With the fall, we performed a search for new working students. We have a nice team currently and Hannah came with a nice huntery jumpery background with solid dressage and eventing understanding behind her. She paired up nicely with Piper and started learning more about dressage and jumping correctly from the paint. We decided to get Hannah some show experience, so went to this "not recognized at all" schooling show my coach had going on. Sarah got to ride our new ISH, Patrick, with the goal of "staying in the ring" and getting him some off site practice.
Hannah learned a lot through the show and consistently improved her scores through the training levels tests to end with a 65%+ in T3. Sarah kept Patrick in the fences and rode tactfully to get the big red gelding to relax and do some really stunning moves. He's going to be a really lovely horse with some more miles.
While this wasn't a "real" show, it was nice for our "Green" rider Hannah and our "Green" horse Patrick to get some miles before we headed into more "real" schooling shows coming up. We're looking forward to a nice fall season now that Hurricane Harvey cleared out MY FEI show schedule until November. Boo Harvey.
It's possible you might have heard of this whole Hurricane Harvey thing. You might also realize that we live in Texas. Therefore, we were going to be hurricane-d. Harvey was a pathetic little thing and then it was all JK Imma Beast! so we made our preparations on the farm and this blog post is about that plus the following week. Strap in for some craziness because we can't do normal at Cirrus Sky Farms.
First, keep in mind we don't live on the coast. "The Beach" is 3 hours from us. That's a ways so we knew we weren't going to get it "that bad" and when Ike hit our farm it wasn't a big deal, just windy and some rain with a few power outages. We expected much the same from Mr Harvey. Step one was prepping the farm. Honestly, we were hoping it wouldn't come. Prepping a home in the suburbs is bad but prepping a farm sucksss. Everything has to be picked up, tied down, or wished well. Since our horses live outside (and that's honestly the safest place for them in a storm in general), we tied all their tails up and thoroughly cleaned and pre-thrush treated their hooves. I got some new round bales so they could camp out and just eat. So much eating. The covered was opened up for them to chill out in if they wanted. All the dog training equipment had to be picked up (omg so much things) and I still had a pretty decent list of to-dos when I finally gave up and decided I didn't care if it blew or floated away at that point. At this point I went to the feed store, not because I was out, but because in the week or two coming up THEY might be out and I'd need supplies. Hubby and I hit the HEB (grocery store for non-Texans) and did the most random shopping trip trying to piece together meals off what was left on the shelves. NOT MILK BREAD OR WATER. Hurricane's y'all.
Harvey officially hit on a Saturday (way to not let us miss work you jerk) and knowing that we'd be bored, we started cooking our meals from the food I'd bought the night before and watched The Weather Channel be asshats as the storm blew in. Harvey wasn't really that big of a deal when it made landfall (twice...) as hurricanes go but we had a stalled out "cold" front in west Texas that was going to pinball bounce Harvey up the coast and let it churn and collect water before it headed to Houston (and us) to stay for a bit. So basically on Saturday we threw our hurricane party and invited Sarah, Morgan, Alex and associated families to come eat and play board games. Alex opted to stay in Houston and the rest of us ate until we hurt. Leftovers went in the fridge and we were all yay.
Sunday was the day we knew we'd be flooding. Since we live on the backside of the hill though, that just means rushing water that goes fast across our property and will drain off quickly. Sadly that means down river from us, people get our water runoff.
While our water was rushing across the farm, I went out early to check the animals. The horses were super chill eating all the round bales and the dogs were having a great time playing and not pottying in the flooded yards and pastures. Only the sheep couldn't figure out how to get dry and were super forlorn about their lot in life.
We had just dug water lines out to the arena/barn since we're working on building the barn out finally and naturally the rushing water carved that all out. I was trying to check to make sure the mares weren't killing themselves stepping in holes from that when I managed to fall into one and get up past my knee in water. So much for my river boots staying dry. Most of the top layer of the arena was washing away with a purpose so I sighed and resigned myself with the knowledge that the arena base was super solid under the water as I trudged over it. With all the animals safe and doing well, I went back inside soaked. Work announced it was closing at some point on Sunday for Monday and Tuesday so I was like YAY NO WORK. Except... also no ponies and stuff. Boo.
So while things were getting nice and boring (and still raining but the water had already ran off and was on it's way to torture Houston), I started looking around for things to do. Alex was home alone as her man was working as emergency personnel. Houston was talking about releasing water to reservoirs and such so I was all, Alex, come stay with me since your work is closed all week and I's bored. She decided to stay put for her man's sake and I was like cool.
The rest of the day for us in Bryan was pretty uneventful and I was itching to ride something after being cooped up for so many days. My arena was a wasteland but I decided to check on the neighbor's arena and see how she fared. Turns out her arena was decent (except one portion) so we were like PONIES and loaded up to go ride.
So after feeling better about riding, we all went our separate ways and I went back to checking the progress in Houston. Unfortunately, the fun was only just beginning for them. Alex was near one of the reserviors that was set to be released to help relieve the area, Harvey was set to keep churning, and well, it was a mess. Oh and one of our awesome Aussies was trying to come into heat to be bred. With Alex unable to get to her clinic to do progesterone testing, we weren't sure what to do about this.
Tuesday I had off and wasn't sure what I'd do besides maybe sleep in. Alex meanwhile was trying to work out what she needed done plus dealing with growing boredom from being in her house listening to all the news so she asked me to (finally) come get her. This was the day that roads were (sort of) open and I (should) be able to get her (sort of) easily. Being the friend I am, plus having a mutual interest in getting Georgie bred, plus having nothing else to do... I headed to Houston. I took my Durango as it looked like I wasn't going through high water and headed out. As I got to the edge of the "tropical storm zone" my car alerted me to how dumb I was to be going INTO the area.
As far as how the drive there and back went, it could have been much much much worse. I drove through some high water, got turned around (thanks Waze...), swapped to Google Maps and continued on my way. There were highway closures, ramp closures, people being suicidal, but in all there was light traffic. Oh, except the caravans of big trucks, big trucks + boats, and emergency vehicles traveling in packs. It was amazing to see how these people were mobilizing and just looking for places to help people. Pretty awe inspiring. As I made my way over flooded over passes, through some pretty deep (for an SUV) water around cars that made bad choices and were stuck, I made it to Katy in short time and grabbed Alex before immediately heading back. The grey and dreary was like the Nothing from the Never Ending Story and I really wanted to go back home where the sun was out in force. Alex was pretty eager for that too. Oh and to draw blood and get it tested at TVMDL to see where we were with that. Fair enough.
I don't have media from the drive because well driving. I know I'm bad and do take pics while driving at times, but man, this wasn't one of those times you wanted to do that. Plus, the things you could take pictures of, there was no way to convey the emotions of the scenes. How deep the water was, how many people were out in their boats trying to help, watching boats go down side roads into neighborhoods... we were only on the outer ring of Houston too and seeing people fearlessly traveling into the city was amazing. Plus the license plates... so many out of staters. This would keep up through the next few weeks as we saw plenty of people stopping in our home town for food, supplies, and gas before heading onward to Houston to help.
We relaxed, did some washing of dogs, and took pictures of the Border Collie puppies as I decided it was time for Miss Pi to find her forever home as she wasn't turning out to be the top show dog I was hunting for.
At this point our hurricane woes were over (sort of), but we had a new one - Georgie was ovulating. OK, so yay, puppies, right? Well. Georgie's beau is from Colorado and we'd long ago decided to use him via chilled semen because we have Dr Alex on the payroll (luls). So again, what's the issue? Well, all of Alex's gear is at her clinic. In Houston. Way in Houston. At this point the clinic owners weren't even sure it wasn't flooded (thankfully it wasn't). Also, FedEx wasn't delivering to Houston OR Bryan at this point. Grr.
There was a bit of a freak out but the stud dog owner was amazing, FedEx lifted the restrictions on Bryan (not Houston), and we decided to have it shipped to me and then I'd relay it to Houston so Alex could AI. Not the easiest of plans but doable. So on Saturday I'm waiting patiently for my FedEx box of sperm to show up at the house so we can head to Houston asap to get this party started. Noon comes and goes and I'm like no.... I call FedEx and after much firm talking, I get a lovely supervisor that finds the issue is that the semen went to Houston first (huh?) before coming to Bryan. OK, whatever. BUT the issue NOW was that they also sent several trucks of ALL THE PACKAGES that had been sitting in Houston to come to Bryan for the past week due to the hurricane. So our little swimmers were sitting on a truck driving around town being delivered in whatever order with someone's Amazon purchases that had been sitting in Houston for the past week or two because of the hurricane. She assured me it would be there ASAP. I thanked her and waited the hour she told me to before checking back. I called and they told me to just wait longer. I called back a little later much less understanding, scared the really nice rep with lots of words like vagina, sperm, semen, losing thousands, etc and making her really squeamish. It got me really nowhere though so I called back right away and go lost in the computer answering system. Weird. I call back again. It tries to get me lost again, but being clever and recognizing patterns easily, I figure out how to get to a person and ask once more for the Tracing department. At this point, I'm given to a guy and he's not all super nice and friendly like the others have been. I start my story and he tells me basically tough, sit tight, and don't call every 10 minutes. I say I'll call back in 10 and hang up. When I try to call back, it won't go through. No computer system, nothing.
I'd been blacklisted from FedEx y'all.
But I knew I did everything to get those swimmers to us and they did show up later that afternoon. I hoped for the best and packed my family up to head to Houston. The drive was pretty good (much better than Tuesday of that week) and we made our way into town. My husband was gawking at the closed highways and such but the place we needed to go was RIGHT on the edge of the closures so we got in and met Alex. We were nervous about the little guys, but once we opened the box and got to checking things out, the stud dog owners claims that he was uber fertile were well founded.
Go little guys, go!
So we end our Hurricane Harvey adventures here, nine days after we started it. Houston has some serious issues and it's been heartbreaking and inspiring to see what's going on down there. When we left Houston for College Station/Bryan it was because of Hurricane Rita and we haven't regretted the decision to be "near" but not "in" Houston. For many, this isn't a choice or a lifestyle they want. At least many have a sense of humor though: