An old cowboy wandering the west with a batshit crazy dog and a fine Buckskin Mare in a Lakota LQ drug around by a tired ol' Dodge Pickup.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Horses and Dogs, Batteries and Kaks,

Checked up on Cora the other day. She'd come along well enough to be hauled to work in the Stockyards a bit moving cattle.

She's coming along fine... mostly. Turns out she puffed up a leg there working the cows. She's been standing in a pen for way too long. Since a year ago really... so she's soft.

Didn't go lame but one leg filled a bit. Just showing some puffiness. Exercising a bit of caution, her "training" is pulled back for a few days to make sure it remains no big deal.

Still ten days out or so I suppose. It all just stretches my impatience that much tighter.

Can't just sit around tapping on a keyboard so I got the battery box partially bolted in place.

It still needs some bracing to complete the mounting... I'm planning on a couple of bars that'll reach up and attach to the rack above it. That'll stabilize a tiny bit of  'rock' I can find in the mounting.
Whether here or on the road... It's nice to seldom need to fire up the generator.

I've been running it some this past week. Between the cloudy weather and the cold nights, I've been using more power than is very comfortable for only two batteries.

Once I set two more batteries in that new box I believe I'll have sufficient stored amps to take a lot of stress off that part of the rig.

 While waiting on Cora's education, and my own Physical rehab to get us in the proper place, been working on my gear a little. Decided I needed to make a small modification to my old Wade saddle.

Decided I needed to make a small modification to my old Wade saddle  A nice new set of stirrups. 

I've ridden Oxbow stirrups since forever... and I like 'em. On rougher colts and in rough country, they're great. Hard to lose one when things get western.

Thing is that can make 'em just a lil bit risky at times too.
If you come loose, with that stirrup locked up against your heel, a fella can sometimes get hung up in Oxbows.

So I swapped out to a flashy new set of Stirrups.  4" Brass Monel Bell style.
I expect I'll adapt pretty quick. I'm thinking the increase in comfort won't be too hard to accept...

... and what with my ambitions slowin' up... having little worry about a hangup won't be a bad thing either.

Only been able to put my feet in 'em with my kak settin' on the stitching horse... But honestly, I believe I'll like the change.

Now, If I can just get me, the dog and the horse to quit busting things__ so we can start putting some miles on together...

... and NOT miles with a truck and trailer goin' down the road...

I'll be a lot happier... I think.

Yesterday I guess I felt the need to reinforce the idea that Cora was maybe a little sore from working good after taking it too easy for too long.

Been slacking on my own rehab the past few weeks as I keep trying to push along with the book. The past few days I've been pushing to make up for that...

*My old Wade looks good with Brass Bound Stirrups*
Yeah... good move.

Dug and hauled several barrow loads of dirt from rat hills... to fill in and build up the pedestal for the cistern.

Then had to pack it in and tamp it down in and around that pedestal base.

uhn huh... last night I was chewin' ibuprophen like chicklets...

Gettin' older don't improve a body's ability to heal one damn bit.

Speakin' of healing... Arlo's comin' on fine. Actually better than that. He's healing up from his lil' didoe amazing.

I figured he'd be most lame for a few weeks. He don't think so.

I've had to let him out a bit more than even I thought would be good just to keep him from goin' psychotic on me.

Here it is ten days or so since he got crunched so hard and he's down to pretty much not even a limp. He run around for several days on three legs. That foot never hit the ground. Now, he's only got a once in a while very slight limp... so that's a good thing.

He still likes to try his new found lap dog thing... for about six seconds... and then his squirming returns and I'm done with that!

Rumors of a Missouri return are already percolatin'... changes there have moved the construction schedule up that poverty had hung on a peg... so we'll see what the coming summer holds... Cora and I have GOT to put some miles together under saddle before we go anywhere!

- Brian

Monday, January 23, 2017

Well, What a Week That was...

It got so tumbled up not sure which was first. I think it was the battery box...

Was so windy and stormy had to work in bits and spurts trying to get a battery box built so I can expand the battery bank into a more serviceable setup.

It waits now in the back... for enough good weather to get out and install it. In amongst that lil chore the storms kept rolling through, disrupting my labors.

Then as it happens, 'round about here there's a fella that's a free grazer.

All this land about is private ground in small pieces. 99% of which is un-occupied. Over west a bit is a guy with but a few acres. Only, he pushes more cows than that ground can feed out onto where they poach the grass off these hundreds, thousands maybe, of acres of ground that he dont own, and don't rent...

Thing is, in Arizona it's a "fence out" state. If you don't want the cows, it's the victims duty to fence 'em out... only I lack the $1800 or so to string the wire clean around my lil' five acre patch of dust...

Ok, fine.

Right up until they come stompin' through my camp bustin' things up, and mostly wrecking the stone deck I'd built. It was just fine for a 160# man... but wasn't arranged to support 1200 # cows...

 ...A few rocks chunked off their hides moved 'em off... but they come right back... and more deck busted up.

So then Arlo ran out one afternoon to chouse 'em away__ and got tangled up in a small bunch of 400-500# calves...

Somehow he managed to let one fall on him. Thought he'd busted his shoulder for a long while. No way to get him up in the truck. Little peckerwood bit me two holes worth just trying to check him out.

Now four days later he seems improving a lot. Almost starting to use the leg again. Looks like just a real rough sprain, maybe a small tear of some sort. So now two of us are lame... Been just a week or so over a year since I busted up my own shoulder. It continues to heal. Maybe... but it's damned slow about it.

Then along came another set of storms that had me wonderin' was this aluminum trailer sealed up well enough to float! Had to run the generator a couple days for the first time in several weeks. The solar couldn't keep up through the clouds.

The time clustered up inside served well enough. Have made good progress toward completing the next book. Sitting at maybe 7/8 or so. Never really know till the characters tell me that's it and they're finished with their story!

Yesterday when the sun finally came out I set about a change I'd decided on. It's come to me that I've little likelihood of staying here for long. I'm too restless a rover... so I chose to simplify my "developements".

Rather than building a tower for the cistern I filled in that premature footer and rearranged the block to form a plain old simple and low flat pedestal. Only have to pour on some concrete to make a smooth platform.

And with all that time to sit and cogitate I also chose to extend Cora's time with that young buster to a full month. Better she has a solid and secure restart. Some problems got created by whoever it was where she was sent this past summer, and is taking some slow and careful work to erase.

Time spent in that now will benefit me down the road... I've only got to exercise a mite of patience... which has seldom been my strong suit...

Today is Monday... yesterday late, That old shoulder was achin' from movin' stone and block. I'd come to wonderin' if it was near enough to beer thirty to imbibe a nice bottle of Scottish Ale, especially if I sat outside in the sun listening to Brenn Hill on the stereo. Nigh on to the moment that I nearly decided that it was... BuhWHAM!!!!

The whole friggin trailer shook and rattled. The dog yelped and tried to climb into a drawer and hide__I run outside and looked south to see a big Ol' pillar of grey smoke risin' 50 or 60 feet into the afternoon sky several hundred yards away on the other side of the highway... Not something a guy like me needs of a Sunday afternoon...

Some Yahoo set something off to tickle his need for big bangs and smoke... It's happened twice before. I'm thinkin' that mite could be he should ought to have the same experience... maybe, Oh... 'bout 2 a.m. of a coal dark mornin'.

*Moonset behind the Dragoons*

*Arizona Sunrise*

*Another Chiricahua Sunrise*
 The sun is shinin' and it's back outside for this pair of lame rovers...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sunrises, sunsets... and More Horse Feed...

*Sunrise over the Chiricahaus*

A couple of folks made comments on feed for the road on the last post...

There's lots of issues dealing with horses on the road. The two most critical, to my mind being feed and water. Throwing curves at horses concerning those two things will flow out and cause a nomad unwanted difficulties.

Stability/consistency with feed is a pretty strong need. Change their groceries sudden like and the incidence of colic and other troubles goes up fast. On top of that, the need to control the spread of noxious weeds is something a responsible horseman needs to keep in mind.

A huge amount of graze is lost every year to the spread of inedible or even poisonous invasive weeds.

So... like Karen said, there are sites where certified hay producers are listed. My trouble with the hay has mostly been the nearest producer that actually has some left in his barn always seems to be a hundred miles away...

The option, like Stymie mentioned is Hay Pellets.

*Moonrise the night before over the same Chiricahua Mountains*

Right there is a big 'cultural' issue with many horsemen, that I tee totally get. I'm not one who is much for gimmicks and gadgets. I like old time ways... right up to that point when some modern creation actually is an improvement.

I fed pellets, years ago in Arizona. It was, and to large degree is still the only way you could reliably get good quality feed on the desert. A heavy % of the hay in Arizona is grown for dairies. Results in some pretty nasty forage if you try and feed that to horses.

Over time I learned there are a great number of advantages to pellets... Simply said, all things considered, hay pellets whup long stem hay pretty much on every count.

Straight off horses fed pellets have a significant reduction in the incidence of sand colic and also founder. Horses eating hay off the ground tend to suck up a lot of sand in the process, pellets pretty much eliminate that. Founder is reduced by the better nutrient 'balance' that is built into most pellets. There is a reduction in starch in many brands that contributes to a reduction of founder.

For the traveling horseman a HUGE benefit is the reduced space required. Pellets occupy about 1/2 the space required for the same weight of baled hay. In the tight confines of a trailer... A BIG plus!

...and That is a giant Convenience upgrade. Life being as tough as it needs to be all on its own, finding ways to soften the road is a valuable plus. 

 With my setup, the side compartment divided up into a pair of feed bins and two four foot boxes on the truck I can carry just about a full month of groceries for two horses... and No need for a high dollar roof rack for half as much hay...

... and the PITA of getting bales up there... and the feed back down twice a day... or ... more!

Some folks complain that pellets lead to boredom... Yeah? well... a hay eating horse that's left standing in a stall 24/7 is about six minutes less bored... and truth is, it's far easier with hay pellets to break the days feeding up from the standard twice a day... to the FOUR feeds a day that I use.

Best way to deal with boredom is... put your phone down and saddle 'em up...

Feeding as I do not only breaks up the horses day, but it puts the feed to him in a more natural volume spread across the day, rather than the heavy slugs loading up their guts of the same weight in a twice a day regime. Result? = less boredom and even greater reduction of colic and founder.

Some complain about the cost of pellets... I'd say sit down and do some calculatin'. By the time you factor in the waste reduction ( horses eat all the pellets - not shoving stems away or dropping as much as 25% on the ground as they eat to be walked into the dirt and lost.), the feed efficiency (my experience has been that a significant reduction in weight is fed due to the grinding of the feed to smaller pieces to pelletize resulting in better feed conversion), the absolute convenience, consistency and reliability of the feed all shined up by far less worry of colic... I kinda see them as cheaper, not more expensive.

The last plus ( and a big one for those like me that like to stay out in Far Country) is that although only a few brands of pellets have gone through the certification process, the Forest Service accepts (again, in my experience) most all pellets as weed free for their purposes due to the manufacturing process that destroys the vast majority, something over 98% of viable weed seeds. Pretty much equal to any certification process of baled hays.

Yep... I'm a firm believer in the benefits of feeding pellets.

*The Dragoon Mountains under a soft sunset*

Time to get back to work, spring comes fast... need to get back to forming up the battery box for my battery bank upgrade, keep on tinkering with the stone for that cistern project... and... I need to decide if  enough time has passed to check on how my Cora is doing... Trying hard to not to be a pestering owner with the guy ;)

- Brian

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Restless Nomad I Will Ever Be

Reset my camp today. Turned the rig 'bout 90° putting the door toward the morning sun.

Didnt really think about it before I did it... but that's the way a lot of tribes set their camps__always with the door to the sunrise.

Makes pretty good sense for me don't it? I mean, I live in a Lakota trailer, I've gone back to horse... 

No matter much the system pressures me to rejoin "their" herd or how hard I try to convince myself I'm wrong in my ways and should settle somewhere...I can't do it.

I'm a nomadic horseman, kinda like that Lakota tribe, in a way__ and will always be.

Cora is at a fella's place 45 miles north for a bit. I decided all things considered I needed to play this time 'round real careful. No mistakes... so she's getting a decent restart under a younger butt with more bounce...

... while I continue to prepare for our wandering future.

It's not as easy as it once was to be a gypsy horseman. You can't just stop wherever you please.

Where the trees provided shade along a creek that watered your horses and the grass that fed them.

Today you have to plan out your route fairly careful. Know where you'll stop and for how long.

Know where there's water, where there are pens for your stock, or where you can set your own, and you must carry your feed with you...there will be little if any "free grazing" to be had.

If you will be on any government ground, with few exceptions, you got to have certified feed. Certified to be weed free.

Finding purveyors of certified feed is another whole skill to hone.

You can still "boondock" like I've been doing for years... there's just more to consider when you're hauling horses along too.

It's all a mite intimidating if you think on it too much... (a fault of mine) so I've kinda just deliberately  quit looking at too much of the big picture and spend more time with the Lil details of day to day.

The reward for it all are the whickers  you get out of the dark when you step outside at midnite... or walk up in the sunrise with their breakfast in a bucket.

...and watching the trail unfold before you looking through a horses ears.

Stepping out into another unknown is as always, kinda spooky... but it let's you know you're still alive.

...and for a fact, if you're not a little scared by what you're doing, than you might want to take a good hard look at things. It could be you've safetied up and quit Living!

- Brian

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chilly Nights and Mexican Backhoes...

Haven't really had any tough cold nights this winter. Quite a bit of rain, but little bitter cold... even by Arizona standards.

Still, I had some difficulty gettin' the backhoe to fire up this morning. Had to use several extra ounces of starting fluid so I could get started on an outlaw cistern pedestal/tower.

Yeah... I'm an outlaw these days. Simple truth is they won't just let a man live, free on the earth, any more. They got to get "their cut"...and that just gets what few teeth I have left twisted edgewise...

I'm just minding my own business camped on my own patch of dust out on the desert... no part of no soh-sigh-uh-tee has any claim to a cut... beyond the tax I already paid just days ago for the "rent" to camp on my own dirt.

So... I just go on about my livin' if the parasites don't exist... I'll be Free for a while... 'till the egg suckers take notice...

The plan with this project is to lift the cistern so gravity will let me move water into either the rig or water troughs for horses, without having to use a pump.

As for bein' Free, Hell, it's even against the law to "live" in an RV in most "jurisdictions" ... haha... I wonder if they've any idea the storm they'd stir up if/when they went to trying to enforce that lil' violation of the "Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"?

And just when was it that "inalienable Rights" got converted to regulatable privilege?

Well, enough gas, that backhoe is warmed up enough to run a mite, I think, so it's back to work!

- Brian