Tuesday, March 27, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 48

I was on writing retreat in Virginia last week and came home to a big springing forward of plant and tree growth, in spite of the fact that we had cold weather and even a bit of snow while I was away. The horses are shedding like mad still and hooves are starting to need trimming more frequently. I am seeing buttercups coming up in a few patches along the fence line. Everything but the carpenter bees say spring is near.

We have finally gotten the front gate dog-proofed and now have a few places along the still-in-process fence line to fix so the dogs can go onto the entire farm. Meanwhile Bear Corgi is still enjoying his near-daily romp in the way back. I am still trying to come up with a name for it. No one here liked my name Poplar Sorrow so maybe I need to head in a more positive direction. Poplar Run? I am open to ideas here and not restricted to the use of the word poplar!

Baloo Corgi is making good progress with his desensitization to his collar and harness. He’s doing so well I held it up for him yesterday after getting Bear ready to go out, and Baloo approached (a huge change from the previous behavior of running outside) but did not come up and actually nose the harness, which is what I’m waiting for. I have an idea to further shape his comfort level and will start that today. We began by feeding cheese cubes with the collar and harness in the room, in his full view. Next we fed the cubes in the vicinity of the collar and harness on the ottoman. Next me sitting on the ottoman (where I often put Bear’s on) and collar/harness on the floor next to me. Today I’ll feed the cubes with the harness and collar hanging on my arm. If he doesn’t approach immediately for the cheese, I’ll start by tossing it to him with the collar and harness on my arm and progress from there.

We have used this slow but very solid approach with the horses on various things and although it takes longer than more forceful and/or punitive methods, I see it fostering trust and a behavior that is based on that trust, and thus very solid and long-lasting.

In other news, the garage doors decided they needed to jump to the top of our to-do list two weeks ago so we are now awaiting the new ones, and a new entry door downstairs to go with them. I’m making progress with garden weeding in the pollinator beds using a nifty tool called a Dutch hoe. So many of the pollinator plantings are coming up! I’m still waiting on a few but for the most part I see successful first wintering for the beds.

I’m ordering redbuds, dogwoods, and a few tulip poplars for planting the way back and in an area along the driveway. Spoke finally with our local sawmill guy about utilizing the poplars that are marked for cutting. He is a delight and it will be heartening to actually use this wood from these amazing trees for the tack and feed room. Which I think I will have to name Poplar Place or something better to honor their gift to the barn.

It’s a cold gray day here but we are predicted to be 80 degrees by Thursday!


Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like everything is starting to bloom. What I wouldn't give for a little color around here. Everything is still white and brown. I'm sure your plan for the harness and collar will work. I'm not very good at naming things, especially ones I can only picture in my head. Poplar Cove popped into my thoughts. Poplar Run is nice though. Good luck with naming the area.

billie said...

A, I hope you get spring soon. It’s a long area that runs from the far corner of the arena along the back field and then wraps like an L around the back. There’s a gate that leads out to the bottom area (where my old labyrinth made from stall waste used to be!). It’s now almost solid grass, very nice little area but not much to do with it since I wouldn’t put horses back there, nor dogs. We can spread the manure there and do some plantings on the edge. But I digress. The Poplar Cove/Run space is wooded but now clear of brush and so there’s a forest floor and large trees. It’s where the dogs can run completely contained and separate (but alongside) the equines. I have two chairs back there and it’s nice to sit and watch the deer and other wildlife. Once the marked poplars are cut we’ll plant some redbuds, hollies, and some kind of native pollinator shrubs (shrubs probably on the outside of the fencing). I can see a hammock too. It will be very shady during the late spring - late fall.

I’m making my way through McLeod’s Daughters TV series again and they name all their areas - though on a huge Australian ranch. Fun names like Little Regret and Skinny Jim’s, etc. It made me think when I first watched it that I wanted names for all our areas. Ours are mostly functionally descriptive: grass paddock, dirt paddock, etc. I would like some poetry in our names. :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

The area sounds like it will be a lovely Shady Lane with a Peacefull Poplar Trail where the Corgi’ Run and humans get Sleepy Poplar Rest.

billie said...

You win the prize for that one! I think you have covered it all and given me good ideas. :)