I took these this morning, driving down to Hemet from home. This top photo was taken on Red Mtn. Rd. looking west. The flat mesa, below the skyline mesa is where the Nature Conservancy has a preserve. Lake Skinner is to the right. The road on the right hand side is more of Red Mtn. Rd.
This one was taken a bit further down Red Mtn Rd. The mountain way off to the west is part of the Santa Ana Mountains, know as Saddleback. I grew up in Orange County, on the other side of those mountains. Another view from Red Mtn. Rd, looking north west.
Now on Sage Rd, a view north to the San Gorgonio Mtns., nearly 12,000 feet tall and snow capped.
Hard to believe these photos are 14 years old; but the horse pictured, SSM Autumn Wind, is still with me and I know he is 14! These were from his weanling age, taken after a good rain. The arena has become a lake and he is having fun with it.
I left early this morning to go by the bank on the way to my store. Coming down off the hill, I looked over some fields and saw 4 groups of about 20 birds each, circling around. They were fairly high up but I could see they were not ravens or anything else I recognized. I pulled over to look better. There were different color variations--some were very white on the underside, some were dark on the underside, and others were various in betweens. All had a dark band at the end of the tail. I kept thinking they sure looked like hawks, but hawks are solitary. Finally, a memory surfaced--in Borrego desert each spring, volunteers sit out and count the Swainson's Hawks as they migrate. Well, what migrates north in the spring has to go south in the autumn. These were Swainson's Hawks! WOW--I've been here 27 years and have never seen them. I was just in awe to be able to have seen them, all heading towards Borrego. If I had been 5 minutes different down the hill, I would have missed them. Wow. I checked a bird book at my store and sure enough, they were Swainson's. The color differences are typical of this hawk. Wow...
Sedona is doing quite well. She acts as if nothing happened at all. The swelling had gone down a bit but remains rock hard. The wound is not currently enlarging. The following story happened about a month ago. It was a hot day and I was in the house watching a DVD from Netflix. I finished and when I turned off the television, I heard a noise. It was a noise I did not recognize. I followed it to the front of the house and realized it was coming from the cat patio. About the time I looked out the window I knew what it was--a rattlesnake--and a very large one and very annoyed from the sound of it. The cats were circling in a semi-circle around a corner under the steps. I was able to safely open the door and snatch up each cat and toss them inside. I got a look at the snake under the steps. Oh my--all coiled up and rattling loudly and just huge. It was as big around as my upper arm, probably a 6 footer. Now what?! The only way I could shoot him would be to lie down on the concrete and aim under the steps. I was not about to lie down anywhere in the vicinity of that snake. By the time I finished dithering around and looked again, the snake was gone. I suspect that as soon as I removed the cats, the snake got out of there fast. My theory is that while the cats were asleep on the table, the snake came onto the patio to be on the cooler concrete. When the cats woke up and jumped on the steps, it awoke and annoyed the snake who then started rattling which made the cats curious, albeit cautious, and the circling predators annoyed the snake further. The snake was in a corner with on where to go and the cats were not going to leave. I broke the stalemate.
My question--Sedona does not know about snakes. Many dogs have to have snake training to beware snakes. So, how did the cats know? They are house cats and have been so all their lives. Do other cats know? Or was I just lucky with my cats? When I ask them, they just give me a look! I have more snake stories but I also have customers in my store who require my attention so I'll get back to this Friday.
So, yesterday around 10 am, the fog had broken up & the sun was shining and the flies were waking up and it was time to get the horses dressed w/their fly masks. All the horses were just fine. Around 2 pm, I went out to clean & refill a water tub. Sedona, the TWH mare, parked herself behind me and demanded attention. I turned around and did a double take; I knew what I was seeing but just could not believe it. Immediately behind the corner of her mouth was a big, rubbed raw wound with swelling. The swelling was hard as a rock. The wound had two points of origin. I was looking at a rattlesnake bite. The wacked part of it? This same horse got bit in the same place 2 years ago. I looked at her; "Geez mare, didn't you learn from the first snake encounter?!" "You have now proven that my cats are smarter then you." (cat vs. snake is a story for another time) I trekked down to the tack room and got Betadine solution, gauze, providine ointment and horse cookies. Don't need a halter; as long as I have cookies or carrot slices, she stands for all necessary treatment just fine. Back up the hill to sort her out from the other 2 horses so they don't chase her off for the cookies. Yep, there are indeed 2 points of main damage, one of them a nice deep pit of already dead flesh. As I am cleaning off the smeared blood, I note that it looks like she has another set of fang marks on her chin. I call over Senior Handyman and he makes the same observation. I put in an emergency call to my vet who returns my call promptly and we discuss what to do. Turns out he is getting ready to leave on vacation and he took my call because he recognized my phone number. The word is to start her on Bute or Banamine (I chose bute because it is cheaper) and antibiotics. He knows I already know about cleaning it for as long as it takes to heal and what to watch for that may need a vet visit. When I go to give her the bute, the swelling has increased but continues to be very localized around the corner of her mouth. Same as last time, her head does not swell up. The vet said two years ago that some horses seem to contain the venom near the injection site while others spread it and have more problems. Three hours later, the swelling has either stopped or gotten so slow that I can't see the increase and she has stopped rubbing it. I will attribute those to the bute but have no proof of it being so. She is happy to eat dinner and her soaked hay pellets with oats and SMZ. This morning the swelling has stabilized and she has refrained from further rubbing. She enjoys the cleaning w/betadine, with cookies. She enjoys getting the SMZ, with soaked feed. But she hates the syringe of bute. Oh well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad! If this is like before, we are in for a lot of tissue sloughing as the venom kills flesh further from the injection site which means lots of cleaning to keep the necrotic tissue from causing infection and to keep the fly eggs out. The location prohibits any true cleanliness and of course wrapping/covering. The best I can do is to cannibalize a piece of mesh off an old fly mask and use a diaper pin to pin it to her mask to hang down over the side of her mouth. It does keep off a surprising number of flies. Last time, which had less swelling and a smaller initial wound, it took a month of daily cleaning and another month of sporadic cleaning to fully heal. Really, mare, AGAIN?!
Here is my senior handyman with my brand new Swisher String Mower. They are having a fine time taking down the weeds. Senior handyman got his own Swisher several years ago and it has been a hard-working, dependable, easy to maintain machine. Seeing what an excellent piece of equipment the Swisher is, I finally went to Lowe's and got one of my own. Should have done it years ago...
This started Thursday July 15 with a lightning strike in the middle of a non-inhabited area of about 20 acres of brush. Then it jumped the paved road & burned a bunch more. This was right near where my dirt roads meet the paved road. It is 2 miles by road and about 1 1/2 mile away straight line. The road there is Empty Saddle Trail, so the firefighters named this fire, Saddle Fire. One neighbor was right up near there on his cell phone because the entire area was down due to a major equipment failure of Verizon's. He didn't see the strike but sure heard the thunder right behind him.
Here the fire is finishing up on my side but has hit a thick patch of brush on the other side of Red Mtn Rd. on the right where the huge upwelling of dark smoke is.
And here it is running out of stuff to burn. Shortly after this photo, I joined a bunch of neighbors out on the road to watch the mop-up and share information, since none of us had working phones. (Now it is Tuesday, and we still have no phones)
The brown smoke on the left is coming from the saddle fire on the other side of Red Mtn. Rd. The big upwelling of white smoke on the right is from the Cactus Fire which is about 3 to 4 miles away in a straight line. At this point, the wind was out of the SW which was pushing the fire away from us, mostly. That one burned hundreds of acres before it was over.
Choice of Photo Captions-- The Mighty Hunting Cat resting up from the hunt. OR The Last Thing the Prey Sees
So, this morning, I walk into the living room to find my Mighty Hunting Cat crouched by his kill. A Rabbitt!? What?! The only outdoor access the cats have is the fully enclosed cat patio. The lower part is fenced with standard V-mesh wire fencing and I know the rabbits can get through that when they are young and not fully grown. I've been putting chicken wire on the V-mesh of the garden area to keep the darn things out. Why did a rabbit go onto the cat patio? Perhaps it was in the garden (I've not finished the chicken wire project yet) and decided to leave via the cat patio--where the Mighty Hunting Cat was waiting. I found a small amount of fresh blood on the patio floor but the rabbit looked unmarked. Sadly, I had to take the rabbit away as I really did not need rabbit guts and hair all over the house. I really wish I had seen that catch.
Another blog got me thinking about my adventures with trucks. I never had a problem while towing horses, thankfully. But we had our interesting moments. I have had two full size trucks. The first was a 1972 Ford 3/4 ton that I got in 1983. It now lives with one of my handymen. That truck hauled a lot of hay when I was buying hay from a farmer. 23 bales would be loaded up and up the hill we would go. Every once in a while, I would get careless and go too fast on my dirt roads & have a top bale come rolling over the cab onto the hood & to the ground. One time, it stayed on the hood so I just left it there & drove home. Then there was the time I heard a loud "whump" and looked back to see my spare tire in the road. The tire holder had died of old age & rust. So now I had a big heavy tire & a fully loaded truck. I dropped the tail gate, got the tire up on the gate & used my handy pocket knife to cut off some bailing strings & tie the tire in place. My other truck was a 1980 Chevy 3/4 ton that I got from my parents in 1995. That truck had pulled their 5th wheel RV across the country and back and all over the west. That truck was made to tow. It got 10 mpg hauling a big load or cruising empty and was happiest doing work. Big Blue pulled my heavy big stock trailer easily as well as pallet loads of bagged concrete, gravel, concrete block and what ever we threw at her. Like The Ford, Big Blue was made to do a job, not be a decorative truck, and had a solid truck bed that could take a beating. The huge engine needed a big battery to crank over and ate a few hang-on parts but that engine just kept going. While my dad had her, she developed an exhaust system leak that no one could ever fix--not the dealer nor any of the mechanics who tried. All agreed it was the exhaust manifold and it gave a her a deep, sexy rumble. You could hear that truck coming up the road for some distance. My other handyman now has her and she still has that sexy rumble. The Chevys of that time did have one flaw and it was the electrical system. My parents found out the hard way that the "Black Box", the module mounted on the inside wall of the distributor would just die at 20,000 miles. The first time it happened, they were in the mountains and suddenly had no engine, no brakes, no power steering, no anything electrical, and barely any shoulder to pull off onto. No one ever figured out why that happened, but it was easy to prevent. One of the times Big Blue had to be towed was when she would not start at a gas station. I called for a tow and sat there and waited, receiving angry glares from others who were mad that I was blocking a pump. I did make the offer to one young man that he could try pushing my truck out of the way; he declined. Once the tow truck finally showed up, he declared it was a dead battery and would jump it for me, despite my assurances it was something else. But he knew more them me! He hooked up the cables & told me to turn the key. I did & flames shot out from the back of the engine compartment. Yep, that was a dead battery problem, alright. Without a word, he hooked us up to tow. On another occasion, another electrical problem stopped us at another gas station. And the third tow was yet another electrical problem, which happened at home so a tow truck had to come in and out the 2 miles of dirt roads. Big Blue had to be moved by a tractor once, but that was my fault. I was at a horse clinic and it had snowed the night before. I got there in the morning & parked my truck to the side of their driveway. Later that day, I wanted to leave. I had parked on a slight slope and the snow had melted, creating a slushy slippery layer on top of non-slushy not as wet ground. Big Blue did not actually slip on the mud but moved the entire top layer around and never could find purchase to get going. It was a good thing the clinic sponsor's husband had tractors. My trucks were old, somewhat beat-up and obviously working trucks, but I got a lot of offers to buy them where ever I went. Those old trucks were hard working and tough and the engines went forever. And they both are still out there working for my handymen.
I got her from a county shelter the end of October 2008. We had a little over a year together which was very good. She was a loving and happy cat, sleeping on me at night and in my lap during the day. Then problems started. By April, she was responding very well to the Gargline insulin. But there were still other problems. For some, we found partial solutions. For others, not so much. And finally late Sunday she developed something major and I had to take her to the vet to be put down Monday morning. Was the final thing fixable? I don't know. But I had reached the end of what I could do, both emotionally and financially. I feel very bad that I put her down mostly for my own mental health but in retrospect, I don't think she was all that happy. Before, she loved to be on top of me, in my lap or on my chest when I laid down. But for the last months, she became hypersensitive, wanting to be on me, but unable to bear it for more then a brief time. On my lap, she had to lie mostly on the chair with only a small part of herself actually on me. In bed, she could only lie near me and could not be touched. She became needy instead of loving. About two weeks ago, her voice changed, becoming deeper and louder. Something was not right. As I was cleaning up the house late yesterday, removing tarps from the beds, finding and cleaning up more dried urine puddles under the bed, removing the baby gate from the other bedroom, opening the walk-in closet door, one of the other cats jumped up on the now un-tarped bed & I raced to remove him in case he was going to pee on the bed. That's when I it hit me how much strain I had been living with and how my trust was shattered. The other cats were happily using their litter boxes, all the messing had been her. This morning I found myself checking the house for poop or pee in the wrong places; a little PTSD, much? I think she had been telling me, in one of the few ways available to her, that she needed to leave. And I think I knew that, at that deep unconscious level, but I was holding on and she was still somewhat undecided too. Until she knew for sure and told me for sure. But it still hurts, a lot. I have to picture her with her own angel, with no other cats in the house, having a lap all day and a bed all night, snuggling and being loved and healthy. She deserves no less.
This is the view from the vantage point where the dirt roads meet the paved road where I was waiting for the electrician to arrive. This is looking east. From the same vantage point, looking southwest.
And this is the dirt road heading out, dipping down to Willow Culvert.
The electrician arrived right on time. The fix was simple, merely replacing the big circuit breaker in the main box that led to the house's circuit box. It had gotten wet and burned out.
Now that I have full electricity at home, the store has no water (see the curtsbookshemet.blogspot.com blog).
All started out very nicely this morning. Not only did we get about 3/4 inch of rain, but we got an inch of snow. The weather geeks were wrong again--the snow level was about 1000' lower then predicted. After feeding the horses, I came in to feed the cats and myself. My oatmeal was cooking in the microwave and the furnace was on, and then, the microwave and the furnace disappeared. This was not a good thing. I checked the circuit breaker box on the house but all circuits were on. I flipped them all off while I went down to the workshop to drag out the other microwave & carry it back up the hill and flip the circuits back on. I had my suspicions about the old microwave. It is about 20 years old and I think I heard it make a funny noise yesterday. I found a plug that was on, figuring out that over half the house was without electric now. My oatmeal finished cooking on the bedroom floor. I played w/the circuit breaker some more but to no avail. At 8 o'clock, I called the person I know at the outfit that services my heater/AC & he agreed that since the furnace is on its own dedicated circuit and that since other circuits were down, the problem was in the circuit breaker. The breaker is as old as the house, age 27 years, so no surprise that it finally died when something went wrong w/an appliance. Or it just finally decided to die. He did recommend an electrician whom I promptly called. He will be out tomorrow morning. The outlet for the refrigerator was dead, so I got a short extension cord and ran it from an outlet that was working. I also have kitchen lights and all the electric in the west two rooms as well as the stove in the kitchen. I am probably a bit paranoid or obsessive or something, but I did not want electric in the house while I am gone today. If part of the circuit board is bad, I do not trust the rest and with the cats in the house I decided to take no chances. So I flipped the master switch on the main circuit board that comes off the electric line. It has two big breakers, one for the house & one for the workshop/tack room and water well down below. With no furnace, my house was a cozy 55 degrees when I left this morning. Since I usually run the house 60-62 in winter, it wasn't really that bad. When I get home, I'll flip the master breaker, plug the refrigerator back in, and get on with the usual. Tomorrow I'll wait for the electrician to call, drive out to the pavement & bring him in, and then spend the big bucks getting a new house circuit breaker board. It's always something...
This photo was taken in Feb. after a storm put some snow on the Palomar Mtns. It may soon be looking like that again as a late spring cold storm is coming through. We got about 1/3 inch of rain last night with more in the forecast for tonight & tomorrow. Snow levels are to be down to 4,000 feet which will just miss us at 3,000 feet. It is cold--40 when I left home this morning at 9:30--and very windy. The horses, who are all shedding, are wondering what happened to the nice warm weather. I'm glad I have this nice barn to stash them in for the night so they can get out of the wind and wet. They'll be going in tonight. We do need the rain and it is very good to get such late rain.
With the frequent rains this year, the moss and lichen is very happy. These are my Western Redbuds and their moss collection. The brown things in the tree are the dried seed pods. Pretty soon these trees will be bursting into bloom--covered with magenta flowers.
The cats own the house and can go where ever they please. He likes the kitchen table. And those two brown books on the bottom of the stack are two old AMHA Registry Volumes to help w/my Old Morgans blog.
This was my arena after the last big rain. And probably what it will look like again after the storm coming in this Friday/Saturday. Very pretty. Very useless as an arena! I've also had ducks swimming in it.
Recalling the dogs and the horse I was riding, this must have taken place in ’92 or ’93. It was a beautiful late spring morning and Fancy Lady and I went out for a ride. The dogs, of course, came along also and traveled at least twice the distance Fancy & I did as they cast about here and there and everywhere.
We were about 2 miles from home and heading back. The two “black and whites”, Nova and Maggie Mae Smith, were in the lead, dog trotting along with ears bobbing up and down. The two half-sisters, Diana and Chocolate, were in the rear, also dogtrotting with tongues lolling. I heard a rustle in the brush to the side of the road and out came a coyote. The coyote settled in about 12 feet to the side of Fancy, level with her shoulder. The dogs in front whirled around for a look and the two in back feinted at the coyote but stopped in bewilderment when the coyote ignored them. The coyote kept time with Fancy and the dogs gave way and fell in behind.
So we traveled down the road—horse with human aboard, 4 surprised and puzzled dogs, and one coyote.
The coyote was in good health with good weight with a slick and shiny coat. Her gaily raised and waving tail allowed me to determine that this was a female. She hardly gave me a look, and Fancy, after the initial look at the new canine joining us, ignored her as she did the dogs.
We reached the mile point and continued onwards. As we passed the half mile from home point, still in formation, I was wondering if she was going to come on home with us. Finally, at the bottom of the driveway, the coyote veered off, back into the brush as dogs, horse & I continued up the driveway. The dogs watched her leave, and they were still puzzled by this visitation of a coyote who did not run from them and who was not interested in them.
To this day, I cannot know what that coyote was thinking. But it remains a shining moment in my life.
This is Sky Dancer, who gets up onto the bathroom counter & then opens the cupboard and makes himself a nice cave. He sometimes stays in there all day long. I don't use the towels on this shelf as they are now his bed. MY towels are on the next shelf up.
a view that has no end; no DSL, no cable, cell phones kinda function; dirt roads; plenty of space; no actual gardening, just find the plants that survive the conditions; a few good neighbors; wildlife up close; 25 minutes from the closest town--I would not want to live anywhere else.