A Day On The Farm- Commitments

A day in the life is an every day thing for me. It is easy to get stuck in the rewind of introspection! I don’t mean to write posts that are all doom and gloom. It seems that I just tend to go down a rabbit hole when I start writing about the farm. Today, I will try to be more light hearted! We have new additions to the farm. I decided to pick up some baby goats. Last year, they were a hit! I ended up selling all of the babies from last year and I wanted to raise a few more. As well as give people a reason to come out and spend time on the farm. Baby goats are fun to be around! They are so full of life and try to jump on everything. They are ready for anything. I think that is why they are so full of joy. The mentality of why not! Something, I find myself thinking so very often but, I must pump the brakes and reflect. Stay tuned for more photos and words! Go outside and breathe in fresh air!

A Day On The Farm-Waiting

I am impatient by nature. It seems I’ve become both more and less patient since owning a farm. It’s funny, because do I actually own a farm or do I run the farm? I lease the land but own the business. What is the correct term for this situation? As I sit here on a container full of concrete (used as a door jam to keep my goats out the tool closet) I am being “bothered” by Chip, one of my original babies, for attention. He is the one that is the most skittish of the babies. You’ll have to forgive me, my ADD is pretty bad. I made the decision after Julie was sent over the Rainbow Bridge to try life without antidepressants and without medical grade stimulants. I was on antidepressants for over 15 years and I needed them throughout my teens and 20s but for the past year or so I’ve found that I was still dealing with anxiety, agoraphobia and depression. It seemed that the medicine wasn’t doing anything. So, I am letting everything leave my system. I am trying to live life without additives not because I don’t need them but because I grew resistant to them and sometimes, a person needs to hit reset on their body chemistry.

I also don’t like that with WordPress (the company I use for the backend structure for my website) when I am in blog editing mode, or any editing mode, if I want to create a new paragraph it creates a new “block” or subsection of movable information. Sometimes, I want to have several “blocks”/paragraphs together, I want to to be able to hit return without having a new block created. This simple, small issue is one of the reasons why I don’t write as much as I want to. The other reason being is that I use my phone to blog and typing on my phone is cumbersome. I keep waiting for my situation to magically change. I keep waiting for magically to reappear in this world. I keep waiting on the ability to snap my fingers and have what I need, when I need it. I grew up watching too any Disney movies and reading too many books. I wrote too many starts to too many books and I didn’t finish any of them.

Which brings me back to waiting. I keep waiting for something to happen. To win something; to be found. However, I am happy with my life, or at least with the trajectory, if I could but adjust one or two strands on the tapestry of my life. It seems, maybe, the fates have made a mistake. I am waiting for them to see it and adjust it, but does that mean they will unravel everything I’ve developed? Will I have to start over? Will I lose the people, the animals, the friends, the family in my life? Part of me says oh well, but most of me says, no way. I am building something here. I have had to make a lot of adjustments and many sacrifices to arrive at this point. I still have weird dreams where I am back in college or sometimes even in high school. Oftentimes, I am in the lunch room. I was cruel at times. Defensive. I had so much I felt I had to prove, to protect. Yet, I wore myself out that way. Now, I feel hollow, as though I am a ghost. Haunted by things I cannot remember, cruelty I wore without realizing it. Maybe, my dreams are trying to get me to remember the cruelty I wore like armor. Maybe, my mind had been waiting for me to wake up from the “slumber” of my feeling & emotions. I am easily angered and I have to hold on to my humanity in those dark moments because when I forget my humanity I forget who I am and what I dream of.

I feel close to my goats because the general public’s opinion of them is close to how I view myself. It’s funny that I gravitate towards these animals when at one time, I thought they were gross, unfriendly creatures. Now, I adore them. I adore how clever they are. I adore how obnoxious they can be. I adore what they’ve taught me. Maybe, they are waiting for me to figure out who I am.

A Day on the Farm- Awake

At this very moment on this rather blustery Friday morning I feel oddly awake. Let my preface that with a quick admission, I have a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. This sleep disorder often leaves me groggy and exhausted both physically and mentally. I live in a near constant state of sleep deprivation. There have been studies on the effects of sleep deprivation and those studies show rather unpleasant realities. I was diagnosed with my disorder in 2009 but I started showing signs of my sleep disorder in 2006.  I have a love/hate relationship with sleep. It drives me nuts that I have to sleep so much and yet I never feel rested.

I often feel like Evie, let me sleep right here.

Of course while I was writing the above paragraph I was multi tasking and doing water for the horses. The hose slipped and sprayed me from my waist to my boot. There I stood with 2 layers of pants soaking wet. I finished filling up the water troughs and am now sitting in the barn aisle with the goats. I have Julie’s cooler on my legs, if a cooler can pull water from a horse’s fur then it must be able to pull water from leggings?? Today would be a lovely day if it weren’t for the wind.

Julie on her 27th birthday wearing the cooler

Today marks the three months since I had to say good by to Julie. Her birthday is March 22nd. She would have turned 29. I remember telling her when I first got her that she had to live until she was 32; that way I would have owned her (or she would have owned me? I would have been her human?) For half of her life. Julie did her best. She stayed for as long as she could but in the end time and genetics got the best of her. I know I am struggling with grief in my own way. I often feel robotic or run down. I know that I will find an even keel. At times I feel like I should be more distraught over losing her. However, I know that Julie wouldn’t want me bemoaning her death for too long. It is a bit confusing navigating this path of loss. I wonder why I feel her death so keenly when the death of my father I avoided acknowledging. Will I be the same way when I lose other family members? Have I told my family how much they mean to me? I guess I assume they know but in case they don’t- dear family, please know I love you all so much and I am so thankful to call you all my family. Thank you, for being there for me.

Evie says thank you
Aladdin says thank you
Aladdin & I say thank you

A Day On the Farm- Experiences

This crazy weather is driving me batty. One day it is lovely, the next it is down right cold and windy. I am still relatively young but I have to say, that I find with each passing year it gets harder and harder for my body and mind to adjust to the weather changes. I would love to have some time to just enjoy the animals I care for but, lately, I get to enjoy how much poop they produce. See below photos of the goats munching on hay which gets turned into manure.

Goats working on turning hay to poo
Aladdin & Igor working on turning hay to poop
Evie walking looking left
Another photo of goats turning hay into poop.

I always start out with a grand idea to write something important, interesting and engaging but what happens is a whole lot of nothing. I experience this perpetual sense of writer’s block. It is as though my mind is trapped in an endless loop.

Maybe my mind is trapped in the loop. As I write this post I am wondering about all the things I want to write about, however the moment I want to write things down my idea all flee from me. It is similar to how my mustangs act. They love people because people bring food but actually working with people is a no go.

A Day At The Farm- Intentions

Isn’t it funny that I started this blog post yesterday with the intention to write it yesterday. It is hard to write a post about intentions when my mind can barely focus on everything that is going on.

So, this post will be a whole bunch of photos. Because I want to write; I have this intention to write about the animals at the farm but photos are easier to share.

I wanted to mention that I am starting/developing a new blog. It is called A Sleepy Equestrian. I will have to link the blog in at some point.

Stay safe everyone, thank you for taking a gander at the photos.

A Day on the farm-exhaustion

Bear sleeping in the hay

It’s been two days since I wrote a post. I meant to write one yesterday but I was busy. It started off with a new horse busting a fence board and having to chase him around and get him in a paddock. I’ll post about him in the next few days. Then a neighbor stopped by to see the new little one. I still haven’t posted about her either. After the neighbor left I had about an hour to feed the animals and take a moment or two to myself.

Broken board, horses in a ring

At 9 am I had a student come, he does a morning program on Wednesdays from 9 to 12. He is a great kid but requires a lot of focus. He helped me with finishing turning horses out & watering the horses. We also threw hay to a few of the horses. After that we got the trash cans & replacement boards for the damaged paddock. I also had to do a quick look at Pixie, one of the goats, because she had projectile diarrhea. After all that was sorted my 11 o clock lesson showed up. So, I taught a double header riding lesson while trying to keep track of my student. Luckily, one of the community members came and helped pick out paddocks and my student helped with that.

Horses sleeping

My day just started! After my lesson and my student leaving I had an intern come and help with picking out more paddocks. During that time I tried to eat lunch while taking a chill pill and prepping for my afternoon. I am a solitary person and so chatting about life when I just need quiet is draining. I like just being around the animals. Fast forward to 2 pm and my afternoon students arrive. I dive in and start teaching them how to clean stalls and work with the animals and pay attention to the world around them. More students come and we are working on riding and brushing and I am doing my best to get horses’ stalls done and not fall asleep.

The day was a long one and by the end of it I wanted to crash. Students were at the barn until 6 pm. I was on doing triple duty until about 6:30 pm. While the kids were at the farm I was also trying to answer emails about summer programs and riding lessons.

Igor & Aladdin sleeping

The day before I got the chance to ride my spoiled horse, Fae. I made the mistake of trying my hunt seat saddle on Fae. She didn’t like that one bit. So, I had to do some ground driving on her and then a saddle switch. We did our first attempt at a dressage test which we sort of figured out. Fae needs to be ridden more consistently and I need to be better about riding her.

Fae getting ready for work

My mind just gets so overwhelmed with everything that needs doing. I often think I need to reduce my animal numbers. The question is what is the magic number? Where is my carrying capacity? Is it 2 goats and 4 horses or 4 goats and 2 horses? How do I balance wanting to teach and work with animals with keeping my energy levels even? Oh. Did I mention my allergies are kicking in. Well. Stay tuned. I’ll be back!

A Day At The Farm-Making Decisions

Aladdin being super cute.  Jazzy in the background
Aladdin being super cute. Igor in the background

Owning a farm comes with making a lot of decisions. Sometimes, those decisions are easy. Sometimes, they are hard. I hate the hard decisions. These decisions are the ones about the animals themselves. The hardest decisions are the ones about letting animals go.

On December 19th, 2020 I had to make the decision to let my mare, Julie, go. She was 28 years old and I believed she would live forever. She had such a tough spirit but her body started to give out last summer. It was harder to keep weight on her. She started to move slower and she just seemed to be in pain. Here are a few photos of her last few days. She stuck it out until the end but her last 24 hours she wasn’t comfortable standing or laying down. The vet said we could give her meds to keep her pain down but the end result would be the same, it was Julie’s time.

Losing Julie was hard, it was the hardest, saddest, most painful thing I’ve experienced in a long time. Losing her felt like losing a piece of my soul. However, losing her also opened my eyes to all that I have. I have her daughter Fae, and Fae is exactly what I needed. As I’ve dealt with the decision to let Julie go, my other animals have reminded me that I have so much to focus on and care for and love on. I am thankful for my friends, family and my animals. I don’t know what I would do without everyone.

I am sure I will write more about losing Julie as it is still sinking in that she is gone. However, this post wasn’t supposed to be about Julie. It was supposed to be about making the decisions to keep or sell goats. My goats are relatively recent to me. I originally decided to get a goat in 2018 because I am allergic to poison ivy and goats love to eat it. Now, I have a lot more because goats are like chips, you can’t have just one.

My first goat was/is Meredith “Mary” and I got her because she was beating up her herd mate and her owner was afraid of her horns. I met Mary and knew she was supposed to come to my farm. I love Mary to bits! She is stubborn, opinionated, loves attention and is a great momma. However, she doesn’t like being in a big herd. My herd of between 10 to 15 goats stresses her out. She has made this known by going after my younger doelings (not related to her).

Over the past few weeks she has given me signs that she needs a smaller herd. A place where she is the head goat and more of a family pet. I never thought I would be faced with the decision of selling her and her daughters. From the beginning I always said Mary and any of her children were keepers. Especially, if she had any doelings, they would definitely be keepers.

Mary & family
Mary & family, Igor walking towards me

However, it seems that what I planned and what will happen are two different things. I am selling Mary, Jazzy & Pixie this coming Friday. It hurts a lot to let them go but I know that they need something different than I can provide. I remember looking at Jazzy and Pixie not so long ago and apologizing to them for the fact that they don’t get the attention they want because their bigger brothers are attention hogs. It’s the same for Mary, she allows her sons to take the spotlight because they crave it.

I have raised and trained all of my goats to crave human attention and companionship. Below is a photo of one my young does that wouldn’t allow me to get within 10 feet of her when she first got to the farm. She now comes up to me and follows me around like a dog. We even had a lot of snuggles today while I started writing this post.

Maddie sleeping next to me

Looking at my little goat herd I have to remember that my goats may have to leave the farm. My goal with my goats is to train them to be friendly, loveable and people oriented. It will be interesting to see how Surprise reacts to Mary leaving. I know Mary’s boys will be upset but they will survive. Having fewer goats will be good. Truth be told, part of this decision is because both Maddie & Evie are due to have kids soon and I really don’t want more than 15 goats. I will still have Mary’s bloodlines in the Evie & Maddie’s kids as Ivan is the sire of the unborn kids.

Ivan sleeping in a wagon of hay.

The one thing I’ve learned from running my small farm is that change happens and to expect it. Making decisions is also part of this job/lifestyle. As I move forward in this career/life my goal is not forget the animals that have helped form the farm. Stay tuned for more updates!

A Day on the Farm- Sunny

Farming life is a 24/7/365. It isn’t for the faint of heart, but you know that. Having this type of life is a long term commitment, but you know that as well. So, the question is, why? Why do I do this? Well, that is a good question. A question that I often ask myself when I am tired, dirty and ready to fall over but still have more to do.

It could be because I don’t know what else I want to do. As a child, I would play with dolls but mainly, I liked playing with my horses. I enjoyed contemplating how horses and animals interact with each other. I was fascinated by how horses communicated. As I grew older I expanded my interest to how cats, dogs, goats & sheep communicate. I loved trying to figure out how different mammals “talked” with each other. At least looking back at my formative years I feel as though I wanted to learn about how to communicate with animals.

Which has brought me to where I am today, a barn full of horses and goats. Young and old; all relying on me to provide them with the care they need. So many creatures that love attention and being around humans. They have learned that humans equal food and comfort. Early this morning we welcomed a gorgeous mule foal to the farm. She is owned by one of my boarders. Her name is Sunny and the name fits.

I am tired and relieved. Both mom and baby seem to be doing well. I feel as though I should write something profound but mainly I just want to say “thank goodness, everything went well. I didn’t need to deal with a difficult birth.” Momma is a little leery of people. We’ve had a lot of people stop by and come in and out. I canceled my afternoon activities and I tried to reduce the activity outside of Poppy’s stall. There will be well wishers and people who want to come and see the adorable baby. So, I will do my best to accommodate those who wish to come and see the foal while also keeping Poppy and Sunny relaxed.

For now, I am going to say farewell as I am feeling groggy and want to catch a few minute of sleep before I begin another round of caring for all the creatures big and small.

The virus, the farm & life

From the archives of my drafts. Originally written April 15th,2020

I have about ten different ways I wanted to start this post. All of them lack something. These days it is hard trying to establish a direction. It seems that I am stuck between ideas/plans/directions. The pandemic definitely came at bad time but when is a good time for a pandemic to hit?

I am dealing with several different problems or hurdles that seem insurmountable right now. How do I go about resolving those problems? It seems that of late, I have been at several crossroads. The fact is that I have everything I need. I have the pieces of the puzzle and I just need to execute the plans I’ve created. Maybe that is what I need to create a goal/playbook for establishing and expanding my business.

As a riding instructor my time is spent teaching others how to ride and work with horses. It is people intensive. I love it but I also get tired teaching and working with people. That is the thing about a farm, it isn’t a job that you can do alone. You need a team of people to help you in order to succeed. Success is about being able to expand and do more than what you can do alone and that has been a big hurdle for me. I don’t want to need help but maybe that sounds a lot like pride.

Hank and I we both have a lot of pride. Most of my horses are like me, they can do everything themselves. They don’t need help. Just ask Fae, she would tell you that she can feed herself and take herself out to pasture. However, my horses are in a place where they prefer human interaction. Even my cranky old Hankee man. He likes attention, he will hang out with me and he looks for time with the human. I need to take that realization and use it to my advantage because I am struggling with pride

Covid & the farm

You ever have a day or a week where you keep hoping to wake up from a bad dream? Yea, I feel you on that. As I am sure any of you agree, 2020 was one of those years but 2020 also was the year my baby goats were born. The year I worked hard to develop my business and the year I lost my heart horse.

2020 was the year that changed who I was into who I am. It is the year that marked a point for me. It was the year I said good bye to a horse who was a focal point for me for over a decade.

I lost Julie but I didn’t loose all she taught me, or all that she gave me. Writing this post is hard. A part of me wants to avoid it. To ignore it, to shut it away and keep my heart from aching but another part of me wants to show everyone how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve changed because of Julie and what she added to my life.

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