Follow up to cold winter


Follow up to a cold day post.

After posting my story of a cold day, I was pleased to get a rare email from one of my oldest friends….

We went to both Junior High School and High School together and a couple of years at Virginia Tech until I went off to join the Army and he went off to Michigan to vet school. He was always a good bit smarter than I.. We had lots of adventures together and he was a positive influence on my life.

He stayed in Michigan and has been a practicing vet and an instructor and mentor to many. He lives somewhere on the upper peninsula right near what I would call the frozen gates of hell.

In his email he related a couple of cold weather anecdotes from his career up there that make me ashamed to say I was chilly at all…. ever. Little things like a c section out in the open in a tee shirt at 60 below zero.

I don’t know how he tolerated it….it was not without penalties of frozen tissue….but he persisted. I left the relative summer resort weather of northeast Ohio winter because I could not take the cold, but like the mountain men of old, the Michigan winter weather was just another challenge to be faced to him……He says the summers are great….

I know that humans can adapt to climatic conditions….in Ohio I started every day for three years with at least a light jacket on….in the summer it might come off fairly early…..often soon after sunrise as I was horseback checking or gathering cows. The first winter back in Virginia I was use to cold and never wore a coat all winter….I had adapted a bit….but by the second winter back home I was bundled up like an Eskimo.

I think my friend had both a genetic and mental advantage in dealing with the weather….one side of his family had branches of the family tree up there in cold country and they had convinced him that the weather was mostly a matter of mind over matter…..If you don’t mind then it don’t matter. That and he was one of the toughest guys I have ever run into. In my Twenties through early forties I could be pretty rank myself, but I would have always preferred him as a friend rather than an opponent.

The Cold Winter


Baby Jim

 The Cold Winter

Today is a snowy and cool day and it reminded us of a real cold day in our history.  Since it is cool and snowy it seemed like a good time to relate the story of that day and that winter.

It was the winter of 1977-1978.  We don’t recall the exact date after over 40 years.  The entire winter was brutally cold.  The fact that our hero was working as a cow man in northeast Ohio at the time made it multiple times worse. The mother in law and her sister had flown in for Christmas and while they were there, the airports were closed for nearly two weeks in both Akron and Pittsburgh or the roads were so bad we could not get them to the airport.  Forty or fifty miles to either one

That year Baby Jim’s mama…..yes he had a mama….related to him that the Cheapeake Bay froze over…..It was several magnitudes of colder in Northeast Ohio just outside the snow belt.  Baby Jim could not believe that he was outside the snow belt as it snowed every day….that is until he saw images of snow in Buffalo and Cleveland.

Now the job at hand was as a cow herd manager for a 300 head registered cow herd.  It included all manner of care to insure the successful care, feeding, breeding and calving of these valuable animals.  Baby Jim had assistant herdsmen but it was pretty much a 365 day a year job.  Always on call.  Many late winter nights were spent in the calving barn sleeping under the heat lamps with the new born calves.  Our hero opined out loud once about the wisdom of calving cows in February winter weather and the boss pointed out that when Baby Jim had his own cows he could calve them out whenever he wanted to…..until then how about caring for these.

The normal routine was to go out pretty early and do the chores to fit the season…go back home for breakfast and then return to work at about 8:00 am….in the winter the early morning chores were mostly feeding and general checking on stock.

One particular morning our hero awakened to find a couple of feet of new snow.  As he drank a cup of coffee before venturing out he heard the wind howling and the snow was blowing fiercely horizontally which meant drifts everywhere.  He glanced at the Thermometer fixed outside the kitchen window and could not see the mercury.  Securing a flashlight he leaned on the counter and the actual temperature was minus 22 degrees.  Time to find more clothes….wrapped in all the winter garments that a Virginia boy would have he ventured out…

Now near the house where he lived  there was a winter lot designed to house 100 cows….it had about 120 in it.  There was a set of silos and feed bunk and a pipe hay rack to handle three ton hay stacks.  The cows could sleep in the barn, eat silage from the bunk and hay from the rack.

There was another such lot three or four miles away with a similar number of cows.  The rest of the cows were later calving cows and they wintered in a lot with a lot of woods another few miles away and wintered on hay….again in the three ton stacks.

Baby Jim did his morning chores and returned to the house to find the phone ringing….the common theme was did your truck start….At that time he was driving a Ford 1/2 ton four wheel drive.  It was the only vehicle on the farm that started that morning.  So the next couple of hours were spent trying to get thru drifted snow to jump start other vehicles so the days work could get done.   To enable road clearing he had to jump start a couple of tractors. Did we mention that it was cold?

The three ton hay stacks previously mentioned were handled by a big John Deere cabbed tractor with a dedicated stack hand machine to move the stacks.

About mid morning there was a radio call….back then we used Citizen Band Radios in the trucks and tractors…..the call was to ask for assistance in finding the town motor grader as the road to the cows in the big wooded pasture was blocked with snow and the big tractor was not able to get thru it..

After a bit of looking the motor grader was located and after a little pleading and cajoling was redirected to the site of the problem.  Fortunately the grader was able to get thru the snow and open the road for the couple of miles to access the gate to the cow field.  There was a temporary feeling of success as the tractor was going thru the gate.  Baby jim was keeping hungry cows back while the tractor was forcing its way in.  Until the tractor motor shut off suddenly.  Would not turn over again.  

Cropping manager said he had to go get another tractor and figure out how to get things moving.  He needed the truck to go back to the shop….But somebody had to keep the cows from coming out the gate.  Those cows wanted that hay but if they came out that gate they could drift for miles…As cow man our hero was elected to stay with the cows and try to control them.

Now it is 20 below zero and wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph.  40 hungry cows and one southern boy so country that the local vet had nick named him Rebel.  Rebel, heretofore known as Baby Jim,  was so cold that he had prayerfully offered a deal to the good lord.  He said, “Lord, if you give me the strength to get thru this day, you will not have to worry about me being in Ohio for another winter ever.” 

Two and a half hours later they got back with the things needed to remedy the situation.

By then hands and feet were numb beyond feeling.  Our hero was so cold that there is no memory of how they got the second tractor around the gate blockage or how they got the cows fed….

There was a lot of yankee teasing about how it was not that cold…but none of those doing the teasing had stood out there for 2 and a half hours.

There are other tales of other days that winter, but this one was nearly life threatening and is etched into the memory forever.

Ride Report 1 20 2021 Dixie


PDF RIDING LOG 1 20 2021

To see any photo larger just click on it and then use your browser back button to return to the blog.

It has been quite windy here the last few days….but yesterday afternoon in spite of the wind would have been a good day to ride and several people reported rides on facebook..

I decided that if today was no worse weather wise than yesterday that I would ride today.  When I got up i turned on the local weather and the wind was the big topic.  I knocked around the house for a while and then ventured out side.  The wind was pretty strong but the sun was out and things were warming up.  

I have this week taken to feeding Dixie twice a day….she gets a pretty good slug of feed and lately she has not been eating it all and Esther waits beside her until Dixie walks away from he pan and then Esther dives in and squeals at  all the others while she cleans up Dixies Feed…..Esther does not need any extra feed…Dixie does….it is comical to watch them….Esther will not try to crowd in on Dixie….but when I turn out Condi and Pete and the goats, Ester bluffs them all with squeals and moans and bluff kicks….

Condi just looks at her and I wish I could explain her expression….she is the queen of all around here but she lets little Esther bluff her …..bear in mind that Esther is a mini donk and maybe 9 or 10 hands high and maybe 500 lbs and Condi is 15.1 and probably 1100 lbs.

Anyhow to avoid trouble I have taken to splitting Dixies feed into halves and she is the only one who gets a morning feeding now…so when I put Dixie in the stall to feed her I was overcome with the idea of riding her today.

I have to put her in to keep the goats from stealing her feed…none of them are afraid of her and in fact the five goats are her entourage….picture below of them napping together…..the smallest goat, the aptly named Corona walks under Dixie without notice or fanfare.  She would not walk under either of the horses as that would be a mistake….The goats left to right are Audie, Iris, Nelly, Calvin and Corona

Anyhow after she finished her breakfast Dixie and i loaded up and headed to Washington Lacy Park….Dixie does not mind riding in the trailer…..Condi loads good….Dixie will tell me to get the heck out of the way…I have hauled her twice this week….Once to the vet to update her Coggins and then again today…she steps right in and upon unloading carefully backs out….

When we got to the park the wind was still blowing but not too badly….I was hopeful that once we got in the woods it would be less and it was..

Apparently Dixie has not done much solo riding….when we got tacked up and stepped away from the trailer she looked around to see who she was travelling with.  Finding no one else she looked at me quizically….photo of heer surveying the parking lot.

And a glamour shot before we set out.

She was a perfect lady at the mounting block and stepped out smartly after I was aboard.   She continued to scan looking for other equines and before long let out a mule bray hoping to get a response…She must have brayed and prayed for company nearly a dozen times while we were riding….but other than being lonely she was a perfect lady.  She did step out pretty smartly….I thought at first that she was moving at a pace that would keep up with Condi….I was close….the last time I rode Condi her average pace was 6.1 mph.   Todays pace for Dixie was 5.9 mph.

I should add here that when I first started riding Condi, just her and I, she Similarly was looking for equine company….She would nicker frequently so i think riding solo is just something they have to learn…  Condi no longer is concerned about just her and I being out.  I expect Dixie will adapt quickly as well.  I don’t Think Stewart rode her very much alone and I dont think the folks he got Dixie from rode much as singles….they had four mules and rode together most of the time.

Washington Lacy is a nice little park but it does not have a lot of trails.  Condi and I usually do two trips around them to get in five miles or so…

Today Dixie and I went off trail….probably not supposed to but on the south side of Jamestown Rd we hit the power line….I just wanted to se how far we could go before hitting an obstacle… we rode a good ways and then came to a big wet place but we saw what I will call a hunters road going up a hill into the woods and we followed it.  Actually found another hunters road but we did not go down it…we back tracked down the power line and then did the trails in the park…totaled out just a tad over 5 miles….very nice ride….only saw two other people walking their dogs…

GPS track below.

PPRC 1 16 2021 Five Forks


TO SEE PHOTOS LARGER CLICK ON THE PHOTO….USE YOUR BROWSER BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THE BLOG.

 

The day dawned foggy and dark and dank….but it was not raining.   

The Poor People Monthly ride was today at Five Forks Battlefield…I had said I was going if it was not too wet and I could get hooked to the trailer and get out of here….

But gosh it was foggy as the sun came up….At first I could not find the horses or the cows…but when I whistled a horse nickered so I knew they were there….and one of the cows bawled back at me as well….

Some folks say I am crazy to feed my cows grain….I give them a handout every evening when I feed the horses….benefit is they come to me every time I call them….I don’t give them but a couple of cup fulls per head but it is an easy way to count noses and make sure everyone is upright and healthy in the dark….

It also keeps them quiet and easy to get along with….even this falls calves born around labor day have caught on to the routine and are usually waiting for me in their stall for their evening handout…..  they have a little creep area where the cows can not push them aside and steal their grain. 

Condi knew it was not time for feeding and she stood outside for a while but when she saw Pete eating his handout her greed overcame her caution…she came in for her handout and realized that someone was going to have to go to work and it was most likely her….I shut the stall gate and went to hook up the trailer….The trailer was in an unusual place because the last time we used it it was too wet to put back in the regular parking place….and I had to back around a tree to get to it and it took me a couple of tries to get lined up….and it was foggy…..

Finally got hooked and stopped at the barn for Condi….Always a lady, she stepped right up into the trailer and we departed….but it soon became a Journey….the first half hour was so foggy that I almost missed a stop sign at a T intersection so speed was cut in half…when I finally got to the interstate there was enough traffic that the fog was dispersed from the roadway a bit…and traffic was still light enough to proceed sanely.  But the trip was long and tedious…

Gps said it was a 51 mile trip but it took me over an hour and a half to get there….I had not been to five forks in several years and had absolutely no memory of the trails.  It had been several weeks since we had been out and I really needed to have a good therapy session with Doctor Condi

The fog had abated by the time we arrived and when I unloaded her I realized that Condi had apparently slept in a mud bog….she was covered in mud….I knocked the top layer off and tacked her up because we were running late…

The group was small….8 horses and riders and we set out when I finally got mounted….Condi of course wanted to be in front, which was a problem because neither she or I knew the trails so at every intersection we had to wait for instruction on which way to go….but the group was seemingly patient with me…At one point I stopped and took a couple of photos of the group….one is below.

It was then that I realized that I was riding with seven ladies.

Condi and I had a very nice ride….she was her usual excellent trail horse self….The trails at some points were vehicle wide….at other points they were winding and narrow through the trees.  But they were all enjoyable….At one point we came to a pretty long wide stretch and Condi wanted to step out so I let her go….She hit a pretty good gaited lick and four of the ladies were right along behind her.  The other three ladies decided to continue a moderate stroll….but they were not far behind us.

I remembered to take my gps but when I went to turn it on the batteries were dead and the spare batteries were in the camera case which was at home on my desk….One of the ladies had a fit bit and told me that it had logged 5.09 miles…..I would have guessed six miles.  As we got back to the parking area it began to mist a little….I decided that I had tempted fate enough for one day and it was  a little after one and we had to make the sojourn back home and tend the rest of the stock.  I think some of the folks were going back out to do the other side which I don’t think I have ever ridden….So now I have to go back at least one more time….

When we got home Condi asked me if it was worth driving 102 miles over a nearly four hour period to ride five miles through the woods….I told her that when it was no longer worth it she might be out of a job….but so far it has been the highlight of the month of january.  Time spent with Dr. Condi always ushers me back into a semblance of sanity…I have been privileged to have some good horses in my lifetime…different kinds of horses for different jobs….but Condi gives me a lot of joy in my golden years….Comfortable, smart, gentle yet spirited, dependable, sure footed and takes good care of me on the trails….I enjoy our time together tremendously.

PDF LOG BLOG 1 4 2021


Dreary Dank and Drizzly for the last 48 hours here….checked the gauges this morning and there was 6/10 of an inch in one and 5/10 of an inch in the other….so we averaged at 5.5/10 of an inch. On top of what we had two days ago and all the rainy days prior to that…..looking for alligators to take up residence before too long….Beavers have moved into Jacks pond below my house…have not seen them but they are working on the trees.

The ground is absolutely rotten…water standing everywhere…mud everywhere.

Nothing of great import accomplished in the last two days….

A lot of piddling little things that will have to be repeated soon.

Going thru hay like Sherman went thru Georgia….have ordered some more.  considering how to scale down livestock.  No decisions…just considering…

Both the cows and the equines have some sacrifice areas….the cows can get up on the hill where it is a little drier…the horses can go to the wood lot in the front and there are a few dry spots there…most paddocks are closed to keep the animals from destroying the grass and the cover crops they will have in the spring.

Everyone looks good except Dixie….having trouble putting weight on her…all the others are pretty fat…the soupy ground is causing Pete some soreness and softness in his feet. I have nowhere drier to put him….

The cows are doing okay and the three calves are growing very well….I am feeding them about 3 lbs of grain per head per day and they look pretty good.  They are beginning to know the routine and have stopped fleeing when I am around….this evening they were standing right at the feed tub with me when I put the feed in….Still very pleased with this years heifer calf….she is growing right with the bulls and is right pretty….If we ever dry out a little I will try  to take some pictures….right now everything is muddy.  The steer is doing very well and I need to try and find a processing appointment for him…but most processors are all booked up.

PDF LOG BLOG 1 2 2021


PDF LOG BLOG 1 2 2021

First Saturday of the new year….felt like a Monday because everything was pretty much closed yesterday for new years day.  

It rained last night…..weather terrorist missed again….they said light showers….I could hear it beating on the roof over the sound of the television….it had pretty much stopped at 11 when I took Apache out for his evening relief.  I had two gauges out and this morning one read 6.5 tenths and the other maybe six feet away had 8 tenths…average 7.25 tenths.

Made the weekly foray into Ashland this morning…..usual stuff…Breakfast at Waffle House…then to the feed store and then to Walmart for perishables…..stopped by tractor supply and ordered a wheel for my driveway gate…..getting tired of carrying it every day….had to order one that would go inside the gate as I don’t have clearance from the post to put an in stock end wheel.  Found this one after searching on line and went to tractor supply to see if they had one…..of course they didn’t so I am still buying something that I hope will fit my application….That is what I get for hanging the gate too perfectly 25 years ago….

Then back home and unload the groceries and then unload the feed……by then it was 1:30.  The weather was very pleasant and it would have been a lovely day to ride but with all the rain the ground was miserably sloppy and too wet to go on public trails.

I had trash to go to the transfer station so We loaded up and Apache assumed his position in the copilot seat and off we went….We decided to go to the one in Doswell and also try our hand at getting a GPS of the trails we went on last week at North Anna Battlefield Park.  We went to the park first……The parking lot was full….I had to wait for someone to leave to get a parking spot….I did not think to count cars but this parking lot is not nearly as big as the one at Poor Farm Park.  But the trails as Poor Farm park would have been sopping wet today.  We decided to give the crowed park a go anyway….

The original intent was to GPS the trails we walked the other day…..but there were so many people….people with kids….people with dogs,,,,people with kids and dogs and people with people….we soon got rerouted….

Went to a point on the gray Trail that we did not hit the previous trip….it was a point at the apex of the confederate lines that overlooked the River and would have commanded the field of battle.  The earthworks  (still plainly visible)at the top of the hill were elevated probably 100 to 150 feet above the river and it was a sharp drop off… impossible to attack.  Today I had the GPS but no phone or camera so I did not get the spectacular photograph…..below is the route we walked today…..just 2.04 miles but it was good exercise and Apache was tired when we got back to the van…..

I mentioned dogs….we saw the usual assortment…… for the most part…..

There was one family who had one that impressed me….I asked what kind of dog that was and the man on the other end of the rope said something that did not register with me, so I still don’t know what kind of animal it was…..I would say in size it was as big or bigger than the man….I would describe it as a cross between a wolf and a small bear.   The thing was huge…..black and brown and had eyes that just looked right through me….Apache wanted to make its acquaintance but that thing could have devoured Apache in about two bites….and probably me in a couple of more bites…….fortunately it did not appear to be aggressive…..

From there we went by the transfer station to drop off our trash and ran into our old
Friend Court Warfield.  Court was the one who had red angus on Jacks place next to us for several years after Jack died.  We had a nice short visit…Court tickled me when he said Who would have thought that a Trip to the trash station would turn into a social event.”

From there we made our way home and did the evening chores and supper.

PDF LOG BLOG 12 30 2020


PDF LOG BLOG 12 30 2020

NO PHOTOS THIS TIME AROUND

It was just two days ago I resurrected the PDF log and already I am two days behind…

Yesterday I went to Visit Debbie Wickham and assist her with getting some photos of Stewarts Saddles and trying to post them to the internet…

Mostly succeeded in raising more questions than I have answers for. I need to go back and see if I can find out more information such as model numbers and other manufacturer information….

Had a nice visit with Debbie and she gifted me with a delicious lasagna…..I had some for supper last night and froze two more helpings and have one more in the Fridge for Tomorrow night.

She also gave me some of Stewarts riding clothing…..Monogrammed shirts with the names of his horses and My own Dancehall Dixie on them, and a nice duster and several other things….Sort of a way to take memories of him on rides that I go on….

I have a new set of synthetic saddle bags that he gave me last Christmas that I have never used….I was saving them for when we could take a long ride together. Now I will use them to take him on a last ride, at least on the mortal plane.

I have not planned anything yet…..but Stewart and I had an agreement years ago that which ever one of us survived the other would, if we were able, Scatter the others ashes on one of the trails we loved to ride.

Debbie showed me the container with his ashes and I told her that I thought I would wait until spring…When I decide when and where….I will post the information and invite any of Stewarts riding friends to accompany me participate in fulfilling his final wish….maybe by then we can even have a PPRC old style pot luck lunch again.

Not trying to focus on the morbid, but I made my final arrangements shortly after Marie died. I have told both my sons and My sister that if I still own this place when I go, then I would like to have my ashes scattered around the dog graveyard and the barns.

On to cheerier thoughts…..

I am typing this note on a brand new laptop…..inexpensive Leveno….bought it on line two days ago from Office Depot and it was delivered some time morning and I spent most of the afternoon figuring out how to work it and getting it set up….So far I like it and it is in touch with my phone so I can see phone photos on the laptop…..have not worked all of that out yet but showing promise.

Cortana and Alexa keep wanting to chat with me….have not adapted to that yet.

 

PDF LOG BLOG 12 28 2020


 This is the first edition of the new and improved PDF LOG Blog.

YOU CAN CLICK ON PHOTOS TO SEE THEM LARGER….USE YOUR BROWSER BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THIS PAGE.

We have a web site that we don’t use much so why not post the log to the blog and make life simple…It also gives me more room for verbosity than an excel data block and I can format things to look normal.

When I rode with Steve Swartz the other day we discussed hiking as well as riding. Last winter Apache and I did a good bit of hiking on weekends. We did a lot of exploring at Poor Farm Park and discovered miles of trails. We did a couple of miles there at the end of last week. Steve asked me if I had ever hiked at the North Anna Battlefield Park. I told him I had been to the park but had never hiked any trails…He suggested I try it and said he hikes there a lot. Apache and I decided to try it out this morning. We waited until the sun came out and warmed things a little bit and then we ventured out…

I thought the park was a small one to commemorate a minor battle from the War of Northern Aggression. I was wrong on both counts. The battle was a fairly significant engagement and is explained in detail by the many markers along the trail. And the park is not small. Apache and I did both the Blue Trail and the Gray trail. There are several other trails that we did not venture down. The trail map box was empty so we had no idea where we were going. When we began I reached for my GPS and realized that it was sitting on the desk behind me as I type this….I had left it there after downloading my last adventure….So I do not have an exact measurement of how far we went. However having a little trail experience I estimate that we did about four and a half miles. I will GPS it when I find the strength to do those trails again.

It is a beautiful park and the trails are mostly paved with a good layer of rock dust….they are certainly dryer than the trails at Poor Farm Park. Several bridges and culvert pipes span the frequent water features. There are numerous markers to relate the events of import and the layout and action of the battle as well as still existing trenches and earthworks dug over 150 years ago. We were surprised at the number of cars in the parking area and the number of people we passed on a Monday.

This park is not for the faint of heart or for the infirm. I did not see it when we embarked on our adventure but there is a sign to that effect at the trail head. I took a picture of it as we exited…..When we started Apache was trying to tow me along…..When we got back his pace was a little more reserved and patient.


This battlefield was an attempt by the Northern Army to cross the North Anna River above Doswell, Va. The Southern forces were arrayed mostly along the hilltops overlooking the South side of the North Anna River. One of the trails took us all the way to the River. The signage indicated that there was an intense storm the first night of the battle and in the steep and rolling land every bottom had a flood of water racing to the river. The River was probably roaring as it was today. We had a pretty big storm just a couple of days ago and all the streams are swollen. I took a picture of it but the photo cannot convey the roar that I could hear downstream. We heard it from a half mile away before we ever saw it.


Had I been a union soldier someone would have had to shoot me to get me to enter that water in an attempt to cross it. Somewhere just out of sight downstream there was apparently a dam or a narrows which was causing the roar of the water we could hear but it was just out of sight. I don’t know how deep this river is here but it is not wadeable and was moving with some velocity…. And if the soldiers survived the river there are immediate steep hills to climb with the southern army pouring rifle and cannon fire down upon the heads of those attacking. The hills were numerous and steep. When we finally got to the trail that winds along the river I looked up at the hills above me and tried to imagine what it must have been like to try to climb those hills while being shot at by an entrenched enemy.



The Blue trail ended at a point on the river pictured above. There was about a half mile back track along the river and then a long steep climb. We noticed a shortcut that some hardy souls had been taking and guessed it went straight up the hill and intersected with the trail along the crest of the hill. We decided to try it as it was significantly shorter, maybe a hundred yards up a hill and we had to climb that hill one way or the other. This path did not have blue stone dust on it. It was a path thru the woods leaf covered and steep….VERY  STEEP…..things were going along okay until we hit a real steep spot and a foot slipped on the wet ground. I managed to grab a sapling and get a foothold. I crabbed sideways and got off the path and off the slick ground. Worked my way over to a tree and paused to catch my breath….we were about half way up and I looked down and realized I was in a bad way and could not go down…I would not have ridden a horse down that trail….knew I could not keep my feet under me going down….we looked up and saw a way to use trees for support and handholds and stay off the slick trail and with a couple of more rest stops we reached the summit and the path.

I am getting too old for this foolishness….at least I was not being shot at…….next time I will stick to the paved trails. Once we got back on the blue stone trails it was safer….but still several big hills to navigate….It was a fun outing.

RIDING 11 21 2020 LASP


Today was a soul cleansing day with my therapist, Dr. Condi. We rode at Lake Anna State Park. We had not been there in a good while. When we got there there was only one other lady preparing to ride and she was waiting on her riding buddy to arrive, but while we were tacking up the parking lot began to fill up….and many were folks we knew…

But I had already decided that I wanted to ride the Power Line side. It has been a while since I have ridden at Lake Anna and it has been years since I have ridden the power line side….I told Dr. Condi that we were going somewhere she had never been…the last time I rode those trails was on dear old Paladin Perkins.

SO we departed alone. the folks I knew would have welcomed us but they like the lake side, so Condi and I headed out alone.

I had forgotten a lot of the trails and had forgotten how much I liked them….the part along the actual power line is steep in places but Condi soldiered on valiantly shouldering the load with enthusiasm. I was real pleased with how well Condi has adapted to riding out alone….a couple of years ago she was all nickering and hollering and wanting to join any equines that came along….

Yesterday we only saw two other horses on the trail and after visiting for a moment we calmly passed them and continued down the trail.

We did a total of 7.2 miles and erased a couple of years of depression and ill feelings. When I got back to the trail head my friends were back from their ride and I joined them for a sandwich and some conversation. It was a very enjoyable day….

I am thinking that if the weather is decent that a Thanksgiving ride might be in order. Need to get started on my retirement goal of riding at least twice a week hopefully more than five mile with every ride. Thinking about involving Dixie and Pete but I am having so much fun with Condi and neither of the others have shoes….I do have some Cavallo boots for Pete’s fronts, but Dixie is barefoot.
Even renewed my pass to the wildlife management areas and going to hit them after hunting season.

Below is a gps of the trails we rode….We had a grand time…the long straight line is along the big power line….it has several steep ups and downs the ride through the woods is beautiful and this time of year you can see everything in the open hardwood forest…there were two small stream crossings and Condi stopped to get a drink at both of them…

Below is a shot from Sunday morning. I grabbed the camera because when I came out of the house Dixie and Corona were rubbing noses….but by the time I got the camera out and turned on they had stopped. Dixie is the sorrel Mule…Corona is the tan goat on top of the wood pile. I had to sneak behind the car to even get a chance at a shot because if Dixie had seen me she would have come to the fence looking for a handout….the goats love to hang out with the horses and I think they feel safe with them…Condi is the most temperamental of my equines and she is the boss mare….but it is not uncommon to find four or five goats laying around her in her stall…just not at feeding time…


Jim Tate
Pipe Dream Farm
Beaverdam, Va

Finally some good news


As most of you are aware I still plant a good bit of cover crops in paddocks for grazing…..I even invested in an overseeder to help me get small seed and grasses into the soil rather than broadcasting it…….not much in terms of summer cover crops fared very well for me this summer…some did not even come up and what did come up suffered mightily from the drought.

I finally suspended even putting out seed in early July figuring I would wait on the rain…

then in late August I resumed seeding and switched to cool season species…I seeded a couple of paddocks anticipating rain which never came.

My fear was that the seed might germinate and then perish from lack of moisture…or that birds feasted on the seed that were exposed….or a plethora of other things that could go wrong.

I suspended seeding again, while having thoughts that I sure wasted my money on the overseeder…then I grazed the five strips in my big bull field….I seeded each of those as I grazed them….this would have been in September…early to mid September….still no rain.

about two weeks ago I grazed my two front yard paddocks and then seeded them.

naturally since we have had some rain I have especially been watching the big bull field and the front yard field hoping for some signs of life….I should point out that the existing chicory with its deep roots has been about the only species to still be showing life….they were grazed into the dirt which is contrary to all advice….see untoward acceleration article.

Untoward Acceleration – the Greatest Danger to Graziers

But the chicory was rebounding.

with the first rain we had a couple of weeks ago now, the existing grass began to show some signs of life….but I was not seeing anything from the seedings…

But in the last three weeks we have had a rain of 1.3 inches, another of 1.5 inches and this week another 3/10 of an inch.

last evening when I turned in the driveway, the field I sowed in August had a tint of green and when I slowed down to look I could see wheat from the mix I sowed coming up…I had given up this field as a lost effort…I was thrilled to see it coming up…this is a paddock where I hope to plant Eastern GammaGrass in the early Spring.

then while I was running water for the cows I looked at the big bull field and low and behold I saw some hints of small seed germination….there was no small grain sowed here so I was looking for small seed like grasses and clovers and brassicas. They were beginning to show.

So while the water was running I checked the Front yard paddocks and they two had signs of new germination.

I also feed a little bit of whole wheat to the cows and the two year old bull…I have a tendency to try stuff just to see what happens…I have just this week noticed that I have wheat germinating in my bull patties…I was thinking that seed placed on the ground in a warm moist environment would germinate immediately but apparently it also was waiting for rain….but I should add that I am seeing the wheat only in fairly new cow pies. Older pies that have dried out have been turned over and broken up by random scavengers and varmits as well as birds and dung beetles….I suspect that the varmits and birds harvested the wheat from those pies…

So while I have also succumbed to untoward acceleration and have been feeding hay for nearly two months…..I have most of the paddocks closed off and on some of the better ones I am seeing a greening up…..

I don’t have any stockpiled grazing for this winter but I will continue to feed hay and let those paddocks rest and hopefully we will have early spring grazing between the cool season cover and the cool season grasses.

Besides….everybody seems to need to point out that both Condi and I are not, shall we say, sleek and trim…Bad enough that she has to tote me….I don’t want to be accused of starving her to death…


JIM TATE
PIPE DREAM FARM
pdfangus@gmail.com