I am going to brag here in a bit. You might just want to skip to the photos at the bottom from the ride!
The bestest boy not only earned, but he deserves some carrots and apples after last week.
They really are not even enough. All the treats in the world would not be enough!
I am not even kidding. About 20 times a day I would tell Lito how good, brave, and handsome he is.
It was more than him just taking care of me and safely carrying me around all week. It was more than him just being a good boy. Both of these things are blessings to be sure. Horses give us humans so much for our own gain that does not have much to do with the horse.
I know I get all hippie-dippie, but we were in sync. We had the same feelings there in the hills with over one hundred other horses and riders that we have had for the last few months no matter where we are. I know you horse people know how great it is to have the same horse away from home that you have at home. It is the same with dogs and kids. It does not happen all the time for a myriad of reasons.
Have we been riding more away from home than in the past? Yes, we have done that. Have we been riding more away from home with more horses than we have in the past? Yes, we have also done that. Have we spent more weekends away in company than we have in the past? Yup, that too. He has been better and better every year, which is generally to be expected too. But it is more. More of a feeling. That we are on the same wavelength. That we are both right there, in a secret, private place. Almost like a cocoon with nobody else even though we are surrounded by others. It feels as though we are the same. Communicating is not even the right word. Sure, there is that and it is more open and two way than ever, but it is the feel or feeling rather than communicating. The feeling of presence. The flow of energy that has no beginning and no end. If that makes sense. It is some pretty good woo stuff.
I got emotional a few times while we were riding. It was just the whole of it all. This horse came to be from a thought, a dream. It was something I always wanted and only became possible with my Cheetah. All the planning and waiting and trials in addition to trails, and here we are. I bred and trained this horse that carried me so proudly this week.
Please enjoy some shots from the ride. Other people and secret shenanigans omitted, as per usual.
R and I had an uneventful and even pleasant caravan drive to our home for the week. We even stopped at the big tack store on the way which we have not been able to do in a while. I snagged a new pair of reins and a curb chain. I told myself I could not get any more. I am just glad they did not have a sale going on like that one year!
We arrived in camp at about 11:30 AM. It took us no time at tall to get our horses set up and let the party begin.
Did I say buffalo?! Why, yes, yes I did. Follow Lito’s left ear and you can see a big ‘ol buffalo bull.
Pray for rain. It is pretty sad. We have been blessed with some rain at the farm, but dang. It was so so dry there. Basically no grass. Dirt and dust in and on all of our stuff. My jeans by the end of the week were standing up with dirt as if they had been starched! But look at that hill country sky!
Not that I necessarily pray for a flood, but this drought might be worse than 2011.
Before we headed back this day, we went up the big hill for the best view.
My not so little Lito just trucked up and down without a trouble or extra breath it seemed. He gave everyone their space and kept pace with little input by me.
My photos are a little blurry and I apologize for that. They are all taken with my phone and I tried to clean the lens before every shot, but sometimes it did not seem to help at all.
The tract across the highway has a little more grass, which Lito was delighted with, but still way less than past years.
If you have not guessed or did not know, this area and this river in particular are quite special and iconic in Texas. We are blessed to be able to ride here!
This place has some of the grandest cypress trees of all. It is very difficult to get a pic with Lito in it AND the tops of the trees! They are so big around, we would need four of us to hug the trunks!
We had cloudy mornings and clear, blue afternoons every day! We did not have any rain, but I think would have all welcomed a little sprinkle or two at night to settle the dust.
The Frio river itself has actually had a good amount of input and was flowing in places. It offers a good long drink and a nice cold soak to cool the horse’s hooves and legs before lunch.
We got a bit of a later start on the drive back home because somebody’s horse would not load, but eventually it did. Lito loaded well and hauled pretty well back home to the farm. I got him settled and fed and then the same to myself before dark. Then it was a hot bath and champagne before bed.
We rode. We swam. We shared stories. We remembered. We laughed. We cried. We enjoyed each other and our horses. Mostly though, I loved on and appreciated my horse.
Each year, while we ride in the same place, is different. However, one thing remains the same. This place and these days and these horses and these people, are all those the Lord has made. Tomorrow is never promised. Learn that lesson now. Enjoy now.
Remember, focus on the positive, not the negative! Most all things wash out in the rain, just another reason to pray for it!
Well, dear readers, this little corner of the interwebs has turned into a once a month update at best! That statement at this point could read once every two months. Details. There are worse things to be sure, however I do apologize for it. It is not what I had intended.
How have y’all been?
I am sitting outside on the porch at the farm with my coffee. It is quiet and still. I am putting off thinking about what all I need to do in favor of writing to you! I think I was doing that last time I wrote.
Where is Merle you ask? A logical question as it might not be this still were he here. He got dropped off at the kennel yesterday for boarding. He is at his annual stay while I am about to begin loading up in preparation to head for the hill country for my annual ride. I have a quick respite here at the farm before striking out right before dawn on Monday to meet up with R and her mount to go west.
More on that later. Back to the still.
If you haven’t noticed, which might be true for some as I myself have no idea how we went straight through September and well into October in less than a blink, but alas, here we are! Blessed be! The curse of being an adult.
I am sitting here with my coffee watching the first colors of the sunrise to the east. I can hear someone, most likely Cheetah, in the barn behind the house pawing her empty feed bucket thinking I will come back and give her more. It is so quiet, I can hear the water spray on the pond in the distance over my shoulder. The air has changed enough that everything sounds different. The birds are chirping all around me and the cows are softly mooing. The air, while pretty humid, still contains that distinct fall softness. If it was less humid, it would almost feel like cashmere. This morning is reminiscent of a morning in Colorado for whatever reason. Most likely the quiet aloneness.
It is just cool enough, and I suppose humid enough, that I considered grabbing something with sleeves to throw on.
Well, this is going to be a long one, I guess. And well, scattered. What all have we been up to since, August, was it? Let us see. Side note, I am starting to realize why Merle goes crazy about the squirrels. They have gotten rather brazen I must say.
I write a lot about the weather. In August, it was the heat and what the seasons remind one of. Funny how no matter your lifestyle, the weather is something we all live our lives around. It is something that grounds us and reminds us how small we are in this world. Like the mountains. And the rivers and oceans. Is it just me?
The deer feeder by the pond just went off, if you wanted to know. It is a new one and quite loud.
Anyway. Stay focused.
As you well know, we have been riding. And Lito, well he is great. And turbo cute. I just can not get enough of him.
I may have a problem, but I am OK with that.
It feels funny or odd to say this, but I have been trying to spend a lot of time nurturing my friendships with my human friends. I have been very ‘socially’ busy for me. This is something I think I am normally pretty good at, but lately I have been doing less of it while going through my own stuff. I have been calling to check in with people. Sending a quick text. Grabbing drinks or dinner. Offering help if needed. I want to be there for my people the way some were there for me. Put it on your to do list if you have to. It is all we have. I will be honest, it has been pumping life into me.
Just look at this Merle pup. Just the happiest of all dogs I think. I look at him sometimes and am reminded that, man, happiness is as simple as a choice! Every day.
As you can well imagine, the Merle has been living the life and giving me the life through him!
All dogs are happy, but something makes me feel he is the happiest.
I tried to get enough horse hay to get us through the winter. I used to never even think of this until late October or November. One of the many joys of being where we are. This year is definitely different as many livestock owners will tell you. There are many factors, but the point is, as everyone in the world can tell you, the prices on everything have skyrocketed. Feed across the board included. Throw in a shortage made worse by Mother Nature and well, you shop around, write a check early, put your gloves and music on, and get to work stacking hay in the summer heat of early September. You’ll be covered in sweat, dust, and hay, but you will feel great.
This is Merle questioning the work. He liked this bed of last year’s leftovers.
Pretty satisfying work.
We went to ride with friends in two new to us places. Lito really loves exploring and seems very comfortable in his set up. I feel blessed to be able to take the Merle most places and loves it too.
There is something magical about riding in a forest of trees. I have said it before. I must be living a dream because I will say it feels like something out of a storybook. And now I have said that twice in one post!
See what I mean?! I have no words.
Just like sunsets at the farm render me silent.
My boy, just being my boy.
We rode a 2500 acre ranch southwest of us a couple weekends ago. The riding there. There were some very special moments. There is a lot of tree riding to be had there too! And some very nice big oak trees.
Last weekend I spent some quality time at the farm with Lito and groomed him for an hour. His fall dapples inspired me even if they are hard to capture in a picture. I even braided his mane. Just because. Gave him many treats. We took a hand grazing walk before I turned him out in a special pasture. To say thank you, he promptly rolled. Gotta love horses!
This also happened last weekend. He was quite pleased with himself. No judging on the state of this farm garage! This is Merl’s life in a nutshell. And, well, mine too!
My Lito, he is ready for this week. He has been at a really steady weight and condition. He has gained muscle. He has really seemed to, grow seems the wrong word. Expand? He has really expanded in his mind, body, and spirit. Sounds funny, I know. He has more than matured. Sure, he is still the goofy teenager he always will be, but he has matured. Seems more grounded. More confident. Not just in himself, but in me too and our communication. Our relationship. He seems softer or quieter in his mind or energy. Maybe I am too. That is generally how it works. I am really looking forward to this ride with him.
The sun is now shining the last of its golden glow on the front pasture while the birds are in full concert. Past time to get moving!
Walk in love, dear readers! I will speak with you soon upon our return!
I am sitting in the front room of the farm house, finishing my second cup of coffee. I am contemplating having a third cup, a rarity. This room used to be a porch, once upon a time. At some point, it was screened in and then fully enclosed and incorporated into the house. It still feels like a porch to me with its slightly sunken floor.
I have been up for a few hours now. I have a whole list of things I need to do today and I need to get cracking before it gets too hot. The schedules around here revolve around the heat of the day and how to avoid it. That usually for me means getting a terrible case of cabin fever come mid afternoon and then having a hard time falling asleep at night. Luckily for me, I have had no troubles getting to sleep and staying asleep the last few nights.
I use this sleep tracking app on my phone that tracks my sleep cycles and utilizes that information to nicely and gently wake you up in the optimum window and grade your sleep. I apparently got a perfect score of 100% quality of sleep last night. As I sit here and watch the world long past it has woken up, it does not feel like I had the best quality of sleep.
August has apparently always been an extremely reflective and anticipatory time for me. I would guess that has something to do with the heat here in Texas and perhaps most Texans feel this way. This is usually the hottest month. Although this year is a little different in that June and July were quite hot and I think some records were even broken.
Anyway, come August I am usually looking forward to fall and everything that brings. I have written about this before. I am also apparently thinking about different anniversaries. I have also written about this before. Both good and bad. On this particular day, and for weeks now (really every day of the last year), I am thinking about H.
I really have no grand thoughts or revelations for you today. I don’t even really want to go there. On another day I will be back to that super positive person and have better things to say. Life is just hard sometimes. You just crack on. That is it. That is the secret. You do the chores. You cross one thing off the list and do it again tomorrow. If that is all you can do, that is ok. You did it. You won. It changes every day, that is how grief works. I take great comfort in days when things happen and I have no choice but to just get it done. No thinking. Just doing. When I got here to the farm Thursday night, I discovered when I woke up that our bull had found his way next door. I called him a few choice words when he gave me some trouble, but I eventually got him back without too much hardship…and a wasp sting. I then spent some hours just going down the fence line fixing every spot that looked inviting to his wanderlust. I played music and got lost in the monotony and sweat. I reveled in having that sweat stream into my eyes. Bring it on, I said. I was tired by the end of it and looked forward to being sore.
I will say this. It is all for a reason. There is always the light. Focus on that while you do your one thing.
You do not have to make excuses to do what you want to do.
Just some Monday morning coffee musings. Or rather, I actually thought of it on Saturday while riding, but who is counting. Your any day AHAmoment.
You do not have to make excuses to just stroll around from shade tree to shade tree in the early morning summer breeze while letting your horse take bites of grass. To watch Merle run. To enjoy a big herd of deer off in the distance. To watch the fish in the pond. You don’t always have to ‘work.’
We both had the same idea about what we wanted to do. The difference was, Lito was not worried about making excuses.
I found myself trying to justify what we were doing on our ride. Justify, to myself I suppose. Sounds silly. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until the conscious thought came forward that I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to or need to make excuses for this.
You don’t have to make excuses to watch a movie or read a book. To treat yourself to something. To a nice lunch on your own just because. To rearrange your furniture. To sleep in. Or. To wake up early to have an extra cup of coffee. Or go to bed early. To take a trip. To have a lie down in the shade of a tree. To take a bike ride. To not spend your time with people that do not value you or do not make you feel comfortable. Or say no to what you don’t want. You name it.
Have I done this bit before? Sorry, not sorry if I have!
But, seriously. It has been a long time! Time is funny that way, as I am sure you are tired of hearing me say.
Side note, being the ‘youngster’ that I am, I used to live in this world without ever really understanding why Willie Nelson is as popular as he is. I know, crazy, right? See what I did there? Anyway, hear me out. I just really didn’t. He never seemed to really sing in the songs that got played on the radio. Well, one day, I was driving our old farm suburban, affectionately named The Dun, down the road that leads to the farm. Through the lovely little bend that has the shady hollow under a grove of oak trees. There I was, driving along, listening to the local radio station croon a velvety song out of the radio my Pops installed one afternoon in the driveway of the Long Shadow house where I grew up. I thought to myself, “Dang. Who is that? I know who that is, but I don’t really.” I tried to soak up the rest of the song while I anxiously awaited the DJ’s announcement to my ignorant ears. Once I learned that it was the great Willie Nelson singing to me, I spent the next week large amount of time doing a deep dive into his whole discography, starting at the beginning. Suffice it to say, I get it now. I really get it.
Did I already tell you that story?
Anyhoo! How are you? How have you been?! Tell me!
How am I doing? We are doing more than fine! The month of May (and, uh, the beginning of June too!) has been gloriously busy. We went on some adventures in our spare time while also slowing down and soaking up some personal time.
I looked at the forecast today and it looks like the summer heat has plans to show up with a bang. There is one of those at every party it seems.
Take a ride with us and have a look at what we have been up to. To set the mood, here is our drive soundtrack.
Mr. Dirty Toes Merle was a Merle and got into…stuff. He was happy and proud about it.
We took a walk and picked wild dewberries. They got baked into a pie by Aunt M for Mother’s day. I did not get around to a second pick to bake into muffins. We will get to that next year!
We watched some sunsets. There is nothing like that Texas sky, I tell you! Prove me wrong.
It does not matter where you are standing, it just strikes you.
We have obviously been putting in some saddle time. We have mostly been slowing down and taking it easy. Enjoying the farm. The breeze in our hair. The blue sky. Green grass. Colorful wildflowers before the mowing.
My Lito Man has the prettiest ears!
We also had sunny afternoons where we were so sleepy we could not keep our eyes open! He has been looking more relaxed lately. More grown up. More round. I like it.
I sometimes wonder where this man horse came from. His dam, Cheetah, also turned 18 a couple weeks ago! With each passing day and year, I am enjoying all my time with her and her colt that she gave me.
We celebrated another anniversary. I miss My Darcy Girl every day. Some days, I shove the images and memories to the back and pick something else up after I pick myself up from the kick in the gut. But some days, I find myself looking for her light in different places. Some times I make myself do it. I could not be more blessed to have Merley Bob. He really and truly is a gift beyond measure in addition to unconditional love.
We celebrated life and love and family and memories by going fishing. We kept a couple dinners worth and released the rest while being glad at the number of young fish we saw building our fishery back up. Are not my parents the best?!
We watched the sunrise while the birds flew.
We felt the breeze in our hair some more. It has been very breezy this spring!
We rode some more and watched a storm come in! We even got a little bit of rain. Every little bit helps to grow the grass and get us through. It has been very dry here.
A different kind of magnificent painting.
We went to the beach and relaxed this past weekend! As cliché as it may sound, I do love a long walk on the beach, especially at sunrise with my pup. The water was…was…from somewhere else? I really do not have the words. Our beach does not usually look like this. I almost felt like we were in a different country.
It was nice to sit and truly relax without a thought of what needed to be done.
Merle loves long walks on the beach too!
We drove back to town early yesterday morning, wonderfully tired. I will not lie, it was a little difficult to get out of bed this morning! That could also have something to do with deciding to assemble a fountain for my patio at my usual bed time.
I find myself in this season, blissfully grateful and saying thank you. I once thought that I was not very good a praying and someone told me I was wrong. That I was indeed actually more than OK at it. It was like that time I said I was lucky and someone corrected me and said I was blessed.
“Naw I ain’t too good at prayin’ But thanks for everything”
Thanks for everything. Amen! It is a simple as that.
Thank you, dear readers, for being you and being here. Walk in love and have a great day!
It is on my heart this morning to tell you a little something today.
We have talked about taking a moment several times over the years. A minute. A breath. With the little things and the big things.
Take a moment this fine Friday, spring morning with the green grass growing and the wild flowers growing and the fresh pecan tree leaves against the morning sky to say a little prayer. Or three.
A prayer of thanksgiving for being alive and breathing. For being where you are and looking where you are going. For the lessons you have learned and have aided to teach.
A prayer for God’s will to be done. You and I both know that if things had gone our way, oh boy, we would not actually be where we are today on the path we were meant to walk. How narrow our world would be!
A prayer for you and yours. For whatever it may be today. To be vulnerable, brave, and strong. For a little baby to find a healthy home and shelter, protected to grow big and strong. To feel, see, and hear the Spirit as you take the next step without fear. To take each others’ hands and do it together in love. To fly free without pain, such as a butterfly does.
It is a glorious thing. Everything is so pretty! And fascinating.
I have both the green and some blue for you.
First the blue.
This past Sunday, the sky was almost impossibly blue. There was a slight breeze. The ruffling kind. It was a spring cleaning kind of day. Lito and I rode with friends on Saturday and everyone wanted to bask in the warmth of the bright sun on Sunday. So, that is what happened. I mucked the barn out and cleaned the feed room before joining the horses in the sun with a shedding blade. Everyone lost a lot of hair that day!
There is just nothing like that Texas sky, no matter what dime of day or year.
Now, for the green and your inspirational poster.
Do you see that there?
Yes, it is more than a bit in shambles. Yes, I have to do something about those leaves.
But, do you see all that green there? Those are volunteer plants.
You know the kind. The kind that just grows up in the most seemingly impossible and interesting of places without you doing a single thing. In a tree stump. A crack in the side walk. On a brick wall. Or, in this case, a seemingly barren pot.
You see, right before the covid shut down, I took some time to spruce my patio up a bit. Why not? Anyway, I planted some herbs! I had three pots at the time, the two you can see and the one in in a broken heap on the bottom shelf. I watered and talked to them hoping they would flourish.
Well long story short, without sufficient sun (thanks to a lovely large oak tree that provides all those leaves) and water (the before mentioned shut down during which I lived at the farm) my little herbs took a turn for the worse and did not make it.
My fresh pots turned to just dirt.
Over time, I had some volunteer plants take up residence. “How lovely,” I thought and I would water them when I thought of it and enjoyed them being there just because.
Then one day, a certain shade of green and texture caught my eye. Do you see that herb?
Yes, that there would be sage!
I had sage in that pot once upon a time two years ago! And what do you know, here it is again!
I have just a little something, something for you.
If you forget something, just take a little moment, a little breath, to retrace your steps, or thoughts as it were. It will come back to you! Almost like magic.
And like my Grandmother, and likely my mother too, has always said, “If it is important, it will come back to you.” There is truth to that to be sure, but you can maybe help it along with just a little retracing.
This is true for a little thought and for life in general.
If you have forgotten where you are going, take a little moment (or several) and a breath (…or several…), and retrace your steps. Remember where you came from. That is how you got to where you are now. It will help you to see how far you have come and to see where you need to go from here. Or at least the next step! It is OK to slow down. It will also strengthen your foundation!
Walk in love, dear readers! Take today to remember how far you have come and to enjoy the journey!