Moving On

Amber, Lexi and I got to mom’s today to finish the packing and have everything ready for the movers.  There wasn’t a lot left.  We packed a couple of boxes that are winging their way Fed Ex to my house.  We packed a suitcase with what was left of her clothes.

All the drawers are empty.  Clothes set out for tomorrow.  We went over the plan a couple times with both mom and the caregivers.  We were ready to go out to lunch.  Lexi was sick so she was a little grumpy and mom seemed pretty overwhelmed with the whole move thing.  She is very positive and I think ready to go but not really clear on how it will all work.  We had discussed the furniture going to Amber’s and the movers being there first thing in the morning.  Still she would ask again if we were throwing away the furniture.

Amber took a couple of suitcases and Lexi down to the car and mom and I were making our way (slowly) there as well.  As we got to the elevator, she got worried it would be too cold outside.  We got to the outside door.  She took one step outside.  “I can’t go.  It is way too hot!”  And so we didn’t.  Oh, boy-if she thinks its hot in Denver, we may never go outside again once we get to Texas.

Whirl Wind Updates

As the hurricane pounds New Orleans (again) I am grateful it is not my home that is under siege.  Selfish, I know.  But oh, so true.

I have felt a little under siege anyway these past few weeks so know I can do without the added stress of a hurricane.  Here are some updates:

BrownDog-is ten days post-snake bite and is getting along pretty well.  The antibiotics are keeping infection at bay.

The top side of BD’s raw paw-the hidden side is worse.

However, the affected skin is peeling off and leaving her with raw open foot that nothing I apply seems to soothe.  Since spotting the cotton mouth last week and failing to kill it as I was too busy photographing it, we have not seen any more of the snake(s).  Lauren and I mowed lots of high grass last weekend constantly reminding each other to “keep the mower in front of you” so it would hit the snakes first.

Mickey received his last dose of vaccine for his pythium infection on Sunday.  He has not been doing as well since my last update.  The cough is back with a vengeance and we have not been able to accomplish much work.  He is revved up and wants to go, acting like a just broke two-year old, but when he does he is stopped by coughing spasms.  I am working on scheduling the next laryngoscope now.  I don’t know how this story is going to go, there is so much swelling in his airway, if that has not improved, well, I just don’t know.

Additionally, Texas has been hit hard with West Nile.  A person died of the virus in El Campo (our neighboring town and where Lauren went to high school).  So, Sunday we gave all the horses their vaccines for West Nile and all their other annual shots.  I have the vials to send up to Snowboy.  The mosquitoes are worse than I ever remember here.  We are spraying the horses three times a day and barely keeping them comfortable.  When I go out to feed in the dark of early morning, I am attacked.  If it were another part of the country I would be looking forward to a good frost, but last winter it didn’t frost even once.

Feather is continuing her training.  She and Lauren are working hard.  I have been out on Mick the last few nights, getting to watch the progress with the mare.  It seems her lines are straighter and she is jumping better.  She pulled a couple of flying lead changes after the jumps for Lauren for the first time.  She is athletic.  I am discovering more of her siblings on Facebook and it is fun to contrast and compare them.  Of course, she is the prettiest by far!

Finally, today is the day I leave for Denver.  Tomorrow Amber and I will pack all but traveling items in mom’s room.  Then Friday the movers will come and move the last pieces of furniture to Amber’s home.  It is sad to have it all come down to this.  I wish mom was better and could live out her days with her husband.  I am more than a little freaked out by the thoughts of everything that will happen over the next couple of days.  As I drove home last night, I thought, the next time I make this trek from Houston my mother will be with me.  It will be fine.  I know it will be.

Growing up at Granny’s Farm


Once upon a time there was a baby girl named Jordyn.  From the first days of her life she knew dogs, cats and horses.  When she was barely six months old she sat upon a pony and grinned in delight.

As she grew up in the city, with things to fear like strangers, violence and being alone, she also came to the country.  In the country even as a toddler she played alone in the back yard without fear of being abducted or hurt.  She spent time in the barn following her aunt and grandmother as they did their chores.  For a time, she was terrified of cats, although we have never determined a reason for it.  But she would play her solitary, imaginative games as work was done.  Sometimes, mimicking the cleaning of the stall, sometimes wanting to help scrub water buckets, she observed the work around the farm and wanted to take part. 

The summer of Jordyn’s second year, I was lucky enough to have her come to the farm three days a week.  Ally was working, going to school and it helped on day care costs.  I had taken some time off and would not start my new job until October.  Kena (the Doberman)was a puppy, Jordyn, a toddler and we all ran like children that summer.  Lauren and I helped out at the Davang’s farm and Jordyn went with us each day.

We all worked hard, cleaning stalls, sweeping, filling water buckets and Jo played her games in the aisle way or “helped us”.  One day a new load of hay had been delivered.  Jo always had her sippy cup in hand on those hot summer days.  I knew she was playing over by the hay but obviously was not paying enough attention.  Lauren and I looked up to find Jordyn had crawled up the hay bales to the top of stack, probably 15 feet off the ground.  She was sitting quietly on her high perch with her sippy cup still in hand.  I still don’t know how she managed it. 

Jo learned her way around horses.  She learned not to get too close to their back ends and to run like crazy to safety if Mickey was headed to the barn at a gallop.  She learned to give them treats and groom horses.  Jordyn made her first barrel race exhibition when she was 18 months old.  She had her entourage of Aunt Lauren, both the Davang girls and their horse Drifter.  She was great.

Aunt Lauren (who used to be Ordee), Kallyn and Lauren Davang-whom she called Other Ordee!

Jordyn and Kena grew up together that summer.  I know Kena is a better dog for the time she spent tolerating the small child.  Somewhere along the line, Jordyn learned to like cats as well and now Chloe Cat is one of her favorites.

What more do you need but your pony, your cat and your helmet?

Kids growing up in the suburbs or city, must be aware of the dangers.  They must understand not to get in a stranger’s car or let a stranger in the house.  The environment gets compressed and simple things like soccer games or cheerleading take on much greater proportions than perhaps they should.

I am grateful and appreciative that this child got to learn to be a kid, a farm kid.  One that can make up stories, entertain herself, enjoy a walk in the pasture and love animals.  When she came this last weekend, each time we left the barn for the house, we had to wait while she bestowed one more kiss on the neck of Mr. Kid.

Perhaps this is the most valuable thing I will give my grandchildren, this gift of the farm, the animals and being comfortable playing outside.  Perhaps they will never see my gift for what it is and desire computers, video games and endless “inside” entertainment.  But I will know I have given them the best I had to offer.

Back to School

For many across Texas, today was the first day of school.   For my grand-daughter Jordyn, it was the first day of kindergarten.  She is actually younger than the state law allows which says the student must be five on or before September 1st.  Jordyn will be five on September 4th so not a big stretch but one that is not acceptable in the state of Texas.  Jordyn will start kindergarten in a private school and then will be able to move to a public school later in her academic career.  I think it is a good decision because she is precocious and quick.  As my friend said today, her vocabulary is probably bigger than ours.  But also, all my daughters (who had winter birthdays) tended to physically mature early (which I am sure they are happy I am sharing) and this way Jordyn will be one of the youngest in her class not one of the oldest.

Ready to go!

I remember (sort of) having my mom drive me to the bus stop for my first day of kindergarten.  The bus stop was a quarter-mile or so from our house and I was in the afternoon session of kindergarten so I could not go with my sister in the morning.  Obviously, hair cuts and styles have gotten better in  the 50 years since I started school (wow, it has been 50 years since I started school-that is a scary fact!).

My first day of kindergarten 1962

I wonder if Jordyn and I were similar in size-there is no way to know.  I was already horse crazy at age five so we had that in common.  But it would be a long time until I owned my first horse.

I enjoyed school, was a good student, and an avid reader.  I hope Jordyn has a similar path.  It will be interesting to see where the world is when she is ready for college. 

Lauren and Ally both returned to college full-time today as well.  Lauren is currently pursuing a degree in education and hoping to transfer to a university to double major in equine management.  Worse case scenario, she can teach and ride for fun.  Best case, she can teach riding and manage her own equestrian empire.  Ally, with two children at home, will have a harder road with finishing her education.  She is getting her bachelor’s degree in Finance having already completed her associate’s degree.  I admire that she is going to school full-time.  I know they will both be successful.

My father got a business and education degree in 1933. At University of Chicago and later Harvard, he continued his education.  He ended up running an airline.  Something that didn’t even exist when he graduated college.  I remember he used to give seminars to college students and others on career planning.  He always gave the advice to get a solid education and rely on that to be able to do the things you wanted to do as the future unfolded.  Still pretty savvy advice even now.

Press Release-from Mister Snow Boy

Snow is asking for your attention!

Phelps-Media reports:

Spokesperson for Mister Snow Boy report there is no truth to the rumor that he will be leaving Devereaux Sport Horses to return to Six Meadow Farm any time in the near future.  Those rumors of his imminent departure were found to be groundless.  At this time Mister Snow’s (or is it Mister Boy’s?) contract has been extended and there is no relocation/retirement date at this time.

While Mister Snow does feel an obligation to Miss Jordyn it appears that she will be working with a Mister Mickey in the interim.  Therefore, any fans from Freeman Ranch should be assured that Snow will continue to grace the pastures at that location.  However, Mister Snow does request that continued contributions of carrots, treats, red licorice and apples are always appreciated.  He did mention that he might be able to use a new leadrope if anyone had one.  Mister Snow continues with his claim that purple is his favorite color.

Thank you.

Life Goes On

Jordyn came for her weekly visit and she asked to do something she had never asked to do before-ride bareback.  I am not sure where this desire came from-obviously, my bareback days are long past and Lauren is not much of a bareback rider.  As far as I know, Feather has never been ridden bareback.  But Jordyn was determined to give it a go.

Earlier in the week, Ally had called to tell me that Jordyn wanted to sign up to do “Mutton Busting” at the upcoming Fort Bend County Fair.  For those of you not from Texas (or familiar with county fair rituals) mutton busting consists of a young child being placed on the back of a reluctant (and extremely frightened) sheep.  Then the sheep takes off running and which ever child stays on the sheep the longest wins.  What a great time!  From my perspective as an animal advocate, and my perspective of a grandmother who does not want their grandchild to have broken bones, actually nothing about this seems like a good idea.  Sheep are stereotyped as animals that move collectively as group, rarely thinking for themselves, afraid to be out of the herd.  Stereotypes are often true. 

A sheep would be terrified to be alone in the center of an arena with a foreign object pouncing on their back (they probably would think they have just been attacked by a wolf).  And a whole lot of things could go wrong from the child’s point as well.  But, alas this is what sells as entertainment in Texas and Jordyn wants to do it.

Jordyn’s plan is to ride Mickey and get comfortable with that.  I suggested she jump on the back of the Corgi but she countered that she thought Kena, the Doberman, would be a better choice.  Well, we have about a month to practice so I will have the camera on ready and we should have some wild times.

Both of them looking a little goofy!

I thought Jo would back out when we actually got Mickey bridled and ready to go, but she was ready.  She actually did fine.  She rode around by herself for a while and Lauren led them over a small jump.  It was all pretty exciting.  I do not remember riding bareback at age four so I was pretty impressed.  I would say that Mickey was pretty quiet and did not act like a crazy, frightened sheep but at least it is a start.

My eight week grand baby Kendyll, while hanging out in her Granny-nanny’s (that means great-grandma) room today-smiled at me!  We were making my mom’s bed and hanging up clothes.  Kendyll was just taking it all in.  What a sweet girl!

Mom has gotten increasing confused as the move date is almost upon us.  She is pretty much refusing to have anything to do with Jim which is sad because they will be apart soon enough.  She is angry about his refusal to live with her (although she doesn’t understand his reasoning) and is hell-bent on not forgiving him.  I wish I could do something to change this.  They have been together for 15 years and I know they both love one another.  She even refused to go to dinner with him and his family.  I guess I have to let it go, as I cannot rationalize with her.  Still, Jim and his family has truly been her family as well and I hate to see this end this way.

I heard Amber and family were out at the dog pound today.  They have been looking at some Irish Wolfhound pups (OMG-so cute!) as well but we will see what happens.

Lauren is off to Blake’s tonight.  Lauren and Ally are back fulltime to college on Monday and Jordyn starts kindergarten.  Life goes on.

Happy 100th

Thank you to all of you who have been riding along with me!  Yesterday, I posted my 100th writing for the Exechorseluver Blog.  It has only been a few short months, but apparently I have several of you that constitute a loyal following.  It has been so gratifying to share the stories, the struggles, the victories and lives of all of us at (and part) of Six Meadow Farm.

Thank you dear readers-leave me a reply of what you would like to hear more of (or less of) please let me know!  Ride on with me.

Mickey and Lauren

I know, I know, you are sick of the Mickey and Lauren stories but today is truly a landmark day.  Nine years ago today, in 2003, Mickey came from Sarah’s horse rescue to the Diamond C Training Center in Sugar Land, Texas to be Lauren’s horse. 

We already owned Kid and were boarding him at the same place.  Kid was Ally’s and my horse and too spirited for Lauren.  Plus, Kid and arenas (from all his days of rodeo) were not a good combination.  Kid did not want to go through the alley way or through the arena gate.  Lauren needed and deserved her own horse.  Mickey was not her first horse-as she had one in Florida- but he was her first Texas horse and she was old enough to understand the privilege of having him.  Lauren had just gone to Dianne’s English Summer Camp at Whipple Tree Farm and was anxious to have a horse that could jump and go to horse shows. 

Mickey was born in 1998 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma to the Herman family.  He was given the APHA registered name of “Irish Midnight” as their son Robie (and Mickey’s official owner at birth) was at Notre Dame (Fighting Irish) and he was born at… you guessed it, midnight.  Plus he was a dark (dark as midnight) bay, solid colored, colt born to two loud paint parents.  His first love was Kodi, Robie’s little sister still at home on the farm.  Kodi helped break and train the colt and even showed him as a two-year old in Oklahoma State Fair Western Futurity.

Things changed with Kodi and Mickey (medical issues) and Mickey ended up at a barn in Houston, Texas.  Apparently, this was when it was determined that the little gelding liked to jump.  A series of mis-adventures later, Mickey ended up with Sarah at the horse rescue.  He was not in good shape or spirits.  It took a few weeks, for Mickey to come around to even allowing young Sarah to ride him in any direction but backwards.  He would only back up and stand still.  Finally, he started moving ahead and we saw potential with him.  Certainly, it was not perfect.  He was young (Feather’s age now), stubborn, wouldn’t let you bridle him (old infection in his ear), didn’t like to load in the trailer and was prone to laziness, but he liked to jump.

While Lauren continued to learn to ride better and basic jumping, Dianne’s daughter Chelsie, at Whipple Tree, showed Mickey in the Junior Adult division.  Their first season together, Mick and Chelsie won the division for the year.  It was amazing time. At John deLeyer’s farm, the last show of season, and they had to hold on to the points they had, plus win some more to win the season.  I think Chelsie got three first places with Mickey that day.  I had a bottle of champagne and we all  toasted Chelsie’s and Mickey’s victory.  Secretly, I knew Lauren could not wait until she was jumping the ‘big’ jumps with Mick. 

And they grew and learned together.  Lauren had some rough years through middle school and Mickey was always there as her confidante and friend.  They progressed through the show ranks slowly, the victories not coming easily, but Lauren persisted in wanting to ride her boy.  As they both matured, they moved on to the rated shows, first in the hunter division that gave them mileage in the ring if not success and the past few years to jumpers where Mickey proved somethings we had never guessed about him-that he was blazing fast, could turn on a dime and was super careful over jumps. Here is his 2011 Zone 7 Jump off double clear round.  He ended up 12th that day.

Lauren and Mickey, they both have their imperfections, both have their opinions but both have worked hard and long to persevere in an industry that is not kind to amateurs and rescue horses.  I am proud of both of them on this nine-year anniversary that Lauren has stuck by her choice.  I think she has learned about loyalty, dedication and the value of hard, physical work.  I think Mickey got himself a pretty special girl as well.

Momma’s coming soon!

In just about a week, I will be off to Denver to pack the final pieces of my mother’s life and travel with her back to Houston.  My mother and I have not lived in the same city (the last one was Denver) in 33 years.  We have been close, especially since my sister’s death almost 30 years ago now.  No matter where we were physically, I have managed to talk to her daily (with few exceptions) for the last five years or so.

Mom and I in Arizona-December 2011

Still, it will be different.  And so much of both of our history’s is gone.  First, when she moved from our family home on Oneida Street down the way to the new townhome on Oneida Way, many things were lost, discarded or given away.  Especially things of my fathers and things from my sister’s and my childhood.  I wish I had saved more of my dad’s things, more pictures, more of Betty’s and my books and school things.  I was living in Florida then and it was a long way from Denver.  Mom was going from a large house to a small townhome and storage was at a premium.

Two years ago, I should have known better but got worn out in the long process of cleaning out cupboards, closets, china cabinets and basement boxes.  Things that never should have been given away, were, things that were very important to my mother and her life.  But they were just things.  Things I am sure I will want to one day lay my hands on and show Riley, Jordyn and the rest of the grandkids.  But they are things I do not have.

My dad and mom-the best hosts

My parents were master entertainers.  Always hosting one party or another, my home growing up was filled with great food and good times.  All of the trappings that helped set up for a great party, like silver, china, serving platters and barware are gone.  I think Amber may have one set of dishes and a few crystal glasses.  It is not my lifestyle but it would have been good if I could have saved more of those things in case someone wanted them later. 

Mom will come here with a few boxes, a suitcase and some files. Not much after living 88 full years.  I hope she is pleased with her new furniture and room.  I am trying to remember the little things, like her favorite perfume (Nina Ricci-L’Air du Temps), her favorite soaps, handcreams and lip protector.  I have not done all I could have while she was in Denver to surround her with the things she loves.  I will try to do better.

She and husband, Jim are having some difficult times.  I think he is having trouble now (that everything is said and done) letting her go.  She cannot forgive him for making the decision to live without her (although it was tough as she needed more care than he and couldn’t travel and do the things he still can).  I just want to get through this next week and get her safely on a plane headed home.

Mom and part of her family-from left; sister Bill, sister Nova, her mother, sister Betty and mom

She is struggling and confused.  I know this will only increase as move day and those immediately beyond pass.   Of nine children, born on a little Oklahoma farm, she is the only child still alive.  She is the end of the line of the Bransons-but she is still strong, yet gentle, and caring.  Please pray for her and her peace of mind as she makes this last move.

I am Mickey and I know it

And, boy does he know it!

When we were in Colorado my almost three year-old grandson loved singing “I am Riley and I know it” to the tune of “I am sexy and I know it”.  He would even get this vibrato thing going at the end.  Very cute.  Until in the car one day, he heard the actual song and was crushed.  His sister’s name is Lexi and he thought they were singing, “I am Lexi and I know it”.  “Granny, why aren’t they singing my name!!”.  Oh, the little things.

Yesterday, Mickey was truly singing “I am Mickey and I know it” as he jumped a few small jumps for the first time in over six weeks.  After our successful hack on Sunday, we  (with Dr. Criner’s blessings) thought we would try a few small jumps.  If he could not breathe well or coughed badly, we would quit and continue the wait.

Oh, boy!

Mickey headed toward the first small jump like he was pushing the pace for a grand prix.  Head up, ears perked, enthusiasm flowing, he sprang toward the jump.  Lauren said his glee was apparent in every muscle of his body.  He jumped every one of the little jumps (like 18 inches high) with ease, speed and most notably without coughing! Since he has not really done anything but an occasional walk and trot, for him not to cough as we picked up the pace was a good test of how things were going.

He did not cough, he did not breath hard (at least not harder than what you would expect for him being a little overweight and little out of shape) and did not seem to struggle. After they worked a few fences, he recovered to a normal breathing rate quickly.   It was a very satisfying to know Mickey and Lauren were back working over fences.  So, we will increase his distances, raise the jumps, and see what happens next.  He has one more treatment next Sunday (the 26th).  If he handles it as well as he has (and there is no reason to think he won’t) we could be back in the show business by early fall.

Dr. Criner seems to think the vaccine has helped the pythium problem and also changing his feed, eliminating as many allergens as possible and just cleaning up his environment have hopefully all aided his recovery from coughing.  I am glad to see this positive track emerging at this time.

Mickey is a fine flyer.

Mickey asked (after he finished his chorus of “I am Mickey and I know it”) if we would do a couple of rounds of his all-time favorite song,

“Oh Mickey, you’re so fine you’re so fine you blow my mind,
hey Mickey (hey, hey), hey Mickey”. 

Which Lauren and I obligingly sang.