When we moved to Wharton over seven years ago, I thought it would be my last stop. I planned to retire and die in that house. I am not ready to retire and I am glad I have not died. I had bounded around the country since I was as a child living in multiple states and homes. My career had followed the same approach. I had moved often, dragging my family from one new great job to another. We came from Florida in 2000 to Sugar Land. I had a couple of jobs in Houston and then took a job in Wharton.
When I had spent a couple of years commuting from Sugar Land to Wharton (Ally had graduated and Lauren was soon to head to high school) it seemed like a good time to move. I had forever dreamed of having my own place where my horses would be in a beautiful stable, my pastures always green and my arena always dry. It was hard as a single mom to find a place with acreage and any kind of house in my budget. Plus, I like many, had hard times in the early 2000’s, and I was afraid of taking on anything that would stretch my budget.
My friend Tara found the little green house. Boy, it wasn’t much. But it had six acres, it was three miles to work, and it had two bedrooms and two baths. That was about all Lauren and I could hope for then. The house had holes in the floor where you could see the ground. The bath tub in my room did not hold water and drained outside (like into the dirt).
The barn we chose (due primarily to financial constraints) was a metal building and the stalls were built by friends. In the beginning, we could not fence all the acreage and six horses got by on about two acres. That effectively killed the pasture.
But a lot was right with our little home in Wharton. I will never forget the satisfaction of doing the horse chores myself. Once you do, you swear you could never go back to boarding your horses again. Not because it was bad, but because at your own place it is done your way. My buckets were clean enough that I would have drunk from them (probably not a great idea) but I scoured them daily.
We were a family that came from having a seriously talented craftsman as husband and father to us to a family of women with no skills. There was never a chance before to learn to do anything because my ex was always there and extremely capable of doing anything we needed. But over time on our farm we learned many things, most by necessity. There was the morning six years ago, when I was leaving for work and glanced over at the barn as I drove down the highway. The mare, Secret, had kicked at her stallmate and her slim ankle was caught between the boards of the stall.
I flipped the car around, rushed to the barn and sawed the board in half in about one minute. I didn’t even know I knew how to saw. I certainly did not know I could saw that fast.
Likewise, Lauren and I learned to hammer and drill, again necessities borne from fallen boards and other disasters. We found friends too in the little green house. As time went on, multiple people each day would drive by on the highway out front and honk and wave to us. They came to include the nurse from mom’s assisted living, the tech from the vet hospital, the man that provided all our sand and gravel, and the guy that pretty much we could count on for anything, Cole, that made our driveway, fixed our broken pipes and hundreds of other things over the years. I will miss their warm friendship.
Texas is said to have friendly, helpful people and never was it proven more than the day we went out to find our big paint mare, Mariah, stuck with fence wire laced inside her metal horseshoe. She had been pawing at the fence and caught the slender wire in her shoe. Thankfully, she stood patiently although only two years old at the time. Lauren and I screamed at passing trucks and one stopped. He had wire cutters and quickly released Mariah from the fence.
My friend Gaylyn was up to see the new house. She reminded me how I have lived each day in total absorption of what the weather was and if it was changing. Having three weather channels on my phone was never enough as I was obsessed with and frightened of rain and storms. I have been terrified of the weather for seven years straight, afraid it would be too wet (flooding), too dry (no pasture) or too cold (frozen pipes). I have driven my family (and myself) nuts!
And no reminiscing about the place in Wharton would be complete without my constant moaning about my long commute. I am sure everyone I have come in contact with in the last several years has heard way too much about that!
So, now the door is closed and locked for the last time and the pasture stands empty for the first time for over seven years. These years in Wharton have prepared us for this next step. We knew exactly what we wanted and needed as we set up the new barn and pasture. We can do so many things we could not have done before.
Wharton, its people and the town, have been very kind to us. I have lifelong friends from these years that I hope to never lose. But I have to tell you that a huge weight has rolled off my shoulders. The weight from the constant worry of what disaster would befall us next, what horrible weather was on the horizon, what part of my house would quit and just stop working next, I am relieved to be rid of all of those. I know I will always have issues, like anyone, but in a safer, newer, better prepared home, it will happen less often. The weather should not be a factor in my new home barring a major hurricane, but we have survived that as well and will again.
It is adios to the old house and bonjour to the new one. Perhaps I will retire and die here. I could do much worse.