Back to My Writes 2004 Letters
Our farm is a bit of a crazy place at times....well ok, a VERY crazy place at times, but at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that anyone who visits us, SURELY must go home feeling a little more normal : ) I guess this is something along the lines of one of Randy's favourite sayings - "you are never useless, you can always be used as a bad example"!!! If this is my purpose in life, to by virtue of my own strangeness, make others feel sane and reasonable, that's not a bad thing....is it???
This month marks several anniversaries here at Treherne. October 3, 2005, is Randy's and my 20th wedding anniversary, and is also the 11th anniversary of the date we took possession of, and moved into our home. October is also the first anniversary of four who missed their date with death!
I admit that most people would not have the houseful of birds, rodents, reptiles and fish that usually abide here, and having the dogs and cats in your family outnumber the people is perhaps not for everyone. And if I am completely honest with myself, getting started in horses with the intention of having "a couple", and a few short years later having the equine population at your farm large enough to eat in one year, the equivalent of the national debt might be considered going overboard a bit, but even I have to confess that having your table bound turkeys turn into pets is carrying things too far!
I did not begin with the intention of having pet turkeys, we have eaten much of what we have raised here in the years up till now. People who knew me before we moved to the farm, including my parents, were quite certain that I would not be able to eat so much as a chicken we had raised ourselves. I did prove them wrong, and we have enjoyed beef, pork, lamb, chevon (young goat), chicken, and yes - turkey, all raised here at home. While I do not enjoy the thought that some animals are raised only for meat, we are not vegetarians and I can live with it knowing that the animals have a good life while they are here, are treated well, and that nothing destined for the dinner table gets named.
Last year we raised chickens and turkeys, and we knew from past experience that the same sweet fuzzy day old chicks and poults, by butchering time would sooner peck and tear a strip off you than be friendly. I would go so far as to say that some of the first turkeys we raised were downright vicious! Last year when the chickens were ready to go, I mentioned to my husband that perhaps we should wait a bit longer before sending the turkeys in, ensuring that our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners, and "the spare", would be family sized. If my husband could have known what would happen next, I am certain that he would have moved those birds out so fast I wouldn't have seen them but for dust and a few white feathers!
Poultry raised here are free ranged in summer although due to a few thefts by foxes in the past, we now close them in their pens at night. We have previously lost several of our egg layers and a couple of ducks to foxes, but unlike some people, we do not hold it against the foxes, which are only looking to exist and raise their own young. We did not move here with the intention of clearing out the wildlife which was here long before we were. Instead we enjoy the wild creatures, and feel that we live in their territory, and look at such situations as our own responsibility to determine what we can do to protect our livestock without harming the wildlife. Shutting the birds in at night has worked well for quite a few years, although once a fair size, we never worried about the turkeys, as they would roost high up at night, and being the size they are, did not seem as attractive to the foxes. One Saturday morning however, I could only locate three of our four turkeys. Within a few minutes I had discovered a few feathers leading away to the south in a trail. Randy and I followed them, and the trail suddenly changed direction and moved east across the side field, then north, all the way out to the highway. Once at the edge of the road, we could see small prints (almost certainly fox as we had recently seen two of them hanging about trying to figure out how to get into the chicken run) turkey tracks, scuffle marks, and feathers, all leading away down the side of the road. The hefty bird had obviously put up quite a struggle. We followed the tracks for some distance, and then decided that the turkey was dead by now anyway, and that the fox might as well just be left to it's prize. We now knew that the turkeys also must be closed inside at night, and vowed that our three remaining birds would not become dinner for our little red furry friend. About four hours later the phone rang. One of our neighbours was on the other end, asking if we were missing a turkey, since they had one huddled up against the back wall of their house. We got in the truck and headed over, and sure enough, bloody and bedraggled, crouched against a brick wall in the pouring rain, was our lost bird. Thanking the neighbour, we scooped her up, marveling at how a fox could drag such a heavy bird so far, and took her home. After cleaning and examining the wounds, some of which were quite severe, we felt that she would have to be put down. This was the end for her, she could not possibly recover, especially since she seemed to be in shock, however as if understanding what we were saying, she looked up at us, suddenly bright and alert, and we felt she had to be given the chance. Into the shed where the peafowl are housed she went, with a heat lamp for comfort, after spending several hours in the cold rain. For two days she simply slept there in the wood shavings under the warm light, waking to eat and drink a little. Then she gradually began to move about, and seemed to be on the mend. We decided that this bird if she lived, deserved to live out her life. The meat would be ruined anyway we agreed, owing to the injuries she had suffered. (perhaps we really just needed an excuse as justification!) OK, so we had lost "the spare", but we still had Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
The remaining three birds continued to free range during the day, picking at plants and insects here and there, adding to their diet of grain. Then one evening, we were sitting around the fire enjoying a hotdog/marshmallow roast, and Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter came over to investigate the activities. Amused at the curiosity of these creatures, which as we sat there on our chairs were almost tall enough to be eye to eye with us, I turned to say something to Randy, just as one snatched an entire hotdog complete with bun, from my plate! The others quickly closed in to see what they were missing, and looked hopefully at us. Randy, looking over at my plate in astonishment was not quick enough to prevent the loss from his own plate, and then wanting to be fair, we gave the remaining bird something. For the rest of the evening, we had the company of all three birds, and from that day on, they decided that we humans were friends, often accompanying us as we went around doing chores. It may have been that they were simply looking for another handout, grain and bugs must pale in comparison to a hotdog loaded with the works, but still we smiled as they tagged along.
We began to occasionally discuss when the turkeys should go, and always the appropriate answer seemed to be "in a couple of weeks". Then one day we realized that Thanksgiving was almost upon us, and a decision had to be made. "The processors are probably closed down for the winter now" I said, and being that we were far too busy to do it ourselves at that moment, suggested, "we could butcher them ourselves closer to Christmas". So we cooked two chickens for Thanksgiving dinner, and the turkeys continued to grow. Soon the days were cold, and the sky threatened to snow, and I reasoned "we will not be able to process the birds now, our hands will freeze in the cold." Somewhat reluctantly I think, Randy agreed that it was hard on the hands in cold weather, I breathed a sigh of relief, and went to the grocery store to purchase a frozen turkey for Christmas dinner.
By the time the snow melted in spring, the turkeys which had spent the winter inside, were reunited with the female who had been dragged away by the fox. She had spent the winter with the peafowl, but now was quite healthy and strong, and happy to be back with the others. We were able to tell her apart from the others, as we still had no intention of putting her in the freezer, but now as we looked at the other three, I had two thoughts. One, that I did not have a roasting pan big enough to cook a bird that size, and two, that the now permanent turkey needed company. But how could we choose which one to keep as her companion and which two birds would finally become our roast dinners? We pondered this question for several more weeks, until Randy finally said one day "this is ridiculous, we need to do something with these turkeys!" as he turned to pet one of the birds, who had followed him across the yard, crouching down to await his scratches. "What do you suggest?" I asked. "They are not pets," he insisted, "they are food." I raised an eyebrow at him as he squatted there, smiling and scratching the turkey's head. He caught my eye, and stood up, scowling at me, and stomped away, the turkey running along right behind him.
morning Randy suddenly said he couldn't find one of the turkeys, and
after a brief search, she turned up on a nest of eggs by the barn wall.
"We'll have to take the eggs," I told him, "we can't
butcher her leaving a nest of half baked eggs." "Well we can't
do that," he huffed, "it will have to wait." By August,
the nest had been abandoned, the eggs probably infertile, and the four
birds continued to follow us everywhere wanting attention. Nothing has
ever really been said again about the turkeys and their fate, other than
to discuss what building they will be housed in this winter. I think we
have come to the understanding that it is unthinkable now to butcher
them. They are a fixture in the barn yard, and the back yard when they
feel like it! People have told us that they will probably drop dead soon
of heart attacks, since meat birds get so big and eventually just drop.
However they are about a year and a half old now, and seem to keep
healthy strolling around the place pecking here and there. It certainly
was never my intention to have pet turkeys, and even I am beginning to
think that I may have finally "lost it", but these birds are
as convinced as our dogs that they own us, so how could we possibly tell
them otherwise now? I will tell myself this as I stand in the grocery
store picking through frozen turkeys again this year!
I am not sure where the summer got to. It seems to have flown by so quickly, but then I say that about every passing year. I guess I am getting older!
We are heading into our fall/winter routine here at Treherne Farm, and with all the mares back in one field, weaning of the foals is in progress. The stallions, bitter enemies a few weeks ago at the height of breeding season, are all in the same barn and field now until spring. Even Magic who declined to play nicely with the other boys and spent the last couple of winters alone in his own paddock, has settled in to the group, and people are sometimes amazed to realize that the group of eleven animals grazing peacefully together, are in fact all intact stallions and colts. Oh and one gelding who has not yet departed for his new home in Alberta!
We have just finished helping our eldest daughter get settled into her first apartment, in preparation for starting college this week. A new home, a new job, and a new future in front of her, she emphasizes to us again, how quickly time passes. It doesn't seem five minutes since she was toddling around. At the end of this month, the weaning will be complete, the foals that are sold will be heading to their new homes, and Samurai, who is to be shown in 2006, will be heading to his trainer's farm for the winter. With these distractions over, I will be forced to begin thinking about what I am choosing to ignore for the moment, which is the approaching winter.
Not since I was a child have I been one to get out and enjoy winter. When the children were small I made the effort with snowmen, toboggans, skating, etc., but since they got older and became more interested in things like computers, I have been something of a winter recluse. Emerging only to drive to and from work, and get the necessities done at home, I avoid snow and ice like the plague. Each year I marvel at the beauty in the change of the seasons, and tell myself that this is the winter that I will get out and enjoy it instead of hiding from it. Then comes the bitter cold, and snowfalls to rival the North Pole, and I retreat indoors for every second that I am not required to be out in it! Winters are so long here, and I would not care to see snow at all once the Christmas holidays are over. I suppose I am a hypocrite in that snow is a necessity to me for the Christmas season, and I enjoy every moment of it until January first, when it becomes, in the words of my father, "white filth". Our neighbours are thrilled to see more and more of it, spending hours cross country skiing and snowmobiling. Droves of people from further south flock to the area for snowmobiling and ice fishing. I however watch our little horses wading through snow up to their bellies, and the snowplows roaring by at Indy 500 speeds, flinging heavy wet "white filth" onto our driveway, always when we have just had it plowed out, and I am filled with loathing. The beauty of winter can not be denied, especially when it coats trees, fences and rooftops in a postcard perfect picture, and we are always amused at the horses and dogs playing in fresh snow, kicking up their heels and having a grand time, but chores are more difficult, driving is often a nightmare, and we go a little bit stir crazy being indoors so much. Riding is also difficult once the snow becomes deep and the trails across our property that lead to the smaller side roads are drifted over, unless we ride on the edge of the highway to get to them. It is not a major highway, but traffic moves quite fast, and many drivers are inconsiderate, so often the riding horses are idle till spring.
September and October are months I truly enjoy. The days are still warm for the most part, but nights are cool and comfortable, even if we do have to add a couple more quilts to the beds. The horses are starting to get wooly, and the trees begin their colour changes, which here in the near north are absolutely breathtaking. The biting insects are long gone except for the odd mosquito in the evenings, and we are able to just enjoy being outdoors. The fish in the pond still come up to feed and sun themselves, as do the frogs, basking on the lilypads on warm days. The grass is green again, after the end of the sun scorched days of summer. Some perennials are still flowering, and the crickets still chirp in the grass, all keeping me from retreating indoors just yet. Rebecca
"Mister Big" almost made it to horse height. He is a 13.3 hh gelding, who looked when we bought him as though butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, when he was in fact, constantly dreaming up new ways to torment the humans around him. The ad in the paper had called Big "quiet and well trained", and his former owner had assured us that he was "just wonderful". He was boarded some distance away in a field with a run in shed, and as we were told that he had not been ridden all winter, and with no tack present (that should perhaps have been our first clue) we thought it unwise to put anyone on his back, so we accepted her word and bought him without a "test drive". Once home however, Randy thought that even though we had not yet gone and bought him a saddle or bridle, that a pony ride with him leading Big was a great idea. The children understandably, were anxious to have a little ride, and we certainly were not going to test Big with one of them aboard. I had had my share of riding young green horses, and my better judgment, which seemed to have escaped me when we actually bought the pony, told me that perhaps it would be better to wait at least until we had tack and a lunge line to see just how much he knew. However Randy's assurances that nothing could possibly go wrong as long as he had hold of the lead, persuaded me to give it a try, and I stood on a crate and slid onto Big's back. The kids were watching from the back porch of the house, and as I flew up into the air, looking down at the animal from which I had just been thrown a long way below me, I heard Jordan say in astonishment, "WOW, a rodeo!" I am sure that this would not have seemed so spectacular a fall, had I not hung in space long enough for my entire life to flash before my eyes. Unlike our daughter Erinn, who has made falls from horses an art form, I do not fall gracefully. Thank goodness the ground was no longer frozen, and the pain I suffered was mostly to my pride.
That afternoon we visited the tack shop and purchased a saddle, bridle, bit, reins, saddle pad, and a lunge line. A few days of working on the lunge line at the walk, trot and canter, and I thought we were ready to try again. One fine sunny morning, Randy off to work and the kids off to school, I left four year old Michael with Grandma, groomed and saddled Big, and off we went. Things were going well, until he refused to move, and no amount of insistence from me was going to convince him otherwise. The grass alongside the trail was just too irresistible! With no string or anything else to improvise grass reins, I fought to get his head up and keep it up till my arms ached. Plan number two....I dismounted, found a suitable light twig, and got back in the saddle. I barely touched his hindquarters with the twig, it was a very light tap meant to encourage him to move forward, but Big, who I learned later had not had crop training, came unglued. He sprang straight up off the ground, and then went into a series of bucks which launched me up and sideways. Why when this happens I always seem to have an excess of time in the air to survey the place I am about to land, is beyond me, but I studied the ground rushing up to meet me, and by some miracle missed the rocks at the side of the trail, slamming into the dry hard packed (like concrete) dirt. Big didn't so much as turn to laugh at me before trotting away towards home. As I followed him, his footprints in the dirt became further apart, indicating that he was now cantering. Weary and sore, I arrived home some half an hour later or so, to find him nonchalantly grazing in front of the barn. He picked up his head, still chewing and gazed at me quizzically. It was quite obvious that he did not feel the least bit guilty!
In the weeks that followed, both Randy and I continued to work with Big, but increasingly it was Randy, as there seemed to be more of a connection between the two of them. this was yet another blow to my pride, as I was the longtime horse person in the family! Even Randy was not immune to his tricks however. Fence posts, trees and any other solid object, became places to try to dislodge a rider. One day he suddenly laid down and rolled over, catching Randy off guard. This was something neither of us had experienced before, so I contacted my former riding instructor and mentor, and asked how to correct him when he did this. "Simple," she replied, "be ready, and when he goes down again, move up and sit on his neck by his head for a while. He won't be able to get up, and will hate it, and that should cure him." Cure him it did! The next time he tried it was indeed his last, but life with Big was still a constant round of "what can I try next?", and how to deal with it. He escaped several times before the installation of our electric fences, and each time made a beeline for our neighbours garden. We always knew where to find him, smack dab in the middle of the corn rows. Thank goodness for understanding neighbours!
Over the years Big has mellowed, to the point where the kids can ride him and even visitors, including one of my non-horsey-person sisters from England, have had pony rides atop him. He is such a comical character, supervising any work around the barnyard that takes place, sometimes actually resting his head on Randy's shoulder to watch what he is working on. Always able to make us smile, I still detect a mischievous attitude about him that I am sure in human form would be an incredible sense of humour. Of all the ponies we have owned, this boy has had the most interesting character, though in the early days I can not say that it was always appreciated! Rebecca
People laugh when I tell them that I always thought living in the country would be a nice quiet, laid back life. They must all know something I didn't! I was a city kid who longed for the country, and in my wildest dreams, would have a dozen horses - all different colours. I rode every chance I got as a child and teenager, and was just as happy grooming, mucking stalls or cleaning tack. I knew it would be a lot of hard work, but still I thought farming would be a relaxed way of life. I have been wrong many times in my life, but this time took the biscuit!
The first big mistake I suppose, was buying a 12 acre property, and thinking we would have "a couple of horses and maybe a cow." By the time our little herd of cows numbered 14, and the horses a dozen or so, along with a number of goats and sheep, we had purchased a second 98 acre property directly across the road from our house, bringing the total of our acreage to 110. I do have to say that we work well under pressure. We bought our first ponies before we had their barn built, ordered chicks before we had a chicken coop, and went to a farm looking for a pair of geese, only to be besotted by the baby goats, purchasing three. (For which we also had no place yet of course!) Well I never said I was sensible! The impending arrival of all our new creatures forced us into action, and by the time they were delivered, their new quarters were ready. The first three goats were as different as night and day. Gwyn, had been one of triplets, and so had been handled a lot due to his mother receiving lots of help from the owners. He was a total pest. Bronwen the 1st, (we later had a 2nd named after her.) had been one of twins, and was used to some human attention. Megan on the other hand, had been a single birth, and had not been handled at all. Convinced I am sure, that humans were terrible, goat devouring monsters, she would run over top of us, up walls, or into fences, in an attempt to get away. We brought the three youngsters out of the barn one morning, leads firmly attached to their collars, and warned the children not to let go. Our then seven year old son had just assured us he had a good grip, when Megan spied freedom and bolted! Jordan clung to the lead with all his might, as Megan streaked across the field with him flying along behind on his stomach, like Fred Flintstone being dragged by Dino! It wasn't long before he became too heavy and Megan stopped. Black with mud from head to toe, and only a bit tearful, Jordan was rightfully proud of himself that he hadn't let her get away, and Megan had decided that it was not possible to shake these humans loose. She was soon fairly tame, and became as great a pest as the other two! We have had goats ever since, I find their characters so wonderful, that I think we must always have some. (I am not sure however, that Randy shares my enthusiasm!) Sheep on the other hand, I can do without. We still have one old black ewe, Sarah, who is part of the family and will be here till she drops. I love her dearly, but she is rather stupid - my apologies to sheep farmers. The goats by comparison, seem to have considerably more intelligence, which they use to torment their humans and make their lives difficult. They are naughty, rotten, escape artists, who make us wonder what we ever saw in them, but they are so hilarious, that they are worth the trouble. They even appear to be smiling at us when we are scolding them!
We raised pigs our first year here, and I will spare my husband the embarrassment of telling the full story of how during one of the many times they escaped, he made a grab for one of the half grown pigs, fell onto it's back facing the rear of the squealing animal, and went for a gallop across the yard on it. His yells for assistance to capture it went unheeded, due to the fact that I and our visiting friends were too helpless with laughter to be of any help. For some reason Randy didn't seem to think it quite so funny!
We are currently down to our one old original cow, Katie. Old Sophie the Jersey died last year, and the others are long gone. At least Katie tends to stay where we put her : ) Which brings us to mistake number two....fences. We should have gone with ten foot high stone walls if we really wanted to contain our livestock. Our first fences were post and rail. They looked so very pretty and rustic, but we had underestimated horses and cows that always think the grass is greener on the other side! After much repairing and replacing of rails, we added a strand of electric inside it, and this stopped all but Sophie the cow, who could have taken on and beaten the most accomplished show jumping horses, (I swear, she did vertical takeoffs and cleared five feet!) and Whisper the pony, AKA "The Bulldozer", need I say more? Whisper not only broke the rails, she stood under the same electric wire that all the other horses avoided like the plague, with the wire lying across her back, and twitched while she stood there innocently munching the grass. Next we tried page wire, and once again, we looked like a proper farm with nice straight fences - for what seemed like all of five minutes till the horses leaned over them and put swoops between each post that made telephone wires look perfectly taut. About ready to give up, I then met a Gallagher electric fencer at a friend's farm. It was a rude introduction while helping round up their... ahem - escaped goats. It made our battery operated fencer seem quite pathetic, and left a burn mark on my leg that convinced me no animal once having met it, would ever again challenge this instrument of pain. Wrong again....I should have realized while being so impressed with the fence, that those were escaped GOATS we were helping to round up. Having installed our new electric fences, and a brand new Gallagher 800, we were secure in the knowledge that we now had all the animals safely contained! Our smugness however was short lived, and the goats were soon out grazing the back lawn, and my now non-existent Rugosa roses - they ate those bushes right to the ground, thorns and all! Simple enough we thought, add a couple more strands. It worked for a day or so and then there went my potted plants and most of the veggies in our garden - except the zucchini. They had obviously tasted them, judging by the telltale bite out of one, decided that goats don't like zucchini and turned their noses up at them! So more strands were added, with extra ground wires, certain to jolt the daylights out of them should they try it again. While running after the escapees for what felt like the hundredth time, (our very enthusiastic border collie Skye watching from the back porch, tongue lolling out of her laughing mouth) it occurred to us that they had to have some sort of method, as they could not possibly go under or over this configuration of wires now. A day of watching them closely, showed us that they are smart enough to have figured out, that if they ran and dove through between the strands, their feet were not touching the ground when they hit the wires, hence no mind numbing jolt of electricity to deter them. Winter came a short time later, and the problem was solved by shutting them in an indoor pen until the deep snow made escape impossible, but it was a scene to be repeated in later years, and though they have gotten older and given up for the most part, they do still occasionally seem to think that we need a bit more excitement in our lives. We must subconsciously think so too, as a few of the little darlings still reside here! Life might be simpler if we had no animals....but so boring too!
My mother always said that when it came to animals, my heart ruled my head. While I am sure that she did not necessarily mean this was a good thing, Randy says that it is one of the things he loves about me. I am the first to admit that life is not always easy with the array of animals that are part of our family, but life without them just would not feel normal. Besides the seven of us, many dogs and cats live here, along with birds, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, a leopard gecko, and then all the horses, other assorted farm animals and wild critters. My mum, who passed away seven years ago this month, knew by the time we bought the farm, that I was a "lost cause". Initially she would scowl and say "Becca" in her very proper British voice, and stern tone of an exasperated mother, each time some new creature found it's way into our lives, but eventually it was a slight shake of the head and a quiet and resigned "Becca Jane", knowing that it would make little difference when an animal was tugging at my heart. Yet she loved the animals, and truth be known, I partially and gratefully blame her for my obsession with them!
I was fascinated with anything that had fur, feathers, or scales, and crawled, hopped, ran, flew or swam, from the time I could walk and talk. (most especially horses). My mum had such an appreciation for God's earth and creatures, and instilled this in me at a young age. I admit that to a certain extent this must have been who I already was, as only one of my four siblings has anything close to the same passion for animals that I do, though they must have all been exposed to the same views of our mother, but had it not been for her, I may not have known the joys and heartbreaks of raising little orphaned birds and animals, some successes and some not. I may not have understood the gift that is nature, had she not done such caring things as carefully catching beautiful moths and butterflies, unusual caterpillars, or a not often seen praying mantis while poking about her garden early in the morning. She would save these treasures for me to wonder at when I woke up, and then we would release them where she had found them. It is because of her that I see every creature great and small, as having a place and a purpose and being deserving of respect. I was not afraid to carefully handle spiders, garter snakes, frogs, toads, or salamanders, and I was certainly more at home playing in a creek catching minnows, than dressed up and playing with dolls.
My mum had much patience. The kind that allowed me to dig a hole in her beloved garden, line it with plastic, and add bags of goldfish, such a magical little project to me. She then had the patience when a heavy rain came, overflowing my poorly constructed little water garden (I think I was 10 when I made it) and sending my fish swimming out to all corners of the lawn, to paddle barefoot through cold water in the rain with me, helping to net every last fish. She also had the patience to go around filling in the endless holes that my pet rabbit dug amongst her flowers when he was hopping about for his exercise periods, though she did scold him occasionally. (I don't think he ever took any notice.) She insisted when we got my first puppy Sascha, (given to us by a neighbouring family who really did not want her... or feed or care for her for that matter.) that she stay off the furniture, and eat ONLY from her dish. We were all practically under threat of death if we fed her treats from our own plates, but much to our amusement, mum was the first one to break her own rule, always saving the choicest morsels for her. She also began covering the sofa with a sheet to keep the dog hair off it, because Sascha liked to "get up and see out of the living room window". And indeed, there would be Sascha's little face looking out the window each time we arrived home.
Mum taught me to have faith in God, and to appreciate His beautiful creations all around me. I was and am, always very aware of the birds singing, the beautiful sights, smells and colours in a garden, (Mum so loved flowers) the beauty of the different seasons, and the value of a good refreshing rain for the earth. I feel so incredibly sorry for people who rush through their lives not noticing these things.
It was really my mum who named this farm, suggesting the middle name of Randy's dad, "Treherne" (the name that most people had called him by) who had recently passed away when we were considering farm names. Mum loved it here, and I have so many wonderful memories of her time with us. Sitting beside the fish pond, watching the goldfish and koi, with her mug of tea in one hand, and petting Isabelle the tabby cat with the other. Wandering round our garden early in the morning, mug of tea in hand, deadheading the flowers and smiling at the sparrows splashing in the birdbath. Standing at the fence - with her mug of tea, talking to Sophie and Katie, the gentle cows. Calling to Laddie the adopted sheltie (and her favourite dog, perhaps because he was so similar in temperament to Sascha), to walk with her (and her mug of tea!) as she went round "surveying the estate" as she humourosly put it. Dropping anything she was doing for only three things: grandchildren, "Coronation Street", and tea. Mostly the latter!!!
While she was here to share our excitement at getting the farm, and our first horses, mum did not live to see us achieve our dream of raising miniatures. She had listened for years to the plans and ideas we had, and probably rolled her eyes at the thought of the ever expanding menagerie, but I know she would have adored the little horses and their antics, and she would have been completely smitten by the tiny foals. We said good bye to her seven years ago, but I think of her so often, and especially now with foaling season approaching. I know she would have been out in the barn with us to greet some of the new babies, and outside watching them learn to walk and run on those new little legs....but not without her mug of tea : ) Rebecca
Connie Deboni (Nee Hartley) Born Ellel, Lancashire, England
August 26, 1922 - April 18, 1998.
Well each year seems to go faster than the one before, and here we are at the start of a new one. We are especially thankful at the moment, for our family being healthy and together. Our prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones in the terrible tsunami on December 26. We take much for granted each day, and need to remind ourselves that we are so very blessed.
Winters are long in this area, but we are looking ahead to spring. The first foals should arrive in April, and we are enjoying the sleep we are able to get now, as we know that long sleepless nights are ahead. The snow is deep, December dumped a couple of feet on us, which is what we usually get in January/February. Thank goodness for the 4 wheel drive tractor! The temperatures on the other hand, have been fairly mild. We had a few days of very cold weather, minus twenty to thirty celsius before Christmas, but it did not last long, and unless it is bitter, we leave the doors open most of the time for the horses to come and go as they please. They usually stay out if given the choice, and the snow laden branches droop down near the ground providing pockets of shelter, which they use if it is snowing. With the hay placed up under the trees they are quite protected, and their coats are so thick that they stay warm and dry, but in heavy or wet snow, extremely cold, windy or sleety weather, we bring everyone inside.
In December a friend called, asking if we could possibly take in another pony. We are pretty full in the pony department, but as he was in urgent need of a home, and we hope to have the large horses and ponies moved into a bigger area come spring, we decided to squeeze him in. Laddie is a gelding and happens to be the son of Erinn's Welsh pony Sady, who has been with us now for eight years, and he is an almost perfect match for her, so perhaps some day we can hitch the two together and drive them. Laddie is very well behaved in hand, but comes with a challenge....he is EXTREMELY difficult to catch! The usual treats and enticements failed us on one particular day when we were trying to get all the animals inside, knowing that there was freezing rain coming, and for more than three hours, he outmaneuvered, outlasted and outwitted all seven of us in the deep snow. Being the new kid on the block, he would not just follow the hay and other horses into the barn. I have never been so exhausted! We finally used Whisper, whom he has decided to be friends with, to corner him in a small paddock, but not before he and we were covered with a layer of ice. Until Laddie learns that being caught is ok, and that treats may be involved when he does allow us to approach him, it will be the small paddock for him!
Christmas was busy, as I worked right through the holidays, and our turkey had to come with me to work on Christmas day as our oven had decided to quit on us. It was cooked by the time my shift was over however, and drove home with me to meet up with the potatoes and vegetables for dinner! Boxing day the septic system backed up, and we had to have the entire yard plowed, and do some digging. There is always a bright side to everything, and we were most thankful that it had not happened the day before. : ) We have something to laugh about anyway.
A few days ago, Randy saw a flash of something red running over the hay in the barn, and we thought perhaps a fox had taken up residence there, however it turned out to be a very fluffy, very orange cat. We have no idea where it has come from, but have been leaving food and water for him/her, in hopes of luring it close enough at some point, at least for spaying/neutering and a rabies shot! It is more than welcome to live in the barn and keep the rodent population down, but a visit to the vet is a must.
We invite you to bookmark the foal page and share our excitement beginning in April, we are expecting some lovely foals this year. We wish everyone a very happy new year and may God richly bless you in the months ahead.