sneaking in just this one creepy image in the spirit of All Hallows Eve.
Wishing you a Happy & Safe Halloween from the 4Shoes!

 Photo credit: Vecteezy.com

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Sunday Bunny Bomb

Full disclosure: My rabbits do few of these tricks... 
Okay, actually none of these tricks. 
Unless being adorable counts as a trick? 
No? You're super sure about that?
Okay, then no tricks at all. 
Floki, you are such a Slacker, dude.
How do you sleep at night? 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Blizzard Action

Good Morning!
What? Blizzard, you say? 

Dear Autumn, Please come back!

"We demand breakfast & LOTS of it!! While you're about it, how about a fresh load of straw in our shelter, & a load for the pigs too, on us!"
Cheery cows for such a nasty morn, & bossy too... Now you know from where that saying comes. 

The pigs were quite lively, rooting in the snow waiting for chow. I made it with hot water, like piggie porridge, & they slurped it right up. I threw a whole bale of straw into their palace in 3 big chunks; the oinkers will have fun fluffing it up & making a sweet nest for themselves. 

Padre & his mares are not impressed. 
All of them perked up when I dumped huge flakes of hay into their feeders however. 
"Mmmmm, a meal served right up to us! No pawing through the snow to find it; Mom, we love you.
But could you possibly bring Autumn back?" 
I wish, My Dear Ponehs, believe you me.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Zero Fucks

Lately, our family has been facing some real challenges. But, knowing that we will face them again once the saddle is put away, the bridle hung up, & the horses turned out, at this very moment... I give zero fucks for any of it.
When my boots are in the irons, all the rest falls away.
I hear only the squeak of leather, the rustle of dogs in the brush, & the soughing of wind in the trees.
I smell the scents of Autumn... those final, small desperate blooms & half-eaten wrinkled berries.
I feel the warmth & comfort of my heart horse, Padre...
& the rhythm of his hoof beats soothes me.
I see our small piece of the world between his ears, & I am humbled to tears.
THIS is how my Soul is recharged.

Right now, I don't give a rats' patootie for all but just these moments.
The only question: Is the sunset more gloriously framed on Padres' right, or on his left?

Friday, 20 October 2017

All Hell Breaks Loose

A serious breach in porcine security over the past weekend @ the 4Shoes resulted in much frantic oinking about & a state of general confusion in the barnyard. However, we are assured, at no time was there ever any real danger to the public.
Mr Shoes, Warden of the 4Shoes for over a decade, was away from the farm making fat stacks at the time of the troubling incident.
Mrs Shoes, 4Shoes' Assistant Warden, was quoted as saying,
"Gawdammit!". When pressed for further details, she squawked, "No comment!"while shaking a pail of feed in an attempt to lure the escapee into a confined area 
The prisoner, one Michael Scofield (aka 'Spot'), was surprised by the 4Shoes A.W. out of bounds just before dusk yesterday; a general alarm was sounded before the scoundrel was able to get away from the barnyard area & into the thickness of the forest less than a quarter of a mile distant. Sources speculate that Scofield was apprehended while attempting to free his brother, Lincoln Burrows, who is also serving a life sentence at the 4Shoes facility.
Though shamed family members declined to comment, their close friend, Y19, said, "It's  complete & total bullshit; Michael & Linc are unjustly incarcerated simply because they are delicious!" 
It remains unclear whether the brothers were heading to market for roast beef (supporting rumours that Y19 is a dumb cow)... but thanks to the vigilance of the 4Shoes A.W., that little piggie went 'weee-weee-weee' all the way home

Monday, 16 October 2017

Break In!

Assistant Warden of the 4Shoes high security facility, Mrs Shoes, was making her usual rounds when she found evidence of a break in. Further investigation turned up a discarded bandit mask, which eventually pointed to the actual burglar, in a head-to-toe beef suit, hiding in plain sight amongst the other inmates lined up for chow.

When questioned, the offender appeared relaxed but would give no indication of why she would break IN. Sources speculate that Y19 may simply have wanted some sweet, sweet Carver love...

"I really don't know how I ended up in here; I come from a good family. I think I want my lawyer."

Phone lines lit up as the search for answers began. Finally, the grizzled Warden Bob of the females only facility nearby confirmed up that Y19 had indeed escaped from his custody. Warden Bob has publicly apologized for the lapse in security, saying, "Because I am in charge overall, I take personal responsibility for everything that happens at my facility." 

"I don't know how the hell this happened, or WHY?" said Warden Bob. "We treat these ladies real good & there's no reason for them to want to escape. There are 3 separate fences between us & the 4Shoes. Rest assured, repairs are already underway, & updating every aspect of institution security is my #1 priority." Warden Bob offered this further promise, "This will never happen again."  

However, sources tell us that an entire block of female prisoners, some with youngsters at side, had last summer been inside the 4Shoes outermost perimeter fence,  loitering on the lawns leading to the visitors parking lot. The ladies had been on a forced march to new lodgings when they suddenly veered off course through a gate leading up a tree-lined, grassy drive. A.W. Shoes confirmed that she did report the incident to the office of Warden Bob but had no further comment. 
While trying to get an interview with Warden Bob, we were told simply that he was unavailable at that time. Questions about where the officer escorts were at the time that the group of their charges wandered through the gates of the 4Shoes were met with stony silence.  

Y19 is currently being housed at the females only facility on the next quarter. Accused of jumping over the moon, Y19 is awaiting a retrial due to a poisoned jury pool. Y19's accomplices includea fiddle playing cat who is serving a short sentence in the local remand, as well as a dish & a spoon who fled the scene & remain at large, but are wanted only for questioning. A laughing dog was also detained at the scene, but was later released after authorities determined that he had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time (jocularity not being a crime).

A.W., Mrs Shoes, promptly saddled up her cowhorse & tidily herded the young lady off of 4Shoes property & back into her own prison exercise yard while Warden Bob drove an enormous tractor, shouted, & waved his arms, doing a very poor imitation of a cowboy but, no matter, Mrs Shoes' cowpony is an expert recovery agent and needed no outside help. 

Y19 has previously been convicted of good conformation, a nice face to look at, & a lovely udder; she & her yardmates will soon be moved to a satellite location of the female facility where they will serve their sentences as replacement heifers. 
Though our sources could not confirm how long Y19 will be imprisoned, this 4Shoes break in will surely add extra time to her sentence.