chickens, farming, Uncategorized

Missy, Peep, and Flower

A few weeks ago, I drove around the Lowe’s parking lot on a warm, sunny Saturday, looking for someone I have never met. They advertised a few pullets for sale online, and we agreed to meet up so I could look them over. Eventually, we found each other, and I parked our old 86′ S-10 flat bed next to their nice, shiny, white Ford Super Duty.

And in a small cage in the back of that Super Duty were three 4 month old pullets and three 2 month old pullets and I immediately fell in love. They were panting a little from being in the sun, but each one had sleek, clean feathers and bright eyes. One by one, I looked them over and put each one in the small cage I had brought. The same cage we brought 5 piglets home in last year – but that’s another story.

We settled on a price, shook hands, and drove back to our respective farms. I had a new sexlink hen, two barred rocks, two buff orpingtons and a white rock pullet, and they were perfect. I had to stop and get gas and ended up moving the cage to the cab of the truck so they would be out of the sun…. and so I could admire them on the way home

I drove straight up to the chicken coop and set the cage down in the shade. Since they were so much younger than the other hens, I decided to put them in the smaller coop with the bantam pair. They would have plenty of low roosts to learn how to hope on, and access to a small yard. I had already bought some chick crumbles, and set that up while the pullets settled down and cooled off.

One by one, I brought them out of the cage and into their new home. I don’t know how long I sat up there with them, but it had to be quite a while. I can’t help it, I love watching them sing and scratch and peck. I held the littlest orpington for a while and she didn’t seem to mind a bit. She even fell asleep in my lap, and I was considering just hanging out all evening. Eventually, she woke up, shook off, and hopped down to peck around with her sister. Heading back down to the house, I already had names in mind: the three older pullets would be Daisy, Lulu and Frieda, the three little ones would be Missy, Peep and Flower.

We got quite a bit of rain over the weekend, and on Saturday I got caught in one of the worst hail storms I have ever seen. I pulled up under a Texaco station with several other cars and ate carrot sticks while we waited for it to pass. When I finally made it home, it was close to 10pm. I changed clothes and put on a headlamp and a rain coat and headed up to the coop to latch the barn doors.

When I got to the little coop, I counted, re-counted, and realized that little Flower was missing. I ducked inside the coop and looked around, but she wasn’t inside. She wasn’t in the yard either, all I could think was that the fox had somehow gotten her. I looked in the surrounding trees, but in the dark and in the rain, it was difficult to see anything. And I highly doubted she would have known to roost up there.

I made one more pass over the field, searching for feathers, and was about ready to turn back to the house, when something told me to look on the far side of the coop. There is a stack of old shingles and a few overturned buckets, but I rarely go on that side in the daylight. I swept my headlamp over the area and did a double take – there she was! I almost whooped with joy, she was sitting huddled on a bucket and soaked all the way through. I scooped her right up, amazed that I had found her before a hungry predator did.

Walking back to the house, I tucked her into my raincoat and felt her little body shivering. Who knows how long she had been out there – it could have been all afternoon, or a few hours. I tried not to think about it. We came inside and Zoe was all over us, she wanted to know why I brought a chicken in the house. Sadie was fast asleep, so I went straight to the half bathroom. I wrapped Flower in a dish towel and turned on the ancient heater that is set in the wall. It smelled like burnt hair, but I didn’t think she would mind.

I left Flower in a bundle of towels and crept upstairs to hunt for a hair dryer. Sadie and I aren’t really big into doing our hair, so I was very thankful that it worked. I had to fight Zoe to get back in the bathroom, and when I switched the hair dryer on, the heater shorted out and quit. I went to the kitchen, got an extension cord, and ran that from my room back to the bathroom.

Flower was still wrapped up, I sat with my back against the door and held her in my lap. She was very quiet and very still. Zoe was sniffing under the door and whining, but she would have to wait. I towel dried most of the water off of Flower, then turned the hair dryer on low and started warming her up. After a few minutes, she began peeping again, and I relaxed a little. Once I got most of her back dry, she stood up and ruffled her feathers, shaking her head and stretching her wings.

I was sitting cross-legged with towels and Flower in my lap, but eventually, she hopped up to my right knee so she was at eye-level with the wall heater. As she continued to warm up, she began looking around and chirping. I couldn’t help but wonder what a bathroom must look like from her point of view, or if she understood why it was suddenly so bright after hours of darkness and rain.

She let me stroke her chest, and even lift her wings to be sure she was completely dry. I didn’t want to overheat her, but I also didn’t want her to be damp and catch a chill. She wasn’t bothered by my fussing one bit. At some point around 11:30, I was satisfied that she was warm and dry. I set her back on the ground and went to the kitchen for a bowl of warm water. Instead of walking back up to the coop for some feed and scratch, I took a handful of birdseed and went back to the bathroom.

Flower was walking around, exploring and pecking fuzz off the rug. I sat back down and lifted her on my knee again, holding out the bird seed. She knew what to do – she went to town on that bird seed. She was laser focused on the bird seed and gobbled that handful right up. I went back to the kitchen, got another bowl, and brought it back to her. I set the bowl on the tile and she sat on the rug right in front of it, pecking away.

After a few minutes, she slowed down and stopped eating. I swapped the bird seed out for the water, but she didn’t seem too interested. I didn’t want to take her back to the coop without getting some fluids in her, so I cupped some in my hand and she started drinking from the drops falling from my palm. We did that several times, spilling enough water that it made its way between the tiles to my pants.

Finally, around 11:30, I was satisfied that she was warm and dry enough, and full enough, that she could spend the night in the coop with her sisters. I put on my rain coat again and tucked her inside and we went back up the hill. I woke everyone up again, but wanted to be sure she would settle in next to them so she could stay warm. I set her on the perch with her sisters, and she sidled over next to Peep and settled down. I made sure everything was locked up before heading back to the house, to my warm dry bed with my dog, relieved that Flower was back where she belonged.

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farming, Uncategorized

A Sight to See

I had some very dear friends of mine come visit the farm the other day- she was in town to visit her father and brought her daughter along. We walked all over our 18 acres, up and down the hills, across the creek and through the chicken coop. We saddled up Sadie’s mare and I led them down the road. We watched the sunset from the field with the red barn, talking the whole time. It was wonderful to see them. And I hope they understand why I left a perfectly good life in Savannah Georgia to live on a farm full of mud, animals, mud, poop, mud and hay.

It made me want to see the farm from their eyes, to try and picture experiencing it for the first time. I grew up visiting the farm, we would come up over Christmas or on Summer Break. It’s always been beautiful to me, it has always felt a bit like coming home.But I can tell you what I thought when I first moved here, when I knew it would really be my home. It was something along the lines of “I have a loootta work to do” – in a good way. Inside the house, we had some major bathroom and kitchen renovations ahead. There was wallpaper in the bathroom, dining room, and the living room.We had way too much furniture in the house (which is not a bad problem to have), and it just wasn’t working.

Outside the house, I wanted to be in 12 places at once. I would start sorting one thing, and halfway through get caught up with another. I would look around and make mental notes like “Okay we need to re-string that barbed wire fence, I need to take that old tiller for scrap, which reminds me of the trailer frame behind the coop that needs to go too. I’ll have to get the trailer lights fixed. I can get a new shovel while I’m at Lowe’s, Sadie can go with me and we can pick out paint for the dining room. That toilet next to the chicken coop needs to go to the dump, so does that old Jacuzzi my Uncle salvaged from cleaning out a house years ago. I should mow. I should weed-whack the front bank. I should clean fence-rows. I should gather fire wood. It’s past lunch, I need to eat something.”

You get the idea. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I wanted to do anything and everything all at once. The first few months I lived here, I had enough money saved and didn’t have to find a job immediately. Those June days were long and full and wonderful. I learned a lot. I learned to wear the right boots for whatever job I needed to accomplish. I learned to drink a lot of water, a lot of Gatorade. It didn’t wake me long to discover that no matter how efficient I was, I had to stop and eat at some point.

There wasn’t really a routine at first, it was just all-out cleaning, sorting, and trips to the county dump. Sadie didn’t have to be at work until 11, so we would make breakfast for Nana, eat together, and feed the animals. Once she left, I went out the back door and stayed busy until 9pm. When she got home, we would eat together and I would tell her and Nana what I got into that day. It usually involved a trip to the dump, scrap yard, or thrift store, cleaning the barn, mowing, burning brush,going to the feed store, getting gasoline for the ATV, stopping by Lowe’s, you name it. After we ate I would stretch out in Nana’s bed, bone tired, and head spinning with what I could do the next day. Nana would pat my leg, smile and nod. She was married to a farmer – she knew.

I don’t want it to seem like Sadie and Jack did not take care of the farm. Don’t read this and think I came to the farm and saved it. It saved me. Sadie an Jack farmed together longer than I have been alive. They put out huge gardens, canned it all, cut hay off the pasture, raised battle calves, had goats, chickens, and a team of Belgian horses. They cut and hauled wood, my Aunt cooked for every church pot-luck, and my Uncle was a master carpenter. They were a force to be reckoned with, and I would not be here without them.

After my Grandfather died, my Nana moved to the farm. Then my Uncle retired and his health began to fail. He had COPD, which is a horrible thing. Sadie worked full time, cooked and cleaned and took care of both of them, and still managed to raise chickens and keep horses. I don’t know how she did it – I certainly couldn’t. Then my Uncle James moved in to help care for the farm, and really started bringing the farm back to life.

We lost both of my Uncle’s within 3 months of each other. That’s when I knew, I knew that I needed to move here and help. And I haven’t regretted one minute of the crazy, sweaty, muddy, blistered and splintered thing. Sadie has taught me so much in these past 20-odd months. She is a rock, and this place would not still be here without her.

My friends visiting didn’t know much of this, they didn’t see the old tractor we sold, the old go-carts I scrapped for metal, the dog-lot fence I ripped down one Friday afternoon with a crow-bar. They didn’t see the hole in the shower wall, the floral wallpaper, or the old blue leather couch that we replaced with a beautiful antique one. The hours my mother spent hanging paintings and curtains, cleaning window sills with toothbrushes, or all the gallons of paint my family went through helping me paint over old paneling, yellow walls and patched drywall.

They didn’t see the old trees or stumps we cut down, hauled, and burned. A pasture full of sleek Quarter Horses that my Uncle left behind, the 14 horses we sold to other families, or his big green truck in the driveway. I hate that they didn’t get to meet my Nana, her beautiful blue eyes or her soft, wrinkled hands holding theirs.

But they got to see the young green grass coming up from the ground.They saw the trees in bloom, and a house that has become our new home. They saw my 40-some chickens, our happy cats and dogs, our 3 shedding horses and our fat donkey. They saw a full and rushing creek, the knockout roses we planted around the house, the shed stocked with wood for winter, and a pantry stocked with canned veggies from our garden.

I hope they saw the beauty that I see. I hope they understand why I moved here, why I could never imagine leaving, and what I mean when I saw this place saved me. There is still more to do, there always is, and that’s part of the reason I love it. I am needed, I am grounded, and I am responsible for this land and these animals. I want to build stalls in the barn, I want to build a new chicken coop, to re-side our house and plant more roses. There are more callouses and splinters to come, and I am looking forward to every single one of them.

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farming, Uncategorized

Spring Planting

I bought some dormant rose bushes today – Sadie loves knockout roses, but a full-size rose bush is about $20.00 a pop. I went straight back to the clearance wrack, they had these little root balls wrapped in paper and plastic, with trimmed rose bush stalks peeking out of the top. The branches were covered in a think layer of wax, which helps keep the plant from blossoming too soon. I have been wanting a few roses to plant next to the shop since around Christmas, but Lowe’s didn’t start stocking them until a few weeks ago.

So I brought home 5 little baby dormant rose bushes, get this, they were only $5.00 a piece! Sadie likes to watch plants grow any way. I dug 5 little holes by the shop and spent way too long looking for small rocks to make a bed, and voila. A successfully executed project in less than half a day. I have not gotten mulch yet for them, that may have to wait until next month.

Unfortunately, Sadie and I do not spend a lot of time or resources on these type of ‘beautification’ projects. What I mean is, typically what we do from day-to-day is either playing catch up, making sure everyone is fed and watered, the firewood is dry, or the bills are paid, before we fall into bed and call it. It’s not a bad thing, I think we have come quite a long way since I have moved here. But it’s just where we are right now – so it’s nice to be able to spend a little time investing in something that will be really beautiful next year.

A few weeks ago, we prettied up the barn lot entrance, which Sadie had been wanting to do for a long time. We have a big, red gate leading to the barn and the pasture, so we framed it with lumber and it spruced it right up. Almost like something out of Kentucky. We were pleased as punch. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d have roses at the entrance of that too, although the horses might be tempted to reach through and have a taste-test.

Spring is coming to the farm, slowly but surely. The grass is poking through the clay, buds are appearing on all the ends of the trees, and just yesterday, I saw a few iris stalks coming up from outside my bedroom window. Tonight and tomorrow will be cold though, but at least the days are getting longer. I only have one big brush pile left to burn, the other two sites have been raked and combed over for nails. It’s amazing how many nails that old barn left behind. We still have several large logs up there from the post-Christmas work day, but I’ll borrow a tractor to push them all together so they can smolder down.

On Friday, Sadie and I went up to White’s Hardware and got 25 pounds of potatoes, our onion sets, bush beans and a few ounces of beets. Once we get the garden spot re-tilled, we will start those on the lower end. I walked over it today, all the dark, soft dirt is just waiting to be dug up.

Several months ago we raked bags and bags of leaves over it, which are mostly mulch by now. Pretty soon it will be time to turn the earth, and till, and plant, and pull weeds, then pull more. Before I know it there will be fresh veggies on every available table and counter space in the house, and mason jars taking up the rest. But not quite yet. For now, it’s nice to watch the world wake up from winter as it does best – nice and slow, with a new surprise to look forward to every morning.

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farming, Uncategorized

Plan? What plan?

I had a friend ask me what my “5 year plan” was. But sometimes, I don’t even know what the 5-day plan is. But I think in 5 years, my life will look a lot like it does today. And that doesn’t scare me one bit. There’s no such thing as boredom on the farm – I don’t feel trapped here, or tied down in any way. I mean sure, if I won an Alaskan cruise I would have to parcel out all these chores to different families, so they wouldn’t get overwhelmed or run away screaming..but I haven’t entered any contests lately, so I don’t think that will be a problem.

In 5 years, I hope we have a new chicken coop, and water piped up there so I can have ducks again. I’ve already drawn plans to build movable stalls in the horse barn, and we have the lumber to do it. I’d like to fertilize and sow seed in the pasture, then maybe get a few cows.. I plan on getting new siding for the house, gutters too. We need to replace the windows. We need to fix the bush-hog, and get a utility trailer for the 4-wheeler. Right now I have 2 brush piles waiting to be burned, but I’m sure there will be new ones to light then too.

We did burn some brush today, the enormous pile of limbs and leftover barn from the great Post-Christmas Work Day. A few friends came out to help me stack wood in the shed, and we tended the fire all day. It’s still burning now, low and slow, but I can see bright little flames from the window. My hair and my clothes smell of smoke, and there is black soot under my fingernails. I kept taking off my gloves and laying them down, and eventually gave up on wearing them at all. But it was a great day. I hope in 5 years from now, they will still come out and help me with those random projects that would take me ages to complete on my own. Things like cleaning fence rows, or clearing the creek bed, or finally going through all those boxes in the basement..

That’s part of farming though. I have been here almost 2 years and it’s a community project. There is always, always something that needs doing. Different seasons bring different responsibilities. And that’s part of what I love about it – every day is guaranteed to be different. You’re never really done. You just do what you can for the day with your own two hands, once every one is fed and watered and put up, you can fall into bed and dream about doing it the next day.

I have not ever loved anything as much as I love farming. And I don’t think it’s really something I can explain. It feels like this is what I was born to do. It’s inside of me, somehow, like this dirt and clay I call home runs through my own veins. Today flew by – we worked hard, got a few cuts and splinters, but there was laughter and water breaks too. Then that big sigh when you look at a shed full of wood for next winter, and you know that one more thing is done until then. Sadie made pea salad and spaghetti bake, and we all ate until we were stuffed.

In 5 years, I hope there are more meals and laughter. More gardening, canning, mowing, and feeding. More chickens and eggs, and more hay put up in the barn. More sunrises over the mountains, and watching the sunset from the porch. I want there to be more writing too – I don’t write as often as I should. There are always stories to tell, it’s just finding the time to stop living them, and start telling them. I am looking forward to these next 5 years of life, of farming, and everything in between.

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farming, Uncategorized

Christmas Miracles

I am very thankful it’s Saturday. The dogs are napping by the stove, Sadie is reading the paper, and I hear the birds just outside looking for spilled seeds. It snowed all night, the sun is shining and everything is glittering white. I have already started to dream up when we can plant the garden.

I am thinking of getting Honey Bees this year, not sure how that will play out but it seems like a good idea. And we plan to have several rows of corn we can grind into cornmeal, which I am excited to try. Even though it’s winter on the farm and the land is resting, there is always something exciting in the works.

The pigs have a date with you-know-who on January 24th. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss them, even though they did get out on Christmas day and had me up to my elbows in mud right when family arrived. Once we got everyone put away, it was a wonderful evening. Sadie had a full feast laid out, we ate and swapped stories into the night.

My Uncle Jack’s first cousin is a sweet lady named Wanda, the who wears rings on every finger. She married a man named Robert who met Jesus right before he got out of prison – now he’s got some stories. Robert is the kind of guy who will just about break your hand every time he shakes it, and will do just about anything to help somebody. He and my Dad got to talking after Christmas dinner, and before you could say “fruit cake” they already deemed the day after Christmas as a farm work day.

The next morning, we woke up to Robert’s arrival in his bucket truck, pulling a trailer with the most beautiful Bobcat machine I have ever seen. We all stood outside, half finished toast and coffee in hand, and watched as he roared up the driveway with a claw-full of brush from a pile by the road.

I don’t think anyone had time to blink that whole day. We removed two old stumps that tree experts told me we couldn’t do anything with. He cut down at least 8 dead trees that were posing a threat to our house, then he started on the remains of my Uncle’s shop that had collapsed years ago. My sister and I took down old fence lines while Robert, my Dad and my Brother reduced entire trees to little piles of firewood. We took two loads to the dump, and I am proud to say that was the day we removed the final, old abandoned toilet on our property.

By 5pm, everything was done. Robert heaped the rotten trees and pieces of the old shop in a big pile to burn. It was, by far, the most productive and satisfying work-day we have had yet. He wore us out, but we got more done in that day than we have since I got here. It was a Christmas Miracle and I won’t ever forget it.

 

 

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farming, Uncategorized

The Great Smoky Mountains

Well if you’ve been anywhere near the news lately, you know that over 17,000 acres of the Smoky Mountains have burned in a wildfire. Our farm is just a stone’s throw from the Sevier County line, but we are about an hour from Chimney Top, where the fire started. Two weeks ago was the first time Sadie and I went over the official fire plan, what we would take, where we would meet if we got separated.

The forecast called for rain that night, but in just a few hours the wind had picked up and spread sparks all over the mountains. We could smell the smoke from our house. I kept standing outside, scanning the sky for the sight of embers. It was terrifying. We planned on opening gates to let the horses out, turning the pigs and chickens loose, and packing the dogs and cats in the car. But what can you take? How can you pack up an entire farmhouse? What if we left and came back to land charred and scorched, without our home, or the familiar outline of the old barn on the horizon?

The fire jumped roads and rivers, it leveled homes, buildings and cars. You can’t stop something like that. Firemen from all over the country worked overtime, they risked their lives to try and contain it. But coming off months of drought, with high winds, all you can do is get to safety.

All I could think was to get the dogs and cats and get on the road. And that all I wanted to take was my Uncle Jack’s knife, our land survey, and the door frame that has our heights marked in sharpie. But what about my favorite boots? The quilt on my bed that’s older than I am? All the pictures? Sadie’s shotgun that Jack gave her for their anniversary, my books, Nana’s paintings, a bottle of beach sand from my brother, all the letters and cards I have saved from over the years…?

Of course these things are nothing compared to our lives, or the lives of the animals we are responsible for. But they are what make my life mine. I love this farm life, and  I still can’t believe that I get to be a part of it. I wake up every morning and look at the mountains fading to the horizon, over fields cut by the creek, and surrounded by fences I’ve repaired with my own to hands.

I’m proud to work this land with my Aunt Sadie, everything we own is on these 18.75 acres. And all of that could be lost in a fire. This land is more than land to me – my Mom grew up here, and now I am thankful to call this farm home. I will never take these things for granted.

But the wildfires have already begun to fade from the national news. The curfew was lifted last week, and people are returning to Gatlinburg to see what is left and what is gone. Sadie and I made the drive up through the mountains on Saturday, we took a dear friend of hers home from the hospital, and neither one of us knew what to expect.

Ric lives on the very end of what’s called the strip, a small two lane road surrounded by shops, restaurants and hotels. There are tourists walking the streets year round, and it’s a popular skiing spot in the winter. Sadie and I have been several times, we usually take my younger cousins, and there are always plenty of people to watch walk by.

The strip was all lit up, but the surrounding mountains were black with soot. The wooden sign welcoming you to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was over halfway burned. Several cabins just hundreds of feet away were reduced to cinders and ash, sometimes only chimney’s remained. We saw cars reduced to twisted metal shells, fallen trees, and the smell of smoke and soot hung in the air. Pulling up at the apartments, we saw a home burned to the foundation, it sat just a few hundred yards away.

Outside of the apartment there was a red X spray-painted on the concrete, marking that the first responders had searched the building for bodies. They had kicked the door in – it would close, but it wouldn’t latch. Neighbors came out to greet Ric, hugging him, telling us they were thankful he was okay.

I’m learning that East Tennessee is a bit different than most places around. Since the rain helped to contain the fire, donations have poured in – many of the shelters had to turn away clothes and bottled water because they didn’t have anywhere to store them. People have opened their homes to their neighbors who don’t have one. Dozens of stores have started toy drives to ensure that families who have lost everything can still have a Merry Christmas.

Sadie and I are so blessed, we got several days of rain and I know that it came just in time to help the fire fighters. But I won’t forget that night where the wind howled around our house, and I knew there wasn’t anything we could do to stop the fires that may have spread to our home.

If you want to help the folks in Gatlinburg who have lost their homes, please donate. The wonderful Dolly Parton is hosting a telethon tonight, you can tune in online or on TV. Please consider giving to help some of our neighbors in these Great Smoky Mountain’s!

http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2016/12/12/how-watch-dolly-partons-smoky-mountains-telethon/95360082/

From our farm to yours, these Green Acres are an amazing place to be.

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farming, Uncategorized

Horse Talk

We had the vet come out a few days ago, he reminds me of my Uncle James and I think that’s why I like him so much. There are lots of different kinds of vets, of course. And there are lots of different kinds of horse people. James was the kind with a calm voice and quiet hands – he had a steadiness about him that put jumpy or nervous horses at ease.

James was always more comfortable in an old barn than anywhere else. He was the kind of cowboy that knew it didn’t matter what kind of saddle you had, or how old your boots and spurs might be. Good horsemanship comes with experience, with worn leather and faded jeans. He would rather have a familiar horse and dog for company out on the trail, honest and reliable, than a high dollar show pony.

The vet, John, knew James fairly well. He has made several farm calls for us since I moved here. He came out in the spring to float a few teeth and castrate our 2-year old colt. John is also the one who made an emergency call for a mare we used to own, Miss Smokin’ Kaylee, who decided to spoil a nice, quiet Sunday morning by running through a fence. He and his wife left church early that Sunday to help, and I’m not sure what we would have done without them. After just a few minutes with her, I could tell he had been around horses for years. He was calm, gentle, spoke in a low voice and ran his hand down her neck in long, smooth strokes. Not only did it calm her down, but it helped me calm down too.

Some horse people like to be the boss. They have heavy hands and jerk with their legs and arms, demanding instead of asking. This makes for a jumpy and a flighty horse. Other people, usually on the more green side, are scared something bad might happen, and remain tense the entire ride. Getting hurt is a bit of a given. You can be kicked, bitten, thrown, run over or run under trees, just to name a few.  Horses are herd animals – everything they do is to ensure their survival. And you just have to know how to read those signs and communicate in a way they understand.

The thing I appreciate the most about John is he talks through everything with you. He doesn’t talk at you, or to you, but with you. When he came out to castrate the colt in the Spring, he explained the reason for the dosage to put him under. He showed me how he rubbed the vein with his thumb to desensitize it, before smoothly putting the needle in to inject the anesthetic. About 45 seconds later, the colt’s eyes glazed over. He widened his stance, trying to brace himself, and his head lowered until his nose almost touched the ground.

John eased him over, and the colt laid down with a sigh. He then looped the lead-rope around his back leg and tied it around his chest. After putting on a pair of gloves and washing the area thoroughly, he talked me through exactly what he was doing. I won’t go into detail, but I learned quite a lot that day. And after a few minutes, the colt stood, head still drooping, and we turned him back out in the pasture for the day.

Malcolm Gladwell has a theory that to perfect something, you need to practice for 10,000 hours. Think of musicians, athletes, reporters, what have you. For you to truly master an art or a task, you have to have so many hours, days, years, of repetition for it to really sink in. James had that. Our vet has it, thankfully, and is willing to teach me some too. Sadie definitely has it, and it’s something I hope to learn too. It helps when the thing you are practicing is also a life passion of yours, one that keeps you up at night dreaming, and gets you out of bed every morning!

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