The only constant is change

Well, it was the late fall 2017/early winter 2018 when I started this blog to keep track of the creation of Hedgerow Farm. I really thought we would live there forever… it was such a beautiful, peaceful place and we we absolutely loved it. It was an amazing refuge during the acute phase of the pandemic, and we were very, very fortunate to have that sanctuary. So much has happened since then!

Like a lot of people I suppose, we made some lifestyle changes during that time, and one of them was moving to a new state.

We had started spending winters in FL a number of years ago, and in fact there are some pictures and thoughts from the beginning of that adventure in the chapter called “The Hedgerow Team Heads South.” A bit later, we bought a condo in Wellington, right across the street from the Global Dressage Festival, and really enjoyed having the opportunity to watch world class competition all season long. Of course, that meant boarding the horses during the winter months – the condo didn’t come with stalls!

I had a good bit of fun renovating the condo – I went very modern and monochromatic. Here are a couple pictures that show how it turned out. We did it “all at once” before we actually moved in, so it was easier than doing the piece-by-piece renos we’ve done in other homes.

It was really different from living at the farm. We felt like we had a “city condo” – but one that was literally steps from the horse show, and of course, being anywhere in Wellington is horsey heaven. Everyone is walking around in riding gear, there are tons of tack shops and feed stores and so one… my idea of heaven on earth. Getting to watch the very best riders in the world, day after day… there is just nothing like it!!

But geez, boarding.

Through the years, before we had our farm, I was fortunate to board at some really lovely facilities with some truly fantastic people. And of course, if you are a busy professional (or busy parent, etc) then having the convenience of boarding is truly a luxury.

But it is just.not.the.same as having your horses at home.

We did fall in love with Florida, and with the Wellington area in particular. We kept pushing off our return date and started looking for small farms with palm trees. As you can imagine, they are a bit of a hot commodity here. We looked at the half dozen properties that were in our price range. We had a number of substantive conversations about whether some of the properties we looked at could be renovated, or needed to be torn down so we could start over. Since we work at home, this was, er… not optimal.

We didn’t find anything that worked for us, so we went home. Back to beautiful Hedgerow and our life in GA. It was lovely, but we kept half an eye on the FL market.

And then one day, a new farm for sale popped up. It was only 5 miles from our Wellington condo, in Loxahatchee Groves. Six stalls, nice paddocks, and a huge arena with mirrors!! And the house was a ranch style, similar to what we had in GA. We were smitten, and decided to buy it.

The new Hedgerow South:

It was much smaller than the property we had in GA, and I was a bit worried about having enough paddock space. But shortly after we moved in, the land next door became available and we were able to buy it and enlarge the farm to have more paddocks, and space to hack outside of the big arena.

The arena, complete with GGT footing and full set of mirrors:

The skies are gorgeous.

The view toward the expanded paddocks/hacking field.

The barn is literally steps from the house/pool!

And so here we are, at Hedgerow South. The barn has lovely big stalls with big windows and a wide aisle. In the evening, when we sit out by the pool to enjoy the sunset, the horses are right there with us!!

And so a new adventure begins.

We spent the late summer and early fall getting the barn set up and the horses settled in. We are (mostly) unpacked and organized; the plan is to enjoy the holidays and then get started on the house. It’s got lovely bones and I am really looking forward to it … and to picking up this blog to chronicle our progress again. So much has changed, but the heart of Hedgerow is still the deep love of the horses we are so lucky to have in our family. More on the horses next time!

For now, happy holidays from the sunny south!!

More Farm Projects

Lest you think we have abandoned farm projects as we do the house…!  Oh, no – the horses wouldn’t put up with that, haha.

This past week we finally got the “bucking paddocks” done.  Well, I say done, but that’s not *quite* accurate; I’m waiting for the barrier I ordered to block off the lane to the run in shed.  But for now, the horses seem to be OK with the simple rope barrier I put up instead.

We do get a fair amount of rain here at certain times of the year, and one of the challenges we have with the amazing grass that FarmOps grows is that it can be a bit slick when wet.  So when we did the additional cross fencing of the big pastures recently, I had the fence guys put in a couple more sections to give me two smallish bucking paddocks between the arena, the sacrifice paddock and the back fields.  I would guess the small one is about 20 x 40 and the larger one maybe a bit more than double that.  We put in french drains and a gravel base so they are super stable even after a downpour.   The horses got to try them out this weekend after we had a huge storm;  it was nice that they could still get out of their stalls instead of being stuck inside (and it was also nice to have somewhere to put them out while we did the barn!)

Dry lots

It was actually incredible how much rain we got (and the real bummer is that it was gorgeous all day while we were doing chores and only started pouring when it was time to ride!!)

But we did get a really gorgeous sunset out of it…

Sunset over Hedgerow

A farm is always a work-in-progress

Which is part of the fun, I think.

This spring, we’ve started to work on the house.  I think it might have been in one of my very first little posts that I talked about painting the house in white with black or grey trim.  That finally happened and I love it.  It was painted to match the barn, of course.   Here is the before and after:

We’re doing some work on the interior as well.  The kitchen is probably the biggest project so far.   The original space wasn’t the biggest, but it was functional.  However, the cabinets were likely original to the house, and not in very good condition, and the storage was pretty limited.  So we bit the bullet, installed new cabinetry and a new counter and backsplash, and extended the storage into what had been a small  hallway to the laundry room to create a butler’s pantry.  We’re pretty happy with how it’s coming along.  The painters are actually here today to do some finish work, and then we’ll move on to the great room.

For those who like the before and after comparison, here is the start and, er… middle I guess.  Not quite finished yet!

Old kitchen for blog
From this …

New kitchen with backsplash
to this…

We’ve still got to put in the pot filler, and replace the chairs.  But it’s coming along.

Lest you think the ponies have been totally forgotten, we are still working on more options for turnout.  We’ve had a drainage system installed in the area leading to the back pasture, which will soon become a couple of small all weather paddocks for use in wet conditions.  And we’ve decided to cross fence two of the larger pastures so that we have more flexibility with respect to turnout and pasture rotation.  That should be done in a couple of weeks.

It’s always something! But great fun.

The Hedgerow team heads south!


So… as previously mentioned, after getting quotes for the covered arena, we realized we could spend quite a lot of winter time in FL for the same price, and we could enjoy much warmer temperatures in addition to all the nice sunshine!  That was an easy decision, LOL.  It is such a gorgeous place – each farm is more gorgeous than the last.

Welly coveredWelly lakewelly landscapingWelly pretty scenery

The horses settled in really well and I think they’ve enjoyed the change as well.  I wasn’t sure how well they would travel together – they can be a little snarky to each other in the barn.  As a precaution, I put the solid headwall back into the trailer and gave both boys huge nets of tasty alfalfa to occupy them on the journey, and all went well.  They are now stabled next to each other in a barn that has the nice grilled dividers and interestingly enough, they are now acting like besties.  Go figure.

Welly special paddock

Wellington in winter is equestrian mecca.  The sheer number of gorgeous horses and talented riders is simply amazing.  And oh, the shopping. Geez.  You could really go crazy!! We’ve been going to Global to watch the CDIs and wow, is the quality incredible.  Such an inspiration.

Global arena

It does give you a really clear mental picture of what this sport is supposed to look like (!) which is great motivation for my own lessons. Feeling very blessed to have this opportunity.

Welly riding



So once again it has been awhile since I have posted an update, but after receiving a (very nice!) comment from a reader, I realized I had never posted the actual “after” picture of the barn.  It took me forever to choose the paint colors, and we’ve started focusing on improvements to the house vs. the pony facilities lately, which let me procrastinate on that decision.  But we’re heading into cooler/wetter weather now and wanted to get the barn painted before that really kicked in.

So… here is what we chose.  I am very happy with how it turned out!

Barn new paintBarn with new paint from ring

We did end up painting the cupola as well – same colors as the barn doors.  I keep forgetting to take a photo of that!  But surprisingly, it is especially pretty at night.

Barn at night.JPG

Still needs more landscaping and so on but that will get done in the spring.

The next “horsey” project is to fence the arena.  This was another issue that we really debated.  I love the open look of the training surface we put in, and for now we have deferred the idea of covering it; that would require a variance and I just don’t have the bandwidth for that project at the moment.  (Plus, once we got the quotes on the construction, I realized I could winter in FL with both the in-training horses for YEARS for that kind of money, LOL.)  So – for now, that is the plan, and the arena has gone on the, “maybe someday,” list.

But back to the arena fencing.

As I mentioned, late fall and winter here is generally quite rainy.  We have worked so hard to improve the pastures, while still allowing the horses to have the maximum amount of turnout, and have been pretty darn successful.  Well, I say we… but really it is my fabulous husband who has done all the work.  (He now refers to himself as “FarmOps.”)  We had grass even through our late summer drought, when other farms in the area all looked really crispy.   But we all know what shod hooves do to nice grass when it’s super wet, and when that goes on for weeks or months… it’s really tough on the turnouts.

The obvious solution would be dry lots, or a sacrifice area.  And originally, that was the plan.  But the one paddock that would be best suited to that kind of conversion – the one with the run in shed – also (of course!!) has the Best.Grass.On.The.Property.   I mean, perfect, lush, yummy grass.  All the time.

It’s because of where that paddock sits, toward the back of the farm and in a spot that holds water fairly well next to the creek.  There are some nice shade trees too, which helps in the summer.  I just can’t bear to tear it all out.   And the other spot I might use, which is the smaller paddock close to the  barn that we refer to as the sacrifice paddock, has really gotten re-established so the grass in there is good too.  Plus, when it is super wet out, the slope by the gate there makes it sub-optimal, even with all the reinforcement we installed last year with the 57-stone.

So that leaves me with the option of fencing the arena, and using that as an option of last resort, so to speak, for getting the horses out in bad weather.   I have been very impressed with the way that surface holds up to water, and even when we’ve had very fresh (dare I say naughty?) horses – they have never punched through to the base, and the surface is never the least bit slick or slippery.    It’s not ideal, and I am sure my arena contractor would be horrified, but we built this place for the horses’ welfare, and if that means that every spring I need to do some extra maintenance on it, I’m prepared to do that.  So we’ll see what happens.  The fencing goes in next week, weather permitting.

Peace on Earth!

It has been awhile since I’ve written… and that is mostly because we have been busy enjoying the farm.  There is always something to do;  it’s a farm, after all.  But this is the quiet season, and for the most part, we’ve just been taking some time to look around and consider how incredibly lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.

Hedgerow Solstice front yard

On Sundays, I am usually the first one stirring, and my favorite part of the day is going out to feed the horses.  Even though we are in the south, it gets cold enough here some nights that I close the doors up at night check in the late evening;  the horses really enjoy having their windows popped back open so they can enjoy the view while having breakfast.  And truly, is there anything in the world more satisfying than the sounds of horses munching on their breakfast?   I put a coffee maker in the tack room so I could sit out there with a hot drink and hang out to enjoy it.

We also have visitors 🙂   The Heron is one of my favorites, and he comes almost daily.  Here he is enjoying his “beach” a few days ago:

Heron Beach

As you might expect, we have learned a lot over this first year here.  One of the things we’ve been experimenting with is different approaches to pasture management.  We are very fortunate to have good, established pastures for the most part.  My DH, who now refers to himself as, “FarmOps,” has done a fantastic job of maintaining the farm so that the horses always have tasty grass to enjoy.  (I am the one buying muzzles and counting the minutes out on that tasty grass, LOL.)   We also changed the configuration of the pastures to some extent, first by necessity when we were installing the arena and had to move some fencing around, and then later by design when I wanted more flexibility for turnout, particularly during rainy months.

Hedgerow Solstice Middle PastureHedgerow Solstice SunUp

When we arrived, about a quarter of the property consisted of one really big back pasture.  We used it a lot during the summer, because it goes all the way down to the creek, and has a quite a bit of nice shade.   This time of year, though, the lower half stays a bit wet, and particularly with the new horse in the mix, it made more sense to put a fence through it to create a new paddock on the upper portion.  This created a nice, fairly level, well drained turnout paddock and also allows me better use of the side pasture, since I can ensure that all the horses have a bit of company in sight, even if my neighbors’ horses are elsewhere.

New back pasture fence

We’ve been making very good use of our Solarium, too.  Well, some of us have.  My new horse is convinced it is terrifying.  Every time I bring him in to the wash stall, he stops, cranes his neck up to look at it, and does that half-snort, half blow-y noise that lets me know he is not a fan.  Poor guy.  He sees the other horses hanging out with it on and you would think he’d figure out it feels NICE.  But it hasn’t happened so far.  Oh, well.  Everything in its own time.

Dallas Solarium

The next project is to improve the lighting in both the aisle and the wash stall.  But for now it is fairly functional, and having those heat lamps really makes for a nice environment when grooming or tacking up on a cold day.

Speaking of which, it’s supposed to rain later today, but right now it is beautiful out.  Off to go ride some ponies.   Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Christmas tree 2018

Life on the Farm

When I think about all the years I dreamt about having a farm, the thing that strikes me is that I underestimated how much I would just love the lifestyle.   But we really enjoy the atmosphere of having the horses at home … not to mention the other creatures!!

And we have some creatures, let me tell you.  Owls, hedgehogs, even coyotes.  We have one really beautiful heron that comes every day to have a snack in the creek:


We also have some good size turtles, and one rather large black snake.  I have to confess, even though I know Snakes.Are.Good, he kind of freaked me out.


He’s harmless (unless you are a mouse or similar) but geez. That whole slithering thing.  Yikes.  In fairness, though, we don’t seem to have any mice or rats anywhere on the farm. Credit where due and all that.  🙂

We’ve also been working on landscaping the arena, and I have to admit I am enjoying that project quite a lot.   We hosted a clinic here a couple weekends ago and it was fun to show off the farm a bit.  We still have SO much to do, but it feels like it is coming together really nicely.

We also took a field trip of sorts over the long weekend and finally got back to the show ring.  We are already qualified for Regionals at Training level but thought we might take a swing at also qualifying for First.  Let’s just say it was a stretch goal since we’ve never actually put that whole test together at home, but JJ was awesome and rocked it.  We squeaked through the first test with a 62.5 but nailed it for a 66.7 the second time around so I am really pleased.

JoJo Conyers trot Labor Day 2018

Wow, we’re getting there!

So, lots has happened in the last few weeks.  We have made quite a lot of progress lately and it’s starting to look like “a real farm,” as my husband puts it.   The horses seem to really love it here and are doing well on their longer turnout schedules.  We do wait to put them out in the morning til the dew is off the grass to save their feet, but there is plenty of shade so even in the heat of the day they can get out of the sun if they care to.  (They mostly don’t seem to care!)

Horses front pasture day one

The barn is also allllllllmost finished.  I still have some trim to paint inside, and the HVAC pro will be coming on Wednesday to install the mini-split (heat & AC) in the tackroom so it will be completely climate controlled.  But all the other fixtures are up and it is starting to come together.

Tackroom window organization

Tackroom mirror organization

We’ve also gotten a nice routine down for the barn maintenance.  Mondays are our big clean up days – pretty much everything gets washed with Lysol!  But between this and our normal daily routine, we have pretty much eliminated bugs entirely. Makes for a much more pleasant barn experience, for both humans and horses.

Aisle showing hay barn organization

Barn Aisle organization

We also got the solarium installed, yay!!! It’s hot here at the moment but hey – WINTER IS COMING.  And you know what that means.  We don’t want to be cold!!!  No worries though; our fantastic solarium from Wilsun Customs will keep us toasty!  And we got our water heater serviced too, to make sure that we have that hot water available whenever needed.

Solarium yay

We’ve really been enjoying the arena since it was finished about a month ago.  It has been worth the wait – thank goodness.   We ended up installing boards around the perimeter, and backfilling those with stone to ensure that we had good drainage but protected the footing, which has worked well.  The horses love the FutureTrack surface.

Ring organization

Finally, the pastures have been holding up really well too; big thanks to my HorseHusband who spent the entire spring getting them into top condition so they would be well established and healthy before we hit the heat of summer.

Fields organization

We had a fantastic fencing vendor who built us several new smaller paddocks near the barn so we’d have some great options in addition to the big open pastures we already had when we moved in.

Pasture organization


So … about that patience issue…

Not going to lie, it has been kind of a challenging week.

When we first discussed the arena renovation, several months ago, the estimated time to completion was, and I kid you not, about six days of actual work.  Of course, that depended on the weather cooperating, materials being available and so on.  Turns out, the weather actually did *not* cooperate; we had an incredibly rainy spring.  It really wasn’t such a big deal, as we were doing lots of other projects on the farm and it wasn’t ready for horses anyway.

But once the barn was done and the tackroom came together, and we had amassed all the other stuff that was needed – things like the cool new manure spreader! – it really started to feel like that arena needed to get FINISHED.

And that was supposed to happen this week.  Sigh.

The plan was to have the sand delivered Wednesday and Thursday, and then to install the fiber Thursday afternoon.   On Wednesday morning, I woke up quite early. From excitement, you think?  Um, no… from the tractor headlight that got turned on shining right into my bedroom window at 5 am, actually.  One thing you can’t say about the amazing Jack Pollard (of Future Track fame) is that he’s not committed.  I don’t think the guy ever sleeps.  The first trucks rolled in that morning and started dumping sand.  What a process!  Those trucks are seriously heavy, and carried 15 TONS of sand per load, so one of the things we were worried about was ensuring that they backed straight onto the arena surface, and then drove straight off – turning those suckers around on the arena could have done damage to the base.


We were also anxious to get the work done while we had good, dry weather, because we didn’t want the trucks getting bogged down or stuck (or unnecessarily tearing up the yard between the road and the ring, in the back corner of the farm.)

At first, everything seemed to be going well.  By afternoon, though, I could see Jack pacing and spending a bunch of time on his cell phone.  Turns out, we were supposed to get three trucks each delivery, making 2 deliveries per day.  We only got 2 trucks (so four loads delivered) on Wednesday, leaving us short of the material we expected.  Jack was assured that the balance would all be delivered the following day, so it wasn’t the end of the world, and I was really excited to see the arena coming together.



After each load of sand was dumped, the guys went out with the skidsteer to spread it.  It’s installed just a couple of inches deep in preparation for being mixed with the fiber.

On Thursday, we were making pretty good progress but it still seemed like we were getting fewer trucks than expected.  This sand is pretty special; it requires extra processing/screening to create a material that feels a lot more like flour than sand.  It sets up differently than regular sand and binds to the fiber, apparently.  But by the end of the day, we were still short of the material we needed, and it was about to rain.

And oh, did it rain.   Not for long, but it came down really hard.


Hey, it’s Mother Nature, what can you do?

The good news, though, is that we didn’t lose any material out of the arena.  It was a huge relief to me, for sure. Once all the footing is in, we will edge the ring with landscape timbers, but we aren’t at that point yet and I am always terrified that all my nice fancy footing is going to wash away into the creek.

Anyway, it meant that we were STILL waiting for more sand on Friday.  Poor Jack; he was literally spending every day just sitting at my house waiting for those trucks.  But finally, the truck arrived!  Jack and his team had moved a bunch of gravel and base material to the end of my driveway as well as to the area at the entrance to the ring in an attempt to keep the trucks from destroying those areas, since it was still wet from the rain.  We held our breath to see if it would work.  And it did!

Sadly, when it dumped the sand, though… it was the WRONG sand.


You can see the difference, right?  The stuff in the pile on the left looks and feels like beach sand.  The proper sand on the right side of the picture is an entirely different color and texture.  It feels like powder, or flour.

And because of the issue getting the truck in and out on the wet ground, the wrong sand got dumped on top of the good sand.  So it couldn’t just be scooped up easily to be removed.  The guys did a great job getting it out of the arena without losing too much of the good sand, but boy, were we all disappointed.

And we were still short of the sand we needed.  You can see below that it was just the last corner left uncovered… so frustrating.


Did I mention the quarry is 2 1/2-3 hours away?  Depending on traffic, the round trip for those trucks takes 5-6 hours.   So we were stuck waiting again, hoping we could get that final load in before the skies opened up again on Friday afternoon.  It didn’t happen.  The rain came down in buckets for quite a while before the truck finally arrived again around 6:30 pm.   We did not dare try to send it down to the ring for fear of getting the truck stuck down there.   So, the last load got dumped at the top of the driveway, and will have to be moved manually.

Best laid plans and so on… here’s to practicing more patience!!

Patience is a virtue… right?

They say the Universe keeps sending you lessons until you learn them.  I guess I haven’t *quite* mastered the patience thing yet.

But we ARE making progress! (Finally!)

The electricians came yesterday to run power and install the outlets at the top of each stall for the fans, which is awesome because it has gotten really hot here really fast this year.  Unfortunately the fans they brought were not the correct ones, and it turns out that adding the extra outlet above the wash stall for the solarium requires more power than they initially anticipated… and that means we have to trench over to the shop to run power from there, install a new panel, and THEN they can install everything.  Sigh.

The arena construction is going well, though. We woke up pretty early this morning when there were suddenly a bunch of headlights running around in the pasture behind the house.  I don’t normally expect contractors at 5am 😉  But they were worried about ensuring the sand delivery drivers didn’t ruin the base while they were delivering their loads this morning. Sure enough, the big trucks started showing up about a half hour later.  We’ll get about 12 loads of sand today, and that will be mixed with the fiber footing to create the riding surface.

Sand in the arena

We’ve also decided to create a “bridge” into the arena; the water management system deflects water around the edges of the ring, but that means the entrance to the arena could get soggy in wet weather.  So the guys are putting in a pipe to carry the water under that entry area, and creating a path above it so we won’t have to deal with a muddy area after it rains.

That’s about all I have for updates on the farm at the moment. We did take a few days off last weekend to go show at the beautiful international  horse park in Tryon.  What a gorgeous show grounds – it’s absolutely my favorite place to compete.  The barns are beautiful and the entire facility is first class.  Great footing, plenty of room to hack, school and show, and the amenities are incredible.  It did not hurt that we were stabled in pretty much the best barn – right across from the big jumper ring, and across the horse path from the Silo Bar! The non-competing members of the team (also known as our families, grin) particularly enjoyed that aspect of the trip.  I was super pleased with JJ, who has just moved up to First level.  He got scores of 68.8., 67.4 and 67.2 with some great comments from the three different judges.  Time to start thinking about learning test 3 so we can take a shot at qualifying for Regionals this summer. (He is already qualified at Training, so we are going for sure!)


JJ Test 1 1 at Tryon