Drowsy Water

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ranch Lessons

After having lived at Drowsy Water Ranch for the past year and a half, I’ve learned quite a few things.

I’ve learned that horses eat…a lot. And when they finish all the hay in a pasture, they have to be moved to another place with more grub.

Yesterday I went on a ranch field trip to help move all the horses from one winter pasture in Walden to another.

It was another lesson in my ongoing ranch education.

I’ve learned that it is really really really cold in Northern Colorado.

I’ve learned that things never quite go as planned. The initial game plan was to bring the trailers into the pasture, herd the horses into the corral, lead horses one at a time from the corral to the trailer (worming and inoculating as needed), and finally haul the horses to their new winter home. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, I’ve learned that it’s not…

Trucks get stuck and have to be shoveled out…

Horses push down gates and make a run for it…

And then you have to chase them down again…

I’ve learned that seemingly simple enough activities can last all day. All day in the cold. All day in the cold with numb fingers. All day in the cold with numb fingers and horses running every which way.

I’ve learned that ranch work can be long, frustrating, and physically exhausting.

But I’ve also learned that ultimately it’s rewarding; a hundred times more rewarding than it is trying.

I’ve learned that you can’t beat a day surrounded by friends (furry and human), with mountains all around you, a blue Colorado sky, pure Rocky Mountain air, and the promise of a hot shower when the day’s work is done.

I’ve learned that you can’t top companions like these…

Views like that…

Or catching a moment like this…

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ranch Pyromaniacs

As you've  probably heard, this area of the state is seeing one of the worst pine beetle attacks in recent history. At this point, there is nothing we can do to stop the beetle.  We hopelessly watch as our pristine forests of green pines fall prey to the insect and turn the tell-tale red-brown color of a dead tree. Experts expect pine forest devastation in this area to reach nearly 100 percent. 

While this is heart-wrenching to watch, it's is just Mother Nature doing her thing.  And, that crazy gal, Mother Nature, doesn't leave us without a few silver linings. First, the aspen trees are alive and well and will fill in where the pine forest dies. This means more quaking leaves and stupendous fall colors.  

Second, we have to do something with the giant piles of dead trees left in the wake.  That means logging and, subsequently, burning the slash. Yep. I said burn. We get to light fires. Huge, hot, smoky, scary, fires.  What fun!

Maybe I am a little bit of a pyromaniac, but isn't everyone? When was the last time you lit a huge fire and didn't have either your mother or the police hunting you down? It is undeniably fun to light stuff on fire and it's even better when you can get away with it. 

So this winter we've been doing a lot of slash pile burning around the ranch.  Here's one of our biggest piles going up in smoke. . .literally!

Here's what we started with--one gigantic pile of trees. 

Next, crazy Ken took the propane torch to the sucker. 

Soon enough, we had us a real-live fire on our hands. See Ken there on the left? 

Here's some more flames rising high into the air. 
And a close up of white hot logs. You getting hot yet?

Here's the same spot when it's all over. We're left with a big black patch and some really stinky clothes. 

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Winter is Here!

Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Snowflake. It's been awhile since you've hung around here.  While I can't honestly say that we've missed you, we do welcome you back.  After a recent warm spell we finally received our first real snowfall.  It calls for some celebration.  It's wintertime!

Wintertime on the ranch means lots of things. It means snow and wind. It means cold toes and red noses. It means feeding hay and shoveling roofs.  But it's not all bad.  The snow also brings skiing and sledding, hot cocoa and soup,  and a whole lot of peace and quiet.  

By March, the creek's gentle bubble will freeze in a silent slumber and a fellow begins to wonder if summer's warm days and late nights ever really existed.  But, the creek does thaw, the sun does warm, and, behold, springtime will come again.  

For now, we anticipate many days of snow and enjoy the changes that make our ranch special in the winter. 

Here's Clifford saying hello to the strange woman with the camera.  Notice how long his coat his getting? All of the horses are getting pretty fuzzy. They need it! Staying out all night up in our Colorado mountains means making it through below zero temperatures. 

Justin, Tyler and Randy Sue work in warm gear while fixing up our arena. The arena is bigger and better than ever before.  We've moved the pig pen and grain silo to make more room for lessons and clinics.  Oh, geez, I almost forgot. . . Justin and Ryan now have a roping chute too (I think that might have been the main motivation for the remodel!)

The ducks enjoy some of their last days out in their pond.  When the pond freezes over,  we move them into the chicken coop for the winter.   They are safer there, locked away, since outside they'd no longer have the ability to swim away from predators.