Monday, July 1, 2013

Steaming

The title of this post reflects the intensity of the heat and humidity outside, my mood, and that life has just been one big pile of steaming manure lately.  I was naively hoping that if I sat really still and did nothing, then nothing bad would happen, nothing would get broken, there'd be no more injuries, and I would be in a more meditative state and have the presence of mind to handle one task at a time without screwing it up and causing more problems for myself.  It didn't work.  I can't even cook dinner without burning it because I don't have a minute of uninterrupted time to locate my reading glasses.  I turned the dial on the grill to "max" when I thought I turned it to "min" to buy me some time to do other things besides supervise a dead fish.

It's hard to believe that after a year of caring for a diabetic dog, I still don't have the routine down pat.  I tried setting up alarms on my mobile phone to tell me where I needed to be when, but many times I'd remember to feed or medicate the animals before the alarm went off, and then when the alarm did go off, I'd have to stop what I was doing to turn if off.  Then I couldn't remember if I gave her the shot or the ointment or neither.  Despite changing the sound effects and volume of the alarms multiple times, they all still nearly give me a heart attack, so I decided to turn them off and just try to remember everything I have to get done.

That's not working out so well, because usually before I can administer the insulin, something happens to distract me and I'm running around trying to repair or prevent damage while my dog is passing out after eating a meal and not getting her insulin on time.  In fact, seeing the dog acting like she's sick is how I know on some days if I forgot to give her the medication.  That's just not right, so now I have to go back to using the bone-jarring alarm that just makes me more scatterbrained.  The problem is that I have way too much to do between 5:00 and 7:30 AM and PM.  I tell everyone not to call at those hours, but they still do.

In addition to having to keep up with her insulin and her eye medication, I now have to stay on top of monsoons and firecrackers by keeping her sedated enough that she won't destroy my house with her thunderstorm and firecracker anxieties.  (No, the Thundershirt does not work.  Nor does locking her in a kennel.)  Then there's the flies that get in the house and the popping sound I make when swatting at them.  I remember last year I vowed to take the dogs back to Nevada with me and ride out the week surrounding the 4th of July in a place where firecrackers are illegal.  Unfortunately, I can't do that now, because there are renters living in our house in Nevada and someone needs to be home here in Arizona to take care of the horses.

Last night was just crazy.  I noticed that Scrappy seemed out of sorts.  Sure enough, he wouldn't eat and could barely walk.  I couldn't tell what was wrong, so I couldn't help him.  Of course it was a Sunday night when no vet office was open.  I figured this was the other shoe that I'd been waiting to drop.  He had most of his teeth pulled out and now he had an infection and was dying.  My husband was blaming it on something he fed Scrappy for a treat.  I don't mean to be all doom and gloom, but I've learned that when I try to be positive and pass a problem off as something minor, it turns out to be a bigger emergency than I realized, and I pay for it with the consequences of not taking action fast enough.

In the meantime, the geldings have been a complete pain.  They play together, but way too rough.  I spot a new hoof mark, bite mark, cut, bruise, puncture wound, or scrape on them every time I walk outside.  They've also been on a rampage ripping fly masks off everyone's faces.  This infuriates me, because without those masks, the flies get into their eyes and cause infections.  It happens faster than you can believe, so as soon as I see that someone is missing a fly mask, I have to run outside and put it back on.

Unfortunately, it's not even that simple anymore, because now Bombay has progressed to shredding the fly masks once he pulls them off.  He chews the Velcro straps until they will no longer stick in addition to ripping the netting and seams.  I had just put a couple of fly masks in the washing machine, hoping I could clean and repair them to get a little more use out of them, and I looked outside to see him destroying Lostine's fly mask, which she had kept pristine over the past year.

I ran outside, chased Bombay around until he dropped the mask, and then chased him around smacking him with it and screaming how fed up I was with his shenanigans.  I think I was yelling something about being pissed that I have to now do another load of laundry because of him, and how his timing is horrible because I have a sick dog in the house who I should be paying attention to, and how it's way too hot for me to be having to discipline a horse.  It was 115 degrees!  Shouldn't the horses be standing in the shade sleeping?

Anyway, I knew my tantrum was useless in training Bombay, mainly because he was just running around laughing at me, but I was so angry that I needed to vent, and I needed to make a strong impression on him.  Of course, I didn't hurt him by slapping him with the fly mask, but I hoped he'd think twice before approaching another fly mask knowing that it can chase him around if he starts ripping it off another horse's face.

Right when I was in the middle of chasing him and screaming, my next door neighbor let her dogs out of her house to run to the fence to bark at me.  I knew I had to stop my tantrum and be quiet or the dogs would never shut up.  So, I started shoveling manure while I fumed, angry about everything.  This wasn't just about another fly mask being ripped up, but about my dog getting sick on a Sunday, about me not being able to keep up with administering medications, about all the idiots popping off firecrackers, about me still having to hand-wash dishes because I don't have a dishwasher or a kitchen, about everything breaking all the time, and about the extreme heat.

I picked up a rock and threw it with all my might, only to come face-to-face with my neighbor standing like a prairie dog on her porch watching me.  She said, "I let the dogs out because that man up there has been watching you a while.  I wanted him to know that we see him, so he will go away."

I looked up, and sure enough, some man had driven his car up to the back of my property, got out, and was standing on the cliff staring at me.  I realized that he had seen me chasing my horse around whipping him with that fly mask.  He probably heard me yelling all that stuff about the laundry.  I don't care so much if my neighbors hear it, because I can always explain my actions to them later, and they do a lot of yelling and cursing at their dogs, so for the most part, they understand, but when strangers witness me blowing a gasket, it puts me in an unknown position.

I glared at the man for trespassing and not minding his own business, and he got into his car and drove off.  He could have been videotaping me in my back yard like that lady did one day.  I'll have to search You Tube for "crazy lady attacking horse over laundry".  My neighbor went back inside her house and I began fuming even more wondering what the hell that guy was doing driving around aimlessly in 115 degree heat, and how did he happen to find me in the one minute of the entire day when I was vulnerable and really needed my privacy?  Seriously, don't people have better things to do besides driving up to some stranger's back yard to spy?  In my mind, anyone who has the time to be driving around looking for random entertainment in a residential neighborhood needs to pick up a hobby or buy themselves two sick dogs and four ornery horses so that they will be way too busy to be getting into other people's business.

Right then the horses alerted on some other people who were walking in the front of my house looking down my driveway at us.  I started thinking that perhaps I'm the only one who can't stand the heat, and maybe I had better get out of the kitchen.  Oh wait... I don't have a kitchen.  Maybe I should be just be cooking our meals on the flagstone steps outside.  I'd do it, except the dogs pee and poo there.

I moved out of their line of sight so that I could finish cleaning up manure without an audience.  It's been my experience that when people walk, drive, or ride their horses down the street and spot me in my back yard, they walk right down my driveway to chat, even though they don't know me, and I was in no mood to entertain uninvited guests.  Had they approached me, I probably would have bitten their heads off and told them to get off my property before they break something and I get stuck spending the rest of my week trying to fix it.

I literally have a list of about a dozen items I need to buy to fix or replace things that have broken.  I estimate that it will take me about two weeks to get around to all the different stores I need to go to to buy the items on the list.  I'll probably give up and have to order most of the stuff over the Internet for double the cost with shipping.  Oh yeah, and I also have to get the renters out of the Nevada house so that we can sell it before it falls apart.  They've been calling in repairs on my tab every other week for the past year, so we haven't been able to make a profit on renting the house between the costs of the mortgage and the endless repairs.  I don't think we had that many things break on us in the 18 years we lived in the house, which tells me these renters are careless and possibly a liability.

While I was running around trying to cook dinner, discipline badly behaved horses, feed the dogs and administer medications, these bizarre alarms kept going off around the house that sounded like the Emergency Broadcast System.  We thought it was the TV at first.  Then I began wondering about the smoke detectors since one of them had given me hell last week.  My husband did some research and found out that the brand of smoke detectors we have in our house only last 10 years, and they are all 10 years old, so he ordered a bunch of new ones, but we have to wait until they arrive before we can take down the old ones.

It turned out that the alarms were alerts being sent directly to our mobile phones to warn us of dust storm activity.  The damn things went off all throughout the night, so now I have to figure out how to turn them off since the people who wrote the programs didn't have the sense to let people adjust the alerts to not wake them at indecent hours.  On top of that, my husband kept getting alerts on his phone about emergencies at his office.  Then there was the news about the 19 firefighters killed and the town of Yarnell, AZ being lost to a wildfire.  Sleep was hard to come by.  It's days like this when I'm skeptical that this endless slew of chaos and senseless destruction will ever settle down.

Today Scrappy is better.  He's walking and he ate his breakfast.  We're thinking he might have eaten something that disagreed with him and gave him intense gas pains, or possibly even eaten a poisonous bug that released its toxin into his system.  The geldings are still covered in their battle scars, of course.  If it weren't so hot, I'd put one of them in the round pen to keep them separated, but there is no shade there.  So, I have to keep one of the boys locked up in a stall.  Still they play through the fence and smash their faces on the railings.  Bombay is missing a good chunk of skin off his forehead and on most of his legs.  Most of Rock's wounds are on his chest and back, which makes me hesitant to put a saddle on him.  Spilling blood doesn't help with the fly situation.

Since I still haven't repaired the fly masks I washed, I broke into my emergency fly mask supply.  There weren't enough in there to cover replacing all the fly masks that Bombay destroyed, and the fly masks I bought were for ponies, but still too big for Arabs.  I put one on Gabbrielle and within 10 seconds Bombay had ripped both Velcro straps off it.  He's in the doghouse now, locked in a stall while Rock chases Lostine around trying to get a 25-year-old mare to play like Bombay usually plays.  Though Rock is 6-years-old, he acts like a toddler of terror, chasing everyone around until he passes out flat on his side in the sand to take random baby naps throughout the day.  It's when he takes these naps that I have the freedom to do other things besides supervising horses, such as taking a shower.  I've got to be fast, though, because he can wake up and do a lot of damage in just a few seconds.  If he weren't so quick in learning new things, I'd think he were brain damaged.  So, for now I am just calling him a socially delayed horse.

There really doesn't seem to be any solution to the negative dynamic that the herd has now that Rock has entered the picture.  I either have to find him a new home or I have to build another barn just for him to keep him away from the other horses.  I'm thinking of forking out more cash to build a lean-to, and then attaching the round pen panels to it.  It would be hard to let Rock go because he has the smoothest gaits in the world for a non-gaited horse, and he cracks me up.  Plus, he's not really mine to give up.  I'm also aware that Rock is not 100% of the problem, but it's more Bombay's reaction to him.  I just know that I can't spend the rest of my life tending to wounds and repairing shredded fly masks.  I feel like if the horses haven't settled down yet, it's never going to happen, so now I have to do something radical if I want to keep my sanity.

I finally got the insurance check to cover the repairs to my kitchen, but had to call the mortgage company to find out their procedure for endorsing the check.  I called three times, going down different paths, trying to get connected to the right department until I finally gave up and dialed 0.  The lady gave me the address to send the check to and told me not to endorse it, even though my name is on it.  I told her it is too late.  I got my husband to endorse it before he left for work, and I endorsed it myself.  She said the bank won't endorse it if we have done it already.  I was like, "NOW what kind of hassle am I going to have to go through to fix this???"

You think you are being efficient and doing a good thing, and next thing you know you are suffering more time loss to fix yet another problem.  That's my life story.  She told me to white out our endorsements and mail the check.  I said, "Then what?"  She said they'll mail it back to me.  I was thinking, "That's nice, but the repairs are scheduled for next week and I doubt I'll get the check back by the time I need to pay them."  But I'll worry about that hassle later.

I tore apart the house looking for some white out, and didn't have any, which meant having to race to the store before a thunderstorm moves in or before some neighbor starts lighting off firecrackers and the dog tears apart my house worse than I already did looking for the white out.  I was racing down the street into town and my mobile phone started ringing.  There is no way I can talk and drive at the same time, so I ignored it, but the person kept calling rather than leaving a message, and of course, all kinds of scenarios were running through my head like, "What if it's my neighbor calling to tell me that one of my horses is caught in a railing or seriously injured?"

I couldn't even get the damn phone out of its case to see who was calling.  Every time I looked away from the road for one second, some other driver would appear out of nowhere and stop directly in front of me so that I'd have to slam on my brakes.  I checked the phone when I got to the store and saw it was my son, who is out of town on a trip.  I figured he didn't leave a message because he didn't want me to call him back, because he was on the road driving and could only talk when parked somewhere.  I got the last bottle of white out off the store shelf and raced home and my phone started ringing again, but this time I wrestled it out of its case with my sprained finger and thumb, and answered because I was just a block away from home.  My son needed a phone number from me, so I ran in the house and got it for him out of my address book.

Then I looked out the window and saw that despite me locking up Bombay to keep him out of trouble, Rock managed to rip the brand new fly mask off Bombay's head and he was trying to rip it apart with his hooves and teeth on the ground.  I ran outside and tried to chase him away from the fly mask, but he wouldn't budge.  He just stood there with his ears up smiling, drooling, and begging for food.  Which leads me to another problem I'm working on fixing.

I think it is ridiculous that I can't leave the house in the middle of the day because I have to feed the horses their lunch.  Plus, since it now takes about 15 to 30 minutes to feed them thanks to the new process and dry hay, three meals a day is just too time consuming for me.  I figure the less number of times I have to handle that loose hay, the better for my stress level.  So, I am slowly moving the majority of their hay into breakfast and dinner, and will eventually cut out lunch all together.  I'm not feeding them less.  I'm just not feeding them as often.  It's another sanity saving effort on my part.  Who knows?  Maybe some day I will be able to get a job so that I can stop dipping into our savings to replace everything that is breaking around here.  I might actually be able to work a 4 to 6-hour shift somewhere before the dogs soil the carpet and the horses need their next meal.  What a concept!

Oh yeah, and my son made the mistake of asking me what time it was because he wanted to estimate how long it would take him to get home.  I looked at my watch and it said 1:30.  I told him that.  Then after we hung up, I looked at a clock an it said 12:30.  I looked at my watch and it said 1:30.  I was baffled, because I use that watch all the time, and apparently I didn't set the time back whenever it last changed.  Then I realized that made no sense, because we don't change the time in Arizona.  Then it hit me that either my watch was broken or my battery died, and I had one more errand to run right after returning home from running errands.  Typical.  I think I'm going to abandon wrist watches all together and just tell people I don't have the time.  I can't read my mobile phone screen when I'm outdoors because of the glare, so I can only consult it for the time when indoors.  I guess for me it will always have to be one hair past a freckle.

I'm seriously considering attaching a trash can to myself, kind of like a baby pouch, and then just start chucking everything in there as it breaks.  Then at the end of the day I can set it by the curb with a sign that says, "If you can fix it, you can have it.  Good luck."  Maybe people will get so immersed in dumpster diving that they'll stop spying on me when I chase my horses around like a raving lunatic.

Oh oh, the dog is pacing and thunderclouds are forming over the mountains, so I guess it's time for me to dip into the sedatives again.  One for me and one for the dog.  How do dogs even know that a storm is coming?  You'd think they'd at least wait until they hear thunder before freaking out.  I thought I loved all the tile floors in the house when we first moved here, because they are so easy to clean, but now I hate them because the clicking and clacking of a nervous dog's toenails on them is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

October can't get here soon enough.  I hope I hit the lottery soon, because I'm thinking of becoming a "sunbird", fleeing the heat and taking my horses and dogs out of AZ for the summer.  I need a second ranch in a cooler climate in a state or county where shooting guns and setting off firecrackers is illegal.  I can appreciate celebrating our nation's freedom, but I personally feel like a prisoner this time of year thanks to other people's celebrations, the crazy weather patterns, and my dog's reaction to them.

I'll end my July rant with pictures of the bunny and quail family who keep cool under the hedge by the front door.  I have to take pictures through the stained glass window or they will run away.


Yesterday I saw baby quail the size of my thumb.  They must have just hatched.  I'm amazed that the bird eggs don't boil this time of year.

13 comments:

Ian H said...

We are watching the news here about Arizona, and can't help wondering why in....'s sake people would be setting off fireworks? Maybe they are inbreeding too much.

Now besides that, methinks somebody needs a hug, or a vacation.:-}

Once Upon an Equine said...

Oh my! I like your snowbird idea. I would love to do that too. I also like your idea of splitting the sedatives between you and the dog. :-) I lived in Mesa for 4 years and every year felt hotter than the last. So I feel your frustration with the heat. And I did not have dogs and horses when I lived in Arizona, so it wasn't nearly as difficult. I just had to run from one air conditioned building to the next. Hang in there. You'll feel much better when your kitchen remodel is done.

Snipe said...

Quail thrive in the desert. The best time to assess population is in the middle of July, when the various age classes are represented. It's amazing that they do well in the heat. I love quail, and their tendency to run rather than fly.

fernvalley01 said...

just wow! Have toy tried CutnJumps fly masks? they are TOUGH

Cheryl Ann said...

Egads! I thought my life was complicated! Hey, we actually had a few drops of rain in our local mountains Sunday night...just enough to get the car dusty and dirty, however. We're staying at a cabin up here and a quail family came by...5 babies!
Cheryl Ann

Cut-N-Jump said...

Hahaha FV! Three of them are my masks... lol

Nuzz are you seriously throwing them in the washer? I spray them off with the hose, hang them up overnight and slap 'em back on in the morning at feeding time. That's all it takes once a week and they are good to go. Did you need the web/velcro straps replaced?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

CNJ - I pretty much need all new masks. The guys destroyed every part of them. They lasted a year, which is really good. The webbing in front of the eyes has holes, the soft edging has been ripped off, and the Velcro just loses its stick after getting all that slobber on it. I'm going to the feed store today to get something small enough for Gabbrielle, but probably should put news ones on order with you if you've got time to make more.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm feeling better today because I locked up the geldings and sedated the dog and actually got out to run some errands. I didn't have the time to get everything on the list, but it feels so good just to get something on MY agenda checked off every once in a while, as opposed to handling some problem I didn't have just minutes or hours before. I really miss the days of actually being able to stick to a planned schedule. It's nice to feel in control.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Glad you got some things done and are feeling better today.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. I hate when they destroy the fly masks and with a herd of seven it's always an adventure around here too. Mostly everyone leaves them alone though. I think eventually yours will stop playing with them.

I remember visiting my grandparents in Phoenix and it was 110 and hot, hot,hot. They didn't even have AC because in the summer they used to go camping in the White Mountains. Other relatives left for Flagstaff. That would be awesome if you could do that for the summer.

Anyway, here's an idea for you so you don't have to feed hay all day long. It's worked for us and we've used it for a few years now. Check out my daughter's idea on her blog:

http://glenshee.blogspot.com/2011/01/hay-net-helpers.html

You just fill them in the morning or evening and feeding takes care of itself for a day or two.

Hang in there.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

GHM - Interesting reading your daughter's post and the evolution of problems she had to solve to get to an amicable solution. I've been avoiding hay nets because Bombay could hang himself on anything, anyhow, anywhere. I couldn't keep horse blankets or buckets in his stall hung on the wall, because I'd find him in the morning with an injured leg and the blanket or bucket completely shredded or broken into bits.

I thought about using soccer nets at the time I was replacing the old sheep troughs with barrels, but my gut and what I know about my horses told me no nets. It doesn't matter if the netting is small enough that a hoof can't get in there. He'll rip an opening with his teeth to make room for his hoof. As is, the boys have found every way possible to slice themselves up on the lips of the barrels. Every solution brings new problems.

I think Bombay is just very different from the average horse. Dealing with him is like raising a special needs child. Imagine an idiot-savant horse who is both too smart and too dumb that he's a danger to himself and everyone around him.

I did pick up a fly mask that has Velcro straps that fold into themselves in layers under the chin for Gabbrielle, and that thing is on so solid that I can't even get it off at night with my fingers. Bombay and Rock have been tearing at it all day and neither of them have found the edge of the Velcro strap yet. I'm sure they will rip the netting off before they find the Velcro.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I just found an article about which states ban or limit fireworks, and Nevada was not one of them. I know it was illegal to set them off without a permit where I lived, and also illegal to sell them, so it must have been a county law instead of a state law.

achieve1dream said...

Hey I know this is an old post, but I'm catching up and just had to comment on the hay situation. Have you thought of asking your husband (or you can if you're good at it) to build slow feeder boxes for you? Do some Googling. There are a bunch of different kinds. Some people use trash cans and some use those big white containers that people store water you. You could use barrels. I think the one I have decided on is a wooden box with a slightly raised grate in the bottom so rain will drain out (although in the desert that might not be a problem) and a grate in the top for them to eat through. There are different ways to keep them from pulling the grate out.

How it works is you put the full day's worth of hay in the box and then lay the heavy metal grate (with two inch holes to slow them down) on top of it. The weight of the metal grate presses down on the hay so they can always reach it. The brilliance of these boxes is that it slows them down so they are eating the same amount, but it takes all day instead of an hour or so. Then they aren't as bored and destructive. Let me see if I can find the link to a video I saw...

Okay here you go! This is a great video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvAuNd3aYZM

You might want to build two though so they don't fight over one. I really hope this helps.