“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.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Views from the Porch

"Somewhere beyond the fog lies clarity." ~Unknown *Photo @ 8pm 3/29/17
"Sometimes we need the fog to remind ourselves that not all of life is black & white." ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

"Hurry up Summer; I'm tired of being cold!" ~Manic MinPin

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Eviction Notice

King Vole of vermin @ 4Shoes today. 
The rabbit house has been invaded by voles, which are also sometimes called 'meadow mice'. *sigh*  Dammit.
A vole has a shorter, blunt-tipped tail & smaller ears than a mouse. 
I do not think voles OR mice are cute, but I understand that they make excellent snake food. In the summertime, the enormous numbers of red-sided garter snake help keep vermin numbers down, but it is still a couple of months before the snakes come out of their dens.

I take a pretty common farm wife view of vermin - they are rodents & they must be destroyed before they over run the whole farm. This is not an over-reaction; voles & mice reproduce at similar rates - left unchecked, a population explosion is guaranteed. 

I know there are some folks with extra-tender hearts who think that vermin should be trapped & released... To those few, I'm sorry I cannot make this any easier for you; this afternoon I had to stomp a vole to death.
Exceptionally well fed barncat #1.

In the barn, vermin are kept under control by our 2 alarmingly large & vicious barncats. Super vicious if you're a leaky, 4-legged plague vector; otherwise they are just big, purring pussycats. 

Sometimes I go into the barn & find numerous dead voles, displayed with military-like precision in rows of 3's. 
Always rows of 3's. 
What's up with that?
Exceptionally well fed barncat #2.
Those boys want to remind me that they are always on the job. 
And, to fill their food bowl. 
For whatever reason, the cats do not eat the little turd-machines. I probably feed those cats entirely too well. Not probably, definitely. 
The boys have repeatedly volunteered to go 100% Full Metal Jacket on those beady-eyed moochers in the rabbit house, but I don't think Floki & his girls would be comfortable living in a military state, so that's not a real option. 

Super effective & easy to set.
This is the type of trap that we use; it's highly effective & usually results in a quick kill. The odd time there might be a bad catch; today's stomping victim was only caught by one leg, which it had mostly chewed off. 
I straight up mercied that little mofo.
No Z Nation fans out there?

If there are any PETA reps lurking: please remember I am talking about rodents here, not lab monkeys or endangered whales. I actually did read your article "Living in Harmony with Mice & Rats"A quote,"Mice and rats deserve our compassion and respect, so it’s essential that we use humane methods to solve perceived problems with them."
Um... Perceived problems?  You're kidding, right?
Pretty sure my perception is bang on here. 
The rabbit house is for rabbits, not vermin. Traps & desiccants are just effective tools in the eviction process. Also, get real & get a life - it's a mousetrap not a bloody harpoon. 
Or you could call the Intruder people, maybe picket their head office? Either way, I'm sure they'd be more than happy to listen to your solutions with a sympathetic ear. 
Or not.
Hey Mickey, good luck with that.
I'm not completely heartless - so long as the vermin stay out of my buildings, I leave them for the snakes & hawks & the many other creatures who haven't read the PETA article. 
But in the meantime, unless & until those vermin receive a shipment of helmets & body armour, it's all out war.

BTW, in case it's not clear: Better Mousetrap by Intruder is the BEST(!) mousetrap that we've ever tried & we highly recommend it. 
No, I did not get any free Better Mousetraps to say so. But I wouldn't turn them down either. Just sayin'... 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Promise

Tracy Chapman is one of the most amazing, & under-played, singer/songwriters of my time. Her lyrics are always poignant, her voice is hauntingly lovely... She's as real & pure as music ever gets. 
Shout out - Tracy, much love, Girl!

Friday, 17 March 2017


Unplanned pregnancy?!?!?  
Holy Hell, when did that happen?
MJ has been hiding something behind that door to nowhere...
I had no idea!
Floki did jump into her hutch one day while I was cleaning, but I grabbed him up out of there toute suite (french Canadian for 'right away'). Apparently, 3 seconds was just enough time to slip her his carrot for him to breed her because, honestly, that's literally all the time he had before I hauled his horny little bunny butt back to his own hutch.
Rabbit ovulation is induced by copulation; I think this pretty much explains why only a single kit was produced. She looks to be between 2-3 weeks old as her eyelids are only just starting to part, & she's the fattest wee bunnis ever.
To top it off, while I was still shaking my head, Boots' girlfriend, Cleats (she plays competitive rugby), NAMED the bunnis! Oh boy, I don't name growers, so I guess she's a keeper now.
A belated
Welcome to the 4Shoes, little Frost!
No Manic MinPin, not for you. Not even a little bit.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Pimp My Mixer!

I received 'The Precious' as a Christmas gift from the family. More of a strong hint than a frivolous gift maybe, but she's my favourite colour & I LOVE Her!
I don't love labels; especially next-to-impossible to remove labels. Elbow grease + Almay Waterproof Make Up Remover pads (Sensitive, because that's how we roll) worked our way to a clean surface without damaging Precious' gorgeous purple* finish. 

  For cripes sake, Precious is a powerhouse, but she didn't turn my head with her rpm. A woman does not go all in for a designer colour & then want it covered up with a butt-ugly label about safety & some shit. 

*Truth be told, Precious' colour is technically called "Boysenberry" by the KitchenAide people. I can just slide by with saying 'purple' to anyone else but Mr Shoes, who went to incredible lengths to get his hands on this designer colour out here in the sticks. Trust me, the buy was a ligit ordeal for Mr Shoes, whose idea of a gruelling shopping trip is Crappy Tire changing their floor plan.

Precious, you deserve some bling bling baby!

Before we go all crazy buying customied decals, how about we try out these dollar store clings first? You know, because what if we don't like the bling, & because these dandelions & dragonflies cost $1. Less than a dollar, considering that the tall dandelions are now classing up my front room freezer.

You mean not every home has a deep freeze draped with one of the good towels in their front room?
Well don't be jealous Baby, we can't all have everything. 

Mm mmm MM!
We're mixing it up in style at the 4Shoes now!

Downside? Mr Shoes has had to punch a new hole in his belt.
Meh, first world problems.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Pinterest FAIL

Not so long ago, I made a dish with a sticky sauce & burnt it onto the bottom of this little enamelled roaster. Dangitall, that is one of my favourites too; it's the only round roaster I have & the perfect size for small roasts.
Now what? 
Pinterest, of course. Pinterest is such an accessible resource; any time of day or night you can find a new recipe to try or learn the easiest way to tan a hide. I'm pretty sure my pan is going to be good as new. 
 According to Pinterest, boil a little dish soap in the pot for 10-15 minutes & the stain will just wipe right out of the pan. 

Too much dish soap?

Son of a biscuit. And here I was hoping that Pinterest had all the answers. 

2nd shot: Vinegar & baking soda scrub... which I can attest does work super well on a lot of gunk & is safe for most surfaces.
Vinegar & baking soda didn't work at all. I may have created a Super Stain...
Let me try boiling the vinegar solution... it sure can't hurt. 

Well, it didn't make it any worse, but it also didn't do a damn thing for the stain. I scrubbed this biotch so hard my elbow popped out of joint, yet look at it just smugly still there
I'm pretty sure there was frustration steam coming out of my ears.

It was about this time that I fired the whole works out the bloody garden door... 'cuz I'm way chill like that. The snow cooled me down when I decided to go retrieve the pan before Mr Shoes asked me wth & got me riled up again.
To hell with it; I'm going out to buy a new little round roasting pan & forget all this ugliness ever happened.

How's your day going?

~joining ChickenChicks bloghop~

Friday, 10 March 2017


KD Lang performing at the Juno Awards, Winnipeg 2005 & a well-deserved standing ovation.
(*Love that she is barefoot.*)

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Pumpkin Loaf

Preheat your oven to 350*(F)

Sift together:
4 C flour
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 T homemade pumpkin pie spice*
Splash guard beats flour dust mess

Prepare two loaf pans.

On slow speed, beat together:
3 C lightly packed brown sugar
4 eggs

Bump your mixer speed to medium-high & add in:
Freeze puree in baggie, thaw, cut off tip
1 C vegetable oil
2/3 C water
2 C cooked pumpkin  (if using canned, use plain pumpkin puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Change your mixer head to the batter beater. 
Batter Beater
Add dry mixture to the wet mix in thirds, allowing the dry to incorporate well before adding in more. The resulting batter will be a medium thickness.

Scrape the batter into prepared loaf pans & bake for 50 minutes to start. After 50 minutes, evaluate the bake by inserting a clean knife into the center of a loaf; if the knife comes out clean, the loaf is done. If the knife comes out coated, then add 10 minutes to your timer. 
These loafs seem to bake a little differently according to where you are, so once you have achieved the perfect doneness, jot that number in your cookbook for your own reference. 
Or bake a little Streusel on top!

Change it up by adding to the batter:
3/4 C chopped nuts, or
3/4 C chocolate chips, or
3/4 C SKOR toffee bits

~ Happy Bake Day Everybody! ~

*Homemade pumpkin pie spice: sift together equal parts cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, allspice & nutmeg.
Shout out to Crystal of Ranch Riding who asked for this recipe!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Gatdang Scratches

Today's post is a rerun from 4/22/15 but one worth repeating, especially just
ahead of spring, which is prime time for scratches to appear.  
Also called Dew PoisoningMud Fever, or Greasy Heel**,  this painful problem occurs more commonly in the spring & fall months & does seem to be more prevalent in horses with white socks & pink skin than in those with dark legs. Scratches initially appear as patches of scurf beneath hair that may look thinned or matted or greasy. Close inspection will reveal itchy, irritated, red, cracked skin that may be oozing thick ‘greasy’ fluid. These sores or lesions will become crusty or scabby as the ooze dries up & will then break open & crack further with flexing of the foot causing a lot of pain & resulting in lameness if left unchecked.
Though it is commonly thought to be caused by wet & muddy pasture or turnout conditions or by poorly cleaned, damp stalls, in fact, there are a number of other possible causative factors for scratches. Other causes might be a combination of bacterias, or of fungus, contact dermatitis (such as  sensitivity to certain plants in pastures or turnouts or from improperly fitted or cleaned & dried boots), genetics, nutrition, bedding, allergies, mange/mites*, or photosensitivity (sunburn). *A skin scraping will quickly confirm or rule out mites/mange as a cause, but oftentimes the exact cause or causes will remain unclear.
Photo credit: Vetnext.com
Scratches can appear to present suddenly as a tiny little spot, but left unchecked the condition will rapidly worsen & can spread even to the coronet band & further up & around the lower leg. Chronic, improperly treated, or untreated scratches may become seriously infected & possibly develop into Cellulitis (inflammation of the deeper layers of skin resulting in heat & swelling in the legs & requiring extensive treatment, aka 'stocking up'), Chronic Progressive Lymph Edema (CPL), or thick scarring called Granulomas. Prompt & regular treatment of scratches from the start should alleviate the symptoms of this condition, but it will not resolve itself unless the trigger can be identified & removed (eg. such as in cases where sunburn is the causative factor & the horse is fine in winter).
Because incidents of scratches present all over the world, from deserts to tropical regions & everywhere in between, there are a number of treatments on the market (such as Panalog or Gentomicin to name just a couple), so you have options with which to experiment should your horse ever present with this problem. 
I've only ever had to deal with 2 horses (knock wood) who regularly presented with scratches - a chestnut pacer on my grooming string years ago, & Mr Shoes' personal mount, a black 1/2 Morgan mare. The chestnut mare was working on a limestone track in a semi-tropical region & required daily treatment year-round to control her problem. Our black mare gets scratches only in the summertime & only on her rear pasterns (which have white socks & pink skin).
If your horse has a lot of thick hair or feathering, you may wish to trim it back so that you can more easily apply treatment & monitor the progress. For the successful treatment of scratches I rely on an old horseman's remedy, learned years ago in the backstretch, that is made of inexpensive ingredients readily available at your local Whateveryouwant-mart or pharmacy.
Horseman's Heel Scratches Remedy
  1.  4 oz diaper rash ointment (Zinc Oxide 40%)
  2.  2 oz triple antibiotic ointment (no name brand)
  3.  2 oz cortisone ointment (no name brand)
Mix all 3 ointments together until very well blended, store in sealed plastic container (avoid storing in direct sunlight or extreme heat). Gently massage mixture into the skin of affected area daily; do not pick at the scabs, they will soften & slough off with continued treatment.
If you are coming late to the party & the sores are oozing, open, or if there are a lot of scabs, then apply a more liberal amount twice daily until you have the situation under control.
Even if the area clears up completely, you should be closely inspecting & touching the area daily to ensure that the scratches do not return. As with any problem, early detection & treatment is key to the comfort & health of your horse!

**Horses with white faces or muzzles, can also develop Scratches (Facial Dermatitis) with sore, scabby, cracked areas on the nose & around the mouth.  

Disclaimer: I am not a vet. This anecdotal post is based on my own research & experience as a formerly professional Groom & an always & forever Owner. Nothing written herein should be construed as a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian. Rule of thumb ~ If you are unsure or uneasy, call your vet. Your horse will thank you for it.
~Joining up with AIM link party today~
Cool Beans ~ Many Thanks!