Not riding..cuz you know that would be fun and right now life isn’t all that much fun, but that doesn’t mean life around the farm has stopped. The first major project is nearly complete with phase 1 and 2 done. Phases 3 and 4 to come hopefully by the end of the quarter.
So what have we done?
Here is a google earth view of the basic property as we bought it outlined in red. The actual proper line extends into the woods on all sides and includes Wyatt’s fishing pond, but for this purpose I’m focusing on the pastures.
You can see most of the original fence lines in the picture making 7 pastures with two areas that I call dead space areas that aren’t fenced in or used as yard for the house or barn (marked in blue).
Even when we toured the place pre-purchase we knew we would be condensing that fence line and opening up for larger pastures. First we wanted to cut down on fence maintenance including weed whacking all that fence line, but we also both believe in the biggest space possible for the horses to graze and self exercise in. I swear one of the biggest factors in my endurance success was having Gem in a 30 acre pasture 24/7 which allowed me to get away with lower under saddle mileage.
So they needed to go. The right half of the property in the pictures was the easiest to do and the first we tackled. I say we, but this was like 98% Dusty with me chiming in every once and a while with my not really asked for opinions.
We created this:
All four of the above were combined as shown with the red outline. Dusty took out the fence lines between 2,3,4 and then created a path through the trees to get from 3 to 5. The horses love this pasture. They created dedicated morning and afternoon nap spots, overnight sleep area and play zones within a week of being out there. This also gives the horses natural shelter in multiple spots, but the best being the tree lined path to #5.
This had the really big benefit of all 4 pastures now being accessed from the barn yard through one gate with a back entrance to pasture 5 remaining as well. The horses will meet us at either gate for breakfast and dinner and it takes all of a few minutes to lead them in.
We noticed within a few weeks of being out there that the horses were all looking slimmer and a bit more muscular, especially Pete whose weight has been an issue for a while now. They all seem relaxed and happy to be out there. Of the 4 combined sections, 3 and 5 have the best fescue while 2 and 4 have more bermuda in them that hasn’t started to green up yet.
With this side complete we (again used loosely to mean Dusty) moved to the other side of the drive way. Phase two created this:
This side is more complicated due to the blue lined dead zones separating pastures 6 and 7, but I’ll start at the front and work my way back.
Pastures 1 and 7 looked easy enough to combine with the original plan being to push out the fence line around the trees. Then we got the survey done and um…the fence line is the property line so that wouldn’t work. Instead Dusty ran the fence through a path he created in the woods right where I won my new bridle by chopping that tree down with the ax.
Combining these two was a big deal. Pasture 1 has the best grass of the entire property, but we rarely used it. I used endomondo to track how far I walked from the barn to the pasture for all three horses which we take separately and it registered 2 miles! Great for my health, but a pain in the butt and a time suck. Once it was opened into pasture 7, we could let the horses out at that gate cutting the distance in half. Even if the horses are in pasture 1, once the first is removed the others come down to the bottom gate.
The issue becomes the dead space, which is full of awesome grass that I have zero interest in mowing and needs to get included in pasture space.
The dead space by pasture 7 holds the old burn pile and I don’t trust that area one bit. Who knows how many sharp object lie in wait. The plan currently is to expand pasture 7 into the dead space but leave the burn pile out of it. Likewise we will expand pasture 6 up to include the dead space there. The issue is on how to combine 6 and 7 as the woods have a really big ditch running through it that we can’t avoid. I’m tempted to leave 6 as a separate pasture so that we have a large, medium and small space for horse use and rotational grazing, but Dusty wants to combine them so that all aspects of the pastures are accessible right from the barn yard which makes sense. With 2 1/2 horses and that much grass, we could rotate the two pastures on a monthly basis without too many concerns for over grazing. I’m fine with doing it either way.
Overall I am really happy with how things are shaping up. We have been here 3 months now and have gotten a good bit done even with the rainy weather. My Q2 property goals are centered around finishing up the fence work and getting the arena usable again. The horses are settling in nicely with the rotation pattern so far. The big pasture is being rested at the moment and is almost to the point of needing mowed again which is great since the grass hasn’t been growing so well with all the cold and rain we have been getting.
This fall we will be making plans on where to begin with re seeding, fertilizing and weed killing. I also want to rent a roller and roll that pastures as I’ve been noticing how uneven the ground is. I’m becoming a complete pasture nerd and I love it!
Outside of pasture work the other Q2 goals for the farm are:
- Lay down rubber mats in the barn aisle cross ties area for ease of clean up
- Get the wash rack broken pipe fixed and the water flowing again
- Put a door on the tack room
Simple fixes, but with the arena project and finishing up fence work, Dusty has his work cut out for him.