Here comes winter!

I guess our Indian summer is about to grind to a halt. The weather guesser tells us we’re gonna have temps in the twenties in a couple days.

This is the weather in Texas: one day summer, the next day winter. You never know what to wear.

The cowboys, who live mostly outside have a whole language about this weather. 

     “Whooee! Nothin’ between us an’ the North Pole but a bob wire fence!”

     “ Even that’s only a three wire fence!”

     “ Yeah, and one’s broke down.”

     “Heck, it’s colder’n a pawnbrokers smile.”

     “ Feels cold as a well digger’s…belt buckle.”

I guess me and miz Sallie will be movin’ the Hibiscus into the greenhouse, and I’ll be pullin’ up tomato vines and hangin’em up in the tractor shed.

So, cut me a slice of that chuck wagon coffee while I pull on my Mukluks, I gotta go feed cows!

Thanksgiving

 It’s Thanksgiving day. I ask myself, “what have I to be thankful for?“

Then I look out my bathroom window and I see gold!

The leaves of the huge hickory tree just outside are bright yellow gold.

I’m remembering a line from an old Don Williams song “I’ve got silver in the stars and gold in the morning sun.”

Then I think about how long I’ve been gifted to be on this planet, with such beauty, and in a country with such bounty and its freedoms, to move about, express myself, follow my passions, and reach for goals.

Then, the most precious gift of all comes to mind, the woman I’ve shared this life with for over fifty years, our two grown successful children, and three wonderful lively, loving grandchildren.

To ice the cake, we have such friends as to make a life full and joyous all year long.

What have I to be thankful for?

The real question I should ask is: how on earth could I not be thankful!

The Daughters of the Pioneers

I guess one of my favorite musical groups is, and has always been, “the sons of the pioneers.”

They sang  the good ol’ cowboy songs,with voices that had the bitter-sweet echoes of days gone by, of the open range, the sweet mountain wildflowers, and the cattle and horses.

Those songs are a balm to my soul.

Those men have kept an agrarian culture and lifestyle preserved for an over populated, fenced in, mechanized, and even frenetic modern world. 

Then, this morning, as I was cleaning a cast iron skillet, I realized that the method that I was using was taught to me by a “daughter of a pioneer.”

Theo Richardson, a mother, an artist, a business owner, and a horse-woman, was the daughter of a tough “pine-knot” of a Mississippi farmer, mule skinner, named Earl Richardson, who was indeed a pioneer.

I learned many lessons from Theo. One of those lessons was self  preservation, when she asked me during a period of “burnout” “Haven’t you paid your dues?”

I began right then to understand the importance of taking time with my family and taking time for myself.

She had preserved a culture of mental toughness from the same generation as the pioneer western musical group.

I owe great heartfelt gratitude to my dear friend and mentor Theo.

We lost her this year, but her spirit, her tough love, and her teachings live on in us her students. Her puckish smile and her penetrating views of reality tempered by a wonderfully unexpected twist of humor will always be in my thoughts. 

Warm up your pony on cool days

Whooee! Our ol’ ponies are going to be fresh today!

Yesterday it was high in the eighties, and it’s down to fifty nine now. Feels like Fall for sure.

It’s weather like this that will test your horse training program. It will test your riding IQ also, for it is the sudden drop in temperature and the wind that bring about personality traits in horses that can challenge your riding skills. In other words, if you don’t warm up your mount today, prepare to be entertained!

When I was a teenager, the adults would say, “untrack your horse.”  It took a few hiccups but I finally learned what that pithy little phrase meant. 

Here’s the recipe:

  1. When saddling up, cinch up “snug” but not too tight at first.
  2. Then walk your ol’ pony around on the halter
  3. and then snug the cinch up a little bit more.
  4. Now, move him around you in a small circle at the walk, being careful not to get him too excited.
  5. Turn around and go the other way, about three times on each side.
  6. Repeat this at the trot.
    1. At any time he should “hump up” pull on the lead rope to turn him around sharply. He needs to know that it’s not acceptable behavior.
  7. Now longe  him out a little bit farther and ask for a canter or lope ( cantaloupe?) using the same formula.
    1. At this point you can go ahead and tighten the cinch.
  8. But, now, longe him around a few more times,
  9. then mount while standing still.
  10. And, stay sitting still for a full minute.
  11. Finally, ask for head and neck flexions to each side, all the way to the stirrup, until they are feather soft.
  12. Then put one leg on him to make a tight circle each way,
  13. and then allow him to walk forward.

He’s not really warmed up at this point though. I’d keep him going in a large circle at a walk, trot, and finally a lope until his breathing is a little heavy, and if he takes a deep breath and blows it out,  THEN you’re ready to ride.

Taking time to warm up ol’ pokey will reduce considerably those moments that take your own breath away!