Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Friday, 30 November 2012

What went right

For the past month on Facebook I have been involved in a daily Thankfulness  journal .
When I started in on November 1, I assumed ,I am an optimist, this should be a cake walk!
 Negativity and stress fill our worlds these days and it has somehow become the norm to be grumpy and nasty ,hurtful and blaming others in the world. 
The first few days were easy, then the weather turned, I had some i
ssues with aches and pains and suddenly
,I was struggling to find something to be thankful for.
 I persevered and forced myself to find the "happy " in each day, and by the end of this challenge I found myself looking forward to my journal entry !
 It became my time in the day to say "What went right" And reminded me to find the simple joys my wonderful life has to offer . So now that it is complete I plan to still daily take a moment to find the positive in my day and I challenge all of my friends and family here to do the same! Journal it , or don't but take a minute or 10 every single day to look at it and ask"WHAT WENT RIGHT?"
Stay safe and warm  my friends 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Spotting my decorations

Yup I am like a little kid, I love the Christmas season, well I don't love the crowds but I do love the family time and the decorating and the general wonderful feeling the season brings . I decorate it all up with multi-colors and pure joy , and I even do some baking! 
 Family takes time to spend with one another , we sign the wonderful Christmas songs and hymns.I am blessed to have  my family close and to be able to see them often , but  it seems somewhat sweeter over this season .
I say Merry  Christmas, not Festival , not Seasons Greetings , not Happy Holidays etc. And no person I have ever greeted with "Merry Christmas " regardless of race or religion has ever seemed to take offence or complain so I will continue doing so . Except for today ...
As I start decorating outside for this one time only I will say 


Of note, these  decorations are  fairly old, I worked  years ago in a program for adult survivors of  brain injury .And these were a part of the projects they did in a day program. These were also the folks who I worked with when I was coaching Special Olympics so there is a very good chance that some of "my team "  cut and painted these very deer, actually it is just as likely that I may have painted a few as I was helping them . So if you remember from years past how each of my decorations has a special history or memory for me you will see these are no different! But I added the "snow cap" and spots this year!

Stay safe and warm my friends , 
and remember  Santa is watching! 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Friends on Friday

They are the coolest pair. Even from the start they went from "stranger danger"  to 
 Hey little buddy I witll  take care of you  
 Then they learned to have fun and play 

 and play
 and play
 and play some more 

 and when its all over 
 this is  how you find them
 Friends for life
Stay safe my friends. Hoping all of my friends south of the border had a wonderful Thanksgiving 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Finally hauled "my Arse"

I mentioned a while  back the Eurus (lovingly  known as Arse ) had been injured and was coming her for his recovery. Well it took some time  with scheduling and  finding a day that was safe to travel (the days after he was hurt we had over 25 cm of snow and the roads were atrocious  ) I refuse to haul a horse on treacherous roads, especially one who is already sore!
Anyhow  it all came together this morning so I loaded Cat  and hauled her out to where Eurus has been and we swapped . Angela will be using Cat  for  her winter riding buddy  until Eurus is  back in the game , and he will be here, he has an appointment  for chiropractic and massage and hopefully we  will have him right as rain soon . Got home here and he hesitated a bit  stepping out of the trailer, then his old buddy and past pen mate Phoenix  called  out (you all remember the  all star antics of Fix and Arse?) his head popped up and he looked around , then let out a big old sigh as if to say  "oh , I am home" I swear that horse  tugs at your heart, he is a combo of Eeyore , and Winnie the pooh! I put him in with the girls  Andee and Annie , had planned to  put him  by himself but ... They are fine , Annie tried a little  bossy mare stuff which is funny  because in a herd she is usually scared of her own spots! But Eurus  just calmly  moved away until she settled  then parked where I suspect I will often see him, face first in a round bale!

Cat also traveled well and Angela has already had her  saddle and  gone for a spin this evening. She says she is doing  very well and the wolf tooth she removed for her a while back  does seem to have been the root of some of her  issues (glad we got it fixed before we pushed anything ) 
(borrowed fro Angela's pictures ) 
I think  Cat will do well she is at a barn where they do a fair amount of  roping and jackpots , so lots of time standing around watching the show  will be good for her too .

The tack sale was good, but COLD !  in an unheated arena with the doors often left open , made for an uncomfortable day. I did make some sale s and a lot of  contacts as well as bumped into a few old friends .
I met with  the folks from Higher Trials  and had a good talk , I am  quite interested in the Equine assisted learning programs , more specifically the facilitator training ,. they too seemed to think it would be a good fit with my history so I will be looking further into it, there will be a course held locally in future which would be  great so stay tuned I may have a new career path opening up !
this picture, I took on the way to the sale , the sunrise was so pretty! 
Stay safe my friends

Friday, 16 November 2012

So can you really go home again?

Well I aim to find out!
Actually,not going exactly home, but close . On Saturday the week I will be attending the
Edmonton Garrison Saddle club Tack sale and Horse expo The funny thing is , I grew up at Horricks Dairy(A proud daughter of Ron Horricks !)  not more than a mile from what is now Edmonton Garrison(was  the Namao Airbase Canadian forces base ) and for years rode my horses, or bike  right up to the edge of it , I started school at Namao , just a mile or north of it and worked for a time at BAR XO veterinary services , just east of the base. and yet never once was I at the  Garrison saddle club,which as I understand has been there all along!
So when the opportunity to attend came up, I though,why not ? A lot of my poetry is written about horses I have  known and some of those  horses got their start ,so very close to that area , the poems written for my dad and uncle are  for men who also grew up and lived there entire lives in or near Namao ,attended dances  at the base and in the case of my dad, met the girl he would marry  right there at Namao (my Granddad was in the air force and posted at Namao ) There is also a poem in the book , a little melancholy about  the beautiful home  farm where I was  raised.
So in fact it is time for me to "head home " and revisit my old community , and if you are in the area, do come see me ! I would  be happy to see you !
There is a lot going on at this event, tack sale , demos , education ,the works !
I will have both of my books, the 2013 Fern Valley Calender and photo cards as well. Mel Shwanke (our own dear Almighty Marshmellow will also be there with her incredible artwork. (Mel is also a Namao alum , having graduated from Sturgeon Comp , not so many years ago! )

So wish me luck , and as always my sweet friends, stay safe and warm!

Re post, reminders on Safety

I am re posting a couple of  posts from last year, there are additional  posts linked from  other bloggers under the tab Boundaries at the top of the page . As we head into winter feeding it seems  timely to remind ourselves of the risks and safety measures we can and should be aware of. Feel free as alway to add your input to this 

Post #1 everybody hurts sometimes,

re posted from October 17 2011
Hang in there gang!I have been thinking again!!!

I believe almost everyone I know, in my home life and online who has worked with livestock , has been hurt as one time or another, From, a whoops out of the saddle, onto our pride, to a first class wreck!
Handling livestock, be it horse cattle ,swine ,etc. can be hugely rewarding , and it can leave a mark. 
One of our blogging buddies , has  had a few wrecks over the summer and is still in the healing process from the last one. (I have not named her , because it is her story to tell and not mine ) She commented the other day about having some difficulty maneuvering around her super friendly and hungry horses at feeding time. A few of us talked about establishing boundaries ,and I thought now was as good as any time to talk about it . I have 2 colts in stalls right now I am working with , and a yearling gelding Dandy. Dandy and I had a pretty big discussion of boundaries in Jan  when he tried to assert some authority over me . suffice to say , he now asks permission to come into my space ! 
For the sake of our fellow blogger who is healing and ourselves , lets talk a little about how we establish boundaries and safe practices with our stock.
The first thing I am going to say about any of it  though is , no matter how long you have been at it , and how much we think we know , every individual ,can get hurt , at any time . Animals are not machines , and they  can be unpredictable . That said , there are some ways to mitigate the risks .

1. Always ,Always , always , be mindful of where you are , in relation to the animal , or if there are many (in a pasture catching a horse or on a pen working cattle .)where they all are , and where your safe exit is .
 Many years ago I was in a pen checking on a cow calf pair , quiet cow, I had no concerns , I turned briefly to move a fork out of the pen, the next thing I knew momma was ramming me against the barn wall , she kept at me until I literally crawled on my belly out of there. What did I do wrong? I was aware of her , but had not noticed that the calf had gotten around me , she perceived me as a threat to her baby and took action.

A second example 
When Johnnie was a yearling , I was walking through the pen he and several others were in . Johnnie had not had a lot of work at that point , but was very friendly . The other horses began running and he spooked. Right into me ! I had half turned to protect myself , but still took 2 boards off the fence one with the back of my head and one with my behind.What did I do wrong??at that point , my mistake was a) I had not taught Johnnie enough to be respectful of my space , even in a panic, he should have been taught to go around me or stop , not crawl in my lap, and b) not mindful of my personal area, I had essentially put myself in a corner and given myself no escape.
I will tell you my darling Johnnie ,learned whoa and BACK off ! and damn fast , I believe even before my head stopped spinning !!!! which leads me to my next point...

2. Be mindful of your own abilities/disabilities .If you are sick or injured, be aware of your limitations regarding mobility . If you can get help do so , if not  find some alternative ways to get things done. Or maybe some things can wait . 
Just last winter I had a flare up , and was in pretty tough shape. I did chores , very slowly, and did not go in any pens . Yes that meant feed went on the ground and not in feeders , but when I say I wasn't well ,I am not kidding , My sister had to come over later in the morning after I had showered to dry and comb my hair ! (I could not lift my arms at all ) That was not a day to push my limits and try to go right into a pen, if a horse  had bolted or pushed me I would have been on the ground under foot, and whole lot worse off! (that time I got it right )
a few years before , I had been discharged from hospital the night previous , and  we had a mare to breed . Cactus was a little jacked up, and clearly sensed that I was not altogether OK. He got quite rammy with me . I panicked and jerked him off balance  and no one got hurt ,but... I was immediately very aware of how wrong It could have gone , because I was not thinking clearly !

3.(could be 1,2and 3. PAY ATTENTION!!!!! I don't care if this is your first horse ever or , you have been at it since you were in diapers, complacency leads to disaster !
nuff said here right? 

4. TAKE YOUR TIME ! ,the only thing that happens in a hurry , with livestock is a wreck! 
I have a favorite saying "if you are in a hurry , hurry home , YOU ARE DONE"

In the interest of not having a 4 hr post here I will stop at this .Over the next little while I would like to do a series , on how I teach  some boundaries with my horses. I am not a Trainer. just a decent hand with a horse. I am also hoping that a few of you will do so as well. either on your own blogs and let me know so I can link to it , or here in the comments if you chose . I am hoping more for your own blogs , and maybe some of you techies will ad video?
I think my standard "Stay safe " is very fitting here! 
so my friends , please do STAY SAFE!

Post #2 Becoming the Boss mare

 originally posted  October 18  2011
My apologies to the gentlemen who read this , and the owners of geldings . The premise is similar for male horses /and handlers.It is just best described  with mares.There is no one better at the dynamics of herd management than a boss mare.
To Quote Dr Phil"If momma ain't happy,ain't nobody happy!"

So who is the boss in your herd?
Well hopefully YOU! but beyond that figuring out the "boss mare" in your herd is a matter of observation.Who she is NOT, is the silly one who rushes around stirring up crap and kicking at every little thing,nor is she the food obsessed filly who tries to steal from the submissive ones and must eat from every pile . She is not the one who goes into a pen or receives a new horse "guns a blazing" aggressively approaching all new comers . She is not necessarily the largest or the oldest ,or the fastest . But she is the wisest, and she is who you want to model .
This horse is often quite quiet in the herd until things get out of hand , she  doesn't vie for position at feeding time , because she doesn't need to , she knows her status and is calm and sure in the knowledge . The horse is calm and confident.
When a new horse comes in to the herd , she will often observe , not approaching the new herd member , rather allowing the horse to approach her . This is where you need to really watch and take heed. This mare will not become hugely aggressive , but will display very clear behaviors specifically designed to assert her authority .
She becomes "larger than life" Body language is very important , she will seem to ,well just get taller and larger carrying herself in a manner that exudes confidence and authority. When to new horse approaches , she will acknowledge them ,and sniff in greeting , but if that new horse comes into her personal space too quickly , she will warn, a foot stomp, a squeal(and from Ritchie it will curl your hair to hear it , that is often all it takes )a nip, and if all else fails she will rear and strike or as a last resort turn to kick. Unless she is confronted with an other Alpha mare ,it likely wont get much past the squeal stage . Now the remainder of the herd will jockey for position to be higher in the pecking order than the new horse , depending on the nature and skill level of the new horse ,it will be interesting to see where the dust settles . At this point a really good boss mare ,can keep the excitement to a minimum, as all of the others will still respond to her as well. A well timed Whinney from Rich , and everyone stops!

So how do you get to be boss?
Well we have identified what not to do , which to recap is , do notrush, do not challenge ,
 Do observe.
Do exude confidence
Do ,use appropriate body language to establish authority .
What is that body language?
Well you are not going to rear or strike, as such. But modeling that behavior, a foot stomp can be a hand clap(brisk clear assertive) a hand raised with a clearly stated WHOA! rearing and striking ? a raised hand , flat palm out and again a clearly stated command , (this is not where you sweet talk them , this is where you say NO, WHOA ,BACK, etc)
A nip? a lead rope or your flat palm, a quick sting essentially , a slap on the neck or shoulder . (you are not hurting them , you are  seriously not strong enough to do damage with the flat of your hand ,or a snap/sting  with the rope end of a lead.
Keep in mind you are not  anywhere near as big as a horse ,( no matter how big your thanksgiving dinner felt! )So another trick in showing a horse especially one who is questioning your authority , is be Big in your mind , and be willing to move into them each time , but obliquely, angling your body so that if they do rush you , you can let yourself bounce off the shoulder , and move out of the way .SAFETY IS THE #1 priority
I am going to stop here , for now . I am hoping a few fellow bloggers will add thier input and post as well in this regard. I hope I have been clear in my explanation . and to close I want to remind you of a couple things.
1. I am not a trainer,nor do I claim to be . I have had and worked horses for a long time , but I am by no means advocating my way is the only way.
2. Something Crystal said  reminded me of this .
Remember it is not personal! your horse is not hurting you or pushing boundaries , because they do or don't love you . Any more than your kids would . It is not  a matter of love , it is a matter of SAFETY

Big plans for the weekend here, hope to have a new post up by Sunday , but meanwhile stay safe  my friends

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Haltering Harley

So it seems it has been a long time since I posted about  young Harley. He is fine , doing well and a big boy weaned and eating well. He has always been a quiet  dude s  I seem rt have forgotten a step, he was easy to handle , would pick up his feet and accepted me touching him anywhere, but ... He had never had a halter on! Oops!
Well yesterday was the day , I needed to move him and while I could have made it happen without the halter, there is no time like the present right? So in I went , he was a little shy when he saw the rope  but his friendly curious nature took over  and I got that on him relatively quickly . That is where it stopped he would give to pressure and  didn't fight hard but it just wasn't moving forward somehow . I had my  yearly  panic "oh no ! what if I have lost my touch???" ( do it every hear at some point ) then walked away for a few minutes and went back, he  finally had  the  little tantrum he needed to have and gave in , you know it takes the time it takes and while each are different in their own way ,the pattern is  pretty consistent , a little  give and take , a little challenge and we are good to go. (except Dandy, that colt was something , I halter broke him by walking into the stall , putting the halter on and leading him out , no muss no fuss, and never looked back!!!!)
Funny, told my niece about it , and said something about I  had wondered if I would get the job done, her response was "Auntie, it might have been a matter of  when , but never a question that you would  get it done!" I love that  my peeps have such confidence in me , even when I don't!
Now I KNOW i have  about a half  dozen  foal/Weanling halters, but for the life of me I could not find a one other than the HOT PINK one ,so Harley is a Tough  enough to wear  pink guy !
Pics are in the barn on  my cell so not the best quality but ...
 Coming out of the stall , a little slow and  cautious, but he got it figured out 
 A little  double take ,in case the pail was  full of  snakes or just crunch! 

I don't leav it on esp as it is a little big but I went  back  in today and  we did it all over again. Much better today , still a little hesitant but better.
And you know what? He still lets me pick up his feet ! LOL  
We just look a little more together when we do it ! 
Good weekend otherwise, went to town for CFR and the farm fair on Sat, then chores and sundry things  today and went out for supper and to visit Martins dad .
With all the snow the roads  have been pretty awful but are finally improving . and the snow? 
Well who enjoys it more than this guy ?

Stay safe and warm! 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Just ,wow!

Had to share this, picture , a work in progress by  Mel Shwanke (Almighty Marshmellow) .I don't know what it is , the colored paper or  just the sheer  beauty of the drawing itself ( guessing the latter) But I LOVE this !! I love all of her work , but I could not stop going back to look at this ,
And it is frankly  so much nicer than the view out the window  the last couple days,  well it is pretty too but...

And it is frankly  so much nicer than the view out the window  the last couple days,  well it is pretty too

Stay safe and warm my friends!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Up and away, and kisses for my Arse!

Well, FV A Shocking  Comet is away today , off to his new life in Saskatchewan! It took some time for transport to be arranged and his new folks were feeling badly about that ,till I explained I was fine with him being here as long as he needed. The hauler arrived today , a little concerned that this was Comets first trailer ride . He stated , he has never left without a horse, but has had some tricky times getting them in the trailer . He  was expecting a little "fun" as he put it and a bit of time . Well he left here a card carrying member of the Fern Valley  Fan club! Took all of 3 minutes from pen to  in the trailer ! No muss no fuss, Comet led up, looked in and got on! That's my boy! we raise 'em smart !! (Actually I strongly believe that the fact we wean indoors and lead them in and out of the barn the first winter plays a huge role, they are used to  changing lighting and footing so stepping into a darker trailer is not an issue ) Just  got an update and he has arrived safely and they are thrilled ! Good luck little man!!!
Then there is this beautiful boy . Affectionately known here as "Angelas Arse" or in my heart "my Arse "
Eurus has injured himself and is looking at a fairly lengthy recovery . His critical  care is managed  now but for his "nursing care " he will be coming home to me .I am sad  that he is hurt, but will be pleased to care for him again .
So Saturday morning I will be heading up to get him, and so our energetic overachiever Dr Oakley  is not forced to take up knitting  for the next couple of months ,Miss Cat (FV Catch a Dream ) or whoa dammit , will be heading up  for her to ride. The injury was a freak accident and it is actually a very nice and safe facility ! So we are trading for a time . Good for Eurus , good for Angela, good for Cat, and me ! 

Lastly ,the calendars are here for 2013 ,if you are interested in one ,please  just email me at fernvalleyappaloosas@hotmail.ca . One  cool thing about where I had them done is that  rather than shipping form here for  USA customers I can  just have the company send it directly ! Quicker and  way cheaper!

Anyhow hope all is well with all of you . Stay safe and warm!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

We've got a $5 charge for whining !

 And my darling Dreamboat  Annie, owes me some  money! LOL 

Brought her in and  moved Jewel out as Jewel was a little rough on the young girls, Annie is somewhat less than amused, she seems to  want to be with the "big  girls" She will settle in soon and when she realises all the perks of being up close (she does love her snuggles and I walk past that pen several times a day ,where the mares may only see me twice) I think she will be fine .

But to the title of the post ,it is a Chris Ledoux song . I woke up a little tired and a lot stiff and sore this morning ,hubby was out hunting so I  puttered around felling a little sorry for myself,then decided to fix him (and me ) a nice big breakfast. Well nothing perks me up like music so I cranked the tunes I had a Chris Ledoux Cd in and this song came on, and hit home. Well by the time  Martin walked in fro breakfast he likely thought I had lost my marbles , crisp bacon and fried potatoes were  staying warm in the stove while Winston Skeeter and I were dancing up a storm in the  kitchen!!!! My back still hurt, but I didn't care! 
had our  feast then went on to the  rest of the day , Mom and dad came out for a visit in the afternoon and it was all in all a good day . 
We decided to clean up leftovers  for supper , so while I was warming  them up I turned the tunes back on,well this time Winston and Skeeter had to watch as Martin and I were dancing  around the kitchen! 
So like  Annie, my rough start turned into a great day ,and so will hers!
Many of you have read this poem before , I  posted it for Valentines this year, but it fits here too so, remember to ...

Dance With your Darlin'
Dance with your darlin'
Out under a star
A romance not found in
A nightclub or bar
Let the moon shine 
Under wide open skies 
The light of the stars reflect 
Love in your eyes
Laugh dance and twirl 
One another around 
Just you two together 
Alone with the sound 
Of nature’s sweet music
And the love you have found 
Once in a while 
Wherever you are 
Dance with your darlin'
Out under a star

Stay warm and safe my friends 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Odds,ends and sweet sweet time

 Hey all! I am back! Actually been back a few days but time gets away.
First of all the little getaway was awesome! We were met at the airport by these sweet folks

 Andre and Karin Peninou, my brother in law Marc's parents. I have  known these two since I was 15 so they  feel like family to me. and they treated Martin and I like royalty! Picked us up at the airport ,toured us around and then  drove me to the concert and waited  for me!!! 
And the concert, was AMAZING !!! row 20 on the floor! Her special guests included  3 very talented young men, Il Volo take a minute and listen if you can, these boys are brilliant and with her? pure magic!
Spent Tuesday  just hanging out and shopping with Karin, slipped across the border  for lunch and a visit to Bellingham , which by the way is the area where  folks are looking for  Flirt!!! (if you can help please do,to find this sweet girl !! )
Home again on Wednesday to my  home sweet home and my gang! After being mauled by Winston and Skeeter , I of course had to go make sure my ponies were hale and hearty , and of course in the capable hands of Marc and the neighbor they were! Time away , does make the time home all the sweeter!

The kind gentle eyes of my boys
 Johnny looking handsome as always and the bad foot day is all but forgotten . Actually Go Lightly made a comment on my last post about Johnny and his left hind having some history, some may remember that Johnny was born with a badly twisted  hind leg that eventually  resolved, but it made me think, he does  mostly  very well until we get to his left hind ,and often is good with it , but the odd time... I might see if Kevin  of Bluequine will have a look next time he is around .

Anyhow all are well and time will tell on that rest.Speaking of time. some things  just take time , and patience. and example is Cactus' leg injury  from earlier ,I did not post pics originally  just because they were a bit yucky but if you are ready , here it is 

last warning, it is wrapped here

Ok if you are still looking here it is . 
Taken day 3 after the skin flap was excised.
Actually looked pretty good there for how it originally looked ! 

And here it is today ,still slowly filling in but looks very positive and will likely not scar .
From the front it is barely noticeable at all in fact I could not get a photo from the same angle for before and after that showed it well or at all in fact , from the front  you cannot see the wound at all . So now the title of the post may  make sense . Sweet  sweet time is often what it takes !
Anyhow , it's good to be back, the calendars have come in and I really like how they turned out ,will try to get a post up that showcases them soon . 
But first I have some reading to do , and some  ponies to work with and ,and ...
Stay safe and warm !