A Leap Forward

 

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Mud oozes under one boot while snow crunches under the other. The remaining piles of powdery white “frozen fog” are a jarring contrast to the warm breeze carressing my face.

Today is the first leap year day I’ve experienced at Firefly Farm. There’s an extra day to live my dream. An extra day to plan for the future.

An extra day to mend horse blankets before I need them again this week.

The twelve inches of snow that surprised us last week was problematic. Luckily, The Husband had a snowday, so he helped shovel paths so I could open the gates and barn doors.

The snow that fell seemed endless–but now it’s almost gone.

Today I’ll plan for our upcoming shows. Our first show will be an English, dressage-like show where we’ll have kids perform mounted patterns with the potential to win ribbons. After setting up the show date, I’ll put together the summer camps. I’ll schedule my life for the summer.

March 25, 2012 194

Squishy mud will turn to solid ground and become green. The mounds of snow will dissappear, replaced with flowers.

This is my life, and I was granted an extra day. I’ll enjoy every moment even if it means cleaning my boots afterward.

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Cold Turkey

The Husband offered to go with me to the barn tonight.
“I can dig out the gates and the back doors if you’d like.”
“I’d like.”
We trod outside as the wind blew snow sideways into our ears and onto our necks. We walked past Josie the Turkey as she huddled against the house.
“She’s shivering.”
“We could put her on a sled and drag her to the barn.”
“She’d fall off.”
We considered Josie as I set The Husband up near the gates to dig. I fed the horses and then led him back to the tack room.
The Husband held my hand as we regained warmth in our extremities. “I could carry Josie.”
“I could put her in a muck bucket.”
“Good idea. Then we could each take a handle and carry her together.”
That’s how we ended up coaxing a shivering turkey into a muck bucket in the dark. My cold turkey, confused, watched us as we carried her to a stall in the barn so she could become a warm turkey.
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“You Bought $20 Llama Socks?!”

Saddles, both gleaming and musty, surround me as I walk through Pinckney High School. A chorus of voices greets me from all sides, and I feel like Belle from Beauty and the Beast as she walks through her Provincial Town in France.

A nearby woman sells socks. Socks. I curl my lip as I spot the price. Twenty dollars for–socks?! I don’t spend that much on a bag of Strategy.

I take another look, and read the packaging. “Will keep your feet warm and dry. Wicking fibers…Made from 100% Alpaca.”

I’m allergic to wool, and I miss my wool socks. I take a chance and buy some. As I speak with the vendor, we realize we have a mutual friend, and chat.

When I get home, I stare at my new purchase. Twenty dollars is a lot of money. I rip open the package and try them on.

Cozy. I wiggle my toes, enjoying the thick, plush fabric around my tootsies.

“I spent a lot of money on socks,” I tell a friend.

“What kind of socks?”

“Alpaca.

“What’s an Alpaca?”

“Kind of like a Llama.”

“How much did you spend?”

“Twenty Dollars.”

“You bought TWENTY DOLLAR Llama socks?!”

I had to laugh. “Yes I did, and I don’t really regret it. I only regret that I didn’t buy two pairs.”

If you want your own Alpaca Socks, go to: http://www.bookmarkalpacas.com/store/

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“Why don’t you live here?!”

Liquid, dark as steeped tea, circled the drain. I scrunched my nose, watching the water sluice from my body; disgusted about the amount of dirt I’d dragged into my house.

Today was phenomenal. Fun. Silly. Lots of dirty, hard work.

A few days ago, one of my favorite people in the world (who lives in Virginia) emailed to tell me she was coming up here to play for the weekend. I made her come to the barn and join the Saturday morning group lesson. This group, comprised of my more advanced students, practiced lead changes. They’ve been practicing a change of rein, simple lead changes and flying lead changes. My dear friend (who is 11) fit right into the group.

Afterward, we unsaddled, put together a folder for her, and then sent her on her way.

And I was sad.

My brain refused to relax, so I started sorting. I went through plastic bins, threw away certain things, and cleaned others. Random recruits (including some Minions and a parent or two) helped sort through brushes, putting together colored totes for each horse. I shredded paper and swept and cleaned hay off of the floor of the indoor arena, covering myself in dirt and dust.

But I was still sad.

I can’t have every kid who comes here be a part of my Minion program. I can’t claim them all.

But I wish I could.

I really, really wish I could.

Hugs and love, Aubry (who has NO e in her name and who is from Virginia!), from Michigan. Firefly Farm loves you.

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The Pin Ups are BACK

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Sparkling Stalls

The shimmering strands shiver as horses breeze through the stalls. Each tiny, absorbent paper flickers and flashes in the sunlight.

Copper, in his “wrapping paper” stall.

Sparkly stalls

Thanks, everyone, for contributing paper to our farm. The Husband and I have been shredding for days, making sure that our horses are snuggly warm this winter. We appreciate all of you. Thanks for thinking of us and bringing us your wrapping paper after Christmas.

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Donating Paper to the Farm

Fast read:

My Facebook post regarding used wrapping paper went VIRAL. If you’d like to contribute paper for our animals, please keep the paper flat (try not to wad it up into a ball.) Our shredder is only capable of taking smooth pieces. After Christmas, if you’d like to bring other paper, we take any and all staple-less items (magazines, newspapers, old homework sheets, etc.) and use it all year round.  If you’d like to drop it off, you can do so between 10am and 2pm Saturday (12/26/15) and Sunday (12/27/15). Monday (12/28/15) is my 13-year Anniversary of being married to The Husband, so no dropoffs that day. Lesson students can drop off paper at any scheduled lesson time. Thank you so much for your generosity and thinking of our animals. If you’d like to arrange another time and/or are considering lessons/camps/parties with us, please contact me at RideFireflyFarm@gmail.com. (There’s more fun and entertainment below, but if you’re pressed for time, this ^ is the way to go.)

Sarah and Applejack

Sarah with Applejack the rescue foal

“46, 080 reached.”

“768 shares.”

Surprise! Your Tiny Farm’s VIRAL.

I stared at the screen in mixed fascination, uncertainty, and excitement. People cared enough about my 11-acre farm that they asked other people to help me. If my 15-minutes of fame comes about because people want to help my animals, I’ll take it.

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Last night I dreamed of a traffic jam as hundreds of people descended upon the farm. Truckers waved their hats as they dumped pile after pile of paper at my feet. Someone brought a giant food-processor capable of whirling snowdrift-sized piles of confetti.

And I woke up smiling.

We have a small operation here. Six stalls, eleven horses, eight cats, two turkeys, twenty-ish ducks and the same amount of chickens. (If you’d like to see the animals, go to the top of the page in the big tan box where it says “Meet the Animals.”)

We have one shredder that is capable of taking 12 sheets of paper at a time, and as of this post, bought a second on Amazon.com that’s able to shred 20 pages at a time. Who shreds the paper? Me. (If you’d like to see me, please go to the top of the page in the big tan box where it says “The Instructor.”)

We use paper all year round, but I had the idea of shredding wrapping paper after last Christmas. We shred metal-less, staple-less paper–anything–magazines, newspapers, birthday cards that didn’t contain any money–anything that’s recycleable. We use this as bedding instead of buying sawdust. It’s a little more work, but it doesn’t cost us anything and breaks down into the most beautiful dark, rich soil you’ve ever seen. We put the used bedding and manure in buckets, and the neighbor hauls it away for use on his fields. We also use it for our garden.

Remember that we’re small. Storage space is at a premium, so if you plan to do a dropoff, you can either come Saturday 12/26/15 from 10am-2pm, Sunday 12/27/15 from 10am to 2pm, or email me for specific times. RideFireflyFarm@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for your generosity. I’m humbled and delighted and terrified all at the same time. (Terrified of being buried by 43,000 households worth of paper, you understand. Not of the generosity.)

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His First Time

His peach-fuzz nose nuzzles my hand as I gently push the bit toward his mouth. He opens, and the vinyl-covered bit slides in. He chomps for a few seconds, and then watches me, his ears standing at attention.

The bridle’s knotted along the neoprene. His head is still too dainty to fit my old pony bridle. I stroke him, and he licks and chews as I fondle his ears.

I started by putting the bridle on as he ate. Bridle = grain. Applejack easily transitioned, even head-butting me as if to say, “Hurry up already! If you put that thing on then I get to eat!”

After ten to fifteen days, I was ready and so was he. We’d already had six rides with the halter and leadrope as a makeshift steering device.

But never a bit in his mouth.

I used my old Wintec pony bridle as usual, slipping it over his head. He watched me expectantly. He knew a treat would follow the bit. I didn’t disappoint him.

Then, I climbed aboard.

As usual, he turned his head to sniff. His ears stayed trained on me, ready for anything. I gently pulled one rein while telling him to walk on. He moved forward.

It took a little while, but he caught on to turning left and right. His ears never wavered in their mission to listen to my every command.

I’m in love.

My baby can now be ridden in a bit and bridle. By me, of course. I don’t trust anyone else yet.

I can’t wait to do it again.

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Improvements

I attended summer camp every year, and there was a running joke about how everyone had a healthy brown glow to the skin–but everyone’s lovely tan would wash down the drain.

Like the tan flowing away with waste water, the work I do here at the farm is easy to forget. There’s always something new to do; something more to make more user friendly, something that needs to be fixed.

It took me adding a “Barn Improvements” page to recognize my own hard work.

Please check out this new page. It’s a long time in the making.

If the pipes in the house become clogged, it’s only because I’ve been hard at work making the barn a success. Fortunately here I’m able to shower every night–unlike camp. (Long Live the Swamp Queens!)

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Frederick Meijer Sculptural Garden

image2image3image4image5image6image120150808_154627Mel at Meijer 4Goat at MeijerMel at Meijer 3

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