Monday, July 30, 2012

Rattlesnake season

There are rattlesnakes in the area where we live. I haven´t been really concerned about it so far. I´m planning on staying out of their way but I don´t want them close to the house. For a couple of days it seems like they are coming closer to the house. Unfortunately Trigger is not afraid of them, at all. He is very curious and approaches them with his muzzle to smell them. I´m really concerned about that. I thought all horses by evolution avoided snakes. Is there something I can do to make him stay away from them?

Yesterday he approached a big one right by our gate. Philip saw it and shoot the snake with a Remmington 870 12 guage. It was difficult to shoot the snake without aiming towards the house or Trigger, Trigger really wanted to be close to the snake. The snake was at the base of a big oak tree, he was curled up and rattling. When they do that their head is at the center of their body mass. Philip aimed for his head using the home defence rounds that he usually have in the shootgun which may not have been the best choiche for a snake that was intented to eat. In retrospect the Winchester PDX round may not have been the best round to choose for preserving the snake for cooking, but the purpose was to quickly neutralize the snake to prevent injury to horse and dog. Philip turned the snake into dinner we try not to waste anything. It was about 1½lbs of meat on the snake.

Northcutt Ranch Rattlesnake Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Start with a rattlesnake, dead ones work best, making sure the head is properly disposed of.
A rattlesnake's head can still deliver venom hours after death. If you are in the woods and eating rattle snake, it is customary to bury the head to avoid accidental poisoning.
Remove the skin by slitting the snake down the middle of its belly.  Peel the skin off like a jacket. It will open up and expose its innards. Remove them and dispose.
Cut the snake into segments so you can bring to a boil it in a pot and simmer for about one hour with lime or lemon juice and salt. This will help you to easily remove the meat from the bones.
Remove the meat from the bones. The ribs will just pull right out. The spine also provides some meat. Rattlesnake meat is rare and expensive if you can find it, so dont leave any behind.
Chop the meat up into finer pieces. It has a tendency to be a little chewy and stringy. Chopping it up will help to eliminate that.
Take the meat and cook it in a frying pan with some organic butter. Add a little sea salt, lemon pepper, and a splash of California Chardonnay or other white wine. Toss in a spoonful of chopped garlic, and some artichoke hearts. Saute.
Set aside to cool.
Boil your water for the bow ties. Add some sea salt. It's best al dente.
Rinse in a colander or strainer with some cool water.
Toss the cooled rattlesnake meat into the pasta and stir. Add some olive oil mayonaise, chopped cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, diced green onions, lemon juice, more lemon pepper, and some cilantro. Serve chilled.
There are few people in the world who have eaten rattlesnake. Its flavor is often compared to chicken or cornish game hen, but a litttle gamier in flavor.
It is delicious when properly prepared and simply edible in a survival situation.
But on the ranch we try not to waste anything. Its not in the spirit of what we do.
When nature gives you lemons you make lemonade. When you get a rattlesnake, you make pasta salad!

This morning Trigger approached another one, I woke up by the sound of the snake underneath my window, next to Trigger.  

Other than this little problem which I can´t do much about (I´m supposed to take it really easy for a couple of weeks) it´s wonderful to be at home. Hayley is an adorable little girl. She eats (a lot!), sleeps, poops, eats and looks around with her big eyes. Today I was reading Swedish fairy tales for her by my favorite author of children’s books, Astrid Lindgren.  She enjoys when I read to her, I´ve been doing that since early pregnancy. I believe that every book we read to our children from the very beginning is a huge benefit for life. We speak English at home and I want her to learn Swedish as well therefor I´m going to read to her in Swedish every day.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The birth of our daughter Hayley

Right before we went to the hospital

Hayley Cecilia Northcutt
Since Monday last week I´ve had contractions every five minutes. Uncomfortable but not painful. Definitely not the kind you go to the hospital for. Every now and then I had real contractions, although they didn´t follow a regular pattern. Eight days later, on Tuesday this week I started to leak ammoniac fluid at least that was what I thought. We went to the hospital to see what´s going on.

3 hours old

A nurse checked me. She was really sweet and friendly but to be honest she didn´t really seem to know what she was doing. She was very nervous and the way she examined me was extremely painful. Anyway she couldn´t find my cervix at all and sent me home “since I was going to see my doctor the following afternoon anyway”. We went home and I had a really good night’s sleep.

Woke up at 6am Wednesday morning by a sharp contraction. The day before my due date. The real contractions were seven minutes apart. I feel so grateful that I slept well the night before, made it so much easier to breathe through the contractions. My plan was to go without pain medication if possible.  I moved around the ranch timing the contractions, doing some last minute things like feeding the animals and made sure they had plenty of water. When I was done I took a long shower, made breakfast and woke Philip up. We had breakfast and talked for a while, the contractions got closer and stronger. The car (a rental since ours is at the mechanic still) was already packed and Philip thought that we should go to the hospital. I thought we could wait half an hour or so and go to my regular Doctors appointment first. TheBirthPlace is in the building next doors anyway. I changed my mind since the contractions started to be a little bit stronger and was about four minutes apart. It´s only a short drive, about 30 min (depending on traffic).

Halfway there, on a difficult mountain road my water broke or should I say exploded. There was water everywhere and it was greenish. I knew that could be a sign that the baby is stressed. I had contractions all the time by then. I felt a strong urge to push. I had to push! Something was wrong. More than us not being at the hospital yet. I tried my best not to push and just breathe but the baby was moving. By the time we got to the hospital, ten minutes after the water broke I thought I was going to go insane.

Another nurse checked me this time and she couldn´t find my cervix either. She calmly told us that she was going to call my Doctor and have her come down right away; she walked until she reached the curtains of my room and started running. Then I knew that my feeling was right, something was wrong. My Doctor came immediately. I was fully dilated (and probably been fully dilated the day before as well). My Doctor whom is very professional calmly told us that she didn´t feel the baby´s head but was going to make sure by doing another ultrasound. The baby was breech and wanted to come out now!

I´m most impressed by her organizational skills. In a few minutes she organized a team for an emergency C – Section while she at the same time talked me through everything and made sure that someone else prepared Philip. I still haven´t had anything for the pain. The breathing exercises I learned at my yoga class helped me a lot. When I got the spinal shot it felt like life came back to me. Before they could begin they had to carefully push two feet back through the birth canal. Hayley really wanted to come out.
Philip was there holding my hand all the time. Hayley was in his arms less than 30min after my water broke. Very impressive teamwork at the hospital. I got too see my daughter before they started to stitch me back together again. I´m very grateful for that. It meant everything to see her. She was in good health but a little bit bruised on her feet and legs (still is). She came out with her feet first.  I needed some time at recovery. Everyone was very thoughtful, explained everything they did and tried their best to make things as good as can be.  I missed the first two hours of my daughter’s life. C- Section didn´t exist in my universe and we weren´t prepared for this. I do feel very good about the fact that Philip got to spend that special time with her. He took pictures and told me everything later in the evening. When I did get to see her and hold her in my arms for the first time she was very hungry and started eating at once. She loves eating, breastfeeding is going great. She is happy and healthy which means everything. We stayed at the hospital for three days. I really don´t like hospitals but I´m very grateful for everything they did for us.  We came home yesterday. Feels good to be home!

When I had my son seven years ago labor took 76 hours, this time I´d spent a lot of time manifesting a faster delivery and a healthy baby. I did get a faster delivery, 30 min after we came to the hospital and Hayley is a strong, healthy baby. Maybe I´ll spend some more time working on the details I´m manifesting next time!

Hayley Cecilia Northcutt was born Wednesday 25th of July 2012, 39 weeks 6 days, 7.16lbs and 20inches (3600g and 50,8cm).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Towards The Tevis

While being pregnant I had time working on my strategy towards riding The Tevis in 2014. In the beginning of my pregnancy I rode part of the trails on my horse Trigger.

Later on I have been reading books and blogs about people who successfully completed The Tevis and compared their strategies. It´s been very interesting, inspiring and helped me keep my spirits up while I haven´t been able to ride for a couple of months.
During this time I´ve spent a lot of my energy searching for and looking at Icelandic Horses suitable for endurance riding. Eventually I found a horse I believe in. I still have to pick him up, it´s the first thing on my list after the birth of our Baby Girl. I´m looking forward of getting to know him. I made a mind map for a training schedule, with goals and approximated times for reaching them. Everything will depend on the horse but I´m certainly going to do my part. I can´t wait to start! I´m very excited!

I´m thinking that I would like to either crew for someone next year or work as a volunteer as a part of my own preparations, to get a better feel of what The Tevis is really like.
This summer have been full of exciting endurance events in our neighborhood and I´m really looking forward to next summer when I can participate in some of them. Gold Country is the place to live in if you love horses, nature and wild life!
One of the most useful books I´ve read as part of my preparation is Tevis from the back of my horse, by Sharma Lynn Gaponoff. I´ve read it twice and wrote about it in an earlier blog post.

I also read Return to the river - a young woman´s long ride home, by Diane “Running Deer” Ripley.

Right now I am reading It has nothing to do with age – stories of driven athletes who compete in extraordinary sports, by Frank Lieberman. I was a little bit concerned when my husband gave it to me the other day because it´s about growing old and still undertake grueling athletic endeavors. (I´m not a big fan of thinking about growing old. I take actions for a pleasant old age like nurturing love and friendships, staying true to my passions, living healthy etc. that being said I don´t like thinking about getting old while I still feel on top of my world.  I love living every day right now.) The author begins his journey with horses at a mature age and finds new purposes with his life through them. I barely read half of it yet but he just made it his goal to ride The Tevis, it´s getting more and more interesting. His positive spirits and thoughts are very inspiring. I can highly recommend it.
These are two of the blogs that I follow and they are also a great source of inspiration:

The books and the blogs are all written by positive athletes with a deep love for their horses. The places they write about are right here, I can easily try the trails and the events they write about. Just the thought of that possibility is very inspiring itself.

Beautiful scenary along the Tevis Trail

Trigger and me earlier this year

American River

Wild life along The Tevis Trail

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bed rest and thoughts about pain relief

So…this bed rest thing is going great..I had no idea how hard it is to do nothing. Mostly I´d been a really good girl staying in bed. I might of help a few people ride my horse, given a few horsemanship lessons, went for a few short walks, baked a little bit, done some laundry and cleaning…but mostly I stayed in bed. I can´t remember that I ever spent this much time in bed. I try to read and do some knitting. Time goes pretty slowly.

I don´t want to complain, I much rather spent this time at home than on the hospital. I have contractions every 5-7min and had it since Monday night; sometimes they are every 4min, right now every 6min. They are getting a little bit stronger all the time but not strong enough that I want to go to the hospital. When I had my son seven years ago I had these kind of contractions for 2-3 days before the awfully painful begun. After my water broke the last time (the painful contractions already begun before that) it took 76 hours before he finally arrived. I´d much rather spend as much time as possible at home. I don´t really like hospitals.

The only reason why I choose to give birth there and not at home is that it´s possible to be released from your pain if you feel that you need too. With my son I had Nitrous Oxide from hour 50-70. I found it very effective. I didn´t have to wear the mask all the time. I walked around and when I needed a little break from the pain I just breathed in the mask a few times, release was instant and I could keep moving around.  I would love to have that again but it´s not an option here, unfortunately. There is no space to move around in the room either. The rooms are tiny here. I asked if I was going to be allowed to walk outside the room and they said sometimes that´s OK!

I´m pretty sure that I could have gone through the whole labor/delivery with only Nitrous Oxide the last time if it only been a little shorter. I was so tired after being awake for 3 days and 3 nights in the end. After 70 hours I asked for epidural, I was SO tired. I can´t imagine having a labor that long without eating, luckily this was in Sweden and you´re allowed to eat and drink. Here I´m not, so I´m just hoping for a shorter time at the hospital, that´s partly why I didn´t wanted to stay on Monday when I was there. I mean they can´t let you be without food for that long, which means that they have to speed up labor. Sometimes that might be necessary but if not I´d rather avoid all the extra fetal monitoring that would be necessary doing that. I read several studies showing that frequent fetal monitoring can stress the baby and more often leads to C-sections or mechanical (the use of forceps or vacuum) assisted birth. If my baby´s in stress or not feeling good I would agree to anything but otherwise I prefer to have as little interference as possible.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Last night I slept the whole night, the first night on several months that I slept really deep for seven hours. It felt so great waking up full of energy this morning. All the energy made me feel like I was going to explode if I didn´t do anything physical. I went out jogging in the forest. Just because it felt so good. When I came back I was sweating but hey…it´s California and pretty warm even in the morning.

In the afternoon I had an appointment with my Doctor. I have had some problems with my vision a couple of days and my blood pressure was a little high so I spent some hours being monitored and taking tests for preeclampsia. Everything was fine. I have regular contractions every five minutes or so but they are not very painful so I choose to go home. When I had my son I had regular contractions for days before I got “the real ones” that are impossible to talk through. I much rather stay at home as long as possible and let nature have its way. I´m afraid that they would hurry things up if I choose staying at the hospital. My husband told them about my jogging and some other activities so now I´m on bed rest….. but I don´t think it will be for many days.

Started to read Bill Dorrance book “True Horsemanship Through Feel” yesterday. I don´t know how many times I actually read it but it´s definitely one of the best books about Horsemanship ever written. Definitely worth reading again!

Yesterday we did some shooting on targets when I had Trigger with me. He did great! I had a plan about what I was going to do with my horse tonight, guess it will have to wait.

Friday, July 13, 2012

About friendship and loyalty

Lately I had a very supportive friend being there for me all the time. On days when I have a lot of energy we play all day long. On other days when I´m tired he doesn´t leave my side, he literally stays within 2ft distance if I let him ALL DAY. He always listens to me. He never accidently step on my toes or anything like that. He´s very respectful but yet persistent in his wishes to be with me. I had special friends before. They are all SPECIAL in their own ways but this guy I don´t know what to say about him. He talks to me and ask me things, if I listen. I never invited him into my house (except a few minutes talk in the hallway sometimes.) For about a week or so he´s been asking me if he could come in and see how I live. I hesitated but he insisted that it was important for him. I didn´t listen and ignored that.

Yesterday I was reading in the downstairs guestroom of our house, the coolest place on hot days. After a while I felt that someone was looking at me. I looked up and out on the porch outside; there´s my friend looking directly at me. I opened the door and said “Yes, OK come in and have a look.” He seemed to be very pleased with that and started to explore the guestroom. He´s always been a big fan of looking through windows. He really enjoyed looking out the windows instead of looking in. He was very polite and careful as he explored my domains. He didn´t want to leave though. I had to go with him and promise to spend more time with him. I´d already spent about three hours in the morning in his company but he didn´t consider that nearly enough.

We walked out the door together and I suggested a walk. He didn´t feel like that and to be honest I didn´t either. We took a nap together on the porch. My friend on my right side and my dog Neikka on the left side.

This was what I saw when I woke up from my nap, Trigger standing over me.

It was very peaceful. After an hour or so Philip wanted to go fishing and I asked my friend if he wanted to tag along. After thinking about it for a minute he decided to come.

Enjoying some green grass while we´re fishing in the pond.

My friend is my young rescue horse Trigger. After spending a lot of time with him lately he seems to turn himself into my frequency as soon as he sees me. On days when I´m tired he makes sure that our youngest dog (she can be pretty intense from time to time) doesn´t bother me. If I stop and rest he stops and lower his head next to me to see if I´m OK. When I do chores outside; cleaning the water buckets, water the garden, checking fences etc..he never leaves my side. As closer we get to our Baby Girls arrival the closer he seems to monitor my wellbeing. He´d been there for me every day all the time. And I´m trying to figure out ways to return his incredible friendship although I made him very disappointed today after declaring that he couldn´t come into the house with me. He enjoys freedom and if I´m at home I leave the gate to his pasture open so that he can choose whether he wants to be there or in the yard around the house (everything is fenced.) He appreciates that. I know for sure one other thing that I can do for him in the future and that is to be more patient with him when he wants to enjoy the trails at a slower pace than I do. He is a dreamer and respecting his personality is the least I can do for him in return for his patient with me for nine months. I´m very grateful for his loyal friendship.

Endurance Riding

I´ve read this article about Endurance Riding this morning and found it very accurate with lots of useful tips. Doesn´t matter if you´re a beginner or a top rider.

Very useful information about Endurance Riding - conditioning - competing - horsemanship - tack...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread with raisins

I felt like baking bread this morning and did some experimenting in the kitchen. The result was this recipe; a soft healthy bread with lots of fiber.

Mix with a fork in a big bowl:
3 cups white flour for bread
6 cups whole wheat flour
¾ OZ dry yeast (3 small packages)
A little bit of salt

4 cups water (110-115 degreese Fahrenheit)
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup olive oil
Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon/fork. 
Add ½-1 cup raisins. 

Let the dough rest for ten minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare two baking sheets.

Cut the dough into 16 pieces and roll them into round buns.


Let the pieces of dough rest on the baking sheets for about 20 minutes. Place one of your hands on them and put a light pressure to make them more flat = easier to make sandwiches of.

Bake them in the middle of the oven for about 13 min.

Enjoy them as they are or with a cup of tea/coffee/juice, a soup or a summer salad. Feel free to add butter/cheese/meat/vegetables and turn them into healthy lunch sandwiches.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Plan for the unexpected

We got up early this morning because PG&E were coming to inspect the power lines on our property. They worked fast and after that we had such a peaceful morning fishing in the pond. Well..Philip were fishing, I was mostly watching and Trigger were eating grass. We had a really good time. The pond doesn´t have much shade and when the temperature started to rise we took a walk down the hill to our creek, looked at some interesting rocks and cooled off in the cold water. We didn´t bring the dogs which is unusual and everything was very quiet. One of those moments when you want to stop time.

The temperature started to rise even more; it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We started to walk up the hill and back to the house. It´s pretty steep and we live at 2200ft elevation. I had Trigger in a rope.  Halfway up the hill I had to stop because I had a strong contraction. Philip took Trigger the last bit of the walk. It took forever to get home. After resting a while I started to feel a dull pain in my lower abdomen but the contractions where not very strong and very irregular. Philip went to the grocery store. Everything was fine.
When he came back and opened the door I can smell fire and hear sirens in the background. There´s a forest fire on the other side of our creek. We live next door to Eldorado National Forest. We kept listening to the local radio on updates of what´s going on, preparing ourselves to evacuate if necessarily. Where to go? What to do with the animals? What to bring? It was a nervous 45 minutes before the fire department had everything under control. Or maybe I´m just extra sensitive and not used to this kind of danger? I don´t know. Everything is fine now and no one was injured as far as we know. I don´t think the fire was very big but it was close. We had an emergency plan we made when we moved in but today we didn´t have our horse trailer at home or a truck strong enough to tow horses. Which made our previous plan useless. Something to think about. Luckily we have most of our horses on a pasture a few hours away for the moment.  I still have Trigger here and it´s not like I can ride him out of here in a blink of an eye right now.
This close call will definitely make us take precautions and be better prepared in the future. We have a very good fire department and they are used to handling situations like this so I am not overly worried…but still.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fun things to do with your horse when you´re pregnant!

Trigger walking down the stairs
 in the middle of our back porch
Through the years I´ve heard so many people say things like: “I´m pregnant I can´t do anything with my horse”, “I´m pregnant I´ll let my horse out on the pasture for a year”, “I´m pregnant I don´t feel like spending time with my horse”, “I´m pregnant I don´t have time for my horse” or “I´m going to have a baby soon I´ll have to sell my horse”. I always believed that there must be other options. I´m not suggesting doing anything dangerous. Safety is always number one; you have to consider what kind of horse you have and your own horsemanship skills.

Trigger walking up the stairs on the side of our back porch.

Trigger walking down the stairs
 on the side of our back porch.

                    When I found out was pregnant I decided to:
1.   Ride as long as my doctor said it was ok (I did ride until I was 6½ months pregnant.)
2.   Do things with my horse every day.
3.   Learn about trick training.
4.   Spend a lot of time observing my horse interact with other horses on the pasture.
5.   Try to learn more about his personality and how he reacts in different situations.
6.   Let my horse conquer new situations.
7.   Work on ground manners.
8.   Help my horse to be braver overall and particularly on the trail.

Trigger standing on our porch looking down towards the stairs in the middle of the porch.

While doing this we´re having a lot of fun! We´ve also learned to trust each other more. Today I´m two weeks from my due date and we´re still doing all the things on the list except the riding part. We´re taking at least one long walk every day, often two times a day. Trigger loves challenges and I´ll try to give him some kind of challenge every day.

One of the things we worked on during my pregnancy is how to load up on a trailer in the shortest amount of time, while staying relaxed. Trigger now loads under five seconds most of the times. You can walk him in or ask him to load himself while you´re just watching.
We´ve also spent time training how to safely cross bridges and rivers. We´ve been climbing up on things, walking under things, walking over different kinds of tarps, walked into narrow spaces, climbed stairs and on hot days we´ve gone swimming together.

Walking over a plastic tarp.

Earlier in my pregnancy we were also riding across the tarp.
Even my son (he was six at the time) rode Trigger over the tarp (in a bitless bridle on long reins).

When I still was riding him we met a bear once, another time we was chased by two large dogs that was biting him on his legs, we also had the company of coyotes more than once. He managed to stay calm under these potentially dangerous situations.

Walking calmly under the water sprinkler.
Trigger hated water when we first met.

The first time you do this with your horse it´s a good idea to place yourself
 closest to the sprinkler (otherwise your horse might jump right into you.)

We´ve been taking walks on roads with heavy traffic and met all kinds of vehicles. I´ve learned that Trigger sometimes reacts the first time he faces a something new, he do so by taking one or two jumps sideways. It´s very rare that he reacts the second time he faces the same “danger”. This knowledge makes it easier for me two trust him. I´m more relaxed, which makes our time together more fun for the both of us. I would say that these (almost) nine months have meant a lot for our relationship. Trigger is a more confident and brave horse. He is my best friend and he taught me a lot.

We´ve been taking at least one long walk every day,
during the entire pregnancy.

Trigger´s become very good at keeping the right distance, pay attention to me and the surroundings. He walks behind me, besides me or in front of me. It´s very easy to take a horse like Trigger with you to do anything you want. His good manners (which improveds remarkably these past months) makes it possible for me to give him more freedom and we have even more fun together.

I asked my husband to document some of the things Trigger and I did today (all the pictures in today’s post). Trigger is a rescue horse and if you want to get to know him better please follow the links underneath.