Been a bit, some news…

I just realized I haven’t been on the blog in forever. Shep is gonna luv I found a Murdoch Mysteries gif.

We bought a farm!

Picture it, Ontario 2021. The world is reeling from a deadly pandemic, businesses closing, people out of work and miraculously, an absolutely insane real estate market.

I call and said to Mr. Sheppard, “I cannot get this farm out of my mind, I feel like we need to go see it.” Mr. Sheppard’s response was, “Yes, you need to see that place”, when you read that in your head, make it a sarcastic, bitchy, man tone. Three days later we wrote an offer, got a crash course in commercial property investing, 19 days later we had listed, had a million views and accepted an offer on our place! 2 days later we bought a skid steer, 5 days after that we bought another – Do Not Ask, this is like the how many new trucks can Mr. Shep buy in a month argument of 2018. He needs to learn about extended test drives, less paperwork than buying and returning vehicles. Less costly as well.

The house is – livable. I threatened Shep if he said it one more time I would stab him. Going from a house where we are the first ones to live in it post reno, to an 1850’s farm house is tough. Don’t get me wrong, the house is tight, great bones, but it’s no open concept, new kitchen, spacious and modern interior. However the barn, 5 lay down stalls, 5 standing stalls. Soon to be converted to 7 laydown stalls and a tack room/office for me. A quarantine shed with 3 stalls, chicken coop my future chickens can literally move right into. Covered round bale feeders, 3 run ins, an apple orchard, creek.. One of the run-ins is perfect for minis, it’s actually a miniature barn, with a round bale feeder on the side.

Paint the little run-in red and white, there’s a paddock behind it with a nice split rail fence, we are going to put a proper wood fence around the first part. There’s the best horse dad ever seeding that part of the paddock. Holy heck, $200 for a bag of seed. I nearly fell over, more so when it didn’t even do that paddock.

Did someone say new horses? Yes we have some ponies joining the herd. We have a nice mini coming in, from a good family, upstanding young gelding. Honestly his family is delighted he is coming into our program and we are beyond excited to have him! The geldings will have one paddock and the mares another. We are on the lookout for a friend for Chester, he gets the big field πŸ˜‰ Cause he’s the big guy LOL I am also debating a foal, I guess debate isn’t the right word, trying to figure out how I can subvert the truth to Mr. Shep just until the shock of what we are embarking on dissipates a bit. I only have a couple days to decide if I am putting the deposit down.

Birdies! Our farm is only going to have the horses and some birds, I have 4 layer hens coming and 5, day old ducklings. It was going to be 30 ducks, but neither Jessica nor I can feed them and raise them and then send them off to be Christmas dinner. We have agreed, the drakes if we get any, they will have to go. I am getting my ring neck pheasant permit/license so I can keep them. The birds arrive from Frey’s Hatchery in July.

We will have a big welcome party as soon as we can. We were going to rent Orono Fairgrounds for a Pony Picnic, we might just do it at the farm. If I can get the grass to grow in. Picnic lunch, pony rides courtesy of a friend and channel partner of SHBHS.

Grow grass, but not too much, because mowing is a lot of work.

This fall we have meetings with Kawartha Conservation, there are numerous grants we can take advantage of because of the creek and the fact part of the farm is protected, we want to build a private conservation area, native plants, pollinator gardens and then, rent an acre of it to a bee keeper. The treed area has trails we can fix up. A private retreat we will open to the public to enjoy too.

That’s all I can think of. Packing, is going. Jess is old enough she is able to do a lot of her own. The minis, well I gotta do theirs, same with Chester LOL and Mr. Shep. I made the deal, if he got the equipment all ready to go, like the riding lawnmower etc., I would do all the packing. Our friend Kevin is getting the lawnmower ready and I am still doing all the packing – yeah.

Hoping for smooth sailing and seamless closing! See you all soon!

New Things

woman typing on laptop keyboard at workspace
Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

I cannot tell you how many times a day I curse myself for not buying my laptop with a numeric side key pad. I have a Lenovo, and I love it, but I miss my numeric pad. That’s what happens when you have no patience and won’t wait for your computer guy to order a different one in.

This has been a very busy week. Very soon you will be hearing radio ads, if you live in the GTA region and listen to KICX 96, featuring us. I am really pushing forward this year to make us the standard in birthday parties, event appearances and just the best at what we do. So I threw some money on a radio ad and fancied up the website. (Honestly for what I paid, I should have hired someone to do it, then I would have someone to yell at when I forget how to run the backend dashboard – I am so much prettier than I am smart) BUT we have a gift shop, so you can add on extra special gifts to your parties and appearances, or just buy something extra special and we can ship it and most importantly, you can book us online. That alone is worth the money. Not that I don’t love talking to all of you and not that I don’t deny how much of a control freak I am, that the management of my business diary being out of my hands is the most frightening thing I can imagine; however it had to come. It is 100% a time issue. I still welcome your calls, I still will answer any and all questions, but for folks who have booked us hundreds of times, for folks who are, be here, at this time, we don’t care about anything – this is easier. You pay right online with Stripe or we do e-transfer, cash etc., on the day of the event. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy!

So what have we been up to, what have the horses been up to? We got a new logo!

I love it, just adore it! We got it here www.pineridgeexpress.ca we also bought some t-shirts and golf shirts and new vests. We filled up lessons in Orono, actually had to add an extra timeslot. Those little ponies are going to be tired.

Chester did a pony ride for a young lady who has never rode before. She is a friend of Jessica’s, so we popped her on his back. She’s a little off balance in this pic, but we need to get Mr. Chester back in shape, so some pony rides, some walking with tack on, Jim gave me some exercises for his back.

My two handsome boys, they both look fine from behind
Walking Max in for dinner, really walking a mini towards dinner is the easiest thing in the world, especially Max

Both Red and Max drove today, Red behaved, Max had a rough time, I think it is back to basics, just line drive him, he needs to get confident in what I am asking, the cart seems to scare him. Red was amazing, what a little mare. I took Jim’s advice and drove her in the fenced in sand ring, she walked, she trotted, she kept trying to canter, I kept pulling her back down into a walk. With her the plan is a week or so of just laps around the ring, then we will set up obstacles to drive around and then, when I am convinced she will not kill me, we will venture out of the ring and start driving a bit more distance. The masseuse mentioned her stifles, minis are prone to stifle issues and she is a bit older, so slow and steady. Here are Red and Chester receiving massages. Check out Chester, he looks like he is really into it, almost critiquing her technique, pretty brash for a horse for whom that is only the second massage of his life. He lived in a field with an old mare who was barren and a bunch of cows prior to coming to Valentia Equestrian.

She kept yawning and really enjoying her “treat”
Aw yes, that is the spot, just a little to the left, thank you darling. Don’t touch my bum.

Well, we’re in another lock-down, I am just happy the vaccine has opened up to younger people and we seem on track to all be vaccinated by July, at least the first shot. I received mine early March – through work, my second shot is delayed until June, which is fine by me, get everyone else done! Get my Mom and Dad done, I haven’t seen them in ages, Mr. Shep hasn’t seen his Mom in 2 years and she is having significant health issues, he and Jess need to fly down this summer, right now, they would have to quarantine 14 days once there and possibly the same when back. I don’t remember normal and I’m not sure the way before was right, but I really hope for the sake of everyone’s mental health that some of the restrictions can lift.

Stay safe! Happy Easter, my new suit is going to have a very long life πŸ™‚

The minis did not appreciate it, Mia tried to kick me, Red knew it was me, but she wanted nothing to do with me, Max was curious, but I think I had just eaten a cupcake, he probably smelled food.

Are We Still Here?

Of course we are! Max, Red and Mia aren’t going anywhere, especially not since they have big brother Chester to teach the ropes.

I bit off so much more than I could chew! What started as a new job, three days in the office, 2 at home, I don’t care when you come in as long as you are there for key meetings turned into 5, sometimes 7 days a week, early mornings, late nights – all the stuff that makes me tick πŸ™‚ I work for a medical conglomerate, I went from financial manager/officer to operations and finance manager/officer for the whole dang thing! Including a new COVID clinic.

Now you tell me

However, SHBH is always going to be my first love. I just might not get much sleep for the next decade – oh yeah, I signed a 5 year contract to do what I do, but verbally agreed to 10.

That above, excellent quote, I am totally going to do that! That is how people should live their lives.

So – how are the minis? Awesome, although Red and I are having a tiff right now, you see I bought her a brand new harness and cart. Hitched her up last weekend, to have her run away on me and I couldn’t stop her! I ended up in a snowbank, being tossed from the cart, brand new harness trashed and me bruised from my shoulder to ankle on my right side. She was in heat and Prince was in the barn and come heck or high water, she was getting back into that barn to prance around in front of him. I thought we were ride or die Red, I really did. I didn’t know it was you ride and me die. Mia and Max are now my favourites. Totally my fault, I should have lunged her or line drove her first and as soon as I can put weight on my bad knee for any length of time, we will be hitching again.

Funny story, this year Mia is seasoning, (heat) the week before Red, I caught her with Max backed into a corner, trying to kick him. I don’t know what Max did, it could be a culmination of many years, but he was in trouble!

Chester had cryptorchid surgery in September, it has made a tremendous change! I still rode him as a rig, (stallion with an undescended testicle), but now Jessica can ride him! That makes me so happy. He is a couple years away from joining us on the trailer.

With everything I bit off, we decided to put the plans for the barn where we board on hold. We have entered a contract with Orono to rent their fairgrounds for mini horse lessons, we will be having a pony picnic there and our grand finale, the kids will get to show off what they learned at the Orono Fair.

When life is all tied up – for today!

So we will have more info coming, it’s tax season and I am doing a few sole proprietors year ends, plus my 9-5, plus the ponies, got to make hay while the sun shines – especially at the price of it! $7 a bale.

Chat later lovies, the minis send their love.

March Break is Almost Over!

Back to school kiddos – or not…

The decision to send or not has been the toughest I have ever made. On one hand, there is a deadly pandemic with a virus that is already mutating, on the other, kids need school – the mental health aspect, on the other hand… Honestly I don’t have enough hands for the mental gymnastics every parent is doing right now!

We are moving into our own barn – it’s at the same location we are now, we are just taking over one of the barns. It will be reconfigured and winterized to host birthdays, a mini sand ring for inside, in hand lessons. We will run pony reading club – huge thanks to
Meredith for her donation of an e-reader to the program. We are waiting on a grant that would see us launch this program and a forgotten skills program, including seniors. Fingers, toes and anything else you got crossed! We have home school programs we are working on for home schooled and distance learners.The minis have 3 photo shoots for September, October and November, Christmas on the farm in December – things are shaping up!! Plus – our long term care and retirement homes are opening back up to let us in, health unit by health unit, residence by residence.

That’s all, please be safe and stay healthy. Don’t be a “rat licker” – apparently that is someone who refuses to wear a mask, an expression that dates back to the days of the bubonic plague. Young kids and their crazy expressions!

Chester is getting a massage and his teeth done tomorrow. He’s not spoiled… I had to call the vet and request they not come until 10am because his masseuse comes at 9.

So handsome, I look adorbs wearing my daughter’s helmet – she has an abnormally large head for a child.

Off to the bank, the 4 legged kids cost money and thankfully the bank sees my dreams too!

Is it July Already?

It was the longest half year, it was the shortest half year…

We started July off with our traditional trip to Kenzie’s birthday. We took Max and Mia – Red got the afternoon off. When Kenzie’s mom handed me the invitation for Jessica, Kenzie informed me if I wanted to bring my horses, that would be alright.

Last year Max ate most of the weeds, this year, just as they took the group picture, Mia had a runny poop.

WHAT ARE WE UP TO???

Painting the fence, I have been painting the fence around the pony riding ring at the farm. Good for my lessons and Pony and Princess Tea Parties. (Except today, it is hot as bells πŸ˜‰ )Boredom is the mother of invention, or something like that. This tea party idea came to me one night and it is actually quite popular! We sold out the first one, although with social distancing protocols, I don’t know that I want to really brag on that… We have a second one scheduled and we are also doing a Heroes and Horses Party, we will invite some local heroes, kids can dress like super heroes.

The day we shot promo pictures for the tea party, my kid has decided she is no longer a princess.

Kenzie in a princess dress, thank goodness I have one child in my life who comes along on my crazy train ideas. How cute is she without that front tooth?
This little traitor though, I don’t want to wear a princess dress, a half hour putting her hair into a bun, securing a real tiara – mine into her hair, I don’t wanna wear this. 8 years, she dressed as a fairy princess for Halloween, now, the one time I want her dressed like one, she’s out.

DRIVING!

Oh Em Gee, (Haw, see what I did there, yeah clever), this might be one of the best parts of what we are doing. We have a freestyle track at the farm. Improvements to a road and trail, mean carriage lessons can start soon. I already drove on it with Red. It’s so bumpy, we need to put the harrows to it and Red doesn’t do anything at a walk, so I was remiss to drive through the field because of ground hog holes. Instead I allowed the little flaxen mane demon to bounce me all over – shaken not stirred! We did end up in the cabbage once, she isn’t a fan of blinders and that is all I happened to have in a bridle that day. Plus we were driving in a pony fore cart, so a bit more to handle. I also picked up my third harness, which is great, except Mia isn’t really broke to drive and Max is just learning to be a singleton. I bought a new wagon, painted it red, still need to do the trim work. Also need to fashion a set of shafts, or buy hames and collars…

Trying to figure out what I want to do for trim. It had silver trim on it, but I am more a fan of the white, like the Budweiser Clydesdale wagon. Need a custom license plate – thinking Rough Rider πŸ˜‰ Am I talking about Roosevelt’s Calvary, a cowboy who breaks young horses or throwing back a little urban slang…

WINDOW VISITS

We are back, visiting through windows, in person in small groups. This was in Bobcaygen, but we are back all over.

NEW BABY

I made the decision I was buying another horse this year. I like my quarter horses, I like a western stock. I was going to buy a quarter horse last year, she had just retired from barrels and was pretty hot in an arena. Mr. Sheppard was like, “You will kill yourself. You are 43, not 23”.

What I wanted was under my nose, Mr Chester. Last year he arrived from a farm just a few doors away from my house. A cryptorchid, he has only one descended testicle. He is blind in one eye and sadly losing sight in the other. The vet at the PPI, (pre-purchase inspection) asked me if I knew what I was getting myself into. I do/did, but way too late, I was/am in love.

He needs a couple pounds, spring is always hard on studs, we need to address his teeth – they need to be floated. Honestly, I had never seen a horse whose teeth weren’t floated, I had no idea what the spurs looked like. When the vet opened Chester’s mouth I was like, OMG! I actually recoiled in horror. Old dogs, learning new stuff daily LOL It is taking everything in me not to jump on his back. I set August as when I will. I am feeding him as much wet roughage as he wants, like a pageant mom weighing him daily.

SHOWING

We are showing, just finished show 2 for the season, we have one more with this group from New York, then we are doing our own on-line show and the horseman’s club we belong to, is waiting on the township to give them the go ahead, we might get a couple live shows in too.

THE END

Well almost, we have drop by visits we are doing with people. $20 plus travel, take the minis visiting. Last night I watched a video Jessica’s teacher did for the school year. I cried, our kids have suffered though so much this year. It’s not just no school and not spending time with their friends, it’s missed dance lessons and competitions and recitals, 4 costumes she will never wear – because she is growing like a weed. No soccer, we were with that soccer club since it’s inception, this would be her last year, no end of school trip, the end of school was done on a google meets, meeting. I see what this has done to my own child, I know we aren’t alone, so as long as I cover my gas, Jess gets to go to daycare and the minis get to spend time with people, we’re going to work. Those poor horses, we were on the road, doing 40 visits a month, they miss people too. They know what they do, so I figure, cover my gas, keep us somewhat afloat – I can always do more bookkeeping if I need cash flow, our business is to use our horses as ambassadors, to champion mental health and be ambassadors for their breed. That is what I started this company to do and darn it all if COVID wasn’t the end of it, it’s going to be the beginning.

One of the most fond memories I hear when we are in a retirement home is the man/men who brought the ponies around to neighbourhoods, this is the summer we’re going to help some people make some memories. I always say, we never turn anyone down for lack of money, we won’t this summer either, contact me, we will help you, we will come see you. It’s never no, it’s always, let’s figure it out. We are in this together!

Dandelion Jelly and Back to Work

My bees are here! I ordered 250 leaf cutter bees, these are non-stinging, efficient little pollinators. I buy mine at this website. https://backyardpollinator.ca/leafcutter-bees-megachile-rotundata/leafcutter-bees-at-work/

So cute, immediately after hatching they mate and then the males die. I think I know what I am coming back as next life. Probably have a clean garage and less headaches!

Recently I was very inspired by a collection of memes where Karens get served their comeupance a movement out of Ireland, the concept of learning to grow one food. I think I mentioned it last post, here is the link:

https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/gangster-gardening-living-off-the-land-5071034-Apr2020/?fbclid=IwAR0hNHa-vUdad3r-mtlyLXvLCyzeOrKjBqeMPAK_7pWWIJjrdiGD7xQ553E

(I don’t know why I can’t insert the link in a word, WordPress has changed it’s blogging layout and I agreed to try it before it properly launches June 1st and like many things before, I sincerely regret guinea pigging this.)

So let’s go a step further. What is growing in most of our yards, that is a food, edible from flower to root? Years ago my Grandmother who was the oldest widow of a WWI veteran, (yes, the first world war, my Grandpa didn’t start his 10 kid family until his 40s), she came up through the depression era, the daughter of a small town Lutheran minister, and she ate dandelions. Loved the darn things. There was this radio show back in the aughts, called “Win a Dinner”, it was on the Wingham radio station – anyways they called you and you answered with what you were having for lunch. Grandma won with dandelion salad, she then introduced the DJ’s to dandelion salad. Well Grandpa lived to 88, died in 83. Grandma refused to go into the retirement home until she was 93 because she had to stay in her house longer than her bossy older sister, she passed in 2010, very close to 100… So maybe they knew something about dandelions. πŸ™‚ I know people make dandelion wine, but I don’t drink and need to have a conversation with my naturopath because she prescribed a supplement with alcohol, so what else besides adding the greens to salad could I do.

Enter Dandelion Jelly!

So pretty – I actually had to reprocess it, and now it is an even darker hue. You start with dandelion tea, then allow the petals to infuse the tea overnight

So easy to make, we don’t eat jams or jellies because of the sugar content, plus we don’t eat bread and aside from Christmas, limit baked stuff. However I do enjoy gifting my preserves and may, sell them this year. I have done a lot of interesting ones, a couple I will repeat this year, like peach/vanilla jam; preserved apricots have to be my favourite, I leave the skins on and apricots seem to cut nicer than peaches, which I frequently mangle. Jessica only takes fruit to school I have preserved. I can it in it’s own juice, no sugar or freeze it. In fact, we just ate the last 6 bags of strawberries from 2019 this month.

Going off-side a bit, so many of these skills and passions have fallen by the wayside, growing up on a farm, all we had was the Tommy Hunter Show and Hockey Night in Canada – I’m sure there was more, we weren’t really allowed to watch tv, we had a tower and maybe 3 stations. We read and learned to sew, in fact I still do embroidery and frequently will gift my stitch work. My mom baked bread, canned, froze food, one time the vet castrated a boar too short and Dad had to butcher it right there on Mom’s chest freezer – I’m sure he could have done it somewhere else, but it was a good story and that chest freezer still had blood stains until the day it was finally decommissioned at probably close to 30 years old. Mom always says, we didn’t feed you girls really healthy because that’s what we were about, we did it because we couldn’t afford anything else. Anyone who farmed in the 80s understands. Anyways, I see a niche with some of these old skills, canning and using florals, dandelion jelly is called poor man’s honey and certainly dandelion flowers are quite sweet. Container and yard gardening. I remember once a friend laughing, someone was selling lettuce bowls, the friend was older, approaching 80, “who would buy that?” she laughed. I was like, me. I have bought them – especially when we lived in Kitchener and Paris, we didn’t have big yards, these were great for patio gardening, which was all we truly had room for, too obsessed with perfect flower beds and lawns, I remember spending hours in my yard, removing dandelions by hand. Never would I plant vegetables in a flower garden, now tomatoes and squash are right alongside flowering shrubs and bushes. Now, I am pretty sure the neighbours will be calling on me for noxious weeds because I discovered wild strawberries on my hill and my front yard is full of dandelions. My point is, the older generations sometimes forget, we didn’t all learn this stuff. The greenhouse at my high school was never utilized, most of us didn’t do home economics past grade 8 and honestly all I learned there was how to clean my sink taps and how to make a baked Alaska. Those skills, many of them will die with their generation, meanwhile our diets of convenience are killing us. My grandparents never cooked with refined sugar, they couldn’t afford it, it was honey or maple syrup, dates or raisins and know what, no diabetes, no high blood pressure. – Hopping off soapbox, putting it away, that is not really what this blog is for. I’m also feeling very introspective because my doctor, (Naturopath) put me on a quasi vegan diet – I can have fatty fish 3 meals a week, plus a plethora of supplements to help my allergies and reduce my inflammation. So, my apologies!

Mini Horses…

Now, this, this is what we care about! With social distancing in mind, last week Katelyn, Rachel and myself groomed the minis of Valentia Equestrian. Everybody got brushed and bathed and then the two white horses, (Star and Brownie) very nicely went and rolled as soon as we let them in their field.

Midnight looked like a million bucks when we were done. Work boots and shorts are a fashion statement for every smart #farmgirl #farmgirlstrong

I did most of the showering, there is a definite trick to showering a mini, singing “Rubber Ducky”, to them definitely helps, as does commiserating with them about how cold the water is. Mostly it is holding their halter and being calm, chatting with them, letting them see what you are doing. Several of the minis at Valentia (rescues) have blind eyes, so extra care has to be taken.

Which leads me to the mini team, I am doing the first show for May, I will be doing pictures this weekend, I clipped Red and it has to grow out – LOL. In June, we will be welcoming the kids.

You will find your mini ready to go, standing in cross ties and your grooming box, freshly sanitized. You will follow myself or Jim outside, we will be leading a mini of our own, then we will work on standing square, walking the obstacle course, just taking the mini for a walk, then finish with grooming again, once you work those muscles, grooming after is like a mini massage for your mini, just like when you ride a big horse. The lessons/class will be a half hour to an hour, no rush. πŸ™‚ We spend time on what you need us to.

Anyways, that is all, going to polish some tack today, once school is over. Working on a couple other ideas for the kiddos. Getting some info together for window visits at the retirement homes, we already have some booked!

Take care all, see you soon!

I love a Parade!

I worked for a funeral director who said every time he drove in a procession that song, “I love a parade”, played in his head. Sometimes random things fall out of my mouth or in this case fingers.

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90% sure, this might be the butt crack of dawn.Β 

I couldn’t sleep yesterday – I was too excited, we were going on tour! A month or so ago we started planing this, a little birdie had let me know restrictions would be lifted and a key part of the economic recovery was going to be started around the long weekend in May. So I reached out to some LTC homes and asked, could we drop by, 10 minutes walk around outside, wave and be off – some said yes, some didn’t and one went on outbreak last week. On Friday, Mr. Shep asks, can we postpone until Wednesday. That guy! No we cannot, I have 8 retirement and LTC care homes to go to, we are taking 3 horses, I need 3 bodies. He was asked to work, for the record this happens every time I have something I want to do. Pride picnic – sorry working; family festival – jeepers honey I can’t get it off; sale at Canadian Tire on useless tools you might use once – nah babe I am home all weekend! I swear he begs them, you don’t even have to pay me, I’ll clean the toilets, just anything not to have to go with the crazy woman and her ponies.

So, I wrangled Katelyn to help, to be honest it is really hard to find help with the state of the world, I am conscious of whose parents or members of their household might be immune compromised and other people’s safety is paramount.

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Katelyn really wants to be a Max girl – the girls Max listens to and behaves for. He has a thing for young girls. Typical Cassanova. Old hags like me, not a chance.

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Lunch and snacks for all – just kidding, 3 of them are Jessica’s.

First stop was Bobcaygeon, honestly, we spent 45 minutes there, going to the windows of all the rooms, saying hello, the minis eating dandelions like it’s a career. It was really humbling, the signs out front, the wreaths for those lost, and the resiliency of the residents and staff. From there we traveled to Cannington, Port Perry, Oshawa, Whitby, Markham, Richmond Hill, Toronto and then Uxbridge. In some places the residents were outside, some places we visited windows and some places we just wandered and waved. Jessica and I were on the road 12 hours, we slept so well last night!

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So many amazing tributes to those on the front lines. I wanted to take pictures and make a video, but wrangling Red in a sea of dandelions makes using a phone pretty hard.Β 

Yesterday was important for so many reasons, first I miss everyone – the stories, the time we spend with not just the residents, but the staff. You all are heroes and we love you and thank you for protecting our most vulnerable. Secondly, what is everyone wearing? So some places had gowns over their clothes, everyone had masks, anyone without glasses had shields. My glasses don’t want to stay on with my mask around my ears, so I need something better, especially wrangling a hungry Red and a dandelion field. My glasses kept falling off. I definitely need something to hold my mask at the back of my head. (Poor Jessica, her mask was too big, not sure how that works, Jessica has a very large head. I know this, natural birth, failed epidural.) Finally, how does what we do, fit into this new landscape. It is one thing to sit at home and throw ideas against a wall, it is a whole different landscape to actually go out and see what people are dealing with, how everything is affected.

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A more svelte Red for 2020, streamlined, maybe people will quit asking if she is pregnant now. Mia gained, Red lost, now they look like sisters.

What did we learn – window visits, outdoor visits, this is our new way of providing entertainment, we can go window to window where possible, or we can bring the horses, ground tie them, we have a barrier that can go in front, we stand behind the horse, this allows people to get close, while we maintain physical distancing. We can bring the jumps and hoops, do some running with them, little show. Petting, well we aren’t ready yet. The risk is very low, people who have been tested, who live together in a “herd” environment, chances are they won’t transmit by petting, but then those horses get back on the trailer with us, what is our risk and that is what we need to calculate.

For the younguns

Pony Playdates and Individual Field trips. When we bought this house 2 years ago, I enrolled us in the pollinator pathway project, then working 60 hours and horses and other stuff got me derailed, but this spring I have had the time to get back to it. Also as an almost 20 year urbanite, I have a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill for container gardening. So, combine the ponies, the gardens and something most people are already trying their hands at, the container gardening and share my knowledge. This was already discussed with both insurance companies back in March, and I have spoken at length with the town, so we know we are covered. Oh and bees, we have 250 leaf cutter bees enroute – non stinging LOL.

I am also going back to accounting a couple days a week. It pays the bills consistently LOL and I have a project I am taking on that shouldn’t be more than a month. I have an excellent mind for memorizing things I read, I have formal training in public speaking and debating, (I know, I swear like a trucker, but when I turn it on…) as well as an ability to understand numbers. As such I am well thought of by companies who use my unique skill set when faced with governmental audits. I always laugh when an auditor will walk in and address me by name, the owners of the companies are pleased and I’m always like, yeah this might not be a good thing, while I think back to my last encounter with this auditor and who was the victor. I trained in hand written, manually calculated ledgers, most bookkeepers only do computerized, I have a slight advantage in that I am can really understand the bones of a set of books, without relying on pre-generated reports that may be inaccurate, or answers to questions that fall outside of an algorithm. Plus I read statutes for fun.

All those skills, incredibly good looking and I would still rather shovel poop and brush ponies πŸ˜‰ Take lovelies, enjoy the weather!

 

Ch-Ch-Changes

Masks arrived, hats with face shields are coming and we aren’t even sure we will be doing inside visits anymore. I am trying to find a distillery to buy sanitizer from. I have a few bottles and wipes from public events we have done, but they might last a week or two. I may have bought them from a dollar store, so I am not sure I 100% trust them anyway.

We have a few new things we are doing. First we are reading Black Beauty with the minis each evening, one chapter a night, it’s online on our YouTube channel. We also post the link on Facebook and Insta. We were going to upload to Insta, but it took an hour for a 3 minute video last night, so that is a no…Β Chapter One There is is. I tried to get a bit more interaction, but minis, evening, eating. I get it, same way!

We will be taking to Zoom, doing pony play dates and wellness visits. Depending on recommendations over the next few weeks, it will be a way of doing business, or something we do to advertise the business. We also have a huge surprise coming up, it is so secret there are NDA’s in place with everyone we are working with. I am super excited.

Anyways, wanted to check in with everyone, say Hi, we are going to be working on the website. I upgraded our plan, so you will see more advertising on the site. I have tried to place it in non bothersome places. We haven’t made a dime off of it, so if that continues, I will eventually just do away with it. I was excited because the new plan came with upgraded themes, but I kinda like our own theme the best. I will be minimizing the site, remove events page, there will be no public events at all and the picture page, I hate it, it needs to be fixed. We do need a services page.

Funny story, Mr Shep is construction and is still working, because he is a crane operator, but he is working less, the transportation side of our business is quiet now, we are 2nd tier transporters, and of course, Kawartha Lakes still has road restrictions on, COVID, and early in the season. He is home – a lot. Tried to have a proper meeting the other morning, I made the mistake of saying, a company I follow in another country is doing blank… This started a tirade about that country’s response to COVID-19. It was a completely political tirade, and based on the fact he has friends, business partners etc., who do business in this particular country and the issues they are having – anyways, I realized there is a reason we don’t do morning meetings.

I missed Maxie Bear’s birthday! 5 years old in April. Happy Birthday Little Bear!

OMG, he was so cute.

Chat again soon! Jessica and I will be going over soon to film chapter 2, she is my camera person.

Isolation Day?

Everyday my gf posts on social media. She is in New York state, her post includes the number of days in isolation and one interesting thing about the day, with a picture, all from the point of view of her dog. Her dog is super cute, the posts are humerous and let us know, they are hanging in and on.

I did some bookkeeping today for a client, absolutely the worst of the worst, especially the wife – yeah I did ours. First quarter is done, I just have to import the mileage from the tracker. We should break even – not bad. It forced me to take a long hard look at some things, price structure for one. We will be putting a minimum on our visits, we just cannot travel an hour one way, an hour back, visit for an hour and only charge one hour. I want to make the program as accessible as possible, but we really need to look at things. If I were my own client – I mean I am, I would look myself straight in the eyes and ask, “are you bloody stupid? Put two slices of bread over your ears, you’re an idiot sandwich.” I’d probably end up crying, be a bad situation. We have always said, we will never raise prices for those who have been with us from the beginning, but moving forward, new clients, might see a slight difference.

YouTube. We’re all in. We have had many suggestions to do videos, even before the pandemic started, I looked at some different options, chatted with some social media influencers and landed on a YouTube channel. I have to find an inexpensive and simple video editing software. When we were kids, my mom once bought a camera because on the commercial a monkey could operate it, (power of advertising), that’s the software I need. I need to look no further than my own kid for content suggestions, I stumbled upon her channel – which she did not have permission to create and for which she is suffering a very severe punishment, the kid had 1,900 views on one video, it was her giving an opinion on two gamers she follows. Me and my minis should be sensations in no time. πŸ˜‰

I bought the wrong kind of cubed hay one day, this stuff looked more like crunch, which we feed as treats or soaked in a bucket. Usually we soak it overnight, it’s fiber for them, hay is sacred right now. We are paying $7.00 a bale, by comparison I paid $5 a bale last year, from the same guy. I am rationing their flakes of hay. Of course they love this new hay cube slop, it looks like poop and is the consistency of baby poop. So gross, even worse when one of them slops it on the others head. We keep buying it for them, because they like it. I’m so glad they’ve trained us well.

crunch
This is crunch, usually a nice green colour when soaked, the stuff I bought, baby poop brown and they love it.

Prices are up on everything. The cubes are about $6 more than we were buying last year – I made the choice to switch to peat moss and I have never regretted it, that is the one thing that has not increased. We are wholesale customers with Arnts in Whitby and they give us a great rate! Oats, performance mix and herring oil rounds out their sustenance LOL. The performance mix is just a beefed up sweet feed really in a pelleted version. We went to it because of Red being older and we desperately needed to get weight on Mia.

mia thin
Skinny Mini Mia

It wasn’t illness or lack of food, she had a growth spurt, she will probably grow a bit again, her topline is off a bit. She grew almost an inch, lost her baby teeth – rough spring last year! So we got some weight on her, I am almost obsessive, touching her neck, (along the spine) all the time, like maybe she gained an ounce in the five minutes since I last touched her. She is healthy now, could gain a couple pounds, but she needs work and conditioning to see how much really. Red keeps herself conditioned, Max gains muscle eating, Mia is our slight girl, who needs some help. She looks normal now and should be OK once the coat is all out.

three
From left, Red, Max, Mia

So I am working up our first You Tube videos, thinking a grooming and brushing, maybe a feed. Definitely some training! I thought of Cameo – doing birthday greetings for people, but we probably don’t have enough social media followers for them to accept us. We’ll still do it, just won’t be Cameo, if anyone is interested. Social media is like a job unto itself. Even writing this blog, it can be tough to find the time, or have an idea of what to write. I do feel it is important right now. I know we have readers in Long Term Care and Retirement homes, who we visit. This is a way for me to let them know, we are thinking of them, the minis are good and we’ll see them soon.

One of the local businesses, Castle Keep Right announced they are done, 8 years in business, they serviced seniors, doing odd jobs, providing PSWs, doing shopping, companion services. I am just stunned, what a blow that will be to the senior community. It’s awful to lose businesses, especially ones that are so needed. I like to think, keeping social media updated, especially the blog, lets people know we are still in here, we are holding on, and we will be back.

In fact, we will be back very soon with a mini muffin tour. A thermos of coffee, the Sheppard family, all 3 minis, yes even Max, a cooler of sandwiches, snacks and we will be going to most of our residences, stopping, waving and driving on.

I don’t know when or if we will be returning in the same capacity, it will most definitely be different, but we think about all of you and we want to see you. The tour will take place before we return to work, we are aiming to be doing private pony play dates and educational visits, optimistically around the beginning of June.

Happy Easter!

Isn’t this quite the, WTF year.

Today Mr. Sheppard asked me what I was doing, I was like looking at a knuckle boom truck. You would think he would be happy I was looking at cranes to buy, but not T-Bone. You see, I need a couple yards of topsoil, when I lived in Southwestern Ontario, we could get them delivered by the bag, big cubic yard bags – apparently, nobody here does that. (I have since found out, there is a guy) So my idea was, we buy the bags, where we buy our peat moss, we are wholesale customers, we buy a boom truck, the knuckle boom is best because it can get under hydro lines, so it’s safer. (I am always thinking about safety) We buy and deliver landscape supplies – in bags. Everyone we know has a farm, so storage isn’t an issue and on the weekends when Mr Sheppard isn’t working, he delivers the bags. Of course Mr. Happy has to tell me, it’s a great idea, except you can’t do it right now, it’s not an essential service. Well, blow me down… I had the numbers calculated right down to the amount the machine needed to earn hourly. Tear up that cheque. Someday I will use my powers for good.

So that happens multiple times a day, anything and everything to keep busy. Still we are healthy and relatively happy. πŸ™‚

How are the minis, well they are great. I don’t get to spend much time with them, Equine Ontario has recommended all training stables to shut and only people directly responsible for the care of their animals are allowed in. We have our own insurance, including a liability clause on the barn and we do all the work with the minis in terms of their day to day care, we buy our own feed, hay and bedding, we muck our own stalls, so we can still visit them, long enough to take care of them.

I did sit with Red the other day, in their pasture, just sat and hugged her and talked to her, she is such a wise little soul.

I go between thinking about the future of the company and not thinking about it at all. I like the quote, nothing will go back to normal, because normal didn’t work before, if we go back to normal, then we learned nothing. What does our future look like, what does the future of long term care look like, will we be included in their future? I can only control, what I can control. We’re going to work with the U of G, tweak that Bio-Security policy, we are going to have to look into a portable grooming system, so that we can bathe between visits. There goes my wash stall at the house. I am going to have to change clothes and boots after every visit. The biggest thing for me, this virus is zoonotic in origin, I do not want the horses exposed, if it is transferable. We have an equine corona virus (can not transfer to humans), I want to talk to experts about the probability of transference, I want to know, because Ivermectin kills the virus, under a microscope, can it prevent it in my horses. The last thing I want, is my animals suffering from some mutated pathogen, because their antibodies only work on a part of a virus.

I am working on a workbook to accompany our visits. It will be available on Amazon, so the option of video visits can happen, or it can accompany our actual visit. *If* we can go back to in person visits, we are working up a more educational program to educate urban kids and families about their rural counterparts as a second program. Maybe include more animals, it’s tough, to include more, we have to exclude the animals we use, from the food chain.

**This is important, all animals, interacting with the public, must have rabies vaccinations. That is why, at fairs and events, you will see, Do Not touch the Animals, signs on the livestock exhibits – they are not immunized, they are part of the food chain. My horses have a full work up of vaccinations annually. We are also open with our parasite protocol. As one dear lady reminds me every time I see her at Hillsdale Estates, horses can get lice. For now, as we treat with Ivermectin, mine shouldn’t, but as we parents know, there is always the fear of super lice, which do not respond well to anything. Off my soap box now – just I see things and hear things and believe me, I love good competition from other providers, I think we can create something really special working together – but the public needs to know, we do have to maintain standards and they should know what they are. An educated public is an educated consumer, an educated consumer, becomes a valuable stakeholder in agriculture and agricultural processes. At the end of the day, my drum has always banged for better and more effective communication between consumers and producers, finding creative, passive ways to educate and inform, completing the feedback loop with recommendations that are non critical and effective.

So Happy Easter! I am going to do something special for the minis tomorrow. Watch our social media. I will leave you with one of my favourite Easter traditions, we do this at church, it’s called the flowering of the cross. Reverend Denise – probably the best minister I have ever known, has this wonderful tradition, it strips all the sadness of the cross away and we celebrate it, not as an object of death, but as a catalyst for something so much more. Every member brings flowers of their choosing and we place them on the cross. I kinda thought we should put it up outside and our members could still flower it, but with the regulations about gathering, we didn’t want it to seem like we were encouraging people to gather, or fail to social isolate. So here is a picture, this was from the year Mr. Shep, Jessie and I became members at our church!

Blessings to you and yours.