barn related updates ~ build-a-barn

Most of you were along for the ride, when we started building our barn in 2016. If not, the process is detailed here. There are things from our original plans that still need/ed to be added. In addition, barn improvements become apparent with use. It is part of the nature of the beast.

The reality is, our homestead will always a work in progress.

For starters, we finally picked out and purchased a long awaited barn refrigerator. It fits just right in the designated Saloon spot. No more walking back to the house because Brad forgot to grab Nemo's allergy shot. It also provides a little extra freezer space for frozen garden produce etc. The water dispenser is not hooked up, yet. Our water needs to be filtered. Brad drinks more water than anyone I've ever seen in my life. It will be put to good use, especially on hot muggy days. 

Brad continues improving air circulation in our barn. Our Big Ass fans do a wonderful job of moving air. They run 24/7/365 days. In the Winter, when the barn is closed up the fans are set super low. We didn't have stagnant air, but we didn't have fresh air circulating either. We all know what active barns that are closed up smell like. My smart hubby consulted and figured out a system to pull warmer air from the attic into the barn and push stale cooler barn air out. During warmer months, the system works in reverse to pull/push fresh cooler evening air.

interior/exterior wall fan

It was a little painful to see Brad cutting a large hole in the barn wall, but farms are not about looks. They are about functionality. This new ventilation system will improve the air quality and temperature for our animals, and us.

box of louvers (by ceiling)

Directly above the louvers is another taller set of boxed louvers in the attic. 

temperature control system

Our electricians hooked up the automatic temperature control system the week of Brad's staycation. It can be adjusted manually.

That same week, Brad poured a manure pit entrance pad. He worked hard pre/post, with only one helper the day of the concrete pour. Just incase you are wondering, I always offer to help with all of our projects.

Tank inspecting Brad's work

(Skewed photo angle, makes pad look really big and pit tiny.)

We clean stalls and take manure to the pit daily. Regardless of how carefully you make a Y turn getting in/out of the pit, the bobcat digs a big 'ol hole in the soft ground. Brad had to fix that area frequently.

enroute yesterday

As you can see, Winter has also arrived for us. There is another special outdoor project that was worked on during staycation, unrelated to the barn. I will post about that project, when it is closer to completion. Thankfully our ground hasn't frozen. Yet. 


rock hopping

We took advantage of gorgeous Fall weather (70's F) during Brad's staycation and revisited Parfreys Glen. A very popular State Natural Area. It was closed during COVID, due to overuse and disrespect. There are many narrow spots/landing areas, where you cross the creek water on rocks and cannot avoid being close to other's. Especially while waiting your turn. Been there done that. Thankfully that is not what we experienced on our third Fall hike. 

There were others enjoying the glen during the weekday, but it was far from busy. The hikers we encountered were spread out. Several just sitting and soaking up nature off the beaten path. We were alone most of the time.

heading out

lower part of the creek

"Parfrey's Glen Creek, a fast, cold, hardwater stream flows through the gorge and harbors a very diverse insect fauna including rare species of diving beetles and caddisflies."

along our way to the gorge

Not much changed since Brad & I were last there. A LOT changed since I started going there as a young adult. There used to be boardwalks and seating at the end, before multiple floods destroyed them. Note; the three old Spring photos are borrowed screenshots. My guess is they are from late 70's - early 80's.

I like Parfreys Glen better au natural, although the boardwalks made it much safer and accessible to more people. We passed several older couples not willing to maneuver more challenging rocks to get to end of the gorge. A common question "how far to the end".

my favorite amazing Parfreys tree

where things start to get really interesting

winding stream leads the way

wider views taken with my iphone

one of many rock-to-rock creek crossings

rock hopping at it's finest

small trout were abundant in shallow crystal clear water

the wonder grows around every turn

Brad led most of the way, and helped me at key moments. It was very risky rock hopping while holding my precious large camera equipment. Especially the wet unstable rocks. Unfortunately, I left my camera backpack in the truck. I handed my camera off to him more then once, while maneuvering the boulders below.

what lies ahead?

pausing to figure out the best way to scale the boulders
(much larger in real life)

looking back from the top of the boulders

For those of you into rock faces, enlarge this ^^ photo. There are many faces, including one that looks like Groot! I was so wowed by my surroundings that I didn't notice them, until I processed the photo.

waterfall at the designated end  


I tried to capture the vast secluded beauty of "the end" with video clips. They do not show dimension and depth very well. Specifically height. If you watch, sound up.

21 seconds

a distance from the waterfall
(8 seconds)

this is the way the end used to look

I was captivated by the sunlight peeking through the dark glen.

ferns growing on the side of rock, very high above

hope & perseverance


always starting over ~ rides

It has been a while since I've shared an update on our horseback rides. I am tracking rides this year and making notes. Just to process the process, and hopefully learn from it.

Almost an entire month slipped by between our last July ride and first ride in August. It happens unintentionally and surprises me. Needless to say, we are still not riding our horses as much as we would like. However, we are riding more than recent years. 

All three of our August rides were indoors. Koda was super lazy the first ride. It was as if arena sand jumped up and tripped him. Multiple times. Unacceptable! He wasn't paying attention. There is nothing wrong with Koda that would cause him to trip, other than lazy-itis. I got off and lunged him instead of riding. He listened great. I noticed he was off to the right. I remounted & rode him a little before calling it good.

Koda was more motivated our second ride, although gimpy trotting both directions. Many people wouldn't even notice, but I know what he normally feels/moves like. W
hen he is ouchy at the trot we do shorter rides at a walk.

I wrote about o
ur third August ride (with Padame) in a separate post.

Our two rides in September were also both indoors, due to hot muggy weather. 

The first ride was a good one! 
Koda showed no lameness, so we could do more. Trotting over poles was fun and good for getting him to lift his feet. The second ride he was back to being sluggish and gimpy. Sigh. Both improved as our ride continued.

It is hard to tell if Koda is sore for real. Could it be selective at times? Maybe. I don't know if horses think that way. Probably not. If you knew Koda's personality, you might also think it is a possibility. 

Of course, he showed zero lameness during his lameness vet check. For now, 
Koda continues on Cosequin. Brad thinks it is helping. I am unsure. Because his lameness is off/on I haven't added/tried other options. I am sure that day will come. I like starting with the least invasive, so to speak.

I noted that Koda breaks into a lope frequently. Not sure if it feels better than trotting or he associates loping with the last move before he can be done. He absolutely does predict and do certain things on his own, if you get out of his way and let him. Walk>trot>lope>next horse is very much the way workouts flow at the trainers. Of course, it depends on what a horse is in training for. I progress that way too, but loping doesn't mean we are done. We have not worked up to loping in a long time.


October rides
equaled a big goose egg. Bummer. It is one of the best months to ride outside in WI. The month flew by. 
Brad is back to working most days in the field, in addition to office related work. Like every other industry, construction companies do not have enough employees that are willing to work. He is putting in a ton of extra hoursOur son is also putting in ridiculously long hours. 

At least Brad got somewhat of a break. He has been on staycation this past week. 


We have ridden once so far in November.
This riding break was even longer, 7 weeks to be exact.

The day we rode was unseasonably warm. A sunny 72F. I had a willing riding partner, or so I thought. I always judge Koda by the way he walks up to the barn, tacks up and walks to the arena. It all went good, so I got on without a warm-up lunge. I was happy to feel no lameness. Koda was being a really good listener and arena riding partner. I was looking forward to riding our trails.


Nemo & Brad opened the gate and we followed them out of the arena. They went around to the left. Usually we follow them. Instead, Koda and I rode to the right. That side of the arena borders the wooded path. Our horses have all taken issue with that side at some point and time. I was pleased Koda was willing to ride alone-ish with me. We settled in for a relaxing trail ride.

Brad rode out in the field behind our barn. When we didn't follow them, it raised Koda's ears. I kept his mind busy by asking for turns and figure eights until they came back closer. Then we watched, before headed down the new pasture trail toward the Enchanted Forest trail.

watching Brad & Nemo

I misjudged a spiky branch in the Enchanted Forest that poked me in the head. I let out an "ouch!" as it snapped back. That startled Koda and he scooted forward. Something like this wouldn't usually bother him. Our ride spiraled down from there. Now I had a tight backed boy with nothing good on his mind. As we exited the forest, he gave me a small buck. Shortly after, those dang two Sandhill Crane that have been flying around our fields squawked and flew up in the field. Great. Now I had a hunched back prancing horse.

We stood still (ish) and waited for Koda to calm down, before I dismounted. I chose not to "ride it out". Right or wrong, my old body cannot handle getting launched by him. Again. I truly dislike riding time bombs. 

Shortly after, Nemo began acting up too. Brad stayed back in the field to work with Nemo, as I began walking my high energy horse back to the barn. Cierra came charging past us in the pasture. Creating too much energy for Koda to handle. I had another one of "those moments" as we passed the horse shed. 

I wasn't mad, just disappointed. I was really hoping for a relaxing trail ride. Oh well. I put Koda's halter back on, grabbed a lunge line and headed back to the outdoor.

I didn't want Koda to think "I buck, you get off and I get to eat hay".

When we started lunging, Koda complained by bucking, crow hopping and a general sassy fast pace. No problem, we can twirl. His bad attitude didn't last long. Koda became extra attentive to my frequent gait and direction changes. With a calmer horse, I got back on and arena rode for a bit. It went fine, so I dismounted to end on a good note. 

Brad asked if I wanted him to ride Koda. Sure, why not. We switched horses. Nemo and I walked around for a bit, then left to untack. Brad said Koda offered a buck while he was riding too. What a naughty horse! Guess I was tuned into riding Nemo and missed it. Brad finished his ride with a not so thrilled Koda in the field behind the barn

I always feel like I am starting over with Koda.