|The gate to the Girls Pasture, the chicken run, my garden and the back of the house; photo by Steve Neely|
Oak Creek Ranch is located in Northern California. We live in El Dorado County which spreads from about 30 miles east of Sacramento all the way up and over the Sierras, and ending in the middle of Lake Tahoe (which is the Nevada border). Our ranch is about 10 miles outside of Placerville, a small town founded during the California Gold Rush, in the Sierra foothills. We are high enough that we don't get the blazing summer heat of Sacramento, but we are low enough that we don't get more than a few inches of snow in the winter.
|Photo by Steve Neely; looking out over the boys pasture towards the neighbors|
We bought this ranch a little more than three years ago for $560,000. We have eight acres, an average size home (that was in serious disrepair), and a large barn with an attached, covered round pen. There are two arenas -- a traditional fenced arena (smallish) and a competition size dressage court. The property had been vacant for two years when we bought it and the appraised price varied from $530K to $610K. It's unique -- with more out buildings than are typical for our area -- so appraisal was challenging, to say the least.
|Photo by Steve Neely|
When I bought Lucy, she was boarded and I think I paid around $500 per month which included feeding and stall cleaning. There were extra charges for turn out and blanketing. Needless to say, as soon as I felt confident riding her, we moved Lucy here to the ranch.
|Pistol and Lucy in the Girl's Pasture; Photo by Steve Neely|
Feed is expensive in California. Our feed bill is around $1,100 per month for hay (orchard at $23 per square bale), a pelleted vitamin supplement, chicken feed and shavings. Our horses are out on pasture 24/7 (except in foul weather) so we don't bed their stalls with shavings. We use the shavings for the horse trailer and the chickens. We also buy straw for goat bedding. When the hay truck arrives each month, it is full. We go through about a bale of hay each day -- for the five horses, two donkeys and the goats. The bales are 100 lbs. The donkeys and goats live mostly on their pasture but we give them a little bit of hay so they don't feel left out.
|A very muddy Flash and Tex; Photo by Steve Neely|
|20 minutes away; Jenkinson Lake|
Most riders in our area are trail riders. This isn't surprising given the beautiful mountain trails that are available all around us. There is also a small dressage community. Our property was a dressage riding school at one point in its past. We added pylons, letters and lots of sand to the existing arena -- and voila! we had a perfect dressage court. I don't take lessons very often anymore since I'm not riding nearly as often as I did when I was competing.
|Photo by Steve Neely|
We ride primarily in the spring and the fall. In the summer, we have temperatures in the 90s and that is just too dang hot for me. On those days, you'll find us on one of our mountain lakes in a kayak. In the winter, it rains and freezes and rains and freezes some more. The arenas alternate between being frozen and mush. We typically do not ride December through February -- our wettest months. Snow can fall as late as April, but in the spring, there are enough sunny, warm and pleasant days in between storms to allow for riding.