Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1 and finally rain, we were getting worried here in California. We have had a few days of scattered rain showers this winter but far below normal. This week has been wet, grey and cool... hurray. Both Jerry and I have been fighting colds or a mild flu, just enough to take away our normal 'pep' and 'perkiness'. I spent most of my day doing paper work in the office. Then we noticed the birds, lots of them, visiting our feeders and yard in large numbers. Looking back at my bird journal and pictures they are our regulars that show up in larger numbers in Feb - March. Others are the daily visitors but there seemed to be much more than usual. Maybe a few of them headed down hill to avoid some of that snow falling in the Sierra. I enjoyed my break bird watching.

I haven't seen this particular bird before, he's the only one I've noted with the white patch around his eyes. The others have solid black heads. Large flocks fed here today. They cleaned up the spilt seed below the bird feeders.

Nuthatch, a regular here.

I cheated here, this Stellar Jay photo is from a few weeks ago. My picture today was too blurry to share. They are such pretty birds, but hard to capture photos of because they usually fly away as soon as they spot me.

Northern Flicker. I only see them in the winter/spring.

Anna's Hummingbird. I put up more feeders and we have more hummers.

Lesser Finch and House Finch. Males.

Acorn Woodpecker, our home wrecker.

Lovely, lovely Mourning Dove.

If you don't care for bird pictures sorry, I know I shared most of these birds last year. I also enjoy wild life photography and have taken a few (very few) nice ones. Maybe I'll find some and share them.

Happy Trails.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale

California isn't all Hollywood parties, glamour and movie stars with their fancy awards ceremonies. My Dad wouldn't visit me here for the longest time because he was not interested in setting foot in this crazy land of 'nuts & fruits'. I will agree that California may have a few 'interesting qualities', but I am here to share some of the rural roots we find so appealing.

For example; the 50th Anniversary of the ''Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale'' held in Northern California, in.....Red Bluff! We took a little five day working vacation and spent five days with no plans to buy either Bulls or Geldings. We just enjoy the country folk and the atmosphere.
If you aren't a 'horse person' you may be wondering what a gelding is, or I don't know, maybe everyone knows what a gelding is? Anyways, a gelding is the term used for a male horse that has been altered (castrated). You all should know what a bull is, a massive male bovine that has not been altered (castrated). Some of my worst and most humorous memories of vet school involved working with bulls *shudder*. I am definitely a horse person, not so much a cattle person. You won't find me referring to myself as a cowgirl. Nope.

So, back to Red Bluff, we set up our camp in the parking lot along with all of the other rural campers. Right at home in the mud and muck. This was the second day and the road had dried up quite a bit. Those who thought ahead had packed rubber muck boots, we hadn't thought ahead. But it sure beats paved city streets, eh?

I enjoy watching fine horses and people watching. There was a rigorous three day screening program for the geldings, all between 3-10 years old, all ranch and cattle horses. I like horse rumps.... apparently from my pictures, cowboy bottoms too.

Some say people and their dogs look alike........

Lots of cowboy hats, lots of horses, lots of visiting.

I so enjoy watching youngsters show their horsemanship skills. This young fella rode a very well-broke young horse and he handled that rope with skill. The ladies were lovin' him. One grandma-type asked if he came along with the horse if she bought it. He seriously answered,"no 'mam".

It was a whole family affair. Seems as though this entire family rides together.
Up in the left hand corner is #50, "Molly". Mules are the exception to the gelding rule, she is a she-mule. I bonded with her, I got me a buyer's number, I remembered our agreement NOT to buy a creature, I did not buy Molly, good thing too, she sold for $6000.00!

Here is the sale ring. This horse was an amazing cow horse. This was a $25,000.00 horse.

I think this was the oldest man at the Auction, he couldn't stay awake and he was sitting ring-side, where it was very noisy and busy. I was worried about him and kept looking over to make sure I could see his chest moving.

He didn't seem very interested in the auction, I wondered if his family made him go.

This young cowboy wasn't getting the high bids he wanted for his palomino so he kept upping his act. Everyone is wanting a horse you can stand on to rope your cattle off of, don't you know. I think I heard the grandma-type lady yell out asking if he came with the horse if she bought it?

Then there was the Rodeo, Bull Riders and Bronc Riders. Great family entertainment.

The pre-rodeo show was a local band. After the rodeo, the local country-rock-new age-rap- combo band played some more and a dance was held out in the arena. Have you ever danced out in arena dirt? Strange experience.
Also strange was watching young adults at the dance busy texting friends while standing in groups with friends also busy texting others. There are no tables out in the arena, so another strange thing was watching couples dance while holding on to their full plastic cups of beer, while trying to maneuver around in the dark arena dirt. This was getting way too red-neck for even Jerry and I so we headed back to our swamp.

You know, at least those movie stars have tables for their drinks at those fancy affairs of theirs.

The Military carried in the red-white-and blue and we thoroughly enjoyed a local singer do an absolutely wonderful job singing the national anthem. I love it when the cowboys and cowkids take off their hats for the flag.

The Bull Sale was awesome, bulls are massive and scary. Some people handled their bulls with only halters without nose rings. My palms were sweaty. Bulls make me nervous. I think the high dollar bull sold for about $6000.00. There were hundreds of bulls sold that day. I wasn't even tempted to go find my buyer's number.

Then I go out and see this tiny little munchkin helping her Daddy shine up their bull for the ring.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunset Ride

Last night Jerry and I, me on my horse and Jerry riding a mule, went on a sunset/moonlight ride along the American River. It was chilly but not too cold, the sun was setting and the full moon rising. I just love riding the trails with only the moon lighting our path. We heard owls, watched a mama doe and her twin fawns watch us, and listened to our mount's hooves clip clop along the path as we quietly walked along. We timed our ride so we'd make it to the American River at sunset, where I planned to take some photos, then our ride back to the trailhead and our trailer would be in the moonlight. Recently, we have enjoyed breathtaking, spectacular, brilliant sunsets......

....Last night wasn't one of them. This was as colorful as it got. The sunset may have been a bit of a dud, but the trail ride with Jerry was spectacular.

Try a moonlit trail.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dawn to Dusk

We've had three days of rains, sometimes coming down in solid sheets of water, other times gentle sprinkles. Winds too. The ground has drunk it up, broken branches litter the yard, and the chorus of frogs at night is awesome. We are all so happy to have rain.
The weatherman says we'll enjoy warmer temperatures and dry skies for a few days. Which translates as 'fog in the valley' for a few days.

Early this morning on my drive to work, I just had to pull over, get out of my truck,

admire the view and snap a few photos. Nice drive.....

Too soon, I am down in the valley, the Central Valley that is, not the same as a pretty little valley one imagines nestled lushly between two mountains. The foggy drive down here just doesn't do much for me. Bleak.

But look! Time to head home after work and what a reward!

Happy Trails to you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


This morning's chores included breaking the layer of ice on the horse, mule and dog water buckets. Thankfully, no frozen or broken water pipes or lines.
Water lines are shallow here and pipes rather exposed because we just really don't get much in the way of freezing weather.

So most of the plants which appeared perky and blooming just yesterday, have frozen into a wilted mass. Even the gnome looks cold.

I have bunches of these also melted and mushy looking.

Our little hummers don't migrate, they hang around all winter. This cutie pie has been teasing the boys lately, I've been watching their antics and know their regular hangouts.

Not so brightly colored in the early morning light. This fellow perches high in an oak tree just behind the house. He's quite tame and will feed with me standing very close. He is also very vocal and quite aggressive chasing the other hummingbirds about.

They perch on their tiny branches all night long, while their heart rates and body temperatures drop very low. In the first morning light they start moving, their little hummer metabolism speeds up and they quickly need to feed. I didn't actually take a Hummingbird's temperature or heart rate myself, of course you knew that. I have several feeders out and will make sure there is always plenty of liquid energy available. They just seem so fragile, I feel bad for them out there in the cold.

....and glad to come in and warm myself in front of a toasty fire.
The cold weather is supposed to continue and we are hoping for the rain that looks promising within the next few days. Things are very dry here, this is supposed to be our rainy season.

Keep warm.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Winter Morning: January 12, 2012

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.

Sunshine almost always makes me high.

IF I had a day that I could give you,

...I'd give you a day just like today,

IF I had a song that I could sing for you,

.....I'd sing a song to make you feel this way.

John Denver, 'Sunshine on My Shoulders'

Happy Birthday Amy!

Sunny Trails..............

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jerry and I decided to spend the last three days of 2011 doing one of the things we most enjoy. Not snow skiing, there is NO snow. The weather had been dry and clear all of December, perfect for camping and riding. We hauled two of our horses north three hours to Oroville where there is a nice Equestrian Campgrounds near the reservoir. Although it is winter and the leaves are fallen from most of the Oak trees, the Live Oaks and pines lend a bit of green to the hills. The camp was empty, we had our choice of sites. This place is usually best in the spring, by May the temperatures can reach the 100s, been there, done that. Fall can be nice but very dusty, winter is usually very wet with muddy, slick trails. This December weekend was good.

We rode the trails each of the three days we were there. The first two days were cloudy and very chilly, nice riding weather. There had been just enough previous rain to keep the dust down. Both horses were eager to go. That is my view of the world atop 'Rock'.

We rode from late afternoon until sunset on day one.

Day two was overcast and cool. From sections of the trail, the resevoir can be glimpsed. It's at it's winter's low mark, but there were still plenty of boats out there, big ones. The trail meanders through the foothills; woods, meadows, creeks and the lake.

A nice clear stream to drink from.

This pleasant rest area is halfway on one of the trail loops. We didn't stop to picnic but I did get the travel journal out of the mailbox and jot a message that we had been there. I always enjoy reading what the other riders and hikers have written.

Of the three days riding, the last day was the best. Still chilly but the sun shining brightly and a clear blue sky. We rode a couple of hours before packing up camp and heading home.

This is NOT the camp we packed up that last day of 2011. This camp that Jerry and I had set up in the Colorado wilderness in 2006 illustrates how I most love to camp. Roughing it, an outdoor campfire to cook over, close to nature. In 2000 - 2001, I spent almost a year traveling and camping across the USA with a dog, a horse, a truck, a horse trailer and my tent. A great adventure. Several months ago, Jerry and I began discussing taking a month long vacation this summer, traveling through the western states with a horse and mule each. I was imaging trailering to different wilderness areas, 'packing in' our camp supplies on the mules, you know 'roughing it'.

Well surprise, surprise, surprise....... This is how the ol' cowboy of mine pictures traveling across the USA. Gag...... pampered.

Our new traveling hotel. Four horse stalls in back and in front the human's living quarters complete with shower, toilet, kitchen, couch, table, microwave, surround sound stereo, television, air conditioning, heat, bed with mattress, running hot and cold water...... CAMPING???? Who kidnapped my mule-skinner, cowboy, macho-man husband? I want him back!!!

There he is riding away with crazy cowdog Cort. This man who dragged me up the mountains in November after our first (and last so far) snow to ride horses in the freezing cold has morphed into a luxury seeking camper. I am bewildered. I am planning to bring my tent and bedroll along on our trip and pray it doesn't rain much. I guess if he wants to cook in that indoor kitchen, I'll still eat his meals. Maybe I'll even use that shower, if I have to.

Happy Trails however you travel them!