Poopergeist

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Ahh, autumn. Crisp cool weather, falling leaves, shorter days. Less daylight means doing some barn chores in the dark. As the sun was starting to slumber under the trees and my energy and concentration almost as low, I tired to muster what I had left in the day to clean the paddock. Methodically scooping and tossing manure in the calm dusk was interrupted by a sudden hallucination. No, it was my imagination. The manure balls can’t move on their own; it must have fallen off the pitchfork and rolled. Continuing . . . with a little apprehension – wait,it did move! Kind of jumped. I know Halloween is coming, but horse poop cannot be demonically possessed!

Leaning down to get a better look, squinting in the last glow of light, cringing, expecting some creature to latch onto my face like Alien, I HAD to have an answer. With adrenaline now spiking, I slowly leaned forward to the small figure holding the pitchfork as if about to fend off a mass murderer. My eyes adjusted to the fading light as the demon poop ball moved again! . . . . . and looked at me.

A fat little toad!!  I laughed with relief that an alien poop wasn’t going to hurl itself at my face, then became amazed that the little critter was so smart as to park itself right next to the manure pile. What an easy way to get a meal!  Why go hunting for food when you can just hang out and wait for it to come to you?  With my fears faced, I gently caught my dusky nemesis and placed him near a pile at the fence line so he wouldn’t get stepped on by the horses.  From fear of the unknown to amusement and respect; it’s amazing how fast life can change when you try to understand a situation with an open mind. A pitchfork in hand doesn’t hurt either.

Out of Hibernation

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The days are getting longer, the sun is slowly getting warmer, he trees and plants are budding, and the horses are shedding – it’s Spring!  Time to crawl out from under the covers, dust off the tack, and do some yoga stretching; the snow has melted and the warm sun is a great motivator to get in gear and be outside as much s possible.

Of course, the spring comes with a lot of work – raking up old hay that was buried in the snow and mud, currying off endless piles of fur from your 1,000 pound friend, etc.  But even with a dusty bridle and muddy tail, it’s that exhilerating feeling to swing your leg over the saddle after a few months of being “grounded”by snow, ice, and mud.  Just walking down the road and back, feeling the horses’s anticipation of what adventures we will go on today… it’s always a great feeling; and  one that’s worth all the work.

Flying Solo

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Hello Blog,                     xsillouette

It’s way too long since we spoke.  I take full responsibility. The past several months have been a tremendous whirlwind of sorts.  No, more like a tornado – tearing apart everything that I knew.  My husband filed for divorce because he didn’t like the farm life anymore.  I can’t hold that against him – it is definitely not a lifestyle for everyone.  Or for most people, for that fact.  Living on a farm is a huge commitment of long hours, endless hard work, and few vacations (unless you have a huge fancy barn with staff that work for you – which I don’t).  This is how he saw it.  While this is true, I see it as my little piece of paradise, the “work” keeps me in shape, and I love living here.

The past few months has been lawyers, tears, and dealing with banks trying to find one willing to help me refinance a farm on my own because I needed to take his name off).  More tears.  Anger, frustration, rejection, confusion; loss, heartache . . . .  feeling like I went from my dream life in every way – to being kicked down an endless dark hole.  Helplessly falling in the cold dark, trying to find some reason to grasp onto and not knowing where the bottom was or how hard I would hit.  And once I do, how will I get back up?

Dealing with not only losing my husband, but my best friend of 13 years; my rock, my trust, my past memories, the future plans and dreams that we had.  Not only the emotional issues involved, but in worked 7 days a week between the farm and 2 other jobs to try to keep the farm.  Ironically, the reason he left was the one thing that kept me afloat – the horses.  Same as when I was a child and through growing up.  No matter what happened, there were there for you.  Horses don’t lie. They don’t judge. They don’t pretend. They don’t suddenly decide “that farm in the next town looks interesting – I’m gonna leave and go there instead. Have a good life”.

While I’m slowly climbing out of my dark abyss, the horses are my only rope giving me reason to try.  They need me.  My 24 year old Arabian, my first horse, has her forever home. I made that promise and it’s one I will keep.  If not for me, for her.  Because she deserves nothing less.  It’s been difficult to write lately because I did not want to inflict my farm blog with all my stresses and heartaches the past several months.  I actually created a separate blog about my divorce called “7 Letter Words” to vent and try to cope (if you are familiar with WordPress, you will notice that the blogs are in reverse chronological order; if you read my 7 Letter Words blog, best to scroll to the bottom and start from the beginning). I feel like I am mourning the death of my life as I knew it; and as I thought it was going to be.  Except this is harder because death is final; with divorce, you are forced to live the loss and heartache over and over and over all of the time.   Besides horses, I also like doing photo/video projects and made this compilation of songs and photos to try to find some closure. (“Closure”). I don’t know that it helped, but at least gave me something to focus on for a while.

So, hoping the worst is over, now is about picking up the pieces of my shattered life and reality as I once knew it; now it’s holding onto my rock – my horses – my one solid place to stand on and feel safe in life’s sea of toxic storms.

Like they say, “even above the storm clouds, the sun is still shining”.

 

The Sweet Spot

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People look at me like I have an extra arm and 3 extra toes, and maybe a tail, when I tell them that I actually like getting up early.  Sure, it’s hard to actually get out of bed and find that initial boost of energy, but once outside and welcoming whinnies are coming my way, it’s worth it.

I love these first summer days when it’s early enough that the darkness has not fully crept out of site; when the air is still cool and crisp, almost to the point where you consider putting a light jacket on.  But without fail, the sun starts sneaking up over the treetops with bursts of warm light.  That is the best feeling of irony with the cool air combined with the hot sun; you have to savor it because it’s only a short time (perhaps minutes) until the sun chases away the delicate crisp air reminding me that summer is sitting on the throne for the next few months.  I will concede and bow to summer, but always send a wink to the cool dawn air.

Experiment in Cryogenics

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One of the hardest things about having your own farm is having to do the barn chores when it is sub-freezing temperatures outside.  When it’s so cold that it hurts your lungs to breathe; when you don’t even need tissues because the snot freezes in your nose before it can even drip out. Yeah – I’m talking THAT kind of cold.

The first part of winter was fairly mild.  The last couple weeks have been brutal.  I love having my horses at my house.  As much as people think I’m crazy because it is so much work, I love it.  But I won’t lie –  it kind of sucks when you can’t feel your face anymore.  Or your fingers.  Or toes.  I put a heater in the chicken coop and they don’t even stay in there; they like to beeline for the barn and root around for any tidbits of seeds left over from the hay in the stalls; but I leave it on anyway. Mostly so I can go in every 10 minutes or so and warm up a bit.  I’m sure the neighbors must think I am casting some kind of dark spell – out there in the coop, my shadow hopping around (trying to warm up) while huddled around this little red lamp; and sometimes I’m talking or singing to myself whether out of habit, or a distraction from the cold, or to make sure my lungs haven’t completely crystallized.

Yes, I’m pretty sure my neighbors have some good rumors going on about me.  As I’m making the horses warm oatmeal and pretending to keep the chicken warm with the heat lamp (you know – the ones already in the barn…), I will keep doing my warming dance; maybe tomorrow I’ll put on tinfoil hat and really let ’em talk.    😉

Know-it-all

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It’s been cold lately.  Being the end of December in Connecticut, that’s not surprising.  As I walk out to the barn, my breath hanging in clouds in the dense air and feet feeling the rock hard ground, it seems like I time-warped into an arctic tundra of a foreign world.

The I admit my focus and concentration was not on par with the bad cold I have had lately, so it’s not surprising that my mind didn’t finished sending the entire signal to my hands to latch the gate, not just close it.  Horses are very perceptive, though.  A little nudge of the nose and they were out that gate like a rodeo act.

“Well, the ground is frozen, so at least they won’t dig up the yard.”  It was dark out, but not dark enough to mask the clods of dirt flying through the air like hockey pucks as the small herd happily galloped in circles around the yard as if to say  “See mom? The ground isn’t frozen!”

So, this morning with the yard looking reminiscent of crop circle formations, I spent extra time outside with the not-so-frozen ground trying to patch divots back together; making sure the artists are on the other side of the fence this time, of course.

Hibernation

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It’s that time of year again – the leaves have fallen off the trees and are brown and crunchy on the ground like over-cooked potato chips.  Jackets, gloves, warm boots, and the like are broken out of their summer hibernation and re-acquainted into familiar outfits.

It always amazes me how the horses don’t really seem to notice the change, certainly don’t seem miserable and offended by it; they actually seem to like it – running around, tossing heads, and doing some winter welcome dance they have secretly been rehearsing.  I am especially glad that Stella, being on a new arthritis medication, has more happy pep.

Begrudgingly, I dragged out the ladder this morning to take down the fans in the run-in.  I continued my “goodbye to summer” ritual by running the extension cords under the mats for the trough heater and hanging up extra hay feeders.

I suppose it’s not all bad; the nice weather sometimes pushes us to “go, go, go”; in the cold winter, it is natures way of telling us to take a little break; slow down and little and take some deep breaths.  Perhaps sleep a bit more, snuggle a bit more, and recharge for the springtime ahead.

Hot cocoa in front of the fireplace, anyone?!

(See video of the horses frolicking in the first snow fall this year, on Thanksgiving Day!  “Turkeys in the Snow”)

Invisible Cape

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As I was showing a colleague a horse video I had made, I wonder how many people just watch out of kindness/respect while thinking “ugh, when is this going to be over?”. But horse people would watch videos like it for hours on end.  There is just something that changes you when you get infected with the “horse bug”.

Like, when the movie character gets bit by the laboratory spider – part of the spider becomes part of him; he cant escape it.  Horses are like that. They get in your blood, change who you are, how you think, the person you become.  Although, unlike the superhero comic icons, us humble horse people aren’t flying around on webs and capes rescuing the world.  But in our own world we are rescuing people; the basic barn owner who lets the shy kids hang around after school because they know that sometimes a horse can be the only friend who can relate to them, who won’t make fun of or criticize them; the program owner who uses horses as tools to help “juvenile delinquents” and inmates develop trust, responsibility, empathy, etc. There are endless examples.

We know that our invisible capes aren’t publicly known to most.  But our secret society knows that we change lives. Even if it’s giving children wonderful memories; molding how they think and who they are for the better.  But I guess it’s really about the horses.  No matter if it’s a backyard barn, a high-end training stable, or a therapeutic program – the horses are the common factor who are making the difference.

Us humans would be the ones running the laboratory, but the horses are really the ones with the special powers wearing the capes.

The Road Unknown

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red wood bridge

A lot has changed since my last post.  I left my job as a veterinary assistant and now work at an environmental laboratory.  Not having the long hours of the vet job, I also got a job at a high-end retail store to compensate for the difference in hours/pay.   It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that two jobs each at less pay than the one previous job = LOTS of hours to work.  But on the bright side, I do like both jobs.  Wow – being around adults that actually act like adults! Not like they are still in junior high.

If I had to give advice, though, it would be (if circumstances allowed) don’t start two completely different jobs that you have no prior experience with.  Talk about information overload!  Learning the whole retail business, POS system, and a huge line of products (not to mentions selling said products) PLUS another job with two other new computer programs, and learning to calibrate, configure, and measure radon pCi/l results from a thick lead-lined, radioactive “Nucleus” gamma-ray machine; which, by the way, only runs on the DOS computer system.  Raise your hand if you know how to use DOS?  anyone…..?   anyone…..?   Raise your hand if you’ve heard of DOS. . .    anyone….?    anyone….?   Bueller….?    Exactly.

It was a frustrating few weeks but normalcy is somewhat in the distance.  I supposed there are always going to be unknown factors in life; some we plan for, some we don’t.  Sometimes the road is bright and sunny; sometimes it’s dark and stormy; it can go from paved to cobblestone without notice.  So keep on the lookout and always keep the headlights on.

Time to Fly

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It’s that magical time of the year! No, I’m not talking about the holidays – |’m talking about the beginning of summer when it starts getting dark and you think  at first you are seeing things . . . flashes of light out of the corner of your eye. You look – but nothing is there. Another flash – you turn quickly to the right; only the daylight fading into the trees.  But stand quiet and wait . . . and there they are – FIREFLIES!  Just one or two at first flickering here and there.  As the dark moves in,  the landscape looks like a secret faerie garden;  sparkles dancing, playing hide-n-seek around the trees, teasing your sense of imagination.

Generally this time of year when I’m cursing all of the bugs, it’s nice to stand back and appreciate the wonders of these little creatures and how they can turn a quaint little farm by day into a mystical world of wonder and imagination in the secrets of the night.