Monthly Archives: April 2012

Millie the Mule

I am borrowing this story from my dear friend Shane. 

When Shane was a little kid her grandpa had an old mule named Millie.  Millie lived in the pasture at grandpa’s.

This isn’t Millie.  But it is a mule.


One summer the kids got a hankering to ride old Millie.  With no way to catch, bridle or saddle the mule, the kids had to figure out a way to get on.

Each kid picked up a brick.  They ran to the pasture and up to Millie.

While Millie stood patiently, each kid would stack his or her brick up beside Millie.  When the bricks got tall enough, it would be one kid’s turn to climb on. 

The problem was that as soon as the bricks got tall enough, Millie would move.  Just a few steps away, far enough that all the bricks had to be picked up and moved again, one by one.

Occasionally, Old Millie would stand still long enough for a kid to get on. 

That’s what kept them going.  Shane said they played that game with the mule all summer long.

I think this is a cute story about kids, and a good analogy about life. 

Have a good Monday everyone. 

Just keep moving the bricks.

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Quote of the Day

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

– Tim Cahill

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We left Melbourne at about five in the evening for our overnight water crossing to Tasmania, on board the lovely Spirit of Tasmania.  I had rented us a private cabin for the trip, which, although tiny, did have one queen sized bed and two bunk beds.

Guess who got the bunk beds.  It wasn’t Rob.  Although he spent most of the night in the ship bar so it wouldn’t have mattered to him anyway.

We arrived in Devonport at about 8:00 am and headed to our hotel.  We had rented a couple of rooms to get ourselves oriented to Tasmania and prepare for our Overland Track backpacking trip.

We headed to our hotel, which was a “4 Star” rated Tasmanian hotel called the Gateway Motor Inn, and supposedly the nicest hotel in Devonport.  My room had a double bed and a twin bed, with un-matching bedspreads, a circa 1970’s TV set, and a tiny bathroom with the toilet flushing mechanism mounted on the wall beside the sink.  There was a picture of a blue cat in an apron beside the contraption pointing with her paw to the flush button.  Quaint.

I tried to talk Rob into renting a car to tour around the island, but he said he wasn’t up for it.  Snapped it at me, in fact.  He wanted to go to his room and lie down.  This initiated a discussion about the backpacking trip.  After a very short talk we determined that there was no way Rob would be able to hike for even one day with his roughly 30 pound backpack on his back.

We walked to a  local travel agency and made arrangements to rent a cabin at the beautiful Cradle Mountain Lodge, a lovely cabin-based resort in the heart of Tasmania. From the lodge we could do day hikes as Rob felt up to it, and he could rest his back for the next leg of our trip, which was another horseback trip that would be even more demanding than our Australian Pub Crawl.

The Cradle Mountain Lodge was lovely to see.

Sunny Cabins

I was greeted at check in by one of the resident brush-tailed possums.  It bit me immediately after Rob took this picture.

Paula Possom

We checked into our cabin, which was lovely, with the exception being that it had only one bed.

Guess who got the bed?  It wasn’t me.

Rob immediately became enamored of the fireplace in the cabin.  He embarked on what would be his obsession for our entire week in the cabin…..building the largest fire possible and keeping it burning at all times, maintaining a room temperature of no less than 120 degrees at all times.  It felt that hot, anyway.

Rob fireplace

I settled my sleeping bag down on the floor next to a window, where I spent every night with the window cracked open to allow enough cool air that I could sleep in the stifling heat.

The resort was very lovely and offered many amenities.  It had hiking trails throughout the property and they boasted some absolutely incredible views.

Hotel Walkways

You could hike along this beautiful river on the a walkway right from your cabin door.

Rushing River

It was truly spectacular.

Rushng River 2

Our first night there we had a visit from one of the resident possums.  It came to the window and looked inside, scratching gently on the screen.

Rob opened the window.  Our hotel literature told us very clearly not to feed the possums, as they could acquire a fatal disease from human food called “Lumpy Jaw.”  (I know…it sounds like they made that up.) Rob apparently did not read that part.

Possum inWindow

It also told us not to let the animals in the cabins under any circumstances.  Rob didn’t read that part either.

Possum in Cabin

We eventually had to chase the possum from our room with sticks from the fireplace.  I don’t think that had been his first taste of human food.

The weather took a turn for the worst on our first full day at the resort.  We woke to driving rain, which didn’t stop me from embarking on a three-hour horseback trek from the small stables down the road from our cabin.  The ride was miserable.  The horses were untrained, it was unbelievably muddy, and my mount was noticeably lame.

The weather turned even worse that afternoon, with snow falling through evening and for the next couple of days.  It was lovely, but we were so glad we were not in the middle of nowhere, living out of our backpacks as we had planned to do.

Snowy Cabins

Our little cabin was cozy and warm, with the ever-burning fire sending a plume of smoke in the air.

Cabin smoke

We spent lots of hours in the lodge watering hole, called the Tavern Bar.  We played pool and drank and ate the hours away.

Fireplace Lodge

A couple of days into the visit we met some new friends.

Penny and friend

Penny and Tess were college friends embarking on a one year walk-about of Australia.  They were staying in their ancient van, which had the unfortunate feature of a leaky roof.  The girls were so sweet that we invited them to stay with us in the cabin for a couple of days.  They were happy to pitch their sleeping bags on the floor.  We all settled in just fine.

Reading in Cabin

We went on a long day-hike with them, through the spitting sleet and snow, to the top of Cradle Mountain.

Top of Mountain

Rob calls this my “Admiral Bird” look.  I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds funny anyway.

Paula Top

Penny and Tess left to continue their trip a couple of days later, leaving while Rob and I were on a four-wheeler riding escapade.  It was really, really fun riding through all the mud.

4 Wheelers

When we got back to the cabin Penny and Tess had cleaned it all up, their skills putting the hotel maids to shame.  And they left us this note.

Penny and Tess Note

See, I wasn’t making it up about the fireplace.

Rob spent a couple more days getting massaged at the hotel spa, and we relaxed and got ready for the next leg of our trip.  I was rested and ready to go by the time our Cradle Mountain visit came to an end.

Paula Hiking

Next week we’ll fly to Christchurch, New Zealand, to embark on a ride with the real “Man From Snowy River.”

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Quote of the Day

“I’ve spent most of my life riding horses.  The rest I’ve just wasted.”

– Unknown

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Avimor Amore

Annabelle and I went on a remarkable ride earlier this week with my (super-cool) friend Christine.  I might have mentioned her a time or two in yesterday’s post.

The ride was remarkable for a couple of reasons.  First, it was five hours long and covered some pretty steep country.  That is a long ride for me alone (on flat ground), and when you throw the added dynamic of a five-year old girl on a small pony into the mix, it makes for an interesting day.

The other remarkable thing about the ride was its location. We rode out of the Avimor subdivision, north of Boise, onto what was the former 23,000 acre Spring Valley Ranch.  The ranch was sold to a development company a few years ago, after having been in the McLeod family since the early 1900’s.  The McLeod’s now own it once again, and a huge part of the ranch is still dedicated to ranching and open space for wildlife.  It is a wonderful place to explore.

Riding Trail

There are over 80 miles of multi-use trails to the east of the development, and we headed out on a warm Monday morning to explore them.

The ride was a challenge for my baby daughter.  About a quarter of the way into our five hours, we were climbing a steep narrow trail where a small stream was draining down from the tree line just a few hundred yards above us. Me and Christine’s horses hesitated at the bog, but crossed with a little encouragement.  Annabelle’s seasoned trail pony Reno, though, jumped sideways like a mountain goat onto the steeper side of the trail above the bog.

Right into the middle of a large curled piece of loose rusted barbed wire.

Annabelle screamed and started to cry.  Reno felt the wire around his four little hooves and stood stock still.  He is a gem.  I jumped off my horse and scrambled up the hill to my little girl.  She was fine.  The pony was fine. I untangled his feet and led him back to the trail.

She got off and walked him around each and every mud hole we came to for the duration of the ride.  There were a lot of them. Winston the maniacal bird dog puppy accompanied her each time.

Going Around the Mud

We climbed nearly to the tree line and saw some pretty spectacular things.  Here are Christine and Annabelle along the trail.

Annabelle kept her energy up by systematically eating every scrap of food Christine had packed in her saddle bags for her own lunch.  My girl didn’t want anything I had brought.  Kids are funny that way.

Wide Expanse

We saw several long-billed Curlews.  This is not a picture I took because the birds kept to the tall grass and wouldn’t let us get close enough to snap them.  But this is what they looked like.  Desperate Hubby says their common name is a Snipe.  They are pretty interesting to watch.

Long-billed Curlew

We saw three bands of mule deer, who were leery of us but also curious.  They would bound along for a few hundred yards, then stop and look at us for a long time, then bound off again.  About thirteen of them crossed right in front of us on the trail.  Some of them jumped the fence on the edge of the trail and others crawled underneath it.

I wonder how they know if they are jumpers or crawlers?


At the far south-east corner of the ranch, deep in a ravine, lies this old car.

Rusted Car Ravine

It appears that it rolled down from the top of a very steep hill, and was just left there to rust.  I don’t know much about old cars, but it has the type of fins on the back that you see on cars from the fifties.  I bet there is a good story about that.

On the way back we saw this huge red-tailed hawk in her nest.  She watched us suspiciously as we rode close enough to take a picture, but she didn’t leave the nest.  Annabelle was just sure there were babies in there.

Close Red Tailed Hawk

We ran into a rancher from a nearby ranch on our ride.  He was riding an ATV with four border collie dogs perched on the rack behind the seat.  They sat calmly as the maniac puppy Winston ran around and around them sniffing and snuffling.  I didn’t get a picture of that.  I should have.

The rancher told us that there is a huge variety of wildlife on the ranch.  Black bear, lots and lots of coyotes, mountain lions and even wolves.  The wolves create havoc with the cows that are calving there on the ranch, he said.  I pointed out to him that Christine always carries a gun with her, and he said it was legal to shoot a wolf if it was harassing the livestock, so if we saw any wolves around the cattle to go ahead and shoot them.

Then he said if we saw any wolves that were not around the cattle to go ahead and shoot them anyway.  Then give him a call so he could herd some cattle over to the area.

Those ranchers are funny.

We finished our five-hour ride in good form.  When we home Annabelle spent three hours running around outside playing…..horses, with her younger brother.

That girl is a goer.

Cute on a Hill

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | 1 Comment

Quotes of the Day

“An armed society is a polite society.”

-Robert A. Heinlein


“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”

– Dalai Lama

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Blondes With Guns

Once a month I get together with a group of girls to shoot at the Impact Guns range in Boise.  I am a newcomer to the group; the other women have been getting together to practice their marksmanship for years.

Yes, I know the glasses look ridiculous.

Paula Shoots

The group was created and organized by my super-cool friend Christine.  Christine is a phenomenal woman in so many ways.  In fact, she is so cool that I am going to devote a whole blog post to her awesomeness, just as soon as I can figure out how to capture the essence of it in less than a couple thousand words. 

This is Christine.

Christine Shoots

Last night there were just the three of us shooting.  In the months since I have been privileged to join the girls our shooting numbers have ranged from five or six to our small select group last night.

We call Tawny the “Charlie’s Angel” of the group.

Tawny Shoots

We generally get a couple of lanes at the range on Ladies’ Night and fire away.  There is always a plethora of weaponry to sample between all the shooters. I shoot a Hi-Point .45 most usually, which is remarkably reliable and accurate for an inexpensive gun. 

Christine always has a selection of weapons with her. I enjoy shooting her .22 revolver the most of any of the guns because it is so friendly and has no kick at all.  She often has to help me when we shoot, because my ROTC days are long behind me, and I can’t always remember all of the steps required to get the gun up and running to start my marksmanship practice.

Last night I reloaded my clip with the bullets backwards.  Yep, backwards.  When I couldn’t get the clip back in the gun Christine came to the rescue.  I can be such a dork.  But that’s why we practice.

Yes, I know the glasses look ridiculous.

Paula Target

After we were finished we had the nice guy at the front desk take our picture.  Don’t we look tough?

Blondes with Guns

When we are all finished practicing we caravan to a local establishment for snacks and liquid refreshments.  That is more than half the fun.

Target Door

The moral of the story is this:  Don’t ever come after me in a dark alley.  I just might shoot you.

If you give me a minute.

Categories: Life in the Country, Random Musings | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“A true horseman does not look at the horse with his eyes, he looks at his horse with his heart.”

  – Unknown

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A Visit From Dr. Danny

Last week the kids were excited to have our good friend and veterinarian Dr. Danny Borders come over for supper.  They love Dr. Danny and clamor to sit on his lap and ask him all sorts of questions about horses and dogs and whatever else pops into their heads.

I like to ask him questions too, but he is much more patient with their questions than he is mine.  I guess I can’t blame him.

Dr. Danny had been here for just a few minutes when he announced he had a surprise for all of us.  He told Annabelle to go out and catch Grumpy, and he pulled his vet truck around to the back of the house.

Zach had to get shoes and a coat on, since he was already in his pajamas.  This picture has nothing to do with the story, but check out my baby Batman’s choice of footwear and jacket.

This is a little man obviously confident in his manhood.

Zach Fashion

The kids brought Grumpy around and we found out the surprise.

Kids with Grumpy

Dr. Danny had gotten his brand new digital x-ray machine, and he was going to demo it on Grumpy.  This was super cool to the kids, because they have been studying anatomy, and are fascinated by bones and how the body stays together and stands up and all that stuff.

Sister-in-Law Mel was over for a visit, and she was put into service holding the x-ray plate.

Doing Knee

The state of the art machine snapped a picture of Grumpy’s knee, and just like magic it appeared instantly on the computer screen.  The kids were impressed.  Me too.

Mel Vet Tech

Grumpy’s knee looked great.

Look at Knee2

Dr. Danny showed us a couple of pictures he had taken of a foot that he had injected earlier that day.


We were happy to share Dr. Danny’s new toy for a little while. 

By the way, if you are a horse owner in the Treasure Valley, this is a super neat tool that is fully mobile and can be at your barn door with just a phone call.  The applications of this awesome technology are many.  It’s great for lameness exams, injections, traumatic injury analysis and pre-purchase exams, to name a few.  The image quality is superior to what you find in-house at most veterinarians, and you don’t even have to put your horse in the trailer.

I know this is a shameless plug for Dr. Danny, but he has been our horse vet for the past 12 years, and practicing equine medicine for over 21 years.  He has taken care of our equine friends from births to (sadly) deaths, and never been less than compassionate and professional. I recommend him whole-heartedly.

Dr. Danny also performs many other farm-based services. He did all of our horses’ teeth last fall.  He can perform advanced equine dentistry right on site.

Grumpy Teeth

He also does all of our other routine preventative maintenance such as shots and worming.  His truck is equipped with a digital ultrasound machine, and he can perform on-site reproductive services as well as minor surgery.  Best of all, you generally pay no more for him to come to you than if you haul your horse into a veterinary facility.

If you are interested in any of Dr. Danny’s services, you can reach him at 208-989-0359.  Although I just call him Dr. Danny, his real name is Danny Borders, DVM, of Borders Equine Clinic. He specializes in mobile veterinary services.

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Quote of the Day

“There are only two emotions that belong in the show ring; one is a sense of humor and the other is patience.”

– Unknown

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