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Seasons on the ranch

/Seasons on the ranch
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Falling into Autumn in Central Oregon

OK, it’s a corny title, but what else can you expect at the end of an exceptionally busy season? Our guest season for 2016 is coming to a close and we are very thankful to all the good people who chose to come and spend some time at Long Hollow Ranch. We enjoyed visitors from around the globe and many states across the country. It’s always fun to meet folks from different areas and get to know something about their cultures, customs, and even various languages. This summer was very warm and dry; we literally had no rain for several months. This last week has been making up for that. It has brought us showers and cool weather so now the ground is quite well watered, the air is fresh and clean, and the buildings look cleaner. Rain is a blessing in this part of the country. As soon as things clear up and the sun comes out again it will be time to clean up the garden and put it to bed for the winter. We are even beginning to think in terms of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And speaking of fall, Dick and I just returned from a much needed getaway. We returned to my former home area near Niagara Falls, Ontario. Spending time with some old friends was fun and relaxing. Visiting the local Harvest Festivals and other attractions was interesting, as well as watching the fall color work its way into the trees and shrubs all around us. The area is very agricultural with beautiful truck farms, orchards and vineyards. It is also becoming recognized as a source of world-class wines. While later driving through parts of Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa the [...]

Ring in the New for 2016

Christmas 2015 is history. What a great way to end a year; celebrating one of the greatest events in human history. I sincerely hope that each one of you now harbors a new hope and optimism in your heart. With all the nastiness going on around the world, we need a time of joy and hopefulness to buoy our spirits. Our home was blessed this Christmas with the presence of our son and his family, including our two young grandchildren. What a joy it was to watch the two young ones sit on the piano bench together and play the songs they have been learning; Pachelbel’s Canon, The Entertainer, Christmas carols and many others. And this with no formal musical training! Grandpa and I decided that natural talent like this must be encouraged and supported, so their Christmas gifts included help to start piano lessons in the near future. We feel very blessed to be the grandparents of two such fine young people. Our grandson, Jacob, is 15 years old, a good student, soccer player and drummer. His 12-year-old sister, Patience, is also athletic, creative, and just plain fun. Needless to say, our Christmas visit was most enjoyable. Now it is time to get back to work. We have plans to improve service to our guests in 2016 in a number of new ways, so during the winter months we will be developing and finalizing those plans and preparing ourselves and our staff to bring those plans to reality in the new season. During the winter, when Dick and I are on R&R in Arizona, a friend will be staying here at the ranch to take care of the horses, and watch over things in [...]

Tis the Season!

Summer and Autumn have come and gone here at Long Hollow Ranch. It is definitely winter now. The pace is much slower now than it was just a few weeks ago. About eight inches of snow fell last week and the temperature dips well below freezing every night. The local deer have made many winding trails through the snow across the yard on their way to and from the hay piles. They seem to be very happy with the wintery scene. I don’t blame them; it is very beautiful when the sun is shining brightly. Thanksgiving weekend is over. We had guests for turkey dinner on Friday. Ron and Lisa, who are regulars now, came bringing pies and veggies for the dinner. They also have been helping with cooking, cleaning and even chores outside. I told them they will be put on steady if they keep that up! They make me thankful for good friends. There were other guests too –first-timers who said they will be back next season. We’ll be happy to see them. The thing I enjoy most about this business is all the nice people we meet. Speaking of nice people, 2015 has brought us so many lovely guests from all over the world. This year we counted sixty different countries of origin for guests who have come over the last fifteen years. As I have mentioned before, one of the purposes of the dude ranch business is to help people develop relationships. I also have learned that relationship-building is high on the list of wants when people go on vacation. A dude ranch is the perfect place to do just that. Here at Long Hollow the groups are small enough that [...]

Autumn Comes Quietly

Autumn has come upon us fairly quietly this year. We have actually had some rain, which was badly needed and much appreciated. But still there is the occasional warm balmy day with light breezes, very much enjoyed. We still eat lunch on the porch whenever possible since soon that will be suspended indefinitely. There have also been some glorious sunsets and sunrises. Did you ever stop to think that the best sunsets include some clouds in the sky? Clouds aren’t all bad… The last few weeks our friends Milo and Larry have been doing some building projects for us: new barn doors, cellar steps, porch roof, and freshly painted verandah floor. They did a great job and the buildings really look good now. Best of all, the improvements have increased the use and safety of the buildings. Now if they would just come back and clean up my garden….. The guest business has slowed way down. This last week we hosted our last dude, a gentleman from Kent, England, who was kind enough to teach me some interesting things about English agriculture (not to mention pronunciation!). Years ago hops was a common crop in the south of England. To prepare hops for processing into beer, the crop had to be dried. This was done in a large tower-like building, called an oast-house, with a conical roof topped with a device which allowed for ventilation while keeping the rain out. Nowadays these drying towers are seldom used for hops anymore, so rather than destroy them, people are converting them into housing units. Interesting and attractive homes can be made out of these towers, but I’m told they are hard to keep warm. Also, did you know [...]

Harvest Time on the Ranch

Here we are at my favorite time of any year – Autumn. I just love the way the air feels; crisp in the morning, softly warm by noon. Everything just looks and feels different. My favorite tree is casting its beautiful golden leaves all over the ground. Sadly, once those leaves start to fall, they are gone in a day or two. But in the meantime, what a treat! A few of our trees are clothed in richer crimson colors, and they last longer, but the golden-leaved one is glorious in its heyday. By now the flowers are all gone except for one or two very hardy little roses, and the vegetables are regularly finding their way to the dinner table. Yum! We are finding that our guests really enjoy the flavors of our homegrown veggies; earthy beets (even people who don’t like beets seem to make an exception for these), crisp cabbage in slaw, broccoli and cauliflower. Have you ever eaten cabbage steak? Just cut one-inch slices of cabbage from top to bottom (not across), lightly butter a cookie pan, lay the cabbage slices on it, add a bit more butter on top, and roast in the oven until the cabbage begins to brown around the edges. It will be crisp-tender. Add a little salt and pepper. Good enough to eat! Fall is also the time to accomplish some long-overdue tasks that just had to be delayed during the very busy summer weeks. Currently we are updating the front porch of the manager’s house, building doors at the back of the barn, and completing the dining porch so that it can be used in almost any kind of weather. Guests love that porch and [...]

Summertime on the Ranch

Wow! Is it hot or what!! The extra-warm winter and spring, and the few good rains that came in spring made everything just jump out of the ground – hay, lawn grass, flowers, and now the garden vegetables, not to mention the weeds! They all seem to be about a month earlier than usual. Makes me wonder when fall and winter will hit……….but then, winter came quite early last year. Time will tell. Otherwise, things are moving right along here at Long Hollow. The lawns and gardens are requiring extra water during the unusually hot weather. Fortunately for us there is a good supply of domestic water since we are fed by a huge underground aquifer. It just keeps us hopping to be sure all the areas are receiving enough moisture. But all of this has not slowed down the flow of guests; they are still arriving from points around the globe. This week we had a lady from Malaysia, and a few weeks ago, two others from Thailand! Add to that a number of return guests, and some of them from overseas as well, and we are kept entertained by very interesting and loyal friends. Our thanks go out to all those people. Something is new at the ranch house this summer. Concerned about having enough room to serve our increased numbers of guests at mealtimes, and aided and abetted by the warm weather, we have enhanced our outdoor dining area. The existing porch just off the dining room had been furnished with a couple of heavy wooden picnic tables which seated 18 to 20 people, although not very comfortably. People had to climb into the bench area, and of course there were no backs [...]

Is It Spring Yet?

Can you believe the weather this winter? There have been plenty of records set all over the country, I think. Ninety degree weather in March in Phoenix, Arizona, where we came to escape the winter up north. Sixty and seventy degree weather up north, with very little snow or rain. And it's usually in the forties or fifties at best. But, I can still remember a winter at least twenty years ago when Oregon’s ski resorts did not operate until Easter weekend, so we could still have a chance for winter this year, too. Speaking of Easter, have you ever wondered how the dates for Easter are determined? Inquiring minds want to know, so I Googled it. It turns out that the first day of spring, March 20th, is called the Vernal Equinox. The date for Easter is on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. However, when the first full moon occurs on a Sunday then Easter is the following Sunday. Who sits around thinking all these things up? But anyway, this year the first full moon after March 20 is on Saturday, April 4th, so Easter is on Sunday, April 5th. Funny, my grandson actually learned that at his high school about the same time I found it on Google. They never taught us that when I was in high school. So, back to spring. The fruit trees are blooming, daffodils and crocuses and tulips are in their glory. Does it mean that we will have an early spring and a long summer? Who knows? But life goes on, and Long Hollow Ranch is preparing for a busy summer season. We have some plans in mind to make [...]

Attention Art Lovers!

And artists, hikers, golfers, foodies, etc, etc, etc. The beautiful little town of Sisters in Central Oregon is really the Biggest Little Town in the West! Oh my! There is truly something for everyone -from skiers to bikers to hikers, horse lovers, golfers, food, wine and beer lovers, and even to lovers of fine art. And that’s just the beginning………. Something you may want to check out is the 2015 Wild River Project Juried Community Art Show opening on March 27th. As you can imagine, Sisters is home to a number of fine artists whose creations can be seen on canvas, in pottery, iron sculpture, and needlework, just to mention a few. We even have a wonderful clock shop where clock cases, as well as works, are built. There are enough galleries and studios to keep you busy touring for at least two or three days. Of course you need a place to lay your head at the end of a busy day, so what could be more appropriate than the historic and scenic environs of Long Hollow Ranch? It’s only a fifteen minute drive from town. Several local artists have spent time at the ranch capturing iconic scenes of the old West. They like it, and you will too. If you are into photography, bring your camera and capture some of that ambience yourself. After a good night’s rest in our comfortable guest rooms, you will be served a delicious home-cooked breakfast that will easily carry you through your tour of the wonderful work of our local artisans. For more information on local art events and other activities and attractions, visit the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce. You will find a full calendar of [...]

Spring Fever

Now that we are back on Daylight Saving Time, winter must be winding down, and spring should be right around the corner. It means the daffodils are breaking out in all their cheerful glory, trees will be leafing out, and I will have to get started on my gardening. My seed order has been mailed. I have notes on all sorts of ideas for the yard and garden, so let’s get going! It’s really been a very warm winter at Long Hollow, at least since the New Year. And it looks like we could have an early spring. At the very end of April we’ll have our annual cattle drive, pushing them up the hill to the rangeland. There are still some rooms available. We require a three-day minimum for cattle drive guests. If you’re interested, call for details. Of course, Mother’s Day is coming up on May 10, so it’s not too early to start making your plans for that. We will plan some nice things for that weekend so keep in touch, call or email for details on a special Mother’s Day weekend at Long Hollow. We are also making plans for some added activities this summer. The cooks are planning their menus and adding some new “ranch style” foods.  Yum! I can’t wait to see all the good things. And of course Katie will have some added activities for the horse enthusiasts, too. And spring seems to be the time to clean, paint, repair, replace, etc. By the way, if you read these blogs fairly regularly, you may remember the contest we had a few weeks ago. Next year will be the 50th playing of the Super Bowl. The question was, “What [...]

Planning the 2015 Garden

It’s the time of the year when the incurable gardener spends hours poring over seed catalogs and gardening books and magazines. I know, because that’s what I do. I’m always looking for new ideas for the design of the garden and new plants that could be used in either the flower garden or the vegetable patch.  Objects used in new and different ways as garden art are always intriguing. Some objects can even be used in very practical if not conventional ways. I love the way perennials are so dependable in the garden. About the only thing they require is some trimming of dead foliage or the occasional dividing and replanting. That saves me a lot of work and money because I can fill a blank space with plant material that I already have. On the other hand, annuals are so easy to start, they grow quickly and fill spaces with lots of color. Last year I planted an experimental patch, only about 100 square feet. I laid out a design that was reminiscent of a quilt block, and planted it with patches of bright pink petunias, golden yellow marigolds, and bright green lettuce. The idea was great, but I learned that it could have been much prettier had I done a few things differently. So this year the plan is to make the perfect quilt block garden. Hopefully it will be in its glory in time for the weekend of the Sisters Annual Outdoor Quilt Show. Each year we serve our guests salads and vegetable dishes using the produce of the greenhouse and garden. Not everything grows well on our Central Oregon ranch. But we can grow cabbages, broccoli, carrots, beets and potatoes outside, [...]

Christmas at the Ranch

Winter came in with a bang this year, and earlier than usual. In mid-November it snowed for two and a half days and we ended up with about two feet of snow that stayed for over a week. By Thanksgiving things were more normal with sunny days, some rain, some wind – pretty typical fall weather. By the time Christmas rolled around it was wintery, but snow didn’t come again till several days later. Before Christmas Katie made sure the guest quarters were clean and that there was a beautiful tree decorated in the living room. She also strung lights around the verandah and the Cottage porch, making everything look really festive. Christmas was quite jolly at Long Hollow Ranch. Bruce and Sally came in to help with the big meals, and we had fun fixing lots of yummy food. We had as many as twelve guests one day, all of them very nice people. A family with four young children stayed in the Cottage, but had breakfasts in the dining room as well as dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Dinners were very enjoyable with plenty of good food and pleasant conversation. After dinner we gathered around the piano in the living room and sang Christmas carols. Even the young children enjoyed that while sitting on comfortable laps. In the morning when Bruce and Sally went out to feed the horses, the guests rode along on the feed truck. Sally reported that the horses behaved themselves unusually well and the guests had fun getting acquainted with them. The last guests to arrive were from India, just taking a tour through Oregon. That made India the fifty-fifth country to be represented at Long Hollow [...]

Old Man Winter Brings Our First Snow Fall of 2014

Well, Old Man Winter struck with a vengeance last week. In two days we had two feet of snow all over everything here at Long Hollow Ranch. In fact all of Central Oregon was inundated with the white stuff. That’s really good for snow accumulation on the mountains (read skiing, sledding, snowboarding, etc.).  The peaks had been quite bare until these storms came through. Not only is the snowpack good for winter recreation in the area, but it improves the outlook for plenty of irrigation water for next summer’s crops. It took us a couple of days to get the snow removed from our road and our driveway was definitely a challenge. Those of you who have been here know that the driveway is a bit steep just as you turn in at the gate. Our big four-wheel-drive truck is still not comfortable traveling around the yard; of course by now the soft white fluffy stuff has turned to wet mush. Temperatures are now well above freezing and it has been raining a little, so the snow is melting fast. Since the driveway is paved, accessing the guest facilities from the road is not a problem, but driving around the fields to feed animals is interesting and more of a challenge. Speaking of accessing the guest facilities, let me introduce a thought for local residents who may get a bit stressed out during the upcoming holiday season. Every year, during the winter, some local folks find our website, notice that our B&B is open year-round, and decide to getaway without going away. Rather than spending hours on the road to reach a getaway destination, they can arrive at Long Hollow Ranch in less than one [...]