Where Did The Year Go

2022 – Year-End Recap

I was starting to write a “goals for next year” post and was feeling a bit disheartened by all the things I had wanted to get done this year but haven’t gotten to yet and decided that it would be good for my mental health to take some time to reflect on the many things we did accomplish this year.

Just the decision to bring Leeloo home without having the full barn setup that I had been dreaming of was a big deal. There were many conversations with many people, and a lot of thinking about goals for myself and for Leeloo, before we even got to the starting gate. That process was the main focus of these posts:

Then there was putting the fence up and electrifying it, which took the whole summer. I understand now why people are willing to pay an extra $30,000+ to have a fence installed. The entire fence process is detailed in these posts: (Fence Part 1, Fence Part 2, Fence Part 3, Fence Part 4, Fence Part 5, Fence Part 6, Fence Part 7, Fence Part 8) and I need to remind myself how much work that was or I start feeling like we should have gotten more done over the summer.

Getting the first two shelters, anchoring them, starting to build the third shelter, then deciding that building it just wasn’t going to happen, was also more work and stress than I imagined. It is obvious now that we never could have built them ourselves, we just don’t have those skills yet, but that wasn’t always easy for me to accept. I am very happy now that we opted to buy them already constructed and that for the third one we went with the company that anchors them for you. The drama around the shelters was discussed in these posts: Give Me Shelter – Part 1 and Part 2, Second Interlude, So Much to Do, Mish Mash, Know When to Fold ThemHayshed – Delivered.

Finding and installing the round pen wasn’t part of the original plan but I am so glad we have it! We haven’t gotten to use it for its intended purpose very often but, it was so very helpful when we brought the girls home and has been very handy many times since then; including helping to separate Leeloo and Juniper each morning during feeding time. Though we are currently having some issues with Juniper turning into a picky eater; if it isn’t one thing it’s another. We discuss the round pen in Gate Expectations and the Fifth Interlude.

HAY! I had been a little worried about getting decent hay for a price we could afford. One of my long-term goals is to have our own hay field and I still feel that way, finding quality hay has been a challenge particularly since we also need it delivered. Luckily we were able to find a variety of hay for this year, including several different people who would deliver, though the quality has been all over the place. The girls like the most expensive hay best (of course) but now that we finally have some hay nets and some haybox lids they at least can’t toss it all over the ground and waste it (I’m looking at you Leeloo).  Hay post – Fourth Interlude.

Then there was finding Juniper – I didn’t talk much about that process on the website but it took a while for us to find the right pony, even when her only job is to keep Leeloo company, well and be cute of course. Finding that next mare, who will be the cornerstone of whatever comes next for us, is going to take much, much longer (Looking For a Baby Maker) – but now we’re starting to get into future goals and that is for the next post.

The ultimate goal of all of this work was to bring Leeloo and Juniper (once we found her) home, which we did! I sometimes forget what an accomplishment that is – it is the culmination of decades of dreaming. Here are the posts about bringing them home and the fun that has been: Coming Home, First Two Weeks, Sugar is Evil, Copy Paste, She’s Lucky She’s Cute, First Real Snow, Work Harder Not Smarter, Winter Woe-nderland.

One of the things I feel the biggest sense of accomplishment about (now that it is over) was something that we hadn’t planned for at all; dealing with Juniper’s eye infection. That was a huge, huge deal, both in terms of time and money, and I am so very, very, happy we were able to heal it (First Two Weeks, The Joys of Medicating Ponies, Mish Mash, Copy Paste, Juniper Eye Update). There was a very real chance she could have lost that eye and we saved it!

Though we weren’t able to build any shelters, we did get several building projects done including the six hay boxes (First Two Weeks, Projects Galore, Hay Contained) and the three compost bays (How to Make Compost Bays). The lids for the hay boxes are so close to being all done and hopefully we’ll get a chance to finish installing them during this “warm” period.

We’re once again getting into future goals but taking time to look back over this year has done what I had hoped, reset my perspective on what we all accomplished in the last few months and made me feel better. We got a ton done, pushed ourselves way, WAY, out of our comfort zones, and, more often than not, accomplished what we set out to do (even if it almost always took longer and cost more than expected).

One other huge accomplishment that I haven’t written about was getting this website up and running. I have never done anything even remotely like this and every aspect of this website has been a learning experience and has been the cause of a lot of swearing and a lot of crying, mostly in the beginning – the website hasn’t made me cry in weeks. I am very happy with how it has turned out and am really proud of myself.

Looking forward to another year of adventures. And of course Leeloo will be there to help:


How To Make Compost Bays

sounds so much better than poop containment

First – I am feeling much better, though the steroids will be done on Tuesday, and I am going to start doing more of the chores again Monday so we’ll see if I still feel better come the end of this week; but for now, I am happy with my improvement. I have not however made that acupuncture appointment yet. Or the dentist appointment I have been meaning to make for myself since March. However, I did get Juniper’s dentist appointment scheduled. Priorities!

There are many, many projects we need to get done, and all of them will be easier if completed before winter. But the poop does not stop coming so the compost bays keep winding up on the top of the list. Once the corn is harvested for the year we will just spread the poop around the field. I know that’s not a long term solution with my hatred of bugs (poop = bugs), but the one upshot to winter is no bugs! I had hoped to make real compost that would be good for a garden but (A) we don’t have the equipment and knowledge to do that properly – though I’m hoping to learn more over the winter and (B) with Juniper on so many antibiotic and antifungal meds I’m not sure what the impact would be on a real food web which is what I am trying to get going for my plants. The field around our house has been conventionally farmed for years so it doesn’t have a food web to speak of so no concern there. I had really, really hoped, that this was our last year being surrounded by pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. But with the decision to buy the hay shed instead of building it, the money has to come from somewhere and I think it’s going to come from the money that was supposed to go towards planting native prairie-based pasture and hayfield on the land. Which means we’ll probably be leasing it to the farmer for one more year. I’m still not 100% sure that is the best course of action. Nate and I always hide in the house when they are spraying the field with their various chemicals, but I can’t bring Leeloo and Juniper inside. Also, sometimes the well water turns funny colors after they spray and/or plant the field. Maybe I need to start a native-prairie OnlyFans to pay for it…

We did get a decent start on two more hay boxes this weekend and we got some of the mats laid out in preparation for a future muddy spring, but our biggest accomplishment was finishing another compost bay. We have learned from our first two and now have a pretty decent process.

How To Build A Compost Bay

  • Find three pallets, two of which are approximately the same size.
  • Set them up in a U shape.
  • Use scrap wood to screw them together along the back and/or sides depending on how you had to lay them out to maximize your space.
  • Use L brackets in the lower inner corners and possibly the upper corners – or more scrap wood. 
  • Use scrap wood to screw them together along the top on the back side of the U.
  • Line with chicken wire – a staple gun makes this job go more smoothly. It is also easier if you set the U up so the two long sides are pointing straight up and the back is lying flat on the floor. This way gravity is working with you instead of against you.
  • It is easier to build it in it’s permanent location; but where our compost bays reside it is not even remotely level or even, so we decided to build them in the garage and move them. Moving them is not an easy task, the best method has been to slowly “roll” the completed bays from back to front and over again down from the garage to their final location.
  • Make a lid from scrap wood and scrap rubber roofing material and attach it with hinges that are designed for a full 270 degree opening. If you do not use the correct hinges the first strong wind will tear all your hard work right off.

Set up in a U shape – note L brackets in corners.

Scrap wood on the top an the side for stability

We started adding more scrap wood and a big block at the top that we screwed into both the back and the side for more stability

Look at that beautiful lid. With the wrong type of hinge.

Compost Bay Building Tips:

Find free pallets. Ideally, they should be heat treated and not chemically treated and free of any mystery spills or liquids.  If a pallet is heat treated it will have an HT on it somewhere like one of these pictures.

We’ve been getting pallets from a closet design company (they were posted on Craigslist) so I feel pretty safe using them for compost and for under our hay.

If you are doing the compost stuff by hand, then you want to maximize your depth. Getting the poop up high without equipment means shoveling it out of your cart onto the top of the pile which is a pain.

Line it with chicken wire! This was an “optional” thing on many of the sites I saw, but it makes a huge difference.

No chicken wire – look at all that escaped poop!

Hopefully by next spring I’ll have fixed the lid situation which will help in the actual creation of useable compost. Once we get this compost thing figured out, I am sure we’ll have tons to share!