There is a strong temptation when I sit down to write a blog entry to focus entirely on the positive. To write about the wonderful people and beautiful landscapes and frequent blessings and encouragements – the insights and learning opportunities and the occasional amusing mishap. Even today I want to write about making tempeh - and how after failing miserably to keep the temperatures even close to the necessary 88*F (it fell to 70*F the first night – the second night I’d given up and it fell to 60*F!) – within 48 hours the culture had done its job and yesterday I ate (and shared) the delicious result of my first attempt! Yeah me! Yummy tempeh!
I have been here for three weeks now. I limped in with two sore-backed ponies and was taken in with incredible hospitality and grace – and I’m still here. It’s hard to write because I’m feeling guilty and ashamed about the condition of my horses. It’s hard to write because, while I know this is all a part of “The Journey”, I feel like I’ve fallen off the trail somehow and I’m not going anywhere for awhile, and what does that mean and what do I do now? It’s hard to write because I am afraid of opening myself up to criticism - or engendering a host of well-meaning (but ultimately useless) bits of advice that I’ll need to be polite about while inside I’m screaming with frustration and angst. It’s hard to be honest with myself about this situation, much less open the window and invite an audience. I’m scared and feeling stuck and helpless and stupid.
So – since that wasn’t getting me anywhere – I realized I needed a slightly different perspective, which might lead me to a different approach, which might even yield a more positive result. I realized that I wasn’t being fair. To you, the readers of this blog, who are following my Journey and presumably honestly interested/involved in what’s really going on. To myself, depriving myself of community, consolation and quite possibly great advice, options and insight. And to the Journey – because this IS all part of the process and who am I to judge it as “bad” and “roadblock” and “trap” and “negative”? A week or so ago I got a call from J, who has been a great help and encouragement (and sympathetic, non-judgemental ear) over the past several months - a horsewoman and friend whom I’ve never met in person, she wanted to know what’s really going on. It was good for me to spill it all out there, and a huge relief when her response wasn’t harsh judgement, but better saddle pads for the ponies coming in the mail!
“I ride an old paint, I lead an old dan…
their tails are all matted, their backs are all raw.”
I am living on a ranch that is 6 miles of dirt road from the nearest town (20 minutes by car) -> Fort Thomas consists of a PO, a small store/laundromat/cafe that closes when the PO closes, a bar and a few houses. The nearest “real” town (grocery store) is close to an hour away by car – I ride in with somebody about once a week to resupply. Money is running low and there’s no obvious place to “get a job”. It’s getting hot already, over 100*F over the weekend, and this is just the beginning. I “need” to get out of the desert before summer hits in earnest – and I need to get over the continental divide ideally during July or August. There is a very real sense that if I don’t get moving again by when?, the first of June?, I might be stuck this side of the divide for another year! Hard to get my head around that and what it might mean – for the ponies, the Journey, the blog, Me!?!
The ponies are out in an 120 acre pasture with 3 mares and a molly mule – there’s just enough graze, they’re shedding out and looking good, apart from their withers/shoulders. Finehorn came in yesterday with dried blood dripping down her left shoulder – I’m hoping that was a good sign. The swelling is down, as is the over-all tenderness. Jesse has a recurring skin thing going on, like cradle cap or rain-rot (maybe dry rot?) which causes his hair to clump up and fall out. Ugh! I’ve switched medicines/treatments a few times – currently I’m using Nu-stock (sulphur, pine oil and mineral oil) because that seems to be what’s helping Jesse the most – and doing hot compresses on Finehorn’s withers (castor oil, epsom salts, garlic) – which was what finally brought the swelling down.
Part of my frustration with myself is the sense that I made the same mistake twice - and the ponies have paid for it both times. 30# of horse feed, divided into two dry bags and added to the load – first it was Jesse and the strained hip muscle, now it’s Finehorn’s withers. Mea Culpa. Part of my fear has to do with getting “stuck” – every day the weather window tightens, the resources dwindle – the ponies aren’t ready to ramble – and thinking too much along those lines hi-jacks my brain into some pretty bleak places. It’s somehow easier for me to have faith in the Journey when we’re riding down the trail. It’s easier to invite people to be part of my grand adventure than it is to admit that things are really hard right now. It’s easier to write about the blessings that never cease – which Is a very real level of what’s Always going on - than to open the door for others to bear witness to my lack of perfect judgement, my insecurities and doubt.
But there it is. For those of you who are praying for us as we Journey, perhaps this will help you know how to pray for us during these difficult days – healing for the ponies, wisdom and grace for us all.