Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Paddock Paradise?

Photo: Does this look like a sedentary mule to you?

FarmWife likes this idea of a Paddock Paradise—a long track, describing a circular or irregular shape around one's property, dotted with hay, diverse footing, water, and interesting natural features to enrich the lives and the exercise habits of turned-out equines. The idea, I suppose, is that wild equines would move almost constantly through a texturally diverse geographic area—foraging, moving, foraging, moving. In a traditional paddock, stationary dining is the name of the game, and we're fatter because of it.

FarmWife believes that a Paddock Paradise would be impractical at Bent Barrow Farm, at least without a much larger gravel budget than she currently has. Because of our high rainfall and heavy clay soil, it is a constant battle to stay ahead of the mud in Wickersham. We have a decent solution now—a 3/4 acre pasture that is mostly mud-free and a small (50 ft. squarish) sacrifice paddock with gravel footing. I am restricted to this smaller area on only the wettest of days, and FarmWife sees a noticable change in my behavior at such times. I grind my teeth. I glare. I bray insistently at any sign of a potential human liberator.

When FW built this sacrifice paddock, she imagined it would be used for days at a time in the winter. Now that she knows how it makes me feel, she uses it for 12 or 18 hours—then, no matter WHAT the weather, she lets me out for some wandering. She would rather have a field full of mud than a mule full of ulcers.

If FarmWife had a couple dozen tons of gravel and an afternoon with a tractor, she'd redesign things. She'd make a well-graveled track around the perimeter of my pasture, so that lockdown wouldn't have to mean a restriction of my activity. She'd dot the track with attractions: a cozy shed here, a water trough there, a sand wallow down yonder. She'd hang small-mesh haynets from trees in all corners, encouraging me to take my meals on the go in the fashion of a wild equine.

In the meantime, FarmWife likes looking at the google images results for "Paddock Paradise." There are some interesting ideas, and she's sure she'll employ some of them in her future livestock containment endeavors. Here at Bent Barrow Farm, I take my confinement in a little square—but briefly. Freedom is fun.

Ears to you,
Fen Bar


  1. Great idea, given funds and space. Luckily, we can ride throughout the year in Florida.

  2. Mother is also enamored of the idea of the PP. She said on one of her many trips to and from Uncle Jeff's (where I lived at times to receive daily treatments for my tooth hole, she came up with the best idea for a natural boarding facility. She told her friends. She looked up natural boarding, and discovered the PP concept... which was startlingly like what she had envisioned. She was bit deflated, but owns the PP book and everything. Now she just needs property...

  3. Oh, FB, I answered your cookie queries over on my place =)


Thanks in Advance for Your Mulish Opinion!