Through Facebook we chatted and she signed up for some workshops and events here at the farm (Arrows Rising and Antlerstock). I saw a lot of Sara last fall and was so impressed with her smarts, bravery to travel and try new things, and her passion for the Simple Life. We became fast friends. Now she is seriously considering her homestead dreams and changing her life from Toronto-based designer to homesteading-based designer... exciting stuff I can relate to! So why am I telling you about Sara? After all, her story is like so many of the friends I made through this little website. But I'm talking about Sara this morning because yesterday I got to see that girl interact with her dream horse - the Gypsy Vanner. And how could I not share the story of a fellow dreamer looking in the eyes of her own happy future!
Sara's from Ontario, but a few times a year house sits for good friends of mine here in Veryork (folks she met through the CAF scene), watching their 40+ acre Farm and animals as her own haycation when they go on away. She loves it. A quiet farm with rolling hills, a lake, trails, horses and sheep to herself while she works off her laptop. All of us can get that appeal!
Gypsy Vanner, an Irish breed of horse that is hard to not love. These animals are sturdy, easy keepers, with the kind of hair that makes my 14-year old self squirm with joy. If you know me at all, you know that the Fell Pony is my dream horse and always will be, but even my Dark Horse leanings can't help but fawn over the Vanners. They are built and sized just like a Fell Pony, but with a temperament like golden retrievers. After all, these animals were the family cart horse - needing to be around children and the elderly as well as experienced horsefolk.
There are at least two Gypsy farms around here, and one is small and sweet and just an eight minute drive from my barn. Thanks again, to Facebook, I got in touch with Sugar Hill Acres. I told her about my love of small drafts and my Fell and how my friend Sara was visiting and this was her dream horse. Misha, the farm's owner, was happy to oblige and so we set up an appointment time.
Yesterday was a lovely day, sunny and mild. In the afternoon we got to visit Sugar Hill, as planned, and both Sara and I were excited. We arrived to the mountain-top farm and the view was breathtaking. And if the mountains weren't lovely enough, the fact that these horses were waiting to greet us, that was icing on the carrot cake. There were two mares and one of their foals (the other mare is pregnant!) and they were so gregarious and sweet. The little foal walked around us with that Great-Dane-awkwardness of a 6-week old and charmed my socks off. I can't say I wasn't a little smitten at the whole thing.
Sara, Misha and I talked for a while. We talked horses and homesteads and she was so welcoming and polite. I may have discovered another local trail riding buddy. Can you picture Merlin and a Gypsy Vanner Mare riding through the Autumn forest, be still my heart! Misha had a baby monitor with her to listen in on the newest addition to the family that wasn't a horse, her three-week-old newborn in the house. I was extra glad I brought her a bottle of wine when I saw she had fillies and babies to care for going into fall. Suddenly Cold Antler Farm felt a lot more manageable! Thank you Misha, for letting us be a part of your farm for a little while and meeting your lovely mares.
This is what I love about the Homesteading Dream in 2015! You can pick up a book written by a stranger and through the amazing powers of the internet, end up looking your dream horse in the eye. I'm rooting hard for Sara's homestead and future Gypsy horse. She'll find a way to turn that hope into something real like as all of us will who are more stubborn than we are practical. Those are traits I admire.
That might be a very "pony" way of looking at this world but it got me this far, and I'll take that over practicality any day.
middle photo from vanners.org