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'

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

We Need Silence

"We need to find God, & He cannot be found in noise & restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon & the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls."  ~Mother Teresa

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Bringing in the Sheaves

Here in MB, Canada it has been a dry year. 
MB is the home of a thousand lakes... it's not like we've been drought stricken, but it's been dry enough in our area that the yard has only needed mowing 3x this entire summer (rather than the usual every 9 or 10 days), & the high areas are somewhat brown & crunchy. We've had a few sprinkles, & a lot of thunder & lightning action, but not enough moisture to leave any actual puddles. 
Until last night, when it rained steadily for several hours. The ground just drank in(!) all that cool rain, but there were even a few small puddles in the barnyard this morning & the wondrous smell of rain lingers in the air. 
Now the really cheery part for the 4Shoes... 
Conditions the summer of 2017 have finally been perfect to harvest the first hay crop on land that we cleared & seeded years ago! 

A rough likeness of the process to aid you in imagining 
the level of destruction in which we were up to our ears. 
Notice how I have painstakingly photo-shopped in snow-
banks & flakes (no 2 of which are alike, just like real 
ones)Because I'm totes creative & thoughtful that way.
Initially, we were forced to hire a cat to come in the winter of 2011/12 & knock down stands of willows & poplars by the thousands. Then the cats' blade scraped up a layer of soil that was literally rife with blankets of roots. 
When the snow had melted, the next step was dragging that field over & over & over again, separating trunks & sticks & roots & rocks from topsoil, and depositing all the debris into yet another enormous burn pile. Straight up - we have had a LOT of bonfires, yo. 

Cannot count the hours invested... but I can count
the dollars, which have been significant. NO shit.
The Spring of 2013 we dragged again(!), then tilled & seeded a Horseman's Blend in hopes of soon(?) harvesting home-grown livestock feed. Naively, we actually thought the hard part of the west field was over at that point... Fate must have been laughing her ass off. 

Mother Nature is a tenacious gal & loathe to let go,
so each succeeding year we had been back in that west field mowing down, ripping out by force, & burning re-appearing baby poplars & willows by the thousands*, while simultaneously gnashing our teeth over low spots sprouting cat tails. Until this year, that is. 
The West Field had LEGIT not been harvested in 34 years.
Mother Natures' tangles ensured a lot of hard graft for us to
wrestle it away from her. Mother Nature is a greedy, temper-
amental, persistent biotch.
But then, so am I.
This first & glorious harvest off the west field is a long-awaited payoff for having battled for what has (at times) felt like forever, for nothing. 
The effort has made us very thankful(!) to live in the age of heavy equipment. Especially when we've come in hot & exhausted at the end of hard days, but knowing that we can hardly imagine how much more difficult it was to accomplish these kind of goals in the pioneer days. 

The Barn Field...
Because on this side of the fence is the barn,
& because super-original names just come
 easy to us. 
We currently hay 3 other good parcels that we call 'the barn field', 'the lane field', & 'the wild field' because, crazy-level imaginative here. This year, in addition to ongoing grazing pasture maintenance & various farm upgrades, we have started clearing what we call 'the bottom field', which has been left gone wild for 34+ years & currently serves as a lovely, cozy bed & breakfast for a. lot. of deer. 
The Lane Field...
Because it runs alongside 4Shoes Lane, which
is an actual road allowance that dead ends at
our property. Forever & ever, Amen. 

But the 4Shoes is here for the long haul, & progress demands as much of our land as possible be productive so that Mr Shoes & I can continue to live comfortably after Mr Shoes has retired from his lucrative career. 
I shall be very careful not to go off on a *rant  about the hardships of the small holder, which often as not require at least one dependable outside revenue stream. 

*Right now. Later? No promises.

*The 4Shoes has been slowly tamed back into productivity for a decade now. Originally, it had been a thriving farm, but the owner just before us was a self-named alcoholic hermit who just liked living in isolation & so he let the farmed land drift steadily back to bush for 24 years. 

Mother Nature can reclaim almost everything in 24 years... 
Then the 4Shoes family came along, & she has had to loosen her tight grip... because we just won't quit! 

I couldn't even begin to calculate how many man & equipment hours we have logged, but now we often hear admiring words, "Your place is just BEAUTIFUL!", which feels very satisfying, because, who wouldn't enjoy some outside validation for a decade spent planning & executing a dream?

No actual sheaves were brought in, because sheaves are grain crops, not hay.
I think, technically, we are bringing in the equivalent of stooks, but I could be wrong.
Go ahead folks, edu-ma-cate me, please!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day vs Night

"Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made & forgot to put a soul into."            ~Henry Ward Beecher
"When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself."  ~Sunryu Suzuki

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A Deal's a Deal, Until it's Not

A deal is a deal. I ended that sentence with a period because, once a deal is struck & agreed upon, that's supposed to be the end of it. All that remains after the words, "That's a deal." are the pick up & the money exchanged for the receipt. 
Mr Shoes was hot after a manual bale transport (like the one above), but they don't come up used very often & new price hovers around $1000. A couple of weeks ago he got a line on what he wanted that was 3 hours away. Mr Shoes & the seller agreed on the price, made the deal, & arrangements for pick up on Mr Shoes next day off. 
It's a good thing Mr Shoes is thorough; he called just before we were to leave for the pick up.... only to find out that the seller had let the transport go the night before. 

"But we had a solid deal.", Mr Shoes said, "You sold it 
out from under me, & you didn't even have the decency to call & let me know before I made what I explicitly told you is 6 hour trip?" 

I could hear the seller shrugging through the phone; wth is wrong with some people? He got off easy actually; had we driven all the way there & found out we had spent $80 hauling a flat deck that would travel back empty, someone might've gotten a lightning-fast rabbit-punch. Some might say that I've got a bit of a temper... Mr Shoes is definitely the more reasonable (non-violent) half of this pair.
After hanging up, Mr Shoes was a little ticked off, & I didn't blame him because 'A Deal is a Deal'. I also didn't blame the seller because, 'A Bird in the hand'... 

However, the jag-off seller SHOULD have manned-up & just called Mr Shoes. Even a text would have been fine.

More recently, there was the 3pt autostart fertilizer/seeder... I spotted a screaming good deal on one of these & immediately sent the seller a text. 5 minutes later, the seller phoned me (he phoned ME!!) & told me to come & get it. I literally dropped what I was doing & jumped in the truck, texting that I was on my way. He texted back "K". 40 minutes later I arrive to find the seller with another buyer. What the what now? Long story short, I offered a higher price, but the seller figured he ought to give it to the guy who arrived first. I left without bothering to remind him that he called me(!) because, what was the point.

Another thing Mr Shoes had been wanting for a while is a bale elevator - a motorized conveyor belt that tilts up to the top of your stack & saves your back. One guy is at the bottom feeding bales onto the belt, & the other guy is on top, tying the bales in as they come off. We've physically thrown bales all these years... & we're not getting any darned younger. 
Luckily, the gal who was selling our new-to-us elevator was as good as her word. I made the deal with her on a Sunday, we drove out & picked it up 2 days later, & she had a bill of sale all ready to go. Yay! No more chucking bales!

That's the way a deal is supposed to go - you make a promise to pay & they make a promise to decline other offers. You make arrangements for pick up & you show up at the agreed upon time, with cash. 

Take note Sellers: If you say 'first come gets it', well then potential buyers know in advance that it's a free-for-all & no hard feelings if we get beat out. 
But, by Gawd, if you make a deal then you ought to be bound by it. If you're the dirty kind of bird who makes a deal but doesn't hold up your own end, at least be a decent human being & inform other interested parties that the item is sold before they drive out of their way.

To the dude who called me & told me to come pick up the fertilizer: Shame on you for double dealing & for wasting my time & traveling money! I think I showed amazing self-control this time, but the next toolbag who jerks me around might want to stand well back out of range of my swinging fist. 
Rabbit Punch!!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Cartoonist for Our Time

*Cartoon used here with express permission of Connie Sun
Connie to the Wonnie is a super talented young cartoonist who really speaks to our anxiety-ridden inner selves & to the times that we live in. 
I have to say that I feel pretty chuffed to have been granted permission to reprint one of her cartoons here on 4Shoes Life!
If you haven't already been, Go Now! Visit Connie's 5x/week strip online - her cartoons are evocative & memorable. And they're bloody funny too. 
If I don't soon see Connie to the Wonnie on your bloglist, then I'll know for sure that your taste is all in your mouth. *;-)

Monday, 24 July 2017

Golden Moments

I've been busy as a bunny these last few weeks; no doubt we are mostly all in the same summer boat. This little boonis is one of 7 kits in the Rabbit Shack at the moment, with another litter due Thursday. All the 4Shoes critters are looking fat & happy - can't complain on that front. 
After some taunting about how I would take on all comers on the Bocce field, I was soundly trounced by my BIL, who wasn't too shy to do a victory dance & rub my face in my failure. Truth be told, I actually didn't expect to win, I just like to smack-talk & incite good-natured rivalries @ our annual Family Gathering. 
And here's the traditional bonfire later that night, around which drinks were hoisted & tall tales were told in amongst the more accurate family memories, & much love & laughter was shared. These are the golden moments that I live for - surrounded by the people whom we love & who love us back most of all. 
But all good things must end, & after 5 days of revelry, even Manic MinPin was all tuckered out. That's saying something about this years' Gathering right there all on it's own!
For all my blogging buddies, I hoist a cuppa to ya & I wish you wonderful new memories made in the summer of '17.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Seems like a long time since I've seen a whack of foxtails blowing in the breeze, looking like an ocean on land. I found this little patch a few hours north of here & they reminded me of home, where foxtails blowing in the breeze are commonplace. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Hell's Bells Ringing

It's so darned hot already that even the porkers have no energy! The forecast for the weekend? Roughly the same temperature as Hell, but with extreme humidity to boot. *sigh*

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

How're MOO Doin'?

Now about 15 months old, this mini Hereford heifer is up to about 700lbs. Lucy is a flirty lass - she's always "making cow eyes" at Crispin. 
Ethel, or Halfhorn**, is just as bad as Lucy - the 2 of them sashay their butts around him shamelessly.
"Hey Mrs Shoes, it's called a biological imperative, you know! And we don't appreciate being slut-shamed." 

Out the window one day I see the bull flat out... not moving at all. "Oh no!", I thought. "Has he had a blue balls heart attack?"
*Notice the 2 slutty heifers just as close up to his gate as they can possibly get?

From right outside the fence, he still looked dead.

"Thanks a bunch, Nap-Killer. This tremendous fart should have you simultaneously both reassured & repulsed."

**Halfhorn is a result of incorrectly applied dehorning paste by the breeder - Strike 1. You cannot see them, but Lucy has small horn tips under her hair - Strike 2. 
Obviously, Crispin goes around half horny all the time (running joke here) - Strike 3. 
Dehorning paste applied by that breeder?  100% FAIL. 

*This all cow post is for Sabine, of Friendly Hairy Creatures, who runs with her ponies and who would like to see an all cow blog. Sabine, my friend, this is for you!*

Sunday, 2 July 2017

150 Years Strong

The True North, Happy 150 Canada! July 1, 2017

Happy #241 to The Home of the Brave! July 4, 2017

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The Road Home

"Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate." ~ JRR Tolkien
Not a new road, but darned hard to find even if you're looking (just ask essential services around here). This is our welcoming view, 1/2 way down 4Shoes Lane, headed towards home.
"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience." ~ Emily Dickinson
"Welcome HOME! OH oh OH! I'm SO glad to see you!"
Is there ever anyone more excited to greet you than your most faithful furry friend?

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. " ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Welcome to 4Shoes Farm
May all who Enter 
as Guests
Leave as Friends.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Harley's Horrid Handiwork

This is blatant destruction in my seeded bed; you should see a bunch of carrots & beets coming up there, but no. I know it is a cat, & (more importantly) I know which damned cat.  

Mr Shoes repaired & reinstalled these corner braces that were originally built to discourage that cat. The bugger won't jump the sides, but if those corners are open he seems to think it's an invitation to futz around with me.
This morning I sprayed that little prick with the jet setting on the hose; it's not the first time I've doused him, nor is it likely to be the last.
Slow learner, or straight up Dick? My $ is on Dick. 

"She sprays me with the hose & screams obscenities at me, but she still fills my food bowl... because, who could resist this face?
So, whatever Man; I regret nothing."

Monday, 19 June 2017

A Story in 2 Words

As told by my 18 month old 'Practice Grand', Amy:
"I am OwMeow. I regret nothing." 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Whatever Hour Indeed

There has never been a time when people have not needed an occasional reminder to DO what will make you happy now, & to always take note of just how wondrous is this *exact* moment.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Pretty Prairies

Don't believe someone who tells you that the prairies are bald & flat, because the topography is extremely varied & really quite lovely.
This was shot east of Yorkton; quite a pretty little scene for a pitstop. This time, instead of cows, a row of graineries stood watch as we "rested" for a minute at the side of the road.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pit Stop Crew

Galloway Road, somewhere in Saskatchewan, this crew stood watch to ensure that nothing was left behind other than footprints. Squatprints? Annnnyways...
After "ditch mining" a hefty bag of beer cans last week, I see a sign much like this one coming very soon to the roadside running past the 4Shoes. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Technological Advancement

Just when I'd about given up being acknowledged on Mother's Day, Boot came home with these lovelies plus a card & a little box of chocolates. "You remembered!", I said. He replied, "Yeah, my phone reminded me."

Friday, 12 May 2017

Cats Posturing

Looking out the window, what do I see? Someone grabbing some zzz's in a patch of sun on the BBQ.

"I am completely unapologetic", says Harley.

Blitz complains, "Seems like I'm always in his shade... but that's only because his old carcass throws a BIIIIG shadow.
No worries Baby, I am just naturally cool as a cucumber.
Heeyyy Girl, what's your big hurry?
Got any snacks for a hard working cat here?
I  know you cannot resist my deadly blue eyes; it is why I never blink in your presence.
Plus, I love you?
Hungry. Snaaaacckkks please.
Shhh! Harley needs no snacks; his shadow is big enough already.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Little Cracks are Okay

No, I have not dropped off the face of the planet (if you were hoping, too bad), it's just that life has gotten busier @ the 4Shoes with the onset of warmer weather. 
I have been working at cleaning all my windows before we can have company in. Of course, Spring cleaning rolls around every year, nothing new, but just time consuming. Part of the charm of this house is that every side of the place has large, floor to ceiling windows; I love to keep an eye on the horses, even from the solitude of the privy-room. TMI? Sorry.
Anyways... these windows are the crank out variety that have little tracks that the window seals into tightly. Those tracks are such a pain in the ass! I go around from room to room, carting around my stool, my pail of detergent water, a toothbrush for those darn tracks, & (finally) my vinegar spray bottle & window cleaning towel. Yesterday I cleaned 4 rooms worth &, right now as I'm typing, I should be finishing the other 4 rooms... Insides, I mean; cleaning the outsides requires adding a ladder to my equipment list!
During tasks that can be tedious, I find that time passes more quickly when chores are done to music - Leonard Cohen was on my playlist today. 
Whatever chore you are doing today, take a minute to appreciate the fruits of your labour, & enjoy the music.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Day Drunk @ the 4Shoes

I should be out doing the grocery shopping right now but, first, I think I have to sober up a little. 
Yep, I'm day drunk @ the 4Shoes for absolutely no reason
And to top it off, I'm alone. 
Carolan's: the same as Baileys, but cheaper! 
Hmmm, that kind of makes day drunk before noon seem like poor behaviour, doesn't it?
Trust me, this hardly ever happens. I was going to say it is a rare occurrence, but I couldn't remember how to spell occurrence. Apparently, spell check is more sure of my lingering competence than am I. 
Actually, I do have a reason. 
Sort of. I ran out of condensed milk. 
I'm probably the last person on the planet (other than Vickie, you know who you are Vickie!) that still uses condensed milk in their tea. Nothing else is as good to me, so running out is a small inconvenience. 
So, no tea this morning. 
"No problem", I thought, "I'll just make a little coffee & go Irish." 

4 cups of coffee later & now there's not a chance in hell that I could pass a breathalizer. Let's be honest here, I'm finishing the pot as I type, so that makes it really 5 drinks stiff later. 
Oops, I mean, 5 stiff drinks later. 
Waste not, want not... as the saying goes. 

I actually know quite a bit about passing a
You'll never outsmart this thing, trust me. 
breathalizer test, because God knows that I have administered LITERALLY thousands & thousands of those tests myself. 

Not ON myself - on athletes, trainers, valets, officials, & guest drivers (in my career on the racetrack), including Rick Mercer & Premier Ralph Klein. 

So I know, there is no way that I am safe to drive to town at the moment. 
In a few hours, maybe.

Can you tell, I don't really even like going to town anymore? Maybe I just hit the bottle this morning as an excuse not to go shopping today... but it's just delaying the inevitable. 

Drunk riding though? Hey, I really shine in that arena! 
Well, not so much me doing the shining as my horse (Padre is a frigging SAINT. A horsey SAINT, I tell ya.). Padre shines like the midday sun when I'm drunk riding! So long as I'm sober enough to stay on (*like a burr!* Listen, I didn't say it was pretty. I stay the hell off his mouth & just do my best to stay balanced in the saddle) while he sorts or pens cattle for fun, throws in a few little spins or a nice short sliding stop, maybe take the woodsy trails & he pops over a few downed trees just to see if I'm still awake up there... 
Well, that horse makes me look like a damn genius. 
Or so it seems to me in my state. 
I might just look like a damn fool.

Hey, don't judge me. 
In fact, I challenge you right now to go drink for drink with me, & then we'll ride good horses & see who's still in the saddle the whole ride, despite whatever shenanigans may occur!
No takers?
That's what I thought. 
Where's my bff when I'm throwing out such boozy challenges? In AB, that's where she is. 
*Shout out Marina!! See you May long, Baby!

Mr Shoes & I used to tag along with my bestie & her hubs team penning (for fun, not to compete, just when racing was on hiatus).
Padre loved it more; give him half a chance to work
Padre shows off his skillz with a sober rider*.
*NOT Mr Shoes, who is taller & more rangy.
Not pictured, Padre hauls Angus cattle to the fire.
cattle & stay the hell out of his way while he does it (*cuz he's a genuine(!) working western Morgan horse for REALZ, yo!) & you'd see & feel the magic. 

Anyway, there was a rule at the arena: If you came off your horse (for any reason), then on the next Sunday you had to bring booze for everyone. 
I only had to buy once.

First, you come off, & if you're human, you feel a little sting of humiliation in hitting the ground as your horse looks back in amazement that you've lost your seat (probably in slow motion, so waaaay dramatic).
His eyes seem to say, "WTF lady? I couldn't have made it any easier for you!"
As he's giving you that stink eye for ruining his close to perfect run, you have already heard the universal gasp of the waiting penners & have had to admit that, dammit, you're just an idiot and there is just no need to call 911. 
Then there's the laughter from the peanut gallery, amidst shouts of, "Get the hell back on your damn horse, you can still make time*!" 
In this illustration, I'm def the rider in the upper right corner.
(*In team penning, the 3 person team has 90 seconds to cut out & pen 3 marked cattle. Each team member has a predetermined order of work pattern & must get their own cow into the pen before the buzzer sounds. All 3 team members must be at the gate, with cows in the pen, before the buzzer sounds.)

So yeah, there's all that love & support & (mostly) good-humoured ridicule around you. If you were drunk to start with, you probably wouldn't have come off at all &, if you did, you could at least have had half an excuse to ride like re-warmed shit. But we usually rode pretty sober... at least until late in the day. 

Somehow your legs & seat still know what to do, even when you're half in the bag. 

Looking out the diningroom window here, I can see my good old boy sunning himself up near the feeders right now, which is just about the same as him knocking on the front door & demanding my attention. 
Or so it seems to me. 

The grocery stores are open til 9pm tonight - odds are this sunny & warm weather won't hold that long so, drunk as I am (now 5 drinks in, because, can't waste coffee), I'm headed out to the tack room to grab his halter & call out to my good horse some such no doubt ridiculous names (Come here SmoogyWoodgyBear! *kiss,kiss* You know PaddyWaddy wants to take Mommy for a ride! Oh yeah, that's my good boy. Yes, I brought a butt-load of cookies in my pocket for the handsomest boy in the world. That's my good boy."), as he shoves his face into the halter & agrees to babysit my obviously drunk ass.
My horse is AWESOME. 
That's an overly used word, I think, 'awesome' is. 
But in this case, totally appropriate. 
My horse is AWESOME with AWESOME sprinkles & a side of AWESOME sauce. 

Long story short, not sure if I'll make it to the grocery store at all today (sorry, not sorry), but I'm sure as hell going to get a damn good ride in on a good damn horse.
Does life get much better than this?
Once I'm in the saddle, then the answer is, "No. No, it doesn't get much better than this."

The grocery store can sure as hell wait. 
Peace Out Y'all, & (sober, or even somewhat tipsy) make sure you get in a good ride whenever you can. 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Canadian Reality Show

Rick Mercer is a Canadian treasure, as are the polar bears of Churchill, MB (which sits right on the shore of Hudson's Bay & is about a 9 hour drive from the 4Shoes). We are not world travelers, but then again, we don't need to be when we live in such an incredibly diverse & beautiful country of natural wonders. 

When we lived north of Edmonton, we could see the Northern Lights dancing every night; it was the part of my then work commute that I enjoyed & miss most to this day. The 4Shoes is so much further south (than our AB home) that we are rarely treated to a light show here. In fact, we've only seen the Northern Lights from the 4Shoes 3 times in 10 years, & we are always watching for them.
One of those 3 nights, Mr Shoes had been on his way home from work when he saw the lights; he got so excited that he pulled over to call me from the side of the road so I wouldn't miss them. I was way ahead of him though, & already had our chairs set up outside & full mugs of Irish coffee close to hand.
 Please enjoy these little slivers of our True North Strong & Free, because this Canadian reality show beats television any day of the week!
~hooking up with AIM link party today~

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wildlife Romance

This romance dance is just barely starting at the dens & will continue through the end of May. The Narcisse area has the largest population of red-sided garter snakes in the world; the area also boasts the world's largest population of ravens (who dine like kings on snake livers, eating only the delicacy & leaving the remainder of the carcass). Garter snakes are complete shite mothers, dropping their live babies as they slither away without even a kind word. The little snakes winter the first year wherever they can find shelter; in their 2nd year the now grown babies find their way back to the dens on the scented trails of their counterparts, where they winter comfortably & then join the bi-annual migrations & Spring reproduction rituals themselves.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Happy Easter!

The 4Shoes steeds agree that, if there's carrots, they're in!

Floki has yet to lay a single egg; I guess that means he's comfortable with his manliness. 
Happy Easter from the 4Shoes!