Thursday, February 28, 2019

Thursday Pictures

Lofty, Gus and Romeo

Silver, Cocomo, Gibson and Donneur

Taylor and Fabrizzio

George and Donneur

Nemo and Quigly

Lighty and Miel

Paramount, Happy and Mick

Digby and Taco

Baby, Trigger and Thomas

Walon and Toledo

Squirrel and Sushi

Levendi and Revy

Rocky and Gus

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Rain and Floods

Let me say right away that our farm is not in a state of emergency and all is well. However, Tennessee has been declared in a state of emergency due to seriously heavy rainfall and flooding, with the brunt of this happening in the middle and eastern part of the state.

I think everyone is aware that 2018 was, in many places in the U.S., the wettest year on record. A good portion of our excess rainfall came in the last few months of 2018. In our part of the world the fall is our driest time of the year. It isn't completely dry, we have no months that call for that looking at historical weather records, but the expected rainfall is lower in the fall than the rest of the year. This year we exceeded average rainfall amounts every month from September through December, sometimes by quite a lot.

January didn't bring normal rainfall, but we were only a couple of inches over normal. That felt pretty normal after the last few months.  After the first couple of weeks it seemed like February was shaping up to be like January, higher than normal rainfall but only by a couple of inches. Then this past week happened.

Like all farmers, Jason and I almost obsessively look at the weather forecast at times. Last weekend I said to Jason, "have you looked at the forecast for this week? Surely the rainfall totals they are forecasting are wrong?" I couldn't believe the inches of rain being projected to fall on already over-saturated ground. As it turned out the forecasts were not wrong. According to Jason's electronic rain gauge we had 11.13 inches of rain over the past week, so far in February we've had 15.22 inches of rain, and in 2019 we've had 21.27 inches of rain to date. That is an incredible amount of rain to contend with, especially given that we aren't in the growing season so no growing grass to absorb the moisture. In May 2010 middle Tennessee experienced a 1,000 year flood. I will be interested to see how this week's flood is classified in the record books. If it isn't 1,000 year flood it is probably close.

We were still on my parents' farm during the 2010 flood and had no issues.  We did own this farm at that time and were in the process of building it out, and it appeared that there were no issues here during the 2010 flood. I'm happy to officially say that we had no issues this past week other than inconvenience, I will say it gets old working in the rain continuously.

I have to give credit to Jason for this farm's ability to handle what should be once in a lifetime flooding that we've now seen twice in 9 years. When we spent almost three years looking for the right farm to purchase, I accused Jason more than once of making the process more difficult than was necessary. He would not look at any acreage or farms that had a single acre of floodplain, even if it was 1,000 year floodplain. His mantra was floodplain floods, and that doesn't work for a livestock farm. His unwavering stance on the issue eliminated a lot of farms for us. There are a lot of farms that have some 1,000 year floodplain on them but Jason would not give an inch on his requirement of zero floodplain.

Jason further showed his ability to read the land by carefully selecting where every barn, run-in shed, fence and gate were placed on this farm after we purchased it as bare land. He was fussy, and again I pointed out that he was making things complicated. But again he was right. Even non floodplain land will have ponding water when you are getting 11+ inches of rain over a few days, but none of this ever happens in our run-in sheds, we never worry about water in the barns, and I don't even have to worry about puddles at the gates. I don't say any of this to brag because I really feel for the water damage that some of our friends and neighbors are dealing with. I just felt I needed to publicly say to Jason that he was right, 100% right, on the entire subject and it is a good thing he didn't listen to me.

Thankfully, the rain cleared out at about 10pm last night and today was sunny. We have dry days, mild temperatures and sun in our forecast until Wednesday evening and then guess what? We're supposed to get another inch or more of rain. We'll be fine. The cool season grasses are starting to green up and wake up, and by this afternoon most of the standing water on the farm was already gone. We have plenty of mud, it's impossible to not have mud after 21 inches of rain in two months which came on the heels of four months of record breaking rain. But most of our pastures are not muddy, just the traffic areas. We'll be replacing a lot of gravel in our traffic and gate areas along with the driveway over the next few months. It's done its job but a lot of it is starting to sink, but it thankfully much of it is holding up. When I've been on other horse farms in the area and seen the state of not just their traffic areas but their pastures, I'm always happy to be going home to my farm.

It has been a heck of a weather ride the last few months. If I have to choose between extremes I would take too much rain over a drought. However, if I'm really allowed a choice, I'd like to just go back to our average weather statistics. I don't know if that will happen anytime soon.

Cisco, Rip, Grand and Homer

Trigger and Chance

Sabrina keeping watch over Timbit, Sparky. Innes and Flower

Toledo and Roho playing before breakfast

Nemo and Sebastian

Blu and B-Rad

Gus and Romeo

King and Levendi

Silver and Cocomo

Blu and Happy

Happy and Johnny

Miel and Ascot

Dolly and Penny

Jake, Maggie,Missy, Dolly, Norman and Traveller

Convey, Homer and King

Cinnamon, Dawn and Calimba

Flyer and Lotus

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Meet Taco

Taco is a Connemara/Thoroughbred cross who was born in Ireland in 1991.  Taco started his riding career in Ireland as a foxhunter. For those who aren’t familiar, the Irish are serious about their foxhunting. Their horses have to be brave, surefooted, and willing to jump big obstacles from tough terrain. Despite his relatively small stature at about 15 hands, Taco proved himself to be a very capable foxhunter. Taco’s prowess as a foxhunter was spotted by an American when he was five, and he was then imported to Virginia to continue his career as a foxhunter.

Taco with his young rider

Displaying one of their many ribbons

Taco continued his foxhunting career in Virginia for a few years before being sold to someone in Texas. He carried on as foxhunter in Texas for a couple of years before being sent to Long Island to be sold.

As Taco was en route to Long Island, his future forever family was facing a crisis of their own. His future family had two horses that they kept at their farm on Long Island, and one of their horses died unexpectedly. Their horse Snoopy that was left behind was hysterical, frantically running the fence and calling for his friend. Taco had been purchased by acquaintances of theirs, and he was delivered to their farm by the shipper to step-in as an interim companion for Snoopy.

Taco and his mom in the show ring

Taco walked off the trailer after his long trip from Texas and into the pasture with Snoopy. Snoopy instantly calmed down and Taco settled in quietly. Originally known as Dylan, the shipper that brought him from Texas to Long Island called him Taco because he thought it suited him better. The name stuck as the family started referring to him as Taco instead of Dylan.

Taco and his mom with their game faces on

Taco and his mom learning their course at a show

As Taco kept Snoopy company and recovered from his trip from Texas the family noticed that Taco was lame. They had their vet out to look at him who felt his future long term soundness was questionable. Even though they hadn’t intended to buy another horse, and definitely not a lame horse, they decided to buy Taco after he had been at their farm for a couple of weeks. Within a couple of weeks Dylan had changed his name to Taco and found his forever family.

Every horse deserves to be so loved; Taco's wall in his mom's room. Pictures of Taco and some of their winnings displayed

waiting for their turn at a show

At first Taco’s family only planned for him to be a companion horse to Snoopy. However, after a year of pasture rest at their farm he looked sound again. Their daughter had been taking riding lessons and started riding Taco at their farm. Taco was very patient and forgiving with his beginner rider, and they immediately forged a bond.

Nemo and Taco

Murphy, Nemo and Taco

Happy and Taco

After awhile Taco’s family moved him to a show barn so that he and his young rider could have easier access to lessons and training. For the next four years Taco and his young rider took the show ring by storm. They showed in the hunters, jumpers and equitation, and Taco easily transitioned from a foxhunter to a show horse. Taco’s family said he would puff up and make himself look like a much bigger horse when it was his turn to go into the show ring. Taco and his young rider won boxes of blue ribbons and championships while competing against bigger, fancier horses. Taco even showed and won at the prestigious Hampton Classic horse show. The announcer there liked his name so much he would make a production out of saying it, announcing that TACOOOOOO was now entering the ring.

Taco and Nemo on the run

Taco and B-Rad

Happy and Taco

When Taco was not carrying his young rider around the show ring earning blue ribbons he was busy being the perfect family horse. They never needed a leadrope to take him from the stall to the pasture, he would just follow along all on his own.  He and his young rider spent four summers teaching the younger kids at summer camp. Taco was the patient volunteer for grooming, anatomy lessons, bathing and braiding. He would stand patiently while a group of little kids hugged and brushed on him for hours.

Taco and Johnny

Taco (far left) with Johnny, Happy, Lighty, Sam and Miel

Taco and Miel

After four years of being ridden, shown and loved by their daughter, it came time for her to move on to a bigger horse in order to continue her riding education. Taco’s family decided they did not want to lease or sell him. They had many offers for both as Taco had developed quite a following at the shows and at their barn over the years. They decided they didn’t want to take the chance of him ending up being a schooly or being leased to a different young rider each season, so they decided to retire him. One of their good friends had a horse horse retired with us, and recommended us to Taco’s family. Four and a half years ago Taco made the trip from Long Island to Tennessee to retire.

Happy, Johnny and Taco

Nemo and Taco

Taco, B-Rad and Blu

Taco was everything his family said he was when he arrived at our farm. He was friendly, had perfect ground manners, and was scared of men. His family doesn’t know why Taco has such an ingrained fear of men but they said he had been that way since they met him. He had to be sedated for the farrier and the vet had to move very slowly around him. Jason spent a lot of time feeding Taco and otherwise asking nothing of him to get Taco to relax around him. To this day I have to hold Taco for the farrier and not Jason, and our farrier makes a point of moving very slowly and quietly while working on him.

Taco, Nemo and Johnny


Sam, Taco and Happy

Taco has spent the last 4+ years enjoying his retirement. Taco is the type of horse that gets along with everyone, so he is a popular horse in his pasture. I find it cute that one of his buddies, Sebastian, is also a Connemara cross that was imported from Ireland as a foxhunter, wound up living on Long Island, and also showed at the Hampton Classic. I have no doubt that they have some interesting stories to share with each other as they relive their glory days.

Sebastian and Taco

Taco and Mick

Sam, Taco and Happy

Taco has now been owned and loved by his family for ten years. From his start in Ireland as Dylan to his retirement as Taco in Tennessee, he has had a long and interesting life. We hope you have enjoyed meeting Taco as much as we have!


Taco, Blu and B-Rad

Happy, Taco and Miel

Happy, Murphy, Taco and Mick

Taco and Nemo

Murphy and Taco

Nemo and Taco

Mick and Taco

Johnny, Lighty and Taco

Taco, Nemo, Johnny, B-Rad and Sebastian

Taco, Quigly, Nemo and Sam

Taco and Mick

Taco and friends having a lazy day

Taco, B-Rad and Blu