Tag Archives: horse

Flooding the Horse Shelter

I didn’t do it on purpose. I returned home from the Canine Club Getaway and went out to check on my farm animals. The horse/goat water looked a little low, so I plug in the pump and turned on the tap. Brent yelled at me from across the fenced yard to remember to turn it off. I laughed. I always remember.

I filled hay nets and mangers. I cleaned out the manure and gave Autumn a quick brush while the water trough filled. It’s another stolen moment. I’m waiting for one thing, but enjoying another: the definition of farm life.

I leave the shelter with a smack on the bum for Autumn and head towards the outlet to unplug the pump. I’m closing the gate when I hear Brent ask if I need help. I’m almost finished. He asks if I want him to unplug the pump. I say, “no. I’m walking right by it” and I am only twenty steps away from the outlet. I laugh again.

Taz meets me at the pond and entertains me with a little frog hunting. She’s belly deep in muddy water eyeballing a bullfrog that’s nearly her size and I giggle as she pounces the frog dives underwater. She and the frog are dancing.

I call Taz to come into the house and Poco runs over with the ball. I throw the ball a handful of times for the dogs before turning and heading to the house. I remember thinking how tired I was feeling, but in a good satisfied way.

The next morning my dad asks what happened? Happened? What does he mean what happened? I don’t know what happened. What?

He was drinking coffee on the flagstone patio and he could hear water running. Water running? Where was water running? OH… water running… oh. I didn’t unplug the pump and flooded the horse shelter. Flooded it.

The mess was incredible and poor Autumn was standing on the edge of a pond in her shelter. The goats had taken leave to brave the outside. Oh dear.

Brent had gone to work, so I only had to listen to dad give me an earful about leaving the water on all night. We spend the next several hours digging, by hand and with the backhoe, to move some water.

We had to put down a layer of stone, then a layer of sand and finally the rubber mat. Autumn and the two goats had been moved to the pig paddock for the day. The pigs were not happy and squealed as they tried to chase Autumn. Uncooperative in the chase Autumn turned and tried to bite the pig.

The shelter turned out beautiful and better than before with the thick rubber mat (thanks Uncle Chuck). No more dirt for my pony.

I’m having a little trouble moving still and my back aches a little, but the animals are happy in their own dry shelter. Thanks Dad.

Brent did manage to give me an earful too. Especially, after he figured out I told dad he’d left the water on all night. Always blame the one who isn’t there.

Riding Horses

Riding horses is like nothing else. It lets you get close to nature. It lets you quietly see things that you’re normally going too fast to enjoy. You smell scents that normally don’t make it past your car window. You hear the small animals building their nests in the forest.

It’s a delight to be that close to things that are so common, but hardly ever heard.

For years I was lucky enough to board my horse at a stable that was located along the shorthills. The shorthills are off Effingham Rd in Pelham. The shorthills have their very own magic.

Today I rode with my niece Erin. It was so special to share our love of horses. I really enjoyed the ride around the big hay field as we talked about horses, riding and deer.

It’s always nice to ride with another person and extra special to ride with the next generation. It’s a sign that I’m aging, but it isn’t one that I mind. Thanks Erin, today was really cool. Want to do it again on Boxing Day??

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?