The last few days on the farm have felt like we’ve been walking uphill in both directions. The ironic part is none of our frustrations have had anything to do with horse care and very little to do with farm maintenance. It’s all been from the myriad of other stuff that comes from running a farm. We get contacted by people all the time, I would say it averages out to at least once a week, by people who want to start a retirement farm. They all have the same stars in their eyes. They think it will be all about caring for horses, playing with horses, looking out their window at the pretty horses. People glamorize boarding retired horses in a way that is extreme even for the horse world. It is great to have dreams and even better to pursue them, but not with stars in your eyes.
It goes without saying that working with horses is a major component of having a retirement farm. What never occurs to any of the people who contact us about starting a retirement farm is that the horses are only the tip of the iceberg. Horse care happens during the first part of our day. The second part of our day happens during the evenings, and don’t even mention weekends unless you want to receive dirty looks, they are all days, no weekend days. When you take care of high maintenance livestock like horses there is no such thing as a weekend. We spend equally as much time taking care of our clients and doing the non horse/farm related work that is involved with running a viable business in the evenings as we do taking care of horses during the day. There is a reason we get up and get outside to work really early every day, it adds a lot more hours to your day.
It has been all of this “after hours” work that has been very draining the last several days. Reading my emails, going through the snail mail, and looking at my phone over the last few days have all made me want to avoid communication with the outside world for awhile. However, as a responsible adult and business owner instead I’ve sighed and worked on my annual workman’s comp audit, done my best to offer fair and reasonable choices to someone whose financial circumstances have changed, advocated for my clients with a drug manufacturer about cost, inventoried certain supplies, payed bills, reconciled bank statements, etc.
As I type this at 8pm Jason is out in the farm shop trying (and probably succeeding) to repair our mower as I carry on with the other “below the tip of the iceberg” work. The common them to all of these things? You guessed it, they have nothing at all to do with horses and a lot to do with people and business management. It is surprising to me how almost no one that contacts us about what it takes to start a retirement farm wants to hear any of these things, but they are part of the package. Dream big, stay realistic, and understand from day one that a retirement farm is not just horses.
Norman and Renatta
Sparky and Igor telling each other good morning
Walden and Fabrizzio
Remmy, Baner and Hesse
Havana and Merlin
Cino and Bruno
Donneur and Lofty both staring at me with grass hanging out of their mouths
Lily and Maisie
Sabrina and Sparky
Miel and Sam having a grooming session
Sebastian and Digby
Lighty and I wasn’t sure who else . . .
. . . it was Paramount
B-Rad and Blu
Mick, Johnny, Nemo and Happy