Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Out for a Jaunt

On Thanksgiving we decided we'd follow our 4th of July precident and take the horses out for a trail ride. The weather was unbelievably spectacular - nearly 60 degrees and clear blue skies. The major delima was how to do that and still have turkey cooked in time for a 3:00 dinner. Doing the math, I didn't see how we could do that. We hemmed and hawed about me not riding, about having a friend come over to put the turkey in, etc. Finally we declared we be home no later than noon and then do what we had to regarding dinner.

We were relating all this to Roger Wednesday, and he said - why don't you use that delayed start feature on your oven? Genius! It's very clear we don't do alot of cooking, and even less that involves the oven, for that never occurred to any of us. Worked fabulously and we returned home to the wonderful smell of cooking turkey.

For our ride we went to the near by Rabbit Mountain open space for the first time. All the ponies loaded like champs - even mustang Chaco who we've never attempted to put in a trailer before. The ride was great, but as always when going to a new place we learned alot that we'd do differently next time. The trails are very rocky, and poor Romeo had just had his feet trimmed the day before. Those rocks were clearly hurting his feet and he only wanted to walk in the grass beside the trail! Later on we discovered a maintenance road that pretty much parallels the trail, so we tried to stick to that from then on out. Next time we may invest in some ezboots to slip on Romeo - since he does fine at home barefoot so we don't see a need to shoe him just for occasional trail rides.

We definitely need to take more opportunities to get out and ride!


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Black Friday

Retailers designate the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday - as in the first day of the year that they are financially in the black. One of the few cases in which black is a positive thing.

For us Friday was just black. In the traditional sense. Patches, Ginger's family's dog was laid to rest on the hillside overlooking our arena. A few weeks shy of her 15th birthday, she'd far exceeded all expectations of longevity. When we moved to the property a year an a half ago she was not in great shape. She'd recently lost weight and getting up and about was clearly painful for her. But increased pain management and getting out to the barn every day very quickly led to a dramatic rebound for Patches. It seemed ranch life agreed with her.

Her enthusiasm for life visably sparked. The image of her sticking her head back behind the hay pile when her tail would suddenly spring to life at the discovery of some little critter will forever be with us. She valiantly did her best to help out with the mouse control - it was a rare but satisfying day when she actually caught one.

But the inevitable day came when pain management and outdoor jaunts could not keep up with the effects of age. Ginger's kids joined us on Thanksgiving and it was obvious Patches recognized both of them as soon as they walked in the door.

Friday was a beautifully sunny day with an astonishing view towards a snow-covered Long's Peak. We all take comfort in that Patches is now a spirit freed of her earthly restraints. She indeed was a grand old lady and life long friend for Matt, Jessica and Ginger.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Can you say Dr. Seuss?

My sister Phyllis has been talking about getting into the Alpaca breeding business for a long time now. She's researched them, visited farms, even learned to spin fleece. Alpaca are small llamas, bred natively in South America for their fleece and as food animals. In the US, however, they the latest greatest livestock. Aparently you can no longer import them to the US... or no longer export them from S.A... something like that. So there is an Alpaca shortage and breeding is a hot business.

So she called me a month ago and announced she was buying 3 pregnant females! Terribly exciting - a breeder in Albuquerque helped her locate 3 good prospects which were at the time spread between Georgia, Missouri and Colorado. So plans began to get them shipped closer together so that they could go home to Phyllis's when she had her pens and sheds built.

Long story short (the long story can be found on her blog), the one in Colorado is about 30 minutes from where we live, so she and Mike came down over the weekend to meet the first of their new brood: Sophia.

We know nothing about Alpaca, and I have to say my first and lasting impression is that they look like something directly out of a Dr. Seuss book. Really oddly proportioned and their gaits are this weird flowey rambling type gait. (in other words - about as far from horses as can be!) Never the less, they most certainly have a cuteness factor that cannot be denied.

The two-week old 'cria' who was at the farm.


The crimping and fine-ness of the fiber is the unique attribute of Alpaca Fleece.

Grahm Cracker has a particularly cute face

We were amazed to see their inquisitive nature, and laughed at the noises they make by puffing their cheeks out with air. They have wacked-out feet - two large oval pads that end in nails, and only have teeth in their bottom jaw. Their top jaw is just a hard pallet the lower teeth grind against. Like I said - they seem like something out of a child's imagination.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Concrete Laying - Check

I find myself in the delightful position of having so much news to share that I can't quite keep up! The contractors continue to do their jobs, and every day there is something new for me to update the daily photo-record.

Last week the plumbing trenches were all filled and concrete prep prooved that we had not removed too much gravel from those areas, something we'd been concerned about. But no, they took another yard or so of dirt out of there smoothing down the surface. That freed us to spread the last load of gravel down by the barn.

The radiant floor heating plumbing went in in a day.

And so did the concrete. This was quite the production! Thanks to Dave and Ginger we have lots of action shots:

The concrete will need several days to cure - so it was great timing this happened the week of Thanksgiving. Next week wall framing begins.

Also there was the finalization of the Road Impact Fee from the county - after David's informal appeal letter they contacted us Friday that they'd reassessed the fee at $1300 instead of $8000! However, if we wanted to further appeal we would have to go through the regular process and pay the $500 appeal fee. Yeah - no thanks. We went over Monday and paid the $1300 to be done with them!


Monday, November 21, 2005

Not quite clear on the concept

How do you know when your horse is ready to be a lesson horse?

I guess Ginger had to hop off for a bit during the lesson to attend to something. Shadow decided if everyone else was walking the rail - that must be where he belonged! Fortunately one of the student's husband was on hand to capture the moment.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Underground Plumbing - Check

Today was our first inspection on the kennel construction - underground plumbing.

Based on our experience with Weld County inspections todate, we don't get all that excited about inspections anymore.

Our first one was last spring for the new electrical service and meter we had brought to the property, then Dave ran new electricity to both barns. Electrical lines are to be trenched 2 feet down, and it wasn't until about the day before the inspector was due that we found out that was 2 feet from the top of the wires, not from the bottom of the trench. As those wires were about 1.5 inches thick, we ran around trying to dig out an extra inch or so in several shallow spots late into the night. Then the inspector came and never even walked down to the barns to see the electrical boxes Dave instealled there. Hooey to 22" vs 24" trenches!

Anyways, inspections are good milestones.

Meanwhile we returned to our favorite past time over the weekend - fence posts. We're either numb or are getting good at them because it actually seemed like a pleasant change of pace.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Construction Begins!

Need I say more?


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Still running that gauntlet

I didn't post all last week -- because I kept thinking we were on the verge of receiving our building permit, only to be denied again and again.

The planner emailed us first thing Monday morning to report that she had seen our fence Friday evening... but the lack of doors on the dumpster enclosure was an issue. Well shoot - we could do those fairly quickly, had she but stopped to talk on Friday they could have been done by Monday morning. As it was Monday evening Dave finished them and we emailed pictures to her.

Another snag was that over the weekend we'd received notification from the planning department that we were being assessed a Road Impact Fee - to the tune of $8000. Furthermore, this had to be paid before a building permit could be issued! Well, now, that was a problem. Looking into it revealed that this fee is assessed as a fee per square foot of business and by business category. They don't have a category for dog kennel, so they put us in the (child) day care center category.

Long story short, Dave found another rule for applying fees and wrote a letter to the planning dept head appealing our assessment, AND requesting that the permit be issued even though we haven't settled this issue. Friday we got confirmation they were ok releasing the permit provided we have settled the road impact fee issue before a Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Cool.

Oh, meanwhile our plat did get recorded on Wednesday. Then a heck of a wind storm came in Wednesday night and ripped one dumpster door off its hinges, and pushed loose many of our posts that weren't cemented in. *SIGH*

So, Friday we were all set for the permit to go out Monday and construction begin. Um, not so fast. Aparently the Building Dept WAS NOT quite ready to issue the permit like we were told Friday 10/30 AND confirmed that day 11/4. They somehow need to do something else and expect it to be ready Thursday 11/10! Uffff Dah! (and a few other invectives in rapidly increasing vehemence)

David made a deal with the contractor for him to haul away our concrete pile in exchange for us digging out 4 inches of packed gravel that currently fills 2/3 of the kennel barn.

This was actually quite a boon. We've complained a great deal about the puddles that form around the horse barn when ever it is wet. The water is a nuisance, but the MUD is horrible. It is really sticky and slippery and gets everywhere. We've had some grading done to help drainage on the north side, but fundamentally the path from the barn down to the pasture is a still a hill that gets plain old dangerous when its wet. So we started digging out the gravel and have already completed a gravel path between the horse barn and pasture, and one from the other end of the barn to the manure pile - because like it or not we still need to muck the stalls even when its raining. Then there is from the main barn driveway across the horrible quagmire into the main barn door. It was distinctly uncomfortable to have our first real customers having to wade their way across this area last spring when it was so wet. If we can get all three of these areas so that they remain passable even when wet we'd be VERY happy indeed.

As ready as can be for the start of construction.