All posts by Amy

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?

Horse Fencing

Last spring, while working on all the projects around the farm to prepare for the engagement party a lady stopped by to talk about a horse. This horse happened to be my old horse that I’d given away during my divorce. I couldn’t afford the luxury of a horse and I’d found her a good home with this family.

The lady came to tell me they weren’t much interested in her any longer. She has periods of lameness that exceeds their limits. Would I care to have her back? Would I? Wow.

Having a horse is big undertaking. It’s not like a goat or a pig who can pretty much take care of themselves as long as the essentials are provided. Wintering a large animals can be difficult. Water situations must be managed, hay and often grain to help the animal create heat is often necessary.

I approached Brent with the idea. He gazed thoughtfully off in to space for a while until I was getting nervous and then he said “we could do it”. That simple. That sweet. He wasn’t thinking of excuses not to do it, he was coming up with a plan. Who doesn’t love a guy who comes up with a plan?

We went back and forth on the subject several times. He said he’d rather have a cow, but he can see why I’d like my horse back. He gets the sentimental value and he gets the real time cost and he still wants to bring my horse home.

We didn’t actually decided until last week that we’d take the horse for sure and it wasn’t until I called and talked to the lady that I got excited. The problem is: I want her now! What a kid.

But, first – the fencing.

We decided to use a combination of twenty rod livestock fence and electric. We started pulling out the old fencing on Friday with the help of our good friend Chuck. It took the three of us and the back hoe two hours of good hard labour to removed twenty year old rusted farm fence with a steel top rail. We all begged for tetanus shots by the end, but the fence line was cleared of wire and pipe.

We decided to leave the line of trees that have grown up along that fence line. We decided it was good food for the goats (who will be keeping Autumn company in the big field) and shelter from the wind. We’ve expanded this paddock by hundreds of feet and brought the fence line over to share the one with the dogs directly off the house.

We’re aware there will be moments when we open the laundry room window and bid a happy good day to a horse. The thought makes me giggle.

On Monday our friends Tanya and Justin came over with their two pugs: Chewy and Twinkie, to help with fencing. We started around ten in the morning and by eleven we’d pushed twenty-seven posts and were nearly ready to pull some fence. We ran the new fence line across the front of the property just east of the house. We x-braced the posts and rolled out the fence, which is great work out for the legs, and hooked up the back hoe to the fence and started to pull. It tensioned beautifully!

We put Tanya and Justin to work wiring the fence to the steel posts (it’s impossible to push cedar posts on this property – I swear it’s rock only three feet down). We’re going to put up a decorative wood fence in front of the steel one to make it more visually appealing from the road at a later time.

Right now, we need to get some functional fencing.

We managed to push another seventy-seven posts and pull five hundred feet of fencing thanks to the help of our friends. In return they have plans to make us clean their driveway with a toothbrush or perhaps there’s a sewage problem we can fix. It’s worth the trade in labour to help bring Autumn home.

Today we’ll work on the electric part of the fence. It may be a time consuming process as our insulators are made for wood posts and we’re working with metal. How hard can it be to drill through metal anyway?

We have a few more weeks until Autumn comes home and there’s so much to do, but we’re making great progress.

Why the Good are Persecuted

Have you ever noticed how others have this desire to attack the things you hold dear to your heart?

My love of animals has been the most wonderful and joyful thing in my life and it has also brought me the most pain. I felt the pain of losing them far too early in years, but I’ve also felt the cruel words of those who would persecute me for my joy.

I’ve listened to people state that hunting is for the good of the deer or trying to save the world one puppy at a time was a waste of time. People seem to gain some sort of comfort or happiness from attacking those things that others hold passion and are willing to give up time, money and portions of their lives.

Everyone knows I love the animals. All sorts of animals. I’ve fallen deeply and desperately in love with a sassy blond shih poo bombshell, a shy and sweet chocolate mess and a proud bright lhasa cross who has an insane love of balls.

I also spread my love to all the animals that live at the farm. The pigs, goats, ducks and especially my little chicken nugget.

I often wonder if there was some point in my life that I was so disappointed by people that I naturally and instinctively turned towards the closest and kindest soul for comfort and love. That soul happened to belong to a four legged creature named Sam.

You’re thinking Sam is a dog, but in fact she’s a horse. Sam was a mostly thoroughbred mare with just a hint of draft – clydesdale to be exact. She was hardy and powerful, but agile and strong. She taught me how to love with passion, but never took any crap from anyone. She used teeth, hooves, muscles, blood and passion to fight against those who would aim to harm her, but she loved fully those would be kind, caring and gentle.

You don’t always need to find comfort in the arms of a human to find your place and your peace in this world. Sometimes you can find all you need in the eyes of the gentle soul that is curled around you feet, your arms or in the next room.

I don’t know why the good are persecuted. Sometimes I think I get a sniff of understanding and I can hear words like: low self-esteem, uneducated, poor upbringing, ignorance, hateful, mean and controlling.

I don’t understand why someone who feels badly, for whatever reason, would want to attack another heartbeat who feels even worse.

Duck Watch 2010 Part Two

Mr G has returned to live outside with his pal Smith. Both are five month old muscovy ducks, probably brothers. Smith is white and Mr G is white with a little grey on his back. Smith would be considered aggressive for the normally passive muscovy and Mr G lives up to the quiet reputation.

Just over two weeks ago Mr G was struck by a car while we were away on our honeymoon. We came home to find Mr G bloody in the barn. After ten days of in home care, including how to inject a duck (not for cooking) with antibiotics Mr G has returned to his more normal self outside.

Very subdued he limps around the pen and swims passively in the pond. I hope to hear his hiss again soon, but for now he continues to heal. We can even see the start of a few tail feathers that we never thought would grow. Recovery from this massive trauma has taken it’s toll on the little duck and he’s significantly smaller than the magnificent Smith who is splendid with his layering of white feathers.

Smith has been kind to Mr G since the separation. We feared Smith would beat up Mr G, but even animals can sense when one of their own is no longer a threat.

They sit together at the end of the dock and watch the swirling pond. I wonder if they daydream?

Beaver Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary

October 16, 2010 is the first day of Beaver Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary. This is exciting as I sit in my kitchen alone typing as the sun shines and the puppies nap. For those who don’t know me – I am an animal lover. If you read some of the previous posts about my animals you’ll see my devotion runs deep towards the little heartbeats without a voice.

I belonged to a non-profit rescue for several years and found it wasn’t the right place for me and my passions. I believe in helping dogs that need help. Those abused, abandoned and generally wounded by the callousness of humans. I want to give back.

It’s hard to start one of these organizations. You have to be recognized to pull dogs from bad places, but not puppy mills. What got me going on this is the mass puppy mill auction going on in Missouri on October 27, 2010. A good friend offered a donation if I was willing to foster and find one of these dogs a home. Wow. What a great leap of trust. She said if I can help one dog than it’s worth all the money. What a great lady.

So, here I am making the decision to start a rescue. It has to start private and hopefully we can become incorporated once we raise enough funds. I’m hoping for all sorts of donations. Dog food, blankets, beds, bowls, toys and money. I can’t do it without the monetary donations. I’d love to build a free spay and neuter clinic. I’d love to have a kennel to house the dogs when they first come in and have volunteers give flea baths and grooming. I’d love to have vet who would be willing to volunteer some time or give a discount on spay or neutering.

If you know someone or would like to help please join our listserver: beavercreekfarmanimalsanctuary@yahoogroups.com or go to this website: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/beavercreekfarmanimalsanctuary/

Everyday starts with a step…
Thank you for making my dreams come true and helping the animals.

Billy’s Wedding Speech (My Best Friend)

To My Best Friend on Her Wedding Day
Thank you Amy and Brent for asking me to be a part of your big day. Amy and I met when we were in high school. I was in grade 9 and Amy was in grade 10. I was walking up the stairs to a class on the second floor and thought I recognized the person in front of me and decided to pinch her butt.
It wasn’t who I thought it was. It was Amy, and she turned around pretty much ready to knock me on my ass. But as she likes to tell it, the look of fear and embarrassment on my face stopped her. As I apologized profusely she must have felt sorry for me or something and took me under her wing. Befriended me, protected me, and raised me up a bit on the social ladder.
For the longest time I didn’t know what she saw on my face that day or why she took me under her wing, until recently. Most of you know Amy and you know she loves to rescue animals. Every kind, puppies, goats, pigs, ducks or bunnies. Anything that has been abused, or is lost, and needs a place to feel safe. Well whether Amy knew it or not at the time, she rescued me that day. Knowing what we know now, I was abused, and lost, and needed to feel safe. Amy did all that. I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t be standing here today if I hadn’t pinched that butt so many years ago.
So we grew up together. Lots of ups and a bunch of downs. We spent time playing improve games in the loft of the barn, remember Jenn. Spent a summer before college working in the Bindery at Sullivan Graphics. Singing show-tunes over top of the machines, (if you didn’t know I was gay then…) and having a crazy shampoo, soap, and whatever else we could find, fight at her parents one morning, chasing each other around the house after a week of midnight shifts.
Life sometimes separated us for periods of time but we always came back to each other and have been with each other through all the phases, adventures, mistakes, and heartbreaks. The best way I can explain it is, I am her Will and She is my Grace. In fact when the show Will and Grace 1st came on I remember calling Amy and the both of us saying “ Oh my God did someone steal our lives and make a TV show?”. I even once said to Amy, wouldn’t it be cool if my name was Will so i could be her Will. She started laughing and looked at funny, and laughed even more when i didn’t get what i just said. “You idiot” she said, “You are my Will”. Since my name is Technically Will.
And like friends do, we talked and dreamed about what our lives would be like as we grew up. We always pictured Amy living in the country on a farm with all her animals and me being an actor living in the city. I would come visit her and her husband on the farm to get away from it all. Amy and I would be in the kitchen getting dinner ready while both our men would be outside having a beer and shooting the breeze at the barbecue.
Well 3 years ago I came home and was introduced to Brent. By this time I had dropped the y from my name and was Bill. Except when I came home and my family and friends still call me Billy. Brent said “ You must be Billy, I’ve heard all about you” . I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad but I thought nice guy lets see how this goes. That 1st night the 3 of us went to out and as we got in the car Brent went to the back seat and said “ You’re Billy you ride up front with Amy”. It was one of the smartest things he could have ever done. It scored points with both me and Amy, and every time after that, when ever we got together and the 3 of us went out I rode shot gun with Amy.
For those of you who don’t really know Amy and for those of you who really do, Amy is….. How should i put this?… Amy is Complicated. And I mean that in the best possible way. Amy is a small town girl who is comfortable in the big city. She loves to go to football game one night and to a Broadway show the next. She is an English major who will read the classics of literature, poetry or a crappy romance novel all in the same week. She will speak her mind, tell you like it is and shoots from the hip. She is also love and compassion like I have never seen. She is hard and soft. She is a cowgirl, horseback riding, motorcycle driving bumpkin, and at the same time a designer handbag, $200 dollar pair of shoes, night at the opera, fly to Europe in a fabulous dress Princess.
And to be with her you have to know all this, and get it. That’s what Brent does. Brent you get all the parts of her and you fit! Not only do you fit but you do it all while respecting every part of her, and you make her happy. I couldn’t ask for more.
Back to the part of our dream of Amy and I in the Kitchen, while our guys BBQ. Well Amy’s got that dream. The house, the farm, the animals, and I can honestly say she is alone in the kitchen because I am the one out at the BBQ with Brent with a beer shooting the breeze. And I’m not sure if Brent or Amy noticed but when I came home for the engagement party after we spent the day here building picnic tables and me learning how to use power tools, we got in the truck to head back to the farm. Before Brent even got the chance I climbed in the back seat and they rode in the front together. I’m sure it wasn’t even something any of us realized, myself included. It just felt right.
Amy, I will always be your Will, and you will always be my Grace, but I am happy to know that today you have married your best friend. To Amy and Brent

Lisa’s Wedding Speech

Amy rented a cottage in early September with friends up in Long Beach for the weekend and a week later she moved into the farm. I came by the farm to help and recognized all her friends except for this one tall guy.
Amy said she met him in Wainfleet, but wouldn’t say more. Hmmm… I started in with the twenty questions, but for once my sister was silent.
What was going on? He was just helping? Who was this tall dark haired handsome man and why was he helping my sister??
Over the next few weeks Amy started hanging out more at the beach. She mentioned moonlit walks, romantic bon fires filled with wine. Every time she went to the beach the puppies followed… hmmm… he really did know the way to her heart was through her puppies.
Over the next few months I watched Brent and Amy working together. They pulled out carpet and painted walls at the farm. They laid tons of ceramic tile. Back at the beach they worked on Brent’s building, renovated cottages and planned.
Nearly three years later they continue their journey back and forth from farm to beach. The more I see them doing things together the more I realize how good they look, how strong they are and how happy.
Wow. They worked well together and I watched them grow into a lovely couple.
My sister used to be high maintenance and now she goes with the flow. I believe my sister has met her match. She has changed so much and I can see the love she has for Brent, life, the farm, her animals, puppies and the beach.
I was going to feel sorry for this new guy dating my sister and I wondered how he was going to put up with her? Today I can thank him for being patient, kind and loving.
I can see and feel the happiness you have for each other, your families and all her extra heart beats.
I have no doubt you two belong together and deserve each other.
Everything happens for a reason…
My toast: May your love affair last forever. We wish you all the best and years of laughter and love. Please raise your glasses as the Bremners and Lindhursts welcome each other.