Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Around the Farm--Memorial Day Weekend Edition

It's been a while since I brought my camera out around the farm with me.  Working nights has me thrown a little bit off my usual habits.  I'll try to be a bit better about it in the future.

"Yeah, what's up with that anyway?"

Besides Rusty giving me a hard time, the other animals were more than happy to cooperate.  Some even posed.

Others were oblivious to everything except a possible meal.

Some of the critters even attempted an artistic approach.

I've considered showing this chicken, but I have no idea how to show a chicken.  Do I need a chicken show halter?  Do they have chicken show sheen?

Believe it or not this is one of my Rhode Island Red/Easter Egger cross chicks.  They grow up so fast!

I didn't just take pictures of animals.  This is an antique dirt mover.  I want to plant mums in it this fall, but I might have to wait a few years for this drought to be over.

Dad and I put up more continuous pipe fencing this weekend.  I think it's coming along well!  This pen is almost finished.

The horses don't know it, but as soon as I get the rest of the continuous fencing up, I will get my roundpen panels back and then it's back to work for them lazy bums!

I don't know...maybe Paula is aware of that fact, because she tried to impersonate a llama today.

Completely off the subject, here is your gratuitous Charlie shot of the week.  Fourteen years old and going strong--I hope he sticks around for fourteen more :)

The girls keep him young, I think.  They're always looking for some sort of shenanigans to get into.

The chickens don't care about shenanigans.  They just want their corn.  

Helen says that's right--now fork it over, human!

I'd better listen to her and get to it. 

No rest for the weary,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Putting On Airs

The recent scandal with AQHA champion breeder Rita Crundwell has made me think a lot about the way in which people act and are expected to act in the horse show world.  Frankly, it makes me sick to my stomach anymore.  While for years I wanted nothing more than to stand in a show ring, proudly displaying my horse, presenting the culmination of all my hard work, it is sadly no longer about hard work at all.  The sad truth is it's only about one thing: money.

In a way, though, everything in life is all about the money.  Trying to do the right thing doesn't count for much anymore.  People tend to me more impressed by what you have and can do for them in a monetary sense than what your moral compass is.  I've known people who give more respect to someone who shows, even if they have starved horses at home and even if they lose their horse to the trainer they end up not being able to pay, over someone who puts the well being of their animals over showing, and in some cases, even putting food in their own mouths.  

It wouldn't be hard for me to put on airs.  I could factually state that I went to KU Law, live on a 400 acre estate, drive a Lexus and own horses.  That doesn't sound too bad, but it's not the entire truth.  I didn't graduate from KU Law and I am not an attorney (you'd be surprised how many people make the logical leap in assuming that I am a lawyer if they find out I went to law school).  While I do live on a 400 acre estate, I do not own any of it--my Dad does, and I live on a small parcel of land in one corner of an irrigated circle in a 120 year-old house that is halfway gutted.  I do drive a Lexus--but it is 12 years old.  I love it, but  I was able to pay for it in full with the insurance check I got from totaling my Camry, so it wasn't as expensive as it sounds.  And as you know, I do own horses, but they are basically pets for the time being.  I can't afford a trainer, shows, or even the gas money to haul them anywhere except for Fabian's twice monthly vet appointments, which I have to set aside money for.  

There was a time, though, when I wanted to play with the big boys and thought, in my complete naivete, that I could pull it off.  I learned the hard way and at great cost and regret that not only is it impossible to play the game, but that in the end, it isn't at all what I wanted.  Getting caught up in the game happens--the allure of what all is possible is temptation on steroids.  Showing--and ultimately winning--provides a rush like no other.  Eventually, though, you get to the point where you look around you and ask if it is all worth it, whatever you've had to sacrifice for that ten second thrill.  To quote Sheryl Crow: "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.  If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?" 

There are people who risk everything, like Rita Crundwell, for that rush.  Other people sacrifice their familial relationships, their paychecks, their credit, their own horses' well-being for the hope of being a champion for one day.  If all it took was hard work, I would be in there right now showing to my heart's content, but unfortunately it takes so much more....  More money, more unethical behavior, more putting aside of other things in life than what I am able to provide.  I've come to the point in my life where I have to ask myself, "In ten years, will this matter to me?  Will this make a difference in anyone's life?"  

In all my years of showing as a kid, I can't remember all the classes I won.  What I do remember, more than anything, are the times we spent, as a family, getting the horses ready to show, traveling to the show, going out for dinner after the first night, getting up early and scrubbing the poo stains off our white ponies before the show the next day, and then traveling home, being so completely exhausted from having the time of our lives all together, my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, and me.  Sure, we were happy when we won, but those trophies sit dusty and broken in a box in storage.  However, I often bring out the pictures from those days and think about my brother nearly hitting the judge with his fake sword in costume class; my dad and I cheering on my sister with her reserve finish in a class of 82 ponies on an extremely hot Iowa day; my mom yelling "GEEGEEGEEGEEGEEGEEGEE!!!!!" from the stands as I ran my pony home from our barrel pattern.  

Why is it so easy to forget the things that truly make us happy?  Why do we always think it's going to be the finale, rather than the journey? Why is it so important for us to win, when it's the doing that is the most fun?  At first, when I had people turn their backs on me because I couldn't afford to show, I was terribly hurt and I felt like I let them down, but the more I got to thinking about it, they are letting themselves down and it makes me feel bad for THEM.  It is so easy to forget about the things that really make us happy and chase forever after those thing that we think will MAKE us happy, but ultimately don't.  

I've thought about selling my show equipment, but something keeps holding me back.  I think about the hurt of having failed in this race and tell myself there is no way I will enter it again.  What I keep holding on to is the thought that somehow, someday, I might be able to recapture the spirit of what I once loved to do--show.  Is there a way to do that without the "win" getting in the way?  I might not have the respect of those that do seek to win at all costs, but that's not what is important to me.   I will never be able to afford to play that game, no matter how much money I ever have. The fun, the memories, the feeling of being so exhausted at the end of the day that your boots feel like they weight 50 pounds a piece but you can pick them up easily because you are fueled by a smile on your face that won't fade for days--that's something that no amount of money can buy.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Little List

I have a list of things in my brain I need to get out on paper (albeit of the virtual sort) and I don't have a lot of pictures to go with it, so here's a kitty.

Not that one needs an excuse for a kitty.  This is Milton's momma by the way, looking down on me from the barn loft.  You can see the barn has needed a new roof for many years, but the poor old building is too far gone, so it's standing there patiently waiting for its demise one day.  I thought it was a cute pose for her anyway.  I shall call it "Kitteh of Enlightenment."  She will guide the way to a plane of higher thought.  Okey dokey?

Anyway, as I said, I have a few things I'd like to write about.

1. First of all, I'm so happy to announce that I am once again officially, gainfully employed!  I am working as a CNA only seven miles away.

I didn't mean for that to rhyme.  I accidentally do that all the time.

No more rhymes, I mean it!  Anybody want a peanut?

2.  A couple of weeks ago was an emotional roller-coaster!  I got a "new" car on Saturday, Harley passed away on Sunday and then I got a job offer on Friday.

I think I need a vacation!

3.  Finals are finished and grades are in.  I was shocked to see I had an A in A&P.  That was really the most difficult class I can remember taking.  I didn't have an A all semester but the extra credit I did must have boosted me enough.  I can't say the same for Spanish.  I had an A all semester long, got a B on the final and ended up with a B in the class.  That stinks, but other than that one B I had all A's, so I can't complain too much!

4.  I got all of the chicks moved outside now and they are doing great.  They crack me up, though, how much braver they get with each passing day.  They get about two feet braver--two feet further away from the coop--with each day.  The older chickens are being nice to them, too, for the most part.  

5.  I forgot to mention that I work nights now.  It's taken a while to get used to my new schedule and that second night I thought I wasn't going to be able to do it, but after that it got much better quickly and I sort of like it now.  Even though I get plenty of sleep I feel like I have more hours in the day this way.  I have all the yard work caught up, got all the rest of the scrap metal cleaned up, got that area mowed, got the house cleaned and I've updated many pages on my genealogy website (https://sites.google.com/site/mccandlessfamilygenealogy/).  Can't complain about that either!

6.  I enrolled for the fall as well.  It will hopefully be the last semester completed before entering into the nursing program.  I'm taking Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Pathophysiology.  After taking those classes I think I'll need to take Tequilaology.

7.  I've been watching old Buster Keaton show episodes.  Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.

Well, it's time for me to go to work.  Goodnight world!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Greensburg Anniversary

This past weekend was the fifth anniversary of the devastating Greensburg tornado.  

I remember five years ago my ex had just gotten out of the Army and we were staying with my Dad here, which, at that time, was his farm, while we were house hunting.  It was shortly before everything fell apart--we never did get a house.  That night, though, and the subsequent days, I will never forget.  We were watching the weather on TV, knowing things were getting bad, but it was truly unbelievable when we heard that Greensburg had been virtually wiped off the face of the earth...and that same tornado was still on the ground going strong and heading straight toward us.

I remember such an eerie, frightened feeling looming as thick as the humidity.  All we could do is wait.  At some point it finally became evident that the tornado would stay to the west of us.  As I became thankful that the farm would be safe, I began to worry about my horses who were pastured on 60 acres to the west.  When the tornado went through it was dark and there was nothing I could do but wait until morning.

First thing in the morning at first light I drove out to the pasture.  Thankfully all the debris was either easily avoided or moved and I was able to get out there without a lot of trouble.  When I got closer I was happy to see the tornado had missed my pasture by about a mile--all my horses were safely contained within the pasture fence.  

After checking on my horses I headed north and checked on a lady who had bought a couple of horses from me.  She lived alone and was right in the path of the tornado, so I was very worried about her.  As I drove toward her house my heart raced--everything coming up to her house was obliterated.  I couldn't believe what I saw, though, when I got to her little farm.  It was virtually untouched!  For some reason the tornado had skipped right over her house and then went on to take out a feedlot grain bin not even half a mile away.  People talk about tornadoes being such odd weather events in that way, but on that day those stories became a reality for me. 

I'm very blessed to have never been directly hit by a large tornado *knock on wood*.  I'm so thankful that on that day, five years ago, the farm that would one day become mine was spared, as were my horses and my friend's place.  It's hard to believe that was five years ago.  One one hand, the trees to the west of here still show the scars of that awful night like it was only a few months ago.  On the other hand, now having been divorced for so long, moving to Texas, then Missouri, and then back here to the farm, it seems like that was an entire lifetime ago.  

Although I escaped having to physically rebuild my life that night, I never thought I'd be going through an emotional rebuilding of sorts.  And just as Greensburg has recovered and has made a new start, so have I. 

Recover, rebuild, and renew,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ugly Little Roo

Not counting my new chicks, I currently have two roosters.  The first, Rusty, is a stately and proud Easter Egger Roo:

The second is a...um...homely little Silkie Roo I affectionally call Tuk Tuk (because that's all he says--"took-took."  He even has his own theme song, apparently).

Tuk Tuk is most definitely the low guy in the pecking order and he's not exactly a show-quality chicken anyway.  I'm not sure why he turned out so sad-looking, but the one thing that makes me love this little chicken the most is his indomitable spirit.

I believe I can fly...I believe I can touch the sky!

Tuk Tuk might not be the best looking bird ever, but he's definitely got the most character!

The bird is the word,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Camry Replacement

Last November I had a bit of a disagreement with a deer concerning who had the right-of-way, which resulted in my Toyota Camry being totaled.

A few months ago I thought I was going to buy my dad's Sequoya, since he really wants a Tundra.  The only problem is that nice used Tundras are hard to find at a reasonable price (they just do not ever depreciate) and a new one would be difficult for him to take good care of since he works down a pretty rough dirt road.  So, he's decided to wait until he's retired and then go ahead and splurge on a brand new one.  On the flip side, I was driving the Sequoya back and forth to school and while I loved the vehicle, being a poor college student, I needed something a bit better on gas mileage.  Dad and I talked and decided he'd take the Sequoya back and we'd look for a more fuel-efficient Camry replacement for me--most likely another Camry.

Saturday I was relaxing at home since I had gotten everything I needed to do done before the weekend, but my weekend plans got postponed.  It was nice not to have to do ANYTHING, but then I got a call from Dad.

"I found your car."

"You did?  What is it?"

"A Lexus."

"Stop joking."

"They're holding it for you. I'm coming to pick you up--meet me in Pratt in an hour."

We got to Wichita and Dad was right--there was my car!  While it is five years older than my Camry was (which is the ONLY reason I could afford this car), it has 90K less miles and is in PERFECT condition.  I can't believe this was on a used car lot.  It certainly wouldn't have been there for long!  Thankfully Dad has done a lot of business at the place so they were happy to hold the car until I got there and the business part didn't take long.  Soon I was driving my "new" car home!

I hadn't had a chance to test drive it--I had taken Dad's word for it as I needed to get home before it got dark (my new chicks were outside for the first time), so as I merged out onto the highway I was so pleased with the performance of the car that I started giggling uncontrollably.  I was absolutely giddy!!

Not bad for a 12 year old car, eh?

The car had Lexus dealership service sticker on it, so I called to ask them about the service records on the car.  The guy looking up the records said, "Wow, they REALLY took care of this car!"  Hopefully I can avoid the pheasants and deer and keep this car in mint condition.  

Oh, and that means Sophie isn't allowed in it, either.  

Homegirl knows the truck is all hers, anyway :~)

My passionate pursuit of perfection,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Goodbye My Friend

Sunday afternoon, my companion of 14 years, my loving, sweet boy Harley passed away.

I had actually planned on attending my first endurance ride this weekend, but it was cancelled due to the weather.  Otherwise, I may not have been home.

I had just gotten home from washing my "new" (used) car (more on that later) and walked in to find Harley seizing and struggling to breathe by the entry door.  Looking at him I knew that he had only minutes left--a trip to the vet was futile, especially with it being Sunday evening.  No one would be able to get to him quickly enough.  

I placed him gently on the chaise by the window and quickly put the dogs out in their pen.  I came back in and spent Harley's final minutes with him, telling him how much I love him, letting him know how thankful I was to have him in my life.  He let go quickly once I was with him and passed peacefully.  Eventually I found the energy to place him on his favorite cat bed, wrap him in a sheet and bury him in my shade garden in the back yard.  

He was old and had been slowly losing weight over the past couple of years, so this wasn't completely unexpected.  It certainly didn't make things any easier, though.

Harley has been with me through so much through the years.  He's lounged in many a house....

He's put up with many a new furry companion....

He helped me maintain order and civility through the household....

I admit he didn't exactly approve of everything that I did....

But at the end of the day, all Harley ever asked for was to cuddle up in a blanket with me and purr me to sleep.

He and Charlie have been the two old men of the house for as long as I've been divorced.

It's so odd now to be in the house without him.  I'm not sure how long it will take before I stop seeing him out of the corner of my eye, or have to stop myself from calling for him at feeding time.

Harley was most definitely a big part of my life and now that part of my life is gone.  As sad as I am, what I feel most is gratitude.   I am so thankful to have had such a special animal be part of my life for so long.

 I love you, kitten.