Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Caution: Wet Paint and Cranky, Overworked Women

This is a picture of me after spending another day laboring endlessly in the barn. The Berry Queen asked me this morning why we would choose a thirty-one degree day to paint a barn. Oh, you know, ONLY BECAUSE WE LOVE TO PUNISH OURSELVES. Plus, I'm hoping the extra sweat will melt off a few more pounds. Note the abnormally large shoulders. If this stint working with kids doesn't work out, I can always try out for a quarterback in the NFL.

Here you can see the door. Now, I am a fully incompetent person and I am actually incapable of drawing a straight line. But, I did not want the doors to be a boring, solid color. So, I had to employ the hands of my mother in creating these little diamond shapes. I took the picture from afar so that you wouldn't notice all the green paint that I got in the white, and so forth. She stayed with me all through the day making sure that no green was put into white and vice-versa. Thank God she did, or else I'd still be down there a week from now trying to cover up mistakes.

Here you will notice the cieling. A little tuft of my hair is still in it for the sake of memories. (Oh, the memories of balancing eight foot sheets of plywood on your head. While your family laughs at you. How sweet they are.) If you look again at yesterday's pictures, you too will want to pull out your hair by the roots and scream WHY DIDN'T THEY DO THAT TWENTY YEARS AGO?! The answer is, of course... Uhm. We had other shit to do? Ok? Sheesh.

Finally, the interior of the barn. My life's work. My goal for the summer: To make the inside of the barn beautiful. I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I originally wanted to this summer. But my God, its a start.

Hopefully by spring we have appropriate housing for some livestock. Preferably of the variety that grows bacon.

Oh, God, how I love painted barns and bacon.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Putting the Red in Redneck...

We were supposed to do straw today. By 'do straw' I mean make it into bales, transport the bales from the field to the barn, and then deposit them inside the barn.

I know that it doesn't sound like such a difficult task, but really, it is a monumental task when it is time to put straw (or hay, or anything that exists on the planet Earth) into a mow. Everything had seized from the last time we tried to use it. I shattered the motor on the elevator before the fifteenth bale got in, the baler refused to make bales after the first load. The wagons would not extend so that the smaller tractor could pull them, and I think we made four trips in total to the tractor dealership.

However, I did manage to get some posts painted, a load into the mow with the help of SuperNan, and a helluva lot of work done in the barn. Clearly I spent enough time outdoors to end up looking like this:

I also did a good amount of work indoors today, work that started out with a trip to the lumber mart. Now, clearly, women should not be permitted within the walls of this sacred building; however, those darn hippy liberal yuppies have gone and made it legal. So in I went.

This is what the barn looked like when SuperNan and I started out:

This is what it looked like when SuperNan, my dad, and I finished:

Now, I know I make it sound like I did ALL the work here, but mostly, I just supervised, throwing out suggestions here and there while wielding a can of Bug-Whacker. At one point my father yelled that if I didn't stop spraying the damn bees, he would collapse before the job got done and THEN who would make the power tools work?

It was a bit of an adventure to start out with. If you look very closely at the finished product, you might see that there is a tuft of my hair stuck in it. Before we realized that we were in over our heads (there's a pun here... wait for it) I was standing on a chair with a drill in one hand, an assortment of screws in the other, and an eight foot long piece of plywood on my head. SuperNan was holding up the other end.

Now, I would have loved to grab a picture of me with this lumber on my head, but, well, you know... THERE WAS AN EIGHT FOOT LONG PIECE OF PLYWOOD ON MY HEAD. The drill was giving me some lip over something or other. I think it had to do with making the screw go into the wood. In the end, I gave up trying to hold the plywood to the cieling with my head, put it down, and made my mother search out my father, who was still stewing because NONE of the equipment for straw-making would co-operate. In fact, I think he may still be stewing now.

Hell, he may be stewing from now until every last morsel of that straw has been peed on by our horses.

At any rate, I think it is by far the most productive day off from work I've had in weeks. Tomorrow I get to start painting the barn. I've wanted to beautify the place since long before I had a horse, but now that I do, I want even more for him to have a lovely home to live in.

As soon as I get the Clifford border off my bedroom walls, I think he and I will be about even

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Caution: Horses

I've been searching about The Ranch lately for a blanket for my horse, because soon enough, he is going to need a warm blanket for winter. So far my search has come up with six of them.

I found my blanket from my last horse, a beautiful green lamb's wool lined piece of work in near-perfect condition. I hung it up over the fence for it to be rained on before I attempt to wash it with a brush and soap. Five years of laying about on a farm can make a blnaket kind of icky, and I like nature to be able to take care of as much ick as it can.

Tonight I went out to measure my horse and see if the blanket would fit. It turns out that Zydo is a GIANT FRICKIN' HORSE, because his blanket size is eighty six. My last horse was nowhere near that big, and so the beautiful blanket I found will be of no use to him at all. He might as well wear it as a hat.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

When your Cat is a Crazed Lunatic...

Copernicus is an odd cat, this I know for sure. I recently purchased a six dollar brush (Which seems a little off, considering I DON'T OWN A HAIR BRUSH but my cat does) in an attempt to make her like people.

I think her main problem is that she doesn't know HOW to like people. Its like she was born in a bush and brought into civilization last Tuesday. Which, you know, isn't that far from the truth considering she spent her first year living in the Depths of Hell.

So, she has decided that she wants to be brushed. She wants nothing more than to have you scratch her back with her new brush, to pull away the falling out hair and make her skin feel fresh and happy all over.

The problem is that as soon as you begin to do this, she howls, bites, and runs away. And then promptly runs back and howls at me until I start the brushing process all over again. And then she howls, bites, and runs away. And then promptly....


I think she needs some Paxil.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So Freaking Cheap I Might Just Cry...

My insurance agent sent me a package in the mail today. Usually when packages come in the mail for me, I cringe because I know that no good can come of them. Typically, packages are demanding money or asking me for my internal organs or even for stuff like my signature or all the fingernails on my right hand. I just can't deal with it.

When I saw that the hefty package was from my insurance company, I felt like I was being given a double-whammy. Insurance people are never people you want to hear from.

But, it was just a package going over my insurance stuff and telling me how much money they are going to take from me each month.

My insurance on the Little Chevy is going to cost NINETY-NINE dollars a month. Can you believe that? Ninety-nine dollars?

I feel like sending them a thank you note.

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Monday, August 20, 2007


It has once again become cold here in Canada, and I'm currently warm and cozy in my jogging pants wondering what I will do come winter. One of the major problems I have with where I live is the temperature, and it really makes me say NO WONDER nobody lived in this country earlier. They hadn't invented Thinsulate yet, and how could anybody exist without it?

My horse is also chilly, and last night after I rode him into a frothy sweat, I had to blanket him while he cooled out. But, as per usual, I'm unprepared for the coldness, and I haven't yet bought Zydo a nice, warm blanky. So he had to wear one of Tia's blankets.

And you know when you're in the seventh grade and you go through that growth spurt? And you haven't really gotten any new pants in a while, and everyone can see your ankles when you walk around? And not only that, but they can see your shins when you sit down? And your wrists stick out of your coat, and everything just looks awkard?

Yeah. Poor Zydo. Clearly he needs an owner with more means to support his blanet requirements.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Weight Loss Regime of 2007

When I moved home earlier this year, I did a lot of work around the farm. I gardened, I cleaned out parts of the barn, and hey! I started riding a horse.

I was excited when I started out because I thought that with all this activity, the pounds would simply melt off.

The bastardly pounds haven't gone anywhere.

With all the exercise, though, Zydo has managed to drop quite a few pounds. (He also had that pesky sickness and ensuing neck swelling that caused him to not eat for a day or two. I wish I could get a good case of that.)

I've been weighing myself regularly to see if and when a pound will disappear. I've switched from regular cola to diet. I've given up beer and other alcohol. So, I stepped on my trusty scale the other day, and with glee discovered that two pounds have dropped away from my body. Hurrah!

When I tacked up Zydo for a ride this week, I did notice that he needed a smaller girth. And now, he's moved up in holes on his new smaller girth.

My current estimate is that for every two pounds I have lost, that bastardly horse has lost a hundred.

Now, you can call me a jealous bitch. You can call me catty, you can call me petty. That's fine. But I've flown into jealous rage that my horse has such an easy time dropping pounds. (Even the vet called him fat the other day. At my insistence, she backpedalled and decided to call him well-fleshed.)

I've decided to exact my revenge and start him on a new diet. High protein, high carbs. A working horses' diet. I will put the pounds back on that horse if it is the last thing I do.

I will show that horse what its like to lose weight faster than me. Take THAT, you fast-metabolismed, handsome thing with the golden lockes of chestnut mane!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poor Little Car...

I had to drive the Vue to work today because the Little Chevy is in the shop. As you know, it has been parked for nearly two years before I began driving it last month. So, I was expecting it to implode the minute I first turned the key in the ignition.

After a new battery was generously donated to my cause by a neighbor, she ran! She flew! She drove! Go, Little Chevy, Go!

The night before my first day, I decided to fill her up with gas, because she looked thirsty and I was feeling generous.

The day I got in her for my first shift, she was missing a quarter tank of gas.

Now, I'm no genius. But I somehow doubt that Coperni-Kitty decided to go for a spin in the middle of the night and pick herself up some Tim's.

I'm sure you're all aware of the environmentalist that I am, what with all the the round-upping and the beef-eating and the milk-drinking and the electircity using that goes on around here. Of course, my first concern was that FIFTEEN of my dollars have just POURED INTO THE GROUND WHERE I PARK.

And now I'm thinking, if I were to go out with a hose and somehow manage to syphon a few drops of this precious gasoline into some kind of vessel, would it be good to put back into the tank of my Little Chevy?


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

First Day On The Job...

I started my job today and everything went pretty much exactly like I expected it to, only the kids were better behaved than in the first day I imagined.

I have a wide range of feelings regarding finally working in some sort of social service. I've always sort of wanted to work with troubled youth, and now I have the chance to.

Someone warned me before I started that this would be a tough job to leave at work, and already I'm seeing what she meant. Today I mostly went through the handbooks and read through the policies. Then I got to make lunch with the kids and that went smoothly. But then I had to read their histories and files, and that part really got me down.

I just think that this world is so unfair: Why is one child born into a far from perfect, troubled family, and another is born into the perfect one?

Now that I'm working in this environment, I know that I'll have to take careful care of myself from now on. The sad fact is that I can't change the world, as much as I want to believe that my superpowers can.

On a more positive note, I have indoor shoes for working there that I absolutely adore. They are ever so comfortable and if you really think about it? They are for indoors only so my socks will be saved from being put into grimy running shoes!

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Steps Toward Financial Independence...

I went to the bank today to do something that has been weighing on my mind for about three years now. See, I have always had two accounts: When I was in high school, I put my college money away into an account that my debit card did not have access to.

Once I started school, obviously the savings money started to flow right out because hot damn, all those books and beers start adding right up. So, I've really had no use for two accounts.

The thing is that I've been paying an unGodly amount of fees for one of the accounts, and I've needed to close it for some time. I just can't deal with paperwork and people, so I haven't as of yet. So today, I marched right in and had them close the account. And yes, it was an ongoing, confusing, frustrating experience. Who knew that the words "CLOSE THIS ACCOUNT" would cause such a stir in the bank? (Yes. Dealing with the people at my bank is really this complicated. I once asked them to pay my tuition for me and I thought the entire workforce was going to have simultaneous brain anyeurisms. No joke.)

I also decided to move away from the credit card that my parents have co-signed on.
Well, they asked me on the form how long I've been with my current employer for. It stopped me in my tracks because there was no space to write 'It will be one day at four p.m. tomorrow'. There was only a space for years and months. I explained this to the lady behind the counter and she just sort of looked at me.

And now I'm thinking, if only I had applied for the damn thing at the end of my three years at the SubShack, I would have had a chance. As it stands now, I'm still at the mercy of my parents' signatures should I need to take out a loan on a new car. Or a house. Or Hell, maybe I'll decide to buy the New York Yankees next week and I might need their signature on that, too.

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Over Fences We Go...

I rode Zydo over fences for the first time today and I have to say, MY GOD, that is a whole lot of horse I've got. I mean, he was big when I got him, of course, but I didn't take him over any fences the first time I rode him, THANK THE LORD.

He is very keen to get up and GO, which I take as a good sign that he is over his sickness. The only thing that needs to be improved on now is his rider. Sadly, this will take a bit of time.

I can't get over how well I'm doing from a mental point of view, however. He is a big and intimidating animal and every day before I go out to ride, I have a little talk with myself. I say "This is the day that he could send you flying through the air to land on your face in the dirt." Then I finish my Coke and head out to tack up. Because there is nothing better, from a horse's point of view, than having a hundred and fifty pounds of over-caffeinated rider on your back.

The thing about this horse is that I trust him entirely. At this point, if I come off him, it will be entirely on my shoulders and I've accepted that. I had one minor fit of anxiety today when he got away from me at the canter. When I tried to pull him up, he decided to toss his head hither an yon. Now, I'm not sure how much experience you have being on a giant horse who is charging away from you while swinging his head around, but is is a nerve-wracking thing to experience.

I suppose at that point my mother knew I was a little rattled, because she asked if I was finished. And I thought, no, I better go over a few more times to calm my nerves or I'll have anxiety for the rest of the night.

And I did, and it was glorious, and really? Today was the day that Zydo took me flying through the air, only he did it with me and not against me.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gainful Employment...

I had a job interview today. It was sort of short notice but I dropped off my Resume on Thursday and he called that evening to have me come in today. Seeing as how I'm unemployed and all, thinking up something to do with my time has required a little creativity. Its nice to just do what someone else has in mind from time to time.

On the way there, I was a wreck. I've never done a proper job interview before: Everything else has been in customer service (Read: One of those jobs that makes you want to eat your own eyeballs for lunch. But only if they're well coated in the secret sauce).


I'll be working in a group home for youth who haven't made it in foster homes. Some people I know are a little touchy on my working with teenage boys who are troubled, but I'm actually not concerned about it at all. I look forward to being in a fast paced environment, having to think on my feet, having to use some of the stuff I've been studying over the years.

I think one of the things I look forward to the most is it not being a regular workplace. Like, you don't go in and do the exact same thing the exact same way every single day. I won't deal with customers and until you've been dealing with customers since you were sixteen years old? You simply have no idea how thrilled I am to never have to wish some asshat a pleasant evening EVER AGAIN.

So, employed I am. The manager even told me that he was thrilled that I play guitar and that he would like to see me put that to use with the kids for one of their leisure evenings. Once I'm comfortable in the workplace I'm sure that won't be a problem.

Oh, happiness...
For anyone interested, it seems that Zydo's troubles are past. I rode him this evening and it was wonderful. His breathing is perfect and clear, his nose is not running, and he no longer has oddly shaped bumps running the length of his neck. Hurray for healthy horses!

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Because You're SOOOO Not Sick of Hearing About My Horse...

Zydo was out of sorts this morning and upon further examination, it seems that the injections of penicillin we've been giving him have not agreed with his system. He has swelled at the site of injection to the point that this morning, he couldn't even reach down to eat his hay.

His temperature was up slightly and while my dad had already applied an ointment that worked for his horse for her swelling, the same would not work for Zydo.

Now, I don't know how many people here are swelling experts, but I've always been under the impression that for swelling you apply a cold compress for twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off. The area of swelling on a horse is typically larger than that on a human, and so applying an ice pack is a little impractical. Expecially considering that even if you could find a cold pack big enough, it would need its own freezer to keep it cold.

So I headed for the garden hose. Only, I was intercepted by my father and told that swelling needs an hour of hosing, NOT twenty minutes. Not forty minutes, not fifty seven minutes, but ONE FULL HOUR of hosing time, Dammit.

So I got the hose. And after twenty minutes, his swelling had gone down and he looked a little more Zydo-ish. But I persisted thinking that at minute thirty-five, my dad would come out and say 'Lookin' Good! To the stall he goes!'

Dad came out at minute forty-five, and I thought, sweet. I can be done here.

Oh, no. Not under his watch.

At any rate, the swelling went down and by minute fifty he was pacing back and forth to the grass growing around the barn. By minute fifty-nine he was stamping and kicking at the ground, looking perplexed. At minute sixty-two he was happily wandering through his pasture, munching on the grass.

I expect that tomorrow morning will bring much of the same and I can look forward to more hours of horse-hosing goodness.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Vegetables of my Labor...

But before I put the vegetables of my labor on display for the world to see, a picture of me and THE BEST HORSE IN THE WORLD. Seriously. I love this guy. You'll have to excuse the excess of ass and thigh hanging over the saddle here. I'm working on it.

Now, I'm sure you all recall my garden. Here's a refresher pic of what is started out as. You know, the patch of sod that I cleared myself, picked the rocks out of, dumped loads of topsoil and manure into, cultivated, planted, weeded, loved...

Here is my garden today:

Remember when I thought I had a bean weevel? Something eating the tips off my beans, so that they would turn into little green sticks shooting out of the ground? Well, they prospered. Here they are, in all their bean-y glory.

The end result of my work is shown here, in the veggies we had for supper tonight. I must say that all were really, really good. There is just something about garden-fresh veggies that is so... Tasty. Summer-y-licious. Wonderful. Like little rays of sunshine dancing on my tastebuds.

Now, some other work I've done around The Ranch:

You'll see here out front door. Now imagine, if you will, that you inhabit a house with anywhere from two to four wild beasts known as 'dogs'. These 'dog' creatures spend their time with such activities as BODY SLAMMING THE KITCHEN DOOR with no less force than the Hand of God.

This handy-dandy device, however, stops them. I decided to fashion some sort of 'device' one day, and when this epiphany came over me, a gentlemanly neighbor was here to hear of my plans. I suppose when words like 'pig-tail fenceposts' and 'baler twine' came out of my mouth, he took pity on me and offered to help. And really, the end result is so much better than the fencepost and twine contraption I originally envisioned to stop the dogs from body slamming the door no less and three hundred and seventy six times per day. EACH.

Oh, the gate. Like, the best thing since sliced bread. Or, like, totally, the best thing since trained horses.

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Howly Cat...

Copernicus is up to her old tricks again, the tricks that make me want to toss her writhing body under a bus. The problem is that here I am in CowTown AND THERE ISN'T A BUS TO BE SEEN. Anywhere.

She's stomping throughout the house like a foul-natured teenager who hasn't had enough sleep and just got dumped by his girlfriend. Seriously. This cat is majorly stompy. I'd love to grab her by the neck and force something down her throat, like maybe a happy pill or some cat treats or hell, even half a bottle of Xanax.

I've been thinking that maybe she's bored, perhaps I should go out and find her a playmate. You know, someone to keep her company at night, for her to chew on when she's in these odd moods. A confidante, a soul mate, a kitten to love and share her blanky and grow old with.

But then I realized that these were the exact same thoughts I had when I went searching for Copernicus. Oddly enough, here I am with a cat who refuses to acknowledge me except when she wants to stomp about howling.

Well, didn't I just get the short end of the stick in THAT deal.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rest... I need Rest...

Thursday night and Friday were a whirlwind of activity for me. Friday morning Zydo had his exploratory procedure to determine what, if anything, is in his nose. The scope the vet used required two hands, and my dad was holding his sedated head up. So that left me doing the scoping of his nose. It's kind of cool, being back in the country where you get to assist on medical procedures like that. At the same time, I felt awful sticking a tube forty five centimetres up my pony's nose. His nose bled and at one point I had to leave because I can't stand to see animals in discomfort, but I only wept a little.

I did get to look in the scope and see everything that was in there... so I suppose now I can say I know my horse inside out.

The verdict is that there is not, in fact, a caterpillar or a mouse or piece of wilderness stuck up my horse's nose. He just has a sinus infection, which means that he needs shots of antibiotics for a week.

The vet also floated his teeth, which means she used a giant electric drill with a file on it and filed down his teeth so that they would sit properly. He had to have a hideous halter put on his head to cover his teeth, keep him from biting, and hold his mouth open. It was awful and he hated it.

I suppose that Zydo and I are cut from the cloth in that we're both prone to sinus infections and we both hate the dentist. However, he was a total lightweight with the sedatives and that's something I plan to hold over him forever. Like, Look here, Buddy: You may weigh twelve hundred pounds and all BUT AT LEAST I CAN HANDLE A GOOD BENDER NOW AND THEN.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Back at the Ranch...

After eight hours in a car on a highway full of truckers, I made it safely home to The Ranch early this evening. Mal was hungry so I made her forage for herself in the garden. Mmm, peas. Organic ones. Because organics are all that matter to beer drinking, chain smokers like me.

Zydo was happy to see me this evening. So happy, in fact, that he took his disgusting, snotty nose and swiped it all over my favorite capri pants. Mmm, horse snot.

Anxiety levels are high for me here on The Ranch tonight, as the vet comes to treat Zydo for whatever it is that ails him. So far I'm guessing that its either a grasshopper, a piece of plant material, a small rodent, a hair barret, or a piece of Tia's hoof from all the times she's tried to kick him in the teeth that is stuck up there in his nasal cavity. I'm thinking of starting a betting pool, but I suppose that offering a gambling service online would be against the law.

Whatever we find stuck up his nose, I promise to document it photographically. Hey, if its a mummified caterpillar, I may even keep it in a jar of formaldehyde. I bet that would be an excellent artifact to whip out on my next date.

Coperni-Kitty was somewhat less happy to see me. I tried to bribe her into letting me pet and cuddle her with the promise of yummy treats, but she ate and ran.

If I'd gotten the horse first? The damn cat would have never entered my mind.

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Back to the Land of the Living...

I head back to CowTown today, an eight hour drive with Mal that is sure to bring much backache and irritability. I get to spend one night at home and then I have to head off again to my best friend's bachelorette weekend. We're going camping and the cam site we're going to DOESN'T EVEN HAVE HIGH SPEED INTERNET ACCESS. A travesty, I know.

Awaiting me at home is a sick pony, and if there are any young people reading this now I must say SAY NO TO DRUGS. It seems that the ever-curious Zydo has something stuck up his nose. See what happens when you go around mindlessly sniffing whatever comes your way?

They say that curiosity killed the cat, and now here I am dying of curiosity. I mean, what could he have sniffed up his nose? A stray sock from the clothesline? A piece of a toy? A tennis ball? A small rodent? I wasn't there for the initial vet check, but apparently she chuckled and said "Oh, you wouldn't believe what I've found in horses' noses!" Honey, I've been raised in a house full of boys and spent a lifetime with small children. I have no doubt that when it comes to finding mysterious things in noses, the possibilities are endless.

At any rate, Zydo now has to have a procedure whereby he is sedated and we go in and get whatever might be up there. It could just be a run-of-the mill infection, in which case he's going to need a needle in his butt every day for a week or so. If we do, however, dig something out of his nose, I'll be sure to get some photographic evidence.

Hell, for the amount this is going to cost in vet bills, I might as well frame the damn thing.

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