Sunday, September 5, 2010

If you build it...

... he will ...cut it down! Our farm has wooded paths and grass and trees around the buildings and about 20 acres of open area. This part has always been in corn or soybeans, but our farmer planted hay in the spring of 2008 and we have been having wonderful rides in the hayfield ever since. Our horses do not like the hay he makes (he cuts it too late) and he doesn't pay us very much (less than he should) so I have spent these two years researching other rider friendly ideas for the open 20 acres. Orchards, Nursery stock, Christmas trees, sunflowers, lavender, and cutting flowers all appeal to me, but I do not want to be a farmer. I want to ride the horses around the field that someone else is able to use and farm. Every time I pursued these ideas, I was met with resistance. One thing I have learned in life is not to jam a square peg in a round hole. I asked our farmer not to do a second cutting this year and by the last week in August, our hay was waist high and lovely little trees were starting to come up on their own. I took our giant mower and designed gently curving trails through the hayfield and around the perimeter. All the trails met at the high point of our farm and some attached to the wooded trails. There was a middle allee and quadrants for future partierres. It was perfect!

Which explains why I got myself in so much trouble with the camera and Sovey as I detailed in my last post. After that epiphany, I had some amazing THINKING rides on Pie and Sovey through the trails and newly cut paths. On Saturday morning, Brian, Maizie, and I all went over to use the paths like a cross country course. We ran on the hayfield paths and in the woodland trails in the dew and sunshine. At one point, I saw Brian (shirtless) running on the middle allee. He was running toward the high point, with his long mane flying in the wind. The high hay was blocking my view of his running shorts. He looked like a naked wild man running through the fields - NOW THAT WAS A SIGHT TO BEHOLD!!!!

That evening, Brian and I rode the horses all over the paths. The sun was setting and the air was cooler and the trails through the hay were so lovely. I knew if I focused on Pie that he would be calm and Sovey would give Brian a nice, safe ride. We talked to all our neighbors and invited them to walk or run on the paths. It was brilliant.

All week I rode the boys, alternating days around the farm on our new trails. I rode with a purpose and both horses responded by listening to their attentive rider. In addition, I realized that my struggle with finding the "right" use for this field was over. Our own trees were coming up and the possibilities were endless for riding and cross country skiing and running. I finally felt a calm that I hadn't felt in a long time.

On Wednesday, my mom phoned. The farmer was cutting the hayfield, and with it, all my paths! What?!! I couldn't believe it. I called him and he apologized - he apparently forgot about me telling him not to do the second cutting. Of course, he was 3 weeks later than any other farmer (which is why our horses hate his bitter hay). Brian shook his head in disbelief. He has been saying "if you build he will wreck it" in disgust ever since.

The boys have had much to watch as the farmer makes big giant "mulch hay" as he calls it. The big bales appeared yesterday and were slightly scary to Sovey on last night's ride. But, like the good boy that he is, we investigated it and he grabbed a hunk of it to munch. Our land has some sinkholes and groundhog holes which makes the paths that I cut even more important by keeping us out of trouble. When it is just an open field, "mapping" or remembering where the holes are is more difficult. Last night as Sovey and I were heading east toward the barstool I spied a groundhog hole to the left and I inadvertently tensed up. At that moment, he looked down and jumped straight up in the air like a Pie manuever. I remember thinking that I had caused the upset by tensing. Then I saw clearly what had happened - the exit tunnel to the groundhog hole I had seen to the left was right under us! Smart Sovey saw it at the last second and jumped straight up to avoid it. Oh, special, lovey boy - thank you!
Late in our ride we saw a neighbor who just shook his head and laughed, "Hey, Julie," he said, "I guess I'll go and walk on your paths!" He was disappointed like us. So, now, I am back to square one. Maybe I can design the paths again - better than before. And, I sent a letter to the farmer, in writing this time, to help him remember.


  1. Sorry the paths went, but at least you had fun with them when they were there! Lucky about the groundhog holes - those are scary!

  2. our farmer seems to mow later than others too and it irritates me but at least this year he made a second cutting so our field is glorious right now. like, i have to rub my eyes and wonder if it's real when i look at it in the morning. it's vibrant green and looks like a shaggy golf course. and my little horse is not making a dent in it. it's time to get the shepherd here with his 280 sheep! i know he's waiting on the go ahead. now if only i could keep the sheep from rubbing on our posts!

    but i need to balance the shepherd's wishes with the hay farmer's. our hay farmer has the final word on our field cuz we get hay for free from him, and he knows more about land stewardship than we city folk!

    i can't wait to see the next treatment in the haying cycle. he said he has a new machine that will somehow aerate the field, and then he will plant new seed.

    it's fascinating to me. but i sure miss deep green american hay.


  3. That was a great idea to make those paths, and to share them with the 2-leggers. What fun! I hope you can recreate them after the farmer gets outta there.

  4. What a lovely idea to make paths in the hay field, too bad the hay guy forgot and ruined it for you! But it will become lovely again and you will be riding, running and playing on those paths again!!

  5. What a neat idea- to make paths through the field. How creative! I'm sorry they were ruined by the farmer. I hope you get to rebuild them even better!

  6. Brian is very funny--running through the fields looking like a wild nakey man !! and dryly commenting that if you build it, they will wreck it! That is such a hoot, vene if it is true!! I love the idea of making paths all over. Have you ever seen the movie Seabiscuit? There's that one scene where they go out to the estate of the Jeff Bridges' character, and Toby Maguire is on Seabiscuit and he takes off galloping--the path he is on looks like a gently curving path of bark mulch all around this beautiful property. Everytime I see that scene, I think I sure wish I had a nice path like that I could race around on. Interestingly, I actually met the horse that played Seabiscuit in that particular secene at the equine affaire a few years ago. And do you kno what? He looked perfectly ordinary! beautiful, but ordinary!

  7. Aw darn! those paths seemed like they would be fun and offer more good stories!
    Nice that Pie took care of you by avoiding the sink hole and even better than you realized it :)

  8. Ahah that would never happen through our alfalfa field.

    By the way of course I am adding your blog to the bitless blog list.

  9. HAHA!!
    got such a gaffa laugh outa your "Naked wildman" running through the paths!
    Darned absent minded man anywho..I also was breathing that sigh of contentment wityh you...I forgot to apply the title to the story...then, I was upset in an instant, like you too...when mom called to tell you!

    Good thing is, it'll all grow on back and you may now find the perfect paths...maybe walk them out and make a mapping system while it remains shorter like this. That is my kinda plan for the reading and scetching!

    Good news on your mom too... I need to get myself back up as siss and I doid go...I wore a bit though..Wa hated it and I also wore a rope and my siss did use it to control Wa as we rode..I think pain and 3 weeks off, cooler weather and bears around...yup..makes for frisky mares!

    LOVE ya!


Thanks for taking the time to visit Honeysuckle Faire!