Welcome to JKs Rough String Ranch

Welcome to the Rough String, and thanks for stoppin' by!! Grab a hot cup of coffee and sit a spell!
10/22/18 You will see a name change on the blog. Lots of things have changed in my life in the past few years, and I feel compelled to share my story.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Wind, Banana Bread, Owls and Jack-O-Lanterns

What can these things have in common??? Really, not much! It's just the kind of day I got to have!! To survive, flexibility is the key~~

The wind was blowing like a son-of-a-gun and I decided not to ride. I went out with the intentions of riding a couple at least, and the dirt was caking up in my eyes so bad after cleaning the stalls and runs that I decided it was foolish to try to get anything productive done riding wise.

I took some pictures, but they just don't do justice to the wind we get here sometimes in Harney County.

This is the wind blowing my arena soil off to the neighbors or BLM land...

My apple tree was loosing apples from the wind and I picked them up for the horses...some of them had been munched on by the birds already...but, my horses aren't picky...they won't mind!

I tried to capture the wind in my wind chimes. The only thing I seemed to capture today was the beautiful sound that I heard, not the movement I wanted in the photo.

One of my scare crows seems to be waving his arm as the wind blows him around. Abby just wants to have her picture taken ;~)

Toby has taken shelter in the rock out-cropping in his pasture...can I blame him??? I think he's one smart pony!!

Since I opted not to ride, I had some bananas that needed taken care of. My man loves anything home-baked...banana bread was in order.

It's Halloween isn't it...how about some haunting Great Horned Owls? I've tried to photograph my owls many times without a lot of success. This time they just happened to be setting on some of the lower limbs of the elm tree and I used my zoom...and a flash...can you see their red eyes? There are two owls in the tree...this time I don't mind the red eye. They look kinda spooky!

Trick or treaters tonight???...will we see any at our place????...not a chance!!! LOL
One of our neighbors did have a get together with a hay ride and things for the kids. But we are VERY rural...I'll need to make a post in the near future on Harney County's demographics. It's very different that's for sure!

I realized too today that I'd never lit my Jack-O-Lantern that I carved last weekend. Well, by now he's been frozen a few times and thawed out just as many times...you can hardly see his teeth anymore!!! But, I'm really enjoying looking at him out the dining room window as I type this.

I wish you all a very Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Howl-o-ween to everyone!

Cowboy and Cindy Sue hope you all have a great Howl-o-ween!!!!

Be safe and enjoy~~

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sending them home~~

Training horses can be very fulfilling as well as frustrating. Getting the horse to reach their potential is so fulfilling, but getting them to understand what you are asking of them can be very frustrating sometimes. Each horse, like every human, has a different personality, a different way of processing information and a different way of movement. I believe that all of these things (and more) will determine that horse's niche in life and how successful he or she will be. I also believe that every horse can't be put into a "cookie cutter training program" where one size fits all. A good trainer will work with the horse's abilities.

One of my pet peeves is when someone gets a horse and tries to make it something that it just can't be...like they say "this horse is going to be my next barrel racing horse" and that horse can't hardly turn around in his stall without falling over...how's it going to be a successful barrel racing horse? Some things can be taught to a horse, but if the natural ability to "turn around" isn't even there, it'll be like beating your head against the wall. Why put the horse through a training nightmare?

Ok...I'm off that tirade...sorry...LOL

I take in 1-2 horses a month to train during the "good weather" months (because I don't have an indoor facility). Mostly the horses are 2 year olds that need to be started under saddle. Some horses are horses that just need a tune up or more finishing work to get them to handle better.

I'm just now sending the last horse of the year home. This is Ziggy...

Ziggy is a 2 year old and is a Harney County bred Quarter Horse owned by a good friend that has a fantastic breeding program. Her horses have cow sense and an athletic ability that makes them highly marketable to buckaroos and ranches for daily ranch work. After leaving my place, he'll get some "real life experience" by gathering up cow/calf pairs or just trailing the herd. It'll give him knowledge and experience that he surely needs.

I love brands...this is their brand...

I'm looking forward to the horse sale down in Winnamucca Nevada next spring, my friend is going to let me ride a colt I started for her earlier this year through the sale ring and I'll get a commission on that...I love to get paid when I'm having fun!!! Then we'll dance the night away at a club (we don't have clubs here in Princeton LOL).

But, sending these horses home is a sad, yet happy time for me. I've grown attached to them, learned their idiosyncrasies, changed behaviors that were not acceptable and tried to bring out the best in them. I know that they gotta go home...and I give them a kiss on the nose and tell them that I've done my best for them and now they need to do their best...that's all I can do.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


This morning it started about 4:30 a.m.~~thump, thump...tap, tap, tap...thump...tap, tap...silence. Then it started again...thump, tap,tap, tap, thump...what the heck is that????!!! My guess is that it's the deer...I sneak out of bed and go to the sliding glass door (6 feet away)...sure enough...there's this cute lil' doe starin' me in the face at the crack of dawn!!! Sorry, no pic on this one!!! The deer have been devouring our lone apple tree this year for some reason; they've never done it before. This lil' doe was putting her front hooves up on the deck (just outside the bedroom patio door) so she could reach higher into the tree to get more apples and leaves...they are stripping the tree! It'll be ok, the tree will come back next year in fine shape; it's a really big tree.

So...sounds...besides doe hooves at 4:30 in the morning, there are a lot of sounds I love. Sounds of the "few and far between" cars or trucks coming down our road in the still of dawn. They can leave a beautiful hue as I watch the sunrise. That's not mist...it's dust from the gravel road hovering over the valley floor.

Sounds of hooves rhythmically hitting the ground could put you to sleep after a long day's ride. Colt and I are riding along the edge of one of the alfalfa fields...this view is of one of our wheel line movers and the line (parked for the winter) through Colt's ears.

How about the sound of a herd of yahoos, coming down the hill for dinner? They can surely create a stir of clattering hooves on rock and send a ton of dust into the air. This "herd of yahoos" includes Stetson & Catnip the burros and Duncan & Rohan, two of our mustangs. They had just come galloping down the hill for dinner.
Sounds of training in my "training program" include clucking and kissing to my horses to get a specific response...come on, take a spin on my reined cow horse!!!!

I love spinnin'...that was not quite 2 revolutions and in a competition it's usually 2 1/2 revolutions, and faster too!

Sounds can be very subtle sometimes...like the flies that have landed on my hat bathing in the sun.

Another subtle sound (around me all day long) is my lil' shadow~~Cindy Sue~~Here she's nestling in the straw bedding in for a lil' nap.

Do cats make noise?...not much that I've ever noticed...this is Tat the barn cat...observing whether I'm saddling the horses correctly or not.

Alright...my favorite sound...it's the sound of horses eating. That may seem odd to most, but they eat as rhythmically as they walk, trot or lope. It'll put to sleep if you let it. Breath in the sweet smell of hay and listen to the soft crunch of hay...heaven!

John's horse Whiskey makes a nest out of his hay pile as he finds the best leaves of alfalfa to eat first.

My 21 year old Quarter Horse, Toby, has the best rhythm of them all. Maybe it's just because I've listened to him for so long that I understand him better.

Colt is actually eating an apple here...more slobber...yum~~

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is is Fall...or is it still Summer?

This morning it was 25 degrees; this afternoon it was in the low 70's!!! It was a beautiful day, but dressing in layers is essential. As I left the house to get into the truck to go to Todd's, I felt like I needed to be wearing some of my cuddle duds under my jeans out working horses at 8 a.m.~~Then I thought not, just Cowgirl Up...good thought.

Cowboy thought it was a perfect day.

Stetson and his mother Catnip were heading back up the hill after coming down for water. They watched me for quite a while working a horse in the round pen.

I took Colt out for a long trot to the far end of our property as his warm up before practicing some of our reining maneuvers in the arena. This fence gate is very typical for openings in a fence that doesn't have to be opened often...it's a lot cheaper. Colt insisted that he was the main subject...not the silly gate!

Ahhhhh the sweet smell of horse sweat mixed with the hay and manure smells in the barn should be bottled...in my opinion :~)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Fall Sunday

Here in the high desert we do have 4 seasons, some of them just aren't as long as you'd like them to be. I actually realized a couple of days ago that our leaves freeze dry and then start falling off the trees...they don't really change color much. They just get a little yellow.
We cheat a little too when it comes to raking leaves...these elm leaves are so small that we just use the mower to suck them up! This is my husband John...

Colt makes an interesting subject for this shot...he's giving me kisses!

Our first cutting of alfalfa is still here...waiting to be picked up for it's trip to a dairy in Idaho. It looks old and brown on the outside from the sun. But, on the inside it's a beautiful, deep green...the cows will make good milk from this hay. Hat Butte is in the background.

Back in the house again...my Christmas cactus is blooming!!

Growing Alfalfa~Part 1

My dad did it. John's dad did it. Piece of cake, right? We can do it too. Well, let me just say that it's a lot harder than it looks! When we bought the place, the alfalfa was old and overgrown with grass and weeds. So, the plan was to till everything under and replant...it sounded so simple...I'm still laughing at that one! This photo is one of the two fields to replant (2005).
Our plan for farming was to hire a custom farmer to do all of the machine work and we would do the irrigation...that part is still working great for us. Purchasing the equipment would have cost us more than what we paid for the farm!

So in the spring of 2006 as soon as the weather would allow, the fields were chiseled twice, disked twice, and then gone over with a rototiller type piece of equipment that would bring all the roots to the surface and kill them; at the same time, it makes a nice seed bed. The goal is to kill all of the existing alfalfa (you'll see why a little further along). This photo is the rototiller making the seed bed.

Now, you can't just plant alfalfa right away. The soil needed to rest and so we had to plant another crop first. Typically it would be a grain hay, and we chose oat hay. Once planted, it was water, water, and more water...we have 4 wheel lines for that.

Irrigation is really synonym for "irritation"...when we first started up the wheel lines, it seemed like there was more water leaking from all of the connections than out of the sprinkler heads. We worked for weeks slowly replacing all the worn out gaskets and bad sprinkler heads. Poor John had a daily list from me of what he needed to pick up at Harney Pump & Irrigation...they got to know us real well.

The other part of getting a new crop started is that the irrigation had to be changed 3 times a day because the soil just turned to mud and I'd be sinking up to my shins. It usually takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours each time to change the 4 lines...that's all I did...change irrigation.

It was so exciting to see our first little seedlings start sprouting up!!! WhoooHoooo!!! It only took 4 days. Once they started, they really took off. And the bonus was that once the seedlings had a root base, we could irrigate longer and we changed irrigation just twice a day.
Then it's finally ready to harvest!!!

Ok, by now it's the middle of July and with a short growing season, we're sitting pretty good to get the alfalfa in so it will be tall enough before the freezing temps start. The fields were disked over once to just rough it up a little and the farmer made a pass up and back down the first field. He got out of the tractor and asked me if I'd noticed all of the alfalfa that was growing...I hadn't...but, it wasn't a good thing. Old alfalfa is toxic to new alfalfa seedlings!!! We're so glad he was doing the farming, because we hadn't a clue.

Well, to resolve this, the only option was to spray to kill the volunteer alfalfa and plant another grain crop. Ok...if that's what we have to do. We chose triticale this time. It's higher in protein and cattle really like it. So, the triticale got sewed in and we were back to watering 3 times a day again!!! But, the seedlings came up pretty quick.

The triticale got up about 5-6 inches and then the cold weather hit. We were done irrigating, or being "irritated," until the next year. It felt like we were on vacation at that point!!! We watched the snow and cold on the fields all winter long looking forward to the next spring.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Never thought I'd be blogging!!! Day one~~

From an inspiration from one of my dog's online friend's mom...does that make sense...I decided to try blogging. Our life here in Eastern Oregon is interesting and quite different from other areas. Something that should be fun to share!

Today is an unusual Saturday; John is usually home, but he had to work the dreaded Inventory at his work...yuck.

So, I've had a quiet morning drinking coffee, baking brownies, carving a pumpkin, feeding the chickens and exploring this blogging thing on the computer. Obviously, it's too hard to try to explain all of one's life in a single paragraph...I'll just take a few days, weeks, months, or years to share our ranch life...

In summary, I've been married to John for almost 10 years and at that time we lived in the Portland OR metro area. We had an exciting opportunity to move and chose Central Oregon as our new home...away from all the people and traffic...someplace where we enjoyed vacationing with our horses sounded perfect. That was in 2000. By 2005, it seemed like everyone from the "Valley" had also moved to Central Oregon....eeeeekkkkk. We took another blessed opportunity and followed our dreams and hearts~~we bought a ranch/farm in Eastern Oregon~~and we don't regret it one bit.

It's hard work...but a work of love. It's work to maintain a lifestyle that is slowly disappearing in America. Small farms and ranches are becoming a thing of the past. Economics pretty much sums it all up.

We have a very small place in comparison to others in the area. But, we work hard raising 45 acres of alfalfa hay. We lease out about 275 acres of grazing land in the summer (cow/calf pairs), and I train horses. To make this work, John works a full time job in town (45 miles away).

Ok...my pics for the day...

Here are my 5 laying hens...they sure do love pumpkin!!

And I sure love the eggs they give us.

My poor garden...when it starts freezing here at night, gardening is a done deal. No amount of covering could save my precious tomatoes and zucchini.

This little flower bed will look great next year. I transplanted these Holly Hocks early this year from out behind the barn where the old homestead used to be which was probably from the early 1900's.

My pumpkin carving project from this mornin'. I love the natural warts and skin marks on it...character!

This is a project I'm working on for John. He received a very sentimental gift from a dear friend; a pair of deer skin shotgun chaps. Sadly, they were about 6-8 inches too short for him. I got a pattern for a pair of chinks, which is a buckaroo type of chap. I took out the zipper and re-attached the fringe using a braided pattern. I now have to finish them by adding the straps with buckles and the concho decorations.