January 31, 2010

Top Ten List

I haven't done a top ten list for a while so I thought I would throw one in here. This is the top ten list of things I hope to never hear (again or ever) while foaling a mare!

10. Yuk, that tasted bad.
9. Is my crack showing?
8. Red bag.
7. Where's the nose?
6. high pitched screams
5. It's upside down!
4. I wonder what placenta would taste like?
3. Where's my wedding ring?
2. Breech

and the #1 thing I never want to hear during a foaling is:

There's another one coming (twin)!

January 30, 2010

Saturday Night Live

Well, it's Saturday and another exciting week is coming to a close for us here at Fields Quarter Horses. I've been so busy creating stories that I'm afraid I've neglected my reporting duties and must catch you up on the happenings in our "neigh"borhood.

We've been blessed lately with an abundance of need for our services at the barns. Amber has her hands full training horses- this in addition to her regular duties of assisting me in everything else. Her string of training horses will be discussed in detail in the next few weeks but here is a brief introduction to the cast of players. The 2 year olds are receiving instruction in all things civilized. They include Snapshot, Cash, Charlotte, Showgirl, and Wendy (when there is time). Also, there are a couple of 3 year olds who are learning to not be 2 year olds- they are Kramer the Splendid and Brandy. Merle is an 8 year old gelding who is re-training to show Western Pleasure and learning the finer points of Horsemanship and Trail, too.

In addition to Chevy, there are two other stallions who will live at our barn for breeding season this year. Their names are Wrapper and Alfie. Wrapper is a genteel 20 year old red roan stallion who seems happy to have a stall, soft bedding, and lots to eat. His obvious joy at the simple pleasures that other horses take for granted makes me sad sometimes.

The foaling barn has produced 2 new horses for 2010. ZigZag and Ella have completed another creation journey and there are more mares in the wings for everyone to enjoy in the next few months. Although both foals were large and needed assistance to enter the Earthly Realm, we are pleased to say that they are healthy, bouncing, bundles of joy.

Chevy is finishing out his working sabbatical with Christa with a final horse show at Michigan State University next weekend then he will return home to his ladies in waiting. The reports from those who have seen him while on vacation are that he is very much enjoying his time away from the farm. In the truest nature of his celebrity, he has been spotted at the hottest nightspots and in the company of A-list celebrities.

We are scheduling the arrival of many new horses which you will meet soon enough and are excited to welcome friends- both new and old- to the farm. Plans are underway for our Troy Green clinic in March which promises to be a great learning opportunity for attendees by one of the industry's top horseman.

And in the words of a friend- that's all the news that's fit to print...

January 29, 2010

The Canter (part two)

"All right, Judy. Why don't you lead us off? Let's warm up at the trot," Charlotte called out from her position in the center of the arena. Her blonde confidence seemed to dare Judy's fear to show itself. With a "cluck, cluck" of her tongue, Judy signaled to the white mare to step forward more briskly. Bracing her body for the jarring insult that she knew would come, she willed her heels to bump the sides of the old horse.

Thump, thump, thump. Her legs flapped still harder but the mare just lengthened her step until she was moving forward into a disjointed long-stepping walk. As Judy flailed against the mare, her fear disappeared and was replaced by determination. One by one, each of the other students encouraged their mounts into the flowing two-beat gait.

Clop, clop, clop. Each girl and her mount passed Judy and Beulah as they struggled to find harmony. As the girls trotted by them, Judy sensed their superior attitudes and her fear disappeared completely. Determination dug in and she flapped her denim-clad legs more violently. Charlotte watched her class as they began trotting around the perimeter of the arena. Noting their balance, form, and technique, she called out, "Excellent, Brittney. Very good hand position, Rachel."

Her gaze settled onto the final pair and her sunny veneer cracked for the briefest of moments. "Oh, Judy. Well. Well done there," Charlotte stammered. The mare was panting and so was her red-faced rider.

At that very moment, Emily trotted by the aged pair and flung a grin over her shoulder. Her mouth pulled wide exposing a gaping hole where her front teeth had been last week. The tiny face smiled with the practice and artifice of a debutante but the smile did not reach her eyes. With a great effort born of frustration, Judy dug her heels into the thickest part of the mare's sides and gave a heaving kick.

Beulah was unprepared for this new development and in the truest nature of a school horse, dared not defy such a direct order. She lifted her large front feet and stepped heavily into a canter. The mare's legs moved beneath her in a graceful, powerful gait- skipping along the railing of the arena. Her back rose and fell, tipping first backward, then swelled upward and finished in a downward rush forward. In rocking chair fashion, she propelled forward with powerful large strides.

Atop the cantering mare, the crimson haired rider was no longer crimson faced. She resumed her regal posture and sat tall, rocking with each stride to the rhythm of the mare. Her mouth pulled wider and wider until she felt she could not grin any more. Her face beamed with pride of accomplishment as well as sheer joy from the freedom of movement.

Together, Judy and Beulah cantered past the horses and riders in the arena. Heads high, they may been Joan of Arc and her great mount heading into battle. Or as likely, Dale Evans and Buttermilk larger than life on the silver screen. Judy noticed the shocked looks as she passed her fellow students. Along the railing, the bevy of parents and on-lookers, who moments before had been securing photos of their little ones, watched in stunned silence. Judy noted their awe and silently thought that she must look quite impressive since she was trotting so much faster than the other riders.

"Halt your horses everyone," Charlotte called abruptly. A chorus of "whoas" sounded around the arena.

"Whoa," Judy called in a breathless voice to the mount below her. Beulah responded obediently and the rocking chair motion ceased. The mare came to rest with all four feet standing quietly beneath them.

"Judy, wow. That was, wow," Charlotte began. "That was great but I think we should master the trot before you begin to canter," she continued looking younger and more vulnerable than she had a few moments earlier.

While waiting for the breath to return to her lungs, the reality of the situation began to settle over Judy. Momentarily, she felt as if she were the focal point of the entire arena, as the waiting students, their parents, and even their horses scrutinized her closely. She involuntarily patted her auburn hair which was neatly peaking from beneath the protective black helmet perched on her head. Finding that her coiffure had survived the encounter unfazed, she reached down and grasped a handful of buttery leather rein.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Judy began. "I'll wait until everyone is ready to canter before doing that again." With that, she clucked to the white mare who responded immediately this time to her rider's cue. As they stepped forward along the rail, Judy cast a glance back at the tiny rider standing just to her right and smiled.

The End.

Here is a photo of the real Judy at one of her riding lessons!

January 28, 2010

The Canter (part one)

She lifted her dusty brown boot and stepped onto the mounting block. It was two steps from the ground, maybe 24 inches high in all, but it may as well have been 12 feet tall. Her breath caught in her throat and she reminded it to flow in and out again. She told herself that her ragged uneven breathing was the result of years of chain smoking- that was easier to believe than the truth. The truth was raw. The truth was- she was afraid.

Standing atop the blue plastic steps, she stretched her hand to grasp the white mane. Her fingers intertwined with the long grey hair on the mare's neck and she tried not to notice her pale knuckles as they clinched tightly around the strands. She lifted her foot nimbly and briefly caught the look of surprise on her classmates face before it disappeared behind a polite smile.

"All right, students," Charlotte, the riding instructor, spoke aloud from somewhere behind Judy. "Mount your horses," she commanded in a tone that was not accustomed to being questioned.

Judy hesitated for just another moment. But, before her nervous mind could mount an argument against taking riding lessons as a Senior Citizen, she sprang into action. She hefted her weight onto the leather stirrup hanging at the mare's side and hoisted herself into the saddle.

"Unnnhh," escaped through her ruby lips from the effort of swinging herself onto the back of the 1100 pound equine. She involuntarily reached up to pat her ginger-colored hair and found it to be unfazed. She scooted her bum so that it rested more securely in the heavy leather stock saddle. Much like its inhabitant, the dark brown seat was worn with time, miles, and experience. It harbored memories and secrets alike.

To get her bearings from this high perch, Judy looked to her left and right. Each Saturday she came to the busy stable nestled in the foothills of California to ride. The only beginner riding group which was available for her to join was comprised of 4 other students. Their names were Molly, Brittney, Emily, and Rachel. The other girls had formed a fast friendship with one another. They discussed the latest TV shows and pop songs. To Judy, that included Murder She Wrote and Neil Diamond. The six year old girls who shared her lesson watched her warily- not sure how to relate with the ex-nun, ex-alcoholic who came here because she needed to live this dream.

"Walk your horses forward," Charlotte drilled in her best instructor voice. Even she, seemed not exactly sure what to do with Judy. She tossed her blonde bob and glanced at her watch. She had a date this evening and was already weighing her apparel choices.

As the riders began to issue a series of clucks and chirps, the horses responded- more likely from habit than obedience- and moved with slow sure steps toward the outer railing of the arena. Charlotte looked her riders over carefully assessing them with her own mental checklist. Helmets, check. Elbows in, check. Heels down, check. Her eyes settled onto the lead horse and rider and she sighed. Beulah was the oldest and surest horse in the stable. Over twenty years in age now, she was nearly white with the exception of the occasional fleck of flea-bitten red sprinkled sparingly throughout her coat. The mare carried a russet-haired rider who despite her advancing age, brimmed with vim and vigor. Judy rode with her head thrust high and a posture stolen from royalty.  Behind her, the rest of the class marched along like an obedient legion of followers.

"Okay ladies, today we are going to add a little difficulty to your lesson," Charlotte projected her voice farther now as the horse/rider pairings were spacing themselves farther around the arena.  "After you get them warmed up, we are going to Trot your horses today."

A sudden wave of fear swept through Judy again. She tried very hard to calm herself. She looked forward to her lessons all week long. She used the money that she saved for her beloved Nicotine lozenges to pay for the lessons. This was the first thing that she had allowed herself to splurge on in a number of years and it felt better than any drink or cigarette had ever tasted. This was the best habit she had ever acquired in her full life.

It was dangerous and exciting. The day she had enrolled herself into riding lessons, she was overcome with a flood of memories and desires that had been neatly tucked away in her mind since she was a small girl. This was addictive and exhilarating in the same instant.

To be continued...

January 26, 2010

Are we almost there yet?

I've never been one of those children who asked the proverbial question on a road trip. I was the child who quietly lost myself in my own imagination and tuned out everyone around me or searched for wildlife in the fields and woods which our car would zoom past.

 Once in my childhood, I was travelling with my father and patchwork family of his design. We were like a car of clowns- crammed upon one another in some sort of too small foreign economy car. As our clown car whizzed down the highway, we were adjacent to the Ohio River. It was deep, strong, and nearly one mile wide. I spotted an imposing set of antlers bobbing up and down in the swollen surge.

Because we were travelling on a straight stretch of road which reached out for six or seven miles, I watched the huge deer struggle to traverse the great river. I craned my head around and pleaded silently for the deer to swim faster or the car to move slower. I wanted so badly to see how the mini-drama would end. I hoped the deer would wash up. Just before I lost sight of him, I think his feet found the sandy river bottom and he gripped to life. I'm just sure that he did.

Other times, I would spy red tailed hawks perched in small trees alongside the Interstate highway. The trees seemed too small or the hawks seemed too large but they often sat beside the road, perhaps letting the automobiles do their hunting. While the other children would pass the time singing songs, squabbling, or playing games, I was a master at tuning out everyone else in the car.

I'm not so sure if it was as much tuning out or tuning in to what was around me in the world. I could spend an afternoon watching a spider sculptor create his masterpiece or get lost in watching my pet dog circle before he lay down.

So, if you were talking to me and I pretended not to hear you, I was probably just contemplating the struggles of a species different than our own. And wondering, are we almost there yet?

January 25, 2010

Jake Howard

Jake Howard came to visit today. He walked into the front door, shook the snowflakes out of his rich brown hair and smiled. With an ease and confidence of one who is accustomed to authority, he greeted me with a sloppy kiss. Blushing, I subconsciously glanced toward the office where my husband sat just out of sight.

"Jake, please," I pleaded. His brown eyes twinkled mischievously and he looked much younger for just a moment. He was middle-aged but still quite handsome. The outdoorsy type, he was fit from hiking, and fishing, and other manly activities.

"Jake, how are you?" Wayne's voice called out just behind me. I stiffened, wondering if my husband had witnessed Jake's transgression just a few moments before. Although we had known Jake for over 10 years, Wayne had always thought him to be a little flirtatious. I found Jake to be harmless- a scoundrel and rogue- but harmless nonetheless.

Marilyn had followed Jake inside. She was dressed for the weather in a navy overcoat with six gold buttons. It was expensive and so were her shoes. Before he could answer, the blonde fifty-ish woman began to apologize.

"Wayne, I'm sorry. You know he just gets like this when he comes to see the girls," she said with a slightly Southern accent. Jake ignored her and continued to try to impress everyone with his boyish charm.

"Marilyn, he'll never listen to you if you don't establish yourself as his leader," Wayne repeated patiently as if it were the first time he were telling her.

"I know, he just likes being the boss," she drawled as if it were the first time she were telling this to Wayne.

As they began to discuss Jake's transgressions and lack of manners, I winked at him and said, "Come on, old fella."

The chocolate Labrador Retriever bounded two steps until he was at my feet. Although he was beginning to gray around the edges of his eyes and his once deep brown muzzle was dipped in frosting now, he wagged his tail with the enthusiasm of a puppy. We walked together into the grooming area and he waited patiently as I maneuvered special doggy steps. Once in place, he carefully scaled the four plastic stairs until he was standing atop the black grooming table.

Happy that this new vantage put him closer to my face, his long tongue reached out and found its target faster than I could duck. I wiped my wet cheek onto the white sleeve of my shirt and began preparing my tools. Jake had come to be groomed at least once every month since he was a small puppy. He knew the routine and anticipated each move I made. Grasping the yellow slicker brush with its fine, short bristles, I began to remove the excess hair which seemed to find its way onto the rest of my clothes at a faster rate than it found its way into my brush.

After a while, the muscles of my arm began to cramp so I laid the yellow brush down and picked up the orange nail trimmers. I grasped Jake's paw and looked carefully at the nails nestled into the brown hair. Once again, I was concentrating too closely and let my guard down. I was rewarded with another wet kiss, this time on the opposite cheek. Again, I wiped my cheek with the long white sleeve of my shirt but less effectively as my shirt (and cheek) were now covered with both Jake's slobber and hair. Moving across each foot until every toenail was trimmed short, I began to brush Jake once more.

As the mound of hair at my feet grew to be larger than the cat who watched us from the counter top nearby, the brush began to remove less and less hair. Deciding that Jake could not spare to lose any more of his excessive coat, I moved him to the raised bathtub just beside the grooming table. Since the bathtub had been installed at my waist height, it was perfect for bathing dogs just like Jake.

I ran the water until it was warm and mixed a batch of Fresh and Clean suds. If anyone has ever had a Labrador, the one thing you may know well is that when a Lab gets a bath- everyone gets a bath. Doing my best imitation of Rub-a-dub-dub, Jake and I both got Fresh and Clean. I quickly used the forced air dryer to remove the extra water from his hair and placed him back onto the grooming table. Then, I began to blow his hair dry.

I imagine that George Clooney himself must look much like Jake getting his hair blown dry. Jake closed his eyes and seemed to enjoy the warm air and massage. After about one half an hour, Jake was mostly dry. I sifted through the drawer of fabric looking for a manly bandana to tie about his thick neck. I pushed aside Santa Claus, and Snowflakes, and the green holly leaf prints. There, a red plaid pattern caught my eye. I pulled it out and fitted it against his chocolate scruff. As I tied the triangle of fabric around his neck, I narrowly dodged another wet kiss. Stepping back, I surveyed my masterpiece- very distinguished indeed.

I selected a bottle of cologne from the back of the cabinet to my right. It was a tan plastic bottle with a musky smelling scent that reminded me of Old Spice. Across the label, the words "The Tramp" were printed. I spritzed Jake with a few strategic pumps of the bottle and he approved.

Soon, Jake's owner, Marilyn returned for him. She selected a plastic card from her wallet and handed it to Wayne as Jake placed his big paws onto the desk. Wayne offered him an obligatory disapproving glance as he reached down and patted Jake's shiny clean head. The credit card machine beeped and chirped its own little symphony and in a few moments, it spit out a white receipt. As Wayne bent over to tear the receipt from the top of the machine, he moved within striking distance and Jake's long tongue found its target.

As we watched Marilyn and our old friend Jake walk to the parking lot and get into their car, Wayne tousled my head and declared,  "Let's get you cleaned up, you look like a chocolate lab."

January 24, 2010

The March Hare

"The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won't be raving mad -- at least not so mad as it was in March."[1]  Carrol, Lewis, "Alices Adventures In Wonderland"

 As January prepares to bid us farewell, I rejoice that we are one month closer to Spring and the Madness it brings.  I noticed a rabbit earlier today and conversed with him briefly because everyone knows that you can't have a decent conversation with a rabbit between February and September. 

This particular hare wore a plush luxurious coat- likely still anticipating the remainder of Winter. It was darker than his Spring coat would be- foretelling that this has been a cold, wet, and harsh season.  When I run across rabbits, they are usually in a hurry. There are always dens to prepare, kits to feed, races to run- you know, the usual.

Shaking off these ideas, I bid him farewell as he slowly disappeared into the underbrush just beyond the fence line. I think I will take a cue from the March Hare and enjoy moving slowly for just a few more weeks. Once Spring arrives like the rabbit, I will have much to do.  

The March Hare and Mad Hatter try to put a doormouse into a teapot. 

Side Note: I recently reread Lewis Carrol's "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" and must say it is one of my favorite books. As a child, I was overwhelmed and sometimes frightened by its oddness and creativity- but, like many things that frighten us as children- I now find it peculiar and intriguing. Anyway, my favorite characters are the Mad Hatter and the March Hare so my rabbit sighting today was both timely and cause for introspection! Maybe it heralds an early Spring? 

Until Tomorrow, Khris

January 23, 2010


With so much attention focused on mares and foals lately, it's easy to forget that well over 50% of our small companion animal empire is operated in the form of Canine Companion. I used to list Dog Trainer as my job title in the old days. It was typically good for a raised eyebrow or a nice conversation stimulant. Then, as the years passed, I began to opt for more anonymity- or maybe I began to find it harder to define my career. Now, I usually just list Self-Employed and hope that a well-meaning querant doesn't ask for me to elaborate.

After all, what would my job title be these days? Today, it may read something like this:
Foaling Attendant/ Dog Trainer/ Lesson Instructor/ Stall Cleaner/ Barn Owner/ Kennel Technician/ Stallion Manager/ Dog Groomer/ Part Time Accountant/ Secretary/ Animal Empath/ Receptionist/ Goat Herder/ Manager/ Raccoon Wrangler/ Mare Reproductive Specialist/ Dog Breeder/ and Homemaker.  Of course like the majority of modern women, my most important job isn't even listed above. It would be wife and mother. But that's another story in itself.

So, it comes to mind that in this day when there are so many who are finding their jobs outsourced or downsized or downright eliminated, that I am blessed to be employed. While some (if not most) of my jobs are thankless and certainly underpaid, I can choose between many uniforms to wear on any given day. My co-workers are furry and friendly (well, mostly) and my boss is pretty neat to work for. In fact, some might say that although demanding my boss is funny, kind, and creative. Yes, I suppose that I would say that. In fact, I think I'll tell her how much I appreciate her as well as how smart, intelligent, and attractive she is.

January 22, 2010

The Mighty Finn (The End)

Slipping on a pair of gloves, I stepped into the stall anticipating that Amber was just behind me. We had delivered so many foals together previously, that we eased back into an unspoken pattern of communication. She snapped a brown checkered nylon lead rope onto the halter just beneath ZigZag's jaw and steadied her as I slid to the mare's hip. I pushed her tail sideways and carefully reached inside. I felt one slippery hoof immediately and traced its shape. It was still covered with the unbroken placenta. Reaching slightly further back I found the second tiny hoof followed by a tiny nose and breathed a sigh of relief that both were present. The head was turned on its side and I felt the small jaw but knew that I would correct that in a few more moments.

    Removing the gloves, I stepped outside the stall to allow her some space and time. Amber disappeared for a few moments and returned with the portable oxygen tank in tow. Again, in unspoken synchronicity, we stepped back into the stall as ZigZag lay down.  Amber squatted near her head and I took up position at her rear. This time, I did not need to reach inside the mare to check her laborious progress. I grasped the opaque placenta which held the precious package and gently tore the membrane. The first hoof had breached her pelvis and was protruding beneath her tail. Kneeling behind her, I found the second foot with one hand and cupped the tiny jaw still inside the mare with the other. With each heavy contraction, I swept the jaw into the correct position but it resisted my attempts to straighten it.

    As ZigZag's body played the dance it learned before time, she instinctively knew when the foals shoulders hit her pelvis. There was suddenly no more room and her pushes became ineffective. Her mind said to push more but there was no more. Instead, she twisted and her legs moved toward the ceiling. As I stooped in the corner, I realized if she rotated further or succeeded in rolling, I would be trapped. Reacting rather than thinking, I hopped over her hip. Amber helped ZigZag to stand in hopes that she would reposition herself. And she did not.

    Amber called out the time. She was keeping the minutes as they passed. We both knew that the foal needed to be out and gasping for breath in less than twenty minutes from the onset of ZigZag's labor.

    "Fourteen," she announced. There was no more time for waiting. Although  instinct told her to lie down, the shoulders of the foal were locked against the mare's pelvis. With legs out to just the ankles and the foal's head still rotated, the shoulders were creating their own roadblock. Like a childs finger puzzle which requires finesse rather than brute force, I began the tenuous task of shifting the shoulders until they were slightly offset to remove the lock they formed. Once the head, then neck were turned, the shoulders followed.

    "Sixteen," Amber called calmly. Waiting for the invitation she knew was about to come.

    "Ok, we're ready back here, can you help me pull?" I asked. On cue, ZigZag gently lowered her body to the soft thick straw which was waiting for her foal's arrival. Mary Ann entered the stable and rushed to gently stroke the mare's face. Amber grasped the leading leg and waited. I grasped the second leg and reached down to pull the amniotic veil away from the foal's face as it appeared from inside the heaving red mare. Working in unison but careful to keep the puzzle pieces in place, we waited for the next contraction. As it came, we pulled strong and steadily- feeling the shoulders once again wedge against the pelvis.

    Then, just as the contraction peaked and before it ceased, the resistance was gone. We paused for just that moment, the mare bore down in a final effort, and the living ball of horse rushed out onto the straw behind the mare. ZigZag closed her eyes for a moment and breathed a deep long breath.

    "Eighteen minutes," Amber called in the background as she scribed the number onto the detailed chart hanging outside the stall door.

    And the mighty Finn opened her eyes. They were the same deep brown color of her mother. She blinked once, slowly and gasped. I carefully untangled her hind limbs from the umbilical cord which was still pulsing from inside her mother. It was more alive than the foal at that moment. With each pulse, her tongue turned from purple to blue to red and eventually pink.

    I reached down and moved the wisp of hair which would be her tail aside and determined that she was indeed a she. The insult of birth and sensation of life overwhelmed the foal and she shook with the newness of this world. As life continued to pulse from her mother, she flailed her long legs and pulled herself upright until she was resting on her chest.

    The small red replica of the large red mare blinked again and then in a mighty effort, she pulled herself forward while lying on the straw. In that instant, the cord snapped and her mother sprung upwards. Where moments before they were lying connected now they were touching noses as mother greeted offspring.

    We stepped outside the stall and stood, a small group of outsiders, watching as they recognized one another. In the way that we cannot comprehend, the bond was forged there before us in the straw. And in that moment, ZigZag loved Finn.

The End.

January 21, 2010

The Mighty Finn (Part Two)

    I quietly completed my dinner chores in the barn and gave the big red mare a hasty grooming before I stepped back out into the cold. While I was feeding, darkness had edged across the sky. Now, my path back to the house was lit not by sunset but by glowing yellow orbs atop lamp posts which were poised like sentries along the sidewalk. I stepped inside the back door and shed my outerwear. Without stopping, I hurried to the kitchen and flipped open my laptop computer which was left sitting on the counter.

    ZigZag's image appeared on the screen thanks to the technological mystery of the internet and cameras mounted above her stall. She seemed to be standing much the same as when I had left minutes before- ignoring her dinner of hay and grain.  I popped a cardboard version of 5 Cheese Lasagna into the microwave and waited 4 minutes for the "ding" which declared my dinner was ready.  Meanwhile, other than the occassional shift of her weight from right hind leg to left hind leg, ZigZag stood motionless.

    Several hours later with laptop still on standby on the counter and ZigZag still mostly frozen in one spot, I decided to grab a brief catnap. After double-checking that the internet mavens from Marestare were on alert for the big event, I closed my eyes. Within what seemed like an instant but was more likely an hour or so, my cell phone rang. I answered and received the information from Kathy (a dedicated foal watcher who, like Big Brother, always has her eyes on our mares via the internet). The mare was showing signs of entering active and hard labor.

    I pulled on most of my clothing from earlier, and simultaneously slipped my feet into gray barn tennis shoes as I phoned ZigZag's owner Mary Ann to tell her the news. She, too, was sleeping lightly because she lived just a few miles away and wanted to attend the birth. Assuring me that she was leaving home within a few minutes, I phoned Amber, my foaling assistant. She lives on the farm in an apartment which allows her to be on call for just these situations.

    "Rock and Roll," I said as she answered her phone. Somewhere along the line, this had become the call to duty for us. It indicated that foaling was imminent. I retraced my earlier steps down the slight incline of sidewalk in double time. I quickly unlatched the barnyard gate and left it open behind me as I knew that Amber and eventually Mary Ann would follow.

    In less than a pair of minutes from Kathy's phone call, I was standing just outside ZigZag's stall and immediately began to assess her medically. She was sweating with steam rising from her broad back. I watched her tail stiffen, straighten, and then noted that her sides tightened in an aggressive contraction. Her breathing was heavy, but she was not distressed. Sure to Kathy's promise that the time was upon us, this was not a false alarm. Although this was the first foal of the year, I allowed my brain to jump into autopilot mode. It only took moments before I felt the familiar rush of adrenaline push away the sleepy fog and my mind was clear. I looked over the supplies that I had organized a few days before- yep, they were complete and ready. In a habit born of necessity, I noted the time. The information would be vital in the moments to come.

To Be Continued...

January 20, 2010

The Mighty Finn

Even in Wintertime, the trees held on to a sort of green. They defied the lonely season, and were a constant reminder that it held no firmer grip on the world than the other seasons. Perhaps it was the bluegrass pastures. Or perhaps it was the not-too-dense winter coats on the deer who lived in the woods, but it was clear that Winter's grip over us was temporary. This was January in Kentucky- cold and wet. I reached up to pull the fleece hood of my gray sweatshirt further forward- as if a few more inches of cotton would make a difference.

    I glanced at the time absently as I stepped inside the doorway. It was unecessary since the mares inside the small barn announced it to be feeding time. They were an untrustworthy group- prone to declaring feeding time even when it wasn't. I shivered briefly, shaking off the cold from outside. As the warmth of the barn began to surround me, I inhaled the scent of it. It was heady- the smell of mares- their heavy bodies waiting to foal, their musky respiration as they exhaled. There were other smells, too. The freshness of the hay stack which was home to a small family of mice; the damp and musty smell of the straw which the mares waited upon to give birth.

    I pulled my hood back and let it fall to my shoulders. I stomped my feet on the concrete floor and the harshness of the sound seemed out of place. The other noises here were soft, natural, and muted-hooves shuffling across yellow straw, velvety noses rustling for stray stems of hay. I stepped softly then. Seven steps forward and then I turned right to walk down the aisleway between the stalls. As I walked the forty or so steps I mentally cataloged the horses there.

    Tootsie and Ella were bay mares who would foal in another month or so. Nearly the same age, Ella seemed a bit more world-weary and worn. Her bottom lip often hung down loosely. It should have made her seem simple, but instead, it caused her to appear sad. Delilah, the yellow mare on the left stomped her feet and sneered as I passed by. She was moody and childish. I found myself dreading her foaling in April. She was ill-prepared for motherhood and I feared that either she or I would not survive her adjustment period to this next stage of her life unscathed.

    I passed Cooper's stall. He was the only one who was not a mare. His purpose here was for another day. Continuing down the line, I passed ZigZag's box stall and paused just a moment. She was likely to foal tonight. I had watched her for days- and spent the past few nights on standby in case she decided to give up her hostage. I had brushed and braided her tail earlier and then wrapped it into a tidy bundle beneath a polo bandage so that it would be out of our way during her delivery. I noted that she had developed a heavier discharge of wax.  It was whitish-yellow in color and sticky. It clung to her teats which protruded from her now engorged udder. The life-giving colostrum was a welcome sight to any foaling attendant- it signaled that her foal would likely receive large amount of energy and immunity from it's first suckles.

    ZigZag looked back at me with deep brown eyes. She was the only horse in the barn who was not clamoring for her dinner. Yes, it would not be long now.

To Be Continued...

January 17, 2010

The Name Game

We are a high maintenance group of people at Fields Quarter Horses. We require quite a lot of entertainment to satisfy our voracious fun-loving appetites. Sometimes, we make up songs; sometimes we make up dances. We've been known to make up individual character voices for the horses. In the interest of needing more amusement, each year we assign a theme to the naming of the foals born at our farm. This can take up hours, or even days, of our imagination as we attempt to assign the perfect name to each foal.

This year, after much debate regarding what the theme should be, we decided upon Foreign Destinations. Luckily, when you live in Kentucky, nearly everywhere in the world is a foreign destination.  Then, when Finn (short for her wonderfully supportive fan club based in Finland) was born last Thursday evening, it became clear that we were decided on this theme.

We use the theme to identify barn names- not to be confused with registered names which are usually a combination of the parents names or names from their pedigrees. I've already discussed how Finn got her moniker. I, personally, will have several foals to name this year. I'm tossing around names like Ireland, Brooklyn, Sicily, and Bronx. Brittney has claimed one foal which is due in May and she has determined that his name should be Gotham. (I know, it's not a real destination but she has taken creative liberty on this one!) 

So, to the mare owners out there, it's time to put your thinking caps on and come up with Destinations which you may wish to name your 2010 foal. And, to the rest of you, don't hesitate to offer suggestions in advance or as they are born. After all, you guys usually have the best suggestions!

January 16, 2010

The Flu Bug

The Flu Bug has arrived at Fields Quarter Horses. Much like a Ladybug but not nearly as cute- the flu bug was first sighted by Wayne. He reported its presence several days ago. He described it as being hairy, ugly, and scary. After his encounter with the Fu Bug, he experienced boughts of vomiting, nausea, headache, fever, and chills.

In an effort to debunk rumors of the dreaded Flu Bug's existence, Brittney (my daughter) bravely came home from Morehead State University this weekend. She immediately set about looking for clues which the monster may have left behind. She found undeniable proof early this evening somewhere near the toilet in the hallway bathroom.

At the writing of this journal, I am much feared that the gruesome Bug may advance upon me in the wee hours of this night. I am living in dread of its approach. So much so, that I fear I have given myself a tummy ache. In true hero style, I stalked the Bug, which I believe to be a black varmint with glowing yellow-gold eyes,  armed with a can of Lysol disinfectant. I have reinforced the fort with Gatorade and am ready to make a courageous stand.  The Flu Bug must be defeated, once and for all!

January 15, 2010

The Zig finally Zagged

Well, the first foal has christened the 2010 foaling/breeding season at Fields Quarter Horses. She was born last evening and is a beautiful bright sorrel filly. Her sire is our stallion Chevy and she is owned by the Krumpelman family of Kentucky.  Here is a link to the video replay of the foaling.


Here is a brief description of the foaling from Ground Zero.
This birth went exactly as we expected it to. We knew the ZigZag may experience some initial trouble because she is heavily muscled and overweight. These two factors can equal trouble getting the shoulders of the foal started through the birth canal. (Remember Tootsie from last year- same scenario!)

The owner (MaryAnn) did make it down for the birth and was there to enjoy the filly's arrival as well as soothe ZigZag. What a joyous time for their family...their horses are truly a part of their family and I think this filly will have a forever home there. She is the fourth generation that MaryAnn has owned of this same mare line.  Instinct told ZigZag to lie down but that position closed off the foal's pathway. We timed the moment her water broke and tried to let her do as much of the work as she could but there was simply no forward progress- that foal was not coming out without a little help to get those shoulders through!  After we realized that she was not going to be able to do this alone, we got her up. Amber held her and I straightened out the jigsaw puzzle of her legs and nose so that everything was lined up correctly. Then, I helped ease her shoulders into the position while the mare stood. We then let her lie down and just pulled with contractions to help her finish the job.  And wallah! Baby Zig is here.

So, visit us at:   http://www.marestare.com/fcam.php?alias=fieldsqh

And you can join us for many more blessed events this year!

January 13, 2010

Modern Family

We have a Modern Family. Like all families, it consists of parents, children, and extended relatives. It also consists of the relatives who are likely to embarrass you in front of your friends, the ones who show up late for every get together, and the ones who eat everything in sight. There are the children who want to be the favorites, the ones who are always in trouble, and the ones who are worried about which one they are. The difference in our family, however, is that it consists of our barn family.

For those of you who are part of our family, you can decide which of the descriptions fit you. For those of you who aren't sure if you are part of our family- if you are reading this, you likely are. From the kooky out-of-town relatives who we rarely see to the ones who come and never leave- we love you all. We are all united by a similar DNA but it belongs to the animal called "horse".  Like a family, wherever we travel, when we are together we are home.

Maybe because we all spend so much time together- we begin to look alike, dress alike, eat alike, talk alike. Before we know it, we are melded into an odd blend of humanity that sort of belongs together. After all, couldn't that be the definition of a family?

January 12, 2010

Where the heck have we been?

I missed a day or so blogging due to the busy demands of my schedule. Actually just when I should have written a blog last night, I was curled into my best little cat ball on Wayne's lap getting my back rubbed. I was forced to make a choice between staying in that position and writing yesterdays blog. There was no blog for yesterday.

Consequently, I thought it best to catch everyone up on what we've been up to the past several days. On Saturday, we completed a fresh new Winter photo shoot for the new stallion in residence at Fields QH- GoodBar Wrapper. He was a joy to play with in the snow- yes, I get to play in the snow at my job. Amber, Tara, his owner Steph and I all joined Wrapper in the stud paddock where we commenced to pose him, throw snowballs at him, and generally frolick in the snow.

On Sunday, Brittney moved en masse back to college at Morehead State University. Her little Sheltie Sugar stood most of the day staring at the door she last walked out of- so did her mother. We are both coping with  her absence.  Also on Sunday, my dear old Dad arrived to replace a faulty electrical breaker. This was a particularly important task as it powered the heater in the outdoor stock tanks. We had battled frozen water one day too many. I am proud to say that I learned to replace the breaker and increase a circuit's ampage from 15 to 20. Then, Tara and I commenced to installing the three new cameras into the foaling barn. This consists of a small amount of cursing, lots of trips up and down the ladder, lots of moving the ladder around the barn, and lots of tacking wire into place. By Sunday afternoon late, the cameras were operational  and functional- Tara and I weren't.

Sunday was also Wayne's birthday (it's a high number but I'll never tell). After the busy day in the barns, I threw together some hors devouers, beverages, and played hostess to Wayne's family for a jolly birthday celebration. Just 5 minutes before our guests arrived, I spilled an ice bucket (full, of course) onto my kitchen floor. Fearing that all was lost, I was reminded what a wonderful hubby I have as we scrambled around on our hands and knees picking up hundreds of stray ice cubes. Just as everything appeared to be orderly again, the guests arrived. We gave one another a knowing wink across the room and I was once again hopelessly in love with my mate.

Monday dawned exceptionally cold and our long-awaited tractor trailer load of hay arrived. There's nothing like 22 tons of hay in the morning to make you appreciate a horse!  Once the hay was safely tucked into its Winter storage facility, we enjoyed the local Pizza Buffet for lunch. Good times.

As the above events unfolded, we continued about our other business as usual. Amber trained horses and taught riding lessons, stalls were cleaned and water buckets were defrosted, horses were fed, and dogs were walked.

And that's what the heck we've been doing for the last few days. Hopefully, ZigZag will present her foal to the world soon and officially inaugurate the 2010 foaling season. Until then, be safe and take care- Khris

January 10, 2010

The Gypsy Mice

Since the Clan of Gypsy Mice have moved into our barn, there has been the need for the inception of some new regulations. Tara, the Halloween-colored cat is in charge of security at the Foaling Barn. She decided that the Clan of Gypsy Mice posed no threat to the well-being of the other creatures living at the barn. And she formed a fast friendship with the smallest of the Clan who we call Tiny Mouse.

Like all communities, the addition of the newcomers has not been without some discord. By their very nature, the Gypsy Mice are a raucous bunch. Their rich heritage has followed them and there have been isolated incidences of thievery and lewd conduct. They were issued a citation for starting a small camp fire in the middle of a straw stall. Thus, there is now a regulation which bans dancing by the light of a campfire within 30 yards of the stable.

In addition to the campfire incident, several mice have been implicated in a theft charge involving the grain fed to the mares. Upon inventory, the goat noticed that someone had pilfered no less than 43 pellets of grain and an undisclosed amount of alfalfa chaffe (the really rich part which falls off the stems of alfalfa). Legal counsel for the suspected mice has asked for a change of venue due to the publicity surrounding the case.

ZigZag, the big red mare who is close to foaling has filed a protest asking that their rights to religious freedom be taken away. Being a good Catholic horse, she felt that their ventures into the occult- such as palmistry and Tarot card readings- may have opened the door for dark forces.  Now, she fears her stall may contain a demonic presence. The exorcism will commence immediately following her foaling.

Otherwise, the small troupe of mice has settled into the community rather well. The other mares seem to enjoy their easy-going nature. Ella (the bay mare who will foal in early February) even asked one of the Gypsy Mice women to tell her future with a crystal ball. The Fotrune Teller Mouse believes that she will have a filly.

So, I suppose will see if she is correct soon enough. For now, the Mice will stay put at least until the Winter weather has cleared. Perhaps then, they will move on to greener pasturers.

January 9, 2010

Eek... Continued

The source of the sound stood motionless merely inches from Tara's yellow, unblinking eyes. His dull gray fur looked like a shabby worn coat flung carelessly across his shoulders. His black eyes were exceptionally round and seemed to sit awkwardly on his face. Below his measly collection of whiskers- one of which was broken in half- three tarnished teeth protruded.

He stood between the stall and the wall of the barn in the little alcove formed there. Behind him, in the darkness, pairs of eyes reflected the florescent barn lights. In the darkness, the legion of eyes peered out at different levels and heights. Tara quickly noted that there must be at least 26 of them staring at her. Recalling that the intelligence garnered from the goat indicated these intruders may be armed and dangerous, she narrowed her eyes slightly and coiled her muscles into a tight feline ball. She was ready to defend against any invasion.

"Eek," another miniscule voice announced.  Then whispers followed.

The Gypsy mice had traveled across the pasture to this barn. The were nomadic by nature- spending much of their time visiting the villages of other clans of mice. They made their way using whatever means was necessary. They were tramps and thieves. They were the worst kind of mice.

Tara moved a whisker ever so slightly. She was assessing the distance separating her from the group. Instinctively, and in less time than it took the Shabby Mouse to ponder his next move, Tara singled out the weakest, the sickest, and the oldest members of this sorry band of rodents. A hunter by birth, her DNA was programmed to recognize and identify in a glance.

Shabby Mouse knew the fate of his brethren was out of his hands. It was being decided in this moment by the black and orange cat inches away from the motley group. Then, a tiny gray wisp of fur emerged from the darkness. At first, Tara thought this must be a stray orb of dust or hair floating into the light. The tiny gray ball stopped just in front of the cat. It unfolded and revealed four pink feet with four pink toes each. Gossamer whiskers that were so small, they seemed nearly invisible framed a miniature black nose and two large black eyes.

"Eek," the tiny voice called up to the cat sitting right in front of her. The tiniest mouse reached her pink hands upward until they were grasping the sides of Tara's face. Shabby Mouse was speechless with fear as he watched Tiny Mouse grasp the Halloween cat so closely to her razor sharp teeth.  Tiny Mouse leaned forward until her cheek was resting on Tara's muzzle just between the area where her whiskers met her nose and delivered an embrace.

"Eek," the small one squeaked again. Then, she returned her feet to the floor and softly returned to the legion of eyes in the darkness. In the moments while the encounter unfolded, Tara's heart melted. The hunter within her was maligned. She determined that the small group was not harmful and she reasoned that they should receive security clearance to proceed. After all, she was the Head of Foaling Barn security.

As the procession of mice filed before her across the doorway, through the stall door, and disappeared into the thick warm straw, Tara regained her senses. She shook her head to clear the fog of the incident.

The goat peeked around the corner at Tara. "Dern Gypsies, I told you they were armed. All that Peace and Love. Dangerous, I tell you," she sulked. Tara could hear the faint rustling sound as the little band prepared their encampment for the night.

The End.

January 8, 2010


Tara sat quietly just inside the rear door of the barn. The winter chill assaulted the metal shell of the stable but could not find entrance into it's cozy interior. Outside, an unnatural cold had settled over the world. The tiny marbled feline sat perfectly still. Her shiny black fur was sprinkled with flecks of yellow and orange. She looked out of season every day except Halloween. But, that did not concern her. She was never a cat to worry about fashion.

She ran security at the Fields Foaling Barn. The operations there were smaller than those of the Main Barn but Tara liked the slower pace and the autonomy of this job. She had worked under another Halloween cat named Meg for a number of years. Meg retired from her position as Head of Security of the Foaling Barn and Tara was the natural replacement for the position. Having served as Assistant to the Head of Security of the Foaling Barn, she was experienced and qualified.

She wore her authority with a quiet Southern grace. She completed her rounds on time each day and was alert during the night shifts which came with the job. She knew every nook, cranny, and crag of the facility. It was her duty. She was charged with patrolling the barn and eliminating all intruders which were her size or smaller.

The typical perpetrators were birds, rabbits, large insects, and the occassional rodent. On this night, she had received intelligence from the goat that there was a family of Gypsy mice moving across the turnout paddock heading for the barn. The goat indicated that they were armed and potentially dangerous.

Tara's yellow eyes did not blink. She lay perfectly still but her ears were finely tuned listening for the tiniest vibration. She was in the hallway which separated ZigZag and Ella's stalls. They were uninterested in the tiny ball of cat who waited for the arrival. The mares munched their hay and alternately nosed their grain buckets looking for forgotten pellets.

Tara was accustomed to the mare sounds. Their feet on the straw, their velvet noses sorting hay on the floors- she tuned these sounds out easily. Her small black ears were experienced and scanned the air for a specific sound. And then it came. "Eek."

January 7, 2010

A look at the barn...

I was going through some photos on the computer yesterday and ran across some photos that were taken of our main barn. I thought I would share them so that everyone could get an idea about what we call "home base"!

Mare stalls...

Tiny visitors for tiny visitors...

The entrance to the lab and office...

The office...

The training stalls...

Little visitors...

Sunny day and giving a tour...

Introducing people to the foals and their mothers is one of our favorite things to do. Visitors of all ages are welcome!

This is a brief peek into our everyday workspace. So, enjoy your warm cubicle as we enter a deep freeze here in our weather- this is a glimpse of us on a sunny day...

January 5, 2010

Every Woman...

This is re-posted but I felt compelled to add it here. I think it is wonderful and timely. There are several women I know who I would like to share these thoughts with! It was posted by a woman whom I sort of know who calls herself Wonder. How appropriate!

Every woman should have
enough money within her control to move out
and rent a place of her own,
even if she never wants to or needs to...

Every woman should have
something perfect to wear if the employer,
or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour...

Every woman should have
a youth she's content to leave behind....

Every woman should have
a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to
retelling it in her old age....

Every woman should have
a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra...

Every woman should have
one friend who always makes her laugh;
 and one who lets her cry...

Every woman should have
a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family...

Every woman should have
eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems,
and a recipe for a meal,
that will make her guests feel honored...

Every woman should have
a feeling of control over her destiny...

Every woman should know
how to fall in love without losing herself..

A woman should know
how to quit a job,
break up with a lover,
and confront a friend without;
ruining the friendship....

Every woman should know
when to try harder... and when to walk away.

Every woman should know
that she can't change the length of her calves,
the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

Every woman should know
that her childhood may not have been perfect...but it's over.

Every woman should know
what she would and wouldn't do for love or more.

Every woman should know
how to live alone... even if she doesn't like it...

Every woman should know
whom she can trust
whom she can't,
and why she shouldn't take it personally...

Every woman should know
where to go...
be it to a friend's kitchen table..
or a charming Inn in the woods...
when her soul needs soothing...

Every woman should know
what she can and can't accomplish in a day...
a month...and a year...

January 4, 2010

Straw and Berries

We are conducting an experiment at Fields Quarter Horses. Well, we are typically always conducting one experiment or another around here. With Wayne near the helm of the operation, science often takes the forefront and many of our processes and daily procedures are scrutinized and studied.

We will call this the case study StrawFile 21F-3GG. The purpose of the study is to determine the efficiency, affordability, durability, practicality, utility, and functionability of using straw for bedding the horses versus wood shavings. 

First, a little background regarding the bedding practices at Fields Quarter Horses. When the horses are housed in stalls, it is necessary to provide them with a surface that is comfortable and easy to clean. After all, (as Alexandria from riding lessons says) their bedrooms and bathrooms are one and the same. Typically, we bed the horses on wood shavings which are delivered to the farm in bulk. The shavings are finely chopped wood and are absorbant and fairly inexpensive. However, they are dusty. When foaling is immenent, we typically put straw on top of shavings so that the foal can have a fluffy soft cushion for his first attempts at being mobile. The shavings beneath are used to absorb the blood and guts which accompany the birthing process.

With either option, there is always the consideration of waste removal. An operation like ours can produce a lot of waste- and I'm not talking about our crew's McDonalds lunch debris. So, as our resident scientist Wayne charts the volume of debris we remove, the time it takes us to do so, and evaluates the comfort and well-being of the horses living at our barn, I remind myself that I am lucky to have a husband who is engaged and involved. In fact, as he watched me clean stalls today and was excited to discuss manure over dinner, I said to my self, "Self, you are a lucky woman."  My self agreed.

January 3, 2010

Cookies from Strangers

I accepted cookies from a stranger today. I also allowed my computer to accept cookies from a stranger. Am I setting a bad example for my children or others who look to me for guidance and leadership? What if these cookies contain a dangerous ingredient which caused me or my computer to have a virus?

The cookies which I personally accepted were delicious. Ringo and I enjoyed them immensely. His favorite were Gingerbread. I leaned more toward the sweet side and coveted the sprinkled sugar cookies. We left the strange looking lumpy chocolate chip and nut confections for Wayne.

The computer, on the other hand, enjoyed First and Third party cookies and washed them down with a cup of Java. Or, well, JavaScript. Whatever that is. So, to the customer who brought us cookies- the vital crew at Fields Quarter Horses left nary a crumb. And to the computer gods- please stop sending my computer your electronic cookes (whatever flavor they may be)!

January 2, 2010

Zig and then Zag

ZigZag is a heavy, well-built red mare with an opinion about several things. Although she keeps her stall relatively clean, she has a grudge against brooms and my cleaning efforts in the barn. We have come to a compromise that seems to be working at this time- I clean the barn when she is outside.

This seven-ish year old mare came to live at the big training barn last year for a time. She lived there several months and completed a round of training manuevers with Amber. During that same time, she was teased daily by Cooper (the farm's miniature teasing stallion) and ultimately artificially inseminated with semen from Chevy. She proved to be easy and fertile and concieved on the first try. In the world of Quarter Horses, artificial breeding is considered the norm. Most mares and stallions do not ever live in the same state or even country. Zig Zag lived a few stalls down the aisleway from her betrothed (Chevy) and she became quite enamored with his handsome persona.

Each morning as she walked out of her stall to go to the indoor arena, she batted her eyes and swished her tail flirtaciously. Obviously, the tactic was successful as we will be delivering their offspring in just a few weeks. You can visit ZigZag in her fertile glory daily and nightly via our live webcams. If her stall is empty, she is just out for some exercise. I invite you to visit often; get to know her habits and mannerisms. Thousands of people in 2009 visited our barn through the webcams. Many astute watchers got to "make the call" notifying us of imminent deliveries. They anxiously watched the cams as we helped, watched, and sometimes struggled to assist this miracle of creation.

Soon enough, there will be many mares on camera to watch. The cams went up today! Here is a direct link to visit our barn- pull up a chair, relax, and pretend that she's yours for just a little while.


January 1, 2010


I recently discovered this wonderful text and wanted to share it on today- a dawn of a new year. Personally, I plan to live by these words in the upcoming year. I'll let you know next year how it worked out for me!

-Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.