While Anne has been holding down the fort at our advertising agency, which we’ve built and owned for almost 30 years, I’ve been spending an enormous amount of my time and physical energy working on a personal project I can only describe as a labor of love.
Both of us are on the other side of 55 years old, but still a few years from 60. And as far as we’re concerned, as long as our health permits it, we will never stop building our dreams.
In this case, we’re building an Equestrian Center (Maple Ponds Equestrian Center) where people can come and participate with their own horses. We‘ve created a Hunter Jump Field, an Event Course through part of our Pine Forest, and a lengthy Trail System of several miles through our Hardwood Forest.
Before we started building on this property, there was nothing but 12 acres of untended hay fields and 54 acres of thickly grown bush, most of which was soggy unusable mosquito infested lands.
But, within the space of just 1 year, we’ve managed to dry out the soggy earth by creating beautiful ponds and streams, and have built a home, barn and complete farming infrastructure.
We’ve reclaimed the hay fields by harrowing the soil, over-planting with the best mix of hayseed for the needs of our horses. And yesterday, in anticipation of the coming rain, I fertilized the fields.
A few weeks ago, I planted more than 300 trees (250 genetically modified Poplar, and 50 Silver Maples) in the front of our property, and will plant 100 Red Pines today.
From day one (a year ago), we’ve built a series of paddocks where the horses have continuous access to shade, shelter and running water. And within this same period, we’ve also removed tons upon tons of rocks (by hand) from these paddocks so our horses (even though they are shod) will not suffer stone bruises.
When winter finally fell this year, we enlisted the help of nine neighbors who heat their homes with firewood to help us open the trails.
If there is a better symbiotic relationship than men cutting dead wood to open trails for us, while at the same time they each save thousands of dollars by not having to purchase wood with which to heat their homes, I don’t know it.
So, with their hard work (me amongst them), we managed to open miles of meandering trails throughout our property without disturbing the wildlife or their habitat.
And as a matter of absolute fact: not only did we not harm the flora and fauna, we actually improved what was there by adding protective cover from the cut-off branches for the small animals like mice, squirrels, rabbits and fox. And we created easy to travel paths through the forest for the deer and coyotes. Their tracks are everywhere.
People will visit our Equestrian Center with their own horses and can stay overnight in their own trailers and/or tents. Or they can stay in one of our cabins. We provide paddocking for the horses, with bathrooms and showers for the visitors.
Or people can visit with their own horses and just spend the day.
I write this for several reasons:
1 – This is an explanation why I have not been writing as much as I usually do. I’m spending far too much time having fun building an environment and a dream.
2 – This is to let people who are past their 50’s know that life can just be getting going if that’s what they want. If Anne and I can dream about a whole new lifestyle, and then make it happen with our very own hard labor, so can most other people.
3 – This incredible project did not cost nearly what it could or perhaps should have, since it was done with people who had separate yet mutual interests in making it happen, like the trade-off for firewood.
Another example of how to get things done with benefits all around is student labor. We employed all the young people (from 17 years old) who wanted to work pruning and picking up stones and debris from the trails. And when I write all the young people, I mean just that. Any young person willing to put in the labor was hired.
We didn’t seek, nor did we ask for help from government student programs, since we believe that the least one gets involved with the government the better it is. And we don’t believe that taxpayers should be paying for our investment.
4 – Everything I just wrote was accomplished at record speed with low costs by people who wanted to make it happen, without the need of committees and special oversight groups.
This is to say; that what we achieved within one year at almost no cost, is what most governments couldn’t do in years without huge costs. And what we did, was done well.
And now that the Equestrian Center is mostly built and just about ready for business, there will be a host of outstretched government hands reaching for “their” piece of our pie, while telling us how we must operate according to their rules.
I guess there are more than just one or two anecdotes tied to this tale. Hopefully, one of them will be of interest to you. And besides, I’d rather write about this than the usual gloom and doom.