see the magic

It was very wet earlier this Fall season, and colors appeared in unusual places...

It didn't take long to notice mushrooms of all sizes, shapes and colors popping up everywhere. I don't know much about mushrooms, other then some provide health benefits, others are poisonous, and that Shiitake are my absolute favorite!! Maybe if I knew more about them I would be comfortable picking/eating them from the wild.  Do any of you go mushroom picking?

We saw a variety, in different stages of growth...
perhaps an early stage of the above
however, these stems are really thick
this one was really thick, and very large
a smaller version of the mushroom above
the tops are kinda powdery
not sure if someone was hungry, or the cap just broke
mushrooms were peeking out of everywhere

I have found a half a dozen or so of these large hawk feathers in the woods. Finding feathers is fun!

Not sure what large bird dropped the feather below? The majority of it is speckled. I tried to ID it with an online feather identifier, but it didn't give me any clues. 

Our land is mostly flat, with some topographical changes. It didn't take long for Brad to be all but out of sight, after hiking up a small but steep hill in the grassy area. 

We have quite a few oak trees, competing for light with the pines. With a little help from us, we hope to see more growth in years to come. They aren't the most colorful tree in the Fall. There are a few red oaks mixed in another area, those are much more colorful. Eventually, I would like to plant more color.

I was happy to discover we have milkweed, that means we should have flutterbys (aka butterflies) to enjoy. Hoping to see monarchs next year, especially since their numbers are dwindling.
I thought those were seeds on top
One of the many things we could use on our never ending wish list, is one of these handy dandy utility vehicles. This one is not ours. We took it to set up some trail cameras...notice we are wearing tshirts in November. Crazy, huh?! 

who is that dork waving to the trail cam?
Do you see what I see?

This guy is somewhat of a local celebrity, and frequents our land. He is off limits, and no one we know will shoot him. He was roaming around, while we were working across the field. See time stamp. Not sure how we missed him. Brad saw him in person last week and said he is really bright white. 

We split most of our our free time between the land and the horses. We have enjoyed such an incredibly nice unseasonably warm Fall! We rode outside three times this week!! It gets dark early, with the sun so low it creates looong shadows...

Koda keeps trying to figure out
why that black horse is riding so closely 
No coats
and Nemo is back to himself!!
Some days are just magical...


working on the land

We've had a busy Fall trying to get things done so we can move forward with our land plans. Building is like a puzzle. You have to have certain pieces in the right order/place, before you can proceed. We finalized our house plans, to work on these things...

trees had to be removed
the house site was cleared
our son & Brad plotted the house
I supervised ;)
after a lot of measuring,
house stake markers are in place
The general building site was also officially surveyed.

soil had to be perk tested
our son smoothed out the building site,
now only key stakes remain

driveway view from the road
before it was put in
the clouds are magnificent
our trucks are parked at the house site
we put in some long days,
it's a labor of love
Brad coordinates the behind the scene needed paperwork. We finalized our barn plans & met several times with the company rep. The goal is to build the shell this winter for storage. Our horses will not move to the land until we do.

Last weekend we rented equipment so the three of us could clean the strip opposite our house site. They clear cut trees before we bought the land, it was a mess. It is an ideal area to run the necessary electrical, and have the box out of view. Brad was in a mini excavator, our son & I each ran a bobcat. I am slowly getting better at running them. At some point we switched, the grappler bucket is harder to coordinate then it looks.

my view from the bobcat
I was happy to have a door between me
and the loads that were dropped into my bucket
my job was hauling to this pile
We are going to have fun with this huge bonfire pile! Everyone who see's it wants to be invited lol. There is so much more work that needs to be done, but for now we are caught up and moving ahead as planned!!


we have a driveway

A few days ago I got a phone call from my hubby, he mentioned our soon to be neighbor told him "oh, by the way, they put your driveway in yesterday" Say whaaat?? We are at the land multiple times a week, but this caught us by surprise. My phone conversation with Brad had at least three "we have a driveway" and one "Aurora, we HAVE a driveway"...who would have thought a driveway would be that special!!! 

The neighbors who sold us the land have been so nice. We've been using their driveway since April. The part closest to the road runs parallel to ours. Earlier this Fall, Brad and I cleared an opening between the trees. He used his alignment equipment from work at a distance. I lined up and set the driveway stakes. I wonder what files are being replaced in my head as I learn how to do all this new stuff?? Ha ha! 

Most of the driveway stakes have bright orange painted tops. We answered many times over "those are the stakes for our driveway". We have friends, relatives and co-workers randomly driving out to look for our land. We hear about it when they can't find it, or want to know what the long row of orange stakes are for. Who knew we were so interesting?! Funny how curious people are. 

Brad was out of town the day we got the driveway news. He drove to our land early that evening on his way home to check it out. Almost every conversation for the rest of the night ended with "I can't believe we have a driveway". It is so cute how excited he is, like a kid in a candy store. Of course we knew the driveway was going in, but it wasn't suppose to happen for another week-ish. 

Somehow it makes the dream more real.


unexpected experiences

Our Fall trail riding trip up north came & went. It is one we will not soon forget, for different reasons...

We headed out with Cierra & Koda in tow, leaving Nemo behind for the first time. Brad's trusty trail horse. Our rock. It just wasn't going to be the same with out the big guy. Here is an update on Nemo, incase you missed it. However, life is meant to be lived and we looked forward to making new trail memories. We saw multiple rainbows on the drive up. I didn't catch it while doubled up, but here is the tail end of the wonder...

What lies at the end of our rainbow?
We arrived at the cabin later then usual, too late to get much of a ride in. We prefer letting the horses settle in anyways. Got them fed & watered and then it was our turn. We headed out to one our favorite local restaurants. We pulled into the parking lot, and it was closed? Weird. It's a popular bar eatery. A car had followed us into the lot. As I was calling to see what was going on, the owner greeted us at our window. Yes, they were closed but told us to come inside. He needed to talk to us and I didn't need to be crying in the parking lot. My heart sunk to the ground. This couldn't be good news. With suspense, we walked through the backdoor, through the kitchen, into the bar area. It really was terrible news, but at least there was still hope. You see, his wife is a Type 1 diabetic. We knew that, and of her struggles. We listened to the heart wrenching emergency story, and learned she was in the ICU fighting for her life. It is nothing short of a miracle she is still with us. 

We aren't particularly close friends, in fact we are regular seasonal customers, but there has always been a connection between us. Over the years we've gotten to know each other through our shared stories. When we walk in we are greeted by name, and frequently leave with a hug. 

He was hungry, we were hungry, and he needed someone beside doctors and hospital employees to talk to. We walked across the road, ordered some food & beverages, and simply listened. Poor guy had a couple tough weeks. First burying one of his best friends and now almost losing his wife. This man is not a touchy-feely kinda guy, and is always joking. There wasn't much to laugh about that night, but he still managed some. Between the tears. Have you ever seen an unexpected grown man cry? Broke my heart. His wife is one year younger then I. At that moment he needed a friend, and we are so thankful we could be there for him. We've since been in contact. She pulled through, is progressing and doing as well as can be expected. Our first night of this trip will forever leave a lasting impression on how delicate life is.

We woke up to a new day, and headed out on the trail. It's been years since Cierra has been trail ridden, but she took it all in stride. We started north, and ended north. It was a nice looong uneventful ride... 

Cierra is trained to move out. We had to catch up, a lot.

Puddles, puddles, everywhere. 
Everything looks better together
Cierra (L) Koda (R)
We weren't always behind

It's been an odd year for color, you'll notice a lot of green trees and yet many had already fallen. I hate pictures of me, always look terrible. But whatever, I need to get over it. Not sure what's worse the helmet or my rolls. Since Koda acted up on these trails last time, I decided to wear a helmet for the first ride & see what horse I had. The rolls, well unfortunately I wear those all the time these days. Note to self: suck your gut in - good grief!!!

Hmmmm, which trail is the right one?
Koda "chomp, chomp, chomp" just pick one!
Taking my picture?
Here's a picture for you, said with tongue sticking out
That night a brisk cold rainy front moved in. We waited for it to pass before heading out the next day. The rain did, but our horses were feeling the weather. Koda in particular. He was spun up, in a way I've never seen him. We decided not to head out on the trail, and instead worked with our horses at the ranch. Sure we could have cowboy'ed up, they eventually would have calmed down. Maybe. 

We enjoyed an early evening meal, and a warming campfire afterwards. We couldn't see either of our dark horses. It made us miss Nemo all over again, we can actually see him. He does the most soft campfire knickers!

When the weekend arrives, we are usually ready to head home. Sometimes we get one more ride in, and sometimes we don't. The flood gates open up and people arrive by the trailer full. This year every cabin, paddock, arena and area capable of holding horses was taken at the ranch, most doubled or tripled up. The four wheeler traffic rolling down the multi use trail quadruples. It gets really busy and noisy up north, it's a great time to leave!! 

Surprised looks arise from many when we talk about our one really nice long ride, but we don't trail ride to reach benchmarks. Honestly we don't care how far, how often, or how many hours we ride. If that's why you trail ride, in my opinion you are completely missing the beauty of it all.

When we head north, it's for an experience that encompasses everything the area has to offer. The beautiful woods, tranquil trail rides, cozy cabins, quiet campfires, relaxing, eating great food at family run restaurants, visiting with the locals etc. We had a wonderful trip! Full of colorful memories, some unexpected experiences, but all of them treasured.