The Continuing Evolution of Self

My personal journey through fear began when the day before my 19th birthday I went for my first ever trail ride at a small resort in northern BC where I was working for the summer. The wrangler had saddled my horse a big 16H tall palomino and we started off around the staff bunkhouse. The cook at the time came out of the bunk house, shook out a towel and caused my horse to spook. The horse bolted, took off around the  bunkhouse and bucked, reared then threw me off over his shoulder. I landed on my head, heard bones crunch as I hit the ground. I rolled to get out of the way and it took twenty years before I remembered that the last thing I saw was a hoof coming down to my face before I passed out. When I came to, my boss, the wrangler, and a fuel truck driver were standing over me and wondering if I was dead. They had seen the fall and thought I’d broken my neck. I startled them when I yelled at them to “get me up!” They were reluctant to move me but I just knew that if they didn’t get me up I wouldn’t ever be getting up. So they did. My boss’s wife helped me into the bunkhouse bathroom where she helped me clean up a bit – there was blood everywhere – I’d lost a front tooth and later turned out had also broken my nose, shattered and pushed teeth up and into my jaw. Until a couple of years ago – anytime I was even near a horse I would freeze, break into a sweat, my breathing would become erratic and I would shake like a leaf and be in a panic state. Anything that ever emulated the feeling of going over the horse’s front end – bike riding, motorcycle riding or even sitting on a swing would cause the panic to come on.

Over the years I’ve found that life is full of big and small challenges that we face daily. Because I’ve always loved horses and always wanted to be able to ride them, my biggest challenge has been in pushing through my own fears and to get over my terror of actually riding a horse.  It’s taken me 36 years to get to that point.

I’m a firm believer that in order to be the best facilitator I can be – I need to have experienced and worked through my own fears, trauma and issues, before I can truly be effective in helping others through theirs.  As part of a huge learning curve for me to certify in working with the horses and people with trauma in a modality called Equine Facilitated Wellness, I’ve experienced my own therapy sessions. After four sessions of the program, I knew that I needed to have my/our own horses in order to continue my training. The goal has always been to eventually get on my horse and ride, but I made the choice to take my time to do it. So over the past year I’ve been spending time daily with our two wonderful geldings, Gold Rush & Floyd, getting to know them and learning to just ‘be’ in their presence.

The past two weeks have seen the biggest change in me – I felt that I was finally ready to start riding. Since my own boy Gold Rush (Gold), is wise and crafty, I didn’t want my first time up on a horse in many years to be on him, so the trainer I am working with offered to let me ride one of her ‘school’ horses. So I did, with her help. Her horse is a big 16H high Standardbred, which means he is REALLY tall and quite different from my  sturdy quarter horse Gold. Coincidentally he turned out to be the same size and shape as the horse I had my  major wreck on as a 19 year old kid. My trainer walked me around her round corral so I could get used to the feeling of being in the saddle – which is what I had asked of her.  That session was about fifteen minutes long during which I had several flashbacks to my big wreck, had a bit of an emotional breakthrough and worked through the sheer terror of being on the back of a horse.

Later that week our trainer worked with both my hubby & I for our first riding lessons on our horses. My hubby Tom is brand new to horses, is a natural animal whisperer and has wanted his own horse for years. Tom has taken to riding very easily and it has been great to see him developing a bond with his boy, Floyd. Of course he was able to get right on, follow the trainers suggestions and make it look oh so easy. Then it was my turn and through some comedic moments where I fell off. (I forgot to re-check and retighten the cinch so that when I started to swing onto the saddle it slipped sideways). I landed hard on the ground and lay gasping for breath because I was laughing at myself. I wasn’t nervous and after regaining my breath and tightening the cinch I got on Gold’s back and with our trainer leading me around I rode my horse for the first time. I had a few moments of panic but was again able to work through it and after about 15 minutes called it a day.

Yesterday, we had another set of sessions and I was able to watch Tom work through some issues with his boy Floyd. Mainly a poorly fitting saddle that made us try swapping saddles before Floyd settled down to being amazing under saddle and he and Tom had a great lesson. It was like watching magic happen as they began to work as a team. It gave me a great sense of peace and hope.

Then it was my turn. I wasn’t actually afraid at all, no nerves, just saddled Gold, climbed up and had our trainer walk him around the yard once before asking her to just let me have the reins. With that shift in energy, Gold tried to test me by refusing to do as I ask. But I worked through it, gently but firmly letting him know that I wasn’t going to be put off by his insistence on stopping. My ride lasted about a half an hour and I felt amazing. I did it! I conquered my big fears and rode my own horse. The sense of accomplishment is unbelievable, and I am looking forward to today’s session where after we try a couple of different style saddles, I hope to ride around most of our 10 acre pasture.

On so many levels this a huge turning point, both personally and professionally. Personally because I have faced and conquered my own trauma and professionally because I KNOW how it feels to go through the program and feel I am now more able to help my clients work through their own issues.

The take away from this:

In order to facilitate changes in your life – you need to be READY to commit to your own healing, find the support of someone you feel comfortable enough with and trust to work with you through your deepest, darkest fears. It can be done. And the freedom you feel afterwards… defies words.

 

 

 

Is there anything more peaceful?

… than to watch the sun rise while listening to the morning songbirds?

As I write this – the morning sun is just gaining strength and the gentle pink and lavender sunrise is giving way to the golden rays of morning sun. The sky is brightening to its’ incredible pollution free blue and a variety of songbirds have been serenading since just before dawn. By the way – I’m not referring to our rooster who starts heralding the morning at 4am!

I’ve always been an early morning person and it is my favorite time of the day. The gentle hush that is so unique to the early morning interrupted by a robins’ trilling, the cheerful sounds of chickadees, sparrows and our tree swallows; the staccato rat-a-tat- of the woodpeckers, the strident calls of the herons, cranes and geese from the estuary. This is the symphony that greets me each morning. I’m able to enjoy that first cup of coffee while listening to theses sounds and watching the dogs run, with noses to the ground, as they follow the trail of whatever nocturnal visitors passed through the property last night. Mornings like this remind me so much of my mom, when she used to sit outside and soak in the tranquility. This was her favorite time of day too… and I really miss sharing it with her; she would have loved it here.

Anyway, this morning dawned bright and warm – starting out at +6C – which is as warm as we reached for a daytime high only a few days ago. The weather forecast is for sunshine and really warm temperatures and I am so happy to finally see that after this past week (month) of wet and chilly days.

It’s been fun this past week to try to identify all the different migratory birds that have arrived and spend part of each day at our pond. From the resident pair of mallards to the baffle heads and cinnamon teals, and a variety of songbirds that I haven’t been able to see well enough to identify in my bird identification book. There is also the croaking of frogs and the distant chorus of coyotes to add to the daily morning symphony. Nature in all its’ glory.

The Baffleheads & Cinnamon teals: these images are stock – I couldn’t get clear enough pictures with my camera.

This Victoria day long weekend will see us doing more work around the property, brush clearing and burning, clean up and more garden area prep. I expect I’ll be making several trips to the local landfill site since this is our first spring here and each passing day we find more and more that needs to be cleaned up. A bit frustrating but also great, because with each new day the place is looking better and better!

Wishing you all a wonderful long weekend… enjoy the sun!

Spring Time Cariboo

They say that if you don’t like the weather – wait 10 minutes. And it is certainly true of this year. As I write this it’s been snowing for the past three hours. Barely sticking, but just enough to make everything gross and slimy. It’s so horrible that the chickens haven’t even bothered to come out of the coop yet.

My burst of spring baby fever has just about run it’s course and things are settling down now. The piglets are in their pen and growing. They are pretty funny to watch as they pop up from sleep and run around and around then root around and dig. It hasn’t taken them long to respond to the sound of my voice when I enter their pen. The cat is not too sure what to make about them and it was only yesterday that she actually went anywhere near their fence, where she sat and watched them for about half an hour.

Last week I ended up building a make-shift shelter for the chicks and although it wouldn’t pass any contractors inspection it is solid and keeps them warm. On Sunday I opened up their coop so they could get outside and get some sunshine and they were quite happy to be out and checked their little mini run out. Since their feathers aren’t all in yet they’ll have to stay pretty much inside unless the days are warm. But I’ve made sure that they have a safe, decent sized run to be in outside until they are big enough to be around the hens.

We spent the weekend  re-fencing  about 500 feet of perimeter fencing as well as closing the front acre off for a ‘front yard’ to keep the chickens out of my garden areas and the dogs out of the ponds. It was a ton of work because the fence line was so overgrown with trees and brush and the old fence was literally falling down with a lot of small trees growing into it.  So at least the worst of it is done for now and the neighbours dogs and other wildlife can’t get into the pasture on that side. We still have a large portion to fence off in that area, but we need to cut and clear away several trees that fell across the fence last fall and winter. We’ll do the rest of the fencing around the property perimeter over the next few months, but it is 10 acres and we have a lot of clearing and cleaning up to do first.  It is unbelievable at how much ‘stuff’ has either just been left where ever it fell or was buried by the previous owners. Old vehicles- an old car, lawn tractor, wood stove, two milk vans, a camper van and all sorts of vehicle parts, motors & axles strewn about the property – not to mention random pieces of metal, broken tools and furniture. It’s a bit overwhelming but I have the next six months that I can plug away at it. Since we’ve decided we will probably buy this place next year – it is worth my time and energy to start getting things cleaned up now.

I’ve planted all my containers and spread them in the yard around an old wagon front axle and a couple of old falling apart mini wagons. The smaller wagons were in really rough shape so I fixed them up and spray painted them black and they look great. Now I just need the weather cooperate so I can get the raised planters I want to build finished and planted with veggies. The plan for them is lettuce, chives, onions, garlic, carrots & a few potatoes. But not until we are past the threat of frost. I’ve been moving the smaller flower containers inside the greenhouse or the house at night and covering the bigger ones with crop covers to keep them from freezing. So far it seems to be working out.

The flowers consist of petunias, pansies, geraniums, bacopa, lavender, lilacs & hyacinthe and I transplanted all the naturalized columbine to around the fence. Delphiniums, nasturtiums and sunflowers have been started inside and are just waiting to be moved outside. Hopefully after the long weekend.

I Love Spring

I love spring and this year I’m really enjoying being able to putter around outside, cleaning up the yard and watching all our critters. Grooming the horses or watching the chickens and their antics can make me lose hours in a day, and I have to say I can’t remember being quite so content.

Although we are dealing with one of the coldest and wettest springs on record, I’m getting out and getting a lot of outside work done. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve managed to get all my seedlings into the greenhouse with only the cucumbers freezing. Everything else is growing – slowly – but growing. There was a lot of old sheet metal and crap left over from previous owners & renters and that is all now gone from the front of the property. That’s meant that I’ve been able to  see what was previously planted and now transplanted things where I want it to go.

There was a big push to get the pig shelter and pasture built and while we finished the fencing last weekend, I managed to get the hotwire put up on Monday. When Tom gets home this weekend, we only have to put in the grounding rod then hook up the electric fence and then pick up our little piglets. I’m really looking forward to having them here and know that it is going to be a HUGE learning curve.

On Wednesday I picked up 10 chicks to add to our small flock. I only wanted 6 hard to find Black Copper Marans but got talked into taking the last 4 Americaunas that the woman had. So now the babies are safely ensconced in our big corner shower and the dogs and cat have taken turns watching them.

At night when the chicks get really active, Tank (our big retriever) rushes into the bathroom to stand guard and watch them carefully. The cat is not sure what to make of them at all and seems to be more scared of them than interested in playing with them. The chicks have to stay inside until they get al their feathers in and that’s ok because I still have to build them an ‘addition’ to the chicken coop, once it gets moved. We’re on the list for 4 turkey poults too – but they aren’t due until the end of May, so that gives me a few weeks to get the new addition done.

Yesterday I got lost in the local nursery and then spent the afternoon planting my containers. The hanging baskets are safe but I have to keep the containers inside until we get the chicken coop moved into it’s permanent home in the pasture, and not the front yard. Otherwise the year-old hens are in them and digging them up.

And then to round the week out, our Bernese Puppy was born on Thursday! 18274696_1669689836673821_2021686762492423123_n

I’m ever so grateful and quite content, even though with all the heavy yard work that I’ve done, I’m rediscovering some muscles I’d forgotten that I have.

Spring has Sprung

They say that if you don’t like the weather in the Cariboo – wait five minutes.

That has certainly been true so far this year. Slowly, ever so slowly spring is unfolding and it has been a busy time around here. Over the last few weeks we have been preparing for our piglets to arrive amidst varying degrees of snow, rain, hail, wind and sun. In spite of the unseasonably wet and cold temperatures the ground is finally drying out.

The chickens are all laying now, although the Lavender Orpington girls are alternating every other day. Black Copper Marans chicks and also waiting to hear about a few turkey poults. If all goes well all the new poultry babies will be here by mid-May. Our piglets will be available May 7th, which gives us another week to get their pen finished. This week I built their shelter and although it isn’t pretty it is more than sufficient. I am impressed with my efforts, because I’m not a builder and with some big physical limitations, I did it all by myself. 🙂  There is a still a bit of work to be done before it is completely done but it’s a start.

In between rain and hail showers I’ve started transplanting rhubarb out of the pig pen area and been doing a LOT of yard clean up.

There’s still a lot of work to do and I’m chipping away at the small stuff then when Tom is home on the weekends we do some of the heavy stuff – fence line and brush clearing so we can re-wire the fences to make it safer for all our animals.

Last weekend I moved all my  seedlings out to the greenhouse and so far they are all doing pretty well especially considering that we’ve had a couple of night that fell below freezing – again. These pics were taken before I got everything planted.

 

 

I’m off to  check out to see if my girls have finished laying yet today… they start at 10 am and go through until about 2:00 pm…

 

Spring has sprung and the Mud has riz

The shoulder season between winter and the greening of spring has always been my least favorite time of year. The mud is always nasty and no matter what you do – it is everywhere. I used to think it was awful when we had huskies however, it is worse by far with the horses. Not to mention EVERY time the dogs or the cat (or even me) come in there is mud tracked in. Vacuuming happens at least once a day, followed by sweeping. I’ve given up washing the floors unless I can’t get the dirt up with the vacuum, thank Goodness for laminate!

Here’s a picture of the horses this past weekend – and they’re actually quite clean in these picture. As of today, Floyd (our paint) is more mud than white and Gold Rush is almost exclusively mud brown instead of his pretty dun colour. 😦

After the farrier is done today, I am finally going to be able to get out and re-plastic the greenhouse so I can get things ready to move all the seedlings out. Before I do I have to pick up some kerosene for a heater that will be in the greenhouse to keep the plants alive until it finally gets warm enough for them overnight. The spaghetti squash and zucchini are already blooming and I doubt I will move them out of the planter boxes they are in – but they are overtaking the living room.

and then here are the tomatoes, broccoli, kale & peppers

Now I am off to catch the boys and get them closer to the house so I don’t have to chase them down when the farrier gets here.

Please spring… warm up soon!

On to the NEXT Big Project

Or at least that was my intention for this morning. Until it started to snow – again.

I know that this is only the second day of spring and that I live in the central part of the province, And yes, I know that I still have 2 feet of snow in the yard…but…

A girl can still dream – can’t she?

Well – the new chicken coop is as done as it is going to be until things warm up and I can paint it, but until then it is sitting in our front yard and covered in a tarp. It is on skids so we can move it into it’s permanent home once the snow is gone. The new chickens are here and settling in nicely – in fact I am now getting about 2 eggs on average a day.  The girls are all under a year of age, so I expect egg production to pick up in the next few weeks. And our beautiful Lavender Orpington rooster has now found his voice and is serenading the ladies quite regularly. I ended up with 4 Americauna hens, 2 Lavender,  1 Buff and 1 black Orpington hens. I’m now on the hunt for a couple of Black Copper Marans hens and the rainbow of eggs will be complete – for now 🙂

So the next project…We have a really old single pane glass greenhouse that needs repairing and some of the window have to be replaced because they are broken. I need to fix the windows and that is the goal for the next few days if it warms up a bit more. I am researching the best and most cost effective way to heat it until our days and nights are warmer and once I decide on how to do it I’ll be transplanting all the seedlings I started last month. I’m stunned because I’ve never really had much luck when starting plants from seeds – but  as you can see from the following – I’ve got a veritable jungle on my hands.

and these are just the squash, cucumber and zucchini. The dining room table and my dog grooming table are covered as well with Roma Tomatoes, chives, parsley, red and yellow peppers, broccoli, kale & lettuce. although the broccoli and lettuce are looking leggy and thin, everything else is doing better than I expected.

And now, because it is snowing heavily, I am going to curl up with a book and a cup of tea and enjoy the quiet and the warmth of a fire. And plan. And dream. And hope that this slow thaw will hurry up and get over with – at least around the house – because I hate the mud that gets tracked in by the dogs, the cat and even me every time one of us comes inside.

Looking back at lessons learned

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This message has been around and around the internet for years, but I have been saying it and living it since before social media hit the internet.

I decided when I was in my early 20’s that I would follow my heart and have never shied away from trying something new or different. For most of my life I listened to my mom share what she regretted never doing, never having, never being. Mom lived a life of lack and didn’t seem to be happy very often. Money was always a struggle and she’d often be quoted as saying, “Champagne tastes on a beer budget” and no matter what my dad did for work, it was never enough. Mom was stuck in the “got to keep up with the Jones’s” mindset and so was never satisfied.

In her last few months of life she lived with us and I remember the day she finally got the news that she had cancer. She cried, she ranted, she railed and then began a litany of “I just want another 10 years!” that lasted until the day she finally died. We had many heated discussions about “Why me” as I always held her accountable for her choices and decisions. Near the end of her days, she admitted that she knew I was right and she was glad I’d made her face some of the things she had done and choices she’d made. It was the toughest thing I’d ever had to do but I would not buy into her self pity, woe is me attitude. We did make our peace and she passed the night after our last conversation. I admit I was devastated but I knew she was in a better place. No more pain, no more sadness.

I recommitted then and there, that now more than ever, I would NOT go to my grave regretting never trying something. Obviously I do have regrets about some things that have happened in my life, but each and every thing I have tried or experienced has led me to a full and happy life. And as crazy as some of it has been, I am grateful for each and every ‘crazy’ thing I’ve ever done.

Square peg in a round hole and loving it 🙂

Spring fever Part two?

I love living in a small town! In my last entry I mentioned I was going to look for someone to help me take down the horse shelter. I posted an ad on a couple of our local facebook pages and within an hour had someone lined up. He came out the next morning and in two short hours had the roof and sides off. I helped where I could – which is to say not much at all except to haul the 4×8 sheets of OSB boards from the pasture to our front yard. Not such a big deal – but those boards are heavy and I was ever so grateful that we still have snow and icy patches on the ground to slide the boards on.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours removing any left over screws from the 2x4s and the OSB and then moved 8 sheets to our front deck so I can get started building the chicken coop on a level surface. I was pretty proud of myself for having done so using the cordless drill driver and circular saw. I’ve not been able to handle any power tools since my first surgery and since my building skills are not the best, I’ve always been relegated to helper status when Tom & I have had any building projects.  I surprised myself yesterday because the de-construct went really, really well. When I just couldn’t get a couple of 2×4’s unscrewed, without hesitation got our the saw and cut them apart. Have to admit it was pretty interesting doing so in our crazy spring weather. Warm and sunny led to high winds and hail then snow and back to sunshine and with temps about +7C. Although, by the time I was done I was pretty sore and retreated inside for a cup of tea and some Advil. I sat down with the tea and woke up two hours later 🙂

So far this morning it is sunny with no wind, so I think I’ll wait until it warms up a bit more before I go out and start by building nesting boxes. If that goes off without a hitch then I might get brave enough to start building the actual coop. I’d like to get this done before Tom gets home next weekend because it would be nice to say that I was able to do this without having to make him do all the work. And it would be a victory on my long return to full health and reclaiming my strength. If building the nesting boxes doesn’t go well, I’ll just go continue tearing down the pallets we used for the horse shelter.

We built the temporary shelter last fall because 1) our landlords didn’t want anything permanent built and 2) being new horse owners I wanted to be sure they had shelter, but apparently my boys preferred to use trees instead. So we are going to re-purpose the wood to build our new coop and pig pen shelter for our weaner pigs. The pig shelter can wait until the snow is gone though. The chickens are due as soon as I can get the coop built.

These are pics of the temporary shelter. It wasn’t pretty but it did work. The boys only used it to poop in over the past two weeks 😦

Pics of the coop as I make progress 🙂

 

Spring Fever

I admit I get a wee bit crazy at this time of year. Every year by the time March rolls around, we’ve usually had some great warm, spring like days and I start to dream about gardening. I’m not sure if it is actually those slightly warmer sunny days or if it is the longer hours of daylight, but I get antsy and can’t wait to get started. It’s a bit ironic because for years I ran dogsled tours and would be cursing the early spring thaw, wishing and praying for more snow to prolong the season. And now…

I haven’t been able to do much in the way of gardening in the last few years, although I had big gardens for many years. So this year has seen a big increase in plans for this coming spring & summer. We’re getting chickens and pigs and planning a pretty decent sized garden. To that end, I’ve already started tomatoes, yellow & red peppers, cucumber, zucchini, spaghetti squash, kale, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, chives & parsley. There’s more to get going, but until I get the greenhouse fixed up, I have no more room in the house. And of course then there are the veggies and flowers that have to be started outside, once the danger of the last frost is past.

For the first time since 2008, we’ll have chickens again and I learned long ago that it was to my benefit to buy birds that have either just started or are about to lay. I bought a rooster yesterday and he’ll make the move here once I get the coop built. I have a line on some year old, just starting to lay hens and so the push is on to get a coop built. As soon as it is the girls will be coming home. The piglets have been ordered and should be here some time around the end of April. I’m so excited and a wee bit frustrated as here I sit, planning and plotting and trying to be patient because we still have two feet of snow on the ground and it isn’t leaving any time soon!

It should be interesting to see how the seedlings do, because I haven’t had much luck in the past when starting from seed. Of course, because of that, this year I planted  way too many of each and they’ve already had to be transplanted into bigger pots. Most of the plants are just two weeks old today!

I’ve just put the word out that I’m looking for someone to dismantle the temporary horse shelter we put up last fall so we can re-purpose the wood to build the chicken coop. And with what is left over, we’ll get the pig shelter built. We’ll worry about something in the fall for the horses, because they barely used the shelter we built this year, except to poop in. Apparently the trees here are big enough and they were happier under them than in the lean-to.

So baby and spring fever has hit and I’m just waiting for the big thaw to happen.

Here are pics of the breeds of birds we are getting: Lavender Orpington’s The rooster is actually our new boy.

imagesuez2he86 A few of these lovelies: Buff Orpington’s

And with any luck a few of these beautiful Amercauna’s:

 

And then there are the piglets: imagesjgrzsj52

The veggies:

I can hardly wait! Woo HOO come on spring 🙂