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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: ponies

What I want this year is to get back up on my horse.

The Big Man Dakota sporting his shaggy winter coat

The Big Man Dakota sporting his shaggy winter coat

“The Big Man Dakota” (I call him “Bigs”) is officially a pony, measuring 14 hands even. The standard for a horse starts at a height of 14.2 HH (at the withers).

While the weather is nasty and cold, I am slowly beginning stretching exercises, attempting to get my bad, upper spine to be more flexible and less painful.

This is quite the uphill battle, since progress can be non-existent at times. It seems that every day I am back to square one (I know – everyone is tired of hearing me whine). If I were a horse I could whinny instead, which is a much more pleasant sound.

Pony Stallion Yell Plus Bonus Duck Quacks

My Quarter pony’s yell is much more about getting food than his attachment to me. Yet, Bigs does trust me. That took quite some time. He arrived here as a blind, 5-year old stallion, and the blindness due to the frustration of his original owner.

Bigs3

Yes, Bigs is a stallion aka intact male. There are two mares across the way, yet Bigs has never attempted to visit them. Blind or not, 90% of stallions would try. Due to his calm demeanor, it seemed pointless to take anything else away from him.

Rocky the pony is already inside, taking advantage of the run-in with its new weather-proofing  (readied for the Arctic blast of Jan. 6, 2014).

Rocky the pony is already inside, taking advantage of the run-in with its new weather-proofing
(readied for the Arctic blast of Jan. 6, 2014).

Bigs's tendency towards claustrophobia leaves him hesitant of the change, but grain coaxes him in shortly after sunset.

Bigs’s tendency towards claustrophobia leaves him hesitant of the change, but grain coaxes him in shortly after sunset.

Although sightless, Bigs functions well and sometimes acts as if he can see things coming. It has taken me up to 45 minutes to get his bridle and bit on. He tosses his head about with a total lack of cooperation (even with a Hackamore). I have a feeling this is why the former owner got so upset with him.

Blind Pony Navigates Pasture

Bigs can’t see, so he has the fields memorized by feel, getting around quite well. He no longer breaks through fences in a panic. He no longer flees from being patted. Bigs’s overall behavior is actually quite good. I can get easily get on his back and could likely lay down to take a nap too.

CCsaddle

I purchased a very cool, used, close-contact training saddle this past fall of 2013. My aches and pains, enhanced by stress and aggravation got the better of me this season, so I only completed a parked test drive. It fits well and will work for both Bigs and I splendidly, once my hurdles ahead are cleared. In the meantime, Bigs and his companion Shetland pony “Rocky” will keep themselves busy doing what they do best – eating.

Bigs1

Being already run down from physical unrest, my hair-trigger temper has lately become long-term negativity. It has me wrapped up in my own mind, unable to break free of disparity in the human world. There are 7 billion people on the planet. Half of them live without running water or electricity. Therefore they have little or no access to health care, education, law enforcement, transportation, etc.

As one who attempts to follow Buddhist teachings, I must continue to practice not only patience, but also perseverance – and with this new year of 2014, get back up on that horse (pony).

nota bene: I am not looking for a Pep Rally. There is no need for anyone to cheer me on. If I get back up on that pony, that is what the future will bring. If I don’t, something else will happen next.

Chinese New Year 2014 begins January 31, 2014

Bigs2

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Last week’s storm #1 of Winter 2013 was wet and got extremely windy, but by the time the temperature dropped below freezing the precipitation stopped. Better to be safe with extra weather-proofing!

The ponies were out early in the morning, even though the sleet had already started

The ponies were out early this morning, even though the sleet had already started

Hard to see start of the storm sleet building on the ground

The hard to see start of the storm sleet build-up on the ground

This week’s storm came in icy. It has been running below 32 degrees at night this week, so at least it did not start off warm & wet with that potentially fatal drop in temperature that quickly becomes wet & flash frozen.

Rocky - Still out in the weather

Rocky – Still out in the weather

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

Our Shetland pony “Rocky” is made for this type of weather, but I still tempted him into the shelter with snacks (“Bigs” had already given up on standing out in the ice storm).

They will do anything for treats

They will do anything for treats

In the morning, one of the ponies had apparently made their way through the iced surface to the water. The troughs and chicken drinkers sometimes have to have hot water poured on/in on days like this. If need be for your area of the country, you can get special water heaters to use during cold spells.

IcyWaterTroughW

Ice forming a shiny coating on items like branches and roofs always looks interesting. I took the rare opportunity to take a few quick pics before escaping back inside.

IceRoofW

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

If the ice gets heavy on the electrical lines we could lose power. I do not mind losing TV or electronics, but our heating and well water runs off of it, so I hope it stays on.

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In the United States of America, Christmas has become a holiday that includes a variety of customs. They stem from the melting pot of people that live here. Although based in Christianity, these traditions are the culmination of many different cultures. The ones we take part in are based on the hopes and dreams of all mankind.

It is a time to remember that we have much more in common with each other than we have differences. It is a time that helps us to become closer to our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. It is a time to make bright the eyes of children, show extra kindness to those less fortunate and to share with everyone the warmth of the season.

In our home and on our land, Christmas is also an earthly reminder to gratefully finish up the current year in preparation for the new. On the farm, we end it with hopes of a warm Spring bearing little chicks, baby goats and a fresh garden.

My favorite expression of this splendid holiday is the lights – lots of lights, pretty lights. It has over-spilled into the rest of the year, as we always keep strings of them on our front porch. They were recently added (in a year round display) to our pony run-in.

BigsNHayW

The night is always alive on our farmette and usually with much more than holiday spirit. “Bigs” happily eats his hay just beyond the shelter. A giant night bird, most likely a Barred Owl, flew overhead while I was taking this photo (we have had this species frequent the farmette before). Maybe it was gliding on the aspirations of the wild creatures that make their home here – wishing survival through the cold Winter darkness.

OurFarmetteW

The little barn sparkles, faintly illuminating the pasture (left), as the brighter house lights echo in the background (right). It is not an especially chilly evening, so I linger a bit to watch the light fade from the sky.

LightsUpCloseW

MoreLightsW

As I walk up to the door, I pass the chicken coops on the front lawn. The inhabitants are quiet. Are they comfortable? Are they warm? Are they dry? Are they snug in their nests with dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads?

NestBirds2w

Are they dreaming of new chicks in the Spring to come? I hope so.

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It is my favorite time of the day. It is quiet. The dew drenches the grass so much that my travels through it leave an obvious path. The smaller birds are flitting about in the bushes near the front door.

That door opens to a view of the pasture. Most days are so busy, that it is difficult to take a moment to soak in the view. I need to just stop. It is right here. It is the time to just look and listen and smell and breathe.

I always loved the city in the morning too. The sounds of construction overriding the chatter of office workers as they scurried into tall office buildings. Steam rising as the sun starts to shine on the asphalt. Late night leftovers stumbling back home, manage to gift a passing smile. But it is a different kind of love out here on the country roads. It was silently overwhelming at first.

When it is too quiet, the sound of the roosters’s calls comfort me. They are voicing their presence, calling to their hens. They are telling them, that when the dawn comes, they will be protected. Their crows start just before the light changes in the sky. The vulnerability of the darkness will be over soon.

And then I wake fully, and walk outside, and do stop to take in that view. “Bigs” is usually waiting. He is blind, but he can feel the vibrations of my footsteps through the ground. He perks his ears – listening, smelling, breathing.

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It is almost one year since my major surgery. We have been able to get a lot done to reorganize the farmette since then. The work has helped me to build up muscles (including the ones supporting my fused neck) and to retrain all the crushed nerves. Things in that medical arena are far from perfect, but my ability to move is vastly improved in comparison to the two years prior.

We built a new pony run-in just in the nick of time before the cold Winter weather really struck:

Old Run-in

New Construction


New Run-in


Decor added September 2012

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To bring the livestock count up to date:

Dogs (Pets, Watch, Retrieving, Service, Herding)
1 Female AKC Golden Retriever, 2 Female ACHC Gollies
(Golden Retriever x Rough Coated Collie)
Ongoing but not currently: One Black DOG project
pulling a pound dog from local shelter to re-home.

Goats (Brush clearing, Lawn mowing,
Milk – hopefully this Spring, Kid sales)
1 ADGA Young Nubian Buck, 1 ADGA Nubian Nanny,
1 Pygmy Nanny, 1 Pygmy Doe, 1 Pygmy “It” (female-ish)

Ponies (Transport pull cart/ride, Pasture ornaments)
1 (14 Hands) Blind, Quarter Pony Stallion /
1 (10 Hands) Grumpy 21 yo Shetland Gelding

Poultry (Eggs!!!, Insect control, Chick sales)
1 Chinese, Female Goose /
1 Shy, Free Range, Ameraucana/Wyandotte, Standard Sized Roo /
1 Angry, B&W, Polish, Top Hat, Bantam Roo / 1 Blue, Sizzle, Bantam Roo /
2  (Red, Birchen) Cochin, Bantam Roos / 1 Mille Fleur, Cochin, Bantam Hen /
1 Pair B&W, Ugly, Project Bantams / 1 Silkie x Cochin, Bantam Hen.
17 Young, Bantam Chickens for grow out (new breeders needed,
heat wave drove raccoons out of woods for giant raid on our main coop).

Inside
1 Parakeet that throws seed as far as outer space.
No particular use. But, he is very cute.
1 (55 gallon) fish tank w about a dozen fish.
Calming living room centerpiece.

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New coops are being built or re-built. The truly scrappy ones made from reclaimed everything were burned along with their hornets/wasps nests. Making solid, super sheltered, predator-proofed pens for our poultry was long past due.

One of the new coops:
1) Frame, 2) Digital Plans, 3) Final in use


We barter/traded our one man auger for a working nuc box of bees
(we lost our queen last year in our top bar hive and inevitably
lost that colony).


– The back pasture needs fencing, but has been cleared of coops.
– We need to move the two fruit trees to the front and plant the third
(still in pot from purchase months back).
– The farmette needs to buy a few pure bred hens for laying and
Spring chick sales.
– More coops will be necessary. Bobwhite quail, diamond doves and/or call ducks may be in the mix soon.
– A tree-house style goat house or two (with easy cleaning bases) need to be built, so that we can leave the well shed for storage alone.
– The pony run-in will have additions as time goes on.

The projects never end. Thank goodness we enjoy them!

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Yesterday, on my husband’s day off, he got on a mission to take on the old barn. He started off removing boards for us to cut into sizes for the exterior of the new barnette. He just kept going. I joined in as his assistant (I have gotten more careful about my healing from surgery vs. how far to push my limits). That worked well since today I am not paying for doing too much.

I really should have gotten a pic of Jamie. He was decked out in a very sexy outfit of shorts and rubber boots (LOL). Although not much of a fashion statement, I often wear the same thing in the warmer weather when working outside.

The only thing that went wrong was that this raw enthusiasm happened as rain was coming in. I looked out the window this morning at Big Man (dressed in his raincoat luckily) to see torrential rain with nothing for him to seek shelter in. Luckily, the temperature is in the 60’s on this 7th day of December here in NC.

But, the temperature is going to drop as the day progresses all the way down to 30 degrees. The last pic shows our two car garage with only one thing parked in it until we get those boards up on the new shelter.

YESTERDAY

Just a frame left now

Going down

Bigs is confused. (Also, note the giant hole in Bigs's jacket that Rocky, the grumpy Shetland pony, tore open. Thanx Rocky!)

Getting materials out of the pasture

Back to the garage for sizing...

TODAY

Bigs being a good boy - in the garage.

Luckily, Rocky fits in the fenced back yard nicely with our goats.

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It is official. Big Man is a pony. His actual height is 56 1/2 inches which is 14 hands (and a few hairs) – under the 14.2 hand horse height minimum. However, he lacks the short and thick proportions of a pony. Big Man actually seems to fit well into Quarter Pony requirements (maybe we’ll join the International Quarter Pony Association). They state that known quarter horse bloodlines are encouraged but not required.

Big Man has no papers. This blind boy came from an unofficial adoption. After his “blinding”, he was kept in a small pen and seldom fed. A kind gentleman that knew of this situation offered to take him off the owners hands. Three months later, the new owner needed to downsize his mini farm. And so, “The Big Man Dakota” came to live here.

His name was Dakota, but for some unknown reason, we kept referring to him as Big Man. It stuck. He seems to like it. When I go out front in the morning, I call his name. He repositions himself to face the direction of the sound and yells back loudly with his big, pony voice.

The vertical red line indicates measurement positioning

For Reference: One Hand = Four Inches

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