Seven Pines Ranch

A somewhat different family

Seven Pines Ranch, my next stop, is not only in a completely different area than La Reata, it also offers a completely different situation I am walking into - instead of my own little helper house we live in the main ranch house like one big family - John and Leah, two of their kids (Wyatt and Tyler), Amber as well as Anna and I, the two helpers from Germany that are treated like adopted family members.

It is loud and chaotic and near impossible to find a moment to oneself (to write my blog, for example), because besides the many people the house is also home to more than a dozen dogs and in the afternoon friends and relatives from the surrounding area are usually coming over - McBride is not far, and the Ranch lies next to Highway 16, which is part of the Trans-Canada-Highway and thus very easy to reach.

McBride, the town Seven Pines belongs to, is just about five minutes away by car - with a hospital, a high school, different stores and workshops, and all this with less than 700 inhabitants.

My life is a pony farm

Seven Pines is a working, and not a guest ranch like La Reata. Yet, unlike a classic working ranch, where money is made mostly with cattle, Leah breeds Shetland ponies, Boston Terrier and Irish Wolfhounds. The cattle herd of Seven Pines is only about fifty head big.

This, of course, brings a completely different set of jobs with it - the ponies need to be cared for, cleaned, trained and photographed, so interested buyers can get a good idea of them on the McLeod Creek Shetlands website. Their fields have to be checked every now and then, additional feed placed with the tractor and fences repaired, if necessary.

And because the ponies grow up with all these dogs around them, plus a few heads of cattle permanently staying at the ranch and another handful of horses, while living next to the railway and the highway, they are literally impossible to spook. When photographing them, even rustling with a plastic bag or loud shouts and whistles are usually not enough to gain their attention, they are just too used to all the white noises around them, and most of them are more curious than shy when meeting humans, too - if you try shooing them away, they usually prefer to stay to snuffle you down.

That leads to quite a bit of frustration, because talking a curious pony into doing something it really does not want to do in that very moment is anything but easy - but the animals are absolutely wonderful and so loveable that you forgive them their little antics nearly the moment they show them - even if that leads to you slipping in the mud or losing your boots.

Thus, my life turned into a pony farm from one day to the next - with all the work connected to it.

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