Can you say bugs!

I just have to say we have new neighbors, well not your traditional kind of neighbors, but in this case not good neighbors. They make rude noises, ruin the environment with gas emissions and the absolutely worst issue is the flies. Our new neighbors is a herd of black Angus cows.

We can’t open a door for a seconds without, very little exaggeration 15 flies coming in with us. They also carry  what is called a horse fly but they hang around cows, go figure. Cows must have a much thicker hide because the ir bites don’t seem to bother them quite as badly as they do the horses.

One of those horse flies bites a horse they start running and bucking trying to get away from it. Now here in Missouri some folks think that hanging those old fly tapes from the ceiling is the best answer and to tell the truth it probably was at one time.

Luckily are going half crazed with fly swatter in every room constantly scaring the life out of our rescue dachshund. Each swat would send him jumping and running for cover.

Only time I ever experienced worse was working as a trooper on alligator alley. This is a two lane road that crossed the state from east to west. It is a lonely long stretch of road in the everglades of South Florida. At night it is pitch black and at any time of day you can see snakes, alligators and or wild animal life out in glades. There is no fencing along the roadway so anything can crawl up on this 2 lane road. And at night you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

It only took me one time to exit the patrol car once it turned dark, to realize the bugs were huge and numerous. I was completely covered in bugs when I ran back to the car and got in. I don’t know what they were I only know it took forever to  blow them all out with all four windows down and driving as fast as possible to get them out of the car.

So not wanting to have those fly tapes hanging from the ceiling I found a remarkable solution, They are little stickers that attach to the window but the flies don’t stick to them they actual have a fly killer bait which does its job and in general no one even knows they are there.

Riley and Freedom or Whiskey just depends

Were vey lucky when we moved from Florida where the rest of our family lived that our daughter within a few years decided she was tired of Jacksonville Florida. She was expecting her first baby and she and her husband wanted a different lifestyle and to be able to raise there children in an area that had less crime.

Riley was her first daughter we now also have Avery another girl. Riley just turned 4 in July and Avery 1 in April. If we are going to have a rockem sockem grandaughter it is going to be Riley.

The little daredevil has been riding Smarty since she was 2. She has her own muck fork to help Pop clean the stalls and must always be rewarded with the horse’s soft peppermints The problem with this theory is she likes them too and has declared them for herself. If she shares the horses only get one. She and her sister more like 3 or 4.

Moving where you virtually know nobody

I think the hardest out of the move some times was not knowing who to call or trust to say, fix the car, which vet, which new family Doctor, where to get your hair cut, right down to the littlest things,

As you begin to try new places for everyday things you realize that being in a small town no one can give you directions to anywhere. In the city, you get specific: drive to 155 Street make a right two blocks down and we are in the 2 story red brick building.

Here if you ask for directions instead the answer is like this, “Oh we are over by the old library.” “OK where is that?” Answer, “Oh you know where the fire station that burned down use to be.” Answer, “No I just moved here I dont know where that is. There is a pause on the other end and you hear in the background…what do you tell people how to get hear that dont know where the old library was! Response everybody knows where that was!

Then the hardest thing for me in particular having run a state agency was having the menfolk here ignore you. We have truly moved back several decades. I could be standing out in the front of the property expecting a sub contractor that I wanted a quote from, either drive right past me up to where Ken was or just out right ask me where the man of the house was. It wasn’t easy to accept and nothing has changed women folk talk about home, family, cooking and men conduct business.

If you really know me then you know that was a tough one to swallow. But trying to assert yourselve is pointless. Now over time, some men have come around like our farrier, or the banking offficials.

But largely in rural Missouri it’s a mans world! The funniest thing to read in the weekly classified paper aptly named the “Horsetrader” is the classified ads that run for female companions. Usually they read something like this, “Country Gentleman looking for a companion to help around the farm, must be 40 or less and strong, good cook is a plus, no smoking. Not looking to marry just for a companion when lonely, don’t worry I generally dont believe in hitting my woman.”

How could any gal pass that offer up? I told Ken when I pass he should have no problem replacing me as a farm hand.

Rocks

Our whole purpose in moving One of the many reasons Missouri was our ending spot was be cause the price of land per acre was about 1800.00 an acre compared to 20,000 in Florida, Taxes, insurance, gas, crime rate less nearly everything cost less in Missouri. Those are the benefits but nobody and none of our research ever mentioned the rocks in Missouri. No rocks is not really correct.

We had a round pen up to work the horses and would noticed a rock. Rocks cause stone bruises and abscesses which ultimately lame horses The old saying no foot no horse is absolutely true.

So we see a rock try to pick it up, sometimes they are the size of a quarter, but most of the time you start digging. Then you get the crowbar and pry and dig and pry and dig and eventually you have a rock the size of a patio. So big you have to get the tractor to pick it up and move to what we call our rock walls. But aside from the rocks, we generally have mild winters in fact I don’t think we have had snow the last two years.

But I digress, the real reason we moved here is it is close to Oklahoma but generally outside tornado alley. Tulsa Oklahoma is where pinto world and congress shows each year. The shows where only the best of the best go because if your really competitive, like Ken not me, it is the most coveted show to win as an amateur. But it is not a show that is cheap by any stretch of the imagination. And the competitors don’t go show in cheap saddles or tack or outfits. Some of the ladies tops alone are 5,000 to 15,000 dollars. So in short you don’t go unless you think you have a really good horse and a really good chance to win.

When we moved to Missouri Ken had a yearling that was pretty promising and when he turned to we sent him to a trainer to get him ready for the show. But something happened that has never happened before. Normally if we want to sell a horse it takes forever, and you lose money on it. But while this yearling was at the trainers not to sell we got a call. The trainer said he had a buyer there for Tyke the yearling, Seems a man had come to look at one of his quarter horses, saw him training Tyke and said he wanted to buy him. He wasn’t even a looking for a paint at the time, The trainer explained to the buyer that Ken did not want to sell him he was there for training. The man insisted the Trainer call Ken to see if he would sell. Unfortunately the buyer was standing right there with the trainer. At first Ken said no, then he asked what he was wanting to pay. The man said name your price. Well the trainer couldn’t say much with a potential client there. So Ken said ask him for 12,000. Thinking he would never go for it. Before we knew what happened that colt was in the mans trailer and a check for 12,000.00 was written.

Both Ken and the trainer started to regret this sale because they thought Tyke had what it took but its hard to pass on that kind of money on a two year old unproven horse. So know Ken had a little cash to upgrade horses and looked for one that was well trained and had plenty of show experience. He found one at Findlay College in Ohio. And that is how Bugz came into our lives. He was a black and white gorgeous horse with an impressive show record. His owner loved him so much she brought him to us herself so she could see where he would be living. And this is the first horse that Ken rode at the World Show but that’s a whole other story.

First Winter

So we were able to move into our bare bones apartment above the barn the first week in February. Once again, the builder and his crew as promised helped move everything back and up the stairs.

Our source of heat and AC was a central air and heat pump system that ended up providing air and heat in the entire barn so the horses were in a climate controlled area too. I am not sure they really know how lucky they have it but they do know when its hot they want to come into the barn.

They also have a wash stall area in the barn with hot and cold water so they get nice warm baths as well year round. I remember when we told the builder we needed a wash area and hot and cold water he could not understand why anyone would wash their horse inside with anything but cold water and further why wash them at all. I think to this day he believed we are crazy.

Well we were in the barn for one week when our area including the only two towns within a 30 minute drive were hit with an ice storm. I am from Florida, never even heard of an ice storm. Was I prepared, absolutely not. Although to my neighbors dismay I did think it was beautiful.

The power went out almost immediately and did not return for any length of time for almost two weeks for some folks. Power out for us meant no water because we have a well, no heat, because we have electric heat and since the well was not pumping no water for the horses either.

So luckily we have a pond we can get water for the horses from the pond right. Ever walked on ice. You cannot stay upright and when you do fall, your on the ground before you even knew you fell. I know that sounds funny but your butt doesnt think so about the 10th fall landing on it.

But we were fairly lucky, our power came on then off in just enough time for the waterers to fill, flush the toilets and sometimes even take a shower. It also stayed on long enough during those intervals we didnt lose much food wise. With no power in the town nearby there was no gas and it was a while before you could even drive. It hit our area pretty hard but I till say it was pretty.

Completion of Barn

We lived in that cozy house until we were able to move into the apartment upstairs. If you remember we hadn’t really been able to see it because there was no staircase installed yet and the builder had told us it would be bare bones.

So we knew we had to buy the cabinets for the kitchen and bathroom and we knew we would have to build the shelving in the closets. He was supplying the interior walls, flooring, electrical outlet, sconce wall lighting and a shower.

When we were finally able to get upstairs we also realized that bare bones did not mean paint on the fiberboard walls. They were left just as fiberboard walls no mud, no paint. I’m not sure if you have ever tried to paint this kind of wall. But it is filled with bumps and cracks. The seams where the boards were matched up left gaps and cracks and every screw hole was a hole. So what I’m saying is there are a lot of imperfections to cover with paint in this type of wall.

Speaking of paint, this little 3 room apartment took several 5 gallon buckets of paint to cover. I’m not sure to this day if we had 3 or 4 coats of paint on those walls before you couldn’t see wood through the paint. What you could see was every tiny imperfection. The paint just changed the color of the walls but you could see every fiber, joint, screw hole, etc.

The next fight was the ceiling. We were told we would have a closed foam ceiling for the best insulation against the metal roof as we had no attic or air space between the roof and our living space.

When the men came to install the closed foam we realized they were blowing it in by hand and letting it dry as it landed. There was no smoothing the surface so it would be level, smooth or even a consistent thickness. It was the ugliest mess for a ceiling I had ever seen.

And so the argument began once again, this was not a livable living space ceiling. Finally it was decided that they would install the left over metal sheeting from the exterior barn walls over the foam creating a metal ceiling. This solution didn’t turn out to badly with the exception they ran out halfway into the bathroom. We had to fashion a drop ceiling on the other half to cover the foam mess.

My idea of sconce wall lighting was very different than the builders. My thought was a glass fixture that mounted on the wall was open at the top similar to a oval or half circle. Something modern made for a homes interior. His idea it turned out was the jelly jar lights you install outside your front door. Oh well at least we had lights.

But the last fight, when we got the final bill to pay, was the toilet. I understand bare bones is no frills but a toilet in my book is an essential part of a living space. We can end this blog with the knowledge that I did not pay for that toilet.

Moving to a real home

When Ken return to Missouri a few days later with a full moving van, we confronted the builder. He had missed his completion date by two months, we were freezing, and we had a van full of furnishing and no place to put them.

He suggested we move to a shabby, Bates motel type establishment, in the area. Obviously this was not the best solution, with no place for our furnishings and with three dogs. Not to mention I was never going to move in there.

Ultimately, I found an older home to rent short-term for less than the hotels daily rate in Koshkonong about 5 minutes away. We, and the we included the contractor and 2 employees, moved into the house on Christmas eve. And as we were moving it started snowing. The snow was beautiful to see having come from Florida, but it was very cold.

But the best part was that we spent Christmas eve, snowing in a nice warm building. It had a shower you could fit in, a washer and dryer, dishwasher, large refrigerator and a real  stove. Best of all we had our furniture we could lay down on the couch or sit in a recliner and relax. Oh and the king size bed with a pillow top mattress.

All these thing we take for granted every day. But when you live in a tiny horse trailer, with its tiny stove, shower and bed (wet bed) and no dishwasher or oven, when you have them again it’s like heaven on earth. And so our first Christmas in Missouri was comfortable and restful. And it snowed all night and we didn’t worry or care just enjoyed the sight.