May 182014

Doranna & DuncanThis is Doranna Durgin’s WordPlay Blog. I’m glad you’re here–whether it’s to learn more about my books, or chat about dogs, horses, and reading.

On Fridays, The Write Horse usually stops by for life with horse training, written by Patty Wilber.

If you’d like to reach my Webstead, you can clicky on that link you just passed. Right there. Behind you! The one that said Webstead.

PS although I use a plug-in that allows commenters to sign in, it’s easy to post as a guest and guest commenters are welcome!

May 182014

by Doranna

Dun Lady's JessSo I’ve been published since ’94…and have over 40 titles’ worth of author copies sitting on garage storage shelves, snug and safe…and taking up a LOT of room. I’m going to run a bunch of giveaways, but I’m also offering these books first come, first serve, for the cost of postage. If you prefer hardcopy and now can’t get it, this is your chance! Not sure how long I’ll run this…depends on how well it works out on my end, basically…

I made a completely nifty form–it’s behind the cut–integrated with PayPal and including credit card payments through PayPal (so there’s no need to have a PP account). Get there first, grab what you want, and spread the word! (There’s a little social sharing dingie down at the bottom of the post.) Continue reading »

Aug 292014

By Patty Wilber

We have had the best monsoon season in years.  There is greenery that requires once-a-week mowing around our house because those darn weeds try to bolt into seed as soon as we whack ‘em back!  I didn’t whack this one though.

Volunteer Datura near our front door.

Volunteer Datura near our front door.

 I confess I have poisoned, as well as whacked, but as soon as I cause withering and death with some toxic product, the clouds boil up, lightening strikes, thunder rolls, and a whole new set of weedlings make their debut!

Continue reading »

Aug 252014

by Doranna

The dogs are far from bored around here.  We’re getting ready for an obedience trial next weekend, so just went to an obedience match this past weekend.  After that comes an agility weekend.  In the meantime, we’re training for the December VST test, without any real assurance that Dart will be ready.  He’s got the nose, he’s got the understanding, but he works so intensely that he uses himself up about halfway through and turns into a puddle of goo.

So naturally, it’s time to introduce a little chaos into their lives by way of Mickey Cat.

We still don’t know if Mickey will be largely an indoor cat or largely a barn cat.  Ideally, we’d choose “indoor” and so would he.  But the household is no more logistically prepared for the insanity of “adolescent cat” than it was when we got Mickey just under a month ago.

Well, maybe just a little.  As in, we’ve added a top-entry litterbox to the center area of the house and we’re waiting to see if either species will use it/ignore it appropriately.  And while Mickey is still crated while unsupervised, this past week he added a number of skills/experiences to his repertoire.

He visited my dad at his hospice residence.  He spent carefully metered time in the barn alone.  He experienced rain (he disapproves).  He spent extended time loose in the house and learned no jumping on the counters, no crawling around behind my computer (where he’d managed to step on my UPS for a cold shut-down on two computers at once), no flying through the air to cling to the humans as one would cling to a screen door.

He also proved that he will come racing when called regardless of distance, and killed his first mouse.  (He’s been “killing” and eating already dead mice from the barn trap since the day he got here, but this was a…well, it was a wounded mouse.  And he took care of it.)  He’s in the process of learning the command to kennel up (get in his crate), and I suspect that one of these days he’ll stop flying through the room to settle down and have a good couch cuddle.  He has already has the ferocious purr down pat.

And oh yeah…

He met the dogs.

Poor Connery. He just wants to be friends. But after a brief period of fear behavior, Mr. McKittypants turned him into a play thing…stalking him, leaping out at him from secret places, and in general being a Mean Cat.  They’ve been out together twice and at this point Connery walks warily and removes himself from Mickey’s orbit as possible. (The action pic isn’t as dramatic as it looks. “Over-reaction” would be one way to put it!)




 In between meeting dogs, Mr. McKittypants had a Big Adventure.

I was doing my usual five things at once that morning, and Mickey cat was outside in the fenced yard in his harness. I was on a long biz call when he began flinging himself against the various screen doors. Then the biz call was interrupted by a hoped-for vet call (for sick DuncanHorse) and I was struggling with the bad cell reception there when I glanced out the window and saw a frantic little cat. Outside the fence in the PADDOCK.

“MEOW! MEOW! I don’t know how this happened MEOW!”

I rather incoherently finished the call while Mr. McK disappeared…somewhere. Finally I was able to run out and open the gate to call him. Boy did he come running!  “Where WERRRE you? Why was I out HERRRRE?”

So we answered the question, rather sooner than intended, about whether he’ll run off if he gets outside the yard.

Then Mr. McKittypants and Dart met in the wilds of the living room. I think Dart’s approach to the whole thing–cautious when faced, chasing when McK dashes past–will teach McK some excellent lessons about the best way to avoid attention from dogs.


And finally…

Dart gets a bone. Connery gets a bone. Mr. McKittypants gets a bone. Because of course he does!




Aug 222014

By Patty Wilber

Some Appaloosa coat patterns change color dramatically over time.  Dilute colors like buckskins tend to vary seasonally.

Here is a set of photos for three horses.  I am kind of sad to say, after all these months snapping, the camera did not do a great job of capturing the changes.  Or it might be *gasp* the photographer’s fault. I should have used the same location and the same  approximate lighting.  Since I really don’t want to wait another year to post this blog, I am going with what I’ve got.

The changes were was more obvious to me in person. But there you go.

Oh and I sold one horse in the middle…!


September, LT

September 2013, LT.  Dapples.

LT, October 2013

LT, October 2013.

LT November 2013

LT, November 2013.

LT, Dec. 2013

LT, Dec. 2013. Note dark on her face.

LT, Jan 2014

LT, Jan 2014.  Dark on her cheek bone.

LT Mar. 2014

LT, Mar. 2014.  Still has the neck and face darkness.

LT April 2014

LT, April 2014.  Not shed out much yet.


LT, May 2014.  Her goat has a shimmer to it, that the camera does nt capture very well.

LT, May 2014. The dark is mostly gone. Her coat has a shimmer to it and is a lot more golden.  The camera does not  capture this  very well, but she looks good in person!


The dapples are coming in. you can sort of see the sheen of her coat. no dark on her neck or face.

LT, early June, 2014. The dapples are coming in. You can sort of see the sheen of her coat. No dark on her neck or face.

LT, Late June, 2014

LT, late June, 2014


LT, Mid-August, 2014

LT, mid-August, 2014.

Lacey, September 2013.

Lacey October, 2013

Lacey, October 2013. Dark winter hair appearing.

Lacey November 2013

Lacey, November 2013.

Lacey, Dec. 2013

Lacey, Dec. 2013.  Darker (and hairy-er)

Lacey, Jan 2014

Lacey, Jan. 2014.  Picture kind of  washed out…


Lacey Mar. 14

Lacey, Mar. 14.  Dark!

Lacey April 2014

Lacey, April 2014.  Dark shedding leaving really pretty, but temporary dapples.


Lacey, May, 2014

Lacey, May, 2014. Mostly shed out–looking a lot more like the September picture.

Lacey June 2014.

Lacey, early June 2014.


Lacey, late June 2014

Lacey, late June 2014


Lacey, August 2014

Lacey, August 2014.  So this coat looks so much lighter than the Late June pic and it is just not.  Picture fail!

Toots as a baby!  You can hardly tell it is her except for the white hind sock!

Toots as a baby! You can hardly tell it is her except for the white hind sock!

Toots September 2013 at 4 yrs old–her legs are dark


Toots, October 2013

Toots, October 2013. Legs lighter.

LT, November 2013

Toots, November 2013

Toots, Dec. 2013

Toots, Dec. 2013.  Much lighter as her longer winter hair is white.

Then I sold Toots…

 So, that gives a rudimentary idea of some seasonal changes in coat color!

Next week I might do fall flowers, some from horseback.


Aug 202014

So, hey! You may have seen signs of Donna Fasano across the Internets; she’s generous with time and knowledge to reader and writer alike. This interview came my way, and it’s a pleasure to share this peek into her brain!

(I’m not sure that came out just right. But here it is anyway!  Have fun!  And no peeking into MY brain.  Far too scary…) Continue reading »

Aug 182014

by Doranna

This year, with the varmint invasion at an all time high–from rabbits to squirrels to pack rats to mice to gophers–we put into action tentative plan to acquire a barn cat–a cat of such nature so as not to be a viable adoptable indoor pet.

We have an agility friend with connections in high places at our awesome localish (in the city) shelter, Animal Humane. Okay, very high places. She runs the thing and is also a talented animal yenta. She hooked us up with a reclusive 7-year-old named Calypso whose ability to cope with humanity deteriorated daily during her stay there…and during her transition period here. She fled upon release, disappearing into the arroyo. No one was truly surprised, but it was hard all the same.

In short order, another kitty opportunity cropped up: a fourteen-week old little guy who had made clear his hatred of being handled. We hoped that at this younger age, we could at least gain his understanding that barn = good, people = food.

So home he came, and was immediately christened Mr. McKittypants (don’t judge me). He hissed at everyone who so much as looked at him, no doubt about that.  But three immediate observations changed everything about his future:

He hissed, but he recovered. And became curious.

He’s intensely food driven.

He’s intensely social. 

Well, not the least bit socialized in training terms, but social. “Where ARRRRE you? Why don’t you come and be in the BARRRRN with me? I can HEARRRRR you in the house!”

Add in the mouse he “dispatched” within 24 hours of his arrival*, and we were in love.

*That is, he thoroughly hunted, smacked around, and delivered killing bites to the already dead mouse I provided from the barn trap, and then he ate it. nom nom nom.

Because he was crated, I had the chance to control our interaction (as much as one can). Within thirty-six hours he learned No Claws. He learned No Teeth. I was able to shape a default behavior–if in doubt, back off a bit and lie down. He is fierce-wicked smart!

But this all put us in a quandary. First of all, he’s too young to be outside on his own right now. Coyotes, y’know.  But here we are with the dogs and a household that’s completely and totally not cat-proof. The plan, after all, was for a Barn Cat.

So we’re on a very unexpected journey. Not unlike, I must say, writing a book by the seat of one’s pants. You have an idea where you want to go, but no clear idea how you’re going to get there, or even quite where you’ll end up.

So these are the McKittypants Diaries. If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen them–or not, because…Facebook Timeline Hijinks, amIright? But either way, I’m going to try to collect them here. Because timeline scrolls on, but blog is forever. (Ish.)

And if you’re wondering what this has to do with dogs…let’s just say that when McKittypants (AKA Mickey) came home and I was pondering the things he had to learn (like, no claws and no paws!), I was repeatedly told that my expectations were too high (although my past cats from way back when might have disagreed). Of course, I’ve heard this before, as regards my dogs.  “Beagles are stupid/untrainable/too sniffy/what are you THINKING/OMG WHY?”

He’s a cat, people said. He is what he is. And I, a dog person, had unreasonable expectations.


Mr. McKittypants made it out into the yard today! Just in time–the stove guys came early and the rain followed them…

I included the standing picture so you all wouldn’t think he’s one of those cats who has no legs in a harness. Thanks to our early shaping, he now chooses a quiet default “down” position to assess the world when he’s in unfamiliar surrounds. Most wise little kitty!


Mr. McKittypants received a toy yesterday from a friend. Oh yes he did.


Mr. McKittypants would like to share with you all his progress on those plans for world domination. Most recently, walkies out to the agility yard. Next step…inside the fenced back yard without the long line. When I get the nerve.



Now we’re working toward our happily ever after. If McKittypants doesn’t take over the world first!

Aug 152014

By Patty Wilber

So this week we separated bulls at the Red Cliff Ranch and put them in a bull pen (a big pasture) to rest up for next breeding season. Or maybe we were just getting them out of the cow’s hair… Either way.

I wonder why it is called the Red Cliff Ranch?

I wonder why it is called the Red Cliff Ranch?

There were  six bulls. Two mature four-year-old bulls and two yearling bulls in with the cow herd (108 cow-calf pairs, about); two yearling bulls in with the 58 heifers (yearling females).

Continue reading »

Aug 112014

by Doranna

1375930515977128357Coloured question marks.svg.medI know, I know.  It’s been a while since anyone saw me on this blog.  Even though it’s ostensibly my own blog.  Patty keeps regularly chugging forth on the Write Horse Fridays, and yet from me…silence.

Usually I’m pretty decent about regular blogging–once a week, sometimes twice.  There’s always something new going on with the dogs, always something to chat about with the writing.  Because hey!  Me = opinionated.  Just ask me.

But now and then the universe proffers a butt-kick of the sort that throws everything out of whack. Continue reading »

Aug 082014

By Patty Wilber

When I was a kid, some ol’ cowboy told me that to be considered a “real” horseman, I had to come off at least three times. I started riding a lot at 14 and I am sure I “hit” that mark by 17 or so!  I was fortunate to get on a lot of equines for woman that bred Tennessee Walking Horses and also collected TWHs in need of rescue.  She made us all (I wasn’t the only lucky one) ride bareback.

You must fly three times to redeem your miles for your Horseman's Card! Click to see page.

You must fly three times to redeem your miles for your Horseman’s Card! Click to see page.

Continue reading »

Aug 012014

By Patty Wilber

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being one of the judges for the Bosque Farms Rodeo Queen contest.  The other judges were Ashlee Rose Mills, Miss Rodeo New Mexico 2013, and Charlene Stickland,  author of many horse articles and books.

By Charlene Stickmna

By Charlene Stickland

Us judges!

Us judges!

* all the contest photos were taken by Will Herschler of River Bend Photography. and he allowed me to put a few  in the blog!  Thanks, Will!

Continue reading »

Jul 252014
Might rain!

By Patty Wilber

Might rain!

Might rain!

Almost every afternoon there is a gathering of clouds and a suggestion of rain.  Some days it is a tease and some days, delivery, but for the first year in several, the monsoons arrived, acting “normally” (as if weather has a true “normal”) .

Full water barrels!

Full water barrels!

The dogs can drink and the horses like the rain water we collect for them, too! With this type of water storage, we also got some monsoon mosquitoes–monsquitoes.  Listerine, the latest miracle product, is supposed to kill them in water barrels and repel them if you spray yourself (smells lovely!).  Dryer sheets might work on a person as well. (Have not tried either.)

Continue reading »