Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Well, this has not been the most enjoyable Christmas season for us. We have ALL been sick! Ted and Kate got sick 2 weeks before Christmas with a stomach flu, the kind where you spend a lot of time in the bathroom! Then the very week before Christmas, Jes, Claire, and I got it. What fun! NONE of my boxes got mailed, the cards didn't get mailed till Friday, and I barely got my shopping done. We never did get lights up on the outside of the house. Sorry ClarieAnna! Josh was lucky enough to come down with this flu on Christmas Eve, at work. He toughed it out till the lunch rush was over, then they sent him home. (Ewe! I'm glad I wasn't eating there!) On top of it all, Jes is suffering from a diseased gall bladder. She has had terrible pain everyday this last week and can't eat ANYTHING with fat in it. We have been on the verge of taking her to the emergency room all week and actually had to page her surgeon Christmas eve and Christmas day with questions!

Here is a rundown of the fun we did have, in spite of ourselves. Grama Beiswenger came to visit ( the week of Dec. 8th ) and we opened gifts with her and made cut out cookies as usual. Here's Claire before the gifts were dolled out.

We were lucky enough to have Lily join us this year. It is our first year to have a significant other in the family. She is Josh's girlfriend.
The girls picked out a nice new purse for Grama, one she needed BADLY! Hehe.
Grama gave Kate a winter coat for Maximum!
Christmas eve we always spend with Ted's family. Jes and Josh were both too sick to attend. With all the trauma going on, I didn't think to take my camera, so no pictures of that night.

Christmas morning is always just us. Josh and Jes spent the night and it was nice for Mama to have the whole family together for so long. It just feels good, you know!
Jes had a job interview in early December and asked for clothes, a purse and new shoes for Christmas, all of which she got then. She got an Apple laptop and all the accessories for her college graduation on the 15th. So she ended up with only her gifts from the kids to open Christmas morning. It so happened that they went in together to get her something, so here she is, holding up her ONLY Christmas gift to open, and looking a little unhappy about it!
ClaireAnna has been begging for a Nintendo DS for months and she finally scored!
The kids and I decided that we must have 20 pictures from the last 20 years of Dad just like this on Christmas morning leaned back in his recliner trying to hide from the camera because of his bed head.
After gifts, it's Christmas breakfast...always the same....Biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon and sausage. Jes couldn't eat it. Josh ate it but shouldn't have. He spent the rest of the day laying on Claire's bed moaning and groaning ( in between bathroom runs). The rest of us took naps, watched movies and played with new stuff. Later, we all decided that nobody needed a big Christmas dinner so I was off the hook for that and we had a FFYS night; There were lots of Christmas Eve left overs and goodies. (Fend For Your Self)

At about 4PM, Ted and I headed out to do evening chores together and found "Nikie", a new heifer, pacing the corral in labor. Her cute little Christmas day calf was born about 10PM! Isn't she a doll? She was having a hard time nursing this morning so Ted's Dad put Nikie in the chute and hand milked her, then Kate and I stomach tubed the baby, just to be sure she got enough colostrum. Her name is Noel!

Another Christmas snowed like this for about 5 minutes this morning.
The worst part about Christmas this year, except for the illnesses, is that for the first time as far as we can remember, Ted has to work the days between the Holidays. He has ALWAYS had that week off and I am used it! ARG! I think the girls and I will go spend lunch with him tomorrow.

Well, Jes had lab tests today and sees the surgeon again on Friday. She will have her gall bladder out early January, if she makes it that long. Right now, she is jaundiced and can't sleep because of itchy skin....both symtoms of gall bladder disease. Say a prayer for her if you will.

We hope you all had a lovely Christmas day with your loved ones. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Quack, Quack

This spring, we bought a batch of mixed breed day old ducklings. Mostly just for fun for ClaireAnna. She already raises two breeds of ducks ( White Calls and Mandarins) , but they are flying ducks and must be kept in an enclosure. We wanted some ducks that could just wander the barnyard and be cute! We also got a gosling. We raised them in a horse stall till they were mostly feathered out and fed them only by hand so they would be friendly. Once they were old enough, we started letting them out during the day and putting them back in the stall at night. Here they are as juveniles, enjoying a swim, a stroll and a bucket of grain and not caring at all that they are being stalked by Thunder.
Ted ( with help from us girls) built the ducks a large pen, part of which runs under the barn shed. Now they are let out to wander the barnyard all day, and put into the pen at night with the llama for protection. Unfortunately, we lost our goose to predators one night when he was left out of the pen. Now, we are more careful to make sure EVERYONE gets locked up before dark. Here they all are in the pen.
We ended up with two Mallards, 1 white Pekin, 1 black Cayuga, three Cresteds and a pair of Anconas. ClaireAnna showed most of her ducks at the county fair and won Grand Champion with that big black Cayuga in the middle of the picture. The ducks are just funny as can be. They charge out of their pen in the morning in search of the freshest grubs and crickets. Then they wander into the barn and take a nap in the hay. They find every mud puddle to waddle in and take long walks out into the pasture. But as soon as they hear us come down to the barn for evening chores, they will start quacking away and head back to their pen. We let them eat their fill ( 50% layer pellets, 50% cracked corn) , then lock them up with Chimi, their guard llama for the night. Below is the Ancona hen, "Piper", with the gray creasted, "Don King", in the background.

Some time this summer, our ducks started laying eggs. We ended up with 3 males and 7 females. Eventually, we were getting 5 eggs a day from the 7 females and they continued like that up until just a week ago. Most of the ducks lay white eggs, but our mallard hens lay the cutest light green eggs. After some research, I learned that ducks can be as prolific egg layers as chickens and their eggs are quite edible and delicious. We eat them regularly. Just look at that beautiful basket full of duck eggs! I've advertised the eggs for sale in our homeschool group newsletter and have two families who've ordered a dozen a week. Now, as soon as the days get a little longer and the ducks start laying again, I'll be able to fill those orders!

Maximum the Minimum

We had to take my filly to the vet last week and while we were paying our bill, we had a little casual conversation.

Vet: "Want a puppy? I've got a couple cute ones for give away."
Lisa: "NO!"
Kate: "What kind?"
Vet: "A Chihuahua for one."
Lisa: "NO!"
Kate: " How old is it?"
Vet: "He's about a year."
Lisa: "NO!"
Kate: "Is he friendly?"
Vet: "Sure!
Lisa: "NO!"
Kate: "Can we see him."
Vet: "Sure, just a sec."
Lisa: "NO!"
Vet: "Here he is, his name is Prince."
Kate: "Oh, he's so cute! Please!"
(hideous pout in mom's direction)
Lisa: "Dad would kill me!"
Vet: "He's free!"

It turns out "Prince" broke his leg when he was 4 months old. His owner brought him in and relinquished him to our vet, Dr. Hawkins. So, Dr. Hawkins fixed up his leg and has had him ever since. He has lived at the clinic for the last 6 months, he is neutered and has all his shots. He is very quiet and friendly. They have too many dogs that have just found their way to the clinic ( he sort of just takes them in ) so Dr. Hawkins was trying to find homes for a couple of them. We left with out the dog, but when Dad got home, the pouts went in his direction and after a little cajoling and promises from Kate, he caved. We went back and picked up this cute little guy. Here he is in one of his "outfits".

Kate felt he needed a more empowering name then "Prince" so it was changed to "Maximum". Quite a title for a 4 lb pup who wears clothes! At least this outfit is masculine! He seems tiny to us, and is very small boned, but I think he is a little long legged for a Chihuahua. We like his longer, wispy hair and his foxy ears. :)

So, now "Maxie" ( ahem...a nickname that does NOT conjure up thoughts of masculinity ) is Kate's constant companion. He is either in her arms, on her bed, or in his crate in her room. He is sweet, patient with ClaireAnna, playful and just lots of fun. The best part is, he doesn't bark! Which means Dad will be able to put up with him. Merry Christmas Kate!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


One of the first things I did when we moved here was to start looking for a pony for Claire. I searched the paper and the Internet and finally found a beautiful paint pony on for sale in Branson, MO. I called the guy and he said that someone was already on their way to buy her. She was the most beautiful pony I had ever seen and I wasn't giving up. I asked where they were coming from and he said pretty far away. I asked him if I got there first with cash, could I buy her. He said, "First $750 in my hand takes her home. I got in my car that instant. There was no time to borrow a trailer (we didn't have our own at the time) , we would have to go get her later, but I was going to be the first one to get the money in that guy's hand! It's normally a 3 hour trip to Branson. Let's just say I got there quicker then that!
We were told Cindy was 4 years old and broke to ride. The guy said his 11 year old daughter had been riding her and now wanted a "big" horse. Cindy is a large pony, standing 13.2 H, just 4 inches shorter then official horse size, but she is still a pony. Anyway, I didn't care what she was trained to do, all I wanted was a pretty pony for a 3 year old girl to sit on while I walked her around. She seemed to have a quiet disposition, so I paid the guy and Ted borrowed Uncle Charles' trailer and picked her up the next weekend.

Claire and Cindy fell in love. This girl loves this pony like nothing else. And Cindy will actually follow ClaireAnna around the pasture looking for scratches or treats. She has been a wonderful lead line pony with a fantastic disposition and Claire, Cindy and I have spent hours walking all over the farm. After a couple of years, we started using Cindy more to get her ready for Claire learning to ride her. We had some older 4-H girls show her and ride her. She always did great. But the funny thing is, she didn't seem to know much, training wise and she didn't seem used to the bit at all. I eventually started ponying Claire and Cindy. That means I let ClaireAnna ride Cindy, while I rode my horse and held on to them with a lead rope. We had many trail rides like that and Cindy always behaved very well. Below is Claire and Cindy at a 4-H play day. Claire was still too young to be in 4-H but they let me lead her through the classes anyway, just for fun.

Eventually, I had the thought that someday, when ClaireAnna outgrows Cindy, her next horse should be Cindy's foal. I know it is a ridiculously romantic idea, but it would also be really cool. So I took Cindy to the vet to make sure she was healthy enough to breed. That is when we found out the truth about Cindy. The vet told me she was only just then turning 4 years old. We had already had her for over 2 years which means that when we bought her, she was barely 2 years old. That also means that she was never trained to any extent - the guy had lied. We realized how much she had filled out since we got her too. That blue halter in the first picture didn't fit her head anymore. She was just a baby when we got her and we didn't even know it. That also means that her disposition was even better then we thought. To be a wonderful child's pony at such a young age with so little training is just amazing. We began to love her all the more.

Well, the vet gave Cindy the green light for breeding and I found a stallion a couple of hours away. He is Smart Stinger, a cutting bred stallion with a fantastic pedigree, a cute little athletic body, a great personality and gorgeous color. He is a 14.3 H and should produce a large pony/ small horse with Cindy around 14 to 14.1 H. You can read about him at and about his sire, the famous Color Me Smart at . We bred Cindy to Stinger in the spring of 2006. She was due to have a foal along with all the other mares last spring. Unfortunately, Cindy aborted her foal early that winter. She has been rebred and is now fat and pregnant and doing well. The vet says there is no reason to think she will abort again. Its just something that happens and probably won't this time. We are keeping our fingers crossed. Here is ClaireAnna on Stinger on one of our trips to pick up Cindy after breeding. Gary, his owner, has taken to Claire and is just as determined to get this little girl a foal of her own as I am! He loves Cindy too, well, because everyone loves Cindy!

Cindy will live with us forever. She will be the pony my grand kids learn to ride on. We plan to send her for some training once her foal is weaned next fall and Claire will start showing on her after that. As Claire grows, Cindy's foal will too and when he's ready, (we're hoping for a boy) we will have him trained for barrels and poles and ClaireAnna will be able to ride Cindy's baby on into her teen years. Romantic I know, but so cool!

One Down, Three To Go! ( Jes's Graduation)

Thrilled, Proud, Excited, Grateful, Relieved, Blessed....
This is how I felt last Saturday as I watched Jes receive her College diploma!
Wow! What a day.
You did it Jessi! You are AWESOME!!!

Jes has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing with a minor in psychology.

She Cut It All Off!

It was all her idea! She wanted to cut her hair, that beautiful, long hair that Daddy loved and everyone complimented her on. She had the longest hair of any girl she knew. But she wanted to cut it. So off we went to the salon.

We carefully measured 11 inches, wrapped it in 2 pony tail holders and.......

We packed the pony tail in a zip lock bag, then in a padded envelope.......

And mailed it off to Pantene Beautiful Lengths to be used to make wigs for cancer patients.

Then she asked me, "How long do you think it will take me to grow it that long again?"

Te Totally Mine

Here is the story of how we acquired Te Totally Mine and her new life at Harmon PFarms. To learn why we bought her, see my previous post.

One of my vet's clients was an older gentleman who's stallion had just died and had decided to sell his broodmares and retire from breeding. One of the broodmares was Te Totally Mine. She is an American Quarter Horse, (AQHA). The guy had owned "Te" for 10 years and she had produced many foals for him. He told us that she had been a broodmare for her previous owner also and had never been broke to ride. She was 17 years old, blind in one eye and didn't like being caught. He herded her into a paddock for us to see. She did have a foal on her side, so we knew she was still producing. We didn't like her color, ( chestnut just isn't our favorite) but she was healthy and had a beautiful coppery sheen to her coat. We didn't mind too much that she couldn't be caught since we just planned to breed her, get our baby from her and then sell her. The best things about Te were her pedigree, which matched up great with Conclusive Mister's, and her conformation, not as nice as Missy, but decent. Here she is the day we first saw her.

Te's owner offered her to us, with her foal, for $600. How could we go wrong? Here she is below with her foal that same day. We brought them home and put Te out with the other horses to adjust to her new life. We weaned the foal, who had never been touched by human hands, and started working with her. (I will tell her story in a different post.) Te settled down to life at Harmon PFarms. She was quite skittish at first and would not come in the paddocks if we were near. She WAS impossible to catch. We bred her once in June to Conclusive Mister ( artificially inseminated with shipped semen ) and she didn't take. It was too late in the season to get another shipment so the only option is to wait till 2008 and try again.

Te was left to graze at her leisure. However, as the weeks passed, she started to be more comfortable around us. We caught her a couple of times, ( tricked her with a bucked of grain ) and brushed her. We were surprised how gentle she was once she had a halter on. She stood for her grooming like an old show horse pro. Kate felt that Te's manners and attitude were evidence that at one time in her life she must have been worked with more then we had been told. She decided to tack her up and see what happened. Te lowered her head and accepted the bit and bridle. She didn't flinch when Kate saddled her and tightened the girth! On another day, I took out the clippers and Te lowered her head and allowed me to clip her bridle path. Now we were convinced that she had been broke. Kate wanted to ride her, but I was too nervous to let her, so we took Te to Circle C and paid the trainer there to test her out. She passed with flying colors. She had obviously been trained and ridden in her younger years.
A few days later, ( this was in November) we saddled Te up for her first trail ride in at least 12 years. I rode Missy and Kate bravely rode Te. Some horses that are blind in one eye are skittish or spooky on the trail. Not TE! We rode her for over an hour, through the fields and woods, over the creek and logs. She was AWESOME and seemed to actually be enjoying herself. She didn't slowly follow behind Missy, (Missy is the slowest walking horse in the world!), but took the lead and stepped out with gusto.

Kate plans to ride Te quite a bit this winter and perhaps have her back in the swing of things enough for us to be able to let some of the 4-Hers ride her this spring. She will need a little proofing before that, but we think she will be fine. I decided that since Te was going to be a riding horse, she would need to learn to be caught easily. I read up on some training techniques and worked with Te for several days. She now WALKS UP TO ME in the paddocks to get her halter on! Te may be older, now 18, but she is a galloping fool in the pasture with the other horses and shows no signs of arthritis or any other health problems. I am sure we will have her for a good long time. Her personality has just blossomed and she is a sweet, personable horse!What a great deal for $600!

A Tragedy in the Horse Barn

This is Missy, an American Quarter Horse. She is the second horse we acquired when we moved to the farm. She was bought as Kate's first horse and served her well for the first 2 years while Kate gained her confidence and learned to ride. Kate has since moved on to Jazz and Missy has become our dependable, anyone-can-ride horse for guests. She is definitely our best quality mare, pedigree and conformation wise, and by far our largest horse. She is HUGE; 15.2 H tall, with big bones and bulky muscles. In the spring of 2006, Ted decided he would breed Missy to a stallion of his choice and keep the baby for himself. Ted picked Conclusive Mister ( below) a champion halter stallion. He is an (American Paint Horse) APHA buckskin overo. What a handsome guy!

Overo is a color pattern. Those beautiful white blotches on Conclusive Mister's body are caused by the Lethal White Overo color gene. It is called that because if a horse is heterozygous for the LWO gene, ( has 1 copy of the gene from 1 parent), it will usually have the spot pattern, but if it is homozygous for the gene, ( has 2 copies of the gene, 1 from each parent), it will be a Lethal White - a totally white foal with a deformed digestive tract that will die within hours of birth. In this case, homozygosity is 100% lethal. This is usually no problem because breeders simply breed LWO carriers to non carriers. If you remember your high school biology, you can only get homozygosity if BOTH parents carry the gene. However, even if you do breed two LWO carriers together, you only have a 25% chance of producing a lethal white foal. ( remember Punnett squares?)

Well, what we didn't know is that Missy, our beautiful solid bay quarter horse, is "secretly" a "Paint" and carries the LWO gene. We found this out one sad May night, when Missy produced a beautiful, but pure white colt. We were simply shocked and heart broken. Lethal Whites are born perfectly healthy, but once they start to ingest milk, become colicky and eventually die. Within hours of birth, this sad little boy began to have gut pain and gastric discharge out of his nose, proof that he was indeed a lethal white foal. We had him euthanized that day. His name was Casper.

Well, once we were over the shock, we had to decide what to do. In our breeding contract with Conclusive Mister, we have what's called a "live foal guarantee." That means that the stallion owners owed us another breeding for free. The problem is, we couldn't re breed Missy and risk producing another lethal white foal. We had no other mare with the right type of pedigree. So we started searching for a broodmare to substitute. My vet recommended an older mare she knew was for sale. I'll tell her story in my next post!

December 4-H and Homeschool Stuff

Warning: Some of the pictures in this post were taken with a disposable camera and then scanned into the computer. They are terrible! ( I left my camera at the Circle C for a couple of weeks but I did get it back. )

This is The Nina II, an exact replica of the original Nina ( as close as they can come) sailed by Christopher Columbus. Some guys built it and now sail it around the world as a floating museum. They sailed up the Arkansas River in December and we cought them in Fort Smith. Below are the girls with our homeschool group touring the ship. This ship was used in the making of the move "1492". Neat. You can learn more about it here.

This is our third year riding in the Russellville Christmas Parade with the Wrangler's 4-H horse club, but ClaireAnna's first. Kate rode Missy and Claire rode Cindy. They decorated thier horses with ribbons and bells and rode through the down town streets, waving at the crowds. ClaireAnna got lot's of attention since she was the youngest rider and also had the prettiest horse (we think, anyway!). Everyone waved at her and called to her. Her reaction? "I'm lov'in this! Why didn't you bring me here last year?" ( None of the pictures of Kate and Missy turned out)

Both our homeschool group and the Pope County 4-H decorated community Christmas trees downtown.
ClaireAnna with homeschool friends Erica and Emily.
Here is ClaireAnna in the Christmas program put on by her homeschool co-op music class.

ClaireAnna with a homeschool friend and Miss Shirley, the music teacher.