If the Horses are Fine…

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I just came home from a week-long trip to Minnesota over the holidays. Most of my family lives there, and several factors (a cousin’s wedding and an ailing grandmother) made my attendance absolutely compulsory. Don’t get me wrong, I love to visit with family. It was great to see everyone. All of the feelings I expressed in my last post, Enjoying Christmas is a Choice, hold true. I’m glad I went, and I was sorry to leave.

The entire time I was away, I held on to one saying: If the horses are fine, everything else is okay. I’d left my cayuses in the capable hands of my dear friends and neighbors, who have several horses of their own. They would take good care of my ponies, I knew. But still, there’s always that little nagging voice in my head- what if the water tank cracked? What if the other neighbor’s dog ran them through that section of smooth-wire I built as a gate? What if a Sasquatch came out of the mountains behind the house and took up residence in my barn? And so on…

So, as one might suspect, I was pleasantly relieved to find my nags in good flesh, bored, and undisturbed by Bigfoot when I got home. Most of my worry had been for naught. Unfortunately, when I got inside the house, a different concern showed itself to be very real and very inconvenient- the furnace had gone out, and my pipes were frozen. The faucets, which I’d set to dripping before I left, sported perfect stalagmites of ice rising up from the sink  bottoms.

I ran into Helena to get a few space heaters- luckily, only the faucets and fixtures inside the house had frozen, not in the crawlspace below. The propane company got a pleading visit from yours truly to get out here and rectify the situation- I’d ordered fuel a week earlier, and I’m seven miles from their office. It turns out that a week is not nearly the lead time they need, even if you pay in advance. All in all, it’s a hard lesson learned in the life of a new homeowner. But the horses were fine.

As things thawed out, I could take stock of the situation. My house would be fine- a few plumbing fixtures had cracked with the ice, but they were relatively cheap ones. A small price to pay for my ignorance. The power bill would certainly be higher this month, because of the space heaters. Again, a live-and-learn moment. My hay supply made it through the vacation season, and I’ve got a line on some new stuff from Ehlke Herefords this week. I’m sick, like a lot of people during and after the holidays, but it’s likely just a wicked cold, not Ebola or SARS or something equally deadly. My dog, Wheeler, is content to ride in the truck anywhere, for any length of time, just to be with me.

And the horses are fine.

Happy New Year. Keep Your Heels Down.

CHATTING WITH AUTHOR SAM FINDEN

samfinden:

Really fun interview with F.J. Thomas- my sister from another mister. Please check her blog out- fjthomasblog.wordpress.com
Keep Your Heels Down.

Originally posted on Talking In The Barn :

This week we get to spend some time with author Sam Finden. Although he’s young in years, he’s an old soul that’s a true horseman at heart with a gift for telling the best of tales. If you love horses, the rural life, and a good story I think you’ll enjoy reading what he has to say.

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What is a day in your life really like and what is your favorite thing to do?  

A day in my life is fairly uneventful most of the time. If I’m running around, I’m doing something wrong. Every day, I get up and throw on my muck boots straight away- even if I’m in my pajamas- and head out to the barn I built last summer to feed the horses. Then I’ll sit and plan out my day, drinking coffee and having a little breakfast. On work days, I’ll head into town and…

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Enjoying Christmas is a Choice

Think about all of the garbage that comes along with the birth of our Lord and Savior- gifts, traveling, too much food, not enough time, and the potential for hurt feelings all around if things don’t go exactly right. Why? Why do we take this wonderful occasion and wrap it so tightly in unnecessary crap that it becomes a chore? Shouldn’t this be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” like the song says?

Holidays are a good chance for things to go wrong, but they’re also an tremendous opportunity to get back on the right track. It’s not often that you have so many friends and family members in one place, so take advantage of this time. Relax. Talk to your aunt. Take a walk with your weird cousin. Build a fire with your goofy, liberal uncle. Ask questions that matter. Don’t get drunk. And remember, when taking on a subject that’s a little touchy, that they’re probably just as uncomfortable as you are.

I’ll be hitting the road to head back to Minnesota on the 22nd after working the morning. From Montana, with a trailer, it’ll be about 18 hours. Wheeler the Heeler will ride shotgun. About 50 miles into the trip, I’ll remember something I forgot to do (and I’ll worry about it for the rest of my “vacation”). When I arrive, I’ll be exhausted but unable to sit and relax. There won’t be mountains or open sky anywhere in sight. No horses to feed, either. I’ll start to feel hemmed in- stuck in a great, comfortable existence of too much good food, too little stress, and not enough activity. But I’ll be happy. I choose to be happy.

When Mom gets all teary-eyed because her baby boy is home, I’ll be glad for the trip. And when I get to see my ailing grandmother, the Christmas Queen herself, my hours behind the wheel, my ridiculous fuel bill, will not seem so ridiculous after all. And when we sing “Silent Night” on Christmas eve in church, when we read the Christmas story, my own motorized pilgrimage will be shown for what it is- a relative breeze. I don’t have a pregnant fiance on a donkey to worry about, just a not-too-bright cow dog and a heated pickup cab.

Whenever I come back from a trip home, I wind up thinking an awful lot about what was said and to whom during my visit. The white line gets shorter when you’re pondering something worthwhile. This year, when I head west, I aim to have only positive reflections. Why? Because I’m choosing to enjoy this Christmas.

Be well, everyone, and remember why we all get together this time of year. Jesus Christ is the reason for the season.
Merry Christmas, and Keep Your Heels Down!
Sam