Now on to the reason most of you are probably here for, the proof of adventure, the regularly scheduled programing, the ‘Between The Ears’ shots where you can follow along on the trail!
I am going to let this be mostly a ‘Wordless Wednesday,’ or at least as wordless as I can be. Join us in our own little world.
I am glad for the special times I shared with my people and the late nights laughing until we cried. I am also glad for the time I got with my boy.
Lito walks with a purpose and moves out. He does best when he is out front, and well, so do I. One of the lead horses was very slow and they were happy to let us lead the way to encourage my friend’s horse to walk out a little more.
I am not sure he will ever not look like a baby to me. He seemed happy enough in his pen…even if he dumped his hay out of his bucket and spread it around. You can see a little white salt block there on the ground. I did not mention this in my previous traveling post, but for long trips away, especially when he is in a small pen or stall, I also bring a little salt block. I do this for his salt replenishment if he needs it, but I also do it for his entertainment and distraction. I do not like to hang it on my panels (I do have a hanger) because I do not want them to rust.
He was happy to be back home with his herd and his mamma. The haul home was long and arduous. For both of us. It was the day of the eclipse and there was A LOT of traffic…not to mention crazy people just on the side of the road wanting to watch it. If I could have left earlier, I would have. I also think there was some extra…energy in the air and atmosphere from the eclipse and Lito seemed to be reacting to it. He did not do anything bad per se, but he was just moving around quite a bit in the trailer and seemed restless and unhappy. All was right with the world when we got back to the farm.
Unpacking and cleaning is always nicer when it is so pretty out and my horses watch with their cute faces. We got even more rain while we were gone and the pastures are really showing it.
R and I are hoping to squeeze in one more horsey adventure before we head to New Mexico to reunite with friends.
There is a lot of work to do between now and then and before we know it, it is Thanksgiving and Christmas! Time for baking and cooking and movies galore!
I have to say, I think all of our wishing for summer to hurry up and get on out sure seemed to make it get up and go! This weekend we will have highs in the mid seventies and prayers for rain on the way there. Which, it is currently raining right now while I drink my imaginary cup of coffee. Why imaginary, you ask? Imaginary because I am just a good adult, and I am out of coffee. Well, technically, I am not out as I have a bag of coffee packed for next week, but I do not want to get into it, so I really am being a good adult. Just your average every day musings going on over here.
So, here we are, October, and there you are! If you can not tell, I am more than ready for it. If you know any Texans, I bet you already know this. I might freeze with lows in the low fifties.
Chance started growing his winter coat a couple of weeks ago, which is normal for him, and it was actually noticeably cooler on Sunday morning. My brain wanted to tell me it was even cold! It was not actually cold, we have still been having highs in the nineties and so humid, but the horses’ coats were the tiniest bit puffed up that morning and the nineties are on their way out.
The crazy thing is the timing of it all, but there is never any surprise there. I am just grateful for it. Lito and I will be headed to our annual ladies ride in the hill country for the week starting this weekend and through next week and we will be glad for the cooler temperatures, I grant you that. I think we might both be a bit fresh with it! I will have my lunge line at the ready just in case and his sheet. When temperatures drop while we travel, I always throw his sheet on for some extra comfort. It may just be for me, but it is just something I do along with giving probiotics and electrolytes every time we travel.
I have been jamming to this song and those like it these days. It will make for good driving music.
We are mostly ready to go! The trailer is mostly packed and I have most of my things ready to throw in a bag. I do have to pick up some things at the feed store after I drop my Merley Bob at the kennel tomorrow on my way out to the farm. Leaving Merle behind is one of the worst things about some travel.
I sure wish I had some real coffee right now to go with the pitter pat of the rain on the car port tin roof.
Well, it is way past time for me to get going for the day and I have lot to do before I head out tomorrow.
That we are not even half way through the trip story and this is the last installment. Also, why can’t you put a week long trip into one post?! Just pick the highlights and move on!
OK, fine, maybe you are not thinking that, but I am.
That is part of my point. How does one pick their favorite part of something like this? How do you accurately describe it?!
But who cares, let us get to the good stuff. Buckle up and have a whole pot ready.
Even if I feel like my pictures do not do the countryside justice, this is where the views really kick it up a notch. For me, this is true especially on Wednesday and Thursday. Not to discount Friday though, just wait till you see. This is also my favorite part of the trip because Wednesday and Thursday night we stayed in two different villages in B&Bs and hotels. Staying in any village means one very important thing: PUBS. Pubs mean sessions. MUSIC! We may have only had two nights, but we had to make them count. Thursday night really did not disappoint! We also raced to see the Cliffs of Moher up close and personal right before sundown, so there is that too!
Here we are packed and ready on Wednesday morning, ready to throw our bags in the van and drive to the horses.
The field the horses were in for the night was somewhat split level. Naturally, they were all at the top. We looked at each other and started to climb the hill. I am not sure if these pictures really show the level of incline or size, but we were all winded by the time we got to the top.
The horses did seem to enjoy watching us climb the hill. They know what they are about. Just look at them.
Like I said, they know what they are about. After I grabbed Bulmers, I turned around and saw.
Only a horse such as Bulmers could add to a view like that.
It is like he has a sense of humor or something.
It is like a post card.
So this was one of my favorite days. The views were spectacular before we even started riding and we got to ride in some of the more open country off the roads with no power lines. It was really special to see after we climbed the hill the junction of the forest, the heather, and the green fields.
I am not sure if you can really see it, but where you can see the purple flowers is a little creek/drainage/riparian area. This farmer had it electric fenced off to prevent damage by the cows.
Electric fencing us used primarily everywhere we went in conjunction with the walls and hedges. Interestingly, we also saw quite a bit of barbed wire which was a surprise to me. Four pronged and most of it looking new.
Before this trip, I did not realize the nature of the hills here. I thought gentle rolling hills. While they do look like that maybe from a far or in pictures, the hills are quite steep.
Should I mention again how much I love the heather? No? OK.
The reward at the top of the hill!
This is my favorite moment of the trip. I think Bulmers quite liked it too.
I thought this is was a cool little shot at the top of the hill. While in the wild and free heather, you can see the dark green forest there with the old and new timber and the stark contrast of the soft, light green field.
This country side here to me you really can not capture in photographs.
One more for good measure because you can not get enough!
Some cute horses we met on the road.
A farmer baling haylage or silage.
After a long and great ride, the horses were loaded up in a lorry to take them across some more populated areas to their field for the night. We would meet them there the next morning on Thursday.
A big lorry for big horses. The nice driver Declan said to me, “You only have to say goodbye until tomorrow. Not long.” Did I have hearts in my eyes or what?
Our drive into town was interrupted by the diary cows by the looks of it going to be milked.
We were dropped at our B&B’s in Corofin (I think that is where we were, don’t judge me. We were moving a lot!) and basically ran to a pub. We only had so much time and we needed to make the most of it!
We found this charming place which looked to be the best around! Also almost the only around, but it was only Wednesday and the village was quite small.
I found it interesting the Coors was on draft everywhere. No, I did not have any, I stuck to Irish. I should have asked the bar tender what it is about Coors that is so popular. Alas, I will just have to go back.
I enjoyed my first ever glass of Guinness. It was worth the wait. I liked it a lot more than I though I would. I did not have three by the way. I had two. Not that anybody should be counting when on vacation in Ireland anyway. I also moved to Irish whiskey later…so…there.
Spot the pup in the pub! We moved to another pub called the Yellow Submarine where we would actually be having dinner. They opened up just for us. It was arranged again for us to have a three course dinner there. I had a salad which was good, but I should have gotten the veggie soup, it was really good. I had a ham and tomato toastie with chips (and vinegar!) for the main. Basically a grilled ham and cheese with tomatoes. They had a choice of apple or rhubarb pie for dessert. As a group we all decided to share so we could all taste both. They were both amazing (I need to learn some new words), but I think the rhubarb was particularly wonderful. The crust was perfect and one of the best I have ever had.
After dinner we went back to the first pub for music and drinks.
We walked back to the B&B and hit the hay to do it all again tomorrow! Our group was split into two B&B’s. I can not remember the name of the place we stayed at, but it was really nice. The rest of the group stayed at Lakefield Lodge which was reportedly also lovely.
The next morning our breakfast table was set very nice and we even had the treat of French press coffee. I am a sucker for French press! After a nice visit with the owner, we drove out to the field to meet the horses.
The morning started out stunning and blue, but got rather Irish and rainy pretty quickly!
There is only one other kind of rain that is more pretty. You guessed, Texas rain, especially after you have not had any for a while, but this sure is pretty! Especially with Bulmers’ ears in it. I finally brought along an extra hair tie, so he got a braid to last the day. I stuck some fern leaves in it to dress him up for the day and set out with the goal to build a bouquet in his braid through the day. You all know by know I am just a horse girl kid at heart. The adulting of the world has not beat it out of me yet.
We were riding through the Burren landscape this day through to the coast on Friday.
After riding for a while, we stopped to explore a cool Celtic ring fort!
I am sure you’re not surprised by now to know that I was clearly the photographer of the group. I do not like to generally share pictures of other people for protection and privacy reasons, but it is hard to see details in this picture for the landscape.
It was a very dynamic weather day. It rained enough to soak through my breaches, but the sun was still there to play.
Bulmers’ bouquet growing! One of the other horses kept trying to eat it! The horses there eat mostly everything around. From grass, to flowers, to hedges. There is not much they do not touch. Apparently there are no poisonous plants in Ireland. In Texas, we have not only poisonous plants, but sticky and pokey plants that practically jump out to bite you!
The peat is everywhere! I do not think we got to enjoy a peat fire once though.
It was fascinating to watch the landscape change as we trekked west.
Before we knew it, the sun full on with blue sky and we could see the blue Atlantic!
Like I said, colors. This was only a taste of what was to come tomorrow on our final day.
On this night we stayed in the village of Lisdoonvarna. We were again split between the Bellview B&B and the Rathbaun Hotel. Dinner and Breakfast for us all would be at the Rathbaun.
We did the same thing of drop and run to a pub. This is a cute village that has a bit more going on that where we were the previous night. We were also missing, by a day, the famous match making festival that happens annually here. It is apparently quite a ‘scene.’
We walked around for a few minutes to take it all in before heading to the pub in The Ritz for a drink.
We had dinner at our usual time of 7 at the hotel, another three course meal with many options to choose from. There was no lack of food for us! I had the veggie soup for my appetizer. For my main I had the traditional lamb stew. I wish I could have this all the time or at least taken the leftovers! Ice cream for dessert with some sort of chocolate fudge sauce was the perfect ending to the food portion of the meal. We had to get a move on from the table if we wanted to catch the Cliffs of Moher before sunset! We took our Irish coffees (not as good as the ones on the farm!) to-go as we hopped in the taxi van to head to the Cliffs.
When we arrived at the Cliffs, we decided to divide and conquer. Half of us went right, and half of us went left. I went with the left group. It was nice and quiet. No other people there and light winds.
We had the taxi driver John drop us at the best pub in town. He knew what he was about.
We started with four playing and singing and ended the night with six. It felt like all the stories you hear about what Irish pubs are like. This was obviously my favorite evening of the trip.
I went for the good stuff and had a good conversation with the bar tenderess.
I could have stayed there for hours. Just tucked into the corner with the stayers of our group. Listening to music and lilted conversation. Conversing with the locals and hearing stories. One day, I will be back for more horses, pubs, and people, but not everything lasts forever and we had one last full day of riding to rest up for!
Friday morning brought us another good meal at the hotel for breakfast before we made our way to the horses for one final time.
Another day and another adorned braid for Bulmers! His flower is what they call a butterfly bush. Beautiful color and an even better fragrance. I should have saved my butterfly shirt to wear on this day!
We stopped to explore this chapel ruin and grave yard. While I enjoyed being up close to it, it felt wrong when I was inside. Like I was invading someone’s privacy.
It was very beautify though.
And the horses really were a compliment to the scenery. Which I do not think will surprise anyone.
We also saw a lot of happy cows everywhere we went.
The clouds really cleared for us to show off the blue sky, green grass, and wildflowers when we started to climb some hills on our way to the coast. Yes, hills, plural. Two very large hills that by the end felt like mountains.
This was the first reward for the first climb. We dismounted and led the horses down a steep gravel road to have lunch in the valley.
After lunch, we then led the horses up another very steep hill with smooth, slick, old rocks. It does not show, but we did some serious hike climbing. At some point during our climb, I was doing quite a bit of thinking about my paddock boots. We were all pretty winded by the time we made it to the top.
BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!
This was at the very top and look at the flowers. I mean the picture does not show anything like what it looked like in person. Nicola the owner and one of the guides we had part of the week even exclaimed at the particularly special and unique beauty.
The Cliffs of Moher are there off in the distance.
For such a small island, it sure is big!
After a spectacular final day of riding, the horses were again loaded on the lorry and taken back to their starting field for a well deserved week of rest.
We had a long quiet drive back to the farm that evening.
I know for me, I was feeling very grateful. Grateful to be blessed with this trip and to experience a beautiful culture. Grateful for time with friends and the people we met. Grateful for the horse I got to ride and who took such good care of me and for being able to spend so many hours in the saddle. We rode a solid five and a half active days with almost half of it trotting and cantering.
I was also grateful to be heading back to a home a love and to be coming home to my own animals that I love.
This whole trip was an amazing experience. Every horse you ride has something to teach you and Bulmers was no different. As a lifelong and frequent rider, I would not consider myself to have low confidence or registerable fear. It is however a nature of the game to have some level of healthy fear. They are horses after all and even professionals have some level of fear and anxiety. All of that said, I found Bulmers a lovely confidence builder that I did not know I was needing. It was surprising to me. He reminded me to ride the horse you have. I was not even feeling scared, but before I even put a foot in the stirrup he almost grabbed my hand and said, “I got you, let’s go have some fun.” You can call me crazy, but long time readers know by now I am into the woo of life. That is where the carry descriptor for Bulmers came from. He carried me I felt like. He was so naturally uphill feeling when he moved, it felt very literal.
The whole week was a truly special experience.
I was sad to say goodbye to Bulmers, but I was also happy to be coming home to mine. I will carry Bulers and his feeling with me.
Dinner that night was late, but it was still festive. Sweet potato sliders for the appetizer, coconut chicken for the main, and brownies for dessert. Really good brownies! We had an after dinner champaign toast of thanks and gratitude with the owners and staff.
We stayed up late and packed late. We would have an early and long day on Saturday beginning with an 8 AM departure to make our way back to the airport.
Thankfully our travel was safe and event free. I got home in time to have a hot bath before jumping in bed. I think I was asleep by 11 PM and I slept all the way through to about 6:15 AM Sunday morning Texas time.
I was feeling pretty good! I figured I had escaped any jet lag.
That is what I get for thinking! It hit me hard by Sunday afternoon and the hangover lasted almost week! The good news was, I was at the farm by Sunday midday and would pick up my Merley Bob on Tuesday morning (thanks the Labor Day).
I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride on my trip to Ireland! Thank you for letting me share this all with you. Sharing this with others is almost as good as going for me. Not everybody can go and do this for any number of reasons. Just another reason I feel grateful.
Walk in love, dear readers! Where should we go next?!
You can take the horse girl out of Texas, but you can not take the Texas out of her, even with a time change.
Between the general excitement of the trip, excitement over meeting my horse for the week, and being the Texan that I am (i.e. early riser to beat the heat and a morning person to boot with a deep seated need to be early on time), I was almost twiddling my thumbs waiting for breakfast, fully dressed and hopped up coffee. Breakfast was any of what you wanted of coffee, tea, orange juice, yogurt, cereal and granola, fruit, and a traditional Irish breakfast of fresh brown soda bread, bacon (ham), eggs, tomato, and mushroom. A few days we also had a choice of sausage, black pudding, and beans.
Breakfast was served at 8:30 and meeting/departure time was 9:30 I think every morning. It seems so long ago now that I am back home and recovered from major trip hangover. The trip hangover was great indeed.
The good news is, pretty much the whole group was ready to go and chomping at the bit before 9:30, so at least I was not alone! We apparently became known as that American group that is always early. I will take that. We were all waiting at the meeting point for the van to take us out to the field to meet the horses.
Most of us went out to help catch up the ones needed for the week. This cute bay was super sweet and really wanted to be called on. She followed us all the way up to the gate. I secretly wanted to ride her!
BUT, I was assigned to Bulmers! This handsome Gypsy Vanner gelding here. He was named after the Irish cider. Long story short, he was THE BEST. Just amazing. In my humble opinion, he was the best of all the horses that week. I think a couple of my friends would say that about the horses that they got to ride too.
Bulmers was kind, gentle, smart, and a nice mover. It was not work to ride him from walking to galloping. The carrying sort (not to be confused with a packer). He politely carried me along all week and I will say I was sad to say goodbye to him. Don’t tell my horses that! He was just a really good boy that knew he was loved and cared for and knew his job well. All the horses there did. It was really lovely to see. And they all get to live out like horses should. I really enjoyed speaking with Nicola, one of the owners (she was also one of our guides for part of the time) about the agriculture industry in Ireland and in particular horse keeping.
Bulmers greeted me every day with pricked ears and happy for a little loving. Not too much though! He did not fancy much cuddles! He humored me though and allowed me to pamper him as much as I could. And after I dismounted for the day, he was the same way.
As you can see, this first morning was a bit of a rainy one. After grooming them as best we could we had to scrape the water from their coats before saddling up and heading out. I really wanted to give Bulmers a good scrub and use all my grooming tools and products, but a curry comb and one brush would have to do.
Our first ‘between the ears’ shot of the week! Bulbers has very nice ears. He was having a little snack while we waited for everyone to mount up. Get ready for many BTE shots!
This first ride was just a half day ride to get to know the horses and for the guides to get to know us. On this half day ride, we were going to be riding from the field to the farm where the horses and ourselves would stay the night.
Our guide was named Luna and she was riding a Connemara/Appaloosa cross mare. Our group rode primarily Gypsys, but there was one Connemara and one Irish Draft cross as well.
This country/island is so verdant. It makes me wonder what it would look like if it was wild and without civilization. The places my brain goes to?! If you look up the road there at what Bulmers is looking at, you will see an escaped cow going for a stroll. She gave us all wide eyes like we were out of place when we passed her.
As wet as it is, and I think we were told that this is a particularly dry year, it is a bit of a wonder to me how agriculture works here. It just seems so different than how we do things. Every environment has its challenges though. I am sure they would wonder about us and the heat in Texas alone! It is amazing to me how we adapt to so many different climates and environments.
The visibility on this day was clearly very low, but the eye can see much more and better than any picture could.
There were a couple loose horses in this large field that wanted to play while we made our way up to the dolmen to have a closer look.
Just a mystified dolmen. No big deal.
The first of many peat bogs we rode past. Unfortunately, we did not see any of the actual cutting of the peat which would have been cool. Everywhere we rode smelled of either haylage/silage and peat.
As it started to clear a bit, you can really see the heather start to shine and the water of the Lough Derg/Shannon in the distance.
I was very fascinated with the timber here and the industry. We rode through so many big and beautiful trees. The size of them is a wonder to me given the top soil, winds, and how easily they fall.
It really turned out to be a beautiful day!
We arrived back at the farm around lunch time. We fed the horses their well deserved grain after untacking and Bulmers made sure I knew what was going on before we were even told just by the look on his face.
He was very grateful.
We all went inside and enjoyed a fireside lunch of fresh bread (fresh bread and butter was at every meal), cheese, salad, soup, and pound cake while the sun was shining and glittering outside. Everything seems to stay so wet that it glitters.
Naturally, after we ate, some of us had some more hanging and walking around the farm. It was made extra special by some of the horses, Bulmers included, being turned out right next to the house. The rest were in the arena by the barns.
He was a friendly dude!
My afternoon drink to try something new!
Cujo showing us this very big and old well.
It goes pretty far down there! I neglected to get a picture of the opposite fourth, far outside (where there is no rail), but under the growth is solid rock wall. I love ferns even more than I did before.
The start of what we named the fairy trail.
Of course we had to walk through! You tell me there are not fairies in there!
Are not those uprooted trees pretty spectacular!?
Dinner was another lovely three course meal, again by candlelight. We began with a smoked salmon puff (that I actually ate most of. I do not care for smoked salmon generally). I will be honest, I do not remember what was for the main. I know there were roasted potato wedges and veggies. This is not to say it was not good or forgettable. It absolutely was not, all the food was good. For dessert we had a fabulous blueberry cheesecake. I always laugh when people describe cheesecake of any kind as light. It is decidedly not light, but I suppose that is just my opinion. However, this particular cheesecake was light! It had a lovely crust that was the perfect thickness and texture and the filling was velvety smooth and felt very light! I think this was due to the use of yogurt to cut the cream cheese. It made me feel like a kid again eating blueberry yogurt (a large part of my kid diet), but in a grown up way. Hard to describe, but the point is, the cheesecake was amazing. I ate mine and part of somebody else’s. You only live once and you do not eat cheesecake in Ireland every day, OK?! We also had Irish coffee to finish everything off. This became a theme for the week. These were literally the best Irish coffees I have ever had. I think this was because of the coffee. I might have to order some online, but a quick amazon search is not looking overly promising.
They had this cool paining of the general ride route beginning in the Whitegate area by the Lough Derg of the river Shannon through the large and dense forests, stone wall lined fields, stunning Burren, and ending in Lisdoonvarna by the Cliffs of Moher and the Atlantic.
The adventure would really start the next morning and we were all ready. Five more whole days of riding!
Stay tuned for the next two installments of this epic riding adventure through western Ireland!
At first I typed ‘Drowning.’ Just…Drowning. So dramatic!
Have no fear, I am not DROWNING. Other than in sweat.
I have been drowning in sweat.
Happy 3rd August, Texas!
Do you remember that time I made a comment about it being ‘real’ hot when you have sweat in your eyelids? No? Well I do and I am here to tell you we somehow skipped that phase and went into full on deluge. This is very reminiscent of the awful summer of 2011.
Yes, I know the heat is old news (I am so tired of getting heat advisory warnings every day!), but I needed to set the scene for what I had got to do on Monday.
This is the end result and I am thankfully not sore:
Thankfully for all of us, there are no progress photos! Ain’t nobody wants to see that! The amount of sweat was surprising to me. I have never sweated that much in my life. It felt like a spigot had been turned on. I started a little after 6 AM and finished before 10. All still morning and in shade. I was not in any hurry other than to finish before my shade ran out. I took many hydration breaks.
84 bales of hay unloaded and crammed stacked into the feed room for winter feels like winning. Anybody who cares for livestock in the winter knows how great this feels. Even if you were completely soaked through with sweat when you were only half way finished. Exhausting work, but it is the most satisfying work at the same time. It is a joyful chore for such a blessing. An even bigger blessing given the drought situation. Hopefully I will not have to use any of this hay before December.
Actual footage of me when I turned around after the last bale was loaded in:
You know it really is dry and HOT when the weeds and trees even look hot.
Anyway, I feel like a kid on the last day before summer or winter break and it is not just because I finally got this important chore off the list.
Why, you ask? Oh, I dunno, because I get to do something exciting soon. Go somewhere exciting soon.
A special day for a special boy. This can be your daily dose of cute with a side of an AHA moment.
This past weekend my Merley Bird turned a big 4 years old and celebrated by doing his favorite thing, romping around the farm. There is no better way to celebrate if you ask him, or me for that matter.
True to form, he had to have some pictures taken. If you ask him, he is just glad he did not have to wear a hat. He struck is signature look first.
Then he had some treats for breakfast.
Then he had a little dip n’ shake in the pool.
The pool that apparently has a leak. Not the best time to discover this little tid bit given the lovely heat we have been having if you ask me! We have been enjoying close to triple digit deg. F temperatures with 1000000% humidity. They say the heat index is over 110 deg. Thankfully we got a little break with a good rain last night. The animals, land, and humans are very grateful!
The Merle can and does cool down just about anywhere between the water troughs and the pond and even the river. However, I sure will miss my post summer work cool down! We will see how long it is before I snag another one. It is a nice treat to sit there in the heat of the afternoon in the shade with a cool drink and a book while the horses do their summer ‘training’ standing tied in the shade. It is the best way to get any horse good at standing quietly while tied.
Then my parents and I beat the heat with a brew and lunch at the brewery to celebrate Father’s Day. Merle had to stay home as it was too hot to sit outside. I did snag him some special birthday things though. Treats and brew just for him! Even if it was a girly ‘beer’ (it is not actually beer, there is no alcohol), he really seemed to enjoy it poured over his dinner.
He also told me these are his new favorite treats.
Every Merle birthday is a special birthday. I am just ever grateful to have him. He is a blessing to me.
With every passing day with him, I am reminded of my Darcy Girl. I did not get six birthdays with her. Her heart tree still shows her heart sometimes, if you look just right. If it were not for my Darcy, I would not have my Merle.
This is part of my reminder to stay present. To enjoy the now and be grateful for what I have. I do not think it will ever not be a kick in the guts to remember (nor will I honestly ever not worry about losing Merle early, if I am honest, but I do not want to talk about worrying today), but I can also now be glad and grateful in the remembering. And see her here and there.
Grief, it is a funny thing. It is also a universal connector. We all experience it. Even though we all experience it differently, none of us are alone in it and nobody can avoid it. Remember that.
That is it for your coffee break this morning! So, happy birthday, Merle! Enjoy some more cuteness before you rush back.
Your AHA moment today is brought to you by Nick Jamerson.
The first video has a lovely intro to the song in addition to this version just being so good, but if you want to just skip to it, watch the second video.
Take these lyrics with you into this blessed long weekend. Remember those who fought for this life you get to live. For the journey you get to walk. Be grateful for what you know and what you do not know while you learn more and gain more perspective and direction. Be grateful you have the chance to wade in and through while enjoying the green grass. Go get that horse.
This song makes me think of my grandfather, Gee Gee, I am not sure why. “There ain’t no cinches in life except on saddles,” he would say, so go catch up your pony, saddle him up, and make sure your cinch is tight. We have some riding to do! This life is a wild ride!
This is the best kind of rain. This meaning any kind. Bring on La Nina! Do not worry, I am not going to go off on a tangent about weather. Or at least I do not think so! You never know with me.
Anyway, while it is not raining on this fine morning, it was raining the last time we spoke. The past several weeks have brought several inches. In fact, we have been blessed with so much rain that there have been times we could go mud skiing! At times just walking has actually felt just like that. I slipped the other day (I almost fell and I felt like I was a cartoon character, or on an episode of Punked) and my back is still yelling at me. I guess I have just reached that next level of ‘more wise’ age where the body is starting to be a traitor to the mind. Sigh.
However, the pond is full, the grass is growing and everything is colorful, and all the animals are fat and sassy. One of the best times of year before it gets too hot. The rain and life’s schedule has made riding lately an every other week occasion, but it is better than no riding! I have been there and it is no bueno. We have definitely been taking advantage of the riding days we do get, but we will get to that soon. We actually got back from an adventure yesterday!
Ha! Long story short, y’all know me too well. It was a big 24 hours!
I enjoyed a lovely early bird dinner on a patio over the water with this lovely cocktail.
After dinner, Merle and sat on the porch and enjoyed a couple hours of wine and views and music.
Easter morning was of course celebrated sunrise style with a long walk. It was…? I do not even know a word. Y’all help me!
Spot the Merle blur as he hits the beach!
Just a bird dog doing bird dog things.
Merle has only two speeds if you were not aware. Zero and turbo. Turbo requires all four off the floor for the majority. Flying is more fun if you ask him.
I picked up only one shell to take back to leave where I was staying. Growing up, we always loved to collect shells with Pops. Buckets full in total over the years. Some were just for enjoying their beauty. Some were for crafts. Some were to put in a flower bed or a book shelf. Some were for candles. I kind of like to leave them where they are for the most part these days, but this one seemed like it should go back with me, so it did.
Merley was tired after his turbo beach walk and so was I! No naps for me though as we had to soon hit the road for an early Easter dinner. For this celebration, I made a lemon cake. It was delicious, but it was very ugly. A Leaning lemon Tower of Pisa! The oven I used was not level and I had 3 layers. I was too lazy to trim them even, so I slapped together my leaning cake and hoped for the best. However, It was very tasty! So long as it tastes good, that is all that really matters in the end.
We went on our annual ladies group spring ride which I have probably written about in previous years. I did not take many pictures, but we had some big thunder storms the first night. My Lito man seemed not bothered by it when I could finally go out to check on him when it was all over. It was an interesting weekend as he had A LOT of feelings about ducks because of peacocks and wind. Horses, man. He rode well, so there you go.
My Cheetah Girl then got some kind of upper respiratory funk that required 2 times a day antibiotics for two weeks. I will only share one pic and just say, there was an odor, OK? Thankfully, my girl has a kissable muzzle again, and that is all that matters at the end of the day.
While not ideal to be a commuter during those 2 weeks, it was glorious to be able to start and end my days with all my animals.
I have had to do this from time to time for varying reasons and it is always worth it. I may curse the traffic a little (actually no more than I always do), but it is generally bliss. Sunrises. Sunsets. Horses. Cows. Dinner on the porch. Evening rides or drives. Crossing things off the list. Quality time all around.
During these times I get a lot of spring cleaning and organizing done while also completing special projects or needed chores. It always seems easier to get the work done like this during the week even though you only have a few hours every week evening to do them. This way the weekend can just be that, a weekend, and not work.
My special project this go round was trimming up a ‘trail’ in the river bottom to make it easier and more enjoyable to ride. By enjoyable, I mean less ducking, dead ends, and spider webs. I used to always have a loop down there, but it is always changing and evolving and it requires constant maintenance to keep it ‘rideable.’ It had been a while since I had done any work down there, but a few evenings and half of a wet rainy Saturday and we were back in business. I spent my other evenings reacquainting the horses with the bottom as it had been a little while since they had been down there. Lito seems to like it the most out of all of them, but he has also been down there more than anyone else except for his mother, Cheetah.
I also took time every evening after chores and feeding to check the cows. They are all due to have their calves right about now. Two of them dropped their calves at the very beginning of my two week antibiotic administration stay, so I got to see them almost every day for those two weeks. There are more to come soon, but these mammas are holding on tight!
One of my favorite things to do in the evenings has always been to go sit amongst the cows while listening to them graze. I did this when I was younger too. I of course love to listen to the horses eat. Most horse people feel this way. There is just something about the rhythmic sound of the chewing combined with their breathing and the smells and the feeling of contentment. Listening to cows graze at down and dusk is the exact same. The sound of their breathing and their swiping tongue and grass cropping and the chewing. I do not know, it is hard to describe unless you are there to hear it and feel it.
OK, you are right, I also go check on them multiple times a day when I am there during the day too.
We might be tardy on the mowing, but I prefer to just focus on and enjoy the green product of all these rains. Especially when viewed between a pair of dun colored ears.
Check back tomorrow for our adventure with new views between these very dun colored ears! Spoiler alert, there was rain! BUT, it did not spoil the adventure!
It is a rainy morning here on the farm while I enjoy my coffee in the loggia with my Merle wet and lying at my feet. I managed to get the horses fed before it started raining again. Mother Nature truly put on a light show with the heavy rain storms last night and there is a good chance for more today. I am smiling contentedly as I think of the horses and cows on their happy, lush pastures.
Good Friday is turning into another one of those reflective days for me. I mean, it should be a day of reflection already of course with the coming of Easter, but it is even more so for me now. Good Friday was one of my days with H.
I am not sure when it became a tradition of sorts, but it just did. It was one of the days we would regularly try to schedule a ride together. I think it was a day that she always had off from work and she did not feel as bad taking that time away from her husband, other animals, and home. Sometimes we rode with other friends and sometimes it was just the two of us. It just depended on what everyone had going on. In the more recent past, it was usually just the two of us.
I really miss her today and that seems to make me even more grateful that it is raining like this. Like we are not really missing another ride together as the years accumulate.
However, as sad as I feel at the present moment have felt for the past few days at times coming up on today, I have also found myself smiling at the same time. While on the one hand I am not quite sure how I feel about that, the whole dichotomy of feelings I mentioned yesterday, on the other hand I am beyond grateful that I am here. That I am able to look back on all our time together so happily and be glad that we had it. That I can really feel the gratitude that we were even friends at all, even if it feels like her time here on earth and our time together as friends was cut short.
Being in this new and improved and bigger, but hey the same great thing, space of gratitude while I am remembering my H, I am beyond grateful for my life and my time in this earthly world. I know this probably sounds odd and possibly I could have worded it in a better way, but it is true. Case in point being H. We do not know how much time we have and we can not create it or get it back. My point is, this ever repetitive AHA moment, use your time wisely!
I do not know what exactly I set out to write today, but I am grateful. I am grateful that H and I were friends. I am grateful to FEEL. Whatever the feelings may be. Happy, sad, you name it. They are not independent of each other anyway. You can not have one without the other. I am grateful for my grief because I think it makes the joy bigger.
Walk in love, dear readers! Go live your time while you enjoy the memories! Dance in the rain!
I find myself often these days overtaken by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
For so many things. Both big and small. So much so that nothing seems small except my very person in this world. Similar to how storms and mountains make me feel. It is almost as if I am a tiny bug observing this big old world. Not in a scary, I’m going to get stepped on way, but in an awestruck way. Everything seems bigger, not just in size, but in feeling and color.
Heck, I am even grateful for feeling grateful. I don’t care if it sounds ridiculous!
Is it just spring? I don’t think so.
I do not think I can even pin point when this newer shape of gratitude and gratefulness really took hold. I try to always be in that space, but this, this is different.
When I wake up in the middle of the night, or really any time before my alarm goes off, I smile and am grateful to have the opportunity for a little more sleep. This particular gratitude goes even further to being grateful for opening my eyes and drawing breath. Or, rather, the other way around? Anyway, you catch my drift, grateful to be alive, but not in a morbid way.
In the ample time I spend driving (always with the driving thoughts), I am often shaken to realize how grateful I am for my life. For what I get to do. Who I get to spend my time with. For my freedom and independence. That I am no longer in school. Ha! No matter how hard being an adult can be, every life stage has its struggles and some more than others, but I would not trade where I am at for anything.
I am as grateful for the rain we are having right now as I am for the blue sky days.
I rode the other day in the rain, twice, and it was glorious. The first time was somewhat on accident. I was attempting to beat the rain.
We started early in the heavy morning fog, as it only can be in the river bottom. Lito was a bit full of himself, so we set to work in the meadow pasture to bring his attention back to center by doing many transitions within and between gaits while doing circles and serpentines around cow pies, trees, and weeds.
I am not sure when it started to rain really. It started so gradually with just the heavy wetness of the fog that morphed into a mist and then to a drizzle. I think I noticed it in the drizzle phase. I figured we were already getting wet and in the middle of things, why not keep going? So we did and so did the rain. It was wonderful really. When it seemed we were on the same page, we were loping down the fence with the rain coming at our faces. Not in a pelting way, but rather just an increasingly wet and beautiful way. It was still falling softly, but it was accumulating in my eyelashes and I was having a hard time seeing! I laughed out loud and wiped my eyes with the fleeting thought that windshield wipers would be nice before giving my boy a pat and coming back down to a walk.
We made our way back up to the barn where Lito seemed content to stand tacked in his stall and have a little nap. Not ready to commit to being finished for the day, I gave him some treats and left him there while I went inside to have some breakfast. My mom was getting ready to give a walk down the road a chance with a rain jacket and being already wet, we decided to accompany her. We then proceeded to get even more wet when it decided to off and on rain for real! It was still wonderful though. None of us seemed to mind. Lito was having as much fun as I was! It made me appreciate my good hat that I was wearing.
I could not stop smiling the rest of the day and I was so very glad that we rode in the rain.
I was hauling Lito to our favorite place to ride with friends a couple weeks ago and I found myself smiling while driving. I had the windows down and could feel the last remnants of nip in the air. The fog was singing and the sun was painting around some deer in the distance. It made me think of one of my favorite songs and how beauty has a sound.
I was reminded of many years ago one of the first times I did this. I was borrowing my Pops‘ truck, hauling to go meet my friends to ride. I even remember I was listening to a Texas song. I can almost remember the exact one. I had to stop and call my parents to thank them. Thank them for everything. That I am able to do all things I do. I thought then as I thought on this day, that I was living the dream.
I am still living that dream. Back to that day a couple weeks ago, I arrived early as I always do. I dearly hate to be rushed, especially when I am with my horses. I took my time and I groomed Lito, much to his chagrin, for over forty minutes. We rode all over that ranch with our friends surrounded by the big, blue Texas sky, green spring grass, and wildflowers. All while being serenaded by the birds, the wind, and sounds of our horses and laughter.
I am finding myself even at times, grateful for my grief. I do not even know how I got here. The dichotomy of those feelings is so strange and foreign. But alas, that I think is a story for another day.
Anyway, I think y’all have had enough of my rambling for today. My AHAmoment for today is to be grateful for every today you have. Again, not in a morbid way, but in a joyous and comforting way. There is more than one way to make a life. There is always enough time for what is important. It if is a broken record that I sound like, it is a pretty dang good record I think.
Walk in love, dear readers. Look up and see the sky, smell and feel the air!