Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Day in the Country!

I handed Eric the lines and showed him where to stand behind Merlin. My horse was in full harness, his tugs attached by chains to a single tree which was loaded with small logs. Eric is a science teacher  in Greenwich, Connecticut and I don't know if he ever helped harness and drive a draft animal before, but he took those long lines and told Merlin to "Walk on" and I was so proud of this person I didn't know the day before. He was steady and true, Merlin walked straight, and I think I saw the beginnings of a couple's decision to someday own a working horse. I could almost here the spark ignite.

Eric and Christine came for an Indie Day on Thursday, it was mild and partly sunny but the rain did not show up and stop our fun. We spend the morning learning the basics of archery and shot at a target in the high field. We extracted honey from my beehive and poured the liquid gold into jars in my kitchen. Lunch for them was in the little cafe in town and then they returned to meet Merlin and ride, drive, and see the cart hooked up and trotting down the road. After all that we still had time to let the goats run and play in the yard until evening milking. They got to squeeze out some milk, get nickered at and their jeans tugged on, but were all smiles. It all wrapped up with watching Gibson and the sheep in their small hill pasture, Gibson herding and heckling and the sheep munching on fallen apples and grass. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday, if you ask me.

Indie Days are great in general, one-on-one instruction with folks who know me through the blog and want to experience what they read about. It was wonderful meeting Christine and Eric, and when they left with hugs and thank-yous I was the truly grateful one. For their support, of course and their friendliness - but also for their beer. Because Eric is a master home brewer and he left a large bottle of the best stout I have ever drank in my entire life! It was a borderline religious experience. After my first big pull from the pint glass I am sure I swore an oath. Holy Crow, it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Or, so I thought…

When chores were done and the animals all content I was getting ready to call it a night after that good day's work. But I felt the urge to text friends, Patty and Mark, and ask if I could swing by later that evening? I just wanted to kick back with friends. A few hours later I was in their kitchen, talking over a glass and eating a hamburger with a side of beans from the garden.

After a good meal (there went my juice fast….) we decided to go outside and get her horse, Steele, a ton of Percheron, out of his pasture and saddled up. Patty wanted to see how a new Aussie saddle felt on the lad. While she tacked up I had this wild idea in my head. Patty saddled the horse and liked the new furniture and when she got off I asked if I could try it out as well? Patty cocked her head a little to the side, but said okay. I NEVER ask to ride her horse. She's 5'10 and built like a goddess from another age. I am a hobbit, at best.

The last time I rode Steele was two years ago, inside the arena at Riding Right Farm. I had professional staff, instructors, and was inside an equestrian facility. Steele was in English tack and I was more comfortable in English gear at the time. Also, there was a first aid kit the size of a large backpack on the wall and I had a helmet on my head. I rode him around the arena once, walking and trotting, and was pretty much scared to death. Too big, too much power, too much for a new rider just getting used to a Fell Pony. But Patty was proud and gave me a hug just for trying.

This night, two years later, there was no arena, no helmet, no professional staff. There was a horse on a friends farm in the front lawn. I got a boost and I rode him. I rode him down the lane onto the road. I rode him back at a canter up the driveway. I walked around the lawn. I was not scared! Not at all! Thanks to a few years in the saddle with a stubborn pony under my belt. I loved riding that giant horse and most of all, I felt strong and proud. I feel strong often enough, with feed sacks and piglets in my arms, but rarely do I let myself feel proud like that.

It wasn't perfect riding, as I was choppy and green compared to the song I know so well with Merlin. But I did it, and I knew when I hopped down the woman whose boots hit the ground was not the girl who trotted in a circle indoors two years earlier. Patty took some video, Mark got on next to try out the saddle as well (which we all LOVED!).

Mark trotted and cantered around his property on that magnificent gelding the rain started to spatter and the wind started to pick up. He hopped off and we untacked the big boy as the real threat of rain came down. We got the horses in the barn and the tack put up just in time for a downpour to soak us! I tried to think back to how the day started, with new friends from another world, shooting arrows into the big burlap and hay target, and a few hours later I had drank the world's best beer, ridden a dinosaur, and got a free shower from Nature herself. Dare I ask for more? We went inside, arms around each other and our little victories. A fine day, indeed.

We were laughing in our cups when we all got a text at the same time. Checking our phones, we saw our friend Joanna (Jasper's Joanna) needed help and now, she was panicked! She had 20+ turkeys escape from their electric netting in the storm we just laughed thought and they were all over her yard in the dark. This was not a tragedy but her husband was away at work, she was exhausted from the long day, and you all know how it is when the last straw breaks in half. She just needed some friends. Since she literally live two houses down from Patty and Mark we hopped in the back of Patty's truck and rode to the rescue.

It did not take long to wrangle the turkeys. We set out a fan of arms and hollers and soon they were all back in their fence and the charger turned back on. Joanna was relieved and we all headed back to Mark and Patty's to sit and talk, laugh and smile. It felt good to help a friend. It felt better to just be in a place where help is a panicked text away, loaded in the car or ready to charge into scene on the back of a white horse, literally.

A day in the country. A fine day.
And I slept the way heavy rocks sleep when they are very tired and the moss doesn't itch.

P.S. The Birchthorn Kickstarter has only 5 Days Left! Please take a minute to pledge and be a part of a story. A story that supports this farm, that lets you take part in the creation, and will employ me into early winter! We are 77% towards the goal and this project will not happen unless it is 100% funded! So do not wait, check out the new reward posted (a LIFETIME ticket to CAF events and workshops!) and keep telling friends and family about this project! I thank you!


Blogger Carlos Rodriguez said...

did you ever find out what happened to brianna? so glad your day was amazing! we all need more of those in this crazy farm life :)

August 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Sounds like a great day, You've made a great life for yourself. Its a rare thing to be able to do I think. Cheers, Kate

August 16, 2014 at 1:32 PM  

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