Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Loss of Mischief ~

Skyla & Mischief in June
This has been a very hard post to write...  While I was gone, Butch was working in the garden.  (It's completely fenced & we only use "Slugo" slug bait, so called safe for wildlife & pets.)  While he wasn't paying attention, Mischief got in & was eating the bait when he turned to see her.  He chased her out & didn't think anything more about it - until the next morning when he found her dying.  By that time, it was too late & he had to put her down.

After some on-line searching, I found lots of information & serious questions being asked about the so called safety of this product.  It doesn't contain a bitter ingredient that would make it less palatable for either dogs, wildlife or children for that matter.  Iron Phosphate's, Oregon Live.

Not even two-years old - a little bright light - full of life, cut short....  So very hard to accept that she is gone...  another hole in the fabric of time - that we call daily life...  

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Long Winding Road~

July 26, 2012 - The Chugwater area of Wyoming
I feel like a Road Warrior!  Ten days on-the-road so far & another to get back home.  The final mileage will be interesting.  The landscape is something out of one of the old Westerns.  As I sped along about 75 mph - watching the scene roll by - how I wished I was in Farah's saddle, feeling her big walk & hearing the quiet of the country.  Maybe back about one-hundred years in the timeline.  When I dared to pull off to the side of the Super-slab - noise was the biggest onslaught to my senses.  Even so - just taking in the scope of the country is such an amazing experience.  It had been years since I'd taken a drive of this magnitude by myself.  The last time was about 1995 - driving a black Ford Mustang 5.0 that the truckers nicknamed;  "That little muscle car!"  :-)  This time, it's still a Ford, but a full-size Bronco - with four-wheel drive, not smart to go over 80.  With the Mustang?  Safe to say that the upper limit was over three figures :-)
July 27, 2012 - Just after 10 a.m. West of Billings
Butch & I had taken the trip in 2008, but the changes are startling.  Almost every town along the major interstate highways has grown even more.  So many new interchanges, each with the mandatory gas stations & fast food.  Gone are the days of the small unique restaurants where you took your chances of getting a great meal, or not!  Getting gas is a challenge too, with all the large motor homes - especially the ones towing jeeps or other vehicles behind.  When they pull into the pumps - they take them ALL!  Lines were common, even during the week days.
July 27th,11 a.m. - Grizzly Mountains, near Big Timber, MT
The majesty of the views become almost overwhelming & certainly awe inspiring.  I wished that grandson Ben had been able to come with me for the trip.  His mother & I had taken my orange 78 Mustang with T-tops (The Starman Mustang) all the way to Iowa in the summer of 1990, to visit my grandparents - when she was about the age he is now. That time we took in the Corn Palace of Mitchell, SD & Devils Tower, WY.  Travel Gods willing, one more long driving day & I hope to see the green, green grass of Home!

Monday, July 23, 2012

On The Road Again~

Welcome to Wyoming
Wyoming has a new welcome sign since my last visit here!   I'm taking a road-trip.  It was unplanned but not completely unexpected.  I have family things to do in Colorado, so decided to drive, flying isn't my favorite thing.  Driving gives me time to reflect on the beauty of our great Country's wide open spaces, since I've been lucky enough to go through the width of Washington State, across the top of Idaho, through Montana & from the top to the bottom of Wyoming!  Finally - back to Colorado!
Peaks of Yellowstone~
Hot!  Have I said something about the heat yet?  Not the best time of year to travel & when the air-conditioning went out on the Bronco - I didn't think I'd make it!  Thanks to my husband calling ahead, he found a great little repair shop in Bozeman, where they took the Bronco in & replaced the blower.  Sweet relief.  Problem is though - that the heat is so intense during mid-day - that the blower just can't keep up with the cooling.  Every so often I have to shut it down, wait, then turn it on again.  Otherwise, the miles have been flying by.  I've made stops to visit friends north of Spokane the first night, then family in Sheridan - where I met my cousin's grandchildren for the first time!
Hydrangea's & Aspen
I haven't been posting - but have been taking pictures & enjoying a audio book along the way!  Have threatened to bring a wolf-hybrid home with me too :-)  Missing the Homestead though -  blooms on my hydrangea's, blueberry picking season & even the cool of the rain!

Monday, July 16, 2012

July Riding Weekend!

Out from Silver Ridge
We'd planned a ladies riding weekend a couple months ago.  So hard to find a time during the summer that four or five or six people are all free from other obligations.  Once the day came, I left to horrendous claps of thunder, lightening & rain so heavy that I almost pulled off at Machias to wait it out.  Meeting up in Duvall - no rain - just cloud cover - we headed up the pass.
East on I-90
 The clouds thinned!  No rain - our spirits climbed with the highway!  Four trailers, six horses & six women :-)  We had reservations for the Penthouse at Silver Ridge Ranch.  About a two-hour drive with trails that left from the ranch.  Pulling in mid-morning, we found a shady spot to park under the trees.  Our room & horse corrals were waiting.  
 A couple of us, very seldom get time to do horse-riding weekends, so we unloaded our stuff & were saddled up with the hope of being on the trails before noon.  Did I say that it felt hot?  At least to me!  We sprayed the horses liberally with fly spray & ourselves too.  Lynn was our trail guide.  We toured through the very nice large campground - would be great for large meet-ups, then around the airfield & onto the trails.  The river was a Great spot!  We also tried to get around the lower end of lake, but it was so full that the trail was under water & logs were awash.
Beth, Kate, Jennifer & Idaho
We decided to get adventurous & take an 8-mi. trail straight up!  It was just beautiful!  Through heavy vine maple, it would be spectacular in the fall.
Lynn, Heather, Jennifer
The horses were huffing & puffing in no time, we stopped several times for them to take a breather.  We started hitting switchbacks & kept climbing.  I'd see sky ahead & think that we were reaching a clearing - only to get there & have another switchback :-)  We were within a few feet of the end of the pines, Jennifer had reached a area of shale slide - when we spotted two hikers coming down.  They informed us that the trail was totally blocked just a short distance ahead & there was no place to turn the horses around.  Well...  what to do?  Turn them where they were was the only option.   The first three of us had a tiny bit of room to get that done, but where I was were two trees on the downhill side, which limited the room Farah had.  I got off, hugged a tree on the downhill side - yea - I know - not supposed to do that...  but it worked & Farah turned herself into a pretzel & did an incredibly graceful turn without a hoof leaving the trail!  Next was Cato!  He's Big!  Did I say Big?  He too surprised me & managed to get himself turned around!  Good Boy he was!  We started back down.  Nothing like a little adventure!  :-)
After riding some of the lower trail & finding another nice river to cool off in, we headed back. 
Late evening - dinner time!
We were starving & went out for dinner, came back to sit out on the deck & enjoy the great view, good company & cold drinks!  The next day we planned another trip to Joe Wyatt Canyon.  Looking at maps of the area, we figured to explore what we could & see what we could see.
Next morning we were up pretty early, had the horses fed, went in for coffee & blueberries while we waited for the breakfast provided by Silver Ridge.  We loaded up & were back on the road under heavy overcast & humidity.
It doesn't look it, but it's one rough, rocky road up to the trail head!
 Success!  Saddled again, map in Jennifer's hand & Lynn to guide us - as she had ridden there once before.  We were surprised by all the trails - going everywhere.  We just took whatever looked pretty - they all looked pretty!  Flowers still in full bloom, we rode past a Mock Orange bush & the smell was like heaven on earth!  The map was pretty much worthless.  Lynn decided to trust Sophie a couple times :-)  We didn't have to worry about finding our way back if it was up to Sophie!  :-)  I wanted to head up!  I always like to head up!  Butch & I have ridden for miles & miles lost due to my love of heading up!  Eventually we found a great place for lunch!  Then we found a old cabin!
Every mile was just gorgeous, some type of blue grass with seed heads as high as the saddles.  So wonderfully quiet!  No noise from roads or civilization!  The horses were really enjoying them selves, the climb of the day before had taken the edge off :-)  After spending the day before fighting Farah, keeping her behind - today - after she & I had a discussion about it - I asked to let her take the lead.  What a lead it was!  She went into her swinging, ground covering walk & walk we did - at over 4-mph.  Downhill, over rock, logs, anything without even a break in stride.  Now we were both enjoying ourselves!
Our Loop~
With heavy storm clouds moving in, we were on the way back & had to stop for a photo shoot!
Beth & Kate, Amanda & Cato, Jenn & Idaho, Lynn & Sophie (Heather didn't accompany us this day.)
It was really beautiful country, much greener than we'd expected even though the small creeks we came too were low - enough though that the horses were more than willing to suck up a drink!
Clouds Moving in
Farah & I were a ways out front when the thunder & lightening started.  To her credit, she didn't even break stride!
Golden views, rain on the way!
We made it back to the trailers without incident, were a bit sad to have to load up & head back home.  Would be a great place to spend a few days exploring - maybe fall?  :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lord Hill again!

Lord Hill 7.5-mi.
Today we didn't head out until after 12:30 p.m. & it was warm!  Humid too!  The horses were sweating after the first good trot!  There ended up being six of us - so a larger group that what Farah has been used to.  She did good!  Riding her "pogo stick" gait only lasted a couple miles which is way better than the many miles it used to be.  It seems that once she gets her turn in front - she settles down & is more compliant when I ask her to follow again.

We cruised around over seven-miles of trails - staying in the forest shade everywhere we could!  All the horses behaved well, everyone got some positive training gain from the ride - which is Way nice!  Nothing like enjoying good company, good horses & a good ride!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

It's Berry Time!

Our Local Arlington Berry Farm!
The Strawberries were late, too much rain & not enough sun - but the Raspberries were about on-time & we decided to go get some!  I love making jam, it comes from the summers in IA helping my Grandmother.  Peeling, cooking, stirring & those incredible smells!  All part of the memories she made with me.  

We were surprised to find one half flat of Tayberries!  They were a little pricy - but we LOVE them & are determined to find a bush & plant it this fall!   The Raspberries look fantastic!  Huge, bright colored & really tasty!  We came home with both.
Tayberries - darker in color & larger
Raspberries - a brighter red & a little smaller
 Next, making jam!  I've moved away from sugar in the last year, at least as much as I can without feeling too deprived.  I started using & really enjoying Agave Nectar.  More expensive than sugar, you use less & get a lot of flavor!  Cup for cup - roughly the same as honey - about 1/2 what you would use in sugar.
Two great products
 I'd been doing some reading regarding pectin products & decided to look for Pomona's.  I found it at the Arlington Health Food Store.  Some of the low-sugar recipes, or those using Agave in place of artificial sweeteners etc., also mentioned using the all natural pectin.  I'm not making it to sell, just enjoy - so decided to work with all new ingredients.
Finished products - Raspberry on the left, Tayberry on the right~
 I ended up with a batch of each, both tasted very fresh & seemed to have just enough sweetness, without overpowering the taste of the fruit.  Fancy lids will make nice gifts for the girls at Christmas :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

We Rode!

Almost 14-mi.
My friend Lynn came up to ride Victoria with me.  It had been a while since she'd ridden there & I always enjoy her company!  We did my usual loop, but decided to extend it a few miles & do some exploring.  We found the gate where I thought it was - then took a trail that looked like it hadn't seen any traffic for a very long time.  Like riding through a rain forest!  The ferns were huge, water was running down the trail - but it was so quiet & beautiful.  We were really enjoying ourselves when we can to the tree across the trail & had to turn around. 
Sunshine ride!
I have to thank Lynn & her great mare Sophie - for being that rock solid team that Farah is learning so much from.  From our first outings on the trail & that first obstacle class, Farah did Not like water, water puddles, anything with water.  One of the things I enjoy about her most though - is her ability to learn & remember what she's learned.  Now, we trot through puddles.  Running water, even a very small rivulet - though - was an entirely different kind of Water!  An obstacle to jump Big over!  I'd had the issue with Khari & will never forget the day she took an incredibly steep hillside sideways & yet managed to leap the huge jagged boulders at the top - with me still in the saddle!  All to avoid the stream.  (I was lucky in those days to have Joyce & Annie to help.)   

In our last few rides, I asked Lynn if she would take that chance & let me put Farah's nose on Sophie's butt while we walked across.  It worked - as it has in the past.  Farah was very proud of herself when we turned back & she led the way across the tiny little creek!  :-)  Next of course - will be rivers - oh boy!  :-) 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fun on the Fourth!

Our flags flying ~
What a perfect Fourth-of-July!  From pouring rain the day before to blazing sunshine, blue skies & a breeze!  Washington's gift to it's water-laden populace!  We head north to Darrington for the parade!
Red, White & Blue!
Huge Douglas Fir logs ~
Pure "Americana"
Almost a scene from the past!
Whitehorse looms over all!
Who's this cutie?
 We follow this little girl & her family back to their house for a bar-be-Que & fireworks!  Perfect way to end the holiday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Darrington Logger Rodeo!

Rideim Cowboy!
Mud!  Did I say MUD?  Oh my gosh, the Sedro Wolley rodeo ground arena was a mud bog!  Hat's off to every single contestant who participated in this fantastic Rodeo!  The oldest continuous Fourth of July Celebration in Washington state!  After days of heavy rain, in the evening hours the storm clouds started clearing off - the rain stopped & by the time the Rodeo was over, we were treated to the sun setting out over the Olympics.
Rodeo Clown
 The clown was one of the best we've ever seen!  Making the most of the "conditions" we had some great laughs!  Highlight of the Rodeo though - was for me - the McMillian Family Trick Riders!
Great Stunts!
In spite of treacherous footing - these kids were just amazing!
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After the rodeo, we all headed over to the Conway Pub for the very best pan-fried oysters & cold beer!  Another fun time with good friends!