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 .

Thursday, 4 August 2011

January 2011

I would never make it as a Mountain Goat

Because of all the snow, then the melt and the very cold temps we are having now .Walking around the farm , can be, well ,interesting . Where the snow has been cleared there is a skiff of snow on top, and a sheet of ice underneath.You need boots with good treads or cleats! I went out and got a new pair (70%off BTW ) very nice Baffin winter boots because my good winter boots are pretty worn.I tried for men's , simply because they offer better traction , but couldn't find my size .So wound up with a ladies pair.They offer good traction with the treads , but I laughed out loud when I saw the tread design, smack in the middle of the sole is a raised huge pink daisy! Seriously ,a Daisy! Now lets be real , the only way someone is going to see the flower on the bottom of my boot is if ,or knowing me, when I wipe out!

Why do manufacturers believe women's boots should be more fashion than function? are we really less likely when working outdoors ,to fall and I don't know, break a hip?

Anyhow they are good warm boots so I will cope .

Also though there is the tracks where the cattle have walked . Again with the melt and freeze it makes for a fun walk.There are huge lumps and divots , and if you are very determined and careful you can walk on the high spots , but it takes a pretty long stride , almost longer than I am capable of.

Did this tonight while moving cows .Keep in mind it was -20C ish with a wind chill of Holycrapits cold! so the cows were pretty eager to get to the hay. I was walking along the alley over these lumps and hummocks with 25 head of cows hot on my trail !

I stayed on my feet so maybe I would make it as a Mountain goat after all!

Sorry no real photos , but really I am pretty sure I would have been a casualty if I had stopped to take pics!

Stay warm , stay safe!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Frost fur, and another visit from my muse

A bit colder again this weekend, which ,while it is to be expected, I don't love.It does however make for some pretty pictures.I take the picture of the old house on the hill fairly often but it is just such a good canvas to show the frost and the different winter light , so here it is again January 2011,series.

Also ,because the light was so pretty in the morning and early afternoon, I am throwing a few photos,in here and there
Pretty quiet here on the farm , Martin is at work in Fort Mac Murray, should be home next weekend ,I miss having him home, but suppers are sure easy to make! He likes a big supper and I have been a lazy girl , having a nice chicken salad last night and an Antipasti tray tonight. Laughed when I told him , he just said ,"that sounds good , what else did you have?"
Anyhow ,with the cold, no one was out to visit , so I had a pretty low key couple of days . Regular chores and housekeeping , then decided to tackle the spare room .It is now clean tidy and ready for guests!

Chance ,and Wilder

A few of the girls

And of course ,Johnnie
Cactus , says hello!
And now that you have seen the frost , and the fur. Here is another little bit of verse I wrote.
The old timerOld already when we met
But still a horse I won’t forget
Swollen knees and graying hair
But if you knew the horse in there.

Before the damning signs of age
When he was young, and centre stage

Rowdy was my husband’s horse
A bright chestnut and fast of course

Not an easy ride I hear,
Some memories are fraught with fear

Many races run just fine
A rider, or not, at the finish line

But when he came to live here
The old man had lost a gear
His retirement, it was grand,
grazing on the lush green land

Winter came, and into the barn,
Where we kept the old man warm
Fed him mush and he limped along
Bright eyed but thin the winter long

And in the spring ,with the sun
On pastures green how he did run
3 good days, then with the dawn ,
I woke to find that he had gone

In the place that he liked best,
In soft green grass he laid to rest

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Confidence, competence, and putting them back together

This post has been brewing in my head for some time ,not quite sure how to say what I am after , but I am going to give it a shot.

I learned to ride at home on a working Dairy/beef/grain farm, not a lot of time given to the nuances of equitation ,just simply get on hang on , steer stop, and try not to fall off. As I got older my skills improved ,but the "try not to fall off" was the focus for a long time . I bought my first horse and she taught me an awful lot about ,simple horsemanship and animal husbandry ,and I read , and read and read.

Then along came Catana, She taught me that "try not to fall off " was so much less than what I needed to be doing , I learned with her how to become and "active rider " And yup , I fell off, a bunch ,but in doing that I learned to ride in a way that was more about "Riding the horse" , than simply staying on the horse. Many more horses and hours in the saddle and on the ground later , I am a pretty good hand with a horse , not by any stretch of the imagination a "Pro" but I get it done .I have handled and raised many foals and ,start a few horse under saddle for myself and a few others.

I am a Competent horsewoman , who is always wanting to learn more .

With all those years, I have also developed a certain level of confidence ,in my ability and in my knowledge.

So where is this going?

Many things shake or confidence in ourselves and working with horses ,time away, an injury or an accident , but one of the more insidious ones is other people .

Without intent , or sometimes with,others can affect our confidence in our own abilities. \

1) lessons , some instructors will spend the entire lesson telling a rider what they are doing wrong , and even the most seasoned riders , feel the impact of such negativity .

A really good coach I met once , tempered each "correction " with positive feedback , and I have to say her results proved themselves nicely , positive ,thinking and confident riders .

One instructor I worked with spent so much time correcting my skills and undermined me in so many ways ,I suddenly found myself sitting absolutely correctly ... on the ground ,as my horse and I were totally disconnected!

2) Another way we undermine our own confidence is a funny one.Working with someone ,who's skills or confidence seem beyond our own , we seem to undermine ourselves ,and defer to the other.(not sure if this makes sense but stick with me )

My farrier was out yesterday , I brought in 4 of my young ones to work with , and in the middle of things Martin finally got the call to go to work.I got everything sorted out and was a little rattled by the time Ernie showed up. Brought out Annie (who is generally very good to do ) and she started acting out a bit. Ernie reached out to take her from me ,and I almost let him , then I suddenly thought WTH?? I can do this ! Now in point of fact ,if I had handed her off to Ernie , he would have got her settled and things would have been fine , except I would have "given up" and at least for that moment reduced my own competence and confidence ,and for what? Ernie wasn't going to do anything I wouldn't or couldn't do myself . So I got it together and got in the right moment with my horse and everything was fine . But how often do we do that ?

Defer to the person we perceive as being "better at it " or more confident . Ernie is a great farrier, and an excellent trainer , I don't argue that , but I am not a complete stumble bum either. I defer my training needs to him , because I cannot /will not get on the young stock first any more . But as for basic handling and groundwork? Sorry not paying anyone to do what I am perfectly capable of doing myself .

Just need to remember that I am in fact perfectly capable , even in the face of someone who seems to have bigger brighter and better skills .

So what rattles your cage, and shakes your confidence?

And what do you do , to put confidence and competence back where they belong...together ?

As always ,stay safe and stay warm!
As for the caption on the Thelwell pic? Can be taken one of many ways here

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pass me the remote would ya Skeeter?

Winston loooves animal planet ! Especially when Martin puts the Bear shows on.I believe Winston thinks he is a bear. Gazes at the shows in total adoration.And heaven help us if we change the channel!
No bears on TV tonight so he is outside embracing snow drifts

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Uninvited dinner guests

(Photo courtesy of Google images)

As you saw , a couple of posts back , we have A LOT of snow. And when there is so much snow in the country it becomes very difficult for the wild game to sustain themselves foraging for dry grass.

Lucky for them , the Fern Valley Buffet is open! (insert eyroll) I don't love it , but there is not much we can do, they get into the hay yard and munch away on the outside of the bales. We seem to be feeding a herd of about 20 this year.Skeeter and Winston are hard at work when they see them chasing them off, but I highly doubt they are truly afraid .I saw Deer sign up by the fuel tanks at the far end of the barn.Where I was feeding Stryker ,Blue, Cactus and the calves ,lots of domestic animals around that spot and it is fairly close to the house ,but these guys are just bold as brass!

Between the stray cats that wander in and refuse to leave , the horses , dogs, cattle and now the deer , could a big pink snail floating up on the tide be far behind???

(a reference to the old original Dr Doolittle, with Rex Harrison , made BTW the year I was born!) )

Monday, January 24, 2011

Memories in verse

As a few of you know I have been writing a bit of poetry again as of late.I wasn't sure if I should share it , but what the heck! you have all been so kind .This is one of several I have written about horses I have , or have known

JohnnieUnder an old Spruce tree
Beside a pond and rock
A little mare, Miami Mouse
Went out for a walk

Away from home and her safe herd,
She chose to be alone
And there in the quiet space,
She had her little one

A copper red, with lots of chrome
And a blanket white as snow
Lying there beneath the tree

the trouble didn’t show

But when he stood to take a drink
Sadly what did I find?
For on 3 legs that crippled colt,
One twisted in behind

His back leg seemed short and wrong
And didn’t touch the ground
I couldn’t see how possibly
he could come around

The vet, and my own dear dad said,
wait and bide my time,
As he could stand and eat
So wait I did, but worried still
that we would face defeat

For 3 long days I checked on him,
and it was worth the wait
When on the fourth the little mare
brought him to the gate
His little leg, though still not right
was brushing along the ground
And I knew right then and there,
he would someday be sound

He grew up strong and sweet and good,
a brave horse, worth a ransom
And who was he? This crippled colt?
His name is Johnnie Handsome

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sunshine,snow,and soft landings

So the sun has come out the last few days ,but wow do we have a lot of snow.More on Friday night again.

This is the view going into my house , we would clear it more , but frankly we are running out of places to put the snow!

Dandy out for a run, on the loader tracks, 2 feet either side and he sinks to his chest

Oh but they do have fun!
It took me about an hour to shovel out the gates so I could let them run around , with all the snow plowing there were a few "grader curls" in front of gates and the gate to their little pen was snowed in solid as well again !

But they seem to think it was worth the effort

Martin has been off for a while , and going a little stir crazy.So he got an opportunity to go back to work and took it .Unfortunately it is in Fort Mac Murray.He will fly in and out ,but will be gone for 12 day at a time. Party is over ! I am back to doing all the chores and missing my guy. Because of my wrist we are changing things up , so I have less hand feeding to do. So while he was in town getting his paperwork in order , I was working on this
There were 3 gates that were snowed in ,that had to be opened for me to use the round feeder.This one I chipped away at, while BIL Marc took the loader and plowed the bottom one (he cannot fit the tractor near this one ) .Luckily Deb, and Angela showed up with some of Angela's friends and were able to help got the gates open and the feeder set up

"The girls" all 3rd year vet students , Niece Angela and her friends Vivien, and Sydney , out for a visit ,they helped push the last two gates through the snow and put together a feeder, than they needed to rest a moment! Oh to be so young and energetic!!! Of course after all that work it is perfectly reasonable to make snow angels!

A casualty breaking trail

It's hard to get too upset when you wipe out and have such a soft landing.I had just gotten finished laughing and taking Deb"s pic (above when she fell , and then whammo ! down I went, kind of had to let her take my pic to be fair.

Stay safe and warm everyone, and may all your landings be just as soft!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some days are diamonds , update

Way back in November I did a post http://fernvalley01.blogspot.com/2010/11/some-days-are-diamonds.html basically describing a fairly crappy day.Long story short , a lot went wrong and I fell off a ladder.At the time I thought I had tweaked my back and ankle but the next day they were fine and my left wrist was sore.Not terrible , just sore and numb across my palm. It seemed to get better , but as of late the numbness is gone and it bloody hurts!
So off to the doc last week to check it out.Initial diagnosis was Scaphoid Fracture (a tiny bone in the wrist joint that can be a big problem to heal) Got results today ,saying the Scaphoid is fine ,but there is a large cyst in my wrist that then need to to a CT scan on .So now we wait till I can get in for the scan , and meanwhile I need to wear a brace to stop irritating the cyst. Upside is ,it is not the fracture that they initially thought ,which could have ended in surgery.Also the fall coincidentally brought this cyst to the doc's attention so I can get it dealt with. Down side? these tests can take a while, and if there is something that needs to be done , now is a handy time to do it.Hubby is home to help with chores, and I can't do much with the horses with such deep snow.But spring is coming and I have big plans !
I tell you all this ,because this little blog of mine is above all honest and we do have to "keep it real " telling the good and the bad sometimes
Stay safe ,stay warm!
Oh yeah! its warming up for a few days , so we can quickly absorb some sunshine and catch our breath before the next go round!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Well, this has been a pretty steep learning curve,and it is still in process, but I believe I have a pretty good start on our new website.Thanks for all the input .I went with Yahoo small business as recommended by my sister in law.Seems like a good setup , cost effective and easy to work with for a beginner like me .If by some wild twist of fate I suddenly develop wicked computer skills it has options to upgrade the site in future as well.

I see I need to get some better photos of a few of the horses once the woollies have gone , but this site is also very straightforward for adding/removing pics so...

Still a ways to go but I think its a good start.
Stay safe and warm

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breeders and Owners Conference

So ,I made it , there and back.The drive was pretty OK until about 15 min north of Red Deer ,where we were rerouted due to an accident.About then it also began to snow in earnest and the remainder of the drive took over an hour. Got to the hotel after a speedy trip to Peavy mart (best little farm store!) for coverals for my hubby. The to the hotels for the evening "Open Barn" a small trade show , wine and cheese and meet and greet. HAd a good visit with a few old friends and some members of the Appaloosa Horse Club who were manning the booth . Always nice to see Donna Wyatt, long standing supporter of the breed and ApHCC Hall of fame member.Due to poor roads ,there were a few people that I had hoped to see that were unable to attend.Hope to see them at
The Mane Event - Equine Education & Trade Fair in April .

The first of the seminars that I attended was;Patti Colbert - Attracting New People to Horses and Keeping Them Involved
Excerpted from the Horse Industry website ,
"We have all heard the age old statement “Do what you’ve always done; get what you’ve always got.” As our breed and discipline organizations report declining membership, transfers, registrations and competition entries - we must consider innovative tactics to re-ignite interest. During this presentation, Patti will share generational trends and market information, keeping the gate wide open through fun and invention, putting "butts in seats", and creative and inexpensive methods to grow our events and industry.
Patti Colbert
As an active member of her local, state and national Quarter Horse Associations, Patti Colbert has been a "hands-on" promoter for the horse industry and has gained a reputation for producing exciting and relevant events, that not only draw the core audience, but gains attention from the mainstream public as well. Experience in both private and non-profit equine sectors led Patti to develop effective projects with the Bureau of Land Management in the effort to increase the adoption of wild horses. Since 2007, Patti Colbert has created and managed the Extreme Mustang Makeover events and Mustang training programs resulting in the adoption of more than 1,700 wild horses.
Previously, she served as the Senior Director of the American Quarter Horse Association's Foundation and is currently a board member of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, American Quarter Horse Association and other youth and agriculture related organization.
Patti and her husband, Joe, live on a 250-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country – a recreational riding facility that her husband labels as “Dude for a Day”. Patti is involved with the county juvenile probation department and their local high school in a work to ride program for young offenders and challenged teens."

This was a great and entertaining presentation ,covering a very interesting new look at the industry in general , also she was a lot of fun ,using several unique teaching tools including video clips of the infamous Mr Ed !

And also a favorite of mine a few scenes from John Wayne "The Cowboys"

This lady was very well worth the trip to listen to.

More to come ,over the next few days , meanwhile ,stay safe and warm!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Comings and goings

Just a few little updates .
Hopefully Heading out tomorrow to Red Deer for the weekend for the AnnualAlberta Horse Industry - Annual Horse Breeders & Owners Conference .Looking forward to it this time ,I quite enjoyed it last year and the planned seminars look to be very interesting .That said I am only going if the roads are good , so here's hoping !
Also ,Our Fern Valley Appaloosas website has gone splat. The domain is suddenly now up for sale.Originally built and manged for me by my dear niece Angela I have not had a lot to do with it . However ,all good things come to an end and Angela is in 3rd yr Vet School and frankly far too busy to handhold Auntie with this project .So thanks kiddo for all you have done on it in the past , but I guess I better get my thinking cap on and figure out how to build a new one .
I will happily accept any and all advice form my blogging buddies here! And as I build it I will likely occasionally scream for help!
That's it for now , have a great weekend and as always , stay safe and warm!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poetic License

Just another of the little poems that have sprung into my mind over the past few weeks.
Hope you like it .

Alberta farm Girls“Life on the farm,
Is kind of laid back”
Freezing cold ,or screamin’ hot

Alberta farm girls, a fact we know
Can shovel grain, and shovel snow

With winds strong enough to take your hair
For the livestock, we feed and care
Frozen hands, or sunburned necks
We do this all, not for a cheque

But for the simple joys it seems
Of horses cows, and cowgirl dreams

Hauling hay and packing pails
Any wonder we spike our Ginger ale?

Balance this, with miles of beauty
Makes it all a lighter duty
The calves the foals, they frolic in
The lush green fields where they begin

And then the weather, again it turns
With howling winds, with cold it burns

Who would trade this cushy life?
For City lights and gang war strife
Not me, I’ll take the frozen feet
And all the beef that I can eat

As always, Stay safe, stay warm

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keep your eye on the prize!!!

For all my Northern friends , and for me,ahh! for everyone who is suffering form the Januaries, or is tired of snow pics for a while,

As we are all huddled up ,trying to stay warm,

or out slogging though the snow to get the animals fed

freezing our hands,faces ,and behinds

It won't be too too long , before winter leaves us,giving way to
spring and all the beauty she can bring !

This one is for Mrs Mom, she 's out there ,that filly of yours! I just know it !

Meanwhile stay safe and warm!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

We got it bad !

Yup ,we got it here too
its a nasty case

happens to every one


Dogs(but these two are overcoming it well)

Cattle suffer from it as well

Martin's Buick was the first to succumb(it really is buried somewhere in there)
It is a dreaded case of the JANUARIES!!!!!!
Stay warm and safe my friends ,
I am keeping the wood stove going and the spiked hot chocolate as well!

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