Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Little Barn On The Prairie

Wednesday June 25 2014

Old barns have a certain mystique about them. You can picture the older era: farm kids in suspenders running around barefoot; you can still hear roosters crowing; you can still smell the horses and cows.

This is the old barn of my great-great grandfather George Wied, who emigrated from Germany in 1854 to an area in south-central Texas. First settlers (we're not talking Native Americans though of course they were already living here and we immigrants squeezed them out) arrived in this area in 1832, but by 1873, the area was mostly populated with German immigrants - good farming stock. (Funny, since I can't grow a plant to save my life.)

Eventually the community took on the name Wied, after the Wied brothers, Henry and August (sons of George), whose land was used for a cotton gin, a store, and a blacksmith shop.

The barn was still standing at least around the 1960's when this photograph was taken (my mom painted a picture of it at some point). While in college I zipped down to Wied, where there wasn't much more than a sign and a few scattered farmhouses, the barn long gone.

These family relics always seem to become more meaningful as you get older, and you wish you could go back and stroll through the barn, listen for the ghosts, pick up an old horseshoe, run your hands over the old plow harness. I have this old photo of my dad and his brothers as kids on a horse, but the horse and my dad and this old barn are long gone, and all that's left is the imagination of memories lost to the passage of time.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Angry Birds

Sunday June 22 2014

The kestrels have claimed holy war against the Ravens.

The 6 baby Ravens up the crick have fledged. They aren't so 'baby' anymore - they're about the size of the adult Ravens, and they sure make a lot more noise. Sounds like there are 16 of them.

The 6 roisterous Raven siblings roam everywhere like an Owyhee gang, commanding the skies, spilling out of the trees, strutting about in the horse pasture eating bugs and horse poo, and all the while yelling and shrieking. Nothing hollers and shrieks like a juvenile Raven, much less 6 of them! Sometimes they'll sit on a hill, not quietly discussing things, but hollering their opinions on life. Once they sat on a hillside, shouting down at us as we rode our horses on the trail below them. We couldn't get in a word edgewise!

The kestrels and the orioles have been hopping spitting diving mad the last month. While feeding the babies, an adult Raven often flew toward the nest with something in its mouth, and several orioles and a kestrel or two would be furiously screeching and chasing it. It wasn't an egg in the Raven's mouth a couple of times I saw it; I wondered if it was a tiny kestrel or oriole chick.

Now that the parents aren't flying back and forth feeding the baby Ravens, the kestrels and orioles attack the roaming juvenile Ravens. In fact I know exactly where the Ravens are, or which direction they are going, by the shrill screaming of the pair of kestrels, who are intent on Raven murder. They'll dive-bomb the Ravens anywhere and everywhere - in the trees,

in the skies,

on the ground,

incessantly, for hours, any time the Ravens are in kestrel land (which happens to be just over a small ridge and up the next crick), in which the Ravens happen to invade and swagger about all the time.

The kestrels are about half the size of the Ravens, but they don't give up. Sometimes their sorties are so fierce and constant, that the Ravens give up and flee across the border back to their own crick territory.

Then they sit in trees and discuss their next strategic rowdy raucous Raven ruckus.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Soul Deep in Horses: "A Thrilling Book"

Monday June 16 2014

I was thrilled and surprised to see my memoir, Soul Deep in Horses, reviewed in the Sunday Idaho Stateman!

Pam Brewer, one of the Idaho Statesman's Book Addicts writes:

"This is a beautifully written, emotionally charged book that takes you to exotic places and lets you meet some amazing animals."

The full review is here.

On her blog Discovering Ranch Life - Photography, international equine photographer, Maria Northcutt writes:
"It’s a thrilling book, about one crazy girl’s horse adventure around the globe. If you love horses, it’s a book that makes you cry and laugh out loud, over and over again. She takes the reader to thrilling heights, and dangerously high speeds."

Read the rest of the review here:

On a Soul Deep in Horses relevant tangent, I'm having a book signing at Naomi Preston's Wild West Bakery and Espresso in Eagle, Idaho on Saturday June 21 from 11 AM to 1 PM. If you're in the area, come on by, and have some fabulous Wild West lunch while telling us your funnest and wildest horse stories!

Soul Deep in Horses is available as soft cover or e-book on Amazon, or autographed copies are available on my website,

**(From these two reviews and the audience responses they generated, the e-book shot up to #4 in its category on Amazon on Sunday. Though I don't watch the stats, I really don't!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Drive in the Park

Wednesday June 11 2014

"He's like a big goofy kid," Jan McEnroe said of her 10-year-old, 17-plus-hand Saddlebred named Strider, as he pulled us along in the cart. "He's always looking and thinking. Which isn't always a good thing!"

You could feel Strider's enthusiasm, and power, as he pulled us around the arena. The enthusiasm was contagious. I used to drive a carriage in Seattle over two Christmases - it brought back some fond memories of my great partner-in-harness Slim.

Jan and John are members of the Treasure Valley Whips Carriage Driving Club, which sponsored this driving competition at the Idaho Horse Park in Nampa.

Got a 17-hand horse? Got a mule? Got a miniature? All you need is a cart, and you can have some fun. (But make your equid is bomb-proofed first!)

Drivers and their horses performed in dressage, cones, and the marathon. Some drivers took it very seriously, some looked very elegant, some had a great deal of fun. One driver and her 'navigator' were giggling all the way through the water obstacle in the marathon portion. Jan and John and Strider just plain had fun.

Here are a few shots from the fun 2 days.

Strider and Jan. Isn't he terribly handsome?

Strider and Jan driving the cones.

Jan and John headed out on the marathon.

Navigator John pointing the way!

This lady and her horse were so elegant. I took lots of pictures of them!

This awesome hackney pony caught my eye both days. All business, but you could tell she was having fun too! Her driver and navigator were grinning the whole time.

A handsome pair in hand

Just terribly cute

These ponies are awesome. If I ever get into driving, it will be a horse this size!

This mini would not go in the water!

Well done!

Double the fun!

Who wouldn't like to drive this lovely pair of Fjords?

A gorgeous pair of warmbloods (Dutch and German). They were often in perfect synchronized step.

More photos are here:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Owyhee Bird Brouhahas

Wednesday June 4 2014

Up one crick is a glorious nest of Ravens. They grew from four all-mouth featherless squeakers,

to four almost-grown shrieking juveniles about to leave the nest.

One parent always flies out of the tree whenever she sees me approaching - as if I won't notice the big nest with the four giant no-longer-raven-babies spilling over the sides. The siblings are quiet as I stand there shooting pictures and talking to them; they pretend I can't see them. I'm thrilled I have my secret nest of Ravens nearby!

Up the other crick, great horned owls and red-tailed hawks nested within 20 yards of each other (!). Granted, the cover from the cottonwoods is thick and divine, and the two probably probably have a wary truce, but I find it interesting they chose to nest in the same grove - particularly when you add the kestrels - a small hawk - to the mix, who are nesting between the two big birds of prey. The great horned owls nested earliest; the red-tails were next; then the kestrels. What possessed these little hawks to nest right in the midst of this bad-ass neighborhood is beyond me!

As I studied the hawk baby (which looked rather vulture-like at this stage),

it disturbed the hawk parents, one of which flew over and around me again and again - and was consequently chased again and again by a kestrel. Kestrels are most territorial when they are nesting. They have no problem attacking a large bird of prey to protect their nest or young.

I moved to the next trees to check out the great horned owls. An adult always flushes when I come near; one always stays, and I'm lucky if I can find him in the foliage (the adult is the top picture).

I never saw a nest this spring; but I probably should have figured out that the pair of great horned owls were hanging out together after breeding season because they did breed and produce young.

Here's one baby I spied, which has already fledged. There could be more owl babies; but with all the bird brouhahas I'd already stirred up, I didn't want to disturb anymore.