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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: ponies

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.

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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.

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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 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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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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We are in our 4th year here in NC and on this property. Every year, we get more snow. Being from the North East, I am happy about this, even though it presents some challenges for our slowly emerging Farmette.

"Rocky" the Grumpy Shetland Pony

Rocky loves his grain...

The Shetland pony is well adapted for snow. He gets a Winter coat like that of a woolly mammoth. But even though our little horse/large pony, Big Man, gets an adequate Winter coat, his personality becomes an issue when the weather gets really bad.

He is a blind yet claustrophobic guy. When we first brought him here, he nearly came out the escape door in the trailer, kicking and yelling most of the way here. It took over a year to get him used to being hooked up to that trailer and the fence posts.

Big Man likes to be out in the open. Maybe it is because he can see a little shadow of movement in the distance through his glazed eyes. He also seems to be able to feel your vibrations in the ground as you approach.

So, it will be nasty outside and instead of staying in the shelter of the run-in shed, he’ll stand out in the middle of the field. Convincing him that the run-in is dryer and warmer with grain bribes helps a bit, but I still worry about the wet in combination with cold weather considering his behavior.

"The Big Man Dakota" also loves grain.

Now, the Big Man Dakota sports a bright orange turn-out blanket. Being a bit concerned about keeping his Winter coat intact, I purchased a 420/70 denier breathable jacket.

In the slippery, cold eye of the storm, I slowly and carefully made my way out to the pasture to check on how it was working in the snow. It looked wet in some places, but when I ran my hand under it next to Big Man’s body, he was completely dry and warm. Water was trapped between the double layers, ready to evaporate – awesome!

Big Man wearing his new jacket

After the ice accumulation overnight, I checked again. The moisture between the layers was gone and our little horse was still cozy and content. He was even showing off a bit, dancing around in the snow. It is hard to tell, but I think that he knows that the jacket provides comfort and that he is making a jazzy, fashion statement.

It was a load of fun to get it on him for the first time – a bit like waving a red cape at a bull. He reacted to the sound of the nylon friction like that of impending doom and got quite spooked. All that I can say is – soft words, praise and treats. These work like miracles in the equine world. Even the grumpy pony that takes great pleasure in kicking and biting his blind buddy appreciates these.

Now that Big Man has developed some trust in us, I think that we may be able to close him in a stall barn/shed without panic setting in. I am working on a plan that could be built with doors or without. Hopefully, we will have the funds for the supplies in the Spring. A scaled down version of what we really want should help it materialize.

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