Saturday, September 16, 2023

Resilience


I finished reading, The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable Life of a 109-Year-Old Man, by David Von Drehle. The book is written as part biography of Dr. Charlie White, the 109-year-old man, and part life advice for David Von Drehle's own children when they grow up. The theme is resilience and, to a lesser extent, resourcefulness, which was definitely displayed by Dr. White as he adapted to 109 years of world wide, earth-shattering changes. A very fascinating life, and I highly recommend this book.

It got me thinking about my own circumstances, with this unexpected, shocking divorce my daughter is going through. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but sometimes it does, indeed, kill you. 

Resilience.  The concept struck me as the exact thing demanded in this season of life.



I ordered two books on the subject, one of which is, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life, by Eric Greitens. I'm only four chapters into it, but it's very interesting. He wrote it as a series of letters to his friend and former SEAL team member.

Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship, and become better. No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength – if we have the virtue of resilience.

A couple days ago I got a health warning from my Apple Watch. The health app was tracking my steps and weight, and it had detected a new trend. Warning!

Yes, I had become a bit paralyzed, doing the bare minimum, and putting everything I have into my daughter and grandson. Yes, I had put on a few pounds, not really caring about eating healthy. But life got complicated. 

The flowers I had purchased in June, the month this started, remain unplanted.


Hey, at least they're still alive!

The Rio I over-wintered last year is thriving. I have several pots of it around the house.  Kudos to last year me!


That's a good example of taking advantage of the better seasons in life. They may come back to bless you in the harder ones.

For the last couple of weeks I have been moving again, playing the guitar, and eating healthier.  One of the meals my daughter found on Pinterest, and we cooked together, is Honey Siracha Salmon Bowls. We're making it a hobby to find and cook healthy meals now.  That's a good start towards rebuilding.


Pain can break us or make us wiser. Suffering can destroy us or make us stronger. Fear can cripple us, or it can make us more courageous. It is resilience that makes the difference.

Yesterday, I had a lesson with Tweed down at the park with my trainer Regina. She and I have continued to meet every Friday, through all of this, but Tweed broke a splint about a month ago, and so we spent two of those weeks evaluating and coming up with a healing / resting plan. Since he has been sound again, we have started work.

The last time we met, I was really out of it: stressed, tired, and doing only the minimum. Regina sensed it and didn't push us too hard. I didn't even mount up that day, because my head and heart weren't in it. 

Yesterday I was fully present and, SURPRISE, so was Tumbleweed. It's amazing how sensitive they are to our moods. We had a wonderful lesson where he progressed quickly through the round pen work and right to saddle work. 

We're still working on vertical flexion, softness, and when to release.  We worked in the round pen, and then she had me do the same work out on the trails and around obstacles both at walk and trot. The ground was uneven enough that he had to pay attention and carry himself, but not so uneven that he tripped. Regina was really happy with Tumbleweed. She thought his attitude and willingness was just wonderful.

I left the lesson very happy.  

The great thing about being horsewomen is that even when life is thrown off the rails, and all you want to do is sit around, or hide away in your fear, the barn is calling you, the horses are calling you, the relationship is demanding that you show up and take care--and that ends up being a huge blessing over and over and over again.

When people hear the word resilience, they often think of bouncing back. If you look up resilience in the Merriam Webster dictionary one of the first definitions, you’ll find "this capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation, especially if the strain is caused by compressive stresses, also called elastic resilience." Resilience as elasticity. 

Life‘s reality is that we cannot bounce back. We cannot bounce back because we cannot go back in time to the people we used to be. The parent who loses a child, never bounces back. What’s done, cannot be undone, and some of what life does to us is harsh. Resilient people do not bounce back from hard experiences, they find healthy ways to integrate them into their lives. In time, people find that great calamity met with great spirit can create great strength.

Healing is a long process. I wish it wasn't.

Even though I know that seasons like this often result in a better place on the other side, you still have to do the work of getting to the other side. Dr. Charlie White lived to be 109, and probably would have lived longer, except that he was ready to go on his birthday. He said he wanted to live to see 109, and he did. 

One of the most naturally resilient people I have ever known is my husband. He could write his own book on it. He has spent the last 20 years devoted to accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative. Like most resilient people, he is a man of action and intellectual strength. Every day when he has free time, he is out in the barn happily working on the tack room. (When he has down time, he is reading a book.)


I believe there is a part of our brain (and spirit) that experiences happiness, and we can practice tapping into and activating it. We can become experts at activating it and living in that space longer. 

There is another part, however, that is pulling us the other way--toward sadness, fear, bitterness, loneliness, anger, and anxiety. I suppose that is a survival extinct gone awry. 

I'm starting to see life as a battle between those two existences. One path leads to death, the other to life. Living forever is not a big priority for me, but living better is. If, after this season, I have come closer to that goal, this will have been yet another crisis point turned into an overall benefit, even a blessing.

I'll write more about resilience in the coming months, and as I get further along in my study and experience. 


Monday, August 28, 2023

Trails and Trials

I accomplished a major goal I had set for myself last year, climbing up Schweitzer Mt.

When I chose that as my goal, we immediately set out walking and hiking, no matter the weather: wind, rain, ice, or snow. The intention was to keep moving during the bad months in order to be fit enough for the climb by early summer. Though it started out as my goal, my husband is such an intimate partner & friend, my goal became his goal. It morphed into our goal.

But life got in the way, our world was turned upside down, and the structure of our walks and hikes, completely broken up with supporting our daughter through her very painful divorce, all but disappeared. 

We poured our energy into helping her, and our grandson, and it left very little energy, or time, for climbing mountains. Now that I think about it, we were climbing mountains, but emotional ones, rather than physical ones. 

To be honest, I'd forgotten about my goal. It had been subsumed with this other, bigger, need. But my daughter had taken time off for what would have been her 8th wedding anniversary, and she decided to go on an adventure. She loaded up her son and she drove to the coast for the week, all by herself. She wanted to experience the healing power of the ocean and escape, just for a small time, the place, the city, where all the chaos was happening. Her departure left us with a free week. 

When I remembered my our goal, and saw the opening to attain it, I also realized we hadn't been walking and hiking as much as we had hoped to prepare for it. However, I figured, worst case scenario, we could abandon the climb and go back down. We at least needed to try.

So, we packed up and headed to Schweitzer to tackle the 2,000 foot ascent in 2 1/2 miles. It was very doable, training or not, but I wanted it to also be fun and not torture.

Well, the first part of the hike up was, indeed, torture.

We had taken a wrong path and it went straight up the mountain. My head got light. Muscles fatigued. And my Apple watch recorded my heart rate at SLOW THE HELL DOWN!

We stopped and rested to catch our breath, which gave me a moment to open the All Trails App. It showed the nature path we should have been on versus our present location, way off the nature path. The only way to get back onto it was straight up even further.

At that point, I wanted to take plan B, go back down the mountain and quit. Hadn't my summer been hard enough without adding the hike from hell onto it, too? Wasn't my goal to make it fun? This wasn't fun. This was suicide by heart attack.

My husband encouraged me to keep going, which only pissed me off and made me want to quit even more. But then he used reverse psychology and told me we SHOULD quit, and that he wanted to turn around, right then and there, and go back. 

That stopped me in my tracks. How dare he try and keep me from my year long goal! The nerve of the man! 

That's all it took, and I was charging up the hill like a wild thing, (Apple watch be damned!) trying to make my way back to the nature path that winds a bit gentler up metaphor mountain.

Once on the nature trail (photos above) it was all, Happy Days Are Here Again.

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again
All together shout it now
There's no one
Who can doubt it now
So let's tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again
Your cares and troubles are gone
There'll be no more from now on
From now on

There were huckleberries to eat along the way.


And a lucky penny!


There was even a smiley face before our last and hardest ascent.


And at the top, wine and cheers.


A selfie at the summit.


If you climb up the mountain, as a bonus, you get a free ride down on the ski lift.


I had gone to the mountain that day praying for wisdom about our current trials and wanting to see God, like my own dad had said he did on one of our hikes together when he was still alive and about my age now. 

I came back with answers about both, about why my dad was able to see God's hand so powerfully in nature, and about how these major life trials are like those difficult mountain trails. 

Look at how similar those two words are--trails and trials. Not much separates them.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Wild Fires & Miracles


Several fires swept down on us last Friday. We were surrounded by them, and they were devastating. 

My brother's house was threatened, so he took refuge at our house with his family and animals. He had been out shopping with his wife, about 20 miles away from home, when they came out of a store and saw the smoke.  My husband had been working in the barn, and he called me to look outside. The smoke was dark and massive.  My brother's daughter, my niece, was at their home, and she texted them that a Level 2 evacuation had been ordered. 

We had 35 mph winds that day and extremely low humidity, so the fire swept quickly into the town of Medical Lake (about ten miles from us), which houses a very large state hospital (it's the hospital my husband worked at when we first moved to Spokane) My brother's community is on the outskirts of Medical Lake, (about 7 miles East) next to Silver Lake. Because of the wind direction, the fire made its way quickly through the town, and to the area of my brother's house, wiping out almost everything in its path. As he evacuated with his dog, cats, wife and daughter, they saw lines of cars backed up trying to get to safety on other roads. It reminded us all of the Maui fire because it had moved so swiftly, with so little time to react.

The last I heard, 200 homes and structures were destroyed and one person died. Some animals were trapped in the homes and also died, but I haven't seen how many. My daughter's friend lost her home, and she had two dogs that perished. They lost everything, even the cars parked outside.

My brother's house was saved by two miraculous events. The first was his neighbor, a Mennonite man. We had seen video of him out plowing a fire line around his farm with a wall of fire and smoke heading directly for him. Well, he also plowed a fire line around my brother's neighborhood, and the flames came right up to that line, but went no further.

The second thing that saved his house, which continued to be threatened from flying hot embers as big as your hand, was that USAA sent their own fire truck to his neighborhood. It is a military retirement community, and many of the homeowners had USAA insurance. That fire truck and crew battled the embers all night and saved the homes there. They remained on duty until the threat lifted, many days later. 

I guess there is a third thing, an unexpected heavy rain in August, which is very rare for our area. The rain came through yesterday, which allowed all the evacuations to be lifted and my brother and family to return home.

That was called the Gray Fire, but there were two others burning at the same time. One of them was North of us, the Oregon Rd Fire in Elk, WA. I have a good friend with a breeding operation in Elk. She has two stallions and a number of brood mares and foals--20 in all. She and her husband had built a thriving farm and her daughter, husband, and grandchildren lived there, too. They were able to evacuate all the humans and animals with the help of their community, but lost their home and barns.

Their escape was harrowing. Two of the horses wouldn't load and my friend had to walk one out, and to safety at 11:45 pm, in the dark, with a fire behind her. Her daughter and son-in-law followed her and the horse, Dash, to make sure they weren't hit by a car. The cameras at their house went dead at 12:30 am, just 45 minutes after they left. My friend walked that horse 7 miles to safety. A couple days later they found the other horse they'd left safe in a pasture that by miracle had remained unburned.

While the rest of the country has experienced extreme heat this year, we have had a mild summer, but we were in a patch of days that were hovering around 100 degrees. I will be interested to know what started these fires and if any of them were a result of an arsonist.


On another note, I worked with Tweed on the new breezeway today. He was cautious walking onto it, but then walked nicely to his stall and went in. I don't have to take him down the breezeway to access his stall, but I do want him to get used to it.

I've been keeping the brick clean with my new handy-dandy leaf blower. My husband bought me a little one, but I replaced it with a bigger one that gets the job done much faster. 


The weather has turned mild--highs in the 70's--and it's as if we never even had raging fires surrounding us. We had been completely smoked in, the worst air quality in the US and low visibility, but now the skies are clear. 

To say this has been a crazy summer would be an understatement. 




Saturday, August 19, 2023

More Progress, and On to the Next Phase

The wood has been placed into the stall fronts, feeders attached (I LOVE them!!), and the hay doors installed. 


The main stall doors have a top portion that swings down, which is nice if you like to pet your horses and interact with them, like I do. They are tall enough that I don't think a horse would try to jump out, but I still wouldn't leave them open at night with Epona or Tweed (especially Little Miss Jumping Jack Flash Epona.)

The hay doors are convenient. I swing them all open at the same time, feed, then shut them at the same time.


Yesterday was the first day they were allowed into them.


Tumbleweed did NOT trust the new floors, but I eventually went into the stall and encouraged him little by little until he felt secure on them. 


When I went out to clean them today, I could tell who felt the most comfortable by the amount of manure in the stalls, and Epona won that contest by a lot! She made sure to poop in every corner, and every nook and cranny.


I will say, cleaning the stalls was MUCH easier, and I think wood shavings will last a lot longer.

I said I love the feeders, and I am not kidding. They are built to last and have two small pockets for supplements on the sides of the larger bin for hay. The stalls seem much bigger with them in it, and I don't need grain buckets.

Here are some photos of the Stall Grazers, and it gives you a perspective of how roomy the stalls still feel.



1st stall





2nd stall


We're shifting our sights to the tack room now. We need two doors, one to the room from the outside, and the other to the breezeway. We're also installing a window to look out on the breezeway.

That's the loveseat and table I purchased at Farm Chicks two months ago. We like to sit in there and imagine it's already done.



The measurement for the room is 12' X 18', which isn't huge, basically like a stall and half, but it will be cozy.  We split the difference with the existing stall so that it could be used for foaling or for a horse that needs more room.

We went to our local door and window store, and started to get ideas about what we might want so that we can start to sketch out a plan.


 



Thursday, August 17, 2023

Progress On the Barn : Stall Fronts Installation

 


The barn project continues, and everything except the tack room should be done today. Woot! Woot!

I have a question about fans and lights for all the barn experts! We want to put fans over the stalls, but we also need lights, and we don't want to have to turn on the fans to turn on the lights. Is there a system for this?

Last night we had a mother / daughter evening staining the boards that they will cut and place in the stall fronts today.

Oh, this has been a hard summer, but our scars are what make us beautiful. It's hard to watch your child go through the process, even when you know that there will be a stronger, more vibrant woman, on the other side.

I continue to have my lessons on Fridays, but it has been too hot to do much in between them. We're working on vertical flexion at the walk and trot. It has been fun to see Tumbleweed figure it out and not try to stop moving forward--mistaking that little bit of pressure as a whoa signal. Regina likes for me to give him room to figure it out, and having her eyes on the ground really helps me to know when to hold steady or release. My cues are all over the place, but when she keeps me honest, we make really great progress.


An update on the barn floors. They are really beautiful, and they have a little grit (it feels like sandpaper) that was added onto them for traction, but they might not be as grippy as brushed concrete. 

We had the farrier out today, and Tumbleweed hadn't been on the new floors. He pulled back and slipped as he was walking into the barn, just a little, but it was enough to scare him. We trimmed and shod him in the first stall on the mats. The farrier said that if we want to shoe them in the breezeway, we will need to put down mats there. I think we will continue to do it in the stalls though. It works out better. I'm going to add tie rings in their stalls, too.

Cowgirl and Foxy walked onto the breezeway, barefoot, and they didn't have any issues. Of course, they were calm. 


The stall fronts were put in two days ago, and that only gave us two days to stain the spruce boards that he left for them. I went with a golden oak stain (Varathane at Home Depot) because I didn't want more red, as in red oak stain. I want them to contrast with the red in the brick concrete. It will be interesting to see how that looks today against the brick. The stall dividers that we've had in for 16 years have weathered to a similar color, so it does give me an idea of what I wanted to try and match.

The fronts are beautiful. Extremely well made. The stalls doors have an amazing rolling system from the top. The windows in the doors swing down so that the horses can put their heads out. There will also be doors on the hay windows when they're done. I think the design allows for enough air to circulate while keeping the shavings in and the horse's legs safe.

Custom Barns in Spokane made the stall fronts, and they gave us a smoking deal at $15,000 for everything : 5 custom sized fronts, 1 extra front for the large stall (no door), spruce, tongue-and-groove boards, heavy duty powder coating, heavy duty feeders, and full installation, including the cutting and installing of the boards today. (The concrete work, with the stamping for breezeway, tack room, 4' skirt, and patio, and preparation of 6 stalls for the mats, which required digging them out and then filling them with gravel and sand layers) was about $24,000 + taxes.)

I'll share an update as soon as it's finished! Yay!

Friday, August 4, 2023

Time to Brag About Tweed

I had a lesson planned with Tweed on Wednesday, but when we showed up to it at the park, there was a Sherriff helicopter circling us over and over. We found out that there had been an attempted double homicide near us and they were looking for the two people who had done it.

Needless to say, we all loaded back up and rescheduled.

Today was the day we met again. 

It had been over 3 weeks since Tweed was last rode, due to his injury.  The park was full of riders, whizzing around here and there and everywhere. A group of joggers even surprised us as we came around the trailer. Tweed looked concerned about everything, but he kept his cool. We followed the joggers after they passed so that Tweed could think he was running them off.

During the lesson, it was as if Tweed hadn't missed a beat, and we worked more on lateral flexion at the walk and trot. Tweed's trot is starting to feel very floaty. He was giving it a lot of try and it felt beautiful. Regina is such an amazing trainer. She gave me my homework and we're going to start meeting on a weekly basis to keep it up.

Tumbleweed is maturing into such a wonderful partner. He is happy to be caught, load into the trailer, and go off with me on these adventures. He just gets softer and softer. Regina observed that raising him up from a baby had created a special connection. I would agree that it is definitely a perk. 

Exciting news! We are having a big baby shower here this weekend for our up and coming grandson--yet to be born. We have another granddaughter ready to be born any day! Yes, life does go on!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Barn Concrete Work is Done

Hi everyone! It's time for a barn update. Yahoo! We're making progress! One more blessing to add to the many blessings I'm thankful for during a trying time. Beautiful summer weather. Tumbleweed fully healed up. A beautiful barn. 

We decided to pour a patio, since they were already there and it was easy, and cost-effective, to do. I've always had a sitting area here, but before this I used bark to form the patio'ish outline. We have the large, wooden supports we used for our son's wedding, and we're going to place them on the outside corners of the patio and run outside lights over it. 


(below) The breezeway, looking North. You may have noticed the cuts in the concrete. Those are made to prevent unsightly cracks that can happen when concrete settles and shifts. We had to do it in the large areas, but they gave us the choice on the patio, and we chose to cut it. I don't think it diminishes from the beauty.


(below) Looking in at the tack room. The tack room pattern is square and the rest is herringbone. When the walls go up, you won't see the tack room from here. The tack room is going to hold minimal tack. It's really going to be more of a sitting room. A place to sit and enjoy the horses throughout the year. It will have the halters and lead ropes and all the day to day grooming and First Aid.


Another view of the patio and 4' skirt in front of the barn. Originally, it was going to be a 4' skirt to the door of the barn, but we made the change to go 12'x12' at the last minute. We will need to buy a new barn door, but haven't found one we like yet. We'll also need a new door from the tack room to the breezeway.


Another view of the tack room and breezeway.


You can see the work they did to level the stalls. They're ready for the mats, (once the sealer dries). The stall fronts are being installed in one week.


breezeway looking North.

I think they did a beautiful job. It was certainly a lot of work for the crew. They were here for almost two weeks, sometimes working very late. The work was done by Humble Construction in Spokane. 

I'll continue to give you updates as this progresses! So exciting!

Hope you're all safe and well and being blessed, blessed, blessed with a wonderful summer!

Monday, July 3, 2023

An Injury


I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I went out to get Tweed to go to the park, and I found him cut up, but not lame.  I didn't waste any time looking for how it happened. I just called my vet, loaded him, and went straight in. I was very lucky it happened today, because they are closed July 4th and 5th. They got me right in, even though their clinic is completely full and every stall was taken.

The good news is that all of his cuts were superficial, and they were able to clean them up, wrap his legs, and administer Bute. He will be on antibiotics for awhile, too.  

When we got home, my husband drove along the pasture to see if there was any fence down, and sure enough, our neighbors had clipped their fence line, probably mowing yesterday, and sent a strand of barbed wire into our field. We put up a wire/mesh fence along that line to keep the horses away from their barbed wire, but the broken strand found its way over. That's the hazard of being surrounded by cow pastures, but we've lived here 16 years and that has never happened.  


They want me to wrap the one on the right one more time, and the one on the left two more times. They prefer he has stall rest for a week, but he's already going nuts, running, bucking, and kicking out in anger because he sees the other horses in the pasture. Foxy is in a stall next to him, and that is settling him down a little. He was so mellow at the vet clinic, they probably thought, stall rest, easy peasy. pfft. 

I had really been looking forward to getting out on the trail today to work on the principles from my last lesson. Shirley mentioned Warwick Schiller's video about the "50 Foot Trail Ride," and I joined his site to watch the entire video and go through his other courses. They are very well organized and extremely interesting. 

There will be no 50 Foot Trail rides for us this week, but I'm so happy it wasn't worse.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

A Huge Breakthrough (Part 2)


(Tumbleweed showing off his 5 star pad. This pad has gone up $70 in the year since I purchased it. I'm thinking about getting another in black or natural.)

One observation my trainer had is that Tumbleweed was giving me 60% effort. She understood why I wasn't comfortable with that amount of togetherness, and how it could be unsafe. She wants me to aim for 100%. That doesn't mean they aren't also aware of their surroundings, but it does mean they're putting themselves 100% into the work at hand. When they're engaged at that level, they become more relaxed and confident--it's that magic I saw in part 1.

When I mounted up, Regina again asked me to do what I normally do, which, for me, was bending him around both ways, hands to my pockets, asking him to stand in place. (She noticed an issue with this that she pointed out later.) 

For the first exercise, in saddle, she asked me to get him to walk, but not to direct him. Lots of energy with my legs and seat to keep him moving forward. The rein was to be loose so that he could go anywhere he wanted, and I was to only pick it up if he tried to do something dangerous.

The point of the exercise was for him to take responsibility for himself and his decisions, like he would on a trail, instead of being micro-managed and him not stepping up and under himself.  This was a lot like the work I had already been doing, but even more responsibility was put on Tweed to grow up and learn to walk, instead of being dragged and / or bracing against pressure.

He did a lot of meandering in the round pen, and walking straight into the panels, at which point she told me to kick, kick, kick and not let him stop. After a lot of that, he started staying along the circle for longer, and he was moving with more relaxation, balance, and energy. 

Regina then introduced a little exercise to get vertical flexion. ( I remember doing this same thing with Leah during lessons.) She had me hold the reins to the point of contact and keep his nose in line with his tail. She says that he has a habit of walking with his head too low, which throws off his balance and allows him to root at the bit. She warned me that while I held the contact, he might back up (he did), but I was to hold the light pressure steady until he found the sweet spot and came off the pressure, then balanced his body underneath himself. When he came off the bit and into the sweet spot, I was to give him a big release.

We did that twice, and Tweed was extremely relaxed after he found that spot. He enjoyed resting while we sat and chatted about what was happening. (In the past, he would get antsy when I sat and chatted while still on his back.)

So, it was time to introduce the turn. This is where Regina’s earlier observation came up. She noticed that I sat forward to shorten my reins for a turn, and then supported him too long, and pulled the reins too far sideways. She wanted me to stay seated on my pockets while reaching forward for the same amount of contact we had for the vertical flexion exercise, pick the rein straight up (not out) and toward my armpits (rather than pockets), get the turn, and release it fast. We did this with the same 'walk wherever you want’ exercise, but we added turns to the left and right until Tweed was balancing himself and taking responsibility for the turns (rather than falling in or bracing against them). Lovely!

After that, we did the same work at the trot until Tweed was moving out with a beautiful energy and responsiveness to the turn. The ask for the turn became lighter and lighter. The release came faster and faster.

We were having fun!

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but Tweed's trot has become much more comfortable to sit or post. His body has really matured this year.

Our next lesson won’t be until late July, but this gives me a lot to work on in the meantime. She told me to do this same stuff on the trail.

I asked, What if his head comes up high on the trail and I can’t get him to do this work? (this has happened.)

She said, Then you let it get too far. Something happens before the head comes up and braces, and that’s when you start to do the work, in a safe, open spot. 

It’s going to be interesting to put this to practice, but I’m excited to figure it all out and make a trail partnership. My friends are antsy to get us out on some training rides, but I want to have the basics going strong before I accept the invitations. I should have a few days this week to do our homework.

I've been thinking ahead to winter, and I do not want to let him sit like I did last year, then have to start again. I'm going to talk to Regina about coming to the indoor next to us. She used to train out of one barn, and never travel, but she has changed that now.

A few more photos from around our place:

Notice the dead tree? We keep it there because robins built nests in it and the babies are still young.



They nest in this tree every year, but this year it died, and I need to replace it when they fly away.


The clouds one day. They reminded me of a Mark Maggiori painting.

My daughter and daughter-in-law went with me to this year's FARM CHICKS. It's one of the country's largest vintage fairs. I found a few items for my new tack room project.

This old loveseat. It's cozy.


An solid vintage table that I can use for my coffee bar.


And another table I thought I could cut down and use for a coffee style table, but now I'm thinking I'd rather have it for all the outdoor family parties we host here.


And here they are after we brought them back to store them.


A 'new to us' local winery, called Winescapes. They make delicious, full-bodied reds, like this one. We had a glass at sunset on Thursday.


And lastly, the style of stall fronts we ordered for the barn. The ones I originally shared were from another state, and shipping them here made them cost prohibitive, so we found a local builder. I was able to customize these with black powder coating, and we'll stain the wood more of a mahogany, rather than natural. We also ordered custom feeders from the same people. Getting close now. They say mid-July.