Who else has zero motivation for work on Monday’s? Especially after a really perfect weekend. R was home the entire weekend, we had a couple fun plans with some friends and we got lots of productive things done at home. It was sunny. It was beautiful. It was a really great weekend.
I love weekends spent at the ranch because sometimes I don’t feel we get enough time at home to work on our projects. One of the most important projects to me was the baby brooder box (R laughs every time I say that). I mentioned before I have new babies to replace the roosters in my flock (since I ended up with only two hens out of six chickens).
My dilemma was this, the baby chicks were in my bathtub attached to my bedroom. One of the chicks is a leghorn who can fly pretty well (the big one in the middle). She is older than the other chicks and has become sort of mother hen to them. The problem is when they get too rowdy in the bath tub she sort of looses it (like any typical mother of too many unruly chicks) and goes up on the bathtub sill. There she sits and poops. Every day I would clean it just to have her do it again by the next day. My bathroom was disgusting on a daily basis and I was DONE! But the roosters that I am still trying to rehome (only three left since a very mean rooster when to the freezer camp aka lost his neck) are not very nice to the baby chicks and they aren’t old enough to defend themselves yet. The silkie roosters don’t pay any mind to the babies but the sexlink rooster is an ass. I had them all outside together on Saturday and had to chase off the big sexlink from pecking them. Anyways, it is warm enough right now for them because it is only dropping to 56 degrees at night and is hitting 80 something during the day. So they needed to go outside but in their own area where they couldn’t be picked on by the big chickens.
The ducks weren’t using their home we made for them out of a big apple crate R got me. So we stole that from them and it became the perfect baby brooder box for outside. We just made a solid roof over half of it for protection, added chicken wire to the other half for fresh air (plus we have a removable lid to cover the chicken wire at night) and placed it in the shade under a big tree right outside our back door.
It ended up being perfect, plenty of room and plenty of fresh air for them while also being well protected.
Most of my evenings look like this anyways…
So I am able to check on them daily to make sure they are good when I let everyone else into the yard for the evening. When I get home everyone starts making noise at me, so I open the back gate and let them all in the yard where they spend the evening hours catching all the bugs. The chickens follow me right to the yard the minute I open their coop. I am sad to rehome the roosters but they are starting to get to be a handful so they all need to go.
Back to this weekend. I made it to a tack sale where I was able to get some new gear for my Sophie girl.
I finally got a new bit to try with Sophie. When I got her she was being ridden in a twister wire and she only knew direct reining (two hands where as neck reining is one handed is the simplest way to explain it). She leaned on her bit. She had a hard mouth. You would give her the cue to stop and she would walk right through it. To soften her mouth I started working with an O ring snaffle and eventually went to a D ring snaffle. Both worked at softening her mouth and I started pushing her into the bit when she would lean forward. Then I did lots of ground work on verbal cues since her other problem was whenever you put her in a round pen she would just start running in circles with no control. I taught her to walk slowly, I taught her to stop, trot, canter, switch directions and to focus on me. I even taught her to come in to the middle when asked. She can even now be ridden with just her halter and a lead rope.
Sophie doesn’t really know her leg cues. She was taught the bare basics (kind of) and sometimes doesn’t get what I am asking for when I ride with my legs. So I decided a good way to start working with her on leg cues was to teach her to neck rein instead of the direct reining. I tried it in a D ring snaffle and she wasn’t getting it. This meant I needed a bit with shanks. I did a lot of research and talked to some very knowledgeable horse people before I started this process. I tested out a few bits that a friend let me borrow as well. Then we started on neck reining. I am a big believer in not being heavy on the reins. Gentle hands make softer horses in my opinion.
R has been doing most of the neck reining training up until this point because I was struggling with some anxiety issues but on Saturday I rode her and she did amazing. It was great to see it all clicking into place for her. At the tack sale I got a pair of looped reins instead of the split leathers that R prefers. I was much more comfortable not fighting all the leather and I could ride very loosely with them. I don’t use a lot if any back pressure with the new bit, instead I allow my legs and the pressure from the reins on her neck to let her know what I am asking for. She did amazing. She has such a great brain on her. She responds so much better to neck reining than direct reining, she is starting to understand the leg cues and she even stops with only a little pressure. The best part was no leaning on the bit. When she wouldn’t get what I was asking I only had to slightly correct. I was so darn proud of her and it is great to see your hard work make a difference when you invest your time into a horse.
R has also been riding another paint just like my Sophie that lives at the ranch. They are a great pair. They both love to run around the fields. He even took Sophie out for a nice run while I was helping set up the garden. It feels good for both of us to be back to riding after a very rainy winter that made the ground too sloppy to ride on.
Last but not least we started setting up the garden watering system this weekend. I can’t wait to get my sprouts into the ground.
Now that the weather is consistently sunny and beautiful we are in full gardening mode. The watering system was finished yesterday for the most part and we should be able to start planting soon once we rototiller the rows. I am so excited! I already ate my first strawberry off one of my plants and it was amazing. Tasted like sunshine and summer. Nothing beats freshly grown produce.
Between the walking for two hours at a craft fair, the gardening, riding horses, fixing fences for the horses and just general chores, I slept like a baby Sunday night. Knocked out the minute my head hit the pillow and stayed out till I had to get up for work. There is something really satisfying about a weekend full of fun but productive things. Just makes me feel good especially when I remember that at one time (3-4 years ago) I was deep in depression, wasn’t very active and didn’t leave the house much. Now I just feel happy most days and really blessed to be able to live the kind of life I only dreamed of before.
Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was fabulous and your Monday is short!!