Goats Divorce!

Nelly has found a new love and no longer wants her best goat pal Willow to share in the passionate relationship. Strife on the farm!

Nelly is a pushy goat. She grew up with horses and spent all eight years living with horses, until the sad fateful day that her best equine pal passed away. That’s how Nelly came to live on Beaver Creek Farm.

Nelly’s owner was grief stricken when she pulled into the farm driveway and asked if we’d like another goat. She’d seen me playing with Willow and wondered if we’d be willing to take her goat as she had no place to keep her since the death of her horse.

Of course we’d love another goat! Who wouldn’t? Nelly was brought to live at the farm the same day. We put her in with the pigs and Willow and you could see she wasn’t happy. She fought with the pigs and was a bully to Willow. We gave it some time and finally all settled down to the occasional scuffle.

Once we discovered Autumn was coming home we started on a huge fencing project. Once complete we moved the two goats into the large, lush field to enjoy the foliage. It took several days for the goats to get comfortable, but they finally were enjoying their new digs.

Autumn came and there was a subtle shift to the dynamics. I thought a balance was finally achieved, but I was wrong.

When Autumn was released into the field Nelly ran over bleating with joy. A horse! Oh a horse for Nelly! Autumn was a little confused, but tolerated the white goat’s attentions. Nelly nuzzled Autumn’s lowered nosed and gave her a little head butt. Autumn responded by pushing Nelly around and giving gentle nuzzles back. Willow was left out of the new relationship.

In typical farm fashion we decided to give it a few days. As the girls settled in we noticed Nelly was becoming aggressive with Willow. I was in the field two days ago and saw Nelly beating the crap out of poor gentle Willow.

Poor Willow did not fight back. She still tried to cuddle next to Nelly, but Nelly had a new love and wasn’t willing to share.

We moved Willow back to live with the pigs and balance was restored to the farm.

Nelly goes for a visit, but I don’t think Willow will be living in the big field anymore. Willow seems quite happy to be with her pig friends and curls up on top of them in the straw as winter approaches.

The Lean to

The lean to is what crazy horse people call a horse shelter. Back in 1984 my dad built my horse Sam a lean to made out of fence posts, plywood, steel and a large chunk of reclaimed pool liner (it was waterproof). He must be given credit for creativity. What it lacked in esthetics it made up for in utilitarianism.

Rather than re-invent the wheel Brent and I decided to repair the old lean to for Autumn. Brent has this magical ability of finding incredible deals and he found an incredible deal on insulation and wood to reinforce the old lean to. It was solid and the twenty-six year old posts did not move with our wiggling. Keep in mind Brent is very strong and when he wiggles a post he really wiggles a post.

We found a way to attach the insulation to the walls and then put up OSB to cover the insulation. We did three walls and the ceiling. We also used roof insulation to shore up the roof along with several gallons of tar. It looks good. I hope it’s waterproof.

The lean to is made up of two sections. One to store hay and one as shelter for the horse. Both needed to be cleaned out and reconstructed. This process has taken longer than we both expected. It’s actually harder to shore up than build from scratch. After several days we eventually gave up on the level and square. If it looked good to the eye ball then it was good.

We used the backhoe to push and pull the building back into shape. We used too many nails and not nearly enough screws.

I was working alone the other day building a set of insulated sliding doors to go across the front of the lean to where the horse would live. By the time you added up all the weight of the material I could barely drag the panel into place. Picking it up would have been impossible. I managed to balance the panel and use a couple of small pieces of two by four to brace the panel to the building. I was jumping up with the nail gun because the ladder was out of reach.

Next I built a panel to fill the window hole in the sliding door. It was like a horrible train wreck happening as I built. Some days are not good for building and perhaps this was one of them. It didn’t matter how many times I measured, the cut was still wrong. The circular saw was kicking my ass and my saw horse buckets hated me. Every time I put the panel on the buckets the whole thing would fall over. I built this panel out of OSB, rocksol insulation and two by fours, so it was incredibly heavy.

I was frustrated and about ready to give up when I stood in the rain and calmed myself. Okay. I can do this. I’ve built before. I gave myself a little pep talk as I picked up the drill and attacked the hinges like a woman possessed.

At least Brent wasn’t around to smack me in the head with an eight foot piece of steel track. Last week as I was walking around the truck Brent pulled the track out of the truck. The next thing I hear is a loud bell and feeling the pain in my front teeth. He’d struck me in the forehead with the steel track. Not on purpose. I hope.

Days later I still have a headache.

I got the door panel built and hung. I proudly marveled at my ingenuity when I pulled the panel wide open to have it stop suddenly. How long has that strut been there anyway? About twenty-five years.

Sigh. Somedays are for doing laundry.

Autumn 2010

She’s here. She’s been here since last Saturday and every morning before I got to work I feed her a carrot or an apple and I bid her a good day. It’s been a very warm November since Autumn came home. The sun has been bright and the air seems crisp.

I had the opportunity to ride for the first time in nearly three years. It was magic. It was amazing. It was serene and peaceful and I can’t believe I waited so long.

The routine of brushing was familiar as was lifting the saddle to place it gently on her back. Adjusting the saddle pad and slowing tightening the girth. It brought a quiet contemplation to my day. I was excited, but I was excited like I was the day Brent and I got married. It was a peaceful, quiet excitement that comes with the knowledge that this is a good fit, a great match and will only enrich your life.

As I hoisted myself up into the saddle and settled in we clicked. I think we both remembered and we both relaxed to enjoy the simple pleasure of each other’s company.

We walked. We ambled around the farm. We checked the fence lines, front yard and fifteen acre hay field out back. The gentle rocking of her pace and my body were matched evenly and I started to look around at the field. I had wonderful memories of riding this same field with Sam and having an amazing connection.

I remember sneaking off to ride at night. I remember galloping through the open field with the wind on my face making my eyes water. I remember smelling the damp earth, rotting leaves and crisp autumn air.

I am so lucky. I am so lucky to relive these happy memories and create new adult memories at the same time.

Everyone always said I could come back to riding later in life after I did so many other things like: finishing my education, getting a job, getting married, having a family, raising my children and triumphing in a fabulous career.

My life didn’t work out that way and I’m incredibly grateful for surprises even if I didn’t like some of them at the time. Time heals even if at the time you don’t think you will ever feel joy again.

Horses

I long to feel the saddle beneath me again. To ride the familiar trails of my childhood. To smell the hay and straw and scent of horses on my farm again. It’s like nothing else in this world.

However, I am a pragmatic woman today. I know the costs – both financially and emotionally. I refuse to make this decision on emotion. It makes no sense. The horse will provide no monetary value, but I feel I owe it to Autumn.

Divorce is ugly. It’s painful and even when done reasonably amicably you lose so many precious things. One of the things I lost was Autumn. I could tell you it was cost, but maybe I wanted to punish myself for failing in my relationship. I could say I couldn’t cope with the workload, but perhaps my emotions were to too frail. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough at the time to hold on, make room and find a place.

It left me feeling guilty, but I’d found her a good home with a friend of a friend and for three years they cared for her, loved her and kept her safe. Thank you.

At the beginning of the summer I got a call from Autumn’s family stating they’d like to give her back. She wasn’t very sound anymore and she didn’t suit their needs. She was getting old and the family was filled with young kids. This was right before the engagement party and three months before the wedding.

I told Brent and the wheels started spinning. I could smell the smoke. I was afraid, but didn’t I owe it to Autumn?

I asked the family to wait until fall, until autumn to see if we could make something happen. It gave me time to think and time to talk to Brent, family and friends. Should we get a horse?

It was not an easy decision, but we decided yes and started planning as soon as we returned from our honeymoon we started building. We put up fence and repaired the shelter. We built well into the dark hours and had a few fights because we were tired. For something that was going to bring joy the building was stressful. I think I was nervous. I was afraid I wasn’t strong enough to be soft and I knew having Autumn home would leave me open and vulnerable.

It was Thursday, November 4, 2010 when the family came by and asked if she could bring Autumn back on Saturday. Brent and I were in the middle of insulating the shelter. At least the fencing was done.

It was nearly 4pm on Saturday, November 6, 2010 that Autumn stepped off the trailer and landed her hooves on Beaver Creek Farm. I held my breath and couldn’t wait to cuddle and feed her carrots. My baby had come home.

It was like the return of a long lost lover. It was the sun shining brighter bringing life to the dull leafless trees. It was like going from black and white to high definition. A switch flipped and I felt whole.

Welcome home Big Girl.

Horse Fencing – Part 2

It’s still not done as of November 4, 2010.

It’s been two weeks that we’ve steadily been working on fencing and we’re so close to being done with the hand breaking wire and in the past few days we’ve added the challenge of mud. My feet stayed mostly wet due to the hole in my decade old rubber boots. I’m excited that I get to buy a new pair!

I must give a special thanks to the backhoe for all it’s hard work. This project would not have gone as smoothly or as quickly without you, you sassy, big, yellow machine. I love you.

Secondly, to my husband Brent. Without his back breaking determination that had us working outside in the dark last night until after nine p.m. we’d never be this far, tired, broken and cold. Thanks honey.

The great news is that we should be done with all the fencing stuff today. We have the electrical set up and just need to hook it up to the unit and tighten the ribbon. What a beautiful sight with the white four inch ribbon stretched along the top rail. It’s changed the look of the backyard and the view from the house. I’m excited and nervous to put livestock in this new paddock. I know they’re going to love it.

We still have a to do some clean up, fix and insulate the lean to and work on getting water for winter. I wonder when Autumn is coming home?