Ride Report 1 20 2021 Dixie


PDF RIDING LOG 1 20 2021

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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


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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

Big Step for me


Pretty Condi

Well……I did something on Saturday that I never would have even dreamed of doing just a couple of years ago.

I loaded Condi in the trailer and Stewart in the van and we embarked on a journey to Warrenton.

Our first stop was at the Dennys in Ruther Glenn for a grand slam breakfast. Then it was on to Skeeters Saddlery in Warrenton. The goal was to have Condi fitted for a saddle that would be comfortable for her as well as for me.

We were all surprised at how wide Condi measured out. She and I are both a little fluffy, but it is what it is and she is not that much over weight. Skeeter asked me why I wanted such a big horse and I told him he should have seen my big horses. Condi is the downsize. Besides I did not want anybody feeling sorry for my little horse having to tote my big self and he just laughed.

We designed the simple saddle I want and I am more satisfied that it will be at least as comfortable for Condi as it will be for me.

Stewart and I plan on riding a lot now that he is feeling better and we are much nearer neighbors now. And after I retire next year we are going to ride even more as long as our health holds out.

Skeeter helped me design what I wanted and Stewart gave me his input every time I asked. Stewart has a much better sense of style than this old country rat.

I am looking forward to it, but being custom made it will be a couple of months. Skeeter told me that he has two ahead of me. He explained the process and that this would fit right into the work flow.

Skeeter also inspected both of the saddles I have and declared them both to be safe and serviceable. One is the part synthetic and part leather Circle Y that I have been riding since I first got Palladin Perkins. The other is a Big Horn roping Saddle that my dad bought used when I was a kid. It is nearly as old as I am. I rode it all through my teen years and nearly daily for the ten years I was doing cow work. It has been through a few wrecks but it is good to know it is still serviceable. It is heavy as the devil though so I probably won’t use it much.

We were back at my house by 1:30 and I even had time to weigh my heifers. For a dry as it has been and not having much grass, I was very pleased to see that they are both gaining nearly one and a half pounds per day. One of this falls calves who is about 45 days old came in with them and I weighed him as well at 184 lbs. So he is gaining about 2.5 lbs per day as well. Tickled with that. Both cows with calves seem to be milking well but not loosing condition too badly. As long as we get them bred back on schedule all will be well.

The only reason I have grass is my multiple paddocks and rotational grazing. I don’t have a lot of grass and I am nearly out but the heifers are still growing and I was not expecting that.

All in all a very nice day yesterday and this morning it is raining. While the rain kept us from riding today, we need the rain and heeding the prediction is why I scheduled the trip to Skeeter for yesterday.

Jim Tate
Pipe Dream Farm
Beaverdam, Va

71st Trip Around The Sun


Baby Jim Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives

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A few days ago I emailed and posted a facebook link to some photos that I took on a simple trail ride that I went on with my friend, Stewart Wickham. Stewart and I used to ride together all the time. We were two guys who just got along…we had similar riding styles, similar riding ambitions, similar but different backgrounds, similar upbringing, similar values and perspectives on life and events and we discovered that we both had a warped sense of humor that other folks sometimes had trouble understanding, but we would crack each other up…We had both found a good friend that we could talk honestly to and not have to worry about it being broadcast.

Several years ago Stewart and his wife moved to Buchannan Va. We had become pretty good friends and we kept in touch but we seldom had a chance to ride together…While he had retired from the Hanover Sheriff’s department he went to work part time in Law enforcement and courts in Roanoke. So he worked some odd hours. I continued to lounge around at the Soil and Water District. Then while he was up there, is when Marie’s health was just beginning to fail her big time and I had to stick a little closer to home so me going up there to ride with him was out. Stewart made several trips down this way so that we could ride…The last time we rode together was a short parade in June of 2017 in the town of Mineral….I don’t even remember the cause of the parade but recall that the Best of America by Horseback crew was there. I rode Palladin Perkins and Stewart brought Dancehall Dixie. Many of the riders who frequent the Poor Peoples Riding Club were there. It was a short fun ride…

Photo from the Mineral Parade assembly point

We kept in touch and talked at least weekly on the phone and sometimes daily..A little known fact is that I am the one who caused Stewart to acquire Dancehall Dixie even though he had a wonderful Rocky Mountain Mare at the time. Similarly he is the one who caused me to acquire Condi and sell Star Baby. Both are stories for another time. We had become close friends and I am a man who has never had a lot of close friends. I have a few I hold dear going back to high school and college and a couple since, but they have all pursued bigger and better and are scattered around the nation…..Michigan, Texas, Florida, North Carolina…We try to keep in touch thru e-mail and the occasional phone call. There were a few others who have left this realm all together.

As is the case with everyone, life has a way of throwing obstacles at us. Stewart has had several surgeries on his eyes. Marie had the spider bite from hell that would never heal and she was at one doctor or another every two weeks for a couple of years. That bite and her inability to quit smoking were both contributing factors to her loss a year and a half ago. I had to put down dear old Palladin Perkins who carried me so many miles over the years. Then about a year ago Stewart fell ill. That is his business and not mine, so I will leave it there. He was very ill. Several hospitalizations. Before he was really sick they had decided to return to this part of the world and bought a house and sold the house in Buchanan. During the move is when he was really sick and back in the hospital and all of the burden fell on Debbie. That woman is a Rock. I hold her in high regard.

During his hospitalizations and convalescence, the one thing that would bring a smile to his face is when we talked about the horses and riding . So we talked of it often…he planned for a long time about riding again. As he recovered his strength, the planning got more serious. When it looked like it might become a reality, I suggested that he plan on Dancehall Dixie rather than his beautiful and high spirited Samosa. He thought about it a while and even though he wanted to ride Samosa, he agreed that Dixie might be a wise first choice. Dixie is an older gal.
She is settled in her ways. She is gaited and rides as smooth as butter. She is broke to death and pretty near unflappable. I once fell off of her due to equipment failure and she stood there and looked at me as if to say stop acting stupid. Another animal might have stomped or drug me to death as my foot was still in the stirrup. So we began making plans for trying to ride Dixie. It got postponed several times…Then a few weeks ago He told me he was ready. I went over to help him in any way I could and to be on standby. Dixie was a perfect lady and stood quietly while we tacked her up and then while he climbed aboard.

A few adjustments and getting comfortable and then that smile broke out all over his face. He was back in the saddle. He was not in pain. They stepped off and Dixie was as if she had been ridden three days before rather than spending two years as an entertaining pasture ornament. He rode around for about ten minutes and then we decided that was enough for an evaluation. We needed to see if there were after effects. They all did great. No after effects.

A couple of days later he called me and proposed that we go for a ride on my birthday.  Stewart is not happy with the fact that he is two months older than I am and he was anxious for me to “catch up”.   I told him that if he was up to it I would be there. He floored me when he proposed that we go to Powhatan State Park and have a real ride. I was thinking we would do a half mile or a mile and then backtrack . So I took the day off and we went.  At first I asked him every five minutes how he was doing and he replied great. At a mile I stopped and asked if he was ready to head back…his answer was “Hell no”.  At two miles I stopped and told him that we were near half way and if we needed to head back, that was the time…he again said no. I told him that I was not interested in him acting tough to impress me and that I was more interested in making sure he got back safe and in good shape.  He said “Honestly, Jim, I am fine and I am comfortable and doing something I never thought I would be able to do again. I am having a ball.”

We rode the whole wooded loop at Powhatan. We stopped one time near the old chimney where there was a bench to use for a mounting block and rested for a few minutes and then we mounted up and finished the loop. He is now busy planning our next ride. Condi had her shoes replaced this morning and Dixie acquired a new set all the way around.

There must have been some divine intervention. Even my fireball Condi was well behaved and relaxed. She is normally a big motor gal who wants to get on down the trail. She hates not being in the lead. Anyone who has ridden with us can testify about that. That day we started out behind Dixie and Condi was perfectly happy. Maybe it was because we were not in a larger group. Maybe Dixies calm and laid back demeanor had something to do with it…I was even able to ride side by side with Stewart for a part of the ride without having to hold her back. Of course it helps that Dixie, while no spring chicken, has a pretty speedy little pitter pat gait and can cover some ground comfortably without being in a hurry. She is not as fast a walker as Condi but she was not far behind.

It was the first time I have ever ducked out of work because it was my birthday. I quit celebrating birthdays and ever since I was 39 I have referred to it as the anniversary of my 39th birthday. Once a bold and burly man, getting old and fat and losing a step here and there has been difficult. Losing Marie was difficult. Losing Perkins had me in tears again. The recent loss of sweet little Dee Dee brought it all back again. But after 71 trips around the sun, I might not have many trips left. If I expect to enjoy my life I need to get on with it, stop fretting about losing my grip and enjoy what is left while I still can. Condi and Dixie both got new shoes today….

The first day of the 72nd trip was as nice a day as I have had in a long time. It was the activity of the day that made it special….it just happened to coincide with the 32 anniversary of my 39th birthday. I am now looking forward to retiring around the start of the 73rd trip. I have an obligation I made to something thru calendar 2020, and so I will try to see that thru. But not sure I can deal with another fall BMP signup at work that is as difficult as this fall signup has been.

I still have a few cows and goats, and Pete and the donkeys expect a handout every day and good old Apache, so straying off around the country is still a ways off. But Stewart and I have agreed that we are going to ride as often and as well as we can, while we can for as long as we can. I have a new short term goal of riding every public venue that I can make in a day trip, from the Blue Ridge to the coast. I am betting that Stewart will be there to make sure I do it right. He called this morning with a suggestion for where we ride next Sunday. I will be there with bells on…