fall-ing into thought

Fall. The season that finds me reflecting, the most. About everything, but mostly about the year that is rapidly coming to a close. A year, most people in this world would prefer not to repeat. It hasn't been all bad for us, altho different for sure. Sadly this year continues to be SO very hard on way too many.

On a brighter note, now that it is Fall I can take me, myself and my thoughts back out to the woods!! Along with Tanky, and sometimes Brad and/or the grand dogs. I walk our woods as many days as possible throughout our three ever changing seasons, but rarely during Summer. Too hot and too buggy. Feels sooo good to back among nature! It is where I am happiest. I clear my head and fuel my soul. It is my church.

Tank leads the way on our walks.
He never goes too far ahead or strays, such a great dog!

Our cat-dog Leo found us walking among the pines.

Leo trying to keep up with Tank
(they are mid-right)

Our pine woods are on the opposite end of our property. I ended up carrying Leo back to the barn, he was panting. It was a warmer then usual muggy walk, right before rain. Leo was happy to hitch a ride back. Silly cat.

milkweed pods getting ready to spread wishes & seeds

Early Fall our outdoor arena use came to an abrupt halt. We had non-stop rain for close to a week, and then outdoor projects consumed our free time. The last few week/ends were spent landscaping, adding to our driveway and cutting/stacking wood. Getting close to being done with outdoor projects for the year. Then, hopefully we can get back to enjoying the outdoor arena before the rain turns into the S word! 

repurposed crates (from work) are easy to move
 and are perfect for drying stacked wood

We have enjoyed some gorgeous intermittent early Fall weather. Sunny days that cool down at night, perfect for sleeping with windows open. Warming up by our fire pit feels extra welcoming. Our trees are just starting to turn colors. We have mostly evergreen, with Oaks and a few other species sprinkled in. Oak savannah's are predicted to be predominant in the future, replacing pine woods in our area. Late summer we had a DNR forester review and walk our woods with us. He supplied more info than I ever imagined on how to care for our woods. I was happy to hear our trees are in good shape! It is important to me to take care of our land for future generations, an on-going project for as long as we live. 

I have hopes of eventually planting a prairie on an open area adjacent to the pines, with dreams of sauntering rides through changing terrain. Hope you are enjoying Fall and dreaming of a bright future as well!

beautiful Fall skies give me all the feels


a few more summer projects

Landscaping and getting grass to grow around the buildings has been an on-going project since we moved in - and this summer it ramped up. Brad made huge strides and our sandy landscape is starting to settle and green up.


In July, we had a mold recurrence. Ugh!! An unexpected summer project. I was SO disgusted! The damn stuff re-grew everywhere, including on the surface of my (bagged) custom saddle :( I spent days & days weeks working to make sure this moldy situation never ever (ever) happens again!! I hope.

I reviewed everyone's advice from our first moldy experience in October 2018. After that episode, I cleaned the mold I could see and thought I took care of the problem. Some items never went back in the tack room. Obviously my cleaning efforts were not enough. This time I took every single thing moldy or not, out of the tack room. Our barn was a total disaster area! I insisted Brad and our daughter go through their tack, figure out what stays and help de-mold. Nothing was allowed back into the tack room, no exceptions. Every single thing had to be cleaned (even if it looked clean) and stored, and pass my inspection. I was one (b) itchy barn manager, but I don't care. I do not want to go through this again. 

Besides cleaning tack, and in some cases re-cleaning the semi-cleaned tack (insert eye roll) I wiped down the tack room walls & mopped the floor with a vinegar water solution. Most tack was lightly cleaned with the vinegar solution, even leather. I had to kill the mold. All leather was then cleaned with leather cleaner, and conditioned. 

To help find a solution, our daughter loaned us her hygrometer. Brad did some research, ordered a humidifier fan and installed it. I had no idea humidity fans existed. For the longest time we had three humidity readers in the tack room lol. One on the dehumidifier, the fan and hygrometer. Eventually we bought our own hygrometer, they are inexpensive. We checked humidity levels a lot, and still do. Ideal humidity is between 30-50%. Our fan is set at 45%, it turns on if higher.

Fan flaps circulating air out of tack room

I felt better about making a hole in the wall after Brad trimmed it

Fan mounted inside tack room wall

Digital Fan Control

You set the humidity desired and fan runs automatically.
It also shows room temp & fan speed.

Brad built a tack room shelf for the many totes I bought, filled and labeled. C
ardboard boxes used for moving, are no longer allowed in the tack room and nothing lives on the floor anymore. So far so good, even through the endless humid summer days. I am hopeful the sad moldy nightmare is behind us.

Clean tack room
 (photo is distorted & makes it look bigger)

We were so happy with our organized tack room, that it led to more barn organizing! 
Brad built a storage closet on the hay side for larger tack totes, extra buckets, exercise ball and misc stuff. It helps minimize the quickly accumulating barn dust. He also added wall hanging racks.

You can never have too much storage & everything looks better.
See Tank? He is waiting to play, always.


I enjoy making things by hand, altho not very crafty. I sanded, stained and hand painted three barn signs pre-mold discovery and recently finished the fourth sign with our ranch name.

Hidden Cactus Ranch

Plan to hang a pair of my old spurs
and our daughters first pair on either side of the sign.

Maybe something else? Not too much, because of barn dust.


After using our feed area & trying to figure out the best storage solution, Brad built us a custom storage table!! We may add a few hooks or ? to the area. It has been in use a couple weeks and I am loving it so far! The feed table still needs to get oiled, along with the wall. 

Our Feed Table has two feed buckets & hoof supplement bucket,
 a large storage "drawer" area (top is closed in photo, lifts open & latches easy)
and an open shelf storage for PDZ, salt etc.


A "fly spray" shelf by the entrance went up early summer, and has been so useful that we added another shelf. We now have a phone/beverage shelf, with a hat hook above and use it every day. 

phone shelf close-up & my old hat

You didn't think we were done with the barn, did you?! We still have many projects left on our never ending list. To name a few, the wash stall needs trimming, decision on a swing hose holder, dry blanket hooks, human coat hooks, a place to hang a couple wet saddle pads & boots (cuz they aren't allowed in the tack room until they are dry, lol), decide where to mount the PVC whip holder, find/build a hallway bench, build/buy a Saloon garbage container, buy a refrigerator, decide on a cat out/in door, and whatever else makes our barn life easier and more enjoyable!!!

Hidden Cactus Ranch sign

taken today of Brad & Cierra, while the farrier was here.
She has gotten so light, looking like a Buckskin.

With all that said and done, I am SO ready for Fall!!! Time for wrapping up loose ends on summer projects, cooler weather, changing leaves, hikes, outside/inside fires and general winding down. I love changing seasons and all that they offer!


wrong side of the fence

For most of the year, our horses switch pastures every month. It is September 1st, time to switch. Brad closed the upper pasture gate and walked down the dry lot with Nemo to open up the lower pasture. Harmony got turned out next, then Cierra. The order varies, depending on who is done with breakfast. Brad turned Koda out last and noticed, Cierra was in the um bordering field - and not the lower pasture!

I was getting my morning coffee when I looked out the window and noticed Cierra on the wrong side of the fence! She has never been in the lower pasture. I wondered if she got scared and jumped the fence? Who knows, all I know is I had to get out to help. So I put on the first pair of shoes on I saw (my sandals) and grabbed a flannel shirt on my way out the door to throw over my PJ's. Who knows where I could end up walking, and it was in the 40F's. Our first brisk dewy morning in a long time.

Cierra was running the fence line trying to figure out how to get back inside the pasture. I was a bit worried when she got to the end (left of Nemo in photo below). The walking path continues and if you take the wrong turn it leads to other peoples wide spread back acreage. Including a large marsh. I grabbed a halter, just incase. After she did a little princess freedom prance, Brad was able to walk right up to her.


 Nemo running towards Brad & Cierra on their walk back

Brad knew exactly how Cierra got out. She walked through the wide open machinery entrance, on Brads left in the photo above. He is kicking himself. When he was with Nemo opening up the lower pasture, Brad was looking right at the open gate past the gate at the bordering field. He was deep in thought. He is considering making that a third pasture, because you know we don't have enough projects going on right now lol. I told him Cierra tested it out, and approves of it becoming a pasture.

It is nothing short of amazing that the other three horses didn't also run out the gate. If they did, I wouldn't be typing this right now. I would still be walking around following horses in my PJ's. Apparently the other three were just so happy to be down there, they went right to grazing. 

Nemo and Harmony came running up to greet Cierra and Brad:



I leave you with a video of our horses running back down to the lower pasture to enjoy fresh dewy grass, on the correct side of the fence. Koda is in the lead, Cierra and then Nemo. Harmony didn't join them. She must have been drinking water, or chillaxing after the first run. At the end of the video, Nemo runs back to encourage Harmony to join them. 

All is well that ends well. Have a great, little less exciting day!!