Friday, May 20, 2011


Blog for Thursday May 19th 2011
Dear Friends and Farm Family,
            What a rainy week this has been at Touchstone Farm.  The gently falling rain, misty meadows with the horses and ponies happily munching on the lush green grass all remind me of the English country side.  It is no small wonder we got our name of New England.  As the vegetable and flower gardens start to grow in readiness for gracious our summer time tables, it makes my heart soar with pleasure.
Both Pony Farm, our summer specialty riding camp, and Barn Yard Buddies, our Farm Day Camp. are both right around the corner.  We cannot wait until our campers start rolling in the driveway.  As much as we love the foliage and festivals in the fall, and the snow and sleigh rides in the winter, and the blossoms and beauty of the spring, summertime wins out for the favorite season on the farm.  Having the baby chicks peeping, the sheep being shorn, the ponies shedding and getting their spring schooling over jumps, the fences being painted, and the pool opening, everywhere I look exciting things are happening in preparation for the happiest time of our year, summer camp! It is truly hard to believe that it is the 40th summer I have looked forward to this.  I guess I am truly a pony lover, a farmer and a camper at heart! 
We had a taste of the fun of kids and families being here last weekend with our Spring Fling Family Weekend.  Several terrific families joined us to enjoy the farm and its multitude of activities, not the least of was a bonfire, riding lessons, carriage and miniature horse driving, jumping and trail riding down the lovely dirt roads.  Sprinkled in with good food, story telling, planting seed trays, and playing with all the farm animals, a high time was had by all. It was a special treat this year as we had several kids who were soon to be first time campers. Helping them feel comfortable at the farm was a great antidote to ever getting homesick when they actually stayed at camp without Mom and Dad. Judging from their gung ho spirits, we will have a super summer with them! 

 We hope it tempts you to join us for future seasonal specialty weekends like our Fall Foliage Family Weekend, our Mother or Father and Daughter Weekends, or our new Winter Wonderland Festival in January, which our team is busily planning already!  If you are looking for a fun get away, filled with simple delights and delectable food, then we are a one stop destination for you and your family or friends.  Keep checking our website calendar for dates and plan to join us often!
Yet another exciting set of dates that might be of interest to our horse community is that, under the capable direction of Barbara Cochrane, our Horse Show Devotee, will be Saturday July 2nd and 23rd when we will host two big horse shows.  This year, the July 2nd show will be once again affiliated with the Monadnock Horse Show Series.  Both shows will be on the big open field below the barns.  We will feature two Outside Courses with welcoming classes for even the newest competitor.  With knowledgeable judges, dust free footing, ample parking, inviting jumps an EMT, food concession stand, and an experienced show crew, these shows should offer a great day of friendly competition.  We welcome you and your family or students to join us.  Special support will be given to trainers who bring several horses! 
In addition to the traditional Leadline up through Special Hunter Divisions, with everything in between, we will be offering three Hunter Derby Classes at both shows.  We are in the process of preparing a fun course of jumps which follow a path out through our back fields.  Featuring jumps more like those found on a Hunter Pace, or on a Cross Country Course or in the Hunt Field, these natural jumps will be taken at a hand gallop.  This will be a great warm up for he Hunter Derby classes which will be held at the NH Hunter and Jumper Summer Festival.  Come practice with us so you might be able to win the big money purses being offered by several barns during the festival week following our July 2nd show.
The other big event at the farm that we hope you might plan to attend is our Pony Farm 40th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday July 16th.  This is the second celebration we will be hosting this year to mark the anniversary of Pony Farm and the launch of Touchstone Farm.  We are planning big happenings and hope that everyone from our nearest neighbor to our longest camp alumnae or lesson student, or former board member or local vendor will join us for a wonderful afternoon and evening.  We will feature carriage rides and farm tours, riding and driving demos, delicious chicken barbeque and deep pit cooking featuring vegetables, lamb, beef and pork, a raffle, special presentations and speeches.  Topping off the festivities will be music from the entire Temple Town Band.  This assembly of fine musicians represent the longest running town band in America.  Having played at numerous presidential inaugurations as far away as Washington, DC, this band will surely liven up the evening and get our patriotic juices flowing for sure!  What a celebration it will be.  Plan now to join us!!!! Many more details will soon be on this website for your planning purposes.
Finally, if you are coming anytime soon to visit the farm, be sure to check out our new Welcome Center.  We are redoing one of the buildings right in the middle of the farm to serve as our Hospitality and Business Office.  Our two newest staff members, Sue Vaillancourt, our “Ambassador of First Impressions”, and Many Grenier, our Marketing Mentor, will join Deb Keating, our awesome Business Manager, and Trish Twining, our superior Director of Operations, as they come and go from this new “Command Central”. With help from several generous donors and family foundations, our new computers, scanners, and copy machines are all eager to get out of the dusty barn and into a cool, welcoming, dust free space.  Complete with new paint, window boxes, handicapped entrance ramp, and flooring, this Welcome Center is the place to come for first time visitors or longtime friends.  Come and ‘sit a spell’ while you wait for your summer lesson or to pick up a brochure for birthday parties.  This is the place to come to find out all the fun and exciting things happening today and tomorrow at Touchstone.  Don’t be a stranger.  As the logo shows, the farm gates are always open!

Mother's Day Special!!

Touchstone Blog….
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I write to you in hopes that you are having a lovely weekend.  We are enjoying our Spring Fling families who arrived last night to a delicious dinner, farm tour and glowing bonfire, complete with S’Mores and the moon shining bright.  We are so excited to ride, drive the carriages, vault (gymnastics on the moving horse), plow the gardens with the ponies, and play with all the farm animals. It is such fun to share the farm and our animals with folks who enjoy all the same things we love.  I wish YOU were with us!
The best part of this week was Mother’s Day.  We were all lucky enough to have everyone with us for a fun weekend of visitin’, eating, and just enjoying being together.  My favorite part is having four generations on the farm. Morgan and Megan, my granddaughters, are the delight of my heart.  We got up early on Mother’s Day and went to the plant store, my idea of heaven!  We bought all sorts of flowers, dirt, pots and fertilizer.  With my truck as the mobile planting table, we planted scores of window boxes and planters to make the farm beautiful. What a treat to work with these “Garden Girls” as they call themselves. They have a real love of the farm. Wait until you see the fruits of their labors when you come to visit!!!

This week at the farm was yet another set of great accomplishments.  We had our first visit from the residents of  Pheasant Wood, the local nursing home where my Mom now lives. Many of you have lovingly asked how she is after her stroke early last fall. I am happy to report that she is thriving at this facility, surrounded by excellent medical care and the devotion of my dear Dad.  Wow, what troopers they have both been.  After nearly 61 years of marriage, their love still shines through every single day.
         In honor of Mom, we have put together a fun morning program once a week where her friends from Pheasant Wood are coming to enjoy both the farm animals and gardening.  The first visit was this week. Despite the cold and overcast weather, they came anyway. We let each resident hold a chicken and sent home eggs to use in their cooking classes.  We also planted lots of seedlings for the flowers that will eventually grow in the new raised beds which are handicapped assessable.  The girls from the Antrim Girls’ Shelter came to help and were awesome with the older folks.  Mom stayed to the bitter end, planting all the seed trays. 

Next week, these folks will be treated to a “Beauty Spa” for the miniature horses, donkey and the goats and sheep.  I am sure the bunnies and dogs will get in the action too.  Meanwhile, the art students at the Dublin Prep School will be painting the cut out figures of the minis and donkey for the raised beds.  These life like cut outs are of our four minis and Dunkin, the donkey.  These students will then come and build the raised beds which will look like wagons that the minis are pulling.  These five raised gardens will then be planted with flowers and herbs that will go back to Pheasant Wood this summer, when the residents will come for an afternoon a session to be with the camp kids.  I call this a win win for everyone.  
The final day for the nursing home visits this spring will be to meet the Bantum baby chicks, which will arrive this coming week. I have ordered all sorts of fun breeds. I think that this will be a real feature of camp.  They will be young enough for the camp kids to ‘tame’, while being hearty enough to be handled.  I will surely send you pictures.
The Touchstone and Horse Power Lesson Programs are in full swing, with lots of good learning going on. Our goal is to create life long horse lovers.  It is such fun to watch the progress which happens all over the farm.  It keeps us all hoping and happy!  Seeing the horses taking such good care of their riders, and the teachers planning such fun, creative lessons just makes a body glad!
Best of all, our summer camp programs, summer lessons and our new Birthday Party business is just around the corner…..and wow, are we going to be ready in spades.  We will be offering both the residential specialty riding camp, Pony Farm, which is full for the summer, and Barn Yard Buddies, a farm and therapeutic day camp, which still has openings.  We will also be offering a full summer lesson program for children and adults.  In addition to lessons, we will be taking students to both ‘home’ and ‘away’ shows. We are adding in birthday parties for children.  A separate flyer will be going out for these “Summer Fun on the Farm” events.  We hope you will be part of this summer fun!
Until then, don’t be a stranger. Come visit and sit a spell to enjoy the full beauty of spring here at Touchstone Farm, Pony Farm, Horse Power and Stepping Stone Lodge.
Isabella (Boo) Martin