A Day At The Farm-Making Decisions

Aladdin being super cute.  Jazzy in the background
Aladdin being super cute. Igor in the background

Owning a farm comes with making a lot of decisions. Sometimes, those decisions are easy. Sometimes, they are hard. I hate the hard decisions. These decisions are the ones about the animals themselves. The hardest decisions are the ones about letting animals go.

On December 19th, 2020 I had to make the decision to let my mare, Julie, go. She was 28 years old and I believed she would live forever. She had such a tough spirit but her body started to give out last summer. It was harder to keep weight on her. She started to move slower and she just seemed to be in pain. Here are a few photos of her last few days. She stuck it out until the end but her last 24 hours she wasn’t comfortable standing or laying down. The vet said we could give her meds to keep her pain down but the end result would be the same, it was Julie’s time.

Losing Julie was hard, it was the hardest, saddest, most painful thing I’ve experienced in a long time. Losing her felt like losing a piece of my soul. However, losing her also opened my eyes to all that I have. I have her daughter Fae, and Fae is exactly what I needed. As I’ve dealt with the decision to let Julie go, my other animals have reminded me that I have so much to focus on and care for and love on. I am thankful for my friends, family and my animals. I don’t know what I would do without everyone.

I am sure I will write more about losing Julie as it is still sinking in that she is gone. However, this post wasn’t supposed to be about Julie. It was supposed to be about making the decisions to keep or sell goats. My goats are relatively recent to me. I originally decided to get a goat in 2018 because I am allergic to poison ivy and goats love to eat it. Now, I have a lot more because goats are like chips, you can’t have just one.

My first goat was/is Meredith “Mary” and I got her because she was beating up her herd mate and her owner was afraid of her horns. I met Mary and knew she was supposed to come to my farm. I love Mary to bits! She is stubborn, opinionated, loves attention and is a great momma. However, she doesn’t like being in a big herd. My herd of between 10 to 15 goats stresses her out. She has made this known by going after my younger doelings (not related to her).

Over the past few weeks she has given me signs that she needs a smaller herd. A place where she is the head goat and more of a family pet. I never thought I would be faced with the decision of selling her and her daughters. From the beginning I always said Mary and any of her children were keepers. Especially, if she had any doelings, they would definitely be keepers.

Mary & family
Mary & family, Igor walking towards me

However, it seems that what I planned and what will happen are two different things. I am selling Mary, Jazzy & Pixie this coming Friday. It hurts a lot to let them go but I know that they need something different than I can provide. I remember looking at Jazzy and Pixie not so long ago and apologizing to them for the fact that they don’t get the attention they want because their bigger brothers are attention hogs. It’s the same for Mary, she allows her sons to take the spotlight because they crave it.

I have raised and trained all of my goats to crave human attention and companionship. Below is a photo of one my young does that wouldn’t allow me to get within 10 feet of her when she first got to the farm. She now comes up to me and follows me around like a dog. We even had a lot of snuggles today while I started writing this post.

Maddie sleeping next to me

Looking at my little goat herd I have to remember that my goats may have to leave the farm. My goal with my goats is to train them to be friendly, loveable and people oriented. It will be interesting to see how Surprise reacts to Mary leaving. I know Mary’s boys will be upset but they will survive. Having fewer goats will be good. Truth be told, part of this decision is because both Maddie & Evie are due to have kids soon and I really don’t want more than 15 goats. I will still have Mary’s bloodlines in the Evie & Maddie’s kids as Ivan is the sire of the unborn kids.

Ivan sleeping in a wagon of hay.

The one thing I’ve learned from running my small farm is that change happens and to expect it. Making decisions is also part of this job/lifestyle. As I move forward in this career/life my goal is not forget the animals that have helped form the farm. Stay tuned for more updates!

A Day on the Farm- Sunny

Farming life is a 24/7/365. It isn’t for the faint of heart, but you know that. Having this type of life is a long term commitment, but you know that as well. So, the question is, why? Why do I do this? Well, that is a good question. A question that I often ask myself when I am tired, dirty and ready to fall over but still have more to do.

It could be because I don’t know what else I want to do. As a child, I would play with dolls but mainly, I liked playing with my horses. I enjoyed contemplating how horses and animals interact with each other. I was fascinated by how horses communicated. As I grew older I expanded my interest to how cats, dogs, goats & sheep communicate. I loved trying to figure out how different mammals “talked” with each other. At least looking back at my formative years I feel as though I wanted to learn about how to communicate with animals.

Which has brought me to where I am today, a barn full of horses and goats. Young and old; all relying on me to provide them with the care they need. So many creatures that love attention and being around humans. They have learned that humans equal food and comfort. Early this morning we welcomed a gorgeous mule foal to the farm. She is owned by one of my boarders. Her name is Sunny and the name fits.

I am tired and relieved. Both mom and baby seem to be doing well. I feel as though I should write something profound but mainly I just want to say “thank goodness, everything went well. I didn’t need to deal with a difficult birth.” Momma is a little leery of people. We’ve had a lot of people stop by and come in and out. I canceled my afternoon activities and I tried to reduce the activity outside of Poppy’s stall. There will be well wishers and people who want to come and see the adorable baby. So, I will do my best to accommodate those who wish to come and see the foal while also keeping Poppy and Sunny relaxed.

For now, I am going to say farewell as I am feeling groggy and want to catch a few minute of sleep before I begin another round of caring for all the creatures big and small.

The virus, the farm & life

From the archives of my drafts. Originally written April 15th,2020

I have about ten different ways I wanted to start this post. All of them lack something. These days it is hard trying to establish a direction. It seems that I am stuck between ideas/plans/directions. The pandemic definitely came at bad time but when is a good time for a pandemic to hit?

I am dealing with several different problems or hurdles that seem insurmountable right now. How do I go about resolving those problems? It seems that of late, I have been at several crossroads. The fact is that I have everything I need. I have the pieces of the puzzle and I just need to execute the plans I’ve created. Maybe that is what I need to create a goal/playbook for establishing and expanding my business.

As a riding instructor my time is spent teaching others how to ride and work with horses. It is people intensive. I love it but I also get tired teaching and working with people. That is the thing about a farm, it isn’t a job that you can do alone. You need a team of people to help you in order to succeed. Success is about being able to expand and do more than what you can do alone and that has been a big hurdle for me. I don’t want to need help but maybe that sounds a lot like pride.

Hank and I we both have a lot of pride. Most of my horses are like me, they can do everything themselves. They don’t need help. Just ask Fae, she would tell you that she can feed herself and take herself out to pasture. However, my horses are in a place where they prefer human interaction. Even my cranky old Hankee man. He likes attention, he will hang out with me and he looks for time with the human. I need to take that realization and use it to my advantage because I am struggling with pride

Covid & the farm

You ever have a day or a week where you keep hoping to wake up from a bad dream? Yea, I feel you on that. As I am sure any of you agree, 2020 was one of those years but 2020 also was the year my baby goats were born. The year I worked hard to develop my business and the year I lost my heart horse.

2020 was the year that changed who I was into who I am. It is the year that marked a point for me. It was the year I said good bye to a horse who was a focal point for me for over a decade.

I lost Julie but I didn’t loose all she taught me, or all that she gave me. Writing this post is hard. A part of me wants to avoid it. To ignore it, to shut it away and keep my heart from aching but another part of me wants to show everyone how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve changed because of Julie and what she added to my life.

Leaping Into Spring

I don’t know about you but all of this talk about quarantine and social distancing is depressing! Luckily, here at Hidden Meadow, we offer private and semi private riding lessons. Our aim is to make sure people get to enjoy nature during all seasons! Horse riding is a great way to have fun while sticking to social distancing techniques! We work to space our lessons out so that contact with others is limited. We cater to children and adults! We also have a small herd of goats that provide comedic relief and peacefulness. They are a perfect distraction from life. The photo below is of Romeo hanging out in one of our pony’s stalls.

We are open seven days a week and we can schedule lessons for am, midday and pm. We can work around your schedule. Please note we do require at least 24 hour appointment booking because we are a working farm and have to care for our animals! We cannot offer trail rides at this time due to flooding of the Connecticut River. All of our riding is in our large sand arena. We have ponies and horses for all levels of riding. As a special offer for all parents who are currently home schooling or monitoring cyber school we have several competitively priced lesson options- see below. We accept all major credit cards. Schedule a lesson by contacting Felicia at 860-532-5898.

1 hour lesson for 2 children

Looking to get your children out of the house and want them to enjoy nature? Do you want to immerse them in the physical world so that they can better appreciate what they have access to? This is a great option for them! Price is for two children to ride for about 30 minutes total lesson time is 60 minutes. We go over how to brush & prepare the horse for a lesson

$60.00

Ground lesson with horses & goats

Looking for something for your child to do but they don't want to ride? Then a ground lesson is a perfect solution for them! This is a 40 minute lesson for children to learn about parts of the horse and how to lead and handle them on the ground. We offer this lesson to children ages 3 and up.

$25.00

We are here for you during these strange and confusing times. Our mission is to help people get back to nature. We want to encourage people to take the time to appreciate how amazing our world is. While we focus on children, our doors are open to everyone and we love meeting new people! Our last option is for adults who just want to get outside and do something different! Again contact Felicia at 860-532-5898 to schedule a lesson/appointment.

One hour of nature

This is for adults who just need a break from work, life, home, or being inside. Come and spend time with our animals. Take in the gorgeous views of the Connecticut River Valley and maybe dig in the soil. We strive to provide a place of peace and relaxation. As one of our community members put it- time stops when your at Hidden Meadow. Sometimes all you need is a little relaxation.

$35.00

If you or someone you know needs a break then come to Hidden Meadow where our animals offer a sense of peace and relaxation. There is something for everyone here and we want people to enjoy what we have to offer. We look forward to seeing you!

Hank talks Poop

Hank eating hay

With all of the panic about coronavirus, Covid-19, Hank would like to talk about poop. Specifically, about the fact that humans seem to have an obsession with it. Out in the wild Hank would eat his poop because it was a source of nutrition. Hank believes that you shouldn’t waste anything. So, naturally he likes to eat his poop. Now, before you get all squeamish and say eww gross (which, I agree, it is rather gross). Let’s hear Hank out.

Life with humans is very strange- Hank

Hank coming to see if there are treats

Living with humans is very strange. They have all of these weird things that they do. One of the strangest things that I have found is their fascination with picking up poop. They use this large black thing and they have this tree branch looking thing that has teeth on the end. The humans will come into my area and they will use the tree branch to put the poop into the black thing. At first, I thought maybe they eat the poop. I eat my poop, it is full of nutrients and what better way to make use of your resources than by making sure to eat everything available to you. So I watched to see if maybe they ate the poop. Humans do not eat the poop. They put it into a giant pile and just let it sit there. Which makes no sense what so ever. Why would humans take the poop and then just pile it up? It’s wasted that way!

After a while there is a large machine that scoops up the poop into its big mouth but that machine doesn’t eat it either! Instead, it spits out the poop into another large trough, a trough for something huge! I’ve never seen anything eat out of that trough but I have seen another mechanical beast take the trough away. So, maybe there is a beast that eats it? I don’t understand why the humans would feed a beast that big but then again there is much about humans I don’t understand.

Hank taking a nap and wondering about humans

My solution to this confusion about poop is to eat the poop. If I eat the poop then the human doesn’t have to walk around in my paddock and take it away. If I eat the poop then I get left alone. If I eat the poop and the human sees me, she will yell at me and then bring me more hay. So, to me, eating poop makes life better for everyone and usually means I’ll get more food. It’s a win, win for everyone.

The human has said something about worms but I don’t know what she means about them. I think poop is good for the body. It has to be if the humans are so focused on taking it away! I think there is some sort of conspiracy going on.

Hank thinking about how weird humans are

Celebrate Spring with a special offer!

Take advantage of these great weather and our desire to be outside! We are offering a cabin fever special to encourage you all to come out and ride!

We had rain here last evening! The special ran until we had rain. Keep an eye on our blog for more options or sign up via our regular pricing packages!

We offer great pricing and flexible scheduling!

Love is in the Air!

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year! Love is in the air and we, at Hidden Meadow want to show how much we love our customers, clients & students! Now through February 18th we are offering special prices on our packages! We want to recognize all of our customers and we want to say thank you to everyone who is part of our farm!

See below for special pricing on our packages!


Specially Priced Packages:


Buy 2 lessons get 1 free lesson!

A great choice to show those you love that you are thinking about them! This is a great valentine's day gift! Purchase today and give the gift of fun on valentine's day. These are hour long lessons; lessons include tacking and untacking of the horse, ride time is about 40 minutes. Private or semi private lessons. Call or text to schedule a lesson.

$80.00


Buy 3 lessons get 2 free lessons!

If you want to give an extra special gift this valentine's day then purchase this amazing deal! Five riding lessons for the price of three! This is priced well below retail value. If you want to give the gift of fun and a way to enjoy the outdoors then this is the option you should purchase! Price is for three plus two (1) hour riding lessons. Lessons include tacking and untacking of the horse. Ride time is about 40 minutes. Lessons may be private or semi private lessons.

$130.00


Try out Hidden Meadow Equestrian Center & see what we are all about!

Contact us today for any questions or to schedule a lesson!

https://www.facebook.com/HiddenMeadowEC/

Hank’s second month

Hank eating alfalfa cubes

The human that seems to be “ours” is acting strange. The scent of something hangs about her. It is not fear but it is close to it. I am not certain what is going on but I watch as people come and go. A few days ago a small one was born. She whinnied and I responded. I do not know where the little one is but I let her know I am watching over her. That same morning strange humans came to the farm. They took photos and whispered to each other. I didn’t like the way they moved around the facility. They seemed to dislike our corrals but I could smell water near by and the mud that was in our paddocks seemed to dry when we had a few days of sunshine. I kept away from those humans and I tried to keep Ruger from them as well.

Two of the mares that came with us were pregnant. They all had separate corrals but the gray mare was closest to us and in mud that was slow to dry. The human who seemed to worry the most worried about the gray mare. Other humans that were at the farm seemed to ignore what the alpha humans said. The other humans would sit around and complain about the alpha human. One rainy day when none of the other humans were around a truck and a trailer came. I finally figured out what the humans called those things. Two humans appeared out of the trailer and they opened the back of the trailer. The mare the alpha human called Magpie was guided onto the trailer. They left and the two other mares watched as did I and Ruger. The gray mare was guided through a short channel to the paddock that Magpie had been in. The rain kept on coming and I would go in the wooden shelter that was in our corral only if hay was put in it. After a little while the truck and trailer returned. This time the gray mare was guided onto the trailer. She was close to having her baby and it seemed the alpha human was worried about her. It’d been three weeks since we got off the trailer and we still didn’t trust the green things the humans put down for us.

The next day after the two mares left the alpha human brought out the green things. In the green things was something that smelled familiar. Ruger went for the bucket and I waited until the human stepped away then I pushed Ruger out of the way to taste what was in the green thing. The food was delicious. It tasted of home and of something else. Something that was round and slightly crunchy. I ate every bite of that food and wondered why they humans were giving us such delicious food. They also made sure we had fresh water. They would drag a long black snake and the snake would spit water into a small black puddle that seemed to stay in place. It was similar to what we drank out of when we were at the place before our journey. Life here was strange and familiar. I watched as the humans approached and seemed to connect to the strange horses. The horses that wore weird things on their faces. Those horses also seemed to want the attention of the humans. When the humans would come to look at us those other horses would try and get the attention of the humans.

A few weeks after the two mares left another trailer showed up. This time the alpha human wasn’t here. There were two other human females here and they smelled of something I didn’t like. Deception and deceit. The little one and her mom were led out of their corral. I watched as they were led. Something wasn’t right. This wasn’t like last time. I wondered if the alpha human knew what was happening. Ruger and I watched as the little one and her mom were put into the trailer. I didn’t like the two humans that took the two horses away. I didn’t like the human that drove the loud truck that belched smoke. She was afraid of us. She would throw hay and then sit around. I sensed that the alpha human wouldn’t like what was happening while she was gone.

A few hours later the alpha human returned and she was upset. I could sense the unrest in her movement and her voice sounded different. A male human in uniform came in a car and spoke to the alpha human as well as the other humans that smelled of deception. They sounded like they were upset but they didn’t smell like they were sad. They smelled like they were trying to hide something. There was so much going on but I only caught a few sentences “It’s going to cost me more money to fight this than I can set aside. I don’t have enough time to deal with this and work full time and run a farm. I feel betrayed. I can’t believe this happened. Well, I just can’t even right now.”

The alpha human was distracted and she seemed like she was beaten. Her eyes looked like she was giving up. It was the same look that I had seen in the eyes of my herd members when we were loaded onto the metal caves that took us away from our pasture land. The alpha human’s name was Felicia. It was a strange word. A word I didn’t understand but it seemed to be her label. The same as she labelled me Hank and Ruger, Ruger and Lark, Lark.

Ruger was put in a paddock that was away from me. He seemed to enjoy the humans and looked for their attention. I tried to tell him not to interact with them but gave up. It seemed that Felicia and I were uncertain of what was going on. As always, I kept watch. I was certain more was to happen but I didn’t know when or how it would change. This life was very different from my old one. I had to think more and react less. My survival wasn’t based on whether or not I could find water and pasture to eat but on how I understood humans and how I understood what they said. They were predators after all and I was certain that I would have to protect my herd from them at some point.

The Slow Season

For every business there is a slow season. For Hidden Meadow, January and Feburary are the slowest months. Which is great because it means I can breathe, relax and take stock of what was good, bad and ugly during the past year.

There was a lot of all three. 2019 was a difficult year. It was a year of hope, growth and disappointment. I was reminded that most people only want to be around because they want to take what they can. The farm’s reputation was dragged through the dirt and I should have seen the trouble coming but I wanted to believe people were good.

It’s difficult for me to write about everything, honestly, I can’t believe some of what happened. When I tell people about it they look at me like I’ve lost my mind or that I am telling a tall tale. Which I then decide to stop trying to explain.

My previous post I wrote about whether or not I should sell Ruger. Ultimately, I decided that Ruger needed to stay home, to stay at Hidden Meadow. The decision was difficult, I needed the money that would come from selling him. I wanted to reduce the number of horses and animals in my care. However, at the end of the day I have to be happy with the decisions I’ve made and selling him wasn’t sitting well in my stomach.

The other fun thing about this season is that I lost my job in November. I relied on my job to cover the expenses I had that weren’t covered by teaching riding lessons.

I am still unemployed, not for lack of looking but owning a small business and trying to work full time is difficult and I burnt myself out. I’m trying to heal myself while still taking care of the animals. It is hard to do both. I want to lock myself away and just melt into the air but I can’t do that. Not when I have so many animals that need constant care.

Which leads me to this strange place, a place I’ve grown quite used to. It’s a place of maybes and half formed thoughts, a place that is a puzzle that doesn’t have the correct pieces. A place that once filled me with hope but now I am filled with stress and worry. I’m sure everyone on the outside looking in has their opinions and assumptions but it is always easy to point fingers and judge when you are an observer. Life is difficult and confusing and often leaves me with a migraine but I am starting to learn that I can do this but not without help and it seems like everyone needs help these days.

If you are interested in helping the farm out please consider purchasing a bale of hay.

Buy a bale of hay here

Thank you to everyone who has helped out and purchased hay! We greatly appreciate it.

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