Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Ranchers Daughter

Years ago, we started buying hay from a rancher/hay farmer down the mountain from us.  Good hay at a good price.  After a couple years of this business relationship, we lost our minds and decided in addition to running the lodge, we would run a horseback riding livery and take rides into Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our hay supplier had a herd of well trained ranch horses that we could lease for the summer to round out our herd.

The rancher told us his daughter was in charge of "the horse operation", so we would be dealing with her.  Sadly, most of the people I had met in the "horse industry" up to this point were, umm, not what I would call horse friendly.  In fact a large number of them were what I would call jerks.  This gal was a truly pleasant surprise.  Quick to smile and laugh.  An excellent understanding of horse behavior.  Comfortable around livestock.  A good horse trainer.  And she knows her limitations (there are very few) and will work around them.

For better than 10 years now we have been boarding our horses with her on various leased grazes each winter.  It's good for us so we don't have to haul hay in the winter, and GREAT for the mustangs attitude.  They get to be "wild horses on open range" for 4 or 5 months each year, and come home ready to work.

She has a very good rapport with her horses and they will come to her when she calls, which is no great surprise as they like her and have known her for years.  The shocker was how well Ranger liked her early on.  He didn't like strangers.  Hell, he didn't much like anybody, including me.  He'd just kind of tolorate me.  Kind of like now.  But he liked the rancher's daughter.

One time they needed to move all of the horses to another pasture, but her dad sent a couple hired hands.  They managed to catch the herd EXCEPT for Ranger.  He was going to have no-part-of-it-thank-you-very-much.  This gal didn't have a halter with her, so she walked up to Ranger, took him by his split mane and led him into the trailer with a "come on, boy".  No fuss, no muss.

She is also a very good, if unconventional horsewoman.  One day Juanita and I both looked on in mild shock as she jumped on one of her horses to round up some stock in her flip-flops.

Quite possibly the only problem we have ever had with this woman is getting directions from her.  As the family has many, many acres of graze leases in many many different locations, and we are never sure where we may be taking our horses for winter graze, this can be... interesting.

B- Juanita, can you call and find out where our daughter's horse Estes, is?

J- Let me get a pencil and paper ready.  Okay, I'm going to start from the middle of the page...

Hi Juanita!  Estes is on my dad's new property out by the interstate so take the highway up to countyline road and turn left and go up the big hill and down a little bit of a hill and start up another and when you get to the top the road T's but I'm not sure it's marked and go for less than two miles and the road turns and then turns back and if you come in from the other way you do not make the first turn but go straight into the driveway between the house and the barn and if your bringing the two horse trailer it would be easiest to take the driveway through the dummy locked chain and you can turn around a lot of places or you can take the rope down and follow the path to the field that has a large stack of blue irrigation pipes in the corner of the field of dads' property opposite  the lake by the road if you came in the from the other way.  The horses will be in the pasture behind the hot wire and may be off to the left with the cows or off to the right on the other side of the lake.  Now if you come in from the east you will need to take the turn into the drive way after the first turn but turn left into the driveway before the second turn......

Drove straight to it.
Parked.
Found the mare and loaded her up.
No problems, years of practice.

A bit of bad news from her was that she was going to sell off her herd as the family was no longer going to focus on horses.

I sure hope they change their minds.  I'd really miss the ranchers' daughter.





And really, how could you downsize this animal?


Bill




Friday, March 29, 2013

Yesterday We Were Gunna Ride

Yesterday the temps were in the mid 40's.  Time to RIDE!  So Juanita and I went across the street to grab Ranger and Jesse.  Washoe hollers when he's left behind, but usually doesn't jump the fence.

We walked up to the corral.

It was a lot worse than it looks in this picture.  The horses were slimy.

Jesse was the Mud Princess.


Ranger wasn't shining with conditioner or anything like that.



Washoe was the only one that could be touched without "leaving something behind".


The outside hoses are still turned off for the winter.

We didn't want to ride double.

We just put the brushes away and went for a walk.

Bill

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wondering What It Is

I've been pretty silent for the last several days - nearing two weeks - trying to figure out what has been going on with the horses.  About a week and a half ago, I had gone out to feed the nighttime meal (usually around 6:00 pm).  The horses had hollered at me as usual, but would NOT come when called.  They had stashed themselves in a small corner of the corral where the water tank stands, currently frozen as they use the stream.  As long as there is running water in the stream, we don't bother with the tank.  I walked over to check the tank; sure enough, frozen solid with no sign of them being interested in it.  You know, no nose smudges in the snow on top of the ice, or hoof prints trying to break it open.  So what the heck?  Why stand here?

They followed me back to the hay feeder and basically had a normal meal.  A couple days later, same activity, only at the morning feed.  This was just before my birthday, so when Compass called to say she had seen a lynx sitting on the front porch of her cabin, I explained to my crew that - to my knowledge - a lynx was probably not going to be a problem for them.  They appropriately hung their heads and apologized for being 1000 lb wimps.

OK.  Fine - for a couple of days.

Here we go again.  We get a lot of snow and MUCH more aggravated behavior from the horses and I noticed them hanging out at the lower end of the corral, keeping careful watch.  I walk down to check and see that Compass and crew seem to be turning a storage shed into something else.  They had cleaned it out (we had seen multiple PU loads of stuff being hauled out), added a lean-to to the long side, and cut a huge hole in the upper half of the wall.  Now this shed happens to be just between her cabin and our corral.  Hmmm?

How many of you have had the chance to see a very angry Mustang mare?  I've had Jesse 11 1/2 years now and she has almost always gone directly to 'fight' status, leaving out the flight thing, and not a lot invokes fear in her.  If something enters her 'living space' that she doesn't think belongs, she has no problem with 'taking it out', quite literally.

Imagine how I felt when I went to feed last night, found the two geldings holding up in the water corner again, and Jesse in full fight mode.  When I stepped into the corral, she raced up to me, did a sliding stop, then raced between the fence by the shed and the fence by the feeder.  That's when I finally put two and two together.  The lightbulb had finally gone off for me.
If you biggify this picture, as my daughter says, you will notice a path going across the back yard of a neighbor's cabin, coming from a shed way in the background.  All the horses watched this constantly while eating - should have been a clue - and they would only eat if I was standing there at the feeder.  I was beginning to worry.  The horses had been spooked the worst two nights of the storm, not even eating the extra hay I had laid out for them.
See it more clearly?  That leads directly to our hay feeder.  I had mostly ignored it because Compass' dog tends to make that path first thing in the morning.  However, yesterday I had noticed that the first part of the path the dog takes from Compass' place to ours was missing.  I couldn't check for tracks because the wind was keeping it blown over just enough to see it was being used often, but not by what.

Then it hit me.  She had gotten some chickens (maybe a month or so ago) and was keeping them in a portion of her tack area just inside the barn.  Bill and I had discussed what she could possibly do with them when she needed that area this summer for tacking up the horses.  I think the shed is becoming a hen house, and what a great location.  Right between the cabin whose porch the lynx likes, and a likely 'living quarters' in one of the deserted sheds - with our corral directly in the middle.  And why, pray tell, would a lynx not think a hen house could come in handy?  Especially if maybe she was pregnant and having trouble hunting in the cold?  Or if he was getting older and stiffer?  Just last winter a bobcat had hung around those empty sheds for a couple weeks, so they must be inviting to cats.
This was the scene at this morning's feeding.  Bill had gone out to check the horses earlier and actually found them in their own shed; happy campers and they came directly to their bowls when they saw me.
I can only hope that whatever had upset them has now passed.  Only time will tell, but I can tell you that Jesse is pretty sure she has rectified the situation with all her stomping, snorting and charging around!

I feel badly that it took me so long to make the connections, although, not sure what I could have done about the situation anyway.  So glad they take care of themselves so well.
Bionic Cowgirl



Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today it is very cold.

Today it is very cold .  The ground has gotted white.


Wait.  What is this.

He is plaid again.  I do NOT like that.





Now I must bite you.


Ouch!  Cranky mare.

But...but... he turned PLAID.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

HBDJ

Today is Juanita's birthday.

Happy birthday to my favorite partner, in business, in life and in love.

Bill

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15th

We went for a short, early spring ride on the mountain today.  The wind was blowing some, so the two greys were maybe a little jumpy, but not too bad.

I was on Washoe.

Juanita was on Jesse.

Washoe spotted something.


It wasn't there last time...

It's a BAD THING.


Control of the horse was rapidly disappearing.
I climbed off to lead the way (No saddle+no stirrups=EXTRA CAUTION FOR ME.)

Oh!  Wait!  It's just snow!

My hero.

Jesse, well she was just a little curious.


It didn't appear to "seize her".

Beware the rides of March.

(Don't hate me.  I can't help it.)

Bill

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Colorado Weather

So .... you do know what they say about weather changes in the Colorado mountains?  A couple days of in the 50's, than wham - 10" of new snow in one day.  It's beautiful, not that you could tell that from Ranger's expression.
He and Jesse had snow on their backs and were quite comfy.  Washoe, on the other hand, has lost all his 'down fur' under hair and was cold and shivery, so I opted to put his windbreaker on.
It took me a while to up-size it from the last wearer:  GunDiva's horse Estes.  Washoe was a much happier camper when he quit shivering, but Ranger is probably still snorting.  He and Beel have the same opinion of the plaid sheet.  I like it 'cause I can see my horse in the snow.
Bionic Cowgirl

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's the second beautiful day in a row!

B- Hey Ranger!  It's the second beautiful day in a row!  Let's go for a ride!

R- Hot Beel.

B- It's not hot.  It's only in the mid 50's.

R-  Hot.

B-  Okay, how about we go with no saddles today.

R-  Okay Beel.

B-  Let's get you and Jesse brushed out and we'll go for... Great Scott horse!  Is your whole hide peeling off?

R-  Hot Beel.

B-  I brushed you just yesterday.  Where is all of this HAIR coming from?  I bet we could weave a rug from this stuff.

R-  Itches Beel.

B-  I'll bet.  Okay, let's go.

B-  Nice blue sky today.






R-  Different Beel.




R- I did not break this.
B-  No Ranger, I think a snow plow took it down last week.









R-  That Mare was glad to get out today Beel.


B-  I can tell.  Juanita was pretty happy to get out today, too.


R-  I think we loosed the trail Beel.





R-  We can go here.







R-  Why did Waneeta make a sound like a bugling elk Beel?





B-  Jesse took her a little to close to that tree.  I don't think the hole in her jeans was quite that big a minute ago...



B-  But she got over it pretty quick.




B-  That was a really nice ride Ranger.  Thanks!



R-  Hot.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Quick Winter Ride

Neither the horses nor us could tolerate being inside our respective 'pens' today, so just as we were headed out with halters in hand, the neighbor calls.  Wanna' ride?
Happy days!  53* and sunny, little wind - and lots of smiles!
Just look at all the snow on those mountains; that's left over from the storm a week ago.
The trails in the trees were still covered, which made it a lot of fun.  In a few places we had to bushwhack around some deeper drifts.
Washoe got to lead out and follow some hiker's prints.  What a way to spend a winter afternoon in the Rockies.
Bionic Cowgirl

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Drawing Winners!

Well, we had the drawing for the t-shirts.

Ranger wouldn't help.

video



Jesse was enthusiastic.  She ate more than she gave me.  (This too, shall pass.)

video



The uneaten winners are-

       1)  Calm, Forward, Straight.

       2)  Jane France

       3)  Daddy Hawk.

If y'all will give us a call or email, we will set you up with a t-shirt! (www.allensparklodge.com)


Bill

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cross Country - to Visit a Blogger!

Most of you following these blogs probably know that Momma Fargo has just completed a move to Indiana; much farther from us than her previous location in Wyoming.  Somehow our intention to visit her there never quite happened and we decided that it was time to do something about those 'somedays'.  You know, always assuming that 'someday' you can do whatever is close to you, never really realizing that life happens.  'Someday' we were going to load up the horses and haul to her ranch for a ride day.  Hmmmm.  Not quite.  So a week ago, we were talking to her on the phone and spontaneously I said, "Hey, we have a few open days next week.  How about we come see your 'Harry Potter' house; it sounds so neat?"  We figured it would be a long day's drive - 14 or 15 hours, picturing her place 'somewhere over by MO where we went last fall'.  Right.

Look at a map; google directions; reality sets in.  How can it be an 18 hour drive?  Well, my geography had gotten more than a little rusty and it took looking at an actual map to see that we would be crossing two states more:  Illinois and Indiana.  Think about this.  OK, I have never been across the Mississippi River that far north by car and it sounded like a fun boondoggle.  (BTW, that far north and west it's the Missouri River, which flows into the Miss. just after you cross it in St. Louis.)  So we checked with MF's schedule and firmed up plans.

We decided to leave late afternoon, drive through the night and get to our destination around noon the following day.  It's a mild misconception saying Mother Nature played a part in our plans; we delayed leaving by one day, hoping to follow the storm that had just hit us in CO.
It was beautiful driving down our canyon, seeing the much needed snow, yet dry roads and blue, blue sky!  We watched the moon rise as a huge red disc as we crossed the plains of Colorado.

Kansas was pretty uneventful and we were enjoying a good audio book, when we start seeing winter weather warning signs along the highway, and we drive into snow.  It's going on 2:00 a.m. when we round a curve and come to a halt behind a VERY long line of semi-trucks stopped in the right lane.  A highway patrolman in the left lane signals us to pull to the left and pass them.  OK?  We pass a good 20 trucks, then get stopped behind two other cars when we get to the front of the line, to see one of those big trucks jack-knifed across both lanes and the front end of the truck over the barrow pit, with its wheel fenders jammed into the embankment.  Time to enjoy the book while we wait for the tow truck to appear and then figure out HOW to get this guy off the road.  I have to say, it was interesting to watch them maneuver that huge truck.  When we finally got back under way it was to discover that we really had caught up with the storm, seeing many more of these trucks along the side, barely able to see through the heavy snowflakes.  Between Kansas City and St. Louis we managed to go an average of 20 mph for over 100 miles, getting on the wrong highway once because the snow was so heavy on the roadway that you couldn't tell where the lanes were and the signs were so coated with snow that they were unreadable.  We had discussed getting a motel and spending some down time, but were afraid we would get stuck if we got off the highway; at least those roads were getting plowed - sort of.

About 7:30 a.m., as we are trying to cross St. Louis, MO, we called Momma Fargo (maybe she called us that time?) to let her know we would were not going to get in by noon; maybe by 4:00 p.m. or so.  We weren't even half way yet!  We saw a McDonalds that looked plowed and stopped for breakfast and slept about an hour in the car; we had to let the snowplows make some headway!

We DID pull into her place at 7:30 p.m. her time (2 hr time difference); and she had very graciously kept a wonderful dinner warm for us.  We chatted for a while, introduced MF to 'The Walking Dead', then hit the sack for some much needed rest.

The next day we got to see where she is setting up her new gift & gardening shop - in an old grainery.  What a neat place.  Don't get dizzy, Bill took this shot from the third floor looking down the stairway, vary narrow and steep, spiraling around one of the grain delivery shoots.

 A lot of the machinery has been left intact inside the lower levels.
Even the pulleys have been cleaned up and painted, to give the place character.  She had planned on opening the shop March 1st, but some shipments were delayed so now her planned date is March 9th.  
We felt bad about her delayed opening, but it gave her some play time with us, so we visited some fun museums in some neighboring towns and got the lay of the land, so to speak.

Indiana is a leading producer of stained glass, so we found lots of works that included that glass, like this one outside one of the museums.
We got home in time to meet the Bug after school and enjoyed a marathon of Duck Dynasty.  Unfortunately, by the time the season premiere came on at 10:00 p.m., Bill and I were watching through 'veiled' eyelids.

One of the interests we have in common with MF is old, covered bridges, and she now lives in a state with several.  We spent one day visiting a couple of them and some more museums - and mansions!
The Cumberland Bridge (1877) is in its original location, but has been restored so it is still in use today.  Look how swollen the river.  We have no water at home and they have more than they can deal with.
This is the view of the back side of the bridge and you can see how far out side the banks the water is. Most of the fields we passed were water-logged like this; looked like many swamps instead of planted fields.

The Seiberling Mansion, one of the larger ones in Kokomo, has been turned into a museum and restored inside, but also used for weddings and other types of receptions.  We were treated to a tour of this one, which also still includes many of the original stained glass pieces.


This Vermont Bridge (1875) was in a park near the mansions and is no longer used.
Later we enjoyed the regional math competition and watched the Bug help her school to the second place standing. She has certainly blossomed into a very nice young lady; better get the shotgun ready, Momma Fargo.  You WILL need it!

Thanks so much for a great visit - and the trip home was uneventful - and much shorter!
Juanita