Good with the bad

On Sunday we only had a 30 percent chance of rain. In our part of Kansas, that normally means 70 percent chance we won’t see a drop. The day before I had joked with my dad after he had mowed our yard for us, that it looked so nice that we just needed a nice rain to make it look even better! And I do believe I got what I’d wished for.

When the first storm came through it was looking like it was going to be another disappointment because as quick as the storm built up and moved on, we only got enough to get everything wet with big fat raindrops. About an hour later as we were trying to leave to go feed cows, another storm came. This one brought some heavy rain and a few hailstones. Once it had passed we loaded in the pickup and tried to head south. We only made it down the road a couple of miles before we had to stop and wait it out. I cringed hearing the hailstones hit the outside of my pickup. Finally it let up enough to safely drive. The farther south we got, the less rain there was. At one point, we could see the next storm rolling in, and even witnessed a few rope tornadoes forming and quickly spinning out. By the time we got to Clark County the road was dry and it hadn’t rained a drop at the farm. By the time we’d finished chores there it was starting to sprinkle. So we had hope for rain there.

Since it was Mother’s Day we decided on our way back home that we’d stop for supper in town. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, it started raining. It rained some more, hailed a little and blew like crazy. Not thinking much of it, we headed home and when we headed north we were astonished by how much rain had collected in the ditches and was running off fields. At the house we found some hail damage on the house, and a lot of water, but everything was still safe.

I went out to check the horses and they all looked no worse for the wear. As I was shutting the gate to their pen I looked at the ground. I found a pretty good-sized hailstone stuck in the mud, and a few more as I walked to the house. They were pretty decent sized for being out there for a while after the last storm. Shaun was intrigued by the hailstones and wanted to eat them.. I had to explain to him what they were and that they really shouldn’t be eaten!

Collection of hailstones from May 11, 2014.

Collection of hailstones from May 11, 2014.

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Stuck

I haven’t blogged for two and a half months. I can’t decide if I want to continue to write on this blog or not, but part of me thinks I ought to. My brain tends to get clogged up with unnecessary junk from time to time, and I’m beginning to think that is unhealthy. I looked back at a few of the blog posts on my list that I started but never finished, and many of them spin negative. I’d like to say I don’t know how that happens, but then that’d be a lie. My mom was negative, some of my coworkers are and eventually I become that way. Sometimes I try not to be, other times I just really don’t care.

In the past months a lot has happened. Kashe the Corgi disappeared and has yet to return. A couple of calls to the neighbors merited nothing. Countless miles driving around the “neighborhood” found nothing. A couple of days after he left, the neighbor to the north called and said they had found a dead dog in their pasture, but wasn’t too sure if it was ours because it was pretty weathered. In my mind Kashe went to find a better place so I wouldn’t have to make a decision to put him out of his misery. He was blind and had trouble hearing. He didn’t eat the best and was sleeping a lot. He’s been with us since 2003 and before we got him he didn’t have the best of life. I’d like to think he had a good time with us for the 10 years we had him. He went to countless rodeos and barrel races, and was my favorite. I will miss the stubborn, rowdy guy.

Also during that time announced that Shaun is being promoted to a big brother. “Number 2” as I have been calling him, will make his appearance in February 2014. My husband is excited, and I have my moments. I sure don’t miss being up in the middle of the night with a crying baby, drool or the spit up. I survived the first, I guess I can probably survive another. I just have to make it that far first.

Because of a sore horse and being pregnant, I haven’t been on my mare since Labor Day. She ran pretty good at the barrel race that day, and even though I felt like Whiplash the Monkey, I managed to stay on and not embarrass myself too much. Then a couple of days later we got some rain and consequently one of her front shoes got sucked off. I didn’t know it and when I found it I was already planning to leave to go on a work trip. The horseshoer called while I was gone and he managed to get it tacked back on when he was in town. Between then and a day in mid-September when I actually had a babysitter and could ride I found her sore. And she’s still sore. Even after a set of new shoes and pads. Guess we will see. Muddy pens again this week aren’t helping her cause, but maybe by the weekend the fence around the horse trap will be safe again and she can spend the winter turned out some. I just hope she can stay safe turned out with the other two fat mares.

Now that we’re on the downhill slide to the end of the year, I guess I better get after getting a family photo taken so I can get Christmas cards ordered. It’s not even Halloween and it seems like marketers are already cramming it down our throats. Seems like once it’s the week of Halloween, they skip right over Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas. Boo.

Until next time.

Sweet Heart Slew

Sweet Heart Slew

It doesn’t take much to make me happy any more

Since horses are a big part of my life, and their care is a priority to me, I often look for ways to make chores a lot easier. In the mornings, I normally hit the snooze several times and don’t get out of bed the first time the alarm goes off so my day’s often start out in a rush. Not much fun, but I make it work most mornings.

On New Year’s Eve we got a snow storm. This time it was pretty snow that fell from the sky with minimal wind and ended up being about five or six inches in places. Most often in Western Kansas, our snow doesn’t fall, it comes horizontally, blown by cold, gusty North winds. This time too it was bitterly cold, but not quite as bad because of the lax winds. However, single digit temps made feeding horses a bigger chore than it really was, plus with the snow on the ground it just made doing chores cumbersome and take longer.

First you had to bundle up like you were in the Arctic (Ok, not true but I despise the cold). In regular weather a Carhartt coat and heavy sweat pants (shorts in summer) and tennis shoes comprise my feeding attire. During this week of cold and snow, I donned the Carhartt, bib coveralls and snow boots.

Then you had to chop ice. I don’t mind chopping ice in a big tank. One that has some size to it and there’s no fear of puncturing it or breaking it when the axe hits the ice. Plus, when its zero degrees out any liquid freezes where it falls. That could be your face, your eyelashes or coat. By the end of the second day my horse’s tubs were frozen solid and no amount of chopping could clear out enough room for a bucket full of fresh water. I finally resorted to a small plastic tub that wouldn’t be a total loss if I broke it and it could easily be picked up and dumped out. In the last two days it has gotten warm enough during the days where the ice bricks/blocks have melted a little. Last night I was able to dump the big ice cubes out and fill the tubs with clean water. Success! I got my coat and gloves wet and my hands were cold, but NO MORE ICE! I was pretty excited.

However on my walk back to the house my excitement over the victory against the ice was dampened some by the fact that I realized ice-free horse tubs made me happy. Really? In my 34 years on this earth, that’s something that makes me happy? I guess I’ve gotten simple, but it works!

Kate waits for her evening meal, Jan. 1, 2013.

Kate waits for her evening meal, Jan. 1, 2013.

Too close for comfort

Last night my biggest dilemma was whether or not to ride my horse since it looked as though it could rain. Once I got to the house the radio started barking at me that there was a tornado warning for extreme northeast Gray County, northwest Ford County and southwestern Hodgeman County. My ears perked right up since that’s about where my house is and I listened to the warning while looking to the west via my rear view mirror in the pickup.

I got out of the pickup and stopped in my tracks trying to identify the noise coming from the south. As soon as I realized it was the tornado sirens in Dodge City (we are about 10 miles from town) my phone rang. It was my sister. Her husband had called her and told her to go to our parents basement (they live on the same road about 1/2 mile apart) and take shelter as it was headed her way. I got in my house and the phone rang again. My husband was telling me the same thing since we don’t have storm shelter either.

Mom was at my house with Shaun, so we packed it up and headed west. I said a little prayer for the good Lord to take care of my animals and look over my house and headed down the road. However, it looked like we would be driving into a rather large wall cloud/funnel cloud, so I quickly called my sister and asked what it was doing over there. She said, “its rotating above the shed and I’m in the basement.” I told her we were headed to town and to stay safe. Called dad and asked where he was, and of course he was headed home. I told him to go to my other sister’s in town, but of course he didn’t listen.

As I was heading into Dodge City, gawkers and lookie-loos were lining the street outside of town watching the clouds and taking photos. I was not impressed and silently hoped they got stuck in the muddy ditches for their stupidity. I wasn’t stopping even though I had my camera with me.

It wasn’t even raining when I got to my sister’s house. It never really did rain there. We waited it out and eventually I went back home to check on horses, dogs and my husband. This is what I found..

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The hail beat our siding up pretty good and broke the outside pane on two windows. I’m sure it obliterated our roof and it dimpled up our metal gutters. Hopefully the insurance will take care of us.

I’m not sure if there was an actual tornado that touched down near us, but the hail/wind damage was enough to scare me. That’s for sure. I have never seen such ugly clouds as I was driving to town. Hopefully we just get nice, slow, easy rain from here on out.

Should have been a storm chaser

I’m blaming it on the fact I have a smartphone with internet access and I can check the National Weather Service forecast at any hour of the day or night. I can see what the weather is currently doing or what they are predicting for a week out. I love watching the weather, especially the storms that develop around my home. I have pretty much an unobstructed 360 degree view of the environment.

Forecasters have been saying for the last week there might be a significant weather event – thunderstorms and tornadoes for today, except they were only saying 20% chance of such storms in western Kansas. However, when I stepped foot outside to get things around to go to the farm sale, I had that uneasy feeling about the weather. It was dark to the west and clouds kept rolling past us to the north. The cattle across the west fence were walking the fenceline and when I left to go to the sale they were all bunched up.

At the sale we got rained on twice, so we packed it up and went home. As soon as I got Shaun, the dogs and myself into the house it started raining and then pouring. Pretty soon round one passed by. The satellite kept going out since its on the south side of the house and the storms were coming from the southwest. Then round two came. More rain and a few chunks of hail. The TV finally came back and they were saying tornado on the ground near Ashland. Not cool. My husband was down near there. Then they were saying reports of a tornado 3 miles from the Clark County Lake. Pretty close to the Scott Family Farm. Then forecasters were saying Bucklin. Ugh. Between the intermittent satellite TV, the radar on the computer and watching the windows in the house, I about gave myself an ulcer.

Sounded like the first storm that went to the southeast of my place, produced a tornado near Wright, another reported near Spearville. Another storm went past us over to Burdett and Hanston. From the sounds of it Burdett got more than one storm out of it. The one near the farm produced a tornado near Bucklin and later Mullinville.

The clouds have gone and now the sun is shining. I wonder if the heat will bake up some more watching later this afternoon? Here’s a few pics of the backsides of the storms.

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My kind of neighbors

Our closest neighbors are more than a mile away. From our house you can’t even see theirs because of the lay of the land. Recently in the pasture to the west, we got some new neighbors. They are the best kind.

Smells like rain

When I went out this morning to feed my horse, I immediately thought the air smelled like rain. Then I realized I had too heavy of a coat on and started to sweat since it was probably 50 degrees and I had on my winter Carhartt on.

Out of curiosity I looked up the weather forecast on my Blackberry and found it was 80 percent humidity. That’s unusual for my part of the world. Our humidity normally ranges from the middle teens to mid-twenties. It’s usually very dry here in Western Kansas. (I know, state the obvious!)

I wish it would rain so that the grass would grow.

I wish it would rain so the wheat would grow.

I wish it would rain so they could grade my road.

I wish it would rain so my poor horse wouldn’t have static cling.

I wish it would rain so I could consider planting flowers in my yard.

I wish it would rain so my pick up could get dirty again and I can spend $13 to wash it.  (Not really, but I’ve learned not to complain about mud.)

I wish it would rain so the pastures would grow and turn green. (Yes, I know I mentioned that before, but grass is important when you have cows and horses.)

This morning while working Gary Allan’s “Songs about rain” came across my Pandora stream, and it all just seemed to fit. Not necessarily about rain in the physical form, but rain is in the lyrics. Good enough for me. Plus Gary’s not bad to look at.

Not that kind of girl

For entertainment or a break in the work day I either read a couple of blogs I have discovered through Twitter or a barrel racing forum. Last week on the forum there was a post from a gal that was living in Canada. The temperature where she lived was well below zero and she was having to take care of cattle on their ranch while her husband was on a hunting trip. Reading her posts about frozen tanks, frozen vehicles and numerous other escapades involving electricity, snow, livestock and frozen water I laughed and laughed. I would guess that’s her way of venting and handling the situation the best way she could without losing her sanity in the process (or killing her husband when he returns home).

After only having to care for one horse for the majority of the last 14 years, it’s hard for me to fathom caring for a couple hundred cattle or a dozen horses when the weather is bad. As I sit at my desk reading, I think, “there would be no way I could handle taking care of the things by myself.” Sure, I can handle three horses in the frozen tundra of western Kansas when it happens, but there’s no way I could take doing their work day after day. Heck my sister takes care of their cattle – moving bales, feeding and even gathering a sick one or loose one into the pens every day. I have it easy, and honestly, I like it that way. If she can do it, so can I. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

However, if my husband decides to leave me home to care for horses and cattle on my own some day (while he’s off doing something fun), I would like to think he has the confidence in me to not return home to dead or sick livestock.