Posts Tagged With: nature

Pony Rides $1….uh….50 cents?

The kids and I had a rare free Saturday yesterday, and we decided to take advantage of it by going for a little ride at Eagle Island.  This ride was special for me and Annabelle because Batman had decided to accompany us.  His participation in equine activities has always been sporadic, and the time between his rides has grown greater and greater over the past months.

Annabelle was, as always, eager to show off her riding prowess, and she wasted no time in planning how the day would evolve.  When we discussed horse assignments she volunteered to ride the pony and let her brother ride Grumpy, as the pony had not been ridden for a couple of months and she was “a lot better rider than her brother.”

We caught the horses, and I saddled Reno first.  After I lunged him around for five or ten minutes I thought he would be safe for her to climb on.  She mounted up and started trotting him around in small circles, bending his head and bridling him up to get him to listen to her.  All seemed like it was going well, but I watched carefully for several minutes before I went back to saddling.  I knew the pony could be fractious after time off, and it was a cold winter day out there.

I was on the other side of the trailer removing mud from a less-than-thrilled Grumpy, and  I kept glancing  around the corner to check on progress.  At first, Reno seemed pretty compliant.

After about ten minutes though, I heard an alarming sound…..kind of a yelp/scream from my little girl.  I rushed around the trailer just in time to see her launched off the back of the little black bastar bad boy and land on the frozen ground on her back.

Then this.

I ran to my baby girl, who was actually crying.  She has been bucked or fallen off of more horses than most children her age will ever ride, and she almost never cries.  So I was really mad at that pony.

I got Annabelle up and asked if she was all right.  She answered in the affirmative, but made it clear she wasn’t getting back on.   After a long hug and quick check of body parts, she trudged off to get some grain in a bucket so we could catch Reno.  He has proven on more than one occasion that he enjoys a little freedom now and then, and it is almost impossible to catch him when he’s on a rampage.

I tried though.

He ran.

And bucked.

And ran some more.

He's Off

Although I knew I wouldn’t likely catch him without the grain, I couldn’t stop myself from chasing him.  I tried to head him off by jogging around the side of the horse trailer, where Spice was tied rearing and bucking in place from all the excitement.

Reno was thinking about running me down when suddenly Annabelle appeared behind him, rattling the bucket.

The pony screeched to a halt and his entire demeanor changed.

He turned and walked calmly to my now-smiling little cowgirl.

Who is the most forgiving person on the planet.

She patted him on the nose and said “Good boy Reno!”

There was no talk of cancelling the ride from any involved party, so we carried on with our plans.  I got Spice and Grumpy saddled, and we loaded up and headed for Eagle Island.  We decided en route that Batman would ride Reno, since the pony is always a perfect gentleman on the lead line, and Annabelle would regain her composure on her trusty Grumpy.

When we finally got on the trail it was a beautiful ride.  Although we are in the depths of winter, there is plenty of wildlife to be seen at the lovely state park.  We saw several blue herons, and the kids marveled at their long wing spans.

We even saw a heron sitting in a tree along the river.  I had seen them on the ground many times, but I had never before seen one in a tree.  It was pretty cool.

We stopped after going through one of the many gates we had to pass to take a photo of the team.

And speaking of wildlife, one of the funniest moments of the ride was an encounter between Winston and a big flock of geese sitting in a field.

Winston looked at the geese for a long time trying to figure out what to do.

He finally talked himself into approaching the flock, and moved toward them cautiously.

Batman was beside himself with excitement.  All ride long he had wanted nothing more than to “catch a bird” to take home to daddy.  Although he has gone hunting a few times, I don’t think he has the concept that you have to actually shoot a bird to capture it.  He was sure that Winston would catch a goose for us, and that it would be “the PERFECT PRESENT for daddy!!!”

Winston wasn’t so sure about that.  One of the geese honked at him, and he turned around and high-tailed it back to us.

We laughed at him for a while, and when it was apparent that he was not going to approach the birds again we started to walk back down the trail.

Suddenly the crazy dog got a flash of inspiration, turned around, and took off for the birds at a dead run.  He ran right into the flock, who took flight at a leisurely pace.

The geese in the park are so used to dogs that they glided only about ten yards away and landed again.  Winston was so proud of himself that he didn’t care if the birds actually flew away.  He returned to us wagging his stump of a tail and smiling with his whiskery face.

He is a funny dog, that one.

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Before we got to the trailer, we had one more gate to go through.  Unlike all the other gates, this green metal swing gate could be opened and closed while on horseback.  Annabelle was intent that she was going to do it herself.

Because she had been planning on riding Reno, she was not wearing her spurs, so she had to work hard to get Grumpy sidled over so she could reach the locking arm.  I asked if she needed help.  You can guess the answer.

Got the Gate

When she got the gate unlocked, she swung it wide so that Batman and I could pass through.

Batman waited placidly for his sister to maneuver the gate.  He was disappointed that we had not “caught” any birds, and he was ready to get in the truck.

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After we passed through, it took a while for Annabelle to get Grumpy side-passed over and to where she could shut the gate.  I asked again if she needed help, and she said “NO MOMMY! I can do it myself.”

She shut and locked the gate all by herself, and rode smiling over to resume our trek.

I know she is my daughter and all, but dang she is cool.

Once we got the horses loaded and climbed back in the truck, the cold and activity took its toll on four-year old Batman.  He fell asleep before we hit the main road and although I know he must have been roasting he slept for the entire 45 minute drive.

Gloves and all.

It was a fun winter day.  We all appreciated the fresh air and relatively moderate temperatures, and it is always rewarding to do a physical activity with the kids.

So remember, we offer pony rides…..

……..with a 50% discount if you have good insurance.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

RIP Perry the Pigeon

If you did not read the post from yesterday about Perry the Pigeon you might want to do that first, to give you the background on the following story.  Or not.

I am sad to report that Perry the Pigeon has Perished.  My much hoped for expungement of my dismal animal rescue record was not to be.  When I returned home this morning from taking the kids to D&B to pick up some cracked corn for Perry and then dropping said wee ones off at preschool, this is what I found. I don’t know if he succumbed to his injuries by the dogs and cats yesterday (likely) or the rigors of his photo shoot in the hands of Handsome Hubby this morning, but he was dead.

Dead Bird

Handsome Hubby suggested that I put Perry in a ziploc bag and freeze him to save him for training Winston the Maniac Birddog Puppy a little later in the spring, but I knew that wouldn’t fly with the kids (har har). When I picked them up from preschool a couple of hours later, the first question they asked was of course “How’s Perry?!”  I told them the truth, that Perry had passed away. Annabelle is my stoic one.  She shrugged and said “That’s OK Mom.  Pigeons are really dirty birds anyway and they poop all over everything.”  Zachary was very quiet.  I knew this meant trouble.

You see, Zach had gone into such a state of despair after the death of Bluey, the Blue Betta fish (we’re pretty clever with names around here) that I had to make an emergency run to PetCo that same afternoon to purchase a new, red, Betta fish.  That the kids named….wait for it…..Reddy.

Anyway, Zach was pretty calm all the way home until he walked in the door and looked in the box.  Then the hysterics began.  He was so upset that I almost started crying, and I believe that I made it pretty clear how I feel about pigeons in the original Perry story.  Zach wailed.  His little face turned red and big fat tears rolled down his cheeks.  He asked over and over again if I thought that Perry was *really* dead and if I thought he might come back to life.  He was beyond consolation.

I finally calmed him down a little bit by suggesting that he could choose one of his old baby blankets to bury Perry in. He chose a nice little blue and white cotton blanket (I would like to say right now that if the blanket that appears in the following photo is one you gave Zach as a baby gift….I’m sorry).  We put the bird down on the blanket and Annabelle came up with the idea of sprinkling a little of the cracked corn on the blanket so he would have something to eat on the way to heaven.  Nice touch, I thought.

Bird on Blanket

Then we wrapped Perry up in a nice tidy little package that dripped small pieces of cracked corn all over the hardwood floor.

Annabelle hold pigeon

Zach was still too upset to even consider touching the bundle, but Annabelle happily picked it up and carried it outside.

We had chosen a nice little spot in the orchard outside our yard where (most importantly for mommy, the digger) the dirt was nice and soft.  I dug the hole, every strike of the shovel punctuated by the wailing of my three year old son.  When I thought I was finished, he made me dig it deeper.  Twice.

kids look in hole

Finally we were ready.  I would like to say that Annabelle gently placed the poor deceased bird in the hole, but she actually just tossed him in.

Annabelle inspects package

I straightened the blanket before I took the photo.

Then we put the dirt on top and put some rocks to cover it so the cats and dogs wouldn’t try to dig it up.  Annabelle helped. Zach just watched and cried.

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When it was all said and done, Zach stood for several minutes just looking at the rocks.  And crying.  I felt so bad I almost offered to take him to get a hamster at PetCo.  He really wants a hamster.  I don’t.

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Then we went in the house.  Zach was still sniffling.  Annabelle is ever the helper in little brother management.  She said “You know Zach, it’s not that bad that Perry died.  Pigeons are very dirty birds and they poop all over the horses in the barn, and they even poop on your head.”

Zach thought long and hard about this.  Then he stopped crying, made a big face, and said “EEWWWWWWWW!!!  That is so gross.  I HATE pigeons!” and he hasn’t mentioned Perry since.

I am SO glad I didn’t offer up the hamster.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Perry the Pigeon

I would like to say in my defense that I thought it was a dove.  You know, cooing, chocolates……mate for life, that sort of thing.

The kids were outside playing happily, Batman was wearing the cowboy costume that he checked out from school (note in the second picture that he has added his sister’s pink spurs to the ensemble).

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I was in the house having a nice glass of pinot grigio (OK, who am I kidding.  It was the regular cheap swill I always drink).

Suddenly the back sliding glass door flew open in a dramatic fashion and Horsecrazy rushed in.  “Mom! Toby caught a bird!”  Now that WAS news.  Toby is our old man dog, almost thirteen, pretty much completely deaf and he can’t see that great either.  I rushed to the yard to see just what type of feathered creature was so frail that it could be caught by such a feeble old dog. Toby was settling in to his favorite spot on the yard with a small gray creature in his mouth.  It was the exact same spot he settles into when Handsome Husband throws him a raw beef bone or the kids throw one of the puppy’s chewies outside.  You get the picture.

I yelled at Toby to put the bird down, but as I said, he can’t hear anyway, and then I rushed to the house to get a pair of gloves. I removed the bird from his mouth and looked it over.  It was pretty much limp with a few small feathers sticking out in various places on it’s little body.  I was pretty sure a wing was broken. It seemed comatose, and death was obviously certain. What to do…..my two wee children were looking at me expectantly, like I could fix all this. Huh.

Inspiration flashed, and I said “Let’s just take the bird out and put it on the haystack!” in my happy voice.  “Then its friends will come and get it.”  The kids looked at me dubiously, but after I secured Toby on a chain (he was none too happy with me) they trekked out with me to the shed, where I placed the surely soon-to-be dead bird on the second bale off the ground.  The kids insisted on sitting there with it, so after a few token attempts to get them to come in the house I returned to my waiting glass of Pinot.

I forgot about the cats.

We have three barn/pet cats who are avid hunters.  Three minutes later a hysterical Horsecrazy came running into the house.  “MOM THE CATS ARE GOING TO GET THE BIRD!!!” We rushed outside to find Batman in a similar state of panic, jumping up and down in consternation as three hungry barn cats fished for the bird, who had managed to dive into a crack between the bales. I guess it wasn’t quite so dead as I thought it was.

Now, anyone who has known me for a long time knows I have a long history of animal rescue on my resume.  There was the baby pheasant rescued from the swather that I drowned trying to make it drink milk from a plastic cup, and the entire litter of kittens that I accidentally baked to death by placing them on top of a heating pad in a little box when their mother was killed by a tractor.  I said history.  Not successful history.  In my defense, there was no internet back then to look up proper procedures for animal saving. Nonetheless, nowadays I like to think of myself as reformed.

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Apparently not.

Horsecrazy Annabelle does know there is an internet.  She knows that you can look up most things on it.  And when we determined that bird wasn’t dead after pulling it out from behind the bales, she asked in her sweetest voice “Mom, could we maybe bring it in the house and look up on the computer what to do?” Ah, the wonders of technology.  And a five year old. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We brought the bird in and settled him for the night, taping the box shut and placing it in a warm place, exactly as suggested on the wild bird saving web page we found.  I was sure he would be dead by morning.

He wasn’t.

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Handsome Hubby let me know that he was a pigeon, not a dove.  I hate pigeons.  Flying Rats.  Scourge of a Barn.  Good only for training bird dogs.  And target practice.  Then Handsome Husband said the following words…  “Annabelle, what do you think we should do with the bird?” I said he was Handsome, not smart.

Now we have a half dead pet pigeon living in a dog crate in the garage.  His name is Perry.  I’ll keep you posted on his recovery.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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