Friday, December 26, 2008

Simba's Christmas

Our friends, Pat & Ione Timm have spent the week in Rochester as the result of Pat's sudden serious illness and major surgery. Their cat Simba was left home alone and Ant Sherri was given the key to visit daily to pass out his alloted one-half cup of food and a treat. Simba is a very big baby boy and notorious for being so shy around strangers. Whenever anyone would visit he would run and hide. I was hoping I could use my best kitty voice to call him in the first day. 

I entered the silent house and read my instructions and went about the business of getting his dishes filled, chatting kitty baby talk and hoping his curiosity would be greater than his fear. As I turned to go to the basement a loud MEOW announced that "I AM HERE AND WHERE IS MY MOMMY?!" 

Yessss! The cat magnet still works! We are best buddies now and I even have a few new terms of endearment for him which include Simboomba and Brush Lush. 

Pat & Ione's christmas at the hospital wasn't what they were planning for. The tree is still standing and there will probably be a big loud family celebration there in the weeks ahead. Simba's christmas wasn't what it was designed to be either. He was supposed to have been spending several days avoiding the grandkids by hiding under the bed, or in the basement, or wherever his secret hidey holes are. Instead it was quiet for him--perhaps a little too quiet, but soon his family will be home and life can return to normal. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guess what.... the tune of another 6 inches on top of what we already had. So we probably have a foot or more to slog through. It's 5 degrees out right now and was minus 10 this morning. The horse waterer froze up sometime overnight and the girls were eager for me to get it going. The top was frozen on and the bowl was dry. Kicked it until it came loose and I got the parts out. Chy and Cerra were very helpful - as usual. I went in to get buckets to run water for them so I could distract them from the project at hand. By the time I got back they had it going! Horse noses are very warm and I think they mouthed the frozen spout and brought it back to life. They both drank a long time and took turns jostling each other out of the bowl until they each had their fill. I can't help but pray for the horses and other creatures who are out in this weather without food and shelter. Cerra had the chicken door open again so I rounded up the hens and locked them in this time.  Sorry Cerra. It's too cold to have them out running around. Horse hay went in the box stall this morning so they can be out of the wind. They usually don't like to be inside, but today was an exception. A few visits during the day with carrots should make the day more interesting.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Redtail Menace to Mink

Don came in carrying a limp furry carcass yesterday. My first thought was the black squirrel that has been visiting the feeder but it was a mink! He found a redtail hawk in the backyard working on it's prey before he intervened. Too late for the poor mink who had been reduced to a bag of skin and bones. Keeps one in mind of the rules Mother Nature has mandated about prey and predators. Our geese were reluctant to come to the house yesterday morning so perhaps they knew what was going on and the potential threat to health. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts on snow

It's been snowing all day at Catfish Corner and since Don was feeling cruddy we stayed home and postponed an eye appointment for him at Eau Claire until after the first of the year. I made a nice roaring fire in the fireplace and he rested while I made more Christmas treats. Today was two batches of peanut brittle and all things covered in chocolate. 

It's only 5 degrees out and I saw that Cerra had opened the door on the chicken room. (A special talent she has--opening doors, gates, hearts) So I had chickens out running around instead of staying indoors and doing their job of egg laying. The little golden Buff Orpingtons - affectionately known as "The Buffingtons" - seem to think they are above living in the hen house and are constantly forming their own colony in the other box stall, or on the hay bales, or out in the woods. I have found that my Parelli carrot stick works well to round them up and get 'em moving back to home. Just call it Chicken Savvy.

They are this year's chickens and were late bloomers. Some are just starting to lay tiny little eggs. My daily gathering has grown to up to 21 eggs. Today was good at 19. I'm getting more customers than I have product. The pullet eggs are small but so good. Deep orange yolks that stand right up. If you wanted to eat a raw egg, I think this would be the variety to use. There is no comparison between a battery raised egg and a home flock egg! Fried in a pool of butter........but I digress.

Since I got the chickens in I figured the horses could be fed early and then I'm done with the outdoors until morning. Cheyenne (pictured) came running and thought that was the best idea I have had in a while. A scoop of black sunflower seeds for a treat and a thick leaf of hay and it was bon appetit at Catfish Corner.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Magic of Jack Frost

Yesterday at noon it was a balmy 45 degrees. A few short hours--4 to be exact--we dropped to the teens. The drop continued though the evening with brisk winds that are continuing today. And we woke up to -2 degrees! For our two above freezing days we will now probably have icy footing until spring. I took a walk around the loop this morning and the ice cleats need to be worn next time! 

The frost on the windows looks pretty, but the prospect of no horse riding on the icy trails is depressing!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dear Deer Doe and Fawn

Now that the hunting season has almost ended, we are finding the does are showing up to raid the corn piles in the yard that we serve the birds. Yesterday they appeared by the barn a little after 4 pm! Perfectly light to see and they actually drove a few chickens out of the woods. This tiny TINY little curious fawn was within 6 feet of one of the chickens. Where was my camera for that? Talk about cute. 
This photo was taken from our living room.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tasty treats for the holidays!

The sunbuckles, the pecan puffs, and savory appetizers rolled out of the oven this week. More to do, but needed to get started and into the swing of making a batch or two every day.

We were happy to have the Ormson's stay with us for an overnighter while they journeyed back and forth to Rochester for Al's medical tests. So it was good to have holiday snacks on hand.

Today I'm making a new one for me - Swedish Kringle Cookies. I have had the regular kringle but as a cookie will be interesting. You can't go wrong with a pound of butter and a cup of cream so I'm thinking they should be good!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Molly looks into the bedroom where Jack is perched on his pillow.


We are all pretty relaxed around here today. The Packers are playing, the fire is blazing and the pets are lazing. I love to take pictures of "the kids" and even caught shy little Timber as he peeked around the chair. 

The shyest one of all is Jack--and he pretty much just lives in our bedroom. His nemesis is Molly. He hates her. It's as simple as that. She is the big boss of everyone and he has gone to war with her and decided that wasn't fun either. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trail Cam Activity

This has been the week of regular Deer Season here. It is the "Main Event" of several other deer seasons that lead up to it. Namely, bow season, T Zone, Youth Hunt-- there's probably more. And after the main event there will be a week of muzzleloader, and probably another T Zone and then bow season will reopen. There is probably a three day season in there for women over 55 using lutefisk clubs, but I would have to check the regulations for the dates on that one.  

At any rate, it's the big deal. Don got a new blaze orange camo shirt that he can wear while sitting in the lazyboy by the picture window. This qualifies as hunting in Wisconsin. His walk through the hunting grounds usually begins at the crack of 9:30 and he's usually back in time for coffee and papers around 11. The mornings have been especially nice this season with temperatures above freezing and sometimes up to near 40 which makes for a nice outing. 

This year is an "Earn a Buck" season which means hunters have to shoot a doe before the "earn" the right to shoot a buck. It's a hideous dictate from the DNR, in cahoots with the insurance industry, in an attempt to reduce the deer population (kill one doe=killing up to three!) and it goes against the nature of any real hunter. Yesterday he came upon two does who were eating alfalfa in our 4 acre pasture. They became panic stricken and were running around looking for an escape route. He had the "right" to shoot that doe but both eventually leaped over the 4 foot fence and bounded for the woods. 

Later that afternoon we were both hunting from the lazyboys when a huge doe appeared in the grove of soft maples by the sand bar (in the top photo--just to the right). We scoped her with our binoculars as she browsed. As we enjoyed watching her it was agreed we had more use for her to make these appearances than to sit in our freezer. 

We have been using our trail camera for several months now and getting some good shots once in awhile. It has been only recently--OK two days ago--that I started transferring the shots to the computer. Duh. What have I been waiting for? 

Had a lovely shot of a nice 10-point buck, some cute little does hamming it up for the camera, some raccoons and even a fox! But, nooooo, I didn't SAVE those pictures.

So, better late than never. I hope that big guy comes around again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Loie & Anders Visit

Had a great visit today with friend Lois and her recent grandson, Anders. And a fine fellow he is! At 3 months old he got to travel with Gramma Loie to Catfish Corner. Loie and I got a chance to talk about past and present and later we had lunch and Anders got used to his bottle. His mommy Lora went to work today and this was their first day apart. 

Gramma Loie did a fine job of holding, cuddling, cajoling and encouraging Anders to his bottle--and by the end of the day the bottle was gone and they were ready to head home.

Thanks for your visit! It was fun to catch up and get to meet Anders! I bet we will get a chance to do it again soon!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little Miss Ladybug & Fran

I finally got up the hill to see friend Fran's miniature horse, Ladybug, on Friday. What a CUTIE! She is so tiny and fuzzy and adorable-- I think I need one! She is only 18 months old but it sounds like she could run the lives of much older, larger horses. Helga and I took the milk run to Arkansaw (I know it seems like a long way to go for milk, but this is ArkansaW, Wisconsin!) It was a beautiful fall day and I had the camera along so it was fun. 

This is so silly, but the county road signs in "downtown" Arkansaw alway crack me up! Sorry, Don! The main street was packed with hunters in the local establishments getting "ready" for deer hunting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Green greens grass of home

A new endeavor that began recently is the "wheatgrass project". An article in the "Country Today" inspired me to get the few supplies necessary to grow wheat seeds into sprouts. The lovely green spouts then get juiced into a powerful health drink. I have been growing my little crop hydroponically with enhanced sea mineral nutrients in the guest bedroom and after a little more than 10 days of growth it is now tall enough (about 7") to harvest. One ounce of juice is equivalent of 2.5 pounds of fresh produce and is touted literally as a "blood transfusion" of healthful nutrients and enzymes. Yum! I can't wait to try it! I am always on the lookout for natural healthy things that I can do to help Don with his lymes disease issues so this seemed like a worthwhile experiment. Will keep y'all posted how this juicing thing turns out. After being sick for the past two weeks I hope we can both get our immune systems revved up!

Updated 1:30 pm--My tray of wheat sprouts netted out about 6-7 ounces of juice! I lost some to experimentation, but I only expected about 4 oz. so I'm considering this a bumper crop. Don and I each had a 1 oz shot and --- it tasted --- not as "green" as I was expecting. It's got a little kick--kind of tangy, but not like a mouth full of spinach! We agreed "We can do this!". 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Paige loves ponies!

I got these great photos of my cousin's daughter, Paige, from her Grandma Evelyn. Paige and her family live on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, and this was her first ride on a horsey. She looks like she's loving it!  

Then there was the visit to the pumpkin patch where she seemed to be having an equally good time. Thanks for the photos, Evie!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Flakes Outside....and inside

Our 70 degree days of last weekend are officially gone. Gray days, wind, rain, snowflakes and snow pellets are our new visitors. Unfortunately, we both picked up a cold bug and have been coughing and schnorteling all week. Between cups of hot tea I got enough energy rallied to go out to check the greenhouse and covered up the lettuce with flannel sheets. The plants have been doing amazingly well inspite of some freezing nights. I pulled the last of the turnips and found the deer have been eating the tops off the remaining carrots. I pulled up a few to take to the house and found this funny guy. Another sure sign of age--finding great humor in mutant veggies!  So, Don says maybe I should put it on eBay. I checked out "carrot" and got it narrowed down and found SOMEONE ELSE HAS AN EVEN BETTER MUTANT THAN I DO!  I haven't figured out how to get the photo but check it out--search "human carrot" and you will be as amazed as I was. It really looks like a little human boy body. Nobody has ponied up a bid--starting at $1. That is probably because they want $12.50 to UPS it to the lucky bidder. Now I'm wishing I would have photoed the giant radish that went to seed. It looked exactly like the very sunburned hips, thighs and calves of a very lumpy chubby lady! I have an eyewitness--(right, Mary Ann?!)--who will attest that we chuckled over it because I expect to start looking the same way.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or Treat?

Horses are so goofy! One little thing that's new in their surroundings and you have a circus on your hands. Being Halloween, I played a little game of Trick or Treat with the girls! While they were hanging out in the box stall, I took two wire tomato cages, two big black plastic bags and some treats out to their pasture. After setting up the cages I put the bags over the support and put a horse treat on top. It was just windy enough to create a spooky billowing and blowing of the plastic. 

Sure enough, they got curious and came around the side of the barn. Proceed with ** SNORT ** STOMP ** BOLT ** WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?! DANGER!!! ** It would be funny if it wasn't so potentially dangerous -- not to them, but if one was riding a horse that was this reactive in this situation on the trail there could be trouble. This little simulation is the beginning of future plans to have this same test out on the trail--- for real.

Cerra turned out to be the leader this time. How interesting! A skitterish Cheyenne was on her heels and jumped back at the slightest movement of the plastic. It didn't take long after a little circling for Cerra to home in on the fact that it wasn't going to attack and--gee, I smell treats! She stuck her nose in the plastic bag and came out with the surprise. Chy came over, too, and she got fed a treat by hand. Then they knocked the whole thing over and ground the plastic into the dirt. Mission accomplished?!

Cerra spotted the other spooky object and headed over to it cautiously. She's smart--didn't take as long to find the next treat while I was setting up the first display in a new spot. We did this at five or six different places and when I ran out of treats it was game over. They were the only trick or treaters we had at our house!

Ormson's Visit

Had a great visit this week with our friends, Al and Mary Ann Ormson from Luck. They arrived on Tuesday afternoon and we enjoyed a roast goose breast (wild!) dinner with all the fixin's. Wednesday Mary Ann and I took the long way to Stockholm where we had to visit some of our favorite haunts. We strolled Abode Gallery, Out of The Blue (gifts) , The Palate  (kitchen/cooking) and Mary 
Ann came out with a jar of honey, a clump of blue cheese and a pretty container for some weeds!  

We ate out at the Backwaters in Nelson Wednesday evening. They have a fun "all you can eat" shrimp night and it is really good! We came away stuffed as usual. By Thursday morning they were on their way and we have the memory of good friends and good cheer. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trail ride and chili feed

Beauties and the Beast (Ed)
These young ladies enjoyed riding Ed before he went to work pulling the wagon. This gentle giant is used at the ranch for logging in the hills, and is gentle enough for a nice ride, too.

Robin with Cowboy Neil on Smokey

Had a lovely fall day of riding at the Robin & Kay Secrist ranch yesterday. This was a fund raising effort of the Trailblazers Saddle Club so it was a must appearance! I left Cerra at home and rode "Juliet" one of the Secrist's horses. She was lovely--so much like my old arab mare, Lallie. She has had lots of experience climbing the rugged trails through the hills and valleys. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Camera Doesn't Lie

With my little horse buddy off hobnobbing with the Parelli's I had to rely on myself. How hard could it be? Set up the video camera, grab a horse and do some stuff with the horse. Little did I know the little circus that would ensue.

A little background for the non-horse person. Horses are simply little kids. Depending on their temperament they can act like kids do around 8 to 14 years of age. Cerra is maybe a "thirteen year old". Cheyenne is probably 9. That means that Cerra is going to be in the teenage "I'm too cool to do this" stage. Chy as a 9 year old is wanting to be the center of attention--PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!

I got the camera rolling and got Cerra on line. Chy celebrated by rolling. (lol) In front of the camera. Look at me. I tried to focus on Cerra. Chy went over and stood in front of the camera. LooK At Me. She got chased away. Back to Cerra. We are going sideways over the barrels--not bad--except Chy was now standing with her butt to the camera. LOOK AT ME!!! Stopped and moved her again.

I guess I don't need to say more--you get the idea. Even after moving on to the round pen it was the same story. It was actually hilarious--laughed a lot! I didn't get any time worth saving for posterity (or YouTube!) but I did learn some things and this is the whole point of this post.

I haven't had the experience of seeing myself in a ground session and it was valuable in the sense that I now had irrefutable evidence that --- I -- am --- (terrible, lacking, etc.) ok, not good. Granted the focus was scattered, but I got to see first hand that I'm doing a lot of things wrong. I move too much, I use my stick too much, I'm "clucking" too much, I'm not energetic enough, the horses are lackluster because I'm not asking enough. I could go on, but self-flagellation is not my strong suit.

Fast forward to today (Monday)--new game plan. I started the session with Cerra on the 12' line instead of the 22'. Instead of flopping around clucking like a dying duck, I had my stick at the ready in a range that I could make my point. Got their attention--and results--all while picking up points for lots of friendly mixed in. Cerra had one RB (right brain) outburst that was purely a test of me and we survived it and were better for having had the experience.

Turned out today's session was one of the best I have had for several weeks. Cheyenne's was especially good because she walked the teeter-totter for the first time without scaring herself. Next she mounted the wood pedestal with both feet! I asked Cerra, at liberty, to stand on the tire pedestal and I had two glorious horses showing off for our little world and mommy was so happy!

Took off Chy's halter and trotted myself back to the barn with two sweet horses following on each side. It doesn't get better than that!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chilly night

Night before last we hit our first 32 degree evening. I didn't have the greens covered and I lucked out--nobody froze. I had the hose going first thing in the morning just in case. Last night I was more cautious and had the sheets over them so, of course, it only hit a low of 40. I have four 55 gal.  barrels of water to help hold heat but it only goes so far. Eventually everything is going to freeze. The whole thing is an experiment at this point anyway. How much abuse can lettuce and kale take? These big lettuce plants have been producing since August--no sign of them going to seed yet. I am going to stake them up and keep picking as long as possible. There are two other beds coming up so if I can keep jack frost away there should be good eating. We are going to get our straw bales on Monday so I can reinforce the insulation factor.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Horses want their pictures on the internet

The girls--Cheyenne and Cerra
Cerra is six this year and Cheyenne is four years old. They are my "girls" and are recently without their guy, Ranger, who was 20 when he had to leave us this spring. It has been a very interesting summer. I want to be their new alpha--leader of their herd of two. Making it a herd of three. I have been a Parelli student since I got into horses again after a break of 30 some years. My first two horses were older, Beau (13) and Lalique (15) and that lead to acquiring Ranger (16) and after that, the youngster, Cerra as a yearling. I found the Parelli program because I wanted to get into the educational aspects of horse ownership and found that things had changed dramatically since 4-H in the early 1970's!  

The Parelli's, Pat and Linda, teach us that it's about Love, Language and Leadership, which resonates with me.  After moving to Pepin I was fortunate enough to find that there is a young lady, Fran,  who is deeply into the Parelli program and she has helped me tremendously with my horses.  In fact, we got Cheyenne the proper start totally with the Parelli program. More about that later.

Fran has a blog which describes her experience with the program and her further training and experience so I won't try to explain it here. Just visit her journey if it is interesting to you at

The interesting thing about Cheyenne (black) and Cerra (brown) is that they have the same (close to it) facial markings, have identical leg markings (three white feet).  Isn't that what girls do when they find something that works? One in brown, one in black?!

Sunday afternoon at Catfish Corner

Had the family out to enjoy the day! Don and Helga were having fun. Our girl, Helga, is only four years old, but she's really big and it's hard for her to tear around. But she did it today! She knew mom was taking pictures and she tackled me a few times in her exuberance. She can knock me down without a problem.

Our Rooster Louie

Rooster Louie--Took a pic of this big guy yesterday. It was a gorgeous fall day. I'll post more photos later. I know how to do it now! Louie is OUR LAST ROOSTER. Last year I got chicks -- Barred Rock and Reds -- straight run. That means you get whatever hatches. Boys or girls. So I had a multitude of BOYS who grew up into roosters. Roosters have specific needs and they got to be really obnoxious. They wouldn't leave my beautiful hens alone. Hens without feathers are not pretty. Heads rolled. Yes, folks, country people know where food comes from and it's an unfortunate reality that it involves a harvest. At the end of the day there were three roosters left.

They were named: Larry, Louie and Lucky, inspite of the fact that farmers never name animals that are intended to enter the food chain. Lucky was so named because he ran into the woods and survived the day. Larry, Lucky and Louie lived in their ways until one of the hens showed up totally broken down. The next harvest arrived. All of a sudden Larry was going to spend winter in the freezer--with his compadre (not so) Lucky.  That left Louie. He's a Barred Rock rooster--he is magnificent (although I think the red ones were much prettier) and he is the "cock of the walk". And he knows it. Eyes are on him. Hens are growing new feathers. If he can find a way to contain himself he might see spring. 

Nature's Artistry

Lovely fall colors among the pines.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hopping around

I'm throwing all these random things out--just trying to get photos up. I'm resorting to using PC to upload photos. I'm missing out on some turn with Mac to get it to work. So....I email my photos from Mac to PC in the basement and then upload to the blog. At least I'm getting my exercise running back and forth.

Hoop house

Or as Don calls it--my pout house! No pouting allowed here--just growing of greens. This has been the best gardening year yet. After three years worth of composted horse manure we are finally getting some tilth built up.
The window recently completed for RCMC in Menomonie.

Frustration - and Victory!

I spent a few futile hours trying to get my ancient Canon software reinstalled on the PC I had repaired after the meltdown. You know that wasn't going to go well! It wouldn't acknowledge the camera, the USB, nothing was working. I'm just thankful I have access to the photos that were saved.

Just for the fun of it I attached the USB cable to the Mac. It immediately asked if I wanted to use iPhoto to view my pics! No muss, no fuss. LOVE the Mac! 

Now--if I can get blogspot to allow me to use my Mac photos. Houston--we have a problem........

Monday, October 6, 2008

Getting the hang of it....

The new Mac has been here a week now, and after losing so much on the old computer, it's a continuing process of compiling email addresses, etc. Overall, it's just about getting used to how quick it is (I'm not!) how intuitive it is (ditto) and how it just works day after day without having to reboot, throw error messages, or just plain being a pain in the butt!

I have to admit that those tv ads for Mac were persuasive. (I think someone actually accused us of being "gullible" by buying a Mac!)

Gullible, or not, it's nice to have a computer that works for a change!