I had the pleasure of spending the weekend at the 4C with Frank this weekend. What a fantastic time we had.
The 4C is a working cattle ranch, a culmination of a family's hard work to bring to fruition one woman's dream. The ranch is located in Southern Kentucky in the quaint town of Burkesville.
The owner is a dear friend, Kim, whom I first met in South Florida when I boarded my paint filly at her barn. We have remained friends over 17 years through spouse changes, state changes and horse changes. Kim is a true friend with loads of spiritual intellect that borders on scary at times. Along with Kim the ranch is held together with Hubby Matt and sons Austin and Charlie. Although Austin is away at college the boys are a great help at the ranch. The ranch runs stocker cattle, which basically means they buy young cattle and grow them up for a while then re sell them.
I left work at 5 and headed straight to the barn to pick up Frank. I had pre packed the night before so all I had to do is stuff a hay bag and load Frank and we were off! Frank of course jumped right in and down the road we went. We immediately found rain, at least it held off until I had the trailer hooked up and Frank loaded.
It rained for an hour of the trip and then the sun came out and my remaining drive was uneventful. I pulled in to the ranch around 8:45 that evening and found the arena lights on and Kim waiting for me. I unloaded Frank and allowed him to sniff around a bit before putting him in one of the open air pens. Frank had a little bottle fed steer "Porky" as a fence mate this weekend. Kim commented on how calm Frank was in this new environment as we got him his grain and some fresh water. We then proceeded to the cabin to put my bags inside. The cabin has been on the property over a hundred years and when found it had cows walking thru it and was in dire need of restoration. Kim has lovingly restored it and even put in electric and plumbing.
I wouldn't have been a very nice guest if I hadn't brought a gift, so we opened the bottle of wine I brought and we sat on the front porch listening to nature. We talked for hours and caught up on each others lives. I was shocked to see it was after 1 in the morning when we finally turned in. The cabin has a queen bed downstairs and 2 twins and a full upstairs. I slept like a baby and awoke to find a beautiful day waiting on Saturday. We fed the cattle and horses first then took to the quaint little kitchen to fix ourselves some viddles. Here is a picture of the kitchen.
After breakfast we went to visit a neighbors stable not far away. The folks that owned it had relocated from the Netherlands and were having a fundraising event at the stable to support their Curly horse rescue. I had never seen a Curly horse up close and personal and I tell you the little curls of hair all over their bodies sure are soft! I learned that they harvest the hair from brushing/shedding and mix it with Alpaca hair to make yarn. They had some items made from the hair and it made beautiful yarn. I wish I had brought my camera with me to take a picture of the horses they were very different.
We returned to the 4C and had a spot of lunch then decided to saddle up and take a trail ride. The property is quite large (sorry forgot to ask how many acres) and there is a ridge that runs around 3/4 of the property. The ridge ride is not for the faint of heart or horses that are not in good shape. Although the trail is plenty wide to ride double wide the hills are steep! Frank got an excellent workout as the trail is also several miles long. I did notice some soreness in Frank's back toward the end of the ride. I say this because he was short stepping his way down the hill and stopping occasionally. I do believe another opinion on his back is necessary. Along the way we saw the fauna just starting to sprout up from winter's slumber. I saw a black snake warming himself on a rock and we heard turkey in the distance. Here is a picture of my host Kim on trusted steed P-nut, that is trusting little Mr Scruff's in the back round.
Here is a shot of the Frank and I with cattle dog Lucy.
After our ride Kim and I decided to fix some hamburgers on the grill. Why does everything taste better when cooked outdoors? We enjoyed the full moon and retired a wee bit earlier than the previous night. Sunday morning arrived just as beautiful as Saturday. Kim's husband was nice enough to feed the cattle so we reciprocated by fixing him a breakfast. After breakfast we headed out to the cattle pens and decided that we would play a game of sorting. Kim asked if I would help treat the cattle with fly solution and I was happy to accommodate. We enlisted the help of her son Charlie and gathered up 11 head. Charlie worked them into the chute area and Kim worked the chute. After Kim had them secure in the chute I applied fly repellent while she put on the neck numbers. Here you can see me applying the fly repellent.
As you can probably imagine the cattle being put in the chute makes a great deal of noise and commotion. The pen Frank was in was only about 20 feet from the chute area and this racket was clearly getting him excited. It was a great learning experience for him with all the mooing and banging around, by the end of the process he was just standing there watching us. Once we were done processing the cattle we saddled up to have a go at working them. I must make note that these were fresh cattle that had never been worked before so this probably was going to get interesting. Frank followed the herd thru the lanes to the sorting pens snorting and sniffing the whole way. When the cattle were moving away from him he was comfortable but when one turned back toward him he jumped and clearly was not sure what to do. Kim funneled the cattle to one side of the pens and I worked Frank in the other just doing basic bending and some trotting exercises letting him get used to the smell and noise of the cows. Kim walked P-nut thru the cows as Frank watched intently. Next was our turn and in we went. I took everything very slow and deliberate with Frank, I wanted this to be a positive experience for him. First I just walked in front of the herd and gradually we moved on to actually moving the herd.
All was going well until the herd split and there were cows on either side of Frank.
This caused him a little panic but nothing major we just worked thru it. Before long he was comfortable enough to do very slow methodical sorting. I just realized that some of you may not be familiar with what sorting is. Basically the competitive sport of sorting mimics what would be done at a branding where you separate cows from calves for doctoring or branding. In the competitive sport there are 10 cows numbered from 0-9 and one additional "trash" cow. The announcer gives you a number to start at such as 3, then your job as a team of two horses and riders is to sort number 3 out to the other side of the pen then 4 etc., no trash or out of sequence numbers can go thru or you are disqualified. The team with most cows and fastest wins. Sounds easy right, ah NO. There is lots of info HERE for those of you interested. We finally got Frank to a good place with the cattle and called it a day. I was mighty impressed once again with my fella, he just keeps getting better and better.
Reluctantly I had to clean up and load for home. I really enjoyed my weekend at the 4C and cannot wait to go back. If you want to spend a nice weekend in the woods with or without horses check out the 4C it is just what the soul needs....