Saturday, 6 July 2019

Epic Haymaking Mission Achieved!

We are so very grateful to everyone who has helped us achieve our haymaking this year!  We now have 785 bales stacked and safe in the barn and it is such a relief to have it all successfully completed!

There are so many people we need to thank - with Ted now unable to do the tractor work for the hay,  and Faye's allergies making it very uncomfortable/difficult to breathe for weeks when handling newly made bales we relied heavily on outside help.  Margaret wasn't able to do the food prep either so we needed a plan B and a change of roles!

Roger's cake reward!
Our neighbour Roger was fantastic and did all the cutting, turning and reweing, and fixed the flat 8, and for 2 nights brought his tractor and trailer to help load bales and bring them in for us so people could concentrate on stacking.  This was such a huge undertaking and help for us, particularly when he had so many other things going on with his farm.  He was unable to stay for the food too so we hope the cake we made him to say thank you goes some way to rewarding him for all his hard work!

Whilst Roger was busy in the field preparing the grass for us, we needed to get the barn ready for the incoming new crop.  This meant a few days rearranging the barn and moving out A LOT of older and 2018 bales, cutting down any that had unusable bad ends and retying and then restacking again in the stable.  Archie was my "right hand man" with this and we spent 3 days moving bales and fixing any subsidence issues in the old stack.  We needed to fill any dangerous holes and take up all the old, loose hay which Margaret loaded up into huge dumpy bags. 

We have a permanent hedgehog nest in our barn so we are used to building this in and working around them.  On this occasion we also discovered a bumble bee nest and so there was much deliberation on whether we should try to relocate or move them.  Thankfully we've been able to leave them where they were and build around them - probably the safest solution for the humans and the bees!

Thanks to Ted and Jenny, we ordered food and drinks to keep all the helpers provisioned...but helpers were proving extremely difficult to find - our thanks to Jane, Sharon and Izy for taking to Facebook in an effort to find us some help.  With so little help coming forward but with with the weather thankfully set in our favour the only solution was to bring bales in over multiple evenings until we had it completed.  Angela agreed to come for a couple of days from Cornwall to help with tractoring and moving bales.
Thursday Night Hay Crew: Lucie, Louise, Andy, Angela, Archie and Callum

On Thursday evening the hay was baled.  Thankfully our helpers arrived!   Archie brought his friend Callum along to help...and we were joined by Andy, Lucie and Louise from Witheridge and between them they managed to stack half the crop!  It was so hot this evening - absolutely roasting and everyone worked so incredibly hard for us and they were determined not to stop and give up!  It's amazing how a group of people who have never met before can come together like this and work so efficiently for a common cause.  Great team work everyone!

The next day Archie and Angela helped me with the pony work in the morning and then over the course of the evening we were joined by Heather, Alex, Catherine, Victoria, Edward, Vicky, Jim and little Henry.  By 8 O' Clock everything was stacked in the barn and we could at least reward our helpers with food - which was Faye's main task...as well as all the other pony work of course!   

So...thank you again to everyone from the ponies...and to Ted and Jenny who donate the hay to the ponies meaning that we have a years worth of food for them - it is such a huge gift.  Whatever the weather the ponies now have a fully stacked barn of best quality hay and they are very lucky ponies indeed!



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Friday, 7 June 2019

NDVS Volunteer Award For Margaret

 
 A few weeks ago I nominated Margaret for one of the North Devon Volunteer Awards under the category of "Supporting Your Charity".  The awards are to recognise the commitment and contribution of volunteers in our local community.  Margaret's been volunteering for P4P for the last 12 years and so this was the perfect opportunity to ensure her work is recognised. 


Very sadly, due to her operation which was planned at short notice, Margaret was unable to collect her award herself at the awards ceremony yesterday evening...so thank you very much to Izy who stepped in to collect the certificate on Margaret's behalf!  I was able to stop off at Margaret's on the way back to the yard so she did at least still get her award on the same day!

There were over 200 people at the awards last night representing many different charities based in North Devon and lots of inspirational stories!  Thank you very much to NDVS for their work organising the awards!

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Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Pet Portrait


Thank you very much to Izy who sent Faye a present this week - a beautiful hand drawn portrait of Munchie as a way to remember him by - such a lovely idea. The postman bent it on delivery but hopefully it'll flatten out and we can frame it.  Such a talented pet portrait artist - thank you to Matt of Matt's sketches for his work and to Izy of course for commissioning it! 

Margaret is doing well after her operation and hopes to be back home soon.  It'll still be a little while yet before she's back "ponying" again!

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Saturday, 1 June 2019

June Calendar Features Babe


Babe is featured with a background of yellow buttercups for June.  This pony is the super model of the pony world - she knows just how beautiful she is and really sends the boys into a spin!  She is lucky enough to have a home with Frances and two of our ponies - Maisie and Jaffa.  In this photo you can clearly see her brand mark... but we found that people always found it difficult to read and mis-read the letters even when in it was visible.  It is still unbelievable that in this day of modern technology where we have facial recognition and the ability to track the tiniest of creatures...that it is still deemed essential/necessary to burn ponies with a red hot iron!

Our thoughts are with Margaret who is having an operation today, and Roy who is also recovering after an operation but feeling better.  Feels like all the departments at the RD&E are being tested out at the moment!

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Wednesday, 15 May 2019

May's Calendar Photo


Everyone's loving this month's calendar photo of Tasha and Muddy which they kindly sent us to be added onto the 2019 calendar - and how could we resist?!  These two are very bonded and go on all kinds of adventures together!  When they lived close to us they would come and visit and Muddy would come and say "hi" to his old mates.  They've moved to North Devon now so I suspect Muddy might be making the most of some potential riding on the beach which I'm sure he will absolutely love!

When the original herd of over 50 ponies were living in the herd field Paul and Cilla would check the ponies everyday and count them to make sure they were all there.  One day a pony was missing and upon searching they found (the then un-named) "Muddy" stuck in a bog, just disappearing under the surface.  They were able to pull him out and took him back to the farm for some TLC.  He was a youngster but had no Mum with him and it's possible that she had died before the herd was rescued.  He's certainly grown into a very well-built, sturdy chap and I'm sure they'll have plenty more adventures to come!

Baby rescued Muddy on the right.  Girlie and her foal Bisto on the left.
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Saturday, 11 May 2019

In Memory of Folly

We had some very sad news in mid-April regarding Folly, one of the original P4P herd members.

Folly has had a very loving home for a long while now and she has always been an important member of the family.  She has been living with a lady called Faye (not P4P Faye) who first met Folly when she was 12 - Faye was at a friends house and was the first person to ever catch Folly in their field - she took her out for walks and they bonded. Folly then joined her pony and their little herd.

In December 2018 Folly had been diagnosed with cancer and had an operation to remove tumours.  Very sadly, despite her family's best efforts, the tumours returned and very aggressively so - her family gave her the best quality of life for as long as they could and then in April the decision was made that it was time for her to be put to sleep. 

We are very grateful to her family for having given Folly such a wonderful home.  She was one of the very traumatised mares who had been ear-notched and had a lot of head trauma which Paul had to work through.  Folly had to regain trust in people and she was very lucky to be able to spend some very happy years with her family.

Run free little Folly...Misty, Brenda, Gus, Mrs Brownhead (Tess), Tinker, Breeze and Munchie are over that "rainbow bridge" too...

Folly with Paul in one of her training sessions.
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Thursday, 9 May 2019

April - Start of the Updates!


Well...let's try to do a catch up!  So April came and went just as quickly as March did...Jenny still recovering obviously after her accident and operation (and as of last night another ambulance trip to A&E for her, poor thing, but is home again now).  As we are very short of regular helpers now, we are very grateful to Frances who managed to get over a couple of times to give Faye a hand on the heavier work jobs.  It seems that just about everyone we know is poorly at the moment with some sort of serious ailment or another so we send out lots of "get well/healing" wishes!

The photo above should look familiar as it was taken in 2017 - after Jeremy disappeared from the nature reserve at Marsland Mouth (still incomprehensible!) we decided to bring the other ponies home as the site was no longer secure and we could not guarantee their safety.  This photo captured the reuniting of friends back at the yard...the photo shows Puffin, Star and Breeze sniffing noses with Munchie, and then Wolfie and Dan in the background...a happy moment quite full of ponies and greetings! Little did we know that we would soon lose two of the ponies featured here - Breeze (to suspected herbicide poisoning on a different reserve the following year) and Munchie this year.   Both were such big wonderful characters who had fan clubs of their own...ponies definitely have a way of melting your heart!  People really feel they connect with them even if they have very short encounters.

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Thursday, 28 March 2019

March...March Madness and Mayhem!

Puffin
We've all been enjoying having Puffin on our calendars this month - a photo of him during his stay at Marsland Nature Reserve - he's a very handsome boy and you can definitely see he has Exmoor pony genes...and he always a super hairstyle! 

To say that March has been challenging is probably an understatement!!  You just never know what is around the corner...and for poor Jenny she fell two weeks ago and broke her leg/hip which was a very painful ordeal for her - when you see the scale of the injury it's clear that she was very brave indeed!  We are so lucky to have the NHS for these trauma incidents and after a trip in an ambulance to A&E, within 24 hours Jenny had had a major operation to pin her hip and leg back together again.  She is amazing us all with her recovery - and the hospital too who released her after just a week in the Royal Devon and Exeter.  Jenny is well on the road to recovery now and hopefully it won't be too long until she is off her walking frame and back to walking independently again. 

It was a daily 4 hour round trip to do visits to the hospital each day and all this co-incided with my mid-week volunteers having left to take up paid employment so it made for some very long days for Faye.  Margaret came every day to help with the pony dinners and make sure Topsy got her extra feeds whilst we were out.  It was such an exhausting time and it's still not really that long since we lost Munchie.

Last weekend the "cavalry" arrived - Katie came to us on her corporate charity day from the Oxford based solicitor firm where she works - such excellent timing as spring has definitely sprung and we needed to get all the fences up to make sure the ponies have their trackways in place - she had a blister by the end of the day poor thing but we really appreciated her help so much.  On Saturday Nicole and Martin came down to help - again all the way from Oxford and by the Sunday we had Katie and her husband David, Margaret, and Nicole and Martin for the morning so it was great to have a big tidy up and get the barn rearranged and get things a bit more organised again after the mad time we've been having recently. 

The lovely spring weather we've had this week means that things have started to dry up - 3 fields were rolled today - what a whirlwind!
Frodo and Katie

Ponies on their track system that Katie helped to set up.
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Saturday, 2 March 2019

End of February

Rocky prancing in the snow, Munchie in the background
Thank you to everyone for your supportive messages regarding Munchie.  I'm really taken with how many hearts Munchie stole and how much of an impression he made on people, even if they'd only ever met him for a couple of hours!  He really was very much a people pony and it seems that everyone who knew him, for whatever space of time, long or short, really did fall in love with him.  Everyone is so kind in saying how much he was loved, and that he knew he was loved, and we really did give him the best quality of life possible with his (at times very complicated) health conditions.  The herd have all coped very well and everything happened in a way that meant they got a chance to process what was happening - all are very relaxed.

A bit late for the posting of this one, but the calendar photo for February was Rocky prancing in the snow, with Munchie in the background.  Whereas last year in February/March we were under siege from the "Beast From The East", this year we really have benefitted from an amazingly dry and beautiful 3 weeks of warm, mostly sunny weather.  Quite a shock really, but very welcome to have some relief from the cold and the wet, and an unprecedented opportunity to roll the fields - never before have we done this in February!  Thanks to the efforts of John and Martin the fields are looking much improved, even if only temporarily.  We're also benefitting from all the extra visitors who have been coming to help and visit - Sam, Zoe with her dog Echo, Nicole and Martin, Frances, Izy, and Sue.  Many hands make light work indeed!  So lovely to have lunch out in the garden in the sunshine with our lovely pony shepherd dog by our side and Topsy joining in the garden party too - Martin even brought her a homegrown carrot from his allotment so she really did join in the picnic too! 

Such a shame to have lost the weather now but not a surprise...now we are "battening down the hatches" in readiness for the weather warnings with Storm Freya...maybe March will come "In like a lion and out like a lamb"...

Topsy's keeping up with her extra feeds and enjoying some time
without her rug during the day.

Frodo supervises Martin's handiwork with the tractor and roller.

Beautifully flat field by the end!
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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Tribute to Munchie

My favourite photo of Munchie in the summer
We are very sad to have to post that our lovely Munchie (Munchkin) had to be put to sleep yesterday afternoon.  He has been a firm favourite with everyone here and is going to be very missed by his rather large fan club, being particularly well loved by our younger supporters.  He was definitely a "people pony".

We really have done everything we could to help him - we've had a long, hard road helping him as he had to return from a loan home where he developed very complicated metabolic problems - he's taught me so much, particularly as he never conformed to any standard textbook guidance - definitely the opposite of everything for Munch, thinking "outside the box" was a necessity for looking after him.  At least we managed to get him a couple more years of time with us.

12 days ago he started showing structural problems and despite all of our best efforts to help him, unfortunately there was something wrong in his nerves/back that we couldn't fix - - we tried so hard for him because he was so determined to be here...but after having showed some improvement, yesterday his hind legs were no longer working for him - neither us nor any specialists could help him and he showed us it was his time to go.  Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us during this time.  We love you Munchie - your spirit, your determination, your affection, your mindfulness with people, your teaching, your gentle playfulness with the young humans, and your love of food...you can run free now lovely boy.




Munchie trying to persuade people to let him help eat their ice-cream at
summer haymaking - certainly off limits for ponies!

Munchie out on excursion with Archie and Alfie the dog.  Munchie
up until very recently was coming for walks in the fields along with Alfie and Faye on a daily basis.



Comments:
 Margaret said...
Lovely pictures of a truly lovely pony. I am so sorry we have lost him.
19 February 2019 at 09:26
 Anonymous
 Lovetoallnature44 said...
Very special lad indeed and very well loved he Will always be with you and in our hearts
7 April 2019 at 20:58
 Delete

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