Monday, December 13, 2010

Life at “Redbud”…

- Living on the “hill”, we wouldn’t have it any other way -

Redbud Mini Ranch is named after the easement on the property that is also our driveway …Redbud lane, the easement is named after the Western Redbud tree which grows prolifically up here in the foothills. One of my favorite trees, it has small bright pinkish-purple flowers on it in the early spring and is always a sure sign of warmer weather approaching. 

The weather is one of the best things about living here in foothills, we never have any fog or 100 degree temps and the snow we get only “snows us in” every 10+ yrs or so.  One thing I’ve had to adjust to is the climate here makes for a shorter growing season for the garden, unless you have a greenhouse for starting seeds….which we haven’t accomplished yet.  And being on the western slope of the Sierra’s in the north valley means allot of annual rain fall for us. So the worst things about living here are the muddy winters and “fire season” in the summer/fall. LOL But there is so much to do around here….if you like the outdoors.
 Sunrise at Redbud ~ 12/13/10

A beautiful mountainous area, we are surrounded by multiple lakes supplied by the Yuba and Feather rivers…Bullards Bar Reservoir and Lake Oroville are the largest with Bullards being the closest, about 30 minutes away. The reservoir rated one of the top waterskiing locations, is formed by New Bullards Bar Dam on the North Fork of the Yuba River, a tributary of the Sacramento River. It also receives a portion of the Middle Fork's flow that is diverted to the reservoir via tunnels. The reservoir provides water to power two hydroelectric plants, New Colgate Powerhouse and Fish Release Powerhouse. New Colgate Powerhouse is not located at the base of the dam, like most hydroelectric plants. Instead, a 14-foot diameter New Colgate Tunnel carries the water about 5 miles southwest of the dam to the powerhouse. This increases the head, which allows the plant to produce more electricity than most and the dam's Pelton wheels are the largest ever built. For more info on recreational activities in the area check out this web site -
Lake Oroville to the northwest is California’s 2nd largest reservoir; the lake has a 9,000 ft diameter landing area for seaplanes. It also has the tallest earth-filled dam (770 feet above the stream bed of the Feather River) in the country; the dam was the largest earth-fill dam in the world until succeeded by Aswan High Dam in Egypt. The lake offers a wide variety of outdoor activities including camping, picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, sail and power boating, water-skiing, fishing, swimming, boat-in camping, floating campsites and some very cool sites for horse camping. Lake Oroville Visitor Center’s view from the 47-foot tower, with two high-powered telescopes, is a spectacular panoramic view of the lake, Sierra Nevada’s, valley, foothills, and the Sutter Buttes mountain range (smallest in the world).  For m ore info on stuff you can do around and on Lake Oroville check out these web sites:   or

Being an hour from “town” – (i.e.: Wal-Mart, fast food and cheaper groceries) is not always fun…no pizza delivery and most places on the “hill” close early by 9pm, even earlier in the winter. But for such a small community, Brownsville has allot of retail businesses – grocery store w/ deli, health clinic, hardware store, video rental, bakery, several specialty gift shops,  youth center, self storage, cafĂ©, thrift shop, feed store, a sand & gravel supply and a small motel. We even have a nice community park with a playground, BBQ area, and baseball field and tennis courts. The only thing we don’t have in Brownsville that is so common in small mountain towns is a saloon or bar…funny, the closest one closed down a few years ago. So a person could survive up here without ever having to leave the “hill” if you don’t need any entertainment or fast food.

We love it here and I would never leave the area unless it was impossible to stay. Right now we are on a couple acres and of course it doesn’t seem like enough, maybe someday we will find 5+ acres we love. Meanwhile my garden is doing well here and the gold fish pond is thriving in its new location. That’s a whole other story, how we moved the fish from my last place and kept them in a temp pool for 2 months during the new pond construction. That’s them behind the purple shade cloth, before the release.

Work continues on the horse accommodations as we add a few more shelters and new paddocks in preparation for next years breeding and foaling season. Now we have 2 gorgeous boys(Jai & Zydeco) that will need separate turnouts with their girls and possibly several mares that could be pregnant, so I am really looking forward to foaling season this summer.
"the boys" - Jai Ho and Zydeco

More about that later……

Sunday, August 29, 2010

the cow kicked it over.....

Fire! Fire! FIRE! Love living in the mountains....  hate forest fires.....never sleep very good when we have one burning close by, like we do right now. Friends closer to the fire are on notice to be prepared to evacuate and the boreal planes and helicopters have been flying overhead for the last 2 days. The power was out here all morning yesterday and is still out near the fire so we haven't had cell service since the batteries went dead in the repeater tower we use.
We have been thru this before, evacuated twice in the last 10 years, so we know the routine....      ....but now I have a small herd of miniature horses to worry about. Thank goodness we found a horse trailer finally and got to bring it home a few weeks ago, thanks Joan for being so helpful! My "crappy" horse trailer gleams like gold with the backdrop of a huge black smoke plume we can see thru the trees. And thanks to all the friends that have offered a place to take my horses if we need to evacuate. That is a huge relief to know they will have a safe place for me to take them!
The scanner traffic is not saying much this morning, that is must be quiet on the fire lines. We did hear of one new spot fire, but it is burning south of the original fire because of the canyon winds from last night.
The fire as seen from the south, in North San Juan on Sat.
The sky is clearer today, but it smells like rain outside right now, yesterday it rained but not enough to help the firefighters and the winds were gusty and unpredictable. No winds here today but everyday as it warms up in the valley the winds start pushing up the river canyons, so the fire will travel up the canyon towards our general direction in the mornings.
We are northwest of where the fire is burning and at the edge of what we call "town", unfortunately the property across the street from us is not developed or cleared in anyway, so some thick brush and trees to fuel the fire if it comes this way. We have made allot of progress on clearing our property in the last 3 years and thanks to the horses it stays that way. We do whatever we can and we don't wait til the last minute to get out if we have to evacuate....  ....the halters and lead ropes are gathered, dog crates are ready, the valuables are all in their "to go" bag and everything gets watered really good for the next few days. Then we wait, listen to the scanner for evacuation orders and hope they get containment on it quickly. I still love living in the mountains....

Friday, August 27, 2010

How it all started.....

This is the first of who knows how many or how often blog entries with very random subjects. That being said, I feel the need to somewhat explain how I go to this point in the sickness...

When I was maybe as young as 5 years old, I decided that the horse was going to be my favorite animal because you could actually ride it… and camels were ugly! Not sure where the thought came from… I was a city girl with no one close that had horses. But I decided I had to have one, a pony wouldn’t do, it had to be a horse! I collected every Breyer model I could get my hands on and yes, I played with them all, had the stable and tack too. Saved my allowance for months and finally bought of all things “The Lone Ranger” because he came with a fully jointed “Silver” with all his tack….  the horse went everywhere with me, not sure what happened to the “Lone Ranger” doll. He probably shacked up with my sisters Barbie.
When I was in grade school I endlessly begged my parents for horseback riding lessons, which my maternal grandmother finally arranged and paid for when I was in the 4th grade. Every year I had saved my allowance for summer vacation where there was a rental stable that offered hour trail rides up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I learned I loved being in the mountains as well and it seemed natural when I ended up living in the foothills as an adult.

I have had “biggie” horses in my life and always enjoyed them allot and we had a beautiful sorrel Shetland mare when I was in high school. A rescue, the SPCA found wandering the streets; we acquired her thru a silent bid auction for $75.00. She was supposed to be for my little sister, but I rode her all over the place with my feet almost dragging on the ground. Built like a tank from the old school breeding style, nothing like the beautiful Shetlands in the show rings today. 
When I was younger I rode every unruly horse in the neighborhood and even leased a horse from summer camp one year, whatever I could do to get my butt on the back of a horse.

I found this journal entry some time ago and it hit home with me...

A page from an 87 yr. old horsewoman's handwritten Journal
    I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However as many women who ride know... it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment: being able to do things you might once have considered out of reach or ability. I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer by the side of the freeway, or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold drink after a long ride.
    The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least, I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it "a sickness." It's a nice sickness I've had since I was a small girl bouncing my plastic model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I redden with understand that meaning of "the sickness." It's not a sport. It's not a hobby. It's what we do and in some ways who we are as women and human beings.
    I ride. I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some nice trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle up, whistle up my dog and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile spreads across my weathered face. I put my floppy hat down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the sand.
    Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of his walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.
    I consider the simple statement: I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb rocky slopes, wade into a lily-pad lake, race a friend across the hayfield... all the while laughing and felling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride, no matter how tired or how much my sitter bones or any of my other acquired horse-related injuries hurt. I ride. And I fell a lot better for doing so.
    I think of the people, mostly women, that I've met. I consider how competent they all are. Not  a weenie in the bunch. We haul 40 ft. rigs, we back 'em up into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp, tend the horses.   We cook and keep our camp neat. We understand and love our companion---our horses. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, bathe, wait and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel without makeup or hair gel.
    You do without to afford the "sickness" and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a little model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

That was me or the person I used to be...   ...I still deal with the part about it being a sickness and "doing without to afford the sickness" only now it's a "mini sickness" and does not cost as much, financially or physically. LOL I am seeking treatment at a nearby miniature horse farm....

But because I wanted to "ride".....  ...more recently I had the privilege of providing a home for a beautiful APHA buckskin mare, she was my “childhood” dream horse, the one I wanted badly but never got. She was huge 15.3h and built like a freight train and more than ready to be started under saddle. My "project" horse was going to get me back into riding someday soon, or so I thought.
We decided that we did not have enough room for another “biggie” horse on our small ranch, but wanted her to have an equine companion, so we took in a rescued “mini” mare, 30” tall and all personality. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this little mare that was finally learning to trust humans as good things in her life. I was hooked and had a very in your face comparison of the "biggie" vs the "miniature" so it didn't take long to make some decisions on which direction to take the ranch.
After having the “biggie” horse here for several months I knew she needed a better place to live, she was so used to big pastures and herd life she just didn’t seem happy here by herself. Unfortunately she completely ignored the miniature mare who called out to her continuously from her paddock right next door.
So we decided to find her a new home and listed her for sale with the requirement that she go to a ranch with pasture and other horses her size. Less then two weeks later she went over/thru the 6-rail medium duty livestock panels of her “night” paddock and squashed it flat. Luckily her night paddock, which had hot wire on it, was within the fence line of her “day” turn out and she did not get loose in the middle of the night. But, I woke up the next morning before daybreak after not hearing a thing the night before to an empty paddock, squashed panel and no biggie horse to be seen in the meager light on her shed. I about near had a heart attack! I was very glad to see her come trotting out of the darkness when I went down the hill calling her name. All I could think about was a miniature horse couldn’t do that…..

Before this I never saw any reason for the “miniature” horses since you couldn’t ride them. Well those days are over now…I’m older and less flexible. Some of you know what I mean….  one too many injuries related to having or riding “biggie” horses. I am completely converted now and love my miniatures; they have bigger personalities then any “biggie” horse I have ever known. 

more later.....