Barn party!

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A lesson on Falcon in the crisp autumn morning and a barn party in the warmth of the afternoon – I cannot think of a better way to spend the day.

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The view makes my heart sing.

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Much to his shagrin, Maurice let Celeste decorate him with the Swashbuckling Doctor’s logo and colors. Pony rides followed.

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Appropriately named “Powder,” this flashy poodle checked out Emmitt.

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A very fun party, thanks to PWDressage!

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Grouse hunting in Carbondale, CO

I met someone on a business trip recently that said she had never peed in the woods. I said, “Really?” She confirmed her truth and I wondered what life was like to never pee in the woods. Her reality was not my reality. For instance, we went blue grouse hunting in Carbondale, CO this weekend and I peed in the woods a lot. I was happy that our travels took us to places where there were no bathrooms – just the woods, scenic landscapes, and lots of water to stay hydrated at the high altitude.

This first picture captures a hike I did by myself. I must admit that coming upon a mountain lion crossed my mind just a few times and I kept thinking about the knife I was going to buy for my next hike alone.

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Here we have Matthew and Grant as they begin their hunt for Rocky Mountain native blue grouse. Good men, ethical hunters, and definitely dog lovers (although there are no dogs in this picture, there are three happy pups running around; be sure to scroll down to see the lady of the hunt – Bella – she lead the charge amongst the canines and showed the boys how it’s done).

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The blur in the middle of the trail is Emmitt and Grant’s pup, Jasper, is up ahead.

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Cool, huh?

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Here I am taking a break at the top. We hiked our asses off that day and we talked about how grateful we are to be alive and how our bodies work so well for us.

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This is the only shot I got with all three dogs. Grant’s thinking, “Must find more grouse.”

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From the mountain to the dinner table, thank you oh great and beautiful blue grouse, grilled and topped with a lemon, shallot, caper sauce; braised kale on the side; and perfectly paired wine. Plus, fresh peaches and ice cream for dessert – all of which made for a great meal and lovely day.

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Last but not least, here’s a picture of the lady of the hunt – Bella. Ten years old and lots of hunting experience, she lead the hunt. With her nose as her guide, she ran all around that mountain. I had heard stories of Bella and what a great hunter she was, but this was the first time I saw her in action. I was in awe at her drive, her strength, her endurance, and her powerful instinct. She was beautiful. And she’s named after our Bellah who passed away a few years ago. It was a special day, with a special dog, showing the boys the way. Lean in ladies!

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A big life at 13

Jen, Matt, and Steve are visiting from Hong Kong and I keep telling Matt that we’re going to cancel his ticket back! Jen and Steve’s son, Matt, is all but 13 years old. Without question, he is a very cool young man. He has his father’s presence and his mother’s kindness and he knows how to work – a quality we appreciate especially on the farm!

Standing in the barn aisle tacking up Falcon and shootin’ the breeze with Matt, I ask how the transition to Hong Kong has gone for him. He shares that the first year was tough, but now it feels like he has two great homes. He says, “I love Hong Kong and then I get to come back here!” His eyes get big, his smile widens, and he lifts his arms as if he’s giving the farm a hug.

I have enjoyed hearing about his experiences and observations as a young person living internationally. One comment he made that I found especially poignant was his response to my question about how American schools are different from his education in Asia. He said that his school in Hong Kong teaches much more from a global perspective. Yes, those words came out of the mouth of a 13 year old. He has a big life for such a young man and I’ve enjoyed his candor and appreciated his hard work on the farm. Thanks Matt!

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Here’s Jen and Matt. Jen is Matt’s mom and my riding coach and friend.

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The hay is stacked and hell froze over

We’ve been waiting, and waiting for the hay guy to show up and cut the field. In the midst of our frustration, Paula, created this sign. Thank goodness she found an outlet to channel her energy – for a while, I thought she was going to cut and bale that hay by hand. And I’m not joking.
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Then the hay guy arrived with his tractor one day and we cheered!
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Here’s Paula preparing the barn to stack the hay. I love this picture of her. I don’t know too many people that could shovel a load of crushed concrete.
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Takin’ a break to snap a photo of my boy. Falcon’s top line is developing nicely.
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Hay from the fields of Hillcrest farm. Makes me happy.
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Oh! And this made me laugh! Paula’s daughter, Grace, shared this on Facebook. Matthew saw it and said, “That’s you!”
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Enjoying some lunch tied to the trailer before our lesson.
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Sir Winkett is magical.
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On a side note, I’ve been making green smoothies with kale from our garden. There’s something about that that feels so good.
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Our Garden Project in 10 Steps

This post is for my mom.

She’s an avid Gardner and our little garden project does not compare to the bounty her gardens produce. But, I thought of her a lot, and my father too, as Matthew and I designed, built, and planted our garden. Credit goes to Matthew’s brother, Patrick, for his green thumb consulting during our project. Patrick, like my mom, is a master gardener and we have much to learn from both of them.

Here’s what we did to get started in 10 steps.

Step 1: buy treated wood.
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Step 2: admire the guy at Home Depot with the big saw.
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Step 3: admire handsome husband use power tools (pretty well I might add!).
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Step 4: take picture of our boy, Emmitt, sprawled out on the cool grass (he supervised all activities).
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Step 5: take a break.
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Step 6: dig holes and help Matthew move planter box. Note to self: bend knees when carrying heavy objects.
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Step 7: admire coffin like planter box. Fill and pack dirt and use another tool – the level – to ensure excellent placement.
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See… Emmitt is supervising!
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Step 8: build and move planter box number two!
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Step 9: pose for photo shoot after a hard day’s work. Good job my love!
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Steps 9 and 10: use my big truck to buy buy special garden dirt, place in planters, and buy plants (4 tomato plants, 2 pepper plants, a packet of beet seeds, basil, and greens – two of which are kale plants for our green smoothies).
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That’s it. Our garden project in ten steps. May the sweat from our labor bear organic goodness.

Dueling rhymes

I arrive at the farm yesterday to find this rhyme written on the whiteboard.
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Smiling, I walk into the tack room to find these three jars: one filled with alfalfa cubes, another filled with animal crackers, and then one with orange slices. I grab a handful of animal crackers, whiteboard marker in hand.
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I begin to rhyme…

Two brand new whips
with lashes attached.
Used to smack our horses
when Roulette and Falcon don’t react!

One is blue.
And one is black.
We will use them frequently.
That’s a fact!

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And here’s the response I found on the whiteboard today. I laughed out loud, put my boots on, and saddled up my horse.
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One of the little things I do each night is put warm water in the feed pans. Because that’s how we roll.
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The rain has turned the farm so green.
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I see the little things at the farm. And I’m at my best when I’m on the farm.
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And then there’s not so little…
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