Friday, 12 August 2011

Digging an old garden is like an excavation - one never knows quite what one will find.

Frugaldom Garden Dig Unearths a Little Donkey Shoe

Having put out an appeal for surplus plants to help us establish some semblance of a garden here in Frugaldom, I was fortunate enough to be able to acquire this little lot yesterday, when I attended the monthly get together of our branch of the LETS group. (Local Exchange Trading System - you can check to see if there's an active group near you via the LETSLinkUK website.)

These are all perrenials, apart from the spring onions and, of course, the bucket of carrot tops, which are kept for Frugaldom Floppity, our German Lop-Eared rabbit.

Today we decided to try to get them planted - rather sooner than later, come rain, hail or sunshine. As luck would have it, the rain came on, so the soil was heavy, the weeds soaking and the ground soggy. Never mind, saves watering in the plants.

Eventually, the bottom corner of the garden will become a wild garden, planted specifically to encourage wild birds and insects, so I'm not being too particular about how well it is weeded or what gets planted in there. The centrepiece of it all is an old plum tree, the bird table and bird bath, so it's already a hive of activity in all weathers.

Weeding was a very hit or miss affair, dragging up clumps of dandelions and the usual nettles, but then I happened across something else... what looks like a very old, but very small horse shoe. Having had ponies since early childhood, I remembered the farrier showing us the difference between Shetland pony shoes and donkey shoes, so I am almost certain that this is the remnants of an old donkey shoe.

It's very rusty and the iron has perished to such an extet that it's flaking, but it has that near unmistakable straight-edged look of the tiny shoes shown to us by the farrier, about 30 years ago.

After scrubbing it as best I could, I can now just make out two of the old clenches (nails) that still remain in the shoe.

I can't say that this definitely did come off a working donkey many years ago, it might have come from a Shetland pony. It measures almost 7.5cm across, which makes it smaller than a 3" shoe, and has near-parallel edges.

Planting was temporarily halted when a heavy shower arrived, so I'll update the blog again once planting has been completed. In the meantime, I'm having a nice mug of tea and admiring my lucky find. Pity there is no way of dating it. As far as I am aware the previous owners here did not keep a pony or donkey, only poultry and pigs, so that accounts for the last 55 years.

A brief interlude in the rain later (after a cuppa) and the plants are now all in the ground in the hope that they survive to grow for us next year.

This is how bird corner now looks. It gets the sun all afternoon, as it's set against the south-facing wall, so we have also introduced yet another seating area right opposite this, but at a distance that the birds don't worrt too much about our being there.

I guess the next thing to do will be to fill up all the bird feeders. Cat has a new collar and bell, which she absolutely detests, but at least the birds hear her creeping around before she gets too close.

The drainage pipework for the pond overflow is beneath the edge of this border, so that's as far out as it can come. The smaller plants have been put further along, in a slightly raised bed of natural design; it's made from a curved tree trunk along the wall. This is also where the tiny apple and nectarine trees have been put for safekeeping (planted from seed by grandaughter). The iris has been planted near the willow by the side of the pond.

The yellow daisy that got moved here a couple of weeks ago from a friend's garden has recovered enough to flower. Once again, I have forgotten what its proper name is. Oops! Told you I was no good with flowers


  1. How interesting! AND LUCKY!

    Where is your donkeyshoe going to live?

    We have 3 horseshoes, 1 over our shed door in the garden and 1 have 2 special ones in my treasure box which were decorated and given to us when we got married.

    Sft x

  2. This little one will join an assorted collection of horse shoes that have been gathered over the years. I even kept the first shoe from one of my own horses, as a momento of her first trip out onto the racetrack - how sad is that? LOL

  3. Since we have had the pigs on the farm, digging their way through all the fields, we have amassed a rather large collection of very old rusty horseshoes, of all different sizes and styles, it's amazing to see the variations.

    We have them all lined up at the back door. Your little donkey shoe is lovely and a sure sign of luck for your holding.

    Love your bird corner and I bet the birds do too!!

    Sue xx

  4. You are making amazing progress and it is really exciting and interesting to read of your progress.

    Have to love the little donkey shoe. I wonder what other treasures you will unearth?

  5. So far, the only interesting things we have found are old bottles with glass stoppers and a couple of brass buttons - one stamped GB Olympics and one the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. Donkey shoe, by far, the most interesting thing. Buttons will get listed on eBid, I think. :)

  6. make sure you hang it the wrong way up if you hang it ! on a visit to Rutland we were surprised to see the horseshoes hung this way , its apparently so the devil can't sit in the cupped

    think the daisy is a shasta daisy but not sure :)

  7. I think your daisy like flower might be a dronicum........

  8. I think I'll just call them yellow daisies, I never remember proper names. :)

  9. Sadly, I later discovered that the 'donkey shoe' was probably what the men used to nail to the heels of their boots. Oops! But it was fun thinking of it as a donkey show and imagining a little donkey living out in the garden many years ago. :)


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