Shantara Acres blog is Featured Over at Bewitchin Kitchen.

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The Bewitchin’ Kitchen: Feature Friday: Shantara Acres Farm

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On Being Cold and Alone and Happy

(It’s good for the soul).

It’s still winter.  Winter is a hard time for living things that require warmth to survive.  The horses need extra hay to fuel their metabolic furnaces.  Some horses aren’t so lucky and don’t get enough to eat and suffer more from winter’s effects.  I see lots of cows on farms here that look hungry and I feel sad for them in their mud and snow covered pastures.  Then I drive by a few fields where farmers have put out round bales, enough for the herds for days and days and I feel reassured that the human race does remain a compassionate one.

The man that I love, the one I share my life with, lost his father yesterday and although I did not  know his father other than meeting him a few times, I still feel saddened at the loss of a life, even though it brings relief from suffering.  I’ve often heard the saying, we come into this world alone, and we leave alone.  It’s who and what we love in the interim that really matters.

About eight years ago I had a life-altering event that changed my outlook on life greatly.  It was an ego-shattering event that made me a more compassionate less self-absorbed person.  I was humbled enough to be able to view my own mortality and examine the impact, good or bad, I had on other people. God has a way of bringing us down, one way or another, of shaking us up, to make us see what he wants us to see and to start living the way he wants us to.

That time in my life is what brought me back to the horses and farm life of my childhood.  I have met so many wonderful people since I’ve been on this path, that are now dear friends to me.  I can’t imagine waking up and not hearing a rooster crow, or a horse whinny, or not having to go out and milk goats in the freezing cold.  (Our milking area is warm though).

The aloneness that plagued me in my  20’s and early 30’s disappeared when I bought my first horse as an adult six years ago.  I guess they say it takes that long, and maybe some people never find that spot, but I’m glad I did.  I went through 2 marriages and an endless stream of relationships, looking for happiness,  until my life was turned upside down by a  man God sent into my life about eight years ago.

I knew this man (CG) was my gift from God and I needed to get it right, but I was too stubborn, too proud, always had to be right, to have the last word, I was not above lying, etc. etc.  Slowly, this man that I adored, who I KNEW God had sent into my life, slipped through my fingers and then  was gone.

I couldn’t breath.

I joined several churches, got baptized and confirmed and people spoke in tongues over me and prayed for me and tried to help me.  I discovered that you really do have to get out there and do whatever it takes to help yourself.  There is no line where free help is handed out.  Sometimes a meal maybe, but never the kind of help you need to pull yourself up and get yourself together.  You have to want that.  Sometimes you might  have help along the way…and if you’re really trying, help will spring up all over the place, but basically, you do it alone.

Dreams need to be followed, not ignored or suppressed.  Compassion needs to be the word of the day, everyday.  And understanding should follow close behind.

Last July I lost my job of almost 12 years.  I was devastated, but God knows what he is doing.  I was able to follow my dream of doing natural hoof care.  I LOVE working with horses.  I understand them and adore them.  While following this dream, finally, I got a call one day from CG, asking me if I needed any help with anything.

Well, I was able to talk him into coming out and helping me with yard work.  My yard is HUGE and it had gotten terribly out of control.  The weeds in the garden were taller than either of us.  I knew he wouldn’t judge me by my messy yard.   And he didn’t.  But once he was here,  I knew I loved him as much as I ever had years ago.  Nothing had changed about that.

My son had just moved out of the house and I was feeling very alone….miles from any town.  But God knew what I needed and sent CG at just the right moment.  Enough years had passed that I could forgive and I’d grown up enough that I had some sense.  (Now, I won’t say that I’m perfectly mature and forgiving and sensible every day…but I’m certainly working on it.)

I always wanted to be one of those people that could get up and tell their story in church or at an event about how they’d been dragged through the mud and came out on the other side all sunshine and roses.  I used to write down a lot of my prayers in journals, and the common theme was praying for changes in myself and a way for things to work out between CG and me.  Everything in life is just so much better with him.  He helps me figures things out when I’m confused (which is alot), he helps me see things from other points of view, and we have a lot of fun together just doing simple things.  Just living.  I thank God for bringing me to this place in my life, for all the trials and pain and tears…it was all worth it for what I have now.  Even though it’s cold outside, I’m feeling very blessed.

In the winter it’s easy to feel isolated, cold and lonely, and when people we love pass away, the sadness is made even heavier by the relentless cold we feel inside and out.

Maybe God feels we’ve all had it a little too easy these last few years and decided to make us more appreciative of good friends, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, animals,  the earth, and life, by giving us a winter we will not soon forget.  One that will help us cherish what we have and rejoice in the sun when it finally decides to warm our faces.

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Where Is Spring?

I know it’s not quite time for it yet, but as I was outside last night hauling yet more hay to the horses and breaking ice in the tubs without a heat source, I realized that I am really, really, and I mean REALLY going to appreciate the warmer weather that comes along this spring.

We have been seriously moving the farm the past few days.  CG has taken some time off work so we can get it done, but it’s so very hard to spend any time at all outside when the temps are in the 24’s with the wind chill, and it’s just impossible to stay warm.

I was thinking about how much we complain in the summer about the heat.  Well, other people complain, it doesn’t bother me most of the time…..as long as I can get back in my air conditioning! I LOVE our hot humid Virginian summers.

This has been a relentless winter.  A client yesterday told me the Farmers Almanc, which predicted our weather fairly accurately so far this year, has predicted a major, horrible, winter storm in the month of March.

Will it ever end?  With heat bills over $400 dollars a month, and chapped hands, face, and constantly frozen fingers, I’m done.

I think I’m going to do what lots of smart animals do, and hibernate!  I wish I would have thought of that sooner, and avoided all this cold all together, instead of just missing the tail end of things.

Yep, I’m going to appreciate spring this year for sure.  I’ve already seen lots of really pretty birds that I don’t normally see in the winter.  I guess they got a big surprise when they flew in from where ever it is they came from and found all this brutally cold winter weather stuck here in Central Virginia.

My son bought me a really cute bird feeder for my birthday.  Every time I look at it I want to take it outside and hang it up, but I know the wind will probably just knock it down, seeds and all.  So I wait.  For spring.

It’s got to be out there somewhere.

bird waits for spring

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Alicia Kidded!

This is Alicia right before kidding.

alpine doe right before kidding

Alicia right before kidding. She has very long legs...they just look short in the picture.

She had triplets!!!  But, unfortunately for me, they are ALL BUCKS!  Darn, darn, darn.  One is already spoken for, but if anyone needs an excellent buck I can make them a great deal on one if they are picked up by two weeks of age!

Three little bucklings

The brown and white buck has wattles, the other two do not. He is also the biggest and so far has the biggest appetite!

Fluff Ball

Meet the newest member of the family.  This is our new Great Pyreneese puppy.  He doesn’t have a name yet, so we’re looking for suggestions.

He wasn’t too excited about staying in the dog crate last night, but he did it.  He only woke me up once at 4am.  He was hungry, thirsty and had to use the bathroom, which he DID NOT do in the crate.  He’s a little small to go out with the goats yet, so he gets to be my  companion for a couple of weeks.   Well, except at night.  He has to sleep in the crate at night.

Hopefully, he’ll learn to tolerate it.

Kids…they sure are cute

Three little girls get their first bucket of grain. I think they like it!

alpine kid

I Dream of Jeanie....with green tatoo dye in her ears and hay hanging off of her face.....but look, she does have a pretty pink collar!

I’m mad at my computer, so I’m not talking to it.

I took a bunch of nice pictures with my BRAN NEW CAMERA that CG got me for my birthday….only thing is, I can’t get the pictures to upload to a file where I can put them on my blog.

Except by accident, like with these two pictures.

So, this is all you get.  All the cute pictures are stuck inside my computer somewhere, and won’t come out.

And the little goat girls posed so cute for me.  They stood on top of their milk bucket, and smiled and did somersaults and handstands and stuck out their tongues.  They were irresistible.

Later I guess.  I hope.  I pray.

I can’t take this incompatibility issue I’m having with my technical gadgets.  Why can’t they all just work like I want them to?

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Pee Freezes in this Weather

Before it even hits the ground.   It’s true.  Even polar bears would be asking for a blanket in this weather.

I didn’t sign up for this.

I want my money back.

The chickens are blowing across the pasture.  The horses won’t come out of the barn and when they do, they have a hard time standing up.  Tara just came out to get a drink of water and had to rear to keep from falling over when a gust of wind got her.

Forget it, I’m not going outside.  Well, not until the evening feeding anyway.

I nearly froze this morning.  It took an hour for my face to thaw out.

CG built a fire in the kerosene heater so I could warm up faster and not look so blue.

My ears still ache.

The wind is gusting up to 60 miles per hour.  According to the latest weather report, the  wind chill makes it feel like well below zero.  We had a dry snow last night and it’s blowing that snow around so much it’s hard to see anything at all.

I think the only intelligent thing to do, is to do what Dante’ is doing.

Cat Sleeps in the sun

Or, if you were this little dog, who belongs to my friends, I’ll bet you could find a nice person only too willing to tuck you inside a warm pocket and carry you around all day.

miniature king calvalier spanielI

I washed some clothes this morning, but when CG went outside he found that the dryer vent was frozen shut.  He worked it loose, but I’m sure it’s frozen up again and I can’t bear the thought of stepping outside for even a minute to check it.

And I need dry socks to wear outside tonight.

This is the worst winter I’ve seen here since I’ve lived in Virginia for the last 20 or so years.

I came here on a wagon train in 1989, fresh from the ocean breezes of Oregon and Washington.

I forgot my kite.

I didn’t know I’d have to wear insulated coverall’s…..inside the house.

I guess when your horses grow winter coats that rival that of a grizzly bear, you should stand up and take notice and prepare for the worst.

Well, I’ll try and be more observant next time, and not plan to move the farm during the coldest month of the year with the worst weather we’ve had in at least 20 years.

Namaste

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