Endurance develops strength of character in us~ Romans 5:4 NLT

Friday, December 15, 2017

Day's Like These... Pierce Creek~

Are rare indeed...  The calendar page is still on the month of December - and yet - we continue to have the best weather of the entire year.  Day after day of sunshine, blue skies & moderate temperatures.  It is bone dry, the dirt in Farah's run is the consistency of talcum powder.  When Margie messaged me that she & John planned to ride at Pierce Creek, I had to tag along.
View east~
 As I pulled in to pick up Farah, she galloped up the hill of her run to meet me.  First to arrive, the wind was howling & it felt darn cold!  I had my thermal shirt & polar fleece on under my lighter weight Carhartt jacket.  The wind was cutting right through both.
Following Margie & John
 Soon, Margie & John pulled in & we were heading out - wind & all!  I'd had a little discussion with Farah & told her that I was too cold to put up with any shenanigans - windy or not!
Stunning View from the SE corner~
 It just seems amazing to me - but without much history to go by - to see temperatures in the 40's & 50's in December.  It can't be anyone's idea of normal...
Margie, Coco, John & Posey~
 I think the horses in this state, used to nice quiet winters - are as surprised as any of us - that they're still under saddle.  As we rode the perimeter, with so many deer in the park, we yelled when coming up on brushy areas.
 I saw the exact spot where Farah had bolted our last visit here & could see why - heavy brush along the fence where the buck had been laying.  I'm still learning this country & plan to be more careful, when we're near these areas.
Trail into the Timber~
With the days so short & the sun so low in the southern sky - it's like riding in the late afternoon even when it's still early.  The quality of the light has that thin, golden glow.
Wounded Buck~
As we wound our way along on the new trail, John saw movement off to our left & we watched as a large Buck came to his feet.  He'd been laying in the brush, almost impossible to see.  As he started to walk away - a limp was obvious.  One of his horns was hanging crooked...  Just so sad & sickening to see such a magnificent creature in obvious pain.  I don't know what kind of hunter would let a wounded animal get away.  Butch mentioned that of course hunting isn't allowed in the park, but I would think tracking a animal wounded elsewhere would be permitted?
Margie & John
It was really fun to watch these two horses gait while their riders enjoy that Cadillac smooth ride.  Farah's trot has always been smooth - but I do post :-)
Purple vines~
The color doesn't show up very well in the photo, but the bare vines were florescent purple!  I stopped & asked Margie, thinking I was seeing things - but she agreed! We eventually left the Timber & moved along the eastern shore of the lake.
Eagle on the west shore~
Two Eagles had flown over us while we were in the Timber.  The pair of owls that I've seen before were in the trees too & flew out above us as we rode past.
 As we rode to the west side of the lake, we could see the Eagle out on a sand bar, totally unconcerned that we were anywhere near.  His attention was on the very large fish he was having for lunch.  We watched for quite a while, feeling lucky to witness this bit of nature.
Our route
We did a little gallop up Farah's running hill. Margie found that Coco has a competitive streak & was not going to be left behind! :-) It was so nice to have such good company on the trails. By the time we returned to our trailers, two more had pulled in. Great to see other riders out enjoying such a nice day & place to ride.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cutting & Chopping~

This is December?  It was really cold this morning, after yesterday's winds, I'll take the cold.  The sun came out & even though - it didn't make it to 30 until late in the afternoon.  I was going to ride, but instead put on my new boots, gloves & grabbed the pruners.

Now that the weeds are down, it makes it so much easier to see what needs to be cleared & where I want to put in a trail.  I've spent several days in the last few weeks working away & it's starting to show.  I didn't get enough photos of the area last year, not really thinking yet about anything besides getting the fence in.
NW Corner~
This is my favorite corner of the place, close to the creek & low on the hill.  Shady in the summer too & a nice view back up at the yard & house.  The brush pile is growing.  Butch started cutting it up & burning pieces in our little fire pit last Sunday evening.
Same corner - 12-28-2016
About the only way you can tell it's the same place, is from the trees.  They're happier now, since one of the first things I did was to cut & pull down the greenbrier.  I bought our first bottle of Tordon & am told that painting the stems after they're cut off will kill it!  I sure hope so.
Nika helping~
I ended up cutting myself in far enough to start hauling out some of the trash.  This is further up the hill, behind where we park the horse trailer.  It's been a very abused area.  The stories vary, but either one or two old houses were torn down several years ago.  What was left was bulldozed & covered with dirt.  Then - I think people took advantage of the empty lot & threw things over the edge.
My pile of trash~
Since we're still waiting on a survey - I think this will still be a part of the property.  Either way - it's in my sights now & I'm sure we'll be making several trips to clean it all out.  I found old fence that had been wrapped around a tree.  Now the tree is so big it's being girdled by the wire.  I'm hoping that Butch will help me to get it all cut out.
Trail site?
Somewhere near this area is where I want to get the trail put in.  It's actually pretty clear along this section of the creek & there's a nice spot for a bench.
Tinkle Branch Creek~
Just this month an article appeared in the Opinion-Tribune regarding our County waterways.  Twenty bridges in Mills County will now have stream signs at each end giving the name of the creek or river.  This was coordinated by the Mills County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Certainly a step in the right direction - increasing the public's awareness of these rivers & their importance to the state.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Lake of Three Fires - Second Day~

 After spending a comfortable night in Margie's motorhome, we fed the mares & I took a short walk - enjoying the fresh air - smells & quiet of a perfect morning.  We had breakfast before saddling up.
Lake of Thee Fires, horse camp - 8:30 on another beautiful December morning~
Margie had been telling me about the unusual things that her horses like for treats.  I of course told her that Farah is very picky & will spit out most things she tries...
Farah trying Margie's banana!
Well!  I could Not believe it when I looked around to see Farah actually taking a bite from the offered banana!  Part of it ended up on the ground - but she didn't instantly spit it out as she usually does :-)
On our way~
The morning sunshine was beautiful!  The temperature was again So mild & there was no wind at all!  Just as we got onto the southern trails, Margie said;  "Look!  Deer!" I looked over into the woods to see a doe not ten feet away from us - frozen in place & staring at us.  Farah saw her at the time & in a flash 180'ed - then did it again!  Needless to say - my stick was the next thing she felt.  I like the 26" length better than my old 30".  It's handier & quicker to use!  I made her stand in place - even as Margie & Coco went up ahead - until she Stood - before I let her move on.  You'd think by now the deer wouldn't be an issue?  Not!
Beaver Lodge
We rode along the cornfield & followed the path along the ponds there.  We found signage that said;  "Open to the public for hunting."  Then - saw a hunting blind in the trees & decided that the best idea would be to turn back & return to the park.
Lodge surrounded by wilted water lilly's~
We hustled back onto the parks trail system, still happy to have seen some new country & nice views.
Fungus Among us!
Margie spotted the unusual looking fungus on our way past the ponds!  There was a second - both looked like animal dung.  I had to get off & check it out with my stick.  When I touched it, a fine stream of spoors were released from the top.
Pond near the Lake~
Views of the Lake were wide-open when compared with my first ride here in July.  The trails were littered with dry leaves, crunching under the hooves of our mares. 
Almost back to camp~
We'd ridden for just over three-hours, the days are getting so short now!  The sun is so low to the south that it seemed like late afternoon most of the day's ride.
Our rigs in the top corner of the park~
We'd done some trotting & racking too!  So interesting to put each mare into her natural gait & see how close in speed they were.  We found after a couple tries, that both could cruise along at about 8 to 10 mph. with Coco in a rack & Farah trotting!  It sounded strange - but sure was Fun!
End of the ride~
Margie wanted to get a photo of us - so here it is.  As we got close to camp, we ran into a group of riders heading out.  There were maybe five trailers parked for day rides, but no one settling in to camp overnight.  We had no complaints!  It was wonderful to have had the park to ourselves!
Sat. route - loop at the bottom out of the Park's boundary.
I think we would have both liked to stay another day - but we had work to do at Farah's barn, before the weather turns.  Sadly, that's what it's scheduled to do.  We badly need moisture, I'd sure prefer a good rain before the temperatures drop below freezing again.

Thank you Margie, for a wonderful riding weekend!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Lake of Three Fires - First Day's Ride~

When Margie mentioned an overnight camping trip to Lake of Three Fires when we were riding on Monday - I was pretty excited!  It didn't take the two of us long to work out our plan & early Fri. morning we met up in Tabor for the drive down. 

There was the  usual No traffic & when we pulled in - the campground was empty.  We took the two spots up at the top corner of the park.  I put Farah in a large steel post corral, so nice not to have to high tie.  We had lunch & couldn't wait to saddle up & get on the trails.
Friday evening sunset~
There was a light wind, but the temperature's couldn't have been any more perfect regardless of the season of the year.  It seemed crazy though to think that it was the first day of December!
The wetland that was green this summer~
We headed north out of the campground & found that there was still water flowing in the creek.  Soon, we were at the first wetland & ponds.  The look of late fall is so different from the lush greens of summertime.
Afternoon sunshine~
We saw deer several times, as they took off at our approach.  Otherwise the woods were very quiet, just the wind - in the timber.
One of the ponds~
The water of the ponds looked So blue!  As blue as the deep blue of the skies above us!  It was as perfect an afternoon as any horseman would dream of & we felt very lucky to be out riding two great mares & having such a fine time.
South end of the park~
We took the trail at the south end of the park & came the hill into the newly harvested cornfield.  We could see that we might possibly ride further up here & decided to leave it for Saturday.
Farah & Connie~
It was starting to cool off by the time we were back at our camp.  After brushing the mares, we took a walk down the hill so that I could get the sunset photo at the top of this post.  We watched a several of what I think were Downy Woodpeckers in the trees.  When looking up photos of Iowa Woodpeckers, I was surprised that the state has seven species, six of which have red/black & white!
Our route~
The almost full moon was spectacular rising above the trees.  The quiet of the night was velvety in it's richness~

Monday, November 27, 2017

Glen Cunningham Lake - Revisited!

I'd been wanting someone to show me the way around this lake since my attempt in early July.  That time I'd turned back when I'd seen signage saying that no horses were allowed in the campgrounds.  The trail I was on had dropped us there & I didn't continue further.
Farah getting some greens!
Today, Margie was nice enough to offer to act as our trail guide & I was really looking forward to the day.  The weather was cool & overcast when we started out, but perfect for riding with the forecast calling for a high of 70!
The lake from the hillside~
 When we left on the same trail that Farah & I had used, I was interested in seeing where we'd gone astray.
Amazing home~
This home looks like it could be in the mountains of Colorado.  With the view of the lake, I'm sure it's stunning inside.
Margie & Coco saying;  "We go this way!"
At the campground where I'd turned back, Margie showed me where the trail goes along the edge!  The day I was here, a tent was set up & the trail hadn't been mowed.
In the "Magic Woods"~
Margie told me to get my camera ready & Wow!  As I told her, it was like riding in what I used to call the "Deep Dark Woods" up at Victoria in WA.  A beautiful area that almost made me homesick for our old trails.
With most of the leaves down ~
Here we are nearing the end of November & as the day went on - the temperatures climbed.  Coco was setting a nice moving pace of 3.6 & both mares were sweating with their winter coats.
A tentative new friendship :-)
Our mares were friendly toward each other, which made it nice for us.  Farah brought up the rear & though it's never her favorite thing - she handled it better with the faster pace.
Stunning views~
We stopped at this high point, just an amazing view of a large open space surrounded by urban development.  Maybe similar to Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA.  At least in the days before it became more commercial.
At the dike~
By now I recognized that we were on the far side of the lake from where we were parked.  All the trails were pleasant.  Margie asked if I was ok with bridges to which I replied in the affirmative.  Well...  Let that be a lesson to me - Farah refused this one.  The transition concrete block going on was different that any she's seen & when she did decide to go, the sound was much different from the wood plank or lightweight concrete that she's used to.  Since I didn't want to end up in the creek below, there's no photo :-)
Our rigs on the far side~
A huge lake, it was fun to see our rigs on the far side.  Not so fun to cross a busy highway not once, but twice to get back to where we'd parked.  There are 4-more miles of trail on the far side - it will be fun to check them out on another visit.
My Garmin didn't stay on when we left, I realized & turned it on about 5-miles out.  The tracks on the right are from my July ride.  
Back at the parking area, we brushed the mares, then sat out for a while to enjoy the sunshine before heading home.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Visit To Greenfield~

 We were a little late making a fall visit to Greenfield the last of October to decorate my parents & grandparents graves.  Now, I wanted to go back & decorate again for Christmas & the winter months.  The trip is only 100-miles each way, so we can easily do it in a day.
Heading east on H-34, the usual no traffic :-)
I don't think either of us has yet adjusted to the lack of traffic here, nor the ease of getting to anywhere we want to go.  Such a change & so laid-back & wonderful to be able to enjoy a weekend drive again.
Wind turbine in the background~
 The first time I'd returned to my home state after a long absence, I was so surprised to see all the wind turbine's around the Greenfield area.  Many existing farms sport several in their fields.  Other areas have fields full of them - devoted to the large - white beasts.
 Once we were in Greenfield, I had to get a photo of the water tower, there's Facebook page devoted to Iowa photographers & it was mentioned there that it would be fun to get photos of them all.  I'm doing my part :-)
Rural Church~
After leaving Greenfield, we head south, past Orient & where my Grandparents farm was.  Just a short distance from it - is the cemetery where my maternal Grandparents & Great Grandparents are buried.  Grandma used to take me out there every summer to pull weeds & tidy up the family plot.  As we worked pulling weeds & cutting back the peonies', I could almost feel her presence.
The door~
 I've taken photos of this old church almost every time I've visited this area.  I'm going to look up one of those pictures to see how time has taken it's toll.  I do know that someone used to keep it painted, but no more.
 The craftsmanship on this little building is just amazing - like nothing we'll ever see again I'm sure.  To watch it going to ruin is so sad...
 If these doors could talk, I wonder what stories they would tell?  Weddings, funerals, Sunday services.  Gatherings now long lost under the dust of time.
Boot scraper~
The boot scraper had to have been used regularly - it shows wear in the middle.  The church & small piece of land it sits on is for sale & has been for some time.  I would love to buy it & be able to fix it all up as it once was, maybe turn it into a small home.  It's quite a way from about anyplace, so not practical for anyone, other than someone who wants to live out & away.

We arrived back home just as the sun was setting on another amazing day of temperatures in the 60's - in November!  If not for the shortened hours of sunlight, it would be easy to think it was still early summer!