Sunday, January 31, 2010


Cornmeal is a useful item to have in the cabinet. What is even better is to make your own fresh ground cornmeal. Yesterday I pulled out the grain mill attachment for my kitchen aid stand mixer and some of my home-grown popcorn and made my own cornmeal.
Optional Attachment - Grain Mill

With my fresh cornmeal, I made some cornmeal mush to cook up for Sunday breakfast.

Cornmeal mush is nothing more than ground corn and water boiled together for a bit and then  baked,  fried or even served hot as is. Cornmeal mush is the name commonly used in the southern United States, but if you are Italian, you may know it as polenta. Basically it's the same stuff with different names and different toppings.  In the southern US you will probably see fried cornmeal mush being topped with molassas or maple syrup and eaten for breakfast. In Italy, you may see polenta served with cheese, mushrooms or tomatos.  You can find variations of this dish all over the world from Central Europe to Africa to South America. 

Polenta lately has become a gourmet item found in high end restaurants and is becoming more popular, but it is still a very cheap addition to any meal. So if you feel like trying some polenta or cornmeal mush, click a few of the links below for a variety of recipies
or do a search on your own for more information.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fabulous Friday

This was the view from my back porch this morning. I don't care what else happens today. This Friday is still going to be FABULOUS!  We usually get a large selection of Mule Deer, but this is the first time in the entire 12 years we have lived here that Elk have graced our little farm area. The snow must be pretty deep further up the mountain for them to come down to our area.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Snow Day

Today was a complete closure at work and I'm on at least a two hour delay for tomorrow. I really hate the snow, but I do enjoy the day off from work. I finally finished the scarf I was working on. Then I finished the last tiny bit of a pot holder that needed to be sewed up. Now I'm busy trying to find a good hat pattern so that I can make a matching hat for my scarf. 

Since I had a lot of time on my hands today I also made a homemade coleslaw. I had a small head of red cabbage in the refridgerator that was one of the the last ones harvested from my garden. It wasn't very big so I picked up a head of green cabbage at the grocery store earlier today and mixed the two together along with some shreaded carrots. 
I tried a new dressing instead of the usual creamy Mayo type dressing. I used Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Tried to be a bit more healthy with it but it was a little bland. I think I need to add a little more vinegar the next time I make the dressing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spiced Tea

Oh I love this stuff. I'm sure some of you have heard of it before. It goes by the title of Russian Tea, Spiced tea etc. And there are probably tons of different variations for it. I developed this version of the recipe after seeing several that called for Tang, instant tea, a lemonade drink mix and sugar. So with my version, I killed off two birds with one stone. If you get your tea with lemon and sugar, you can totally eliminate both the lemonade drink mix and the sugar from the recipe and still have an awesome drink.

Here is my personal version of this awesome drink.

1 cup instant tea with lemon and sugar
2/3 to 3/4 cup Tang

Add the spices to your taste I don't measure them, just sprinkle or pour into the mix until it looks right. 

Then add hot water and enjoy. However be careful adding the hot water as the tea will foam or fizzle a bit like a soda pop for a few seconds. Just fill the cup part way and then stir before completely filling up. This version also tastes very good as a cold drink so if you ever feel like a nice cold glass of spiced tea, just add water and ice. 

Finally since this is all in powder form, it stores very well. I like to hang on to the used Tang containers because they hold up well and make a good storage container for the tea.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Houdini Monster

Well that last post about the Monster and fences has raised some questions in the comments. I decided to answer in another post because the answers to those questions are probably long enough to create a whole new Monster Chronicles post.
 Where is she trying to go when she escape...or is she just bored?

And Fern Valley asked
Does she go anywhere when she gets out or just get out to prove a point?

That is a really difficult question to answer because she doesn't always escape. Sometimes it not about the "escape" at all,  she even breaks INTO pens.
I was holding off on telling this story until I got the video evidence, but since the question came up here goes.  One day I rescued a small black colt. He was about a year old, wild as a march hare and still a stallion.  I had him penned up with the corral panels to keep him away from my girls until we could get him halter broke and handeling well enough to haul him to a vet to be castrated. So here he is isolated in his pen but he had contact with the girls and everyone else just across the fence. 

Anyway I guess Shy Monster did not agree with my opinion that he needed to be kept separate.  I came home from work one evening to find him running around the pasture with the whole crew!!! Yep the monster had broken him out of his pen so he could go running with the girls.

In the photo above you see the gate only has one drop pin to it. That gate leads directly into my back yard. When the Monster in the pasture where this gate is at, we have to keep a chain on the gate at all times to keep her from opening it and getting into the back yard.  My yard also has two gates that have the horseshoe shaped gate latches that look like this:
Master Halco 328534B Fork Latch Assembly

Well one day I was outside working in the yard. Shy Monster and her pasture companions came up to get a drink at the water troughs beside the green corral panel gate. She continually "tests" the gate to see If I forget to chain it. This time I had and she lifted up that drop pin and hauled her little rump into the back yard with her "entourage" closely following. The horses stopped at the first bit of fresh, green grass they came to, but the Monster went immediately to the first flip up gate and opened it leaving the back yard back into the other pasture where additional  horses were kept. Then she trots on around to the front gate of the yard, flips it up, leads the rest of the horses into the yard and proceeds to hang out with ALL of her buddies eating grass in the back yard.
Basically in the matter of a minute or two, she broke out of the pasture into the yard, then broke out of the yard back into the pasture and then broke back into the yard.  I was right there in the yard watching the entire thing and you just know she was sassing me the entire time. It was like a kid saying "Nanny-nanny boo boo you can't catch me"

Now if you notice that drop gate latch has a hole on the bottom where you can lock the gate latch down so that it cannot be flipped up. The Monster found another work around for that minor problem also. She just leans on the gate pressing on it until it spreads the latch enough to pop it loose from the post. So at the moment the Monster is banned from the pasture that those two gates lead to or else we have to tie the gates shut all the time.

 Again from Laughing Orca Ranch:
Does she like to play with toys? Sounds like she needs to find something more constructive to to do than fixate on escape.

Toys?  yea she has toys, they include the jolly stall ball that has been sitting in the same exact spot for the last 6-8 months probably now frozen to the ground that every single critter in the pasture totally ignores.
 Horse Jolly Ball 10-Inch Red
She has milk jug stall toys hung from more than a dozen trees in the pasture. She's not a stalled critter, she has a 4 and a half acre pasture to roam 24-7 with at least one other companion and usually at least 3 or four companions. She has food available almost all the time. She has toys that she ignores and she has an attitude that makes her a one of a kind critter. 

So If you ever want to test how really critter proof your fences are, I'd be glad to loan the Monster Houdini to anyone who asks. LOL

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Monster and Fences

I have been attempting to get a video of the Monster opening the gates, but she has been busy avoiding me and ignoring me.  So today we will discuss her fence testing. Lets just say right off the bat that there are very few fences that will actually hold the Monster and we have tried many different things.

The monster was in pipe corrals when we were stabled at Ft. Huachuca and those held up well in spite of her trying to climb them. She likes the pipe fencing to stand on she climbs the rails like a ladder with her front feet, but can never get all the way over.

After we left the Army, we stopped over at my mom's house for a few months until I found a new job and moved on. Mom's pasture fencing was a woven wire no climb horse fence with an electric fence strand on the top.  We figured the electric fence would keep the Monster at bay, but we were wrong. The Monster backed her tail up to the electric insulators and rubbed on the insulators until the broke and ground out the electric fence. She then leaned over the woven wire fence and crushed the top down. If we had not moved her and re worked the fence she would have had the wire so mangled that she would be able to escape. 
Zareba RSW660HD Electric Fence Heavy Duty Black and Yellow Poly Wire, 660-FeetZareba YRP25N Electric Fence Yellow Rod Post Insulator, 25-Pack

After we moved here to Thoreau, we had a complete barbed wire fence. Now I know some people do not approve of barbed wire as a fencing for equine, but that is what was on the property when we moved in and we didn't have an opportunity to change over all at once considering that we had neighbors to deal with who had put up some of this fencing. Anyway the Monster was quite used to barbed wire in the first place as was the old man Hobo. Our problem with barbed wire is the fact that the Monster could get her head and neck between the strands of wire. After her head and neck was through, she would carefully lay her chest on the wire and lean  or lay on the wire. She would scoot her hind feet forward until they were almost touching her front feet and she would press on that wire until it would stretch and finally break. The Monster was extremely careful with her barbed wire fence testing. She never got a scratch or wound from the barbed wire and we spent alot of time and money trying to keep the neighbors fences fixed.  

So once again we started looking for options to use to fence and cross fence an 11 acre parcel of land. We had to be careful on our choice of fencing due to all the surrounding neighbors. We already knew that the use of field fencing and/or welded wire alone would be destroyed as she would lay over it and press it down. We knew electric fencing was out because she would back up and rub the insulators with her tail and ground out the wires. Pipe fencing for 11 acres is quite expensive and extremely difficult to put in when you have to drill through the rocks in order to set the pipes.  

We even thought about corral panels, but they don't stand up well to a mule climbing them.The other problem with coral panels is that the Monster actually knows how to open the drop pins. Lets just say she has VERY flexible lips. The other problem with corral panels is that if she is not opening the drop pins, she is climbing on them or another of her favorite things is to put her head and neck through one of the lower openings and then lifting the panels off the ground and slamming them back down on the ground. Besides really flexible lips, she also has an intensely strong neck. 

So we finally went with a combination fence that combined a no climb wire mesh fence with two strands of barbed wire as a topper. We put the barbed wire just a few inches apart and a couple inches above the top of the wire mesh fence. This made it impossible for the Monster to get her head in between strands of the wire  Plus the two strands of barbed wire on the top also make it harder for her to lay on the fence.   

Keystone Steel & Wire 70314 Nonclimb Horse FenceKeystone Steel & Wire 72600 Red Brand High Tensile Barb Wire

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Cookie day!!

Finally a day without any snowfall! The sun is shining and melting some of that snow. Unfortunately there is not much outside chores to be done today. Keith is busy shoveling paths through the snow, but doing things like cleaning up the horse manure is not possible since it's buried under almost a foot of snow and still frozen to the ground. So today is an indoor day.

I started a knitted scarf on my Knifty Knitter. Round Loom/ Hook Tool This is my first project on the knitting loom. I am extremely bad with a pair of knitting needles, but this knitting loom is really easy to use.

So in not very long at all my scarf looked like this and I am totally excited. I"m actually able to complete a knit and purl stitch on this loom. I can only do a knit stitch with the needles and it's totally frustrating, but this thing is fun!!

But I had to put away my knitting for a while to make cookies. What is better on a cold snow day then cookies?
So I made Rolo Cookies
you need at least 4 rolls of Rolos
Hersheys Rolo Chewy Caramels In Milk Chocolate Bars - 36 Bars
1 cup of butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla in a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix the baking soda, cocoa powder, and 1 1/2 cups of flour.
Combine the  sugar mixture and the flour mixture until well mixed.
Add the remain cup of flour as needed until the dough is sticky.
Scoop out teaspoon sized amounts of dough and roll around a Rolo making a ball.
Roll the balls in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
The recipe says either a parchment line sheet or spray with cooking spray. I used Aluminum foil.
Either way it's best to line the pan because the caramel leaks.
Bake 8-10 minutes. I had to bake longer. Almost 15 minutes even with a hot oven. I don't know if it's because of my altitude ( 7200 Ft) or because of lining the sheets with foil or some combination of things. So just keep an eye on it.

Tips that were not in the recipe
1. The dough handles better when it's been cooled. Even 10-15 minutes in the fridge makes it more manageable.
2. Either I didn't make the cookies big enough or the recipe is larger then the amount needed for the amount of  Rolos. I used 4 full rolls of Rolos and still ended up with enough dough for another roll. The cookies are still really good even with out the use of the Rolos. So if you don't have Rolos or don't want to use them. the rest of the recipe makes a really good chocolate cookie.
3. When you take the cookies out of the oven, make sure you place something under the cooling racks to catch the remaining leaking caramel.

And finally if you have kids or cookie monster hubbies, make sure they know that melting caramel is really hot so they don't burn their mouths or hands with the fresh from the oven cookies. 

Now that I'm done with the cookies, back to the knitting. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Thursday was a partial snow day. Work closed the office at 10:AM and I got sent home for the day. Friday was a full snow day. Technically I took the day off, but it was because of the weather. The office officially had a 2 hour delay, but since I live 30 miles west and about 1000 ft higher in elevation I got much more snow at home then they did in the town I work in.  After a night of rain and then snow on Thursday night into early Friday morning plus snow more than half of  Friday, I figured it wasn't worth risking my life to drive in for a partial day of work.  All of this snow came on top snow pretty much every day this whole week. So we have tons of snow now, way more than I really like to see.


So on my snow days,  I took some time to crochet some items. These neat hand warmers are really nice, but the photo is horrible. You know how hard it is to take a photo your hand with one hand?

The tunisian crochet potholder turned out really nice also. I do like this one. I think I'm ready to try that Ruana pattern I mentioned previously.

And to monitor the horses and make sure they have enough to eat. Even though the actually have shelter, they rarely use it. Here is the baby boy enjoying his hay. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Anna's Top Dun

When I saw this adorable baby girl I never even thought about how big she would get. I spend years looking for a quality, well bred good looking, registered Appaloosa that specifically carried the dun genes. This baby girl was the first one I found. I'm a shorty and I really like smaller horses, but as time went by Topper just got bigger. 
Yearling photo below

Two year old year

And her 5 year old year standing next to the 6 ft tall tie wall. 

She is so tall now that when I put my tiny little saddle on her, my stirrups are about the level of my neck. Do you know how hard it is to put your foot almost up to your neck just to get on a horse? I've had to resort to mounting blocks. Topper has mostly become Keith's horse to ride because he's taller then I and she's more his size.  

Her registered name is Anna's Top Dun, but she's known here as Topper, Dufus, Danger Prone Daphne or "The Money Pit".  She is a really nice horse with a good disposition when ever she's not injured, which is at least once a year if not more. I just wish she was shorter. Keith is hoping she will become his Mounted shooting horse, but we need to keep her healthy for at least one full year so that we can continue to ride her and practice. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Northstar Ladybug

"The Bug" came to me from her breeders at Northstar Appaloosas  in Minnesota and she's been a wonderful addition to my herd. Bug is not nearly as big as Topper making her a MY size horse. She is my primary riding horse at the moment and just a wonderful ride. 
The biggest problem with the Bug is her color and keeping her clean.  She roaned out quite fast from the large blanket pattern she had as a baby to a leopard pattern as an adult.

under a year above yearling year below. 

In fact she roaned so fast and lost so much color that at one point I was afraid she would go completely white and loose all the color.
two year old year

But finally she stablilized into a white with spots leopard pattern,  and the spots even got bigger again.  Owning an appaloosa is quite an adventure because they can change year to year in really strange ways.

5 year old year

The Bug is an awesome trail horse and smart as a whip.  Her gentle manner and easy going nature make her one of my favorite horses to ride. Her pedigree is majority foundation appaloosa breeding, but she's missing one line that makes her not eligible to be registered with the ApHC, but she is a registered Colorado Ranger horse. She has been in training to become my mounted shooting competition horse and doing very well. I hope to be competitive in mounted shooting events in the near future. Plus she looks really awesome in my new mounted shooting saddle. 

Weather and Crochet

Since Keith broke his toes, he's been required to wear an open toed hospital shoe. He's also had serious difficulty in getting a sock on his foot so he asked me to crochet him what he terms a "toe cozy".  The first one I made him was a little bit short so he asked me to make him a second one. Since the weather has been so bad this week and snowing nearly every day I took the first shorter one and started to make it longer. Since it doesn't have to look pretty only be functional enough to protect his toes from the cold, I took this as an opportunity to practice my tunisian crochet.
I picked up this book on Saturday at the Hastings and it has some really good photos and instructions on  many different stitches.
Teach Yourself Visually Crocheting (Teach Yourself Visually)

There is this beautiful Ruana they feature on the front page in the winter 2009 Interweave crochet Magazine that I really want to try, but I need to practice up on the tunisian stitch first.  So I killed two birds with one stone and lengthened Keith's "toe cozy" while practicing the stitch.

  Interweave Crochet

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NAIS and Horse owners!

ALL horse owners who got a Coggins test in the past year have AUTOMATICALLY been enrolled in NAIS even without their permission or maybe even without their knowledge. The USDA has gone a head with the ruling that required all animals getting particular blood tests to be enrolled and their owners get a PIN even if they didn't want one. There was a recent article in "The Western Shooting Horse" magazine titled a "Global Solution to Health Certs" that discusses NAIS as positive and needed. And one paragraph goes like this.

"if you have had a Coggins test done in the past year you are already required to have a PIN. If you have not applied for one, the USDA will assign one to your address."

A PIN if you don't already know stands for "Premise ID Number"  A PIN is the number for the property where you keep your horse. So that means if you keep your horse at home, your property ahs been identified by the Federal Government as a place where livestock is kept. Once a property receives a PIN, The USDA has no way to delete that from their system even if animals are no longer kept there.
As defined but the USDA:
Premises registration is an effort to identify all the locations in the United States where livestock and/or poultry are raised or housed.

Mandatory NAIS is here and lurking in the background. How many people have been enrolled against their will in the past year? How many people even know about it?  Do you even care that you as horse owners are being forced into a program  that is labeled  "Voluntary"?

If you don't know much about NAIS or want to read more check out the following websites and blogs:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Where is my mule?

The latest adventures of the Shy Monster include learning how do untie a wide variety of knots. Shy has never been a patient mule. She doesn't like to be tied up and required to stand still. She likes to move about. I would tie Shy up with the traditional equine quick release knots but as soon as I'd turn my back on her she would quickly untie her self and wander off to graze in some inviting spot.

Soon I was using the lock in the knot trick by flipping that last section of rope back through a loop. Well that didn't work to well either. She got learned how to manipulate that out and continued to untie herself. I've tried many different knots over the years, but so far all have been untied. So for years now the Shy monster has been tied up with a bull snap on one end and a quick release hardware on the the other end like this type of ties. 
Safety Cross Tie Nylon, Black 

I wanted to take Shy Monster to NATRC trail competitions, but according since she will not stay tied in accordance with their rules, Those plans were abandoned in favor of AERC endurance competitions because they did not have the same rules for tying to a trailer.  Here is the Shy Monster on one of our training rides.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Baby Girl's Vet Visit

Well we got back from the vet today. Baby Girl has had a lump on her knee for about 2 weeks now.  It looks like this. 

She also had a lump on her hock that I didn't get a good photo of.  So here we are getting ready to go.  Watching Keith make sure all the trailer tires have the proper amount of air.


Then here she is looking at me taking pictures of her. Her appaloosa eyes ALWAYS make her look spooked even when she's not. 

This filly always amazes me with her calm and accepting attitude. She had not been in a trailer in over a  year. The last time she went anywhere was when she needed to see the vet during her yearling year for a couple different issues. But today she loads right up like she'd been doing it every day for years. 

So off we go in the purple truck and the green and black and white horse trailer that Keith repainted a couple years ago. It really used to be rust and silver and it looked horrible.


He even painted the insides of the trailer all white to make it easier for the horses to see in the dark plus he put in lights inside. Not to many old (1988) two horse trailers have lights in side. 

And these reflectors we found on E-Bay are totally awesome also. I had the flash on and you can see them reflect even in the middle of the afternoon on a cloudy day.


Anyway back to the vet visit. We got X-rays. We had to stand out side in the front of the vets office next to a busy street with cars whizzing by because the equine stocks and exam area is being rebuilt after a fire last year at the office. Baby Girl stands calm and cool and relaxed as can be. She so reminds me of Hobo (the reason she was bought, and a story for later).

The Vet says he sees a tiny chip near the back of the knee. I'm just not seeing any chip. The vet gave me copies of the x-rays on a CD. They have a new digital x-ray machine that makes developing x-rays instantaneous. It's really cool! Anyway the front of the knee is clean with no issues noticed. 

But supposedly on the lateral there is a chip. I don't see one, but  I haven't read x-rays since 1996 since i last worked as a vet tech. I really hope and pray though that it was a misread and she's just got some soft tissue injuries. 

The hock issue is a tendon issue and not major. And since she's not lame on either leg, the vet has issued a prescription of rest, Limit movement (sick pen time), liniment rubbing and wrapping. Well I have a hock wrap, a knee wrap and leg wraps below them to hold them up. Most of my leg wrapping stuff is completely dirty and needed to be washed so she kind of looks a little funny with multiple different wraps on her legs. She sure didn't like that hock wrap either. 

Oh yea and If you can't tell from the last photo, it's snowing again here.