Our journey from the start, as we try to create a frugal pony paradise from scratch so we can provide a more natural way of keeping the ponies at Frugaldom - barefoot with the freedom to roam.

Ponies at Frugaldom

This is the first in a series of articles and blogs covering our step by step process towards creating a frugal pony paradise. Until it is built, the ponies are living between the yard, the corrals and the area around the barn and we started the project about one week ago. The yard and corrals were fenced last year in local larch, which is quite an expensive way of fencing anything, but we want Frugaldom to become a wilderness retreat not only for our members and supporters but also for the wildlife and the ponies that visit tor reside within the project.

I have been researching various ways of creating a mini paradise for ponies and found myself looking at Jaime Jackson's book, Paddock Paradise. The land at Frugaldom isn't suitable for fencing into standard fields and turning livestock out to graze as is the norm, but we will have paths all around the place. Based on the concept and information on the Paradise Paddock System, our paths, some currently no wider than a footpath, will provide an ideal foundation on which to develop a track grazing system. This method of horse keeping is based on keeping them ranging around your land, foraging for their food over all types of terrain in the same way they would do in the wild. It is a holistic approach to horse husbandry that looks relatively simple to replicate in a frugal format. We can only work with what we have, so this is the account of how we are doing it.

The barn yard at Frugaldom before new fencing

October 2016 - This is the area directly in front of the hard standing that represented the barn yard

Barn yard after fencing was completed

November 2013 - yard has been fenced to incorporate an extra 5 metres of space, making it just over 20m x 20m

The yard is adjacent to the corral

March 2016 - There is a wide track area between the yard and the corral - this will be utilised for grazing

Muddy corner in yard

09 March 2016 - There is a very muddy corner in the yard that needs to be sorted out to improve it. This is where we had the tractor in before winter to scrape out all the branches and debris left over by the previous owner's logging and gardening enterprises.

Fixing the muddy corner

12 March 2016 - We laid down some weed fabric and began digging gravel and dirt from the little quarry, which is about 100m from the yard. This corner is approximately 5m x 5m, so it took a couple of days and  many wheelbarrow loads, all hand dug, to cover the membrane completely.

Gravel over the weed fabric

13 March 2016 - With 2 of us digging the gravel, carting it from the quarry and laying in in the corner to be raked over the woven membrane, it took us a couple of days to complete. You can see by the photographs that we were blessed with amazing late winter weather, despite there still beng snow lying on the distant hills.

Muddy corner filled

13 March 2016 and the corner was almost completely covered. I had placed boards and rocks around the base to hold the weed fabric in place and retain the dirt and gravel. It was certainly hard work and I hope it will be worth it.

Delivery of sand

16 March 2016 - After researching how to level the corner and provide a surface that would be ok for ponies, I settled for the cheapest sand available locally, which was £38 plus VAT per tonne bag delivered - we needed 4 to provide an adequate depth over the rubble.

4 bags of sand

The next lot of back-breaking work began and as I was working alone, I was pleased that the lorry driver had been able to get the sand right up to the yard gate. Who needs a diet when there's sand to be barrowed?

Sand over gravel

Again, the weather stayed in our favour and with all the sunshine, despite the frost in the mornings, the ground, gravel and sand were all drying out a bit.

Sand over gravel

I managed to barrow the first 2 tonnes of sand within a day of the delivery, laying it over the gravel and dirt. It was hard going, but it was already looking so much better tan the previous mud bath.

Muddy corner sorted.

Almost there - just a few more barrows to go and then I can roll the logs into place that will retain the sand on the other 2 sides. These should also help prevent the sand blowing away on dry windy days.

Yard work and making a pony play pen

18 March 2016 The weather is still holding and the muddy corner has dried out really well but there's no rest for the wicked - the hay and bedding delivery has arrived and I now have about half a tonne to shift into the barn before I can do any more yard work but it really just needs a good rake over and then the water buckets and hay feeding station filled... the ponies arrive tomorrow.


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