Monday, September 22, 2014

Young Farmer's Crossing

I took this picture at the Homestead Creamery this summer.  We went there when the boys earned free ice cream cones from doing a summer reading program.  Really, though, we don't need any reason to go to the Homestead.  Their ice cream is amazing.  Especially the peanut butter!
I think I could use one of these signs for my yard. 
Seen any young farmers lately, readers?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Francie the Rescue Horse Update

I think I'm way overdue for an update on the horse I rescued last Thanksgiving, Francie.  She is doing very well!  If you remember, she was starved, infested with worms, and completely untamed and unhandled when I got her.  She has made wonderful progress in the time I've been working with her. 

We have had our challenges though.  Like last spring, when Francie had her first heat cycle, became aggressive, and bit me while my back was turned opening a gate.  For that, she was separated from my gelding and spent some time in isolation (and I yelled at her immediately when it happened - the bite left a bruise for 3 weeks!  Thank goodness I was wearing a thick sweatshirt, otherwise it would have been much worse).  Once I was assured that this would not happen again, I moved her back in with Phoenix. 

We also ran into trouble when Francie started bolting her food without chewing.  I suppose this was because of her starvation days.  Twice she choked.  When a horse chokes, it can still breath, but it cannot swallow.  They stand awkwardly, cough, and buckets of slime (saliva) run out of their mouth.  It can be rather scary.  Luckily, I had seen it before, and I knew it wasn't generally fatal.  One of the times I did have to sedate her to get her throat to relax enough for the clump of food to pass.  Since then, I've put some large rocks into her food dish.  Now she has to nuzzle around the rocks to eat, and it takes her 20 minutes to eat instead of 5.  So far, this has been effective.

Francie and I have been riding a couple of days a week.  She has made great strides over the past month or so.  She is very spooky, but we are working on that (more about that in a later post).  I am able to ride her without assistance now, and we are walking and trotting.  I feel like we will canter in the next month or so.  I'm focusing on trying to get her to relax and bend and move away from leg pressure.  This will give her more 'power steering'.  It's slow going, but she is trying, and every ride to me is amazing, simply because I know how far she has come.  I'm so proud of her efforts!
I do wish I had more time to work with her, but the time I can put in has to be enough for now.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the next few months bring.  It's so nice to be riding again. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mega Moist Chocolate Pound Cake with #Idelight

Even if the leaves aren't quite changing color yet, September means Fall to me, and Fall always inspires me back to baking. And so, the other day I was craving something chocolate and moist and delicious. It seemed like the perfect day to make a Southern style pound cake.

1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 3/4 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup Sweet Cream flavored International Delight coffee creamer


Cream together butter and shortening, add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, continuing to mix. Add vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients with creamer until well mixed. Grease and flour bundt pan, pour batter in. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes at 325*. Cool for 20 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack.

This cake turned out so moist and delicious - the International Delight creamer really gives it a little something extra, taking it to the next level of pound cake. In fact, next month, when the boys' school has their Fall Festival and asks for cake walk donations - I know just what to make!

Stay tuned for a pumpkin recipe for next month! International Delight's pumpkin spice creamer (Pumpkin Delight) is hitting the grocery shelves, and I can't wait to test it out in my kitchen. For more excellent Fall baking ideas, check out the International Delight community.  Happy baking! 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life with School Aged Kids

So the boys have been in school now for over a month.  Life is busy.  I've been doing my mental health support job - meeting with the same client I've been working with for the past 18+ months three times a week.  In addition, I've been teaching psychology classes at a local college.  I adore teaching.

Both of the jobs are part-time.  I do not have as much free time as I thought I would (indeed, I've barely been reading at all, and am just meeting the bare minimum with my running), but it's good to be productive. 

Picture taken at the NC Zoo last month.

I am home for the boys when they get off the bus at the end of the day.  I am not working all those nights like I was during the summer, for which I am extremely thankful.  The hardest part comes when the boys are sick - then things can get a little hairy.  And there will be times that I will still need to work nights, but at least I'm getting a break from that for the time being.

Back in 2002 when my employer started a program where they would match the finances put into a masters degree, I was the first person at my job to jump on board.  It was hard working a full time job and doing my masters at the same time.  It took me 2 1/2 years, and my last semester I made a big push to finish it - working full time and being a full time student. 

Today, I'm thankful I made that choice.  It opened the door for the types of jobs I am doing now.  I never would've guessed at the time that the choice would be so important to me years later.  A good reminder that when an opportunity arises, sometimes the best thing is to jump in.

Readers, what choice did you make many years ago that you are thankful for today?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Did a Bear Attack My Horse?

Last week I had just finished my run, and was looking forward to taking Francie for a ride.  As I was jogging up the driveway to the house to change into my riding clothes, I happened to glance over at Phoenix in the pasture.  I was shocked to see the inner part of both back legs and his tail completely saturated in glistening blood.  Every inch of fur was coated.  I ran and got a halter and led him down to the cross ties, where we have a water hook up.  I immediately thought he'd been attacked by coyotes or wild dogs, or maybe even a bear (the neighbors have reported several black bear sightings this summer). 

I started hosing him off, and couldn't find any injury.  The bleeding seemed to have slowed, but where had it come from?  Thankfully, it certainly wasn't a bear, or even wild dogs.  I finally realized there was only one tiny little spot - tucked way up under his back legs.  How on earth did he get injured there?

The vet made it out a few hours later, and the bleeding had slowed significantly by then.  Phoenix was awesome - he was so gentle that he didn't have to be sedated.  The vet was able to numb the area and scrub it, then he put in several staples.  It turned out that the injury, small as it was, had nicked an artery - hence all the crazy bleeding.  The vet said in all his years, he had never seen an injury up in that area.  We wondered if he had backed into a stake-sharp stick in the pasture somewhere?  There doesn't seem to be any other suitable explanation.

Phoenix was current on his tetanus, so all he needed was a long acting antibiotic shot and he was good to go.  In a couple of weeks, I'll remove his staples, if they haven't fallen out.  I was relieved it wasn't more serious.

Photo taken at the NC Zoo last month.
Speaking of horses, I highly recommend the documentary Wild Horses, Wild Ride.  It is about 100 people who take 100 wild mustangs and have 100 days to train them.  Then they all go compete in Fort Worth.  Afterwards, there is a public auction, and the mustangs all get adopted into new homes.  It was an amazing film - I couldn't believe the things some of the people could do with those horses in just 100 days!  I checked it out of the library system, but I know many of you have Netflicks, and they probably have it as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mud Pies

Mud pies for sale!

Picture taken at the NC Zoo last month.  The mud pie creation area was most impressive.
Last week Pierce came inside and said, "Mom!  There's a snake on the front step.  I think it is a copperhead.  It is brown and has spots on it"
I told him to come inside.
I went out to investigate.
Know what I found?
A four inch slug on the step.
And yes, it did have spots.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Day at the Beach

When we took our little extended weekend trip south, we decided to do a day trip to Myrtle Beach, as it was less than an hour from where we were staying.  Myrtle Beach isn't my favorite beach (being a little too touristy for my preferences) but it had been two years and we all needed an ocean fix.
 These boys all love the beach just as much as their mom.

Indeed, two years is too long to go without a trip to the beach.

Unfortunately, it was jellyfish season, and 3 out of the 5 of us were stung.

The good news is that these jellyfish were not really bad ones.

Still, it kept me from venturing far into the water.  I had a toxic reaction to a jellyfish sting some years ago, which landed me in the hospital overnight with heart damage.
I try to play it extra safe now.

The lifeguards had a spray for the jellyfish stings, which helped get the sting out.

And then, it was right back into the water.

Because a little jellyfish can't stop the pure joy of sand and sea.
Readers, are you a fellow beach lover?