Time to Go!

We dogs thought our departure for the south was scheduled for December 15 so I’ve been pretty relaxed about getting ready. Plenty of time. But the past couple of days there have been signs around the house and the farm that our departure is imminent. Horse sitters and house sitters coming by for their instructions, final visits with friends, boxes and bins appearing in every room.

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Farewell dinner with G and S.

With this terrific weather we’ve been having, the snow has all melted, we’ve been out walking in the fields to the west, and I thought the peeps might want to stick around for awhile.  But, not so much. I think they’re seeing it as a good weather window to get south, before the snow and cold returns. I heard T say that the roads are clear all the way to Arizona!

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Winter is taking a break.

Yesterday afternoon was the biggest sign yet, Sid got hitched to the truck and pulled closer to the house. Yikes!

So, last night, I quickly packed everything crucial.

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Priorities packed.

It’s Friday now and we don’t seem to be going anywhere just yet so I think there’s time to pull out my take-along list from last year. I was so much more organized. I guess that’s what happens when the date gets moved up by a week.

Anyway, best get to it. When T and Nollind are on a roll, things happen quickly, especially when the weather is cooperating. Talk to you from the road!

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Full moon on the prairie.

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Guest Blog: Storm!

Howdy! My name is Storm. I know this is generally a dog blog but, I might as well tell you right up front, I’m not a dog, I’m a horse. Chico and Logan have been promising me a guest spot for months and, at last, I get my chance. I’m also on the To All the Steeds I’ve Loved Before list for T’s blog, but she’s only on Echo and I’m at least a couple of horses after that.

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Happy to be one of the steeds she’s loved.

 

So, a little bit about me for starters, I guess. I mentioned I’m a horse. Well, technically, I’m not. I’m actually a pony. The dividing line between horses and ponies is 14.2 hands in height (a hand is four inches for those who might not be familiar with the units used to measure equines). I’m 14.1 (that’s 14 hands plus one inch). If I’m overdue for a hoof trim and you count my thick winter coat, I can probably squeak out that extra inch but, in the world of horses, I am not a horse.

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The saddle makes me look taller. Right?

 

I’m 15 years old and have lived here at the van Bryce farm for going on 14 years now, since I was just a year and half old. The story of how I came to be here is kinda cool, if you like feel-good-happy-ending animal stories. I was apparently born in August of 2002 but I don’t remember much about my foalhood. My earliest memory is being at the Innisfail Auction in April of my two-year-old year. I was standing in a pen before the auction started and a few people came by to look at me, but not very many. I was kind of small and had that half-shedded-out-spring-scruffy thing going on, so I probably wasn’t what most people were looking for.

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Me in April 2004

 

And then I had the misfortune of being first horse through the ring. Who bids on hip #1? Everyone is sitting on their hands waiting to see what the prices are like before they bid … except for the meat buyers. They’re not too fussy.  For them it’s all about price per pound. So that’s who bid on me, and bought me, for $180. Of course, I didn’t know one buyer from another at the time. What I did know is that the man who bought me from the auction ring wasn’t the one loading me into a trailer at the end of the day. Here’s the story as it was written for part of an article T did for an equine magazine.

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My new herd. Nevada (behind me) and I are still best buds.

 

The man had never been to an auction before and was feeling a bit anxious about the process. He and his wife had come looking for a couple of young “project horses” to add to their herd of old reliables. The first horse in the ring was a little bay roan colt (me!). The man was tempted to place a bid but this was the first horse through (what did I tell you?). It seemed a bit rash. Before he could think too long, the horse was sold, and he recognized a local meat horse buyer. “I should have bid on that roan horse,” he commented to his wife, “I think I should have bid on that horse.” He fretted for the next five or six lots, kicking himself for not bidding on the roan (me!). Suddenly, he was standing, “I’ll be right back.” His wife watched him as he worked his way through the crowd to the dealer who had bought the roan (me!). There was a short exchange of words, a handshake, and he made his way back to his seat, a smile on his face.

In that moment, my fate was changed, all for a $20 bill.

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I think it was my smile they couldn’t resist.

 

Well, I hope to have the chance to tell you more stories from my view of the farm. One of the challenges is that I have to dictate while one of the dogs types (hoof + keyboard = disaster), which means I can’t just pop in whenever I want. I have to be invited.

I hear they’re headed south soon so it’ll likely be spring until you hear from me again, unless I can get my stories sent down to the desert somehow. If you’re thinking I’m upset because I don’t get to go along, not at all. You see, I’m The Accountant around here, and I like things to be the same, the same, the same. But more about that next time.

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I don’t mind the snow at all.

 

Winter Fun

Winter’s come early this year, and I’ve heard quite a bit of griping about it from the humans … it’s cold … it’s snowy … it’s slippery.  I say, it’s winter! It comes every year so I’m really not sure why they’re surprised or upset by it. Living where we do, it’s inevitable that it’s going to turn cold and snowy. Winter will arrive. No question. It’s just the when and how.

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A snowy start to November. This was on the 2nd.

In my opinion, just between you and me, my humans have gotten soft from their winters in the south. The first few inches of snow, the first day the thermometer drops to -10C (14F), they’re ready to head for the deserts of Arizona. They used to be a pretty hardy pair—skating in twenty below weather, skiing into backcountry huts, attending outdoor New Year’s Eve parties, rolling in the snow when hot-tubbing—all kinds of winter adventures. They’re still adventurous, just less so if it involves getting cold.

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One of many winter adventures.

And I hate to say it but my old pal Logan is getting that way too. Well, you read his blog last week, Point Me South. He’s gotten soft in his old age. We went out for a short walk today and he was trying to pull all four feet off the ground at once. It didn’t work, in case you’re wondering. I have to confess that I also pulled a paw out of snow today when it was hurting, but just for a few seconds, and just the one. I hope T didn’t see or she might put me in the dreaded boots. I hate those things.

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Look ma, all four feet on the ground.

I’m usually pretty much a “live life to the fullest” kind of guy, and winter is no exception. In fact, I find snow kind of magical. One day there’s dirt and rocks and grass, the next they’ve all disappeared and there’s this wonderful fluffy stuff to run and roll and play in. What’s not to like?

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Enjoying a winter walk.

 

And early snow means we’ve had a couple of ski days already. I don’t ski, of course, but T does and it means we go farther and faster and it’s all off-leash time for me. She tried the leash thing once but it was a bit of a disaster. I kept pulling her over. T’s been suffering with a nasty cold, but as soon as she’s better, we’ll be back out in the fields with the skis. Sadly, Logan can’t join us this year. The deep snow is just too hard for him.

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Skiing west of the farm.

That’s the part of winter I’m not liking, watching my buddy struggle. We went out with T and Nollind to take down the horses’ temporary fall pasture fence. I went off exploring the south end of the pasture into the deep snow and Logan followed me. It was tough going because there was soft snow covered with a crust with more soft snow on top of that. He actually got stuck, marooned in this big expanse of deep snow. They had to go and rescue him with the Kubota. I’ll be more careful where I lead him next time.

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Staying on the path made by the Kubota.

Merriam-Webster defines winter as three things:

  1. The season between autumn and spring comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of December, January, and February or as reckoned astronomically extending from the December solstice to the March equinox.
  2. The colder half of the year.
  3. A period of inactivity or decay.

Number 1 is technically correct, Number 2 is closer to the truth in Canada, but Number 3 makes no sense at all. Inactivity? Winter is definitely not a period of inactivity, or it certainly doesn’t have to be. Let’s go play in the snow!11-chico-winterfun-chico