Quagmire is a noun. The dictionary says it is ‘a soft boggy area of land that gives way underfoot’ Other words which mean the same sort of thing are swamp, bog, mire, quicksand, even bayou.
However, as it’s Q day, I’ll use the word quagmire to describe the terrain on which we live.
The dominant geological feature is rock. Lots of big, hard rock. Mountainous amounts of rock, even. This rock is held together by -yes, you guessed, squelchy quagmire.
So, we have rock and bog. Ecologically it’s a wonderland. However, farming in this fairly extreme environment is a bit of a challenge.
It is a challenge that we faced when we moved down from the city ten years ago.
You may ask why we felt the need to farm anything at all? Well, we inherited a small farm from my dear parents, and so the pressure was on to do something with it.
Mountain sheep thrive in this environment and are widely produced in the locality. However, sheep farming is a tricky business and demands a level of commitment and skill that we felt was beyond us. So, we had a bit of a dilemma on our hands.
If life hands you lemons, you’re encouraged to make lemonade.
That’s all well and good. What if life hands you a quagmire to farm on??
It was quite a conundrum, a quagmire even: (Dictionary also says a quagmire is an awkward, complex or tricky situation!)
Then we heard of a breed of animals that sounded perfect for our requirements.
KERRY BOG PONIES!!
There really is such a thing! To make matters worse, this thing is an endangered species, which means it’s at risk of dying out completely unless people breed them. In 1994, there were only 20 bog ponies left in the whole of Ireland.
Check them out at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerry_Bog_Pony
Big highfive here! Ger and I discovered our very own way to make lemonade, so to speak. And… it came with a certain feel good factor.
Five years into the breeding program and I have to say that we are coping! We are still not, and probably never will be real farmers. On the plus side, these ponies are ideally suited to the fairly harsh terrain. They are small and barrel shaped, and manage to maintain their condition in the harsh winter months. Apart from regular visits from the farrier to cut their hooves, they require very little maintenance. They are also very sweet, and aim to please, except when they’re being naughty.
I’ll end this post with a snippet of happy news. Five years ago, we bought two bog ponies. These ponies produced two more beautiful boggers. This Summer, if Mother Nature smiles on us, we hope that four boggy babies will grace our mountainside.
And who is the proud Daddy? Daddy is a stallion from a farm nearby. He is short, handsome and snowy white. He goes by the name of ‘Quagmire Jasper.’