Happy Friday, dear readers! As I promised, we are back to our regular scheduled programming. Are not you happy?!
Yes, yes, I know you are!
If you are new around here, our regular programming includes adventuring musings starring one or two lineback dun horses and a certain rambling, mongrel bird dog!
Many of our adventures are set in the hill country of Texas. It can be quite difficult to express the true feeling of being there if you have never experienced it for yourself. It has such feeling and the pictures very rarely ever do it justice. The sights. The smells. The feeling. Many here in the state call it God’s Country. Really, I feel that way about the whole state. But, we sure do like riding the hill country as long time readers can attest to. We travel there at least once a year and I really enjoy sharing our rides there with you, even if to just share a change in scenery through my horses’ ears.
Lito’s first time to travel there was to a ranch in the heart of the hill country that my family and I used to spend quite some time on when I was younger. We went with our best friends and my Darcy girl. We actually went there a couple of months ago, just me, my Lito, and Merley, for a weekend with family. I shared some photos of that trip the last time I wrote to you. I did not take very many pictures on that trip, but the three of us had a lovely time. The feeling was…I just do not know…as if we three had been traveling the world and riding trails alone our whole lives. Lito and Merle really have each other figured out, use each other out on the trail, and seem to gain confidence from each other. Lito felt very grown up.
Then of course there are our bigger group rides once a year that take place in a more southern area of the hill country. The first year I went, I took Ike. I took Lito the last three years and each time it was an even better ride. Unfortunately, the 2020 ride was canceled (which is how we ended up going to Lake Sam Rayburn to ride), go figure that! We have been sending up all the prayers for a 2021 ride!
For our most recent adventure a couple of weeks ago, Lito, Merle, and I went to a new to us part of the hill country. We went with some of our good riding friends to Parrie Haynes Ranch Equestrian Center outside of Killeen, Texas. This group has been here several times and it is open to the public! This place has cabins, electrical hook ups, water, and nice horse pens. There are many trails that are pretty well marked and there are some challenging places! I think we did some of the more difficult riding I have ever done there.
Man, we just had a great time!
Merle came along just to hang out, as there are not many horses that are used to his antics and energy, but he seemed to have just as much fun as everyone else. Both Lito and Merle settled right into camp on Thursday evening.
We rode. We ate (very well). We drank. We laughed (a lot). We shared. We watched the rain. Felt the sun and the wind. I could have stayed! I can not wait to go back and ride the places we could not because of the rain.
I took pictures when I could. The hill country has the best blue skies.
For a lot of it I wish I had a GoPro! Climbing hills and rocks does not allow for taking pictures while riding.
We had one afternoon of rain, but other than that, the weather was stunning. Especially on Sunday.
Lito and I led the way most of the time, which is funny since we had never been before. Lito has taken to prefer the front with his big walk.
There is this one open field dotted with beautiful oak trees and tall, golden, waving grass speckled with bluebonnets. It was pure magic. I am telling you the pictures do not do it justice!
All of this adventuring really makes me want to travel even more to different places!
Have you been on any fun adventures? With or without horses? Or read of any good ones recently? Tell me!
I surely do not know what else to call it. It has been one heck of a week and we are not even finished seeing the results of it yet.
If you did not know, Texas and much of the central and United States have just been majorly smacked around by Old Man Winter. In a BIG way. Lives of all kinds have been lost. There is much to be said on this whole situation from many different places and perspectives, but for now, I have my experience to share. Having animals, and any kind of livestock in particular, is a lot of work in normal circumstances. It is much more work in times like these.
I do not know how people up north handle it! Other than the fact that they are just more prepared for it and are used to it. This last week has felt like a whole three month long season and yet, at the same time, I am dazed at how it was only a week and somehow became the last week of February with the sun shining and temperatures rising to the 70s? What is that? Where did the month go? It is still going to take me some time to decompress from all of this. And to thaw out. I swear I am still cold. At 70 degrees.
I do not even think I really knew winter storms had names. To me, storms with names are tropical! Hurricanes! However, winter storms do have names and we got hit by not only one, but I think we got hit by two named winter storms in one week. Winter storms Uri and Viola. It is not that we have not had winter ‘storms’ or even snow before. We have! It snowed actually in 2017 not long after Hurricane Harvey. In 2018 we had many freezes in one week where I was farm bound. That was the first time I really heard the term Polar Vortex. It just was not as cold. Or windy. Maybe this is what we are getting after having such an active tropical season. I have already heard that this year’s tropical season is going to be the same, so maybe we need to prepare for next winter! Just a thought, you know. However, we need to get through this one first and I am not so sure it is finished.
There is a saying that goes something like this, “if it thunders in February, it will freeze in April.” It thundered the Thursday and Friday before this! I have also heard something like, “if it thunders in December, it will be a very cold winter.” I am sure we had thunder in December! Prepare now. You heard it here first.
Anyhow, enough of that. I am no meteorologist. Let us get on with it.
I suppose the beginning is as good of a place as any to start, as with any story. Day by day? Yikes, they all started to run together very early on.
Get yourself a whole pot of coffee or tea.
This long winter’s tale begins a couple of weeks ago when the forecast for last week continued to not change. Almost as if it was set in stone. So set in stone that it was even worse than they anticipated.
At the beginning I thought to myself (and then later on, not so much to just myself!), “Eek. Surely that can not be right. There is no way. Lows well below 20? Snow? Freezing rain? Surely not.” Then it got worse as forecasts began to predict a low of 5 degrees F on Monday night and Tuesday morning and persisting winds and deadly wind chill and freezing rain before and after that. And, and, and!
I very quickly prepared to head to the farm the afternoon of the 11th, that would be last Thursday, after preparing my home in Houston. Luckily for me, taking care of my townhouse is not all that much involved. I set my central heating, closed the blinds, opened by sink cabinets, turned off the water supply to the house, drained the lines, and insulated the external exposures. Then I said a prayer for the best (I will go ahead and tell you that my house is just fine! I feel very blessed).
I got to the farm before dark and made my plans and lists to go to town Friday morning to stock up on feed for the animals and groceries for myself. I knew it was very likely that I would not be able to leave much at all during this and I wanted to be prepared for that no matter what happened.
Friday afternoon through Sunday morning were spent with Pops preparing. (Please also make note that it is cold and windy this whole time by our standards already..it only gets worse!). Making sure all external water line exposures on the property (to the houses, water troughs, and various water line risers) were as covered and insulated as possible. Virtually every towel, blanket, piece of cardboard, and big tub bucket (and anything else we could find) was utilized. Making sure the access holes on the old pier and beam farm house were not only covered, but would not get blown open. Putting round bales out for the cows. Draining hoses and putting them inside. Setting up heaters in the well houses. Getting the barn mucked out and clean, stocked with water and hay, and setting out every single horse blanket I have. Literally! Filling up the bathtubs and every horse bucket left and any other receptacle to know we would have enough water for not only us, but for all the animals as well.
Sunday morning I stepped out confidently to continue on in our efforts after feeding the horses, but our porch was already covered in a layer of ice. Ice that I did not see or notice. That is until I slipped on it one or two steps in and almost fell and broke my face! Luckily I somehow kept from falling, but my back was already screaming before I even got back inside. Poor Merle, who somehow escaped all calamities going out of the house that morning, had a similar experience to mine and almost completely blew out on his way back to the door! When he regained his balance he looked back and forth from me to the ice, dumbfounded, expressing great confusion all over his sweet face. He then smartly watched me carefully side step on a protected edge that was ice free and proceeded to trace my steps to get inside safely. Each morning he was a little less exuberant to head out until he evaluated the footing!
By Sunday late afternoon/early evening we had done as much as we could to prepare. Except for emptying the manure spreader. The freezing rain came sooner that afternoon than expected. I was going to do that at the last minute after I mucked again. Oops. Spoiler alert, I will not let that happen again. That would be a problem. It was full. I naively thought it would not be a problem and that I could do it the next day.
Before dinner, I went out to the barn (the horses had already spent most all of the weekend up in the barn by this point because the weather had already been so poor) and brushed the horses down, got their blankets on (2 each! They all had on some combination of a turnout sheet, light to med weight turnout blanket, and a fleece or cooler liner), fed them their dinner with added probiotics and electrolytes (I kept these going for days), and put out extra hay in the slow feeder nets.
They all knew the atmosphere was amiss. Merle did not seem to care all that much besides being clingy, but Lito very much cared. Here we were on night one and he would barely eat his dinner. We were in for a long, long week.
By this point all the trees were covered in a veil ice and being shoved angrily about by the wind.
You know what I do not like? The sound of ice in the trees. Ice screeching and scratching and breaking. Lito said he did not like it either.
I also do not like the howling wind from inside the house for that matter.
I was short one horse blanket to double up on Ike so he got to wear the big cooler under his medium turnout blanket. Not what it was designed for, but it worked in a pinch for the night times. Petunia comes ready made with a heavy coat and a tough as nails constitution. I have no idea how she makes it through summer. I trace clipped her last summer because I felt bad for her.
After dinner, I topped off the barn buckets, drained the hose, put the hose away in the heated well house, and mucked out the stalls again. We then turned off the water for the duration, drained the lines, and said our prayers.
I left all the horses except Lito in their stalls Sunday night as that was to be the ‘wettest’ (and most icy and snowiest) night and I wanted to make sure Ike was kept warm and dry. He is the lowest ranked in the herd and I did not want him kicked out of the barn. I left Lito’s stall open so he could wander as he was very bothered by it all and I figured it was likely I would find him not where I left him come morning. That may or may not have happened once or twice in the past. I also left the bottom chain on the other three stalls open so Petunia could get in wherever she wanted to to stay warm.
After my final barn check I was able to catch our cat, Luke Boots, and bring him in for the night. I set him up in Merle’s crate with a towel, food, and water. Boy, he was thirsty! It had been so cold and windy, I do not think he had ventured out of the garage at all, not even for water! I brought him almost every night.
I enjoyed a couple glasses of rose champagne for Valentine’s Day that I picked up for myself on Friday (I also picked up chocolates, because again, why not!) and watched a little bit of television. At some point I made myself go to bed knowing how tired I was and was going to be even if I did not feel ready to sleep.
Going to bed was quite futile. My mind almost felt like the air outside. It was blowing like crazy and it was so loud in the house. I was just plain worried about the horses. And the cows. And the cayotes were very vocal and as close as I have ever heard them. Everything! And it was only the beginning. I could not get comfortable thanks to my back and I kept getting up to look out the window to see how the horses looked.
By the time 5 AM rolled around I was ready to get suited up and start feeding and hauling water out to the barn.
Lito (black blanket) spent almost the whole night right there in front of Chance’s stall and Petunia spent pretty much the whole night in Lito’s stall next to Cheetah. I have never been more grateful for this barn (and the lights) in the whole time that we have had it. Of course to be able to see them from the house, but the wind was just going absolutely crazy. I have never felt anything like those temperatures. Goodness, and that wind chill. The barn was the next best place to the house to be. It really makes you realize how important a shelter of any kind is and really makes you look at your house differently.
I will say, it is pretty. That is the upside to the hard and harsh. The yield is very pretty. As are the sunrises. I do not need anymore snow pictures now! We are good for a WHILE. Spring is welcome!
It is hard to tell how much snow we actually got because of how windy it was all night. It was very blown and on a bed of ice. I do not think we got as much ice as they thought we were going to get, but ice is ice in my book. In places it almost seemed bare of snow and in other places it was five or six inches deep. It was not light and fluffy.
They all seemed to drink well in the night before breaking the ice themselves was no longer possible, but they were also grateful for and drank up the water I brought from the house. They all also seemed pretty dang comfortable. Nobody was shivering and their spirits seemed bright and light. I know they were grateful for the barn too. This really was a weight off my shoulders and allowed me to be able to see and appreciate the beauty. I mucked out the barn (and filled the last bit of space in the manure spreader…which there really was not any space. It just spilled over the side.) and broke ice as the horses ate. Lito was more relaxed come sunrise and even ate his breakfast well before the sun was even up. I am very happy that he ate well the rest of the week. I was very worried when Sunday evening he did not finish his feed.
Merle was the most excited about it all and had a big time. Light on his paws, shall we say! I make no apologies for the amount of pictures. I was feeding off of his joy.
Once they were finished eating, I went ahead and let them all out of their stalls to move around since the wind had quieted down finally and the sun was coming out.
You can take some time now to laugh at and be prepared to laugh even more at my pipe coverings. I have already shown you some, but there are more to come. PVC does not handle extremes very well, so I wanted them as covered as possible even if they were drained. You can spot blankets, feed bags, cardboard, and A LOT of duct tape. You have to do what you have to do. Underneath all of that is even more. Towels. Actual pipe coverings. Even more duct tape! Some hay twine because nothing is complete without hay twine. Most of my work lasted, some did not, but I do think it all helped.
Yes, he is playing with frozen poop. It is apparently better than regular poop?
Look! Not only the sun, but blue skies!
After the horses and the barn were squared away for the time being, I went and started my car (I am still surprised I could get it open with all the ice) and fixed myself a cup of coffee to-go so Merle and I could go count and feed the cows and break ice on their troughs.
This time as we were leaving the house there was a stunned bird sitting on the iced over porch. Just sitting, motionless. Merle went straight to him and the bird tried to fly away, but he did not have the strength. I quickly called Merle off so he would not use the poor little guy as a play thing and picked him up in my gloved hands. After some deliberation with the little bird stock still, but alert in my hands, I tucked him into a protected cubby in the garage for him to recover. I said a little prayer and hoped Luke Boots would not find him. While I am pleased to report I am pretty sure this bird survived as I saw what looked like the same bird flying around the garage, I saw many many dead birds over the next couple of days. I have never seen anything like it. Merle was quite pleased with himself as he retrieved one such carcass to me. I praised him for his effort all the while being sad for the reason. However, I could still hear birds singing. Another blessing.
The cows were very happy to see me and seemed to be doing ok. They emerged out of their protected pasture next to the river without encouragement, covered in snow and ice, happy to have a bag of cubes. All the cows, calves, including a calf from next door, and our very old longhorn steer were accounted for! I was very worried about old Chacho. Those longhorns are tough. He is teaching these young girls to be tough.
We have the smallest herd we have had in years, and this is one of those times I am grateful for it. Each morning I drove out there to feed, count, and break ice. The calves on the ground are old enough to not be overly vulnerable even in these extreme conditions. My heart really goes out to all farmers and ranchers with much bigger operations than ours with many more animals to care for. Many do not have the same news to report as me.
I stopped back in at the barn on the way back to check waters and scoop more poop. As you can likely guess, the spreader is more than overflowing at this point. My goal was to just scoop every time I was out to try and stay on top of it. To keep the barn habitable to keep the horses as comfortable in the barn as possible to stay warm and dry. Even though the sun was out and they did step out some when the sun was out, they spent the majority of the week in the barn. It was just that cold and windy. Their gate was open for them to go out in their pasture when I did not have to change blankets.
I kept looking up at the sun in amazement every time it came out. Yes, that tree is covered in ice if you look close enough. I was just so glad that the sun was finally out, even if it was only for a little bit of time. Monday did not get even close to above freezing and we were due to have even lower lows and more freezing rain.
In between putting layers on (yikes! so so many layers), feeding, scooping poop, toting water from the house to the barn, scooping poop, breaking ice, scooping even more poop, and stripping off all the layers, we warmed up inside and got what rest we could. We reached out to our people to make sure everyone was doing ok. Logged on and did some work work. I tried at one point to spread and empty the manure spreader. Ha. That was more futile than sleeping! It was completely frozen! Wheels did not turn. That could really be a problem, but at that point, I just shrugged and said oh well. What can you do?! It is not broken like that one time. I just piled it around and when everything thaws I will either pick it all up or spread it around? At least frozen poop is easier to scoop and it does not really smell.
This is basically how the whole week went. Rinse and repeat! I carried water out to the barn, two buckets or one boiling pot at a time, two or three times a day, with multiple trips each time. Horses drink a lot of water. I would have had to do it more if I did not have the water trough and was keeping them locked in their stalls. Adding boiling water helps to keep the buckets from freezing so quickly and some horses do not drink cold water very well. It also helps to get rid of some if not all of the ice already there. In this particular case, it was only some of the ice. Luckily, our horses are mostly very good drinkers of cold water. My arms got very sore. I am still feeling a little bit of that today. They started to feel like noodles. My back stopped screaming at some point, but it was still nagging. I just shrugged it off.
Some of my people were not ok. Most of them had no power or water. There was nothing I could do to help but offer support, motivation, and prayers. But they kept on. One step at a time. One friend had to haul her colicing horse to the vet in the ice and everything else that was falling from the sky. The vet did not have power or running water at the clinic, but they were able to treat her and get the mare back home safely. I had another friend who’s horse tied up during the worst of the storms with no way to get him to the vet or to get a vet there. She just kept injecting him with banamine and ace to try to help him relax and get comfortable. At one point she just sat in the snow and cried. She had her moment and felt her feelings, but do you know what she did then? She stood up, dusted the snow off of her bum, and marched on to do the next thing. There is always something. You just have to do one thing at a time.
My grandparents did not have power or water. I am so very grateful that they were not alone and were able to keep warm. I am thankful for wood burning fireplaces and space heaters. For gas grills if there is not a gas stove. For their spirits of seeing the blessings and just being plain tough. Not one complaining word came out of their mouths. “What can you do,” they said with a chuckle, “it can be worse, many have it worse.” Apparently it takes a child of the depression to see past the bad. To not complain.
The horses did have some fun for those small times they ventured out. We even got some melting in such low temperatures. The power of the sun. Never underestimate it! I was grateful for it even though I knew that would just mean more ice.
I had to break ice several times a day to keep them drinking. I have never seen water freeze back so quickly.
I upped the ante Monday night after it was all said and done. A margarita. I cheered myself and I cheered everyone else that was out there doing what I was doing. To those doing it times 10. I cheered my friends who were out there struggling, but keeping at it.
My work to keep drinkable water in the barn as long as possible was likely for not, but it was worth a shot. It is always worth the shot.
Tuesday dawned our coldest morning. With blessed stillness in the air.
Cold sunrises are always the prettiest. Just another blessing to see and feel. My animals were surviving. We had shelter to be in. Water to drink. Food to eat. Ways to make heat. And. Eyes to see these sunrises.
That is ice covering the pond. I have never seen that. There were ducks standing on it before I took this picture!
The livestock were not the only ones that needed water.
It is just so pretty and that sun was getting to work quick.
Ike was enjoying being spoiled in a stall and being comfortable to laydown and take a nap after feedings. He also was not drinking as well as everyone else and seemed the most eager when I was carrying water out. I allowed him to have the first drinks.
Merle and I took a walk down to the pond when the horses ventured out into the pasture Tuesday. The sun was really warming things up even at 30 degrees F. I was even able to get the ice blocks out of the stall buckets after I put them out into the sun.
There were more blocks of ice in another bucket. I wanted to save the ice for when it melted in case we could not get the water flowing again.
They were all over it! Their faces said it all. Even Merle was getting there. I think his paws were getting tender on the ice.
Wednesday the sun went back into hiding, but the temperature rose above freezing for a little while, even as the wind picked back up, so we took the opportunity to say a prayer and turn the water on to shower, clean, and fill all the tubs and buckets again. Thankfully, this went off without a hitch and we were able to do everything we needed to do. We turned the water off again and drained the lines after dinner for the second storm. I am so happy that we were able to get more water in the paddock water trough. All my goldfish were surviving some how and if I could not have gotten water in that trough, they would have frozen for sure. We also got more hay out for the cows.
Getting clean does a person wonders. It felt so good to get completely good and clean, after days. Showering every day is a luxury! I even put earrings and lipstick on after because, well, why the heck not?! Bet you do not have reason to tell me not to. It got me thinking how excited I am to give these horses a full bath.
Many of my friends discovered broken pips in their homes and barns on this day when the ice started to thaw and water started to flow, or rather spew and spray, everywhere. Sister K had a river of water falling down her ceiling and walls and through her house. Another friend had at least six broken pipes in her home. Grandmother A had her ceilings literally caving in and falling down around her mattress in the den by the fireplace. But not on her mattress! All of this with no plumbing supplies to be found for many as they had all already been purchased. All plumbers already booked up for months and frantically trying to fix everything that was broken with anything they can find. My friend who’s horse tied up? Now that he was doing better, she went to fixing her pipes with radiator hoses and clamps.
This second storm was not as bad as as the first in theory. The lows Thursday and Friday night were in the low twenties (as opposed to the once forecasted teens) I think and still windy, but it was all compounded on top of the previous days. The animals continued to do well and these final days had a beauty all their own.
By Saturday, the sun was out and the temperatures were rising quickly into the forties. We were once again able to get the water turned on and flowing. We had a couple of broken external pipes, but nothing that can not be fixed in time. All of the horses and cows took extended long sun bathing naps. At one point I was worried that they were sick after all of that because they were down for so long! Thankfully, they all eventually got up and back to grazing.
Many farmers and ranchers did not make it out as well as we did. Some could not get to their animals because of the ice on the roads. Some had no way to get water to them. Many had calves and foals dropping in the middle of the storm. Some of the babies could not be found. Could not be warmed up and revived. Many ranchers were out at all hours trying to get all the animals fed and ice broken for them to drink and count all their cows praying they were all accounted for all the while taking care of their kids from pasture to pasture. They were out there rescuing animals that had fallen into icy waters when they stepped out onto ice covered ponds. I can not even imagine how the crops are.
The wildlife also suffered. Birds dead everywhere. Stunned deer laying exposed in the middle of pastures. We placed a blanket over one praying it would make it. The fish in our coastal waters are being washed up on every shore. Stunned fish are helplessly floating, just trying to survive.
It is going to take time for our resources to recover. This is only the beginning.
Welp. This post turned as long as these two storms over this week! I am even more tired! I have more to share, but this is more than enough for now. Say your prayers for everyone down here. For the farmers and ranchers. For the wildlife. For all the linemen and plumbers. For our suppliers and truckers. Hug your people. Hug your animals. Be grateful for what you have. Many have much, much less.
The question came from a long time family friend. She has watched me and my two sisters grow up over the years.
She saw me run wild as a little person with equally wild hair in a fuchsia pink jump suit with a trim around the collar and cuffs of jingling jewels. With matching socks to boot (thanks, mom! Perfect fishing gear I dare say). Likely with some kind of high-top sneakers. She also watched me nap on the couch in that get up, probably smeared with fish slime and scales. There is photo evidence in south Texas where a piece of my heart resides. At least of the napping. No, I did not get a copy of that to share, although I think I should have.
She has also watched us learn how to fish over the years. Watched us do stupid things too I am sure. I remember one specific trip where we were catching fish after fish off the dock when we were not out on the boat. We would run upstairs, with the poor innocent fish dangling from the hook and dripping salt water on the ground, to excitedly swing the doors of the clean and cool clubhouse open and ask Pops what kind of fish it was. We would then run back downstairs, with the fish still there dangling and dripping decidedly less salt water on the ground, to return the poor creature to its home. I remember catching many new to me species that trip.
But, no, I have not stopped blogging. I have just been, I guess, taking a break.
The truth is, I have not had the right frame of mind to write. I have hated it. I have several pieces of blogs started. Several ‘stream of consciousness-es’ written down. It is like a symptom of the year 2020, for more than just myself. Everyone I speak to seems to feel the same. I just have had a hard time finding anything to say that seemed meaningful and additive with everything that has been going on in the world. It has felt important to be and live in the moment. Be more than present.
Anyway, I have missed you my dear readers and I have gathered up a stream of consciousness AHAmoments blabber covering the last quarter of 2020 just for you. Lucky you! Or, probably more accurately, a bunch of stories that should likely be their own posts, but alas…We have not spoken in a long time!
I feel like I am playing Pollyanna’s game right now with this. I am watching Pollyanna right this very minute. I am not lying. I can not make this stuff up. As you will read here in a minute it is flooding outside and I am watching Pollyanna. And I just so happen to be subconsciously playing her game! Gotta chuckle at that one.
Life in or out of 2020 will deal you some interesting cards combined with the curve balls, but it is up to us to see the positive and the light while continuing to play those cards! So, starting with the first curve ball…
Life is interesting. I can say that until I am blue in the face. And I have. Those that have been around here a while have heard me say that many times. We will all find ourselves experiencing the same things at one point or another. That is something to remember. The AHAmoment in it all. We are all more alike than any of us know and are all living in this same life. And there is good that comes out of it all. Now and at the end of the day.
You will lose your job (blessedly!) and you will find yourself landing in another, much happier space. Where you are appreciated and valued. Doing good work. That was at the beginning of July.
Life, especially the year 2020 chapter (did I not already write this blog post?!?), often can feel like one thing after another. One bad thing after another bad thing. When one door closes, indeed many things open if your eyes are open to seeing.
The question our dear family friend asked me came at the beginning of a much needed fishing trip at one of my favorite places with my parents and it made me a little sad when it hit me. It was a longing sadness, like that you have for a long lost friend.
That was at the end of July. We had a great trip with soul striking sunrises/sunsets, casting, fish catching/releasing/eating, boating with the dolphins, and even a beach trip, but we had to cut it short by more than a day to quite literally out run the incoming Hurricane Hanna.
We awoke early and were on the road in the dark before 6 AM. It is a good thing we did. It rained most of the drive back to the farm. We walked in the door and got everything unloaded before the next bands of rain came. As we watched from the safety of the indoors, we were blessed with one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
A complete rainbow. With both ends planted and rooted right there on our farm. Can you even imagine that? Have you ever seen a complete rainbow where you could see both ends intersect the ground? I could have gone to both ends out there in the rain!
Even more interesting and amazing? How many times can I write amazing in one sitting?! WE SAW THE EXACT SAME RAINBOW A FEW WEEKS LATER!
If that is not a sign, I do not know what one is.
You will rebuild your fences finally after all the floods and trees will fall down on them.
That was in August. An outer tail band of Hurricane Laura swept seemingly unceremoniously over us. I swear it was just one quick blow. We had no other weather!
Goodbye pretty fence. It was nice having your around. You have now joined the ranks of all the other seasoned fences.
You will clean it up (when it finally cools down), have firewood for the winter, and rebuild the fence again. Hopefully you will do it quicker than the last time.
Your best mare will injure herself somehow, on her own, in the season she gets off to be a pasture fluff. My blessed girl got a slight tare in her right front check ligament. Which is only half the story because she has a mystery lameness on the left front.
That is all I can say about this at the moment. It makes me kind of sick at the moment. She will heal with time.
The ligament looked good her her recheck.
Every storm is not going to be destructive. Remember the rain is necessary for growth. It is currently raining and flooding outside, go figure 2020. How many beers and microphones do you have in your Mary Poppins carpet bag? Well, we needed the rain.
When the water goes down, which it will as it always does, it will be lovely. The start of a good fall with good grass. We can finally feel fall coming here in Texas. And oh boy, I could not be more ready for fall and everything it entails. As everyone is aware, this year is unlike any other year that I can remember in my short life, and there was no leading into fall this year. No time to get ready. That is OK! It is here with all of its wonder and glory!
Even still, with all of this, that, and the other, the wonders of this world and this life never seem to cease. You will give a gift to a beautiful soul who shows you without any question how much that gift is appreciated.
For a person like myself, there are not many things sweeter that that.
In truth, this gift was slightly self serving. I wanted it for myself as well. To complete the farm spa experience.
Just imagine being in the heat of this Texas summer. You are…gleaming! Yes, gleaming, from a magical ride on your fairy tail horse in the bright, humid, sticky, steamy, and leaning towards suffocating air blooming out of the mid morning.
Your skin is primed for the next treatment of dirt and cut grass from mowing until it is too hot to do anything else. Now you are even hotter, stickier, beyond thirsty, and your eyes are puffy and watering from the mowing. Perfect timing and conditions for the final treatment.
This is how hot. Sweat on your eyelids hot.
In the pool you go with an umbrella cocktail! With or without a Merle dog (he apparently prefers to have the pool to himself)! The height of luxury. You have no idea how good it feels. It is like nothing else in the world.
And here we are. Do you feel a change in the air? Like more than just a change in the season?? Is it just me willing a change for 2020 into existence? Either way, all of this will soon be behind us!
Do not isolate yourself! Reach out in any way you can! It is good for your soul.
Lito and I got out and had a ride with friends. Oh how we have missed that. We have another outing planned for October. It may not be our normal October adventure, but we are just as excited for it.
Walk in love, dear readers!
P.S. Look how grown up this boy is! And, he apparently still has his mohawk!
I can not skip it. You have to hear this and soak it in.
It made me smile.
So, take a load off for four minutes and thirty six seconds. A less than five minute break. Yes, I realize it is not even nine in the morning. Shh. Get another cup of coffee or treat yourself to a tea with lemon.
I’m going down on the Nueces River Gonna call my brother, ask him to meet me there On the surface will be two men fishing Down below we are brothers with a love to share
I’m gonna lay my burdens down now Gonna ask the Lord to watch them a while I’m gonna walk where the sun is shining I’ll be home when I have found a smile
There is a salt cedar tree that I know of It can take a breeze and make a melody I’m gonna climb up in those branches And ask if it would whisper its secrets to me
I’m gonna lay my burdens down now Gonna ask the Lord to watch them a while I’m gonna walk where the sun is shining I’ll be home when I have found a smile
There’ll come a time when the world is level There was a time when the mountains grew Then there is all that is here in the middle And how it’s spent is up to me and up to you
I’m gonna lay my burdens down now Gonna ask the Lord to watch them a while I’m gonna walk where the sun is shining I’ll be home when I have found a smile
Are you smiling?
Walk in love, dear readers, where the sun is shining.
I can not help it with these memes, sorry, I am not sorry. They are just so apt.
Really though, at this point, I want to scratch out ‘2020’ in that first one and put in its place, ‘The Whole Of The Past Twelve Months.’
Well actually, ‘The Whole Of The Past Twelve Months And One Day.’
A year ago yesterday was one of the worst days of my life. I had to make that terrible awful decision and actually act on it. My life has not been the same since and I do not think it will ever be the same again, and not just because of that fateful day.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Anatole France
I miss everything about her and us. The words will not even come now, a whole year and a day later. That fateful day I had no choice. None.
That day I had to set my Darcy Girl free from her pain of this earthly realm. There was absolutely nothing else I could do. I had to do it for her. She was not even six years old. That is one of the hardest parts I think. We were supposed to have so much more time.
I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last year and a day (and not so much writing). It has been quite a year and it went by in a flash, but lot has happened.
That thing there I mentioned earlier. Choices. Yes, that one. We take that right and privilege for granted. That is one thing I know. Choices and time, that is what I have been thinking a lot about.
A little after Darcy’s day, before traveling all over kingdom come of this country over the summer (hey, I rode horses, caught fish, and got a Merle pup!), I blathered on here on AHAmoments about how life is about saying yes. Not just yes, but YES. Remember that? No? It does not matter, it seems silly in retrospect, but I did. I went on about saying yes to things and people and living what is left of your life because it is a gift that can be taken away at any moment. You know, beyond our control, out of our hands, not our choice.
Not long before Darcy’s day, I made a big bet (completely unrelated to Darcy) that had a very big chance of not working out.
An incredibly long story short, that bet did indeed turn out to be a losing bet. I was lied to and cheated on. Deceived. Taken advantage of and disrespected. My time was wasted. I got severely disappointed (hey, still kinda am). Mad. Angry. Sad. Mad at myself as well.
But you want to know what? Yes, I know you do. I have no regrets. I still believe those things about a yes life that I mentioned even still. That is the only way to live a life. It is too short not to. There are more important things than all that other stuff. I would not have a Merle pup or a Lito man if I did not believe these things. Where would I be without those two!? Or my Cheetah!? Even with Darcy. What if I did not get her when I did? Who would I be and where would I be without having had her in my life???
"No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses."~Herman Melville
The truth is, just like this very life itself, none of it is on our time frames. That is for the Man Upstairs. AHAmoment and do not you forget it.
You see, I indeed did make that choice. Or choices, rather. Nobody else. That is on me. The choice to bet on a person knowing it had a high chance of not working out. If I am being honest, I even felt it deep inside in that hidden place, despite all the words, that it was not going to work out (hey there, gut feeling Holy Spirit, sorry I did not listen you. I am still learning.). I did not listen to it, I wanted it to be different. The way the words (not actions) sounded. It was supposed to be great. You do not win if you do not bid, right? That is what they say. I trusted and said yes. It was my choice. I believed and fought for it.
Here is the thing. I can make another choice right here in the story. And I have. I vowed to myself to continue to say yes and be open in life and opportunities and adventures and, yes, people. To live life in the front row. To learn and be better. Like I said then, I will say it now, I have lived a third of a lifetime (if I am blessed enough to live to old age). I have zero desire to waste any of it, or any more of it.
I have learned and am still learning from my past and all the life that I have lived over 31.5 years. That is what is making me smarter and wiser, so long as I listen to my gut feeling. Learning what He needs me to for His purpose. You have to ‘watch their actions,’ as a wise women told me. Not the words. Believe what you see and what is shown to you. Make the choice to learn it and leave it.
Do not take your time or choices for granted.
Life is still going on all around us whether or not we are going with it. The choice is yours no matter the situation, do not waste it. You can get wrapped up in all the rest if you want. Get mad and angry. I did for a little bit. Then step forward and on. Forward is always the answer, just like with horses. Leg on.
All of that to say, that, even with all of that, the storms we go through (and we all do go through storms), they do not last. For anyone. We have so many rainbows. So many silver linings. So much wonder and light. So many blessings. That is right, WE. All of us. There is a reason for all of it, a greater purpose. We are learning through the journey to that purpose.
Like I said, I would not have Merle for not that awful day a year and a day ago.
Onward and upwards, my friends.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, and tomorrow is a new, blessed day! Go be your best self and be good to people.
Walk in love, dear readers, I hope these images of my loves brighten your 2020. Or Last Twelve Months And One Day.
Anyone still there? Tap. Tap tap.
Look! The pecans are coming! It is all in the natural way of things.
The ‘Have You Ever’ version. I saw this posted somewhere in that big wide world of social media and I thought it was fun and wanted to bring it here! I did something similar a while back in a thirty questions version (Did you miss that? Check it out here and here!).
In the interest of being open since it is a ‘new’ year and letting you get to know me a little better! Join in if you wish by answering and/or asking! It’ll be fun!
Have you ever….
Been arrested? – No! Good heavens. However, I have bailed someone out before.
Been married? – Nope.
Been divorced? – No. See answer above.
Fallen in love? – Yup, I sure have.
Had your heart broken? – Yes, in more ways than one.
Skipped school? – Yes, but I did not do it until I was in college. Even then I only did it a few times. It was mostly horse related. I know you are surprised.
Watched someone give birth? – Not a human! I have been very close to when a human gave birth. My oldest sister, A!
Watched someone die? – Yes, but not a person.
Been to Canada? – No, but I have always wanted to! Especially Alberta and British Colombia.
Ridden in An Ambulance? – Yes. They made me when I had to evict my appendix forcibly from my body when I was 25. Martin Luther King Day. Rather rude way to spend a day off.
Been to Hawaii? – Yes! Once many years ago. My Pops‘ brother, lovely wife, and one of my cousins (my uncle’s youngest) live there. It is high on my list to go again now that I know what it is really like. Aunt M (Pops’ sister) is going to visit at the end of this month and I seriously considered buying a last minute ticket to tag along. Unfortunately, work spoiled that plan.
Been to Europe? – Yes! Once and by myself! That was exciting! If you missed the adventure…You can read all about it here!: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. That is a lot of parts! Well, I was there for two weeks and there was a lot to cover! Horses and country and food and wine! I still dream about the best ride and the best dinner. I use those spices I bought often and am thinking about ordering more online.
Been to Washington D.C.? – No. And I am still upset about it. I remember it. My Mother took my older two sisters to D. C. and left me and Pops behind. I remember throwing a fit about it and Mamma told me I was too young for all the walking. I did not believe it then and I still do not now! I don’t remember how old I was other than that I was in elementary school.
Visited Florida? – Does the Miami airport count? I was on my way to the Dominican Republic. It was interesting.
Seen the Grand Canyon? – No. Many find that odd given my profession. I kinda sorta agree! It is on the list.
Flown in a helicopter? – No, but I want to! I wish I had one on most week days. Too much traffic in this dang city.
Been on a cruise? – No, and I am not so sure I want to.
Served on a jury? – No, but I have been close!
Been in a movie – …for school!
Danced in the rain – Heck to the yes! Many times. More than I can count. That is what life is about! What IT is about!
Been to Los Angeles – No.
Been to New York City? – Yes to visit my best friend from high school on Memorial Day Weekend. I had such a great time. I thought I would not care for it that much. I did not even get to catch a show. Sounds like I need to go back!
Played/Sang in a band – No, but I dream about it! When I am in my car. Alone. With the volume turned way up! …so I can not actually hear myself sing!
Laughed so much you cried – Of course! Many, many, many times! Indeed, this too is what life is about. Most distinctly that I remember, I did it on our ride back in October. So many times in fact that I lost count.
Caught snowflake on your tongue – Yes. I have also watched horses stare up into the sky at falling snow. I was blessed enough to watch Darcy play in the snow her first and only time. I still can not look at those photos. You can go look at them.
Had children? – Nope, but I pray I am blessed to be able to one day.
Had a pet(s)? – Ha! Yes!
Been sledding on a big hill? – I do not think so. I think Mamma got wise to that with the first two. And well…we live relatively flat and snow free.
Been downhill skiing? – Yes. Once. I do not remember being too terribly good at it, but then again, I was young. We are more of mountains in summer type people anyhow.
Ridden on a motorcycle? – Yes, with the adult neighbor of a childhood friend when I was in elementary school. I remember thinking at the moment that my mother might not be too happy about this.
Traveled to all 50 states? – No, but that sure would be cool! I have been to a few. You can read about my most recent new multi state visit here!
Been to a drive-in movie? – Yes. In college. I do not even remember what it was, but I do remember that my high school best friend was in town for a visit.
Ridden an elephant? – No, I have never ridden an elephant, but I really want to!
Ridden a horse? – Ha! Hahaha. Yes, I have ridden quite a few horses!
Been on TV? – I do not think so? I have been (well, my back has) on a photo ad for my university without knowing it.
Been in the newspaper? – I do not think so.
Stayed in the Hospital? – Yes. The aforementioned, blessed appendix! Good riddance!
Donated blood? – No. If I did not hyperventilate every time I had an I.V. I would.
Gotten a piercing? – My ears, but not till I was in college. People think that is strange. I suppose it is. Now that they are pierced, I am rarely without earrings.
Gotten a tattoo? – No, but I have thought about it. This might be surprising to you. It is kinda surprising to me to be honest. Like I will never do it, but…
Driven a stick shift vehicle? – Yes, but not very well.
Been scuba diving? – No. Kinda scares me.
Been snorkeling? – Yes. In Hawaii and maybe the Dominican Republic. I can not remember.
Gotten a speeding ticket? – …yes…Until not that long ago I would have proudly said only one many years ago! Well, I can not say that now…
Gotten stitches? – …APPENDIX…Although, really there were not all that many.
Traveled Alone? – Yes! Read above about my adventure in France! I highly recommend the practice every now and then.
It is October! And I felt it in the air this morning while taking Merle out.
Well, actually, I have been feeling it in the air for a few days now and it has been just slightly, ever so slightly clicking up. Not just because we have now hit October 1st. You can only really feel it at dawn and dusk and if you try hard, throughout the morning. That soft, drier air. It has a different feel. A different smell. It makes me giddy inside. Just downright giddy, I tell you. For the change in more than just temperatures. For freshness. For the setup of the reason for THE season. The reflections of the past seasons and the ones to come. You know how I get this time of year.
I have been out of the state for work for a few days drilling a well. With how busy and ‘full’ life has been the last few months, I was not looking forward to having to be away from home and my Merle. As it happens, like it always does, my eyes were opened while I was away. I was driving myself to dinner after my sift was over one night when I was caught in awe.
I was headed into the sunset down an old, old road that had been long cut through the tall pine trees of the rich timber country. I first noticed the way the light was forming the sunset and the time of day. It made me realize how the days have been getting shorter and the sunsets earlier, and earlier. Then I noticed the ever glow of the golden color of the rays. They were clear rays that bounced off of everything they touched, illuminating anything in contact, but at the same time, my eyes could not tell the difference from one to the other. How they shone between the trunks and the long shadows they created. The rays were seemingly suspended there, caught in that moment and time. Still. I like to think of them being captivated, much like I was. Rewarding me for seeing them. There was promise held in that golden light suspended in those trees.
The camera could not see what I was seeing.
It made me even more excited for fall and what is to come.
My cousin and I have already done an ‘all the fall things’ cooking session. She made a pumpkin chili and I made a pumpkin toffee dump cake. Um. GOOD. We have even picked more things to make for another fall evening and I can not wait. The date is not even on the books yet. Nothing gets me more excited for this time of year.
Sister K texted me yesterday reminding me that tomorrow (meaning today) was October 1st. Which really only means one thing. That we can start playing Christmas music. I know, I know, settle down. We will only play it for ourselves and BIL T, don’t worry. She is married to him so he has to listen (joking!). I promise to not share any Christmas music here until December.
There is another thing about this time of year. The thing that makes me the absolute giddiest of all giddy. If you have been around here for a little while you might be able to guess. It is something that happens for a week every October. A week that I live for. Now that my work commitments are complete (and I can feel myself breathe again) and we are in this fine fall month of October, I am thinking of nothing else.
Walk in love, dear readers, and do enjoy this fall! Embrace the change and allow it to happen like the change of the seasons.
You know what it is going to be? Alright. Everything is going to be alright.
I used to hate it when sister K would say that. Mostly because she would say, “you know what it is going to be?! Fine.” Something about that ‘fine’ word would just…stick…stick in my craw, you know? Still does as a matter of fact.
Maybe you don’t know what I mean, but I do. Trust me.
Do you need to hear that everything is going to be alright right now? I have been, so I am going to tell you. I know I am not alone and neither are you!
Let me tell you how and why I know everything is going to be alright.
I could go on and on with a multitude of reasons, but I will just limit it to the reasons my eyes have been shown as of late.
So today (it would be today, such a Monday thing to do), pretty much just now, I started some laundry. Do you feel the bad omen? One of my sets of bed sheets if you must know. Also if you must know, they have been sitting on my bedroom floor acting as a play mat for Merle covered in toys (his doing, not mine) waiting to be washed for a week (some good adulting right there, let me tell you), but let us not speak of that.
Back to the story. Said sheets are now in the machine. We, Merle and I, are going about our business about to go on a walk when I walk in to the kitchen (that is where my washing machines live) and I see suds streaming down the face of the washer onto the tile floor. I told you there was a bad omen. Apparently I got overzealous with the soap. Admittedly, this is not the first time this has happened.
I curse myself for not being more careful AGAIN and stomp off to the front door with Merle confused (after trying to lick up the aforementioned soap suds) and running after me. We left the sorted mess to be dealt with later. After our walk and after I run an extra rinse cycle.
I opened the door and it was hot and humid and so very muggy. I roll my eyes and just start walking. Eventually at some point down the street I looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow. Not bold and distinct and in your face like you might think, but subtle and quiet and soft, just like its message (hardy har har). A, “hey, you, yes you. Open your eyes and see. Forget about all that other stuff and see all your blessings.”
I could not help but smile. Then I started to notice the after rain blue sky. The green green grass as a result of all these rains. The beauty in the aftermath.
I took a deep breath and knew it was all alright.
Every day I come home to this (as in that. That puppy up there with the toys) little orange and white puppy named Merle. This little Merle just explodes with unconditional love the second he sees me. A kind of love us mere humans can barely fathom or even hope to express. His tail wags so fast I can not even see it. He has his own smile and language. He tries so hard not to use his teeth on me because he knows he is not supposed to, even though he still does sometimes. I love this little pup and he makes my heart smile even if I still shed tears at the slight passing thought of my Darcy girl.
I stumbled upon these pictures of her the other day and just could not keep it together.
I got angry and down right mad to be honest. Then that little mighty Merle came and plopped himself in my lap and looked up at me with those dark, soulful eyes as deep as the biggest ocean while he pressed his body and head against me. Just like Darcy would sometimes do.
I knew in that moment Merle was meant to be mine at this time and that everything was going to be alright.
Even if I am not over Darcy (which. I do not think I ever really will fully be). Even if Merle is a slower learner. Even if he is worlds beyond smarter than me. Even if he is into and chewing everything. He is a puppy and that is what they do! And you want to know what? He loves my travel bag, just like Darcy. And he loves to sleep on my feet, just like Darcy.
He lets me know everything is going to be alright.
Two weekends ago Lito and I went to ride with friends. I woke up early to feed, load, and hit the road not too long after sunrise to beat the coming heat. We were greeted with a full moon and a clear, starry sky. There was a slight ‘chill’ in the air. I could see the fog not too long off down the valley and the way it reflected the moonlight. I could see the long moonlit shadows of the pecan and oak trees. I could smell the distant aroma of the previous night’s cooking fire.
The sights and smells stirred up a lot of feelings and emotions. Excitement for the day to come with my boy. Joy and anticipation in the change of seasons. The end of summer and the beginning of fall. The excitement and promise of the future and things to come. The small feelings of that moment and how they reflect the bigger picture of life.
I knew in that moment, walking to the barn to feed with Merle at my feet that everything was going to be alright.
Then there is this guy. This guy right here. I am not sure I can even find the words to express the feelings and emotions and I do not even know what. The gratitude and the love. The pride.
I have written some about our struggles over the last year and a half. The difficulties and set backs and trials. The ‘phase’ my Lito has been in. I just stopped writing about it after a while, just trying to give it time to play out and for him to come around. Giving him his time and not putting more energy into the situation. And because honestly, I did not understand it. I raised this horse. He was a consummate professional from the minute he was born until this whole thing started. It was not ‘supposed’ to be like this.
I do not think understanding it is the point. I think the point was and is to let it go (go figure that one there!). To just accept him where he is and the situation and let it be. Give him his time and work through it and allow our relationship to be better than it was before. And I really think it is. I am not going to say we are completely over it, but man oh man, we have come so far. And getting even better every day.
Just being in his presence lets me know everything is going to be alright.
That is a lot of words for tonight, especially after my prolonged silence. I suppose that is the natural way of things! There has been a lot going on and yet, at the same time, not much going on.
I know I have already said thank you, but I really do appreciate y’all. More than anything, I want each and every one of y’all to know everything is going to be alright. This I know.
Sometimes life just is not fair and we do not understand it. Stuff happens. Or does not happen. No matter what, everything is going to be alright. AHAmoment. Trust me. Take a very deep breath and hold it. Have faith. Pause. Have faith. Then slowly, very slowly let it out. Have faith. Being completely aware of every molecule and how your body reacts. Have faith. Where those molecules go. Have faith. Rinse and repeat.
Then see and count your blessings. Blessing number one is the fact that you are awake and breathing. Open your eyes and see and feel the rest. There are so many.
Everything is going to be alright.
Tell me, how do you know everything is going to be alright?