Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Please excuse my absence as I have been very busy taking care of my family that has been sick with the flu. Although I love them dearly, they act quite queerly, and give me no time to rest, least of all time to do the things I love best!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
This is looking West.
This is looking East.
It is still very difficult to talk about, my hands are shaking and I have a very large lump in my throat, but to share some of the things that have come from this tragedy are very important as well. So, I will start at the beginning. I was at my mom's that day, when my husband called and said that the high school and middle school (which are one building separated by a common cafeteria called the Canyon Room, also used for meetings, it is the large glass portion you saw in the news clips) were locked down due to a bomb threat or something. My mom lives about 30 minutes from downtown Bailey, and I made it in about half that time. I was not the only one, there were MANY cars speeding on the highway that day. Luckily I was one of the first 50 or so cars into downtown Bailey, so did not have far to go to get to where they were giving parents information. It was not long before we learned that our middle school kids were safe, thank God.
I'll never forget standing there with this pit in my stomach as one emergency vehicle after another would pass by, then the bomb tanker, then an FBI truck, it just kept getting scarier. I will also never forget the fact that even our bus drivers put themselves in danger to line up on the "Bailey back road" to wait for clearance to rush in to get any and all kids that they could. The panic in the crowd of parents was physically palpable, it was almost more than one person could handle, I guess that's why we all needed to be together at that time. Many of us had been friends since those kids had been in diapers together, so we drew strength from one another.
For those of us parents that were blessed enough to have our children cleared, we were told to go to the elementary school to pick up our kids. We all raced up Crow Hill, both with dread in our hearts and lead in our feet, praying that our kids would be on that bus, and wondering whose kids weren't. A car couldn't even fit on the road, people had just stopped where they were, and just started running to try and find their kids. Thankfully for me, I put it in four, and got off the road, and just blindly ran.
This is a story of tragedy and triumph. The tragedy is a story that could be told again and again, and it deserves to be. But the triumph is almost, if not more amazing. To be honest, those next few days are a little blurry, but I think it was just two days later when a bike club pulled together a ride. I decided to take the kids down to the end of the road to check it out. I've got to tell you, that was almost as emotional as the day that it was in remembrance of. To see thousands and thousands of big, bad burly bikers all dressed in pink (Emily's favorite color) roaring by on their nasty Harley's was almost more than our broken hearts could handle! The loud, proud bikes literally went on for miles, there were still bikes leaving Columbine High School, by the time the first ones were arriving at our high school over an hour later, it was simply awe inspiring. As the tears poured down my cheeks (as they are right now) I just kept hugging my kids and telling them how much people loved and supported them. It was a sight we will all never forget. Emily's Mom, Ellen Keyes, was on the lead bike driven by our wonderful Sheriff, Fred Wegener, followed by all of our local Park County bikers, my emotional husband being one of them.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Good Morning! This morning I woke up to the sounds of the crackling fire, my very favorite! Although it means winter is on it's way, I love to sit by a warm fire, even if it is just for a short time before the sun comes up. Tom knows that Isabella and I sit in front of our wood stove for our morning chat, and that we miss it terribly when he doesn't start one, so as soon as the temperature drops in the fall, I wake up to the smells and sounds of a soul warming fire.
With the first days of fall came the first snow storms. Monday (the last day of summer, mind you) we got over six inches of snow here at the ranch. We were supposed to get 6-12 inches overnight on Tuesday, but it didn't happen, just an inch or so. The kids were really disappointed, they were hoping for the earliest snow day ever!
With this reminder that freezing temps are not in the all too distant future, I need to make a list of the things I must do to prepare the Royal Ranch to have a "greener" winter. I want to share some ideas and tips that I use here, on a small ranch at a very high altitude, but many things that we do, even people in urban areas can adjust to their own needs.
- Check and replace timers. This is one of my favorite green tips, timers. I use timers on our favorite lamp, various small animal waterers, and I will use it on the chickens "day light", but the big difference has been on the large llama water trough. I have found that if the water heater is on for only 4-6 hours during the coldest times of the night (midnight to 4 or so), the water will not freeze. The savings are huge. Be careful to always get the right kind of timer, for example, get one especially made for outdoors if that is what you are using it for.
- Shop for textiles at Goodwill. In an old house, you'd be amazed at the odd places that drafts come through. I take old towels, tablecloths, blankets and sheets that I find at low prices and staple them up at the backs of cupboards, in the barn for the barn cats, in the garage windows (where no one can see them), and in the attic.
- Get the sewing machine out. Every winter I pick an area that really needs attention and sew for that room. Again, I will take textiles that I have purchased second hand and turn them into curtains. Actually my favorite curtains are family treasures, like old tablecloths that had stains on them that can be repurposed into a new usable family treasure! This doesn't work with every one's style though, so look for good sales on fleece, it makes great warm window coverings in just a few quick hems and comes in amazing pattern choices.
- Firewood, firewood, firewood!
- Check with other ranchers to see if they have old water troughs that I can turn into feeders. We add feet, drill holes in the bottom for drainage, and presto changeo, we have a new llama feeder from someone else's trash!
- Scour garage sales for winter supplies like plug in watering dishes, textiles and timers. These things cost pennies on the dollar at private sales and are very easily found.
- Bring in any plants from outside that I will be able to winter over in the house. It might be a little late, since the snow snuck up on me, but I will get my geraniums and maybe some violas, don't make the same mistake!
Well, I wish you luck with your winter preparations, but the best advice I can give you is to be well prepared. It is coming whether we are ready and prepared or not!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I had been waiting for the call from Jean Pero for what seemed like forever, when it finally came. A match had been made and Marilyn was on her way! My family and I could barely wait. Aside from myself and my husband, we have two growing energetic redheaded boys, and a four year old blond beauty. We had many house pets, cats, dogs, a turtle, all that we loved dearly, but this was the summer that I had waited my whole life for! The llamas had started coming a few weeks earlier and I hoped that Marilyn was going to love her new home in the mountains.
The plan was to take Marilyn Monroe, the most beautiful city Pyr, who had never been around other animals let alone livestock, and slowly train her to guard my llamas from the predators in our mountainous area. I knew that this was quite a challenge and would take some time, but I really wanted a rescue dog instead of buying a puppy. I was in the process of building my llama packing business, and felt that Marilyn was going to be an integral part of it.
My first red flag was when the guy got out of his Dodge Diesel with a large horse rope wrapped multiple times around his wrist and the other end attached to the most beautiful dog I had ever seen. The funny thing is, the red flag was to hurry up and get rid of the guy! She had the saddest eyes, it appeared as if she were pleading with me. He told us many times to not let her go as she would definitely run away, didn’t like kids much, and that she preferred to be outside. He promptly asked for some Tums and took off. The kids and I took Marilyn Monroe into her new home, and tried to get her settled. Marilyn is anything but settled indoors.
Within about three hours of her arrival, to my horror the kids accidentally let Marilyn out the front door without the Horse Rope on. She was moving very slowly so I decided just to follow her and see what happened. It was like the dog was on a mission. She went to our property line and she walked the entire thing, it was as if she knew her territory. There was absolutely no running away, Marilyn Monroe was home and she was checking out her new terrain. She immediately chose a spot between the house and the llama pen where she could keep an eye on her humans and her llamas. It was amazing, she was not aggressive with any of the house animals, loved the llamas and kids, remember, this is a dog that had never been around any of these things.
There were a couple of concerns with our wonderful Marilyn. The first being that she was terrified of my husband and the second was that she HATED being indoors. I’ll go back to the husband thing later. Anyway, not long after Marilyn got here she started chasing Dodge Diesel pick-up trucks (you do recall that was the get away vehicle) unless we had her very securely put away, and she was very hard to secure. I had even tried to put her in the house one time when I left and she had jumped out a second story window that she had pushed open. She would have nothing to do with a crate, and of course I knew that the long process of training her to live with my llamas was not complete.
She couldn't have been here more than a week, when despite her dislike of the indoors, she was not leaving the side of my son who had a pretty high fever. You know how Moms are we worry to worry. It wasn’t until I woke up in my chair at 2:00 in the morning and realized that Marilyn had not woken me up to go out, that I got myself in a panic. She had been laying by his side for more than 18 hours, and had not been freaking out to go outside like normal. I took him to the doctor first thing in the morning and he had a very serious infection that they were able to treat with antibiotics, I could not believe that Marilyn had known how sick he was.
We were at a loss as to how to keep Marilyn safe, she hated the pick-ups! My only option was to put her in with the llamas. Well, she showed me, she took to her job like a pro. There was absolutely no training needed by me, it was simply her instinct to guard the llamas. Her dedication has continued to amaze us. This past summer one of our beloved rescue llamas passed away and Marilyn guarded him until we were able to get him buried. We were unable to get a tractor in until morning so I covered T- bone right away and Marilyn kept uncovering his face, it was as if she hoped he’d breathe again. I’ll never forget it, the loss of the llama was tragic enough, but I was so concerned that a bear was going to come for the body and Marilyn would fight for it. Throughout the night I would check on them, she would take a quick potty break, but only when I came up to keep an eye on her llama for her. She just lay by him, all night long and into the morning.
Back to my poor husband, he tried so hard with Marilyn, and she was still terrified of him a year later. I had stayed in touch with Jean Pero over the year and she had been a fantastic mentor and Pyr expert. I had absolutely fallen in love with the breed, and she felt another Pyr might help Marilyn like Tom better, so I decided to look for another working dog. Sure enough another city dog came along and I thought I’d try again since this guy was so young, only 1 year old. He wasn’t near as smart or as intuitive as Marilyn, but we fell in love with Samson right away! He has been fantastic for Tom, too. He too, had a sad story and was raised in a tiny yard and had never had any room to exercise. To move to a ranch in the mountains was great for him, and my adventurous husband loved to take him along. Jean was right, as soon as Marilyn saw how Samson adored Tom she slowly started building a trusting relationship with him.
We still do not get Marilyn inside as much as we would like, but at least when she does come in she enjoys herself and is a little more relaxed, then wants to get right back to her herd. She was the one who handled all of Samson’s llama training, keeping him in line when he got over excited about the llama antics. To see pictures of Marilyn and Samson and their herd please visit our website at http://www.royalranch.net/ they are very proud to be hard working dogs! Both of them are parts of our family and an important part of our business and have been a wonderful life changing experience!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Tom, Jasper, Thunderboy, Hunter and Marcel
in the snow!
Judy and Jasper on Friday
Thunderboy and Jasper nibbling.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
For many years hunting season and Marcel were very well acquainted. Marcel is one of our first llamas, and absolutely one of the favorites. He is the leader of the entire herd, but he is the most gentle leader I have ever seen. Marcel is very rarely in any physical battles, but tends to get his point across without needing to fight. Whenever a new animal comes in, Marcel is the first to accept and love them. He has been so wonderful with the sheep for example. While the other llamas were either deathly afraid of, or wanted to kill the sheep initially, Marcel politely showed them who was boss, and allowed them to eat with him.
This last year, we tragically lost a llama, Carbondale, due to a leg injury during hunting season. It was a very scary thing to say the least, so I had decided that I was not going to take any risks with Marcel and retire him. As we all know, retirement plans change in times like these, so Marcel got to do our hike with us yesterday. Although the hike up is much easier, as the packs are empty, it is very difficult for the llamas to come down the trail full. The packs tend to slide forward, even with a crupper (a device like you see here on Marcel's neck, but it wraps under the tail to hold the weight back) on the pack. Llamas carry their weight with their chest and sides, so going down puts a lot of weight on the front legs and they tire quite easily. Marcel is a very dedicated worker, but is getting on in years (16 years old) and deserves to retire. He has been on every single one of our pack trips until this season!
Marcel is one of my rescues, but luckily does not have a sad story. We got him and his buddy Jasper off of an organic vegetable farm (kind of ironic he's gone full circle; pooping for a living, and then doing what llamas do best, packing for a living, and back to pooping for a living for Naked~Nure. The people that had him before, did not work with them at all, so when he got here he was very wild and difficult to halter. Llamas are very easy to train, so after learning he could trust us, he settled right into the role of lead packer.
As a matter of fact, my children's story Llucky Llama, is told from Marcel's viewpoint of living and loving at the Royal Ranch. He is also the llama that is on our sign and logo. Marcel is one proud animal, and we are so proud to share his life!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
- anyone asking for money up front
- unusual or not good use of the English language
- any file with .exe needs to be checked out, not saying they're all bad, but...
- any e-mail asking for personal information
- e-mails that come from a source "threatening action" (ie: closure, disruption of service or need of verification), related to one of your accounts
The problem with links is that they can be masked, and what looks like the link to a real website, as mine did, can easily be re-routed. In my research for this post I found and interesting piece of information on Microsoft's scam information page. The following is an excerpt from that page:
Phishing links that you are urged to click in e-mail messages, on Web sites, or even in instant messages may contain all or part of a real company’s name and are usually masked, meaning that the link you see does not take you to that address but somewhere different, usually an illegitimate Web site.
Notice in the following example that resting (but not clicking) the mouse pointer on the link reveals the real Web address, as shown in the box with the yellow background. The string of cryptic numbers looks nothing like the company's Web address, which is a suspicious sign.
I wasn't able to "copy" the example, but I didn't know that resting over the link was a good idea, you learn something new everyday! Like I said, I really did not think I would ever fall prey to such scams, but I was within one click with this one!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009