What a blessing it is to be having a real winter! Normal amounts of snow that will hopefully keep the fire danger down this summer and will provide plenty of irrigation water for hay crops. And what interesting timing. With my husband gone, I’m now solely responsible for snowplowing and filling stock tanks and moving hay bales and all the other chores of the farm in winter (and I’m grateful for all the help I’ve been offered, too). It didn’t take me long, though, to know that there aren’t enough hours in the day.
It’s normal when practicing progressive breeding to have ebbs and flows in the size of a breeding herd. As one works to produce better ponies with each generation, it’s common to retain daughters. Then a need for a second stallion emerges, and the population grows. Then when those daughters begin to produce offspring, it becomes time to select which females to retain and which to rehome to keep the herd size realistic.
I knew I was reaching the point where I was going to have to make some difficult decisions this year. With my husband’s passing, though, I began to see opportunities to reduce my pony population that I might not have seen otherwise. For instance, I had kept my Fell Pony mare Restar Mountain Shelley III open (unbred). While I wasn’t interested in selling her, an idea occurred to me. My friend Tina has a two year old Fell that she hopes to eventually use for riding and driving. I thought Tina might find it appealing to have a full grown mare to ride until the filly is ready to go to work.
While the idea made sense logically, I wasn’t fully prepared for how much I would miss Shelley. Fortunately, letting her go temporarily is already producing gifts. Tina asked for some video of me working with her, so she would better know what Shelley responds to. My heart was warmed when Tina observed how much Shelley enjoys being with me. The feeling is definitely mutual! Then I got the pictures here of Shelley encountering new beings in her life with quiet acceptance and curiosity. That’s my girl!
Having Shelley go visiting has definitely freed up some time each day. Her departure is the first of several. My goal is to get from five paddocks of ponies down to two while I adjust to life without my husband. It won’t surprise me at all if I’m back up to five paddocks again a few years out!
There is still a void here that Shelley used to occupy. It is hard to see her stall empty, her tracks still in the snow, her voice not greeting me at feeding time. But I take great solace from knowing Shelley will be coming back to me before long, and in the meantime Tina will have lots of stories to tell me about my girl.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2019