4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses

4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ~Langston Hughes *pictured: '4Shoes Bookends'

Friday, 23 June 2017

Harley's Horrid Handiwork

This is blatant destruction in my seeded bed; you should see a bunch of carrots & beets coming up there, but no. I know it is a cat, & (more importantly) I know which damned cat.  

Mr Shoes repaired & reinstalled these corner braces that were originally built to discourage that cat. The bugger won't jump the sides, but if those corners are open he seems to think it's an invitation to futz around with me.
This morning I sprayed that little prick with the jet setting on the hose; it's not the first time I've doused him, nor is it likely to be the last.
Slow learner, or straight up Dick? My $ is on Dick. 

"She sprays me with the hose & screams obscenities at me, but she still fills my food bowl... because, who could resist this face?
So, whatever Man; I regret nothing."

Monday, 19 June 2017

A Story in 2 Words

As told by my 18 month old 'Practice Grand', Amy:
"I am OwMeow. I regret nothing." 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Whatever Hour Indeed

There has never been a time when people have not needed an occasional reminder to DO what will make you happy now, & to always take note of just how wondrous is this *exact* moment.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Pretty Prairies

Don't believe someone who tells you that the prairies are bald & flat, because the topography is extremely varied & really quite lovely.
This was shot east of Yorkton; quite a pretty little scene for a pitstop. This time, instead of cows, a row of graineries stood watch as we "rested" for a minute at the side of the road.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pit Stop Crew

Galloway Road, somewhere in Saskatchewan, this crew stood watch to ensure that nothing was left behind other than footprints. Squatprints? Annnnyways...
After "ditch mining" a hefty bag of beer cans last week, I see a sign much like this one coming very soon to the roadside running past the 4Shoes. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Technological Advancement

Just when I'd about given up being acknowledged on Mother's Day, Boot came home with these lovelies plus a card & a little box of chocolates. "You remembered!", I said. He replied, "Yeah, my phone reminded me."

Friday, 12 May 2017

Cats Posturing

Looking out the window, what do I see? Someone grabbing some zzz's in a patch of sun on the BBQ.

"I am completely unapologetic", says Harley.

Blitz complains, "Seems like I'm always in his shade... but that's only because his old carcass throws a BIIIIG shadow.
No worries Baby, I am just naturally cool as a cucumber.
Heeyyy Girl, what's your big hurry?
Got any snacks for a hard working cat here?
I  know you cannot resist my deadly blue eyes; it is why I never blink in your presence.
Plus, I love you?
Hungry. Snaaaacckkks please.
Shhh! Harley needs no snacks; his shadow is big enough already.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Little Cracks are Okay

No, I have not dropped off the face of the planet (if you were hoping, too bad), it's just that life has gotten busier @ the 4Shoes with the onset of warmer weather. 
I have been working at cleaning all my windows before we can have company in. Of course, Spring cleaning rolls around every year, nothing new, but just time consuming. Part of the charm of this house is that every side of the place has large, floor to ceiling windows; I love to keep an eye on the horses, even from the solitude of the privy-room. TMI? Sorry.
Anyways... these windows are the crank out variety that have little tracks that the window seals into tightly. Those tracks are such a pain in the ass! I go around from room to room, carting around my stool, my pail of detergent water, a toothbrush for those darn tracks, & (finally) my vinegar spray bottle & window cleaning towel. Yesterday I cleaned 4 rooms worth &, right now as I'm typing, I should be finishing the other 4 rooms... Insides, I mean; cleaning the outsides requires adding a ladder to my equipment list!
During tasks that can be tedious, I find that time passes more quickly when chores are done to music - Leonard Cohen was on my playlist today. 
Whatever chore you are doing today, take a minute to appreciate the fruits of your labour, & enjoy the music.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Day Drunk @ the 4Shoes

I should be out doing the grocery shopping right now but, first, I think I have to sober up a little. 
Yep, I'm day drunk @ the 4Shoes for absolutely no reason
And to top it off, I'm alone. 
Carolan's: the same as Baileys, but cheaper! 
Hmmm, that kind of makes day drunk before noon seem like poor behaviour, doesn't it?
Trust me, this hardly ever happens. I was going to say it is a rare occurrence, but I couldn't remember how to spell occurrence. Apparently, spell check is more sure of my lingering competence than am I. 
Actually, I do have a reason. 
Sort of. I ran out of condensed milk. 
I'm probably the last person on the planet (other than Vickie, you know who you are Vickie!) that still uses condensed milk in their tea. Nothing else is as good to me, so running out is a small inconvenience. 
So, no tea this morning. 
"No problem", I thought, "I'll just make a little coffee & go Irish." 

4 cups of coffee later & now there's not a chance in hell that I could pass a breathalizer. Let's be honest here, I'm finishing the pot as I type, so that makes it really 5 drinks stiff later. 
Oops, I mean, 5 stiff drinks later. 
Waste not, want not... as the saying goes. 

I actually know quite a bit about passing a
You'll never outsmart this thing, trust me. 
breathalizer test, because God knows that I have administered LITERALLY thousands & thousands of those tests myself. 

Not ON myself - on athletes, trainers, valets, officials, & guest drivers (in my career on the racetrack), including Rick Mercer & Premier Ralph Klein. 

So I know, there is no way that I am safe to drive to town at the moment. 
In a few hours, maybe.

Can you tell, I don't really even like going to town anymore? Maybe I just hit the bottle this morning as an excuse not to go shopping today... but it's just delaying the inevitable. 

Drunk riding though? Hey, I really shine in that arena! 
Well, not so much me doing the shining as my horse (Padre is a frigging SAINT. A horsey SAINT, I tell ya.). Padre shines like the midday sun when I'm drunk riding! So long as I'm sober enough to stay on (*like a burr!* Listen, I didn't say it was pretty. I stay the hell off his mouth & just do my best to stay balanced in the saddle) while he sorts or pens cattle for fun, throws in a few little spins or a nice short sliding stop, maybe take the woodsy trails & he pops over a few downed trees just to see if I'm still awake up there... 
Well, that horse makes me look like a damn genius. 
Or so it seems to me in my state. 
I might just look like a damn fool.

Hey, don't judge me. 
In fact, I challenge you right now to go drink for drink with me, & then we'll ride good horses & see who's still in the saddle the whole ride, despite whatever shenanigans may occur!
No takers?
That's what I thought. 
Where's my bff when I'm throwing out such boozy challenges? In AB, that's where she is. 
*Shout out Marina!! See you May long, Baby!

Mr Shoes & I used to tag along with my bestie & her hubs team penning (for fun, not to compete, just when racing was on hiatus).
Padre loved it more; give him half a chance to work
Padre shows off his skillz with a sober rider*.
*NOT Mr Shoes, who is taller & more rangy.
Not pictured, Padre hauls Angus cattle to the fire.
cattle & stay the hell out of his way while he does it (*cuz he's a genuine(!) working western Morgan horse for REALZ, yo!) & you'd see & feel the magic. 

Anyway, there was a rule at the arena: If you came off your horse (for any reason), then on the next Sunday you had to bring booze for everyone. 
I only had to buy once.

First, you come off, & if you're human, you feel a little sting of humiliation in hitting the ground as your horse looks back in amazement that you've lost your seat (probably in slow motion, so waaaay dramatic).
His eyes seem to say, "WTF lady? I couldn't have made it any easier for you!"
As he's giving you that stink eye for ruining his close to perfect run, you have already heard the universal gasp of the waiting penners & have had to admit that, dammit, you're just an idiot and there is just no need to call 911. 
Then there's the laughter from the peanut gallery, amidst shouts of, "Get the hell back on your damn horse, you can still make time*!" 
In this illustration, I'm def the rider in the upper right corner.
(*In team penning, the 3 person team has 90 seconds to cut out & pen 3 marked cattle. Each team member has a predetermined order of work pattern & must get their own cow into the pen before the buzzer sounds. All 3 team members must be at the gate, with cows in the pen, before the buzzer sounds.)

So yeah, there's all that love & support & (mostly) good-humoured ridicule around you. If you were drunk to start with, you probably wouldn't have come off at all &, if you did, you could at least have had half an excuse to ride like re-warmed shit. But we usually rode pretty sober... at least until late in the day. 

Somehow your legs & seat still know what to do, even when you're half in the bag. 

Looking out the diningroom window here, I can see my good old boy sunning himself up near the feeders right now, which is just about the same as him knocking on the front door & demanding my attention. 
Or so it seems to me. 

The grocery stores are open til 9pm tonight - odds are this sunny & warm weather won't hold that long so, drunk as I am (now 5 drinks in, because, can't waste coffee), I'm headed out to the tack room to grab his halter & call out to my good horse some such no doubt ridiculous names (Come here SmoogyWoodgyBear! *kiss,kiss* You know PaddyWaddy wants to take Mommy for a ride! Oh yeah, that's my good boy. Yes, I brought a butt-load of cookies in my pocket for the handsomest boy in the world. That's my good boy."), as he shoves his face into the halter & agrees to babysit my obviously drunk ass.
My horse is AWESOME. 
That's an overly used word, I think, 'awesome' is. 
But in this case, totally appropriate. 
My horse is AWESOME with AWESOME sprinkles & a side of AWESOME sauce. 

Long story short, not sure if I'll make it to the grocery store at all today (sorry, not sorry), but I'm sure as hell going to get a damn good ride in on a good damn horse.
Does life get much better than this?
Once I'm in the saddle, then the answer is, "No. No, it doesn't get much better than this."

The grocery store can sure as hell wait. 
Peace Out Y'all, & (sober, or even somewhat tipsy) make sure you get in a good ride whenever you can. 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Canadian Reality Show

Rick Mercer is a Canadian treasure, as are the polar bears of Churchill, MB (which sits right on the shore of Hudson's Bay & is about a 9 hour drive from the 4Shoes). We are not world travelers, but then again, we don't need to be when we live in such an incredibly diverse & beautiful country of natural wonders. 

When we lived north of Edmonton, we could see the Northern Lights dancing every night; it was the part of my then work commute that I enjoyed & miss most to this day. The 4Shoes is so much further south (than our AB home) that we are rarely treated to a light show here. In fact, we've only seen the Northern Lights from the 4Shoes 3 times in 10 years, & we are always watching for them.
One of those 3 nights, Mr Shoes had been on his way home from work when he saw the lights; he got so excited that he pulled over to call me from the side of the road so I wouldn't miss them. I was way ahead of him though, & already had our chairs set up outside & full mugs of Irish coffee close to hand.
 Please enjoy these little slivers of our True North Strong & Free, because this Canadian reality show beats television any day of the week!
~hooking up with AIM link party today~

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wildlife Romance

This romance dance is just barely starting at the dens & will continue through the end of May. The Narcisse area has the largest population of red-sided garter snakes in the world; the area also boasts the world's largest population of ravens (who dine like kings on snake livers, eating only the delicacy & leaving the remainder of the carcass). Garter snakes are complete shite mothers, dropping their live babies as they slither away without even a kind word. The little snakes winter the first year wherever they can find shelter; in their 2nd year the now grown babies find their way back to the dens on the scented trails of their counterparts, where they winter comfortably & then join the bi-annual migrations & Spring reproduction rituals themselves.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Happy Easter!

The 4Shoes steeds agree that, if there's carrots, they're in!

Floki has yet to lay a single egg; I guess that means he's comfortable with his manliness. 
Happy Easter from the 4Shoes!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

New Hens on the Block

One thing that Mr Shoes & I enjoy is a road trip. Especially this time of year, when Spring is just making an entrance into our part of the world, my feet get itchy to GO SOMEWHERE! 
So yesterday we drove out & picked up the new hens on the block; new hens, same names. One gal hardly made it into the nesting box before dropping an egg; maybe she was holding it in the whole drive?! 
One of my projects this year is to spruce up the chicken yard by cladding the outside of the pallets in simple 1x6 fence boards. Once the pen is more (bunny) escape proof I can let Floki chase chickens around for his amusement.
I'm just kidding. I don't really think our rabbit is a chicken bully, but if I can make the chicken pen less... I guess the appropriate word is 'ugly', then Mr Shoes has agreed that he might be convinced to build a bunny playpen behind the old house. 
All the bunnies would like that!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

4Shoes BackStory

4Shoes Farm has been my fondest wish since I could remember. Long before the dream actually came to be, my desire to be surrounded by magnificent horses was satisfied in racetrack backstretches. Living 24/7/365 in a small room above the stables & sharing a communal bathroom, working as a professional groom was one of the highlights of my life. There is nothing that can quite compare to being completely immersed in horses as a way of life; I deeply treasure those learning experiences. Later, I  was an owner. Later still, I worked for an A Track, & then for the Racing Commission. I led the professional life of my dreams &, to this day, I can think of nothing more satisfying than the excitement & exhilaration of actually having lived my sport for so many years.
A reality of owning &/or care-taking of racehorses is that, regardless of their athletic prowess or lack thereof, eventually they all must retire from the sport on January 1st of the year they turn 14. More than one special horse that I might have liked to hang onto was claimed away on a race night, or retired from the sport (for whatever reason) & was placed into a new home as riding &/or driving horse. While it was never too hard to find a good horse a new life, it was always hard to see them go.
The time came for a particularly special mare to retire, but I really just didn't want to part with her. Right about that same time I was extremely fortunate to meet elderly Uncle Wally who had bred & raised Quarter horses &
Belgian drafts until into his early 70's. In exchange for light maintenance work & house-sitting over the winters, I had full use of his barn & pastures. Uncle's place was barely a mile from our driveway -- but that gorgeous acreage could never really be ours.
Fast forward some...
My first impression of the entire Interlake region was rather... dismal, to say the least.  We were shown around to unsuitable place after horrible place. Was the realtor even listening to us?  A last minute addition to the viewing list suddenly spoke to Mr. Shoes; I could barely hear a hint of whisper.  
It was a rough & raw looking quarter section left fallow for over 20 years.  Dense thickets of willow & poplars almost completely choked out more of the land than not &, where there was not bush, a healthy strip of peat bog sported countless cat-tails.
I struggled to find positives -- the house itself was nice enough (if a little small), it had a triple size workshop, there was a single new Ritchie waterer in a good spot, & the entire quarter had been newly fenced with 4 strands of smooth, horse friendly fencing. 
Looking over the wild of snarls of bush & bullrushes, the property's best potential was certainly well hidden. I wondered to myself if it was even possible to reclaim this land from Mother Nature anytime before I would die of old age. 
To me the place looked like an enormous, money-sucking risk & very clearly a given that it would take our small family literally years of hard work to get it to the point where there could be more good things than bad to say about it.
"Cut 'em a cheque.", said Mr. Shoes as I quietly raised my eyebrows in his direction & looked around dubiously at the spoils of the past 100 or so years littering the grounds. 
Born into a farming family but with no farm to inherit, if we really wanted the life, my only choice was to trust in Mr. Shoes' vision.
Fast forward a few more years...
This once neglected chunk of land has been slowly transforming into a showcase of manicured lawns, tidy little pastures, shaded woodland riding trails created by Mr Shoes, & crop fields restored to productivity after decades of reverting to wilderness. 
From a state of decline, the 4Shoes has come back to glory again sporting good hay crops, housing & feeding miniature Hereford cattle, a couple of pigs in the pen each year, meat rabbits, & laying hens. 

I no longer keep racehorses, but because my life would not be complete without horses, I do keep a few beautiful Morgan horses.

Maintenance & further improvement projects never seem to end (like any small holding I suppose), but we are proud of the 4Shoes. I guess we'll be staying.

For those who may wonder...
The origin of our farm name was inspired by a keepsake from a special bygone horse; his very first set of shoes is prominently displayed on the tack room wall.
I would love to hear how YOUR farm or property got its' name!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

If I'm Going to be Alone

Two beautiful renditions of this remarkable, deeply moving piece of music (Mr Shoes has been learning to play guitar - he's a former drummer). Which version is more your style?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Views from the Porch

"Somewhere beyond the fog lies clarity." ~Unknown *Photo @ 8pm 3/29/17
"Sometimes we need the fog to remind ourselves that not all of life is black & white." ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

"Hurry up Summer; I'm tired of being cold!" ~Manic MinPin

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Eviction Notice

King Vole of vermin @ 4Shoes today. 
The rabbit house has been invaded by voles, which are also sometimes called 'meadow mice'. *sigh*  Dammit.
A vole has a shorter, blunt-tipped tail & smaller ears than a mouse. 
I do not think voles OR mice are cute, but I understand that they make excellent snake food. In the summertime, the enormous numbers of red-sided garter snake help keep vermin numbers down, but it is still a couple of months before the snakes come out of their dens.

I take a pretty common farm wife view of vermin - they are rodents & they must be destroyed before they over run the whole farm. This is not an over-reaction; voles & mice reproduce at similar rates - left unchecked, a population explosion is guaranteed. 

I know there are some folks with extra-tender hearts who think that vermin should be trapped & released... To those few, I'm sorry I cannot make this any easier for you; this afternoon I had to stomp a vole to death.
Exceptionally well fed barncat #1.

In the barn, vermin are kept under control by our 2 alarmingly large & vicious barncats. Super vicious if you're a leaky, 4-legged plague vector; otherwise they are just big, purring pussycats. 

Sometimes I go into the barn & find numerous dead voles, displayed with military-like precision in rows of 3's. 
Always rows of 3's. 
What's up with that?
Exceptionally well fed barncat #2.
Those boys want to remind me that they are always on the job. 
And, to fill their food bowl. 
For whatever reason, the cats do not eat the little turd-machines. I probably feed those cats entirely too well. Not probably, definitely. 
The boys have repeatedly volunteered to go 100% Full Metal Jacket on those beady-eyed moochers in the rabbit house, but I don't think Floki & his girls would be comfortable living in a military state, so that's not a real option. 

Super effective & easy to set.
This is the type of trap that we use; it's highly effective & usually results in a quick kill. The odd time there might be a bad catch; today's stomping victim was only caught by one leg, which it had mostly chewed off. 
I straight up mercied that little mofo.
No Z Nation fans out there?

If there are any PETA reps lurking: please remember I am talking about rodents here, not lab monkeys or endangered whales. I actually did read your article "Living in Harmony with Mice & Rats"A quote,"Mice and rats deserve our compassion and respect, so it’s essential that we use humane methods to solve perceived problems with them."
Um... Perceived problems?  You're kidding, right?
Pretty sure my perception is bang on here. 
The rabbit house is for rabbits, not vermin. Traps & desiccants are just effective tools in the eviction process. Also, get real & get a life - it's a mousetrap not a bloody harpoon. 
Or you could call the Intruder people, maybe picket their head office? Either way, I'm sure they'd be more than happy to listen to your solutions with a sympathetic ear. 
Or not.
Hey Mickey, good luck with that.
I'm not completely heartless - so long as the vermin stay out of my buildings, I leave them for the snakes & hawks & the many other creatures who haven't read the PETA article. 
But in the meantime, unless & until those vermin receive a shipment of helmets & body armour, it's all out war.

BTW, in case it's not clear: Better Mousetrap by Intruder is the BEST(!) mousetrap that we've ever tried & we highly recommend it. 
No, I did not get any free Better Mousetraps to say so. But I wouldn't turn them down either. Just sayin'... 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Promise

Tracy Chapman is one of the most amazing, & under-played, singer/songwriters of my time. Her lyrics are always poignant, her voice is hauntingly lovely... She's as real & pure as music ever gets. 
Shout out - Tracy, much love, Girl!

Friday, 17 March 2017


Unplanned pregnancy?!?!?  
Holy Hell, when did that happen?
MJ has been hiding something behind that door to nowhere...
I had no idea!
Floki did jump into her hutch one day while I was cleaning, but I grabbed him up out of there toute suite (french Canadian for 'right away'). Apparently, 3 seconds was just enough time to slip her his carrot for him to breed her because, honestly, that's literally all the time he had before I hauled his horny little bunny butt back to his own hutch.
Rabbit ovulation is induced by copulation; I think this pretty much explains why only a single kit was produced. She looks to be between 2-3 weeks old as her eyelids are only just starting to part, & she's the fattest wee bunnis ever.
To top it off, while I was still shaking my head, Boots' girlfriend, Cleats (she plays competitive rugby), NAMED the bunnis! Oh boy, I don't name growers, so I guess she's a keeper now.
A belated
Welcome to the 4Shoes, little Frost!
No Manic MinPin, not for you. Not even a little bit.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Pimp My Mixer!

I received 'The Precious' as a Christmas gift from the family. More of a strong hint than a frivolous gift maybe, but she's my favourite colour & I LOVE Her!
I don't love labels; especially next-to-impossible to remove labels. Elbow grease + Almay Waterproof Make Up Remover pads (Sensitive, because that's how we roll) worked our way to a clean surface without damaging Precious' gorgeous purple* finish. 

  For cripes sake, Precious is a powerhouse, but she didn't turn my head with her rpm. A woman does not go all in for a designer colour & then want it covered up with a butt-ugly label about safety & some shit. 

*Truth be told, Precious' colour is technically called "Boysenberry" by the KitchenAide people. I can just slide by with saying 'purple' to anyone else but Mr Shoes, who went to incredible lengths to get his hands on this designer colour out here in the sticks. Trust me, the buy was a ligit ordeal for Mr Shoes, whose idea of a gruelling shopping trip is Crappy Tire changing their floor plan.

Precious, you deserve some bling bling baby!

Before we go all crazy buying customied decals, how about we try out these dollar store clings first? You know, because what if we don't like the bling, & because these dandelions & dragonflies cost $1. Less than a dollar, considering that the tall dandelions are now classing up my front room freezer.

You mean not every home has a deep freeze draped with one of the good towels in their front room?
Well don't be jealous Baby, we can't all have everything. 

Mm mmm MM!
We're mixing it up in style at the 4Shoes now!

Downside? Mr Shoes has had to punch a new hole in his belt.
Meh, first world problems.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Pinterest FAIL

Not so long ago, I made a dish with a sticky sauce & burnt it onto the bottom of this little enamelled roaster. Dangitall, that is one of my favourites too; it's the only round roaster I have & the perfect size for small roasts.
Now what? 
Pinterest, of course. Pinterest is such an accessible resource; any time of day or night you can find a new recipe to try or learn the easiest way to tan a hide. I'm pretty sure my pan is going to be good as new. 
 According to Pinterest, boil a little dish soap in the pot for 10-15 minutes & the stain will just wipe right out of the pan. 

Too much dish soap?

Son of a biscuit. And here I was hoping that Pinterest had all the answers. 

2nd shot: Vinegar & baking soda scrub... which I can attest does work super well on a lot of gunk & is safe for most surfaces.
Vinegar & baking soda didn't work at all. I may have created a Super Stain...
Let me try boiling the vinegar solution... it sure can't hurt. 

Well, it didn't make it any worse, but it also didn't do a damn thing for the stain. I scrubbed this biotch so hard my elbow popped out of joint, yet look at it just smugly still there
I'm pretty sure there was frustration steam coming out of my ears.

It was about this time that I fired the whole works out the bloody garden door... 'cuz I'm way chill like that. The snow cooled me down when I decided to go retrieve the pan before Mr Shoes asked me wth & got me riled up again.
To hell with it; I'm going out to buy a new little round roasting pan & forget all this ugliness ever happened.

How's your day going?

~joining ChickenChicks bloghop~