Saturday, January 17, 2009

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Ask Pony #1, 01/16/09

Today i have two questions to answer, and the rest of my cat experience to tell. So first, the questions!

But first: ACTUAL temp right now is -12F. Whoa. Seriously.

"Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

You know, I tried but I think he was intimidated by my superior evil content. He knew he couldn't measure up and just refused to dance with me. The wimp.

Interesting fact about me: In Hades when someone gets robbed by the Joker he says, "Have you ever danced with Pony in the pale moonlight?" and it leaves them shaking in their boots at the mere thought.


Bet ya didn't know THAT!

"What inspired you to do the gourds?"

A guy in a Mountain Man costume, actually. Believe it or not it has only been about a year since my obsession took over my life (in a good way).

OK, it was not JUST the guy dressed like a Mountain Man, it goes back farther than that so sit back, get comfy, and listen to me weave a tale of boring details about how I met my true hobby love....

It started a couple of years ago now when my dad got my husband and his dad and brother into his blackpowder sportsmen's club. One of the guys out there, Ed, hosts a primitive shoot. Sort of like a mini rendezvous. My step dad used to be interest in those too so i had read books about it in the past and found the idea appealing. When my husband and his dad offered to help out at the primitive shoot I really got into the idea and started researching "period correct" gear (I.E. "historically accurate").

Since I started having troubles with my arms I lost the ability to draw. But my creativity needs an outlet. I'd spent a long time frustrated and trying to find some way to be creative. Well, last winter they had an "antique gun show" in town and we went to it. It was mostly folks from three local blackpowder groups with Civil War or pre-1840 fur trade era stuff (we are the fur trade era folks). I'd been looking for ideas for stuff for the guy's outfits and this was a good chance for me. So this guy walked by in a frock coat and moccasins and had this awesome water bottle hanging from his belt. I stopped him and asked about it. he said it was a gourd, and that he thought there was one for sale in the other room. So I went and looked at it.

I asked the seller about it.

I thought to myself, I could TOTALLY make these! In fact I bet you could make a lot of stuff out of them, I should look these up online!

And so I did! And I found gads of amazing crafts and containers made with gourds. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any affordable gourds local to me.

Then, just a month or two later I was at my dad's house and walked outside with him and there, under their little picnic table... a stack of gourds! I squealed with delight (I literally squeal with delight at moments like this) and started talking to my step-mom about the gourds. I went home with one in my greedy little hands. Unfortunately it turned out to have a crack in it but no worry! I managed to make something out of it anyway using a broken hack saw blade and a Sharpie marker:


At that point I ordered a bunch of gourd seeds so I could grow my own because I immediately recognized that I would never be able to get as many gourds as I would want if I had to beg, borrow, buy or steal them. While I waited for spring my mother in law and sister in law discovered that a local store had gads and gads of gourds for sale. Now buying gourds can be costly because they are very labor intensive but by now I had to have some gourds!!!! I got a few more from my step mom, and I bought some, and then I started experimenting. I made bottles, I made bowls, I made boxes, I made jewelry, I made candle holders and the rest is history.

My first real project, I chuckle at it now:


and my favorite project to date (I keep my Native American Artifacts and the tail hair from my two deceased ponies and the late great Trooper in there):


I will make a post with more of my gourd art in it at a later date.

OK, and now the story of how I ended up a CAT PERSON.

*between the last sentence and this I decided to take a short break to go toss the ponies an extra flake of hay... next thing you know I am climbing through the barn dragging in old furniture like a bean bag chair and one of those round bamboo "satellite dish" chairs, then cleaning them since they have spent the better part of the last 15 years in the barn. They are now fairly clean, doused in "fabric freshener" and drying in the front room in front of a roaring fire. I may go in there and read once I am done here.*

It started the week before Christmas the year my ex left. I bought my daughter a trampoline for Christmas and set it up in the barn so she could play with it even though the weather was yuck. I was assembling it out there when I heard this horrible raspy sound and turned around and saw the sickest looking pitiful thing EVER. It was white with grey tabby splotches, skin and bones, and one side of her head was scab covered and swollen. I cursed under my breath and figured if it was wild or mean I would need to put it down. I crouched down and held out my hand and whispered, "Here kittykittykitty!"

This "thing" that didn't even look like death warmed over (it looked like death still cold, for serious) dashed over to me, purring and mewing, and threw it's battle scarred face into my hand. *sigh*

So I went in the house and got some canned dog food to feed it. While it ate I checked it's gender (she) and gave it a quick check over for broken bones. This cat was literally the most emaciated cat I have ever seen still alive. She had to pause during eating to breath through her mouth because her nostrils were almost swollen shut. I looked at her teeth and she had maybe 6 teeth in her entire head. The others looked like they had been broken out. I don't know if she had been hit by a car or kicked in the head but she was clearly on the wrong end of some sort of head trauma.

So.... my compassion for an injured animal overcame my dislike of cats and i told her, "If you live, you can stick around. But you have to stay in the barn!" I made her a bed, and got her some cat food.

Before Christmas there was some drama and I was not able to have my daughter for the holiday, but her grandparents brought her by to get her gift. I'd put a huge bow on the trampoline and was sitting there waiting for them to arrive. They were going to look for me at the house and then when they couldn't find me they were going to bring her out to the barn to discover the trampoline. I had named the cat "Her Royal Highness The Lady Lash Whippletree", "Lash" for short. Lash was in my lap the second I sat down.

So they arrived and my daughter, who was 4 at the time, took one look at me and shouted, "MOM! You got me a kitty for Christmas?!?!" then after a second she noticed what I was sitting on... "Whoa! Did Santa bring you a TRAMPOLINE?" HAHA! I had to explain that the barely living cat on my lap was not the gift and the trampoline was for HER.

So... fast forward a few weeks. Lash has been to the vet, who was astounded she was alive considering the condition of her skull. Her face would always be lopsided and her left eye and nostril would always be a bit clogged. But she was given her shots, wormed, and pronounced her healthy and on the mend from the head injury.

We got hit with the biggest snow storm in years. I was in the front room on my computer and Lash was sitting in the bushes staring at me and meowing. "Let me in!" she was saying. I looked at her. I felt guilty. I said, "Go in the barn, stupid cat." I took a jar of hot water out and put it in her bed. I took HER out and put her next to the warm jar. I dashed back to the house and she was at the window before I could get back at my desk.


I got up, frustrated and guilty, and sat in the living room. Tiffany looked up at me and said, "Mom, it's cold. Can we let Lash in?"

"No. If we let her in she will want in all the time and I do NOT want a cat in the house."


The cat was on top of the pole that I had put outside the window in the living room to hold up the window air conditioner in the summer. I cursed. I closed the blinds.

"Mom, she is cold and scared can we PLEASE let her in?"

I look out the blinds and she is standing with her paws on the window pane looking at me. She looked up at me with great big sad eyes and softly went, "Mew?"


I opened the back door and before I could even say "Here kittykitty" she was in the house. And she never asked to go back out again.

This cat was the sweetest, friendliest, most loving and affectionate cat I have ever met. She wanted only one thing in life, to sleep on top of the nearest immobile human. And that was it. The next thing you know everyone with a sick, injured, unwanted cat was asking me to help them fix, repair or rehome their cat.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

OK, there you have it, the first ever "Ask Pony" post. If you have a question for me for next week feel free to email me at!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If there was a market for hacked up hairballs.....

... I would already have my horse.

Seriously, can someone remind me why I have cats? Oh, yeah, because I love them and they are awesome. Except for whole hacking up slimy wads of hair and cat food.

You know, I used to hate cats. OK, hate is a stronger word that is accurate, perhaps. I liked them just fine as long as they stayed out in the barn where they belonged. Not in my house licking their butts, climbing on my counters and crapping in a box of dirt then looking at me as if I were derelict in duties if I don't clean the turds out immediately upon their completion.

yes, I know. Everyone always told me, "But cats are such clean animals!"

Of COURSE they are, if you consider an animal covered in it's own saliva who plays in a dirt filled box of it's own waste to be CLEAN. And that was before I even knew about the whole HAIRBALL thing. And the "leaving disemboweled rodents by the bed so you step in them first thing in the morning" thing.

So, how did someone who viewed cats as a somewhat annoying and distasteful rodent control option... someone who considered cats stuck up, nasty, smelly, filthy, dangerous killing machines.... someone who thought cats were great as long as they belonged to someone else and left her alone... how did this person end up not only with a total of 9 cats of her own but also doing CAT RESCUE?

Well... I will answer that question tomorrow.

Right now, I have some dancing to do.

Tune in tomorrow for the story of how I became a CAT PERSON as well as the answers to the questions I have received in my first weekly Friday edition of Ask Pony!!!!

Don't forget to keep posting comments HERE to get entries into my monthly give away!


Not cheap, FRUGAL!

I am NOT cheap. NOT! I am FRUGAL. There is a difference. I think. Let me consult and see what it has to say on the subject.


8. stingy; miserly: He's too cheap to buy his own brother a cup of coffee.


1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.

Yeah. I'm frugal.

So earlier this week I made silly looking curtains out of four pairs of my husband's old jeans. REUSE! REDUCE! RECYCLE! They don't hang straight, and they look like pants legs cut off and sewn together, but they keep the hallway about 10 degrees warmer by covering the window.... and I didn't have to worry about disposing of those pants... that is frugal, right?

Today's exercise in frugality (that is a word, isn't it?) was as follows:

It's freakin COLD outside. I was going to start a fire but our fire wood is still damp from being outside uncovered. Tsu was going to pick up some fire starters but I have had this idea for making my own so today I decided to give it a try.

I've been saving dryer lint for a week. yes, DRYER lint. Today I pulled out all of my old burned out candles and started to melt them together into one jar. I then took wads of dryer lint, wrapped them tightly in newsprint paper (and some in paper towels because I only had a little news print) then soaked them in the melted wax and let them cool. TADA! Fire starters!!! They burn for about 8 minutes give or take. Enough to start a fire without a lot of struggle. And they were made out of junk I would have thrown away anyway! How cool is that?

I think Tsu is impressed. Hehe.


OK, so I am also cheap. But still, I saved us money (that can go towards my horse hehehehehe) and entertained myself for an hour or two. So being cheap isn't ALL bad.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pony's Bit Cozy, Prototype B.... I think we have a pattern!

Attempt number 2, and I think I am happy with this one. I'm showing it on the 4 inch pony snaffle that I used on Jamie and the 6 1/2 inch draft driving bit I used on Trooper before he passed away. I thought it would be good to illustrate how it fits on different sized bits.





All the stuff I liked about Prototype A, without the stuff I don't like. Easy assembly as well.

Whoo Hoo! Now I just need to figure out if anyone would buy these things, haha! In the mean time I am using it to keep my feet warm, and I gave Prototype A to my daughter to heat up and stuff her hands into. lol.

My newest project.... Pony's Bit Cozys...Cozies? Hm.

Today's idea made real.

It's my first prototype of my microwaveable bit warmer. I had to hand sew the final closure and I'm not happy with that, but this was mostly just a test to see what I needed to change to make the pattern better. What do you think?

One side:


Other side:




In use:


What I like about this version:

Fairly quick and easy to make. Works. Is flexible enough to fit bits from very small (like the 4 inch pony bit on my late pony Jamie's bridle that it is being modeled on here) or a 7 inch draft horse bit.

What I do NOT like about this version:

Because one side was hand stitched it hangs kind of wonky instead of hanging straight. That seriously annoys me like crazy.

I'm going to try changing the pattern just a little bit so I can machine sew the whole thing.

This one is made out of polar fleece left over from making coats for my bald dog. I was thinking about making "Pony's Bit Cozy Green" out of recycled fabrics... maybe some out of denim... and the fleece ones.

It is made using rice, pop it in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds, it comes out toasty, you wrap the horse's bit while you groom it, then pull it off just before putting the bit in your horse's mouth. Then you can toss the warmer in your pocket to warm your hands on while you ride if you would like.

I've seen other versions of this while doing my research (to see if anyone else was calling it a "Bit Cozy" or if this design had a patent on it, which I did not find either, so I ran with it). But the other versions were either just a rice bag with velcro on it and when you wrap your bit all the rice falls to the bottom, OR it was two chambers which is an improvement but still leaves you with most of the heat on one side of the bit. They also had both pieces of velcro on the same side so it was more like the warmer was folded or draped over the bit instead of wrapped around it.

So horse people, what do you think? Any suggestions for improvement? And any suggestions on how much you would pay for it? Or even IF you would pay for it?

It hurts.

Ever want something so bad that it feels like an ache in your chest? That thinking about it makes your hands shake? That you are willing to do what ever it takes to make it happen? It's like this big empty burning hole....

I love my life. I am happy. I have a great kid (even if she DOES need to bring her grades up!) and a wonderful husband and the best dog on the planet, and an adorable pony (or two)... It's not like I absolutely NEED this to be happy but...

I've only ever wanted one thing my entire life. It has never wavered. Ask anyone who has known me since I was a kid and they will tell you that I have lived, breathed, ate, drank and slept horses from the start (figuratively, of course. Not literally. lol.)

I've had this vision in my head since the beginning. Well, close to the beginning anyway. It started with falling for Little Joe's horse, Cochise, on Bonanza.



Shortly after that my father took me to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. Somehow in my mind the two became merged... a pretty little black and white paint with big hairy feet. Then, I fell in love with a Clyde cross and for a while, it was almost as if I had my dream. He never belonged to me, but he was one of my heart horses. Trooper. He was a big old bay and white paint and I will always remember him fondly.


He is the reason I decided that white tails are over rated. Hehe.

So, here I am. I had decided late last year, with the help of my internet friends and real life friends that I would "settle". And if this doesn't work out for the horse I REALLY want I will very happily do so.... but...

I want this horse so bad it hurts.

I've been talking with his owner. LOVELY lady. Willing to bend over backwards to help me get this horse. She sent me pictures and a video yesterday. Dear heavens. I melt every time I look at his fuzzy little nose. I could just gobble him up like candy.

Rationally, he is what I want. Young, healthy, sound, sweet, friendly, small, hairy...

Irrationally... he makes me yell "squeeeee" every time I see him. I just want to hug him. I want to take him for walks around the block and spend afternoons reading a book while he grazes in the yard on a lead rope and I want to take him in the local 4th of July Parade.

Until my current two mini horses every horse I ever had was a "rescue" or "upgrade". Meaning they were in a really bad situation before I got them. In the future my horses will be rescues again. But just this once... I really want to make this happen.

So maybe I should have a bottle drive or something, lol.

Anyone interested in buying a little piece of property by Mack Lake MI? It would sell on quit claim deed, nice place to build a little cabin, surrounded by state land, close to the lake... and it just might give me enough money to buy this horse.

*wishful thinking*

I need to have a huge garage sale. As soon as the weather warms up I am going to go on a selling rampage. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Negative. I Am A Meat Popsicle.

The farrier just left. Dear heavens! It is COLD out there. I rode Sparrow a bit while I waited for her to get here, but not much. My ugly snow suit kept most of me toasty warm but my nose and my toes are ice! ICE!

I honestly didn't realize how cold my toes were until they started to warm back up. PAIN!

I'm sooo glad I found my farrier when I did. She is a real gem. I had a horrible time keeping a hoof trimmer back in the day and when I found her I was delighted. She kept Jamie comfortable for the last two years of his life and she sold me my Mary-mare.

Before the hoof trimming appointment today I made curtains for the hallway window out of old black jeans, haha! They look ridiculous, honestly, but they keep the hall a lot warmer. They pretty much block all of the cold air that comes in off of that window. The hallway sure is dark now, though.

I feel good about it, you know, recycling. It's good for the environment, right? Or maybe it is just that I am too darn cheap, haha!

I kept a fire going in the fire place all morning. It took the chill off of the front half of the house. I kicked the fan on and put another fan aiming into the rest of the house. I just wish the fire place was in the living room instead of the front room. I'd have a fire going from October until April if it was.


The cold made me tired. And I have laundry and dishes to finish. Bed to make. patterns for new crafts to make now that I have a work space in the front room. Research to do. I got to sew my weird curtains next to the fire place. It was kind of nice. It made me feel all domestic. It made me wish I had an apron to wear around the house.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Summer Goose, Winter Goose, CAT! And The Never Ending Winter Battle Against Poopcicles.

Summer goose:


Winter goose:


Yes, they are plastic. My ex mother in law gave them to me a few years ago when they moved.

Summer rooster:


Winter rooster:


NOT plastic. He is now officially "free range" which means he can act on his desire to kill us at any time he chooses. Honestly I swear! He has been plotting to kill us since he first figured out he could crow. I think it is because we called him "Elizabeth" for the first 6 months of his life.

And CAT! This is Socks, the road kill kitty, one of our barn cats:


Stalking me.


Distracted by the ponies. I assured him that though they may be small they are still too big for him to eat.

So, today it was a balmy 18F outside. The world was wrapped in fog when I woke, but by chore time the fog had lifted and left behind a thick fluffy coating of frost on everything.


Even the ends of the ponies hair had a clinging layer of frost.


The nice thing about the ponies is that they are very considerate. Thoughtful. Helpful even. Instead of just going doody where ever they happen to be when they get the urge they almost always make the effort to go in to the run in area in the barn to go in what I fondly call "Poo Corner". Now this would be great if they did this and I could just clean up the droppings from the pile but they also insist on urinating ON the manure. So by the time I get out there in the morning the bottom layer is frozen to roughly the consistency of hardened steel. Something about the mix of tiny turds and urine produces the hardest substance known to mankind: the miniature equine poopcicle.

Well, for the last few weeks I have been struggling to drag my wheelbarrow out to the pile to dump what few road apples I could claw up with my Miracle Fork. Today I decided the effort wasn't worth it, so I opted to use the Big Blue Sled I found out in the barn when we moved back here. I have a section of pasture I will be reseeding in the spring. The soil is pretty sandy and blah there so I have been trying to spread any manure out there to mix in to the soil before I reseed. I managed to get some out there, and was spreading it just the other side of the fence from the rooster.

He eyed me with a haughty disdain mixed with hatred and homicidal desire, but stayed on the other side of the fence until I went back to the barn. As I walked away he chattered at me angrily then ducked under the fence to pick through the droppings for treats. After seeing the things that bird eats I am not sure I ever want to eat chicken again. He is like a garbage disposal with a razor sharp beak and spurs that would make a cowboy envious.

At any rate, my Miracle Fork is just not up to the challenge of prying those poopcicles off of the dirt floor in the barn and it is making me insane. I can not STAND turds in my barn!!!!! The farrier is coming out Tuesday and there is a frozen pile of poo in my run in! Dear heavens! People can see my house with it's couch covered in cat hair and piles of books next to the couch but a POOP in my BARN! PERISH THE THOUGHT!!!!

I can't wait until spring. I never thought there would be a time in my life when the thought of thawing feces would make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Sometimes... sometimes I worry about myself.


Cheaper than running an electric blanket.

THIS is what my afternoon naps frequently look like:


Cozy. Like a living heated blanket crushing me! Of course it amuses and delights me. I often have another cat join them.

I will probably have more of a post to make later today but I just wanted to share this little bit of silliness with you this morning.