Mr. Fry and I reached a major decision this weekend: Jaz and Daltrey will be spending a lot more time living at Iron Ridge.
There's no set schedule. It will depend on a number of variables, the most important of which is the condition of our land. In the past, we have sent them up for approximately 2 months or so a year. Now, they will divide their time more equally, or the balance may even tip the other way.
Now that Mr. Fry and I have reached an accord, I wonder that we did not come to this decision sooner. It's amazing how one change can have such a positive impact.
Let me count the ways:
- Better for our land. If you don't have horses at home, no one can prepare you for how hard they are on it. We have five acres, which sounds like it should be plenty for two horses, but it's not. We have sandy loam soil, with the emphasis on "sand." The damage from their grazing and tearing around has led to serious erosion, especially right around the house (no cross-fencing; they have full access). We have tried to seed, but we lack the proper implements and the money to do it effectively year after year. We have several species of invasive weeds that are slowly choking what little grass and edible weeds we have. When I look at photos from a few years ago compared to today, the devastation is shocking.
- Better for the long-suffering Mr. Fry. He has been more than accommodating of my dream, but there you have it: this is my dream, not his. Although he likes and enjoys the horses, his passion lies in the other kind of horsepower. Whether it's hauling hay, fixing fences, or attempting to stem damage to the land — any of the myriad heavy chores — he has jumped in and done them to spare my delicate hands and wrists, which are trashed from making a living hunched over a computer keyboard. Now that he has a day job again, he will have more time do do what he wants to do.
- Better for the horses. It's a good thing for them to have a variety of experiences. They become accustomed to new things, which gives them confidence. They get to interact with a large, diverse herd. Although convenient for me, providing free-choice hay here at home is not in their best interest. Jaz has gone from hard keeper to glutton. Having them here for shorter periods of time makes it possible to lay in a small supply of square bales to control portions. There is always someone at home at the farm to spot an injury or illness more quickly than I would if the horses were here. I found Daltrey's leg wound when I came home from work, but it was obvious he had done it hours before. I also know they will interact with the horses, so the progress I've made with Daltrey's manners will continue to be reinforced. If they need him, they'll use Jaz for lessons — he needs the exercise. They use the same vet and farrier, and they are close to Performance Equine, one of the finest emergency veterinary facilities in the area. That's where Jaz was treated for strongyles.
- Better for me. I always enjoy the time the Boyz are at Iron Ridge. I get to hang with my Barn Buddies, interact with more horses, and use the arena. It's all good, and I think the cost will even itself out over time.
- Better for my friends. What's better than generating a little income for friends? I'm all about keeping money close to home.
It's a 5-way win, and I'm excited about it.