Hidden Hollow Preserve is a unique 889 acre ranch devoted to raising Arabian Horses and American Bison. Nestled in the beautiful hardwood knobs of Central Kentucky, the ranch is located at the headwaters of a secure box canyon laced with streams and springs. Surrounded on three sides by deep, lush hardwood forests of oak, hickory, cherry, walnut, beech, maple and dozens of other indigenous species, the farm is encompassed by a woods of infinite beauty containing an extraordinary assortment of hues, colors, fragrances and textures that constantly changes with each season.

In spring, the blooms of the serviceberry, dogwood and redbud trees awaken first, appearing to be a million butterflies fluttering through the sunlight branches of the forest. The profuse blossoming of the orchard of cherry, plum, peach, nectarine, pear and apple trees along the entranceway to the house, Cedar Keep, adds to Nature’s colorful hypnosis.

Summer spawns hundreds of exquisite wild flowers, including trilliums, wild iris, jack in the pulpit, bleeding heart, and violets of purple, white and yellow, and fabulous ferns, luscious mosses and beautiful lichen which cover the forest floor and line the banks of the many cool, clear woods streams, where the observant visitor may find wild ginseng, yellow root, blue coneflower, witch hazel, prized morels and mushrooms as well as delicious wild blueberries, grapes and sweet, plump, black raspberries.

The most intense colors of all are created by autumn. Suspended by the crisp, cool, dry air, the oaks turn purple, the maples deep orange and red, the dogwoods dark burgundy, the sweet gum crimson, the sumac salmon and the tulip poplar and beech paint themselves in hues of brilliant yellow.

Cloaked in frost or fresh white snow, even winter offers a special majesty in the woods and hills and meadows. A peaceful quiet, unique to this time of year, maintains its vigil while nature sleeps in order to replenish itself, with only the melodic murmuring of the mountain streams counting the moments until spring arrives to begin the process anew.

The pristine forests and valleys of Hidden Hollow Preserve provide sanctuary to an infinite variety of wild life and one may well observe white tailed deer, coyote, red fox, wild cat, raccoon, opossum, skunk, ground hog, fox squirrel, cotton tail rabbit, box turtle, snapping turtle, a huge variety of frogs, lizards and salamanders, wild turkey, great blue heron, bobwhite quail, morning dove, bald eagle, red tailed hawk, marsh hawk, sparrow hawk, king fisher, owls, bats and an endless array of song birds unparalleled elsewhere.

The knobs of Central Kentucky offer a unique, compact, geological anomaly unknown elsewhere and of great interest to research geologists. Throughout this area of Kentucky, there appears a thin layer of oil shale approximately two to three feet in thickness and at times completely full of compacted fossils of creatures that lived in a vast tropical ocean millions of years ago … sea shells, corral, plants and small invertebrates preserved forever in time and space. Underneath the oil shale and married to it is a three to four foot thick layer of red sandstone, encrusted with quartzite geodes, quartz crystals of many colors and even pockets of jet black mica. Below the red sandstone in a smooth, seamless transition is pure white limestone. It is bottomless and responsible for the multitude of famous caves and caverns in the state. The geo-thermal heating and cooling system installed in the ranch house necessitated drilling seven wells, each one seven hundred feet deep without ever running out of limestone. Oil and gas reserves abound.
The babbling brooks in the hills and valleys create a soothing symphony of sound as they dance playfully over the intricately water carved texture of the sandstone, light flickering from the broken white quartz geodes covering the surfaces. Two such melodic streams surround the house, Cedar Keep, dropping in waterfalls on two sides, then joining into a single stream that retreats away from the house through the dense forest to the south.

Over three miles deep and a mile and a quarter across, Hidden Hollow Preserve is comprised of 789 acres of protective hardwood tree covered hills, 80 acres of rolling hillside pastures and 20 acres of rich, flat bottom land. The topography drops from 1300 feet at the top of the box canyon to 800 feet at the mouth, which is why the stream that evacuates the valley is called Rush Branch … when it rains, it rushes!

In order to protect livestock and to provide a secure and inviting environment for all the indigenous wild life, all fescue grass was eradicated from the property five years ago. Half the pastures were sown in cool season grasses … orchard grass, timothy and red and white clover, while the other half were sown with a rich mixture of native warm season prairie grasses … switch grass, big blue stem, little blue stem, eastern gamma grass and Indian grass … with shinning golden tassels, 7 ft tall, swaying gently in the soft breeze … and wild flowers mixed in to attract the butterflies, the honey bees and the birds.

The majestic bison herd, ranging from 26 to 50 animals depending upon time of year, has thrived on the hillside pastures, some gently rolling, some steep and challenging. The lush green pastures contain four freshly constructed ponds and there are a multitude of clear, cool streams and springs running throughout the year. Each year brings forth twenty-four tiny 35-40 lb strawberry blond bundles of fur as the mature cows, weighing about 1,100 lbs give birth. The two herd bulls, each weighing upwards of 2,000 lbs watch over the herd, and the entire herd acts as one to protect each and every member. Be sure to visit our bison site to learn more about these noble animals.

The flat and fertile bottomland is home to a herd of magnificent Desert Arabian horses, currently numbering eighteen. Bred for 5,000 years by the Bedouin tribes of the Arabian Peninsula for unparalleled beauty, endurance, intelligence and sweet loving dispositions, many a visitor has been moved to tears in their presence. Their beauty and their affection can be quite overwhelming to even the most seasoned horse lover. Be sure to visit our Arabian horse site and be prepared to fall in love with these exquisite creatures.

Aside from the pure natural beauty to be found in this pristine hideaway, perhaps the most notable feature of Hidden Hollow Preserve is the truly unique ranch house, Cedar Keep. Nestled neatly in the mature woods, perched upon and anchored to a thick red sandstone outcropping of stone encrusted with quartzite geodes and surrounded on three sides by streams and waterfalls, the house is clad entirely in natural western red cedar which allows it to melt comfortably into its surroundings.

Self designed, Cedar Keep is a wonderful mixture of natural beauty with an oriental flair. A two story octagon living room together with a vaulted ceiling library connected by magnificent field stone fireplaces command the front of the home, surrounded by a marvelous wrap around porch which absorbs the beauty of the flora and fauna enveloping the site. To balance the beauty of the entrance to the home, the largest private water garden in the Commonwealth of Kentucky commands the rear of the residence. Home to over fifty varieties of water plants, lilies and lotus, the pool also contains hundreds of gold fish, golden orfe and koi. Please visit the Cedar Keep site to see and learn more about this marvelous home.

Hidden Hollow Preserve has hosted many local and regional clubs including the Founding meeting of the Marion County Garden Club, Marion County Leadership 1997, Marion County Leadership 2000, The Marion County Agriculture Extension Office Field Day 1999, the South East Bison Association, the Kiwanis Club and the Marion County Chamber of Commerce Garden Tour to name but a few. Local television programs on horticulture have been filmed here. And local schools are establishing programs for children requiring special education to use the ranch for improvement programs.
Virtually every visitor asks the question, “How did you ever find this paradise?” This question requires a certain amount of immodesty to answer. While Mother Nature certainly provided the basis for and the most important ingredients to create what you find here, it did require a major effort to achieve the balance. One must learn to live with nature, to enjoy what she freely offers and to strive to help her improve it within the bounds of natural law … that is the key to creating Hidden Hollow Preserve … or to creating your own personal paradise regardless of its size or location. We hope you will visit us in person someday!

 

Jon H. Michael

December, 2000

rollover menu
contact webmaster