Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 – Shopping and Dialyzing

Today was all about doing some shopping and getting Hubby dialyzed. We made several stops for a variety of things, finally filling up with diesel (at the remarkably low price of $2.99/gallon!) Got back to the farm, and got Hubby all hooked up, had a fabulous dialysis session with a great arterial rate, which we’ve been having a bit of trouble with, and hardly any alarms! Yeah! Had a relaxing evening watching a movie, and an early night to bed!

Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018 – Travel Day to Richer Farms, with Belt Blowout

Got a nice early start today, took an hour less to get ready since I didn't have to load the trailer, then move, then unload the trailer, then load the horses, the load the trailer again, like I had to do at Coldwater, so things went a lot faster. We were out by about 8:30, and since we had had a sewer hook-up, we didn't even have to make a dump stop. We dropped a Fedex box at the office, as I had made arrangements for a pickup here today, with labs that are essential for Hubby to get an in-center dialysis session next week on our business trip to Nebraska. Things were going great until I got a phone call from Fedex wanting to know where in the campground we were located because they couldn't go searching all over for us to pick up the package. I called them and learned they were trying to find us at Wolf Creek Campground in southern Illinois! Evidently, all of the information about being at McCulley Farms was completely ignored, they just went back to an address we had used ONCE about 10 MONTHS AGO!! How stupid can you get??? I argued with them for a long time, explaining that this was literally and truly a matter of life and death, and they said they would "try" to get the driver to go back and get the package. They wanted me to meet the driver at a Flying J 15 minutes from McCulley Farms (we were already 100 miles from there), and it only got worse from there. After we had gone through the Ag stop on I-75 south of Lake City, our ETA at our friend Cherryl's horse farm was 12:30, which was spectacular. I had planned on arriving early, doing some socializing to get caught up, and then dialyzing Hubby this afternoon. But you know how it is with the best-laid plans! We were only about an hour or so from our desitnation in Dade City when I suddenly felt something change in the feel of my truck. I suddenly had no power steering, no brakes, and my battery light came, which I realized meant my serpentine belt had given way, darn it! Fortunately there was an exit a half mile away, with a mechanic shop just on the other side of the overpass, so I parked along the exit ramp and walked over. They managed to drive it over, checked it out, ordered the part, tried to talk me into a bunch of other stuff, and charged me $250 to change the belt, including $35 for "shop supplies," $94 for a belt my mechanic says costs about $40, and charged me more than an hour of labor @ $130/hour, even though it only took about 10 minutes to do the job. What can I say, we were a captive audience with no place else to go, darn it. That episode set us back a couple of hours, but we managed to get on the road and still get to Cherryl's by around 2:30, with me still arguing with Fedex almost the entire way. What is it with them? Why can't they just say YES and be good at customer service, rather than NO, NO, NO and making enemies? Again, mostly captive audience, I guess. In the end, they promised to get the package picked up today, and eventually left me a voice mail saying they had, so I guess the labs are on the way. After getting set up and the horses settled in, plus a bit of catching up, it was too late to dialyze Hubby today (and I was a bit too irritated to focus after all the crap that happened). Our hosts fed us a spectacular meal, which went a long way to assuage my stress, and we finally settled in for the evening before heading to bed in this quiet, and (finally) dark place!

Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 – Cold Morning Followed By a Shopping Day

Last night, I put one too many electrical appliances on and set the circuit breaker off. Unfortunately, there aren’t individual breakers on the box that I was plugged into, which is the typical setup, and it was too dark to go looking for the breaker, so we just took it as a sign to go to bed. Since we didn’t have the electric fireplace to keep us warm, I turned on the gas furnace. Naturally, we ran out of propane halfway through the night, and, of course, it was the coldest night of our entire stay, close to freezing, so it was a chilly start to the day! Took the opportunity this morning to run up to Valdosta to do some shopping, though we forgot to take the propane tanks with us to refill, so grateful we have four LP tanks on this trailer! Did our running around, then got back to camp in time to dialyze, and that was it for the day, other than taking care of the horses, of course!

Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 – Travel Day to McCulley Farms

Thought we'd be waking up to cold and clear skies, but it was still cloudy when we got up at dawn. It took us quite a while to get everything packed up, it's a lot of work when you're on your own like I am now. Hubby's just not strong enough to help much, though he did assist in getting the truck hooked up. We didn't have any trouble getting the horses loaded, though the ramp was a bit slippery and they both slid a bit on the way up. On my list of things to do is to try to solve that problem. We headed for the dump and managed to clear out the gray water in the front tank, but discovered that the second hookup for the gray and blackwater from the bathroom had a very strange setup and no connections to make it work. The previous owner of the trailer had given me a huge plastic bag full of hoses and adapters, but none of them actually worked with the setup that was on there. Weird! Anyway, we opted to just travel that way, and would solve the problem when we got to McCulley Farms, where we hoped to get a sewer hookup, and thus have the chance to fix the problem. Once we got out of the campground, we had an uneventful drive to Jasper, FL, though we did have to stop once for gas at the only diesel station in town, so naturally it was 50 cents more a gallon than everywhere else. One thing that we saw on the trip were a lot of downed trees along I-10 from Hurricane Michael, which came through the panhandle a few weeks ago. Even though it was pretty far inland, there were whole forests that had been decapitated, with 12-15 foot high stumps just broken off. It was obvious from the many crushed guardrails just how many trees had come down, and there were work crews all along the way. Plenty more work to be done, no doubt! We arrived at McCulley Farms around 4:00, (having lost an hour from changing time zones), and met up with owner Richard, who was happy to let us have a sewer site at no extra charge. We found a great spot out in the open, though it was quite a walk to the stalls again. Unfortunately the stalls aren't in that great shape, none of them have latches so I had to use their lead ropes to tie them shut. Mostly metal gates chained onto half-fast posts, and a lot of the boards that make up the other walls look like they'd been kicked, broken and repaired more than once. A bit disappointing considering the fairly expensive price tag to come here. Can't wait till we can actually just high-line them nearby! Anyway, we got ourselves hooked up, and I spent a little time sorting out the sewer problem, managed to take an end off an old split pipe and put it on the end of the attachment to the drain. I have to say, as many wonderful attributes as this trailer has, the plumbing system is NOT one of them. Discreetly hidden behind a couple of compartment doors, which open at about a 45 degree angle to the ground, when you open the door they're in your way, and the actual fitting for the hose is way inside that compartment! You can't actually see it unless you're on the ground looking up. The previous owners had added a short piece of hose to make it more accessible, but the end doesn't fit the typical drain hose, which was my problem. Anyway, I got it fixed up so that it was usable, at least temporarily, because the hose end doesn't fit exactly right, but I can solve that problem later. I drained the black water and rinsed with the gray water, then set it up to use for our stay. That all done, we relaxed for the evening after getting the horses settled in.

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 – More Rain

Another day of cold rain, cutting into our plan to leave today. Did little else except look after the horses and dialyze Hubby, though I did put a few things away in anticipation of our departure tomorrow. Temp supposed to get below freezing overnight, so hoses came in, along with whatever else I could pre-load. To bed early, for an early morning wake-up tomorrow!

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 – Rain

Rain, rain and more rain today. Temps dropped overnight, so it ended up being a cold rain. Happy the horses were under shelter, but starting to get tired of the rain!

Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 – Veteran’s Day with Shopping

It started raining overnight, and kept raining all day today. Since we couldn’t ride, and we needed a few things, we decided to drive into Milton about 25 miles away for a meal and shopping. I had to take the hay out of the back of the truck and put it under the gooseneck. I only hope it doesn’t puddle under there too much, some of the hay’s gone a little moldy already from the rain we had the other day. Went into town to the Tractor Supply for a new manure rake (my old one kept breaking tines for some reason) and a few odds and ends, had lunch at a nice little Diner called Ace, and they let us hang around and do some computer work that I desperately needed to do. Finally a trip to Walmart for the rest of the items we needed, mostly things to help get our new “cabin” more organized, now that I’ve got everything in it. Miracle of miracles, Hubby decided to WALK around the store! That may not sound like much, but he hasn’t attempted to do that in over a year, always opting for a scooter cart to get him around, so it’s obvious that a horseback ride and a glass of wine (which he had for the first time in a long time last night) is the key to strengthening his legs! SO HAPPY! Got back to camp a bit later than we hoped, so his dialysis session started late and ended late, but we’re determined to be in bed early from now on, since it gets so dark so early these days! It will be better once we get into Eastern time, but at the moment, it’s pitch black by 5:30, even earlier with the rain! Well, it is well-lit here, so feeding in the dark isn’t too bad, just soggy lately. Off to bed around 10, later than we wanted, but as early as we could under the circumstances.

Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 – First Full Day on the Road Again!

After our exhausting day yesterday and the day before (and frankly, for the last several weeks!), we finally had a chance to come down a bit, but not until we moved the rig to the spot it should have been, and the horses to new stalls that were selected by the same staffer who had selected the occupied stalls for me yesterday, though he put me in the volunteer stalls just to keep things from getting more complicated. I then had to move everything down from last night's stall and clean them. It's been a while since I've had to muck manure, I'm out of shape for that! Eventually I got everything done, and we still hadn't had breakfast, so we decided to run into the nearest town of Jay for a meal and to pick up a few things at the grocery store for the weekend. We were back by 1:30, and for the first time in longer than I can remember, we sat down in our lounge chairs and simply relaxed. Aaaaah! We stayed that way until it started to sprinkle, at which point we had to re-cover the hay with the tarp, which we had removed so the sun could dry it out a bit. Dialysis next, then dinner, and a quiet evening watching the rain depart and the temps drop! Only downfall here is that the campground is in a little geographical dip, which makes a cell phone signal nearly impossible. I've been told there's a better signal up the hill, and near the office, but in our site, there's nothing! Not good, considering all the calls and computer work I need to do this week! Oh, well, that's a problem for another day!

Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 – YIPPEE!! Back on the Road Again!!!

After weeks and months of preparation, at LAST we headed out on the road today!! It was a day later than we thought, but we pushed as hard as we could, and just couldn't make it out Wednesday, but we made it today!! Of course, nothing went as planned, as usual, but the sense of freedom to solve our problems and meet our challenges is palpable! We began to live in our new-to-us Trailer Rider Royal Custom 4-horse trailer with 20' living quarters last Sunday, to give us the opportunity to work out all the kinks and make sure we had everything we needed. Our friendly neighbors helped get Hubby's dialysis machine in, and we started dialyzing the same day, again, just to make sure we had everything we needed. Yesterday afternoon, our biggest concern was getting around the corner of the driveway. We've had a lot of rain, and the inside corner isn't that well graveled, and Hubby had a dream that we got stuck in the ditch and couldn't get out, so we decided to tackle that problem the day before we left so we had time to solve any problems. We did, in fact, have some trouble, and for a few minutes, we thought the worst had happened. As I went around the corner, swinging as far out as I could, the outside corner was so soft too, that my rear truck tires started to slide, which forced the trailer in the wrong direction and the rear tires of the trailer ended up just over the edge of the culvert when I finally stopped sliding. The trailer looked like it was right up against a tree, and I was afraid if I moved again, it would drag along the tree and be damaged. Upon closer inspection, we actually had about a half inch, and I took the chance of trying to pull it out one more time before we called for help, and thankfully, it pulled straight out of the ditch without touching the tree, and my fabulous GMC Sierra 3500 with it's brand new Michelin tires grabbed hold of the gravel and pulled the rig up the little hill that was our driveway. Whew!! You can imagine what an incredible sigh of relief we breathed at that moment! Though we weren't exactly level, we spent the night there anyway, because we'd already closed up the house and had only a few items left to bring out in the morning. We were awake bright and early, and were headed to Wind Creek State Park on Alabama, but there was rain in the forecast, and since we had hay on the back of the truck, we decided to get out early in the hopes to miss most of it, but as we progressed, we ran into quite a few patches of sprinkles. As we got further south, we took more note of the weather and realized that temps would be below freezing in Alabama for most of the weekend and into next week, and since the plan was to go south to stay warm, we took a longer view and decided to skip Alabama and head straight to Florida asap. So instead of arriving at our planned destination by around noon, we headed for the Coldwater Equestrian Camp at the Blackwater State Forest, a full service campground with lots of trails. We've stayed here before, but I honestly don't have any memory of it at all, and didn't even when we got here! While we had been dodging a lot of rain the whole trip, it really started coming down torrentially about half an hour before we reached the camp, so all the exposed hay got soaked. Thank goodness it's pack pretty hard, so with a little sunshine, should be okay. Unfortunately, even though we had made a reservation over the phone for our campsite, we were told we needed to arrange for horse containment when we got here. The folks in the office had left at 4:00 (it was 4:05 when we arrived!), but one remaining staff person explained I had to get the horses out of the trailer and put them away before we actually parked the trailer, as horses aren't allowed in the actual camping area. He said since we hadn't reserved stalls we should take the "walk-in" stalls, and gave me the numbers. In the pouring rain, I managed to get the horses out of the trailer (Flash's legs were wobbly, but he did all right) and began walking them down to the stalls indicated, which naturally, were at the far end of the row. When I got there, I discovered they were already occupied. I then went to two other stalls that he had initially suggested, and discovered those, too, were occupied. By now I was soaking wet through and through, and walking in ankle deep puddles that had taken over the entire horse area. All this while the rain kept coming down, and the light of the day along with it. In the nearly pitch dark, I just put the horses in a couple of other stalls until I could get it straightened out. I went back to the trailer and Hubby and I proceeded to get the rig backed into what we thought was our spot based on the numbers on the post (which turned out to be the wrong spot-the numbers were for the spot BEHIND the post) and once we got it backed in place, I went back to get the horses fed and watered. FINALLY I was done, and was able to get back to the trailer and dry out. Good news, having a clothes dryer is FABULOUS, I was able to put everything in the dryer. Finally settled in for the evening, but was disappointed there's practically no cell phone signal here, so Netflix isn't going to work. That's okay, though, we have lots of stuff stored on our Dish DVR, no shortage of things to watch! Beer and beer nuts was all the food we were in the mood for (we had a big Arby's lunch when we stopped for fuel), and finally were able to settle in for the evening!

Friday, May 25, 2018 – Hay Day

After so many hectic days, I was looking forward to a quieter day today, but then realized where were getting untenably low on hay. I had been hoping to get some from my Mennonite neighbor that I used to get it from, but we have had so much rain, day after day, that almost no one has been able to bale any. I called the place in Manchester where I had gotten a few bales before, and learned he had baled before the rain, so he had nice, soft, not stalky first cut hay available, so we decided to take a quick run out before the afternoon thunderstorms began. So we headed out after breakfast, picked up 25 bales of beautifully fresh smelling hay, loaded half into the horses’ shed and the other half we left in the back of the truck, testing the theory of how many bales we can put in the bed of the truck without interfering with the goosneck, which is about 11 if we stack it in our usual way, enough for most of the trip to Montana, which was the goal. Now that we have two horses to carry, I don’t have room in the back like I did on our last trip, at least not until we get the new trailer. There’s a hay rack on top, but I don’t see me using that for hay so much, don’t have the ability to put it up there! I have plans for some other stuff to go in there already, stuff we don’t use very often, and that’s definitely not hay! Dialyzed Hubby when we got home, and otherwise tried to rest for the rest of the day.