Sunday, November 12, 2017

So Long, Crystal Coast

Friday morning I slept in for almost an hour extra, then stuffed my backpack with everything I'd need for the next two days (which wasn't much). Went over to check on Ranger, curried him all over and gave him a few scritches. At 8:37 I was on the road and headed back to the beach for one last weekend with my friends.

he's telling me bye! also, ignore the pile of
trash to the left. previous renter accumulated
all that & hubby had to carry it to landfill

I arrived at the barn a little after 1. It was the first time seeing Razz in almost a whole month and he seemed just as happy to see me as I was him. He got a wonderful two hour grooming session and lots of cookies. Once I finished with him, I headed on into town to hang out with a friend until Hubs finished with work. We chatted about everything imaginable. It was tough giving her a good bye hug and knowing I wasn't going to be seeing her on the regular anymore. But she will def be coming up to visit me. We are already planning trips to Panther football games (we've attended together before & had a blast), Carolina Rebellion in May, and the casino in Cherokee to waste some money.

Hubs got home around six. I was starving so we ate dinner at Olive Garden, that way I could totally gorge myself on salad and breadsticks. And I ordered two Stellas. Usually hubby is the one enjoying beverage but not that night. Our house is down to bare essentials, and after dinner it was difficult for both of us to try and stretch out together on the love seat. It's the only piece of furniture left in the living room. I went to bed early and promptly passed out.

Which meant I was up early the next morning. Hubby was still sound asleep. Pretty sure he could sleep through a train wreck. By 9:30 he was up but I was going crazy, so left the house and went to the Southern States dealer for horse feed. I needed a couple bags of the same feed Razz has been eating. Chatted with those folks for a few minutes before going to see my friends at the tattoo shop. 

They don't open til 11 but let me in early. Having just moved into a new building downtown, I was super excited to check it out. There are three artists working there and I consider all three to be good friends because I'm in there so much, it's a cool place to stop by and hang even if I'm not getting tattooed. The front room of the new shop is now an art gallery with several signed & numbered prints hanging in a group along one wall that were very interesting. A couple had horses and I was just about to ask the price on one, when I notice the price on the one above it was $5900. So I never inquired about the price of the first one that caught my eye. They were all by a fella named Giorgio Chirico. Turns out he inspired a lot of Salvador Dali's work, and you could certainly make the connection between the two. I was impressed with the shop really stepping their game up. They'd always been legit, but that was some serious artwork on display. No one else around has anything like that hanging on their walls for sale.
the chirico prints

more of the new gallery

the unfinished bird painting on the left will be a free tattoo
given away in December. i sure would like to
win that shit & finish up the "sock" on my
lower left leg. 

My regular artist is one of my best friends. Our relationship started out as a customer/tattooer thing, but we quickly realized we were kindred spirits and started doing things together outside of the shop. Eventually we got to know one another's families too, and we'd take turns at each others' house for dinner and drinks. Telling her good bye was even harder than my friend the day before. I got tattooed as well. My right calf. Even though i really want to share my fresh ink I'm gonna hold off because I plan on doing a whole post in the near future on my tattoos. Many of them are horse themed.

i did snag a pic of the work in progress tho

After leaving the shop, I went home and changed into riding clothes and headed to the barn. It was 3:30 by now. All the barn girls were meeting up for a last ride with me and Razz. Fortunately the boy was still looking good from his intensive grooming the day before and tacking up went quickly. My calf was covered in medical tape, the clear kind that doctors use to cover i.v.'s and ports, and we enjoyed a wonderful ride through the Croatan for almost three hours. No one has ridden the Croatan since April and we weren't sure what to expect at first but it was perfect in there. No bugs and relatively clear trails. There were six of us riding, and I left my phone in my grooming bag back at the barn so zero media on my part :( We did ride up on a wildlife officer who was looking for some illeagal hunters from the night before. They'd ran from him and got away, & he said he'd sure like to have a horse to patrol on.

We got back to the barn just before it turned completely dark. Everyone groomed and chipped in together to feed the entire farm and knock it out quickly. I changed into a clean pair of jeans and met the others plus hubby at my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. The girls surprised me with a gift card to Tractor Supply since we have one in just about every town in the south, and they knew I'd be able to use it easily for necessities. I almost teared up at their kindness. Certainly wasn't expecting the gift. They also paid for me & husband's dinner. It was verrry hard to say good bye at the end of the night. 

Seven a.m. the next morning, Sunday morning, I was loading my tack trunk into the car, and my cheeky chestnut into the trailer. It had been raining all morning which made everything suck, but turned to a light mist when it was time to load pony. Razz took about three minutes to get on the trailer and it felt like thirty. 

Now it was time to make the trip back to the mountains that I'd been dreading the most. It was Razz's first time going farther west than Raleigh. He was trailering alone for over 5 hours. And it would begin to pour down rain approximately 10 minutes into the drive. 

so long, crystal coast

We had to stop one time for gas in the truck. Razz began to paw til I opened the drop down and gave him a couple treats. One big sniff of the gasoline-infused air and he knew this was not his stop. An hour & a half later we arrived at the farm.


Razz unloaded safely. Relieved doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. Hubby and I made it across the state safely by ourselves. My horse proved once again that I just worry too much about things I shouldn't. Thankful for our safe trip, i now had to introduce my boy to his new herd mate...

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Ranger to Watch Over Things

Boy, do I have a lot of blogging to get caught up on.

With so much work to be done on the house and barn it's been difficult to focus on anything else. The second most important issue at hand was finding Razz a friend before he moved in. Husband has wanted a horse for a while now, but paying board on another just wasn't an option for us. Moving to our own place meant he could finally have one. Ideally when picking out a new horse you have time to shop and test ride. That was gonna be impossible for our situation, as hubby is still living at the beach trying to sell our home there and I had a set in stone date for Razz to move in. 

barn lookin lonely. yep, I shared
this pic before, sorry for the rerun

So I was a little behind the eight ball with finding a new companion and had settled on the idea of a mini horse or burro in a pinch. The little guys eat less, and a burro would keep coyotes ran off. Coyotes are a big problem around these parts. Then I spoke with a new friend about the situation and she very graciously offered one of the mares in her herd to come stay with Razz until I could find something for hubs. I was settled on that, and didn't mind feeding a full sized horse since I wasn't buying her. The cost of hay would be doable since I wasn't purchasing. 

Then seemingly out of nowhere my dad had some surprising news for me one day when i got home from work. He'd been at the local auto garage earlier that morning. The fella who runs the garage is a horseman and he actually leases two pastures right down the road from my house, and lives only a bit further down the road beyond that. Mechanic owns six horses and dad asked if he had anything cheap and friendly for sale. Mechanic said anything he was willing to sell wasn't beginner friendly, but his 70+ year old father had a really tame horse that he'd probably let go of. 

And his father just happened to be hanging out in the garage office at the time!

So my dad and his dad started talking ponies, and when I got home from work we went down to check out this really tame horse he would probably let go of. The horse was pastured only 1.3 miles from my house. In that short trip over dad told me he was a small horse, an easy keeper, and had been trail ridden everywhere around here. We got to the pasture, went up to the gate and saw no horse. I called out "here pony,pony, poneeeee" a few times before i started hearing some cantering in the woods coming towards us. 

my dad and poneeeee

Next thing I knew, a fat, scrappy stock type horse was coming right to me. A chestnut with a blaze and three white legs just like Razz. This little guy was so happy to see us. He let me and dad scratch all over him. His owner wasn't there so I was completely on my own assessing his character and health. He had a couple ticks and a lot of crusty funk on his lower legs. But otherwise he was pasture sound, very shiny and healthy looking. A few minutes into our visit I picked up all four of his feet, held each one up until I said it was ok to put it back down, stretched each one out forward and then up to his belly tightly, and made him walk off. He was still sound. Then I nudged both sides, first gently then harder. Then i laid across his back sideways on my belly, in case he decided to get cheeky I could pop right back off on my feet. This horse just stood there the entire time. Never pinned his ears, never offered to leave us. He had no halter on so it's not as if my dad was holding him in place the whole time. He wanted to be around us. His teeth have the groove running the full length, so if my memory serves me correctly that would age him somewhere between 15-20.

I gave him a few more scritches before going up to the old man's house (across the road) to talk business. He wanted $400. I would have gladly paid 4, but offered him $300 because it was worth a shot. He took $350 for him and we were both happy. The old man said he'd ride him over to my barn the following day between 5-6.

That was on a Tuesday. Wednesday came and I didn't think my day job would ever end. Being starved of horses for so long, I was ready for some barn time that didn't involve hammer, nail and saw. Before coming home I went to wal-mart and procured some cheap rubbermaid muck tubs for water buckets and a roll of white ribbon to mark the fence line. Then Tractor Supply for a curry, stiff, & soft brush. Got home, cleaned & filled tubs, tied ribbon to the fence, put some shavings out in the barn aisle. I was ready for pony's arrival between 5-6.

chunky monkey, def an easy keeper

Well, 6 o'clock came and went, no horse. I drove down the road to see about him, and no one was around. The old man wasn't home and it was getting dark at this point. what the hell?

The horse wasn't the only scrappy one of the bunch. These horsemen were from rough stock themselves. Generally good people, but rough and a little unreliable when they go home, pop a top and forget they were supposed to do something. My dad was getting upset and made the comment "those damn (insert last name here, plural form) are sorrier than whale shit!! You wait til I see him tomorrow".

I went to bed a little bummed and told myself I'd just go get the horse myself after work the next day.

The next day came. It was Thursday by now. I was attending a trade show in Charlotte with work. Around 10:30 that morning I got a text from mom saying the horse was in the barn. Good. But of course work was taking forever again, and my boss drove so slow going back home. She was actually doing the speed limit but everyone else was passing us and it was killing me. Behind my own wheel, I busted ass to get home and finally get to know the new guy.

finally home

He was waiting in the barn aisle just like mom said. I text hubby a pic and told him "He's yours! And he needs a name." I curried him all over then went for the stiff brush. As a warning to all, don't buy Tough1 brushes. The fucking handle separated from the bristles the first time i tried to use it. Whomp whomp. No biggie, I just curried some more. His tail has a huge knot in it that will need cutting out. It consumes half of his tail so at least the other half is still functional and he'll have some length left to swat with.

so much grass to eat!

After grooming I led him around the fence line once so he'd get a good idea of the boundary. We were almost done with the tour when he popped up on his front end in a mini rear. It startled me, as he'd been so completely chill up to that point. I shut him down immediately and we had a mini lesson concerning who was in charge. I backed him up. Led him in a twisty turny pattern that made no sense. Made him stop on a dime without warning and stand still. Repeated everything. He did just as i asked. And then I turned him loose. He snorted and trotted around a bit, then came right back over to me and started grazing.

Little chestnut is extremely curious about things, almost cat like. And super smart. He observes everything and everyone. You can see the cranks turning in his head while he's thinking. He likes to sniff everything. I came to the conclusion he's 1/4 arab, 3/4 quarter. I'm pretty sure he's the type that will learn how to open doors given enough practice with it, as he figits with the gate latches when bored. The poor thing had no idea what to do with a treat, and he flipped out when i tried to fly spray him the first time. He's never been doted over or shown the affection I'm used to giving my horses.

showing off his quarter horse attributes

I tucked him in for the night and went home. Called hubby to tell him all about the new guy. Hubby decided to name him Ranger. I think it's a great name considering the way he watches over everything going on.

The next morning was Friday. You'd think I'd be gearing up for a fun weekend getting to know Ranger and taking my first ride. But you'd be wrong. I went over first thing to make sure everything was okay, then I hit the road, headed back to my beach home (haha that makes it sound like I'm loaded$$) and enjoyed my last official weekend on the Crystal Coast.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Return to the Motherland

Back in 1998, I packed up my things and moved to Tennessee to work on a horse ranch. Stayed there a little over a year before packing up again to move to the NC coast, where I established my adult life, got married and raised my daughter. It was also my first experience boarding my horse at a barn that wasn't mine. The farm I picked was extremely convenient to my house, barely over a mile away and easily walked. However I wasn't a very good fit at this barn. It was a show barn focused on hunters with some dressage thrown in. I made the best of an awkward situation, trying to make friends and get someone to ride the few trails we had, but never had any real success becoming "one of the girls". I started daydreaming about the farm I grew up on and my eventual return. 

I knew I couldn't just pack up and leave. I mean, I could have, but my daughter's priorities came first and I wasn't willing to uproot her from everything she loved just to satisfy my horsey desires. Razz moved to a barn where I did make many friends, and I think he was happier there too. The return to the Motherland was still nagging at me though, so hubby and I started to make plans for a move when the right time came. 

This past summer, kiddo graduated high school & headed to college. She's attending a school in the mountains almost to the Georgia border, the extreme other end of the state from where we lived. I had nothing keeping me at the beach any longer, it was time to move!

So here I am back home, after all the years of first thinking about it, then talking to others & planning. This has finally happened and it's a bit surreal. 

home at last

It's also been a lot of work. First of all, I'm up here without my husband. He stayed behind to sell the house and keep a good paying job while I came up to get everything ready and learn to live on wages half of what I'd been making. The farm is located in the northwestern corner of the state at the foot of the first row of Appalachian mountains. It's also the fifth poorest county in NC with a median household income of less than $40,000. That figure is for a double income family. Ouch.

The house and barn were both built by my grandfather back in 1938. He was a master carpenter and everything was built super solid. The house has been rented out since Grandpa passed in 1991. The bachelor that lived there the past five years was not a good housekeeper and I have been dusting, scrubbing and sanitizing every day for two weeks straight. The farm consists of 100 acres total, most of which is leased out to a beef cattle farmer. Other than maintaining the fence line, he hasn't managed the land well at all. The whole farm needs bush hogged something terrible. The barn hasn't been used for livestock in decades and has required a total remodel. It hurts my heart to see this place so run down, my folks always kept it immaculate. 

But I have been chugging right along, going to my day job, then coming home to work on the barn for a couple hours a day til we loose daylight, then going inside the house and cleaning. My body is tired. My mind is tired. It won't get done unless I do it, so I keep on with the end goal in mind. Dad has been great throughout the whole thing. Working in the barn during the day while I'm at my day job. He's 72 and out there busting his ass like he's 40. I worry about him hurting himself or something worse, out there alone all day.

After two weeks of intense labor it's starting to look like a home again. The house needs the trim painted and a new bathtub but is otherwise done. I also have Razz's pasture up and the barn is ready for him. We still have a lot to do in the barn but for now it's horse safe and ready enough.

So how about some progress pics?

move in day

block garage was added on in the 1960s,
along with indoor plumbing

I finally have the front porch
I've always wanted! just need
nicer furniture

view I get to enjoy from front
porch, complete with cold beer

driveway, the main road is along
treeline in distance. pasture on right
will get fenced off for my horses for
riding and grazing once it's cleaned up

the barn. brush & weeds still need
cleared away out front

directly to the right of barn,
new fence I installed separating
horses & cows

barn is a bank barn & crib barn,
I'm learning all about old school
Appalachian building styles 

upper pasture, walnut trees need to
come down so I can sew some grass.
I'm a little sad about cutting trees

barn aisle, had to bring in dirt to
level out. discount building materials
came pre-decorated with phallus.
the nuts were cut off so anyone who
sees it now thinks it's an arrow hehe.
tack room will be in the back where
boards are temporarily nailed up

inside Razz's stall. buckets have since
been hung, and the original stall door
was trimmed to fit & hung in the window
on the block wall to keep weather out.

It's nowhere near done, but ready for Razz to move in on the 29th. Originally he was moving in this weekend, but the end of the month will work out much better with my schedule. I can't wait to get him here and ride around the property. Even though the cows are here I can still ride it all, and you better believe I'm gonna!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Things have been very different 'round these parts for the last month. Adjusting to a two person household hasn't been as bad as I previously thought. I can take my time in the mornings to sip coffee and watch news/read blogs for a little while longer than I was able to before. I don't have to get tied up in any school traffic or extra curricular schedules. I don't have to plan my day around someone else. We get take out more often. I do miss my daughter terribly, but she's having a wonderful time, and life feels new and refreshing in so many ways.

I have one week left at my job of 16 years. It's been stagnant for a few years now, as I have reached the top of the ladder there. A new job is already lined up with the move. I found a fun part time position with a small but growing graphics company back home. Three days a week there will ensure a certain amount of income and allow time for me to focus on my own small business venture.

And speaking of the move, that's probably the most exciting thing we have going on. My little herd is packing up and moving to the mountains! I know I've mentioned it a lot on here, but it's finally happening!! We are moving onto my grandfather's farm. It's been in my family for over 150 years. It's where I grew up and learned to ride. And I'm sure it will inspire a large handful of future blog posts across a variety of topics. I can not wait to get the place set up my way and look out the window at my horse farm. But until then...

Packing up the current house has been bittersweet. I'm sooo ready to go, but there have been so many memories made in this house that it's impossible to move without feeling like I'm leaving a part of me behind. Hubs and i have joked about taking the house with us. Wouldn't that be nice. 

In other, horse related news (because that's what you're here for anyway), I am now the owner of a 2015 Triple C 2 horse trailer. It's small and simple but I've never had anything this nice and I am in love. We brought it to the farm straight from the dealership to get Razz's opinion on things. He took about 35 minutes to make his mind up that the trailer was indeed awesome and that he would travel in it without protest. Well, other than his pawing. During his maiden voyage we went on a roughly ten mile around the neighborhood trip and the panelling looked like this when we got back:

There were zero marks on the panelling when we left :/ Razz will be on the trailer for more than 300 miles (over 5 hours) when I move him in a couple weeks, so obviously something was gonna have to be done about this. Initially I looked around town for 1/4 inch rubber matting sold by the foot. No one in town carries the stuff, not even tractor supply. I didn't want to drive over an hour just for the matting so husband came up with the bright idea of using some of the extra carpet we had in the garage. We put new carpet in two rooms a few months back, part of the upgrades made to maximize home value, and I scoffed at the idea of putting it in the trailer at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought "why not"? It was only gonna be temporary, I could replace it after my first real outing (that was fast approaching in a couple days) and it was only in the front so pooping on it wasn't going to be a problem. We put it up, I made sure the screws were smooth and flush, and the trailer now looked like this:

Just as planned, my real outing came a couple days later. Saturday morning (last Saturday) I got up bright and early, loaded the boy and his cheeky pal, and travelled about an hour and twenty minutes to a campground designed specifically for horses. Barn mate and I set out to explore their huge network of trails. Turning onto the driveway from the main road all you see is a muddy, low lying livestock pen that was kinda gross, and barn mate & I looked at one another in a questioning manner. We'd never been here before and that lot was very off putting. It was all smooth mud, no hoof prints of any kind, I figured that counted for something, and once we passed the lot, we drove through a stand of mixed hardwood/conifer tree growth and into a clean, green, manicured campground with full facilities, nice arena, fishing pond, swimming pond, and well maintained trails. Razz and company came off the trailer happy and not sweaty. We rode for a little over an hour with no idea of where we were going. The trails were all marked with signs and individual names. We just meandered along. "Let's turn here", "Just stay straight", "wonder where this one goes?", "I think I see some water, go this way". We did see water, it was a small man made pond and it looks like they dug it just for pony swimming. We waded in, Razz only went so far because he hates ponds (why horse?) and we took a more narrow, winding trail away from the pond. This trail was in another stand of hardwoods and I enjoyed the ride through trees we don't really have in the Croatan. Once we came back out to the parking area, we loosened girths and had some lunch and water, I made the boys some alfalfa tea to entice them to drink. 

rig lookin' good

almost ready to head out

We had a very pleasant little break. One in which I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed looking at my horse tied to my rig. It made me wish I'd had this trailer much sooner. 

I do have another trailer, had it for a long time, but Razz hates it and it got to be such a hassle to get him on, I just said fuck it. Last time we took it out was for delivering a screen printing press I sold. 

Anywho, barn mate & I finished our lunches and prepared to head back out on the trails. I had just put my bridle back on when barn mate walked around the trailer holding up her bridle to show me her bit was broken. It's a western version of a french link style, and was broken on the center link. It was carelessness that led to the broken bit, and neither of us had an extra, so that was that. Bummed because it didn't have to happen, i rode over to the arena and had a 20 minute lite schooling sesh with Razz that I came away from grinning ear to ear. He felt so loose and willing after being on the trails. I'm sure the newness of the ring played a part. After 20 minutes i called it good, took my time untacking and grooming. We loaded up and came back home safely. No sweaty ponies, no injuries. The trailer hauls great, Razz likes it, couldn't ask for more.

so happy to be back home with bestie.
gonna break my heart to separate 'em for good

The autonomy is great, being able to pick up and go whenev. I was supposed to be on another fun trip today, but an outer band of hurricane Jose ruined those plans. I'll take it, no complaints, compared to the weather some have had to deal with. As far as the carpet is concerned, it held up perfectly. As in you can't even tell I hauled a pawing horse. He only paws when we stop or almost stop, and his barefoot hoof just glides over the fibers. The screws are all still smooth and flush, so I'm leaving the carpet til we get moved. Hubby's crazy idea worked great!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WW: Goldilocks

Meet the newest member of the family! I call her the Goldilocks trailer, because she is just right!! She joined the family yesterday and I can't wait to throw Razz in there and burn the roads up :)