My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nature hike and Mocha howdy

Last Sunday was a perfect June day as well as the last day of BW's week of vacation, so we loaded up the girls and drove to the ranch where Mocha lives to go on a nature hike and then visit Mocha. I took along my easy-to-tote Kodak, so here are some photos from our expedition!

I took this photo of this antelope buck and his posse from the Jeep on our way to the gravel pit road where we hike. I was glad my Kodak has a good telephoto lens, because they had bounded quite a distance away before feeling safe enough to pose for a group photo!...

I don't know if we frightened this little Killdeer from her nesting area or what, but as we walked past a sandy area beside the road, she sort of jumped-flew out in front of us and did a funny little dance several times, then insisted on running ahead of us for the rest of our uphill walk! If we lagged behind too much she'd wait for us, looking back over her shoulder rather impatiently (as she was doing in this photo) till we caught up enough to satisfy her. She wouldn't let me get much closer than 10 yards or so, so I took this with my telephoto and cropped it so she'd be in the bottom left corner of the picture and easier to spot - she's really camouflaged against those beige stones and grasses!...

BW spied this pretty little cactus-looking flower, but I haven't had time to identify it yet. Do any of you know what it is? (Anyone? Anyone?) :-)...

Now this blooming flower I DO know. It's the infamous Crazy-Dog Plant! :-) Josie seems quite pleased with herself for posing so perfectly between these two budding Yucca flowers...

I love this photo so decided to have a little editing fun with it...

Mocha has been back in out in the pasture and reunited with his old buddies from last summer, Prairie and Flame, for for a couple of weeks and is looking great! He's put on weight and is sleek and shiny, and galloped and pranced like a colt when he saw us...

L-R Prairie, Flame and Mocha

He seemed eager to show off his hair accessories, of which he was quite proud, so I told him I'd put a photo of his new fashion statement on the blog for everyone to admire. When Josie overheard this, she insinuated herself into the photo - so please don't fail to admire her, too, 'cause that's how feelings can get hurt. ;-)

Speaking of Josie, for those of you keeping track, her heart function blood work came back inconclusive, scoring fairly near the low (good) end of the "gray area" range between definitely no heart disease and definite heart disease. Since she did well on this hike and on our walks since and has no other symptoms in her heart sounds or on her xrays, rather than running further tests our vet has me keeping a log of our walks - the temperature, distance walked, how far she gets before (and how many times) she demands a break. I call it the "Josie Crap-out Log" and between thee and me, I think Josie's quite pleased to have taken her high-maintenance reputation to a new level! :-)


  1. Are Mocha's companions a tad on the stout side for horses? Mocha looks pleased to see you.

    Josie has just been waiting for a deep blue sky to pose in front of to set off her coloring. I hope she continues to stay well.

    1. Prairie is definitely a stout fella, but that's normal for a Quarter Horse. Mocha is half thoroughbred and so has a much leaner build. Flame isn't overweight at all, but year round he has the oddest coat! Very curly and thick and fluffy - more like a dog's fur than a horse's hair! And I think that makes him look stouter than he is. :-)

      You may be right about Josie waiting for the perfect backdrop to show off lovely golden color! She picked a good 'un, too. :-) She's still doing better on our walks than she was before, so she may have had a passing bug or something. But I've also noticed some possible signs of aches and pains in her hind quarters when she gets up or lays down, so today we're starting her on a 2-week trial of an anti-inflammatory and a doggy pain med, and then we'll compare how she's doing when we get back from our trip. Maybe that will make all the difference. Thank you for your well wishes!

  2. So much good stuff in this post! First of all, I'm so happy to hear that Josie is doing well and the tests, while inconclusive, didn't show anything bad. I laughed at the picture of her photo bombing Mocha's portrait shot. ha! What a great capture of her by the yucca, too. She looks so pleased with herself! Great news to hear that Mocha is doing well, too. He's certainly looking quite dashing and happy!

    I'm guessing that the killdeer was trying to lure you away from a nest. The dance and stopping to wait for you sound like what they do when a predator comes around while they're nesting.

    1. Nature hikes, dogs and wildlife - it's no surprise you enjoyed the content of this one! :-) I think Josie has been taking good notes on Tessa's photo bombing techniques, and the student has become the master, I'd say! :-) She DOES look pleased with herself in that yucca photo, doesn't she? What a nutball. :-)

      That's exactly what we thought the killdeer was doing, but when she KEPT doing it for the entire walk (at least 1/3 mile of it) we thought maybe she was just wanting some hiking companions! :-) Funny how she left us when we turned to go back, and we never saw her again - not even when we passed that sandy area where her nest probably would have been. Maybe she'd decided by then we were all good folks and she could return to her eggs without worry. :-)

  3. Wonderful news about Josie. And I love her camera hogging ways. When my partner's parents visited us some years ago, they took many, many photos. When they got home and had them developed they discovered that our white cat (Moby) was in every photo. And they didn't like cats!
    I would agree that it sounds as if the Killdeer was being a good and protective parent.
    Mocha looks wonderful, and I am really glad that you had such a fabulous nature hike.

    1. That's a hoot about Moby!! Cats can always sense when a person isn't a fan of their species, and either torment them with affection and attention or do something like Moby did. That is just too funny! Thanks for the great laugh!

      Mocha's gotten a bit swaybacked and very gray in his advanced years, but otherwise he looks as handsome and spry as he did when he lived with us, and that really made our day to see him looking so good! And it always makes our day to see him so happy, as he is in that wonderful pasture with his buddies!

  4. Ah, the mighty beautiful as ever. Mocha and the kilkdeer look spiffy too. :-)

    1. Josie thanks you, and I'll pass along your compliment to Mocha (and the killdeer too, if I see her again!) next time we visit him! :-)

  5. You had a most productive time - love the killdeer's antics. What a strange name for a bird.

    1. I wish I could have filmed her funny little dance moves! I agree about the name (and don't like it), but whomever named them thought that's what their call sounded like.

  6. This post is all about Josie-whether you know it or not! I love that her photo bombing skills are stellar. Mocha must have been really happy to see you. She dressed up!
    Hopefully Josie's crap out journal will clarify how she's doing. I do hope well.
    Happy day to you. Glad to see you with bright blue sunny skies.

    1. Oh, pretty much everything is about Josie, whether we know it or not - just ask her! :-) And yes, she's been working on her photo bombing skills, clearly. Mocha was definitely happy to see us (which is always heart-warming!), and we were equally happy to see him - especially to see him looking so good and so happy (and yes, so decorated!) :-)

      Thank you ~ Josie is doing better than she was, but as I said in my reply to Andrea we're going to put her on a two-week trial of pain meds/anti-inflammatories to see if that helps. We'd like for her to enjoy her walks and run around playing with Willow the way she used to!

      Our skies have definitely not always been sunny this week, as you'll see in today's post and the next one I plan to post. We've had some really violent weather this week - our poor friend Robyn's house, cars and landscaping suffered significant damage in last evening's ping-pong sized hailstorm! And we got what sounded like 100mph winds around midnight here. I need to check with our next door neighbors and see if they got a reading on the anemometer they have mounted on our shared fence, because I don't remember ever hearing the wind roar so badly! This morning is tranquil, though, and sunny - should be a lovely weekend. I hope the same for you!

  7. Good to see Mocha again, we hope Josie continues to improve ;-). I think the killdeer was trying to draw you far enough away from her nest that she felt you were no threat to her eggs or youngins. I've even seen them feign injury to get you to follow them.
    Bet you're looking forward to your trip ;-).

    1. Thanks, Spudly!

      I agree with your interpretation of the killdeer's behavior (see my reply to Molly - "Rambling Vegans" - above for more details), but were amazed at how far away she felt she needed to lure us before feeling comfortable! She must be one of those "helicopter" parents I've read about. LOL

      We are looking forward to our trip, but have so much to do between now and then... and we sure hope our violent weather calms its crazy ass down before we go, or I'll just worry the entire time we're gone!

  8. Josie. Photobombing queen! My laptop screen needs cleaning,I kissed Mocha's face so many times, but I can't be blamed... he so flipping handsome!
    Jane x

    1. This was Josie's first photo bomb, and I'd say her debut was aces! :-) Mocha thanks you, and also apologizes for being the cause of so much spit and lip balm on your screen. LOL

  9. 6 Antelope in one photo is very impressive and if you hadn't mentioned that you had used your telephoto lens, I would have thought they were really close. I loved how all of them posed! Even with humans getting everyone to look at the same time in the same direction is a feat!!

    That was an interesting side bar about the killdeer. I thought it was interesting that they called it a plover. We have a project where we have to pay someone to monitor the piping plover because we're working within 1/4 mile of them and they're protected. My favorite part of this post was that fun story about the killdeer hiking ahead of you and waiting for you to keep up. How cool is that!!!

    I just had to click on the Anyone, Anyone link because I couldn't imagine what that might be so it got my curiousity up. I love those great bored faces on those kids. It might have been good acting but it had to help that what he was saying was TOTALLY boring! :-)

    Josie managed to get herself seen and mentioned alot in this post so between that and her "Josie crap out log" she must be in doggy

    I couldn't really tell what Mocha's hair accessories were but they looked a little like branches and leaves - was it something he ran into or did they actually add something in his mane?

  10. I had to crop it a lot to pull them in even closer, which makes the photo even fuzzier but a little photo editing and it's not too bad. I'm glad it looked to you like they were really close! (I'm not good at guessing distances, but they were probably 100 yards away when I took this. They'd only been about 20 yards away when we first saw them! But I'm glad they stopped and posed before vanishing over the ridge without giving me any photo op at all. And I laughed at your observation about the challenge of getting humans to stand still and look right at the camera at the same time! (I got these guys to cooperate by yelling at them that we were vegan and had no intention of harming them, but only wanted to take their photo because they were so beautiful. Maybe a similar technique would work on people?? LOL)

    When I first saw a killdeer here at our new house (only it was just a building site at the time), I thought I was seeing things. Didn't know what it was, but wondered what in tarnation a sandpiper was doing on the high prairie of a landlocked state! :-) Now I know that they're a different branch on the Plover family tree, but they still give the day a "beachy" feel whenever I see one! I also loved how she kept trotting ahead of us and then waiting till we caught up - you could almost hear her muttering disgustedly to herself about these stupid humans, first trespassing on her property and then being such slugs on their hike. :-)

    I'm glad you clicked on that "Anyone, anyone?" link because it tickled me to add that. :-) Have you ever seen "Ferris Bueller's Day Off?" It's a classic, so I've seen tons of clips, but have never watched the actual entire movie! Ben Stein (who plays the boring teacher) used to host a quiz show and though he wasn't as boring as this teacher, that slow monotone is how he talks. Jimmy Kimmel was his funny sidekick on that show, and that's how he got his start - now he hosts his own nighttime "Tonight Show" sort of show. Anyway, the kid in that clip I got the biggest kick out of was the one who had drooled on his desk! LOL

    Oh dear, what happened, did you fall asleep at your keyboard before you could finish your sentence? Hopefully you didn't "do a Creed" like that bank teller I told you about! LOL I assume you were going to say something along the line of, "doggy heaven."

    I think Mocha's mane embellishments are seed pods from a tree he walked under. Or maybe he had a nice roll on the ground and picked them up that way. He was always showing up at the barn for his supper with crap in his hair - burrs, mostly. Once he got so many of them in his forelock that it was all matted and sticking straight out from his forehead like a unicorn horn! I have a photo of it somewhere in my ridiculously huge and disorganized photo collection (the archaic printed kind, lol) - if I ever come upon it, I'll scan and post it! It's a riot.


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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