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“I promise to answer your horse related questions and to include three references other than my own experience” said Edna Leigh of Red Pony Farm, “I have at my disposal a vast library of information and many professionals with whom I have the necessary rapport to glean needed expert commentaries. They include veterinarians, ferriers, trainers in several disciplines, breeders, back yard hobbyists, farmers, and competitors of all ages who have achieved success.”

 Edna Leigh was taken up on her offer immediately.

Jolynna asks:

“Separation anxiety question: I have two horses who have hissy fits when separated. Between the neighing and calling back and forth, the head tossing of the one being ridden, and the frantic galloping and bucking of the one left behind, riding isn’t fun. Any suggestions?”

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“Buddy Sour” Skipper

Today I had the answer to my question from Edna Leigh and several experts. I am thrilled. Edna Leigh  worked hard and gathered a LOT of information. 

To read the suggestions for how to cure “buddy sour” Skipper and Summer and to read more horse related questions and solutions check out Red Pony Farm:

http://redponyfarm.typepad.com/

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“Buddy sour” Summer gets a carrot from Autumn.

MORE HORSE STORIES:

Give me a kiss

Horses , Skipper Rears

Saving Kitty and the Barn Kickers

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My mother was a tomato grower and canner without peer. 

Seriously, she was good.

Back then, my parents didn’t have air conditioning. But, that didn’t keep my mother from spending  day after day slumped over huge, steaming, graniteware kettles, doing things with tongs and filling shelf after shelf with her homegrown canned tomatoes. 

But, despite my mother’s success, maybe it is the memory of what seemed  like too many long hot hours and too many procedures and having to be totally sterile that made the discovery of a food dehydrator in DH’s barn so exciting.

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The abandoned food dehydrator waiting to be filled with tomatoes.

I also love the concentrated sweetness and flavor of sun dried tomatoes. Home dried tomatoes are less expensive than those from the grocery. They take up much less shelf space than canned tomatoes. They can be used in any recipe calling for tomatoes.

Best of all, they are easy to make.

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The first tier of tomatoes is ready.

Plum or Roma tomatoes are recommended. However, any type you want to use will work. The tomatoes should be firm and ripe, but not over ripe, which will lead to decay. For round or slicer type tomatoes cut the tomatoes crosswise into no thicker than 1/4 inch thick slices.

 Drain your tomatoes in a collander, pat slightly with paper towels, then place the tomatoes on your dehydrator racks leaving enough space between the slices for air to circulate.

 Rotate the trays if you have more than one to dehydrate. Ideally the temperature should be at 135 to 140 degrees. To oven dry: place your tomatoes on foil lined cookie sheets. Your oven temperature should be between 140 to 150 degrees.

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Be sure to turn your tomatoes over when necessary and to rotate the tiers. Some of mine are wet and need to be turned over.

Drying tomatoes will take from 10 to 24 hours. When your tomatoes are dry they should be leathery but pliable. As soon as my tomatoes were of the same texture as a raisin, I removed them from the dehydrator with a spatula. I decided to preserve them by freezing to prevent mold and used ziplock bags with the air pulled out through a straw.

 If your tomatoes come out too dry or you want to make them into flakes put them into your freezer for about 5 minutes and then crush them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet.

 To make tomato powder use your food processor or blender until the tomatoes are ground very fine.

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1/4 cup of dried tomatoes I am going to hydrate with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

 To rehydrate your tomatoes, soak them in water or olive oil at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Using boiling water will speed up the process.

dsc00604.jpg Dried tomatoes can also be added to soups and stews during the last half hour to rehydrate. I added them to my chili on Sunday. DH said it is the best chili he has ever had!

SUN DRIED TOMATO CREAM CHEESE SPREAD

This recipe is simple and absolutely delicious.

– ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and coarsely chopped

– 8 ounces block cream cheese, softened

– ½ cup sour cream

– ¼ cup mayonnaise

– 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

– ¾ tsp. salt

– ¾ tsp. black pepper

– 1 Tblsp. Dried basil (I used 2-3 Tbsp. of fresh basil)

– A dash of hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy!)

Toss all of the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth. (I just used a whisk because I like having little tomato chunks in my spread.) Chill for about an hour before serving. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and it will keep for up to two weeks.

– You can make this spread figure-friendly by using reduced fat versions of the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. It will taste so good, you’ll never miss the fat!

crean-cheese-3.jpgTomorrow I will use the cream cheese spread on bagels. But, DH and I couldn’t resist getting out some crackers and doing some taste testing. The spread is outstanding!

SUN DRIED TOMATO, MUSHROOM, CHEESE &

MEATBALL PIZZA

  • 1 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I used 1 can of canned)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10-ounce ) can refrigerated pizza crust
  • sweet onion sliced thin and chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
  • Meatballs (precooked & chopped) 

Combine dried tomatoes and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan; let stand for 15 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add the next 5 ingredients and cook 5 minutes longer or until liquid has evaporated, stirring often.

Press pizza dough out onto a greased 12-inch pizza pan and spread with tomato mixture; if desired, arrange onions & meatballs on top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in a 425°F oven 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

 

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Kitty is trying to kill himself.

It’s a dangerous situation.

Kitty is so happy when he thinks his people are coming home he runs under the front wheels of every vehicle pulling into our drive. If you look for him, when it gets dark he’s hard to see.

We don’t know how to break Kitty of his new habit. Some of the visitors to our house are older and have enough trouble negotiating around our trees, shrubs or the barn to consider watching out for our little cat.

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Kitty’s about to throw himself beneath a jeep wheel. Notice the tire tracks where he’s walking.

This week our horses kicked holes in the barn. We don’t keep them locked inside stalls. They can go inside or out at will. They’ve got free access to a big round bale of hay. They have a fan inside the barn. They have bug zappers. They have a drinking fountain.

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The kicked out side of our barn.

I think the horses and Kitty are missing DH.

DH loves having a farm and spends his days as if he were a paid hand. He mows, works in the barn, trims trees, cleans up trails, fixes fences and as he does chores, the horse’s noses are right up his back or over his shoulder. When DH is outside their pasture, the horses watch his every move from the closest fence corner.

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The not very remorseful barn kickers beg for treats.

Kitty lived wild and feral in DH’s woods for an entire year before DH was able to get close to him. He still spends most days outside. Only instead of being the cat that walked and lived alone, Kitty now follows DH like a dog. He is up and down ladders, running ahead of DH on paths in the woods and springing out from behind weeds to grab DH’s legs.

Lately though, DH has had obligations that have prevented him from being as available outside for our animals.

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Simba’s found a sack and total bliss.

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Biggs enjoys her favorite chair.

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The newest member of our family, Scooter, the hummingbird, sips nectar and entices Biggs who is watching out the window.

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Buster and DH greet Mr. Miller, the repairman who will be fixing our barn. The children soon are petting our horses although Mr. Miller said their horse is a new one. According to Mr. Miller, the new horse isn’t very well trained and behaved badly on the drive to look over our barn.

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It’s that time of year and animal hair is everywhere. Abby watches me sweep.

It is shedding season and over the past week with my daughter visiting, every day was a reminder that I really need to check out the animal Dyson vacuum cleaner. Dog and cat hair were everywhere and clinging to our clothes everytime we left the house.

 Our pets are a lot of work and a responsibility. They aren’t cheap with vet visits, expensive and endless desires for Fancy Feast, hay, treats, toys and barn destroying. But, their joy, when we come home, is so overwhelming you cannot help but know it’s love in its  purest and most unselfish  form.

Simba may mostly be DH’s cat, but this week it was my face he snuggled up to every night. And in the mornings  DH made coffee and Abby came and nuzzled my arm so I’d wake up right before it was ready. Somehow, someway, those pets instinctively became nurturing and extra affectionate.

Are our pets worth the inconvenience and expense?

Absolutely. We don’t miss or think about their cost in time or money.

But, we’d sure miss them.

More dog stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

My Big Fat Animals

“Bad Boy Buster” and Dog Whispering

More cat stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

The Cat Box

Cat Ladder

DH’s Cat Ladder Goes International

More Horse Stories:

Give me a kiss

Horses , Skipper Rears

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Many of my friends and neighbors hitch up their horses to go shopping.

In my neighborhood, women aren’t judged by the size of their diamonds. That would be prideful.

Nor are they judged by designer labels or gowns. Most wear calico dresses they make themselves. Veiled buns are the hairstyle of choice. A luxury car is rarer than a hen’s tooth. Ladies around here hitch up and head for town in buggies.

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Wildflowers in a field.

But, those same women whose manner of dress and way of living is known as plain…in their gardens create artistic masterpieces worthy of display in any museum. Beds of lavender phlox spring up through silvery rocks in contrast to pink spring tulips. Clumps of blue salva alternate with red geraniums. Tubs and old wagons overflow with colorful pansies. Red petunias then white petunias then purple ones line long, winding drives. Wildflowers abound in uncultivated fields.

drive-through-the-country-025.jpg A Mennonite Buggy takes the family to town.

A ride to town through the country is one of my greatest pleasures. It’s also the source of intimidation and pressure. Because I want to fit in. And before I met DH, the only flower I ever planted was a marigold.

It died.

To avoid failure, I bought expensive already done-up hanging baskets. And the prettiest flowers the greenhouse had. Mission accomplished. A piece of cake.

Only I didn’t know you were supposed to deadhead blooms once they’d wilted. I had no idea how much water impatiens drink. Or that they don’t do well in direct sun. Or that they should be fertilized.

blog-pictures-007.jpg Birdseeds fall from the feeder and grow into flowers that attract bees, butterflies and lots and lots of goldfinches.

I put my geraniums on my porch in the shade because I thought they were the nicest looking of my flowers and I wanted the people driving by our house to see them.

“Your flowers are looking wilted,” DH would say. But, I’d watered them the day before. They didn’t need water every day.

It is amazing how long and stringy and dried out toward the bottom petunias can get if they are never deadheaded. Or how soon geraniums quit flowering. And then there were the weeds in the front flower bed.

I didn’t take pictures of my flowers the first year.

blog-pictures-073.jpg My favorite lilies. There is only one bloom now, but more are budding and on the way.

The next summer I did better. Because I didn’t want to take chances, I still bought expensive already-done hanging baskets. But, I read the directions on the flower tabs. (Before buying, even.) My mother explained deadheading and gave me starts. On one happy day a lady at the greenhouse complimented me on my flowers after I told her where I lived.

That was two years ago.

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“Meet me at my garden gate.”

This spring, I did my own hanging basket arrangements. Some were even from $5 flats of “not such good looking” flowers and $1.25 geraniums purchased from kids raising funds for their 4-H club.

There were mistakes.

I accidently pulled out a bunch of what I thought were weeds. Except, the one weed I missed grew into a tall, lovely and out of place looking, lone flower, right in the middle of the bed. I didn’t have the heart to pull it.

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Another flower picture.

My beds are kind of haphazard because I forgot what I planted where last year and perennials have popped up unexpectedly between annuals on sale I couldn’t resist. But, my new flower hobby is colorful, challenging and outdoors. Digging in dirt, strangely enough, gives me the same feeling I used to have when I painted on canvas.

I am an artist living among many great masters. As religiously as any apprentice, I study their technique. And, I dream and aspire…

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The cat’s favorite napping place is under the bench. Wonder why?

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Touching up my Thyme sign in anticipation of spring and summer.

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Our trumpet vine will soon be blooming. Two years ago, before we rearranged our fencing, the horses ate it.

blog-pictures-005.jpg The trumpet vine eaters.

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Does anyone know what kind of bird this is? He has been coming to our birdfeeder for over  a week. And, we cannot identify him.

 Any help would be appreciated.

 Here is a zoomed close-up:

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UPDATE: Janet responded to my question within two minutes. My “new bird species” is a male Rose Breasted Grosbeak.

This little guy has become the ruler of our birdfeeder.  He has been back every day and considers all of the seeds, his. A little while ago he aggressively chased away a female cardinal and a sparrow. They had to sneak down below and to settle for crumbs that fell to the ground.

A video of DH trying to get Summer to give him kisses. Skipper gets jealous.

Pictures below of Summer and Skipper without winter hair.

My grandaughter, Autumn, was trying to give Summer a carrot. Only she dropped it on the ground. Summer is trying to get Autumn’s attention…she’s nickering and talking, “Hey, the carrot’s on the ground. And, I’m still here and hungry.”

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Grandma (that’s me) and Autumn in the kitchen. 

Autumn is making dessert. Mmmmmmm….Pillsbury dough cookies!

We’re also having salmon, baked potatoes, steamed and buttered broccoli & fried tomatoes.

This is my favorite way to make salmon because you do not have thaw the salmon. It is fast, and easy. It is also really, really good.

Herbed Salmon for two 

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 tablespoons lemon juice (I have also used lime or pineapple juice mixed with lemon)

2 to 4 frozen salmon steaks

1 teaspoon onion salt

¼ lemon pepper

¼ to ½ teaspoon thyme, basil or marjoram (I use thyme)

Paprika

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In oven, melt butter in lemon juice in baking pan. Place frozen fish in pan; turn to coat other side with lemon butter. Sprinkle onion salt, lemon pepper and thyme on fish. Bake until fish flakes easily with fork, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle paprika on fish.

summer.jpg I pinch myself every single day because I never believed it would happen to me.  My marriage of more than 20 years ended. I was thrust into dating. I was overweight, jobless, and pushing the dreaded 50. 

What to do? Well…drastic times call for drastic measures. I restarted my career at the lowest of basement levels. I starved. I had liposuction. I had lasik eye surgery and got rid of the glasses. It took awhile, but it worked. After 8 years of going steady with men who couldn’t get to the “I do”,  I met the love of my life and remarried.

I will be sure to post ALL the gory details of those eight years in future posts.

Nowdays, as an officially married retired lady for over three years, I’ve taken to a life of doing nothing like a duck to water. I spend my summers participating in the Nothern Indiana flower wars. I am experimenting and trying to find a way to successfully garden without doing any weeding.  I have piles of books to read. And a new art box filled with paints, pastels and pencils and watercolors. I really AM going to draw or paint something. Soon.

Our little farm includes two horses, two dogs and two cats. I adore them. But, they prefer my husband, DH, in a most insulting way.

 Buster, the black lab/border collie mix, mournfully howls as  DH leaves. He seems convinced DH is never to return as he paces and nervously cocks his head. He’s hoping he’ll hear DH’s Jeep motor noises. I try to get his attention, but Buster’s busy, he can’t spare me a glance. If I were to go outside or upstairs, Buster would be on the kitchen table in a heartbeat. That way he’d be high enough to look out the windows and see the drive. The cats are outside.  Nobody is in the house to make being inside worthwhile. Only our good natured, sweet Abby dog dutifully lies at my feet. But, she’s listening.

Until the wheels of  DH’s jeep hit our driveway. Then the dogs writhe with joy. They wag their tails so hard anything left where it shouldn’t be is knocked over. Skipper the white horse, whinnies across the barnyard. The cats poke their heads out from the sunflower plants beneath the birdfeeder and run for the backdoor.

I smile, too. DH is home. It’s all good.  

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