Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting Older

Well, it seems that my days of hoisting 100 lb. sacks of potatoes onto my shoulder and throwing around railroad ties in the barn, are over.

Back in early December, I was struck with debilitating back pain. Investigation of its cause and my options for treatment is an interesting, if not frustrating, process. To my great fortune, I found a wonderful chiropractor in addition to my regular M.D., and have been working regularly with them both.

In late January, an MRI was taken of my back; it shows five herniated disks which are pressing on the nerve roots where they exit the spinal cord, extensive arthritis in the joints, and compression of the spine. My doctor said that it is a combination of genetics and wear & tear, and suggested I work with my chiropractor to find some relief as he does not want me on pain medication forever. Um, neither do I. I told him that in some ways I consider this battered spine to be a badge of honor... that I have no desire to present a perfect corpse at my funeral, but would rather have a body that is used up, worn out, and a testament to the fact that this was one hell of a ride!

But... I do have a lot of work to do before I'm ready to give up the ghost, and need to make this body last. Sitting around all winter has not been good for either the state of my home nor that of my mind. My chiropractor is getting a bit frustrated, I think, with the fact that it seems to be two steps forward and three steps back... he suggested that maybe I should consult with a neurologist (knowing, of course, that I will keep going back to him as he does provide great relief from the pain; it just doesn't seem to last). So next week I will be looking into that, as well as trying some new ideas. One will be to schedule a massage to help with the arthritis, and also look into acupuncture. I've been investigating inversion tables, those contraptions with which you hang upside down to provide traction and stretch out the spine, as well as different exercises and nutritional supplements.

My thought is, use it or lose it. It would be so easy to give up and quit moving through the pain and adopt the mindset that I would always be crippled up.... but that is just not acceptable to me. My nephew Joe broke his back in a motorcycle accident about ten years ago, and was told he would never walk again. I will not relay his exact words to that doctor, but will say the kid is pure grit. He not only walked across the stage for his high school graduation, but is now a foreman for a pipline crew in Colorado and was recently married in an elegant ceremony on a cruise ship.

Its all about sucking it up and pushing through... about deciding whether to lay down and quit or stand up and fight. Its about deciding every morning when I wake up, who I am and what I want out of life and how hard I am willing to work for it. Frankly, I'm getting tired of missing out and sitting at home.

Time to suck it up and fight.

Friday, February 27, 2009


This morning dawned clear and cold... -17F, to be exact. Yesterday we received about five inches of new snow, and after that front blew through, the bottom dropped out. Last night the winds battered this farmhouse as though they were angry with it.

It all made spring's warm embrace seem a long way off, even though the calendar says otherwise. This winter has been a brutal one, enough to wear down even those such as myself who normally enjoy the change of seasons.

My means of survival during these endless days of snow and cold, is hope. It requires a dose of both hope and faith to look out over the frozen landscape and imagine it green and verdant; and to look out the window, over a deep blanket of snow, mentally planning the oasis of sustenance that will be our vegetable garden. There are so many projects waiting for the spring thaw... a chicken coop, fence mending and building, garden tilling and planting, barn cleaning and renovation. It takes the faith that this cold and dark winter will eventually release its grip, in order to imagine the mountains of snow gone, the lake free of ice, and the horses sleek and shiny (as opposed to furry and scuzzy!).

And so I use these long dark days for preparation and planning... plotting the garden and ordering seeds(which, with the economy as it is, will be large), planning new fences and stalls, ordering baby chicks, dreaming up landscaping projects.

Everything here hinges on springtime. It is the season when the farmers plant the seed my husband works all year to sell. It is the season the foals are born and we breed the mares for next year's foals. The harder I work in the spring, the more flowers and vegetables to enjoy in the months to come, the more meat in our freezer and eggs in the fridge next fall. And so right now, the preparation for that busy time is essential. Using the dark days of February and March to my advantage, and entering the spring season with a plan, makes for an entire year of prosperity, security and enjoyment for my family.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

To Win the Prize

*As published in "The Valley Equestrian" February 2009

William James said, “He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.”
Years ago, I was presented with one of those unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Call it what you will, be it fate, destiny, or luck; whatever it was, the day I discovered the Pintabian horse was the day my life found its direction.

As a girl, I was horse-crazy as they come, and knew that no matter what direction life might lead me, that life must include horses. Arabian horses, in particular. In addition to being horse-crazy, I was also an independent thinker, not prone to following a crowd or to accepting other people’s opinions as fact. Arabians graced my life from the age of twelve, and so I knew from personal experience that the stereotypes given them as “flighty”, “silly” or (my particular favorite) “obstinate” were way off the mark. The Arabian horses I knew were sensitive, intelligent, willing, and demonstrated great endurance.

So in 1994 when the opportunity arose to meet some Pintabian horses and visit with a foundation breeder, I jumped at the chance. That day is forever etched in my memory. The horses were breathtakingly beautiful and totally unique. What sold me, however, were their temperaments. One could not walk through their pastures or pens without being followed and pestered for attention. Those Pintabians were so regal in their bearing, yet humbly sought human companionship and seemed to truly enjoy it.

That day left me with a fire in my soul. I went home, and as with every question or venture I pursue, did my homework. Formed in 1992, the Pintabian Horse Registry was still in its infancy. At the time, there were but a handful of horses and even fewer breeders. The realization struck me that this was an opportunity second to none. Pintabian horses were, in essence, the Arabians I so loved, but with the added interest of showy tobiano markings. They are not a cross-breed, as so many first assume; rather, the Pintabian is one of the more pure breeds in existence. Derived from the Arabian, with only a single outcross at least seven generations back to acquire the tobiano gene, they are over 99% Arabian in blood and breed true to type.

Moreover, Pintabians are quintessentially American. They are the embodiment of a great and original idea, as well as an example of the creativity, dedication and tenacity required to pursue such an idea. Pintabians are unique, rare, and the result of many years of careful selective breeding. I wanted to be part of the action as this new breed grew and prospered. In other words, I embraced this unique opportunity.

What a privilege, education and adventure it has been! Pintabian horses have been part of my family’s life for fifteen years now, and in that time we have watched the breed grow by leaps and bounds. Pintabian horses are now spread across America from New York to California, Alaska to Texas; and also reside in such far-away lands as Australia, Africa, and a number of European countries as well as Canada and Mexico. They compete against other breeds in events ranging from cutting to endurance to dressage and perform phenomenally well. Pintabians are versatile athletes in addition to being intelligent and willing, and yet are also a gentle family horse second to none. In fact, the trainer currently working with one of my young mares called recently to tell me that she is one of the smartest he’s ever trained. His opinion? “If all horses were this easy to train, I’d be out of a job!” and better yet, “I could ride this horse all day!”

Never once have I regretted the decision to dedicate so much of myself to this breed; quite the contrary, in fact. Through life’s many triumphs and tragedies, through two relocations, the birth and raising of my children, Pintabian horses have been a constant in my life. I could not be more blessed or more grateful for what these horses give in return. Each day as I witness the poetry in motion they write by simply walking across their pasture, or their gentle patience with my young daughters as they learn to groom, feed, and ride, it is clear that by embracing the unique opportunity presented by the Pintabian horse, surely I’ve won the prize.

The New Fight for Freedom

Last night my four-year-old had a difficult time settling down to go to sleep, after having discovered her cousin will come for a visit this weekend and they will swim at the motel; I must have put her back in bed 3-4 times. Finally, around midnight, after wrapping up the days work, I went up to bed myself. There, curled up in *my* bed, on her dad's pillow, was my littlest angel. I almost took a picture... it was enough to just about burst my heart. She is still there, and I may just go back up and lie next to her until she wakes up. Just because.

But as I helped my older daughter prepare for her school-day, the news was on, and they were discussing the new president's budget and the billions upon billions in "programs" and the taxes going up for the "rich"... I've lost track of it all at this point, as the whole thing is so disturbingly incomprehensible to me. Maybe I am out of the loop of reality, but on Valentine's Day, I was in Fargo. The mall parking lots were jam-packed. The restaurants were all full to overflowing. As we drove over 13th Avenue on the I-29 overpass, I looked down at the beehive of activity below and commented on how we really must be in severe economic crisis to have all those dollars flowing like water beneath us... Ironically enough, the only parking lot which sat nearly empty was that of the Saver's thrift store.

And yet, our government is selling my children into indentured servitude, crying that “Something MUST BE DONE!!!” Oh, really? Is the situation so dire that we must sacrifice our children to appease the gods of economic stimulus? Those in power in this nation are mortgaging the futures of my children and of my grandchildren and their descendants, as well. I am so outraged, in the manner of a mother bear protecting her cubs. How dare they sell *my *children to finance their own self-interests, their pork-barrel spending, to establish themselves as so-called heroes and saviors?!

As a child, I was so thankful that I did not have to grow up in a communist country, thankful that I was free and could be whatever I wanted to be in life and the future was my own. I knew that if an American worked hard and saved and invested, with a little luck, he or she could live in a nice home, send their children to college and enjoy a comfortable retirement, maybe travel a bit and enjoy life. That if an entrepreneur had a great idea and worked hard and found success, he or she could make even more money, create jobs, build their communities, and spread the wealth just by doing business, paying their employees and buying the luxury items for which they worked so hard. Entrepreneurs do not work their asses off just to make life great for the guy who sweeps their shop floor; they do it because they dream of success and the goods and services that come with that success... the trips, the toys, the homes, and the experience that hard work and money can buy.

It may at first appear self-serving, but the truth is that not only does that businessman profit from his success, every person below him on the food chain does, as well. Everyone, from his accountant to his mistress's manicurist, benefits.

But, tax the hell out of that businessman, decide *for* him who should benefit from his investment and risk-taking, take half of what he makes, right off the top, and he will tell you to go to hell. He will tell his mistress to paint her own damn nails, maybe sweep the shop floor himself, maybe even say the hell with it, and cut his losses, close that shop and retire while he's still ahead rather than throw good money after bad. Why should he spend his time working for the government, who then decides that some field mouse in Virginia needs three million dollars for research?

Hmmm... Suddenly that manicurist and shop helper and even that accountant... they start to feel the pinch. The truck driver, who once delivered that businessman's whiz-bang inventions to Wal-Mart, feels the pinch. Those folks then cannot pay the bills they incurred when the hog appeared to be fat, juicy and immortal...

And while I digress, and that example is ridiculously simplified, I am scared to death for my children. I want them to grow up free. I want them, when they give, to give freely and for the right reasons, to give from the heart, rather than to have what they earn taken at gun-point and distributed as the government sees fit. I want them to work hard for themselves, and dream, and grow, and use the talents God gave them to bless others, rather than to grow a government which will, in turn, keep them in bondage!

I believe there are a lot of people who feel as I do. All of this is certainly reinforcing my self-sufficient and survivalist mentality, and I will make an even greater effort to teach my kids how to care for themselves and feed their families and live a good life without dependence on the government or anyone else. The day is coming when no monetary transaction will be allowed to (legally) take place unless each micro-chipped and tracked individual involved is in full compliance with the powers-that-be. It’s my job, as their mother, to fight that oppression and teach my children to fight it as well... to fight for their freedom and independence.

If we do not stand up and fight... and I mean, *everyone* who has income or rights to lose in our government's quest for complete power and control... everyone from farmers to 1%er motorcycle clubs to entrepreneurs to stay-at-home-mothers... if we do not stand up and fight, we are responsible for the inevitable slavery of ourselves and our children to our own government. If we fail, all of the men who fought and bled and died so that we could live free will have done so in vain. All of the ass-busting, dirty and thankless work our forefathers did to build this country and hand us the American Dream on a silver platter, will be for naught. I, for one, respect and appreciate the efforts of my ancestors and those who died for my freedom enough to protect and defend the freedoms and successes for which they sacrificed.

Wake up and get off your asses, people... no one is going to save us from this if we don't fight. The Messiah came 2000 years ago... and He does not live in a big White House in Washington.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Welcome to Frostfire Journal. It is to be a place where I record my thoughts, ideas and observations of daily life here on Frostfire Farm. Depending on the day, you may read about horse-breeding, politics, gardening, motorcycles, the local wildlife, or my four-year-old's self-inflicted Goth hairstyle. I will be sure to include much of my previously published work, as well and new items as they are written.

You can expect the subject matter to be varied, and I will attempt to make it more interesting than the local weather report (even though the weather is sometimes *very* interesting here!). I may include a recipe or a Do It Yourself how-to or a photo... guess we will just see where this takes us, won't we?

After all, its not about the destination, its about the journey. This is my record of that journey.