Category Archives: Nature

Home, Home On The Ranch!

Being a devoted traveler makes for a meticulous host.  And this is the time of year that we put away the suitcase and set out the welcome mat.  As spring eases into summer, the landscaping projects at Newton Fork Ranch advance at a measured pace. But, the advancement is measured by weather as storms pass through just often enough to keep things emerald green.

One of the first projects, before, during, and after the continual mowing of the meadow and surrounding green spaces is the upkeep of Aspen Grove.  The grove, which used to encompass Grandma’s vegetable garden, was reclaimed two years ago.  It had fallen into disuse and was overgrown with tall grass, bushes, and thickets of quaking aspen.  Even the horses that were turned out in that area couldn’t keep up with the grass.  So many hours were spent weeding (with the exception of Dame’s Rocket which was too pretty to rip out), pruning, and thinning to create a horse pasture for guests traveling with equine family members.  It’s an ideal location, especially for guests who rent the Forest Haven cabin that overlooks the pasture.

Every spring ushers in a formidable task to keep that area under control.  While working in there last week, we noticed a lot of activity from the animal kingdom.  There’s a Hairy Woodpecker who has taken up residency in one of the aspen trees.  And we were much relieved to see that he changed his living area.  Last year we had to patch the ranch sign at the entrance where he tried to settle in!  He (and we know it’s a “he” by the red patch on the back of his head) doesn’t seem to mind human company either and will land on trees a few feet away.   Snapping a photo though is a challenge since he is constantly in motion.

A robin that was guarding a nest nearby also periodically stalked us.  To add to this, in the early morning, deer are using Aspen Grove for a gathering place as well.

So now Aspen Grove is all tidied-up and ready for occupancy.  Be it horse, flora, or fauna!

Before Aspen Grove was weeded and thinned, we relied on the horses for landscaping help.

It took several horses to work on keeping the tall grass down. Note how tall it had become in that thicket of background trees.

Of course, the grass is always greener…

Look at the difference in Aspen Grove after the trees are thinned and the grass is cut down. The area looks so much larger now.

And, with the addition of two heavy-duty 12’ x 12’ paneled corrals, we are ready for equine guests!

No more leaning over fences looking for greener pastures!

Here’s a close-up view of our resident Hairy Woodpecker’s home. It’s a duplex.

It took quick reflexes to capture this shot and note how his feathers match the tree. It’s ingenious!

Of course, the deer miss the tall grass.

On a sun-dappled afternoon, a view of the Forest Haven cabin from Aspen Grove.

Dame’s Rocket is a weed but the beautiful colors make it very hard to cut down.

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