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My Lucky Life?

Some days, I wonder what the hell I am doing in my life. Like today.
I’ll see a horseshoe lying on the ground, and smile. I think, Gee Whiz. Look. It’s my lucky day.


Then I pause and wonder which horse threw the shoe. Horse one and two look great. The baby doesn’t wear shoes so I don’t bother to worry about her. Then I see it.


Goliath not only lost a shoe, he has torn half his hoof apart. And I panic because I don’t know what this means. Is this a sign of poor horse care? Is it a result of bad nutrition? Is it because I haven’t used hoof oil for awhile? Could it be punishment for having a mucky pasture? I know some horses get Lamitis, where the hoof pulls away from the leg and the animal has to be put to sleep. Does this mean my horse is going lame? Is he already lame? I rack my brain. He did have an odd gate last time I rode him. Did I push, insensitive to his growing discomfort, so that now he is in full-out pain? How long will it take to heal? Where do I start? Or is this normal, perhaps? I am a newbie at all this. I just don’t know when to worry and when to take things with a grain of salt.

He seems OK, behavoirwise. Yet still, I will worry about him all night until I have a better understanding of why his foot looks like this. Our horses have thrown shoes before, but it never looks like this. 

I will call the farrier and get him out pronto. Chris will explain what is going on and alleviate my fears. I will learn something. But that doesn’t mean these lessons are not fraught with discomfort, worry and frustration over my inadequacies. Discovery is exciting, but I also know a lack of knowledge can result in damage for others. I fret about that kind of thing – about my moral and humane responsibility as I take on new adventures.

This is my baby horse, April. She is now one year old. (Sorry for the bad Pix. You try holding a camera out for a blind shot and getting your face and a big ole horse in the frame – it is harder than it looks.)
  
This is her mother, Dixie.

Denver says it figures I’d pick Dixie for a horse because our hair matches so well, and it is so like me to want to be well coordinated. Ha.
Actually, the fact that we match is the best thing I can say about this horse. It seemed like a good idea to buy her in the beginning, because we had all this land and the fellow who set up our fencing had a horse for sale. Dixie was pregnant, and all I thought was how lovely it would be to see a baby horse being born. It took about 30 seconds for me to shout SOLD! But after the baby was born, we learned this horse wasn’t very good for riding, because she is not well trained. I am the only person who can manage her (And Kent on a good day.) And in the end, it costs the same to keep a poorly trained horse as a good one. Of course, I didn’t think about that in the beginning.
We could train Dixie. I’m learning how to do this in the horse clinics. But really it takes more effort and time than I am willing to commit. I want horses for pleasure riding, and if I have to devote hours and hours struggling with an animal just to make her follow basic commands, it becomes more of a chore than a joy. As result, I think we should sell her. We have too many horses as it is. Four? Frankly, we only need two. Any more is too much to feed and worm and shoe. We never saddle up all three riding horses, even when we have a handful of friends sitting around the campfire and we all decide to ride. It seems two people go out together most of the time and people take turns. At home it is usually just Neva and I riding. As result, I am burdened with this feeling that I have to go out there everyday, riding one horse after another to keep them in shape. Everything – grooming, washing, caring – it is all a huge ordeal due to the number of animals to attend to. It is too much for one person to take on. Mark is busy with his interests and Neva is still too small to be much help. With one or two horses, it would be easy to keep them trained and I’d be able to fuss over them for fun.   But four is a trial.

Unfortunately,  every time I mention selling Dixie, Neva has a fit. And we can’t sell the baby until she is old enough to be of use (can’t saddle break a horse until they are two, and they are not good for riding till they are three.) We could practically give her away, because there are people who buy young horses because they are inexpensive, but I feel badly, as if she deserves to live in her birth place. And occasionally, people buy young horses for a song only planning to sell them for meat and you can imagine how I’d feel about that. Then, there is the fact that I still feel drawn to the challenge of learning to train her from the beginning. It would be a great opportunity to develop skill in horsemanship. So, I am not finished with this baby yet – even though she does require work and expense..

The point is, I should have thought all our horse acquisitions out better from the start, but we sort of accumulated these animals as we went. We were shooting from the hip – carried away with enthusiasm for our country life. I hate when I do that. I prefer to think through things, looking forward, and making more practical, educated decisions. It is far more trouble to un-do a mistake than to go slow and avoid making them from the beginning. Lot of good it does to acknowledge that now.

Our best and brightest horse is Peppy. I fell in love with this animal the moment I saw him. We were shopping for another horse. Nevertheless, I saw Peppy and knew he was just what we needed, so I begged Mark to purchase him when at the same time we bought Goliath. Now, I wish I had used this kind of instinct on every animal. We should have two of Peppy. Period. I simply didn’t know better back then.

Two horses would meet our needs and make it easier to afford having horses in general. Not like horses are our only interest. If you want to kayak and hike, to make wine and spin wool, to travel and keep bees and write books, well, drowning in horses just isn’t a bright idea. The problem is, these animals are so much a part of the family now, letting a few of them go is a hard decision to put into action.

This is Peppy, with his happy rider. I adore this animal above all others in our family. He is worth all the work, effort and expense. He is safe, personal, and a joy in every way. And look at the smile on Neva’s face. Priceless! 
. 

But I started this blog talking about doubt.
Horse are not the only thing that make me wonder what the hell I am doing.
Let’s talk eggs.
I can’t figure out how my peacock came so early. I checked my calender. None of my peacock eggs are due to begin hatching until May 29th.  Ducks take a week less to develop, and my duck eggs arrived two days after my peacocks in the mail, so they go a later start on the entire incubation process. Yet one peacock hatched before the ducks. “Early” came almost two weeks early. That is impossible. That means he isn’t just a preemie. It is downright impossible to form a fully functioning fowl in half the time nature predicts – even if you do turn up the heat to hurry the process a tiny bit. The only answer would be that&nbs
p;this egg began incubating before it arrived at my house. But that means it survived being packed and mailed from St. Louis, and standing at room temperature for hours at my house before being settled into the warm incubator. And technically, eggs can’t develop under those conditions, and stopping incubation or heat etc… during the process will kill an embryo. 
How did this bird survive? I have no idea. Drives me crazy trying to figure it out. 
Meanwhile, I have five peacock eggs that still seem active in the incubator (they have weight and they roll back into position when I turn them, as if a bird is inside setting into position to break free.) So when they hatch (IF they hatch) I’ll have birds born a week or more apart. This means I can’t put them together right away or Early will harm the others. What a drag. But in a few weeks, they will catch up and become cage buddies.
Wish I knew what my early bird is all about. He sure is cute, and so hyper there’s no doubt that he certainly is healthy. He is like the bionic peacock or something. Amazing.

I asked donkey what he thought about all this. He just stared at me drolly as if to say, “Who cares? I am your soul-mate and the rest of these animals are just taking up space. Forget them. It should be just you and me, Kid.” Lord, some days, I think he is right.

My confusion today wasn’t confined to birds and horses. Lets add bees. A few days ago, an Indian brought me my bees and helped me set up my hive. He has over 250 hives and has been raising bees since 1974. Nice man. He also makes native American fine crafts that he sells in shows and at festivals. (I told him I’d like to see his work for our potential coffee-shop/gallery next season – but that is a different subject).  Anyway, I set up the hive-top feeder with sugar water to settle the bees as you are supposed to do when a new swarm arrives. I am not supposed to check them for ten days, which is killing me because I am so curious. But, despite my desire to mess with the bugs, I am employing discipline. I do go up everyday to watch the workers fly in and out of the hive to know they are busy settling in. I did decide to check the feeder to see if I gave them enough starter syrup. Inside, I see a million tiny ants sucking up the syrup. Now, I wonder if ants will get into the hive. Will the bees kill them if they dare go beyond the feeder? If ants get into the honey it would be ruined? But then again, if ants could invade honey comb, wouldn’t every bee hive be overrun with ants since all these hives are nestled in open fields? 
Another dilemma. Should I worry about ants in my honey? I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. We didn’t discuss ants in the class. So, tonight I’ll look up ants in my bee book. If the answer isn’t there, I’ll call the Indian. 
Another something to ponder and snort about. It never ends.

The thing is, for all that jumping into new experiences is filled with wonder and excitement, it is nerve wracking too. 
I guess that is what makes life a constant thrill ride. It is a roller coaster, like it or not. Unfortunately, I’m a gal who gets motion sick. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I’m willing to get off a good ride. I’ll just squeeze my eyes shut and hope the swoops and dives don’t ruin the experience.  And I’ll wait eagerly to see where the coaster lets me off as my journey continues. 
     

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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