On Gardens and Horses

30 Jan

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Soon after we moved here, we had a pony and a large vegetable garden.  Then my kids began horse showing.  The garden got weedier.  Then smaller.  We were gone to the Fair for 4 days one August and the weeds overtook the remaining veggies.  I still managed to excavate a lot of veggies from the weeds.  I grew all of our spring and early summer lettuces and quite a bit of corn, peas, beans, potatoes, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and last year I had an abundance of beets and carrots.  The year before I had bumper crops of parsnips and Brussel sprouts in addition to all-you-can eat kale and so much zucchini it was scary.  Then there’s the ubiquitous Swiss Chard which looks impressive throughout the summer.  And a few ventures into red cabbage, kohl rabhi and winter squash.

As the years of horse training, horse showing, horse lessons, horse janitorial work, horse pasture mowing, fence building, tack cleaning, 4-H meetings went on- I began to lose my battle with the weeds in the garden.  The garden has shrunk. This irks me because a garden is part of a farm.  But I see why it is not common on a horse farm.  It’s impossible to do it all.

I can see that any easing of the show schedule will find me re-expanding the garden, growing vegetables that never taste as good from the store.  There’s magic in a garden.  It feeds body and soul.   There’s nothing like weeding rows of young corn by the light of a rising moon.  Or picking fresh, sweet peas and eating them in the garden.

Growing up, we had a large garden and grew most of our veggies.  I took the joy of gardening with me into adulthood- growing huge lettuces, tomatoes, even peas and beans on our tiny apartment balcony, then renting a larger “pea patch” in Seattle- a plot of fertile land along the Duwamish River where we grew corn, tomatoes and lots of other veggies.  I have gardened everywhere I’ve lived.

I always wondered why, when I visited horse properties, there were no gardens.  On dairy farms, you always find a garden.

I think with pasture pet ponies, I could garden.  Or if I had an old puttery trail horse who mostly wanted to stand in the shade.  Katie would be happy to stand around and watch me garden and eat grass nearby.  She and I are very alike.  We’re not show quality.  We like to get out and do stuff, but not be in the spotlight.  That’s why I am glad to have Katie.  She’s happy to go for a hike or goof around, and always gives me a friendly nicker.  She reminds me what’s really important, keeps me honest and fair.

I think a pony and a garden would be pleasant retirement companions. Small enough to not be a burden, big enough to provide a lot of joy.  In America we like things big, flashy, bold and in lights.  I’d rather have a dark night sky and see the stars, a peaceful garden of fresh veggies and nice four legged friend to mow the lawn.  A pony can pull a cart, and that is fun, too.

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