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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

When the Sun Shines~

First snow of the season~
We wake to a world of white, blazing blue skies & brilliant sunshine!  Cold too, with temps in the 20's.  Just the kind of snow that packs into the horses feet & makes those icy, hard balls - especially when combined with Farah's brand new, last shoes of the year!
The Cottage
As badly as I'd like to ride, it's icy, frosty & slippery...  I'm Hopeful that the sunshine & 40's forecast for next week - will pan out!  In the meantime, we're going tree cutting & pulling the boxes of decorations out of the barn loft.  Every year I say I'm not going to do as much - & every year I still do it all...
Dogwood Gulch
This year we'll celebrate our 25th Christmas on The Homestead!  Unreal how fast those years have flown by!  Time to do my annual Christmas letter & have finally ordered the cards.  I was going through the notebook where I've kept them all - since our first.
Here's one of my favorites - from 1994!  Back when Khaz was finally old enough for Butch to ride, when Jas was good for Jentry & before I sold Alexi & Jas became mine.  (Alexi & Khaz were full brother/sister.)  Abby - our first Beagle & the most defiant, was the only one who would pose for photos!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reason to be Thankful!

Grandson Mason - waiting for the MRI
Yesterday, I received a phone call from our Grandson Mason.  Mason gave me the best news that we've received in a Very Long time!  When he went in for an MRI two weeks ago- it was to check the status of a tumor in his brain - that was in a very bad place.  It had been growing for a while.  (Just a few months ago - Mason started a new targeted drug therapy with a drug commonly used for cancer treatment.)  Mason's message was to let us know - that the results of the test were back & they showed that the tumor has been reduced! 
Mason, Grammy & Cassidy
Mason was born with Tuberous Sclerosis, a very rare condition.  Thanks to the incredible fortitude & perseverance of his parents, Mason has beat the odds so far!  To see him continue to grow into to the smart & handsome young man he is - is a joy to all who know him!   With our Peters family getting together today, you can be sure that our thanks will be profound!   

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Christmas "Wreath"!

Horse "Wreath"
I'd posted photos to Facebook, but when Butch got home last night - he asked if I'd posted something to my blog?  I hadn't!  Here's how it came about...  I'd heard about Pinterest for a while before I decided to join & set up a page.  That done, I started looking around & finding some really beautiful, interesting & smart ideas from everywhere!
One of the first photos I found~
Looking at different decoration ideas I ran across the pin above.  It looked like a lot of work & I wondered what they'd used for the wire base?  I pinned this to my page & soon it was re-pinned by someone else.  Checking out her ideas - I found the pattern for the base.
Pattern sold at Amazon.com
Without the time to order one, Courtney & I had already scheduled this day to make our wreaths at Machias Nursery.  I emailed my husband & asked if he could possibly find some wire & make me one?  He's been my "go to" guy for a long time now!  :-)  He came home with the wire re-bar that's used in brick installations - currently going on at his construction project!

He cut & bent by hand a freehand version of the pattern above!  That's when I got worried & really thought I'd taken on more of a project that I was up to!  I'd also sent another photo to Chris at Machias Nursery & she recognized the greenery for the mane as White Pine.
White Pine mane
With plenty of greenery - all fresh - (Since we were making these a week earlier than usual.) I had what I needed.  I'd searched for ribbon, without any luck - but Chris had found the nice dark red with a burlap look.  Once I had it home - I remembered that I have a amber, diamond cut glass piece & that worked for the eye!

It took all afternoon to get put together - but for my first attempt & I'm pretty happy with it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Thaw~

Ice melting~
It was actually a little icy, muddy & mucky today...  The plans I'd looked forward to for today were cancelled last evening...  So - since it wasn't raining yet - I did what I do when I'm happy, sad, disappointed, etc. - rode!  The trailer wasn't hitched & I didn't want to take the time to haul out, so we just headed out again from home.  50 degrees felt positively WARM!
Wetland through the trees~
I still haven't cut my trail back in - to be able to visit this large wetland again & it's been a very long time.  Still on my to-do list!  Lots of memories of Grandson Ben riding Jas.  I'd bring hot coco in a thermos & the two of us would enjoy that & a cookie!
Farah at "lunch"
It was our usual ride, out to the gas lines - before we left it had started to sprinkle.  I started Farah a couple days ago, on a Magnesium supplement that's been recommended by two friends.  I was hopeful that it will improve her outgoing attitude! All was fine until we started back, when the usual head tossing accompanied by lifting the front end off the ground & leaping into the air on the way to a canter started...  She's usually much better when we're on our own - more animated with other horses - so I'm still hopeful that I'll see some improvement.
The trail back~
The shades of gray, with low hanging clouds seemed to highlight all the rust colors of the Salmonberry.  The air smelled so fresh - a combination of the fallen leaves musty smell & diluted wood smoke.  Definitely - smells associated with Fall!
New Beaver Dam!
I took a little detour & we busted through some brush & soft footing to check out the small creek that has been getting wider!  Found the reason it has!  The Beaver have built a nice new dam & have now started a nice, new wetland.  Just beautiful!  It might make a nice place to cool your feet on a hot day.  I just hope that someone doesn't come up & start trapping them all again!
Pilchuck under clouds~
As we dropped down the hill, the rain was moving in over the mountain!  A light breeze came up & the freshness of this gray day was so refreshing!  It felt So good to get out, be out & be riding my favorite girl - even if we were airborne half the way home :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Over 1,400 miles, Bracken Trails Gone & Great Ridin' with Friends!

Trail Gone~
With the rest of the week a busy one for me & the weather supposed to turn - I wanted to get out again today & knock off the ten-miles, that stood between me & a very big mileage number!  Pat & Donnie were game to ride, Sharon & her daughter Beth were too! 
Another trail gone~
Bracken seemed a good idea.  I'd been told that it was being logged like "crazy", but as we started out - everything seemed normal...  We rode over to the far side of the power lines, where there were a couple very nice, long trails for trotting.  One minute we were on the trail, in the next was a sign saying that logging would be heavy between 12/27 & the first week of Jan.   Then - beyond that - we hit the actual work area.
Pete's trail too - Gone...
It was very treacherous going - through the slash on the ground & heavy track from the excavator...   We were thankful that things were frozen - because otherwise I doubt we could have made it through.  With warmer temps it will all turn to very deep, heavy mud.  After all the years we've ridden here, all the time that's been put in on maintaining these trails - to have three very nice, long used ones torn to bits is really - by anyone's reckoning - devastating...
On Tin Bridge
 So, we headed over to the Whitehorse trail & Tin Bridge.  The level of water in the Stillaquamish was really low!  The week plus of dry weather shows here!
Top dressing the rock~
Another surprise waited for us here!  At least it was a positive one - the heavy rock on the trail is being top dressed with dirt & fines.  Very fine fines...  I'm hoping not so fine that they turn as hard as concrete when they settle?  More questions for our Snohomish County Park Rep.  We'd discussed this at the Centennial Trail Coalition meeting last week, but I had no idea that the work would commence so quickly!  Sadly though - the hole that I've wanted filled for a long while now - will probably be put off until spring.
Distance Derby Team #120!
We headed back, the sun was sinking & the temperature dropped.  I was watching my Garmin & just at the break spot - it rolled over the ten-miles I needed to top 1,400~  Yippee!  So much fun to reach the goal & have friends there to share it with you!
Pat, Beth, Sharon, Donnie & Connie
As we were coming back to the trailers, Sharon said;  "Gosh it would be nice if someone was there to take a photo of us."  Luck was with us & there were two other riders just loading their horses to leave.  They were nice enough to take our photo!

One of days where I would have normally been saddened by the logging & loss of such beautiful trails, but the upside is the continuing work on the Whitehorse & having such good friends to ride with!

Monday, November 17, 2014


Cold & Crisp!
I'd hoped to have a riding buddy today - but that didn't happen, so since I'd expected an early start, I decided to wait an hour then head up to Victoria.  There the roads, though frozen rock hard - at least are not slippery.
A light layer of ice on the Wetland~
We were the only ones on the mountain I think.  I started out slow, giving Farah plenty of time to warm up & she still wanted to gallop up the first hill :-)  I put my jacket on the back of the saddle & rode in a thermal shirt, flannel shirt & fleece vest.  My Polartec Wind Pro riding pants did the trick & my legs stayed warm.
Iced up~
The one "trail" that we do use in the winter months - that goes up the east side of the mountain - was so very frozen that Farah was slipping every step.  It's in shade most of the day, so I'm sure it will take a few days of warmer temperatures before it thaws.
Looking SE
Once we crested the top though - the opening of the view was worth the climb!  I looked forward to every bit of sunshine that we rode in - to warm up from the cold of the shade!
Whitehorse & Three Fingers
The zoom on my new little camera is a touch longer than on the old one.  With the temperature inversion, there's a slight haze.  Even so - I was amazed that hand held & sitting on a horse - this photo came out as clear as it did!
The Olympics~
By the time we got to the Monument for our lunch break - the day was about as warm as it would get.  The haze was sitting below the tops of the Olympics & gave the view a whole new dimension.  Not quite a purple mountain majesty - but certainly many shades of blue!
Farah hears something!
Shortly after I took this photo, we ran into two other riders!  They were bundled up to their ears too & out enjoying the sunshine regardless of the cold!  We moved on - dropping down the hill to the lower road.  From there Farah insisted that she knew a trail that we'd not taken in forever.  I let her have her way.  Frozen solid I couldn't see where we'd be doing any damage!  She was right!  We found a shorter way back up to the top!
Mt. Rainier
Again, I took the way past the upland meadow - still planted with the bio-fuel fast growing trees that haven't grown.  The ones planted lower down have been cut down - I'm thinking these will have the same fate.  It was worth it to get another photo of the Mountain!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Freezin' Up!

Very Cold!
With all the blazing sunshine, I just had to ride!  It was just 40 when we left home & once we were up in the shade of the forest, it got very cold - very fast!  The ground is already freezing up - puddles now frozen over too - but Farah easily broke the crust for a drink.
Further along~
 I'd started out without any particular plan - thinking that I wouldn't be out too long.  It was just about 1:30 p.m. when we left - I was sure that even with the shorter days, I'd have plenty of time to go out north to our usual break spot before turning back.
The downhill ~
What I didn't figure on, was how much slower the going was - with the trails rock hard & icy in many spots.  At the top of our downhill - I dismounted & walked/slid down as Farah did the same.
Finding the green stuff~
At our break spot, it sure wasn't any warmer, especially with the sun sinking low to the west!  We turned back, I wanted to make sure that we'd get back before it got too dark, since it was so slippery.
Toward the power lines~
In many places - we'd hit a cold spot & I do think that the temperatures are variable dependent on the terrain.  I wanted to stop by the north wetland to see if it had started to ice up yet.
It hadn't - it's large & there was a lot of water flowing in from the creek.  Mirror smooth & as beautiful as I remembered.  Once we were back in our woods I decided to check out a trail that had been blocked by a gate a few years ago.
Gate & Mountain
Of course it still was, but it was nice to see the last of the sun on Deer Mountain.  This mountain had managed to stay forested until about 2 years ago.  Now it's being clear-cut at a furious rate.  As part of the original view out our north living room window.  The cedars we planted at the bottom of the pasture many years ago, are tall enough that they mostly block the view & that's actually OK ...
Temp inside the barn~
We got home at 5:10, & it was dark!  It was also Cold!  Farah hadn't even broken a sweat & really seemed to enjoy getting out.  We've worked out a bit of a deal!  I ask her to stop for photos & she gets to eat!  Works for us both!

 Joyce gave me a camera that is very similar to the Nikon I'd been using, but with a couple more pixels.  So far - it hasn't had the tendency to blur photos for absolutely no known reason!  Of course numb fingers don't help!  :-)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Stellar Day~

Yellows & sunshine~
Today was the coldest morning I think we've had so far.  It's the day that Joyce & I usually try to ride, Charlotte joined us!  My first time dressing in a thermal shirt, warm riding pants, polar fleece vest & a coat over!  Even so, it was chilly - mid 40's when we saddled up.
Mirror clear wetland~
Charlotte had limited time to ride, so Joyce decided to take us over to what I call the lower trails - they're low when compared to the climb we did on Friday :-)  Saying that, we still managed 1,300+ feet in elevation gain.  Joyce was riding Target & Charlotte was riding Aliento.  Farah likes both geldings - but even so - she was again on the make...  In the first few steps, when Joyce headed out - Farah started her mini-bucks - so I had to ask Joyce to let me lead.  Further into the ride, I put Farah in the rear & spent most of the ride, working on calming her down.  As Joyce said, I was the one who got the workout!
We come off the trail to this clearing!
It wasn't too long, until the sun started warming up the day.  Joyce took us on the beautiful little loop that we'd found earlier this season, which is where I took the photo at the top of this post.  Finding large Douglas Fir isn't easy!
View of Victoria
At the next viewpoint I recognized the shape of Victoria, from further south than I usually see it.  We were trotting right along with Joyce's dog Jackson in the lead - when a pickup truck rounded the corner & we all came to an abrupt halt!  Luckily he wasn't going fast & we had the space to pull off.  Another reminder to always be cautious on the logging roads.

As usual Joyce guided us on a really nice loop that got us back in time.  Once home it was still warm enough that I gave Farah a bath & washed her saddle pad.  More fun than the mowing that I should have done!  Amazing how quickly that 54 in Arlington dropped to 40 at home!  We've been so spoiled, but I don't think its going to last!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Drinkin' in the Sunshine!

Just over 1,800 feet~
Fin-a-lly!  It seemed like Forever!  Our longest time away from the trail this year...   Joyce & I had planned to ride today & it was great to wake to sunshine & bright blue skies!  We met at the Morgan Horse Club & were on the trail in no time.  Within a few feet, Farah was doing her airs-above-the-ground,  I decided to dismount & walk her a way until she settled down.  She's in a tough heat cycle & even though she seemed happy to be out & be with Jesse, she was really a handful.
A beautiful doe!
 We were just a short way out when we saw this beautiful doe!   I'd hoped for a nice clear shot, but in my hurry to get the camera out & still keep Farah in hand - it's blurry.  Since both of us had all day to ride, we took it easy & headed for the hills.
Joyce & Jesse
  Every time we picked up the speed, Farah's antics would get worse.  She was like riding a bomb ready to explode.  Joyce asked if I wanted to go up the Hill of Death?  That sounded good & both horses dug in as we walked up.  We passed the original end of that climb & continued up the new logging road that we'd discovered earlier this year.
Big Lake
 As usual, the higher we went - the better we felt.  There's just something about getting up there that's almost spiritual as Joyce commented.  The quiet, the peace, the distance - an addiction, at least for me.
The Sound, Islands & Olympics~
We stopped at the top, Farah got a cookie, Jesse reminded me that he too gets cookies :-)  He is such a good boy - totally ignoring Farah's threats & then allowing her to touch noses with him & "be friendly" with her.  Both of us walked back down the climb - it felt good to stretch out our legs & enjoy that almost warm sun!
Mt. Baldy~
 I hadn't noticed on our last visit that we were so close to little Mt. Baldy - that I've taken photos of from the ridge at Victoria.  The tree top points it out :-)  Once we were down, Joyce took us over to the trail that we both just love galloping up & asked if I wanted to; "Open Farah up?"  I put her in front & offered her the run.  She started at a trot, then almost before I was ready - literally Exploded!  She had the bit, was On the rein, running straight & true, no messing around!  Going Fast, Very Fast & we were flying!  There were branches down & we were over them in a heart beat!  I started asking her to slow up a little & was relieved to feel her respond.  In the next second - Jesse was On us!  He was Not going to let Farah get away from him!  :-)
Amazing "Orange Peel" Fungus
We found these fungus growing in the rock near the top of our climb - brilliant orange & as pretty as a flower bloom.
Himalayan Blackberry
Another surprise, was to find this blackberry setting new fruit!  That tells us something about the mildness of this fall season - at least to date.  On our way back, I could feel Farah finally relax & what a relief that was!  We'd been out exactly five-hours when we returned to the trailer.  Farah was a much happier mare than the one I'd started out on...   Joyce & I shared her feelings!  Just a spectacular ride & both of us were oh so happy have spent such a day in the saddle!