Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Maria: The Best of Both Worlds

Now that I've hyped it up enough, it suddenly doesn't seem that impressive or outrageous. But, considering how terrible wrong this combination could have turned out, it gets me all giddy just thinking how lucky I am.

Maria is...


Friesian Quarter Horse cross.

Yes, I ride a Friesian.

And I LOVE her.

The End.
"Thank you very much"

My Maria: A Closer Look

I realize I didn't give you much to go on yesterday in determining my pretty little mare's breed (or breeds???). So, today, I present a closer look:

Large, platter feet

Feathered canons

Thick, frizzy mane, forelock and tail

Naturally high head-set

Steep sloping shoulder

This little mare was ranch broke, can work cattle and can be roped off. She can stop the biggest of them all. She's the most-surefooted horse I've ever rode and occasionally gets called a mountain goat for the way she can just hop up a mountainside. Nothing much fazes her, including plastic bags or bulls with big horns.

To contradict all of that, I have big plans for the little mare in the ... in the .... Dressage arena!

Any other suggestions? I'll let the cat out of the bag tomorrow.

Or maybe today if I can't help myself.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Story of a Hand-Me-Down Horse: My Maria

This is Maria. I call her My Maria, because, well, she's my Maria.

When Cowboy H and I first met, he was wrangling at a place out in the desert. During the summer, due to the oppressive heat, all the horses were packed up (yes, with their sleeping bags and toothbrushes) and shipped to summer camps in the mountains. A couple of wranglers went too (without their toothbrushes, its summer camp for Christ's sake!), including Cowboy H and me.

That's where I met Maria. She was supposed to be turned out to pasture and not a camp horse, but my gosh, was she ever cute! I was immediately intrigued and Cowboy H suggested she be my Head-Honcho Horse since she hadn't been ridden in almost a year and needed to get back in the swing of things. I whole-heartedly agreed. I mean, I jumped up and down and shouted with glee (yippee!). She was freaking adorable after all.

She was a complete joy to use that summer. I was completely smitten. I loved this horse. I dragged bales of hay with her, covered her with tarps, gathered horses on her, used her as my 'catch and halter' horse for the kids testing, and pretty much let her sleep in my bed.

After summer, she went back to the desert and I went back to school. Eventually, she ended up on pasture again. (Evidently, she HATES the desert and behaves like a heathen.) I got to ride her once or twice again, and was then relegated to trying to pick her out on the pasture whenever I drove by.

I graduated college (whoohoo!) and Cowboy H and I were preparing to visit my parents who keep my old retired mare (my first horse). Cowboy H had to go to the desert for something and we were going to leave the minute he got back. Oddly enough, he calls me and tells me to have all the stuff outside, he was running late and I just need to jump in and go. So, there I am standing outside with all this luggage and a freaking stock trailer! comes rolling down the street. With a freaking horse! in it. Wait, my MARIA!

Long story short (oh, its too late for that?) Cowboy H's boss had decided to gift me this horse for my graduation. There's a laundry list of reasons why he didn't want her anymore, but I don't care. She's MY MARIA now.

(Ok, so maybe it didn't really go exactly that way because we did have to warn my parents that we were bringing an extra horse to them, but in my memories it happened that way. Because I was pretty much so freaking excited when I finally got to see her in the trailer that I might as well have never known she was going to be there to begin with.)

Here she is at her new home. Yes, she gets to live in a place that looks like that. And, yes, it is a big improvement over the desert.

One of her favorite hobbies is eating. Actually, its more of a profession for her. She takes it very seriously. I mean, if you survive (I mean thrive) on dirt for 3 years, you must be a professional eater. (In all seriousness, this horse is tough. She thrived in conditions most horses would have starved to death in.)

Her other favorite hobby is taking a bath. You cannot walk this horse through any body of water deeper than her pasterns without fear of taking a bath yourself. She has done it to me on more than one occasion and has got Cowboy H once too. So, for a treat, I take her out to the watering hole and let her have at it.

(See that muzzle sticking out? Ooooooohhh... Awwwww...)

She's come a long way, this little Maria. Where she was a pushing, rearing, kicking, bucking, head-throwing beast, she has become as docile as ever (except when food is around, a horse has to survive man).

Doesn't she have the sweetest eye?

She puts up with a lot, having to be My Maria and all.

I realize I may have left out a significant detail (to some) regarding this horse. That's where you come in. Let's see who can correctly identify her breed. Ready, Set, GO!

First correct commenter gets...

nothing. (I'm not that cool yet.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Brothers and Sisters

This is Oz and Olivia. Oz is on the right; Olivia on the left. They are brother and sister. They are the original children. Mama H got them when she was still in college and living in the horse barn on campus. They are true barn cats.

This is Oz and Olivia when they were babies. Oz is on the bottom; Olivia on the top. Now they are 4 years old and 500 times this big. See first photo.

As brother and sister, they love each other.

This is Indy and Isabelle. Indy is on the right; Isabelle on the left. Indy and Isabelle joined the Homestead first thing this year, when they were 3 months old. They are also brother and sister. (Do you see a pattern?)

They love each other too.

There's a lot of love at the Homestead.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Broken Puppy

When we met Hank, before bringing him to the Homestead, we knew he was broken. His previous owners had ran him over (in their garage!) and then turned him over to the Pet Emergency Clinic when they decided they didn't want him anymore, his being broken and all. The above x-ray was taken the day after he came into the clinic and shows a minor fracture where the femur and femoral head meet. (Eventually these two fuse together, there is a growth plate there at this point in this puppy's life.)

Hmmm... not so bad, we thought. He's got a lot of growing to do and his grown-up bones will be twice as big as his puppy bones. Calcification will develop and engulf the fracture. So, we took him home, excited to be adding a canine to the (overwhelming) feline population at the Homestead.

A week later, we took Hank back to the emergency clinic just as a precaution, to make sure the leg was beginning to heal and everything was moving in the right direction. Well, after a bit of attitude adjustment (on Hank's behalf), Cowboy H and I had taken the desired pictures. I looked at the screen... and my heart sank.

Now, it was obvious that the femoral head had completely separated from the femur. It was not what we expected at all. On top of that, there were these strange bone-like pieces "floating" next to the femur. Bone shards? Pieces splintered off the femur? Our hearts were heavy when we left the clinic that night.

Fortunately, I work for a vet who does orthopedic surgery, and commonly does a procedure called an FHO (Femoral Head Osteotomy). An FHO involves actually removing the femoral head and has proven successful in dogs with severe hip displasia. Wait, hey, didn't Hank's femoral head remove itself?? All it was doing was taking up space in the hip socket (and cutting off the blood supply to his precious growth plate!).

So, three days later, Cowboy H had a consulation scheduled with Dr. Clark and Hank's x-rays. After much talk about growth plates, arthritis, surgery, and roping steers, Hank had an FHO scheduled for 2 days later!

Friday, April 24, 2009

So, Mama H, What Do You Do?

Anyone have a less than common job? A job that requires you to chuckle, smile timidly, and say "Funny you should ask" or "Oh boy" or "Well, um, there's no short answer" whenever someone asks you about it? A job that you can't just describe in a few simple words? A job that the majority of the world would have no idea even existed?



Well, I do. And it makes meeting people for the first time slightly awkward. Especially if small talk is in order. And mingling. And alcohol. I always dread the inevitable question: "So, Mama H, what do you do?" And I smile. And I chuckle. And I look at Cowboy H. And I try to deflect.

"Oh, I sit at a desk."

"Yeah, I'm a research assistant."

"Um, for a company you've never heard of."

"Uh, well, its called, uh, Animal Reproduction Systems."

Now, unbeknown to them, my new acquaintances are going to hear about stallion penises, and mare vaginas (or artificial ones), and sperm counts, and semen extenders. All because they asked "So, Mama H, what do you do?" It started so innocently.

See, I work for Animal Reproduction Systems. We make all kinds of products, supplies, and equipment for large animal reproduction (i.e. artificial insemination programs for horses, cows, pics, etc.) We make semen collection devices (Artificial Vaginas, or AVs), sperm counters (Densimeters), semen extenders (E-Z Mixin and E-Z Freezin).

Explaining all this isn't really that bad for me, I can say penis without batting an eyelash, but for my new acquaintances, its rather embarrassing. And, if Cowboy H is nearby (and he usually is because he loves witnessing this conversation) it only gets worse. Because he has to bring this up:

"Hey, honey, tell them about the elephant, the elephant dick."

Sigh. I just love him.

My first major "project" at my job was developing an artificial vagina (AV) for the elephant breeding program at the San Diego Zoo. Here, take a look:

To give you some perspective, I am almost 6 feet tall. Which means the AV is more than 3 feet tall. Which means, well, elephant penises are about 3 feet long.

I bet those female elephants thank us each and every day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Promised, Didn't I?

One of the main reasons I decided to create this blog was to share photographs. Over the past few years, I have carefully documented our lives through my camera lens. Not only do I want to capture the moments to look back on, I LOVE taking pictures. So, as a result, I have folders and folders and folders of pictures. Mainly I want to share photographs of the new house, the new pets, etc. with family and friends and a blog is much easier (and funner!) than emailing everyone.

However, today I'm going to veer from my original course (again, is this a pattern?) and share some of my favorite photographs. Photographs that yours truly took herself. Photographs that I'm pretty dang proud of.

And my absolute favorite:

Don't ask what he's doing... unless you really want to know.


...I'm not all that cut out for this blogging thing.

I get all gung-ho, start a blog, write a two posts. I even design a custom header.

Then I leave you hanging.

For almost a week.

Maybe I'm not cut out for this. Maybe between remodeling a bathroom (oops! slip!), planning a wedding, housebreaking a puppy, working two horses, going to the gym, feeding Cowboy H (and myself!), keeping clean clothes on our bodies and clean dishes in the cupboards and food in the pantry, I just don't have enough time to blog. Sigh.

So, I quit. So long. See ya. Have a nice blogging life. Maybe I'll stop by as Anonymous and say hi.

Or not.

Maybe I won't go away. And maybe, just maybe, I'll make it up to you. Maybe.

Just kidding. I will make it up to you.

By posting a few of my favorite photographs. Courtesy of yours truly. Look for it tomorrow.

Or next week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome to the Homestead

I realize I should have made this the first post, but I just had to introduce Hank. I knew I could hook you with sweet innocent puppy pictures. Now I know you'll keep coming back, even if you're just looking for new pictures of Hank.
So, today I welcome you to The Homestead. Well, at least this is what The Homestead looked like when we purchased it in December of 2008. Things are looking a little better these days. Let's take a walking tour!
Upon entering the front doors, you look into the living room, which is straight in front of you. Please note the giant writing on the wall above the fireplace.Immediately to your right, is the KITCHEN. Mama H's KITCHEN. This kitchen played a major role in why we call this house the Homestead today. See for yourself:
Oh, Island, how I love you.
Well, things are looking pretty good so far. Let's venture down the hallway to the left of the front entrance. Gotta check out the bathrooms.
Bathroom #1:

Uhhhh... not so great.
Bathroom #2:Oh, even better. You know, now that I think about it, there was something strange about that wall in the living room...See that light coming through the middle hole? That goes to the master bedroom!
All in all, we decided this would be the perfect Homestead. Why? Well, because the bumps and bruises weren't nothing a little TLC from Mama H and a lot of hammering, sawing and painting from Cowboy H couldn't fix. And as they say, a house is a house, but its not a Homestead without love (and sweat). And maybe this helped a little (well, this, and that KITCHEN):
See that way over there? That's a HOT TUB.

(P.S. Keep your eyes on Bathroom #2!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meet Hank!

I may be jumping the gun, but I just had to introduce this little guy! Hank is the newest resident of the Homestead, having joined us on April 5th. He had a bad time of it before settling here; his previous owners ran him over then decided they didn't really want him that badly after all. Cowboy H has been talking about getting a blue heeler since we bought the Homestead. I think fate brought these two together:

Currently, his favorite activities are snuggling with his daddy's stinky horse shirt, "heeling" the cats, and gutting all his stuffy toys. He has already de-tailed his moo cow. He has surgery scheduled for this Friday, to fix up his bum leg from the vehicle encounter, so hopefully he'll get to upgrade soon to heeling real cows and smelling real horses!

I'll get to the important stuff like falling in love and buying a house eventually. But Hank has already doubled in size since we got him, so I have to indulge in as much delicious puppy smell as I can before its gone!