Farm life

DIY Horse Shelter


The horse shelter posed more of a conundrum than the fence. There is no access to natural shelter and while the weather here is mild, they need somewhere to get out of the sun at the least.

Buying a shelter would be the easiest and quickest solution, but at around $1000 for a 10×10 box, it was a bit steep for a rental property. They aren’t easy to lift and we would likely have to leave it behind if we ever moved.

DIY it would have to be and so we scoured the internet for ideas. I finally found one I didn’t completely hate and got busy securing supplies and then modifying it to suit our needs. Below you will find the likely only DIY post you’ll see on here. I’m just not much of a creator.


Pallets – we used 16 that were 27×40. Normal ones are supposed to be 48×40.

T posts – 16

Cattle panel -4

Tarp – 16×20


Braces – 18

Zip ties

Plywood – 4 sheets

A truck full of pallets and a dog happy to help.

Step 1:

Create the first wall by placing a T post in at one end then place a pallet over it. We didn’t think this was as stable as we would like so we added a second t post to each pallet.

Laying out the pallets to measure the walls. 4 pallets made it 16ft long. We the new planned the other wall 11ft away to make it end up around 10ft wide.


Another view of the pallets laying flat to measure out the walls
The pallets standing up with a t post in each. We then went back and added a second post to each.

With the size of pallets we could find the height wouldn’t be high enough, so we took another set of panels and cut the top off to get our walls 48″ high. If you can find pallets of normal size, you can skip this.

Cutting the pallet down with a saw


The pallets stacked on top of each other to reach a height of 48″

Step 2:

Optional step because we stacked the pallets. I went and screwed in a metal brace to connect the top and bottom pallets  (two went into the end pallets). I also went ahead and added a brace connecting each pallet horizontally. I just felt much more comfortable with the stability with everything screwed together.

Metal braces connecting the top and bottom as well as from left to right


Step 3:

Now it becomes a two person job. Take one of the 50ft cattle panels and create the roof. Start at one end lining the end of the panel up to the end of the pallet wall. The best technique we found was to rest the panel against the top horizontal slat of the pallet. I would hold that end and Dusty would go to the other to jam it into its resting spot.

The first panel in place. It sagged because we went against it natural tendency to bend. By the time we realized it we had two others on and couldn’t easily fix it.
The panels attached to the pallet

Attach the panel to the pallets with fence staples. Tip here: whoever isn’t hammering in the staple should go to the outside of the pallet and lean into it while grabbing the metal panel and pulling it hard to you. This helps the person hammering in the staple and gets a tighter fit.

Overlap the cattle panels by one block.
The end result with all 4 in place
Gem and Pete checking out what was going on

For our 16ft wall length, four cattle panels fit perfectly with one square overlap to each.

Step 4:

This also requires two people and was the trickiest part. Stretch the 16×20 tarp over the cattle panel and attach with zip ties.

In a way it was great that we built this on an insanely windy day. While it made it hard to secure the tarp, it showed us when we had it taut enough.

The hardest part was getting it over the 10ft peak. Neither of us were tall enough to reach. What we ended up doing was loosely attaching on side to the pallets at both ends then attaching a lead rope to the opposite side and using that to pull it over. Be careful it doesn’t catch on the panel and rip.

Using a lead rope on one end to pull it across the peak. Be careful not to get it caught.
Attach the tarp using zip ties to the pallets. Make sure you work in one direction pulling it taut as you go


We then attached it to the wooden pallets along one wall pulling it as tight as we could. Next we returned to an open end and attached the tarp to the panel along the peak with more zip ties making sure to pull it both toward us and to the left to get it as tight as we could. Work your way down the next wall and finish up the other open end.

Attach all possible points to the cattle panel as well

Step 5:

This was not included in the directions, but I wasn’t comfortable having the slats open on the inside where the horses could potentially get a hoof or leg stuck. Our last step was to place plywood along the interior walls with long screws to make a kickboard.

After that we were all finished. It will provide protection form wind, rain and sun. You could close in one end to make a 3 sided shelter, but we decided to leave ours open.

Tarp on. Plywood kickboards on the ground. We only got one on before the bit on the power drill broke so no completely finished picture  

Overall I like it as a temporary shelter. You can make it as large as you want and it is super easy to take down and move. Even easier if you don’t add the braces. It probably took us a half a day. Plan on roughly 4-5 hours with two people and 6-7 if you do it by yourself (although you need two people for the cattle panels and tarp)

Total cost was around $300.

Health and Fitness

Hanging Up the Running Shoes.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t run. Varsity track gave me the coveted high school letter. In college, I’d head out to the nearby lake and run the 5 mile track around it.

I’ve run on the treadmill, down country roads rarely travelled by cars, along busy urban sidewalks, across paved park pathways and up trails.

Post treadmill interval run

I’ve run in the early morning as the sun was waking up and in the pitch black dark with a headlamp showing me the way.

Running in the dark in WI

I’ve run during a frigid Wisconsin winter night and through a scalding South Carolina summer day.

I’ve run with family, friends, my dog and alone.

The best runs I have ever had were with Bones

I’ve run listening to music, podcasts and my own breathing.

I’ve run following couch to marathon plans, interval apps, my own make shift schedule and with no plan or goal at all.

Mile 11 of my very first half marathon. Still enjoying life.
Mile 12. Not so much anymore.

I’ve worn high tech clothes and cute accessories only to be worn while running.

I’ve run four half marathons all in the 2:21-2:23 time frame and just for fun.

And through it all I can honestly say….

….that I stink at running.


It isn’t really the physical part that gets me. I’m no Olympic level runner and I tend to trudge more than fly, but my times are at least respectable and I run way more than I walk.

It is the mental game that kills me. I never zone out. I never enjoy it. I’m trudging along and all my mind does is go on and on about how I can’t breathe, how I can’t take another step, how I’m too slow.  It is defeatist and it doesn’t matter if I run a mile or 5. It is the same rhetoric in my brain.

So I am taking a break. I run for exercise and health. Riding is my stress relief. I’m joining the local YMCA and I am going to dabble in the various classes that they offer: spin to yoga to cardio dance to weights to swimming. I’m going to bounce around until I find something that I can do and mostly enjoy.

Then, once I am in better shape, I am going to try running again. See if it doesn’t fit back in in a healthier manner. We will see.

2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #5

Back to me and back to the internet for the next prompt. Thankfully there are multiple library branches within 15 minutes of each other so my mom and I can get the same book out at the same time.

A Book with A Season in the Title: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. 

I need to preface this with two facts:

1) I am not a fan of Young Adult (YA) fiction.

2) I didn’t know this was a YA book when I chose it.

Lia is an 18 year old girl who is lost inside herself. She is fighting demons that she doesn’t understand.  Her weapon of choice is starvation and self mutilation in the form of cutting.

Her best friend for years uses binging and purging as her weapon, but loses her war in the first pages of the book.

The author paints a world, both of reality and the one trapped inside Lia’s head, in a way that immediately feels accessible and tangible. I found myself feeling scared for Lia, then angry, then hopeless. It’s what a book should do: pull you into the story and teach you a new way to look at people, at the world.

I give credit to the author for making a very difficult and real topic accessible and endearing while laying out the dangers in a plain way. Still, I wish it wasn’t a YA book. I wish it was written with beefier vocabulary, heartier themes and a more grown up feel. That’s the way I always feel when reading a YA book though: a vague feeling of being gypped out of a deeper meaning, a more robust story.


If you like YA novels, this is one to read. Even if not the story has a way of wrapping around you.

I’d give it 3.5/5

Farm life

Building a Fence

A dreary day on the farm beats the sunniest day in suburbia hands down

With the clock starting to run out, we checked the weather forecast a dozen times hoping it was wrong. Another weekend of rain and there was no way the horses would be coming home before another board check was due.

Thankfully Sunday saw a break in the deluge from 9-12 and we rushed out to work as fast as we could. Dusty and my dad had placed the T posts weeks ago, in fact that was done before our move in date, and the wooden posts for the gate were cemented in last weekend. The tensioners and fence clips were attached under the light of a headlamp at 8 pm during the work week.

Now all that was left was to string the tape.

Wyatt helping to screw the tensioner to the wooden post


Einstein enjoying and abusing his freedom. He came back with a  gouge on his head likely from the barbed wire that surrounds the entire property. He will learn some day.

My mum came over to help and we got busy stringing the line. We had ordered it from Horse Guard, a U.K. company, and the experience was great from start to finish. Since we only needed to create two sides of fencing, we were unsure what all to order. A quick call to the company had all our questions answered and the materials were shipped out the next day. The guy walked us through the entire process and even gave tips on how to cut a few costs.

Wyatt was a big help on his tractor


He lugged the heavy spool of tape around for us

The tape itself is very sturdy. It comes in three color options, but only the brown was in stock when we ordered. They also have a monopolar, requiring humid ground and a ground pole, and bipolar, which does not, units and we went with the bipolar.

Much sturdier than the brand Tractor Supply sold and way better than my portable corral tape.

The system is nearly fooproof and comes with everything you could possibly need. The first go round we places the clips on backwards but thankfully figured it out half way through. Nothing is more annoying than working hard then having to redo it all.

The longer side was completed before lunch and nap time. Seriously, the system is really simple: tension the one end, string the tape and apply the clips that hold the tape to the t post, tension the far end, go back and tighten the line and screw down the clips on each post. Done.

Clip. Also used on t posts

During nap time, Dusty went out and hung the gate then it was back out for all three of us to finish the shorter end.


Seeing the gate put on really made it all seem so real.

With the hay delivered, fence up, gate hung, water tank purchased and t post caps installed all we have left to do is build the shelter. The weather looks sunny and clear all week which means we can get out there and build it before the weekend.



I’m a Person too, You Know.

“I hate podiatrists. Go see an orthopedist”

A response to someone on Facebook looking for help with a foot injury. I only saw it because a friend of mine tagged me and recommended my services.

I could go on about the differences in the two specialists, but that isn’t what I want to focus on. In truth, there are benefits to going to either and there are times I tell my own patients that they would be better served by an orthopedist.

Here is what I do want to focus on: the blanket and negative statement toward an entire group of people who have dedicated their lives to curing you of your lower extremity ailments.

Being a doctor is a full time lifestyle. It’s not something you can turn off, pile up and walk away from until the next shift. There is no ability to forget your patients and carry on. I’m on call 24/7 and I have been contacted by patients at all hours of the day, on weekends and holidays. I worry about those who have trusted me with their care and I do take things personally.

So when I see someone so flippantly negating an entire profession, writing them off as if they are not real people with real emotions, it makes me angry.

Your physician is a person. I guarantee you they are not out to cause harm or create worsening of your condition. I can tell you that they care about your outcome. How would like it if I declared that I hate all teachers, plumbers, HR personnel? Pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? Yet people get away with hating on the medical profession all the time.

You get angry if you have to wait more than 10 minutes yet the very next time you call to get worked in and get angry when you are told there isn’t any available time to do so. You want the doctor to be at your beck and call and then wonder why they appear tired, stressed and burnt out.

I’m a person. A person who dedicated  11 years to the study of your body and how to fix what can go wrong. Someone who didn’t travel or save up money when I was younger instead going deeper in debt and killing my eyesight reading endless textbooks and taking test after test. A person who does her best each and every day but just like you I am a person who sometimes wakes up overly tired or cranky. Can you honestly tell me that you never went to work tired and barely scraped by all day?

Before you write off an entire body of people who would have been way smarter to choose another profession, but chose this one out of a passion for helping others, remember that we are people too. Our job isn’t just a job. It gets carried home with us, bleeds into our regular conversations and wakes us up at 2 am with thoughts on what we could do differently.

I am more than just a podiatrist. I am a person too.



Partner Or Pet?

Mel, the first ever endurance blogger I read, posted a great article on her blog about her relationship with her two mares: are they partners or pets?. Please go read it as well as Liz’s response to it on her own blog. You can find Mel’s here and Liz’s here.

As I read both of their posts, I got to thinking about my own two horses as well as if I am happy about my relationships with them. Do I prefer one over the other? What would I want my next horse to be like?

Gem is straight forward. She is my partner through and through. At first emotionally and mentally shut down, after several years she eventually let me inside her inner circle. That didn’t mean she became all warm and cuddly. It translated into more trust, more willingness to work with me and a better can do attitude. Deep down though, Gem prefers to be a horse. One that eats grass, naps in the sunshine, drinks deeply from fresh cold water and gets to stretch her legs out and about from time to time. In her perfect world, she would have a 12 x 12 stall in a temperature controlled barn with a window looking out and about 10 feet of fluffy sawdust on the ground. She is a princess at heart.

Not the look of an in your pocket type horse

When I go to get her in her field, she will flag her tail and gallop off then turn and watch me. It is her way to let me know that she doesn’t need me. When I walk to get her, she meets me half way and willingly drops her head to let me halter her. She seems to enjoy our time together, loves to go camping and gives 100% of her self at endurance races. Much like Mel’s Farley, we are both sick of each other by the end of an endurance weekend and do better with some time apart. Gem isn’t a horse who likes or needs to be worked more than 2 times a week.

She is 18 now and I highly doubt this relationship will ever change. She comes to me for performance and care and happily leaves me behind once the job is completed.

Working hard together 

Pete is harder to define. I believe he would be a pet had his past life not been such total crap. He loves people and adores to work. You could ride him every single day and he would come out on the 8th day just as excited as the first. He gives his all all the time. But… he is scared to death of people as well. He keeps his distance from you and you can see him worried about getting hurt. Someone did a number on him and even after 7 years of love, care and kindness he still can’t let it go. It is a shame because he would be such an in your pocket type horse had his life been different.

So…I have one partner and one mostly pet, but which do I prefer? I’ve never had a pet type of horse as my primary partner, so I don’t know what it would be like. While I wish Gem was a little more reliant on me for companionship, our relationship works perfectly for me in this stage of my life. I can go work with her, enjoy the time spent and know that she does to, but then drive away and not have to worry that she is missing me, requires my attention for her well being or needs more frequency for her physical and mental health.

We both have our own lives which intersect regularly, but we are not really dependent on each other for our total well being and happiness. I like it like this and can be absent for periods of time without feeling guilty.

I can see where having a pet or a pet/partner mix would be nice if I could dedicate more of my time to my horse hobby. Perhaps once I am retired and Wyatt is all grown, I will be in a position to accept a pet type horse into my life. Time will tell.



2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge Book #4

It was back to my mom for this prompt (for full disclosure we skipped the next prompt in line for an audio book and will come back to it at the end). I don’t know how she chose this one, but I am really glad she did.

Book 4: A book written by a person of color: A Mercy by Toni Morrison. 

This tragic novel follows four women, each bound in a world where they are nothing when not owned by a man: An African slave girl, tribeless Native American young woman, shipwrecked fire haired orphan girl and a European woman cast on a ship to America to marry a man so he can claim his land.

Set in 1600s America, a time pre Revolution and at the start of slavery in the New World, we learn of each woman’s journey to the farm of John Vaark who himself is held by his dream of a large and ornate house. He is the tie that binds them all and when he dies the women must figure out who they are and how they relate to each other.

Each woman’s story is more tragic than the last and the point that resonated with me the most was how close to reality these stories were. Living in modern day America, with all the freedoms that brings, it is a real eye opener to be placed back in a world where a woman, no matter the color of her skin, was nothing if not tied to a man.

I couldn’t put this book down and stayed up way too late reading before we moved. Do yourself a favor and read this book.






Farm life

Moving to Greener Pastures

Six moves and seven houses later  I have finally landed in a place that feels like “home”. A place that I am not already planning on moving out of during the process of moving into. I feel like I can take a deep breath, spread my soul out and build a life in this house. Who knows how long we will actually stay here, our average is 2 years, but for however long it lasts, I am going to enjoy every second of it.

The new house. Built in the mid 1970s full of charm and just big enough for 3 people. 

The actual moving process was uneventful. We picked up the 26 ft U Haul as soon as the place opened at 9:30 am Saturday. Dusty and I then proceeded to load it up as Wyatt ran around playing and making us laugh. We had learned the proper way to pack a truck when we lived in WI. Our friend Brian had worked for a moving company for several years and we quickly learned that our technique was pretty abysmal. Since then, we have packed like pros and it really makes a big difference.

Wyatt was excited that we got a truck with a dinosaur on it

I felt bad because, while I could easily help with carrying out all the heavy wooden furniture and mattresses, the boxes that Dusty had jammed with books and DVDs were just too heavy for me to lift. By the time my parents came over to help around 1:30 pm, we were just down to two remaining mattresses, our 200 lb solid marble dining room table and the annoying garage stuff: tools, sporting goods, lawn mower and mismatched supplies that couldn’t easily be stacked or contained. After that was loaded up, we headed off to the farm house.

Wyatt donned his cape and declared himself Captain Hook. From then on we were pirates looting the Princess’ house for treasure and loading it onto our ship. Love this kid!

One interesting side story here. Dusty and I spent 4 hours moving very heavy things out of the house and into the truck all by ourselves. Several neighbors drove by, stopped to chat and get our phone number. One guy pulled up and asked if he could look around the place as he was hoping to rent it. Right in the middle of us moving! We said sure and walked around with him. Ok…odd but fine. Then around 2 pm our neighbor across the way walks over. We were basically done at this point. He chats with Dusty for a while and then I see Dusty walk off with him.

Next thing I know poor Dusty is helping the guy move his large TV out of his house and into the back of his pick up! The nerve!!! To come over and ask a guy who has been moving heavy stuff all day without offering to help and then ask him to move your TV?! Dusty is way too nice.

We pulled up and I was bursting with excitement. We had been over several times to rake, put up some fencing and clean the gutters, but had only been inside it the very first time we looked at the place. My memory was vague and I was dying to get inside and figure out the place.

Once I established which room would be what, I sent my mom and Aunt inside to help organize everything. I’m not good at making decisions on furniture placement, but they are amazing at it. This took a lot of stress off my hands and I could focus on unloading and getting things settled.

It only took a few hours to unload the entire truck and settle the furniture in with all of us working our butts off.  Dusty had packed more than I had and he didn’t label any of the boxes, so those just got piled in the car port/garage (not sure what to call it: it is attached and big enough for 2 cars but doesn’t have a door) while my mom and Aunt worked hard at moving furniture around to the best places inside. By 5:30 pm we had everything unloaded and just enough time to make it to my niece’s 4th birthday party tired, dirty and a little smelly.

I slept like the dead Saturday night and woke up bright and early afraid to move. Everything was tight and sore, but there was still a lot to do. We had left some things behind that were too awkward to pack up in the truck and were too tired to get it after the party.  Dusty headed out to the old house Sunday morning while I got busy alternating between organizing boxes/unpacking and chasing down a very excited little boy and his dog who have suddenly found themselves with room to roam.

Einstein exploring the driveway
Wyatt driving around the quad he got for Xmas. 
I don’t think he spent more than 20 minutes at a time inside and that was to eat or drink

At 12 pm I got a message from our hay guy: he had 50 bales ready and loaded, could he drop them off a week early? Ok…cue panic to get the garage ready. It didn’t take super long though to move all the boxes over, place pallets down and prepare the space. The hay came around 4 pm and then we were starving, tired, cranky and ready to be done. We headed off to O’Charleys for dinner, grabbed two more 60 lb bags of cement from Home Depot for the last remaining fence posts and headed home to fall back asleep at 8 pm.

50 bales of fescue hay stacked and ready for the horses. They have a ton of grass available so I am hoping this lasts until spring’s first cutting comes along. 

So much still remains to be done: getting the fish tank over from the old house, cleaning it and emptying the fridge; unpacking all the boxes at the new place; finishing up the horse fence; building a horse shelter; and then moving the horses themselves. It will all get done in good time.

X marks the spot on our way home
The cats adore their new screened in porch out back. Neither wanted to come back inside that night.
Where the horses will be eventually
A boy and his dog