Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Love this Photo

This is one of my favorites of the pictures that Steve took.  Isn't it wonderful?  I love the play of dark and light, the golden colors and the way it makes my heart sigh.

It's also the most sun we've seen all week.  We've had no sun, dark heavy clouds, freezing nights and damp cold days.  Oh, and no internet and no phone.  The joys of country living.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Busy Before the Rain

We have had a lot of rain in both October and November.  I love the rain, and we are still digging our way out of the drought, so I'm not complaining.  But, it is hard to get things done outside.  We had a break Thursday and Friday -- cold and cloudy, but no rain.

Thursday, I was busy in the kitchen baking pies (apple and pumpkin) and dinner rolls to take to our Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

So, yesterday we were busy.  After morning chores and breakfast, we jumped in the truck and drove up the winding road that climbs out of our valley.  We pulled up the dirt road to the Christmas tree farm just as they opened, beating the crowds.  I grabbed a saw from the rack, and we climbed the hill, dotted with trees.   Brett was ready.

We found a tree almost right away.  It was tall and slender; perfect for our front entry, next to the stairs.  Brett got to work, cutting it down.

Back home, we put it in a tub of water in the barn.  We won't set it up and decorate it for a week or two yet.  We've learned not to wait until then though to buy the tree; the trees go fast.  One year we hiked all over the hill searching amongst the stumps and slumping remaining trees for what seemed like hours before finding one.

When we pulled in the gate, with our tree hanging out the back of the tailgate, Lucy and Pistol were sound asleep under the oak trees.  Neither one got up as we unloaded the tree.

After we got the tree settled in the barn, Brett helped me get the rest of my daffodil bulbs planted.  I put them along one of the streams.  It should be really pretty in the spring.

The next storm started moving in last night, with rain -- and snow -- in the forecast through Monday.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Donkey Love

Here are some pictures Steve took of the donkeys.  When friends and family visit, the donkeys and the goats are by far the most popular critters on the ranch.

They love having their backs raked with the muck rake.  Here I am demonstrating the technique, with my model Tuffy.

Even Finessa, who is afraid of the much rake when it is scraping on the ground close to her, loves a good back scratch with the thing.

Heather discovered a new donkey favorite: insert knuckle into donkey ear and rub.  Result: donkey bliss.

How can you not love these faces?

Nobody can resist Tuffy and Finessa.  Why would you even want to?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's Turkey Time!

Dinner's ready; come and get it!
Photo by Steve Neely
Happy Thanksgiving everyone; from our ranch to you and yours.  I am thankful for so many things -- and thankful for all of you; for your support and comments over the months and years of this blog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Oak Creek Ranch by Steve #2

Here are some more pictures Steve took when he and Heather visited in October.

Detail from the front pedestrian gate


Me and Heather, walking to the barn - love that Mexican sage.

Brett getting ready to move Flash to the pasture

Walking Tex from the barn... the pasture

...where he promptly rolled

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mendocino Botanical Gardens

When I was a child, I loved family trips to the Arboretum in Arcadia, close to our home in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora.  We also spent time at other arboretums and botanical gardens in the area; it was something my mother loved.  When I mentioned to my father that Brett and I were going to Mendocino for our anniversary, he asked if we had been to the botanical gardens there on one of our previous trips.  We had not.  He highly recommended it; adding that my mother had particularly enjoyed it there.   So, of course, we had to go.

From the road, the botanical garden looks small -- not any larger than a garden nursery.  But, the gardens fan out from the road becoming wide and stretching half a mile to the edge of the bluffs.

There were beds of perennials for me to admire; and statues for Brett to enjoy

We walked through a forest of pines, across a multitude of bridges, and through beautiful gates.  Wouldn't a gate like this be beautiful in my garden?  Brett asked me to take pictures of its construction so he can talk to our artist friend, Tom, about building one for us.

The view from the bluff was beautiful and we could see homes perched along the coast.  Talk about a view!

One had a stairway to ... no where.  Seriously, it just ends halfway down the bluff and hovers above the rocks.  You could not get a boat, or a kayak in there safely -- and even if you did, there is no way to reach the stairs.  We were there at high tide and the gap was still to large.

After our visit at the gardens, we headed to the harbor for fish and chips.

We spent the remainder of our stay exploring more beaches, bluffs and driving further north, along the coast.  We ate and ate, and then ate some more.  Mendocino has wonderful restaurants.  We even managed to do a little Christmas shopping in the village.  As we drove home Sunday afternoon, we agreed that the trip was a complete success and one of our very favorite anniversaries.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Glass Beach

We started our first full day in Mendocino with a trip to Glass Beach.  Unfortunately, the stairway down to the beach with the most glass was fenced off.  The bluff had eroded to the point where it was no longer safe.  Instead we walked down to a beach adjacent to it with some glass bits sparkling in the sand.

Glass Beach is known for the glittering bits of polished glass mixed into the sand; amber, green, white and blue.  Although beautiful now, it was created out of an ugly past.  When the town of Fort Bragg was founded in the late 1800s, the townspeople pushed their trash over the edge of the bluff into the churning sea.  This practice continued until the early 1960s (hard to believe, I know).  There are bits of twisted metal encased in rock, cement embedded in the surf, and glass smashed, pounded and polished to glitter in the sand.

Much of the glass is gone; collected by artists who fashion it into jewelry and by tourists who take it home by the pocketful.

The tide was coming in and the surf was wild.  With the monster full moon, the tides have been exceptionally high -- wrecking havoc with the roads.  We saw a seal resting on a boulder while the waves crashed and swirled around its perch.  The seal is the white blob on the rock in the photo.

We spent some time walking along the bluff, breathing the salty ocean air, and admiring the view.

Then we hopped back in the car and drove a few miles south to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens; which I will show you in the next post.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Celebrating in Mendocino

Friday was our 16th anniversary.  The week started off with a call from the front desk at work.

Guard: "How is your day going?"
Me: So far, so good.

Guard: "Would you like it to get better?"
Me: Sure
Guard: "Come down to the front desk"

Thursday morning, the sky was magical -- full of mist and clouds -- when we went out to do chores.

After feeding, mucking, delivering Kersey to the neighbors and packing the car full of wine, cheese, champagne and fruit we headed west to Mendocino.  We stopped in Sonoma to taste some wine and then cut over to the coast at Bodega Bay, just north of San Francisco.  It was a long, twisting drive up the coast with spectacular coastline on our left and pines on our right.  We drove through small towns -- population 200 -- of seaside cottages and a general store.  We arrived at our bed and breakfast just in time to catch the sunset from our room.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Oak Creek Ranch by Steve

A few weeks ago our friends, Heather and Steve, came to visit for a weekend.  Steve is an amateur nature photographer.  We think his photos are amazing.  He took lots and lots and LOTS of pictures while they were visiting and he has sent them to me in a couple big files.  As I download them, I'm going to share with you my favorites.  (Its going to take me awhile to get them all onto my computer).

Here's my first batch:  All photos by Steve Neely --

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Last weekend, we relaxed at a couple area wineries on Saturday and worked our tails off on Sunday.

Brett was busy working on the dressage court.  We brought in truck load after truck load of sand last year to improve the footing.  Then winter came, and with it rain, and the sand started washing away.  The arena is sloped which is good; a lake isn't a good thing.  The problem is the amount of slope that we have -- enough that, despite there being drains to divert the streams, the water runs from the top of the court, gathering speed and strength as it goes, until it reaches the bottom corner leaving a channel in its path.  Brett tried many things in an effort to stem the buckets of sand that were washing away, including landscape barriers and building a wood barrier, complete with screened holes for the water to drain.  But, there was just too much water and it ate a gully underneath the wood -- overran the new drain -- and continued stealing sand.  Brett does not give up.  He is now building a small retaining wall.  There will be small gaps between the cement blocks for the water to escape but he has dug the footing down to the roadbase and set the blocks in cement.  I think he'll win this round.  Brett builds structures that would withstand a tsunami.

Meanwhile, I was busy planting daffodils.  I ordered 500.  Why?  Because I love daffodils.  I have done the same for the past two years.  We will have 1500 daffodils planted around the front lawn, in the garden, and - this year - along the stream.  I don't think I'll order any more.  It's back breaking, tedious work.

I also installed the drip system for my new perennial garden.  Not difficult, just tedious, as there are 30 plants that each required a line.  Lastly, I raked up leaves from under the oak tree and mulched the whole thing.

Kersy worked hard on her naps.  She managed to mess up the cushions on "her" couch on the front porch.  Other than that, she didn't do much except soak up the warm fall day.

Smart dog.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Free Range Horse

Poor Jackson has remained cooped up in the covered roundpen, while the other horses are back out in pasture.  He can't tolerate muddy, or even damp, ground.  I'm trying to get through one winter, just one winter, without any abscesses.  October was very wet and the pastures have not dried.  Saturday, I let him graze by the barn for an hour or so.  He was in heaven.

I did the same thing Sunday -- he was out most of the afternoon.

He stuck to the area between the barn and the boys pasture initially.  Tex came over to the fence and watched enviously.  The grass in the pasture has been nibbled very short.  The grass outside the pasture, where Jackson was eating, was a couple inches deep.

Flash joined Tex at the fence.  They looked at me.  "Ahem, when is it our turn?"

Jackson and I pretended that we didn't see them.  He kept on grazing and I sat in a plastic chair, cat on my lap, with my eyes closed, relishing the warm sun on my face.