What Next?

I would imagine all farriers have some war stories to tell. The following is one of mine. No names are mentioned to protect the innocent.

Some years back I had just finished supper and the phone rang. It was a lady who wanted me to shoe her horse. She said a friend had recommended me. She told me that she had bought her first horse and was new to horses. Now I am not knocking first time horse owners but through my experience with them it was like the doctor telling me I only had a week to live.

She said that a friend had told her that “hot shoeing” a horse was the only way to do it and asked if I “hot shod”? I said yes ma’am and I set an appointment for her.

The day finally arrived and I showed up on time only to find that the horse was in the pasture. She apologized and grabbed the halter to go catch it. What followed looked like a scene from the Keystone Cops! I watched with amusement as this horse played her like a fine fiddle until I could “takes no more” and took the halter and caught the wild beast.

I began trimming the horse and got the shoe I needed. I placed it on the hoof to see what adjustments were needed for a correct fit. I placed the shoe in the forge and started to trim the other front foot as the shoe heated up.

I took the hot shoe and shaped it on the anvil and once shoe was shaped correctly I placed it back in the forge. This is where it gets good. I took the shoe to the foot and began to burn it on. Well if you have never seen a hot shoe on a hoof let me tell you, the smoke rolls and the aroma of burnt hoof is not the most pleasant smell that will ever reach your nostrils.

The lady begins screaming at me using words that would make a sailor blush. The horse becomes spooked and I am trying to get out from underneath it without ending up on the ground. This whole time I am holding a hot shoe that would leave a permanent horseshoe brand on any flesh, man or horse, that it touched. I was successful at staying on my feet and not branding anything. Then the owner proceeds to tell me to gather my things and get off her property. I gladly obliged.

That night I received a phone call. Yep you guessed it. The new horse owner. She immediately began apologizing and admitted she didn’t really know what “hot shoeing” was and got scared when she saw the smoke and smelt the burning hoof, even though I had already explained it to her. Drum roll; she then asked if we could reschedule. Let’s see now, I told her to have the horse caught up, which she hadn’t done and I explained to her how “hot shoeing” works but obviously wasn’t listening or didn’t believe me. Now I believe in giving second chances unless there is a great chance that I could get hurt. Maybe I am crude and rude but without saying a word I hung up on her. Maybe not good business practice but this client I don’t think I was going to be able to “charge her til I liked her”.

My beloved Kate. RIP

A Little Farrier Humor

First let me make it clear the names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

A young man had bought a grade horse and was obsessed with finding out exactly how old the horse was to the point he became very annoying.

Now Bubba had been told by the sellers it was twenty one years old. Someone made the mistake of telling him that the sellers were known for not telling the truth. Now Bubba was convinced his horse was close to thirty. He asked the vet to age him by looking at his teeth. Vet said as near as he could tell the horse was in his twenties.

One morning while I was in the barn shoeing horses he began his rant of not knowing exactly how old his horse was. I wasn’t having a good morning. A horse had pulled its foot back at the same time the nail exited the hoof and sliced my finger. Billy Bob, who worked at the barn, was holding horses and fetching them for me.

Well Bubba just went on and on and I had had enough. I said there is one sure fire way you could get close. You know how a tree is aged by its rings? Well a horse grows an anal ring every five years so if it has four rings it is between twenty and twenty five. At this point Billy Bob almost choked on his tobacco. Billy Bob said that’s right. I had forgot about that method.

Well Bubba told us we were full of it and walked off. I never gave it another thought. I was sure he knew I was being sarcastic.

I was under a horse prepping the hoof for a shoe. Meanwhile Bubba had pulled his horse out of the stall and was grooming him. I was checking the shoe fit when Billy Bob said you have to see this and was laughing hysterically. I set the foot down and looked in the direction of Bubba.

I looked on in disbelief. Bubba was holding the tail with one hand and with the finger of the other hand he was opening the business end of the horse with his face just inches away. Bubba and I were laughing so hard we had tears running down our cheeks.

I guess Bubba heard us and dropped its tail and judging by what he was saying to us it was a safe bet we were no longer on his Christmas card list. He didn’t talk to us for months and to my knowledge never asked anyone how old they thought his horse was.

Let me tell you. It was quite a sight to see. I still laugh when I think about it. I never thought in my wildest dreams that he would do that. I guess I was wrong.

A Little Trip Down Memory Lane

During my teenage years my family would vacation every summer for a week at a campground in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas called Many Islands. It was located on the Spring River and offered premier trout fishing.

Our first year we camped for a week in a tent. It didn’t take long to realize that this was not the best of ideas. The following years we rented a cabin with all the comforts of home.

Spring River had several springs that flowed into it. The water temperature was cold and colder. Remember this little bit of information. The shock of hitting the water would take your breath away.

Generally we would wade the water to trout fish. On this one particular morning my dad informed me he was renting a boat and trolling motor so he and I could get where the big trout hung out.

There was a concrete slab where one could pull the boat up to and tie it off. My dad had pulled the boat up to the slab and informed me he was going to show me how to tie the boat up properly.

I was thirteen and excited about my dad sharing his knowledge with me. I watched attentively as he explained the proper knot to use as he tied it off. He then instructed me to retrieve our tackle boxes and rods and reels. He began loading the boat with our gear. He took one load aboard and came back to get another load.

On this trip he set his foot on the front seat of the John boat and still had one foot on the slab. At this point the boat began to drift away from the slab. Little did I know my vocabulary was going to expand with words that if I had ever used would have ended with me getting my mouth washed out with soap.

Now you have to picture my dad with one foot in the boat and the other planted on the slab and the boat slowly backing away. The gap between the boat and slab has widened. At this point I began to wonder if at the age of thirty four if my dad could physically do the splits.

My dad is trying frantically to pull the boat back to the slab with his leg. I stood there in disbelief as I watched the knot my dad had tied begin to unravel and the boat was now free and it occurred to me my dad was now at the point of no return.

All of a sudden I was overcome with the urge to laugh. I immediately started biting my tongue and realized how much I enjoyed life. I didn’t want to be standing in front of the pearly gates at such a young age so with great determination I was able to suppress my laughter.

I watched in horror, but laughing on the inside, as the gap became too wide for my dad to maintain his balance. SPLASH!!! Did I mention how cold the water is? He rises out of the water and onto the slab with the agility of a teenager. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes!! My vocabulary was expanding with the speed of light. His language would have made a sailor proud!

Needless to say that pretty much ended our day in the boat exploring Spring River and a trophy Trout was spared. When we got back to the cabin we had a real good laugh. Ahh the memories of growing up.

No, They Are Not Just Dogs!

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My dogs are family and treated like family. Yeah, I’m one of those!! If they don’t like you I probably won’t either. If you visit my house I guarantee when you leave you will have dog hair hitching a ride. I can’t imagine what life would be like without them. Kate is a 2011 model and Eros a 2012. Kate had a few problems when she was a pup. She had crystals in her urine and had hip surgery at a year old.

She slept on the couch and I slept on the floor beside her. When she was healed up she became my ride dog.

I am a retired farrier and she loved going to the barns with me. She took her riding shotgun seriously.

Then there is Eros. He was so little when he was a pup. He now ways 124 pounds.

He can be pretty intimidating. He is a big teddy bear. He is definitely a “protector”.

“A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than you loves yourself.” – Josh Billings

They both have their own personalities. They are good listeners, loyal, and give unconditional love. They are always glad to see you and add joy to your life.

Now don’t get me wrong. They can get sick and leave a big mess to clean up and they can just simply be a pain in the butt. They are a huge responsibility. All in all I still say they are worth it.

Nope they aren’t just dogs. They’re family.

Life 101!

“Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” Oliver Goldsmith

Once a person slides through the birth canal and pops out into the world, it’s “game on”, the journey has begun.  Nope you can’t go back.  No matter how hard you try, you can’t scratch and claw your way back into the birth canal and hide.  Now put on your big boy/girl panties and grab life by the horns because it is going to be one hell of a ride.

The first eighteen years is tough.   For the biggest part of those years, someone else makes decisions for you.  There will be times that you will swear those people making those decisions have only one purpose in life.  Yep.  In this complicated world, believe it or not, just one.  Make your life as miserable as they can!  When you start thinking this way, the odds are that you have graduated to teenager status and at this point you know it all.

Then that big day comes.  You achieve adulthood and the biggest surprise, you are alive.  You survived.  Now we are going to see what you are made of.  You thought it was tough when the internet was down for 3 days, well you ain’t seen anything yet.

“No one saves us but ourselves.  No one can and no one may.  We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha

Now folks this stat may blow you away.  Americans between the ages of 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other living situation.  Pew Research Center’s analysis found that in that age group 32.1 percent will live with their parents.  Marriage/Cohabitating 31.6 percent, Alone/Head of Household 14%, Other 22%               Men are more likely to live with their parents while women are more likely to take a spouse or partner.  Now I don’t know about the rest of you but these numbers blow me away.  Damn if I did that I bet I would still have a curfew of midnight.  In high school my dates could stay out longer than me.  Needless to say I didn’t stay at home until I was 34.  Nope.  Instead I learned how to cook and do laundry.  Do you know how embarrassing it is when your date’s dad says have her home by 1 a.m. and you say I will sir.  Little did he know I had to be home at midnight.

“Life is a journey and it’s about growing and changing and coming to terms with who and what you are and loving who and what you are.” – Kelly McGillis

Well I hope you enjoyed the blog today.  I appreciate you stopping by and reading it.  Shh, don’t read so loud you might wake them up and they might throw me out.  I am still blown away that more people live with their parents than with a partner or spouse.  Be sure to spread the love.

One Hole or Two

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If you use Facebook I am sure you have seen this before.  If you have used one you are going to know where I am coming from but if you have not I may be hard to follow.

My story begins in Lafe, Arkansas in the 50s.  My grandparents had a farm located here.  They lived in an old farmhouse with out running water and ………NO BATHROOM!  Yep you heard me right, no bathroom.

Now it just so happens that they did have an outhouse.  Because of their glamorous aroma, especially in the hot weather months, the outhouse was located some distance from the house.  Did I mention that it didn’t have electric in it.  Anyway ours wasn’t just any old outhouse.  No siree!  It was a genuine two hole privy.  Not just one hole by two!  Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, we were styling.

Or were we.  Now if you have never seen a two hole privy let me tell ya, the holes ain’t that far apart and there is no divider or stall like you see in the public bathrooms today.  Nope, just two holes cut in a piece of wood.  However my grandpa had installed a couple of real toilet seats which added some comfort.  Now for the life of me I can not, CAN NOT, imagine two people sitting there, that close together, beside each other having their morning bowel movement.  I read that back and it even sounds sick.  I don’t ever recall seeing two people coming out of the outhouse together.  One hole would have been enough.

 

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Grandparents old house.

Now when I was knee high to a grasshopper I became acquainted with my grandma’s tom turkey.  Now he had somehow figured out that I was terrified of him.  Now in my defense, if you have never seen an old tom all puffed up and strutting his stuff and coming at you don’t pass judgement on me.  I am here to tell ya that will scare the devil out of you especially when you are only 5.

Now every time I had to go to the bathroom that old tom would be between me and the outhouse.  I need to explain something at this point.  When a guy is headed for the outhouse that can only mean one thing because there were plenty of trees to tinkle behind.  Ok now that I explained that, when you have had a big plate of biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast time is of the essence.  It is dangerous to be playing around at this time.

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Another view of the old farmhouse.

My grandparents got running water in 1970.  All the kids, there were nine, chipped in and had a well drilled for them.  Then five years later my uncle and I put a bathroom in the old farmhouse for them.  I remember one visit in the summer not long after we installed the bathroom, I saw grandma grab the TP and head for the barn (outhouse had finally succumbed to gravity).  I asked her why she didn’t use the bathroom and she said it was too “purty” to mess up.  That winter when I was down visiting and the snow was whirling she used the inside bathroom.  I guess the bathroom wasn’t that “purty after all.

I had a lot of fun on the farm.  I wish my son would have been able to experience some of the things that happened on the farm.  It was a great time in my life that I will always cherish and Grandma White, well she was a saint and the sweetest person you ever met.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.   I hoe you enjoyed it.  Remember share the love.

 

 

Finally! Frost On the Pumpkin!

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“How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days.” – John Burroughs

I have waited patiently to wake up and see the pumpkin covered in frost.  I adore autumn.   Bonfires are a must, with the aroma of cooking chili hurrying along to tease the unsuspecting noses of those gathered around the bonfire.  Hoodies can finally come out of the closet.  Animals begin growing their winter hair and the geese head south.

Halloween is just a few days off.  The streets will be filled with goblins and witches seeking to fill their bags with candy.  Then it won’t be long until the turkey will be sacrificed and used as the main course to fill the bellies of Thanksgiving diners.

“Autumn carries more gold in its pockets than all the other seasons.” – Jim Bishop

I had a friend tell me once, note: he hates the fall, that “fall is like the undertaker, preparing the body for burial”.  I guess that is one way of looking at it.  Myself, I like to take drives and admire the work of Mother Nature.  My understanding is that this year the colors aren’t going to be that good due to the lack of moisture.  In the fall the leaves have a chance to “wow” you like the flowers did in the spring.  The squirrels begin hiding food for the winter.  Drum roll followed with a Snoopy dog dance, no more grass cutting and the horseflies have left the building!  Yes!  Sorry.  Got carried away in the moment.

It has been a long, dry, hot summer and I am ready for the snowflakes to throw themselves upon the ground until they have reached a depth of 8 inches.  I will have a fire going in the wood stove with a pot of beans cooking.  I will sit and watch my feathered friends eat from the bird feeders.

“October is nature’s funeral month.  Nature glories in death more than in life.  The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming – October than May.   Every green thing loves to die in bright colors.”  – Henry Ward Beecher

I hope you enjoyed my words and I appreciate you taking the time to read them.  Wishing everyone a Happy Fall Season!  Spread the love.

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So You Want To Be A Farrier?

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I remember when one of the local colleges offered an eight week course for folks that wanted to be a farrier.  Over time I had a few clients who told me,”Well this will be the last time you will have to shoe ole Dobbin.”  Me: “Oh yeah.  You selling him?”  They would go on to tell me that they had signed up for the 8 week course at the college and they would be doing their own shoeing.  Out of 6 clients that signed up for the class I only had one client shoe all four feet of his horse.  He then hired me back, said he had enough.

Then there are the ones that sit there and watch you as you work and they tell you, I think I can do that.  Looks pretty easy.   Then there is that age old question, ever get kicked?  Really?

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Then there are the bargain hunters.  They have no loyalty to their farrier.  They are just looking to get the cheapest price they can.  I remember one time while fueling my truck a guy hollers over at me and says, how much.  I said $2.55 a gallon.  He said no, how much?  I said, well it will probably hold around 30 gallons today.  He immediately says, NOOOO!  How much do you charge to shoe horses.  I said, do you have a farrier now?  He said yes but I thought you might be cheaper at which I immediately replied, you couldn’t afford me.  Yep, they are loyal to the end.

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Then you have the internet farrier.  Yep you read it right.  This is the group that cruises the internet to learn everything they can find concerning ” How to Shoe Your Horse”.  So while you are shoeing their horse they are standing looking over your shoulder telling you what you are doing wrong.  I mean geeze, these guys are pros.  They learned from that all important school “Lame Horses or Us.”

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Then you have the farrier that if someone doesn’t agree with your assessment of his/her shoe job they swell up like a little bantee rooster and get their feelings hurt.  Bring a horse into a room of 4 farriers and you will get 10 different ways to shoe the horse.  The lovely world of horseshoeing.  Also be prepared to be told you charge too much.

Then there are the great things you get to experience.  I remember one such time.  I was on the back end of the horse with its back leg over mine when all of a sudden the horse made a gut sound that sounded like a freight train roaring down the track.  I just got out of my mouth, well he shouldn’t colic any time soon, when all at once its tail went up and yep, liquid road apples come out of the back end like it was coming out of a power washer.  Before I could get out of the way it hit me on the side of the head and my back and…..never mind just trust me it was a mess.

Seriously though, I am proud of my trade.  I am a firm believer in continued education.  It is hard work and you have to be well disciplined.  It is too easy to get up in the morning and say, I think I will call in sick today.  You have to be a business man and be able to deal with the public.

I am semi-retired now.  I still have around 40 head of horses on my books.  I am thankful for all those who helped me better myself.  Dr. Don Walsh, Dr. Amy Rucker, Dr. Joanne Kramer, Kelly Case, Bob Schantz, Dr. Thomas Loafman to just name a few.   If you decide to walk the path of a farrier I urge you to seek out continued education through clinics.  Bob Schantz, owner of Spanish Lake Blacksmith Shop, along with Homestead Veterinary Hospital, Dr Kramer and Dr Rucker have some great workshops during the winter months.  Be sure to check them out.

Thanks for reading my blog.  I deeply appreciate it.  If you are considering a career shoeing horses I wish you well.  It is hard work but take pride in yourself and your work and it can be a real rewarding experience.  Spread the love!

 

Imagination: A Good Thing to Possess

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I named this rock formation “Alien Rock”

I didn’t get on the river until around 4:30 p. m. and I knew I wouldn’t have time to do a lot of fishing.  I did realize that the retreating sunlight should present some great photo ops so I began looking for those shots that would show the amazing beauty of Mother Nature.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My mind was working overtime and my imagination was like that of a 60s “flower child” who had taken a hallucinogenic drug.  I took several pics of the rock I had named “Alien Rock” trying to capture what I was seeing in my mind.  I think the above pic was the best picture to portray what I was seeing and I hope you can see it too.

To me it looks like an alien’s head slowly ascending out of the water just revealing its eyes and nostrils that had just broke the surface of the water.  I imagined it rising completely out of the water revealing a body as tall as the bluffs around it.

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Well, maybe I am losing it.  Maybe the crazy stuff going on in the world is finally taken its toll on me.  Maybe I have drank too many Jack and Cokes in my life time.  Naw, one can’t drink too many Jack and Cokes.  I got it, I need to quit drinking the kool-ade!  That’s it!

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.  That myth is more potent than history.  That dreams are more powerful than facts.  That hope always triumphs over experience.  That laughter is the only cure for grief.  And I believe that love is stronger than death.” – Robert Fulghum;  All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Thoughts On Common Things

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Was the alien there extracting lead from underneath the river bed; after all this is part of the old lead belt, or was he looking for a McDonald’s fish filet sandwich?  Maybe he is stashing green kryptonite in case he ever had a run in with Superman?  Was he a game warden in disguise spying on me.  Oh so many possibilities!

Hello, earth to Wayne.  Well back to regular programming.  Once I figured out what the alien was doing I began floating back to what the locals call the “Bone Hole” and fished as I went.  I managed to catch a small largemouth and several small perch.  I think the alien must have scared the fish off.  Oh crap, it is getting dark.  Where did that alien go?  I am skeered I tells ya!

“Logic will get you from A to Z; Imagination will get you everywhere”. – Albert Einstein

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog.  I am a firm believer that great artists ( painters, writers, musicians, etc.) are full of imagination.  I feel it is a must to be really good at what you do.  I think we need to emphasize it more than we do.  One can not suffer from too much imagination; well maybe I need to rethink that one.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is deeply appreciated.  Remember to spread the love.

 

 

A Little Humor From the Barn

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“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” – Mark Twain

This a true story however the names have been changed to protect the pranksters.  No humans were hurt and there was said that you could hear equine laughter throughout the barn.

One morning some years back, I arrived at ABC Stables where I had scheduled 4 complete sets of shoes.  I backed the trailer into the area set up for farriers and I began setting up to shoe horses.

The barn had hired a barn manager about 3 years before.  He was an old cowboy who had paid his dues.  Quite the jovial sort of fellar.  Everyone called him Bubba.  He really enjoyed a good chaw of tobacco and was an excellent horse handler.  He was there to hold the first horse I was shoeing that morning because sometimes he didn’t particularly like my cologne or something and would make my life as miserable as a horse possibly could.

Now we are down to the last character in the story.  He was kind of like Tiny Tim, Dirty Harry and Barney Fife all rolled into one.  We called him Jim Bob.  Now Jim Bob had just recently bought a 15.1 hand buckskin quarter horse.  Now it just so happened that he bought it off a fella by the name of John Boy.  Now John Boy was such a crook that he could make a used car salesman and a politician seem like outstanding citizens.

Now John Boy had told Jim Bob that the horse he sold him was 15 years old and only rode to bingo games by a little old lady from Pasadena.  Well Jim Bob had the vet out to float his horse’s teeth and he asked the vet how old he thought the horse was.  The vet without hesitation said 20 years old.  Now Jim Bob had a slight dilemma, how old is ole Dobbin?  This worked overtime on the mind of Jim Bob and the real problem was that Dobbin wasn’t registered so there was no record of his birth.  All this is what led to the happenings in the barn on this particular morning.

I was shoeing the horse who on that morning was giving me fits because all I had was regular ole shoes and no “Air Secretariats”.  Bubba was doing his best to make the ole horse stand still and it was about to get on our last nerve.  Then, along came Jim Bob crying like some 3 year old child who had their ice cream stolen right out of their hands.  Oh woe is me, I have a horse and I don’t know how old he is.

Well I wasn’t really in the mood to deal with him soooooooooooooo, DRUM ROLL, yep I said it, “Jim Bob there is one way to tell how old that horse is, count the anal rings and that will give you a real good idea how old he is.”  Well Bubba almost swallered his tobacco and he chimes in, “Damn I forgot all about that!”

Jim Bob is standing there looking at me with this goofy look on his face and says, “Please tell me, how does one determine the age of a horse by counting the anal rings?”  I said, well you know how a tree grows a ring for one year of age.  A horse grows an anal ring for every 5 years of age.  By now he is looking at me like I am crazier than a bedbug.  He then says I can’t even believe that I talk to you two at which time Bubba and I blurt out at the same time, but it is the truth.  He turns and walks away cussing us the whole time.

I was just getting ready to nail a shoe on the second horse I had to do when Bubba starts saying, lookie there, quick look.  So I put the horse’s foot down and look down the shed row and………..yep, there was Jim Bob holding the horse’s tail up with one hand and running his finger around the rectum of Dobbin looking for anal rings.

Needless to say Bubba and I begin laughing so hard that Bubba almost swallered his tobacco again.  I had tears running down my cheeks I was laughing so hard.  Then…yep Jim Bob caught us laughing and was madder than a wet hen.  He cussed us up one side and down the other.  He didn’t talk to me for three months.

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Thanks for reading and remember to spread the love.