connecting paths

Saturday we focused on clearing trail paths. On the west end of the pine woods there is a narrow pre-existing path, likely made by deer. Animals are smart, taking the path of least resistance. We decided that was the best place to begin connecting paths. It would need to be cleared and made wider for horses to get through. My job started out pretty easy, and fun - I got to explore & mark the path!!

There were too many trees in the way to mark them all, instead I marked the general direction. The path had various inlets and offshoots, at times it was confusing. While I was trying to orient myself, I came upon a spooky tree area. There was a grouping of trees that were tall, all had two or three trunks, and had dagger like branches running allll the way up from the forest floor. They had clearly been untouched. I tried not to let my imagination run off with me!

I finally found the corner of our property, just past where the spooky tree area starts to clear...

...and retraced my steps to figure out the best way to make it around them. I stumbled across this, eww! 

Brad said it was likely a possum or raccoon. Do you see the green plant pictured with it? Some sources say it's poison ivy, others not. Whatever it is, it's growing a little too well. I came across more tiny little flowers. Some weeds can be pretty.

With the first section of path marked, I went back to help Brad - by hauling trees. A not so fun part of my job, especially when getting clotheslined by catching on the remaining trees. The further he cut the path, the further we had to drag. It was exhausting!! I feel like I've been saying that a lot lately. I am finding muscles I didn't know I had. 

Funny son, he "wondered" why we were sucking wind while he was working on cleaning up a different path in an air conditioned bobcat! We never did finish the path, but guess what - the work will still be there when we return. Before we headed home, Brad cut an old fallen tree and placed the logs as obstacles. They are much bigger in person. I can't wait to try them out!! 


turtle sundays

dreaming of a backyard view

Turtle Sundays features an odd looking
pig-faced turtle on adventures.


little dents

The decision was made to outsource our first crop of alfalfa. Yes, we actually have crops...I think that makes us farmers :)) okay, okay so I am just a wanna-be, but thankfully my hubby isn't! I just nod, smile and say "yes dear, that sounds great"!!

The guys relocated some big wooden support posts randomly left in the middle of a field, that was no easy task! The posts now connect to some nice fencing that we plan to keep. The wire had been cut where the land was divided & left blowing in the wind, not anymore! We will eventually have to add a lot more fencing, but it's a good place to start.

I got my first quick riding lawn mower lesson and was sent to figure the rest out while mowing "the loop". The loop is a pre-existing path that borders one of the fields, pictured above. It's pretty and I can't wait to ride it with Koda, instead of John Deere. When all we owned was a push mower, I was the lawn mower of the household. I used to love the outdoor exercise! As soon as we got a riding mower, I lost my job. Looks like I have it back, minus the exercise. However, there is plenty of other exercise to be done on the land!

We all worked together on clearing an overgrown island that jutted out into the field, this time I wasn't the one working on foot. The riding lawn mower & I are going to get along just fine :) I should have taken before & after photos, what a difference a group effort and an hour makes!! 

We left our son piling more endless logging debris among the strips, while Brad & I headed to the pines. We are going to have one helluva bonfire (s) someday, or better said some weeks. It's all still hard to believe...we are starting alllll over, from scratch!! I try not to dwell on the enormous projects we are and will be undertaking, it's too overwhelming! I know things will eventually fall into place little by little, in good time. 

On the way to the pines, I got absorbed just looking at all the trees. Some are magnificent...

...others are odd...

We hauled a ladder into the woods and a really tall yellow pole, in hopes of seeing each other better. It helped most of the time. We climbed up the ladder, down the ladder, moved the ladder, back up the ladder, held the pole, waved the pole, moved the pole, chain saw on, chain saw off...and barely made a dent. It was exhausting.

Brad taking a break
with a birds eye ladder view

We are trying to make some trail paths in the pines, around the big trees and within our property markers. There are a couple nice wide paths that do exist, but they don't connect. Yet.
Guess what time it is? It's the weekend again, time to head back to the woods...where every little dent gets us a little closer to the dream.


the face says it all

This face, so expressive. Photo was taken on a day where the weather matched Koda's face, that matched his hair, that matched his energy level. Brisk, fresh and energetic. Three words that anyone who knows Koda, wouldn't typically use to describe him. We all have our wild hair days, horses are no different.

The weather has warmed up significantly, almost too much. Feels like August, in May. Makes a person wonder, will we have early fall in August? or just be baked to a crisp?

We've enjoyed some nice rides, what a difference being outside makes! I am trying hard to focus on listening and working together, and less on how long or correctly we ride. 

Our little herd got moved back into the big pasture for turnout, and they were plenty happy about it! It is more diverse with a small woody area, centrally located, and has a shelter. Consequently, we've mixed in a little field riding in preparation for heading out on the trails this summer. It's been a year and a half since we've ridden in a field, or out on the trail. Feels like forever. 

I am looking forward to spending time in the woods with Brad, Koda & Nemo. Exploring. Relaxing. Taking in all the goodness, and living in the moment. 

When that first trail day arrives, I'm hoping for a calm face, not only on Koda - but me too!! 


highs & lows

I've been posting a lot about our recent land purchase, a definite high. Thanks so much for commenting, and sharing in our joy!! Things have settled down, and sunk in. I won't be posting daily play-by-plays, promise! I thought about doing a "blogger gone wild" post, about my sudden rash of blog posting, but I'm pretty sure that would have attracted the wrong audience!!  

Last weekend we spent an afternoon beginning to clear cacti from a trail path, and hauling some of our panels to set up temporary paddocks. 

We also enjoyed a nice long relaxing hike, on what the former owners call "the loop". We discovered tiny wild flowers, trees in bloom and spent time lingering in areas of interest. It was quiet and peaceful.

I haven't been riding much the past couple weeks. Once a week, to be exact. Both were brief rides in the indoor, and lacked luster. Koda feels tight & distracted. Just like me. Between Nemo's allergies and the weather, we've been stuck riding inside. Random people are coming out of the woodwork to ride, it's hard to avoid them in the smaller arena. It is B-o-r-i-n-g, with a capitol B, to ride in a lumpy empty box with white walls for endless months. The horses spook at the end of the arena, and it always seems to be grain time when we finally manage to arrive at the barn. Sigh. I am just tired of it all. I know, cry me a river. I should be thankful, and I am - but under the circumstances it can be hard to look forward to riding. Consequently, it feels like Koda & I have taken a big step backwards. He hasn't done anything wrong, it's just me.

I've found we get along much better with frequency, focus and variety. None of these are happening. A definite low. I seem to be on everyone else's watch. The less I ride, the less I want to ride. I start to question my motives, and ponder...what am I doing with my life? and why?? 

This spring we've had weird (er) weather, windy with cool stretches. Last weekend I chose not to ride and instead left Koda playing in the field. He was acting like a rambunctious colt, snorting, bucking and running around high headed - you know, being a horse. All by himself. Like a nut. Nemo wanted no part of his silliness, and neither did I. It's not only about riding, at least not for me. Who's horse was that anyways? Not the one that will be walking trails with me anytime soon.


turtle sundays

colorful spring flowers in the woods

Turtle Sundays features an odd looking pig-faced turtle on adventures.


taking a deep breath

It didn't take long to realize we need to sloooow down! You know the saying "Rome wasn't built in a day" and neither will our place. We need to take a deep breath, familiarize ourselves with the lay of the land, dream, visualize, explore and enjoy.

Sunday we did just that, after a bit more work. While Brad finished planting the pasture, I dug out some of these:

They are everywhere people haven't been! They grow like weeds, and they hurt!! My current neighbor across the road has some prickly pear that has grown on his slope for over 30 years. They are beautiful when they bloom. Cacti were my first plant loves when I was a child. I'll save that story for another day. I knew some species survived WI winters, but who knew Prickly Pear were native?!! Not me, and not just about everybody else in WI - unless you live in the area.

I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, and having grown cactus - I am well aware of the evils. I made a pile to burn someday, and barely made a dent. It was easier to grab them by the roots & yank, until they got me ~ yeeeowww!! 

We called it a day early on, and headed out through the woods to try and figure out our property lines. Our son had joined us, the three of us went exploring...

The grassy scrub pine area above turns into hardwoods. There are some oaks, and some type of tree with thorns. My hubby loves those (not!) they got him more then once. We plan to figure out what we've got growing, and what shouldn't. Along with all the online resources, our local DNR offers help. We will be good stewards of this land, for not only us, but for future generations. 

Most trees are just starting to leaf out, who knows what they might be?

These have what looks like dried puff-balls hanging on them...

I am glad nobody could see us in the woods, it was pretty comical. It was like playing hide-n-go-seek. They might have been able to hear us tho?! There was a lot of calling out "can you see me now?" "ummmm, nope"  crunch, crunch, crunch "how about now" silence "move to your left, no the other left" crunch, crunch, crunch "ummmm, nope - wait - I think I see you" !!! We even stuck our hats on tall branches, sometimes it helped. We found our property markers, lines however proved to be difficult.

My favorite part of the woods, and the property, are the tall pines....sigh. I just love them!! Our wooded area is between 6-7 acres, not a lot - but enough to enjoy!! There are 15 more adjoining mixed wooded acres, with three nice owners (5 acres each). We've met them all, two previously owned parts of our land. I think we'll all end up sharing :)

the boys walking the pines
(archive photo)

As far as I can tell there is a mix of red pines and white pines...I had to look up which is which. Pathetic, I know. I need to get back to my Girl Scout ways, the ones that made me fall in love with nature as a child. I've forgotten so much, but not the feeling. It's where I feel grounded. Alive. Happiest. Me.

white pine
needles are in bundles of 5

Walking out of the woods, and gazing across the fields...is this really happening??

I have to pinch myself...which is better then getting pinched by the damn cactus!!


houston, we have a problem

After going 90 miles an hour all day Saturday, trying to get all the endless land work done in one day (ha!!) we were exhausted. It was time to pack up and head back home. Imagine my surprise when I saw this...

Don't see anything unusual? How about now...

the foreground is our planted pasture

My jaw dropped open!! The land we purchased surrounds the previous owners current house and 5 acres. I knew he was a helicopter pilot, but never once did it occur to me that he landed it at home. He may have mentioned it, but I don't recall that conversation. The airport is not that far away. We had not even owned the land for one week, and already we have a problem! In my exhaustion, I all but had a meltdown that evening...

Horses and helicopters go together like oil and water. If you watched the video in my last post, the barn you saw is the same one pictured above. Unless you're a pilot, who wants to build a house anywhere near a landing pad? Not me! Guess we will be considering other building spots...

My poor hubby did a fine job of giving me hope that this is just a "bump in the road". The previous land owners are as nice as can be, and want this whole land thing to work out just as much as we do. I know that. We get along good and plan to be neighbors for the long haul. I've decided a hard conversation is in the future, it's the only way I'll get over this. For awareness, if nothing else. Maybe he doesn't even plan to land there once we are living on the land? or legally can't? or maybe we wait to build until they sell the current house (it's on the market) and move further away to their lot in the adjoining woods? 

The whole helicopter thing is cool, and I would never ask him not to land it at his home. It would be like asking me not to ride my horse. Flying is what makes him happy. The noise lasts briefly. It's not that, personally I don't mind. I just don't want my horses scared to death - or to get hurt riding. I know our horses, and they would eventually get used to it. It's just another obstacle. My hope is we will come to some sort of agreement. I won't ride on the land, let alone live there until we do. I would hate to go to plan C...because we don't have one. However, I can certainly make one. We can sell the land just as fast as we bought it, but that was never part of our intention. Hopefully we won't have to go down that road...why can't anything ever be simple?!!

I know nothing in life is perfect, and every place has it's good & not so good qualities. Deep down I believe this land was meant to be for us, and this too shall work out.


first things first

Saturday morning found us eager to keep working on our first priority, the fields. We have four with alfalfa, and one that had corn on it last season. First things first, re-discing the unplanted field and getting it ready for pasture seed. We talked with some folks at Midwest Horse Fair about what type of seed was best for this soil. It's light and sandy. Where we live now we have the exact opposite, heavy clay soil. We picked the recommended pasture seed up from a local vendor earlier in the week. Keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed it grows well!! 

While the guys were working on that, our daughter and I picked up junk on the adjoining grassy wooded area. We found chunks of broken glass, rusty metal parts, and plastic pieces of discarded trash. I was so surprised when she dug this little unbroken treasure out of the ground:

 Two of us think it's a pot belly pig

Two of us think it's a turtle

 What do you think it is?

We removed an old useless fence, then our daughter had the fun job of pulling the posts out. 

kids have all the fun

One post was left standing. The attached house is occupied by a beautiful nesting blue bird! It's amazing what a difference a little clean up can make. 

Neighbors stopped by, one after the other. Some on foot, others on four wheelers and some while driving by. Guess we are the new kids on the block! Friendly folks, everyone is very welcoming. 

The previous owner harvested wood from the strips in between the long rectangle alfalfa fields. Whatever the machine is called they use, left behind an ugly wake of destruction. What a mess!! We started the daunting task of getting tree branches out of the alfalfa fields, and making huge piles of left over scrap wood. I cleared the fields on foot & Brad made wood piles along the strips. 

At one point I spotted a turkey, who never took his eyes off me. It kept pacing back and forth between the same area, circling towards me and then retreating. No doubt roosting. I kept my distance, there were no other human in sight. Turkeys can be mean. The only other wildlife I saw besides birds, was a couple rabbits. I have seen pictures of white deer that cross the property, hopefully I'll get to see them in person some day!

In another area of the field, Brad accidentally came across some eggs. It was too late to save one. With my gloves on, I scooped up the remaining intact egg and a cushion of dirt and moved it nearby to safety. It probably won't be found and survive, but we tried.

I assume this is a turkey egg,
it was big and heavy, about 4" long

We originally thought we would build on the edge of the pasture we seeded, by the grassy area that adjoins the pine forest. It has a pretty overlooking view, but is very visible. After spending some time on the land, we think the opposite end of the property might be a better spot for us.

Below is a short video of me standing in the field in the middle of the property, on an incline to the left of the bobcat pictured above. The structures are a small hunting shack roof on our land, and a metal barn that belongs to neighbors.

Decisions, decisions...we have many options on where to locate what. They all come with pro's and con's, and are contingent on each other. Our barn plans were drawn up long before we closed on the property, the house plans are not even remotely close. I am so glad we have time to figure things out, we need it. 


let the field work begin

Our family is SO excited about having land!! If you missed the reveal, you can find it hereWe are trying to wrap our heads around what needs to be done and what takes priority...we decided a used lean green utility machine, was a good place to start. 

checking out another rare find

My boys are like kids in a candy store. They are over the top happy to be farming again!! Once it's in your blood, it's there forever. Somebody has to be the voice of reason, that somebody is me. After much consideration, it only made sense to bring the little beast home. Friday night after work, we picked it up. Brad's joy was made even greater by our son's enthusiasm. He got to drive it home, with dad's watchful eye.

You can bet we put it to work right away...

hooking that baby up!

round one, of many

watching our son, with pride

walking, walking and more walking

one of many fences to be removed

We all took turns driving the tractor lol, even me. Our new neighbors must think we are nuts!! This city girl learned to drive a tractor, or at least I tried. I've never plowed a field and have only driven a tractor once before, briefly when I was a teenager. Just a few years ago ;) I've got a lot to learn...good thing I've got experienced teachers.


the reveal

I owe you all some answers to the wordless clues from this past week, that led to suspense and really good guesses!!!

mystery monday

is a beautiful trail
we drive 3.5 hours north to ride among similar pines
and find respite in their majestic swaying height,
fresh piney smell, soft footing and surreal views

tuesdays tip

is a nice grassy varied trail area,
a perfect place to ride and explore

wednesdays wonder

a view of the woods pictured above,
 across the fields, from the furthest corner
 (archive photo)

thursdays thought

looking out of the woods
opposite side of same fields above,
topped with sunny blue skies

(archive photo)

fridays feeling
sitting in my truck with our daughter on a rainy day
grassy varied trail area to the right
woods straight ahead & fields towards the left

You all guessed right, we bought land!!!! 

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know our horses used to live across the field from us on the family farm my husband grew up on. Our
 big hopes and dreams were squashed, when our "family" unknowingly made some really rotten decisions. It's okay, what goes around comes around. It already has.

We changed our plan, but not our dreams. When life hands you lemons, you find a way to make lemonade. Several years ago we moved our horses to our trainers farm, and after years of searching for land, we finally found the right place that fits us!! Our plans eventually include to move, build a house and a barn, and live with our beloved horses on our very own 50+ acre farm!!! 

We are fortunate that we don't have to rush, and can take our time to plan. We won't start building for at least a year, and our horses will move to the land when we do. In the meantime there is a lot of work to be done, decisions to be made, and fun to be had!! 

You have no idea how thrilled we are to move on, and look forward to living our dream.


fridays feeling

One last clue. Guess I better explain, before you all run away! I thought it would be fun to do wordless picture posts leading up to a final one, with words. As soon as I can sit down and type my thoughts, I'll explain the weekday photo clues, and of course - the reveal!!

for hanging in there & all the great guesses! Each and every one of you make my equine journey even more special!! 

Previous Clues: mystery monday tuesdays tip - wednesdays wonder - thursdays thought