Morning Meditation

Saturday morning was great.  The overnight temp was around 50 degrees so all of the barn doors were left open without worry that the horses would get chilled.  They greeted me — heads over their stall doors, eyes bright, ears forward — as I walked in.  And this is how I became a morning person.

Hero stretching

Hero stretches in the early morning sunlight.

In her fantastic book In Service To The Horse, Susan Nusser writes about Samantha, a groom to a set of elite sporthorses, who says of the horses and the early start to her days “Mornings are when they love you best.”  In my experience this is absolutely true and I suppose Samantha’s words have become my mantra.

I have long mused that mucking is my meditation and I really mean it.  There is a quality to a horse barn in the early morning that imparts a feeling far more spiritual than that of any cathedral I have entered.  There is a stillness to the barn that paralyzes busyness.  Frenzy and rushing have no place in the barn.  As the sunlight peeks in over the window sills the horses calmly begin to eat their breakfast hay and the mucking meditation begins.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “mucking” is the act of cleaning manure and urine-soaked bedding out of a horse’s stall.  A stall must be mucked out at least once a day, and if  a horse is unfortunate enough to be injured and is required to live in his stall for a period of recuperation, the stall will need to be picked and mucked out more often.   There is an old adage about little girls who refuse to clean their bedrooms but who will ride their bikes through heavy rain to get to the barn and muck stalls.  When you are lucky enough to work with horses even the act of cleaning their stalls for them is an enjoyable task.

My horse Hero has been with me for three years.  In those three years I have missed only eight mornings with him because I was traveling.  When I am away I miss him and our routines intensely.


“Pay attention to me!”

The early Saturday morning sunlight brightened the barn and the warm spring air made it comfortable to work in shirt sleeves.  As Hero ate his breakfast hay I scooped manure and wet bedding out of the stall and into the manure skiff.  His stall door was wide open and he was completely comfortable with me walking around him, sorting through the stall shavings as he sorted through his hay.  I don’t worry that he will kick me.  (In our early days together, before we knew each other, I was careful to always touch his hindquarters and talk to him as I worked around him so he wouldn’t be frightened and kick, and in time I earned his trust.)  When I finished with the stall, I left the door wide open as I went to get him fresh water.  He looked over his shoulder at me, acknowledging my whereabouts, but he made no move to leave.  Thus, Hero has earned the privilege of an open stall door.  And I have earned an intense feeling of connection with this horse.  I crave our time together.

Once the horses finish eating, they are groomed and turned out in the field for grazing and exercise.  At this point the day begins to lose some of its charm because they are off on their own being horses and the magic of the morning has faded.  I linger in the barn, cleaning out water buckets, sweeping the aisle, emptying the manure skiff into the ever-expanding manure pile at the edge of the farm.  I store the horses’ halters and leads and grooming kits, tidy up, and make my notes about their daily care.  Other commitments begin to enter my thoughts and as the sun rises higher I reluctantly leave the barn, already missing the quiet moments with my boy, silently wishing him “have a good day, buddy” and already looking forward to the meditation that awaits me, God willing, tomorrow morning.


Sometimes, a girl just needs her pony.


Ye Olde Farmhouse Networke

I chose this month’s DIY project because it has netted the most re-pins on Pinterest (25 people can’t be wrong).

Gone are the days when you only had to keep track of your cell phone charger.  That little drawer next to the stove that used to be perfect for stashing a couple of chargers was overwhelmed long ago when you added iPods, e-readers, and tablets to your arsenal.  I’m guessing your house is no different than mine in that the kitchen is now also charging central.  My little kitchen was quickly overwhelmed when we added a wireless router to the mix.  Thus, FarmNet was born.

I bought a bathroom cabinet that had glass doors and mounted it over the phone jack (I could not get the jack off the wall (!!!) and so I cut a hole in the back of the cabinet and mounted it over the jack; this became the perfect home for my ancient analog phone).  The wireless router with its attractive green cable sits next to the phone.  I drilled a grommet hole in the bottom of the cabinet and snaked a power outlet cord through it to the electrical socket and secured the outlet strip with hook and loop tape .  I added a half dozen cup hooks to the bottom side of the shelf and hung the various chargers.

farmnet exposed

Since this photo was taken we’ve added at least another 6 cup hooks and chargers. When will this madness stop?

I think the project probably cost around $85 – $95 for the materials (cabinet, outlet strip, grommet cover, cup hooks, and short black phone cord).  It took about an hour to get everything installed.

farmhouse network

Ta-Da!! During the winter holidays I hang a little red berry wreath from the cabinet knob. Festive.


The Pear Trees Are Humming

Honeybees have changed the way I look at many things but nothing more so than ornamental pear trees.


A half dozen pear trees, planted by the previous owner, line part of the lane.

This week the pear blossoms opened and with them came not only the honeybees but all sorts of winged pollinators.  When you stand beneath these trees on a warm sunny day you are immersed in the humming of thousands and thousands of tiny wings.  I try not to miss it.  All at once each tree becomes sort of a pollen metropolis.

While I find the fragrance of the pear blossoms cloying the bees apparently do not.  They flit about busily from blossom to blossom and often you can see the full pollen sacks on the hind legs.  They never seem to mind a camera being thrust into their midst; honestly, I don’t think they even notice as they are so focused on the task.


This is a better photo of the pear blossom than the bee, but she is on the upper right side of the cluster, her dark body silhouetted against the white flowers.


This bee is sporting full pollen sacks (and is completely ignoring my finger).The bees seem ravenous for the flower pollen.  Up until now they have been working the dark red pollen on the maple trees, but things are really starting to open up for them. When they have the time they will work the dandelion blossoms and other spring blossoms until the next big pollen run with the blackberry blossoms.


I snapped one in flight. This has already become one of my favorite bee photos.

There is an interesting project that highlights writing about bees.  Called Winged: New Writing On Bees, it is a literary anthology. As far as I know this may be the first collection of such bee-themed writing (I hope I’m wrong about that) but the stories and photos they offer are incredibly beautiful.  I hope you’ll check it out.