Hay-Barn

When you are almost five years old, everything is an adventure.

It’s something we adults often lose sight of. We fidget and check the time, thinking of each item on the long to-do list that cycles through our mind like a CNN news feed. Stop at the grocery store on the way home, get gas, pay a bill, make a phone call, start dinner, rake the leaves, winterize the yard, and on and on.

You know that news feed, right?

Well here’s something to ponder. Five- year- olds do NOT have them.

Not a single ticker tape runs through their sweet little heads. They spend their days living in the moment. They explore, test themselves, laugh, climb, notice, wonder, investigate, question – live. To the fullest.

And sometimes it annoys the heck out of adults.

We have things to do, places to be, tasks to complete. We grind out our lives, one list of tasks after another. We grudgingly allow five more minutes to those eager little faces, sometimes even fudging on the time.

Unless on occasion we toss the list out the window and choose to inhabit the world through a child’s lens.

Then this amazing thing happens. Life gets bigger and interesting and funny and challenging.

And I swear, when I am in that place of child-like exploration/observation of the world, time slows. It expands, stretches out before me like a magical gift. It reminds me of childhood summer evenings when we stayed outside late, playing with our friends, squeezing every bit of fun out of the moment before we all had to go inside.

 

In the last couple of years two friends and I have designated one day a month as retreat days. We spend the entire day, usually 9-4-ish discussing a book or watching something one of us has recorded, working on a project, or just talking and enjoying each other.

It’s the closest thing to being five years old I’ve come up with.

It’s such a luxury to step away from those darn lists, phone calls, work, family commitments, and anything else that keeps our brains spinning, and just be together. It’s taken us a long time to actually give ourselves permission to be so decadent. And now I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

 

There is something quite magical about stepping out of the stream of life, slowing down and remembering what we inherently knew when we were kids. Life is more than crossing tasks off a list.

 

Life is about living.

kittens-1

No this isn’t the title of a hot, new romance novel, though I suppose that holds an interesting thought. Cowboys in tight jeans, the smell of leather and fresh hay….

No wait! It’s about kittens.

Tiny little explorers of the heart with their eyes barely open. Still learning about the world.

These little characters have had a lot of visitors. It’s mostly been young girls, and me.

On many days after I’ve fed the Golden Girls, I’ll swing by the barn to check on the babies.

kittens-2

Oh my goodness, they are cute.

When I pick them up (you know I do!) they latch onto my shirt, sharp little claws inserted into the fabric, holding on for dear life. And when I try to put them back into their little nest behind the hay bales, they hold on even tighter. “Take me with you,” they mew in high pitched, baby cat voices. I’m certain that’s what they’re saying.

So far I’ve resisted their impassioned pleas. They aren’t even ready to go out into the big world. But as they get a little older, I know the pull will be even greater.

 

When our sweet Mija died, we agreed to wait a few months before bringing another animal into our family. I’m trying hard to keep my end of that agreement.

But, I had no idea that kittens would be involved in the “test.”

Every day when my husband leaves for work, he levels his gaze at me. “Do I need to be worried?”

And I look him square in the eye and reply, “No. No need to worry.”

Yeah, right.

It did help to watch as one of the young girls hovered over the kittens yesterday. She’s apparently named them and knows each of their personalitites. Her mother told me they are thinking about adopting one. I felt better about that. Maybe I can let go of the idea of adoption.

Yes, I can. Really.

For now I’ll get my kitten fix with visits to the barn until everyone has been adopted and I can forget about them.

Are you buying any of this?

I’m working hard to!

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Golden-Autumn

We’ve been having the most gorgeous Indian Summer here in northern Colorado.

And hasn’t it been glorious?

Every weed and leaf is sun kissed. I don’t know when I’ve seen the corn stalks seem so beautiful. Each day as I drive down the lane toward our sweet old girls, I usually stop to admire the corn stalks.

And the weeds.

And the leaves.

I agree with Hawthorne in the quote above. I want to be outside and not miss even a minute of this golden October.

Yet again I am grateful for our commitment to the horses. Otherwise I think I would be at risk to miss all this beauty.

And that would be a huge loss.

What gets you way from the computer or the desk or the house or whatever life expects of you that keeps you inside?

Babies

One of the true gifts of being out with the horses is that there is always something going on.

Something to catch my interest.

Something to take me out of my small world and into the wonder of the Big World. It really is the best therapy I can imagine.

So I thought I’d better check in with the two babies, since I hadn’t done so in a while.

Remember June Bug and Larry?

These two foals have touched everyone’s heart.

Miss June Bug has changed color – she’s now growing into her lighter coloring. And Larry is still the goof he always has been.

They race around the paddock, chasing each other, practicing kicking and running. Seriously you cannot be in a bad mood when you are watching these two little beings.

And for that, I am so very grateful.

Maisey

This is Maisey.

She’s been on our radar in the pasture for many years. She’s a shy old girl, always on the skinny side.

Of all the horses in the pasture, she was the least powerful. Everyone picked on her. She was always at the edge of the herd-a loner. She’d hang out with the Golden Girls, but always on the outskirts. She knew us and would come round for hay cubes if she thought it was safe.

I constantly worried about her.

You know how I am!

Then this summer, something wonderful happened.

She found her own herd.

And not just any herd.

She became part of Amigo’s herd. The very same Amigo that was Bud’s best friend. Good old loyal, reliable Amigo. I was thrilled. After all these years, Maisey had a family. A good family. I think she had a great summer. The pasture was greener than I’ve ever seen it. And she wasn’t alone. She had a protector.

A couple of weeks ago we noticed that Maisey wasn’t in Amigo’s little herd. We searched the pasture, but couldn’t see her. I asked Amigo, but he had nothing to say. Later we learned that Maisey had been shipped to the east coast to be with the girl who owned her. Apparently she’d graduated from college and now wanted her horse with her.

That makes me really happy.

Goodby sweet Maisey.

Thank you for letting me get to know you and being part of my herd.

May you live out your last years fat, happy and smothered in love.

New-staff-3

We recently met the one of the new members of the barn and pasture security team.

Apparently this grey ball of silky fluff is responsible for the staging area by the gate. It’s a big responsibility and little grey is totally up to the job.

She’s been quite serious, but willing to at least greet us and allow me to stroke her beautiful fur.

 

New-staff-1

But only for a minute.

There are after all standards to maintain.

 

She isn’t on the job every time we’re out feeding the Golden Girls, but I’ve seen her quite often. She’s getting to know me which feels especially nice now that we’ve lost Mija.

 

Doesn’t the Universe work in wonderful ways?

Mija-Memorial-PM

When I first envisioned this blog, I was naïve. It seemed such a good idea to write about my old animals and what I was learning from them about aging. And in the beginning I wrote about the wonder of spending time with them. How they made me a better human being.

And all of that and much more is true.

But what I didn’t think about was the circularity of aging. How there comes a point with old animals (and people) when it’s time for them to leave this earth. And that hadn’t crossed my mind.

Like I said–naïve.

So Bud was first to remind me of this life lesson, and my heart became much less naïve in an instant.

When my older sister died this spring, my already-tender heart ached from too many goodbyes.

Then on September 7th we lost another very important member of our family. Mija is a Spanish word for “my daughter.” And she was exactly that to us. For almost nineteen years this little cat enlivened and enriched our lives. She was the first domestic “pet” we shared – seeming very much like our daughter. From the moment we brought her home, until the moment she died in my husband’s arms, she was family.

We console ourselves with phrases like: she lived a good, long life; we loved her beyond measure; and she loved us equally.

And they help.

Sort of.

But we are still grieving for her. Our home seems empty, especially her favorite spots. So many sunbeams seem wasted now. So many comfy laps go unfilled. Sometimes I think I hear her and for one brief moment, I get my hopes up. Maybe this was nothing more than a bad dream, I think.

But of course it wasn’t.

Grief has a way of messing with a person’s view of reality.

All those years ago Mija had been abandoned. Her family moved without taking her. She was all of five or six months old and had no way of fending for herself in the big world. A kind-hearted neighbor tried hard to like her. He took her in, supplied her with food and toys, but in the end he decided he just wasn’t a cat person. Thankfully he took her to our veterinarian, Dr. Robin Downing. Mija went on at least two other trial runs with families who simply couldn’t bond with her.

I know now there was a bigger plan in play. She was meant to live with Rick and me. For us it was love at first sight. When I picked her up she immediately rewarded me with her quirky little purr. Rick said it sounded as if a bearing was going out. The metaphor was wasted on me because I don’t know a bad bearing from a jet engine. But I knew I was enchanted by this little black and white ball of fur.

We have photographs and memories that eventually will comfort us and help us remember our very good life with Mija. Until then we are taking it easy.

Grieving is exhausting.

I know all of you who have lost someone dear know exactly what I’m talking about.

To love with a wide-open heart leaves us sometimes feeling fragile and vulnerable. And we may be tempted to protect ourselves by closing down–not allowing anyone or anything to ever again get that close. For me that isn’t the answer. I want to live my life full out and open-hearted. No holding back.

That’s truly the lesson my dear old sweeties have given me.

Goodbye Mija!

Some things just plain make me happy.

You may remember this sweet old mare named Forty. We call her that because the number 40 is branded on her neck. Not the most original of names on our part, but hey…

Forty-Friends

Forty is a gentle old girl. We always hoped she’d join the Golden Girls, but she hasn’t. She follows them from a distance and has usually been alone. Two winters ago she hooked up with a mare named Sunny, but Sunny has left the pasture and Forty has been on her own.

She has the most amazing manners. She never pushes. She is considerate of everyone else. If we don’t pay attention to her, she walks away.

I find that bittersweet.

It seems she  doesn’t want to be a bother for anyone -a trap so many of us females find ourselves in at times.

The past few days Forty has found a friend. It’s a young little paint mare – new to the pasture. We don’t know her name. Yet. These two are joined at the hip. And that is what makes me happy.

Forty has a friend.

I feel like a hovering, helicopter mother. So be it! In the pasture it isn’t good to be alone. Having an ally really helps.

We’ll see how long this little Paint sticks around, but for now we are all happy.

Very happy.

I’ve been documenting the assorted horse-do’s around the pasture.

Horse-Do-Collage-1

You’ve never heard the term “horse-do?”

Think hairdo for horses.

Now you see why it is so interesting inside my head. I make up words like horse-do. And then take pictures to document it, which to my way of thinking makes it bona fide.

Real.

Horse-Do-Collage-3

So anyway, I’ve put together a few of my favorites. You’ve probably seen all but the braided manes. Those pictures are new. Those horse keepers have a lot of time on their hands!

Horse-Do-Collage-2

I’ve included the before and after with the Mamie Eisenhower bangs – totally one of my faves.

What style are you leaning toward?

Take a quick minute and vote in the survey below.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands too!

 

It’s been quite a summer here in northern Colorado. We’ve had enough rain to keep the pastures greener than I’ve ever seen. It’s the middle of August and there is still lush, emerald green grass.

The horses are happy campers.

Except for a few.

jailbirds

Mama and her son Brio were sent to a paddock for the summer because the rich grass caused Brio to founder. It’s been a problem for several of the pasture horses.

 

When we make our trek out to feed the Golden Girls, who by the way are doing just fine with the lush grass, we must drive past Mama and Brio.

Oftentimes they will stand in the corner watching us with mournful expressions. “We’re here,” they seem to say. “Remember us? We still like treats.”

 

For some reason—notably my wacky way of thinking—when we see these two characters, I hear strains of “In the Jailhouse Now,” as performed in the movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Sometimes I even sing a little of it, though Mama and Brio don’t find it the least bit entertaining.

I think my husband sides with them too.

 

And yes, in case you hadn’t already figured it out, we usually stop by the “Big House” to give our friends a hay cube or two.

It’s how we roll!

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