Lately, I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to the concept of gratitude. I feel like optimistic, humble society members preach gratitude in all things in an attempt to stave off feelings of loss and inadequacy. But the more I think about it, the more I believe they might be on to something.
I could continue to look at my farm as I had been during the long winter months: dollar signs constantly turning in my mind. Fences that need fixing, blankets that need washing. It’s currently hay season in Upstate New York. Will we be able to get all the hay in in time? How much will it set us back? Will we be able to recruit enough help to put it in the loft or will our backs feel like overworked pipe cleaners on the brink of snapping? Will I find enough hay worth storing to feed my band of 11 senior horses through this coming winter?
|This is what 34 year old EB Top Cat, or TC, thinks about winter.|
And that’s just this season. What about the weekly lawn care – mowing, cleaning, weed eating – that make it look so crisp and well cared for? The pastures need to be brush hogged, the gardens need to be redone. My 50 year old pole barn could use some TLC (and a new roof if we’re being honest).
And that’s all without walking into the house. Let’s face it, I’m a horse girl. If I’m going to spend my money and time on something, the barn trumps the house every time. Unfortunately, the house comes with its own array of ulcer-causing issues.
Did I mention that I work a full-time job away from farm?
In the midst of my war against time and responsibility, my aunt and uncle visited the farm for dinner recently. My uncle brought his lap top and started a slide show from their recent trip to Italy. I felt insanely jealous. They have the freedom and resources to fly across the world and live in another country for a week or so. How liberating to have so much time on your hands that you can attempt to absorb an entirely different culture! The houses built precariously on cliffs. The history of towns and bridges built before years were four digits long. The interesting people they met!
The slide show left me with a sense of longing. Eleven horses is not a responsibility that everyone can handle. Toss in four dogs and two cats and you’ve got Tantius Farm. Sometimes I doubt my judgement in choosing this life. I could be travelling. I could be holed up in a studio apartment somewhere, spending my evenings cuddled up next to a keyboard as my characters chattered away about their lives. I could be driving a VW Convertible with the top down all summer. I could move every 3-5 years. I could visit my friends who live all across the country. I could live in Scotland for a few years.
|NLF Tia, rescued 10 years ago, went from being an emotionally unavailable mare to my A-rated show ring diva. She's semi-retired now at 22.|
Just when I was seriously starting to doubt my life choices (it was time for chores and horses have no idea about dinner parties unless they involve open gates and a ransacked grain bin), my aunt asked if she could help with the horses.
I’ve been “riding” horses since before I could walk. In kindergarten, I couldn’t understand why the other kids were so amazed by my equine friends. Not everyone had horses? Nonsense! My best friend was a horse! In my world, everyone had: a mom, a dad, a dog and at least one horse! I’ve come to understand that they’re a sort of novelty to non-equestrians. I told my aunt that I would love the help.
My aunt was in heaven. Just crossing the lawn and passing two of my Morgans in a paddock, Shadow and Rip, caused my aunt’s excitement started to bubble to the surface. When my cousin and I haltered the horses and started to walk them toward the barn, my aunt couldn’t hold her excitement in any more. The happy dances started after I halted Shadow so she could pet her for a moment. So much simple joy from laying a hand against the graying neck of our resident old Morgan mare. Something that I do every day was like Christmas for my aunt and her giddiness only multiplied. She bravely helped toss hay into the stalls and dump grain in buckets. She clapped as my Galahad horse bowed for cookies and fed him one herself. When she emerged from the barn, I caught a glimpse of my aunt as a child. Her eyes sparkled and her smile wouldn’t stop. The horses, the smells, the routine – everything that I do every day, twice a day – made her clap in delight. “What a beautiful life you have, Kim. How amazing!”
|My Aunt Jean sharing a moment with Showy Lady's Slipper, one of our current fosters from ForeverMorgans.|
The woman who had taken cooking classes in Italy, touched bridges that were thousands of years old and ridden in a gondola through Venice thought my life was beautiful. When I thought about it – a barn full of older horses that are healthy and happy, a house full of dogs that are sensitive and loving, friends who give up their Sundays to help me load my loft with hay – she’s right. I chose to create a farm where older horses could land safely and never have to worry about falling through the cracks, suffering abuse or traveling the auction circuit. I chose to be the one beside them as they take that first step toward the rainbow bridge. I chose to have a farm where everyone is welcome and, regardless of the height of the lawn or the state of the gardens, people respond to the blissful serenity that rides the gentle breezes as they sing across my property.
My life is beautiful, and I am grateful for it.