December sunset over the farm.

2017 is almost over and it’s time to reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. As we do every year, we said goodbye to some wonderful animal friends in 2017…some were not surprising given their age, while others were definitely unexpected, although no more or less upsetting. It is simply the cycle of life on a farm, and while we always grieve their loss, we also celebrate their memory. And vow to not get any more animals because they’re constantly breaking my freaking heart.

And after vowing not to get any more animals, I bought myself a new pony! We welcomed a very exciting show and breeding prospect (! and we have big plans for the coming year in the performance ring. Watch for updates in 2018 on Brookside Mandalay. It’s been (quite) a few years since I showed horses on the line, so I’m a bit rusty. It will be fun. And terrifying. And expensive. But don’t tell my husband that last bit.

I was also very excited to add geese to our menagerie…a well-worded ad on CraigsList led to fantasies of delicious fresh eggs, picturesque views of happy geese floating around on our pond, cute little fluffball baby geese running around…the husband said no, but not emphatically enough, so off I drove through an early snow storm to pick up my beautiful new geese (PSA: a dog crate in the backseat of a car is a perfectly acceptable way to transport poultry, but one WILL have to clean  bird crap off the seats later). Two weeks later the silly things still wouldn’t go near the pond, didn’t like any of the multiple types of feed I offered, were scaring the heck out of the cats, and were periodically flying over the barn and into the road (actual quote from a goose info site: “…domestic geese have all but lost the ability to fly, and clipping wings is rarely necessary….”). Plus our adorable  resident foxes, that we love to watch play in the field behind the house, had taken to casually sunbathing a stone’s throw from the barnyard every time the geese were out and about.  And let me tell you, they weren’t so adorable when they were slavering over my birds. The pond would have offered some safety from predators, but since these particular geese were allergic to water, they really had no protection. Fortunately, the couple I bought them from were kind enough to take them back, although I almost changed my mind when I realized that in order to return them I had to catch them first. If you’re not aware, geese have teeth, and show them prominently when they’re in a corner hissing at you. I think picking those birds up was probably the bravest thing I’ve done in my life. But I managed to get them back into the dog crate, and this time I put down a bunch of newspaper before putting the crate back in my car. Thus ended my goose experiment, and cured me of all desire to keep poultry. Probably. Chickens might be fun though. Of course I’m not allowed on CraigsList anymore, sooo….

…Moving on! We continued the never-ending project of replacing old fencing with new, sturdy board fencing. I’m so very thankful that my husband is able (and occasionally willing) to build fences so our  only cost is the lumber….professional fencing is expen$ive! I also managed to finish up some painting projects, some of which had been started in 2015, so only a little late. Go me!

As has been the case for the last several years now, we were busy managing the cat population on the farm…we managed to trap and spay/neuter seven cats  on and around the property (some of which were full-grown ferals, and some of which were dropped-off kittens that we managed to socialize). We even helped find a home for a feral pony! We’re not sure why there’s been such an upswing on the number of cats showing up, but we’re happy to say we’re going into 2018 with everyone spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Until the next one comes along of course….just kidding, whomever is dropping them off. Please don’t.

As always, and in all seriousness, a huge thank you to our veterinarians for their outstanding care & compassion. We use and highly recommend White Oak Veterinary Practice in Amissville for our horses and Forest Lakes Veterinary Clinic in Charlottesville for the dogs and cats. Both these practices go above and beyond to keep our animals healthy and happy, and an especially big thank you to Dr. Ed Duval for assisting us in taking care of all the wild kitties. I’m sure the front office dreads seeing my number pop up on the caller ID.

Along with new opportunities and successes, 2018 is sure to bring its share of trials and hardships, but we look forward to all of it. Well, not really the trials and hardships, but you know, gotta take the good with the bad and all that.

Thanks for reading, and may the New Year bring you health & happiness.



RIP Annie, Basil, Smokey, & Jimmy. You were all so loved.