Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Flooded Fields Are Not Fun

Since I knew nothing about taking care of horses before spending time at SHHS, I could write daily blog posts just on that topic.  Some lessons are pretty minor in the daily scope of things and some are major.  Flooded Fields Are Not Fun would fell closer to the major end of the spectrum in my book.  It just makes everything you go to do, that much harder when you deal with lots of water and really deep mud.
I'm not a fan to say the least.  Yes, the grass is nice and green.  Yes, we always need rain in Florida so I am grateful for it.  But I'm tired of trying to take steps forward only to discover I left my boot behind in the mud.  I'd like a happy medium please!  The wind is not so pleasant either.  It does make for nice, dramatic manes and tails for pictures though so there is that.  Along those lines, I have found that I love my smart phone when I'm out working here.  I can capture so much more than if I had to wait until I had the real camera out!
I was able to grab this shot simply because I had my phone in my pocket.
Then I was able to share it with the world instantly via Instagram and Facebook.  Gotta love the digital age for those kinds of things! 

See how quickly I can get distracted and go from whining to joy?  Dallas understands that trait since he tends to shift fairly quickly along with me!

Living the life in rainy FL!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Visitor in our Front Yard

Well, not technically in our front yard.  More like our extended side yard.  This guy was trying to hide out and not be seen by us.  He was a smallish gator, maybe four feet or so.  Nathan was able to grab some shots of him before he swam away.
It always cracks me up when people ask me if there are alligators in the river here.  This is the equivalent to asking me if it will get hot in the summer.  We are in Florida and it is water.  There will be alligators.  We rarely see them from land though so it is nice when we can get some pictures of them.
I am probably making my mother-in-law very nervous by now, so I'll quit for today.

Living the life in gatorville Florida!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Swimming With the Manatees Part Two

We have had more than one person who did a manatee tour tell us it was amazing.  Amazing is a word I like to reserve for things that are truly amazing so I wanted to see for myself if I thought it earned that adjective.  It definitely did.
This was not only my first time interacting with manatees, it was the first time I went snorkeling.  I had some concerns about this.  I have a bit of a fear of underwater activities, especially ones that include moving things in the water.  That part ended up being fine with some deep breathing.  What wasn't fine was the fact I was snorkel retarded and did not have my mask adjusted correctly so I kept getting water in my mask.  Once I resolved that issue, it was a blast!  Nathan is a pro, so he already knew how to do all of this.
We ended up interacting with several manatees over our three hour tour.  To be up close and touching the manatees was amazing.  Really amazing.  I'm on the left here.
Nathan was usually the first one to the manatees so he had lots of touch time with them.  Since he did so well with that, I asked him to take the pictures for us.
I couldn't handle doing the pictures but I did the touching the manatees just fine.
Nathan had one of the manatees swim right underneath him.
At one point, the tour guide asked me what I thought.  Here I am taking out my mouthpiece so I can tell him, "It's awesome!"
And it was.  This is one of the neatest things we've done in a long time.  I highly recommend doing the tour if you do get a chance. 

Living the life in Florida!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flying Tigers Babeball Game

 We planned to do baseball games as part of our entertainment this summer.  Because I have been tied up with other things, that has not happened until this week.  I hope we find our way there more often than we've managed so far because it was a lot of fun.

The stadium we visited is the same one that the Detroit Tigers do their spring training at.  Which means the Michiganders visit this place.  Which means I get to talk to people who have the same "accent" as I do.  And I meet people like the guy who was on the school board of the high school I attended.
I also like hanging out with people that like baseball.  Not that I'm a huge fan of baseball myself, but I like people that can still be entertained by things like baseball.  And I like to see the talented players.  Even if I kept asking Nathan if this particular group was 12-16 years old or was I just getting old(er).  Seriously they all looked like babies to me.  As in same age as "my" baby who is 17. 
It was a pretty uneventful game until the end, and then the Flying Tigers made us proud.
This was my favorite moment of the night, when a three year old ran the bases in a race against the mascots:
Living the life in not so sunny right now Florida!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sixteen Hands Horse Sanctuary

Back in 2009, thanks to my niece Lauren, we stumbled across a horse sanctuary.  Diana asked that day if I minded if we stopped to check it out for Lauren's sake.  I did not mind at all.  We got out, talked to someone and made a decision to come out for a day to do some work.  I blogged about that day  here: Helping at the Horse Refuge.   What I did not know that day was how much the place would stick with me and draw me back for more.
Last year, as soon as I realized that we were in fact going to stay in one spot for a bit and that my last child was leaving home, I decided I'd better find something to do that would help me adjust to both things.  I remembered how much I loved the "feel" of Sixteen Hands and started there.  Then a series of health issues and a computer crash halted my attempt.  Still, I knew I needed to get going with something or it would potentially be a very ugly scene when Austin did in fact move out.  I thought maybe I should find something closer, something I had experience with, something that fit our lives when we started moving around again.  So I looked around at my options.  And kept coming back to Sixteen Hands.  I'd tell Nathan that I still wanted to do it.  But just did not get around to doing what I had to do to make it actually happen.
The first week I set up a booth for Thousand Trails at Friday Night Live in Wauchula, I see the lady next to us setting out items with horses on them.  I say to Nathan, "I still want to do volunteering at Sixteen Hands" and then set out to go be friendly and talk to my neighbors just to make nice.  I get to the front of the booth and am shocked to see it is Sixteen Hands.  I most likely overwhelmed them with my excitement as I talked to Robin and Diane.  I get the information again and this time, I know I'm going to follow through no matter what.  I do.  And the rest, as they say, is history.
 I always knew I liked horses, but was not what I'd consider a "horse person".  I wasn't obsessed with them like my niece Lauren or my Mom.  I thought I'd enjoy being around horses.  I had no idea I'd fall head over heels in love with them though.  Or that I'd want to spend as much free time as possible with them.  Or that I'd talk endlessly about them until poor Nathan's eyes rolled back into his head from sheer boredom.
I still love the 'feel" of Sixteen Hands.  Probably more so than our first visit, because I know all that is involved with what creates and preserves that peaceful environment.  I'm honored that they let me come out, completely green and stupid in all ways, and so patiently allowed me to find my way during this new chapter in my life.  I'm guessing you will see lots about the horses and SHHS because it is where I spend a good bit of my time while we are temporarily planted!

Living the life in FL!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Cows Are Out

As a child I lived in farm country long enough to hear the phrase "The cows are out" plenty of times.  We lived on a pig farm for a bit and we also learned to hear and say, "the pigs are out" with equal parts frustration and weariness.  So I don't find it odd that each time I drive down a certain road here, there is a cow on the side of the road.  This cow is always in the same spot, close by the fence and not looking like it is going to move for anything.

Today, once I got past that cow I encountered a different cow.  This one was not so much on the side of the road and near the fence.  This one was running away from home.
As I crept closer, he moved in to check me out.  I think he was contemplating whether or not he could hitch a ride with me.  Like maybe if we put the top down, he'd fit just fine.
I decided that it might be best to just put the car in park and sit there until he decided what he wanted to do.  I also decided that was just fine because there were horses in the field and I could take pictures of them.
I start to think this time spent sitting there in the road is just fine with me.  I was getting to talk to horses and that is always a good thing.  I was so distracted by the beauty of the horses that I lost track of what my buddy the cow is doing.  Until I see this in my camera lens:
Turns out he did not want a ride after all, he thought he was a super star and I was the paparazzi.  I completely confused him when I was taking pictures of the horses instead of him.  As soon as I took some more pictures of him, he started off down the road in search of other groupies or cameramen.

Living the life in Cowville Florida!