Monday, March 6, 2017

Rock 'N Windmill

It was a little over 7 years ago that blogger Lisa got me involved in letterboxing.  I got hooked, and eventually began geocaching as well.  Blogger Lytha and I talked about our geocaching adventures on our blogs.  In recent years, there haven't been any new letterboxes or geocaches being hidden around my haunting grounds, so my involvement in it petered out.

I recently found a local Facebook group that paints rocks and hides them in parks and along hiking trails.  I first checked them out, thinking that they were the ones painting graffiti on large rocks and boulders along the hiking trails, and I was going to ask them to stop.  However, this group is very environmentally aware, and they mostly buy river rock, paint it, and hide it in unobtrusive locations where people who just want to enjoy nature don't have to be involved.  They don't remove rocks from protected lands or go out to nature and paint it.  Their goal is to get more people out into the community to utilize parks, and to just put a smile on someone's face.  They paired up with a mental health and wellness organization to hide painted rocks in a location around their building, and they are going to put on an Easter rock hunt, in which all the rocks are painted like Easter eggs.

I thought it would be fun to get involved since we've had such a wet year, and I don't care to ride my horses in the rain.  I could be painting rocks on the rainy days.  I'm not much of an artist, but I don't think anyone cares.  

These are my first six attempts:  A hot air balloon, a tiger, a scary movie mask, a mountain landscape, camping under the stars (there's a tent and campfire on the other side), and a seashell.  Painting is a lot more time consuming than I ever imagined.  You have to do the background color on one side, let it dry, flip it over, and do the background color on the other side.  Do the same process with the medium lines, and then repeat with the details.  That's a minimum of six paintings for one rock, and that doesn't count for all the mistakes you have to hide.  Then you have to paint the label, and cover both sides with sealant.  These aren't sealed yet.  Sealing adds a shine to them.

Some of the people in the group are quite gifted artists, so I hope to find some of their rocks someday.  The organizers are really easygoing and haven't laid out any set of rules so far, but I suspect they may eventually have to as the group grows.  We do have a few people who take all the fun out of it for others by racing out to look for rocks as soon as a new post announcing a planting appears.  Then they search until they find all of them, take a picture of their loot, post it to show us that they found every single rock, and then they keep them.  That's a bummer when you consider that it takes weeks to paint the rocks, and they are gone in less than a couple of hours.

I think we should adopt a "take a rock -- give a rock" rule.  If you want to take a rock home that you found, replace it with one that you painted.  Some people have been kind enough to take pictures of all the rocks they found, and then let everyone know that they re-hid them for someone else to find.  Of course, occasionally someone who is not part of the group finds one and takes it home, not knowing that they are supposed to post a picture to the group's Facebook page.  That's okay... as long as finding the rock improved their day.  I don't think anyone is going to complain about making a little child happy.  It's also seems perfectly acceptable to keep one rock that you really enjoy.

I met the group organizers at an event, and they gave me all kinds of painting tips and some supplies to make painting easier, including labels that say the group's name and instruct the person who found it to post a photo of the rock to our Facebook page.  The only problem is that the labels are too big for all the rocks I've painted so far, so I may have to either paint larger rocks or make my own shrunken labels.  In the meantime, I'm just painting the group's name on the back.  While at that event, I spotted three hidden painted rocks, but left them there for others to find.

My husband's father made this windmill with moving parts for him, and our son drove from California to Arizona to pick it up and deliver it.  

My husband bought a post this weekend and installed the windmill in front of our house by the street.  We really didn't have a good place to put it, because people who put decorations up in the front of their homes in our neighborhood find that they get stolen or vandalized.  The only free spaces in our back yard are places for trucks to drive around, so we couldn't block those paths.  So, he took a chance on putting it out front.  

Now I'm desensitizing the horses to it, because it's set up where I ride them to get to the bridle trails.  Not only does the propeller spin, but the woman, the horse, and the man move, and the entire contraption spins 360 degrees on the post.  It makes a squeaking noise.  

I walked Rock up to it, and as expected, he couldn't care less.  He just wanted to eat the weeds around it.  There were gusts of wind, so he experienced it going from a standstill to pumping at full speed.  The sudden movement didn't phase him.  I walked him around it from both directions, and he was more interested in what was going on up on the hill behind the house.

Bombay was a different story.  I had planned to just walk him past the windmill and have me not even acknowledge it.  However, he spotted the windmill before it even came into my view.  He saw it over the wall, threw his head up and slammed on the brakes.  I had to coax him toward it a few steps at a time.  Eventually, he grazed next to it, albeit tensely.  There were a lot of spooks in place.  I think my neighbor was watching him through the window, because Bombay kept looking into his window and jumping.  The horses can see movement inside my neighbor's house when his shades are up, and it freaks them out. The horses really struggle with it when he actually opens the window, because then the horses can hear noises coming from within the house as well as see movement.

I'll get to desensitizing the girls to the windmill on another day when I don't have my neighbor to contend with.  Gabbrielle and Lostine are ten times more likely to spin and run back to the barn the second they see it, and I don't need any rope burns.  The less stimulation and distractions so that they can focus on the windmill, the better.  The last time that I simply took Lostine for a walk off the property, she was a complete basket case.  She's becoming quite fearful and herd-bound in her retirement.  Gabbrielle is just... well, Gabbrielle. 


Camryn said...

I've seen the painted rocks on the news. Apparently it's going on in NE Ohio as well. Love your windmill, Pippin would be like your Rock. Nothing much bothers him so far.

Lana said...

Perhaps the Facebook link to back of rock? Written with a marker and sealed with quick coat of clear coat poly?

Loved reading!


Mrs Shoes said...

What a cool windmill your FIL made; I am a sucker for things that someone else put their effort & love into making. On the side of your house (in the background) I see horse heads - are those hung on your house, or somehow part of the stucco?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lana - Yes, that's what was on the label that's too big, so I either have to make smaller labels or paint bigger rocks.

Mrs. Shoes - It's part of the siding. A lot of houses in this area incorporate artwork into their siding, but it's not stucco. I don't know what it is, but we'll find out once we hire someone to re-do it all.

Crystal said...

Those rocks are cool! And a good idea. Ha Rock not a surprise he don't worry about the windmill. I find the less I do with my horses the more herd bound they get its frustrating but I cant blame them