Thursday, August 29, 2013


Kids are really resilient creatures. Three days after scaring his parents to death Carter seems fully recovered. His appetite and energy level are high as are his spirits. He spent much of today in high energy play with his best friend with frequent breaks so somebody could check his temperature.

Things on the farm continue as normal with the exception of Melissa and I being under the weather. It would be safe to say the stress we experienced has taken it's toll. In addition to lack of sleep we both came down with some sort of stomach virus last night. Ironically, the only one who isn't sick at our house today is Carter. He is talking to himself while "reading" a book as I write this.

We will be back to regular pictures and blogging on Sunday evening. Hope everyone has lots of fun stuff planned for this Labour Day weekend. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ER Visit

For the most part yesterday was a very normal day, and I had no inkling that I was going to experience the worst few minutes of my life later in the day. It was late in the day and Jason, Carter and I were heading home in the car after eating dinner. We were all counting to ten together as that is currently one of Carter's favorite activities. We were all counting away, and as we started another count to ten Carter stopped at three. Jason made the innocent comment "uh oh, Carter missed number 4" and glanced in the rear view mirror at Carter. He then said "oh my God" in such a way that I knew whatever he saw it was really, really bad. 

I turned around in my seat to look at Carter and felt a wave of horror and panic wash over me as I looked at my child having a full body seizure in his car seat. He wasn't conscious. I climbed into the backseat with him and yanked him out of the car seat. Jason called 911 while driving as fast as he could  to the hospital. Thankfully we were only a few minutes away. 

Carter finally stopped the convulsing from the seizure after what felt like hours but was really only a couple of minutes. However he did not appear to be breathing, his lips were blue and his face was starting to look blue. I took the phone from Jason and sobbed to the 911 officer that he wasn't breathing. I checked his airway for obstructions, then I started performing CPR. I frantically told Jason that Carter wasn't breathing, he wasn't reviving. Jason was driving as fast as he could and yelling at Carter that he loved him. 

The worst moment of my life came when I thought Carter might be dead. I thought nothing would ever top the fear and overwhelming grief that I felt just over a year ago when I held my dying father's head in my hands while telling him that I loved him. What I felt yesterday when I thought Carter had died was nothing compared to that moment with my dad. When I thought Carter had died all I wanted in that moment was to die with him, to try and follow him to wherever it was he might be going. I silently said "dad please help me. I need you to help me." I was so overwhelmingly desperate, and I didn't know what else to do. I kept up the CPR.

Maybe it was just coincidence, maybe it wasn't, but at that moment Carter coughed and started some very labored breathing. We were less than a minute away from the hospital at that point. I sobbed to the 911 operator that Carter was breathing, we were about to pull into the hospital, and hung up the phone. Jason pulled up to the ER with the tires squealing, left the car running and the doors open, and grabbed Carter's limp body from my arms and ran into the ER. 

The ER staff took one look at Carter in Jason's arms, as limp as a dishrag, and had a team of nurses and doctors swarming him in seconds. I stood there and felt like I was having an out of body experience, watching everyone working on my son. It still feels like it had to be happening to someone else. I managed to call my mom and she said the only words I got out were "Carter, seizure, unconscious, hospital."

A few minutes after we arrived at the ER I heard Carter start crying, and it was the most beautiful, most precious sound I had ever heard. Bless the ER doctor who at that point spoke calmly to me and said "mom, he is ok, he is going to be ok, and he has not developed a life threatening condition." 

I am happy to report that by this afternoon Carter had bounced back and was acting almost completely normal. He is really digging the fact that Jason and I are pretty much letting him get away with anything right now. Short of committing murder I don't think there is much he could do at the moment that Jason and I are going to get upset about.  Jason and I are still traumatized, and probably will be for a long time. The consensus is Carter had a febrile seizure brought on by a very rapid onset, high fever. It would be an understatement to say that it is an experience Jason and I hope to never experience again. 

When Carter was finally released from the hospital we were all exhausted when we made it home. We looked like three walking zombies. We got Carter settled in bed and were getting ready to go to bed ourselves.  I looked down to pick up a tissue I had dropped and saw a spider on the floor. Everyone knows I have major spider and snake phobias. I was about to call Jason to deal with the spider when I decided I just didn't have the energy. "Screw it" I said to myself, picked up the nearest shoe, slammed it down on that sucker, and picked it up with a tissue and flushed it down the toilet. Take that you effing spider, and let your friends know it is best not to cross Melissa's path after she's been through that kind of trauma. I didn't expect to have major breakthroughs in other areas of my life but at the moment my spider phobia has seen major improvements.

Yet again I had another life lesson in how quickly things can change. My words of wisdom for the day are to go hug the people that you love because there are no guarantees that you will have that chance tomorrow. 


Murphy and Johnny


Elfin and Grand

Stormy and Clayton

Donovan and Oskar

Wiz and B-Rad

Chance and Leo

I liked how Silky and Traveller seemed to be making a point of ignoring each other

Lighty and Africa watching Darby have a good roll

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Flyer, known as Radio Flyer for formal occasions, joined us for retirement from California this past spring. Although we have only known Flyer for a few months we have known his mom for years. We first met Flyer’s mom when she sent her gorgeous thoroughbred mare Buffy to retire with us. Buffy sadly passed away in 2010, so it was especially meaningful to Jason and to me when we were able to welcome Flyer to our family this spring. 

Flyer hanging out in his stall at Middle Ranch in California

Flyer’s mom had wanted to own her very own horse since childhood. She begged her parents for a horse but for various reasons never got one, although she did a lot of riding on friends’ horses. She finally took her very first riding lesson when she turned 30, and she knew she would always have horses in her life from that point on. 

Flyer hanging out with his mom's twin boys

Buffy was her first horse, and she had a lot of life changes happening when Buffy had to be retired.  One of her most exciting changes happened a few months after Buffy was retired when she gave birth to twin boys.   She still managed to stay connected to the horse world while adjusting to being a new mom and running around after twins. She had an investment pony that she owned and had leased out, and she also took riding lessons whenever she could find the time.

Flyer at a horse show with a friend of his mom's riding

She was riding and taking lessons with a trainer that had helped her lease out her small pony, and Flyer ended up being the horse that she was able to ride regularly.  She fell in love with Flyer, and shortly after Buffy passed away Flyer came up for sale.  She was determined that Flyer was going to be hers and immediately arranged a pre-purchase. During the pre-purchase it was discovered that Flyer had a bit of ringbone and some other minor arthritis. She knew she would not have a lot of time with him and that she might be retiring him sooner rather than later. It was a chance she was willing to take as she loved riding him so much.

Flyer in his beloved grass paddock at Middle Ranch, saying hi to the son of one of his mom's friends

Flyer’s mom was never able to learn much about Flyer’s history prior to buying him. The lady she bought him from had recently opened a dental practice and literally never came to see him a single time during the period that she rode and took lessons on Flyer prior to purchasing him.  He had previously been leased to a teenager that showed him in the Children’s Hunters, and prior to living in California he had been showing in the Northwest.  That is the only history she knows about Flyer.

Flyer and his mom at a horse show

Flyer is a big 17 hand Trakehner/Thoroughbred cross. His mom says Flyer was incredibly comfortable to ride with a big, rocking horse canter. He was the type of horse that always took care of his rider, and he really allowed his mom to concentrate on herself and on being a better rider. He especially gave her a lot of confidence over jumps as his natural rhythm always took him to a great distance. His mom said the only time he ever thought about stopping at a jump was when she accidentally steered him right into the standard.

Flyer enjoying retirement, grooming his new friend Lofty

Flyer enjoying some grazing time with Lotus and Faune

She did her first ever horse show on Flyer and of course she was very nervous since it was her first show. She said Flyer definitely sensed how nervous she was and as they did their courtesy circle and headed to the first jump in her first class he pretty much took over. Flyer basically said “relax, I’ve got this” and marched around the course. Flyer ended up helping her win her very first over fences class in her very first horse show.

Flyer coming on the run through the fog for breakfast with friends Faune and Silver

While Flyer was helping her to gain confidence as a rider, she spent a lot of time out of the saddle with him and developing a relationship. When she first started riding him Flyer was pretty detached around people. She would take him on walks, hand graze him, and whenever she could she would turn him out in a grass paddock. Being in Los Angeles grass paddocks are hard very hard to come, but thanks to a friend of a friend Grand Prix rider Francie Steinwedell-Carvin let her turn Flyer out in her paddock whenever she was on the road. Flyer and his mom both loved having the use of the paddock. She would sit under a tree and relax while he was grazing. Thanks to the grass paddock she also learned the meaning of the term hard to catch. One time Flyer managed to elude being caught for over an hour, and it took his mom and two grooms to finally catch him. After that day it became a game with Flyer to try and stay away from whoever was trying to catch him. All of the walks and the paddock time helped Flyer work past his detachment with people, and he and his mom were able to forge a bond.

Flyer on his second day with us

Flyer and Donneur going for a run

After a couple of years together some of the issues that had been noted on Flyer’s pre-purchase exam began to catch up with him. Sometimes after they had finished a ride and were going for a walk around the property he would be ouchy when he stepped from grass onto concrete. A couple of times he was completely fine while being ridden, but would be off after standing in the cross ties to be untacked and groomed.  Flyer had developed some navicular issues in addition to his ringbone, and corrective shoeing and medications worked for another year.  When it stopped working his mom decided not to try other treatments in order to keep riding him. Flyer had been very kind and generous to her as a rider, and she decided it was time to let him be happy and permanently enjoy being in a grass pasture since he clearly loved any time he got in a grass paddock so much.

Flyer and Faune striking a pose

Flyer made the trip from California in the spring and instantly decided he was in love with our farm.  As his mom already knew, grass pastures and friends made our farm seem like heaven to Flyer. He met Donneur, who came to our farm at the same time he did, and became instant best friends with him. After he and Donneur had transitioned into a group they were both excited to expand their social circles and already had the skill set to do so.  Not having to teach social skills was a nice treat for Jason and for me.  After watching him mostly from a distance Faune fell in love with Flyer after about a week, and remains in love with him today. Since they are both big chestnuts they make a matching couple.  

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Flyer!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It Has Been Awhile

It has been awhile since I posted any pictures of Jason looking miserable while dealing with a plumbing problem. Those pictures are always so charming, usually involving Jason standing in muddy water looking distinctly unhappy.  A few days ago I had an opportunity to update my folder of pictures where Jason is standing in muddy water while repairing a plumbing issue. 

This picture is so deja vue - Jason in his rubber boots standing in muddy water

Jason was most unhappy when I pointed out to him that he had shoveled the dirt into his work boots as he dug up the line. 

You probably don't need me to tell you what Jason was saying as I took his picture. You should be able to get the general idea just from looking at his expression.

As always Jason came to the water line rescue (gotta put that university degree to work). He doesn't exactly look happy in this picture, but he at least looks a lot less unhappy.

This time around we were dealing with a mess we did not create. We had never had great water pressure at the very back barn which is no surprise given that it is at the end of 3,000 feet of water line. We had a contractor in who installed several pressure regulators at various points along the line and maybe some other stuff that I don't really understand. The only thing I did understand was that after all of it was done our water pressure at the back was even worse, which was pretty much the opposite effect that we were expecting.

Jason was completely perplexed by this and traipsed all over the farm digging the lines up where these pressure regulators had been installed. He couldn't find anything wrong and did not find any leaks. There was a lot of talking to himself and screaming at no one, mostly along the lines of  "WHY did this not work? WHY is the water pressure even worse?"

After two days of digging, talking to himself and screaming at no one, he finally decided to remove one of the pressure regulators and put a new one in at a different point along the water line. This of course involved multiple trips to Home Depot. The first trip to get the parts he needed, and the rest of the trips to get the parts he did not realize he needed.  You know how that goes.  

After he got all of that done we turned on the water at the last spigot with a lot of trepidation. Over the last couple of days we had turned that spigot on over and over hoping for good results and always getting bad results. Jason was already talking to himself and screaming at no one, "WHY won't this work" when the water came gushing out with a lot of pressure, more water pressure than we had ever had at the last spigot. We left the water running for awhile to make sure the pressure did not fall off. It didn't. Jason was victorious at last. 

Jason had desperately hoped to avoid digging up water lines, standing in muddy water, and dealing with disassembling and reassembling water lines. Instead he got to pay someone to do with the mess, then deal with it all himself on top of that. The best laid plans . . .  never quite seem to work out as planned.


the sun was struggling to make an appearance through the fog this morning

Thomas borrowing Jason's phone to check his email

Flyer, Faune and Silver coming on the run through the fog for breakfast

Lotus and Romeo 

MyLight and Calimba

Apollo, Moe and Levendi

Possibly our newest resident on the farm. He/she watched me feeding horses for quite awhile yesterday morning.

A picture full of pony 'tude; Cuff Links, Norman and Traveller



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rednecks at Work

Recently it seems that running into our gates is the in thing to do at our farm.  In the last few months there appears to have been a memo circulated that everyone needs to run into our gates because it seems to keep happening.  Our most recent gate victim is one of our gates at the road. 

We have  had even more people than usual in and out of the farm lately and we have no idea who hit the game this time. They did not choose to 'fess up to their crime. Instead we went to open the gates at the road one day and one side had a coupe of loose boards and the other side was dragging on the ground thanks to a nice crack in the gate post. We have now had one of our front gates scraping the ground for a couple of weeks as we have yet to have suitable weather to do the repairs. We will have to pull out the old gate post which involves the fun job of busting it out of the concrete around it. Then we need to set a new post, and of course that post will need to be set in concrete. We need a couple of dry days for the concrete to set, and we cannot seem to get two days in a row without either a little or a lot of rain. This is so strange for August in the south but that is another topic for another blog. 

Our driveway gates are so wide that you only need to open one side to drive in and out. Jason got tired of people attempting to drag our sagging gate open and closed and complaining to him about it, so he decided to spruce the place up with a sign on the gate: 

How classy is that? "USE OTHER GATE"  complete with arrow for those who cannot read. I like his always impeccable penmanship though.

Since Jason was being nothing if not thorough he nailed up another "USE OTHER GATE" sign on the other side of the gate as well, again complete with an arrow for those who cannot read.  He wanted to make sure that people coming in and leaving knew which side of the gate to open.

When I saw Jason's charming signs on the gate my comment to him was that they looked really redneck. To my surprise Jason got defensive about this and his comeback to me was "Why? It's not like I misspelled anything?"  I tried to explain to him that it wasn't the correct spelling, or lack thereof, that was putting us in the redneck category. It was the fact that we could go to the trouble to cut a couple of pieces of wood, neatly print "USE OTHER GATE ------>" on them, and nail them to each side of the gate, but we cannot bother to actually repair the gate. This elicited even more defensiveness, comments about being unable to control the weather along with dramatically pointing to the sky while frowning.  I tried to explain that although I understand these things, the general population at large probably just thought we were lazy rednecks that couldn't be bothered to repair our gate. I didn't get very far and I finally gave up. 

Unintentionally I outdid Jason in the redneck category this afternoon. I was walking along on our driveway, heading to the barn at the very back of the farm. One of the many above-mentioned people that have been in and out of the farm lately working on a construction project was driving down the driveway and stopped to talk to me. I noticed he kept repeatedly glancing at my hands. I had a steak knife in one of my hands because I was going to that barn so I could cut up some pills for one of the horses. I said to him, "oh, I have a knife in my hand because I'm going to the rear barn to cut up some pills for a horse."  He gave me this look that said "okaaaaaaay" and wrapped up our conversation quickly and left. 

As I continued my walk down the driveway I amused myself coming up with some theories as to what he thought was the real reason I had a steak knife in my hand as I strolled along the driveway. Maybe he thought I was mad at Jason?  Maybe he thinks I am a serial killer? Maybe he thinks I walk around with a steak knife in my hand for self defense? Maybe he just thinks I'm a crazy redneck? I'm definitely leaning towards the last theory.


Chance and Leo

Homer having a nap

Flyer and Faune

Donneur and Lofty

Griselle and Sparky

Africa and Johnny

Clayton and Bergie

Noble and Lightening

Murphy, Dutch and Renny hanging out in the woods

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Stills

MyLight and Norman

Silver and Lotus having some play time

Wiz and Murphy

Homer, Moe and Levendi

Romeo was having fun playing with a stick

Gibson, Lofty and Donneur

Oskar and Stormy

Lighty and Sebastian