Friday, July 27, 2012

Not That You Care, But Now You Know!!

Back from the Vet with my horse Remis Tivio Command (Remy for short) ...  I don't have good news.  Remy was a great patient ... being very calm while the vet stuck needles in his fetlock.  Since we couldn't actually tell where he was hurt, the idea was to numb each section of the foot (nerve blocks) going up his leg until he could walk without limping.  That pretty much tells you where the problem is so the fewest number of x-rays will be required.  The problem was in his fetlock ... shown here, hind leg, equal to your ankle.
Thankfully the owner of Taylor Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Brooks, was available to check his x-rays.  Horses aren't the most patient animals, so after 30 minutes of playing in the water bucket and eating all the oats he could scrape off the concrete, I took Remy outside.  The Dr. finally came back with the results.  A bone infection in his fetlock.  This is not his x-ray, but shows another horse with the same problem.  See the dark shadows in the middle of the two white bones towards the top?  The bones are the proximal sesamoid bones and the shadows in each are the infection.  Luckily we caught Remy soon enough that he only has a small spot on the left side.
Treatment is available, but time consuming and expensive with no guarantees that he will be sound again.  He is on pain medication as well as antibiotics for the next 60 days.
You think YOUR prescriptions are expensive???  Here sits over $250 worth and there is no insurance!!  Twice each day he gets two pain pills and 15 antibiotic pills, all of which have to be ground up and put in a small amount of grain so he will eat it.  Of course like humans, so much antibiotics can cause stomach problems, so he also gets Neigh-Lox (Maalox for horses) on a daily basis.  I tried crushing the pills in zip lok bags until I added up the expense of 120 and found a mortar and pestle instead.  Course it takes longer to use this.  I considered a coffee grinder but didn't want anyone to use it by accident for their coffee!!!
To restrict movement, I have to keep him in a 12 x 12 stall for the next 30 days at least.  He's VERY unhappy about this and I can't blame him.  How boring!!!!!  What goes in, comes out ... and I have to clean his stall every day .. a logistics nightmare since my garbage can isn't big enough!!!!  Every available container is full at this point!!!  Although I spray him every day for flies, the mask helps keep them out of his eyes.
Poor Baby!!!!!  I feel bad for him.  So far he is doing well and I haven't seen him limping.  I'm hoping that's not all because of the pain killer and that he is improving.  I'll know more in about 20 days.  The REAL problem is that I was supposed to leave in my RV to the Grand Canyon in the middle of August.  That may now have to be put off a couple of days while I take him to the vet and get new x-rays to check on his progress.   If he's healing up, he can be turned back out to the big corral for the second 30 day treatment which my house sitter can handle!  Keep your fingers crossed!!!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Big Animal -- BIG Expenses!!

Let me preface this with I LOVE my animals.  They are like my kids, since I don't have any.  I have had the two horses, Showby and Remy since they were two years old.  They are now 24 and 21.  I haven't ridden in quite some time, other than just around the corral.  Cowboys and Indians are a thing of the past ... it's hard to find anyone still interested, except for the rodeo and cutting big time.  Talk about pricey ... that past-time is out of my league!!!  That said, I discovered my realtor's daughter loves to ride, especially in the mountains.  That's who I went horse camping with.  YAY!!  So I set off to get my youngest horse back in shape.  It lasted two days when one morning I discovered him limping.  It's usually a kick or bang on the leg, but since he wasn't healing up, I called the Vet to come take a look.
Not really finding anything, she thought it might be an abscess in his rear foot.  The remedy was to soak his foot in epsom salts and iodine every day for a week.  Well let me tell you, it's pretty hard to get a horse to step in a bucket in the first place ... but to hold it there for 15 minutes??  A big chunk of alfalfa hay solved the problem ... he just keep eating while I held his leg.  Only once did I get totally soaked with that smelly solution when he decided to walk off!!

Unfortunately it did not work and he's now worse.  A trip to the Vet's office for x-rays is the next step.  Hmmmm ... I have a great horse trailer but I need new tires.  The original tires are still on the trailer and it is 16 years old.
After airing up the tires (hoping they would stay that way until I got to the tire shop), I drove very slowly on all the back roads.  $589.00 later I had new tires, but the electric brakes didn't seem to be working.  I went directly to Merced Truck and Trailer to have them checked out.  "Just leave it here .. can you back it into that (very very tiny) space there between the fire truck and the school bus??  I can have someone do it for you!"   Are you kidding me??  No one drives my truck and trailer but me!!!  I squeezed it in.  I'm always up for a dare!!!  Another $570.00 to replace the brakes that were totally locked up with rust and I'm set to take the horse for x-rays.  But I'm not done yet.

My boots are as old as the horse trailer, so I went on-line to find another pair just like them.
Okay, so I admitted they were old ... but the only pair I can find on-line says "Vintage" boots!!!  I guess I should be happy it didn't say "Antique" boots.  After hours of looking, I found they don't make them any more.  The one pair of replacement boots I found were $169.00  Hopefully these will last at least 16 years too!!!

At this point I'm a little over $1500 (sounds like an RV tale) and I don't know what else may need to be done for the horse.  I'll let you know how it goes after our Monday appointment.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

San Juan Bautista .. Mission Town

The weather said 108 degrees in Merced.  I'm sure I will melt at that temperature, so I called my photographer friend Diane and we headed out to Monterey.  Although this is their foggy season, the 64 degree weather sounded good!!!  Along the way we stopped again at San Juan Bautista Mission.
Much to my surprise, the Federal State Parks has taken over this area.  There was always a small charge to enter the Mission itself, but now they are charging $4.00 to enter ANY of the historic buildings.  The good news is that one of the older hotels is now open for viewing.  The Mission is entirely built of adobe.  These huge columns run the entire length.  Amazingly, when you walk into the building itself, the temperature drops at least 10 degrees!!!  It was as if the air conditioning was on.
Here are the original drawings of the design of the Mission.  There are books from the 1800's as well as accounts written by the Missionaries that lived here.  Unfortunately they weren't very nice to the local Indians ... but that's another story.
You are allowed to enter the sanctuary as well as the chapel.  Yes, I laid down flat on the floor to get this image.  I had Diane keep watch ... we didn't want to be or appear disrespectful, but the light shining on the floor was irresistible for a photographer.
Behind the stable (my personal favorite building) was a long shed used for horseshoeing and equipment storage.  Many plows and crushers were gathered from the surrounding area and stored here.  This one was made and sold in San Francisco by Baker and Hamilton, 13-19 Front Street.
The original "Bucket Brigade" fire wagon, handled by the volunteers, was also stored here.  Each man would wear a loop of heavy fabric that was attached to the wagon (they did not use horses). The front guys pulled forward, the rear guys pulled back to stop.  With all the wood structures, I'm pretty sure most of them burned down!!!
All of the windows in the Chapel area were made from brick with real glass eventually being installed.  Every window sill and door is painted this aqua color to represent water.  This interior courtyard is also full of rose bushes in full bloom.  

Across the  huge courtyard/gathering area stands one of the earliest hotels.  Every room is full of original furniture, beds and clothing.  Here's an early wheelchair.  The original rugs on the floors are amazing and well worn.  
In the parlor area was this piano sitting next to a beautiful fireplace.  In fact, almost every room had a fireplace.  Seems it was a pretty fancy hotel in its day.

It was a quick trip through the Mission because REALLY, we were headed to Monterey.  Once there, we drove around to Asilomar Beach area.  Kinda sunny, kinda foggy, the flowers were in full bloom and the bees busy!!
Most of the local residents were out in force ... looking for handouts ... which they were getting from all the tourists!!
Rather than have the crowds trash the sand dunes on the way to the beach areas, they have installed steps every few hundred feet.  A perfect photo opportunity!!
Out of time, we have to head back home, brainstorming on where our next shoot might be!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood ...

Back to my photography .......  It's hard to get models here, and especially hard to get my schedule to match theirs.  My bestest girl called and said she was available last night if I had any projects she could do.  Are you kidding???  I have a long list of projects just waiting for models.

This one ... Little Red Riding Hood ... needed to be set up in a forest.  Not many of those around this area, but I did know where there were several stands of trees.  After ripping a nice plant apart so I could use the basket, we headed off about 6:00 p.m.  My friend and assistant Diane came along as the "cape flinger" and "wolf"!!!!

Here is Miss Riding Hood walking through the forest.  No, she doesn't look very scared ... Diane did her best imitation of a wolf, but Miss Hood only laughed!!!
The big bad wolf ... well not really ... but she did growl a time or two!!!
We got lots of looks and cat whistles while doing this shoot ... obviously because Miss Red is very beautiful.  Sorry guys ... she has a great boyfriend!!

Special effects in this shot!!  She's really not running ... and her cape is the result of Diane's expert "flinging".  
It takes quite a few shots to get an image like this.  You always try to get the model to visualize something so the facial expression you want, comes across in the image.  After many crazy faces and hysterical laughter (we do have a lot of fun on these shoots), I was finally able to capture this one.  You have to guess what she was thinking about!!!
Finally my favorite image.  So now you know WHY the wolf was chasing Little Miss Riding Hood!!!
Now if I can just find that frog .... and a model willing to kiss him ....................

Monday, July 2, 2012

Clarks Fork Horse Camping ... Last Day :(

After such a long ride yesterday, we decided to give the horses (and Ollie) a break.  Sandy's husband Evan arrived in time for some fishing and he's VERY good at it!!  I used to fish a lot with my Dad and loved catching a nice trout!!  Evan, on the other hand, caught a total of 70 fish ... catch and release of course.  He only kept a few, most of which looked like this!!
Ollie was pretty tuckered out at breakfast ... she elected to stay in camp.
We finally saddled up and rode out about 10:00 on a rarely used trail not found on the local maps.  The trail clearing crew mentioned it to Sandy, who decided it would be a nice short ride.  We found the trailhead and followed it down the river.  All the little rivers and gullies were running with water from the snow melt.  We crossed several with Petey and Patches jumping a couple of them.
The views up here are gorgeous and show how rugged the area is.  As you can see, all trails lead UP!!
Another local landmark is the "Iceberg" ... I guess it kind of looks like one??  We rode for about 4 hours and returned.
Back in camp having BLT sandwiches with Mac and Cheese for dinner, I began to reminisce about my Dad's camping and pack trips to gather cattle in the mountains.  He loved to cook and had a dutch oven that he used every night and every morning.  Evan perked up when I remembered he would cook biscuits every morning over pine cone coals.  He had never heard of such a thing.  So I volunteered to gather a gunny sack full for him to try the next day.  Well it didn't take long until he had the pinecones going and the biscuits made (bisquick that is).  Once the cones burn down, you scrape most aside and set the oven in the center ... lay in the biscuits (Evan dropped them in by spoonful) ... put the lid on and cover it with coals.  Then push the coals all up around the outside edge ... and wait ... patiently!!!
After about 20 minutes we checked them ... looking good!!!!  Maybe 10 minutes later they were done and were the BEST Bisquick biscuits I've ever tasted!!!  Smothered in butter and jam or honey ... YUMMY!!!!!
Crispy on the top and bottom ... I was pleased it had worked for them.  After all, it has been 20 years since I tried this.  By the way, my dad also made pies and cobblers!!  Didn't take Evan long ... the next day they dumped in all the fruit they had left over and covered it with a mixture of 1 cup bisquick, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk (Evans recipe).  Baked like the biscuits, they LOVED the cobbler!!!  Sooo happy I could pass on the recipes and directions for dutch oven biscuits!!!!

Time for me to go ... and as I opened the door and got in my truck, Petey actually raised his head and whinnied at me ... goodbye my friend ... see you next time!!!

PS  You guessed it ... I'm getting new tires on my horse trailer!!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Clarks Fork Horse Camping .. Day Two!

Ready to go ... Ollie's beautiful yellow eyes can be seen here.  She is just the sweetest dog ever!  I'd take her home in a minute!!  A little distracted ... SQUIRREL!!! ... occasionally, she's a great watch dog, growling when anyone came around, but never barking ... not once!!
Today will be our long hard ride to Jenkins Canyon, approximately 8 miles with a 1200 foot elevation rise.  I see switchbacks in our future ..... this country is pretty rugged, and all trails leading out, go UP!  Having been warned of the bears, I kept a wary eye out constantly.  In fact, as you go up the switchbacks where you can't see ahead, you whistle and talk loudly hoping if they are there, they will quickly leave.  The last thing you want to run into face to face on a steep narrow rocky switchback, is a bear!!!

Once out of camp, we followed a logging road to the trailhead.  The first few miles of the trail were pretty nice.  I suspect most people only go a couple miles and turn back, because the further up we got, the less used the trail was.  There were lots of huge granite rocks and fallen trees that we had to skirt around or crawl over.  In a couple of places it was so bad we got off and walked.  Without our weight on their backs (I don't want to hear any snickering here!!) it's easier for the horses to navigate the rough spots. The image below is about half way ... these mountains are called the Dardanelles.  High above the tree line, they resemble Grand Canyon rocks.
Along the way we saw lots of wildflowers including this Indian Paint Brush.  Even the skunk weed was in bloom!!
We finally made it to Jenkins Canyon ... anyone want to climb up this mountain??  Yes, it is as steep as it looks.  We stopped here and tied the horses to trees so they could rest while we ate lunch.
The trail at this point wasn't good at all, so Sandy checked out her Forest Service Topographical maps to see what it looked like ahead.  These maps are invaluable and you shouldn't be out here without them.  The trails are not well marked any more nor cleared like the highways you find in Yosemite.  It has been the National Parks agenda to go "back to nature" and let the wilderness be just that, including not replacing any directional trail signs.  As a result, very few people utilize the area or travel the trails.  Without these maps showing the mountain streams, trails and contours, you could easily get lost.
We walked ahead on the trail for maybe half a mile and decided it was just too rough for the horses.  Safety first is Sandy's motto ... and a horse with a broken leg out here is bad news!!  On the way back we stopped at this little meadow to let them eat.  The more grass they eat out here, the better for them and the cheaper Sandy's feed bill!!  The red bags on my saddle horn hold lunch, water, a poncho, side cutters (in case your horse gets into wire), hoof pick, kleenex, pocket knife, camera and gloves.  You can't see them, but I have large saddle bags behind my saddle that hold first aid kits for humans and horses, two large bags of feed for the horses (they get lunch too ... it provides them with much needed energy), and miscellaneous emergency supplies.  Like the Boy Scouts, be Prepared!!!!!
On the way back, we noticed the moon had come up before the sun went down.  I think it was about 4:00 when I took this image.
After seven hours of riding, we returned to camp.  The horses were tired, we were tired, and Ollie sacked out immediately.  I think for every mile we traveled, she went two!!
No rest for us however ... horses have to be washed and brushed to get the sweat off.  They are first fed a few chunks of watermelon ... their favorite!! ... then hay and special "senior" grain.  Hard to believe, but both these guys are about 18 years old.  Once dry, they are blanketed for the night.  THEN we get to relax and clean up a little.  After chili beans and corn cakes we sat around the fire planning the next days trip!!!