Holiday Freebies ~ Sexy and Sweet

Samhain Publishing has been treating their readers with free stories through this holiday season and an extra special one was posted today, Leah Braemel's FIRST NIGHT. Click on over and give it a read! It's fun and it's FREE.

And in addition to being a steamy hot read, it's especially fun for me because it has it's roots in the week that Leah spent down here in Texas during the RWA National Convention last year. You can read all the details about it here, but I have to say in my own defense that I'd always thought we used Mesquite wood in grills purely in self-defense! ;)


I have no bats in my bat house.

They say that bats are everywhere, if you'll just put out a bat house, they'll find it and roost or den or whatever bats do. It was on the the side of the well-house, but the only thing that moved in were wasps. I thought it needed to be higher, but I don't think where it is now is working very well.

Jolly Balls...

So everyone reads about Telpe's tire and Miree's hay habit and wonder why I don't just buy them 'jolly balls'. (for those that don't know, they're big rubber balls they sell for horses to play with). I've tried that and found a couple of problems with them. I liked them overall, and the horses liked them well enough. But I thought, for the price (they aren't cheap) the horses didn't enjoy them *that much more* than say, a rubber feed pan or an empty milk jug.

The bigger problem I had with the balls was that they roll *head desk* ... I know what you're thinking .... it's a ball forcryingoutloud... right? But they roll under the fence and I'm the one playing fetch. (I'm not that bored). And not only do the horses toss them through the fence, but the wind blows them around. So in the summer time, the west pasture has all the balls, and in the winter time (we only have two seasons here) the south pasture has all the balls.

The obvious answer (obvious to me) is to wash out a milk jug, dribble a handful of grain in it and toss it out for them. But they don't last very long. Hours at most. And even my family doesn't drink that much milk. And then (again) I'm chasing them down and picking them up to throw away.

I thought I had a brillant idea and a break through when I finished off a jug of laundry detergent. It has a handy dandy kind of spout that doesn't allow backflow or drips and I thought it would work nicely to keep the grain snacks from pouring out too quickly.

As you can see, that part worked well. Grain goes easy in, but only sprinkles come out. Perfect for encouraging play. (as if they needed encouragement).

Not only did I like the spout, but I was excited by the heavy feel of the plastic. I thought it might last a couple of weeks.

The jug itself was a grand hit.

but, alas, it didn't wear as well as had been hoped -- this photo was taken less then ten minutes into play and it had been completely demolished within a few hours.


I got a wonderful surprise last night at our Texas Smokin Gun's Christmas party. Beri and I managed to accumulate enough points to win the club high point in our division. I was totally shocked because I hadn't expected anything at all, and am inordinately pleased with the award, the recognition, myself and my little mare.

We did have a good year -- a very good year, but it's been a year of learning from our mistakes, more than anything else.

- There were the shoots where we had trouble because we hadn't ridden enough between times
- and the shoots where she soured from going too often.

- and the weekends that family issues kept us home or elsewhere on the road,
- - as well as the *smacks forehead* hindsight of weekends we missed that we shouldn't have.

- We've changed saddles, bridles and bits (three times) and figured out the oddest thing that was bothering her, when we switched from 'roping reins' to 'split reins'... Beri's only 14.1hh and so the normal stock horse split reins were too long, the ends were tangling around her knees. It was a simple fix, we just cut them off.

- We've changed some of how we do our training at home, going back to some basics. It was a (mentally) difficult switch for me to going back to neck reining and more western work. I was 'raised western' (old school) "but I got better" (<= Monty Python "she turned me into a newt" reference) with the centered riding lessons, and the bits of dressage I've had and applied to my endurance and trail riding. All that said, I've never gone back and brought my western riding up to par and this sport has me started back on that journey.

- We had a good run for the AHA OEIP year-end recognition with the CMSA, but needed a couple more better runs to keep our points ahead -- CONGRATULATIONS Dottie!

I'm especially proud of our little Beri for stepping up to the plate and doing such a fantastic job with the shooting this year and just generally doing whatever needs to be done. In addition to the shooting, she added several rides to her endurance record this year and has become the 'go to girl' and grown into a good, solid all-around family horse.

The hay-less hay bag

What you see here, on the left (the blue thing), is a hay bag. An empty hay bag. That stuff strewed below and about? ...that's hay.

SO why is the hay strewed rather than in the bag? That's an excellent question. And the answer, believe it or not, has to do with Telpe's tire.

Remember Telpe's tire? When Telpe got her tire, then Miree got her nosebag back. But since Miree (now she realizes) doesn't have a tire, *she* is terribly bored during the day too.

Miree has about another month of stall rest because of a 'soft-tissue injury' (IOW, she strained something, she has a lump and it hurts). Because she's inside, she gets flakes of hay each day instead of 800lbs at a time like all the others.

Miree being Miree, when I toss her hay in the stall, she has to dig in it and nose it around and arrange her hay 'just so' before she can pick through it and eat the variety of stalks in that days particular order. But that makes a mess of the stall.

So I put her daily ration of hay in the ... are you ready? ... in the hay bag. (which is a bag designed to hold hay) *In* the hay bag. Which of course, adds a step to her digging and noseing and arranging because now she has to first take the hay out of hay bag before she can strew it and make a mess of the stall.

*head desk*