Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Augustus and I would like to take a quick moment and wish all of you a Merry Christmas! We hope that everyone enjoys their holiday season and has a chance to bring in the New Year right. Make sure to stuff yourselves with good eats and partake in many a tasty libation. :) And since most of you have horses, make sure to send a candy cane or two their way. :)

"By the mid 1800s the American Christmas tradition included much of the same customs and festivities as is does today, including tree decorating, gift-giving, Santa Claus, greeting cards, stockings by the fire, church activities and family-oriented days of feasting and fun.But, for those in the Old West, far away from the more civilized life of the east, pioneers, cowboys, explorers, and mountain men, usually celebrated Christmas with homemade gifts and humble fare.

Christmas for many in the Old West was a difficult time. For those on the prairies, they were often barraged with terrible blizzards and savage December winds. For mountain men, forced away from their mining activities long before Christmas, in fear of the blinding winter storms and freezing cold, the holidays were often meager. But, to these strong pioneers, Christmas would not be forgotten, be it ever so humble. Determined to bring the spirit of Christmas alive on the American frontier, soldiers could be heard caroling at their remote outposts, the smell of venison roasting over an open hearth wafted upon the winds of the open prairie, and these hardy pioneers looked forward to the chance to forget their hard everyday lives to focus on the holiday. Though perhaps modest, these hardy pioneers made every attempt to decorate their homes for the holidays with whatever natural materials looked attractive at the bleakest time of year, such as evergreens, pinecones, holly, nuts, and berries.

For some, there might even be a Christmas tree, gaily decorated with bits of ribbon, yarn, berries, popcorn or paper strings, and homemade decorations. Some of these home made decorations were often figures or dolls made of straw or yarn. Cookie dough ornaments and gingerbread men were also popular.

At the very least, almost every home would make the holiday a time of feasting -- bringing out preserved fruits and vegetables, fresh game if possible, and for those that could afford it, maybe even beef or a ham. Many women began to bake for the holiday weeks ahead of time, leaving the plum pudding to age in the pot until Christmas dinner.

Many of the homemade gifts, including corn husk dolls, sachets, carved wooden toys, pillows, footstools and embroidered hankies, might have had the family members working on for months ahead of Christmas. Others knitted scarves, hats, mitts and socks. If the family had had a good year, the children might find candies, small gifts, cookies and fruit in their stockings. Christmas Eve would generally find most families singing carols around the Christmas tree or fireplace. On Christmas Day, most would attend church, return home for the traditional Christmas meal, and spend the day visiting with friends and neighbors.

Then, as it is today, Christmas would also find many a mountain man, explorer, or lone cowboy, spending a solitary evening without the benefit of festivities. The more things change; some things inevitably remain the same."

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated September, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Great Snowstorm of 2008

Just when you thought the weather couldn't get any crazier, the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding areas got some major snow. On Monday, December 15th, we had our first snow of the year. The mountains all around the Vegas area always get snow during the winter, but its rare that any actual collects on the valley floors. Surprisingly, Sandy Valley, Goodsprings, and parts of Las Vegas were covered in a blanket of snow. On Wednesday, December 17th, I woke up and started my drive out to the ranch. As I was heading south, the snow started to fall again. When I took the exit and made my way toward Goodsprings and Sandy Valley, the snow was really coming down. It made for a beautiful drive, but I knew I couldn't stay too long or I would be spending the night out there once the pass was closed. I spent alot of time just hanging out with Gus and walking around, really enjoying the snow. It was such a treat, and he looked really happy and was truly enjoying the cold weather. Of course, as you can imagine, I got distracted and two hours later I finally made my way out of the ranch, but it was coming down so hard that I could barely see the road and the Fire Dept had closed down the pass. I tried to take a back road to Pahrump and make it through their pass, but I could not see that road either and wasn't sure if I was even on the road anymore or if I was truckin' through open desert. After turning around and heading back into Sandy Valley, I made a call to some friends and luckily they were home and took me in for the night until the road could be reopened and sanded in the morning. The snowstorm made quite an impact for us out here. All incoming and outgoing flights at McCarren Airport were delayed, freeways shut down, and even schools were closed the following day. I snapped a few pictures of Sandy Valley after I woke up and had my coffee. Its amazing how different the area looked after being covered in snow! You would never know that you were in the Mojave Desert.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Road Warriors

Saturday, December 13th was one hell of a day. Beautiful sunrise, perfect weather. Then all of a sudden, somewhere around lunch time, the worst sandstorm we have ever seen came blowing through Sandy Valley and all of us at Shiloh were right in its path. The dust, sand, and debris was so bad that you could barely see your hands in front of your face at times. Augustus, Cochise, and Sawyer were out playing in the arena when it hit, so they huddled together and faced the opposite direction while using each other to block out the wind. The rest of us ran all over the property, making minor adjustments and making sure all of the important things were taken care of before running into the barn and seeking shelter. After about another straight hour of the weather, Sharil and I decided to make a run to our horses and attempt taking them back to their pasture. Cochise is a bit spooky, so I took him for Sharil and she handled Gus and Sawyer. We made it well over halfway, but then the sand was just too thick and the wind too strong, and Sharil could not see a thing. Luckily, Dave was coming back from the larger pasture and was able to take Gus and Sawyer from her and we continued on and were able to put our boys back safely. We made a few jokes that the situation was like something out of a Mad Max movie and referenced ourselves as the "Shiloh Road Warriors", haha. A crazy day, but thankfully everyone made it out alive and no one was injured. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saddle Breakin'

Howdy all! The saddle process is well underway and going good. Augustus has been a real trooper and hasn't had much of an issue with any of it. Our previous ground work has really paid off. Once he is tacked up, he is completely fine and it is funny watching him get used to the saddle bouncing a bit when he trots. The only issue Gus has is the few moments before the actual pad is placed on his back. He "anticipates" the process and it takes a few seconds before he remembers what is going on and finally relaxes. I have hopped on bareback many times, but I am becoming more and more anxious to put that foot in the stirrup and enjoy the ride. Very, very soon. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I haven't personally viewed this documentary just yet, but I love the trailer. Very well done. Wanted to share and put it out there for all of you. You can click on the highlighted link below and it should bring you to the trailer. If the screen isn't visible from the start, you may have to click on the Premiere link....


Augustus, Cochise, and Sawyer

I wanted to share these great shots that were taken over the last few weeks. Augustus and Sawyer are really starting to tolerate each other more and more each day it seems...at least when I am around. The photo on the bottom was taken as they were watching Sunday and Crusoe run wildly all around the property after escaping their pen. :) It was a fun sight to see and they definitely got all of the horses worked up! And, in case you are wondering, that tooth is still missing in action. I think I need to give up and stop thinking about it. Have a great night!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mustang Dentistry

Horses' teeth are often used to estimate the animal's age, hence the sayings "long in the tooth" and "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth".

Common ages for tooth eruption / Type of tooth / Number / Deciduous / Permanent

Incisor First (central) birth to 8 days 2.5 yrs
Incisor Second (intermediate) 4.5-6 weeks 3.5-4 yrs
Incisor Third (corner) 6-9 months 4.5-5 yrs
Canine Absent 3.5-5 yrs, some around 6 yrs (if ever)
Premolar First (wolf) Absent 6 months to 3 years (if ever)
Premolar Second birth to 2 weeks 2-3 yrs
Premolar Third birth to 2 weeks 2.5-3 yrs
Premolar Fourth birth to 2 weeks 3-4 yrs
Molar First Absent 9-12 months
Molar Second Absent 2 yrs
Molar Third Absent 3-4 yrs

So, as you may have guessed, Augustus lost his first "baby" tooth and the permanent one is coming in. I have searched far and wide through the pasture looking for the tooth, but unfortunately it is nowhere to be found. I can only hope that I am somewhere close when he loses his second one. If you visit Shiloh in the next few weeks, and hear a whistle, it is probably my horse saying hello. :)