Snow-ver It


Say it with me: at least there are no bugs, at least there are no bugs, at least there are no bugs.

This was not a fun week for taking care of outside animals. Particularly since the wind was coming more from the east and the shelters are all aimed for our more common westerly wind; the end result being that the shelters didn’t do a whole lot of sheltering.

We did all survive, though Leeloo was mighty crabby for a while; okay we were all mighty crabby for a while. Leeloo at least can always be reliably cheered up with her toy no matter the weather.

Treat toy is life.

Because the wind came from a new direction we have drifts in fun new places. Like between me and where we have been dumping the poop.

I fought the drift, and the drift won.

I did find a slightly less formidable drift that I was able to make it up and over, though its harder to get to because I have to sneak behind the three compost bays. How I ever thought three small compost bays would be enough is beyond me. That’s okay though because every mistake is just an opportunity to learn. In this case what I have learned is that we need some sort of tractor or skid steer! I also learned that I prefer this weather a millions times more than 90 degree hot humid bug filled summer so I remind myself of that over and over. Say it with me: At least there are no bugs, at least there are no bugs, at least there are no bugs!

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:


Winter Woe-nderland

at least there are no bugs

The weather this week has not been fun. Look at this drift – that is a five-foot-tall fence!

Luckily most of our upgrades have been working well:

  • New boots – awesome!
  • Sled – very happy.
  • Carhart overalls (which are not new but were brought out for the weather) – wonderful, as always.
  • Make-shift hay nets – working marginally well, though they managed to put a hole in one of my seams already and the twine I use to shut them is a pain to loosen and tighten every time. Waiting with eager anticipation for the real ones to get here.
  • Poop fork handle upgrades – mixed. The extra length has been nice, but the second handle was a total flop, literally; it will not stay fixed in place. This is most likely because it is primarily designed to be used with a snow shovel and you usually scoop snow directly away from you, but when your picking up poop and putting it in a cart you tend to tip it to the side (or at least I have to or I misjudge and most of the poop just winds up on the other side of the cart) and the second handle is not able to, well, handle that twisting motion. While trying to figure out if I could make that second handle work for me I realized the biggest issue is the angles between the basket portion of the poop fork and the actual handle. To get the basket to lay flat on the ground (which one needs to do to pick up the poop) it forces the handle into a really high and awkward angle that it terrible on my wrists and shoulders. Anyone else notice this or am I just special? When I have some time and the roads aren’t extra stupid, I’m going to drive to some other places that carry horse supplies and see if other brands have the same issue.

The one thing we still really need to find a decent solution for is goggles. The pair we got claim to be antifog but that is an outright lie! Within 20 minutes I can’t see anything and wind up taking them off, which defeats the purpose. Still searching for a decent solution for that.

We were still feeding them primarily out of the hay boxes when it was relatively “warm” and not particularly windy.

But now that it is truly terrible out there, we are feeding them everything out of the shelters and bringing down additional warm water to them so they don’t have to make the trek to the water tank. Apparently, our tap water tastes funny (this is according to Juniper who refused to touch it the first two times) but I added some molasses and now she’ll drink it.

Leeloo of course thinks everything, even the water, is a toy.


They are both still blanket-less but I have been checking them both obsessively for any sign of being too cold. At one point Juniper was shivering a little bit, but I was just about to put out more hay and figured finishing that up quickly would help warm her up and then I could deal with getting towels to dry her off with and her blanket. By the time I finished putting out the hay however she wasn’t shivering any more so I finished up the rest of my chores, checking her every few minutes, and she never shivered again. I was already feeding a flake of the really good hay on the ground in each shelter bay as well as a flake of the good stuff and some of the only so-so hay (in Leeloo and Juniper’s opinion, since they now only grudgingly eat the other hay and only after every morsel of the good hay is gone) in each net. But after Juniper’s short shiver episode I decided to double the amount of the good hay I was feeding them lose on the ground. It has meant a little bit of wasted good hay (when it was only the one flake per bay they ate every piece that was on the ground!), but in this weather it is worth it.

I know some people have very strong feelings about blanketing versus not. I’m trying to let the girls tell me what they want. Though this cold snap makes me want to try this experiment on them! Here is a shorter summary of what they did.

Work Harder, Not Smarter

wait, that’s not right

The inch of rain on one day followed by wet heavy snow for two days has not been fun to deal with, but we have made several upgrades over the past week or so and they have made chores slightly less awful.

First upgrade – sled for hay.

We found this sled at Fleet Farm and in addition to the 20% employee discount (the only reason I have that job) it was also on sale! It’s been working really well though it did play a role in our first ever loose horse incident.

Because we live in the north and they make us get rid of daylight savings time it gets dark at 4:00 PM, which means we are doing evening chores in the dark and we don’t have any lights anywhere near the girls. We did get two LED headlamps (also from Fleet Farm) that have made chores do-able but they aren’t the same as having lights. I had checked to make sure Juniper and Leeloo weren’t around before opening the gate and I didn’t see anybody. I’m pulling the sled through and realizing I need to pull it just a bit farther in to get the gate to swing shut when I catch motion out of the corner of my eye and turn to look. My headlamp reflects off of these two large glowing eyes coming at me and I let out an undignified shriek which of course startled Leeloo, the owner of said large glowing eyes, and she jumped forward. I realize that if she keeps going forward her only option would be to go right out the gate since the gate itself, the sled, and my own body were blocking any other route she’d have. I tried to lunge forward into her path but the sled was also partially in my way so the slight delay meant I literally chased her out the gate. GREAT. Thankfully Leeloo’s first reaction to anything, including things she is somewhat afraid of, is “Can I eat this?” So after a few strides of a snorting, tail-flagging, prancing trot she realized there was a lot of uneaten (and unmowed because we had better things to do this fall) grass just below the snow and she stopped and started eating her head off. The challenge was then getting her to actually stop eating long enough that I could get her halter on to lead her back. She has been very much AT THE GATE every day since then, so Nate is very worried another escape attempt is imminent, and it probably is.  But now that she knows there’s grass I also know she won’t go very far so I’m not as worried about her running on the road or trying to bolt back to her old home. Still a heart stopping few moments, though the sled is still worth it.


Second upgrade – actual winter boots!

I’ve been using Nate’s boots for a while, which sort of, kind of, fit, but not well. Boots that actually fit make lumbering through the snow easier. I went with Muck boots because (you guessed it!) they were on sale at Fleet Farm plus 20% employee discount. Working retail during the holiday season isn’t fun but I am loving that discount!


Third upgrade – poop fork handle.

As mentioned in this post we got a piece of copper pipe and a dowel to use to extend the handle of the poop fork to make it easier on both my back and wrists. It has not been as resounding of a success as I had hoped. I apparently had a definite poop picking up technique and I’m having to figure out a new one with the longer handle. We also added this extra second handle to shift where I have to grip it with my other hand. I’m hopeful that once I get over the learning curve and have a new technique figured out it will be better for my back and my wrists (which still feel like electric currents are going through them pretty much all the time – probably should be doing something about that).


Fourth upgrade – hay net for shelter hay.

Rain when the temperatures are in the 30s sucks so hard! Despite the paddock paradise rule of keeping all needs spread out in different areas we are not making the girls stand in the rain while its in the 30s so we’re feeding them hay in the shelters. The problem is they are picky about said hay and have been wasting quite a bit of it. I had a miss-cut hay-net piece from an early hay-box lid attempt that I wove shut along two sides to turn into a hay net and that has been working pretty well and helping the hay stay clean and dry in at least one of the shelter bays, which has been lovely. We purchased a few more hay nets from Hay Chix during their 12-days of Christmas Sale so looking forward to even less wasted hay once they get here.

Still sometimes questioning why the heck I wanted to do all this work – but then I get to watch moments like Juniper looking for grass under the snow and I remember why.



First Real Snow

At least the bugs are GOne

We had our first real snow of the year this week and we were definitely not prepared. The morning of the snowy day itself we opted to do all the feeding, both their breakfasts and their hay for the day, inside the shelter bays because Leeloo still does not have her winter coat and I didn’t want her to get too wet. Unfortunately, Juniper decided that morning that she didn’t want to eat any of her breakfast until she had some new hay and Leeloo of course wants nothing to do with hay until she has had her breakfast. Feeding them in the shelters however means I can’t actually separate them so this added even more of a challenge on a morning when I was already rushed because I had to be in to work by 9:15 AM and had to stop and get treats first and do all that driving in the snow. In the end Juniper didn’t get much of her actual breakfast and I felt guilty and more determined than ever to get that “barn” shed set up as soon as possible.

When we did chores that night we also discovered that the shelters themselves aren’t quite the wind and snow break we had hoped they would be.

I cleaned out as much of the snow from the left most shelter bay as I could but had to leave the deepest stuff on the edge.

The next day however was way worse. Our location is very windy. VERY WINDY. I never understood how windy a place could be until we moved here. Here are some pictures that hopefully help illustrate what it is like:

This is less than twenty-four hours later and there was no melting happening, only the wind.

All that snow just got blown everywhere – including giant drifts across our driveway that we just paid to have plowed out the night before (yay!).

This kind of shows the drifts as well as the new drift patterns created by the hay boxes that we hadn’t dealt with before. Winter is so much fun.

In addition to the drifts across the driveway we also had drifts on both sides of the gate to the shelters which meant I couldn’t open it enough to get the poop cart or, more importantly, the hay cart through. The wind was too ridiculous to even consider feeding them their breakfasts up front by the roundpen where we normally do so I can separate Juniper and Leeloo. Juniper once again wasn’t interested in her food and wanted hay but this time I was a bit smarter and dumped Leeloo’s food out on one of the mats in the farthest right shelter bay so it would take her longer to eat and then snuck out some fresh hay for Juniper to eat and then brought Juniper her breakfast, after she had a chance to eat some hay for a bit. This worked pretty well until Leeloo finished her breakfast and came to see what Juniper and I were up to, fortunately Juniper had eaten most of her breakfast by then so I said good enough and moved on to trying to clean poop out of the shelter bays when there was no cart to put it in. It didn’t go well.

This of course is why I want to have that middle shelter set up as a makeshift barn with a stall on either end; so I can bring both Leeloo and Juniper in someplace out of the elements and into separate areas. Then Juniper can have as much time as she needs to eat her hay and all of her breakfast and they can both be dry and out of the elements for a while. It will also be invaluable when the farrier comes out next time because I really don’t want to be standing out in the snow and the wind while he’s trimming. I also really need to figure out how to block off the “stall” ends of the barn shelter since the snow and wind demonstrated how easily they can make their way around the edges.

Nate was kind enough to shovel out the gate later that day so we can at least open it wide enough to get a cart in and out. Of course getting the hay cart through the snow and the various drifts within the paddock itself was another matter. We absolutely must find another solution to that because I’m not hauling that cart through two foot (or higher) drifts all winter! I’m thinking a sled? Or can I convert a wheeled cart to a sled cart by locking the wheels onto skis of some sort?! Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Also discovered that I really, really, need some actual winter boots: