What’s the Difference Between Horses and Mules? This May Surprise You


I’m lucky to have two beautiful mules move in next door. They are gorgeous. They’re tall, sleek and exceptionally friendly. They carry packs for hikers in Yosemite. They’re a little aggressive, they’re pushing the field fence over but I can fix that with a strand of electric fence tape. (Much as I hate to.)

I’ve discovered there are some differences between them and my Quarter-pony, “Sugar.” For one thing, they graze everything. It looks evenly mowed. Every horse I’ve ever had grazes what it likes and leaves the rest, allowing the things they dislike to go to seed and proliferate.

Another difference is… where’s the manure? They’ve been there for a couple of months and they gravitate to my pony. They’re always out there with him but they leave no droppings. Go figure. They must be tidy about it and have a spot somewhere else. Works for me. The last thing I need is two equines just over the fence leaving droppings that I can’t rake up. Did I say they’re gorgeous?

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

The Problem With People is They’re Hungry All the Time, lol …

I can say proudly that I am the cook at my house. Years ago I took control from my husband and declared, “I’m the food manager”. That was my blunt way of informing him that I was going to control the show in the kitchen. He did not mind. Thirty years later he still doesn’t mind. The more I cook the more he loves it. He tells people what a great cook I am and enjoys most everything I make. The problem is, like the rest of us, he’s hungry all the time. I once saw a video that was taken at Thanksgiving. The mother of the videographer worked all day long in the kitchen which many people do on our favorite food holiday but when they fast-forwarded the video, we watched her in high speed, for a long time cooking, bending, baking, etc. When it came time for everyone to eat, the fast-forward video showed everyone scoot their seats up then scoot them back and leave the table. If you blinked you missed it. It was hilarious. Those of us who put our heart and soul into cooking can relate to the video and it’s a good thing there are lots of left overs at Thanksgiving. But I’ll tell you, I just wish we weren’t so prone to having to eat, all day long, everyday. Why, some of us even wake up in the middle of the night to eat. Whoa, what’s up with that? Ice cream? Think about it, we are eating machines.  And if I don’t  eat and eat well, I have no energy. Like I said, we are eating machines. We are just like a car. No gas no go.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River one of her books for a buck available at Amazon, B&N and Ocean-Hose.


Recession Grocery Shopping – You Can’t Win!

You absolutely can not win if you go grocery shopping, especially if you have a partner. If you spend too much, which you will, especially with prices so high (bread is four dollars in California) or if you don’t come home with anything interesting to eat. My husband went last night and of course spent more than we had agreed on. But he said, “I figure I’ll be in less trouble if I bring you something good to eat”. Smart man. I can remember years ago a very stressful shopping experience. We had this little tiny Subaru hatchback and I had the delightful experience of having only seventeen dollars. My list included a bale of hay, groceries and gas. Whew. But I did it. I shoved that hay into the hatchback, bought the least amount of gas I could and found groceries really cheap at the gas station mini-mart. I always thought those days were behind us but this recession has brought them back again. I am grateful I have all the frugal skills I acquired during lean times. These days… I need them.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River one of her books for a buck available at Amazon.

Dangerous Garden Warnings

The garden can be a dangerous place. No kidding! On Sunday I encountered a HUGE snake, slithering amongst the end of summer overgrowth but that said, the mice were beginning to ruin all my tomatoes and cantaloupe. Now I walk gingerly and keep my hands out of those overgrown corners. Earlier in the year the hornets were everywhere but I let them swarm around me while I worked, they never once bothered me and if it hadn’t been for them pollinating, I wouldn’t have had fruit. Now they are gone and the bees have moved in for the second round of flowers but I did get stung and it gives me the chills thinking of it now. Those hornets built a nest under my front porch. In the garden we got along fine but when my hat brushed against their nest, several of them came after me, ouch! As I walk out into the garden now, after having seen that snake, which I’m not sure if it is a rattler or not, I will remember the warning the hornets gave me.  I won’t wait for a warning from the snake as it just might be the “Don’t tread on me” variety.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River one of her books for a buck available at Amazon.

The Apple Diet – Pretty & Fresh

When I first got together with my husband he had us go on an “apple diet”. But it wasn’t entirely apples, he allowed us to eat a little raw cabbage as well.  It didn’t last very long, probably just a day and a half and after we were through we smelled like apples. It wasn’t too big a deal for me because I’d been enjoying apples from the trees I found out in the woods and eating quite a bit of them because they were so pretty and fresh, I was young and believed that if I ate something so pretty and fresh right off the tree, I couldn’t help but look that way too.  Now days, I still eat fresh apples but just one at a time, sometimes only three apples a week. But I noticed that when I’m craving something, anything, whether it feels like I need protein or sugar, that apple really hits the spot.


Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River available at Amazon.

From Mice To Moose-Sized Deer / Predators In My Garden

I think the mice are eating as much as the deer, although it is a huge thrill to come face to face with a buck staring you down on the other side of the garden fence. But the deer stay out while the mice party down night and day on organic heirloom tomatoes and cantaloupe. My husband told me the neighbor’s cat was in there yesterday. Much as I love those cute little mice, I hope our feline friend enjoys his daily patrol and the rodents go back to their native fare … acorns!


Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River one of her books for a buck available at Amazon.

End of Summer – Not the Time to be Apathetic

If you’re a gardener like I am, you may be a tad exhausted after months of soil preparation, weeding, watering and harvesting but the end of summer is not the time to shrug and let the garden go. Keep watering, weeding and if necessary fertilizing. You’ll get a lot more produce that way, which is what you planted it for. Right?

Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River one of her books for a buck available at Amazon.

Save Calories By Cooking Without Oil

The key to cooking without oil is to use a cast iron skillet, no-stick spray and low heat. Follow the directions carefully on the no-stick spray then put your garlic, onions and sliced mushrooms in the sprayed cast iron skillet. Cover but leave a crack so the steam can escape. After three or four minutes at low heat, crack your eggs and add the whites then cover again leaving a crack for steam to escape and cook until the whites are done. With toasted bagels and a salad with juicy tomatoes, this is a tasty omelet-like dish.


Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River one of her books for a buck available at Amazon.

Save Calories By Letting The Veggies Cook Themselves

It’s not as much fun to cook without oil but it protects those who have high cholesterol. Using cooking spray correctly (heat it in the pan first) then adding vegetables like mushrooms, onions, zucchini, celery, garlic, etc. then putting a lid on it and turning the burner down to low, will saute’ them. Be careful that you don’t overcook them, unless you enjoy them well cooked. Add them to brown rice or some great fresh bread, throw in a salad with only a dash of vinegar and there you have a low-fat (non fat?) meal that will be satiating and keep you and/or your loved ones around for a while.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Gold River, one of her books for a buck available at Amazon.

Ah, the Simple Life. NOT!

Simple is going to the store for a can of tomatoes. The simple life is pulling weeds and watering all summer then standing in the hot sun with a bucket, stooped over harvesting your own tomatoes then enduring searing heat in the kitchen canning them before they rot and doing the same thing a few days later. Those of us who forfeit life’s modern conveniences laugh at the expression, “the simple life”. Living in the country is not simple. It can become very complicated, especially if the water pump breaks, the horse gets loose or your sombrero disturbs a wasp nest while your emptying the garbage. The simple life brings grown men to tears. But those of us who chose to live this way couldn’t have it any other way. Whether it’s the cool delta breezes blowing through open windows on a hot night or the silhouette of a buzzard on the oak snag outside your bedroom window, these are the simple things that keep us rooted in place and it is the roots we dig that create a bond with our homes, whether they are simple or not.


Suellen Ocean is the author of Gone North, one of her books for a buck available at Amazon.