Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Riding Shady

Shady's previous owners came over on Saturday and we saddled up Shady for a ride. It's the first time I've ridden her since we moved her here two weeks ago. I'm glad they were here and they rode her first because she started out being very stubborn about being ridden out in the back pasture. She would go just so far and then act up and try to turn around to come back to the barn. T. and M. had to really lay the law down and work to get her to go beyond the lumber pile. The problem was she didn't want to leave Crystal! - Crystal who steals her food, chases her around the paddock and generally hasn't made her feel particularly welcome!

Mmm, I'm watching T. handle this little temper tantrum, complete with a few bucks and a couple of half hearted little rears and being a novice rider I wasn't feeling at all confident about getting up there myself!! But, thanks to lots of encouragement from our new friends I did it!

Shady still wanted to go back to the barn but we made her work a while way at the top end of the pasture and I was feeling much braver by the time we finished. Anyway, here are some pictures after we came back to the area around the barn. She was acting very nicely here because she could see Crystal in the corral!

My plan is to ride her here in the paddock with the back gate open and work on going out of the gate and getting her to go farther and farther away. I remember reading an interview with the horse trainer John Lyons. He said something to the effect of whatever problem your having with your horse, turn it into a project.

So, I guess I got me a project!
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Building a Jackleg Fence

I'm going to have a cow!

Yes, a real cow. Actually, he's a Texas Longhorn steer and he's soon going to be in training as an ox.

Our 'next door' neighbor, about 3/4 of a mile away up on the ridge, called about a month ago to see if we were still interested in this 7 month old calf. We'd helped them search for him back in April when as a newborn he'd spooked and taken off into the woods. We hiked all over the mountain looking for this tiny white calf but to no avail. Later that afternoon the owner's stopped by to let us know that they'd found him. He'd gone in the opposite direction completely but he was back home safe and sound. We chatted for a while and I told them I might be interested in buying the calf once he was weaned to train as an ox. Well, now he's weaned and we are busy fencing a paddock for him.

To save money ( and to avoid having to dig yet MORE post holes!) we decided to use our own natural resources and build what's known as a "Jackleg" or "Buck and Rail" fence. They're more common out west but would work well here because of the steep rocky terrain.

What an undertaking! There are plenty of leaning trees that need to be cut but getting to them involves climbing up almost vertical mountainsides on all fours hanging on to roots and branches. Then of course we have to cut the tree into the right lengths needed and drag it all back down the mountain! It's a lot of backbraking work but fun. I love being up in the woods! There are some nice trails up there. I think some of them are old logging roads from many years ago. Wide enough for a team of horses. We took the metal detector on one and found some old chain and a horse shoe so I'm pretty sure they must have hauled logs out of there at one time. None of them lead to our fence building site so we can't use them to get our fence posts and rails out.

Anyway, here are some pictures to show our progress.

Moonshine, our future ox!
He's tame but not halter broke yet. That will be the first hurdle. He's going to grow HUGE and have extremely long horns so it's imperative that we establish who's the boss right away!Posted by Picasa

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In order to form a tight fit, the logs that make the X must each be notched out at a 60 degree angle. They're then nailed with a six inch spike. The logs are 5 ft. long and the diagonal notch starts at about 12 inches from the top.
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Chiseling out the kerf cuts. Posted by Picasa

Ken making the diagonal cut-out. Posted by Picasa

This is the fence so far.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

And here she is...


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Crystal is NOT impressed. If looks could kill! Posted by Picasa

Awe, come on Crystal, I'm not that bad! Posted by Picasa

Well, I think they're standing a little closer to each other now. However, there's Crystal with her kicking leg primed and ready! I don't know if she's Welsh/Arab or plain ole mule! Shady was more interested in watching Ken who was chopping wood in the barn. Posted by Picasa


We don't seem to have stopped this past couple of weeks. There's so much to get finished before the snow and ice arrive. Ken got the roof on the horses run in shed and we started hanging the board siding. The back and one side is done. It's going to be board and batten but we just have the boards up at the moment.

Then, our friends called to arrange a date for us to go pick up Shady the horse. We decided on November 5th which at the time seemed plenty long enough to get the electric fence up and a new wider gate built for the small corral. Well, as usually happens what we thought would be a quick job turned into a race against time. We were still finishing the fence when we should have been on the road with the trailer! Those metal T - posts just didn't want to go into that rocky ground! We pryed up some huge boulders you would never know were under there. We managed to erect just enough of a padock sized area to give the horses room to get out of each other's way while they established who was going to be the boss. This next week we'll be taking the fence out further behind the barn.

Since the barn is now within the fence and we need to go in there a lot we decided to incorporate an English style Kissing Gate. This lets us go in and out without having to keep latching and unlatching a regular gate and yet the horses can't get out. It's functional but not quite finished yet. I'll take a picture of it when it's done. It's worked great. It's even easy to go through while carrying buckets of water from the creek.

The weather turned bitterly cold for a few days making the work not so pleasant. Ken made a big fire in the burn barrel so that we could stop to warm our hands now and then.

It was my birthday last week. Let's just say, I've reached 'that' age..where I really don't care what I look like! Especially when I'm cold. Posted by Picasa

New Horse Corral

The new horse corral. The smoke is coming from the burn barrel. Once the sun had gone behind the mountain it was freezing out there! Posted by Picasa

The new larger gate to Crystal's corral. Posted by Picasa

The Kissing Gate

Hanging the kissing gate. Posted by Picasa

Ken working on the run in shed Posted by Picasa