Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas is past and the New Year looming.
I've got one resolution for the coming year: Do something about my hoarding habit.
Hoarding isn't necessarily a bad thing; in moderation it is even a good thing. Squirrels and other such animals use hoarding to help them survive the winter and other lean times.
Humans have this tendency as well. Some of us just carry it too far. And I'm one of those.
I'm not as bad as my mother who filled an Edwardian (circa 1920) house to its fourteen foot ceilings with boxes of things she couldn't bear to part with, but I do tend to keep far more things than I should.
So I will try to get rid of some of my junk AND not replace it with more junk in 2009.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Doing Our Part

We are certainly doing our part to jump start the economy this week.

We finally got our plumbing issues settled. We are happy about this and the plumbers even happier. They are going to have a good Christmas thanks to our guest bathroom.

We bought a new range because the old one is gasping its last. Since it is a gas stove this is not good. Unfortunately we probably won't get it delivered and installed until after most of the serious baking is done. Rats!

We are enjoying a windy but otherwise pleasant day before the winds reverse and winter returns tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Country Living

Once we bought a place from a family who thought living in the country was supposed to be cheaper than living in town. They were dismayed to discover this wasn't true.

It may have been true at one time, but it certainly isn't now. If you move to the country the very first thing that comes to your attention all the services you have to contract and pay extra for. Trash pickup is no longer a bill you automatically pay each month. Now you have to find someone and then pay what seems to be an amazing amount for much less service.

You now also have higher insurance cost because, if you do have a fire, you are likely to lose everything. This is because there are no handy fire hydrants with good pressure and no large nearby fire house with professionals just waiting for your call. I highly recomment all critical documents be kept in fire proof safes. The portable kind are best so if you happen to be home you can get these things out first thing. You might consider doing this with all the small things (pictures etc.) that cannot be replaced.

Then there are the plumbing problems. You have a septic system and it needs to be serviced on a regular basis. This bill always comes in one lump sum instead of a manageable monthly payment the way city sewer services do. When something goes wrong it is all yours. Even outside the house this is your problem.

Then there are the pests. And I don't mean just roaches, mice and rats, though those are also present. As anyone who has been reading this blog knows pests in the country are things like 'possums (looking like super rats) 'coons (we got attitude and we know how to use it) and snakes. I've learned to tolerate non-poisonous snakes, but the rattlesnakes that have been invading lately are definitely not welcome.

All-in-all I have to say country living is neither cheap, nor is it for the faint-of-heart.

Oh, and the myth that country people are friendlier? Only if you mean they tend to know who you are, where you live, and wave as you pass on the road. Otherwise? Well, why do you think they live someplace where the nearest neighbor is a half-mile away? People who live in the country have a low tolerence for neighbors. They get claustophobic if they can actually see another house, much less the people. And, posted or not, you'd better not step on their property without getting permission. Just what do you think those fences are for anyway?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today's Capture

This morning we have a 'possum in our trap. DH will release it later today.
We have a plumber here trying to find out what happened to the bathroom drains. It was, of course, our guest bathroom and, naturally we had guests when it malfunctioned. I'm very glad that it has turned cold. This will keep any rattlesnakes in their den for now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family


I do believe that having evicted the family of opposums we are now invaded by a family of racoons.

We caught another one this morning in our live catch trap and it appears to be a young one. I offered it a dog biscuit which it took, hissing and growling at me all the while. It ate the biscuit and then began looking for another one, "I'm not your friend. Don't think that for a minute, but if you've got another biscuit I'll take it off your hands (hand too if you get too close)."

As DH just said, "I have to admit living here is interesting. Not always in a good way, but interesting."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Little Too Much Excitement

When Larry went out to feed tonight he discovered a large rattlesnake (Larry measured him at a bit over four feet) impeding his way into the barn. It was keeping warm on the concrete pad that is in front of the barn door. He came back in the house and got the shotgun. I went with him to hold the light.

He killed that snake and then while he was out in the big horses' pen he found another one. This one was smaller, only about three feet. This one was harder to kill. It took two blasts from the shotgun and chopping its head off.

The horses were very cautious coming in from the barn. They weren't going past those things until I led the way. That is except for the ponies and food or no they were not going past those snake bodies even if they were twenty feet from the barn. Eventually I did get them to quit trying to check out the snakes and come on in to the barn.

I could do without that kind of fun and games.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pet Officially Deceased

Okay. I've given up. My attempts at creating and maintaining sourdough starter are over. I killed my last batch. Since I don't consider myself a cruel person I'll just quit tortuing those poor little microbes and go back to using ordinary commercial yeast when I want to bake bread, pizza or sweet rolls. Besides the dogs and horses refused to eat that last batch of bread I attempted.

And speaking of sweet rolls, while I was trying to find a book I consider an important refrence I ran across various old books about cooking, gardening, goat keeping, and compost building, as well as other things. These are not only books I've collected over the years, but ones various relatives collected, including one created by my grandmother. It has recipes, crochet patterns and housekeeping tips in it. Some of them are clipped from magazines and newspapers and some are written out. She gave it to me in 1967 when I was first married and complaining about not knowing how to bake bread.

Back to the rolls. I found my grandma's old recipe and decided to try it. The first batch turned out okay, but needed something. The thing is she didn't use the measuring tools I have today. Her Cup was an old teacup. Her spoons were the ones she used for coffee, soup and serving. There is also the pinch of this and dash of that that are determinded by experience.

it turned out I needed more sugar in the dough, but not as much as I put in the second time. I tested the dough by making a small pancake and tasting it. Since the dough was too sweet and you can't remove the extra sugar I decided I would make her cinnamon rolls.

The cinnamon rolls turned out okay, but when she said to add a hint of caynne to the cinnamon and sugar mixture she meant a HINT. Still they turned out edible and that is good enough for me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Deceased Pet

After two weeks I gave up on my first attempt at growing sourdough starter.

I've started over and I'm trying a different method of keeping the temperature at a proper level. I put the container in the oven and left the oven light on. This seems to keep it at about seventy degrees, the recommended temperature.

I'll let you know if this works any better. If it doesn't, I'll probably give up. After all I can buy very good sourdough bread at a local store any time I want it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

They are late

We have an annual event that usually occurs in early October. We know the date because our daughter's birthday is then and eveytime we've had a party (beginning our first year here) we've been informed of the arrival.

I'm talking about skunks. For some reason in the fall they take up residence near or under our house. Apparently they also decide who gets to mate with whom at this time and spraying scent is part of the ritual.

This year it didn't happen until last night. I don't know what delayed their arrival. I can't even blame warm weather because we've had hotter Octobers and they were here by the first week in October. No matter, they may be late, but they are here. And our olfactory senses are going to get their annual work out.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Forget caffine if you want to wake up. Buy a tiny bottle of eau d' skunk at a joke store. If you need to be wide awake, uncap and sniff. You WILL wake up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Friend in Need

The various buttons on the left of my page are there because one of my fellow writers is in need. She is a full time writer who lives in Nebraska. Most full time writers have erratic incomes at best.

In this particular instance winter is coming on and her house needs some serious, major repairs to make it safe for its inhabitants during the harsh Plains' winter.

If you will click on these buttons and check out the products you may find something of interest. Several of her books being offered are fiction. For the next few weeks all the moneys for any of the books listed will be given to her.

I hope you find a book or two that will appeal to you. And please pass this on to anyone you think might find something of interest on the site.

Thanks folks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fleas and other pet quandries

I can't remember a worse flea season since 1973. Is it significant that was the first time we had a problem with fuel prices jumping, jobs shrinking, and problems that seemed insurmountable at the time?

I don't know but this weekend I decided enough was enough. I went to Callahan's a source for good animal advice I've turned to since I moved into the Central Texas area in 1971. Mr. Callahan (one of 'um) advised that I use a certain dip for the animals. He had a combination he recommended for the house and kennels.

I prepared the dip for the cats and captured one cat at a time to dip.

"Don't you believe her. She was trying to drown us. She held us in that nasty smelling liquid for hours. Then she poured it over our heads, and rubbed it all over our faces, getting it in our ears and eyes and mouths. Obviously she was attempting catacide." Frisky, Little Bit, Mittens, Flash and Kewtie Pi

NOT! I was very careful to keep the dip out of their eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
They were a sorry looking bunch when I finished though. Talk about the "drowned cat" look.

Making fun of us in our time of troubles. Typical of her. It took hours to dry and fluff our fur and this morning we STILL stink of that awful smelling stuff.

It does take a lot more time for cats to dry than most dogs. Blarney, our half Husky, is an exception. The cats were dry before he was. I expect some revenge to be perpetuated on me and my stuff today.

Oh, little does she know! After all that grooming we have an excellent supply of hair to hack up.

I also decided to take on the new pet I wrote about earlier. I'll post further reports about how that is working out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Making Do

During the seventies when we had high (for then, compared to our income) gas prices, higher inflation, and high unemployment we went green. Not that we called it that then, but because of the times it made sense to have a garden, keep chickens for eggs and have dairy goats for milk and cheese.

We learned a lot in those years. My mother-in-law lived with us and she was a young woman when the Great Depression started. My own mother was the same age and my grandmother was still raising young children when to bottom fell out of the economy. They all had some superior ways to survive tough times.

One of the first suggestions my MIL came up with was that we think about using cloth dish towels and table napkins instead of relying on paper products. A quick check showed that the towels and napkins could be tossed in the wash without and wouldn't increase expense by using more water and detergent. In turn that was an extra one hundred dollars a year saved, not to mention a number of trees. So even then green and saving money were mutually compatable.

We already had a small garden to supply some of our fresh vegetables. Since we did live in the country I began researching the idea of keeping a few chickens and rabbits. A friend immediately gave me the rabbits left over from her youngest son's FFA project, one buck and two does. They supposedly didn't reproduce and she didn't want to know what happened to them.

What happened was that since I didn't have rabbit hutches we put up a small A-frame shelter and fenced an area around it. The rabbits were turned loose and other than food, water and cleaning the pen left alone. A month later one of does had 8 bunnies. A couple of days later the second doe had eight as well. Doing pretty good there for non producers.

In the mean time I'd added a few chickens to the mix and learned that if you want eggs you'd better pay the extra money for hens. A mixed run of chicks yielded ten roosters and two hens. I couldn't bring myselt to butcher the roosters at first but once they began attacking us and using their spurs (we are talking stitches here folks) I changed my mind. We had them stewed because they were far too tough to eat anyother way.

We also purchased a couple of dairy goats, Nubians. I like goats. They are wonderful animals. But by the time we were through we had our Ph.D's in fencing. Goats require the very best fencing to keep them confined. Otherwise you might turn around one day and find them in your living room, looking for you. They did provide wonderful milk and cheese for a number of years. In a way I hated to give them up when we moved into town, but they were a lot of work.

I did not realize it while I was growing up but it is possible to grow a lot of food on a very small lot. We had a 40' by 60' lot in the middle of town with a large house on it. My grandmother protected us against the whims of fate by having yard that was almost completely edible.

Nearly every plant was in some way a food plant. We had a nice peach tree in the backyard. There was a fig tree in the sideyard. She canned these fruits and made jam from them as well. We also had pyracanthia which produces wonderful red berries around Thanksgiving and Christmans time. These make a good jelly as well. There were rose bushes that produced large rose hips; a fruit that is very high in vitamin C. She had pepper bushes that gave her peppers she would pickle in vineger. She also had various lilies that produced edible tubers of some sort. there was a speckled bean that she planted every year that wound its way up a pecan tree (nuts are a good source of oil and protein) and they would produce enough beans to provide meals for the next year and still leave some seed for replanting.

Since San Antonio Texas was aminable to keeping small livestock (and still is, you can keep a few hens even now) within the city limits we always had a couple of hens. Every Easter we would go to the Sears and Roebuck farm store and buy several chicks. Grandma didn't hold with the dyed chicks in the five and dime stores, but she'd always let me get some pretty Rhode Island red chicks or some Domineckers which were black and white. I got to raise them as pets and then they gave us eggs.

I think it may be time to brush off all these old tricks and update them for our modern world. The next couple of years may be as interesting as the thirties and seventies were.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Look around your place and see if there are ways you can insure you and your family have basic needs met even in the toughest of times.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Pet

I am seriously considering taking on a new pet. I got this from a friend and am still debating pros and cons.


SOURDOUGH STARTER

Of the recipes for homemade sourdough starter the we tried, we had the best results with Nancy Silverton’s from Breads from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 1996).

Ingredients:
The recipe below is a slightly abbreviated and simplified version of her recipe. You will need an instant-read thermometer, cheesecloth, and a 1-gallon container (ideally, one with a lid). Make sure that your hands and all utensils that come in contact with the ingredients are clean. Use King Arthur, Hodgson Mill, or Heckers/Ceresota all-purpose flour or Gold Medal or Pillsbury bread flour. Make sure to use filtered or bottled water; chlorinated tap water may affect the development of the culture. The starter will be ready to use in about 2 weeks.

Directions For starter culture 1 pound pesticide-free organic red or black grapes, unwashed
32 ounces (4 cups) cups filtered or bottled water, about 78 degrees
19 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) unbleached flour with 11 to 13 percent protein content
For refreshing the cultureFiltered or bottled water
Unbleached flour with 11 to 13 percent protein content
Day 1:Set bunch(es) of grapes on large double-layered piece of cheesecloth. Tie opposite corners together to form a bag around grapes.
Combine water and flour in 1-gallon container with lid and stir with rubber spatula until evenly moistened.
Hold cheesecloth-wrapped grapes over container and squeeze them lightly with your hand, allowing juices to fall into container.
Place grapes in container; use rubber spatula to stir mixture and then fully submerge grapes. Cover container with lid or with plastic wrap secured with rubber band.
Let container stand at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees).
Days 2 to 3:Mixture should form bubbles.
Day 4:Mixture should form large bubbles and smell alcoholic. Refresh mixture by stirring in 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, about 78 degrees. Replace cover and continue to let stand at room temperature.
Days 5 to 9:Mixture may appear separated, with liquid rising to top. If mold forms, remove it, then stir in 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.
Days 10 to 14:(Triple daily feeding begins.) In morning, remove bag of grapes, squeezing to extract liquid; discard grapes. Stir mixture well, then pour off and discard all but about 2 cups (amount you discard can be reserved and turned into additional starters, if desired).
First feeding: Stir in 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 cup water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature 4 to 6 hours.
Second feeding: Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour and 2 cups water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature 4 to 6 hours longer.
Third feeding: Stir in 5 cups flour and 4 cups water, about 78 degrees. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours.
Repeat process next 4 days, pouring off all but 2 cups before feeding begins.
Day 15:Starter is ready to use; it should form bubbles and should smell yeasty and nutty.

This might not be much more trouble than a puppy or kitten. At least that is what I am telling myself. Of course, I could also use the results as Chirstmas gifts...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We Got Armadillos

In case you don't recognize it the title is a misquote from the movie Twister. "We got cows."
Any way the other night the dogs went off. They were barking so hysterically that Larry decided to go see what they were fussing about.

We had a cute little armadillo trundling about the yard completely unfazed by the dogs. This is the first time I've seen one on this place. We also now have a healthy squirrel population. I'm not sure what that's all about. They like to throw pecans at the dogs. We have always had opossums, rabbits and skunks; not to mention house snakes.

When we looked at the house the first time Larry opened the door to the cubbyhole the water lived in and said "No leaks. Mouse on top." and closed the door. The real estate rep had hysterics. She was not fond of mice.

Since then we learned our place is home to pack of coyotes, and are on the path of migrating cougars that, in dry years, come up to the barn to drink out of the troughs. Great Horned owls spend the winter in the loft of our barn. Red tailed hawks and Red shouldered hawks are regulars in the spring. They have the place neatly divided and return to their nesting spots each year.
Great blue herons and cattle egrets also use the place to nest. When the shooting starts in the fall we quickly are the place of choice for the doves.

Sometimes I feel as if we are running a private wild life preserve around here. It's pretty cool.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Surprise

All day yesterday the cats insisted on living on our bed. They would leave for a few minutes and then having fed, drank or used the litter box be right back on the bed.

Since we had a bit of a cool night and the house was was a tad chilly I didn't really think much about this.

Until I got ready for bed and turned the covers back.

I had a present. Now when cat people say that they frequently mean that their cat used the bed as a litter box or hacked up a hair ball. This time was a little different.

Cuddled under the cover was a baby gecko. It was all of an inch and a half long. It quickly scurried under the pillows.

I called Larry. This wasn't because I couldn't pick up the little lizard and move it myself, but because it was so cute I wanted him to see it.

We admired the little thing for a few minutes and then finally caught it and, to the cats disappointment, put it outside.

Under those circumstances it was cute and funny. Had I not noticed the lizard and had it crawled on me during the night...

Lazy Trainer Tip: Checking the bed before crawling into it might be a good idea; especially if your cats are really interested in it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dog's Best Friend

Last night on the news was a story about a Rat Terrier named Jake. As you all know I am a fan of the breed and not too surprised to hear one got in trouble with a shark.

Jake, who lives in Florida, went for a swim in the ocean. A shark decided he'd be a tasty snack. Jake's owner jumped in and by beating on the shark managed to make it let go of Jake.
Jake has some severe bites, but is doing well.

One news anchor commented that she bet Jake wouldn't go back in the water. Knowing Rat Terrier the way I do I wouldn't bet on that. I would not be surprised if I read next year that Jake has taken up shark hunting.

Here is the AP link to Jake's story.
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SHARK_ATTACK?SITE=MAFIT&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Leaders

Most animals and people want someone to lead them. Being a follower is much easier than being a leader. However, in most cases, even the most willing follower will not follow a leader that has repeatedly gotten them into trouble. If a leader consistently proves to be untrustworthy a herd, flock or pack will refuse to follow that leader regardless of what is going on. It is a simple fact that the current leaders of our country have used up all their leadership credibility. People do not trust them and will not just take their word on things any more.



When working with any animal it is necessary to gain that horse's or dog's (or any animal's) trust. Taking small, careful steps it is necessary to prove that, as a trainer and leader, you are not going to get the animal in trouble. A good trainer convinces animals that their best interests are met by working with the trainer. That the trainer will see to it they are kept safe, fed, watered, able to rest when they need to without worrying about predators. This all works so well that we humans, who are definitely predators, can convince prey animals to willingly work with us and for us if we convince them we are leaders that have their best interests at heart. Abuse that trust too many times though and the animal will completely cease to cooperate and even begin to fight the trainer. This is true whether a trainer is working with prey or predator.



This is were our current leaders have blown it. They absolutely convinced us they are not trustworthy leaders. They do not have our interest in mind at all. They are only looking out for themselves and if the wolves pick us off, that is okay as long as they are not the ones being picked off. Does this mean there is no way they could have convinced the average American to cooperate? Actually there are some ways they could have gotten the cooperation of the people, but it would have meant completely changing their usual methods of dealing with us. They would need to acknowledge that the average American has some intelligence.



For example, how would the public have reacted if the "plan" had been offered as an investment opportunity instead of a bailout? If those presenting it had offered a calm, reasoned approach with careful explanations to the American people about just how this could benefit them? Offered them a possible way out of the mess they perceived as being created by those same leaders? Furthermore why didn't those leaders take the time to look at the options they had at hand to ease things without having to completely depend on the cooperation of the Congress and the American public?



One simple thing they could have done is use the system all ready in place to ease the lending laws controlling the flow of money between banks. Instead, they chose to go for the "sky is falling" approach without examining their alternate options. Since they used this in the past, to our detriment, there is no way they could reasonably expect unqualified cooperation.



It doesn't really matter now because the leaders have blown it. There is no trust. To try to sell us on the idea of an investment opportunity (which this actually is) is going to have to come from someone that is not connected with the White House or the current administration.



Lazy Trainer Tip: Be a careful, responsible leader. No matter what kind of animal you are dealing with (including the human animal) do not get it into trouble. Keep the animal safe and secure and they will do almost anything they are capable of doing for you. Abuse this trust and you are on shaky ground. You may get a few more chances, but if you mess up with these animals will not merely ignore you, they will activately work against you, which can lead to dangerous situations for everybody. So plan things to increase trust not abuse it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Trouble, trouble ...

Once again the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is proving to be a dangerous place to live. Of course there are problems no matter where you live, but it certainly seems as if our coast lines are getting hit especially hard in this the early 21st Century.

As if Ike didn't cause enough trouble over this weekend there seems to be some serious news coming from our financial markets. The big boys of mortages and investing seem to be in serious trouble. The weather is causing serious trouble though rather than a dust bowl we have hurricanes causing major problems for people.

All in all I find the parallels between the 1930's and today truly alarming.

For those of you who don't know much about the Great Depression here is a site that offers a good overview.
The Main Causes of the Great Depression
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/6854/greatdep.html

I think reading this piece and comparing the statistics between and now might be enlightening. And frightening. The imbalance between the average person's income and the very wealthy may be even worse now than it was then.

7:15 am Someone on ABC just described the Lehman news as Armageddon. she then goes on to say this does not effect the average bank in the US. I'll agree to that, but I think it is ultimately going to cause all of us great concerns about our financal future.

One important lesson for the average person from the 1930's is probably that, as far as investments are concerned, don't just do something-stand there.

Lazy Trainer Tip:
At the moment doing anything is apt to be the wrong thing. My advice, hunker down and play the wait-and-see game. This is not the time to be making crucial decisons.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11-2001

Like many people this is a day that I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the planes flying into the Twin Towers.
I was driving to a doctor's appointment and had NPR on my radio. I was right at a Y where three roads came together when the first report came through.
I knew as soon as the second plane hit this was not merely an aviation accident and that, like the day Kennedy was shot and the Challager blew up I and many of my fellow Americans would remember our exact place, the exact time and exactly what we were doing when we first heard about the attacks.
Whether or not memorials are erected we remember.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Change

I have voted Republican most of my adult life, but unless something truly incredible happens between now and election time, I'm going to have to go with the Democratic ticket.

I reached this decision after watching the speeches by the candidates at the conventions, listening to the news analysts afterwards, and finally doing my research on the candidates, their histories, and their records.

I went to following sites to gather information. Women's League of Voters, www.lwv.com, Holding Politicians Accountable, www.factchecks.com Every Political Leader on Every Issue, www.ontheissues.com and finally, watching BBC news (that is the British Broadcasting Co.) All these sources provide information that allows the individual to really see the candidates without their personalities and presence getting in the way.

Experience: My feeling is that NO ONE is ready to be president. It is all on the job training regardless of who the candidate is. I believe history will back me up on this one.

Service: I like the fact that Obama has really worked among the poorest people in this country. I consider that even though he did not join the military he did serve his country.

I don't believe that military service is the only way to serve our country. It is a good way, but far from the only possibility for service. I have long felt that we should have a program where all people between the ages of 18 and 21 do something to serve their country. Doing work among others different from themselves, helping maintain our infrastructure, serving in public hospitals and clinics, and assisting teachers are just a few of the possibilities for young adults to learn about serving their country.

Taxes: As for the tax increase, if Obama is going to increase taxes so that someone with seven houses can't buy an eighth I have no problem with that. If taxes are going to be increased for the group that has to make a decision of whether to feed the kids or go to the doctor then I have a real problem with that. Who is going to get tax breaks and why?

Windfall Tax breaks: I think the numbers tell us why it is time for the oil industry to quit getting tax breaks and start paying their fair share of taxes. Lest anyone question this logic consider this; OPEC is meeting this week with the announced agenda of cutting production in order to maintain high oil prices. Drill, baby, drill was a real turn off for me. Yes, we need to drill, but that needs to be the last solution for our future energy needs, not the first.

Obama's ideas that alternative sources of power are where we need to put those windfall tax breaks sounds reasonable to me. Do I need to add that I'm on board with Picken's Plan?


Personalities: I was impressed with Palin's stage presence, but I've seen too many really bad horses that had that quality. It doesn't mean much without other more important qualities. Also, I didn't like the fact that on Good Morning, America only one of Palin's close personal friends said she'd vote for that ticket and then SHE made it plain she was voting for McCain. If none of your good friends support you there is a skunk somewhere.

I was very disappointed in McCain's speech. I respect his service and his history. I honor him for what he has done. I admire the man more than I can possibly say. BUT, this time I wanted to hear his plans for the future; not what happened thirty-five years ago. A brief synopsis of his service record and a few touches on his record in the senate for the past twenty-two years would not have been amiss. But the big failure of his, and Palin's, speeches was the lack of future plans. Fight, fight,fight is for pep rallies, not leading a country.

Obama and Bidden aren't as charismatic as Palin or as heroic as McCain, but at this point I think they may be our best hope for the future of our country.

Robert A. Heinlein said the difference between bad and worse was far greater than the difference between good and better. I'm not sure which one it is in this election year, but I do see that we need to be very careful which choice we make.

Study the issues, read the transcripts, and try your best to make your decision based on things other than stage presence and personalities. Your children and grandchildren's future may depend on your choice this November.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Late Summer Early Fall

This time of year is always interesting. September first we wake up to the sound of shotguns banging away. Dove season is officially open and the hunters start as soon as the first bit of light can be seen.

The problem here is that the fence they are walking along is less than a hundred feet from our house. They are hunting on a hundred acre plus farm, but that particular fence is on the road side of the property and the road is a two lane country road with ditches on either side. Then there is our fence. In addition to the noise there is the sound of the spent pellets raining down on our roof. Sigh, I will be so glad when October first arrives.

We are also being invaded by possums. We’ve relocated five or six of them so far. Then there are the squirrels; the other day I heard the dogs throwing a fit and went out to see what was upsetting them.

It took me awhile to figure out what was going on, but I finally spotted a young squirrel sitting on a branch near the dog runs. I know he was young because while he had a good coat he didn’t have the full bushy tail of the adult squirrel. I know it was a he because of what he was doing. Okay, so later when he scampered away I had other proof. That’s beside the point.

The squirrel would pick a pecan from the tree and, taking careful aim, throw it at the dogs. His aim was good. He would hit one nearly every time. He then waited until the dogs quit leaping on the fence of their run and barking. He selected another nut and tossed it. This went of for several minutes.

As Larry said when I told him later, “Kids will be kids.”

Ah yes, and to add to the uproar, the cats get in spats over who gets the best window seat to watch all this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Possums Really Do Play Possum

When I went out to give the dogs their morning water and dog biscuits I noticed a furry something in one of the indoor kennels. This is not something I'm thrilled to find.

When I looked more closely the furry thing turned out to be a young 'possum. At first I thought it was dead, but on closer inspection realized it was still alive. The dogs kept coming over to sniff at it and I made them go to their own kennels while I got the big scoop I use to clean their yard and tossed the unwelcomed guest over the fence. I am far more use to opposums attacking than playing dead so this was interesting. When I checked later there was no sign of it so I suppose it was unharmed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Full Mail Box

Wow, I got back from vacation to find my email inbox was stuffed full. Some was junk mail, of course, BUT there were also some emails offering me writing jobs, including one from a British editor.



She wanted to know if I would be interested in writing a HILO, High Interest-Low vocabulary, book. Since improving reading skills has been a subject near and dear to my heart for over thirty years now naturally I leaped at the chance. I am especially interested in creating reading material for the older reader.



On our mini-vacation we found a really choice museum in Clint, Oklahoma. It is the Route 66 museum. It has a wonderful layout beginning with the conception of the "Mother Road" and continuing up to the point it ceased to be a conduit from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA. It is worth the tour if you are at all interested in the subject.



Well, I'd better get back to work on all those articles etc. that were in my in-box, as well as the book.



Lazy Trainer Tip

Take time to enjoy yourself. As far as we know we only go 'round once in this life.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Work and Play

I was working a crossword puzzle and got to thinking about semetics, which led to the folloing musings about work and play.

Humans like to make a big deal of work and consign second place to play. Work is important. Play is not. Yet, if you look at the subject carefully, you'll see that work is acturally far in second place to play.

Consider the following. Anything we do beyond what is necessary to acquire the day's food is play. I base this statement on the fact that all life has to do something to acquire enough food to continue living. That can be considered work. Once a person has enough food to insure their continued existence for another day they have done all the work they actually need to do.

What about shelter? What about it? Many animals live all their lives without shelter. From birth to death they are completely at the mercy of the elements. There are places in this world where humans can survive without any artificial shelter. The fact we've learned to create such things allows us to move into enviroments that are hostile to us, but even there the effort to have shelter beyond that needed to allow us to survive has to be considered play.

What about clothing? Well, are there any other animals that we know of who create artifical colthing? Again clothing is something that allows us to move into and survive in hostile enviroments, but beyond the necessary clothing to achieve that? I say again it is play.

I am going to define play as anything that involves keeping score in some fashion. And the fact is almost everything humans do is to rack up points on some scoreboard to prove to other humans they are winning the game. Therefore almost everything we do is really play.

Lazy Trainer Tip

If you are getting stressed because of the current economic conditions ask yourself these questions. Do I have enough to feed myself and my family? Can I provide them with shelter from the elements of this enviroments? Do all of us have clothing to further protect us?

If your answers to these questions is yes then you need to step back and look at just how much the rest of it is scorekeeping on a giant playboard.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trainers Signatures

Over the years I've learned that every horse trainer has a particular pattern or way of doing things and once I learn that pattern it is fairly easy for me to identify horses trained by that person.

I had an email conversation going with a woman and she mentioned something about the way her horse responded to certain aids (signals). There was something familar about the aids she described using on her horse but it took a while for me to remember where I'd learned about this particular method of telling a horse what you want it to do. Something people either forget or never learn is that a horse will learn to do what you want via whatever signals you choose to use as long as you are consistent in their use. Here is some of my response to her.

I had to sleep on it, but when you mentioned the business of cuing your horse with your thighs I remembered when I was looking at Pasos I went to a farm that had one of the top trainers from Peru working for them. I rode some of their horses and he instructed me to cue the horses using pressure from hip to knee. The lower leg was used separately to signal forward movement and upward (collected) movement.

Later when I was riding a gelding at another place I used these signals and got a perfect response. I asked the owner how long the horse had been with that particular trainer and she was amazed I could tell it had been with him.

I learned back in my livery stable days that every trainer has a "signature" and once you know it any horse that person's worked with will be easier to handle if you use those signals. It is something that has stood me in good stead for a lot of years. When trying a new horse I don't waste time trying to give perfect aids, rather I try to find which ones that particular horse has been taught to respond too.

Lazy Trainer Tip

When riding or driving a horse for the first time ask the person responsible what aids the animal is accustomed to. Do not assume the ones you usually use are ones that horse will understand. If someone tells you a horse is trained to respond to different signals than the ones you know use what the person tells you not what you have learned.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Completely Off Topic

The following has nothing to do with my usual subjects of animals and their care and training. It is an email a friend sent and my reply to her.
It concerns a subject I feel so strongly about that, as I explain in my comments to the email I received, I am going to put it up for all of you to read. Yes, I'm aware that some of what I say is insulting, but I consider the insults I'm replying to are far worse because they are so completely ignored by all and sundry.

Lazy Trainer

This is a very important READ for those of us who are women and those who love a mother, wife, daughter or good female friend! It has not been that long and I frankly, was not aware just how hard the vote was won!

Janine

***************************

I know many of us don’t think we have time to read long e-mails. Trust me. You DO have time for this one.
A friend forwarded this, an d I thought you also might find it eye-opening. The message was inspired by an HBO film that's on this month-- Iron Jawed Angels, with Hilary Swank playing Alice Paul. It is the story of our Grandmothers and our Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women in the U.S. were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on November 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. An d by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food -- all of it colorless slop -- was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for w eeks until word was smuggled out to the press.�So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because -- why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied Women's History, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was -- with herself. "One th ought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use -- or don't use -- my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn." The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.The doctor admonished the men : "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whethe r you vote Democratic, Republican or Independent party -- remember to vote.History is being made.



This is something we as women really need to keep telling our daughters and granddaughters about.
I don't know about you Janine, but even though I am not a fan of hers, I have been outraged by the way Hilary Clinton was treated during the primary election process. Things were said and done that had the "black" equivalent been said or done there would have been a public outcry that would have shaken the foundations of the whole process.
Yet, other than a few women blogging about it, there was hardly any mention at all about the indignity and unfairness of it. Every perceived threat and snub Obama endured was aired and discussed at great length. Yet, far worse things said and done concerning Hilary were almost completely ignored.
At the point where she clearly was the choice of the voters the Powers That Be of the Democratic party apparently decided that they would rather field a black candidate who had the required "meat and two veggies" than a woman.
As for the post I am all too aware of the reality of the subject. I was raised in an all female household and both my grandmother and mother were born before women had the right to vote. Even though we were quite poor (women were paid forty percent of what men were then) they paid their poll tax and voted in every election.
As for me, I am afraid I get a red haze of outrage going when anyone tries to tell me I don't understand discrimination.
In 1964 I was refused entry to the college of my choice because, as was written on the OUTSIDE of my application envelope when it was returned to me, "WE DON"T TAKE GIRLS." It took lawsuits by those who had the money and clout that went to the highest courts to change that.
In 1971 I was told to go home and be a better wife by a lawyer and judge when I tried to file for a divorce. The fact my husband had broken my glasses, blacked both my eyes and and given me a concussion wasn't a good enough reason to get the divorce. My offence that earned the beating? I couldn't stop coughing because I had a sever case of bronchitis and I was bothering him even though I was in a room, with the door closed, at the other end of the house.

In 1972 when I needed a good job to support myself and my child I was told, "You are the best applicant we have for the job, but I want a man in this position."
Later that same year I was hired for a job and told, "If the court hadn't ruled I have to hire a woman I would not hire you even though you are well qualified, but they did so I will."
For my next job I was the first woman hire by a very large company and much doubt was expressed that I could do the job at all. They now have many women working for them in the position, but at the time they made it plain I was only being hired because the new laws were forcing them to hire women. Incidentally, black men had long been able to go to that school and work at those companies in those positions. So, who was really being discriminated against?
We've come a long way, baby? Not even. As long as we are treated as third class citizens, paid less for doing the same jobs, laid off first and hired last we have not reached the heights our female ancestors dreamed for.
Okay, now that my blood pressure has gone through the roof and I'm panting as if I'd run a marathon, I'll shut up and climb down off my soap box.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lost Weekend

I've spent most of my weekend recovering from a computer crash. What caused it? Dunno. I do know that my external hard drive, keys and off-site storage have saved my bacon.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Back up! Back UP! BACK up! BACK UP! Got it folks?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why Do You Do It?

Holly Lisle author and my publisher sends out a newsletter every other week. Lately, "Why do you write?" has been her subject. This is always a question that facinates those of us who write as well as those who don't.

Naturally the subject of fame and fortune as a writer came up and discussions began. Some, such as King and Rowling, hit the writers jackpot and win big time. A lot of writers make a living at it without ever getting near such dizzing heights. Most who are lucky enough to sell a book will eventually sell five hundred or fewer copies of that book. What is the difference between the person who only sells a hundred copies and the one who sells a hundred thousand? Can you win the writer's lottery by planning to?

I have attended several events where a famous New York agent spoke. He said that, no matter how much a book is advertised and pushed, there is one thing no one can determine and that is the WOM factor. WOM stands for Word Of Mouth. And that is something no publisher, no agent, no writer, no publicity agent has any control over. And WOM is what makes a super star in the beginning.

Here is the letter I sent to Holly in response to her advice and comments about why some of us write.

Thanks again, Holly,
For reminding me why I'm really sitting at desk and computer for hours and hours most days.
I will say I write because I can't NOT write. Storytelling has been a vice since I first learned to talk.
However, now I am also writing in an attempt to transfer knowledge I acquired over the years. Some of my knowledge was hard won. Forget grades and college fees, broken bones and dead animals were the price paid for much of my knowledge. If only one or two are spared having to pay this price then I owe it to them to "pay it forward."


Thank you for giving me to opportunity to do so as well as aiding me in honing my skills to make my work better.


Lazy Trainer Tip

Holly's advice has always been to write the best book you can and work from there. My take is that that is all anyone can do in any endeavor whether it is writing a book or training a dog. Do your best and then see what happens.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Follow The Leader

Before I begin my article here is a blog I like. http://abraxanminis.blogspot.com/2008/06/aridzona-jean-and-garden-of-doom.html

Last week my herd of horses decided they knew exactly what was going on and would just go line up at a gate before I got there.

Cute. But this is how you can get in real trouble without realizing it. It seems convenient to have them ready to go out, but it also means they are not "following" you as their leader. This means in short order you can lose control of the herd and suddenly you are the omega and being bossed around. A very dangerous state of affairs for a human.

To prevent this I began by walking towards another gate. They watched for a few seconds then rushed over there. I changed course for another gate and they zipped over there. It took four changes before they gave up and started following me. One horse didn't give up until I'd changed directions seven times. Finally he gave up and fell in line with the rest of them. I led the herd through a complicated pattern for a few minutes before I went to a gate and allowed them to go out to pasture.

Several years ago I got in trouble by ignoring just such a subtle sign at feeding time. My daughter's Arabian mare began by putting her ears back as I approached her stall to put feed in her feed tub. I was in a hurry most times and ignored the behavior. It escalated until one day I realized she was actually starting to charge when I approached. This is extremely dangerous behavior in a horse (or any animal you are dealing with) and I had to work for several weeks to cure the problem I'd allowed to develop.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Pay attention to subtle signs that you are being challenged as leader and take immediate steps to re-establish your position. If you do this right at the beginning it can be as simple as walking around a pen until they fall into line behind you.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Training People

This weekend I got into a discussion about trainers and training methods with some other horse people. It got rather heated because I am a strong proponent of the Parelli method. I believe in it because it is designed to train people.

The old saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life." holds true when it comes to animal training. The following story is how I learned this important fact. Warning you may need something handy to blow your nose on during and after reading it.

First Client

I opened for business as a horse trainer in the late sixties. My first client was a big Appaloosa mare that was "stubborn" and wouldn't canter for her owner. Since I had been working for an Appaloosa breeder for the past three years I approached the project with confidence.

Within the month I had the mare walking, jogging, cantering, neck-reining, doing sliding stops etc. Her owner, who had been on vacation, came back and with some friends tried out his newly trained horse. Since I was working out of a public stable at the time the only control I had was over my horses and equipment.

He proceded to gallop the mare up and down the arena doing slidding stops until her mouth and legs were raw. His friends got on her and blooded her sides using spurs. When they were finished they said I was miracle worker becasue she'd never done that well before.

She stood there, sweating, sides heaving and bloody, and looked at me with eyes that said "I did what you wanted me to. Why are you letting them do this to me? Wasn't I a good girl? What have I done wrong?"

I never trained a horse FOR someone again. Either I trained both horse and rider or I didn't train.

The mare? I didn't have the money to buy her so she ended up at the killers.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Forget training animals, train the people is my motto and I'm one hundred percent behind Pat on this one.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Animal Whisperers

Yesterday I had several discussions involving the rescue, rehabilitation, and recognizing of signals concerning various animals.

The series of discussions began because I was telling various friends and acquaintances about an upcoming event where Pat Parelli and Cesar Millan are going to do some work together. I am really interested in this because I am an admirer of their work.

I hope Cesar takes some pages from Pat’s book and organizes his knowledge in more accessible forms for others to learn from. The greatest contribution to the horse world the Parellis have made in my opinion is that they have taken what they know and broken it down into tiny bits so others can use this knowledge to have positive results with their own horses even if they don’t have direct access to Pat or Linda. They also organized a training program so that now, regardless of what part of the country you are in you can find a professional who knows how to use these methods to help you and your horse.

All that being said I’m going to put in my two cents worth about the term whisperer. It is bandied about a lot since a certain book appeared a decade or so ago. The problem with the word or term if you will is that it implies the person has some special secret language that he or she speaks to animals with. In a way this is true.

The real secret though about “whisperering” isn’t that the trainer or tamer is speaking, but rather that she is listening. Listening to what the animal is saying. Most people don’t realize that even humans have a rich vocabulary when it comes to body language. Animals have an incredibly huge vocabulary.

People who are really good at various occupations that involve dealing with large numbers of people know this and use it to improve their success. Successful animal trainers learn to “read” not only the animals they train, but the people involved with those animals.

In my persona as the Lazy Trainer I’ve been reviewing my “whispering” skills with my horses, cats and dogs; trying to analyze those skills so I can tell others exactly how to acquire them and effectively use them.

The first and most important key to being successful is the ability accurately read an animal’s body language. One time I was called in to work with an extremely “aggressive” gelding. He would attack anyone trying to enter his pen or even if they got near it. His owner, trainer and the stable manager all said he was a very dominant horse that wanted to be in control of everyone and everything.

When I got my first view of the horse my reading was he was a horse scared out of his wits. Everything he was doing was in an effort to save his life. Using calm, assertive lead mare body language I approached his pen. Instead of charging the fence he paused, looked at me for a moment, and then retreated to the far side of the pen.

I took my carrot stick with me because, even if he was thinking about the idea I might be a lead mare, that did not mean he wouldn’t try something dangerous. I prefer not to be run over by large (or even small) horses if I can help it. I entered the pen and went to the center. From there I carefully looked all around paying close attention to everything a horse might consider dangerous. When I completed my survey I then turned partially sideways to the horse where I could see him from the corner of my eye and assumed the position of a horse completely comfortable in its surroundings. I dropped the tip of the carrot stick (representing a long neck) to the ground and then “cocked” one hind leg.

The horse watched me for several minutes before taking his first cautious step towards me. However, he told me by his eyes, ears, nostrils, head position, neck position, leg position and body position that he was beginning to accept the idea that I might be “safe.” When he took that first step I gave him a lead mare look that said, “You better be respectful or I’m going to kick you!” He immediately dipped his head in a respectful nod. It took several minutes but eventually he was standing near me. Then I turned and walked back to the gate. He followed with properly lowered head. He had no desire to be in control. That horse really, really wanted to have a leader he could feel safe with.

It took quite awhile and a number of setbacks, but eventually I did get his owner to understand how her body language and the body language of other humans around him had caused this horse to reach such a high state of anxiety. The people who managed the place and the trainer were less willing to learn, so eventually she moved to a stable where the people spoke “horse” and he became a nice willing companion to her.

Being able to read body language fluently means you can stop bad behavior before it even gets to movement. If you wait until movement is involved then you have to work a LOT harder to correct it and that is against the Lazy Trainer’s Creed.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Learn to read your animals’ body language. Learn how to speak to them in body language and you will be on your way to being considered a “whisperer” even though being an animal whisperer has nothing to do with vocal language.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Working here

I have been spending time writing content for various magazines and online publishers lately.

Some of my articles can be seen at Associate Content This link takes you directly to one of my more recent articles. Clicking on my name will take you to other articles I've published at this site.

Okay, back to the old keyboard for more writing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Good News

My friend is doing better. Her mother emailed me to let me know she is improved. Thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts.

Dear Daughter is in Morocco this weekend with her study group. Hope she brings back bunches of pictures.

Here is a wonderful blog, tbfriends.com It does carry a hanky warning though. Especially the story about the abused kids and Champ.

Hope you all have a good weekend.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sometimes

I can get very aggravated with computers. At least I think my problems have been with the computer. It might have had other sources. Ah, well. Maybe I'll stay online long enough to do this.

I just heard that a friend of mine who had a baby last week is having problems retaining water and with fluid in her lungs. Please offer prayers and good thoughts for her and her family.

It is hot and dry around here. I got what I hope is enough hay to last until we get some decent rains. If not then I'll just deal with the problem of feed stuffs when I get there.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Do what you can, when you can, with what you have. This is all any of us can do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Just how important is a father to a child?

I have great difficulty answering this question because I grew up without one. Did it hurt me? Oh yes! Even as a very young child, before entering school and finding most of the other kids had fathers that stayed with their families, I felt the lack of a father. Uncles and a grandfather did not fill the void.

I see in my own children the difference that results because of the presence of a stable father figure. My son is a good honorable man who in his turn is a good father. My daughter is a strong, confident, independent woman. I believe those traits are directly related to the fact they had two parents to depend on while growing up. Especically a man who was there for them-day in and day out-all the time.

Does this mean any father is better than no father? Not in my opinion. Having met my father in later years (I got a letter from him two weeks before my 30th birthday saying he was now ready to be a father) I can only be grateful he was not a presence while I was growing up. To say he was unstable would be understating the the case by astronomical magnitudes. While the uncles and grandfather did not fill the void they at least provided me with examples of what good fathers should look like and how they should behave.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Perfect isn't necessary to being a good parent. In fact, perfect can really get in the way of accomplishing anything in any field of endeavour. What is necessary to be a good parent is to BE THERE. That is what kids need, someone who is there for them.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Feed Costs

Yesterday, I got a load of hay and felt like I got a really good deal on it. Then I went to a special board I like to hang out on and keep track of other horse people. This morning they started a discussion about the cost of hay in various parts of the country. Some were paying prices that made me whimper with envy and others were paying prices that had me glad I'm where I am.

I shared the following with the board that I learned many years ago. Prices are all over the place when it comes to feeding horses and around here droughts usually keep the price of hay pretty high so I learned how to manage my costs and yet keep my horses in good condition.

I bought a scale and tape and started weighing my horses and their feed.

Once I started doing that my feed costs dropped dramatically and yet my horses stayed in good flesh.

I began by feeding two pounds of hay and half-a-pound of hard feed (I like pellets) per hundred pound of horse. This is 20 pound of hay and 5 pounds of pellets for a thousand pound horse. I divide it into two feedings. I turn out during the day (no night turn outs because we have a problem with dogs in this area). My pasture ranges from great to awful depending on season and rain.

I then measure my horses daily and if anyone is gaining or losing too fast I adjust the amounts. My Welsh ponies get one pound of hay per hundred pounds and a handfull of pellets. My DD's Arabian mare gets a pound and a half of hay and a pound of grain per hundred pounds. My gaited horses get two pounds of hay per hundred and a pound of pellets (just one pound period). All are healthy and in good flesh.

I taped them daily and adjusted amounts if I upped their exercise or noticed anyone gaining or losing weight.

Lazy Trainer Tip

The best way to control feed cost is to buy a good scale and tape then use them until you know what each horse really needs to maintain good health and energy levels.

Oh yes, don't forget regular worming and good dental care too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Definition of Lazy

The word lazy is a fairly recent addition to the English language. It entered our language sometime during the 16th century (1500’s) and means idle or slothful. The orgin is uncertain.

The definition following the above one is lazy-tongs, meaning a tool that allows one to get objects beyond arm reach.

Some people use the word lazy to describe anyone who doesn’t do things the way they do them.

I believe there are a number of different types of lazy. There is a type of laziness that means someone isn’t doing a task at all. This may be for any number of reasons; they don’t how to do it, they are afraid of it, they just flat don’t want to do it

There is the type of laziness where someone is trying to avoid an unpleasant task, which is more properly called procrastination. Or procrastination can happen because the person realizes that once she is involved it will be a long time before she can stop doing whatever it is.

There is also the case where someone may appear to be lazy because they are so good at what they do they finish long before anyone else.

There is a smart lazy where someone figures out the best way to do a task. Someone who is really good at what they are doing can make it appear simple, easy, and requiring very little time or effort to accomplish.

Recently I was watching The Dog Whisperer where Cesar Millan was instructing the owner and employees of a grooming shop about handling difficult dogs. At one point the client commented, “That took you thirty minutes to accomplish.” And Cesar shot back “No, it took me thirty-five years.”

Cesar accomplished his miracles by being very quiet, confident and focused on his task. The shop owner was a man who came to the grooming business from the corporate world and was a busy, go-go type. He didn’t realize that by taking the time now to retrain these animals he would save a lot of time in the future. Cesar also suggested that he have a price structure on his lists that told the customers upfront that they were going to be charged for this extra service. All of which made good sense to me.

I have learned over the years to project a quiet, calm, assertive manner around various animals. I am especially good with horses, but I don’t do so badly with cats, dogs, goats, cattle or sheep. I can even sometimes convince wild rabbits, coyotes and other assorted wild animals I am not such a bad person to be near. Sometimes what I'm doing to deal with a difficult animal can appear as if I doing nothing at all with the animal.

I recently worked with a horse that did not respond to the usual ways of "catch-training" in a satisfactory manner. I set up to change his mind by turning the horses into my yard and then sat down in the area I created for my clients to use while I still had a public stable. I had a drink, a book, grooming equipment and a lot of carrots.

I set up a rule that only one horse at a time could be in the area. One by one the rest of the horses came up for grooming and carrots. No one was allowed to drive the others away and no one was allowed to "hog" all the attention.

It took nearly two hours and almost a whole book but finally he sneaked over to see what was going on. I ignored him until he reached out and nudged me. Then I gave him a carrot coin (piece of carrot the size of a quarter in this case) and continued reading until he nudged me again. That time he got a scritch on his neck. It took another hour but evenually I had him groomed and playing an advanced version of the Friendly Game.

Since I spent a lot of that time sitting there with my nose in a book there are horse trainers that would say I was "lazy" yet, when you look at the fact that I groomed six horses, and convinced a difficult people-shy horse to accept handling during that four hour period could you truly call that "lazy?"

I’ve also seen a lot of cases where people set themselves up for a lot of hard work by failing to do something small right at the beginning. Instead of a quick, small correction to prevent a horse, dog or cat from escalating a bad behavior they either don’t see it starting at all or they ignore it hoping it will just go away. Ignoring isn’t going to work. Better to be lazy and take steps to stop the problem in the very beginning.

I can do this with my animals, now if only I could convince myself that this is the best way to do housework; an area I can procrastinate in until the cows come home.

Lazy Trainer Tip

If you have a problem with your horse or dog watch carefully and try to see the very first tiny sign that the behavior you don’t want is starting. As soon as you see it quickly correct the animal. You do this in a quick, quiet manner and do no more than you have to. BUT you do just as much as you have to in order to get the desired effect. If the problem is long standing you may have quite a ruckus on your hands. If it is a dangerous problem find a professional you are comfortable with and respect and work with them to resolve the issue.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back in the day

While in high school I worked for a vet. Among my jobs was feeding animals staying at the clinic as well as the vet's own animals.

He kept an excellent supply of prescription foods for his clients, but never used them for his own animals. This may sound as if he was a cheapskate who didn't want to spend money on his own cats and dog, but in fact he had some good reasons for feeding the way he did.

He believed dogs were really omnivores rather than true carnivores as cats are. Back then dogs were labeled carnivores and fed high amounts of meat sourced products. He believed dogs needed at LOT more fruits, vegetables and grain in their diet than the up scale companies provided. Eventually I came to agree with him. After all it's hard to disagree with someone whose animals habitually live to ages near the ones recorded in the Guiness book of records (wasn't around then, but later...)

For many years now I've followed his policy of feeding "cheap" dog foods. Some of my dogs seem to be overweight, some have looked underweight, but most have lived to be OLD. Those that haven't were either stolen (we lived in an area where someone came through every fall and swiped small purebred dogs) or met with untimely accidents. In one case a seventeen year old dog was digging after a mole and dug under a support pier of our house. The corner of a house landing on you will cut your time on this earth short. We will not discuss the bill to repair the damage to the house.

Currently I have a 21 year old Rat Terrier, Sassy, who has been on the "cheap" diet all her life. Every time she went to the vet I heard "She needs to lose weight. She'll live longer if she carries less weight." The past few times that's been trotted out I've retorted that she is old as dirt now.

When Sassy developed pancereites (sp?) I tried the prescription food but she quit eating entirely. She would have nothing to do with either canned or dried. So I went on a hunt for low fat, low protein dog food. I had to read a LOT of labels but eventually found some brands that contained the low amounts of fat and protein she needed. That was three years ago and she's still perking along on her "cheap" diet.

Lazy Trainer Tip

When we are caring for our animals we want the best for them, but we need to remember the best for them may not be anything close to what is best for humans. Our animals enrich our world and meet a lot of our needs. We need to be sure we return the favor by meeting their critical needs.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Changing the way we see

I had an Email from a friend this morning. She commented on the fact that travel to other countries changes a person's view point so that they don't always look at the world from a solely American view anymore.

I never quite thought about the affect of traveling causing one to see the world from a different view than just that of being an American. I think that may be because I never had that. I went to Mexico any number of times before I ever left Texas to visit another state. After all, it was just a couple of hours drive to Laredo where there were awesome shopping opportunities. It was part of the Christmas experience, just as going to the mills in New Braunsfels to buy material for school clothes was part of the summer time.

I was eleven the first time I went to another state and then we went to California to visit relatives. That meant going through New Mexico and Arizona. While all are unique states they still have the strong Spanish influence that I grew up with.

It was a real eye-opener when I finally did begin traveling in the US. I grew up in a community where I was a minority-nearly all my friends and school mates were of Mexican ancestry. Because the school I went to (Catholic) was one of the first totally integrated ones in the country I also had Asians and Blacks in my classes. When out of thirty students five are "white" three black and two Asian (one Chinese and one Japenese) one grows up thinking of one's self as being "different."

Come to think of it, even though my ancestors came from the British isles and interbred with the various Native people on their way to Texas, I was a minority even among the white students since most whites in my area were of German and Northern European (Polish etc.) extraction.

My first trips to other US states really were eye-openers. The first time I was in a town where there were nothing but whites I felt very uncomfortable. And despite the proof that a majority of Americans are of pale Caucasian descent I still think of myself as a minortiy.

Because of this upbringing I have reached the conclusion that I truly do not understand most Americans. I don't claim to understand any other culture either, but the ordinary white American is just as foreign to me as any group from Europe or the Far East and any points between.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

She's Off

We deposited Dear Daughter at the airport at 5 a.m. and now she's off to study abroad.

We were amazed that she managed to get a whole summer's worth of clothing etc. in only one bag and one carry on. DD has been a life long advocate of carry everything you might even remotely need with you. She packed more stuff for an overnight stay with a friend than she is taking to Europe with her. Of course, Dear Husband thinks he put his back out lifting her one bag into the car.

The grandcats seem to be taking her departure in stride. They've pretty well settled into life here, staking out their postitions for naps, bird watching, ambushes and various other important things to cat life. They have even begun to play with some of the other cats so I think we are good to go for awhile.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Guilt Trips

I had a conversation with a woman yesterday that left me, once again, pondering the way I view the world around me. My upbringing, especially my religious upbringing, was eclectic in the extreme. The following comes as close to explaining my mental map as anything.

One time I told a fellow writer about my Baptist/Catholic upbringing. My grandmother took me to the Baptist church. I went to Sunday School, Sunday morning church service, Training Union (this taught us about Baptist beliefs and history) Sunday evening Church, G.A.s (Girls Auxiliary of the Women’s Missionary Union) and Wednesday Prayer meeting.

My mother sent me to a Catholic school because she wanted me to have a better education than I would get in a public school. She was right; I did get a better education, but I was also well taught in the Catholic faith and doctrine.

This upbringing confused the heck out of me because, at the time, the Catholics believed the Baptists were going to hell because they weren’t saved. And the Baptists, equally fervently, believed the Catholics were going to hell because they weren’t saved. Throw in the occasional trips to the Methodist and Lutheran churches with my cousins and I was even more confused. They all professed to believe in God and that Jesus Christ was the son of God. He came to save humans and restore them to fellowship with God. He died for them. He was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven. Why were they all snipping at each other? What was the difference?

To add to the confusion some of my mother’s friends were Jewish. When I talked to their kids I got still a different view of God and the Bible. As a teenager I sometimes went to the synagogue with them and there learned still more ways to be confused and baffled by the way humans could get into arguments and fights about worshiping God.

In college I met Buddhists and Muslim students (I was raised in San Antonio Texas which had a language school at Lackland AFB that had people from all over the world attending to learn other languages.) as well as some Atheists. After meeting a number of Atheists and listening to them I concluded Atheism is a religion too, the believers being as adamant as any other believers that their view is the right one.

After listening to my explaination of my background my writer friend said, "I'd pay good money to see one of your guilt trips."

I had to laugh because I have a lot of roads and trails on my map when I do go on one of those guilt trips.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Leaving the Nest

Our place is a haven for wild life. We have trees and plants that provide food and shelter. Water is available, and this is very important during the dry spells that occur so frequently in this part of the world.

Currently we have a barn swallow nest that I can easily see from were I am sitting right now. This particular nest is apparently regarded as prime property. There is always conflict before it
is settled just which couple of Barn Swallows or House Wrens is going to get it.

Right now though there is a different sort of conflict. The first clutch of baby birds have been raised and left the nest. The parents are now started on the second clutch, but the first kids keep trying to move back in. Papa is kept very busy shooing them away. This provides a lot of entertainment for the cats as well as some quality thinking time for me.

I was raised by the "cut the apron strings with one chop" method i.e. You are 18, you finished high school, now it's up to you. I consider this reasonable when one considers my mother was the sole support of her mother (recovering from severe burns in a hotel fire) and siblings when she was 14. I had an extra four years of support that she didn't have.

However, it was a shocking experience and I decided to do things differently. I begin sniping the apron strings one thread at a time. At a certain age I quit trying to do a particular task for my child and left it up to my son or daughter to solve the particular problem. I was available for consultation (as I still am) but only if asked. My goal was to create people who, by the time they were legal adults, could survive, better yet thrive, if we weren't around. It seemed to work.

While we till have our connections I know our children are more than capable of surving on their own and that is probably the best gift one can give to the next generation.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ouch, ouch, ouch

DD got home to find the old folks had managed to score a Wii Fit.

This morning the Ibuprofen bottle was her first stop. Seems an hour of Wii Fit will do a number on you if you haven't worked up to it.

Since it isn't safe to walk on our roads (70 mph drivers on a 45 mph road) and DH is getting his exercise on a regular basis since we got the gadget I'm pretty pleased with it overall. I tried the fitness club routine several times and it just doesn't work for me. After about four months I quit going and the rest of my year's fees are wasted (or waisted, if you will).

The Wii itself is fun and has been in fairly constant use since we got it last year, but the new board kicks it up a notch and that is good.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Any new exercise program for you or you horse (or dog) is best approached with caution. Begin with fifteen minutes a day and work your way up to avoid a lot of soreness and the chance of stress injuries.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Adjustments

At the moment there are some big adjustments going on around me. Daughter arrived home last night complete with the grandcats.

The grandcats are old man Tigger (16 years old) and Mango, the gentle giant. They will be spending the summer with us while she studies law in other countries.

Both cats have stayed with us before and are well acquainted with our house and the cats in residence. Never the less we are now in a period of adjustment because the group dynamics of the clowder (group of cats) have changed. The old cats, Tigger's sister Frisky, Little Bit, and Mittens are taking it all in stride. This is nothing new to them. The two youngsters are more upset though. Flash is wearing a haunted look as he tries to keep his distance and Kewtie Pi has made it her business to "defend" me from the invaders. This is difficult since Mango does not believe in suffering in silence and wants to sit on my feet or lap in order to explain his unhappiness with this situation.

There will be a period of lurking, sneaking, hiding, and the occasional guerilla attack, until everyone adjusts. Eventually things will settle down. All the cats will claim particular areas to nap and bird watch. The youngsters will make up and join in the several times daily steeplechase.

I know from past experience all will be well, but meanwhile I'm keeping the spray bottle of water handy.

Lazy Trainer Tip

When changing the status quo with a group of animals expect scuffling, posturing, and warfare until everyone finds their particular place in the hierarchy of the group. But also be prepared to inforce and reinforce your position as the ultimate leader of the group. I will use voice, body blocking and the water spray to insure that things don't go beyond jockeying for position. All out war is not allowed in my clowder.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Upcoming Releases

I have several reports and a manual of Lazy Trainer Secrets that I am going to make available soon. I sent copies to various friends involved in working with animals and am starting to get some feed back from them.

Here is an E-mail from a friend who specializes in rescue work and is an acknowledged expert with dogs. She is a tremendous help when it comes to the sections in my work concerning dogs. We both crossover to other animals, but have our first loves we center on. My area of concentration has always been horses and hers has always been dogs.

E-mail feedback

Well, great minds on the same track... I always say.... "now this is a Lazy Lady's secret tip".. on dogs, cats, anything...

Lazy works for me.
LAZY is really making the best use of your time, effort and energy with the least outlay of time , effort and energy! ;->

Janine P, LA


Lazy Trainer Tip

Having someone check your work is always a good idea. It is amazing what errors can sneak in to your efforts. Ever now and then get a spotter to watch what you are doing and give feed back on areas you need to be careful of.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Expert

Yesterday I had a young sales clerk inform me that NO ONE is truly an expert at anything.
I have to admit that triggered my geezer mode.

I figure when there's a group of a hundred people who know something about a subject and one person in that group knows more than the other ninety nine the expert hat can rest on that head.

After spending all my life studying horses I think I'm entitled to wear the "expert" label. I remember the comment my very first riding teacher made though. She was in her seventies and one of the best in her field but she said, "The more I learn about horses the less I know." I keep it in mind.

I certainly know what she meant. I know a lot about horses, but now I look out over a vast body of knowledge and realize that, as much as I know, there is far more I don't know about horses and, furthermore, will never know. Still I'll claim that "expert" title because I feel like I've darn well earned it. I will continue to learn even though I know I'll never know all there is to know about horses.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An E-mail conversation

This morning I had the following in an E-mail from a friend. It especially got to me because this past Memorial Day a young man from my daughter’s high school graduating class got a special honor. A building at the high school was named for him. He was killed in Iraq Memorial Day 2007.
And while getting a building named after you is an honor, what about the facts in the following article?
Usually I’m 180 degrees opposite Rush Limbaugh, but in this case I agree with his observations. Those who give so much should be treated a lot better than our country is treating them.


Numbers and statistics correct, Check snopes for further discussion.

Barb



By Rush Limbaugh: I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just don't criticize anything having to do with September 11.Well, I can't let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing about the entitlement mentality of this country. If you lost a family member in the September 11 attack, you're going to get an average of $1,185,000.The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000 all the way up to $4.7 million. If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benef! it, hal f of which is taxable. Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there's a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt. Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of $1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it's not enough.Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL OF US, and they and their families know the dangers. We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the Oaklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that, some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for compensation as well. You see where this is going, don't you? Folks, this is part and parcel of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It's just really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food stamps and live in low-rent housing. Make sense? However, our own US Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you don't know that they only ha! ve to b e in Congress one time to receive a pension that is more than $15,000 per month. And most are now equal to being millionaires plus. They do not receive Social Security on retirement because they didn't have to pay into the system. If some of the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an E-7, they may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people who placed them in harm's way receives a pension of $15,000 per month. I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our sons and daughters who are now fighting.' When do we finally do something about this?

Barb,
Believe me I am well aware of this inequality and am completely outraged by it as well.
Even worse than the financial inequality is the fact that if a soldier doesn't complete his term of service because he is injured (loses a limb, brain damage etc.)she/he has to return the sign-up bonus. The follow-up medical care for injured soldiers is abysmal and shameful.
The care for the families of soldiers who are serving is so horrific (WHY do any families of soldiers have to have food stamps in order to survive?) that our leaders should be covering their faces in shame.
Sorry about the tirade, but this is something I feel frothing at the mouth strongly about.

Hugs and blessings,Bettye

Don't think it's a tirade. Goes along with my long held belief that the ribbon decals (mostly sold by Walmarts for 4.95) seen on bumpers and fenders are an abomination, why don't those people spend their 5 bucks on a phone card to send to the medvac'd personnel at Walter Reed? Most of whom arrive much before their records (and money) and don't have the resources to let their family know where they are? What started as a fund raiser for a Veterans organization has become an additional profit item for the world's largest retailer.

One of the reasons I included you in the forward was to get your response! Also, as you (and Linda) have a wider audience on your blogs you might find this useful for a comment there. Since I'm not working this summer I don't have my soap box handy and I don't think the great unwashed masses usually think about this and related topics. Alond with Health Care it's one of the issues I have been looking at during this season's political activity.

Barb

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pay It Forward

Sooner or later everybody gets caught with the writing assignment "What I did during my summer vacation." One way or another we all do a lot of writing whether or not we have any aspirations to be a writer.

This year I am going to offer a course at our local library on how to write-a book, report, short story or essay. Iv'e been writing for a long time now and and I've learned a lot of tricks since that first WIDDMSV essay. Tricks they don't ever teach you in school so I'm going to pass them on to anyone else who wants to learn a faster way to accomplish the task.

Lazy Trainer's Tip

What does this project have to do with being a Lazy Trainer? The main secret of being a successful Lazy Trainer is passing lessons learned on to others. When you teach someone else you learn a subject better yourself.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day History

We may have lost something when we changed the name from Decoration Day to Memorial Day. While Memorial Day does suggest we tap into memories it doesn’t have the same specificity as Decoration Day.

According to David Blight, a professor at Yale University, the first Decoration Day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic Charlestown race track. They undertook the job of relocating Union Soldiers from a mass grave into individual graves. They then build a fence around the new cemetery and an arched gateway declaring it a Union Cemetery. This was both a daring and dangerous thing to do at the time. Sometime around 1887 they returned to clean and decorate the graveyard with wildflowers they gathered from the surrounding countryside.

The Confederates had a number of different days they observed to honor their fallen dead.

The name Memorial Day was first used about 1882, but did not become the common name for the day until after World War II. It wasn’t an official Federal holiday until 1967.

Now the Memorial Day weekend is mostly regarded as a time to get together with family and friends to watch the Indy 500, BBQ and is generally regarded as an unofficial kickoff to summer.

For some of us though it is a time to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom to pretty much say and do as we please.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Anniversary

Today is our 33rd anniversary. We've got PLANS.
When we got married in 1975 it rained. It rained so much there was serious flooding in the Central Texas area. Nowadays people talk about the BIG flood in the 90's, but I suspect we have a big flood on Memorial day weekend about every ten years. It certainly is likely to be raining 3 out of 4 Memorial Days.
In '75 we were trying to combine two complete households. We rented a storage shed to do this. Because we planned on an extended trip to West Virginia to meet Larry's family we only took the weekend off. On the morning of the 24th we went to the shed to put another load of stuff in it and discovered it had flooded. The water had reached a depth of over two feet and ruined a lot of stuff.
That was when I found out what kind of stuff my new husband was made of. He looked at the mess and said, "Well, s#*t! I guess we'd better start cleaning this up.

Lazy Trainer's Tip

If you want a good marriage focus on your partner's good points. The more you look at what they do that you like the less you'll notice the things that aren't so great.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

When Will They Ever Learn?

"When will they ever learn?" is the refrain in a folk song that was popular in the 1960's. It would be a bit more accurate if it was when will WE ever learn?

This song was brought to mind by a conversation I had with a young woman in Barnes & Noble Tuesday. She had tons of stats at her command and was just as passionate as I was back in the day about conversevation. I tried to gently point out to her that we made a start then and if we'd kept on the path of alterternative sources of power we most likely wouldn't be having the problems we have today. I'm sure, of course, that we'd have some problems or the other that being the nature of existence. We didn't need to be repeating this particular set of problems caused by escalating oil prices. If we had continued developing our technologies for using solar, wind, geothermal, wave, water, and garbage conversion as energy sources we'd be far ahead of the game.

Instead, when oil prices stablized, people immediately went back to their old dependence on the substance and refused to pay the, then minor, extra price to develop and use alternative sources of power. We not only didn't move forward to develop these technologies we actively moved back in some cases. We need to keep in mind that while there is still a sufficient amount of oil available it isn't infinite. Solar and wind power may not be infinite either, but when we have problems with them energy will be the least of our worries.

Meanwhile there is the refrain, "What can I do?"

Here are some things I did back in the 1970's when one night I went to bed to gas at one price and woke up the next morning to discover it had doubled. Ah yes, gas has NEVER, EVER gone back to the price I saw that night on my way home from work.

Walk if at all possible.
Ride a bike.
Consoladate any trips you have to make in your car.
Plant a garden.
Use the mantra our grandmothers used in the 1930's:
"Use it up, make it do, do without."

Things you need to consider; if it isn't safe to walk in an area then don't. There really are places you should not be on foot. The same consideration applies to bikes.
If it is safe to walk, but you think you can't haul whatever you are going to get back in your hands then think about getting a basket on wheels, or use a small garden or child's wagon to carry the stuff.
Got a big dog?
Teach it to pull a cart to carry your supplies.
An additional benefit--the dog will not let someone take your cart while it is parked outside the store and the two of you will become even better friends as you work together.

If you live in an apartment you can't have a garden. Or can you? If you have friends who have a house with land see if they might be willing to let you use some of their yard for a small garden. If they already have a garden offer to help them work it.

Start a container garden. Tomatoes, peppers, chives and a lot of very expensive herbs can be grown in pots. This has the added advanage of cleaning the air in your living space.

Lazy Trainer's Tip

Free your mind by getting some of the old Foxfire books written back in the seventies and reading how others have faced the current problems and overcome them.

Oh yeah! I'll write up instructions on how to teach a dog to pull a cart and tell you where you can buy them.