November 30, 2009

A Muse

It has come to my attention that in life, we draw inspiration from many sources. A brilliant sunrise. A tiny pink hand clasped around fingers. A warm whiskery kiss. All of these images are memories but also serve to invoke happiness, devotion, and love to name a few. Sometimes, however, memories can only take us as far as the experiences which created them. In such times, I need a Muse.

For me, a Muse serves as a stimulus to unlock the creative chambers of my mind. Like an accelerant to a flame, it feeds my mind and ignites a flow of ideas (or in this case, words). One such creature for me is a lady from California who occasionally calls herself Dame Judy. I have never met Judy and have rarely spoken to her unless in the wee hours of the night. She watches our cameras during foaling season unfailingly and has often been the herald of a new arrival. her calls are most likely to arrive just when I enter REM sleep so she lives in a somewhat dream-area of my memory.

Like the changeable nature which I imagine she has, Judy sometimes assumes different forms in my mind. Somedays, she is a wild, red-haired Gypsy laughing as she rides a white stallion across a beach. Other days, she is a wise matron stroking a black cat on her lap. Always, she is mercurial and shifting.

I was asked today where I draw inspiration to write most days. Judy is one of the Muse's housed in my creative stable. I call upon her- or my mental picture of her- on days when I feel whimsical and creative. Thanks, Judy!

November 29, 2009

Don't Look A Gift Horse...

Well, it's been an eventful few days at the farm. Brittney has been home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday- Amber was also went home for a bit (which means away from the farm)- and Sandi and Eddie (Chase and Maria's owners) have been visiting for the last few. Usually, I'm ready for weekends to end. That allows us to get back to our usual routine and restore order to our schedules and barn! I find myself, however, dreading today because everyone is leaving. We will truly be sorry to see our daughter and friends return from whence they came. I guess that means that it was a successful holiday.

On the leaving note, Baton Rouge (Thoroughbred yearling who lives at the farm) acquired a new home yesterday. His breeding destined him for the racetrack but his owners altered that fate and asked us to re-home him. His new owner Courtney arrived yesterday and after something that resembled an old fashioned round up at times, he was safely loaded onto her trailer and on his way to his new home. She commented that she felt like Christmas was coming early and was so excited to bring her new horse home. Sadly, Delilah and Wendy walked the fence line following him as far as they were able and called to him as he disappeared down the driveway. I truly wished that I had known what they were saying to one another at that point.

Amber had several riding lessons over the weekend- a group of small girls, her Amateur Select Future Champion MaryAnne (whom she is currently molding into a great showman). The mounts used for riding lessons may ring a bell to some- most of them appeared on MareStare last year delivering foals! At our farm, most mares are retired show horses and seem to relish the job of playing babysitter and teachers to beginning riders in the off season. Essi, Lexi, Boo, Fancy, and Delilah are regularly used in lesson programs.

Somehow, even with great amounts of visiting, eating, horsing, and more- we even accomplished several projects from my never-ending list. With Eddie (our guest) helping every step of the way, we installed a new stamped copper backsplash in my kitchen (joy, joy), ran new ethernet cables to the foaling barn in preparation for 2010 MareStare cameras, and replaced some electrical switches which needed mending.

Of course, we also found plenty of time during the past few days to laugh, love, and live. It was a great Thanksgiving weekend and we wish everyone travelling here, there, and everywhere safe journeys.

November 27, 2009

Being a college student, I don't get the opportunity to come home as much as my family would like.  It's usually only by force (and the occasional bribe of a nice home-cooked meal and free laundry) that I make it home.  Everytime I come home, though, I remember exactly why it is that home relaxes me so much.  This holiday break spurred some extra thought in me this time home.  So, this is the top ten list of things I miss most about home while I'm away.

10.  Cleaning and taking care of horses.  Sadly, I do miss this while I'm stuck on campus and really enjoy coming home and visiting everyone and seeing how much they've grown.

9.  The occasional bath/groom job at the kennel.  I also enjoy bathing and grooming dogs (ever so often) and enjoy when I get to come home for a few days and do a couple baths/grooms.

8.  Driving my dad's big red truck :)

7.  Waffle House every morning with my family.

6.  Wearing sweatpants (my dad's) everywhere I go (including the barn).  Our barn at school has a rule against wearing sweatpants and tennis shoes.

5.  Playing with the foals and miscellaneous animals we have here at home.

4.  Cooking dinner almost every night that I'm home (and Cracker Barrell one night while I'm here).

3.  Snuggling with my Standard Poodle.

2.  My parents and their constant approval of my life and all the choices I make (no matter whether they agree with me or not).

1.  My wonderful Shetland Sheepdog, Sugar.  She's my best friend and I miss her every single day that I'm not at home.

Guest Blogger--Brittney Aaron-Fields

November 26, 2009

The Turkey

Morning peeked over the horizon and observed the sleeping meadow. It was unmoving- cold and crisp. Along the left side of the grassy expanse lay a thick tree line- maples, oaks, elms all grew tall and austere in unplanned preciseness. Running along the right edge of the meadow, was an orderly fence comprised of thick wooden posts and linear poplar boards. The order of the fence mocked the chaos of the forest adjacent to it. Like revolutionary soldiers, they stood in a perfect line facing one another separated only by an ocean of clover and orchard grass.

As dusk approached each night, the turkey ambled toward the same elderly locust just inside the treeline of the meadow. Like all poultry, they were creatures of habit and their nightly routine had not been disturbed for as long as a turkey may remember. Their dark feathered bodies could be seen about 20 feet above the ground where they were safe from the large nocturnal predators who patrolled silently.

At first light, the turkey stretched their seldom seen wings and half jumped/half flew back down to earth. True to their morning ritual, once every turkey in the group was assembled, they began a camoflauged parade through the dense underbrush which covered the wooded floor. So quiet, they were, that they may have been feathered ghosts. They walked slowly to the meadow- unhurried.

The parade passed by the stately trees and emerged from thickets of blackberry bushes and wild roses with great pomp and circumstance. Twenty strong, they were led by a large Tom who stood nearly a yard high (feathers and all). The grand marshall himself led the group onto the meadow to forage for grubs and insects who were greeting the sunlight.

Their tails were displayed in fans behind them. The Toms were distinguishable not only by their impressive size but also their long beards which dangled seductively (to a female turkey) from beneath their beaks. This family group consisted of several Toms, many hens, adolescent chicks, and even some immature birds strolling among them. They moved across the pasture in a methodically random manner consuming all manner of creeping crawling life.

They were an oddity of nature- with their avian-like qualities- yet they were strangely prehistoric. The ancestors of these great birds had likely roamed these same pastures long before there were fences or borders. Pilgrims or settlers had likely feasted upon one of these great birds on a Thanksgiving Day just like this one.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I was blessed early on Thanksgiving morning with a huge turkey parade in one of the paddocks at Fields Quarter Horses. I turned off the motor on the Gator and sat and enjoyed watching them meander across the paddock before they moved on. Silent and peaceful, they were a joy to behold!

November 25, 2009


This is a small sampling of some of the ways that people have expressed their thankful thoughts. I intend to ponder the things that I am thankful for today.

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks.--William Shakespeare

Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls. ~David Thomas

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel. ~Author Unknown

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.--Oscar Wilde

It isn't what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful, but what you have in your heart.-- Author Unknown

Just a "thank you" is a mighty powerful prayer. Says it all. -- RoseanneCash

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.-- Willie Nelson

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.-- Author Unknown

Have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving. To all the things in our lives that we are thankful for....

Khris and Wayne

November 24, 2009

My Daily Blog...Uh, I Mean Frog

I have a lot of frogs. Well, not officially frogs- really more toads. For some reason, we have a lot of these little fellows at our farm. They congregate in little frog herds near the water hydrants, shavings bin, indoor arena (just to name a few of their hang-out-spots).

Maybe the source of our frog phenomenon is our geography. When we excavated the site for the barn some years ago, we filled in an old pond. Unwittingly, we may have displaced this family of frogs. Many probably hopped over the hill to the "big city" of the lake. But, in all likelihood, this line of frogs may have lived at our farm for countless generations. Their ancestral programming beckons them to return to the home of their parents/grandparents/and so forth.

Sometimes, a burly muscular looking frog hangs out near our alfalfa bale storage. I missed seeing him the past few days and found myself wondering if he has moved on to greener (*smile*) pastures. Maybe there is a lady frog somewhere who has beckoned him. Maybe he finally made the long journey to the neighbor's lake.

I fear that he may have become dinner for one of the barn cats. They seem to have developed an affinity for the flavor of frog legs. Strangely, I felt that my frog friend was immune from their daily hunts. I surely hope he was. He would sometimes sit in the corner of the feed room. Like a little sentry, he would salute me when I walked by. I hope he returns soon.  I kinda miss my Daily Frog...

November 23, 2009

True Crime- Barn Style: The Finale

Kit, the pygmy goat, had never felt as if she fit in at the barn. Although she had been born there nearly 8 years ago, she often felt like an outsider. Her eyes glowed yellow in the near blackness. The only other distinguishable feature aside from her familiar tawny eyes were two bulky horns breaching the top of her skull. They rose straight up from the topmost part of her head and arched backwards abruptly. Ringo shuddered as he conjured a mental image of dark creatures with yellow eyes and horns.

Standing next to Kit, was a stranger. Flat, black eyes- without depth or even soul stared up at the accidental voyeur perched above them. The mouse allowed his thin, scraggly muzzle to move into a sneer revealing stained, crooked teeth. As his lips pulled back from his teeth, the faint sound of a hiss escaped them. He was extending his hand toward the goat and Ringo noticed the unkempt, messy state of his coat. This was no ambassador of good will. Clutched in his outstretched hand was an item Ringo had only seen a few times before. But his tidy raccoon mind was masterful at cataloging and arranging things- both items and memories. He shuffled the file drawers of his memory and nearly instantly recognized it as a book of matches.

As if on a directors "Action!" cue from a movie set, the intruder dropped his bounty just as the raccoon sprang into action. The intruder began backing further into the shadows of the feed room- into the corner farthest from the doors. Ringo struggled to follow his movement as he could find no reflection of light in the flat, dark eyes. The mouse simply faded into the blackness and then he was gone. Ringo sprinted from his high station down the beam to the opposite side of the barn, scrambled his way down the nearest stall front, and landed on the concrete floor. Only the thud of his impact attested that he had dispensed with his usual attempts at grace.

Ringo sprinted to the feed room. His haunches propelling him forward, he ran the length of the aisle. When raccoons run as such, they quite resemble the jilted lope of a bear- driven forward by powerful thrusts from their hindquarters. The horses immediately knew this was no normal pace for the raccoon. He had purpose and direction to his frantic run across the barn.

The horses in the stalls reacted to the sudden change in atmosphere. Moments ago dozing, or quietly waiting, there was now a low din of voices.

"Ringo, what is it?"

“Mother, who's running in the barn?”

“Are we allowed to run in the barn?"

"Oh no, I knew something like this would happen."

"Is it feeding time already?"

Male and female voices joined together to create a choir of horses. The chorus sounded unpracticed and off-key, all talking at once but none in harmony with the other.

Ringo reached the base of the feed room door and strained to listen inside. It had been difficult to hear their low murmurs when the barn was wrapped in silence. Now, it would be impossible. The horse chorus continued to mount until now, it was all around him. Someone whinnied- and it caused a chain reaction.

Ringo knew he would have to enter the feed room to confront the goat. He tried to push the sliding door away from the opening to gain entry. Although he pushed with his full weight, his hands were small and he was not able to move the door aside. It was designed to withstand an assault from hands such as his.

As he was contemplating his next move- he strained again to listen through the solid wooden door. Placing his head against the rough hewn wood, he maneuvered his ear so that it lay against the door flat. Then he heard a sound which would spark terror in the hearts of every animal in the barn. It was a rough sound, scratching and rasping. It sounded of flint or bone- concrete and matches. It was the sound of someone trying to strike one of the matches.

Ringo flew into action. He had told the people of the barn goodnight hours ago. He knew that he could depend on them in any emergency but they were not here. He could hear his Mother's voice saying "Goodnight, Ringo- you're in charge until I get back!” Only he had the freedom to do what would need to be done. But what could he- a mere raccoon do? He was just the organizer of the barn- he was not prepared for the magnitude of what was about to happen there. And then, images of the humans and their love for the animals flooded his well-trained mind. He envied the humans- was this what made them so enviable. They would not hesitate to be heroes and help the animals. He knew what choice they would make if they were here wearing his fur now.

Deciding that he could not penetrate the door of the feed room, Ringo knew his only other option was to enter from above the room. Without care for his own safekeeping at this point, he raced to the stall front directly behind him. It belonged to Dani, a handsome long-legged redhead mare. She anxiously watched as he hoisted his weight higher and higher to reach the truss. He reached the truss and struggled to move out over the open span of the barn- balancing on it. Before where he had appeared graceful, now in his frenetic pace, he wobbled back and forth precariously as he rushed to the open space above the feed room.

Once he was positioned directly above the feed room, he looked for something soft to brace his fall. He was going to have to free fall the 20 foot distance onto the concrete floor and for a brief moment, debated his new found role as savior.

Kit, the goat, had been unaware of the commotion above her as she was using her 10 inch horns, head down to the ground, to attempt to strike a flame from the match book below her. She had rotated her horns to the ground, chin to her chest, and was using the bony protrusions like a camper may use a flint against a stone. With each repetition, she created a spark in the empty night. With each spark, she was much closer to igniting her source. Seeing nothing else which might break his fall, he crossed himself in the tradition of a religious rite, gave his best "Bonzai!" call, and proceeded to drop directly on the goat below him.

From the horse’s vantage point, Ringo's descent into the feed room took much longer than from Ringo's perspective. Chevy watched him take a deep breath, heard his best kamikaze cry, and saw the raccoon launch himself from the highest point of the ceiling with the grace of a Brazilian cliff diver. As the raccoon free fell in to the feed room, the clamor of the barn ceased and there was a moment of complete silence. Then, pandemonium broke loose from inside the closed room.

Squeals, hisses, bleats and sounds which could not be defined mixed with the din of bodies being flung against wooden walls. The reverberation of the melee playing out before them resonated in every wall of the barn. After what must have been seconds but seemed to commence in slow motion, there was an eerie silence. Then there was the sound of labored breathing and nothing more.

When the humans entered the barn at daylight several hours later, they were greeted by the typical scene of nickers, small whinnies, and the clamor of hungry horses. All appeared to the human eye as if it had been an uneventful evening. And then they opened the feed room door. Ringo sat quietly in the feed room possessively holding the match book in his hands. The goat sat in the opposite corner of the room, sullenly staring at the wall and chewing her cud. Strewn about the floor of the room were chunks of gray and black hair- both Ringo and Kit have fur the exact same color- so it was undistinguishable to the human eye, which pieces belonged to which animal.

Ringo's Mother gave him a disapproving look and snatched the matchbook from his hands. "Ringo, you must never, ever have these in the barn. You could hurt yourself and everyone else. I am so disappointed in you." She picked him up by the fur at the back of his neck- as she had thousands of times since he was a kit himself and placed him in her arms. He placed his arms around her neck and held on very tight. He was trembling slightly and she looked at him closely. "Ringo, you haven't hugged me that tight since you were a little raccoon. Whatever got into you?" She held him closely, the way she used to when he was younger and they sat silently for a moment. "Well, you are still in trouble for taking matches and being in the feed room but I love you anyway," she said as she walked him to the office to offer his breakfast.

Kit walked out of the feed room as Khris and Ringo walked down the aisle toward the office. She glanced over her shoulder at the pair as Ringo stared back at her. "Blah," she said. The horses watched her stroll down the aisle and outside to explore the paddocks for the day. She gave off an unaffected air which did not reveal any clues to her train of thought.

As Ringo passed by Chevy's stall, Chevy asked quietly "Dude, what happened?"

Ringo answered slowly, "Kit was planning a surprise birthday party for herself. We didn’t even know that yesterday was her birthday. She was going to have a giant birthday cake with candles- just like the little girls at the birthday party here in the barn last year. She bribed a mouse from the house to bring her matches and was going to light her candles herself."

Chevy thought for a moment and knew the implications of her actions. In his uncomplicated manner, he asked, “Well, do you think we should we give her a party today? I like birthday cake. And I like parties, too.”

Ringo blinked slowly and contemplated the question. One truth was certain to him, goats held grudges and he had ruined her plan and her party of one. He would not be sleeping quietly as long as there was a goat in the barn with a grudge.
The End.

November 22, 2009

True Crime- Barn Style: Part Two

Ringo liked to walk along the concrete barn floors. The hand-broomed finished created patterns in the surface which enthralled him and he loved the feel of the scratchy surface. Tonight, however, he made an unusual choice. In the same manner which creates reluctant heroes from ordinary creatures, he simply chose to cross the span of the barn in a manner which was new to him. The barn had a free span wooden truss design. Ringo had never thought of crossing the barn from above. The trusses rose high above the stalls and center aisle- nearly 20 feet at the highest point.

Ringo placed his hands and feet on the dust covered beam. The leathery texture of his hind feet brushed along the wooden beam expertly. He narrowed his eyes to adjust to both the unusual darkness and the aerial panorama. As he rose higher and higher, the horses appeared smaller and smaller in their stalls. In his raspy colt voice, Chance whispered to his mother Tess, a young dark bay mare. “Mother, what is he looking for all the way up there?”

Tess replied, “Raccoons are no concern of ours, little one.” She turned her head in the opposite direction signaling to Chance that they would not discuss the situation further. Being nearly 2 months old, he knew that she was finished discussing the matter.

Other than a faint murmur far below him, Ringo could hear nothing else in the solitude of the barn at night. Dim noises came to him here and there. Someone was rustling around their stall- perhaps trying to find the remnants of her dinner on a stall floor. A tiny voice was inquisitive, then silenced. The hum of the florescent lighting was long silent as the timers in the barn had diminished the bright artificial glow over each stall hours ago.

These were the usual harmonies. The pitches and tones were familiar and comforting. These were ordinary sounds. So, Ringo decided to listen for the extraordinary. He began to filter through them and focus on anything new. And there it was. The new sound was muffled but there nonetheless. With the reflexes that only an animal can muster, he snapped his head in the direction the tiny conversation came from. If he had been a split second earlier or later, he may have missed it. If he had chosen to walk his usual path on the barn floor, he surely would have missed it. There in the darkness- even his eyes strained to see more clearly. Two sets of eyes- one unmistakable and one unrecognizable- stared at him in stunned silence.

To Be Continued...

November 21, 2009

True Crime- Barn Style

There was a stifling stillness that hung over the barn. Perhaps it was the suffocating heat that invaded the quiet night, but the animals of the barn breathed more slowly than usual. His mind told him that they were most likely sleeping but his imagination filled with thoughts of them holding their breath, waiting for some unseen foe to intrude. An envelope of darkness shrouded the barn. It was difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy. Outside, the skies were devoid of stars. In their usual place was a pervasive blackness. For a brief moment, he wondered if some dark magic was at work here. Even the heavens seemed to be aware that something sinister was about.

Standing on his hind legs, he inhaled the blackness through his long, pointed muzzle. He tasted the unseen with each breath. Even the wind was not cooperating with his investigation. It would offer no secrets to the impending force which every creature felt but could not name. Deciding that he would find no answers on the wind, Ringo decided that an on-foot inquiry may yield more clues. He placed his sensitive paws on the hard surface below him and allowed his eyes to adjust to the malevolent darkness. Quietly thanking his ancestors for blessing him with above average night vision, he scanned the surroundings.

The aluminum stall fronts did not cast their usual bright glow in the darkness. Now, they were a dull white color. He could see the redwood tongue and groove boards which completed each stall but barely discern the orderly lines of the boards. The barn aisle was familiar in the darkness. Tidy and symmetrical, each stall appeared a mirror image of its neighbor. He liked this barn. Because of his sometimes compulsive tendencies, it made him feel nice to see the order and cleanliness.

To the left of him were 7 large box stalls, each with dozing (or at least uncommunicative) horses. To the right was more of the same. The barn was comprised of two 12 foot aisles with stalls on each side. The center bank of the barn contained 2 large box stalls, solid sliding doors to the feed room, a tack area, and the spacious grooming area and breeding stocks. There were other areas of the barn- and they were usually the focal point of his attention. The office/lounge was his favorite haunt as there were shiny trophies and the occasional snack of forgotten people food. The laboratory was also appealing because there were many containers of medicines and supplies. He could spend hours rearranging them- the humans were never any good at arranging things and he often felt the need to correct that. Even the restrooms provided occasional amusement if he could find nowhere else to wash his hands. He frequently had urges to clean his hands but assumed it was part of his obsessive/compulsive nature. But, tonight, those usual hang-outs did not garner his attention. It was the main part of the barn which called to him.

As he began his patrol, a male voice- even, attractive, and tenor called to him. “What’s up, dude?” It was Chevy. Chevy was the prince of the barn. He was favored among the mares, the other animals, and mostly the humans. His amicable nature was contagious. Coupled with his California surfer-like looks, his blond mane and tail, he was enviable. When he was a young raccoon, he was jealous of Chevy. As he matured, he saw that Chevy loved the humans, too. Eventually Chevy’s gentle, easy nature won Ringo over and he discovered that he enjoyed spending time with him.

“Something’s not right tonight”, Ringo replied softly. In the dark stillness, their voices seemed to carry farther than they should have. Ringo quietly hefted his weight- all 45 pounds of it- up the wall by grasping the beveled edges of the tongue and groove boards. Once up, he was sitting inches from Chevy’s hot breath. “I’m going to scout. Have you heard anything out of the ordinary?” he asked.

Chevy leaned closer as if sharing information with a confidant. “Well, I haven’t but do you need me to protect you?”

Ringo, thankful for the veil of darkness, covered his muzzle with long, elegant fingers. He was certain that Chevy’s uncomplicated disposition did not perceive the wry smile that he covered as he answered, “No, buddy. You keep an eye on things here. I’ll check out the rest of the barn.”

He decided that it may be wise to achieve a Raccoon’s eye view of the situation so he deftly scaled the remaining height of the stall door. Once atop the stall front, he began to balance along the 2 inch header board. With more grace than a tightrope artisan, he padded quietly along the adjoining stall fronts. His ungainly shape swayed back and forth but his footfalls were sure and silent.

Ringo used his vantage point to assess the occupants of each stall as he passed over them. Lexi, a busty blue roan mare, stood a silent vigil over her week old colt, Jasper. Sissy was lying down in her stall with her form curled into a C shape. Her newborn Sam slumbered unaware in the protective fold of her body. Nikki glanced up only briefly from munching her hay as Ringo passed by. Sensing that he posed no danger to her sorrel filly, Amber, she returned to her faint rustling of the stall floor.

Ringo passed over each stall silently and quickly, his mind filtering details looking for anything amiss. Reaching the end of the row of stalls, he made a choice that would determine the fates of every creature in the barn that night.

To Be Continued Tomorrow-

(For my Marestare Friends, you probably remember this one! I wanted to post it here for everyone else...Psst. Don't give the ending away!)

November 20, 2009

Top Ten List- Things I Miss About Being 17

As my age advances, I cannot help but miss a few things from my youth. Here is a top ten list of things I miss about being 17 years old:

10. Wearing a bikini fearlessly
9. Heavy Metal Bands
8. No Bills
7. The Love Boat
6. Freedom
5. Football games
4. Drive-In Movie Theaters
3. 80's Hair styles
2. Cheerleading
and the #1. thing I miss about being 17 is...Metabolism!

What do you miss?

November 19, 2009

Oh My, I think those are testicles...

Where to start? Let me begin at the beginning of my day. I opened my eyes to a dreary skyscape this morning. Not rainy- not sunny- and I knew it was going to be one of those days.  Maybe because I've begun a new diet (one of many in a long succession), but I just don't seem to leap out of bed with the same verve or zest I once did. I am a creature driven by hunger. I used to live from meal to meal- now I just exist from meal to measly meal.

Anyway, I crawled out of bed then downed a miserly breakfast and trudged to the office to organize my day.  I discovered a 140 pound Great Pyreneese dog waiting there for me to shave (or in this case- shear). His owners had called the kennel in a tither- they suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to have their dog groomed before he spent another night in the middle of their bed. Upon his arrival, everyone else jumped ship, bailed, and became otherwise engaged. Ah, the joys of being the Boss.  The job was left to me to complete. He had not see a groomer- or a bathtub- for nearly 4 years. There was a colony of fleas living on his great white hide which could have single handedly brought back the Bubonic Plague. And his owner left instructions that he had several tumor-like growths that we would need to be mindful of.

Andy was a beast of a dog. I retrieved the "Super Dooper" clippers from their heavy dusty case and began to remove years of hair, dirt, and debris. The fleas resembled tiny little passengers from the Titanic as they began to look for lifeboats and jump ship. Thankfully, we had administered an oral flea preventative to Andy an hour earlier which would serve to annihilate his flea colony within 20-30 minutes. As the tiny universe of insects lay collapsing before me, I continued to shave the big fella.

I worked my way around his body and he began to take the shape of a dog.  I clipped the top of his body then moved to his underbelly and down his long legs. Andy is ten years old and seemed to enjoy the experience. He graciously lifted his giant paws as I trimmed his claw-like toenails and cleaned the overgrown hair between the pads of his feet.

Feeling rather industrious, I surveyed my masterpiece. There he stood, giant white snowy dog with only his rear end left to shear. Re-energized by the outcome of my previous work, I began to tackle his tail and the remaining section of rear end which was still thick with mats and debris. As I reached the clippers under his hind end- they sputtered to a stop. This scene had been played out repeatedly already today. The clippers would protest at each thickly matted clump and I would remove it with scissors.

I  gently (given the delicate area in which I was cutting) began to remove the matted hair. There in the path of my recently sharpened blades was a growth. I began to carefully disect the air away from the meaty growth. This was considerably larger that I had been led to expect but having found no other growths on the dog yet, I surmised this must be it.  Confused, I opted to confer with a colleague for a second opinion. This tumor was pretty large. Wayne settled in beside me to inspect the tumor. He carefully looked at it over the rim of his glasses.

"Honey, " he began slowly, " I hate to tell you, but those are testicles."

I gasped. Surely not. As an experience dog groomer, I have seen my share of testicles. I finished grooming Andy and when his owner came to pick him up, I told her that I had found no growths on him. She immediately reached down between his hind legs and said, "But there was a big growth right here."

In my most professional groomer voice, I announced, "Oh my, I think those are testicles."

November 18, 2009


Cooper was a known casanova. His reputation preceeded him- libertine, rake, playboy. He had earned every one of these titles and even more. He was the teaser stallion for an active breeding farm. His profession was one of privilege, seduction, and frustration.

Each morning during breeding season- from January to June- he was marched out with great pomp and circumstance to each mare on the farm. His appointed duties included flirting, coaxing, seducing, and otherwise engaging each mare in conversation to determine her resistance/cooperation for breedng purposes.

He was a magnificent brown and white stallion- and he was 26 inches tall. His mane and tail were full and luxurious, his Indian-pony coat glistened in the sunlight. His feet were tiny perfect replicas of the larger horses whom he visited each day. He, however, did not seem aware of his size. He carried himself with the demeanor of a stallion- proud and keen. He would enter the barn aisle, with mares stalled on each side, and commence to swagger and strut before them.

His was a confidence born of experience. Of course, they found him magnificent- the ones who were willing would flutter their eyelashes and nicker to him playfully. He waggered. He swayed before them. He did not know he was of short stature- his life experience had never taught him this lesson. He felt equal to any other stallion and behaved in such a manner.

When a mare would express interest in his display of manliness, the handlers would proceed to pull a step to the front of her stall. Cooper would climb atop the stool and could just reach the openings between the aluminum bars to touch her velvety nose. He would stretch his front feet higher and lift his body so that he was standing on his hind legs. With front legs supported by the front of the stall, he would stand perched atop the stool and woo, coo, and nuzzle the mare until the handler decided to move to another lady horse.

Each morning, his routine was the same. He would nuzzle and embrace each likely candidate. If his passion heightened, the handler knew that the mare may be receptive to her intended stallion's advances (or seed). Cooper was rarely mistaken when it came to deciphering feminine moods. If he indicated that she was receptive, she probably was. If he indicated that she had already blossomed and was past the peak of her cycle, she probably was.

Occasionally, a mare would repeatedly shun his advances. For weeks at a time, his morning visits would produce no passion from her. When this happened, Cooper would find himself in a private turnout paddock for several hours with only a sturdy fence separating them. He would run the perimeter exhaustively- looking for a way to be closer to his lady love. He would call to her- screaming his love at the top of his voice. Sometimes, after several hours or even days of this closeness, she would begin to feel a spark and soon, she too would find her body ready to take the journey to motherhood.

Thus were the days of the teaser stallion. A heady blend of lust, love, and longing. He was allowed- no encouraged- to follow his animal instincts. Yet, sadly, he was never to achieve fullness. He lived a life of privilege- afforded the same luxuries as the great stallions who lived at the farm. But, alas, his privileges stopped sort of satisfaction. His was an existence doomed to loneliness...And that was the life of Cooper.

November 17, 2009


Whew! Let me stop a minute and catch my breath. I have one of those cell phone plans with unlimited minutes. I was just thinking of revisiting that idea and going with a different-lesser-minute plan to save a little money. Well, that was probably a bad idea. Just as I had the thought, my phone began ringing and it hasn't stopped.

Another sign from the Universe? Why does the Universe care what cell phone plan I have? I've had calls from mare owners about breeding mares next year, mare owners with mares to foal, foal owners with foals to sell, foal owners with foals to brag about. Also, old friends with new husband problems, new friends with old husband problems, a friend who was re-connecting, and a family member from whom I have disconnected. And, best of all, people who are wanting to buy horses. Oh, and I spoke with my banker, lawyer, AND accountant all today.

All of these phone calls make me wonder how we functioned before there were cell phones? I truly cannot remember. I think it's some sort of self-imposed amnesia. I don't remember a time when I could not pick up a phone and reach the person I wanted nearly instantly. Worse yet, if I can't reach them by phone, I can generally just leave a message on Facebook and speak to them even sooner.

All of this "connection" to my fellow man has made me become even more impatient. I find myself becoming more irritable in restaurants, traffic, and don't even make me wait in line at the Post Office. Is my cell phone causing this phenomenon? Hmmm, I wonder- there must be someone I can call to ask?

November 15, 2009

Reality Check

I'll admit it- I'm addicted to reality TV. Somehow, in the midst  of 60-80 hour work weeks, I still find a few minutes here and there to catch the beginnings, middles, ande endings of my favorite reality shows. I have accepted the fact that reality TV is trash and that I'm addicted to it. I do not yet DVR or TIVO so I must catch the episodes the old fashioned way. If I miss one, I check the listings, make mental notes of the repeated showings, and try to watch them. I have even been guilty of finding a showing of a stray episode here and there at 3:00am.  

I can recite from memory the scripts of the hosts of Project Runway, Survivor, Top Model, and many more word for word as they deliver the lines just before someone is voted off. Two beautiful girls stand before me...

I don't really even have to be interested in the subject to enjoy a reality show, either. Yesterday, I discovered Flowers Uncut and watched florists scramble to plan a wedding event. I've watched celebrity stylists, dog groomers, rock stars, sex and drug addicts, designers, hair technicians, housewives, brides, real estate moguls, toddlers, models, cheerleaders, chefs, and little and large people just to name a few- and that's just this week.

This brings me to a hypothesis. I believe that I like seeing real people. I grew up watching TV in an era where Charlie's Angels set the bar high. An angel could karate chop a villian, wield a firearm, and save the day without breaking a nail. And we won't even discuss Wonder Woman. I waited patiently for puberty just to discover that I would never fill a red/white/blue ensemble the way she did.

Yes, reality TV gives us a look at real life. I secretly relish the breakdowns, flaws, tirades, and generally bad behavior. Well, all except for Cash Cab. That's possibly my favorite- I vicariously won $1700 while cooking dinner Friday night.So, in that respect, reality TV allows me to escape from real life as well. I can enjoy watching people who aren't perfect. That's my guilty pleasure right behind Hershey's Chocolate Syrup and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.  So, until the next episode, auf weidersen!

November 13, 2009

Sensitivity Training

The animals were fed up. He had crossed the line and this would be the end of his poor behavior. Ringo the Raccoon had long walked a fine line between sarcasm, ridicule, and humor. He was slightly more intelligent than the majority of the creatures who lived at the barn and he often exploited his advantage. His usual gambit was a quip or verbal  jab- directed at one more witless than he. Oft times, these remarks were like impotent shots fired across the bow of a ship- testing the waters, gauging damage or the skill of an adversary.

Today, however, Ringo had caused collateral damage with one of his warning shots. And he was about to pay the price for it. He closed his eyes and retraced the steps which had brought him to this fate. His mind moved backwards to earlier that morning.

It was an unseasonably warm November day. The sun rose bright and full of promise. Animals chattered quietly among themselves- the horses were anxious to go outside to the grassy meadow, the dogs were wondering if there would be a group game of "Fetch the Stick". Ringo glanced at the Motley Crew grouped in the barn from his perch high above them on the top of a box stall. From this vantage point, he could see them all. He shifted his bulky form and leaned backwards against the wooden post. Reclining lazily, he absently picked at the soft fur of his belly.

Rondo, the Standard Poodle bounded around the corner and exclaimed in an excited voice, "Hey sup! Yo yo yo, check dis out right here, is anybody gonna aks if we gonna play today?"

Jorge the Llama looked at Rondo in a confused manner and said, "Hmmmm?"

"Com on dawg, is anybody gonna aks if we playin stick today?" Rondo repeated.

"Por favor, Senor, I do not understand what it is you mean," the Llama said in a heavy Spanish accent belying his Hispanic roots.

Bobbie the tortoise patterned gray cat, spoke up just then in a thick Southern drawl, "Now ya'll know, Rondo was done raised up in the city. He ain't never had no schoolin to learn to talk like the rest of us. "

Ringo watched the interchange below him and uttered "Psshht," with obvious disdain in his voice. Under his breath he muttered, "Hillbillies, Ghetto...(unitelligible words)...go back to where you came from....(more untelligible words)...don't belong here anyway." his voice continued.

Suddenly, every pair of eyes in the barn were upon the Raccoon perched upon the stall top.

The Llama's quick fire temper flared at the slight. "Esscuse me, RRrrrringo," Jorge said slowly. "Was the Poodle speaking to you. I tink, No."

Tension immediately filled the empty space. Ringo bristled with anger. How dare the Llama speak to him so? He was, after all, an immigrant. In fact, they all were. Ringo was the only one born at the barn.  Everyone else had come to live in his home- coming with their strange accents, strange customs, strange food. This was his land and he didn't appreciate the strangeness that came with these creatures.

"I tink, I tink," Ringo mocked the Llama speaking in a mock Spanish accent. "Hmmmm, I think that you all need to learn to speak." the raccoon continued enunciating each word carefully.  Rondo glanced at the ground in shame, he was accustomed to Ringo's prejudice. He was a simple dog born in the inner city and he wished he could speak better. Ringo knew the barb would hit closely to Rondo's heart but he felt alienated from him and did not care.

"Enough," came a strong masculine voice. Chevy stepped into the sunlight near the front of his stall. He was the most beloved animal at the farm. No one questioned it. With the natural grace born of nobility, the stallion lifted his head toward the raccoon perched atop his stall. His golden mane caught the rays of the sun and nearly glowed with the brilliance of it. The raccoon receded slightly from the force of the stallion's gaze.

"Ringo, you call yourself a Native- born of this farm. These are your brethren. Every one of us is connected- created by the same Maker. We are all Natives, are we not? Of somewhere? You. Have. No. Right." Chevy said quietly, for he did not ever raise his voice.

Ringo snapped back to the present. Now, he was faced with an angry mob of miscellaneous animals gathered around him. He had surely insulted every one of them at some point. They glowered. They glared. They stood waiting for someone to decide how to proceed.

"Apology", someone shouted from the rear of the mob. He thought it may have been the goat.

"What if we have our own Sensitivity Training," Chevy suggested. Nods of approval moved throughout the group. "Then, Ringo will be more sensitive to the feelings of his brothers and sisters here," he continued.

The animals paused for only an instant, and then they began to administer Ringo's Sensitivity Training. One moment, they were surrounding him like an angry mob- the next, they converged upon him en masse. In the center of the ball of hair, fur, hooves, and toes, hey were hugging and tickling him. One after the next, they continued to embrace his surly form. Wooden at first, he resisted. Soon, however, he began to soften to their embraces. The hugs continued until he was overwrought with emotion. As quickly as the episode began, it ended. Abruptly, the animals drew away.

In the center of the pile of animals, stood the raccoon with his little arms flung around the Poodle's neck, crooning softly. Awkwardly, someone cleared their throat. Ringo slowly pulled his arms to his sides and smoothed his ruffled fur.

Rondo's laughed happily and his simple child-like smile widened. And he reached out and licked the raccoon with his long, wet tongue. A hush fell over the group, the Ringo of the morning would have launched into a tirade over such a blatent display of affection.

And then Ringo began to chuckle. First, a tiny release of air past his whiskers, "Heeeheeeheee." Then, it became a rocking belly laugh and he grasped his sides to contain himself. "Hawwhawwwhawwheeehee," he guffawed. And everyone joined in until the entire barnyard was sharing a collective laugh.

November 12, 2009

Here's Your Sign

Sometimes we ask for signs. Actually, I do all the time. Whenever I have a decision to make or come to a crossroads in life- I usually ask the Universe to send me a sign which I can use to help make that decision. Problem is, I seem to have trouble recognizing the signs.

This can be both amusing but also uncomfortable for my family and those around me. My daughter recently beseeched me to acknowledge a particular series of signs which became increasingly more obvious as they arrived. She was beginning to worry that we may find our home struck by lightning or we would be beseiged by a swarm of locusts. I was reading the card board sign of the homeless person on the Interstate exit hoping my sign would be in writing and totally missed the burning bush in my landscaping.

I suppose that the problem is that I'm afraid to make a mistake. What if I misinterpreted a sign, and made an error in judgement. After all, it's not like that ever happened before (insert sarcastic chuckle here). I have come to the conclusion today  that my signs have been there all along but I asked for them without truly wanting the answers. It's easier to walk around in a fog of confusion if you are walking around in a fog of confusion.

So, I declare today, that I am going to acknowledge that the Universe wants me to be happy, successful, applauds my victories, shares my disappointments, and is generally extremely cooperative with my requests. Now, I just have to get my self to cooperate.Perhaps I'll ask for a sign?

November 11, 2009

Scissor Reform Act of 2008

In with the new! Well, officially, no one is out but, we have a new stall cleaner today at Fields Quarter Horses. Having a new employee join our ranks is anxious and exciting all in the same breath. Maybe because we spend so much time together, maybe because the barn and horses become our lives, whatever the reason, it is imperative that we enjoy the personalities of the people we surround ourselves with at the barn.

The stall cleaners have the inglorious charge of making sure that every horse has clean, dry shavings in their stalls everyday. They also are in charge of spider patrol and removing cobwebs from the nooks and crannies. (We lost a stall cleaner once to a spider incident- by the way) And, if that weren't enough, they also have to ensure that the horses water buckets are clean.

Water buckets can quickly grow organisms which could rival alien life forms. I believe that someday NASA will assign a division to study them. Some horses like to dunk their hay into them, some like to drop and soften their grain pellets. And, of course, the occassional piglet horse will use his water bucket as a bathroom. Needless to say, stall cleaners jobs directly affect the health and happiness of the horses who live in our barn.

I have heard nightmarish stories from other barn owners which included workers sleeping on the job, wasting resources, and worst of all abusing horses. Thankfully, the most dubious stall cleaning incident which has ever occurred on our property was when Kenny decided to "trim" Kay's forelock because he thought she would be more comfortable if she could see better. That single act prompted the sweeping Scissor Reform Act of 2008 which regulated the handling of scissors by unauthorized users. Yet another example of big government in our lives.

As the day progresses, we will evaluate how the new person is blending into the existing personalities at hand. Will there be a turf war when Nick (tenured stall cleaner) arrives after school today? Will the new stall cleaner return tomorrow? These and other questions remain open to destiny. We'll keep you posted!

November 10, 2009

By the Numbers

For fun, I thought it may be interesting to categorize our farm by the numbers which constitute us. Here's a brief list of some numbers which reflect a year at Fields Quarter Horses.

This is a look back at 2009
41 foals were born at Fields Quarter Horses in 2009
60 Large Western Bales each weighing approximately 1000 pounds = 60,000 pounds of Alfalfa Hay
45 Round bales of Orchard Grass hay weighing about 1100 pounds each = 49,500 pounds of Rolled Hay
4,000 Square bales of Brome or Orchard Grass hay weighing 60 pounds each = 24,000 pounds
1280 bags of grain weighing 50 pounds each = 32 tons of grain for 2009
10,000 gallons of water per month on average = 120,000 gallons of water/ year
16 mineral  blocks weighing 40 pounds each = 640 pounds of salt
23 cubic yards of shavings per load = 690 cubic yards of shavings in one year = 18,500 cubic feet
180 flourescent light bulbs light the stall areas
25 stalls
3 stall cleaners
2 vets
1 Chevy
and that's a quick look at our farm by the numbers!

November 9, 2009


My head hurts today. Too much stuff floating around inside the empty space. Sorry, back tomorrow!

November 8, 2009

The Hangover

The morning sun peeked over the horizon and decided to be cruel that day. It rose with a vengeance- rapidly and fiercly.  The rays extended outwardly from her center like swords cutting into his core as they struck him. Ringo stumbled backwards from the force of the sun meeting his eyes. His finger-like claws reached up to cover his face from the brilliant display of daylight.

"Ugh." was his singular response as the sun lit the room. He blinked his eyes trying to clear the fogginess but it would not disappear. He sat upright to dislodge the stupor and a wave of nauseua and pain struck him full force. His furry bulk fell back upon the soft chair. His black grey pelt blended into the black and white fleur de lis pattern of the fabric and created a new, beautiful print. Normally, his senses would have regarded this and he would have appreciated it. Today, however, he was numb to all but the throbbing inside his head.

Ringo struggled to sort his thoughts. They were simultaneously dreamlike and nightmarish. He decided to try to reconstruct the previous night in his mind. His brain flexed, he winced in pain, and he began to search his mind. Fleeting images danced before him- a goat in a tutu, crablegs (or was it froglegs?), a cat wearing underwear, the painted face of a mime.

Shaking his head as if to straighten the curvy line of thoughts inside it, he flexed his memory again. Clearly, this time, he remembered sitting down to a delicious snack. His masters, Wayne and Khris, had returned from a dinner out and had carried with them a doggie bag. When he saw it, he became excited as he was the usual benefactor of doggie bags in this household.

Khris opened the sterile white styrofoam container and the aroma assailed his senses. She had brought him crablegs.  Like the nirvana of the gods, every raccoon alive was genetically programmed to adore the succulent meat of a shellfish.  She placed the heavenly manna into his dish and proceeded to retire for the evening. Ringo distinctly remembered savoring the delicacy as he began to eat the treat. From that moment on, the lines of his memories began to blur.

To Be Continued...

November 7, 2009

If You Keep Doing What You're Doing...

There is a sage piece of advice which says "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting."  I was reminded of this advice a few days ago and it has resonated in my head since then. Often, we wonder at the luck which comes our way- bad or good. As I become older and more experienced, I begin to see that perhaps we do create our own luck.

The Laws of Attraction are neither new nor revolutionary ideas. They portend that energy is attracted to similar energy. Or, that good energy attracts more good energy. Happiness attracts more happiness. Good luck brings more good luck. In that case, the reverse may also be true. If you think that your life sucks, it will likely continue to suck. If you think that bad things always happen to you, they probably do.

Along the same lines, there are times at the farm when it seems we can never finish the tasks of the day. This concept of keep doing what we're doing causes me to reflect and wonder what would happen if we approach what we are doing differently?  Maybe there's a better way to clean the stalls. Maybe there's a better way to get the horses fed, water buckets cleaned, horses longed, turnouts done. Maybe if we approach our day with a fresh outlook, we will finish the day with a different outcome?

So, today, I'm going to do something differently and see what I get. In fact, I'm also going to think positive thoughts, say something nice for no reason, hug someone or something, and project a happy thought into the universe. I'll let you know how that works for me!

November 6, 2009

Clowders, Packs and Herds

At Fields Quarter Horses, we have lots of animals. I have researched the proper terms for the various groups so that we may refer to them in the appropriate manner! Source: Wikipedia

Properly a group of donkey, horses or mules is called a herd. A small family group may be called a band. There have been people trying to get a herd of donkeys called a "congress of asses" but this is not correct terminology.  . Since we have a Jack, two Jennys, and their offspring, I believe that we officially have a band.

A group of cats is called a clowder or a clutter . If they are cats a mother cat has just had...a "litter".   Most cats live solitary lives with the exception of lions. In this case it would be called a pack or pride. A group of feral cats is called a colony. Officially, we have two separate Clowders of cats since all are domesticated, and rather spoiled- the Barn Clowder (comprised of Marshall, Eminem, and Bobby) and the Kennel Clowder (comprised of Scarlett, Crackers, CiCi, and Bubby). All cats are spayed and neutered so we are not looking to increase the size of any of our Clowders.

A group of raccoons is called a Nursery or Gaze. A baby raccoon is called a cub. A litter of baby raccoons is called a kit. The mother of the raccoon colony is called the Queen. (As is the mother in a Colony of cats!)
Our solitary raccoon is called: Ringo.

A group of goats is called a herd, tribe or trip Our goat is called Kit or sometimes Pain In the A**.  :)

A group of llamas is called a herd. There must be two or more to comprise a herd. A male llama is called a stud or sometimes a macho. A baby llama is called a cria.  Our llama is called: George

A group of horses is called a stable, harras, herd, team (working horses), string or field (race horses).  A group of extremely talented attractive foals at our farm are called: Chevys.

A group of dogs is called a kennel, pack (wild dogs), or litter (pups from one mother). Our dogs are called: Katie, Sugar, Rondo, Heidi, Ace, Tivo, Lance, Cici, and Franklin.

A group of coyotes is called a band, a pack or a rout . At our house, they are called troubl
a mob, gang, parade, club, party, orgy, team, clan, fans, slaves, prisoners, protesters, students, customers..............
I'll let everyone respectively determine which identifier from above you may belong to...


November 5, 2009

Photo Blog...Bits and Pieces

Xarco (passed away August 2006)
This photo was taken on a professional photo shoot for PetStop Fence Systems. The boy is an actor. Xarco was superb on set that day. He was a Dutch born imported German Shepherd who was an International Champion and had earned the title of Schutzhund III (that officially means Bad Ass Dog).

This is Khris showing Chevy (Summer 2008) in Amateur Western Pleasure. We won that day! He is such a good boy- packing me around.

Chevy and Friends at Congress. Little Braelyn (1 year old) begged to ride Chevy at one of the busy outdoor exercise areas during Congress this year. He just loves little people so we couldn't say no! Pictured are Christa Baldwin, Braelyn, and Bart.

My daughter Brittney feeding a "miscellaneous" addition to our family. We called it Duck.

Wayne, Brittney, and Duck.

November 4, 2009

The Goat Who Stared At (Sales)Men

Kit lived at the little farm in the curve of the road. She had been born there many years ago. Goats were not particularly concerned with time so she could not recall how many years ago it was.  All of the animals at the farm came after Kit except for the two little brown and white Shetland Sheepdogs named Katie and Sugar- and Shetland Sheepdogs were not particularly concerned with goats. They were in charge of keeping the cats in order and acting as companions to the humans.

Kit was a gnarly gray pygmy goat. Gnarled little knees stood on top of gnarled little ankles and toes. Her gnarled little horns rose in a swoop on her knobby little head. She passed her days standing on the sidewalk so that she could watch customers most easily. They came and left often- coming to the farm or the dog kennel. Sometimes, they brought dogs with them- this required most careful watching.

Kit was not accustommed to moving out of the way for passersby. She would stand in her spot, imagining she was a sentry, or standing atop a mountain top surveying the region. If anyone dared ask  her to move, she would drop her head to her chest and show them her craggly horns. To another goat, this would have been an average display- but to a suburbanite with children and dog in tow, this was enough to cause them to veer out of her path.

For as long as everyone remembered, Kit stood on the sidewalk entrance each day displaying her horns to customers as they arrived. Human nature being so predictable, each convoy would give her a wide berth and step off of the sidewalk making a circle on the lawn before proceeding to their destination. To small children, her behavior resemebled a troll from a fairy tale demanding a toll.

Then, they came. The men arrived one day in a shiny black sedan. Three business suits stepped out of the sleek vehicle and onto the driveway. They walked toward the entrance confidently and purposefully. There, in their path, stood the most menacing goat they had ever seen. Well, in fact, two of them had never before seen a goat. She lowered her head in the threatening manner- slowly, nodding, showing them her crown of horns. Her face was expressionless as she carried out her ritual.

The polyester suits stood frozen and motionless. In the silence which separated them, a cell phone rang out.

"Doncha wish your girlfriend was hot like me, doncha" , the upbeat tune broadcast as he reached to silence the ringer.

The older of the men looked disapproviingly at the cell phone as it continued to vibrate.

"Turn that thing off, would you?" he barked at the younger of the group. "I have heard that cell phones can set these things off, ." he continued.

She continued to stare at them, scrutinizing their faces, their hands, their movements (and lack of).

And there they stood as minutes ticked by. The goat staring at men, the men staring at the goat. She had rehearsed her stare thousands of times before. She breathed in and made herself seem larger. The men retreated a half step. A glorious feeling of power moved through her body. Inwardly, she smiled.

Somewhere behind her, a door opened. She was a finely tuned instrument and did not blink. She had never lost this game and was not about to break her concentration now. A voice called out from behind her to the men,

"May I help you?" Wayne asked.

"Ex-excuse me sir, your goat will not let us pass," the older man called back.

Wayne quickly surveyed the stand-off from a distance. He could see the pamphlets in their hands, categorized briefcases, fancy suits, and sensed the phony air of importance. He was busy that day and could not be bothered with the nonsense of salesmen.

"Sir, if we could have a moment of your time," the younger man stepped forward.

Kit narrowed her eyes. Slower yet, she lowered her head one final time. Again, the salemen retreated a step.

"I'm sorry, the goat says No," Wayne answered.

The goat continued to stare at the men. A housewife would have walked around her, but these men did not grasp that option. Slowly they began to walk backwards to the black sedan from whence they came.

"Doncha wish your girlfriend was hot like me..." the phone rang again. As if a spell had been broken, the men turned and stepped quickly into the car. As she watched the car exit the driveway, Kit briskly walked to the lawn and began nibbling grass.

She looked over her shoulder to where Wayne stood watching her and cast him an absentminded glance.

"Bleeeehhh," she said.

"Good goat," he replied.

November 3, 2009

Carpe Diem

November is a time for projects at Fields Quarter Horses! We begin to think about breeding season, foaling season, and realize that there are numerous building projects which need finishing, fence which gets repaired or painted, stalls which need refurbishing. At a farm, those tasks seem never-ending.

Kentucky has been tremendously wet this year- great news for hay season, bad news for mud season. We've recorded 11.5 inches of rain in our personal rain gauge since September 1st. The past few days have been blessedly sunny and somewhat warmer and it has been motivating. Yesterday, Wayne, Amber and myself tackled a project which has loomed heavily over us for months- we began lining the indoor riding arena walls with new boards. This is not only an aesthetic application (yes, it looks really good), but also one of function. It will prevent a horse from piercing the metal shell of the arena (remember Wendy?) and injuring themselves. Since Amber's arrival, nary a day passes in which the arena has not been used.

Recently, we've adjusted stall mats on the floors to make sure everyone is standing on a well-cushioned, even surface- we wouldn't want any newborn feet to have trouble navigating a ripple in the stall floor! We also built a brand-spanking-new outdoor shavings bin. This allows our wood shavings which we use for bedding to be stored out of doors and frees up the previous area for more hay storage. Yummy.

In preparatoin for the arrival of our delicious Alfalfa from Wisconsin, we have been preparing the hay storage barns- making sure floors are even, cleaned, lined with wooden pallets so the hay doesn't sit on damp floors. We've also checked for leaks, added plastic on walls to possible breaches in the defense against getting the precious hay wet, and hauled debris which has collected during the past year to appropriate places.

Since our Spring is consumed with delivering foals and breeding mares, we do not often get the chance to Spring Clean. Fall is our opportunity to sieze the day!  Amber has found herself with a full line-up of horses who are bunkering in for training over the winter months and I have been organizing the foaling schedule for 2010. It's always important to make sure that we guesstimate correctly and have available foaling berths for our ladies in waiting.

We've been inspired by a little bit of sunshine-I suggest you do the same. Finish a project- or start one- today. Carpe Diem!

November 1, 2009

What's Going On and Other Non-Blonde Things

Ok, so before anyone gets offended by the title of today's blog, "What's Going On?" is the title of a song by a group called The Non-Blondes from the Eighties Like many other things, it gets stuck in my head when I hear it on the radio. I suppose that hearing music in my head is more preferred than voices, wouldn't you agree?

And now to What's Going On at Fields Quarter Horses and such. The week has passed as we've returned from Congress and we settled into business as usual. Being at Congress among so much talented horseflesh, we are always anxious to get home and re-evaluate what we have coming up for next year. Upon further evaluation, I must say that I am extremely excited about the 2009 foals.

The boys who are still at the farm include Jude, Wolf, Maxim, and Sly. Jude is still the most endearing, people oriented foal we have ever raised. This little bay gelding greets the gator and its occupants each day and asks for his customary hug and kiss. I wonder if it will be the same when he is 1200 pounds and stands 15.3 hands tall? Wolfe is a black gelding who was delivered on the cameras to a large audience in late April. He was born upside down and was the most difficult upside down birth of last year for us. He and his dam Boo were none the worse for it and he displays great promise as a future Western Pleasure show horse when he frolicks around. Maxim is the resident "Big Boy" as he is out of a part Thoroughbred mare (Honey) who stood 17 hands tall. Maxim towers over his classmates and his honey colored mane and tail are impossible to miss. Sly is a talented red gelding who prefers to jog (or trot) from one step to the next.

The girls are Amber and Maria. Maria is the darling younger sis of Chase (Chevrolution) and she is content to be the follower of Amber. Maria happily allows herself to be ushered to whichever part of their paddock which Amber wants to be in. Amber is a stunning red roan filly. Her older sister Wendy was the subject of a previous story titled "Dawn Filly". These two girls embody the term feminine and yet are strongly built and athletic, too. Maria will be moving to Maryland between Thanksgiving and Christmas and Amber may find herself hanging out with the older mares for a spell.

Video link of Maria and Amber playing

The mares are settling into the new Fall/Winter routine well. Because of the changing weather, they are acclimating to spending a little more time inside and the days getting a little shorter. The open mares (mares who are not pregnant) are now under artificial lighting for 16 hours each day. Each stall has bright lighting and the entire barn is kept on timers to ensure that they are correctly lighted. We "trick" mother nature slightly by simulating longer days and can therefore cause the mares to cycle earlier in the Spring. Our goal is to have every mare cycling by January. We do not breed them on the first cycle of the year as studies show that it is not as fertile as subsequent cycles. We will hopefully be breeding most of the open mares on their second cycles in February.

Amber's training horses are progressing in fine form and Chevromotion (Kramer) is often the star of these sessions. He returned to Kentucky from Michigan about 5 weeks ago and will continue his education here. Watching them work is one of the highlights of my day. It is not unusual to find a small crowd gathered to watch them as it uplifting to watch the athletic ability of this horse. The cats attempt to clap for their performances but their furry paws muffle the applause.

We are beginning to reconnect with mare owners and set our foaling schedule for 2010. The foalings will be broadcast on and we invite everyone to join us again. Our 2009 foaling season was fraught with drama, joy, danger, and intrigue. This is reality TV at its best!