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Used to run a stable and live on a farm, now I am back into banking for awhile. Still have horses and love animals.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year's challenge

We have some serious snow out here, I don't mind but it's always more challenging when you have horses. The great hay shortage is here. You have to go long distances to get hay at a reasonable rate and the hauling and of course putting it up in the barn in the snow.

I can say that now that we board a couple of our horses we were very blessed to have Big Red to keep things moving. I never had a manure pile with a snow ready tractor and a manure spreader. Having it all in the barn so you could clean stalls and not have to be out in the worst of weather was great.

The mud too was easy to deal with because of the tractor. I realize now that we would have not made it very far without buying the tractor. I miss the old tractor and the fun I had running it. I can say it is better now that we deal with just two horses instead of 10 with the hay shortage and without the heavy duty equipment that made life a little easier.

It will be a challenge for the next four or more months feeding the horses but at least we know how to manage what we have to do.

I miss having them home and being able to walk out the back door and do the chores. I am looking forward to spring here as we still have places to explore and being outside where it is beautiful and quiet. The people here are really nice and our neighbors are outstanding. I think it all turned out for the best. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A TAIL of Christmas!

We do have a couple of good Christmas traditions that I started when Kylie was little. The first one is going to the barn on Christmas Eve night and spending some time in a dimly lit barn with the animals and praying a little bit. The second is loosely wrapping 4 dog toys that have squeakers in them and put them under the tree.

Christmas Eve I wrapped a couple of presents in my bedroom and the dogs naturally had to come in and supervise. It always gets a little tricky with retrievers when you take dog toys out of a shopping bag and instead of handing them over, you proceed to wrap and tape them. There was a sad procession down the hall to the Christmas tree where they are placed till the humans open their presents.

We went to the barn and when we got back the toys were where I had placed them. The night passed with the dog toys undisturbed and finally the morning. Stupid humans slept in a little darn... then uncle Gregg arrives and there's excitement and that must mean (to a certain retriever) that Christmas is on. So Daniel suddenly appears at my bedside with a dog toy that is still wrapped. Sorry Daniel, give it back, and under the tree it must go.

Finally, Kylie is ready to open her Christmas presents and one, two, three dog toys are immediately pouring over Daniels mouth as he briskly runs into the other room with them while the other dogs stand around me a little stunned.  

The next phase of Christmas morning is turning the radio on and listening to Christmas music while working in the kitchen. Like every year since we've had Nana (Cockatoo), the Christmas music is accompanied by Nana's singing.  She likes singing only occasionally throughout the year but Nana loves Christmas music. She knows most of the old songs with her favorite being I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, then Jingle Bells. She sort of sings along but you can only catch a word here and there that is clear, still she knows the melodies and puts her little heart into it even if a bit off key and nasally.

All the horses got treats, Nana got steak, the other birds and bunnies got treats and the dogs... well Daniel got everyone's dog toys until he fell asleep on them and the other dogs quietly sneaked away with them.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What does God think of Christmas 2012

Everyone knows the story, the babe born in a humble stable, in a manger. The Three Wise Men, the Sheppard's, and the star that everyone followed to find the new born king. I've thought about the story, the well told story that sounds so simple and quaint. Was it really simple? Just picturesque and another Disney type story that we all love, created for our entertaining pleasure that comes on every year for over 2000 thousand years just like some of our favorite Christmas movies.

I thought about the story this morning from a different perspective trying to imagine what it would have been like to be the people in the story and what it was like in their time.

A woman who has a questionable pregnancy in a time where women were stoned for less, a man who must believe in this woman and maybe even have to stave off other's judgments and with racing thoughts at times humble himself to take a leap of faith and accept the circumstances.

At the very time when the baby should be welcomed into a home with parents, grandparents, family and community they are forced to set off for a long trek. A donkey, the mode of transportation for a long trip. I don't know the climate or weather of the region so I can only speculate what the difficulties entailed and of course there is the need for food and water to consider.

Arriving at the town of Bethlehem and ready to give birth to Mary's first child, she must patiently wait for a place to rest to prepare for the birth. Her mother wasn't there for her, was there any woman to help with the birth? Labor, a woman's pain, months of a slow progression and finally the culmination of joy and pain all at once.

A child was born, and endured birth as any other child, a woman travails like every woman in suffering and perhaps struggling with the unknowing and uncertainty of the first child birth as a young woman.

The Wise Men, traveling a great distance following a star. They encountered a number of obstacles, they had to use cunning to keep the child safe even before they arrived at the place where he was born. I would find it hard to imagine the feelings of the parents when these strangers arrived, the wonder and fear of such guests. We think of presents for Christmas, what one of us would do if we were presented with gifts for our life and then also death. Burial herbs, how much celebration would there be if we unwrapped that Christmas morning instead of the many items we indulge ourselves in each Christmas.

Now the sheperds, my favorite. Nomads, moving their flocks, I can assure you although they may not have been held in high ranking in their society they didn't care. Living out under the stars, protecting their sheep and sharing in the wonder of their natural world. God the creator and the stewards of His creation.

Observing the star, the angel who visited them not the wealthy or people who could have made Mary and Joseph's more comfortable, the in the know people, the people they could have gotten hooked up with. They offered their joy, there reverence, their good wishes and blessings to a young family and a newborn child.

Now the picture looks a little more lifelike, God gave the world a beautiful gift, He gave us hope. There was no magical wave of an imaginary wand, the Gift was given but the labor, the effort of those who received it and the later suffering of the babe as a man were all very human I think.

Survival, mankind I believe in those days focused on survival, the effort of surviving. Where have we gone? How did we move so quickly from the unity of working towards survival to the detachment of self from all that is meaningful.

Why did an innocent baby have to be hidden away for fear of being killed, why could we not receive such a wonderful Gift as we have received so many other precious lives?

What does Christmas mean to us today at this time in our evolution as humans? Does it mean anything except time off from work, an excuse to buy things and not feel guilty? Is it really food and family when we are all exhausted and stressed out.

This morning I stopped for a moment while enjoying the quiet of the early morning and asked myself what God thinks of the celebration of Christmas, any Christmas. How can I answer that question without feeling ashamed. Christmas does not mean the celebration of the birth of Christ, it does not mean the thankfulness for Him or the sharing of His love with others. To be honest there is another god worshiped at Christmas, the god of the world and the things made by our own hands and the money to buy them. The god of "happy holidays."

The Lord, He is a wonderful Father, for He knows we need Him all year round, His gift, Jesus is here for us for all times, Christmas I think has become our holiday not Christs, but everyday if we can just remember to embrace His love in our daily lives, to share it with others. Self will parish, we will all spiritually parish without the daily struggle to survive, the struggle to gather His fruit, to be stewards of His blessings, to sow and reap His harvest in our lives and the lives of others. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Balance and simplicity

Always challenging in our culture but the keys to happiness


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Monday, December 10, 2012

Kylie's Happy Day

This weekend was busy but fun for several reasons even thought the rain is ridiculousness at this point. Friday Kylie went to see a counselor to help with the grieving she's experienced over the farm, her dad walking away from her again for months, and Mare Girls death. It is always good to talk to an impartial person and since she is 15 things are just more emotional to begin with.

I went to see Pat who is our feed dealer and visited while we picked some grain for Cody and Aubrey and we headed back towards home. I stopped at the tack shop and picked up the gently used Rocking R endurance saddle they just got in for Kylie to try out and we headed to the barn. It's about the nicest saddle I've ever seen and it fit Aubrey and Kylie perfectly. It is also a flex saddle and can be fitted to different horses. After the ride we went with Thea to Big Dee's because they had a warehouse sale just to look around. I did break down and buy a new riding helmet after 10 years of using the same one. It was on sale and it fit much better and is very comfortable, chances are I will wear one now that at least it's tolerable.

Saturday was some cleaning, working around the house and barn and grocery shopping. We stripped the stalls and fluffed them up etc. Kylie and I talked about the saddle and if we were going to keep it. Kylie rides western in my saddle or she rides in her English saddle, we have been looking for a good everyday saddle for awhile so we could trail ride together. Friday by the way, is when she trotted and cantered Aubrey for the first time in a very long time. With her dad pushing her and all the drama at the old farm she and Aubrey just couldn't seem to get back into the swing of things. She's got it now though, Thea is a good teacher and I am there giving her a little gentle push when she needs it.

That brings us to today, Sunday's are the day when I try and ride. We got a late start this morning because I needed some sleep. We got dressed and went to the barn and brushed our horses, lunged them a little and saddled them both up and rode quietly together. I bought the saddle for her before we went to the barn, her one and only Christmas gift this year. It belongs to her now, her and Aubrey and I rode together. Kylie hasn't been this happy in a long time. It's not just the saddle it's the sharing of our time that makes it important. Cody was very happy to be brushed and loved on, he took the riding gracefully. I put the English bridle on him and we worked on just walking around and getting back to the old days when we used to be a team.

Aubrey behaved very well and was happy with the attention and the love he is now getting. Okay so there were a few treats in it too.

Kylie and I had a long talk this morning about things that have been making her sad. She misses Mare Girl too, it was tough for both of us, like loosing a family member. It will be along time before we stop thinking about it I suppose.

Below is the closest I can find to the picture of the saddle Kylie got, it doesn't do it justice really.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Determination

This morning I woke up in pain all over, felt like I'd aged 30 years, just felt half dead. I got mad and decided I wasn't ready to be an old old lady just yet. I got Kylie up and informed her today was the day she was going to ride Aubrey again.

Kylie had done wonders with Aubrey, they were amazing together and Kylie had built up a great deal of confidence. Then enters the dad, Kylie's dad the horse show judge, and everything got torn down. In other words, you aren't doing it right, you aren't doing it my way, bully the horse and you'll get results faster. No positive sincere feedback, a young girl looking to her dad for approval and acceptance, the answer you aren't good enough. Every time for the longest time now Aubrey was a reminder of the negative experience and that she was never good enough, dad has disappeared again now for three months and here I am watching her suffer and trying to make her feel better again.

So, I got up and got her to the barn, we brushed our horses and lunged them. Kylie started with Aubrey from square one and the little brat thought he was going to bluff her as young horses will try with being naughty to avoid doing a little work.

Thea and I stood by and assisted when necessary and the end result was Kylie rode Aubrey and she did well and he understood that he has a job to do. I rode Cody and stunk because I don't have the balance or seat because I'm out of shape.

It was a great day to get back to the basics, to face things and make the best of them. Kylie will have her horse back and eventually her confidence. I will hopefully feel better because of physical activity to combat the stress and hard work.

Cody is just happy, to be brushed, his hooves picked, kissed and praised. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Change

Endings, new beginnings, death, and new life... It's all about change. I am no stranger to change, I think I've managed to shove several lifetimes into one. I am guessing some people are born, grow up in relatively the same home with the same people, move out but not to far away from the familiar and basically stay in about the same environment for their whole lives.

Everyone experiences loss, discovery, and the in between but to what extent for the average person I cannot say. I can't help but feel there are many mundane things about people who have generally lived a less eventful life. Shopping, TV, sports, alcohol, and I don't know just things that seem to kill time till the inevitable happens.

I am not criticizing or belittling anyone it's just hard to relate to all the sameness, the self entertainment and lack of action or purpose, I am just a square peg trying to fit in a round hole when it comes to understanding how things are in general for many people I come in contact with, okay most of the rest of the world as I know it.

Kylie and I have been in the process of grieving for the farm, not the old house but the life with horses where we were so much a part of the land and the animals. Now, we have a wonderful home which I am grateful for, a great job, at least enough money to survive. I have basically the American dream, there is some drama as I still owe money on debts I have to repay, the owner's of the old farm are trying to draw and quarter me with a lawsuit in which they feel they are entitled to an enormous amount of money etc. Still, as the average person would see it as I'm doing okay.

There isn't a struggle, nothing to push against, or to fight for life or survival. There is nothing I am passionate about for the first time in my life. I can't just go to work and come home to watch TV or just kill time, it will slowly kill me. From my childhood I've always had a restlessness in my soul, a desire but for what I didn't really know. I think I am like the horses I've taken care of, it's the open gate, the open door I strive for, to burst out of it and run wild and free without thinking of convention or correctness.

I'm not happy completely, I'm still a little lost. I feel sorry for the owner's of the old farm, they are angry and bitter, I wish they could find happiness and go on with their lives. There are friends that weren't there for me when we were going through the worst that want to reconnect but I don't want to drag the old hurts into a new life.

I miss Emmy sitting in the barn waiting for me in the morning or watching me from the rafters. I miss Mare Girl, Rauls, Preacher, Polo and William. It wasn't the place that captured my heart, it was the sound of hoof beats, of the quiet eating of hay and snorts at night in a dark barn. The joy of watching Mare run with her tail in the air, Rauls looking like a beautiful white phantom as he galloped out of the barn, Polo's soft nuzzling and joy at being with other horses that loved him. I miss Preachers stoic charm and his respectful presence. William, sweet William and his cranky disposition.

I miss the soft muzzles and gentle eyes of creatures that accepted me as I am. Kylie grew into almost a young woman and worked side by side with me. Many lives I have lived, always struggling or at the mercy of circumstances, perhaps age has taken some of the starch and grit out of me I don't know but a complaisant life will never do.

Winter is a time when things pass away, the seed is dormant and waits and rests. In the spring nature struggles and forces it's way up through the cold dark days till finally again the sun shines warm rays and life returns. This is a time of winter for me, a time of solitude, reflection, and stagnation. Change is a merciful thing sometimes because it will not always be winter in my life, it will change regardless of what I do, then I'll be pushing at an unseen gate again, trying to break free from imagined chains until I'm able to burst through and feel the deep breath of life again, ready to struggle, to find a purpose to have passion.