Farm life

Finding Stress Relief

Life has been pretty stressful lately. Nothing is new there, life is always stressful, but this week it just all seemed to accumulate more than usual. Yesterday it boiled over and I just had an obscenely bad day. 

By the time I got home all I wanted to do was curl up in bed in the fetal position and forget the world. 

I fed the horses, poor mud covered and ignored souls, and happened to look over at the shelter. While many people tell me that their shelters remain empty even in the worst weather, my two prefer to remain out of the elements as much as possible. With all the rain we have received, they have spent hours upon hours inside staying dry. One look at the ground and I was appalled. Too much to apparently remember to snag a picture, but the ground was not only torn up but was also knee deep soupy mud. 

Something needed to be done, so instead of fading into the oblivion of an early bed time I dragged the boys to Home Depot to see what we could do. I really want to put pea gravel in, but we had neither the time to dig all the way down and set the stone properly or the money to get enough to cover the 200 sq ft shelter floor. 

Instead we settled for some sand. We bought 30 bags and covered the ground to help with drainage and hopefully keep there hooves and legs out of the worst of it. Poor Dusty hauled those bags and dumped them for me. This was halfway through.

Perfect solution? No, but I’m really hoping we eventually return to more normal rain fall amounts. Prior to the recent deluge the ground was remaining perfect in there. It’s hard to cope with the 5″ of rain we have had in the last 3 weeks. 

While the boys were playing in the mud and sand, I grabbed the riding mower. The pasture is going to seed in places and the horses are just not able to keep it all eaten down which is resulting in over grazed areas and tall regions where the grass has gotten too fibery for them to want to eat. It was time to mow. 

First time on the riding mower

I headed into the pasture and began to mow as the sun threatened to set. About 15 minutes and a few stripes later I came to a screeching halt. 

Look at how tall the grass has gotten! All the rain plus the two entire days they spent inside the shelter to avoid the rain really helped it grow

I had run out of gas. Ugh. 

I left the mower in the pasture, mush to Petes delight as he promptly went over to explore, and headed to the gas station. I wanted to mow dammit. 

Twenty minutes later I was back in my mower making my way up and down the pasture. 

It was a little slice of heaven. 

Watching the sun set behind one of the several ancient trees on the property

I sat on that mower as the sun set and stars peeked through the small breaks in the clouds. I listened to the songs of the birds that were loud enough to overcome the mower. I watched as Gem and Pete grazed. I breathed in the smells of freshly cut grass, clover and wild onion. 

All my stress melted away. All the emotions of the day were replaced by a deep inner peace. 

Gem and Pete grazing at the far end of the pasture while I mowed. They are equally grateful for some sun

The boys went to bed long before and it was just me and the pasture. Mowing is an intensely satisfying activity for those who need instant gratification. Watching the pasture go from unruly to even and well kept is nearly addictive. I didn’t want to stop.

As night fell, my world shrunk to the size of the headlight and any remaining concerns about my day, life and future were eliminated. All that mattered was lining up the tracks and mowing. 

Rhino keeping an eye on me

Unfortunately I needed to stop eventually. I got about half way through and it took 2 hours. I was worried about running out of gas again, there is no gas gauge, and having to push the mower all the way home which is a really long way to be pushing a dead mower. 

I’ll mow again tonight and finish it up if the rain holds off. 

I love living on the farm. It feeds my soul. It brings me peace. It helps settle the world. 



2016 ended with the region being 10 inches in the negative in precipitation. The local lakes looked like tiny puddles surrounded by acres of sand and red clay. Wildfires broke out as the seemingly endless days of clear blue skies and sun stretched on into the forecast.

The water should go to the tree line. This isn’t even as bad as it got. 

The winter came and and it was mild. Mostly warm and dry. We got one day of slushy ice and that was winter. Not the norm and it only added to the deficit.

2017 however is trying to make amends for the errors of the recent past. Not only has it been raining, it has been storming. Soft ball sized hail, tree splintering lightning and deluges have been an almost weekly occurrence. Just last weekend we got 4″ of rain in 24 hours.

The region is positive 5 inches for 2017 which is pretty astounding since we only started getting rain in March. January and February were as dry as the last year. That means that overall we are now only 5″ shy of where we really should be. Still a desperately large volume but we seem to be heading in the right direction.

This was the extent of our winter and it lasted until 12 pm

Unfortunately SC is just not that…umm…tough when it comes to the weather. I mean, when it is nice, sunny and warm 300 days of the year, what’s the point in suffering during those rare days when it rains, snows or is cold? I get it. Sort of.

An example: it was calling for severe thunderstorms. Maybe some hail. Schools let out at lunch. For rain. Really?

This has made riding lately difficult. Indoor arenas are unheard of and covered arenas are few and far between. My scheduled lesson for Sunday got canceled due to the rain. The arena was still under water come Tuesday when I could get there with Gem, so it got backed off to Sunday of this week. Weather looks like even more rain tomorrow then a break and rain Sunday. I’m not sure if any rain cancels lessons or if it was just the absolute downpour we had in store and got that did it, so we will see.

Wyatt chose my cake. I don’t think I’ve seen gummy worms on a birthday cake before

I also can’t ride at home right now. The hay field is mush and not only would it destroy the hay, but it wouldn’t be particularly safe footing either.

It may be time to hit the trails again if I can find some that aren’t under water. It’s bad timing with so much to work on and not that much time, but there isn’t anything I can do about it so I’m trying not to fret.

In the meantime I’ve been spending money as if I had it and am now anxiously awaiting my packages to arrive.  The sun needs to return to the south or I may just go broke.

Einstein loves having extra room to run
2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge: Book #17

I’m not so sure this would have been my pick and I’m still unclear why it was my mom’s but it was, so I read it. It was a quick read for sure.

A Book You’ve Read Before That Always Makes You Smile:  There’s a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss. 

So….not sure how to really write anything up about this. I’m pretty sure everyone has read Dr. Suess. This is not my favorite one of his. I’m, quite partial to the Foot Book and Oh! The Places You ‘ll Go.

A little kid, presumably by the drawings, is introducing the reader to the house he lives in and all the creatures he finds everywhere he looks and there are plenty.

At the end, spoiler alert I suppose, he mentions that nobody else may see them, but he does and chooses to believe it. Dr. Seuss, always one to expand your imagination.

Its a quick read as is all Dr. Seuss and a easy escape from reality.



Shopping…I Hates It

For some reason I thought shopping for horse clothes would be an entirely different and way more exciting endeavor than for street or work clothes. 

Turns out I was wrong. 

Having made my eyes bleed looking through online used tack ads without really having any idea what I needed, I decided the better course of action was to head to a tack store and try on all the things. 

First stop was the Farm House. It’s about an hour from me, but boasts a massive sale room that looked promising. My first mistake was letting the hubby and kid come along. It was a race to see which one got bored the quickest. 

Barely stopped myself from buying these beautiful bad boys. I didn’t dare look at the price tag. Everything in the store was way over priced.

I wandered around the regular floor then headed to the sale room. Wow. So much stuff. So cheap. I found a gorgeous show coat originally $300 for only $20! I hoped it would fit but it was both too wide and too long. I debated getting it and having it tailored but I have no real clue how a show coat should fit and I doubt a tailor would either. 

They also had tall boots for only $40, but again not in my size. The lady helped size me in boots and it turns out I’m a pretty easy fit. I do have very small ankles but the Ariat Heritage Contour fit me really well in a 6 regular. I’m now scouring the internet hoping to find a pair used. 

Everything I touched was well over $100 and I was not in the position to drop that much right now. Maybe later if I decide to stick with this I can upgrade things. 

I was there about 90 minutes when I started getting texts about both men being bored, so I didn’t get to try on any shirts or breeches to see what may fit. 

We went home and ate lunch and I put both boys to bed and headed to the closer tack store: The Tack Shop. I figured the prices would be lower since it isn’t so close to TIEC and is in town versus the middle of expensive horse country. I was right. 

The ladies were so helpful. They shoved breeches at me until I had tried on every type in the store. Turns out I’m an odd fit. When the waist fit right, the legs were super baggy. When the legs fit right, I could barely snap the buttons. Just like blue jeans. I hate shopping.

I never actually found a good fitting pair. I started with a size 28 since my thread bare, more holes than material, Tuff Riders are a 24 and while they still fit it is a bit obscene. Half the time they were too tight. The other half too big. 30s were almost always too big in both waist and legs except in one pair where I couldn’t even buckle them. 26s were almost always too tight in the waist but great in the legs. Ugh. 

She finally shoved some tights at me and started with a medium but those were too big. I tried on a pair of Kerrits full seat micro cord breeches with belt loops in black and they actually fit really well everywhere. I was hoping to get a pair in white just because, by they only came in tan or black. I had her go ahead and order the tans ones so I knew I had at least one pair I could show in for both phases of a CT. Buying used is going to be really tricky since nothing apparently fits me. I wear a size 6 jeans and medium skirts. This shouldn’t be that hard. 

Riding had been going really well. I’ve been keeping an inner monologue: quit hanging on the inside rein, slow the post instead of grabbing her mouth, sit taller, turn the entire body with the turn, seriously stop hanging on the inside rein etc… we even cantered both directions without it being a complete shit show.

The Tack Shop also has a consignment section and had several pairs of tall field boots, but none in my size. She wrote down what I needed though in case someone comes in with a pair later. 

I never got around to trying on show shirts because that is my last concern and I still need to verify if I need a coat or not. Hopefully Trainer can help me out here when I ride with her next. 

I did buy something! I wasn’t going to, but the ladies (one was the store owner) spent over 2 hours with me going over tack requirements and clothing plus shoving pants at me to try. I felt bad leaving empty handed. I grabbed a Jump girth and a set of brown stirrup leathers. I needed them both as they weren’t super expensive. I’m hoping the girth works. Nearly everything causes chafing except mohair. Mohair is pricey though and so trying this one first. She had a one very similar back when I rode her English and never chafed with it. So here is hoping it will work

I came home, found both boys still asleep 3 hours later, and put out an ISO ad on some Facebook sites for the remainder of what I need so hopefully someone will have something useful and not expensive because….

He is getting nearly big enough to use the stirrups. Kiddo might get his own pony sooner than I thought

I went ahead and signed up for my first ever CT on June 4th!!!!

I’m super excited. It will be Intro B and 18″ cross rails in stadium. I think we can at least safely do both without looking like complete fools. 



Spend All The $$$

There is a fun schooling show in May that I would love to attend. They have an amoeba level class that is intro dressage followed by 18″ stadium course. I really, really, really want to go. Trainer is an enabler and told me to sign up with Gem (I think the hubby sorta hates her 🙂  It is also super close so I could go the day of and return that same evening = less money and more family time.

The problem?

Spending the last four years fine tuning my endurance gear leaves me with absolutely nothing horse show appropriate. At all. Even my riding attire is all sorts of wrong.

I sat down to figure out what all I would need before being able to even attend a local schooling show. Turns out the list is pretty long and even buying most things used is still outside my current budget.

Gem needs:

  1. Jump girth. This needs bought ASAP anyway so I can actually use the saddle outside the barn where I can borrow one from Trainer
  2. Leathers for jump saddle. I borrowed my black ones off the dressage saddle for the lesson but that won’t work at a show. Something about needing to match and all.
  3. Stirrup irons for jump saddle. Showing stirrupless is not an option. Or at least not one I would be stupid enough to try. I know myself and I know I will be too nervous and type A about timing to want to deal with taking irons off the dressage leathers and putting them on the jump saddle.
  4. Leather bridles x 2.  The whole matching thing again. With a black dressage saddle and a brown jump one I need a bridle in each color. I used to have a lovely brown one that fit Gem well, but I can’t find it. I’m pretty sure I know where it was hidden when we moved, but that still leaves me needing a black one.
  5. Appropriate saddle pads. My red square pad is fine for lessons, but is not appropriate for either phase. It has big pockets for use on trail. Can you stop and eat a sandwich mid course if you get hungry? Something tells me no.

Nothing about this is legal.
I need:

  1. Tall boots vs paddock boots with half chaps. Apparently tennis shoes and fleece leather covers or mesh chaps aren’t allowed. In lessons I use ancient Ariat tennis shoe type riding shoes that are brown and my black mesh endurance half chaps. Trainer’s eyes bleed a little when she sees me. I’m leaning towards tall boots since I’d have to buy both paddock boots and chaps and the cost for boots (non custom) wouldn’t be a whole lot more.
  2. A shirt with a collar. Comfortable cotton endurance ride t-shirts are prohibited. I don’t think I’ve worn a collared shirt in like 20 years. I don’t even own one. Or maybe I’d need an actual show shirt? I don’t know.
  3. Real breeches.  You know the type with belt loops and not made of stretchy lycra? Yeah those type. I don’t have a single pair. All tights all the way. And my tights are black, so I can’t even hope to use them and not be noticed.
  4. A…gasp…belt. Um…I think its been even longer since I’ve worn a belt. With anything.
  5. Hair net.  I think I’d need this. I’ve got long hair now. Maybe easier to chop it off, but its been such a patient process to grow it out. Seems a bit hasty for a single show.
  6. Jacket?? I’m pretty sure I can avoid buying one of these for schooling in the SC heat. I think all local schooling shows would prefer if you have one, but will waive it in the heat anyway. I think. I need to do a little more research on this one because jackets are pricey. Even used ones.

All sorts of show ring wrong
All said and done, that is a lot to purchase with only a few weeks to do it, so its looking about 99% reality that I’ll miss this one. Perhaps I can get the stuff together in enough time to make a late summer or early fall schooling show. At least my helmet is appropriate and since I have no intentions of taking Gem in open fields to fall jump over solid obstacles, I won’t be needing a vest any time soon.

I supported my endurance collection by selling off a bunch of stuff I had that didn’t work well for Gem, like a Wintec AP that fit us both horribly, bits she hated and the like. I have absolutely nothing to sell at the moment and $60 in my horse PayPal account. My endurance gear will have to be ripped from my cold, lifeless hands before I part with any of it.

Part of the problem is that I don’t even know what I want or would like. I don’t have a good tack store near me to go try on a bunch of stuff and I can’t really afford to waste money on shipping. I honestly don’t even know where to begin. Ugh.

What I really need is someone who is familiar with all this stuff to pity me and become my personal shopper. I’m scanning online used tack sites and facebook pages and plan to read as many tack review posts as I can on the blogs I follow, but I could really use a real live person helping me shop. Any takers??

2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge: Book # 16

It has been a while since I did a book review. I thought I would get a lot more read on my trip, but most of the time was spent exploring or at the conference and I couldn’t read while the kiddo slept as I usually do because we shared a hotel room and the light bothered him.

My mom had no interest in choosing a book for this prompt as it was extremely outside her comfort zone. I chose it so I would have something for the trip and then she got the next two.

Since this is also a genre I don’t typically read, I ended up just gong to the library and browsing. While they shelve their books like a typical library, alphabetical per author, they also add stickers to the spines to show the genre. I looked at the books with a UFO on the spine and picked one at random that sounded interesting.

A Book Involving a Mythical Creature: The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan Howard

Horst Cabal thought he was quite dead, and dead for good, until he was risen by a diabolical team of power hungry politicians. He was a little disappointed to find that he was no longer dead. For their part, those who brought him back were also disappointed when they soon figured out they had chosen the wrong Vampire. This one had a conscience and had no interest in being their Lord of The Dead.

Horst soon finds himself in the midst of a plot to create a state of monsters: werebeings, vampires, zombies and the like. In order to help stop this plan he brings his brother, Johannes Cabal, back from Hell, where evidently Horst had previously sent him. Johannes is a necromancer and apparently a good one at that, no longer amused by bringing brainless zombies to animation, he is looking to bring people back from the dead with body, mind and soul intact.

Together they create a team that is hopefully, for the humans on the planet anyway, capable of stopping the evil plot at hand.

First, this is apparently the second book in a series. It did stand alone enough to make the experience enjoyable, but there were several instances where I wished I had picked up the first one instead. So, please read the first one first.

I really enjoyed this book. While it was not my typical genre, it was extremely well written with a big heaping dose of satire and humor thrown in. The satire part put me in mind of my favorite series, The Disc World by Terry Pratchett, and helped the otherwise heavy text flow.

The author was obviously writing for those who were very familiar with this type of book and even mentioned in an early on footnote that reading Lovecraft would probably be a good intro to his books as well. I’m not a fan of Lovecraft, but I was still able to follow the plot and understand most of the intricacies presented.

The novel is long: over 300 pages in hard copy with closely set text and single line print. It took a while to get through. At the end though, I found myself adding the first book to my list of books to read once this challenge is over.

If you are into this type of novel or are looking to test the waters into it, I highly suggest reading the series, though again, please start at the beginning since I believe it would make a lot more sense.