Sunday, November 26, 2006

change of seasons

It is with much happiness that today, I removed the "deployment flag" from our front door and replaced it with a Christmas wreath!!!! My son-in-law who was deployed with the US Marine Corps in June will be arriving home the first weekend in December!!! When he shipped out, we were allowed to place a deployment flag on the front door and I remember thinking, "I can't wait to replace this with my Christmas wreath"... today is the day!!! It's been a long six months for us, but especially for my daughter, and her hubby's family, I can't imagine what "homecoming" is going to be like, but I will be certain to post all about it.

For the many other families who are still waiting, keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and remember this is a "volunteer" thing that these young men and women do for our country. The USA is blessed to have such great people who do this for us!!!!!! And as we head into the holiday season, I say with a greatful heart "Thank you and God Bless the USA"!!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

the crew

the dogs of "Sweetgrass Kennel" ( left to right) Camille, Moxie, Tazzy, Trevor, Hunter and Charlie. picture was taken December 2005.

the brothers!!

I have felt a little guilty that Trevor and Hunter haven't had their picture on the blog. So tonite I went searching and found this one.. the two of them together!!! And if it's hard to tell them apart, that's OK, because they really are brothers, a matched set!!! In this picture, Trevor is on the left and Hunter is on the right.

In real life, Hunter is a little bigger than his brother and has a curlier coat. He is also more patient than his brother, I call him the "salt of the earth". He is not easily phased by things and seems to roll with the punches. Trevor is more fiery, any new dogs that come into the house, are met with growls first, and "get to know you" second. He doesn't like things to be out of order. Funny how they can be a like in so many ways, and so very different in other way.

We got Hunter and Trevor thru rescue. I received a call to foster a puppy (which of course I said yes to -- especially when I was told that he was only 10 weeks old!!) and when I met the family, there wasn't one puppy... there were two.... little black, bear-like babies!!! I remember coming into the house, with one under each arm and said to Ed "look honey... twins". Now, as luck would have it.. it was November and rescue doesn't like to do adoptions during the holidays, besides these babies at 10 weeks, needed a little growing up time, so we knew that we would have them for a while. (just occurred to me... all the dogs that we have adopted from rescue have come to us the month of November... that's IT... no more "november dogs!!!") Any ways, back to the story... as you can imagine, it doesn't take too long to fall in love with a puppy, and I knew I had hit the jackpot, when Ed said one night (cuddling Hunter) "you know this little guy could stay"... well... no way was Hunter going to stay and Trevor wasn't... so, you can guess the rest of the story!!!!

By the way, the reason they had been turned into rescue was a family had gone to pick out a cocker puppy from this "breeder", but they couldn't make up their mind between the two boys, and decided to buy them both. They also had a three year old son, and after a couple of weeks, were almost driven mad trying to house train two puppies and potty train their son. Plus teach their son how to properly treat a dog(s)... they didn't want to return them to the "breeder" (ie: not the greatest of places) nor did they want to just leave them in the shelter, and thus cocker rescue came into the play. Their names had been chosen by the family and since "we weren't going to keep them" I just continued to use the names they had come with. Actually, though, their names fit them well!!!

They turned 5 this past September (which hardly seems possible!!) and have been great little guys to have around the house. Sadly, I haven't done much "obedience" with them, both have their CGCs and Trevor played flyball for a while (picked up two titles there), but mainly I have enjoyed them just a pet/house dogs. and of course, part of my two "matched sets" of dogs!!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

a day of horses

  • On Friday, Ed and I took the day and went to the Equine Affair in Springfield, MA. I had been told about this event for a number of years, but this was the first time, where... the timing actually worked!! To say this was a huge event, can't even begin to describe it. Everything and everyone that is "horsey" was there, and for a "newbie" to it, it's a bit overwhelming.
  • There were a number of buildings that held all sorts of different things. One building was just vendors.... anything from tack to gifts, and barns to supplies. Another building had a small arena in it, where clinics were being held, and a third had a large arena, where Ed and I got to see a whole jumping clinic being done. A fourth building was great fun... it was the "breed" building, where you could not only learn about the different horse breeds, but in most cases you could see the actual horse. A few favorites of mine, were the Icelandic Pony, a beautiful white Shire (standing at 19 hands!!!) and a gorgeous Mule!!! (wouldn't mind having one of them someday, he was handsome!!) Course everyone had their favorites. We talked to a few barn builders and have some connections to make at another time. (We pretty much know what we want in the new barn, its just a matter of finding out what route to go with that.)
  • We spent hours looking at all the vendors, and after all that, the only thing I bought was a new pair of gloves. I guess it was just a little too much for me, and I couldn't even think of what I wanted to buy ( just not too good with that crowd thing, you know). However, the day flew by and we were tired from walking!! It's definitely worth the trip down, and I was glad that we could go on a Friday, as crowded as it was, I can only imagine what the weekend must be like. So, to any of my horse friends out there in cyberspace... if you get a chance to see the Equine Affair, I say, make the trip.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The BIG boys

Here they are, my BIG guys!! The picture of Silver was actually taken the day that I bought him. It was in May 1997 !! I remember the first time I saw him, look at that face, how could he not be mine!! Though I did have to apologize to him later, because my first comment was "He's White??" (I was thinking my first horse would be black!!!) I didn't really find him. I had been riding with Laura for a couple of years, and one day told her "I am ready to own my first horse". I gave her a price range, and told her when she had found "him" . let me know. Laura knew my riding skills and what a first horse should be like. Silver was 18-19 years old when I got him and Laura told me I would "out ride" him, but that he could teach me a lot about owning a horse-----was she ever right about that.

I rode Silver for about 8 years, as my riding level improved, so did his "creeky-ness" and I found that I was needing (wanting) a younger horse with a little more spunk. It was time to retire my old boy. Laura suggested that I find a "kid" who would like their first horse, but I couldn't part with my old friend. So, I found a little barn to keep him, and his official title now is "pasture pet", keeping Tonka in line, and the occasional ride by small people. At 27ish, he is in good shape, and I love him dearly.

In July 04, I bought Tonka. I had been looking for a second horse for about a year. Taking the advise of Laura and a number of other horse friends, I took my time and thought carefully when looking at a horse. I wanted "something" a little bigger than Silver, possibly a horse that I could drive as well as ride. I found Tonka at Carousal Horse Farm, where they import drafts and drafts crosses from Canada... Tonka was born in Newfoundland. Ed and I went to an open house, and the load of horses that Tonka was in had just arrived. I didn't ride Tonka that first time, as they had only been off the truck for about 24 hours, but I did make an appointment to go back and see him, and brought a horse friend and a video camera. He gave me a nice ride and my friend filmed, so that I could show it to Laura and a few others.

Most everyone thought he looked good, so he came home for a 10 day trail, where I could have him seen by my vet, my farrier and Laura. He passed all their tests.. and the rest is history!!!!

All my little girl dreams of horse owning had come true and even more so, for I never thought there would be two!! I have a feeling that when we are settled on the farm, two will become more, but that will remain to be seen!!

Patchwork day

I often have days that seem more like a patch work quilt than real life. Now, I know from the quilts that I make, lots of little pieces can go together and make something really amazing at the end... And maybe my "patchwork" days are something like that... All sorts of little jobs that need attending, but at the end of the day... Everything is done!!

Yesterday, was one of those days. It began at 5:30 am, when I got up... A bit earlier than usual, because one of my daycare puppies arrives at 6:00 am. I only have him a few days a month.. A cute little aussie puppy called Teddi. His owner is working on her degree and has to travel to Mass. a few days, which makes a very long day for a puppy to be crated at home. Since she could not find any doggie daycares open at that hour, she found me and asked. Now, I am saving up for Tonka's driving harness, so "when money comes knocking at your door" its worth getting up at 5:30 to answer it!!!!

At 7:00 am, my second daycare doggie arrived. This is a cute little aussie cross, who comes four days a week, his name is Kobe, and secretly... He and Tazzy are in love!!!

After the daycare dogs are settled, I let the "big" dog crew out to do their thing. Then they are all back in waiting for breakfast. I get the bowls filled up, dogs back into kennels, and FINALLY have a cup of coffee... Well really my second, because the first was at 5:30!!! While they are eating, I play around on the computer, make a few of the bill collectors happy and realize... Its time to put the club's newsletter together! So into "editor" I go!!!

While I play with the newsletter, the "puppies" need out time, so Tazzy, Teddi, Kobe, and Apollo all go out to play (more on Apollo later) while the "older dogs" Moxie, Hunter, Trevor, Camille, Charlie and Sedona (a guest dog and almost family member) all find the new bones I got them, or just hang around the house, doing their doggie things. Its nice that everyone gets along so well, you would hardly even notice that there are 10 dogs in the house!!!

The newsletter, all finished, now gets dropped off at the copy place, on my way out to do a private training. Nice little Wheaton puppy whose owners have not had a dog before, and have lots to learn!!!!

From there its out to the barn to see the big boys!!! Since its now about noontime, all Silver and Tonka want is lunch. Cuddle time can wait, they tell me!!! Muck out the stalls, play with the boys for a bit, and head home.

Dogs back out for play time, lunch for me... Laundry to catch up on and vacuuming (remember there are 10 dogs in the house!!!) and then dinner time for dogs, because I have three classes to teach this evening.

So looking over this patchwork day.. Bookkeeper, editor, daycare provider, trainer, barn fairy, house fairy!!!! And I wonder where the day has gone... Where the weeks go!!!!

Course the really cool thing about all this, its all my doing... If I don't like it, I can only blame myself. But in truth... I do like it ... I like it very much!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

case in point

See..... Moxie goes everywhere with me!!!!

Two peas in a pod

"the girls"... Not to be confused with "the boys" of which I need to get a picture of them as well. It's funny because I never "used to like" the partis... I always had ASCOBs (any solid color other than black) or BLACKs, but when I got into being a foster home for cocker rescue, we used to have a number of partis. One little dog in particular, came to us around Christmas time, she was little black and white girl that we called "Holly", we kept her thru the holiday season, as rescue tends not to place dogs during that time of year. Holly was a true neglect case, when her owner passed away, the rest of the family kept her out in their barn. Finally they were convinced that this wasn't the best situation for her, and turned her over to rescue. When we got her, she had about 40 stitches... some from having been spayed and the rest from a large tumor which had been removed from her neck. Once everything was healed, we then discovered that she also had seizures.... so, she wasn't going to be the easiest dog to place. After some family discussions, we decided to keep her... our first parti cocker. She turned out to be a pretty nice little girl, and for two summers, my oldest daughter used her as her 4H project, and did quite well with her in the ring.

When Holly passed, I sort of missed that "splash" of color around the house, so I called a good friend of mine who bred cockers and asked where I could go to get another parti dog. As it turns out, she was expecting her first litter of parti pups, and promised that I could have one. I told her I wanted a black and white female.

When the litter arrived (3 days before my own birthday) there were three little girls and four little boys. Two of the girls were black and white and the third was a brown and white tri. I remember my friend saying, "there's one for you and one for me". At four weeks I went to see the litter, the little black and white girls were so cute, but the brown and white tri, was trouble!!!! she first ran under the TV and got tangled in the cords, then got herself stuck under the couch, she just had to explore everything there was, and I was hooked!!!! I told my friend that her name was "Moxie" and I would be back when she was nine weeks to take her home!!!!

Well, for those of you who know me... you know Moxie, as it is the very rare occasion that I am anywhere without her!! She has been shown in the US and in Canada and with the United Kennel Club... she has been the highest scoring dog of the entire show three times (twice in Canada) she has more titles than any dog I have ever owned, and "makes me look good" in dog class!!!

But there are two. When my little Randi passed (a sweet little red cocker) another friend of mine offered me Camille. She, too is a brown and white tri, which my friend had planned on showing, but Camille is a little too small. She thought that Camille would be a "good match" with Moxie. And since I already owned two black dogs, she thought that I might like having two "matched pairs"... which of course, I really do!!!!

One of my favorite things to do is go walking with the four of them. Moxie and Camille go together on one coupler, and Hunter and Trevor on the other. I am beginning to get used to the looks (mostly smiles ) and the comments (usually "are they all yours") and everyone pretty much knows them. Especially in the bank, where they love to go, because if they are good (and they always are) they get a cookie. I guess because we have always had "a few dogs" , I don't even think when I have four dogs that I take. I guess it is a bit unusual to the "normal"... but who ever thought of me as "normal"?

So, in this "new world of blogging" there is my first picture!!! which I was able to put up, thanks mainly to help of my daughters, who certainly can operate this machine better than I can!!! But now that I have the idea, I think there will be more to come

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tonka's big day

Ever since we purchased Tonka in July 04, it has been a dream of mine to learn how to drive (horses that is, not cars!) The past two summers, I have spent riding him, not just because I don't know how to drive, but also a way to get to know him better. This year, however, I decided that I really want to look into this driving thing, so I have asked my horse friends a million questions, and have done some reading on the topic.

Laura, my trainer, has started "us" in ground driving. It is a much different view from the ground/back of the horse, than it is from the top/front of the horse, and I have learned one thing.... I have MUCH to learn!!! But Tonka is a patient boy, and that is to my great advantage.

About six weeks ago, I got a flyer from Meader's Horse Supply in Rochester, NH. Ed and I first went there when we got Tonka to look for tack. We realized that he really isn't big enough for the "draft" stuff, and yet a little too big for "horse" stuff, so finding tack has proven to be a challenge. Anyways, Meader's is a wonderful store, and we thought it would be fun to attend their open house, and certainly a place to ask more questions on driving.

Two weeks before the open house a reminder came in the mail, but what quickly caught my attention was the line..."if you would like your horse measured for a harness, call and make an appointment".. I was on the phone asap, and got a 1:30 pm appointment!!! I can't even begin to tell you, how much I looked forward to that day.

Saturday - October 28 - the rain was pouring down!!! The wind was high and there had been several "warnings" on the TV with regards to the bad weather! I was bummed! Shipping a horse in that kind of weather didn't seem like such a good idea, even though Tonka is good with the trailer, I wondered if it would be worth the time and trouble. I called Meader's to see if their day was still on, and whined to them about the weather, but they didn't seem too worried about it all. I was told that I could bring Tonka at any time and not to worry about the appointment time, so I said to Ed "let's go and see how we make out". He was pretty happy, because I know he was looking as forward to the day as I had been.

We went up to the barn to get Tonka, I decided he should wear his fleece, because even in the trailer I knew it would be a wet ride and I didn't want him to get chilled. He loaded beautifully for us, and we were on the road in a few minutes. The ride wasn't horrid, but I was glad to arrive at Meader's.

They sent us down to their horse barn. What a place that is!!! Very modern, large, well lit, clean, it was fun to see it. Dana was the gentleman doing the measuring. He liked Tonka right from the start and talked to us about a team that he had and had done some logging with. It was fun to hear his stories. Tonka was wonderful, he stood perfectly quiet during the measuring and while we talked. Ed noticed that they had a horse scale there, and I asked if I could weigh Tonka on it. Dana said sure, but noted that alot of horses don't like getting on it. I told Tonka to step on, and he was a little surprised when it jiggle, but stood well. He weighs 1320 lbs!!!

As it turned out, we will need to have a custom made harness for him. Sort of figured that after the tack experience, but that's ok, because we intend to keep Tonka a "good long time". Dana told us the harness will be made by the Amish and it will take about three months to have it done. Which also works out fine, with the winter weather coming and my training to do.. we won't really be ready for the harness before that.

Dana offered Tonka a stall so that Ed and I could go up to the store and look around. I was happy about that, because our farrier, Dean Dalpe was there and we had a nice chat with him. We met up with a couple of other horse folks, and met a few new ones as well. It was a great day and the time zoomed by. We learned a lot about harnesses and driving and I can't wait for that first buggy ride.

The ride home went well. We got alot more rain on the coast than they did inland, so it wasn't too windy until we got closer to home. Tonka was happy to see his own stall and have some supper with Silver and the other horses. I was just so pleased with him and how good he had been on the whole trip. It was a big day for all of us.

So, the work begins. I need to work on my driving skills and Tonka's voice commands - which he is pretty good at already, but according to what I'm told, he needs to be excellent at. Dana has offered to meet up with us some afternoon and give us a lesson and pointers on what needs work, so I am looking forward to taking him up on that offer. I have been looking at different carts and drags, and think about the days ahead.... I'm certain to bore all of you with it as well.