Lunesdale Silver Belle has been here ten days now, and she’s settling in to our routine. Unlike the last time she was here, this time she is close to the house and center of activity, so she’s learning more about the human dimension of this place. For instance, she’s learned the sound of the door opening from the house and knows to peak her head out to see who is emerging. She’s getting used to snow sliding off roofs, ice forming on water buckets, dumpster lids banging closed, and mud following sunshine.
She’s also had plenty of opportunity to watch the machines that facilitate our business. In addition to pickup trucks leaving and arriving, she’s watched the bulldozer plow snow and clank about on the ice. She has seen the skid steer in its many forms, depending on the attachment, from grapple to pallet forks to bucket. She got to watch us load timbers on the flatbed trailer for a recent order. She also got to watch some of those timbers being created. One day I put her in the round pen while my husband was running the sawmill. It has two engines producing two different sounds, exhaust rises into the air, logs are raised and dropped onto the carriage, sawdust rises on wind currents, and slabs fall off and are moved to a burn pile. Silver Belle did a lot of snorting, circling, and assessing as lumber was created from logs.
Today I put her in the round pen, and it was very quiet by comparison since the sawmill wasn’t running. She took the opportunity to take a snow bath, as the snow hadn’t been disturbed so it hadn’t started to melt into the mud yet. I am enjoying watching her move when she’s at liberty there. Her breeder, Bert Morland of the Lunesdale Stud, is passionate about proper Fell Pony movement, and I know Ellie has a lot to teach me.
Ellie is open this winter for the first time in her breeding life. I feel very fortunate to know so much about her breeding history. She has had three foals by three different stallions, all of whom I met for the first time on trips to Cumbria; now they are all in this country. Elise Miller of Moonlit Fell Pony Farm has generously shared photographs of Moonlit Isabelle by Stennerskeugh Danny Boy, Moonlit Annabelle by my stallion Guards Apollo, and Moonlit Maximus by Brackenbank Romany’s Prince. I will breed her to a fourth stallion in the spring, Willowtrail Black Robin. Seeing what she has produced by these other stallions led me to this choice. I will be anxious to see what they produce and if I consider it an improvement on her other offspring.
In the mean time, I’m integrating Ellie into my days. When she arrived I had just finished giving my black Fells a copper supplement, so I started Ellie on the ten day regimen, too. It has given all the black coats a deeper color, especially the brown-blacks in my herd who fade in the summer. My goal is to eliminate the rusty highlights in manes and forelocks, not for appearances’ sake but as an indication of immune system strength. Even two weeks after the regimen, I’m seeing the ponies’ coats change. Time will tell, though, honestly, I don’t know what it will tell! Ellie is the most faded of the herd, so again I think she has a lot to teach me. I am glad she is here.