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 "", 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 ( 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