Monday, July 31

Up this morning at my friend’s ranch on south side of the Black Hills and out the door early to go pick up my college roommate (from quite a few days ago) at the Rapid City airport. Gathered up Tim and we enjoyed the drive back to the ranch on Hwy 79 that runs also go the east side of the Black Hills. Rolling, undulating land that looks so green still for this time of year. Very nice of Bruce to allow me to bring my friend Tim along to enjoy the ranch for a day.

We got the introductions to Bruce and Jennifer taken care of and helped with a chore of getting tarps secured over a small row of recently baled round bales of hay. More important for the horses than the cattle that their hay not get much moisture from rain or snow on it. Cows have multiple stomachs to process their feed (they chew their cud) but horses do not and therefore don’t do so well eating hay that’s gotten wet and moldy. So, we we’re lifted up high on the end of a large fork lift to help spread tarps over the top of a stack of bales while Bruce and Jen strapped the ends down to the bales. Then off we went on partial tour of the ranch for Tim.

Decided to head up high to Flint Hill, where a large natural outcropping of flint stone exists at a significantly high point on the ranch. Early people gathered there in years past to extract the hard flint and craft it into tools. Very cool spot on the ranch. On the way we stopped at a wonderful overlook of Hell Canyon. Breathtaking views down this long stretch of valley below.

Bruce sharing a story about Hell Canyon

We also stopped by Jennifer’s Fell Ponies in the corral. they are an individual breed that’s native to the UK. In fact, there has been a resurgence in interest in them since Queen Elizabeth died and a Fell Pony was featured at her funeral. They were here horse of choice and she raised and loved them. Unique breed to the Highlands who specialize in climbing the rocky fells (hills) of northern England and being work horses, pulling wagons, moving heavy objects and carrying heavy loads. They are full grown and I don’t know how many hands high they are but not that tall.

Tim getting acquainted with one of Jennifer’s Fell Ponies.

As we got toward the top near Flint Hill we ran into a herd of horses from the neighboring property which is a Wild Horse Sanctuary. Bruce isn’t sure how they get labeled “wild” as they seem very interested in us and sure looked to be wanting a treat. Still very cool to see a herd of horses running on their own out in this country. Here’s a couple of photos and a video of our encounter with them.

Second herd we met, almost all of them seemed the same color
As we encountered the first of two herds.

Checked out flint hill and found many pieces of worked stone that may have been flakes or pieces of flint being tested to see if it would fracture in the way the finder wanted it to for good making of tools. We then headed back to the house for a break. And met up again a little later to go check out a very special spot on the ranch that has pictographs made by paleo peoples; etched away and pock marked rock surfaces into animal and other images. Such a pleasure to be able to share some of these amazing sites with others and I was glad Tim got to see these things.

Tim & Jennifer at the pictograph site
Examining them up close
An elk? Or some other large antlered animal?
To the right, is that a baby or a predator being pictured chasing a line of larger animals?

We shared a great evening meal that all helped to prepare and enjoyed more conversation. Turned in for the night to a fantastic light show again tonight. Tons of what we call at home “heat lightning” that just flashed over and over again lighting up the sky. And occasional true bolts of lightning illuminating the horizon. And some thunder boomers and some rain and some fairly strong winds. Wonderful to be sitting on the 2nd story covered outside porch of the guest house taking this all in and not in a tent or the small camper back where we dig wondering if this will be the one that does us in!