Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The smell of Halloween...

I walked outside this evening and was instantly transported back in time to a world of magic. When I was a little girl, fall was my favorite time of year (who am I kidding, it's still my favorite time of year).

The air smells fresh and crisp, but the underlying hint of smoke from chimneys and leaves burning give it a special flavor. The sky darkens earlier each day, the sunset glowing with reds, oranges and yellows.  Squirrels rustle through the fallen leaves, searching for the nuts that will fill their larder, keeping them through the winter. The fog settles in, bringing a heavy dew that weighs down the spider webs hanging between cornstalks, fading from summer green to autumn gold. Halloween decorations start appearing, piles of pumpkins beckon from the store-fronts and candy aisles are stocked to overflowing.   One evening my mom would make popcorn in the frying pan on the stove and pour a candy sauce over it. We'd slather our hands with margarine to try to avoid burning our hands as we began the task of trying to form popcorn balls before the candy hardened.  The wax-paper waxed balls would be piled in the largest glass Pyrex mixing bowl we had.  When we got the opportunity to eat one, the sticky, candy-covered bits of popcorn would stick to our teeth.

My birthday is a few days before Halloween. That always seemed to make Halloween be a part of my special day.  Because my friends and family know how much I love this holiday, often times my gifts have a part of Halloween in them, from candles to socks to jewelry (I still have the pumpkin earrings my daughters got me so long ago. I wear them every year.) One year there was a Halloween party at a local watering hole on my birthday. I can't tell you how much fun it was to dress up on my birthday for Halloween.

When I was a little girl, if Halloween was on a week day, we'd have a "party" in our classroom. We wore our costumes, ate homemade cupcakes topped with candy corn and plastic spiders and let the excitement build for the evening's adventures. Most costumes were homemade or if they were store bought, they had plastic masks that you couldn't see through or breath in. Mom would load us up in the car and we'd head out trick-or-treating.  We lived out of town, in the woods, with no neighborhoods within walking distance, so Mom would load us up in the car to go trick-or-treating. We always went to the trailer park down the road.  Mom would drop us off at one end (if it wasn't pouring down rain) and we'd go door to door, running from one porch to the next, taking shortcuts through yards, tripping over yard decorations that we couldn't see in the dark. If it was raining (95% of the time it was), we'd climb back into the car soaking wet, trying to dry off before the next group of houses. Every year we'd go to Mrs. Andreif's house. Walking down the center of her long, dark driveway, dodging the branches of the trees that seemed to be trying to grab at us and pull us into their lair.  We'd knock on the door, she would "ooo and ahhh" over our costumes and we'd go inside for a visit.  We'd get a popcorn ball, an apple and a super-big homemade cookie.  No worries about razor blades in those days.  We'd drive to town, not to go do more trick-or-treating, but to go to Aunt Fannie's house.  She had been our babysitter for years and years and Mom always made sure she got to see us in our costumes. We'd head home, empty our bags and check out what we got.  We'd be allowed one or two pieces of candy and the rest would go up on top of the refrigerator to be doled out a little at a time.  We'd crawl into bed, with remnants of our costume makeup still on our faces.  In my mind, it was magical.

When my kids were old enough, I started having Halloween parties.  I would decorate around the house, but if the weather was nice, we'd be outside. We'd bob for apples, dress up in costumes and play games.  One time a mom was concerned and asked me about if I did anything demonic during the parties.  I almost said "well, if you don't count the goat sacrifice, no..." I mean, these were 1-5 grade kids.  We were the parents that took all the kids' friends trick or treating because we let them go for as long as they wanted.  We walked up and down streets in all sorts of weather, the kid's bags dragging the ground from the weight of the goodies.

Now that the kids are all grown up, I watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" all by myself.  I watch Hocus Pocus almost daily through the month of October (because of course...) I do some decorating, though not as much as I used to.

I wish I could bottle the scent of fall, of Halloween, of the harvest, leaves, first rainfall and all that goes with autumn and spray it whenever I needed that feeling of comfort.

It's my time of year...

Wishing you Hope, Joy & Faith

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Friends I haven't met yet...

Friends I haven't met yet... strange thought, right?  I mean, as a kid I had pen pals, (not very many and not for very long, I wasn't good at responding.  I'd start the letter and then never finish it. Find it later and throw it away and start another, and so on.

Years later (I'm gonna be 53 in a couple weeks, you do the math) I discovered the internet.  Blogs written by people that I wanted to be like. They shared their lives through pictures and words on the internet.  They were across the country from me (or in one instance, 3 hours and I still haven't met her).  They seemed very interesting, unique and so I started "following" their blogs (not stalking, it's two different things, really). Now and then I would comment on the blogs.  I was always really excited when they responded to me... woah! Then one of them asked me to help write "blogs" about reusing things that others considered trash (see Girls Gone Trashy).  That was so fun, Marci. We need to start it back up. One of them mailed me a beautiful set of pot holders and another sent me a beautiful hand-knit scarf in my favorite colors when I had written a post about going through a rough patch emotionally.  One of them gardens, has two amazing sons, is a military wife who's husband used to live in Oregon and she likes to see pictures of Bella (my dog)

I tried to find a way to describe my relationship with these incredible women.  They weren't childhood friends I had reconnected with, they weren't people who I had met briefly and then they moved or anything similar.  Yet, through the magic of the computer and www.blogger.com, we were friends.  I connected with a few of them on other social media sites (yes, Facebook) and that added an increased bond because we were able to catch glimpses of each other's daily lives.  

I just want to say, for the record, that I know I have some good friends out there in cyberspace.  I just haven't met them yet. Maybe, someday, we'll meet across the miles.  And I'll bet we get into a lot of trouble have a lot of fun together.

Read a bit about them on their blogs or facebook business pages and see if you can figure out what drew me to connect with them. Mama Pea at a Home Grown Journal;  Michelle at Boulderneigh; the amazing parts-girl at Sasquatch Cycle Service or at A Homesteading Neophyte; Erin at Garden Now-Think Later!

Then think about what might connect or inspire you mentally, spiritually, lifestyle-wise or just for fun and browse some blogs.  You might make some friends you haven't met yet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Connecting (Horse, Episode 5)

I know I'm posting a lot right now.  That's how it is with most things.  The first few weeks are the busiest, focused on whatever it is that is trying to be accomplished.  I brought Chi home yesterday (I loaded him, towed the trailer home and even backed it up-woo hoo, first time in probably 12 years) because it wasn't working boarding him at the barns.  I didn't have time to go "visit" him, etc.

Anyhow, I put his blanket on (we are supposed to have heavy rain and the lean-to is full of hay) and turned him out with the cows.  Then we fed everyone and picked manure.  I decided to take a picture of him.  He must have heard the click of the phone, because all of a sudden he noticed me.

The photos are in order.  I looked up and he was headed my way.  That was strange because normally I have to go to him and actually follow him around as he doesn't want caught.  He had purpose in his walk and his ears were up.  His eyes were focused on me.  I kept clicking away (he was moving fast, that's why they are blurry) until he was leaning on me.  He wanted my attention.

The connection and bonding is happening.  This feels so good.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Relaxing (Horse, Episode 4)

I went to town yesterday afternoon to feed Chi.  He's staying at our local fairgrounds right now and after 4 days I've remembered why I don't want to keep a horse there. Don't get me wrong, there is a covered arena, he has a big 16'x 16' paddock/stall and I don't have to worry about him being in mud and weather.  But the one thing I forgot is that I have to go there two times a day to take care of him.  And unfortunately I'm usually in a hurry so I'm not spending any quality time with him.  Also, he just stands around stares at the cows in the next stall.  Nothing to entertain him. Needless to say, I'm gonna borrow a trailer and bring him home in the next day or so.

I had a rather stressful day emotion-wise yesterday.  I had taken a nap and woke up remembering I needed to go to town to feed him. I already had cancelled all the farm chores I needed to do because of my low-energy level.  Ugh!

I turned him loose in the arena to run while I fed and watered him.  He didn't run, just wandered around. I decided to be brave and after I caught him (we are still working on that being a thing) I tied his lead rope to his halter and led him to the mounting block. Of course he wouldn't stand, so I had to stretch and lean  and slide onto his back. He does stand really well, I love that.  We wandered around one end of the arena for a little while, chatted with some friends who were there feeding their horses, got them to take a picture to prove it and just chilled.

I put him away, drove home and discovered that my energy was back. Just that short time with him renewed me. Now I will tell you that part of that is the fact that I gave myself permission to not rush through feeding him.  I could have run in and fed and been back home in 20 minutes round-trip. I didn't do that.  I hopped on bareback and proved to myself that I wasn't letting fear dictate my life.  And yes, I'd have gotten the energy back even with a 20 minute walk with the dog.

Give yourself permission to take your time, especially on the things you like to do...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Overcoming fear (Warning: Language) Horse, Episode 3


Simple definition of fear according to Webster’s:

1.   to be afraid of (something or someone)

2.   to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)

3.   to be afraid and worried


Acronyms for fear from internet (some are recovery slang):

1.  False Expectations Appearing Real

2.  Face Everything And Rise

3.  Finding Everything A Roadblock


My definition of fear (also recovery slang): Fuck Everything And Run.


This was my first thought last evening, about 5 minutes after I got on Chi in the arena. Let me explain.


I decided that given the weather here on the southern Oregon coast and the fact that I hadn’t gotten his feet done yet, I needed to haul my little guy into our fairgrounds and board him there a couple of weeks.  That way I’d get to spend some time riding him in the covered arena, the shoer could do his feet (and not be in the weather) and he’d get some more exposure to new things.  A friend offered to tow him in on my lunch break, so he loaded up (quite easily) and hitched a ride to the barn.  She has experience trimming, so she offered to trim his hooves.  I warned her I had no idea how he’d do, as he was fine when I cleaned his feet, but trimming might be a whole different attitude.  He did awesome. A few times he actually laid his head down on her back.  He was calm and collected standing in the new environment.  She put him in his pen in the covered arena and I went back to work. 

There was an “adult ride” planned for the evening, so I borrowed my friend’s saddle and led him into the arena.  About 10 steps in, he decided that he liked the shavings and tried to roll (while the saddle was on him).  Luckily I reacted quickly and got him up before he was successful.  He was curious about the arena but the darker corners made him nervous (to be expected).  I used the mounting block to get up (better for his back and easier for me) and bragged to a couple of other people about how well he stands until I get my feet into the stirrups and ask him to move out.  He didn’t want to leave the other horses at first but with a bit of convincing we walked off.  He then proceeded to paw the arena floor and lie down, with me in the saddle.  I pulled his head up and hollered and he stood right up and I stayed in the saddle.  I told him he could roll when we were done riding (yes, I talk to my animals.  My dogs can confirm that if you ask them). 

So here’s where the fear enters in.  He started being silly… not necessarily bad, just things like not wanting to go the direction I asked him to, throwing his head around, being spooky.  All totally normal things for a horse who hasn’t been ridden a lot over the last few months.  But to someone like me, who is not a confident person in the saddle (I’m great on the ground with horses, no fear at all, no matter the size), it started a knot forming in my stomach that went up into my throat.  And Chi felt it.  He could feel my tension and it fed him, like a killer whale eating a seal, a pack of wolves taking down a deer or actually, very similar to me and a box or Oreos. See, the thing is that horses feel your emotions.  Actually, all animals can feel human emotions.  Horses can sense it in the way you sit, the way you hold the reins, the quiver in your voice.  They know when you are feeling confident and in control or when you are starting to panic and they react accordingly.  If you feel calm, they mind you. If you are nervous, they do whatever they can to make you more nervous. 

The first time I rode Chi it was in a small round-pen on the property where he’d been since April of this year (2016, so basically 5 months). He was very calm and mellow and I felt great.  But here we were in the arena, with other horses, dark corners, chickens pecking around and pigeons flying unexpectedly in front of him. I knew in my head he was not being a bad boy.  He was simply reacting to new things.  I’d been told by the Animal Rescue who got him from the auction that he was a trail horse. That means that there is a possibility he’s never been in a covered arena.  But my head wasn’t listening, my stomach was feeling and my nerves were quivering.  The more I kept overreacting, the more he kept reacting. One of the 4-H leaders reminded me to lower my hands and say “woah”. The lady who had hauled him in for me asked me if I wanted her to get on him and I said yes. I’m assuming it was obvious to them that I was not handling the situation well. So we traded horses and she worked out some kinks on him. 

While I watched her ride him and sat on her mare, the voice that's always in the back of my mind started talking.  "You know you're not gonna be able to handle him", "You may know a lot about horses but you can't ride worth shit", "You might as take him back to the folks you got him from because your going to fail".  That voice has been there for as long as I can remember.  It's the voice from my childhood that told me I wasn't good enough.  Sometimes the voice tells me things that sound smart, like "Keep your mouth shut and no one will know that you are upset" or "Don't trust anyone". Sometimes the voice is just plain mean, telling me I'm dumb or that I don't deserve to be happy.  The thing is, I usually listen to the voice and don't argue or try to explain anything. It's always been safer, easier and that's just who I am.  

But that's not who I want to be anymore.  I'm going to be 53 years old in a couple of weeks.  My children have grown up and moved out.  There's a whole 'nother story there that I'll tell you later.  But for now, I want to be successful in things I like to do, things I've tried before, enjoyed but let slip through my fingers because of responsibilities, fear of failure, etc.  So I told the voice to be quiet for a bit and let me handle things. I got back on and I could feel that he was more relaxed.  I was able to let my nerves settle and enjoy just riding around the arena in circles.  After a bit longer, my legs started reminding me I hadn't ridden in a while and that if I wanted to be able to walk the next day, it was time to get out of the saddle.

I turned Chi loose in the arena to to roll and of course, he wouldn't roll.  He did hang out with the other horses.  I found out he is definitely not the "guy in charge".  He was content to follow the mares and let one of them pick on him pretty hard.  Poor guy.  Hmmmm, maybe we are meant to be together, we've got similar personalities.  


So Chi and I will continue down this road together.  I'll keep telling the voice to be quiet for a bit.  I'll do some studying on equines, watch some youtube videos on working with rescue horses and I'll learn along the way.  And fear, while it has it's place in life and is important for safety, can take a back seat.  Caution is better at this point.

I'll keep you posted... 

Friday, October 7, 2016

What's in a name? Horse, Episode 2

Apache is the name the little guy came with... While I normally wouldn't change an animal's name, Apache is a very common name for horses with spots (Appy's, POA's, etc), my friend down the road has an Appy boy who is named Apache and really, it just doesn't fit his personality.  He's a mild, mellow boy who really likes attention.  He makes me feel happy.

However, he does recognize the name... when I holler it, he raises his head and looks for me.  Also, I tend to have the bad habit of using nicknames for all my animals.  Lyndsey's dog Mason is "May-May", Bella is "Bella-Boo", etc. I had already started calling him "Chee" for short, so I did a little research and found out the meaning for "Chi" is roughly translated as "life energy" or "vital energy".  This is something that I need in my life right now.  I need to do something that is different, that shakes me up a little bit.

So he will be my "Chi" (pronounced Chee), my energy.  Hopefully I can be something positive for him. Time will tell where we will go together and how we will grow together.

Friday, September 30, 2016

October is here...

It means that I love this time of year... It's every other holiday season wrapped up in dry leaves, cool air, crisp apples, fuzzy horses and so much more!

It means that I am busy with the harvest.  I just treated myself today to this juicer.  I've been borrowing one for a couple of years and it was time to have my own. Gonna get started on apple juice tomorrow.

I decorate year-round with spider webs (they catch the flies and don't bother me) but tomorrow, October 1st, will be the day I put up my decorations.  I've thinned them down from 4 tubs to 1, but it still feels good to get the favorites put up.  I'll pull some corn stalks and pick some pumpkins and gourds to decorate outside.

Harvested onions the other day and they are "drying" for a bit in the garage.  That means in a couple of weeks the house will smell very "oniony" as I dehydrate about half of these.

I do fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning.  Because I'm starting to minimalize our belongings, this is what it currently looks like under our bathroom sink.  Yes we do have soap, etc. but that is kept in the closet.

Critters are getting fuzzy and love it when I wander up to the gate to toss them some apples or goodies from the garden.

Got the new boy some goodies today.  Fall was probably not the right time of year to try out a horse, but if I take him treats on a daily basis, even if its dark when I get home, he'll decide he likes me.

And last but not least, when it finally rains enough to remove the fire danger, it'll be time for

Monday, September 26, 2016

Getting back in the saddle... Episode 1

Sometimes you give something up... you tell yourself you don't deserve it, you aren't good enough at it, you can't afford it, or any of the other million reasons in my life I have sold  or found a new home for a horse.  It's a guilt thing that is related to my alcoholism.  

Guess what?  I do deserve it and I can be good at it.  The affording part, well, I'll have to figure that one out a little at a time.

I can't believe that Rachael took this picture.  It certainly doesn't showcase my best side.  The look on Apache's face says it all.  "WTF, lady, I'm only 13.3 hands." In my defense, he seems a bit lightweight and I didn't want to tip him over.  Seriously!
And so it begins... again

So the next day this young guy came to the farm.  I am signing a lease and we'll take it slow. I'm doing it the right way this time.  I even brought home the 4-H advancement book and am going to do some studying on horses.  I mean, I know a lot learned by guess and by golly, but now I want to feel confident.

Stay posted!