I just haven’t been to my blog. The longer I leave it, the more it starts to feel like an overdue termpaper and I want to go lie down until the “call to action” fades away. But we’re seriously snowed in today (25 cm last night and 25 more to come), so I can’t leave it any longer.
WARNING!! THIS IS LONG ONE!! GET A CUP OF COFFEE!!
Here’s a quick summary of our lives since I last wrote in August. We are expecting 4 foals, 2 from Illusion, one from Selle Francais, “P.S. I Love You”, and one from Caspian, “Blaze”. Two outside Thoroughbred mares are also in foal to Illusion.
After Josiane left with her parents, we had a booth at the week long Alberta Barrel Race Finals. Then one last rush to get Illusion ready for the Gorsline’s Fall Classic and the two mares ready for the CWHBA Fall Classic Select Sale. We sent Sunny to Lindsay Gerber for a refresher in Basics, Amy to Gorsline’s for Hailey to ride, and Nora to Nancy Delong for some more schooling. It was nuts trying to keep track of horses in 4 places. I also had to return Aubergine Rose to Brian Donagen at Drogheda Farm in Strathmore.
Amy sold to Trish Mrawkwa at Willow Grove Stables at the sale; none of the broodmares except one got a single bid, so we brought Sunny home. We’ve since decided she is a wonderful mare and not a hardship to keep around, especially as we learned a little more of her history. She is an “Einseidler”, and with my penchant for rare breeds, is a keeper. Nora sustained a soft tissue injury and is home until we can get her restarted and sold in the spring.
The weekend after the sale, we were off to Chiliwack for The Mane Event. Then I agreed to work for Ray Sham from CalTack at Dodge City at CFR for 10 days. With one week in between, I was off to Regina for Agribition. I had planned on staying in my trailer but with -20 degrees, I had to find a room in a city with ”No Vacancy”. Glen was going to drive down with me and then fly home, but with frozen water at home that didn’t work, but he was able to fly down and help me pack up and drive home together, so it worked out fine.
The month of December flew by as we tried to sort out our hay problem. We purchased our hay from a former client who has supplied us with hay before. With careful pasture management, we didn’t need to start feeding until mid November. Despite paying premium price for hay that supposedly had no rain, the first round bale was ugly, and then next 4 weren’t much better. He did take it back, minus $300 for delivery but then we had to scramble. With so much rain this year, there is lots of cattle feed and not much horse feed, so we have been picking 8 bales here, 6 bales there, not to mention the time. We also had to secure straw, which was something we expected to do, but now it was in addition.
Christmas and New Years were quiet. Greg came out quite a bit and Mark and Nicola were here for a couple days. We started hauling Goldmine into Holly Yelic’s at Mistral Winds Meadows for Hailey to ride and for Taylor to have company. He’s going to be a great small pony hunter. I’m still waiting to find out when I can get Illusion started for this season and am hoping to send George and Amelia to Lindsay to get started at the end of January. I’m supposed to be working with Joey and Tamara to get them in harness, but it’s not happening. I think I’m going to phone Neil Dimmock and see if he will take Joey to start in harness.
Hailey and I a couple of trail rides over the Holidays on the snowmobile trails. The oil field leases are open to allow snowmobiles access to the Ministik. The first ride, I rode Primadawna and actually think I may be getting my seat back. We had one hair raising episode. We checked very carefully for cattle guards going into the lease, but didn’t think about it again. Hailey and Goldmine were in the lead and following an oilfield road with no tracks, when Goldmine stepped into a Texas Gate!! He didn’t panic and carefully picked his way through to the other side – what a good pony! Then we had to figure out what to do, as we were on opposite sides of the road. Luckily, I found a gap in the fence and was able to ride Dawna through. Snow is a poor man’s sand and we had a wonderful full out gallop down the range road home. It was a first time gallop for Hailey and she loved it, despite a couple of “feel good” crow hops. The other time, I was driving Illusion with the sleigh. The snowmobile roads proved a little deep for pulling. I was so scared he was going to tie up; even now he’s not to impressed with me. I think they will be a “discussion” the next time I harness him.
Oh, I also managed to get in my coaching course at the beginning of December. Linda Finstad of A Sharper Image Photography had planted the thought seed, earlier in July that I should aim our goals for Marsh Haven Farm as a driving center. Well that’s the little seed that has sprouted, although it will be a slow grower. But towards that goal, I have now got two easy entry pony breaking carts and will have some harness and a cart for sale in the spring.
I also spent a lot of time updating the website and the changes should be live and edited and complete within the next week or two. Most of the pictures I have been promising will be up there. I spent some serious time getting to understand Facebook and now have “The Innovative Horsekeeper” up and running, but in Glen’s account not mine, so I have to bear in mind what computer I use. I’ve also written some press releases, redesigned some of our ads, placed ads on Facebook and updated my Google Advertising, as part of a renewed marketing strategy. We are trying to take advantage of Ventipulmin being banned by Equine Canada for competition, by focussing on the Hay Steamers and OxyGen products.
Bert Wort, formerly of Tudor Tack has been advising me to sell gloves; something everyone needs. I keep telling him I can’t compete with SSG’s when the guy with the gloves from China is just down the way from me at Trade Shows. But I have been listening and surfing, so now I just have to make it so. We are going to incorporate a “Pony Patch” into the trade show booth, as although not everyone has a horse or a need for our products, everyone knows a horse crazy kid. This is part of the reason I worked with Ray at CFR; I wanted to see what kinds of things sold and at what kind of margins. So we’re quite excited about it. We’re hoping it will eventually be a venue to promote and sell our ponies through. What also evolved through the Pony Patch was that the Breyer books are great sellers. After being asked several times if there were any stories about boys, I did my research. They are few and far between, so I’m going to try my hand at writing some. Many people have told me I should write a book and I know I am a good writer, but the inspiration has escaped me until now. I came up with 4 pages of story starters based on experiences of Greg growing up and incidents with animals on farm. So now that I have the 5% inspiration, we’ll see if I can follow through on the 95% perspiration.
There has been some interesting developments with North American Sport Pony and with me at the helm, we are hoping to launch a Quest for the Best Pony in the West similar to the Royal’s Pony Star Search.
Greg had an extra week of leave and spent most of it out here working with Glen on the outbuilding that will become my breeding barn. I’m so excited to finally see some of my ideas take shape.
Next week, we are off to Horse Owner’s and Breeders Conference in Red Deer and the week after that to Kelowna for B.C’s Equine Education Conference. There is a possibility I may be able to get a job for February and March through my friend Darcy Kublik driving gravel truck for oilfield reclamation based in Edson. It would be me that has to go, as Glen is the one who knows how to fix the tractor and deal with frozen waterers, but it would be a great opportunity to relieve some of the financial pressure.
So with my facebook page “The Innovative Horsekeeper” up, what my plan is, is to keep business/product updates and events there, as well as any discussions regarding the things we sell, plus trade show photos. With the blog, I’ll continue to write about what we are doing on the farm and our ponies.
I promise to get better with pictures.