November 26th, 2009 Thanksgivings

Every year when Thankgiving rolls around, good or bad, I am grateful to reflect on the previous years Thanksgivings. 

I call them Thanksgivings because truly, when I am the most realistic, there isn’t one thing about my life that I cannot be thankful for.

Now that’s a bold statement isn’t it?  How can one be thankful for everything?!  Trust me, its possible. 

The good stuff we can understand.  The bad stuff, well, it’s hard sometimes to be grateful much less thankful for the bad.  So now that I’ve made that statement, let me show you what I mean. 

No snickers please.  I am writing the rest of this fully aware that many people have seen me struggle with my Thanksgivings.  Just know that the effort really is in the journey and I truly do try to reflect knowing that in this world there is always someone who has it waaaaaay worse than I do at any given moment.  That being said, I’ve covered my butt from any finger pointing…right?

This year had its full share of ups and downs for me.  The year started with tons of snow.  More snow than I’ve seen in quite some time.  My normally busy horse business ground to a halt and January and February drove home the irony of living in paradise.  Paradise isn’t all its cracked up to be sometimes. 

Lakeside living in Maine suddenly became a solitary adventure.  Nobody moves further than they have to in the dead of winter in Maine!  This means if you have a horse business you go to the client.  If you cannot get to the client, your appointments wait until the weather clears!  If you don’t have an indoor, you don’t ride.  If you do have an indoor, you still may not be able to ride if its too cold.  Even the horses abandon the idea of outdoor living.  Why be outdoors when you can have a personal butler (that would be Kirk and I) deliver hay, treats, supplements, salt and water?  While the horses loved the rich grass and ample pasture, January and February found them huddled in stalls.  Horses in stalls still poop.

Enter the joyful task of shoveling and cleaning frozen poop, bedding and urine, breaking ice out of buckets and worrying sick about the fact one of the horses might slip on the ice if they did go outside and hurt themselves not to mention having to  lug heavy muck bucket after muck bucket of steaming poo out to the pile after you’ve shoveled out the barn door and made sure the path was clear to the poo pile.  If I was lucky it hadn’t melted and iced.  If not, on went the YakTrax to make sure I had at least a prayer of footing.  Of course mounding poop without a tractor knowing that you were just going to have to move it again because the current poo pile was a temporary pile that would need to be moved again was a thought that I tried to avoid.  Not have proper poo storage is, well, a pain in the ass.  No pun intended.  But mounding mounds of poop has its benefits.  It keeps you warm. 

Bonus one.

Then there were the sheep.  They lambed on the coldest day of the year (of course!) and Kirk and I stayed up night and day to keep the tiny lambs alive.  Literally, against all odds our ewes went into labor within 15 minutes of each other.  It was steamy, icey cold in the barn.  Not the best combination by any means.  Especially since I am particulary opposed to being so cold.  As a kid I frostbit my feet and my fingers so extreme cold always make me ache.  Nevertheless, seeing those little slimey creatures bah for the first time warmed me with such excitement that I can honestly say I thought I should sell tickets to the next sheep birthing event. 

Bonus two.  Hardship does breed wild and crazy out of the box ideas which someday I may capitalize on if I can ever stay in one spot long enough.

Which brings me to the next Thanksgiving.

Makeover.  No, I decided I would stay in one spot for a change.  Ten years on the road makes one happy to stay at home.  Building our farrier business, tending to the small flock of birthing ewes, bottle feeding calves, raising turkeys and chickens was turning out to be a lot of work and a lot of fun and profitable!  But try as I might one thing led to another and I found myself taming not one, but seven wild mustangs!  Of course this was bold and extremely taxing given the full fledged farm operation that blossomed from our hard work of the year before.

Bonus Three.  Keeping up with the farm work I lost weight and slept really well.  Exhaustion isn’t all bad. 

Ok, now I know reflecting on this that this life sounds like an absolute heaven for some.  No deaths.  No health issues.

I’ve always been thankful for my health and the fact that my immediate family and all of my close friends are still here on this earth where I can love them.

It goes without saying that I am thankful for those thanksgivings.  I give thanks for that every day and almost every hour.

But this past year wasn’t all roses or playing with animals.

Kirk lost his business to thieves stealing his patents.

I lost my business trying to do the right thing.

The events are too painful and detailed to reiterate here.   But I’ve found something thanksgiving in these events too.

The end of this year found us jobless and homeless and mourning the loss of some friendships we thought we could trust.  Now how can this be a thanksgiving?

Through it all we found new strengths and learned more about our weaknesses.  We learned new ways to cope with stress and with the pressure that often comes from living life with passion.  We found this through the beautiful friendships that showed themselves to be true, supportive, loving and mentoring.  And along the way learned some valuable lessons.

Neither Kirk or I are people who admit we need help very often.  We are young, strong, healthy and ambitious.  That used to be enough.  But this year, we found out new ways to give and new ways to receive.  New ways to measure ones success and new ways to build relationships that last.  And I found that there isn’t anything better you can do sometimes than to just have a good old fashioned estrogen laced cry session.

It’s a bittersweet breath of air that is taken when in the depths of something really difficult somebody says to you, “You’re important.  You matter.  We love you.  And what can we do to help?”

More people did that for us this year than has happened in my entire life.  I am humbled, grateful and just a little bit past thankful.  I’m thanksgivings!

Pass it on.

Happy Thanksgivings!

November 17th, 2009 Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Can animals conspire together toward the benefit of a common goal?  I think its possible.  We’ve been here all of six weeks and the horses and the deer have formed an alliance I think.

For getting to eat their hay the deer have agreed to run through the fence, freeing the horses so that they can partake of the neighbors generous outdoor hay supply and enjoy new equine social connections.

Since the horse across the street has been whining incessantly since we arrived with our horses giving him answers back occassionally, I think he put the deer up to it.

He secretely whispered into their ear that he had an ample stash of premium hay knowing full well that the deer would gossip to the neighbor horses (that’s us).

It’s a perfect explanation for why over the past 6 weeks the deer have wandered casually and aimlessly all over, around and through dell (the farm) without the slightest bump of a fence.  Morning, day or night the fences have stayed strong.  Then suddenly, the last two nights, the deer have taken to running through our fence, taking it down for stem to stern.

The horses of course bolted.   In the middle of the night during a category 2 snow storm.  After hours of searching and one bloody tumble down an embankment and into a yucca plant (be careful they stick!) we found them tucked safely behind a knoll.  Be still my beating heart.  Not only from the fear of losing our beloved horses but also from the exertion of traipsing uphill and downill at a mile plus in altitude (the air is thin out here!) through the whipping wind and snow and imagining all kinds of tragedies if they wandered out onto the busy near by road.

Aemelie, in her customary fashion whinnied and trotted up to me happy that we had finally joined the party!

Put away, fed and watered behind repaired fence we slept well.  Only to wake up and realize that once again the horses were out and this time they did discover the busy road!  Tell tale hoof prints in the show gave them away.

Does drama on the farm ever cease?

This time our hearty crew found solace in the hay pile of our neighbor and comfort in the fact that all of her horses are comfortable and well fed so surely it was a good place to make camp overnight!

The way I see it, every animal benefitted.  The deer ate our horses hay after they bolted to the neighbors and our horses ate her hay pile because here horse already had hay.  We got a lot of exercise which keeps us healthy.  Funny how nature keeps itself in balance.

Eat,drink and be merry seems to be the theme here.  Although the merry part eludes me, unless you consider that eating a drinking is guiltfree after you’ve trudged several miles through snow in pursuit of horses.  Or that one does feel quite merry when one finds said elusive horses after several hours of panic-stricken, fear laced searching.

Oh well.  The thought can be pondered.  It’s off to fix fence…and come up with a peace offering for the deer.  They’re obviously the ones in charge here.

November 5th, 2009 Surprise Blog!

Ha!  I’ve gone and done it.  I have now blogged twice in one week!  It’s easy.  Get up, exercise, drink coffee religiously, then….say phhhhhhhhhlt! to the day and sit down to write.  Ok gang.  It’s coming to me now.

For those of you still shocked at the fact you aren’t having to reread last years post for the 100th time I have a surprise for you.

We (Kirk and I) have a new project. 

Ok.  So you aren’t surprised.  It seems the last year has been a continuous round of new projects.  Let me begin by saying….much of them were not be choice but reactionary to the economy, circumstance and well…you get it…life.

Yesterday we knocked off at around 3:30 to load up the horses and go for a ride at my dear friends house.  She is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met.  We met over a rank mare she had rescued and we’ve been fast friends ever since.  She’s given of her home, her facilities, her time and her energy in the 5 years I’ve known her and she is one amazing individual.

Several months ago she called to see if we would take on another project.  One dear to her heart.  After hearing the story we couldn’t say no.  So, last night, in addition to riding until my eyelids began to fall (yes we rode until 1:00 a.m.!) we had the chance to review our new project.  It’s exciting.

But before I go any further, I have homework to do.  I have to figure out how to best approach this venture.  I need to write a business plan and keep the home fires burning.  I have family to attend, animals to tend and and new business to tend.  I have friendships to keep and hearts to warm with hugs and kind words.  I have much to do and you know what???  Plenty of time to do it in.

That’s my new philosophy.  After a decade of run fast, can’t get there fast enough the lesson my horse has been trying to teach me is sinking in.  Do less sooner.  Patience.  Slow down to speed up.

Aemelie, my poor girl, has been my everyone’s standby.  She impatiently waits for her time with me.  Last night I rode her and she she sighed great big contented sighs, did everything I asked and was completely herself to the end.  She rocked the trailer back and forth all the way home (an annoying habit I am trying to correct because she literally can move the whole truck along with the trailer with her anxious hooves…not great for night driving in narrow lanes of traffic), impatient because she was so hungry.  That’s Aemelie, but during our time together, she shined.  That’s Aemelie.  And next time, I won’t forget the hay bag.

Let’s see if I can keep on that track.  Slow down, plan well, make progress.  So far its working.  The house is almost painted (last month’s goal…I am a bit behind but let’s face it, the project is a huge one!) and next, I tackle to office.  An even more huge project.

And then….our new project.  More later.