Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grooming Sessions - First Dunes Ride of 2010

Every critter we have is shedding (except the chickens). If I could ball all the hair up together, it would probably be the size of a small planet.

We have spent more time currying, brushing and combing lately. The last two Friday nights we even made it our evening entertainment. We go out to the barn with some beers, rakija and Serbian music and give everybody a thorough grooming. Then we spoil them with carrots and Vanilla Wafers (our goats are crazy about Vanilla Wafers).

You can see all the horse hair in the curry comb here. I use the shaving brush on Divna's eye socket. It gets pretty dusty in there, so I brush it out for her as part of the grooming ritual.

Zora is so sweet (that is, until you try to ride her -- then she turns into a crazy rocket!). When John grooms her, she can't wait for the chance to rest her big head on his shoulder. I think she is in love with him.

We went for our first ride in the Indiana Dunes last weekend. It is closed to horses during the Winter so the cross country skiiers can use it. It was a pretty day -- a bit chilly, but that was OK. The trails looked so different than they did the in the Fall, when we were there last. Also, last Spring the trails were underwater the first time we went back for the season. Not this time -- there was some water, but it was not flooded. But the Dunes are coming to life right now, and it was really pretty. We are so fortunate to have this great riding place so close to home.

Along the trail there are little bridges because there are creeks and wet spots in the Dunes. At one bridge, there was a huge mud pit on the trail at the end of the bridge. Zora and John were in the lead, and Zora was having no part of going thru that mud. We were not going to turn around and go back (the trails are supposed to be ridden one-way only), and besides, the bridge is so narrow that I don't believe turning around is even possible.

So there we stood. John coaxed, kicked, smacked her rump -- every thing he could think of. No way was she going thru that mud. She is such a goofball, and comes up with some of the craziest stuff sometimes. At one point she actually started to kneel down! I think she was just overwhelmed over the prospect of walking through that mud, and didn't know what else to do!

After what seemed like 10 minutes, John finally had to get off and pull her across.

Divna went thru it like a champ!! I loved it......It's not often I can "one-up" him on the trail. It was finally my turn!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Expensive Goat

A few years ago, we got ripped off on E-Bay. We bought a horse trailer thru an authorized dealer (Stephen Lewis, USA Cowboy) for Delta Horse Tailers out of Arkansas, which were being sold on E-Bay. It was a "Buy It Now" transaction, not an auction. It is a long story, and one for another post, but the end result was that we paid $3,500 for a horse trailer that we never got. We filed police reports in Indiana and Oklahoma, and contacted the FBI for internet fraud. We filed complaints with the Attorneys General in Indiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma (where USA Cowboy was located); went to small claims court in Indiana and Arkansas, and all we got was our $600 deposit back from Delta Trailers. We ended up talking to two other victims of Stephen Lewis, one of which told us he went to court in Oklahoma and was was told that he would have to wait in a long line -- there were a lot of folks out there trying to get justice from dealings with Stephen Lewis, USA Cowboy.

Then, about 2 years after we were robbed by this guy, out of the clear blue sky, the Attorney General of Oklahoma called us to say they were about to arrest him, and asked if we had any documentation of our dealings with him. They were building a case, and needed as much evidence as they could get. Well, as it turns out, we did have a file -- a rather thick one, and I copied the entire thing and sent it off to Oklahoma.

Yesterday, I went to the mailbox, and there was a letter there from the Oklahoma Attorney General. I was really excited, believing this would be some sort of news on this thieving creep that ripped us off. I did not open it -- I held off, wanting to open it with John so we could both read it together.

John was out in the pasture with the goats and horses, cutting up a tree that had fallen late last year. I went out to him with the envelope....I opened it, and pulled the letter out. Just as I did that, our white goat, Misho, jumped up and took a huge bite out of the letter!! It happened so fast! I unfolded the partially eaten letter, and my eyes fell on the phrase

"...the enclosed check...."

My heart jumped....I realized I was holding two pieces of paper.... I looked at the second page of the letter, and sure enough, it was a check!!! Only now it was missing the bottom right section...I said "John, this is a check!!!" We both looked at Misho, and he was just standing there, chewing away on our restitution check. There was no way to get it back to piece it back together -- it was gone forever, down the goat's gullet!

Once we recovered from our disbelief and shock, we laughed for about 10 minutes........

So now we have to write to the Attorney General of Oklahoma, return the partially eaten check, and request it to be reissued! I am going to send him these photos as proof...

And yes, Misho is still alive...John did not kill him. I keep telling Misho he owes us money...............

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lost Our Trail

Well, we have definitely lost the last portion of the abandoned railroad line that connects us to the horseback riding park. John finally made it to the county courthouse to do some research. With internet and GPS and all this great technology, he was able to go online and find that someone did, in fact, buy that stretch of the abandoned rail line. We wrote to the owner, asking for permission to ride to the park, promising a hold-harmless for any injuries, and gave our word that we would not litter or cause a problem. As of yet we have no response from them, so we are operating und the belief that "no news is bad news" in this case.

It seems the only thing we can do now is contact the property owners on the other side of that stretch of line and ask if we can cut a narrow path through their parcels parallel to the railroad line. I believe there are about four different owners we would have to ask. Could be a long shot....

We rode down there on Sunday, and there is still a big tree across the entrance to that part of the railroad line. Looking down the line, we also see large boulders across the path as well. So it looks like things are changing.

Since we could not ride that part of the railroad line, we did something different. We rode down the street (which I do not like doing) and went to an area where there are some apartments for the Purdue North Central students and some new homes being built. It is really pretty there with ponds and bridges and beautiful grass. So we rode around there a bit and then came home.

I've got to compose a really nice letter to those property owners by the railroad line. Maybe I will include some pictures of our horses......

Maybe we should offer to pay them??? But with us being in real estate, there is not a lot of money to go around. Any suggestions???

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday - Velika Petak

This has been one hell of a week. It is Holy Week, and Passover Week, and Stress Week - in terms of work and family. John's mother broke her hip on Monday, and for some inexplicable reason work has been unusually challenging....a perfect storm of family and professional trauma.

Today was Good Friday for those of us following the Orthodox Faith ("Velika Petak" in Serbian), which this year, coincides with Catholic/Protestant Good Friday. Usually, we are a week or two or more behind...but because of the way the full moon and Jewish Passover fell this year, we are on the same "Holy Week" Schedule. Very unusual. It will be that way next year as well. I do not like when it falls at the same time, because I like to buy Easter candy at a discount. Most years Orthodox Easter is later than the Catholic/Protestant Easter, and all the Easter candy is at least 50% off. I go to the local Fannie Mae store and clean up.

So, today was Velika Petak...we went to the hospital to see John's mother (who looked so worn out from PT) and then to the Church for a fish dinner, which they did not have on Good Friday, which they have on almost very other Friday of the year, but not tonight which makes no sense at all because if you are going to serve a fish dinner, the one day of the year when it makes perfect sense to do so is on GOOD FRIDAY...

Anyway......we went to our Kumovi/Friends' house, after stopping for fish and ajvar and other fasting-appropriate foods to share with them. We had a few drinks there, and a really nice time.

Then we came home. John fell asleep (he has been under a lot of stress lately) and I went out to feed/spoil our animals.

It is unseasonably warm in Northwest Indiana right now. It has been about 80 degrees in the daytime -- the normal is about 50 or 60 degrees.

So I am outside, giving treats to the goats and horses, spoiling them with extra hay, and I notice The Girls are really shedding. So I decided to curry them. It is amazing how much hair comes off of them this time of year. We have had these horses living with us for a decade now, and it is always shocking how much hair they lose every Spring. I got the curry comb out and started in on them. It was such a special experience -- dead of night (around midnight), no one around, just me and the animals.

I curried away, and got off enough hair to make a blanket. Time wore on....Divna decided she was ready to sleep, and she walked far downfield.

The moon was out....the temperature was comfortable. I followed her. She was standing beneath the evergreen tree. I walked up and stroked her mane. Then, I laid on the ground a few feet from her. She turned, walked over to me, and ran her muzzle over my feet and lower legs, then stood beside me. I looked up at the stars, listened to the frogs croaking, felt the cold ground beneath me and the warm air above me. It was wonderful. I could see Divna's strong profile in the moonlight. She was beautiful, the night was beautiful, the spiritual significance of the week was powerful.....

I was aware of the fact that if I continued to lay there, that it would most likely be where I was "found".....the ground was cold, and it is still early April in the Midwest. I believe they call it "exposure." It was tempting....looking up at the stars....looking at my strong, beautiful horse in the moonlight..........................................realizing everything could be over in a few hours....

But I got up, came in the house, looked at my wonderful, loving, sleeping husband, and then wrote the most honest post I have ever written.

It is Easter and Passover. The Golden Rule applies. Bless all of you...