Out with Summer, in with Fall

Well, I definitely wanted to see some changes in 2015, and it has delivered and….it isn’t over yet.

So far in the last 9 months, I have lost a car that I had for 11 1/2 years, bought a new (to me) one, sold a trailer I’ve had for 9 years, and bought a replacement one and sold that one within a few weeks.  (I’m still working on the replacement of the replacement).  It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally narrowed it down, and keeping fingers crossed that all goes well.

Additionally, I have retired Chewbacca due to lameness, and am pondering what my 2016 horse year might look like, or if I will drive or show at all.  We’ll just have to see about that.

I am also very heartbroken to say that just a week ago, our cat Wasabi, who we also had for 11 1/2 years, passed away.

Wasabi 8-3-13b Wasabi 8-3-13d

We acquired our beautiful boy through a rescue when he was just a year old.  He was a loving, although sometimes pissy, opinionated cat with a perfect combination of sweet, playful, and troublemaker to be charming and naughty all at once, but ultra loveable always.  He was a lap cat, who loved physical contact with us, and was the most outgoing of all the cats, the first one to greet anyone who came to the door or stopped over for a visit.  Wasabi was prim and proper, regal, and he would howl endlessly at night sometimes.  He definitely let you know he was part Siamese.  He was there through an 800 mile move, and 4 new feline additions to the house, and 2 dogs.  Wasabi was the big brother to them all, pleasantly supervising over everyone from his favorite spots up on the cat trees near the ceiling.  Wasabi had a sudden, massive collapse of health, and within 2 weeks he went from “something isn’t quite right” to crossing over.  We don’t know what was wrong, as numerous tests all came back normal; we can only assume he had major cancer of some kind, although there were no tumors.     He will be forever missed.  He left a huge hole in our hearts.

It was a hard loss, and yet another major change that 2015 had to offer.  I’m hoping to still make more major changes as 2015 winds down and 2016 starts up, so we’ll see what happens!

You’ll also notice some changes to the blog appearance, too, as it was long overdue.

Have a wonderful day!

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3 Weeks, 3 shows

It has been incredibly busy for me lately.  Nearly every day, I feel like I am going non stop, and exhausted!

It’s been both good and bad.  I’ve been so busy in some areas that I haven’t been able to make the time for much desired activities in other aspects.  But, I did manage to hit 3 horse shows in 3 weekends!   Busy, but fun!    I can’t say I haven’t been putting having the horse trailer to good use!  I went out a total of 7 times this year, and enjoyed every minute of it!

Although I bought a horse trailer that was a little “overkill”, it was still a good trailer and I made good use of it while I listed it for sale after I painted it up inside and out.   I had bought the trailer with good intentions – with hauling Chewbacca & his cart to parks & shows, or with the intent in mine that it would suit me for years to come as I fill my life with hackney pairs and mini teams and a marathon carriage.

Well…. it only took a couple weeks for a reality check.  Chewbacca was retired due to lameness, and the likelihood of my getting a marathon carriage, a pair of hackneys, or a team (that’s 4!) miniature horses…. and then actually hauling all of said creatures to shows is definitely not probable in the foreseeable future.  So, while the lovely 16 foot stock trailer was suiting me just fine, at the same time, I made the decision to sell it.

I managed to keep myself busy tinkering with it, painting things and fixing up the inside and outside, and between that, photography, and a keeping the lawn from looking like a jungle, I’m amazed (and slightly sad) to say that with September halfway gone, my driving hours for the year are basically in the tank.

While I normally work Chewbacca, Luke, and Jesse 2-3 times a week for anywhere from 30-90 minutes each, and I would typically rack up around 120 hours per driving year from roughly March(ish) through roughly Thanksgiving(ish), this year, with 6 months of driving under my belt already, having started up right around mid-March thanks to some fine weather, I barely have hit 40 hours as of yet this year.

Although my time on the box has declined horribly this year, I’ve actually been quite busy this year, and I’ve been getting in plenty of barn time.  Despite low driving hours, the horses still have done shows – Jesse has done 2 shows and 2 trail drives and Luke has done 3 shows as well.

The last show I did was a fun show with Jesse.  It’s the second time I’ve done this show, and had Jesse both times with me.  I signed up for some different classes and tried my hand at barrels, plug, and poles.  Jesse was awesome!  Too fun!

show 09-12b   show 09-12 

(Jesse contemplating his plug race – and yes, it looked rather ridiculous pulling a single mini and a cart out of that trailer!)

We got 5th out of 15 in both plug and barrels.  He ran the barrels in 31.5 seconds.  Considering this was like the 3rd time in my life I’ve ever done barrels (and Jesse’s first), and he had to pull my big butt through sand while competing against some minis that were slightly larger, heftier, and had younger (and skinnier!) drivers – that was pretty impressive!!  We did the pattern right, too! We were definitely doing great on our pole bending pattern, too- which was just so much fun.  Unfortunately as we rounded the 2nd turn to weave back through the poles, and Jesse, working so hard, digging into the dirt to keep the turn as tight as possible, a trace popped off the singletree.  No big deal, I stopped him grabbed it and popped it back on – but those 5 seconds it took to that most definitely dropped us out of any chance at a ribbon.  There were very speedy miniatures at that show!  Had our little technical failure not happened, Jesse probably would have ran the poles in 5th place as well.

The very next day, someone came and bought my trailer.  I had Luke signed up for one more show (coming this weekend), but with the trailer gone, and the trailer I was supposed to buy to replace it having fallen through (long, but not-terribly-surprising story), I’m trailer-less so I’ll be sitting out the show I signed up for this weekend.

Chewbacca’s cart and harness are also sold and life is making many changes around me this year.  Some of things I hoped to accomplished this year and did not think I would be able to may not be exactly as off the table as I thought, and I’ve also accomplished more than I thought I would, too.   I still am hoping for more good things to come as the remaining months of 2015 tick on, but I have to say, although I am missing out on one scheduled show for this season (which isn’t the end of the world), 2015 has definitely surprised me!  A new car, a trailer to get around in, even if only briefly, a trip I’ll remember forever, a huge improvement in my photography, and major changes  – 2015 so far as definitely been a very fulfilling year.

Dixie has had the recent opportunity to instill an enjoyment of driving and a love of miniatures into the hearts of two young girls (future drivers, I do hope!).  Luke has been helping to educate a more experienced teenager as she progresses in her riding and driving skills.

Chewbacca, though not sound, is doing pretty well.  In fact, he was running like a fool playing with Luke the other morning in the arena, and it was good to see him bucking and rearing (of course I didn’t take photos!).
You may know that Chewbacca is quite the full-of-himself fighter that will attack other horses.  When I put him out in the arena for play time, he often rears, strikes, squeals, and shows off with the horses in the paddocks that share a fenceline with the arena.  Mostly it’s just all show, but sometimes he goes in for an attack and has in the past seriously bit and injured another horse.  He was feeling good enough the other day to launch himself in for a good bite and managed to hook his right front leg over the round pen fence!  Ugh!!  (That fence is 5 foot tall!!!  Chewbacca knows no bounds when it comes to showing off that he’s the king of the castle.

I had a massage lined up for him (lucky horse ~~~ I could use one myself!) just a few hours later, and he clearly enjoyed it, although he was painful on his right shoulder (can’t imagine why :/ )

massage2 massage1

It was a busy weekend, with horse shows, lessons, photography, selling the horse trailer, the replacement trailer falling through, and lots of running around in between, but it was a good weekend, and I hope for more good days in the coming months before the snow hits.

I’ll have to watch Chewbacca during his next playtime to keep him away from the fences.  There’s a new mare in the field – she’s 3 and pretty and he’ll be a little too keen on showing off for her.

Chewbacca has been a wonderful horse, he’s given 5 years of the very best he could during the prime of his life.  He was my hunter that learned to jump courses with me, my dressage horse that learned to be soft, supple, and carry himself, and my driving horse that hauled to parks, shows, reenactements, and all kinds of events.  With hundreds of drives and hundreds more miles driving experience on him, he was always kind, sweet, and willing.  He’s earned a happy retirement, and I sure hope I can keep him feeling his oats (although off the fences would be nice!).

Likewise Luke and Jesse, both getting older and wiser, have given me years and years of their very best. They are both so experienced with their jobs that they are beyond “training” at this point.

Even little Dixie, the capable old lady that she is – got pulled of the pasture for the first time in nearly 2 years and delighted young girls, safely carrying them around the arena for their very first drives.

They’re a good bunch and there is no end to which I love this wonderful collection of horses!  As it stands right now, many changes have taken place in 2015.  Many more changes will come in 2016.

I’m not sure I will be driving next year at all with any of them; we’ll just have to see where we are at after their winter hiatus.  I have no plans to purchase any more horses in the near future, but I do hope for some major changes in 2016 as well, so I’m hopeful and optimistic that the rest of 2015 and the beginning of next year will lead to very good things!

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Another Horse Show

September is most definitely a busy month for me!  I am very happy to be putting my trailer to good use, and getting out there!

Since getting a tow vehicle earlier in the year, I have now actually hauled (myself!) to 2 parks for trail drives and 3 horse shows!  I have 2 more horse shows on the calendar and I am certainly going to try to get out to a park or two before the year is done.  So far, with just going out the 5 times I have since May already, I have actually hauled more times in 2015 than I have in 2014, 2013, and 2012 combined.  Yes, seriously.

I am very happy to be out and about and using the trailer like I meant for it to be used.  Yes, it is for sale, because with Chewbacca’s retirement, it just means I do not need something so big, as Luke has plenty of room in it, and Jesse…. well…. let’s just say I could fit a 4-up of minis if I had a team.  However, until it sells, I am definitely using it, and continuing to make upgrades and put doo-dads on it.  I have a few more things to get for it in the coming weeks.

With one horse show down (with Jesse) on August 30, and another one down (with Luke) this past Labor Day weekend, I am getting not only more comfortable with hauling (at highway speeds, no less!) but also with backing up, too!  Woo hooo!  Here’s to being self-sufficient.

trailer Luke Jefferson 09-06-2015b

Labor Day weekend is a very hard weekend for me each year, because my thoughts are always in another place, with an event I sorely miss that I would love to go to again.  However, it made me happy to get out to a show – and it was definitely the farthest I have ever driven with a horse trailer behind me!   I took Luke about 2 hours north and tried my hand at some ring classes , 2 cones, and 1 obstacle class.

It was 90 degrees, but a strong breeze made it mostly tolerable.  It wasn’t humid, so that helped.  Luke hasn’t seen or done a cones course since the HDT I put him in in August of 2013, so yea…. it’s been a while.    Thankfully, his crazy driver managed to get through all the cones without getting lost, and Luke’s speed combined with a clean round earned him a 2nd place amongst very tough competition with 10 (or 11?) entries.

Our next cones class, I got lost and missed a cone set entirely, so yea…. my bad.  I also made a mess of the obstacle course, so that cost us a ribbon there.  I need to work on my precision driving skills, because clearly I have none.

Our ring classes were tough, tough, tough competition.   Luke and I got a 6th out of 9 in one of our three arena classes.

It was a good show, a long day, but a nice fun experience.  Luke has another show coming up on Sept 19, and it’s a precision driving event, too, so I’m just hopeful I don’t make a mess of things!!!!

This weekend, Jesse will be participating in an open fun show, and I am really looking forward to that too.  We’ll be doing 4 classes for sure.  Weather dependent, maybe 5.

I have a quasi-thought of taking Luke to Lexington in October.  We will see how that pans out.  In the mean time, I am looking forward to the remaining events of 2015, although I find myself questioning what I will be working towards in 2016-  everything may be changing by then, so you never know.

Until next week!

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Changes, changes everywhere

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted last, but I am far from “not busy”.   There’s been so much going on in the last month, I don’t even know where my head is sometimes.  I have my eyes forward, though, and am trying me best to make good life choices (that will be a first ~~ I’ll let you know when I do!!!)

Chewbacca is doing OK.  After a week of very severe lameness, he is holding steady at about a grade 2 lame – which is to say there’s a noticeable lameness at the walk and trot, but it isn’t horrible, and possibly not even something an untrained eye would see.  For a week, he was pretty much grade 4 lame, which is extremely severe (grade 5 would be non weight bearing).  We’re just plugging away a day at a time, and he’s hanging out and enjoying a good life.  He and Luke got a paddock expansion, so they have more space now, too, which is awesome.
Chewbacca’s driving equipment is gone, and my days of driving big horses are over.  I am looking forward to driving  and showing only ponies & minis in the future, although I have no plans to purchase another pony/mini or a 4 wheel vehicle anytime in the foreseeable future at all.  In fact, I may take 2016 “off” to pursue other necessities of life, which a  FAR CRY from how I started out this year – hoping to make 2016 “the year” I attend major driving shows and the National drive……..

Luke is doing great, and had been on a work schedule to meet his needs.  We went out to 2 shows so far this year (yes, I am using that big trailer as I intended!).  We started with a show in July and have also done a county fair show in August – we won quite a bit of money, so that was nice!

Dixie is her usual self, and hanging out as always.  She’s been pretty much retired for most of the 8 out of 9 years we’ve owned her, with just a short stint as my driving horse when I was horseless and a couple months in tandem with Jesse.

Jesse is also working, and doing some shows.  In fact, we just had one show this past weekend, and Jesse did great.  We tried our hand at 4 classes, one of which was specifically why I brought Jesse and not Luke.  Jesse has done oodles of trail drives with me, and he’s done trail obstacles.  But he’s never done a time trail obstacle class at a show, and has no marathon experience.

I would like to take one (or both) of them to a marathon in the future, maybe even in 2016, who knows, so I wanted to try Jesse out on the marathon-like country pleasure class.  He did excellent.  He went over a bridge, under an archway, and around the course with the 3 rd fastest time for the miniature horse division.  He also had the 2nd fastest time on cones!  (Maybe he would have had the fastest time if I was little skinnier, lol!!!!)  He also got a 2nd in pleasure, and then leave it to me to mess up reinsmanship and put us dead last.

Jesse Show 08-30-2015 Jesse FVSA

It was a good show, though, and I have actually have a rather busy show schedule, with 1 show per weekend for 4 weeks straight – can’t say I’m not getting the “show bug!”  Yes I do greatly enjoy having my own wheels and trailer to get there!

However, of course, with Chewbacca no longer working, my needs are different.  I won’t be hauling him and his cart to shows, so I don’t need such a ginormous trailer.  The glittery red trailer stands for sale, and of course, I’ll sell it this month when I’m the busiest with shows!  I do have a trailer in mind to purchase, so I’m not too worried if I do sell it.

In the mean time, Luke has a show coming up this Labor Day weekend, which I am looking forward to.  Labor Day Weekend is always hard for me anymore these years.  Just another symptom of change in my life.  For 22 years, I attended Scranton’s Italian Festival (LaFesta Italiana) over Labor Day Weekend.  Doesn’t sound like much, but trust me – it is.  It’s actually considered one of the best Italian Food Festivals in the country, and if you live anywhere within a 3 state radius of Scranton, PA you’re probably going to it more than once during the weekend.  It is worth it.

When I was 23, I “discovered” Dragon*Con, instead, and drove myself to Atlanta, GA to attend another largest in the country – science fiction convention- and had the time of my life.  So much so that when I moved to the Atlanta area the following year, it was an extra bonus that I would be closer to Dragon*Con.  A 45 minute drive was way better than a 13 hour drive. Sadly, 2004 would be the last year I would attend D*C, and I’ve dreamed of going back ever since.  I did go to LaFesta in 2007, but it’s been now 8 years that I will be missing that, too.

Everything changes in life, I guess, but this is one (well, two) things I would certainly like to change back to the way they were.  Maybe I can flip-flop and do La Festa one year, and Dragon*Con the next.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

I can barely believe 2015 is past the halfway mark.  Heck, it’s almost 3/4 gone and so much has changed this year already.  It’s been a year of setting things in line and making waves for the future.  I can’t even pretend to know where 2016 will lead me, because 2015 worked out so far to be totally different than I expected.

I’m not feeling “lost” or devastated at the end of Chewbacca’s career.  He’s still hanging out and will continue to do so until I am convinced there is no other choice, be it in a month or a decade.  I’m not sad to see the cart & harness go.  I’m completely indifferent to selling the trailer, since I’ll be buying a new one.  So long as I have a trailer, I could care less whether it’s this one or a different one, despite the work I put into the red one.  I have plans for the money from the red trailer that I feel comfortable with, and aren’t necessarily horse related, either.   I’ll just keep going, head strong, and see where the future leads!

Here’s to change.  It isn’t always a bad thing.

More updates soon !

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Horse Trailer Make Over

Back around 2014, my Jeep Grand Cherokee – which had been part of my life nearly 11 years to the date- began a slow downward spiral towards death.

Here’s a news flash, if you haven’t figured this already:  I’m not made of money. Running out and buying a new vehicle was not an option.  That’s part of the reason I had that Jeep for nearly 11 1/2 years!  Of course, there were limitations to it.  For starters, it was a V6 vehicle, and did not even have 4 wheel drive.  I had been stuck in the winter on the hill to my barn more times than I can recall.  The trailer hitch on it was used more for pulling me out of places by the tractor than used for me pulling anything with the Jeep!

So, as February 2015 rolled around and the Jeep was dying out almost every time I started it, I had 2 options – either keep chasing phantoms or submit to the fact that the Jeep was no longer a rock solid vehicle, and get something new.   The Jeep’s slow demise was the result of a mouse infestation.  They destroyed the car.  I know exactly where they got in, but I have no idea how many of them there were.  I found at least 3 nests in the car once I pulled it all apart before it was scrapped.

Anyway, I started car shopping knowing my Jeep was on it’s last leg (or wheel??).  Having a vehicle that could haul was primo important for me, so I paid particular attention to towing capacity and weight ratings.

Towards the end of February, I found a new -to-me 2006 SUV to buy, and half of my hauling woes were resolved. The other half of my hauling needs was a horse trailer.  The trailer we had for 10 years was just a little 2 horse.  Clearly there was no way I could haul my driving horse and pony anywhere in a trailer that had no room for a cart!

So, my bright idea was to get a bigger horse trailer that I could fit the cart into. Once again, I’m not made of money.  Buying a new trailer – or a super awesome aluminum trailer – was not an option.

So, it wasn’t much, but I found a old trailer within my budget, and the rehab began.

Meet the 1997 Featherlite Steel 16′ bumper pull stock trailer.  I purchased it right at the end of June and my husband and I ganged up on it and started getting to work. Project Trailer Makeover had begun. July 3, 2015

Thar she blows.

18 years of weather really did a number on the hull.

Of course, I wanted something that could fit Luke’s cart, while still falling within the weight capacity of my car.  I hoped a Featherlite would be a good choice for that, because the weight was right– after all — it is “featherlite” for a reason. But of course I also wanted something pretty, shiny, and attractive looking.  I hoped I could make this trailer meet those “requirements” too.

So, with a complete makeover inside and out in mind, we got to work.  I started with a power sander on the outside, and my husband started with a power saw to the inside.


The inside of the trailer measured 68″.  Luke’s cart was 66″.  There would be no room for error!  The only problem was that the center gate sat on a frame that was 3″ wide on both sides, leaving me only 62″ of space to fit a 66″ cart through!!!   Hence, the power grinder.

I needed the trailer to be something I could handle myself for all my future adventures with ponies & carts.  I knew the dimensions would be tight, but I also knew the trailer should suit my needs for the next decade easily, or longer.  I just needed a few modifications to the inside – which included making the crazy heavy center gate a whole lot lighter and the kickplate to latch it closed easier to manage.

18 years of rust made the kick plate far too difficult for me to deal with. My husband cut the center gate apart and notched the metal to allow room for the cart to clear, while I sanded away.


After completely sanding it and removing trim and anything else I didn’t want on the trailer – I actually found some of the original color!  Holy cow, I never would have imagined it was so bright red!    And clearly you can see the rust.  No worries, we had a complete makeover plan in mind.


07-04-2015 After completely sanding and power washing the trailer on day 1, I masked it off and prepared it for painting while the work on the inside continued. While I painted, my husband installed a plywood sheet to replace the removed portion of the center gate – making the gate a few hundred pounds lighter!  He also installed new bolts for the kickplate, so I could push the gate closed by hand instead of literally kicking it.


Picking colors was no easy task.  I wanted something to match my car, and I also wanted to add a glitter coat to it, so it would shimmer and sparkle.  I then decided, rather last minute, that painting the trailer just ONE color was too boring.  My glittery trailer needed to be THREE colors, which made for triple the work (not to mention cost!) in picking out 3 colors that blended with each other and looked good with my car all while giving me the look I wanted. Well…….


Yea, the roof turned out pink. Nope!  Not what I intended.  This was a case of “well, it looked good on paper!”  I was displeased with the colors once I saw them mixed, but I paid for the paint, so it was going on, like it or not.


Inside, you can see the plywood center gate.  I also made a set of ramps for cart loading ease, and we did a test fit of the cart.  It fit!  Barely, as you can see- there truly is NO room to spare (well, OK, there was an inch of space on each side). trailer11

July 5, 2015


Roof painted (pink….), and the middle color is now on, along with the first coats of the bottom color. Yep… still pink.


The front isn’t any less pink.

July 7, 2015 In the first 3 days, we put in almost 26 hours of work onto the trailer.  July 6, my husband went back and did another couple hours of continued painting of the bottom color.  The color was starting to shape up and either I was just getting used to having a pink trailer, or it was starting to look a bit more like I had intended.  I just kept telling myself once the clear coat & glitter go on, it would look nicer (and the glitter and eventual graphics would  hide some of the pink!).  


Still in need of continued paint, clear coat, glitter, and graphics, but maybe it is starting to come along.
Below; Final application of all colors and touch up complete.  In addition, the handles on the back gate and side door were all painted black to add a little contrast. July 19, 2015: trailer trailerfront

2 weeks later, (partially due to weather and the number of coats of paint it took to get that red shaped up right), the clear coat (with glitter!!!) was ready to be applied.

07-25-2015    Paint finally completed, clear coat and glitter applied.  For the first time in 3 weeks, the painter’s tape was finally removed.  Some minor clean up to do here and there, and still have to apply graphics and do the wheels.  It is coming along!  Still have to pad the inside gate as well.

trailer1 trailer2

I have to admit, although the glitter was a calamity of failures during application that ultimately ended up taking up nearly 10 full hours of the day to finish, I am extremely happy with how it came out, and I really like how the glitter sparkles when the sunlight catches it.  It doesn’t show up quite as well in cell phone shots, but it does look rather nice in person.

The work continued right on into August.  We applied the graphics, and I am really happy with how they look, although not totally happy with how they actually went on.    Oh well.  It was definitely looking better and better every day. trailer 08-01-2015b trailer 08-01-2015

The wheels got a makeover, too.  I sanded them down to remove the rust as much as I could.  I found they mostly had just surface rust and the powder coat paint was peeling off in large pieces.  I painted them black with rust stop paint and put wheel covers on them.

trailer 2

Still have a couple more “doo dads” to put on the outside and replace some lights, and finish up with the center gate and give the interior a quick paint job, too, but essentially it’s done.  The whole trailer is about 85% complete, and has been used now a couple times for showing with Luke.  I am over all happy with how it turned out, and once complete, it will be for sale.  I will be looking into getting another trailer to rehab in the near future to resell.  It’s been fun!


Although this one was a lot of work, I learned a few ways to improve my work ease for the next one (like don’t use red!!!!), and may possibly try sandblasting a future project trailer for an even better paint job.

*the red paint was so thin it took 5 coats to produce full coverage.  It was crazy!  The pink went on in a single coat and a 2nd coat just for good measure.

There is still more work to come, so stay tuned for more photos!

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Horicon Marsh

I needed a bit of a break from “reality”, with dilemmas over the horse trailer, Chewbacca and future goals – it’s all a bit stressful!   I don’t get away often at all. It’s been more than a year since I had any type of vacation, so to me just a “weekend getaway” is a real treat.

So, I treated myself–  to 24 hours with just my camera and the beauty of nature!  I figure this must be what Heaven looks like.  Sun, blue skies, green grass, and beautiful flowers and animals and nature everywhere.  I visited Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin – one of 25 Federally protected marshes in the U.S. (including the Everglades).

In some of the spots of the marsh – especially when I went there in the middle of night to look at the stars- I couldn’t even hear traffic and barely saw city lights.  I listened to the coyotes and the crickets and during the day – the birds!  Oh my the birds!!!!!   It was wonderful … and speaking of the Everglades—- photo trip 2016 might just be starting into the planning stages.  I’m not kidding!  After seeing a small taste of the beauty and wonder of nature at Horicon, it seems like only the Everglades would even be able to top that!

For now, I am happy to share some of my photos of the marsh.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!  I have over 80 photos all together, but chose just a small handful to share here.

Please click on the photos to make them larger for better viewing.


Above, a flock of geese coming in for a landing – you can see more geese and sandhill cranes in the field below.  This was at about 5:30am Sunday morning.

Below, a flock of American White Pelicans takes to flight over the marsh, around 6am Sunday Morning.


Bald Eagle  Juvenile Bald Eagle

Above, an adult male American Bald Eagle, and a juvenile Bald Eagle, around 4 months of age.

Below, a barn swallow

Barn Swallow

Sunrise on the Marsh

Above, dawn at the Marsh.

Below, an adult Black Crowned Night Heron on the left, and a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron on the right.

Black Crowned Night Heron  Juvenile Black Crowned NH

Doube Crested Cormorant

Above, Double Crested Cormorant with a bullhead carp in its mouth

Below, a field of black eyed Susans, I just thought was pretty.  ;)

Field of Susans

Great Blue Heron 2 Great Blue Heron

Above & below, my “usuals”, Great Blue Heron and a Great White Egret.

Great White Egret

Green Heron

Above, a Green Heron with a crawfish for breakfast.  Below, a muskrat.


Spotted Sandpiper

Above, a spotted sandpiper and below, a yellow headed black bird.

Yellow Headed Black Bird


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More Photo Outings, a Horse Trailer Project, and a touch of bitter irony


As the title of this post suggests, I’ve been busy!

2015 is turning out to be a year of changes in more ways than I could have imagined, or wanted to.  There was really only 1 major change I wanted to make to my life this year, and instead of that, it sort of seems like everything else is changing around me without my permission.  :/

Of course, for starters was Chewbacca’s lameness.  He is doing OK day by day, but he is definitely not sound.  I don’t imagine he ever will be truly “sound” again, but I’d at least like to see him more comfortable than I think he is.

Retiring him was not on my list of things to do in 2015…. maybe by the end of 2017 I would have probably pulled out the big “R” for Chewie, but I was not expecting to do so at the beginning of 2015 – and especially not due to lameness.  Of course with that change, came the other changes of selling Chewbacca’s equipment.  I love driving the ponies & minis, and really am looking forward to having more of the little ones in the future, so I sure don’t need the big, heavy equipment of Chewbacca’s.  Some of it has sold already and I have interested parties in the rest, so we’ll see.

Besides that was my decision, after buying a new vehicle that can haul, to sell the horse trailer we’ve had for 10 years so I can buy a new one (well… new to me anyway), with the intention of hauling by myself to shows & events.  I realized long ago how relying on other people to “help” with my equestrian endeavours was a very bad idea, so I’m trying to rectify that.

In my vision of a perfect world, I would get a trailer, and load up Luke or Jesse and go to shows, events, and maybe even the National Drive all by myself.  My trailer would also be painted up to match my car and glitter like a bass boat.

Well….  the reality of it all isn’t exactly what I envisioned, but it’s still coming along.  I did get a suitable trailer.  I had not one, but two, nearly brand new trailers lined up to buy.  After the first one fell through because the seller lied to me about it even being available (12 hours before I was supposed to go see/buy it), I was assured over and over by the 2nd seller of the next nearly new trailer that all was in good order and it really did exist, and he honestly did have a title to sign over to me.  Well, 2 days before I was supposed to go get the other new trailer, that fell through, too, because he did not actually have a title for it.

So… that left me falling back to my original plan, which was to purchase an older, but more affordable, trailer and paint it.  Which I did.  A friend pointed out the trailer locally that was for sale, and I ended up buying it.  Is it new?  No.  It’s 18 years old.  It is pretty?  Not really.  But it is functional, and I’m working on the pretty by giving the trailer a major makeover inside & out.

Ironically, I’m not actually sure, after doing all this, that I will be driving either Luke or Jesse next year for various reasons.  Lets face it, they aren’t getting any young either.  They’ve both been shown extensively, and are at the peak (or plateau) of their training.  I doubt I will be putting out the $$$ to show at bigger events farther away, and other than trying to attempt to do the National Drive in Lexington this year (or maybe next year….), I’m not even sure why I felt getting the new/used trailer was even justified.

I would like to think about finishing out this year with Luke and Jesse and be done with driving both of them next year and in turn get a new, younger pony to train/bring along, and eventually sell.  But I do have other major changes to think about instead of new ponies…. at least for a while.

How’s that for irony?  All the effort to get a trailer, for horses I might not even keep driving past this year……  hm.

And what about this trailer?  Well, I am starting a different post which will be a progress post on it, and I will put it up when it’s done.

In the mean time, I’ve also been keeping busy with getting out and taking photos.  Some of my better shots of 2014 and the early months of 2015 have been shipped of to the Wisconsin State Fair.  I’m hopeful for a good showing, so fingers crossed!

I definitely do feel like I am improving in my photography every time I go out.  I’m getting better at finding new things to photograph, and have been taking photos I am quite proud of in the last several months.  To what end, I’m not sure – I would like to sell photos on a professional level, or even better, to submit (and be accepted!) to magazines as a stock photographer.  We’ll see – I guess everything happens as it is supposed to, exactly when it is supposed to.

And speaking of photos, here are a few to share.
I have definitely been in macro mode and loving it!  Insects are so much fun to photograph and I have been trying to some new macro techniques to get better and better.


I almost have the screenings of his eyes in perfect detail on this fly.  I need to get closer and more magnified!  Yes!

japenese beetle

Japanese Beetle on a thistle flower.  So much fun to photograph insects- they glisten and shimmer, and are just beautiful!

milkweed beetle

Milkweed Beetle on a leaf.  Just trying out a technique that I’m pretty happy with so far, I just need to get a little better with it.  Nice detail, though!

And then, I mounted up the “big lens” (aka my bird lens) and went off for another photo shoot this 4th of July weekend that involved an amazing sight the likes of which I have never seen before!

When I first visited a heron rookery (community nesting grounds) earlier in the year, I found about 30 nests in the tree tops, and I thought it was truly incredible!  I had never seen so many birds in one small location all at once before, and to watch the Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets, and Double Crested Cormorants come and go from their nests was just super cool!  I got very very close to that particular rookery, as you could walk right up to the trees the nests were built in, but when my husband pointed out this lake with “something” in the middle of it, I never in my life expected to see this, just 15 minutes from my home!!!

What are you are looking at below is a man made “island” in the middle of a lake – a lake closed to boating or fishing or swimming.  In fact, there is pretty much no human access expect for the forest preserve people who maintain this structure.

On that structure are hundreds and hundreds of birds! This massive rookery is home to over 1,000 Double Crested Cormorants, Great White Egrets, and Great Blue Herons, and to top it off, there were dozens of American White Pelicans hanging around, not to mention diving terns and I even found an osprey!!!!!


Below, are around a hundred or more Cormorants, and a couple Egrets.  Both of the above and below images are 5- shot panorama images I combined, because the number of birds was just too great to fit into a single image!  Of course, making a panorama does automatically make the images a little smaller.


Below are some shots of a couple of the pelicans and a couple Cormorants in the “herd”, too.

What a truly amazing experience to see all those birds coming and going and flying and fishing.  Such an amazing variety all in place, I almost didn’t know what to photograph first!  Who would have thought even up here in Illinois, you can have such splendor right along a highway!

pelican pelixans

Below are an osprey and a Great White Egret.  Unfortunately the osprey was facing the sun and it was overcast, both double negatives that don’t make a right in photography, so the shots of my osprey did not come out well, but I was not going to pass up the chance to photograph it anyway!


… and now, I leave you with a dragonfly sticking its tongue out.


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