December 31, 2009

Well Hell

Well, hell. Now, please know that I am not a person who is prone to curse. But, in the midst of a very busy week which follows a couple of very busy weeks which will be followed by a lot more very busy weeks- I was diagnosed with Shingles this morning.

I stared at the poor young doctor man with most likely an incredulous look on my face when he announced my diagnosis. A multitude of thoughts ran through my mind simultaneously. Was this person old enough to be a doctor?  I had glanced at his Diplomas on my way into the exam room; now where did he go to school again? Could someone possibly have convinced him to participate in a practical joke at my expense? Surely, just surely he did not just say I had Shingles.

I believe that the Universe has a funny sense of humor. I've been busy at the kennel, busy coordinating breedings and mares accomodations for the 2010 breeding season, busy getting supplies and the foaling barn set up, busy grooming and training dogs, and busy being a wife, mother, daughter, and friend during the holidays. (Ok, so I haven't spent a lot of time being a friend- sorry Tara, Sandi, Paula, Amber, Rachel, etc, etc.).  It appears that the Universe has the last laugh at my expense and my immune system has become compromised.

As the doctor wrote several prescriptions and dispensed information regarding my "condition", he informed me that I would need to take a week off work and asked if I needed a note for my employer. Funny. I was so dumbfounded that I missed the details regarding if I was contagious, what the prescriptions were for, and how to manage my malady. I googled those details afterwards. I sort of wish I hadn't. Talk about an inconvenience.

So, now I have a reason for why I've felt so exhausted the past week. And a reason for the stabbing needles of pain in my arm. I had postponed this visit to the doctor because I thought I may have severely pulled a bicep muscle. I thought the inconvenience would be an ultrasound or something. Again, the last laugh is on me. So, with prescriptions in hand, I presented my note to Wayne indicating that I would be not working for a while. We had a fine chuckle together and began to pick ZigZag's stall together. I'll maybe take some time off after foaling season (say, about June?)

December 30, 2009

The Countdown has begun...

Houston, we are a go. Foaling Season at Fields Quarter Horses is a mere few days away and the first resident has moved into the foaling barn. Commencing on January 1st of each calendar year, we begin the protracted wait for each bundle of equine joy.

Zig Zag arrived today and is happily munching her pile of hay tonight. She is a bright red mare who is heavy with a Chevy foal. She is progressing through her pregnancy right on time and is due around January 20th. Overnight tonight, in the wee small hours of the morning- Ella Riva will return to us. Last year, she captivated so many of us as we anxiously watched her struggle to turn and position her unborn foal in utero. These are the first two of a long line of special ladies who will be viewable 24/7.

The mares will go live this weekend. They are viewable by visiting our website ( or by visiting  We are excited to open our barn to your computer and invite you to visit often. Pull up a chair and get to know the mares distinctive personalities. Join us for the births- sometimes dramatic, always blessed. Enjoy watching mare and foal bond and get to know one another in the special hours afterwards. We welcome you to our little corner of the world.

The countdown has begun- we go live for 2010 in just a few days!

December 28, 2009

Out Of Order

I am temporarily out of order...I will get myself repaired and be back soon! Khris

P.S. I'm hoping that I am still under warranty.

December 26, 2009

Bow Wow Wow

I've spent a lot of my time the last 48 hours in the company of dogs. (For my family members- I do not mean you guys!) Christmas (or any holiday) at the boarding kennel is a time of abundance in our business. Like a hotel during its peak season, we are at capacity and the guests needs come first.

As I walked dogs last evening, I paused to enjoy their antics and reflect on some of them. Of course, anytime we are full, there will be a variety of both breed types and personalities to contend with. Here is a brief overview of the guests in our care today.

The Newfs- these are a pair of 170 pound (yes, they are actually 170 pounds each!!!) Newfoundlands. Their names are Oliver and Captain Bartlett. They are massive mounds of black and white fur who walk outside suprisingly slowly for their respective sizes. The girth and breadth of these dogs is immense. They are like walking mountains.

The Bad Labs- this is a group of Labrador Retreivers who are housed individually and belong to separate owners. They are stationed in an aisle of the kennel together so that their obnoxiously abundant energy does not infect the rest of the facility. When I begin walking the dogs in this aisleway, I take a deep breath and call upon my inner reserves of strength. They have names like Toby, Jake and such and are varying colors of chocolate, black and yellow. And they are all extremely loud.

Chickie and Drew- This pair is a collective weight of 4 pounds. Each weighs in at roughly two pounds and they are possibly the smallest Yorkshire Terriers I have ever seen. In their private kennel run, they each have little beds that would rival the Hilton, fancy dinner dishes, and they peek beneath their long tresses waiting to be picked up. Although each of them has four legs which appear to be working properly, I have not seen either dog walk since they checked in. We carry them everywhere. They are the perfect size to tuck under my arms neatly.

Rocco- He is a 6 month old miniature Poodle who has a personality as large as his traditional foo foo hairstyle. With large pompoms one each of his feet, he struts to his private exercise area and begins barking to announce his arrival. Although we've offered to carry him outside, Rocco prefers to walk so as to not be embarrassed in front of his friends "the bad labs". He is hoping to join their gang when he gets a little older.

The Dachsunds- This trio of Germans does not speak our native language. All are fawn in color , two are greying in age, and one bites. We repeat the same ritual each day- at least four times per day. The largest and smallest are eager to go outside and relieve themselves. The middle Dachsund feels the need to defend her pack and bares her teeth, snarling and gnashing her jaws, threatening any intruder who dares enter their living space. The eager pair of friendlier pups barrel past her to run ahead outside. We coax her to join them and she eventually acquiesses to our demands.

The Doodles- This is a menagerie of dogs who claim some descendancy from a Poodle. They include Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Schnoodles, Cockapoodles, and a lone Malti-Poo. Each of them comes with the happy-go-lucky personality of a poodle and the need to be groomed in some manner before they check out. Can you say- Shave and a Hair Cut, Two Bits...

That is a sampling of some of the canines who are in residence at our place this weekend. We often say that owning a dog kennel is similar to being a grandparent- we get to love them, spoil them, take care of them when their parents want to go out, but always get to send them home.

December 24, 2009

Twas The Night Before Christmas

And all through the stable
Not a creature was sleeping,
Lights shone from the gable.

The stalls were festooned
With ribbons and holly.
The horses were happy;
The donkeys were jolly.

The goat danced a jig
While the cats played a tune.
The animals were excited
Because the guest would arrive soon.

Anxiously they waited
Carefully watching the door.
Their ears were perked
With every footstep on the floor.

Then with a "Whoosh",
The red sleighed arrived.
The animals rejoiced
And the whole barn came alive.

Through the door came
Old Saint Nick himself.
Every eye twinkled to see
The magic Christmas elf.

With a gusty "Ho, ho,"
His dark eyes twinkled.
A winter wind blew
And the icicles tinkled.

He blessed every head
Touching each furry one.
He winked at them all
Until he was done.

Then  the jolly old elf
Jumped into his sleigh.
The animals called "Goodbye"
With whinnies and a neigh.

 The animals watched
As he rode out of sight
and they sang in a chorus
"Merry Christmas- tonight!"

December 23, 2009

Bark, The Herald Angels Sing!

Well, it's another Holiday at Fields Quarter Horses which also means another Holiday at Canine Companion (the sister business to FQH). Although is it pretty much business as usual at the barn, the dog kennel/training facility/grooming shop is nearing maximum capacity! There's nothing like being greeted by 40 or so barking faces early on Christmas morning.

Of course, each and every dog will get their exercise time outside to bark, bounce, and "do their business". While they are romping in individual play areas, we will methodically clean each kennel, fluff their beds, and prepare their breakfast. Christmas tradition dictates that Brittney deliver an extra special treat to every dog. We tell them each that Christmas morn has arrived and spend a little time scratching itchy spots, rubbing bellys, or holding the little guys on our laps.

Since we began taking care of other people's pets, we've always felt a little extra burden each Holiday to make sure that every dog knows that it is special. After kennels are cleaned, breakfast is eaten, and Holiday hugs are delivered, it will be time to walk the dogs once again. This ritual is repeated several times each day- 365 days/year. The afternoon turns to evening and dinner is served and the dogs are walked yet again.

In the midst of all the dog walking and tending on Christmas Day, Wayne, Brittney, and I will find time to watch a movie or maybe even sneak off to Waffle House. People often wonder about how we spend our day and we've even been asked who we hire to take care of the dogs on Christmas. We laugh and know that we'll see family or friends after the New Year- when things have calmed down a bit. 

It's been a long time now and I can't really remember how I used to spend the Holidays before I belonged to the Kennel. I'm sure it involved running from this party to the next. I'm happy that I'll spend Christmas with the dogs (and horses). I'll remind myself when I am bombarded with all those barking voices on Christmas morning that these little fellows are Angels, too.

December 21, 2009

Feliz Navidad

Jorge the Llama blinked a milk chocolate eye. The thick lashes framed a hooded eye; the shape of passion and seduction. His velvet nose twitched. The hair on it was so fine that it appeared velour. He clasped his lip tighter over a slightly yellowed tooth. He was self-conscious of the color and its slight crooked angle. He envisioned himself handsome and perfect- and the tooth was the only stain upon his imagined self.

He hummed softly to himself, swaying slowly back and forth. The lively Christmas lights twinkled at dusk. The mixture of red, green, and blue competed quietly with the sinking sun and its brilliant dusky hues. Nature opposed the man-made display by advertising her radiant evening light. The strand of Christmas lights twinkled and sparkled standing its ground under the splendor of the setting sun.

Jorge stood close to the Christmas tree, the glow of the lights from it seemed to be absorbed by his deep eyes. His dense russet fur did not allow the chill of the evening to creep inside to his thin skin. Although he was a Native of South America, he was well-equipped for the cold weather. His ancestors thrived high in hte Andes Mountain range- living in the old city of Machu Piccu with the great people.

"Feliz Navidad," he crooned softly. And he continued to hum the familiar tune in a tenor voice. The song was sung to him by his mother when he was a boy in Peru. Each year, his family would celebrate Noche Buena. This was a nine day period marking the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. In his culture, nativity scenes were rich with images of llamas. The tales of his childhood included a sacred llama which accompanied Mary and Joseph on their arduous journey carrying their few worldly possessions in his pack.

As Christmas memories intermingled with fleeting ones of his homeland, Jorge remember the small mountain village of his birth. Each year at Christmas, the church would offer chocolatadas- a cup of hot cocoa and a small gift- to the poor children of the community. This symbolized the offering of gifts to the poor Son of Virgin Mary at his birth. His was a culture rich in tradition and customs.

Across the street from his paddock, on the lawn of the neighbors house, the sound of children laughing rose above his soft singing. He carefully reached his long neck forward to observe its source. There, he saw a great snowperson- arms flying wildly. The soft whir of a motor whined as the air compressor repeatedly forced air upwards into the body of the nylon figure.  The children resembled miniature snowpersons as they danced around the large white figurine. A soft wind from the west kicked up and the snowman swayed slightly in its embrace. His wide grin did not change.

The mini-snow children were covered from head to toe in heavy, quilted outdoor winter clothing. From their mittens to their boots, they were tiny replicas of the great abominable snow people who lived near Jorge's village in the Andes.  Their laughter tinkled shrilly across the street to his ears. The mother of the children snapped her digital camera and it's flash exploded in a white burst momentarily.

Jorge decided the Christmas spectacle of the Americas was an odd one indeed. He slowly retracted his long neck behind the pine tree and its tent of colored lights. Swaying to an internal rhythm, he began to hum once again..

"Feliz Navidad."

December 20, 2009

Deck the Halls

Today (this evening), I will attend a family Christmas event. I am not a Scrooge. Nor, am I the offspring of the Grinch. I swear. Oh, wait, I shouldn't swear at Christmas should I? Therein lies of the root my problem. I am not a fan of hypocrisy. I believe that people should conduct themselves with kindness and good will toward man 365 days/year not just the week of Christmas.

Now, back to the family Christmas event. This edition of the blog is titled Deck The Halls because my aunt decked my mother at a family gathering a few years back. It was a time of heightened emotions- their father had died and they were dividing his personal belongings among themselves and their other 4 siblings.  I was an adult and thankfully, not present when the Decking The Halls occured. I avoid conflict and do not like to be around angry (or grieving) people.

This was an ordinary gathering of brothers and sisters. We are ordinary people. Separated from other families only by a lack of any extraordinary happenings, this could have been your family. Since I was a very small child, each Christmas my mother's siblings and their children gathered. My cousins and I would choreograph and perform some sort of Christmas pageant. We would construct makeshift costumes and sets and the production was the highlight of the evening. Sometimes, there were wise men. Often, there was a Joseph and Mary. If there was a new baby in the family, it earned the distinction of portraying Baby Jesus. This was sort of an initiation into the particular family.

Years passed and we grew up. As time moved on, we brought our own Babies Jesus to this Christmas gathering. There have been no further Decking of the Halls (although at some point I predict someone will Deck my sister). Like spawning salmon, we continue to come together for this annual pilgrimage. There are no gifts. Most of us are scattered far and wide and must travel to attend. But, within moments of returning together we are transported to another time. A time where we were dressed in cotton sheets as robes. A laundry basket served as a manger. And the animals of the Nativity looked suspiciously like my cousins Spencer and Stephanie.

Christmas means different things to different people. I plan to take a moment at tonight's gathering and remember the grandfather who is missing these days from it. I will look around the room and remember these people I don't know very well anymore as they used to be. And, I will be thankful that Christmas came and provided the opportunity to connect with fond memories of my past.


December 19, 2009

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear...continued

There was not a sound on the pasture again. The animals breathed in the coldness and exhaled warm, swirling breaths in the pale light. Like puffing dragons or smoking teenagers, the four young horses and the deer were surrounded only by the fog of their respiration. Peering through the vapors, Jude the bay colt struggled to focus on the figure as he took another step into the light.

The doe, torn between her desire to flee and her inclination to remain with the group, blinked her soft brown eye. Whether she was trying to blink through the mist of breath, or sort the information filtering into her brain, Jude could not tell. She stepped closer to the warm fuzzy herd of horses until she was standing alongside the tallest of the group- the red colt named Maxim. He was a fortress of hair, muscle, and bone and she seemed extra small and delicate standing there beside him.

In the filtered moonlight, every shade appeared the same. Only hues of colors came through- identifying dark and light colors. It was as if the entire world was bathed in white.  Even in the altered light, he was unmistakeable. The broad man walked toward the horses with a lilting step that contradicted his size. He moved lightly and his large black boots did not crunch the Earth below his steps. He was draped in a large coat with thick fur lining which showed beneath the cuffs and the front seam of the jacket. The lining was rich and brilliant. Against the soft fur of the collar, lay a rich cluster of downy whiskers. They were perfectly groomed and covered his entire jawline.

Jude did not notice the slight nose which peeked above the glowing white beard because he was drawn to the black, twinkling eyes. His eyes sparkled, and the moonlight danced upon them. He strode directly to the group of horses and the deer. They were all wide awake now. The doe relaxed as recognition swept across her face. She bowed her head and smiled at the great figure.

As he reached them, he lay a large gloved hand upon Jude's forelock. He tousled the black hair there and then closed one of those magic, dancing black eyes into a wink. Jude felt his mouth pull back into a wide grin. He loved to be patted on the head and the large hand scratched just so right behind his ear.

The black eyes looked gently at the doe. Without a sound, he nodded his head back toward the dark tree line. She blinked her chocolate eyes once more and stepped to his side. They turned together and walked silently across the meadow. She was tiny compared to his bulk. His great coat moved only slightly as he swayed beside her.  Just as they reached the darkest spot in the line of trees at the edge of the meadow, she turned once and looked back at the little herd. Then they disappeared into the woods.

Casually, Jude shifted his weight from one hind foot to the other. He scanned the meadow for any other sign of activity but finding none, soon nodded back to sleep.

December 17, 2009

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

The Earth was quiet. The wide normally green paddock stood bathed in silver light. The imperfect moon hung high overhead looking indifferent. Far below, four young horses stood bathed in its lustrous light. Although they were a rich variety of colors- bay, brown, and chestnut- the waning moon glow dulled them until they were indistinquishable from one another.

As the youngsters dreamed of oats and whey, a lone doe broke through the dark tree line on the edge of the meadow. She silently strided several feet into the pale light, blinking only once, and dropped her head to nibble at a tendril of grass. Only one of the young horses- a dark bay colt named Jude- turned his head to acknowledge her presence. She seemed unconcerned with the small herd of horses who shared the moonlight.

The doe searched the ground below her velvety nose for the remnants of the summer clover. It was the sweetest of the grasses and her favorite. She followed her nose in an absent-minded uneven trail until she was grazing quite close to the group of youngsters standing near the wooden fence. Jude sleepily watched her in the filtered light, her color as bland as the rest of the world under the midnight moon.

In the tree line from whence she had come, there was a slight shift. Breath, wind, leaves- in the distance across the meadow, they all sounded the same to the mixed group. Simultaneously, Jude and the deer focused on the dark form standing just out of sight. She fought the panic which rose in her throat. Jude sensed her fear.

She wanted to flee but her feet would not obey. Her instinct to stay with the herd struggled against the inner voice which screamed that she run far far away. The horses did not seem to fear the hidden one. Jude watched the waves of emotions play across her face. Fear; flee; stay; confusion. He saw her look from the darkness just inside the trees back to the dozing horses beside him.

The entire drama unfolded within the span of moments. The dark form watched the group with interest. Then he, too, stepped into the clear midnight light.

To be Continued...

December 16, 2009

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Ye Olde Fields Quarter Horses Christmas Party was held tonight at the home of Wayne and Khris. A good time was had by all- and everyone went home at least 7.5 pounds heavier. Alongside a roaring fire and our living Christmas tree, we ate, sang (well, just a few people while the rest stared), danced (well, just a few people while the rest stared), played games (every dern one of us), and suffered general merriment. It was a pot luck affair with everyone bringing either an appetizer or dessert. We finger fooded our way to larger jeans. My personal favorite was the individual pots of home-made banana pudding decorated with Christmas sparkles brought by the new stall cleaner- Robin. I think she was sucking up to the boss but still wonder how she knew that banana pudding was my favorite?  Of course, honorable mention goes to Brittney's (non-spiked) special Christmas sherbert Punch. The goat stared through the French doors as we enjoyed laughing and chatting. Rondo, Heidi, and Sugar were special guests and came wearing Reindeer antlers, Santa, and Elf hats. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

December 15, 2009

Away In A Manger...

Well, today we had a report from Sara (who is our Donkey Gone Starlet). She is participating in the largest living Nativity in the Cincinnati area. Her handlers there report that she is behaving in a befitting way for the vehicle of choice for the Virgin Mary. We are so very proud of her. Connie (also a donkey) asked if her sister would be returning for Christmas. We broke the news to her today that Sara would not be home before Christmas but that they could celebrate together soon after. Jacob, Sara's 6 month old son seemed sad so we asked the animals to not speak about her until after the Holiday. Then we asked Santa to bring Jacob an extra special treat for Christmas.

It was a day of change at the main barn of Fields Quarter Horses. Dakota, the yearling son of the late great Carolina, returned to his home in Illinois today. He has lived at our barn since June and has been a star pupil for Amber. She has taught him to lead, stand tied, clip, bathe, walk/trot/canter on command, wear a saddle and bridle, and stand under the weight of a human. We are sorry to see him return home but are excited to see what the foundation he has learned here will bring him!

Two other yearlings (who will soon be 2 years old) moved into the main barn. Charlotte is a tall, black/brown filly with a sparkle to her eye. She is a 1/2 sister to our stallion Chevy (sharing a father named One Hot Krymsun). She will spend the next few months learning the basics of the human/horse partnership.  Also, a boyish red gelding named Cash (who is a Macs Good N Plenty son) moved in to replace Dakota.
The mares already living in the barn were entertained by the addition of a few new faces.

In other manger news, the goat has taken up permanent residence on my back porch. I will be contacting the County Sheriff tomorrow morning to serve her an eviction notice. I am fearful that because she is still a minor, I may have to follow due process to have her removed. She lies beside my patio French doors, with the Christmas tree lights twinkling off her shiny black horns. Funny, I never knew that goats felt so strongly about Christmas, too.

O Little Town of ...

Anywhere...I thought I would take a moment to pay homage to small towns. I live in a small town. Prior to that I lived in a smaller town. Before that, growing up as a small child, I lived in an even smaller town.

I enjoy the comfort and connection of rural America. Recently, our small town of Walton, Kentucky held it's annual Christmas On Main celebration. It consisted of a parade which lasted about 10 minutes, some carollers from the High School, and the lighting of the city Christmas Tree.  Quaint for sure, but also dependable and relaxing.

Having lived in small towns my entire life, there are a few underlying characteristics which I feel a burg must have to qualify. These are the threads which make up the fabric of a town. Here is a listing of my requirements for a hometown.

There must be at least one town drunk (sort of like Otis from Andy Griffith)- harmless yet hopeless and unsaveable from his drug of choice. In the modern times, I suppose you could exchange this with a drug addict? Perhaps, I'm not sure on that one.

There may only be one restaurant. Any restaurants located near the Interstate don't count as they are not for the locals. Also, any Waffle House does not count as a restaurant. In the town restaurant, it is expected that service be less than average, the pies are home-made from scratch every day, and the waitresses meet you at the table with your drink.

Any small town may only have one grocery store and it should preferably NOT be a chain. If your only grocery store is now a chain, that is a sign that your town will not be small for much longer. Also, the grocery store clerks should know your mother, your grandmother, and most of your business.

Gas wars are as foreign to a small town as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. There is no need for a gas war in a small town- there is likely only one gas station and they may charge whatever they wish. Additionally, a proper small town should have a Postmaster who knows the first name of every person living in your household and is nosy enough to see who is sending you Christmas cards. Everyone at the school knows you and your children and you are allowed to take the neighbor's child home without a background check or permission note.

It is also nearly impossible to drive from your driveway to the bank without having at least one person wave at you. And that is why I love living in a small town. Bless my little town and it's contents!

December 13, 2009

The Little Drummer Boy

Each of us marches to the beat of a different drummer. Well, unless you are in a marching band, and then you have to march to the same beat as everyone else. Thankfully, there are no bands (nor drum corps) at Fields Quarter Horses leaving us to each move throughout the days to our own internal rhythm.

Of late, my drummer has been beating a little more slowly than  usual. Between January and May, I am accessible 24 hours of every day and on call 7 days per week. There are no days off nor even hours during which I can escape for very long. In preparation for the season, I take a little "ME" time every December. Of course, the phone still rings- there are horses to sell, mares to schedule foaling or breeding services, stallion owner duties to attend to, kennel owner duties, dog grooming, and dog training to tend to.

But, December for me is like the calm before a storm. I spend the month cleaning, decorating (well, sort of), painting, and tinkering with home projects. Color springs to life on walls I have stared at for months. Throw pillows and new duvet covers help bedrooms feel fresh and shiny. This is my Christmas present to myself. These little projects and the occasional mid-afternoon movie.

Soon enough, it will become a chore to find time to cook and even eat. There will be little time to grocery shop, sleep, and complete the tasks my jobs demand of me. For about another week, however, my drummer is beating slowly. I plan to take just another week or two to listen to his music.


December 12, 2009

Horses and Hounds

I've been in a reflective mood lately. Perhaps it's my age. Maybe it's the fact that I'm now menopausal (medically induced but still violent and caustic). Who knows? Whatever the cause or reason, I find myself reflecting on choices and decisions I've made in my life. Funny thing about my personal choices, they seem to have subconsciously always guided me toward the life I have today.

For as long as I remember, my life was interwoven with Horses and Hounds. My grandfather raised hounds- black and tan coon-variety. His dogs were prized by both himself and my father. By today's standard, they lived a rural, rustic, harsh life. But their kennels were off-limits to children and that created a sense of reverance for me about the great hounds who lived outside my house. Vague memories of an ancient severe man gently assisting the female of the pair whelping her puppies float to my mind in the way that vague memories do. By the hushed tones of the adults around me, and the gentle way he tended to the newborns, I knew that these must be special animals.

Then there was the pony. I was about 3 years old and my father set me upon her back. Her name was Peppy and she was a loudly splashed brown and white Shetland with wild hair and a naughty look. She walked alongside him and I clung to her tangle of mane with tiny hands. We walked together, just the three of us into a large field. I remember that it felt like we were escaping- we were so far from my familiar home. At that moment, I learned that Horses heralded freedom, escape, and independence.

There were others in the years that followed: Frisky, the feeble Chihuahua; Scamp, the German Shepherd; Ronnie, the pony who no one else wanted. It is interesting to me that I still feel the same today as I did in my earliest memories- reverance, freedom, beauty. It is little wonder that I chose paths in my life which allowed me to experience these things daily. My reflective self wonders if my little 3 year old self wasn't guiding me all along?

December 11, 2009

Let It Flow, Let It Flow, Let It Flow

Water is associated with many things- usually all pleasant. Water is used to induce peaceful meditation, relaxation. Many people choose to vacation near water. Running water is considered a thing of beauty- that is, unless it is in my barn...

The foaling barn- considered the smaller, cozier barn of our facilities stands awaiting the arrival of mares for the 2010 season. It's only occupants of late are Connie, the adult donkey and her nephew Jacob, the baby donkey. Last evening, I noticed a gurgling, bubbling sound emanating from within the small barn. Even from outside, I could hear the sound of rushing water and a sick sense of dread crept into my abdomen. Before I entered the rear access door of the barn, I peered through a window to locate it's source.

Through the window of the largest foaling stall, I easily saw a fountain of water rushing down the wall of the adjacent stall. Like a fountain or a waterfall, the water rushed quickly, massively, and freely filling the floor of Jacob's stall. He stood on his tiny donkey tiptoes, looking for higher ground, as the water encroached upon him.

His distress evident, I flung into action. I raced out of the barn to round up manpower for the task at hand. Donkeys, as a rule, do not favor being led. And they also do not like to be hurried. The only manpower which was readily available was Wayne. Over the din of donkeys braying and water splashing, , he directed me to the emergency shut-off valve within the barn. On my hands and knees, I activated the lever and the gushing water slowed to a stream, then a trickle, then a drip.

I waded into Jacob's stall to save him from his imagined drowning. He refused to step forward into the ankle deep water. Failing to coerce him to lead forward, I bent over and scooped him into my arms. Jacob is a smallish donkey- but a six month old donkey who is sure he may drown is no small package to carry to safety.

After depositing him in a dry stall at the farthest end of the barn, we proceeded to save Connie from the great flood. She stood stoic and unmoving- as if she had accepted her dilemma. Wading in to grasp her halter, one of us pulled and the other pushed until she, too, was standing in a dry stall.

Once the donkeys were safely arranged in their dry accomodations, we conducted a thorough investigation into the matter. Our search uncovered that a water pipe had burst inside the outer wall and just above one of the foaling stalls. The Winter weather and near zero windchill had taken it's toll and the pipe could not contain it's frozen contents. Likely it had burst overnight and as the day warmed the water within, the breach became an open line- spewing gallons of water forth. Thankfully, the donkeys were only alone for a short time.

Today was spent repairing (or sort of repairing) the water line. Dispirited, I could not bring myself to begin the clean-up effort. The first occupant of the foaling barn arrives just after Christmas Day so I have just under a week to return the stalls and barn to its hospital-like state. The countdown has begun!

December 10, 2009

Stubborn As A ________.

Top Ten List of Stubborn Things at Fields Quarter Horses...

10. definitely NOT a Chevy foal
9. Dr. Mather (she just doesn't give up!)
8. our Friends (Tara, Sandi, Paula- we seem to attract birds of a feather)
7. George the Llama
6. Merle the Gelding with Investor bloodlines
5. Farrier Mike
4. Cooper- the mini-teaser stallion
3. Amber- the horse trainer
2. all 4 donkeys we own (Rico, Connie, Sara, and Jacob)
and the #1 most stubborn thing at Fields Quarter Horses is...
the owner (!)

December 9, 2009

Dem Bones...

May we have a moment of Silence for the Coyote who formerly lived at Fields Quarter Horses. Mrs. Coyote was tragically killed in a traffic accident earlier today. She is survived by a husband, Wile E. and two sons, Wile E. Jr. and Ug Lee.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to "The Road Runner Fund." May she rest in Peace.

December 8, 2009

City Mouse/Country Mouse

Some days are just plain miserable. Today was one such day. Not only are we deep in the throes of a cold snap here in Kentucky, but today Mother Nature decided to test the driving skills of my fellow Kentuckians by throwing some sleet and rain our direction.  This on the ONE day which I needed to cross the river for an appointment in downtown Cincinnati. I passed countless accidents as the rain/ice combination began to fall and couldn't help but thank higher powers that Wayne and I found our way safely back into our driveway both unharmed and undelayed.

I am fascinated by the city. For me a trip to the city is akin to an adventure- complete with strange sights/sounds/smells, danger, and foreign cultures. Of course, I am a child of nature. I was raised in an extremely rural community- I grew up in a town with less than 75 residents. I knew the first, middle, and last name of every person in my hometown.  I romped in the woods between my own home and my best friend Darren's home. We had our own secret forts, creekbeds, bridges made from fallen trees.

In the city the enormous concrete and steel structures loom in contrast to the green natural spaces which surround me at home. Their size and scope are beautiful. Today, everything in the city was gray and monotone. Even the traffic lights offered little variety in the gloomy weather. There were miles of cement and blacktop, all man-made.  After just a few hours where everyone lives stacked upon one another, waits in impatient lines, and seems accustomed to ignoring other people, I was ready to return to the farm.

Although it rained hard all afternoon, the muted green paddocks were still welcoming. Tomorrow, the farm will be a muddy mess. Maybe then, I will appreciate the city a little more. Heidi, Wayne's Sheltie, was still pouting when we returned home because she had been uninvited on our adventure. I told her that she would not have liked the city but she casually dismissed me. Shelties have a way of dismissing ideas they don't agree with.

December 7, 2009

A Christmas Donkey

Connnie and Sara are dark brown female donkeys who live at our farm. They are also sisters. They are the produce of wild burros who were re-homed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. One is 5 years old and the other is 6 years old. They are virtually inseparable, often seemingly attached at the hip.

This morning, I noticed them eating from the round bale of hay in their paddock. They stood so close to one another that their sides touched. There are only George the Llama and Cooper the mini-horse to share their 4 acre area- but the sisters always stand so near one another that they appear connected in some way.

Earlier this year (July) they both gave birth to offspring just a few days apart. Connie foaled a beautiful fiesty Jenny (baby girl donkey) and Sara gave birth to a sweet, docile Jack (baby boy donkey). Connie's baby was named Elizabeth and Sara's soon came to be known as Jacob. Recently, Elizabeth and Jacob were weaned and Elizabeth has moved to a new home with a cattle farmer.  Her new owner reports that she is a natural-born guardian and companion for his purebred heifers. Jacob, however, remains behind and will perhaps fill his elderly donkey father's footsteps someday.

Recently, we were contacted by someone looking for a Christmas Nativity donkey. They came and "interviewed" the girls and decided that Sara would be perfect for the role. Having landed a supporting role in this production, Sara has been practicing her best I-just-carried-the-Virgin-Mother face. On Friday, she will leave for two weeks. We are excited and nervous as this enduring Christmas tradition at the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, Ohio will be visited daily by thousands of people. Sara has handled the attention with grace and humility and remains unaffected by her new found celebrity. She is perfectly befitting of the honor of "Official Christmas Donkey" of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

December 6, 2009

Frozen Pond

It dawned unusually cold again this morning at Fields Quarter Horses. The weatherperson whom Wayne trusts on the morning newscast says it was 16 degrees last night- that is an uncommon temperature for Kentucky in December. I believe that I trusted the wrong wooly worm when predicting this year's Winter weather.

Amber's Bostonian born and bred beau Dean was visiting Kentucky this weekend. I enjoyed watching him watch her work as she exercised, trained, and supervised horses the past two days. He glowed with pride when she didn't think he was looking. He offered to help lift and carry heavy objects and she allowed him to do so. At the barn, when there is no masculine presence within shouting distance, we girls often demonstrate physical feast which would parallel those of a carnival strong man. But, when a husband or boyfriend is about, it is acceptable to allow them to carry, heft, hoist, and lug.  Dean reminds me of a golden retriever (I like golden retrievers). He seems loyal, happy, stable, smart, and appropriate for a family with small children.

Since the Kempton's (Chase and Maria's parents) visit at Thanksgiving and the installation of a new copper backsplash, I have been overwhelmed with the choice of a new paint color for my kitchen. I have taped paint chips to the walls. I have studied the colors in the morning, mid-day, afternoon, and evening light. I have consulted with trusted design experts (Wayne, Brittney, Amber, Tara, Sandi to name a few). I have found myself contemplating options such as Pebble Sand and Autumn Harvest whilst I filled water tubs and cleaned stalls. The addition of a color to the sterile white walls of my kitchen has been a conundrum.

Today, I decided to be daring. Choosing a paint color when I was in such a venturesome mood was chancy to say the least. Wayne decided that he MUST have the electric pressure washer on sale at Home Depot at 10:00am this morning so I decided to sieze the day- and paint. Perhaps I was inspired by the forecast of the day; or perhaps I was being impulsive; I'll never know. But, I left Home Depot with custom mixed paint, brushes, and rollers in hand.

I chose a color named Frozen Pond. For some reason, the name mesmerized me. I proceeded to apply Frozen Pond to the walls of my kitchen. Scaling my kitchen cabinets, I stood on countertops in socks and quickly transformed my kitchen into an earthy, warm paradise.

Frozen Pond was never a chip that was taped to my wall. In fact, it was not in the running, nor a finalist in my list of color choices. But, as I admire my handiwork tonight, I think impulsive is ok. Maybe I should plan a little less, stop trying to fit all the pegs into the appropriate holes, and live in a little more daring color. Now, to choose a color for my hallway...back to the paint chips.

December 5, 2009

Silent Night, Holy What?

Shortly after the sun retired yesterday and the stars began to twinkle against the inky black sky, I knew it was going to be a bitterly cold night. The milkyway stretched out in an immense blanket and the sparkling stars in it introduced me to infinity.

I turned the key in the ignition of my car to the "off' position and sat quietly looking through the windshield. Above me, the moon- full just a few nights ago- glowed low in the East. Normally, it would serve as a beacon to guide me to my back door. On this night, however, the clear cold sky offered a much brighter display. I opened the door of my car and stepped onto my driveway. Pausing once more to comprehend the eternity which sparkled above my head, I felt small, human, and vulnerable.

The moon and solar system bathed the world in an ancient light. My imagination, or maybe it was cellular memories, wondered how many times I had stood under this blanket of lights. While pondering concepts of immortality and things larger than the scope of my brain, I cleared the single step leading to my back porch.  Absently, I began to fumble in the darkness for the black metal handle of the storm door.

Suddenly beneath the cotton turtleneck and hood of the gray sweatshirt I wore, the hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. I sensed a presence in the darkness, standing a few feet from me. My back porch is located on the driveway end of a ranch-style home and is the primary entrance used by ourselves, friends, and family. It is shaped in an arc, covered by a roof, and home to not only my back door but also a set of French-style patio doors leading to my living room. Along with the usual patio furniture and grill, there is also a stash of firewood (useful for toasty fires on wintery evenings) and a receptacle for recyling aluminum cans.

My eyes strained to adjust from the brilliance of the evening sky to peer into the recessed alcove of the porch.  There, lying between the stack of carefully selected firewood and carefully smashed up aluminum cans, was the goat. She was resting upon a doormat with her legs curled tightly beneath her. Silently, she nodded her head and lowered her horns in greeting.

I briefly weighed my options. Did I allow her to remain on the porch, curled up against the wind and bitter cold? Did I shoosh her back to the pasture to bed down near the donkies and llama for the night? I quickly surmised that she may provide some security against other, less friendly creatures who may seek shelter on a cold evening. I found the door handle and manipulated the lever opening the door.

Looking over my shoulder at the little gray bundle of fur huddled in the darkness, I said, "Goodnight, Goat."
Her golden eyes looked back through the night. Slowly, as if acknowledging our one-sided conversation, she nodded again.

December 4, 2009

Tickling parties and other fun activities...

Well. Hmmm. I've spent the better part of the last week balancing concerns for Brittney (my college sophmoric daughter). Concerns for her stress, research papers, impending finals, and generally busy schedule. As any parent can attest, it is always difficult to stand by and watch a child become independent. From the first baby steps until they chart an independent life course which veers away from our own, parents can offer support, guidance, and encouragement but little else. As in every life step, our children grow to become someone else- an independent individual human being destined to walk their own life's path.

That brings me back to Brittney. I'm proud of the course she is charting for herself. When we suggested she choose a career path which seemed interesting to us- she said "No, I want to be a teacher." When we suggested that perhaps there were careers which would command higher salaries- she said "No, I think I want to be a teacher." At times, it is difficult to parent an independent, self-assured child. But, after all, isn't that the ultimate goal we wish to achieve in an adult?

Brittney has always walked to the beat of a different drummer. Often emotional, always dramatic, charitable, equitable, and kind- she has an inner strength that I don't think she has discovered for herself yet. But that's ok, she will discover it when she needs to.

Earlier this evening, I found that she had spent some time this afternoon fighting for her life in an epic tickle battle. Geesh, and I was worried about alcohol and drugs at college. Back to the tickling, I was somewhat taken back and immediately concerned for the research paper and final she is studying for. Then, I paused a moment.

I looked at this episode in a whole new way. I realized that Brittney has learned to not take herself too seriously. There is always humor in life and she is blessed with a wonderful supportive group of friends- Jessica, Timothy, Kyle, Katie, Sean to name a few- who support her in person while we are supporting her in spirit. I think we could all learn a little from the study group at Morehead University. We should all take 15 minutes of the day to laugh until we cry, turn off our computers for a little while, and tickle someone.

Thanks Brittney and Company for reminding us who you really are and what is really important in life.

December 3, 2009

Tiny Hoofprints...

Tonight, we held our inaugural meeting for the Hoofprints 4-H Club. Amber's brainchild, the club will consist at this time of 14 or so children who range from ages four to fifteen. Some of these children show horses- most do not. Some of these children have horses- most do not. It is an opportunity for us at Fields Quarter Horses to impact the lives of children around us using horses.

Amber and I are both civic minded. We feel strongly about giving back to the horse industry and helping children. As I looked around the room at tonight's meeting, I was filled with hope, pride, and satisfaction at the laughter, smiles, and faces I saw.

We conducted some brief business- keeping the discussions centered around the children, their projects, and their choices. Next, we moved to a brief educational presentation (straight from the AQHA Jr Master Horseman Program!). Thanks to a generous sponsor (thanks to MaryAnne who is a fellow leader and Sibcy-Cline who is a local realty office), each child will receive their own Jr Master Horseman booklet to study, learn from, and enjoy at home. 

Tonight's presentation discussed how horses are measured. The children learned about "hands" and were given an opportunity to measure one another to determine their own heights in "hands" (which is a traditional horse measurement of 4 inches). We had two "ponies" in our group- one child who measured 11 hands and another who measured 13 hands. All of the kids were anxious to learn the height of their favorite horses from the barn in hands and a lively discussion about the differing sizes ensued.

Next, in honor of Christmas, each child constructed a hand-made Christmas ornament from old horse shoes collected around the barn. Again, the kids enjoyed imagining which shoes may have come from their favorite horse based upon the size of the different shoes. Glitter, glue, and horse shoes combined to create a festive display!

The parents enjoyed their children, their children enjoyed learning and creating, and we enjoyed sharing. It was a rich evening to be sure. I am honored to be able to leave some Tiny Hoofprints...


December 2, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Foaling Season! I just finished a phone call with Dr. Mather (our farm's attending veterinarian). Through the years, we have developed a close doctor/patient relationship as well as friendship. It's inevitable, of course. During peak breeding and foaling season, this is a person whom we see at least once, sometimes twice, every day. There have been days/months the past few years during which I've spent more time with Dr. Mather than my own family or husband.

Foaling season is a lot more like childbirth than you would initially expect. Aside from the obvious act of helping new life begin its journey, it is also similar because we are blessed with the ability to forget the pain and stress associated with it. Like a woman who has given birth to a child, those memories fade and we begin to look forward to birth and new arrival again.

It took me several months to forget the foaling season of 2009! It was filled with joy, drama, miracles, and tense moments. But, ahhh- blissfully, those memories have faded and they are replaced by the stronger memories of the wonderful foals who followed. Even a month ago, the memories were sharp. I could still feel the fatigue, the ever-constant worry.

But, as always, I woke a few mornings ago and a seed of anticipation began to grow. Now, as I prepare the foaling schedule, calendar, and start to envision the patter of the tiniest hooves again, the anticipation is getting stronger every day.

I miss my MareStare friends. I'm anxious to get started again and begin the vigils and excitement of the foalings shared with a warm horse-loving community. T-minus 40 days and counting until the first mare is due. T-minus 25 days until the first mare goes on camera! See you soon, in my barn.


December 1, 2009

Here's a look at my day in less than twenty words...

Granola Bar
The Office