Sunday, May 26, 2013

we've got a line in the sky

Am I the luckiest person in the world to own these three gorgeous, shiny, geldings and get to keep them in this lush, happy, wild field? Answer: YES!!!!!
Life has been stripped of all its non-essential elements lately. Horses and daughter and husband in the abstract Instagram bubble. So, if there is a lag in my posts and you wonder where I am...just pop over here...and you can catch up in photos. I am enjoying the simplicity of it all! 

Today's first ride was on Pie. This photo was taken before we fell into a hole...

We were off our property and investigating our neighbor's new path...when suddenly Pie's butt was level with the earth!!!! He was so good and calm and with much effort, pulled himself up and out. Poor sweet boy! I was worried but kept him walking and he did not have any swelling or lameness. The ground was soft and loamy and very unlike normal sinkholes or groundhog holes on our farm. Our leprechaun-esque neighbor, whom we were following, made me think that we had fallen into a new, middle-earth kind of place. I am not up on even cursory Mordor lingo, but there was something so woodsy and sprite and mossy about our companion and Pie's strange sinking downward. Both gave the whole weird experience a mythical feel.

After the ride Pie questions me, "Julwee, how could you let that happen?" I felt really awful but he seems perfect - thank goodness!

This one is Pie too. I rode Sovereign second, but left the camera behind. Sovey had been sprayed by a skunk sometime during the night and he really smelled strong! Pie kept curling his lip whenever he would get near Sovey! These guys are comedians.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Who's that lounging in my chair

Here is the big boy, Pie, practically squeezing into the tackroom before our ride. We don't let horses in our tiny tackroom, but Pie thinks he is a little one. We have a French metal table and chair set in there and I can just imagine Pie happily enjoying tea.

My mare, Penny Lane, sat in a lawn chair at a horse show once, but that is a story for another day...

Everything is a story for another day. This is my second stab at this post. I wrote a huge philosophical essay right here all day and then ended up saving it to draft. Someday, maybe I'll return to it, but for now, the Instagram aesthetic has bit me. Less is more.

On my way to and from the barn all spring and summer, I see this sign. It always makes me laugh - that "Y" is hysterical to me - the whole composition is funny. I finally stopped and took the picture. They were probably wondering what I was doing in their yard.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

the color of the sky

Yesterday's ride on Foggy was one of my best ever - very much like my spring rides as a teenager. Early evening into darkness with cotton candy clouds overhead and spring flowers everywhere. Sigh. 

Maizie had tennis in the morning and the afternoon was consumed with family time so I snuck over at six pm and was done tacking up the little Foggy at seven.

He is my evening boy. Pie and Sovereign have a tendency to act unhappy in the evening, questioning why I'm visiting at the wrong time. But, Foggy is a flexible little implet, happy to head out for a ride anytime. His whole personality and demeanor is one of light, silly ease. His gestures toward me and the other horses are playful and funny. We call him Flibbergiblet - evolved from Flibbertigibbet, a flighty or whimsical person. 

Foggy is the most whimsical horse I have ever seen. He doesn't mind any change in the routine. Last evening he read my thoughts, walking forward toward the north, refusing to stay on our property, taking me through the streets of neighborhoods with verve and interest. I live to ride horses who never want to go back to the barn and last night I was on one.

We investigated everywhere. He boldly marched toward music we heard playing in the distance. I couldn't tell if it was a small concert or a private party and I made sure not to get too close to find out. Foggy is the type of horse who demands to see up close and personal any kind of event like that. I laugh and lose my resolve and ultimately get us into trouble so I was careful to keep him away from any sightings of the party. But, the music floated happily toward us and I could easily forget myself in the light, the fragrance, the loveliness of it all.

We saw the baby foxes and a male and female Baltimore Oriole, a raccoon, and two deer. It was so dark when I put the boys back outside and snapped their photo (above), I had to turn up the light on Instagram to even see them. But, look at the pink clouds the light filter caught. The clouds were grey to the naked eye by that time, but the pink must have still been there. Wow. 

A Jenny Wren built a nest in Brian's helmet in our tackroom. Here is a picture of the helmet...

...and here is a shot of this little family sleeping in their helmet nest! 

The mom flies in and out a tiny mouse hole at the bottom of the tackroom wall and feeds her babies during the day. Last night I figured I could finally get a photo without disturbing anyone. Adorable!

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

What's going on?

Here are the boys in their pasture on Kentucky Derby evening. Foggy and I just got back from an amazing ride. He has been bucking and playing and full of himself on our rides, which secretly pleases me because he is the right weight finally. All the horses look so good in early May. Their winter coats are almost all gone and they haven't bleached out yet. Three black beauties.

On this blog I've always tried to post about happy things and pretty much ignore annoying events. Don't worry - I am 100% honest about the horses and their good, bad, silly, or annoying behavior because I honestly do not view anything they do as "really bad" or problematic. I tell the whole story when it comes to them because a buck here or there or a new bad habit or a ride with rushing is not something that worries me too much. It always works out in time. The blog is about them so I tell everything.

But other problems and daily annoyances on our farm or with other people I try to ignore and don't talk about. I believe in Pollyanna's Glad Game on many philosophical levels. I believe that when you focus on bad events by telling and rehashing them it can make you sick inside and ultimately bring more horridness your way. I also believe that there are silver linings hidden in most bad events. You just have to look hard to find them at times.

So this post might get long and fraught with emotion under the surface as I wrestle to stay the course and choose the high road. I haven't had the urge to post recently. I can see no way around our latest losses without talking about them.

The horses are perfectly alive and well so that is good! Our farm, however, has taken many assaults in the last six months and I can no longer ignore the devastation. I will try to intersperse my words with spring photos to keep it light! Here are three happy pictures below.

This sweet, snoozing pair greeted me a few days ago. That is Pie stretched out and Sovey looking at me. Foggy was tucked in the back of the shed sleeping. I tried to get a photo of all three, but of course, Pie jumped up and it was all over in a second. 

How Foggy got up and out so fast I'll never know!

So on to the icky stuff:
Late last summer, the three acre lot on the south west corner of our farm was sold to the auto auction across the street. This lot had a barn and was owned by my uncle. My grandfather had sold it to my uncle in 1962 so he could have horses there. 

Here is a photo of the lot and barn before it was sold. My grandfather made sure that the lot did not have driveway access so that it could not be developed and would only be valuable to us in the event my uncle ever wanted to sell it. Well, my uncle and his son sold it to the auto auction rather than to us ($$$) and the new owner cut down all the trees and seems to be moving toward making this corner part of the auction. Of course the agricultural zoning does not permit this use, but money has a way of moving mountains in the zoning world.

We fenced off the property in October to save our trees from accidental cutting, but all last summer and fall I heard the buzzing of saws and banging of backhoes as the new owner cleared a much loved green riding space. I would start to tack up a horse and see the destruction and get sick to my stomach. 

When we returned from Florida, I was terribly depressed about our farm and its current state. We are so fortunate to have 40 acres and I try to remember that. My horses have fabulous pastures and seem very happy to me. But, there is no avoiding the truth - our agricultural farm is plopped right in the middle of an industrial zone. It is so loud and the air is full of truck exhaust. If someone gave you 40 acres and told you that you could use it for horses but the catch was that the 40 acre lot had been a rest area on I-95, would you take it? That is how loud our farm is some evenings. It is exactly like a rest area. The grass and pastures are completely surrounded by trucks and exhaust. I wish I were exaggerating.

I do not take anti-depressants or any medication at all, so when I get depressed, I go to the barn and I run or ride. We have a one mile running loop around the perimeter of the farm. Before or after a ride, I can get my endorphin rush by running a few laps and visiting the boys.

The man who bought the corner lot and cut down the trees is named Chip. I call him "Potato Chip" to keep myself sane and when Potato Chip has an especially busy day cutting and destroying, I ride and run exclusively in our north east corner of the woods to avoid his chainsaw.

On one such early morning run in the woods, I was shocked to find huge chainsaws, trucks, and cherry pickers on our land. It seems that our property has three pipelines running under it and one overhead power line. All these utilities are maintained under easement agreements and one pipeline had just been sold. The new company decided to clear the entire pipeline.

These two photos above show what this back corner looked like before the clearing. Here is my ride on Pie yesterday.

Our woods are not very large at all so this clearing took about a quarter of what we had. We are still struggling to find our old trails. They are gone.

These two photos above are from the same ride at a different location. My rides are short and land-locked. The farm has been butchered. And, I am struggling with the meaning of it all, but just look how happy Pie is munching grass out on our ride. I have to keep these two photos and this vision in my brain. I have three, happy, healthy horses on 40 kooky acres. It could be better, but it could be much worse.