Our Paddock Paradise Plan

Our ultimate goal for Pony Playland isn’t just for people (especially children) to be able to come and enjoy the horses/ponies, it’s for our horses and/or ponies to get the most out of their lives here, too. That is why we’re planning to develop a Paddock Paradise, or Track System here. It’s still a fairly new concept here in New Zealand, but we’re ready for the challenge–and the fun!

So, here is our current proposed map (it changes as new ideas/information is gathered, but not a whole lot):

Our Paddock Paradise plan

You’ll see we’ve got two paddocks designated as Hay paddocks. That’s because neither of these paddocks are accessible without going on the road, so I’d prefer not to include them in the plan, and if we can grow most of our own hay, all the better!

We’re hoping to plant some food-bearing trees to suit the areas available to them (some will need to love wet areas!). These would help feed our family, but hopefully also those who come to visit.

Our track system will effectively consist of two halves. One side will pretty much surround our house (I love watching the horses run past the window!), and the other will loop through and around the large pockets of native trees we are going to plant in our 5-acre paddock. It’s this 5-acre paddock that I picture when I envision future Christmas celebrations, the sparkly lights and Christmas songs floating through the trees, and ponies pulling carts (…”in a one-horse open sleigh…”).

We suffered flood damage at the end of July (Cedar Creek goes from a pretty steady flow to crazy fast, and back to normal, very quickly in heavy rainfall), which has wiped out a few of our fences (luckily the horses are currently in the paddock marked “Normally closed off” as this is the best paddock for them at this time, anyway). But from potential tragedy comes new dreams. We’re planning to realign the fence that currently follows the stream to go straight across to the driveway. It will open up the entrance to our property to make it more accessible to the public, and potentially give us a car park. We will likely have to reinstate a fence along the creek for health and safety, but we will work on that as funds allow.

One of our fences pushed over by floodwater

Another feature I’d like to invest in as funds become available (We’re a hard-working family! We’ll get there!) is a playground. I’ve toyed with a few possible locations, but with the fence realignment, I really like the idea of having the playground down there near the creek. It’ll make it more accessible, and it’ll mean kids can play there and say ‘hi’ to the ponies as they meander along their track.

So, the first part of the track to be set up will be a little square around the “Standing Hay” paddock. It will grow grass to a hay stage in the middle and the horses will be allowed in there for short periods of time. The second step will be to extend the track up around the back of the house to that top left corner in the image above. Behind the house is a nice steep climb, so it will be great for their muscles.

It’s likely that the three ponies we currently have (miniatures Chino and Micki, and Welsh x Diego) will stay in that track for quite some time while we get the 5-acre paddock planted out in trees. Then we’ll put in fencing as money allows and eventually they will be able to alternate between tracks, and even sometimes have the run of the whole place. Imagine watching them go, then!

Peacock vs Rooster


Long time no post. It seems to be our way, at the moment, to be busy and have very little time to sit down and reflect. Today is my writing day for the week. I really should be using it to write fiction, but I have this burning desire to share this story in order to add to the collective information about peacocks.

John the protective peacock


When we bought this place, a peacock (now named John) and a peahen (now named Sam) were in residence, along with a couple of chickens. We were happy to take these on, and popped out regularly to feed them even before we were allowed to move in, as the place had already been empty for some time.


Soon after we moved in, I spied a rooster making his way across our paddocks, getting slightly further each day. It took him about a week to find our chickens. We asked our neighbour if he was missing a rooster. He wasn’t. We heard nothing else about anyone missing a rooster, and he seemed to make our girls happy, so we let him stay.

Peacock and peahen on our roof

John and Sam on our roof

However, he once intimidated my, then 5-year-old, son. My son wasn’t hurt, and it seemed to be an isolated incident, so we treaded warily, but still friendly with the rooster.

Then, one morning while I was out feeding the birds, the rooster came at me. Luckily I had my gumboots on and could defend myself. I don’t know if he particularly didn’t like my red dressing gown, or if he didn’t like that I fed “his” girls and was therefore a threat. But, from then on, I was extremely wary when I fed the birds and was careful not to turn my back on the rooster (he never got a name).

At my dad’s suggestion, we had a go at intimidating the rooster, chasing him while waving sticks. Well, my dad and my son could chase the rooster around the house this way. He ran from them. But me? Nope. He stood his ground, and then I found that I had to finish what I had started and had to battle him again…

It made living here less pleasant having him around. We had to look out for him any time we went outside and make sure we knew where he was. My son couldn’t go down to his trampoline alone, and I had to be alert while supervising. Not nice at all.

The Rooster...

That’s him… he was quite beautiful, really

Just before Christmas, I was trying to help one of the three peachicks catch up to mum (it was weak and didn’t survive many more days, but at the time I thought I could help). Again, it was morning and I was in my red dressing gown. Before I could quite get the chick back to mum, I sensed the rooster behind me. I managed to back up to our front door and ask my son to get his dad to help with the peachick while I dealt with the rooster. I also asked my son to hand me my walking pole (like a ski pole, but for trampers; my dad had given it to me for such circumstances).

Sam with her two surviving peachicks

Sam with the two surviving peachicks.

The rooster had me cornered, now. With gumboots on, and metal pole in hand, we had a duel. Luckily for me, I only ended up with a scratch on my wrist. But that rooster was not going to back down, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of a drawn-out battle/stand-off. If I managed to slip inside, run away, what message would that send to the rooster?

Then in came John, the Peacock. He appeared from beneath our deck, and jumped on the rooster’s back!

The rooster took off, with John after, but soon returned, with me still in his sights.

But, again, John came in from behind and pounced on the rooster, ending up with black feathers in his feet.

This second time, the rooster got the message. John was not going to put up with the rooster messing with his human.

My heart swelled.

John peacock splaying his tail

John in full midwinter display

I had never heard of loyalty in peacocks.

I’m sure it’s just a matter of John understanding who feeds him, but regardless… I dashed inside and back out with an extra ration for John that day.

Sadly, that incident was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It was no longer just unpleasant to have the rooster around, it was dangerous with two young kids, and hoping to have more kids come to spend time with our animals. But never fear, I can assure you that his end was quick and humane.

And I still treat John with a great deal of respect, because I believe it is mutual.

Posted by: Debbie

Welcome 2017

Well, here we are. It’s 2017.

2016 certainly had its ups and downs for us.

We moved into our new property in February 2016. We’ve started living our dream, and paying the price with a massive mortgage.

To our family, we welcomed standardbred-cross horses Lorde (bay–darker) and Fern (buckskin–paler):

Lorde and Fern horses

Later in the year, we said goodbye to Fern, as we needed a little cash. She now lives in Invercargill.

We also welcomed Welsh Pony (3/4) cross (1/4 Kaimanawa) Diego:

His perlino colouring and beautiful proportions make him quite the stunner.

Continue reading

Here we are…

Not only have we finally moved in, but we’ve been here two weeks! My goodness, how time flies.

The move went about as smoothly as could be expected for a family with far too much stuff, five-year-old and 11-week-old boys, and a dog, and a cat to move. Actually, it went very well. Pixie (the cat) arrived around 10.30pm, just before Lindsay’s cousin Heidi & family (husband Allan, and daughter Grace) pulled in to stay for the weekend. Needless to say, Pixie spent a good chunk of the weekend under the house. But, the point is, she stayed, and once we had the house to ourselves, she settled in very well.

So one task of the first two weeks has been about getting used to Continue reading

Pixie. Our Tabby and white cat.

Meet the crew: Pixie

Pixie was the last of three girl kittens born to a cat that belonged to a friend of ours back in 2003. We were present as she emerged, tail first.

I picked her because she had one grey and white sister with all pink toes, one solid grey sister with all black toes, and Pixie was white and tabby with a mix of pink and black toes. She also had Continue reading

Chino the miniature horse up close

OK. I’m excited again.

What a roller-coaster.

Finally, our house sold so we could close the deal on the lifestyle block. Or, for simplicity’s sake, “the farm”–if 9.5 acres can be classed as a farm. Farmlet? Well, it’s probably as big a farm as I’ll ever manage, so it’ll do.

So, all those dreams I started having months back are possible, in one form or another. And after months of curtailing them just in case we missed out, I’m allowed the open the flood gates again; dreaming and making plans.

Strangely enough, it was slow going at first. I’d dulled my hopes regarding the farm all through having our current home on the market because, even though we had an accepted offer on the farm, there was always the chance that someone could come in with a better offer that didn’t rely on a house sale and all would be over. So, I trained myself not to dream, not to be excited.

Then everything went through, but it took another couple of weeks for it to sink in and for me to get excited again. And then I’ve been busy with a new baby, so that’s also curtailed my sharing here (time).

Our plans are developing.

We’ve been talking to people with more experience of living on the land; gathering contacts and collecting ideas. And I’m back to dreaming, which is super fun.

So watch this space. I’ll be sharing our plans from idea to fruition. From a native walk to a playground. From hay paddocks to horses. From kittens to the garden. We’re going to attempt to do it all.

Community Sharing and the Joy of Giving

At the end of last week I joined a Facebook group called Kai Care Dunedin (in Maori, kai means food).

The idea behind the group (not the first of its kind) is that people who have excess food can post what they have and someone in need can get in touch with them to arrange drop-off or collection. (It’s my understanding that there are similar groups run in other regions, and if your own region doesn’t have one, maybe you could set one up if you like the idea.)

As someone who’s (all going well…) about to get stuck into food growing, via a good-sized vege patch and some fruit trees, this idea excites me greatly. I love being able to help people… it alleviates any guilt I have about living my dream, especially as I know so many don’t and may never have the opportunity to live theirs. The least I can do is share mine where it’s wanted. So, with a big question mark over our successful purchase (we still have to get our house to market… we’re working our tails off to make it worth enough money to help us afford the one we want), and then a baby due to arrive, I realise I may not have a huge haul of vegetables and fruit this year, but there are future years, yet. And so I have joined this group with the future in mind. If I can get something growing this summer (all fingers crossed), I’ll be on that group’s wall sharing what I can.

Gardening in a greenhouse

My efforts at vege growing before our local wind destroyed my plastic green house

My excitement at even the potential possibility tells me something about myself… Continue reading

Dunedin. What’s it got?

I know a lot of tourists to New Zealand either cap their travels at the North Island, or they venture south for the picturesque Central Otago or West Coast. Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning locations with a bunch of stuff to see and do. Those beautiful mountains, stunning waterfalls, ski fields, bungee jumping, and river rafting. They’re all there. It’s also worth remembering sunny Nelson with its great vibe, and local Saturday market. Kaikoura is also beautiful, and if you’re into whale watching it’s the place to go.

What about Dunedin? Why do I think it’s worth your while coming here? Well, gosh, where to begin?

For me personally, there are two big features that matter more than anything:
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Hello world!

Well, we did it.

We made an offer on a slice of future paradise and our offer has been accepted (pending the sale of our current home, as this is a big financial deal for our family). So, there’s still a slim chance this could all fall through, but I hope not, and I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you.

The place has a beauty all it’s own to begin with, but I mean it when I say “Watch this space”. I’ve got an extensive list of plans for the place, including planting fruit trees and a vege garden to feed our family and guests, and creating a New Zealand native pocket of paradise. The plan is to plant native trees, shrubs, etc that will in turn attract NZ birds, frogs, insects, and bees (non-native fully welcomed!). In amongst all that, I will indulge myself with a couple of miniature horses.

One of the first things we will do is offer our home to couch surfers. We look forward to hosting guests visiting Dunedin and hearing your travel stories.

Part of the longer term plan is to build a “Writer’s Retreat” cottage, with its own private garden, for guests who wish for a little peace and quiet to hire for short periods.

And, who knows? Maybe down the track someone will like to have their wedding at our home (conveniently situated across the road from a B&B, and only a 15-20 minute drive to the centre of Dunedin itself). I may even get signed up as a celebrant myself…

There’s a sizable deck, and my husband plays in a rock band, so I also envision a few concerts over the years… anyone want to bring a tent and camp out?

The property offers us a few challenges as owners (oooh, I love a challenge), with a few damp patches that we will work to either encompass into the overall plan (frog pond, mini wetland), or dry out as much as we can.

So… here is my dream. Join me on it…

Loose plan for garden and pasture

Here is a loose plan to begin with… although, I envision a much more intricate garden design as time allows.

Other plans include:

  • A walking/miniature horse carting track
  • A place for the horses to drink from the shallow creek where their hooves won’t chop it up (strengthening the ground and putting obstacles in their way in other places (rocks, thick shrubs…)
  • Hedging to reduce highway noise (yes, that road near the centre is State Highway 1). We’ve lived by it for years without the benefit of a slice of paradise.