Monday, January 8, 2018

Four Stories

Open and Say Ahhhhh

Our new supermarket in town remains impossibly crowded, so we have gotten into the habit of waking up around 5:00 AM, showering, going out to breakfast at one of the two diners in town that open early, and then doing our marketing before the sun rises and before the crowds converge.  This weekend it was especially important that we avoid the crowds because we have two flu strains causing an epidemic in our area, and this year's flu shot doesn't protect against either of them.  My son is coming to visit, and we don't need to be sick and pass it on to him to take back east when he leaves. 

Unfortunately, despite being careful not to be around anyone who coughs, I didn't dodge the bullet.  I'm guessing that someone probably coughed on some surface I touched, and that's how I picked it up.  I should have just ordered my groceries through Amazon this week, but then it would probably turn out that the delivery man coughed all over the packages.  Last night my throat was so swollen that I struggled to breathe.  The newscasters have been urging people to stay home if they are sick and not go to the doctor's office, medical clinic or emergency room unless they are having trouble breathing.  All these people with minor flu symptoms that can't be treated anyway are causing a bottleneck for those who seriously need to see a doctor.  It's so hard to see a doctor as is this time of year with all the winter visitors.  I can only imagine how long people have to wait now with this flu epidemic.  I am breathing better after taking a steamy shower, so hopefully I'm past the worst of it. 

Me, Groucho

Anytime I dye my hair myself, the dogs never give me enough time to make it through the entire process without having to take them outside.  So, I took them out right before I started the hair dying process, but when I got out of the shower after rinsing, they needed to go out again.  I told them to hang on, because the horses needed to be let out of their stalls too.  My wet hair was matted to my head, as I hadn't had time to comb it out yet, and I had Groucho Marx eyebrows, so I didn't want anyone to see me.  My neighbors had left for a trail ride earlier, so I looked around for any indication that they may have returned.  I definitely didn't want to run into them with my hair and brows like that, and with no make up on.  I ran outside to let the horses out of their stalls really quick, and the horse the neighbors left behind started whinnying.  I thought the neighbors were returning home, so I rushed to get the horses out and get back to the house before they caught me.  It turned out the horse was calling out because it saw my horses transitioning from one activity to the next, not because its buddies were returning home.

Then I took the dogs out and here came this person I'd never seen before bicycling up the street before Stewie could relieve himself.  Midge peed, but still needed to poo.  Stewie lunged at the bicyclist, who was staring at me with my wet matted hair and Groucho Marx eyebrows, and a bark-fest began.  I had to drag both dogs inside the house because there was no way they could finish their business in that state of mind.  In winters past, I'd take the dogs into the backyard to relieve themselves since so many snowbirds are out walking and bicycling back and forth in front of my house.  However, that's going to be difficult now that we have neighbors living next door.

The Paradox of Wide Open Spaces

We've been looking for a trailer or mobile home with electrical and water hook ups on a large acreage in the mountains where we can occasionally go to escape the crowds in the winter and heat in the summer.  It seems that every property with 20 or more acres does not have access to water and electricity, or if it does, all the homes are right up against each other because that's where the utility access is located, and the homes surrounding the home that is up for sale are surrounded by dozens of broken down vehicles and other junkyard items.  You can live out in the middle of nowhere, but all it takes is one bad neighbor to ruin everything, so I prefer no neighbors at all. The other big issue is that many of the affordable lots of land require a 4WD ATV or side-by-side to access.  Oh yeah, and that's the other thing:  You can see ATV tracks and hoof prints all over the pictures of the land, so you know that people are already using it for their recreational activities, so I'd have to pay to have a fence built around the property to keep those people out, and then they'd just cut the fence and keep doing what they've always done.  I've considered just buying 40 or 80 acres and camping out of tent, but that's really not an option with my arthritis.  I'd have to pay to pave a road and bring utilities to the center of my property, but you know as soon as I do that, the land around my land will get snapped up and everyone will start building houses and tapping into the resources I paid to bring into the area.  If you build it, they will come.  So, it doesn't look like there are many good options in state.

Some Piss Face Success

Something short of a miracle happened this morning when I was letting the horses out of their stalls.  For years I have been trying to train Gabbrielle not to piss in my face.  It started out with her turning her butt toward me and releasing a flood at my feet every time I approached her to let her out of her stall.  Then I'd get urine and mud splattered all over my pants.  I handled that by whacking her with a riding crop or my hand as soon as she turned her butt toward me.  However, that just taught her to do it when I was out of arm's reach.  She'd turn her butt toward me and pee as I was approaching the barn aisle.  So, I handled that by leaving a pile of rocks by the entrance to the barn aisle, and I'd chuck one at her butt as soon as she'd swing it in my direction.  Eventually, as long as I kept eye contact with her, she wouldn't do it.  But, as soon as I got distracted and looked away, she did it.

What's the problem as long as she's not splattering me, you ask?  Well, besides being an annoying obnoxious behavior, she would make such a large, deep puddle in her stall that it would take days to dry out, putting her at risk of developing thrush.  She literally created a small pond in the barn.  I kept expecting to find guppies swimming in it.  I wanted to take it a step further and train her to pee outside of her stall.  The other horses aren't a problem, because they just pee small amounts when they need to, and they pee in different locations, and bonus! -- They don't make an exhibition out of it.  They don't hold it for hours until I approach, point their privates at me, spread their legs, and then release a flood into the exact same spot every morning and every night.

So, here's what happened this morning:  All the horses went into their stalls, and as I came around to close the stall gates before feeding them, Gabbrielle suddenly strutted out of her stall.  I thought, "What's up with her?" and I looked all around for some reason for why she didn't want to be in her stall.  That's when she walked out of the barn into the arena, and let loose there!  I realized that she finally figured out that I did not want her peeing in her stall anymore, so she left her stall to relieve herself.  I also appreciated that she turned her butt away from me when she did it.  I gave her a ton of praise, which she rejected with pinned ears.  She came right back to her stall when she was done, and I praised her some more while she continued to flip me off.  Hopefully, this new behavior of peeing outside of the barn will become a habit, so I can check one more problem off my list as having been solved.  The ideal situation would be if she would simply just pee outside of the barn when I'm not around, but I know my presence is such an ingrained trigger for her bladder that we'll probably never reach that pinnacle of success, so I'll have to settle for and celebrate reaching the second best scenario.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Good for Gabrielle! I'm glad she finally figured it out. Land is always hard to find, especially the perfect spot for what you want it for. Good luck and don't give up.

Crystal said...

Ugh I had the flu earlier this year so I hope I am good for the rest of the season or forever

Linda said...

That’s interesting about the difficulty of finding land and makes perfect sense. I’ve been looking at second homes down that way, and the horse properties I see are all very small with small turnout areas—shared bridle trails. In a few years, we may get a small place where we can trailer down a few horses and spend winter. Snow birds. 😂 It gets dangerous up here for us! If we didn’t have horses, it would be easy to go back and forth, but with horses, I’m not sure it would be worth it for the small amount of time we’d spend there. Of course, the other option would be to move south permanently, but then we’d be further from kids and grandkids. So, it may never happen, but it’s nice to dream.

Sherry Sikstrom said...

weird about Gabrielle, my horses would do the opposite, and often wait till I am out of sight before relieving themselves. But they are not stalled either so ...
Sorry you are sick, there are some rotten bugs out there this year