1 Down by the stable courtyard are several big stone planters, which needed freshening up.
2 Ryan gathered a variety of succulents to plant. I have a collection of exotic forms of succulents in my greenhouse. These plants require little maintenance and can survive prolonged drought. They will do well here until they're brought indoors for the season.
3 The planters already had some Hens and Chicks in them, but some needed replacing. Hens and Chicks are from the family Sempervivum, which literally means "live forever" because these plants grow and propagate so readily.
4 Ryan salvaged what he could. These succulents are also commonly called semps or houseleeks. Hens and Chicks produce numerous offspring - the amount and speed at which they grow depends on the variety, but the "chicks" can be replanted elsewhere or left to grow around the mother "hen".
5 Once a hen plant produces offspring, that chick will begin producing its own babies after only one season. These plants can live up to four years. Before it dies, a single stalk shoots up to produce a large cluster of star-shaped flowers.
6 Metro-Mix is an all purpose growing mix with excellent water-holding capacity.
7 Here is the large trough ready for planting.
8 In this planter, Ryan planted a variety of different shaped succulents, such as echeveria, crassula, agave, and aeonimum.
9 It looks very pretty with its varying heights and colors. These plants will mature nicely in this area.
10 The Hens and Chicks also look very pretty. Their rosettes create a nice variety of shapes and colors. They prefer a lot of sun, which will bring out the bright colors of Sempervivums - just don't overwater them, and they will do just fine.
11 Such an easy way to spruce up my cobblestone courtyard.
12 Meanwhile, inside the stable, my beautiful Friesians were groomed. They're all groomed every day - their coats are cleaned, brushed and combed, and their hooves are picked of any mud, stones and debris. It’s a time consuming task, but it keeps my 10 stable residents healthy, happy and comfortable.
13 Sarah uses the Electro-Groom, a specially designed livestock quick groom vacuum. It removes dirt, loose hairs and leaves the horse's natural oils behind.
14 The donkeys were not only groomed, but bathed - Rufus is not a big fan of baths.
15 Billie, however, enjoys her baths - and loves the extra rub down and attention.
16 Donkeys are happiest when with their friends, so all the donkeys are able to see each other during bath time. Clive is patiently waiting his turn.
17 Squeaky clean and dried, the three amigos are ready to go back out to their pen.
18 In fact, all my equids - horses, donkeys and ponies, were taken outdoors while their stall walls were repolished.
19 Another important responsibility of keeping a stable is to maintain its structure - inside and out. Whenever we need to treat the surfaces, we always make sure we do so on days when the horses can be outside in the fresh air.
20 Once the stable was empty, Fernando began polishing and resealing the stall doors and walls.
21 We do this every so often to protect the wood, and keep it looking its best.
22 Horses can be pretty tough on the doors and walls. Their hooves can scratch the surfaces, leaving them looking worn and dingy.
23 Here, Fernando brushed on a protective polish and sealer. It really makes a big difference once it is finished.
24 See how much one coat can do - it looks so much better already.
25 A proper, transparent sealer and polish will restore the wood's natural color and shine.
26 Fernando carefully painted all the surfaces, being careful to avoid the metal framing.
27 Once a coat was brushed on, Fernando wiped over it with an old cloth to remove any extra polish residue.
28 The stable looks so beautiful when it's done.
29 My outdoor grounds crew was also busy, weeding and mulching all the beds around the farm.
30 The lilac hedges needed some cleaning up and a fresh layer of mulch. Mulching not only makes beds look pretty, but reduces evaporation, and organic mulch promotes good soil microorganism activity.
31 I make my own nutrient rich, organic mulch right here at the farm, but if you don't have the space to do so yourself, try to buy organic mulch - it is safer and much better for your planting beds.
32 My gardener, Wilmer, was busy cleaning up the flower cutting garden.
33 The berry bushes were also pruned and weeded.
34 And, the linden tree allee was cleaned up. All these areas of my farm are checked on a regular basis to keep up with overgrowth and weeds.
35 It's always so refreshing to see this allee after a good cleaning and weeding.
36 And, remember all those wonderful new gray Gilmour hoses? They replaced all the old ones and were neatly hung around the racks on the farm. http://www.gilmour.com/
37 It's a lot of hard work to maintain a working farm, but the benefits of healthy, productive plantings, and all its beauty always make up for it.