Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Brief Hiatus

Once again, I have to take a brief hiatus from the blog due to a work commitment. It's the last big one of the summer, and I am looking forward to NOT working 18 hour days 7 days a week...after the next two weeks. Since the Uganda trip it's been non-stop work, cutting down on blog time, but the end is in sight...and so is the Madagascar trip.

While away I leave you with this picture of baby Lizzie. While she is now three, she was born in a time when I was also this busy, and it is a great regret of mine I didn't make more time to enjoy her growing up. I don't have enough baby pictures or memories - but those I do have I cherish. It was love at first sight with Lizzie. As she lays on the bed now, her striped tummy much larger, I am reminded how great pets are and how lucky I am.

So, as Pooh would say, "Bizy Backson."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dog Agility

Australian Shepherds are very good at agility, so I wanted to try it with mine. They are smart, and of course they get why not try an activity they might like that would give us something fun to do together? Agility on television looked like something we could manage and enjoy with training and practice, so despite having no experience and knowing no one who did agility, we decided to give it a try.

It took awhile to find a trainer in Boise, but we did, and we are very happy with her. She has Dogs A'Flying agility in Eagle, Idaho and a great course in her back yard. The dogs love running the obstacles, and I love it too. When they get something right, it's a ton of fun to celebrate with them it's as close as I'll come to seeing my kid graduate from college or participate in a school play. So far, we can't run a whole course, but we can do five consecutive pieces of equipment. Callie excels at this, but surprisingly, so does Simon. He avoids the tunnel (picture of him doing so above) but generally speaking does better in agility than basic obedience. Callie listens for the command or watches me like a hawk to see what is next and I love watching her think things through.

I highly recommend giving agility a try. It's a great family activity - much better in my mind than just dog obedience training. The dogs genuinely seem to look forward to it. Since I get more than enough competition at work, I don't plan to do it competitively, but it would be fun to one day run a full course.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Idaho is famous for its whitewater rafting. Not being a very adept rafter myself, I prefer to go with a guide. It would be a shame to live near all this great rafting and not partake of it, so I make sure that at least once a year we take a half day trip on the lower South Fork of the Payette River. It's 45 minutes from Boise to Cascade Raft and Kayak. There, for $50, you can have a guide take you and your party (and maybe a few others) down the river.

The South Fork has class III and class IV rapids, but they are not too daunting for novices if you are able to operate a paddle. It might be too frightening for senior citizens unless they are very fit, but generally I think most people could do it fine. If in doubt, call and ask one of the local rafting companies that does that stretch of the river.

Recently there was a tragic death of a veteran guide on this stretch of the river, in a class IV rapid called the Staircase. I've done that rapid several times, including this past week, and I couldn't help but think about him. At least he died doing what he loved...but I wonder if the crew didn't paddle as instructed and flipped the raft, or what went wrong. Apparently he got trapped in rocks and drowned before he could be rescued. Many, many tragedies happen in all walks of life though - don't let this one deter you from this stretch of the river. That guide died doing what he loved and he loved it for a reason - rafting is exhilarating and the scenery is gorgeous.

Another nice thing about Boise is that you can float the Boise River on your own raft or inner tube without a guide on hot days. You go to Barber Park and then float down to a take out in Ann Morrison Park. It is a great way to spend a few hours and I hope to squeeze it in this year before it's too late.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Riding Esmae

At long last, meet Esmae, who this blog is named after. Esmae is a gorgeous Arabian horse, and an Eqyptian Al Khamsa. That doesn't mean much to me....I bought her because it was love at first sight - hers. When she was six months old I was visiting a friend's horse at a local ranch, and Esmae saw me and started running back and forth and going nuts. She instantly caught my eye too, and we never could tear ourselves away from each other after that. I didn't want my first horse to be a baby Arabian who was not at all trained and had a LOT of spirit...but I was ready for a horse and none made the connection she did in that first instant. So, when she was eleven months old, she came home to be with me for the rest of her life.

She's very possessive of me and used to chase other horses away from me, even biting them. She's super competitive and likes to be first in any trail ride whenever she can manage it. She and I have had a lot of learning experiences together since I never trained a horse before and I am only an intermediate rider. She goes to trainers periodically to further her education, and she is doing wonderfully. I take her out to ride as often as I can, which is not nearly as often as I would like it to be. I like nothing better on this earth than riding with Esmae.

This is a picture of her tacked up for our morning ride this morning in Eagle, Idaho. We rode up to a rocky canyon and looked across at the hawks, the birds and the ground squirrels. It was a great ride and I look forward to the next one, though it will likely have to be a few weeks away due to another big work project I have to push through.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Deer & Hummingbirds

This week's camping spot was north of Soldier Mountain off a small forest service road, 227. Past Arrowhead Rock there's a veer in the road with old mines marked on the map. We found a nice spot with water and relative isolation.

On the way home this morning we saw three deer close to the road. Above is a shot of a doe, who stood and looked at us for awhile. On the way home we stopped for coffee at a place in the middle of nowhere which had numerous hummingbird feeders and at least a dozen hummingbirds.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Buster's ER Visit

I went horseback riding this Sunday with a friend, and it was our best ride of the season so far. Though we only went 5 miles or so, we did more trotting than we have before and the the horses did great on everything asked of them. As always, at the end of the ride the horses got checked over, and we rinsed them off and let them go graze.

Last night, my farrier came and found a nail in Buster's foot. Buster is an easy-going red quarterhorse, and he wasn't happy about having that nail touched. I assumed we'd just pull it, but the farrier said we didn't dare without a vet telling him to, as once you take it out you can never determine where it was and how far it went, what structures it hit and whether it got to the bone. Infections could develop, and it could result in lameness or even a fatality. That got my attention.

After numerous calls to track down an after hours equine vet (as the emergency number at the clinic wasn't working) I finally ran one down. We had to trailer Buster out to the ER to get weighed, x-rayed, examined, get the nail out, and get an iodine wash and a poultice. (They use diapers to keep the poultice on, which is a nice touch...fastened with duct tape). He is expected to make a full recovery, but has to be confined for 7 days and have antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory.

In five years, this is Buster's first ER visit. Esmae my mare, has the market on accidents it seems. Turns out she is a better patient; Buster doesn't like to take medicine. Fortunately he is not quite as smart as Esmae so I was able to trick him into the second dose this morning by slathering the pills in corn syrup and feeing with some grain.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Perfect Campsite

Friday I was desperate to escape the heat of the City, the noise, and the people. On the spur of the moment we set out to try to find a camping spot in a remote area where we could have some peace and quiet.

We took Highway 55 towards Lowman from Boise, but the trailhead we were going to try and seek out was closed off. So, we went further and ended up in Lowman, then on Forest Service Road 364. I wasn't sure what to expect as there was a campground marked on the map (and we never stay at campgrounds, yuk). What we found were wonderful small, private campsites - no not a developed campground. The first one we came to was too near the road to let the dogs run free without worry. The second one was the PERFECT Idaho campsite.

It offered a stream with a lot of water, and both rocky overlooks and a small, sandy beach with a small trail down to it. It had a soft, level, pine needle padded tent site, a fire pit (though we didn't use it), and it was isolated enough from the road not to be seen. The sound of the water was soothing and the temperature of the evening/night was excellent.

I was surprised at the lush forest undergrowth. There were lots of ferns, brush and wildflowers in addition to pine trees. The river banks had lovely moss covered rocks and overall it offered a perfect Idaho scene. Less than two hours from Boise, it was a great escape.

We spent evening cozy in the tent with the dogs; while they dried off from swimming the river we played cards. It was the best night's sleep I've had in weeks. And, it was close enough to Boise that we got up when it was light and headed home in time to make Farmer's Market on Saturday morning downtown. Idaho is just a staggeringly great place to live.