Vacationing when you Own Livestock.

I’m back from my writing hiatus! So the past month has been excruciatingly busy at my day job. I’ve been travelling a bit, Texas has been hot, manual labor on the farm isn’t exactly a page turner, and I just didn’t have the mental capacity to update this blog thing whatever it is…Though my readership is “select” (sounds so much nicer than almost non-existent), and I’m sure very few people are just dying for the next GHLHF installment, I feel guilty for neglecting my site. Writing for fun was a new year’s goal for me, and I mean to see it out through 2019 and re-evaluate in 2020 if the return on investment (which like all things equine will be measured in personal fulfillment and not financial gain) was worth the effort. If you’ve been missing me, BLESS YOU, and I definitely consider you one of my favorite people now. So here goes…

Vacationing when you own horses and other assorted livestock is challenging to say the least. It’s not like I can drop eleven equine, five sheep (yeah we increased by two), twenty nine chickens (it was thirty until yesterday), and three dogs off at a kennel and forget about them until my return. Did I mention Darling Husband purchased a four month old calf at auction last Friday that is hanging out on the homestead until it can join the cattle herd in Falls County? Leaving my livestock for a period of more than three days, induces anxiety that no cocktail of Xanax and alcohol can fix. I literally have less anxiety over an absence from Offspring than I do the livestock. And…Mother of the Year goes to this girl.

How can we leave a face like this?

Seriously though far more humans have expertise in keeping other humans alive than they do livestock, especially horses. Tiny humans don’t usually pick their parents’ absence as the perfect time to end it all. Horses, however know. They just telepathically know the exact point in your trip when you are farthest away, and most likely to finally enjoy yourself. That is the moment they will pick to keel over and die from something that would not be life-threatening had their owners stayed home. Thankfully our farm is sandwiched between the greatest neighbors anyone could ask for that will keep an eye on everything, and collectively they have enough livestock/horse experience to stave off an imminent suicide. They also know who my vet is and can just turn it over to the professionals if need be. Even though I know I’m leaving the animals in good hands and I’m quite indebted to my neighbors, I will still find it difficult to just relax while away from the farm.

So why am I putting myself through this you may ask? Why not take an equine vacation, bring the horses/ponies with you? Admittedly I’m far less attached to the chickens, and no one can predict when those things will drop dead anyway. Well, Best Friend is getting married in Knoxville, TN. I’m not a “wedding” type of person. I’m more of a “Best wishes, here’s a gift, so sorry we didn’t make it!” kind of person. Ceremonial occasions (including my own) just aren’t my thing, but there are currently two on my calendar (Best Friend and Youngest Nephew) that I wouldn’t miss for the world. That’s saying A LOT considering that this particular wedding was scheduled on the most popular weekend in Temple, Texas for just about everything.

I had actually taken vacation this week in anticipation of a horse show, before the wedding invitation arrived. Whiskey Myers (one of my new favorite bands, that I haven’t had a chance to see live…they were featured on Yellowstone!) is playing at my favorite BBQ and concert venues this Thursday. There was also an Obstacle Trail Course Competition I was interested in giving a go this weekend, but sigh…There will be other shows and competitions. A Best Friend’s wedding is a rare thing!

I digress. So logistically, leaving the farm for more than three days takes more preparation than the lunar landings. However unlike the lunar landings, in 2019 at least we have smartphones, so I guess you can say I’m one up on NASA circa 1969. We’ve spent the past two weekends stock piling our yearly supply of hay, and evaluating everyone’s turnout situation to reduce the manual labor required to keep them alive/comfortable and ensure that the only animals Saintly Neighbor needs to actually feed will be the dogs and chickens. Since the sole purpose of our feathery pets is to run around and eat bugs/reptiles on the property, they could probably do just fine without being fed over the next five days anyway. One would think we keep chickens for eggs, but they lay eggs according to some strange astrological calendar known only to them, and then make it a scavenger hunt to locate said eggs. We really just keep chickens for their yard ornament and entertainment value. We can also feel morally superior that we eat only free range eggs (when we can find them). I’m sure Offspring has squirreled away enough snack stashes around the house I’ve yet to discover, that the dogs may be capable of surviving five days with no human interaction as well.

Trip 1 of picking up our yearly hay supply…That’s fifteen bales!

We’re putting out more hay for the full size horses than they should eat in a month. The key word being “should” because they’ll do their best to consume it all in the next five days. Apparently the “air” on our property is some high calorie stuff. Notwithstanding, my own struggles to maintain a certain size (which is less of a mystery), I’ve yet to figure out what the ponies are consuming that leaves them walking around like tiny hippopotami. I’ve literally been dry docking (as in only hay and water served on a dirt lot) all of them in a vain attempt to prevent impending cases of laminitis, and the creatures are still gaining weight. The sheep are pretty much self-sustaining, but we’re putting out extra hay for them too even though they are doing just fine on the same air as the ponies.

Mommy’s little helper

Not only is simply leaving the horses/ponies difficult from a logistics stand point, there is still a fair amount of anxiety because they are also my passion at the risk of sounding cheesy. I need, NEED, my horse time. More than two days without a fix, and I’m a lot less pleasant to be around. No matter how great re-connecting with friends I haven’t seen in a year will be, by day three I’m going to be jonesing for an equine presence like a meth head in rehab. My friends are going to find me a lot less entertaining since my life pretty much revolves around only three things…Offspring, Darling Husband, and Horses not necessarily in that order (a lot depends on whether we are having a toddler moment or not). To my friends in the “Big City” of Knoxville, my life in Temple, Texas is more like life on another planet. It’s really hard to put into words the “appeal” of shoveling $hit, driving big trucks, and frequently lifting 50-100lb foodstuffs for ungrateful animals in the name of fun. Not to mention there has been considerable laughter at my expense concerning my new wardrobe staples, boots, belt buckle, and various cowboy hats.

Even though this will not be a “true” vacation by our definition of the word, which is lounging beach side in alcohol induced immobility, Darling Husband and I are looking forward to the trip. We will have some much needed adult time sans Offspring, who will be enjoying time with his grandparents for most of the weekend. We’ll get to see friends we haven’t hung out with in ages, and get to share a special day with my Bestie, who I wish all the happiness in the world! I’m getting in those last few precious rides/drives before the big trip. I may even have some new blog material as in “Texas Clampetts do Knoxville” and sadly the Beverly Hillbillies is so old most millennials wouldn’t get that TV reference.

2 Comments

  1. I for one would be devastated if you gave up writing this blog. I was just thinking that I had missed a post when you popped up in the mail. I hope you have a great time in Knoxville. I totally understand not wanting to leave your ponies for more than a couple of days. We are planning a 7 day cruise in late March and I’m dreading it already.

    Take care and write soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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