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.

Leaping Into Spring

I don’t know about you but all of this talk about quarantine and social distancing is depressing! Luckily, here at Hidden Meadow, we offer private and semi private riding lessons. Our aim is to make sure people get to enjoy nature during all seasons! Horse riding is a great way to have fun while sticking to social distancing techniques! We work to space our lessons out so that contact with others is limited. We cater to children and adults! We also have a small herd of goats that provide comedic relief and peacefulness. They are a perfect distraction from life. The photo below is of Romeo hanging out in one of our pony’s stalls.

We are open seven days a week and we can schedule lessons for am, midday and pm. We can work around your schedule. Please note we do require at least 24 hour appointment booking because we are a working farm and have to care for our animals! We cannot offer trail rides at this time due to flooding of the Connecticut River. All of our riding is in our large sand arena. We have ponies and horses for all levels of riding. As a special offer for all parents who are currently home schooling or monitoring cyber school we have several competitively priced lesson options- see below. We accept all major credit cards. Schedule a lesson by contacting Felicia at 860-532-5898.

1 hour lesson for 2 children

Looking to get your children out of the house and want them to enjoy nature? Do you want to immerse them in the physical world so that they can better appreciate what they have access to? This is a great option for them! Price is for two children to ride for about 30 minutes total lesson time is 60 minutes. We go over how to brush & prepare the horse for a lesson

$60.00

Ground lesson with horses & goats

Looking for something for your child to do but they don't want to ride? Then a ground lesson is a perfect solution for them! This is a 40 minute lesson for children to learn about parts of the horse and how to lead and handle them on the ground. We offer this lesson to children ages 3 and up.

$25.00

We are here for you during these strange and confusing times. Our mission is to help people get back to nature. We want to encourage people to take the time to appreciate how amazing our world is. While we focus on children, our doors are open to everyone and we love meeting new people! Our last option is for adults who just want to get outside and do something different! Again contact Felicia at 860-532-5898 to schedule a lesson/appointment.

One hour of nature

This is for adults who just need a break from work, life, home, or being inside. Come and spend time with our animals. Take in the gorgeous views of the Connecticut River Valley and maybe dig in the soil. We strive to provide a place of peace and relaxation. As one of our community members put it- time stops when your at Hidden Meadow. Sometimes all you need is a little relaxation.

$35.00

If you or someone you know needs a break then come to Hidden Meadow where our animals offer a sense of peace and relaxation. There is something for everyone here and we want people to enjoy what we have to offer. We look forward to seeing you!

Hank talks Poop

Hank eating hay

With all of the panic about coronavirus, Covid-19, Hank would like to talk about poop. Specifically, about the fact that humans seem to have an obsession with it. Out in the wild Hank would eat his poop because it was a source of nutrition. Hank believes that you shouldn’t waste anything. So, naturally he likes to eat his poop. Now, before you get all squeamish and say eww gross (which, I agree, it is rather gross). Let’s hear Hank out.

Life with humans is very strange- Hank

Hank coming to see if there are treats

Living with humans is very strange. They have all of these weird things that they do. One of the strangest things that I have found is their fascination with picking up poop. They use this large black thing and they have this tree branch looking thing that has teeth on the end. The humans will come into my area and they will use the tree branch to put the poop into the black thing. At first, I thought maybe they eat the poop. I eat my poop, it is full of nutrients and what better way to make use of your resources than by making sure to eat everything available to you. So I watched to see if maybe they ate the poop. Humans do not eat the poop. They put it into a giant pile and just let it sit there. Which makes no sense what so ever. Why would humans take the poop and then just pile it up? It’s wasted that way!

After a while there is a large machine that scoops up the poop into its big mouth but that machine doesn’t eat it either! Instead, it spits out the poop into another large trough, a trough for something huge! I’ve never seen anything eat out of that trough but I have seen another mechanical beast take the trough away. So, maybe there is a beast that eats it? I don’t understand why the humans would feed a beast that big but then again there is much about humans I don’t understand.

Hank taking a nap and wondering about humans

My solution to this confusion about poop is to eat the poop. If I eat the poop then the human doesn’t have to walk around in my paddock and take it away. If I eat the poop then I get left alone. If I eat the poop and the human sees me, she will yell at me and then bring me more hay. So, to me, eating poop makes life better for everyone and usually means I’ll get more food. It’s a win, win for everyone.

The human has said something about worms but I don’t know what she means about them. I think poop is good for the body. It has to be if the humans are so focused on taking it away! I think there is some sort of conspiracy going on.

Hank thinking about how weird humans are

Celebrate Spring with a special offer!

Take advantage of these great weather and our desire to be outside! We are offering a cabin fever special to encourage you all to come out and ride!

We had rain here last evening! The special ran until we had rain. Keep an eye on our blog for more options or sign up via our regular pricing packages!

We offer great pricing and flexible scheduling!

Love is in the Air!

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year! Love is in the air and we, at Hidden Meadow want to show how much we love our customers, clients & students! Now through February 18th we are offering special prices on our packages! We want to recognize all of our customers and we want to say thank you to everyone who is part of our farm!

See below for special pricing on our packages!


Specially Priced Packages:


Buy 2 lessons get 1 free lesson!

A great choice to show those you love that you are thinking about them! This is a great valentine's day gift! Purchase today and give the gift of fun on valentine's day. These are hour long lessons; lessons include tacking and untacking of the horse, ride time is about 40 minutes. Private or semi private lessons. Call or text to schedule a lesson.

$80.00


Buy 3 lessons get 2 free lessons!

If you want to give an extra special gift this valentine's day then purchase this amazing deal! Five riding lessons for the price of three! This is priced well below retail value. If you want to give the gift of fun and a way to enjoy the outdoors then this is the option you should purchase! Price is for three plus two (1) hour riding lessons. Lessons include tacking and untacking of the horse. Ride time is about 40 minutes. Lessons may be private or semi private lessons.

$130.00


Try out Hidden Meadow Equestrian Center & see what we are all about!

Contact us today for any questions or to schedule a lesson!

https://www.facebook.com/HiddenMeadowEC/

Hank’s second month

Hank eating alfalfa cubes

The human that seems to be “ours” is acting strange. The scent of something hangs about her. It is not fear but it is close to it. I am not certain what is going on but I watch as people come and go. A few days ago a small one was born. She whinnied and I responded. I do not know where the little one is but I let her know I am watching over her. That same morning strange humans came to the farm. They took photos and whispered to each other. I didn’t like the way they moved around the facility. They seemed to dislike our corrals but I could smell water near by and the mud that was in our paddocks seemed to dry when we had a few days of sunshine. I kept away from those humans and I tried to keep Ruger from them as well.

Two of the mares that came with us were pregnant. They all had separate corrals but the gray mare was closest to us and in mud that was slow to dry. The human who seemed to worry the most worried about the gray mare. Other humans that were at the farm seemed to ignore what the alpha humans said. The other humans would sit around and complain about the alpha human. One rainy day when none of the other humans were around a truck and a trailer came. I finally figured out what the humans called those things. Two humans appeared out of the trailer and they opened the back of the trailer. The mare the alpha human called Magpie was guided onto the trailer. They left and the two other mares watched as did I and Ruger. The gray mare was guided through a short channel to the paddock that Magpie had been in. The rain kept on coming and I would go in the wooden shelter that was in our corral only if hay was put in it. After a little while the truck and trailer returned. This time the gray mare was guided onto the trailer. She was close to having her baby and it seemed the alpha human was worried about her. It’d been three weeks since we got off the trailer and we still didn’t trust the green things the humans put down for us.

The next day after the two mares left the alpha human brought out the green things. In the green things was something that smelled familiar. Ruger went for the bucket and I waited until the human stepped away then I pushed Ruger out of the way to taste what was in the green thing. The food was delicious. It tasted of home and of something else. Something that was round and slightly crunchy. I ate every bite of that food and wondered why they humans were giving us such delicious food. They also made sure we had fresh water. They would drag a long black snake and the snake would spit water into a small black puddle that seemed to stay in place. It was similar to what we drank out of when we were at the place before our journey. Life here was strange and familiar. I watched as the humans approached and seemed to connect to the strange horses. The horses that wore weird things on their faces. Those horses also seemed to want the attention of the humans. When the humans would come to look at us those other horses would try and get the attention of the humans.

A few weeks after the two mares left another trailer showed up. This time the alpha human wasn’t here. There were two other human females here and they smelled of something I didn’t like. Deception and deceit. The little one and her mom were led out of their corral. I watched as they were led. Something wasn’t right. This wasn’t like last time. I wondered if the alpha human knew what was happening. Ruger and I watched as the little one and her mom were put into the trailer. I didn’t like the two humans that took the two horses away. I didn’t like the human that drove the loud truck that belched smoke. She was afraid of us. She would throw hay and then sit around. I sensed that the alpha human wouldn’t like what was happening while she was gone.

A few hours later the alpha human returned and she was upset. I could sense the unrest in her movement and her voice sounded different. A male human in uniform came in a car and spoke to the alpha human as well as the other humans that smelled of deception. They sounded like they were upset but they didn’t smell like they were sad. They smelled like they were trying to hide something. There was so much going on but I only caught a few sentences “It’s going to cost me more money to fight this than I can set aside. I don’t have enough time to deal with this and work full time and run a farm. I feel betrayed. I can’t believe this happened. Well, I just can’t even right now.”

The alpha human was distracted and she seemed like she was beaten. Her eyes looked like she was giving up. It was the same look that I had seen in the eyes of my herd members when we were loaded onto the metal caves that took us away from our pasture land. The alpha human’s name was Felicia. It was a strange word. A word I didn’t understand but it seemed to be her label. The same as she labelled me Hank and Ruger, Ruger and Lark, Lark.

Ruger was put in a paddock that was away from me. He seemed to enjoy the humans and looked for their attention. I tried to tell him not to interact with them but gave up. It seemed that Felicia and I were uncertain of what was going on. As always, I kept watch. I was certain more was to happen but I didn’t know when or how it would change. This life was very different from my old one. I had to think more and react less. My survival wasn’t based on whether or not I could find water and pasture to eat but on how I understood humans and how I understood what they said. They were predators after all and I was certain that I would have to protect my herd from them at some point.

The Slow Season

For every business there is a slow season. For Hidden Meadow, January and Feburary are the slowest months. Which is great because it means I can breathe, relax and take stock of what was good, bad and ugly during the past year.

There was a lot of all three. 2019 was a difficult year. It was a year of hope, growth and disappointment. I was reminded that most people only want to be around because they want to take what they can. The farm’s reputation was dragged through the dirt and I should have seen the trouble coming but I wanted to believe people were good.

It’s difficult for me to write about everything, honestly, I can’t believe some of what happened. When I tell people about it they look at me like I’ve lost my mind or that I am telling a tall tale. Which I then decide to stop trying to explain.

My previous post I wrote about whether or not I should sell Ruger. Ultimately, I decided that Ruger needed to stay home, to stay at Hidden Meadow. The decision was difficult, I needed the money that would come from selling him. I wanted to reduce the number of horses and animals in my care. However, at the end of the day I have to be happy with the decisions I’ve made and selling him wasn’t sitting well in my stomach.

The other fun thing about this season is that I lost my job in November. I relied on my job to cover the expenses I had that weren’t covered by teaching riding lessons.

I am still unemployed, not for lack of looking but owning a small business and trying to work full time is difficult and I burnt myself out. I’m trying to heal myself while still taking care of the animals. It is hard to do both. I want to lock myself away and just melt into the air but I can’t do that. Not when I have so many animals that need constant care.

Which leads me to this strange place, a place I’ve grown quite used to. It’s a place of maybes and half formed thoughts, a place that is a puzzle that doesn’t have the correct pieces. A place that once filled me with hope but now I am filled with stress and worry. I’m sure everyone on the outside looking in has their opinions and assumptions but it is always easy to point fingers and judge when you are an observer. Life is difficult and confusing and often leaves me with a migraine but I am starting to learn that I can do this but not without help and it seems like everyone needs help these days.

If you are interested in helping the farm out please consider purchasing a bale of hay.

Buy a bale of hay here

Thank you to everyone who has helped out and purchased hay! We greatly appreciate it.

Decisions

When I was a kid I would stand at the bathroom mirror and say when I get older I am going to be this tall. Sometimes I feel like I should have said when I grow up I am going to have to make this many decisions. It seems that most of being an adult is making decisions. Running my horse farm and being responsible for horses, donkeys, goats and cats is full of decisions. Often times I get stuck in a loop of anxiety and depression because I feel like I am not able to balance everything.

Ruger, a bay roan gelding munching grass

Yesterday, I was able to relax a little bit. I wanted to see if all of my horses would go and eat grass along the path down towards the meadows. The answer was a big no. However, I was able to work with Hank and Lark a little bit and get a better understanding of how they view me. I promise more Hank posts soon.

Hank munching oats from a bucket

I’ve had to make some decisions the past few months that tore at my spirit. I lost my job on November 1st because my position was terminated. I knew that was going to happen at somepoint but I was too exhausted to care. I spent most of November trying to recoup from the past 12 months of insanity. Side note, I am still trying to recoup. Luckily, I am able to collect while I am searching for a new job but finding a new job when you are exhausted and stressed out is difficult. I was in this position back in 2013/2014 but I had three horses not ten plus two donkeys and three goats and a business that needs cash flow. I decided to sell one of my donkeys because she needed her own person. She was unhappy here, I could tell by the way she kept demanding attention and pushing the other donkeys around. She reminded me of a sullen teenager. I miss my first donkey but I know she is in a great home, a home that is perfect for her. Selling her was difficult. I didn’t want to sell her but I also had to do what was best for her.

Oliver, not the donkey I sold but just look at his cute face.

She went to her new home and December rolled around. I realized I needed to sell one of my bucks. Again, not something I wanted to do but he was showing signs that he needed a different life. A life with more space and a larger herd. Luckily, I found him the perfect home as well. During this time I also had other horses up for sale. One of those horses was Ruger. I bought him and Hank with the plan of selling one of them but now that that plan is looking like it is going to be a reality my heart aches. Ruger was the first mustang I gentled. He is such a goof ball and absolutely loves attention. Yet, he isn’t progressing as quickly as he could because I am holding him back. He is fine with that, don’t get me wrong, but I think he is bored. He needs more one on one attention. He needs someone who is HIS person. He needs to be the sole focus and he can’t get that here.

Ruger being his charming self

I used to be good at making decisions but the older I get the more I just want to press pause and not have to make decisions. Yes, that feeling probably has to do with the fact that I have anxiety, depression and narcolepsy. All issues that make it harder to focus on the long term goals and harder to make the decisions that need to be made. If someone had told me that I would be stuck making decisions that hurt my heart I wouldn’t have chosen this path. It’s a difficult one. A path that doesn’t seem like there are any winners. However, again, I have to do what is best for Ruger and what is best for all of the horses in my care. Finding Ruger the best possible home is my goal. I know that he will be loved by any and all what meet him.

Getting kisses from my aunt!

Hank’s First Month

We were in a corral, a small area with high fences and an area that we could go under. I didn’t trust the thing. My herd mate liked it. The three mares had a few shelters they could go in. Everything about this place was wrong. Too much water. I could smell water everywhere. I could see a large body of water in the distance. The area we had was muddy and it seemed like this place always rained. I watched the humans and waited for them to do something. At first they were all cautious but then the one that was around when the sun rose and the sun set seemed to understand us. It was strange watching this human study us.

There were other horses around but these horses were not like anything I’d ever seen before. They interacted with and seemed to be part of the human herd, or maybe the humans were part of their herd? The horses smelled of humans and these other horses were bigger and more finely boned than those of my herd. I doubted the horses that were here would survive in the wild. They depended on the humans too much. They seemed to prefer human company to running wild and free.

The nice thing about this place was that we had fresh hay and water. The humans hung up weird things that floated along the fences. They put something in the odd shaped things and shook it like we would want to get closer. My herd mate and I watched the humans and when the humans left we watched the birds eat the stuff that was in the buckets. The humans tried the same thing with the three mares but the mares were just as uncertain as we were. We knew that hay was safe. We knew that water was safe but we did not know about the other stuff.

Named

I began to recognize a word the humans used whenever they were near me. It was Hank. What is a Hank I wondered? My herd mate noticed they always said Ruger around him and the mares each noticed a word as well. Lark, Snow and Magpie. I started to think that maybe I was a Hank. It’s funny I never thought of myself as anything other than me but Hank seemed like it was their word for me. I started listening for the word Hank and then the word Hankee spoken most often by the human that seemed to watch us the most. She came and fed us morning and night. She would often sit near the panels are sometimes she would come into our area. The other humans always watched her and how we responded to her.

The human would almost sing the word Hank and her tone of voice was soothing. I hid behind my herd mate, Ruger, and let him check to see if whatever the human was doing was safe. After about two weeks the human brought the things they called buckets down to us. I smelled something familiar in the buckets. It was like the stuff we had back at the old place the place we left that was far away. In they also had flat dishes that they dumped the sweet smelling food into. Ruger went for it immediately. I waited until the humans were far away and then I push Ruger away to see what it tasted like. It was delicious. There was the familiar taste of the far away place plus something sweet. The type of food was something I’d never had before. It was small and crunchy. I liked the sweet taste of the crunchy food but the mushy hay was even better. It reminded me that there were still things that were familiar in this very strange world.

The mares were more hesitant about the food. They picked at it and the humans seemed concerned. I watched how the humans interacted. I watched how they moved their bodies and I was able to learn more about them. Each human moved in a particular way. I was leery of all of them but the one they called Felicia seemed to be the herd leader. At least she moved and acted as though she should be followed. Sometimes after all was quiet and the large yellow orb disappeared from the sky she would come and chase us around the pen it was a weird thing, it was like she wanted us to stand still but she was a predator, why would I stand still and let her get close enough to catch and eat me.

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