Wednesday, May 28, 2014


On Monday we joined friends with their girls for a ride in the park. Because KC can be an 'asshat' and demonstrated this from almost the start of the ride, I took over as ride leader. Also, not everyone knows their way around this park. They had been there since Friday, and I didn't want to retrace their paths and also wanted to stay mainly in the shade.

If KC is in front he is less likely to buck. I'm getting too old for his bucking fits, and it does disrupt the flow of the ride. I tried to stay in front, booting it where appropriate for everyone that wanted to add some speed to the trip.

He filmed some of the ride, and for his filming purposes he likes to add speed, too.

In my quest for picking up the pace, trying to stay in the shade, and not travel on trails previously ridden, I chose a route that would be lots of bench-cut woods trails, some open meadow trails with good footing, and a direct route to the Woodstock Inn. It was heating up and sunny.

Tonight he told me I was a great ride leader, a good trail boss. What? Really? 'Well, yea, we rarely get lost, you let the chips fall where they may, and we're always finding new ways to go the same place.' W0W I'm stunned.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Work Work Work

We took the opportunity to work for three days of this four-day holiday. Skip was 'off' and had a big gouge out of his side, and there are things to be done around here that will take 'manpower.'
By manpower I mean tractor/chainsaw/hedgetrimmer/loppers, etc., and as many hands as we have (four). We concentrated on the steep hillside behind the boy's pasture. Lots of decent trees, but so many are deformed by Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, and Multi-flora Rose, the Poison Ivy is rampant.
The days were beautiful; low humidity, clear skies. We really did get lots done. The hillside is steep, and the tractor needs the four-wheel drive engaged to make it. The most effective assault on the hill is to start from the bottom, and back up with the brush hog running. It takes no prisoners.
A snake was trying to head for safer ground, while trying to remain unnoticed. We waited until he got out of there.
While he was using the hedge trimmer, he knocked a Cardinal nest, dumping three squabs onto the the ground. He felt awful, picked each one up, back into the nest. The parents were upset, as were the hatchlings. We moved on from that general area.
At the far end of the hill we encountered a Catbird nest with three eggs. Another area to avoid. We'll get back to these areas, but not now.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Another Twilight Ride!

Having the day off, we worked around the house, and by around I mean the forgotten hill behind the pasture. It is fairly steep, and has not been mowed in a few years. Maybe seven years.

There are some good trees that have volunteered on this hillside. Also present is Honey Suckle, Poison Ivy, Blackberries, Multi-flora Rose, and other vines and stickers. These are doing well, too.

The trees are a wide variety: Apple, Pear, Oak, Maple, Poplar, Beech, Sassafras, Cherry, Tree of Heaven, Cedar, Sycamore, and more. We selectively culled some of the trees, my favorite to go under the saw were the Cherry and Tree of Heaven. Cherry has a toxicity that can be fatal to horses, and Tree of Heaven (also known as Ghetto Palm) is a take-over artist. World domination and all that stuff.

We got the rocks on the flatbed thrown into the creek, then put the brush hog on the tractor for the hillside action. It was grueling work, using chainsaw, weed-whacker, hedge trimmer and loppers. We got lots done.

Then we got the bright idea to go out again on the trail with the chain saw and conquer that downed sycamore. This time we got back at deep dusk.

Unfortunately on the way back we encountered a dead limb, hanging in a tree, wish-bone shaped. I hunkered down, and pulled everything in to avoid it, he was not so lucky. He tried to break the one side, but the other side grabbed his pants, ripping a twelve-inch tear, scraping his knee, and then imbedding into Skip's side. OUCH!
The jeans are ruined, unless you want shorts, and Skip needs some balm on his wound. Darn.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Twilight Ride

After our evening ride on Monday, we knew there was a serious blockage from downed trees along the trail, came back to address this, but started out later than we should have, got tied up draining water from the trail, and ran out of daylight. Plus, we need bigger, better equipment. We didn't know that it got worse because we didn't make it that far.

KC is such a great boy! In pretty much full-dark, he got us back to the road. No funny business, no snatching grass or leaves, just getting down to the business of getting back. We put them in the trailer with their tack on, and neither really liked this. They managed to survive the mile trailer ride back to the house.

Didn't eat dinner until after 10:00!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday - Annapolis Rock Ride

The theory is that we can hurry home and ride out before it gets dark. Last year we did not do this one single time. The year before a couple, few times.

Monday we rode! This late in the day the park was very quiet, we sighted a dog, that didn't want to see us, heard music from one of the barns on the perimeter. It was magical!

We've gotten some serious rain totals in the last couple weeks: 3.5 last week, 5 the week before. Lots of downed trees and evidence of the river going over the banks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rockburn/Avalon Park

Sunday we started out late to ride, after stopping at the grocery for ready-made sandwiches, didn't get tacked up until noon. It was a gloriously beautiful day at Rockburn Branch Park. There was an archery club in front of the plantation house, and parents and grandparents with kids. Lots of kids. I seriously and sincerely make it a mission to stop for anyone, kids, babies in strollers, new parents, whoever, that want to see the horses.

When I was young, the horsey-set were snooty. Elitist snobs, none would stop and let me see a horse up close. I can't tell you just how many people have told me this is the FIRST TIME they have seen a horse in person (not on TV) or been this close to one. I encourage them to touch KC. He's pretty clean and he likes to stop. Plus, I get to hear all kinds of 'rules' about horses (if you pull their tail they'll kick you; don't walk behind them, stand right in front where they can see you, horses don't bite, etc.).

Ancient history: our church had an annual 'picnic' that included 'pony rides.' It was a fantasy to lead a pony for the rides. The woman that sponsored the rides wouldn't let me do this, said I was too small. Have you ever seen a jockey? After being turned down year after year, I rode my bike to the event and asked again if I could work leading a pony. She said I was too small. I biked home to get my 'pony' and rode back to the picnic. Can't turn me down now, can you?

I worked all day long, Smokey Day taking any and all riders for the two laps that could be bought for a quarter. I still haven't gotten much taller since then, but I was big enough.

I don't want to be like those riders and horsey-people that I encountered when I was a kid. I want to be approachable, introduce people to a real life horse, and maybe plant the seed to look into lessons, or the possibilities that horses can make.

It was a beautiful day and there were bikers all over the place, whizzing by on the trails in Avalon that loop all over this river valley area. We had lunch on the trail, and I didn't want the day to end.
This is the trail head to the Cascade Falls trail - the same trail where the older woman told us we were not allowed to ride. I see a horse on the sign, so that means we can ride it. Just because you've never seen a horse on the trail doesn't mean we are excluded.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bon Fire Time!

The burn pile continues to grow, bigger and bigger. We have debris accumulated from Hurricanes Irene, Lee, and Sandy, the trees taken from the old fence line, the dying Maple from the front yard, and the ice storm earlier in the year.

Seems like it is never a good time to burn - too windy, too late, too early, too tired, too busy, etc. Saturday I decided it had to be done. We use a four-foot concrete culvert, with a cut in the front. It was fold in the 'little' woods in the boy's pasture. Re-purposed for fire duty, it is a perfect application.

We burned until nearly midnight, and got a lot done, but so much more has to go.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


NOTE: I purposely leave politics out of this blog. There are other, better outlets for that, want to keep my farm site 'pristine.'

Saturday we agreed to meet the fence installer at our place, early. He called because he was lost, but then drove right past us as we stood in the front yard. Watched as he turned around at the intersection and came back. While he was going up the drive I noticed his bumper sticker.

After quick introductions, he criticized our new car, said it was a poor choice. Gave a parable about his son working in a solar installation in Nevada, and that electricity was not cost effective. He was a Ford man, through and through. NOTE: We have a Ford F-350 SuperDuty Turbo Diesel crew cab, long bed. Parked in plain sight. Something, anything that big is hard to hide.

And as plain as the nose on my face, he did notice the barn. Said it looked 'new.' Guessed at the price.

He also mentioned that the economy seemed to be recovering, but he didn't know why, after all.... Really?

He wanted 50% cash deposit. While presenting us with the written contract my husband noticed, as he ALWAYS does, the fine print amount was $2 per post more than stated earlier in the week. The salesman said that he had fifteen other contracts with that identical price, so he could prove it. No Deal. When the salesman offered to adjust the pricing, he still couldn't be persuaded. What other item will change price? No. Can. Do.

I meekly said, 'nice meeting you,' and followed my husband into the house.

Note to Salesmen: Don't insult your customer.

Back to square one on the fence project.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rock Pile

We've decided to place a new run-in shed behind the landscaping bins, making it easier to install water and electric to the new pasture(s). My bright idea was to get a shed-row style barn with an overhang that could then serve as a run-in shed. Easier said than done, right?

The previous owners dumped (a lot) rocks behind the bins.
Along with skids of blocks, all kinds of blocks; bricks, cinder blocks, landscaping stones, granite chunks, wet (now hard) concrete, etc. I've spent time digging these piles out from behind the bins. Overrun with blackberries, honeysuckle and vines, some rocks were too big for me to move.
Some of the skids had rotted and collapsed, leaving bricks and cinder blocks strewn across the area. Our next step will be to dump the 'good' rocks in the swampy alley through the PEPCO right-of-way. We don't want to drain the swamp, just want to be able to move through it without getting stuck.

He spent considerable time trimming trees and dead limbs out of the area, too, creating a new pile that needs to be moved to the burn pile.

To top all of that off, we've moved from April to July in a couple of days. Now it is HOT with highs in the 80s.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday - Ride time!

The river sure was high, but we crossed it several times, and got wet several times.

I've said in the past that sometimes I don't like to ride with us. Between us, we can be lacking in good sense. We egg each other on, sometimes against my better judgment. We do it anyway. Because.

The river was high and fast, up to my knee, while sitting on my little pony. My waterproof boots did a great job of holding the water in. My toes were floating. I kept his nose sort of pointing towards the exit, and along with some buffeting we managed to get out of the water.

Some trees were down, but not as many as would be expected after all this rain and flooding. We cleared some, but others were too big to do anything about without power tools.

Liberty Dam and reservoir let out lots of water, huge volume, but the water had receded and was clear, although still high enough.
The 'white' is the flume of water, cascading down the face of the dam. The roar was incredible.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fence Line Rehab

Weather was delightful, we worked on the old fence line, bringing six (6) flat-bed trailer loads of tree debris and trunk pieces up to the burn pile, which now is enormous. I don't know when we'll find time to burn all of that.

I found two ticks crawling on me, and gouged my arm. Also found the rusted wire fence.

As the daylight waned, he took a good sniper's shot at the resident groundhog. Don't know if he got him, but either way he's a marked rodent.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Historical archive circa 1963 of the farm, before the PEPCO right-of-way was deeded, the out buildings and other houses were demolished, and the trees planted.

Same old place, only different.