Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Purchase of Lady Luxury, Lucy, LuLu Bean

Elaine and Dax, Grace and Sugar, early 2004
The story of the purchase of Lucy starts way back in mid-2005 when we first moved into our current home, Prairie Corner Farm. Laura (me) had decided that it was now time for Elaine and Grace to join Pony Club since we finally had a horse property and enough room for everyone to keep a mount affordably.

Elaine was 12 years old and had been taking lessons and showing our Appaloosa, Dax, for about two years or so already and was content. Grace was almost 11 years old and had been using a friend's older quarter horse mare, Sugar, for two years and had lots of success, but we were unable to bring her with us to our new home. So Grace would need a new mount.
Elaine and Dax, Grace and Sugar, early 2005 with Egon
We started shopping early on for Grace and were having trouble finding something appropriate. The problem seemed to be that all of the horse sellers that we called were blatant liars who didn't care at all if my child got killed riding their rank animals. Week after week, I would call the listings and ask the same questions: This will be a horse for a 10 year old child who is just an advanced-beginner rider, a very petite rider. Would your sale horse be safe for her to ride? "Oh yeah, fine sure come and check him out!"

We'd arrive to find either a crazy Western horse that had no idea how to trot or canter, was used to having his head tied to his chest or a 16hh+ Thoroughbred straight off the track who still had his racing plates on. Suffice it to say, it was a long stretch weekend after weekend being disappointed at not finding a nice child-safe mount.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dax's left hock ... and right suspensory/deep digital flexor tendon ... and negative palmar angle (Part I)

Dax, my Appaloosa, was a little bit of an impulsive "adoption" (aka "purchase") in November of 1997. My good friend Barry Fript, a well known area horse professional and dressage trainer said to me at the time: "Absolutely do not buy that horse!"

Regardless, and probably stupidly, I went ahead anyway and even the transaction itself was not without its own obstacles and intrigue - much like our life together since. For details on how it all came about and some of our fun history, see my blog entry from Nov 1997: http://www.udonet.com/laura/info/1997spotted_fever.html and follow the links.

Dax: 4.5 Elaine 5.0 Me 34.0
Dax was 4.5 years old going on five in Nov 1997. In September of 2013 that makes him twenty years old and he and I have been together for 15.5 years. A lot has happened in that time and a lot of the early days are captured in my web site. I fell off updating our web site in early 2001 ("life got in the way") and since then several kids have Pony Clubbed him, including my older daughter, Elaine, who was actually the last child to use him seriously for eventing, fox hunting, pony clubbing and just general riding and schooling.

Grace, my younger daughter, also rode and used Dax with a lot of success after her pony mare, Lucy, passed of stomach cancer. That was a long two years of recovery for both Gracie and I and Dax filled in nicely for Grace on a lot of things she liked doing at the time. We always used to say to Grace before going out on cross country: "Just imagine that Lucy is jumping along with you guys, just in front of Dax's nose and leading the way!" Funny that Grace was one of Dax's only riders who was ever able to propel him all the way through a course without trouble ... 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chicken coop project, September 2013

We have recently purchased a chicken coop, which is "on order" and currently being built. One of our best friends, Jeff, is an incredibly handy guy with tools and meticulous to the nth degree.

Being a currently out of work engineer and looking full time for job, he volunteered to be our vendor for the coop and set off to learn everything he needed to know about backyard chicken keeping in order to bring himself fully up to speed as an expert chicken coop builder.

Once the chicken coop is completely finished it will be painted barn red to match our newly painted barn with a dark brown roof and white trim. Jeff will dis-assemble it at his location, then re-assemble at our location and we will install it to the prepared site which will be leveled, underlaid with predator mesh and outlined with secured railroad ties (we haven't worked out all of the precise details on this yet; Laura is still working on that.)

Hopefully we'll have the footings and predator mesh installed this week or this coming weekend in preparation.We have a spot in the yard for it quite near the horse barn and close to a set of three large evergreens. It's a high and dry spot.

We are planning to purchase 8-12 Dominique chickens (hens only!) which are a heritage breed. We haven 't decided whether to get started right away (this fall) with adult hens or wait until spring and get started with baby chicks. Laura likes the idea of raising the hens from chicks but of course everyone else in the family is just ready to start gathering eggs ... right now! Hens don't start laying until they are several months old. The other option is to purchase six hens now and then six chicks in the spring, which would probably be a good compromise.

not our chickens! this is a stock photo.

From Wikipedia: "The Dominique, also known as Dominicker or Pilgrim Fowl, is a breed of chicken (Gallus gallus) originating in the United States during the Colonial. It is considered America's oldest breed of chicken, probably descending from chickens brought to New England from southern England during colonial times. By the 19th century, they were widely popular and were raised in many parts of the country. Dominiques are a dual purpose breed, being valued for their meat as well as for their brown eggs. They weigh 6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 kg) at maturity. In earlier times, their feathers were much sought after as stuffing for pillows and mattresses." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominique_%28chicken%29)

The finished chicken coop will resemble the coop pictured here, which is the coop as built by the plan designer. It is about 6'x6' in footprint for the coop only, has a 14'x6' enclosed, attached chicken run, is elevated and has six nest boxes with a perch in the front and a rear-access door from the outside (for collecting eggs.)

what the finished coop will look like, just add paint.

the finished coop per plan, showing the nest boxes.

Onto the progress photos! Naturally the coop started out as a big pile of lumber, which was delivered to our chicken coop factory. Here is the coop on Sept 3rd

chicken coop, Sept 3rd

Two weeks later the coop was partially assembled and taking a bit of shape. September 12th.

chicken coop, Sept 12th

chicken coop, Sept 12th

the chicken coop factory owner, Jeff

A few days later I got another update, showing the assembly thus far. September 15th.

chicken coop, Sept 15th

chicken coop, Sept 15th

More updates and the final reveal to come next month. Watch this space.

For more about us, come to udonet.com. Click on "Pets" to visit our family's small hobby farm.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Prairie Corner Farm - Horse Stall Signs

The horses at Prairie Corner Farm all have their own, custom-made, stall signs. Not that they spend much time in stalls, but we couldn't let that stop us from making sure everyone had a stall sign.

For more about our horses and farm, visit our family web site

Clyde's stall sign is one of the cutest; made from a photo of Clyde

Dax's stall sign from when Elaine was using him for Pony Club, she was into the "punk plaid" back then.

Junior's stall sign; although I provided a photo and advised the painter that he was something of a  homely pony, this is the sign we got back.

Sugar's games pony stall sign. Very cute, by a local person.

Noble's "anime" stall sign, with dragon wing behind. By the same person who did Sugar's sign.

I love Lucy stall sign. Lady Luxury, LuLu, Lucy. Our most favorite pony of all time. Sadly no longer with us.

Lovag's stall sign. The children all seem to be completely unable to see the jump as a wide oxer.

Troika's stall sign. Super cool, by the same local person who did Sugar and Noble's stall signs.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Little garden by the pool, and the pool - end June 2013

The little garden by the pool is not very exciting but it has certainly improved our enjoyment of this area of the yard so far this summer vs. previous summers.

We find ourselves taking most of our meals out here and Laura enjoys doing blog posts and Facebook sitting on the patio closest to the wireless router in the evenings after dousing herself in Off! and pouring a nice glass of wine.

(click on the continue link to view the photos)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Prairie Corner Farm - the barn, the cats, the mutt

Last week I published our main page for Prairie Corner Farm from our family website to the blog (did you miss the link? here it is --> http://www.udonet.com/prowicz/ Click on "pets" and "prairie corner farm" to meet our horses.)

This week I was pawing through the photos I had already uploaded to Google from last July's "barn cleaning" during our epic Midwestern drought and thought it might be fun to publish them.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Water garden (pond) end June 2013

prowicz family water garden (pond) progress
end june 2013

our pond is really looking great. I am amazed how things have progressed since may with relatively little work or effort on our part.

enjoy the photos!

Friday, July 05, 2013

July 4th Celebration at Prairie Corner Farm, Clyde rules

This July 4th, Clyde got the nod when it was time for the teen girls to ride.


Jasmine and Clyde

Jasmine and Nicole

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Building our original pond, c. 2003 Des Plaines IL

(we are re-blogging this from our web site; article 
was written in 2003 but recently updated for 2013.)

In the spring of 2002, we had purchased our first home in Des Plaines, IL and quickly discovered some problems with the yard.

The first problem was that it was an overgrown mess that neither of us had any clue how to deal with.

The second problem was that we had a sump outlet that was very busy, due to our close proximity to the Des Plaines River (approximately 300 yards) and thus our property was in a flood plain and "low".

Because of storm water regulations with regard to the city sewers we were required to shut off the house's valve and piping system that had been set up in the 50's to send the sump water from our house into the city sewer. Once that was complete, we did what everyone else did, and just sumped the ground water from under our house out into the back yard.

Soon it became obvious that we had an indentation in the middle of our back yard, as water started to collect there. Michael had optimistically built a fire pit in that very spot and I think we used it once or twice, but meanwhile we had some landscapers come in to clear out the jungle in the yard (old overgrown shrubs, half dead trees, etc.) and he had directed the sump pipe into the fire pit in order to keep the yard dry while the clearing work was ongoing.

When the water started to pool in the fire pit we joked about it being a tiny pond and wasn't that a cute idea. The more we worked in the yard the more interested we got, finally deciding to type "backyard pond" into a search engine on the Internet and finding a whole new world we didn't even know existed.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Introducing Prairie Corner Farm and its horses

 (this post has been re-blogged from our family web site, which you
are welcome to view in context at prairie corner farm on udonet.com)

Our small acreage family horse property is affectionately known as "Prairie Corner Farm".

We have just about eight acres: six of it is pasture/paddocks for the horses and the rest of it is riding area and living area (pool, pond, garden, front yard, etc.)

We live across the street from a 270 acre forest preserve which has four miles of nice single track trail for horses. Our neighborhood is all 5-10 acre horse properties (or larger) for several miles in every direction.

We are very fortunate to have a friendly relationship with our closest commercial barn owner neighbor, who allows us to use their indoor and outdoor arenas. We are also members of our local saddle club, Fox Valley Saddle Association (Laura manages their web site and Facebook presence as well) which has a 60-acre facility with a much larger indoor arena, two outdoor arenas with footing and an outdoor cross country course, as well as an extensive set of stadium jumps for practicing and schooling.

We have barn cats (most of whom live in the house), two dogs (who definitely live in the house) and six horses (who definitely do not live in the house.)

prairie corner farm horses
our horse herd in June 2011

Sunday, June 30, 2013

... on riding across country and having a lovely place to sit to reflect upon it afterwards ...

Michelle and I with our "D Rally" team 1978
When I was a child of about 14 years old, I was already a C1 in the local Pony Club in Bennington VT. By that time me and most of the other girls my age had been riding for about eight years and had spent oodles of time jumping all kinds of horses in all types of situations without stirrups, without reins, with eyes closed and whatever other combination of impossible factors that our instructors (Henry and Janet Schurink of Doornhof Farm in Shaftsbury VT) could dream up.

When we kids were about twelve most of us had started acquiring our own personal horses. Some of us shared horses 1/2, 1/2 with other people, some of us were fortunate to have our own horse full-time and I think even in our humble club we had a couple of members with multiple mounts for the various disciplines.

We evented, we went to hunt shows, Pony Club shows (now generally morphed into "English Open Horse Shows" like the one I organize at Fox Valley Saddle Association here near Elgin IL), Rallies, hunter paces and more.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Native plant gardening - how to purchase plants and start seeds

Today's post is re-blogged from our family web site.

We have updated the "Garden" section of our site and written a bit about prairie gardening, how to get a native garden started and the background and history why we decided in 2002 to use mainly native prairie plants for our family garden.

If you would prefer to read this post in context, come visit the Prowicz Family garden on our web site.

prowicz family garden

The Prowicz Family garden is made up of mostly perennials and almost 100% native plants, using seed cultured from our local area in Northern Illinois.

How we purchase and start our prairie plants

Some of the vendors we like, for prairie plants (both bare-root and potted) and seeds are listed below.

This is our first year gardening our current property (for various and sundry reasons); the garden in our previous home in Des Plaines was extensive.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Adoption of Junior, "feedlot" pony from Yakima WA Nov 2006

Goodbye Junior: May 9th, 2012
When one adopts a pony over the Internet, sight unseen, during the holidays, from 1,500+ miles away just after moving to her own horse property is it an "impulse" adoption or just divine destiny?

This is the question of the age when pondering how a small, 13.2hh POA came to live at Prairie Corner Farm in March of 2007, and have an awesome, fun-filled and well-cared for last five years of his life until finally succumbing to cancer on a beautiful, sun-filled spring morning in 2012.

Laura (me) had just found the Columbia Basin Equine Rescue in early 2006 and was often driven to tears at the stories of horses who had ended up in that rescue partner's feedlot, spent time getting fattened up until eventually, having not found a legitimate home, found themselves packed tightly into 18-wheeler shipping trucks bound for slaughter (and slaughtered) in Canada.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Blogging, we started doing it in 1996

Blogging. Such a great idea blogging is. After posting three blog entries in the past week I am struck by how easy it is to do these days! And that's a good thing.

Kane and me at Chicago Botanic Garden, August 2003
Believe it or not, back in the dark ages before Blogger, we used to have to create actual HTML (web programming for you neophytes) if we wanted to maintain a family web site and keep it updated with our current activities and goings-on. What a pain!

Back then, we called it a "web log" which of course became a "blog" as we refer to it today. I registered "udonet.com", our domain, using Michael's friend's "code word" name for fun. From there I set up our family web site sometime in the year 2000 when Michael and I moved with the girls to our first home in Des Plaines IL. Thereafter I lovingly updated it quite regularly late at night after the kids were in bed. 

The process was much more complicated then than it is now:
  1. Locate the area of the web site to update. 
  2. Create a new page from a saved page template, by loading the template, creating the new content in HTML and saving it locally. 
  3. Uploading the new page to the server and checking it. 
  4. Process repeat until the new page is done. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The weedy berm, month #1 (May 2013)

Naturally, having a weedy berm is very embarrassing. Embarrassing enough that it has been sitting here behind my bedroom window being weedy for eight years with little to nothing done to beat it into submission. Sadly, I had given up enough in the past two years to simply insist on keeping the bedroom blinds firmly shut so that I didn't have to look at the thing.

What all of the preamble essentially means: I have no true "Before" photos of the weedy berm. The photos below cannot possible begin to capture the horror that was the weedy berm. What I have done, in order to give you the remotest possibility of picturing it, is to download a photo of someone else's weedy berm to post here, for your reference. Keep in mind that my berm, while much smaller in square area more likely than not had 200-300% the weed volume captured by the photo. Did I mention that it was weedy?

Someone else's weedy berm: for your reference
The biggest problem with having a weedy berm behind your bedroom window is knowing there is a pond up in there somewhere, with plants and fish in it that you took the time and trouble to transplant from your last home to this one and have totally neglected since.

The next biggest problem is that your husband has finally gotten so done with the entire situation that he has threatened to bulldoze it all if you don't do something with "your precious pond" really, really soon. Translation: "Now".

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Garden, month #1 (May 2013)

In my previous (and first!) post I wrote about our pond and its initial maintenance after eight years of almost total neglect.

Likewise the property here has been generally neglected. If you were not a horse or had stuff in the barn, you were pretty much neglected over the past eight years. We have almost eight acres with a house a barn and shed that we purchased in June 2005 in order to bring home our horse, Dax from the boarding stable.

Immediately after our arrival here we added several good riding horses:
Clyde a trail horse for Michael, Lucy a Pony Club pony for Grace, and Dodger a trail horse for Kane. Suddenly we had four horses not just one and two girls in Pony Club.

What happened next is five years flew by ... we lost Dodger to old age and then Lucy to cancer. My older daughter brought home a lovely thoroughbred cross for eventing and then my younger daughter brought home a large pony for dressage and a smaller pony for games. I brought home a finely bred Hungarian WB gelding for training in dressage and eventing. Finally we brought home the most wonderful rock star rescue pony ever, Junior, for Kane.

For eight years when we weren't cleaning the barn, cleaning tack, stacking hay or picking up manure around the paddocks and transporting it to the manure pile we were trailering to Pony Club events, riding, schooling, trail riding, showing and just generally enjoying being riders and barn owners. It was really fun.

But, boy, the poor property. I loved gardening when we lived in Des Plaines in 2000 to 2005. It was so pretty and we had probably 100 different species of plants. Here we had weeds, and thistles and dandelions and weeds. Tall weeds, short weeds, lanky weeds and mat-forming weeds.

Something needed to change and change it did. Spring 2013 came and both of my daughters were off to college. Kane's pony Junior has passed on from very old age. Things are loosening up around here and it's time to get back into the garden.

After a week off work the first week of May here is what I accomplished in our garden by the goldfish pond.

Little shade garden under the tree
Shade garden, notice weed infested berm

Agent, supervising

Cleaned out the garden shed

Cleaned the shed, bought tons of plants for garden

Friday, June 07, 2013

Water Garden, month #1 (May 2013)

My husband Michael and our three kids, dog, and two horses moved into this house June 2005. We had our fish pond built behind our bedroom window shortly thereafter, planted the plants from our old house and brought our five year old goldfish home to live.

Then, we did nothing. For eight years.

Thank goodness for the best pond builder on the planet: Joe Hoffman (Euroscapes.net) He built us such a great pond that it survived just fine for those eight years ... so fine that it took me only three full days off work the first week of May to pull it into relatively "ready for the season" condition.

BTW: We now have only one child living at home full-time, two children in college, two dogs, two cats and six horses (having acquired and lost several here and there along the way of the feline and equine species.)

We hope you enjoy the photos we took of the pond's first week of maintenance in eight years. All photos taken on May 3, 2013. In the interest of not thoroughly disgusting myself we did not take any "before" photos ;-)

Veggie filter



The pond, in its entirety

Pond and barn