We bought the property that has become Soulful Prairies in 2010. The dreams, ideas and hopes for what would become of the land were vague but stirred excitement and enthusiasm. Little did I know of the heartache and struggle that would blast in and out of our lives over the next five years as we rambled through unknown territory towards an unknown outcome.
Two weeks ago I packed up two of my horses on a trailer for the first time and headed to Soulful Prairies with my family. I would be staying there for a full week. It was the day I had envisioned since we bought the property. The horses settled into their freshly bedded stalls and poked their heads in and out of the windows. After they settled in we opened their doors and set them free in to those paddocks that I had spent months planning the sizes, shapes and gate locations of. They ran and played and this was the moment I knew all the hard work had a purpose. Sleeping above my very own horses in my very own barn was peaceful and in the morning I was in their stalls barefoot with my arms around their necks before I had even truly woken up. I loved feeding them my own mix of grains that I had researched stirring in flaxseed oil and topping them with a carrot. The joy of being the sole caregiver to my horses overwhelmed me.
Later that day my family headed out and I was left to experience life on the farm alone……feeding, watering and stall cleaning and then the rain. Rain, rain and more rain! Oh and did I mention the mud? As it rained the horses continued to poop and eat and poop and eat. I’ve picked a stall or two in my life put come on now really? Do they actually poop that much? There was the job of taking the wheel barrels of manure and dumping them that wouldn’t have been such a horrible task except – did I mention the mud? Then I realized that the soil and new pasture grass in the paddocks was getting deep horsey feet divots which I knew would be a hard fix. It also became very apparent that my idea of waiting to put in a dry lot (a pasture covered in a lime stone type sand to put horses in when it rains and the pastures are too soft) until later was not the best one. This was the moment I knew I had made a huge mistake and I was in over my head. This is the moment when doubt crept in and I wanted to runaway from the responsibility I had created for myself. How was I ever going to handle all of this when two more horses came tomorrow? And then more later?
The humidity brought bugs of all sorts and the horses looked miserable. When more horses arrived they had a conference and figured out how to unlatch their gates. When I left their doors open to the run out areas, they dragged shavings and hay out the doors into the lime stone and created a mess – and yes – they pooped out there too. The stall doors that I picked out left this small gap big enough for shavings to dump into the isle and create somewhat of a constant mess, especially with the winds. This is when all I could see is what I did wrong in designing what I had believed to be my well thought out ideas.
After a few days of feeling slightly sorry for myself I found a rhythm. Charlie was very tidy and his stall was easy to keep nice. Keebler managed to drag his feet around and mix manure hay and urine all together, which made the stall cleaning difficult. Kincaid’s technique was to smash his tidy little piles into smithereens with his giant hooves. Yet I found a way. Each day I experienced things a little differently and each day I created new steps that made the task at hand a little easier. This is when pride began to creep in. I realized that if I swept the shavings away from the isle door and the outside door it cut way down on the amount of shavings pouring into areas I’d prefer they not go. When the horses wanted to be in my lap while I was cleaning the first few days, they learned to back off a bit when I was working – their would be time for cuddling later. All the issues with design were small and could be fixed and adjusted. After all that was the point of this trial run week.
I have realized over these past few years that the dream is easy. It is the push and hard work when you are tired and want to give up, it is the integrity and grit and it is the moments that bring us to our knees in tears that make the dream possible. And it is also the later that grows us up, teaches us and offers lessons of how to proceed in life. The lessons so often are in the heartache. The roller coaster of growth, learning and making mistakes will continue but I am ready. Bring it on!