This blog is devoted to my love of horses & wild birds, my journey through grief and healing, and moving forward with the adventures of life. Birds, Boots, and Brews is the original work of Eloquent Editing, LLC.
You have probably noticed a tremendous silence on this blog
during the summer months. I like to think that summer is a crazy, busy time for
everyone. It always is for me. In addition to the usual activities summer
brings, it is also a time of sadness and reflection for me. June 8 marked the
three-year anniversary of my husband’s passing. It hit me very hard this year,
and although I am blessed to have an amazing family, wonderful friends, and am
surrounded by some very therapeutic dogs, horses, and 3 new kittens, I still
find myself grieving the loss of my husband and wondering about what might have
I started to write a poem about it back in June but could never
finish it. Most likely it’s because I have never been accused of being a great
poet. In fact, poetry was the one aspect of my writing that my many English
teachers used to frown upon over the years. I have no sense of timing, rhyming,
or rhythm, which probably explains why I wasn’t great at reading sheet music
either. I am simply hoping for a passing
grade with this effort! It feels good to finally finish it.
For my husband, Kent. You are loved and missed every day.
Storm to Pass stood tall and proud in her stall before the
race, her chestnut coat shining and her strawberry blonde mane beautifully
combed. She stood regal and proud, curiously looking me over with kind, gentle
eyes. She carried herself to the paddock and the racetrack with elegance and
grace. I was in awe of her beauty and impressed by how she carried herself. I
was also a bundle of nerves. Not because Storm to Pass was running, but because
my horse, Sizzle Factor, a stablemate of Storm to Pass, was entered to run in
the race following hers, and I was starting to get nervous.
It was pouring rain in Tulsa, Oklahoma that night. Not long
before the races began, the skies opened up and the rain started. The track was
sealed for safety, but the horses would still be splashing home in the water
and mud. The rain continued to get heavier and heavier. It was a steady
downpour when the gates opened and Storm to Pass ran her race. She made a
valiant effort, finishing fourth in her race. The jockey was slowing her down
and easing her up when the unthinkable happened; Storm to Pass slipped a little
and took a bad step. Immediately sensing something was amiss, her jockey got
her stopped and issued the call for help. Storm to Pass was vanned off the
track and taken back to her stall.
A flurry of activity ensued. My trainer was upset because he
didn’t know what exactly had happened to Storm to Pass and he wasn’t allowed to
go with her when she was being vanned to the barn. He did know that the injury
was serious and x-rays would be required to truly assess things. My heart sank.
It didn’t sound good.
After a victorious run from Sizzle Factor, who won a photo finish, I found myself back at the barn. I wanted to celebrate and be happy my horse had won, but the only thing I could focus on was Storm to Pass. She was standing in her stall again, still looking regal and proud, although she was not putting weight on one of her front legs and swelling was visible in the knee area and the ankle was showing some swelling as well. An x-ray revealed that a substantial part of the knee bone was out of place. I asked my trainer what was going to happen next. My heart sank when he said her owner had made the decision to put her down.
Before I knew it, I heard myself crying out. “No!!! Please!
You can’t just put her down. No!!!” I was looking my trainer in the eyes, trying
to hold back tears. I could hear my voice shaking as I told him, “You have to
give her a chance. Isn’t there something that can be done? Please. If she can
be saved, I’m willing to do it.”
He knew I was serious. I could tell he was thinking things
through in his mind, knowing it would take some doing to make arrangements and get
her to a surgeon. There was no guarantee she would survive the surgery or even
be a good candidate for surgery. She was also high risk for developing founder
or laminitis. It was a few moments
before he responded. “Let me talk to her owner and see if he’s agreeable to
A few moments later, I had my answer. And a new horse to love
and care for. My trainer did his best to
make Storm to Pass comfortable in terms of pain and then went about the tedious
process of getting the wheels in motion to get her to a surgeon. We were very
blessed to have one of the best equine surgeons in Oklahoma agree to take her
In the meantime, there was no lack of opinions and criticism from
many people in the barn area. Several people made it known that they thought Storm
to Pass should be put down. My trainer took a lot of criticism for standing by
my decision to try to save her. Two women I have never seen before nor since
walked down our shed row when my trainer wasn’t around, pointed at Storm to
Pass, and said it was a disgrace that she was still standing there and that the
right thing had not been done in putting her down. I started to approach them
and say something, but stopped myself because I was almost in tears. Instead, I
waited for them to leave and entered the stall with Storm to Pass. As I wrapped
my arms around her neck and started to pet her, she laid her head on my
shoulder and sighed. We stood quietly together for a long time. I knew in that moment I had made the right
Storm to Pass underwent knee surgery and made it through with flying colors. She came out of the anesthesia very quietly, which is wonderful. Apparently, a horse can do a lot of damage if it thrashes about upon awakening. She now has three screws in her knee and has made it through the first two weeks post-surgery, which is a very critical time. Her weight distribution is good and the surgical incision has healed. With time and a substantial amount of stall rest, she should be able to get around well enough to enjoy grazing and have a new career as a mother and pasture companion to other horses.
I am always amazed and touched by the life lessons that can be gained through these beautiful beings. Horses can be intimidating because of their size and strength. And yet, I am reminded by Storm to Pass that like people, they can also be fragile and the slightest accident can have a life hanging in the balance. Storm to Pass is not completely out of the woods yet, but I am assured the worst is over. It is going to take a lot of time, healing, and patience in the months ahead. I am inspired by her strength and her will power. She is a tough, amazing horse with an incredible will to go on. It is my hope that she will enjoy her new life and home in Colorado once she can travel here. I feel very blessed and grateful to be able to welcome her here and be part of her healing process. When you stop and think about it, we are all healing from something.
For the last few weeks, I have been keeping a close eye on
Miss Music Major and her new colt. They are a constant source of amusement,
wonder, and joy for me. Miss Music Major is an amazing first-time mother,
doting on her little one and indulging his curiosity by watching his endless
antics with a patience I cannot even begin to fathom. Then again, patience has
never been my virtue. I have been impressed with her nurturing instincts and
how well she takes care of her new colt. She is an amazing mother! They are
quite the dynamic duo.
I have also been impressed with Note This and Baby Note. As Baby Note continues to grow, so does their relationship and interaction. Note This has no problem schooling her little one in horse manners and how to interact with others. Baby Note has become quite the athlete, jumping over everything, including her own mother when she is trying to take a nap in their paddock. I find myself wondering if the five-foot fence I have is truly tall enough to contain her. The adage “Though Shalt Fly Without Wings” definitely applies to Baby Note. And Note This is ever the diligent mother.
While horses are powerful, majestic creatures, I am often reminded of how fragile they are and how quickly life can change when you least expect it. I was not only reminded of this last night, but of the importance of a mother and her care.
Last night, I had finally reached the point in the evening where I could do what most people look forward to at the end of a long day – wear sweat pants and attempt to relax and watch tv. I had decided to start watching something my father recorded on my DVR over a year ago – something I have been meaning to watch for years and have simply not taken the time to do. I was finally going to start watching “Lonesome Dove,” the infamous show my father has been after me to watch for years on end. Even one of my horse trainers has been telling me to watch it. I was finally giving in to peer pressure, so to speak, to watch “Lonesome Dove” with my dates for the evening, my Border Collie, Cody, and my Heeler, Max.
It happened. Sort of. The boys and I had just started the second episode of “Lonesome Dove” when I heard a loud crashing noise coming from the monitor in the barn. I looked to the monitor and could see that Miss Music Major had decided to lay down, something that was not uncommon for that time of night, and she had bumped the stall wall as she went down. She then did something unusual – she got right back up and went right back down, this time, thrashing about. My heart was in my throat when she repeated the behavior. It was obvious she was uncomfortable. This was looking like colic. “Lonesome Dove” was going to have to wait.
I leapt up from the couch, making Max growl as I did so. Max doesn’t like being woke up once he is snoring, and to say he was enjoying his nap through “Lonesome Dove” is an understatement. I had to keep turning the TV volume up he was snoring so loudly. Cody, on the other hand, sensed my movement and was running for the back door, anticipating a trip to the barn. He was ready. I grabbed a jacket, a tube of Banamine, and the three of us headed to the barn.
As I opened the gate to leave the yard, Cody and Max sprinted for the barn area. Their sudden rush of activity startled something in the darkness. I was abruptly greeted by a pair of large yellow eyes and a flutter of frantic wings in my face and a screeching sound that about made me jump out of my skin. It flew at my face and then up above my head. I could feel the wind created from its wings and sense its fright. It was a small owl! Although I knew the owl meant no harm, I couldn’t help but think it was trying to convey a sense of urgency. I started running to the barn.
As I opened the barn door, I was greeted with loud whinnying from not only Miss Music Major, but Note This and the two babies. I quickly got a halter on Miss Music Major and gave her a dose of Banamine. She wouldn’t stay on her feet to walk around, something you are supposed to do with a horse that may be experiencing colic, and quickly went to the ground, thrashing about violently and groaning as she did so. She almost landed on her little colt as she went down. He jumped to move out of her way and almost landed on me. My heart was racing; I knew we all needed help. I exited the stall and called my veterinarian. She was on her way. In the mean-time, she told me to monitor the situation but to stay out of the way. Trying to get Miss Music Major up and walking at this point could be dangerous and for me to wait until I had assistance. It was good advice.
Watching Miss Music Major as she was thrashing about, writhing
in pain, I was terrified. I have never seen a horse in so much discomfort. Her
loud groans were agonizing and every time she got up and went back down, she
seemed to be either kicking a wall or hitting her head on it, in spite of the
fact that she’s in a very large stall. It broke my heart watching her beat
herself up, literally. What if the worst happened and she died from this? What
would happen to her baby?! I know it’s possible to bottle feed little ones and have
them grow up to be healthy, strong horses. It is, however, quite an undertaking
and bottle feeding a baby horse can seem like a never-ending task when it’s
required every few hours for months on end. It’s not an insurmountable task,
but it certainly doesn’t make up for the care that only a mother can provide.
After about twenty minutes or so, the Banamine must have started to kick in because the thrashing wasn’t as violent, although it was still happening. She also seemed to be getting fatigued. Miss Music Major finally threw herself down in the far corner of her stall and laid there groaning for well over twenty minutes. There was a lot of gaseous noises and farting, which was actually a good sign. I was worried with all of the thrashing about that her intestine could be twisted. As I watched her, I found myself praying and asking for some divine guidance.
After a few minutes, Miss Music Major stood up and pooped,
which I took to be a very good sign. She also permitted her little colt to
nurse, something that had not happened in over an hour because she had not been
on her feet long enough to allow it. The veterinarian showed up as this was
After administering medications, a thorough exam and palpation, and some careful observation, she determined that she did not think the intestinal tract was twisted and that ultimately, Miss Music Major was going to be okay. Relief flooded through me. The worst of the storm had passed!
I continued to monitor Miss Music Major throughout the night. She started to nibble on her hay again about 3 am, and by 6 she was wanting to know where her breakfast was at. She also resumed her role as a doting mother, letting her colt nurse whenever he wished throughout the night and watching over him whenever he would lay down to sleep. As I watched the two of them throughout the night, I was struck with the importance of a mother’s role, be it equine or human.
Miss Music Major and her colt are outside in their paddock today, and the little guy is up to his usual antics. Life has returned to normal, at least for now. And, ever the patient mother, she watches over him and tries to keep him in line and out of trouble, just as my own mother has always done for me.
There is an old adage that says “a pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure.” These words ring true for me as I sit down to write and reflect on this last week and provide a short update.
I am pleased to report that Miss Music Major and her little colt are both doing well. The little guy gets stronger every day and is now bucking and playing on legs that are much steadier and straighter with each passing day. Miss Music Major is a very good first time mother, doting on him and watching over him constantly. The two seem very happy together; watching them run and play in their small paddock is a miraculous joy and fills one with happiness and wonder.
Although he is still tiny, he is mighty! I think the little guy is going to make it…
It has been a crazy couple of weeks here at Birds, Boots, and Brews.
I am starting to think of life as one giant rollercoaster, filled with endless
ups and downs. Or perhaps that is life with horses – the highest of highs and
absolute lowest of lows. It is taking some time for me to put the last few
weeks into perspective, let alone words.
So, in the meantime, here is a small update that may explain part
of my tardiness in getting a post on here.
It’s a boy!!!
At approximately 12:30 am on April 15, my beautiful mare, Miss Music Major, gave birth to a handsome, but very tiny, colt. The birth itself went well. Unfortunately, the baby was struggling to nurse and Miss Music Major wasn’t producing enough milk at the time, which resulted in a sleepless night for me, my dear friend, Lisa, and my veterinarian. It also resulted in a very early morning SOS call for my best friend, Raina, as I had to bring her in for further assistance.
After numerous steps were taken, which will be written about
at a later date, I am pleased to report that so far, mom and baby are doing
well. The colt is very small; much smaller than other babies. In fact, his size
is rather worrisome and it is possible he may not make it. If you believe in
the power of prayer, it is definitely appreciated at this time for the little
However, he continues to gain strength and I am hopeful that he will be okay long term. Luckily, the milk situation has been resolved and he is able to nurse, although getting to this point was no easy task.
I have been calling the new edition my “little string bean” because he is tall and so very skinny! Newborn baby horses always have ribs that are showing, but he really does. I do hope that will improve in the days ahead as he continues to nurse and gain strength. He doesn’t have an official name at this time. Suggestions are welcome.
This little colt is a blessing and a joy for me. I am filled with gratitude and hope whenever I look at his beautiful face. Life is truly a miracle and a gift.
I tend to ask this question of myself daily, usually when I
walk into a room to complete a task only to realize I have completely forgotten
what I even went in there to do. It happens. Other times, I ask this question
when thinking about my life.
I wonder sometimes if I am doing what I am meant to be doing with
my life or if I have veered off the correct path of destiny somehow and lost my
way. Will I find my way again, or I am just randomly spinning out of control
into the great beyond, never to find my way back to what is or was meant to be?
Am I on the right course? More importantly, what is the right course? Where am I supposed to go from here? What am I doing?!
It seems as though I find myself asking these questions more
and more often of late. When my husband was alive, we had a plan. We knew what we
were working towards and why, and although we occasionally got off track, our
goals and dreams were intact and we knew what we wanted long term. We had a
plan for our retirement and things were in place to make our plan a reality. My
life was set, so to speak.
When my husband passed away unexpectedly, my life was turned
upside down and the path set for two no longer made sense. It wasn’t attainable
on my own. Even worse, I had no contingency plan. I didn’t have a plan for
being on my own, because honestly, I thought my husband would outlive me. Instead,
the universe threw me a curve ball and I was forced to move forward with a life
I never expected, and in turn, forced to reinvent myself, an ongoing process
that has proved to be exceptionally challenging. No one prepared me for this,
and there is no manual for the path of my life. Like this story, I am still
attempting to write it.
I was contemplating the many questions of life one day in a rather in-depth and enlightening conversation with my best friend, Raina. As usual, we found ourselves analyzing our lives over a glass of good Pinot Noir. We had been “wine-ing.” This is not to be confused with traditional whining. “Wine-ing” is a term I have created that means “drinking and enjoying wine in good company.” Traditional “whining” is not allowed to take place over a bottle of good Pinot Noir. Save the whining and crying for beer. Pinot is sacred.
Raina and I tend to discuss everything. On this particular
day, we talked about our lives and the different paths we have taken over the
years, our successes and failures, the people that have influenced us, and the
roads we see ahead of us. It’s
interesting to stop and look back at our many life choices and wonder what
could have happened with different choices and why we have ended up where we
are. It’s also interesting to think about the life experiences that have shaped
who we are and why we view and do things a certain way. At the moment, we are
both on a quest for success, something everyone views differently but longs for
all the same. I left our conversation with the realization that success has
more than one definition. I need to be more open to receiving success, as well
as expanding my horizons in terms of what is and isn’t success.
The day after my conversation with Raina, I was taking a much-needed walk and enjoying nature at a small lake located near my place. As usual, I had my camera with me, hoping to see some of the many birds of prey that frequent the area. It had been a slow day in the bird watching department, but it still felt good to be out and about for a few minutes, enjoying a little fresh air before my nightly barn chores.
I was contemplating my life and some difficult choices I need to make in order to continue moving forward and find both happiness and success in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Lately, for whatever reason, things have been harder than they need to be and every challenge is a bigger battle than anticipated. We all go through these times in our lives and they often pass after some difficulty. This, however, doesn’t seem to be passing. As I was lost in thought and contemplating some of the more difficult questions of my life, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and noticed a small, colorful bird in the trees above me. I quickly snapped a couple of shots with my camera before it flew off to a much higher venue where it could barely be seen by my eyes as I squinted into the sunlight. I had no idea what I had just witnessed in terms of a bird sighting, but I intended to find out.
I was intrigued by the beautiful little bird. Somehow, I knew its sighting had some spiritual meaning. It was unlike any bird I have seen before. To call it unique was an understatement. Its head was slate blue and its wings were a rust colored brown with some black accents. It had a sharp look to it and obviously preferred to be very high up in the trees, unlike the little blackbirds and chickadees fluttering about. It seemed to have the qualities of a bird of prey, but it was rather small.
Upon returning home, horse duties called and by the end of the evening, exhaustion took over. I’m not a bird nerd or member of the Audubon society, so searching for a bird species on the internet can be tedious and time consuming for me, especially when I have no idea where to start looking or what bird species I may have encountered. My quest for figuring out the type of bird I had witnessed would have to wait. As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long.
The following day, the universe answered my curiosity for me. I was watching the morning news when a segment came on featuring a wildlife bird expert. He had several birds of prey with him, the second of which happened to be a carbon copy of the colorful little bird I had photographed on my walk. I couldn’t believe my luck. The morning news had just saved me several hours of searching and potential frustration. I learned that the little bird is an American Kestrel, the smallest member of the Falcon family. A small bird of prey, the American Kestrel is the smallest, most common Falcon in North America.
Those of you that know me realize I find birds and their sightings inspirational and meaningful, so my next endeavor was to determine the spiritual meaning behind seeing this particular bird. What I discovered resonated and hit home. From what I was able to gather, the Kestrel Falcon usually appears when you are trying to figure out what your life goal is or when you are struggling to understand and decide on your life direction. I had just had this very conversation with Raina! How incredible that this bird was presented to me twice – first on my walk, then inadvertently on the newscast I happened to see.
The Kestrel Falcon tends to perch in the trees high above
other birds, giving itself an advantageous view of its world. From a spiritual
perspective, it is thought that when you see a Kestrel Falcon, it is a sign
that you need to analyze things from a higher perspective and be in a place
where you can have a clearer, more enlightened view of your world. In other words,
find a view that gives you a clear perspective on the end result you desire. The
Kestrel Falcon tends to present itself when you need to plan well, have a
clearer understanding of yourself, and have a better perspective of what is
happening around you. It’s crazy, but my conversation with Raina had hit on all
of these things. Having nature drive the point home has made it even more
It may sound strange, but seeing the Kestrel Falcon and thinking about its spiritual meaning has provided me with comfort. I have been asking myself “What am I doing?” for a long, long time now. As simple as it is, it’s actually a very challenging question. I do not have the answer(s) yet. I have not exactly found the place that will give me the enlightened view of the Kestrel Falcon. I am still defining success and the result(s) I desire, but I believe I can figure it all out with time.
It is reassuring to know that once again, love and guidance was offered to me via wings from the sky above.
A special thank you to my friend, Lissa, for inspiring this
blog. Although it is not about one of my usual topics, it is a noteworthy
subject that came about from a recent text messaging conversation we had. Thank
you, Lissa, for your friendship, inspiration, and most of all, your incomparable
Autocorrect. How did we ever live without this gem of
humanity? But more importantly, how do we live with it? For me, autocorrect has
created some embarrassing situations and an endless entourage of incoherent
messages I may not ever be able to decipher. Has autocorrect created these situations
for anyone else, or is it just me?
Autocorrect has become the self-appointed grammar police of the
written word in our technology driven world. It doesn’t matter if you are
sending a text, an email, or writing a report, it appears at inopportune
moments and changes everything. Literally. At times, it completely alters what
one has to say. And I mean really
changes what one has to say. Incoherent sentences appear where coherent ones
used to be. Words get changed. It’s
amazing how changing one word alters the entire context behind a message. Have
you ever received a message from someone and had to decipher what they were
trying to say? There are times it’s like a jumble puzzle that can’t be solved.
When you really need autocorrect, it completely misses what
you needed it to catch, and you look like a moron for what has just appeared as
your words or the obvious words you mist. I mean missed. See what I mean?
Is it just me, or does anyone else get frustrated with autocorrect? Better yet, has autocorrect embarrassed you? And is anyone else as dumb as I am and can’t figure out how to turn it off?
Recently, I was texting with a good friend and wanted to wish
her luck in an upcoming endeavor. I wrote to her “Good Luck!!!” and hit send
immediately. It was a nice message to send.
Or so I thought.
Autocorrect decided I needed to say something else. Substitute an “F” for the “L” in luck and you have the articulate message I sent. Apparently, autocorrect thinks that cursing should be a part of my every day texting vocabulary and that it should be used at inopportune moments. Thankfully, my friend is very forgiving and found it to be rather amusing. I still find myself blushing with a bit of embarrassment.
Not long ago, I met a rather handsome man and we exchanged phone numbers. We began texting, and over time, some fun, light hearted text messaging began. We were joking around one evening and the conversation was amusing and very enjoyable. We were exchanging what I consider “witty banter” when autocorrect came crashing down around me with the utmost in humiliation.
In response to a funny message he had sent, I replied with
“Don’t make me kick your butt.”
Or so I thought. The
response I received left me puzzled for a few moments. The response: “Well, I
guess if you’re into that sort of thing…”
That response seemed out of place until I looked back at my
message. Autocorrect had changed “kick” to “lick.” I cannot remember when I
have been more horrified or embarrassed, especially since sexual innuendo was
completely inappropriate for the conversation we were having at that moment. He
understood when I explained that autocorrect had made the change and we had a
good laugh. It’s something we joke about now, and it’s probably one of those
things I may never live down. And for the record, I’m actually not into that
sort of thing.
I had an equally embarrassing conversation
via text with my brother a few years ago near Christmas time. I was asking him about a potential Christmas
gift for his wife. We were talking about jewelry and I asked him if his wife
likes turquoise. He responded with “no.” I then asked if she likes opal. His
response: “Yes, she does enjoy that, but I don’t see how that’s any of your
I looked back at the message I had sent. Oh, dear lord, I had
asked if she liked “oral” and not “opal!” Thank you, autocorrect, for the
colossal embarrassment of that moment. Like I needed to hear about my brother’s
sex life! And for the record, I don’t recall giving jewelry for Christmas that
year, either. In fact, I am still so embarrassed about the text message that I
don’t remember what I gave. But I certainly remember the message! And my
brother loves to tease, so believe me when I tell you that I will never live
that one down.
Let’s suffice it to say that if you are reading anything I have
written electronically, keep in mind that autocorrect will come creeping in
from time to time. There will be future riches of embarrassment and deciphering
galore to be had by all. It is, after all, the world of autocorrect.
It’s as though a precautionary sign is in order.
“Autocorrect in Use – Proceed with Caution and Read at Your Own Risk.”
P.S. If you would like a downloadable or print version of Birds, Boots, and Brews, you can purchase the top 5 most popular blogs to date on Amazon. Check out Birds, Boots, and Brews Volume 1.
A friend of mine told me that I should write about the epic snow storm that hit Colorado recently because it would make a good blog. I jokingly told her that reading about me whining and crying because I thought I was stranded on my property until mid-June really wouldn’t make for great reading. So here it is.
Lisa, this one is for you, my dear friend!
“I will not get stuck. I
will not get stuck.”
I have heard these words in my mind again and again. This has
been my mantra for well over a week now, and I believe it will continue to be
until at least mid-June. Between the snow and mud left in the wake of the cyclone
snow bomb that hit Colorado last week, if I get my car or my little tractor
stuck, it’s safe to say that I won’t be going anywhere for a long, long time. And
believe me when I tell you that I have plenty of snow and mud.
The month of March has offered its fair share of challenges
and sadness. March 1 is my late husband’s birthday, a day that I always find
myself reflecting on what might have been. I think about what our lives would
be like if he was still here, and I often wonder what he thinks of my life now
and if he approves of the direction and course I have chosen thus far.
The “horse” life I have chosen isn’t for everyone, and plenty
of people have told me that I am crazy and that I should be doing other things.
Even my husband had his doubts when he was alive. He liked the horses and
enjoyed them, but he was interested in having a couple of horses and not making
a lifestyle out of it. My dream has always been a bit different, and now I am
trying to live that dream on my own, something that has proven to be challenging
Raising horses isn’t easy. It is the type of work that never ends, something non-horse or non-animal people do not understand. You don’t get to stay inside because of the storm. There are no “snow days.” You don’t get days off. You will have the privilege of working on Christmas day, and if you’re not feeling well or made the mistake of having too many brews with your friends the night before, too bad. Your horses need you and their care comes first. Horses require a lot of sacrifice, and they are not an endeavor to be taken lightly.
That being said, I had been watching the news and knew the storm rolling in would be a bad one, but I do confess that it ended up being far worse than I ever imagined. I went to town the day before and loaded up on grain, shavings, and other supplies and did my usual storm preparations in the barn area. The storm started on Tuesday night with intense rain, which eventually froze, leaving the ground covered in a solid sheet of ice several inches thick, then quickly turned to blizzard conditions with hurricane force winds. It was a virtual white out for most of the storm, creating treacherous conditions that went on and on for well over 36 hours.
During this time, I had to make many treks to the barn and paddocks and back to the house. Although I have water tank heaters, the severity of the storm kept freezing the top of the water tanks, so it was necessary to keep breaking the ice for the outside horses as well as trying to make sure they had access to their feed. The latter task became impossible as the storm went on because of the total and complete loss of visibility. More than once, I would have cried upon reaching the barn and paddock area had my face and tear ducts not been completely frozen.
When mid-morning hit on Thursday and there was finally some
visibility, I was looking out upon a sea of snow with wave after wave of giant
drifts between my house and the barn area. I was snowed in. Literally. There
was no getting in or out of my property any time soon! It was an obstacle
course I wasn’t sure how to handle, but I knew I needed to figure it out
because the horses needed me. I looked to one of the paddocks and panic set in
when I couldn’t see one of the horse shelters because it was buried in snow.
I took a deep breath as I headed outside to tackle mother nature’s obstacle course. My dogs, Cody and Max, bounded outside with enthusiasm and jumped into the snow drifts, snow flying into the air as they leapt and ran from drift to drift. If only it were as easy for me. It is probably less than 300 feet to walk from my house to the barn area; it felt like 3 miles as I tried to navigate my way through the giant drifts, almost getting myself stuck multiple times when I would take a step and find myself buried to my waist and stomach. I found myself wishing I could attach a sled to Cody and Max and let them pull me around like the poor little dog “The Grinch” had.
When I made it to the paddock area, I was able to see the two horses in the paddock with the shelter buried in snow. They were in another shelter in the paddock area where the snow had not drifted as much and seemed fine. However, one of their hay feeders was completely buried in snow, so my first priority was getting hay to them and making sure they had access to water by breaking the ice on their water tank, yet again.
In my brilliance before the storm, and I am using “brilliance” here rather loosely and with sarcasm, I had used my tractor to place hay for the outside horses and had left my hay moving apparatus on my tractor. Unfortunately, where I left my tractor bucket had a five-foot snow drift in front of it, making it difficult to try to get the bucket on the tractor and start digging myself out. A friend of mine came over, something that was no small feat with the terrible road conditions and lack of access on many of the usual roads to get here, including the road and driveway into my house. He had to walk part of the way into my place or risk getting his truck stuck. He helped me get to the tractor bucket and get it on the tractor. I am truly grateful for his help. Unfortunately, at this point it was late afternoon and I needed to clean stalls and feed, so I wasn’t able to start digging out right away. The wind was also continuing to drift the snow, so it would have been a pointless task anyway. But at least I knew I could start working my way out the following day, which was comforting and offered me a glimmer of hope.
The next day, I went outside and went to work. Everywhere I
looked, it was snow and more snow. There was so much that it seemed
insurmountable for me and my little tractor. I started working on one of the
large snow drifts that was keeping me trapped from the outside world. After 4
hours of digging, frustration got the best of me and I started to cry. It was
hopeless. I had only made it about 4 or 5 feet through the giant drift. I was getting
nowhere at the slowest speed humanly possible. My feet were freezing and I desperately
needed a cup of coffee, so I went inside and poured myself a large Irish coffee
and had a good cry.
What was I doing, anyway? What was the point? Why am I trying to live a life meant for two people by myself? I found myself questioning my goals and dreams as I cried. Finally, as I looked upon the giant, white sea of frustration that was laid out before me, the realization hit me that I needed to put my pride aside and issue an SOS call for help. I didn’t have to do this alone. I am blessed to live in a small town where people still wave, say hello to one another, and help one another out when it is needed.
I am very pleased to say my pleas for help were answered by two
wonderful men that I consider good friends. The first young man farms my wheat
field for me and helps me keep my horses fed all winter by selling me hay. He
came over with his much larger tractor and cleared my road, driveway, and a
path to the barn and around the house so that I can get in and out, providing I
can navigate the mud, which is now the biggest challenge.
On Sunday, another good friend came and helped clear the
paddocks in the barn area so the horses can move freely, barn doors can be
opened, and I can move hay into some of the paddocks that were blocked with
giant drifts of snow. One paddock was completely buried in snow, literally trapping
three horses in the barn. It was beautiful to see their happiness and
excitement once I could finally get the barn doors open and let them outside in
their paddock. I felt the same excitement when I was finally able to drive to
town on Monday and have a change of scenery for a few hours.
As I was driving home from town, my SUV packed from floor to
ceiling with horse supplies and groceries, I found myself lost in thought. I remembered
the excitement of buying my first horse and the happiness I have found since
being able to call this place my home. As I drove through the beautiful
countryside that surrounds my place, I was mindful of the fact that I chose
this life and although it isn’t glamorous or easy, it is mine, and most days, I
really do love and enjoy what I have built here with my horses and my lovely
It’s easy to lose sight of goals and dreams with twelve-foot
snow drifts standing in front of them. Perhaps “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is
for real. The storm made me realize that I shouldn’t allow myself to get stuck,
be it in snow, mud, or in my mind. It’s time to stop spinning my wheels in self-doubt
and negative thoughts and get myself out of the mud. I can do this, and I will.
One way or another, I will be okay.
From this point forward, I will do my best not to lose sight
of life’s blessings in the face of insurmountable snow and mud.
“I will not get stuck. I will not get stuck.”
P.S. If you would like a downloadable or print version of Birds, Boots, and Brews, you can purchase the top 5 most popular blogs to date on Amazon. Check out Birds, Boots, and Brews Volume 1.
For once, I am at a loss for words. I have spent endless days
and nights struggling to put into words what I want and need to say, and yet
inspiration has eluded me and continues to do so to a certain degree. This is
unusual for me and typically occurs when sadness and grief have taken over.
Recently, during an extremely cold and miserable night, my big gray mare, Snow Bunny, went into labor. I have been anticipating the birth of her foal for months, excited to see a little “Bunny of Joy” arrive and hit the ground running. I had been remembering to breathe and stay calm as I awaited the arrival of the little one. I was, however, on high alert, checking on her every few hours throughout the night via video surveillance.
The night she went into labor, I remember telling her to
please not have her baby that evening since it was going to be -10 below zero.
Famous last words. She went into labor shortly after 2 am. I called the vet
immediately and my best friend, Raina, and her husband, Adrian, were kind
enough to come over and offer assistance. That’s true friendship!
Unfortunately, it was a very hard birth for Snow Bunny, and
sadly, her foal was still born. Snow Bunny went into shock and it was a very
long process of getting her to a point that she was stable and on the road to
recovery. At the advice of both the Veterinarian and Raina, I left the deceased
foal in with Snow Bunny so that she could spend time with her and come to the
realization on her own that her baby was gone. Snow Bunny licked her foal and
pushed her around her stall, encouraging her to get up and move, but it never
happened. Watching this broke my heart, but I could also see the realization
slowly setting in for Snow Bunny.
When it was time to remove the deceased foal from her stall, Snow Bunny let out a very loud, shrill whinny; the high pitch hurt my ears. It was the loudest I have ever heard her whinny. It was the sound of a broken heart. I recognized it immediately because my heart made the same sound the night the sheriff deputies arrived on my doorstep to tell me my husband was gone. Once the baby was out of sight, Snow Bunny settled down and, in true horse form, started eating hay. I am always amazed at the ability animals have to stay in the present. They don’t dwell on the promise of what might have been or relive the past. There is definitely a lesson to be learned there.
Why is it so difficult to stay in the present? I am filled with tremendous grief. There are no words to describe the sadness I felt that night or in the days following. This incident made me think about my late husband and his tragic passing more than usual, and I started to feel like I did in the immediate days and weeks after the crash that took his life. I couldn’t stop crying, and the only thing getting me out of bed was my horses and providing Snow Bunny with the best care possible. Grief is a powerful entity once it firmly has you in its grasp.
Once again, I find myself trying to rise from the ashes of
death and move forward. Although Snow Bunny’s baby is gone, I am reminded that
life is beautiful and not everything is meant to be. I have been told that nature
has a way of correcting itself and taking care of its own, even if we, as human
beings, cannot see or understand why.
I was also reminded of the wisdom shared by the Pastor that resided over my husband’s funeral service. He spoke about how there are certain things that will happen in our lives that we are just not meant to understand, but to have faith that there is a purpose behind everything.
As for Snow Bunny, she is currently on a course of antibiotics and a special feed program while she heals. I am pleased to report that she acts better with each passing day, and it is a wonderful sight to see. There are brighter days ahead.
Recently, I received a private message on Facebook informing me that there is nothing spiritual about seeing a hawk or eagle; it is merely a bird sighting and to stop forcing my religious views about birds onto people. Another person informed me that my opinions and actions towards pigeons are unfounded and that I am cruel to these birds. While I am not opposed to constructive criticism, I do feel the need to point out a few things.
First, my blog is not about religion nor is it intended to be.
Anyone that knows me personally will tell you that I am the last person they
expect to see in church on Sunday. I am spiritual, but I am not religious.
There is a difference.
Second, no birds have been harmed during the writing of this
blog. And if I want to use pigeons as an analogy to describe poor human
behavior, I am going to do so because it is my constitutional right to use Zoomorphism in writing.
While these messages had negative intentions behind them, I found them to be entertaining because it’s obvious that these comments were made by people that either didn’t read my blogs in their entirety or they have less than stellar reading comprehension. Or, like many people, they simply wanted to spread their negativity with the world and decided I was a good target to start with. I am guessing it is mainly the latter, and these messages did inspire some thoughts on the power of negativity.
How many negative messages do you think you receive in a day? I
don’t have any statistic to share, I am merely asking the question because it
is worth pondering. When you stop and think about it, we live in a very critical
world. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, someone is lying in wait,
ready to pounce on you and spread their negativity at a moment’s notice. These
people are everywhere and show up freely at unforeseen, random times.
Sometimes, it is downright crazy what people choose to be
negative about. I recently ran into a couple of acquaintances at the grocery
store and was surprised at the negativity that came up from a seemingly
harmless subject and how quickly it killed what started out to be a fun,
friendly exchange. For the purpose of this story, I am simply going to refer to
the individuals involved as acquaintance one and acquaintance two.
To give you some background, these two women couldn’t be more
different. Acquaintance one is a pretty, bubbly young lady that has two small
children. She loves being a mom and she is very good at it. Her children are
her world. Acquaintance two is an older lady that lives to watch news programs
and frequently spends her time dwelling on world events and complaining about
things that none of us can control or change. Thankfully, I know from some of
her rants that she isn’t online or believe me, I wouldn’t mention this story
here because I would never hear the end of it.
The conversation began between me and acquaintance one. We had
exchanged pleasantries and I had just inquired about her two young children
when acquaintance two showed up and joined the conversation. I asked
acquaintance one about her daughter’s upcoming birthday. She excitedly told me
that she and her husband were planning a birthday trip for their kids to
Disneyland, the first trip of its kind for them. I mentioned that I had not
been to Disneyland since I was in college. I jokingly stated that my favorite
ride used to be “Pirates of the Caribbean” and that I wasn’t even sure if the
ride existed anymore.
Without missing a beat, acquaintance two spoke up and firmly
declared, “someone died on that ride! That place isn’t as safe as you think it
is. I would think twice before taking a trip there.”
In my mind, I heard “wah-wah” in response to her comment. What
a downer! Why bring that up and squelch the enthusiasm of acquaintance one, who
was visibly excited about taking her kids to Disneyland for the first time? As
fast as the mood changed, you would have thought we were in conflict about
politics and someone’s wardrobe had been insulted.
I wanted to tell acquaintance two that I was hosting a parade
next week and ask if she could show up and rain on it, but I held my
tongue. Some people have no sense of
humor, and she’s one of them. I wasn’t in the mood for a debate with her, and I
know her well enough to know that any sarcasm or humor would have started just
that. And like the adage goes, “if you have nothing nice to say…”
Sadly, the conversation was awkward after that and ended
sooner than it needed to. I felt bad for acquaintance one. All enthusiasm for
her upcoming trip was destroyed in that moment, and I could sense the
conversation upset her.
As I was driving home from the store, I couldn’t help but
think about the conversation and the power of negativity. How does a
conversation about Disneyland become negative? Is it necessary to be negative? Why
are some people negative for the sake of being negative?
When you stop to think about it, negativity is truly toxic. How
many times has the negative perspective of someone else ruined your enthusiasm
for something? How many times has a negative person ruined a social event for yourself
and others? On the flip side, how many times have you gone into something with
a negative perception and the event seemed to drag on and on?
Negative thinking is an easy mind set to fall into, and we have all been guilty of it at one time or another. Everyone has a bad day, after all. But perpetual negative thinking creates a space in our mind that allows depression, anger, sadness, and anxiety to nest, grow, and take over, much like pigeons in a barn. Negativity is very destructive.
It may be hard to stop negativity in your mind, but it can be done. Instead of being the person that brings “wah-wah” to the conversation, bring a ray of humor or sunshine instead. In the end, negativity is like a pigeon that has performed an air raid and pooped all over the barn, saddles and all – it is unpleasant and not enjoyed by others. Please keep your negativity to yourself.
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