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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

BCH Work Party at Waubonsie~

Several of our Back Country Horsemen's Chapter members spent last night camped at Waubonsie.  This morning Butch & I drove down to meet up with everyone for our scheduled work party.
Our Banner!
Ryland, the new Park Ranger arrived with plenty of pruners, loppers, hand saws & a weed whacker.  That equipment, along with what we'd all brought, gave us plenty to do!
Butch, Robert & Ryland~
After a short meeting to discuss our game plan - we got to work!  The one chore that we were told no volunteers wanted to do - was picking up the two piles of manure at each end of the horse corrals.
Sue, Amy & Vickie
No slackers when it comes to work - we ladies took one pile & Butch worked on the one at the far end.  We used the wheel barrows for a large portion, then Ryland came by with his Gator & that made things easier!
Robert hard at work around the corrals~
We cleaned the inside & outside of the corrals & got all the weeds knocked down.
Clean fire-pits
Next, fire pits!  All the trash was removed & the pits left with just ash in the bottom.  Wouldn't it be great if they were always left so nice?
Butch's work~
With Butch & Robert working with the weed whackers - it was amazing how much they got done.  I took off with my loppers & started working all along the edge of the mowed area.  I cut back all the bushes, vines & shrubs that were encroaching onto the lawn.
Connie & the loppers~
Leave it to me to find a way to cut & chop!  I did leave a lot of piles - Ryland said they'd do the pick up & haul away for us :-)
The sink hole~
The good news - is that the park plans to fix the sink hole later this year!  That would open up the closed spots for camping again! Our friends planned to ride out in the afternoon & cut out some wire that's caused a couple accidents.  What a good feeling to spend some time at such a nice park.  We hope to obtain grant money next year for manure bunkers!

We left at noon - our Grand-kids were flying into Omaha!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sign of Summer - Cicada's!

Waubonsie has become our go-to place.  On hot days at least the trails are in the shade & shade is hard to come by here.  Of course there's the workout that we can get with all the hills, then the quiet during the week is so nice - we're usually the only one's here.
Very obvious signage~
 Two men were just finishing up the mowing when we arrived!  I picked up what trash I could before the mowers hit it!  The fire pits are a mess too.  People use them for trash, rather than their intended purpose.  We'll be cleaning them out this weekend.  Such a shame that so many nice campsites are now closed due to the road erosion.
Farah thinks she hears something :-)
 It was super nice out on the freshly done trails.  There had been quite a few horses on them over the weekend, we found trash out there too :-(

As the title of this post suggests - it's the time of year for the Cicada's!  Since I was almost always in Iowa during the Summer months - the sound is one I associate with childhood.
Dead Cicada~
In the deep woods, they can get very loud!  I took the video of Farah trotting along just for fun - but if you can listen closely - they're in the background.
With temperatures in the low 80's it would have been a little nicer without what felt like pretty heavy humidly - at least to me!  The video above was taken over one of the few flat sections of trail!
Slit River~
 It was a super quite afternoon too & so peaceful in the dappled sunlight of the Timber.
Through Tall Trees~
One of those dreamy days of Summer that go too quickly.  Farah worked hard, we were both much wetter than our wonderful ride of last week.  When I go to unsaddle & my hand hits dripping sweat at the cinch - I know it's been humid.
Cinch with foam`
Speaking of cinches, the Montana Cincha I've been using for several years now is still my favorite!   Mohair, with Neoprene under the buckles it has never galled & helps to keep the saddle in place.  Here, I rinse it out almost every ride!
Butch & Farah at the farm~
We started back all too soon, I had an appointment with the Farrier.  We decided to pull shoes for the next few weeks.  I've not been back out on the gravel & she has a little thrush.  I think the shoe keeps more of the dirt etc. packed into the bottom of her feet & it's so nice to have her barefoot!

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Perfect Summer Ride~

Many thanks to Waubonsie St. Park & the contractor that has been hired to take care of the trails!

For two days now, we've been having perfect weather!  Perfect!  Mid-70's no humidity, few bugs, a light breeze & nights down into the low 60's!  I'd spoken with the new Ranger at Waubonsie & the word was that all the trails had been graded!
Farah hears other horses~
I just had to go see for myself - an excellent excuse - as if I needed one - to ride!  There was only one large trailer at the park, with probably six riders heading out as we pulled in.   I took my time saddling up to let them get some distance ahead of us on the trail.
It was obvious right away!  This soil is so sand like - the footing was very soft & fluffy.
Creek bed~
The creek is holding water in spots, but large sections of the bed are just mud - still not dry.  The grading looked super & another plus - all the Stinging Nettles were knocked down & far off the trail.  This is the first time I've been witness to the maintenance cycles of this park & others in such a different environment from the one I knew so well.

The dirt had been evenly spread out across the face of the hill trails too.  I had almost memorized where the deepest of the erosion holes had been, so when we started our gallop up the first, I kept Farah off to the side.  Mid-way up a horse had punched through the surface & into the holes. 
Holes in the trail~
Certainly from a walk, but I'm going to mention it - packing some dirt into these areas would really help, since now - there's no way of knowing that they are there...  I'm wondering how long it will take for the surface to settle & how much rain will effect it.  My hope is that it will be a good long while before it begins to erode again. 
Heading up~
We never did run into the other riders & when I made the turn onto the far loop, there were no hoof prints.  It was just so gorgeous out - the second loop is just under two-miles - we did it twice.  Wonderful to not have all the obstacles in our way! 
Maidenhair ferns - happy in Aug.
The sandy, loamy soil of the Loess Hills is evidentially the perfect environment for the Maidenhair ferns.  When I think of how many times I tried to start them in my woods in WA without any luck!
Big Tree Loop
The tree we found down on Tue. was still there, but now the trail goes around it.  Neither Farah nor I wanted the ride to end. 
A dead tall tree~
I'm calling this loop Tall Trees Loop.  It has at least three that are really huge.  This trail runs low enough - with so much protection from the winds that they have a chance to grow huge.  Even so, there are a few twisted & broken, as there are everywhere.
Another of my favorites~
Our BCH Chapter will be having a maintenance day at Waubonsie on the 12th.  We want to do some work in the campground area, maybe remove some old rusty fence that's down & see what else needs to be done.  I was excited that we had permission to take weed whackers out - but now that the grading is done - there's no need!  

We stopped at the house to wait for Butch & I put Farah in the backyard.  She immediately went to grazing & did Not want to leave when Butch went to gather her up! :-)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

First of August~

After our ride last Monday, the rain came & trails were closed :-(  This rain was a nice normal rain - it reminded me of a rainy WA day.  No lightening, thunder, or sideways rain.  Just the moisture that the farmers were praying for.

When I walked into Farah's stall, she guided me outside & introduced me to the horse that's on the far side of her paddock.  He's a very nice handsome, young, dark bay QH.  A friendly fellow & much calmer than the crazy Arab that she still manages to ignore.
Farah's new fashion statement~
After the hoards of buzzing bugs that attacked us at Lake of Three Fires & seeing what some of the riders in that area use - I ordered a crocheted fly veil for Farah.  I'm going to see if I can find a pattern & try making one just for fun.  It's been years since I've done any crocheting at all - my hands & fingers are a bit stiffer these days.
Down the trail at Waubonsie
I'd heard rumors that the campground at Waubonsie fills up during the week of the Sidney Rodeo - & it's this week!  But when I pulled in, there was only one group of people, without horses, drinking beer.  I know it was beer, because they left the empties in the box, in a bag, on the table.  They did this - when the dumpster was only maybe ten-steps away.
Big Trees here too come down~
This tree took some work to cut through - there are a few places that need work & BCH is hoping to get some of it done.  Here - DNR is totally against civilians using power tools in the woods.
Heading down~
It was so very muggy & so very humid that Farah would stop after galloping up some of the climbs.  She was covered with a thin sheen of sweat within minutes.  Funny though - the bugs weren't nearly as bad as they have been.
Another tree covering the trail~
This one, riders have been getting around for some time.  We took a trail we normally don't & that's where it was.  Instead of going back into camp after our first loops, we just stayed out in the shade finding what trails we could for a couple more miles.  On many, the Stinging Nettles are so tall that they are taking over.  This would be easy to fix if we could go in with weed whackers...
I think the flowers above are Butterweed.  They have a yellow center & fit the description.  They were beautiful & bright on a sunny bright day!  
 Once back at the trailer, I dismounted to find these weird green things stuck all over Farah's chest, neck & upper legs.  They were almost boomerang shaped, green & maybe 1/2 inch long.  Almost like Velcro - both sides of the tiny things covered with little hooks - but they didn't hurt.  After I washed her down, she rolled, grazed a while, then came over to stand by me where I was sitting in the door of the tack room.  She cocked a hind leg & we both enjoyed or quiet time together.  I'm already looking forward to Fall!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lake of Three Fires~

A cooler day, lower humidly & the yearn to see new trails!  We were on the road early for the 100-mile drive to Lake of Three Fires State Park.  Butch & I first visited here on the fifteenth to help local riders do some trail-clearing.  We saw enough of the park - to make me want to bring Farah & see the trails from the saddle.
 It seemed like a long drive down - but well worth it!
Beautiful camping~
I'd picked up a map.  The trails where Butch & I had cleared were at south end of the lake - I rode out that direction.  What plan I had - was to ride the trails closest to the water all the way around.
The signage couldn't have been better.  The Rangers had driven us over the bridge below before dropping us off, so I knew we were heading the right way.
Bridge Ahead~
Farah stopped to look - almost in surprise - then walked across - the concrete making a hollow sound.  At the first fork, we turned right & soon were rewarded with our first view of the lake.
From the south~
There was a footpath & narrow bridge below us, our trail turned to my left.
Another sign - with a notation in red - that the it was eight-miles around the lake!
Looking north~
We were in the shade, the bugs weren't too bad & there was a cool breeze.  The map showed more trails, too fun!
One of the wider trails~
The scenery was stunning!  No, it's not the high country, nor the wild beauty of the Western States, but for the heart of the Midwest - it's a gem.
First of the ponds~
We came upon one of the ponds, there are four on the map, along with two large wetland areas.  Wetlands are so rare here & there's an effort to restore them.
Across the dike~
The day was heating up - we both looked forward to the next section of trees as the trail wound around.  The next pond had a picnic table & we crossed another dike before dropping down to the edge of the lake again.
Looking back south at the lake~
The trail did a super job of winding from up on the hillside, back to the waterfront & we enjoyed several great views from different points along the shoreline.
Close to the north end~
Still following the signposts, we'd found the point where the trail turned almost due south, back toward camp, or up & onto what I'll call the perimeter trails.  My Garmin was showing just over six-miles - I decided to forgo our ride around - for seeing more trail!  We took the left fork at the "Y" that turned north.
Blooming lily's
It took us to yet another pond, where the water lily's were in full bloom!
Going up~
From there, we were on an overgrown two-track that eventually took us back into the woods & past an amazing wetland.
There was absolutely no movement in the water.
From the far end~
I didn't see another wetland?  But we did find the another pond.  We'd been going along the west boundary of the park.
Pond furthest west~
I stopped to take a photo when I heard a dry rustling sound & Farah jumped!  I looked up to see a Huge doe go jumping & running across the hillside on the far side of the fence.  It is Totally amazing how high they jump & how fast they go!
Young buck
By the time I'd collected Farah & got my camera ready - I caught a quick shot of a young buck - following the doe.  Just a short trot further & we made the turn back onto the trail where we'd started our ride.  Once back at camp, I looked around & found a trail heading to the north.
North trail bridge~
When we'd made the turn at the top, I'd ridden down the trail way & could just see a bridge.  Now, after another short trot, I recognized the same bridge, only from the other direction.  I was glad I'd decided to turn & follow the perimeter trails back.
A drink~
There was actually a little creek here that horses could access, with rock, rather than the usual mud.  I think Farah was as surprised as I was.  This is the first time she's been able to get a drink on the trail.
Our route~
We covered twelve-miles & appreciated every one.  Back in camp I used our new hose & nozzle to spray Farah down.  Much easier & faster than using buckets!  She even allowed me to spray her face - a first!
Drying in the shade~
 We'd ridden the trails for a little longer than the round-trip drive time.  A perfect place for a weekend camping trip!