It is almost dark now and I am tired and worn
Nugget has gone missing. Nugget was somewhat of an icon around here. He was a very special breed of rooster called an “Easter Egger”. He was a gorgeous white and gray color with feathered feet. He was quite a sight to behold but, the truth is: he terrorized us. Nugget was fearless when it came to defending his hens and he took his responsibility very seriously. You had better tread lightly when he was in the vicinity or he would chase you down, jump at your legs and then flog you with his wings. It didn’t matter that you weren’t trying to intrude on his space or get near his hens.
Nugget with his women
If he decided you needed a reminder what his job was, he charged. I tried every method to let him know that was not acceptable behaviour. I armed myself with brooms, trash can lids which I used as a shield, the garden hose and numerous other weapons to fend him off. I kicked, shouted, clapped and banged. I finally figured out that the battle ended alot quicker if I didn’t fight back. If I just stood still and let him come at me, he would make one lunge and then quit, waddling off looking real proud of himself. I have to admit, I cussed that rooster more than once. Another part of me admired him for his bravery. He wasn’t always that aggressive. In fact he was hand raised and handled until he was about 6 months old. It all changed when he learned to crow and he was ready to take on the world once those hens started laying his eggs. Every evening he gathered his girls and returned to the pen where I would shut them in for the night to protect them from predators. So, you can understand why I got concerned when I couldn’t find him that afternoon. He was nowhere to be found. The only clue was a few of his feathers left in the barn. I searched for two days and listened every morning, hoping to hear his wake up call. Then I decided to take my colt for a long walk as a lesson in leading and being separated from the rest of the herd. While in the far field, I saw the neighbor out working in the yard and his two dogs started barking at me. I mentioned that I was on a quest to find out what had happened to my rooster when he got a sheepish look on his face. He confessed that his dogs had stolen poor Nugget and carried him home. Nugget was still alive and clucking when they ran up to him. He shouted to “Drop it” and the dog did, only to pounce on it again when Nuggett took off running. thus ending his short existence. I have to admit a part of me feels sad to lose him even if he did take a particular pleasure in intimidating me. It had turned into an on-going battle of the wits between us. He was special and beautiful even if he was a tyrant. The other (smaller) part of me is sighing in relief. One thing is sure, I won’t be forgetting Nugget.
If I consider his feelings, he will take care of me.
Halter Training Eddy-O
“If you train a horse against his will, he will be of the same opinion still.” I love that phrase and I keep it at the front of my mind whenever I am working with my young horse. Sure, I could make him do things that he just isn’t ready or willing to do – but just where would that get me in the long run? Are threats, intimidation, pain, force and punishment really going to convince him of anything long term? I think not. In fact, I know that doesn’t work. I learned at a very young age that it definitely never changed my mind about anything, even if I was made to comply. My personal experience proving that theory comes to mind of when I was in the third grade. I attended a Catholic school at the time and although my teacher was not a nun, she was as strict as any of them I ever had. The matter at hand which we struggled with had to do with my handwriting. I was left-handed which was not acceptable due to the following belief: The right hand of God, the left hand of the devil. I was some kind of evil child because I possessed this trait and had to be broken of it. (This was confusing in itself because I came by it honestly. My mother was left handed and I certainly did not think of her as some faulty being because of it. I never saw any signs of the dark side coming out in her when she picked up a pen or a fork.) While we sat writing at our desks, my teacher would stroll around the room. If she caught me using my left hand – which was just about always – she would snatch my pencil from my hand, bop me over the head with it and insist I write with my right hand. When I had to write on the blackboard, I had no choice but to use my right hand and actually could write very nicely that way. She always made it a point to tell me that. The thing is, it never felt right – it was a struggle and awkward and even though I got pretty good at it, I always defaulted back to what came natural to me. The end result is that I am 60 years old now and after having to live my life in a right handed world, I have acquired the skills to be right handed in almost everything I do – except write and eat.
My thinking also tends to be slowed down some – I find myself happily turning more to the whimsical.
I was holding my horse for the vet while she changed the bandages on my horse’s legs from an injury. She had a pile of used gauze, cotton wraps, vet wrap and other items when she finished.
Turning to me, she asked if I had someplace she could dispose if it. I answered her that I had an empty feed bag I was currently using for trash in the barn that she could use. She smiled and made the most profound statement I think I have ever heard related to the business of working a farm. “Have you ever noticed that on a farm, feed bags hold trash and trashcans hold feed.” Such a simple truth. So simple in fact that I had never even given it any thought although I had seen it done hundreds of times and practiced it myself. Her words caused me to muse over the greater meaning of this new awareness. How had I never seen it before? Suddenly I was comparing my life to the feedbags and the trashcans. Which one was I at this stage of the game? The feedbags come onto the farm filled with good things. It has value according to its contents. It is needed and wanted and the packaging is very attractive. But it is so temporary and immediately loses its value once it is emptied and is then reduced to the lowly job of gathering unwanted items to be discarded while in the process being discarded itself. Granted, it still has a purpose for the short time before disposal even if it is a much different one than it was created for. Now the trashcan is a different matter. It is purchased as simply something to hold the feed and keep it dry and out of the reach of critters. It is not selected for its good looks but rather to do a job. Unlike the fragile paper of the feedbags, it is strong and maintains it’s usefulness for hundreds of refills without needing a replacement. A trashcan goes unnoticed while it performs one of the most important jobs on a horsefarm – protecting the feed from contaminents which can make our horses gravely ill or even die from. It gets worn, dirty and dented but never fails to do its job. So, where am I going with this? I definitely would have preferrred to be thought of as a feedbag in my younger days. But now, I am beginning to realize I am getting more and more like the trashcan – and I am okay with that although I would rather be called by some other name.
With age comes changes in so many aspects – And I am not speaking of only the obvious physical
I pulled on a new pair of socks the other day and as I pulled it over my foot and up to my calf, I let out an audible “ahhh”. It just felt so darn good. The socks were thick and fit so well. They hugged my arches and my ankles and I could just tell they would stay up on my leg right where I put them. They were cold weather socks and I had no doubt my feet would be toasty all day while I was at the barn. They were so incredible that I was totally aware of how I took notice of it. It kind of worried me to tell the truth. When did this happen? When did socks become such a focal point of my life? After all, I was raised in Michigan and have worn socks of one kind or another almost everyday for my entire life. They had always just been a necessary part of my wardrobe – not the main event by any means. Usually my socks were selected by color if they were going to be visible or by function if not. When I think back on it, socks that slid down in the course of the day were just a fact of life. I can recall countless times of reaching down to pull up my school uniform knee socks that had made their way to a loose and sloppy puddle around my ankles while running around at recess. I never thought twice about the inconvenience of it. Shapeless socks that bunched at the toes or around the arches were dealt with by slipping your shoes off and straightening them numerous times until you could finally get it just right. How many pairs of colorful and whimsical tights had I worn over the years that bagged at the ankles and knees after a couple of hours wear. I was constantly pulling them tight and more than willing to do so because they looked so cool. Socks just had to match and the rest was just a part of it. Now, all of a sudden that has changed and I don’t just grab a pair of socks that I am going to have to wrestle with all day while I am riding my horses
Galloping on Guilty
or that will come off with my boots when I remove them. Why has it taken me so long to realize that I didn’t have to do that? The bigger question is: “What else have I just taken for granted as a way of life that I could change by being a little more selective”? The answer hit me squarely between the eyes – almost everything!!! Today is a rainy day and I am spending it cleaning my sock drawer for starters. Who knows where it will lead.
I instinctively knew that they were the key
to making me whole and getting on course.
Feeling better all the time.
I knew something was terribly wrong with me when I started avoiding the barn. I just wasn’t feeling well and even though I still did the daily chores, that was all I did. All I could think about was getting them done and going back to the house. I had no interest in riding my horses, grooming them, hanging out with the other boarders while they visited their horses or doing anything extra at all. Red flags were popping up everyday. Usually, if I wasn’t at the barn with my horses, I was reading books about them, watching DVDs on horse handling or planning an activity to share with my barn kids. This was not like me.
I live for my time at the barn and especially for time with my horses. That has been my refuge, my haven, my therapist office and where I find my most inner joy and my greatest challenges. Suddenly, nothing. The chores became just that – chores. I started wondering if it was time to give it all up and sell the farm and find homes for my horses and a couple of the dogs too. They became just another job for me to do that was draining all my energy. I felt like I couldn’t keep up anymore and didn’t want to.
I questioned whether my sudden lack of interest was because I had dreamed of having all this for my entire life and now that I did, was it time to find something new to spark a new direction? Was it because I was getting older and just didn’t want to work that hard any more? Was it because I felt like I was letting myself go and not keeping up a glamorous image of always being meticulously dressed with newly done nails and hair like so many other women my age? Was it because of the constant arguments I had with my husband about what a waste of time and money it was to keep horses like I did? Or was it my old nemesis – jumping around from thing to thing just because I like to experience everything to be sure I am not missing something. After all, we all want what we don’t have and the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence – no matter which side you are on.
Turns out, it wasn’t any of the above. The answer became clear after several weeks after a couple of rounds of antibiotics and recovery from what turned out to be pneumonia. I can honestly say that I am “back in the saddle again” and happy to be there. I woke up one morning, feeling better and my first thoughts were to get to the barn and make up for lost time. I did not have the strength for the first few visits to saddle a horse but I wanted to. That was the key point. I knew right then and there that that pull would get me back on track and I was going to be just fine. I was where I needed to be.