Feb 092014

View from the barn aisle

View from the barn aisle

The ice storm of 2014 seems to be receding, as fog rolls in and the ice melts. Aside from a lot of downed limbs, our biggest loss is one of the large oak trees just outside the back door of the barn. It fell late last night, taking out the gate with it. Amazingly, it missed the fence sections entirely. There is some damage to the corner of the barn, but it could have been much worse.

I had been counseled to remove the tree last year, but I wanted to keep all the large trees for the time being. The ice decided for me and culled this one. I would love to find an affordable way to get some of it milled or somehow salvaged as timbers. I want to build a run-in for a pasture, with a storage area on one side. I have the vision in my head, and just need to start some drawings. It will likely draw it’s design from the materials at hand. I want this tree to provide some of those materials.

I had also wanted to eventually move that gate. It’s funny how making plans in my head seems to sometimes just make it happen. This is where the gate will be, as soon as I get a couple of posts in to fill the gap.

Future Gate Location

Future Gate Location

The storm has left quite a bit of clean up to occupy us for a while. And has pushed up a few projects as well. I had just finished laying out where the next paddock will go for the horses. Now that this one is not so usable, I will want to get on the next one. I have all the supplies, aside from another 17 posts. The other task is digging the holes. I am considering hiring that out, as it would go much faster with a tractor and auger than by hand. I’m not adverse to hand digging. It’s just that I can do maybe 2 holes/day and only work on farm projects on the weekends. So you see that could take a while.

The surviving tree

The surviving tree

I am glad that the sister to the lost oak survived. I hope that she lives on for many more years.

Jan 112014
AR Cirro (Vinnie)

I hadn’t realized that it’s been nearly a year since I posted here. We are well into the second year on our property and it really feels like ours now.

Now that we are settled, I’m thinking about a small horse breeding program again. I can see having a couple of mares, breeding them every few years, and raising and training the foals. I am contacted pretty regularly by people looking for a Spanish Barb/Spanish Mustang. The thing is that they usually want a sane, relatively well trained horse, without a lot of baggage. My experience so far, is that I either need to breed myself, or get a horse like Lily from the Cayuse. Then train it myself. There seems to be a market for well minded, sensible, trained horses. It wouldn’t be a money making proposition, but just maybe, it would cover some costs. After all, it’s something I’ll want to do anyway.

Towards that end, I will be looking to sell or lease the two geldings that I have. It is always paramount that the new home is a good fit, so I am in no rush.

I’ve been getting out and working with Beau and Vinnie recently, so that they will be ready and stay tuned up. Today, it was Vinnie’s turn. I trimmed his hooves, scraped off the mud, then lunged and rode in the arena. There are a few things I’ll be working on with him, like standing still, and learning to take contact. He needs to learn to round up and carry himself without putting his head in the air. We will also be working on his canter.

He is doing well, just needs finishing work to be a stellar eventing or Pony Club pony. He already is a stellar pony, actually. Even though it was foggy, I took him down the hill and out on trails. We flushed a deer in the meadow. Vinnie looked, but didn’t jump or spook at all. Soon after that, we were escorted for a short while by one of the hawks that nest nearby. That was a treat. He did great on the water crossing, pretending he wanted a drink just to snorkle for some grass. He is his mother’s son on that count. It was quite boggy, but he was game to head on. We did a short loop. I had forgotten gloves, so I looped the reins over my elbow and stuck my hands in my pockets. “Take us home Vinnie.” I said, and he did just that.

When we got back, I took one circle through the wood lot. On a whim, I popped him over a tiny jump. There was not a moment of hesitation and it was fun! We will have to try that again, with a bit more planning.

I’m trying out the new gallery in WordPress. Click on an thumbnail for a larger view.

Mar 162013

2013-03-16_16-59-52_922It was a grey Saturday. I rested until 11 or so, not feeling terribly motivated to do much. Then I headed out to drag the arena. Sarbjit had fixed the lawn tractor. Last week, one of the front tires had slipped loose and gone flat. I had no idea what to do about it, he figured it out. He’s a clever guy that way. I’m lucky to have a significant other who is handy with machines.

It was raining when I walked out the door, so I figured that I wouldn’t do much else. Once I was on the tractor though, it was another story. I had checked the weather for the next week and it said rain on and off. I figured that it was a good idea to get some trees in the ground while the rainy season was still here.

2013-03-16_13-14-56_438eFirst though, I wanted to clean up some piles of brush I had pruned a few weeks ago. I hitched up our new toy, a 10 cubic foot garden trailer and took one load. It was too small for this task, so I used my Jeep and utility trailer instead. All that went on the burn pile. I got that going with layers of arborvitae I had also cut last week, alternated with the brush from the pile (blackberries, holly and a mystery shrub). Does anyone know what this flowering shrub is? It has some thorns and the blossoms come out before the leaves. It suckers and has made a thicket that took over a Leyland Cypress. That’s why it’s getting cut back. I’ll definitely leave some, as it’s pretty. It grows quite tall, like small trees actually.

2013-03-16_13-28-10_112Once the fire was okay on it’s own, I moved on to tree planting. I loaded up the garden trailer with old manure, a spade and a shovel. By the end of the day, I was able to plant three Kousa dogwoods and five birch trees below the house, three red alder seedlings in the woodlot, and two red twig dogwood bushes in what will be our perennial border. There was some mowing to do, so that came next. There is a little more lawn here than I might like, but it is satisfying to make it nice and tidy.

I have that tired feeling that is welcome after good physical work. I had meant to do some things inside, but that will all have to wait until tomorrow. A soft rain is falling now, which is just perfect to settle in the new trees.

Mar 102013

DSCN0277eI was out this morning a bit late, due to Daylight Savings. Lily was shaking her head at me as usual, wanting me to get her to her breakfast faster. After horse chores were done, I walked around looking again for where I will plant my willows.

I’m going to start an area with some rows of willow for basketmaking. I want to get a few copiced plants going this year, though it will be small to start. I’ve become very intrigued with ideas about making useful things from the materials on the property. There are already quite a variety of trees and thickets that will yield with pruning. And some trees can be harvested to make room for fencing or some other future plan.

After selecting the spot, I brought out some old tarps to lay over the grass, and scrounged up some pieces of wood to keep them from flying away. We do get a decent amount of wind here. Eventually, the few Christmas trees in that area will go and the willow bed will expand.

Slanting, rising sunlight highlighted frosty grass. Bella had followed me, as she often does when I walk. She’s a quirky little cat with her crooked tail and rabbit-like hind legs. When I got back to the house, she happily curled up on my lap as I sat by the front door. Her warmth was welcome in the near freezing air. I sat long enough for the birdfeeder to become populated with Junkos, Chickadees, Robins, a Scrub Jay, and a pair of Rufous Sided Towhees.

Sitting in the stillness of the morning, I started to hear many different bird songs, including an owl. I look forward to being able to identify more of them. Then my time outside was up and it was back into the house, where there was yet more to do.

Dec 252012

DSC_0490webWell, it’s here. We had a few days of unseasonably wonderful weather, warm, sunny … just trail riding perfection. I was even able to take advantage of it a few of weeks ago. Some friends came out and we had a weekend of great riding, exploring the trails off the property and riding in the arena too.

Now the rains have come, along with wind storms. We lost power for a few hours the other day and anything not tied down was blown about. The rains have been torrential too. I am quite thankful that we live on a hill and not down by the river.

I am seeing that we will have drainage projects for next year. I thought about putting down gravel around the back of the barn where I have the horses moving from their run in to the paddock. What I didn’t know is that the water from the barn roof floods the paddock itself. Sarbjit was kind enough to dig a small ditch to drain it outside the fence line. That ditch will need to be refreshed regularly this winter. I’ve been in this situation before when I boarded in west Eugene. The horses step all over the ditches and mess them up, necessitating digging them again .. and again. In the end, I just cut off access to the back of the barn. It will likely be only for summer use.

Next year, we will repair the gutters and run them into an underground pipe or French drain out into the woods. I have pictures in my mind of a beautiful, firm, gravel surface in the paddock for next season. And if we plan it well, there will be minimal standing water. Unless I want them to have a foot bath, that is, or if I run the drains into a pond.

DSCN0031We even had our first snow! It only lasted for a day, but allowed me to get some nice pre-dawn photos.

So, we are settling in well here at Akal Ranch, having had three weekends of Christmas tree sales and a Tack & Barn Sale. The barn sale was fun, with both consignments and several people coming to sell themselves. It would be fun to do in the summer as well. It was a cold and rainy day!