The horse's pasture to the East...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Good evening, oh mysterious reader!

I've found another book to read. It's a new publication written by Temple Grandin titled ANIMALS MAKE US HUMAN. Most excellent! I highly recommend it.

Ms. Grandin talks about various animals that have been domesticated over the millineum : dogs, cats, horses, cattle, pigs, animals kept in zoos and animals living in their natural habitat. She relates them to us, giving us insites into their behavior patterns and better ways to live with them, more humane ways to care for them.

It's one of those books that keeps me up at night reading.

I see so many amazing things, living in the area that I do. I'm sure that I see things that most other people simply because we are so far off the beaten track and living on a preserve.

There's a fat little opposum that trundles past my door here in my study every day between noon and one. I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull a little pocket watch out when he pauses to look in my door. He's so precise in his choice of juniper berries hanging on the ancient bush at the end of my garden, carefully pulling the lowest branch down to his level and choosing which berries he will eat for his lunch. I'm pretty sure he carries a tiny linen napkin that he ties around his neck just before he seats himself for his lunch.

Then there are the three white tail deer that walk across the berm of the pond every afternoon. They're so sure of their safety that they don't even run away if my thirteen year old cocker, Joe, is outside when they stop by for a few tasty branches off the willow trees. Joe barks with all the energy he can muster, but the usual response is " Like we're worried? I so don't think so!" and then they continue their stroll around the pond, flipping their pretty white flag tails at Joe like ladies flirting at an afternoon cocktail party.

What a shame more people don't have the opportunities that I do, to stand in a meadow and listen to nothing but the wind in the trees and the grass as it bends. If more people could find this kind of peace, maybe they would be willing to put all the guns down and try cooperating instead.

But maybe that's too much to hope for?! Read the book if you have a chance to. Ms. Grandin's is a fascinating point of view and one worth noting. She sees the world from the same kind of place as the animals she writes about. More people should pay attention to what she has to say. We would be better off for it.

I remain your friend, always...Nancy, smiling

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Well, Kansas is never dull when it comes to weather. When I walked out the door this morning, the temperature was 17 degrees and it was foggy! There was a hore frost on everything including horses and one wee donkey. It was beautiful and weird.

I heard from a friend of mine this afternoon, one I haven't heard from or seen in three years. I've known her since she was just barely three years old. We met when her folks called me to say that she was coming home with them. She's adopted. And her folks were thrilled. It had taken nearly three years to complete the process of getting the child they wanted.

Am. was tiny with freckles, red hair...and scars. She had been removed from her Mother's home because of extreme abuse and Mom had been sent to jail along with her boyfriend for child abuse. It wasn't going to be an easy ride for Am. or her adopted parents. There's always more to scars than what you see on the surface when it comes to abuse in childhood.

But Am. is a grown woman now with a daughter her own that is the spitten' image of her Mom, a home of her own, a job and a man who loves her. I think she's a real success story, even with all of the exaggerated teen problems that were inevitable.

We talked about her life, her daughter's life and my horses. I think Am. is one of the reasons I found my way back to horses. She was a rider as a child and I used to go out to her barn to watch her on her horse. I'd sit there and day dream about being with my own horse, riding and just being, the way you always are when you love horses. When the opportunity presented itself for me to have horses in my life, I jumped and never looked back.

So, thank you Am. for being one of my horse muses!

The guys were mellow today when I went out, both times. For them, having the temperatures go up nearly thirty degrees from -5 to 25, made it seem like a day on the beach. Lots of running, bucking and playing out there.

It was a very good day. I am content and that's not a bad way to start the year off!

Nancy, smiling

Saturday, January 9, 2010


You're wondering about the title. It's the way I feel after I've been out, slogging through 2 and 3 foot snow drifts when it's 5 degrees and the wind is blowing from the North. I get so "off in the zone" that it's almost like hallucinating. FLASH BACK...FLASH BACK!

Today my letter is for my friend, Ms. H., who I just talked with. Inside the letter is a smaller one addressed to her Granddaughter, Little Miss A. I'll start with Little Miss A.

Sweetheart, I am so sorry you haven't been able to come out to see Willow and Lucky and Apache. I know I told you to come when the grass went to sleep and took all of the bugs with it. And I know you've realized the grass is VERY ASLEEP right now, with a deep blanket of snow on top.

But the blanket is so deep, the road is too hard for your Grandma's car to get here safely. And it's so cold, you would have a very hard time walking from the top of the hill, clear out to my house. She can't bring you because it's too dangerous for little people right now.

Take the time that it patient. The snow will melt and then you can come out. Willow will still be here, and happy to see you. I'll have her little halter ready for you to take her for a walk.

Listen to your Mom and Dad and Grandma. They love you. And help with Little Miss I. Little sisters are pretty cool to have and Miss I. needs you to be there and to love her.

My love to you! Miss Nancy, smiling BIG TIME!

And there's my letter in the letter!

I have an adventure in the cold to tell you about. It happened two days ago. I was so blown out, I didn't write it then. Mea culpa!

I need to set the tone and zone first. It was 3 degrees that morning and the wind was blowing out of the N/NW at 20 to 30 MPH. The sun was shining. That helped. But it had snowed the day and night before again, so there was another six to eight inches of snow on top of the never melted snow from Christmas Eve...the one that was 14 inches or so. Whew! Most snow we've had here in years .

It was so cold that when I opened the gate to OUTSIDE, the horses just stood there and gave me the "Are you nuts? The wind is blowing and it's cold!" look. I'll never listen to anyone again that says animals aren't intelligent. I was the one out, wading through drifts, not them! Who's really working for whom? You get the picture.

I gave them all an extra measure of grain and free access to hay. Hay is very important to horses in extreme cold. Keeps their body warm with all the energy it takes to digest the roughage. That's what they're made to hay and grass! Coats with buckles and straps on horses is a human thing, thank you very much. Nature made them to do just fine on their own.

Then I got down to the hard part...poop scooping and water bucket filling. Actually, I like the hard physical part of caring for horses. It's my time to work out (much nicer than any gym!) and meditate or, even better, not think. Just fill my head with quiet. But when you have to scoop poop that's frozen to the bottom of the stall and the ground, it involves picks and hoes and a bit of pounding.

Now, I don't even mind that so much as I do the wind and drifting snow. I spent part of my childhood in Wisconsin and Maine, so this kind of weather is not that intimidating for me. I have good memories of those years, so I kind of like it. But the wind was blowing so hard and the snow was so fine and dry, it kept filling the trails I broke to get over to the compost . I had to break a new trail every time I went back out with a full muck bucket!

I kept going though. I can get kind of monkey brained goal oriented about things. I want to leave my barn clean every single morning! Weather doesn't stop me. No siree bob a loo. I'm a lean mean fighting machine! I'M FROM KANSAS! I'M A GOLDERN JAYHAWK!!!! So cold or no cold, wind or no wind, I was going to get the job done. (Of course, all this time the horse were tucked up inside their tidy stalls with deep bedding and huge mounds of Summer green hay, watching me and shaking their heads at the lunacy of humans. "Uh huh. There she goes again. Hasn't got a lick of sense, does she Lucky?" I should mention that the stalls are permanently opened. They come and go at will. Smart horses!)

I went back and forth, back and forth, amazed at the disappearing paths in the snow. I got slower and slower too, but I was still going to get it done because I knew it would be three times as much work if I didn't, the next time I came out. And I always clean my barn in the mornings!

I was getting pretty tired by the last load. It had been a poop party the night before, with all the extra hay they're getting to stay warm. Lots and lots of compost for my Spring garden...lots and lots and lots. I decided to take a lazy man's load the last time out and just get it done, so I overloaded my muck bucket and looked at the filled in path yet one more time and began to sing the music from Doctor Zhivago in my head. It was the Russian Steppes and I needed to walk home, across the endless snow.

I started up the hill, dragging, dragging and breaking the trail one more time, trying to just get over to my mountains of compost with the last load. I was very Russian about it, stoic and determined with great music behind me. The light was perfect and I was the beautiful, if a bit tired, Lara. Men would write poetry to me after my epic journey to the poop pile, across the frozen tundra!

And then it happened! The goldern frapping muck bucket flipped and, when I turned to stop it ... I DID NOT WANT TO SCOOP IT TWICE!!! grabbed me and over I went too. I landed on my back with about a hundred pounds of fresh, steaming horse manure in my lap! I was buried in a bank of snow, covered in shit and I was by myself! It was a tense moment, to be sure. What if I died in a mound of horse poop and the snow drifted over me? John would never find me and my body wouldn't show up until Spring! Yeah, I know. I can get pretty dramatic sometimes. But I'm Lara, remember? And there's great music.

Only Lara never had to deal with a hundred pounds of horse poop in her lap. And there were no makeup artists to put just the right little smudges on my face so I would look sexy, helpless and determined at the same time. I was just a middle aged lady in Kansas, in a snow bank with poop in my lap!

I remember laying there and thinking "Well, this isn't so bad. It's actually kind of comfortable, warm even. And I like the smell of horse poop...right? And the sky is pretty today too. Not bad. Not bad at all." That's when I started to laugh. It's my solution to all of the problems that the world presents...laugh! And it was funny. And the snow really was beginning to drift over me. And, here's the wonderful part, I was forced to stop and look...really the sky.

I'd had so many layers on, trying to protect my skin, that I'd been pretty much just looking down through the scarves and hat, at the ground in front of me. I'd forgotten to just look! It was beautiful! And with the dry, tiny flakes of snow blowing constantly the snow was making these perfect rainbows everywhere I looked. And that's why I wrote FLASHBACK. It was like being high with beautiful colorful rainbows everywhere.

People, I can tell you from experience that you don't need anything to enhance your imagination when you live outside. There's always something to blow your circuits with...something so breathtaking that you have to pause and just say " Thank you!"

Well, I did get up. I did go inside. And I did rescoop the poop, one more time with a few words uttered that were as blue and clear as the sky. And I did laugh. I'm still laughing as I write this!

I'm glad you're my friend and Muse. More later gater.

Nancy, head back and laughing...out the door to freeze my tuckas off one more time

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Dear Miss A...

I'm sitting here tonight in my cozy little study, shades open so I can watch the snow, and thinking about the things I can't change. That's a big category, isn't it? In fact, it's huge. It's most of what goes on in the world...what I CAN'T change. All I can really work on is me.

I walked out my door this morning and stopped, like I do every day. I like to look at this beautiful place I live in. I'm trying to memorize every morning. I probably can't do that, but I sure do want to try. Like everyone past 50, heck...everyone past 30, I have no doubt of my finite existence. I know that someday the jig is up. So now I want to make sure I really use all of my time as well as I can. Part of that is remembering what I have and saying " Thank you!"

I say it just like that too. And I say it out loud. " Thank you!" I don't know who I'm saying it to. God? Maybe. Myself? Absolutely. John, for finding this place? Another absolutely. The folks who own it and haven't raised my rent for 8 years? Another definite yes. And to others too, but I don't know who they are. So I just say it. " Thank you!" Just like that. And I hope that they hear me, because I mean it when I say it. "Thank you!"

But that isn't what I was going to write about. I forgot to keep it simple. My apologies to my audience. I meant to write here about TRYING. It has to be in caps so you pay attention. I have to keep trying...trying to make a difference. So I write my little email letters to my congressmen, sign my petitions, make my calls to 800 numbers and leave my recorded messages. I write to newspapers, to friends, to family. I'm one voice, so it doesn't make much of a sound. But at least I keep TRYING.

And up close and personal? I'm remember to be kind, to put myself into your shoes, to love well and truly, to give what I have to give. I'm TRYING to pay it forward. I still can't control things, hard for a control a holic like me. I'm giving that up, the need to control. Instead, I'm rolling with whatever comes down the pike and boy, oh boy, hasn't the trip become even more interesting because of it. I'm becoming an extreme middle of the roader, to quote my teacher. I like it too. It's very freeing.

The only person I can change is me. And I do that by TRYING as hard as I can. That means stepping, on a regular basis, outside my comfort zone. That's the only way to learn, the only way to really move forward.

I get bumped a lot.

So, I get up and more time.

Say " Hi!' to the G-man and Little I.

My love to you, Nancy, smiling at the way things go

PS. So that the rest of you know...I'm going to address my BLOG to each of my muses, one at a time. I do better when I tell my story to someone, instead of the general ALL, out there in the world. I won't use names. They'll know who they are because I'll send them an email, telling them I wrote to them today.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


So I wrote one essay to add today and then deleted it. Why? I'm going to lead a revolt...a BOOMER REVOLT! We were the ones who brought Rock and Roll in to the world. We peed in a field at Woodstock and started protests over a war that shouldn't have been. Time a Boomer started something else.

I'm not going to watch any TV for a year, read any news that I don't want to or listen to Rush Limbaugh spew his vile.

I have a confession. I'm already doing that. I'm just trying to keep it simple, remember?

This Christmas one of my sons came home for the holiday. He drove in on Wednesday. His most significant other flew home to see her folks on Monday. They were both lucky. They just missed having to travel in the GREAT BLIZZARD OF 2009.

It was the real thing too. More than 12 inches fell out here with winds blowing at more than 40 MPH. It wasn't quite a whiteout, but pretty doggone close to that. We had the classic White Christmas.

On Christmas morning Big R (my son) and Big J (my husband) came down to the barn with me for chores. The horses are always glad to see the guys...lots of nickering and uh-huh-huh'ing going on. I love it when all my men, four legged and two, get along so well!

The Big guys were in the shed stall, talking over fences, tools and other guy stuff while they mucked it out and I was in the paddock, checking Lucky's hooves. They get ice balls on the bottom of their hooves this time of year when there's snow on the ground, so I like to knock the ice off once a day and check to make sure everything is A-OK. Mostly they walk out of the ice balls, but it's still a good habit to keep up with. You find them everywhere out in the pasture...these big, round, dirty ice balls the shape of a hoof. I call them hoof cookies. But I digress...and that's not SIMPLE.

I was under Lucky, checking his legs and knocking off ice when I heard this burst of laughter, so I stood up to see what was going on. Apache, my 5 year old Bashkir, had closed the lower half of the shed door on R and J and closed them in, latched it too! I need to set the scene for you though.

The shed has a big, heavy half door that closes and latches. The only time it's used that way is at grain time. Lucky stands on the outside, at his grain bucket mounted on the fence and Apache walks into his stall...always voluntarily, I might add...and I close the door between them. It keeps them from feeling the need to compete while eating. I like a nice, quiet, orderly meal time.

When the door is open, there's a hook on the back of it that keeps it in place to prevent it from blowing around in the wind and hurting one of them. The hook is placed so that it's hard for me to get to, much less a horse with it's big, sweet blocky head.

Apache thought his way around that! He figured out that if he bounces against that door just so, the hook will come undone making the door fair game. He swung the door shut, flipping the latch up and over and closed Big J and Big R inside the stall!

Think about the generalization that horse had to go through. He's watched me open and close that door for years, but always from the inside. He had to reverse the idea...the way it looked...then swing it closed and lock it. And he did it without being able to reach the hook on the back of the door, not to mention without hands.

Brilliant! Best part was that I had been sending stories to my ever patient family for years, telling them about the funny things that happen out here. They always took what I had to say with a grain of salt, knowing my skills at slight exageration when I tell a story. This time I had nothing to do with it. It was Apache all the way!

When I opened the door and they came out, Apache did a little victory lap around them too! That horse is a total hoot!

He vindicated me with one funny action. Thanks Apache! He's my super horse.

Keep it simple. Keep it natural!

Nancy,head back and laughing

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's January 4, 2010. Somehow I let this sit for more than two years without posting a thing. Guess I just didn't have that much to say.

Since my last posting, all those years ago, Lucky has completely recovered! My big red four legged "boy" is as 100% as he's ever going to be. And that's HUGE! I came so close to loosing him to repeated laminitis, white line disease and abscesses that I was nearly ready to give up. He wasn't. He made it clear that he could get better if I was willing to hang in there. I couldn't say no to that. And he made it! I learned the hard way how to make a poultice with a paper baby diaper and duct tape, how to drain a hoof abscess, how to read an xray and how to believe in Lucky when everyone else said to give up. I wouldn't wish that on anyone as a learning process, but it is the light inside the dark cloud (my preferable way of viewing the world).

Several changes to my life : I have a round pen! What a difference it makes to have a good piece of equipment. I'd been getting along for quite a while on imagination. Not a bad thing. It made me more independent with my horses...and better at improvisation with a focus. So I'm glad I waited to buy one. But just the same...WAHOO! I love having one and so do my four leggeds! Oh yeah...and an arena too! John built it. double WAHOO!

I have two students who are working with me! I'm not a certified instructor, but I'm sure working to get there. And in the meantime I'm working with two extraordinary women and their horses.

It's a bit intimidating and over the top fun at the same time. It forces me to really hone my skills with horses and in communication at the same time. Winter has us stopped for now, so I send email stories ever so often and snail mail copies of some of my favorite articles on Fear and Learning.

Even if our status changes and I'm no longer teaching them, it's given me real incentive to finish the process and to get myself certified. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to teach something that I'm so enthusiastic about, so in love with! Age is just a number and I've always been good with numbers! (My age is 58 at this posting.) So look out! I'm coming through!

This year I've decided to try something new. Instead of starting the year with the usual resolutions that I forget about in two weeks, setting myself up to feel like I can't follow through (ie. failure), I chose one word to focus on for the year. My word is "SIMPLIFY". I'm going to write here, ever so often, about the things I'm doing to SIMPLIFY my life.

And this is my first project on the road to SIMPLIFY. I'm going to try to write here every day. I love a good story and love, even more, telling it well. I think I might try addressing it to different people too, at least part of the time. I do better with an "audience". Then I'll send the link to whomever that is (first names only, I promise) and maybe have one reader a day that I know will check in. Savvy, don't you think?

It's fardling cold here, only up to 7 degrees and it's after 3PM! It was - 3 degrees this morning when I went out to do morning chores. OUCH! Once I got moving it wasn't so bad. Funny chore today (and there's always something unexpected when you work with horses) : They had icicles on their noses and forelocks. They wanted them off and I obliged . So I spent part of the morning knocking frozen horse snot off their noses! Now ask me if that isn't love?!

Nancy, laughing at the way things go!