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. 


  1. Well, it seems VERY invasive to me, and I would struggle with it too. Pushing boundaries physically and well, right into your happy place, would be VERY tough to handle. Is it possible to talk to "Tooth Chip" (I love potato chips far too much)to see what his intentions are, or stopping point?? I'm not sure of his personality and if it would be an honest answer or even a convo you would want to have.
    Do try to focus on the change, that you can't stop, as a way to teach your 3 boys about changing scenery. Maybe a wider area is perfect for a hand gallop? OR a twosome ride??
    You are entitled to feel frustrated of course.

    1. Thanks Kristen! You make me laugh - I love potato chips too much also - tooth chip - very apropos! And, all three horses have been real troupers about the change - very good over the new terrain!

  2. About 18 months ago I gave permission for large machinery to come through my property. The intention was to clear and reroute the woods horseback trail through the next door neighbor's lot, as there was fear that the original route would be closed.

    After the smoke cleared, no trail was created, but trees were knocked over and dropped on my side, gates and fencing was damaged, and worst of all, the back third of my lot - where my new arena was planned to live - is now perpetually under water.

    The original route of the marsh drainage has been interrupted so that it backs up on my place, knee deep, year round. Many thousand $$$$ will be needed to rectify the situation. I can't think about it for any length of time as it makes me sick and angry.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I definitely know how you feel. I have tried to expend my energy coming up with creative alternatives to solve the issue. A wise friend of mine is prone to saying - "Good news, bad news, too soon to tell..."

    1. Oh C. - I am sooo sorry. I had no idea you were going through such a mess. I love your friend's saying - that is pretty much what my Brian has said too. I guess you and I both will be looking forward to find out if our "clearings" are good news after all. Take care! Kisses to Val!

  3. When we first moved to New Mexico we were the fifth or sixth house in our area and we had lots of open land around us. We knew it wouldn't last, but when the development started it was hard. The economic slump slowed things down or it would have been even worse than it is today. We still have areas we can ride through the sage, but not nearly as much.

    It sounds as if the answer is to keep your focus on your horses and ignore the surroundings as best you can. That's what we try to do.


    1. Thanks Dan - You have the perfect solution - exactly! I have to focus on the horses. I had no idea you and Betty were dealing with similar encroachment issues.

  4. It must be very hard to keep positive thoughts going with all the assaults on your property, your air and your sanity.

    1. Thanks Annette - I guess we need to move to Aspen Meadows!!! :)

    2. Also, Annette - I just sent this to you via LinkedIn so not sure if you will come back here, but these are the steps to fix your problem on your blog. Love your post complete with big ears and your adorable donkeys! Hope you see this!

      Go to your Blogger dashboard for your blog, and click the Google+ option from the menu on the left.

      On the Google+ settings page for your blog, untick the box next to "Use Google+ Comments on this blog"

      That will automatically switch you back to regular Blogger comments.

      A couple of notes:

      • once you switch back to Blogger comments, the Google+ comments will no longer display

      • if you have a custom template that required you to add the code for G+ comments to your blog's template directly, you'll probably have to edit your template again.

      But normally, just going to the Google+ settings for your blog will do the trick.

  5. Very sorry - it must be very hard to put up with all of that. The only bright spot, I guess, is that your horses are happy and healthy - and just think of all the despooking opportunities! But I'm still sorry to hear your tale . . .

  6. Thanks Kate! You are right about the despooking - we have three horses who have seen it all!

  7. I'm sure the situation is hard to deal with. Maybe you could talk to Tooth Chip and try to come to some sort of arrangement that you will both be happy with. 40 acres is a nice size piece of property and the horses are happy and healthy so that's a plus.

    1. Thanks Grey Horse Matters. It is a nice sized property and the horses are happy.

  8. What a drag to have all this happening, especially while you were in FL. I hope everything gets resolved in a positive manner. As many other readers said, good for desensitizing? Yeah, I know, not REALLY a positive spin, but a way to look at a brighter side? Every time I see survey flags in the woods, my heart aches, worrying we may be losing more green space. Good luck! Great shots of the guys snoozing.

    1. I think of you guys up there in Maine and I just assume your woods are safe, but nothing is safe really, even if you own it.

  9. Jules An Bri, Truly Sorry About These Travails. It's Heart Wrenching, And You Sure Kept It In, A Long Time. Glad You've Shared, And Seems, Found A Common Thread With Loss Of Land And Land Uses.
    I Hate How Nothing Stays The Same.

    I, Not Being A Land Owner, Have To Board...Which Makes Me Instantly Think Of 2 Glorious Consolations In Your Favor...40 Acres To Keep Your Own Horses On...And The Fact, THEY ARE HEALTHY, HAPPY HORSES!

    Are They Upset?
    That's Just A Little Question I Ask
    Myself, When I'm Losing It. Is My Mare Okay(?) And If Yes, I've Got To Find Another Way To Appreciate My Life, And See(Look For) The "Hidden "Blessings.

    This Is Rough, And I'm Sorry. Hang In. Maybe "Tooth Chip" Could Be Approached. But Whatever The Out Comes, You Keep Riding, Running, And Looking Up, Lovely Friend.

    Pulling For You, From Here,

    1. Thanks Kacy! I thought of you when I saw the clearing in our woods. I know you deal with logging clearing all the time. Thank you for your supportive words!

  10. Thought Of You Today....Loggers Showed Up Today, Right Behind Our Stable....I Wanted To Ride, But, The Thunderous Falling,30-40 Year Old Trees, Was Too Scary For The Mare.

    Change Is A Constant Of Life. My Joy Can Not Be Taken!

  11. Oh no - not again! Good for you for not letting your joy to be taken. And you are right - change is constant!

  12. Hi Juliette, don't despair! The really marvelous thing about weeds and trees and plants is that whatever Potato Chips do to them, they keep on growing! I once heard an anthroposophical practitioner say that when the earth is wounded, the first thing it does to heal its wound is grow weeds over the injury. Well, you can imagine how this changed my way of seeing weeds. But! I predict that the area that is so bald and heartbreaking now, will be all overgrown again, and probably sooner than you might think. The earth will not be conquered! And especially not by Potato Chips! I understand completely how you feel. I would feel crushed too. In fact, reading this post was emotional for me too! But I think crabbing about it is actually good. Complaining helps one clarify true feelings. In the meantime, those pictures of your trio lounging about are so adorable I squeal.


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