Dream vs. Reality

Who will win?

When the Mega Millions was over a billion dollars the mathematician in me who understands that lotteries are just a tax on people who don’t understand statistics lost out to the dreamer in me who could not help but think of what we could do with that much money! Here is just part of the list I started thinking of:

  • Build the barn and arena I really want 
  • Finish the basement 
  • Finish and pave the driveway 
  • Plant native prairie-based pasture and hay field
  • Put in the fence for the permanent paddock paradise track system
  • Find that third mare (and a donkey, and maybe a gelding)
  • Get a tractor and all the hay making equipment
  • Get an electric pick-up truck
  • Get a horse trailer
  • Build hay and equipment storage buildings
  • Plant more trees

We of course did not win the Mega Millions, which the mathematician in me knew we wouldn’t but the dreamer in me could not help but be disappointed. However, having started really listing all the things that I would like to fulfil my life long dream of having a horse farm I have been facing the reality that without something bordering on the miraculous (like getting picked up as a reality show on the Magnolia Network) or inventing a time machine and getting things done before 2020 (stupid pandemic messing up the stupid economy) that despite having a full time job and working three separate side gigs I don’t think it will happen and I’m not okay with it. This winter has really hammered home that we need to have some sort of indoor space where we can get out of the weather; I know other people have horses in cold climates without any indoor space but I am not those people. I don’t know if I can be happy with only ever having the Plan B version of this dream when my realistic Plan A is already a reality checked version of my ideal Plan A which itself is a massive (and practical) step down from high school Sara’s dream (see drawing below which includes a 50-stall barn, a 100’ x 150’ indoor riding arena, a 100’ x 140’ outdoor riding arena, and a pretty small house – at least teenage Sara and adult Sara still have the same priorities even if teenage Sara had way more energy). As I said in this post, I know this entire thing is a big giant want and that I am lucky and privileged beyond words to even have what we do have, but my heart is just not having it and I’m struggling right now being reasonable when I see other people getting their impractical and expensive dreams and I’m working my a** off and still unable to reach mine.

I’m not giving up on realistic Plan A yet. I am currently waiting on numbers from a few builders, since lumber prices have finally started to come down, and I’ve discovered a site that sells clearance steel buildings and I’m monitoring that regularly, but it has been a struggle to stay hopeful.


p.s. this post was written by an actual human and not an AI, you can tell because of all the run on sentences. 


Videos from 2022

I have been working on a side gig (in addition to the Fleet Farm job) with a friend for some extra money (that barn will not pay for itself!). The other people who were supposed to be working on the project with us have all fallen through so we have been pretty slammed getting everything done which has left no time for a post. So instead enjoy some video highlights from 2022 (plus a bonus video from Jan 1 2023). 

Was not expecting that reaction to the hay boxes. They are old news now though.

You cannot beat breakfast in bed! 

Juniper is a very food motivated horse and she makes this sound not only for breakfast but for “fresh” hay too. Though she is not always eager to leave the shelters to come get her food.

Leeloo loves to help with chores. Here she’s helping me put the hay out. So helpful she is.

Leeloo is a very busy horse so we put together this toy to keep her busy. She didn’t seem to play with it much after this first introdcution but a few weeks later we found it utterly destroyed. Hence moving on to the new toy.

Here Leeloo is demonstrating why getting the haybox lids made is a priority. Stop wasting the hay!

Another napping video – I love the big stretch and sigh.

Sometimes Juniper decides she’s done with breakfast a little early and goes looking for grass under the snow – not sure what she finds but she keeps on looking.

Leeloo also gets excited for breakfast. Now that the snow is deeper she tends to canter up – higher speeds make it easier to plow through snow apparently.

Everything is a toy for Leeloo, even her water. We were bringing them water during the ridiculous cold and blowing snow days since some of the drifts were taller than Juniper. 

Here is Leeloo enjoying her new toy – she loves this thing!

And bonus video from Jan 1 – 2023

Leeloo playing with something that is not a toy because Leeloo likes to play with everything. At one of our previous barns someone asked if they could let Leeloo and their horse run around in the arena unattended and I said no – this is why! 

There are more videos on our YouTube Channel. I’m going to try to upload a new video every Wednesday – we’ll see if that actually happens. I’m still using YouTube to post videos because as far as I know (and I don’t know much) they are one of the few platforms that actually make it pretty easy for content creators to get some share of the ad revenue and as I said above, that barn isn’t paying for itself, so I need every penny I can get!


Work Harder, Not Smarter

wait, that’s not right

The inch of rain on one day followed by wet heavy snow for two days has not been fun to deal with, but we have made several upgrades over the past week or so and they have made chores slightly less awful.

First upgrade – sled for hay.

We found this sled at Fleet Farm and in addition to the 20% employee discount (the only reason I have that job) it was also on sale! It’s been working really well though it did play a role in our first ever loose horse incident.

Because we live in the north and they make us get rid of daylight savings time it gets dark at 4:00 PM, which means we are doing evening chores in the dark and we don’t have any lights anywhere near the girls. We did get two LED headlamps (also from Fleet Farm) that have made chores do-able but they aren’t the same as having lights. I had checked to make sure Juniper and Leeloo weren’t around before opening the gate and I didn’t see anybody. I’m pulling the sled through and realizing I need to pull it just a bit farther in to get the gate to swing shut when I catch motion out of the corner of my eye and turn to look. My headlamp reflects off of these two large glowing eyes coming at me and I let out an undignified shriek which of course startled Leeloo, the owner of said large glowing eyes, and she jumped forward. I realize that if she keeps going forward her only option would be to go right out the gate since the gate itself, the sled, and my own body were blocking any other route she’d have. I tried to lunge forward into her path but the sled was also partially in my way so the slight delay meant I literally chased her out the gate. GREAT. Thankfully Leeloo’s first reaction to anything, including things she is somewhat afraid of, is “Can I eat this?” So after a few strides of a snorting, tail-flagging, prancing trot she realized there was a lot of uneaten (and unmowed because we had better things to do this fall) grass just below the snow and she stopped and started eating her head off. The challenge was then getting her to actually stop eating long enough that I could get her halter on to lead her back. She has been very much AT THE GATE every day since then, so Nate is very worried another escape attempt is imminent, and it probably is.  But now that she knows there’s grass I also know she won’t go very far so I’m not as worried about her running on the road or trying to bolt back to her old home. Still a heart stopping few moments, though the sled is still worth it.


Second upgrade – actual winter boots!

I’ve been using Nate’s boots for a while, which sort of, kind of, fit, but not well. Boots that actually fit make lumbering through the snow easier. I went with Muck boots because (you guessed it!) they were on sale at Fleet Farm plus 20% employee discount. Working retail during the holiday season isn’t fun but I am loving that discount!


Third upgrade – poop fork handle.

As mentioned in this post we got a piece of copper pipe and a dowel to use to extend the handle of the poop fork to make it easier on both my back and wrists. It has not been as resounding of a success as I had hoped. I apparently had a definite poop picking up technique and I’m having to figure out a new one with the longer handle. We also added this extra second handle to shift where I have to grip it with my other hand. I’m hopeful that once I get over the learning curve and have a new technique figured out it will be better for my back and my wrists (which still feel like electric currents are going through them pretty much all the time – probably should be doing something about that).


Fourth upgrade – hay net for shelter hay.

Rain when the temperatures are in the 30s sucks so hard! Despite the paddock paradise rule of keeping all needs spread out in different areas we are not making the girls stand in the rain while its in the 30s so we’re feeding them hay in the shelters. The problem is they are picky about said hay and have been wasting quite a bit of it. I had a miss-cut hay-net piece from an early hay-box lid attempt that I wove shut along two sides to turn into a hay net and that has been working pretty well and helping the hay stay clean and dry in at least one of the shelter bays, which has been lovely. We purchased a few more hay nets from Hay Chix during their 12-days of Christmas Sale so looking forward to even less wasted hay once they get here.

Still sometimes questioning why the heck I wanted to do all this work – but then I get to watch moments like Juniper looking for grass under the snow and I remember why.



Left Hand Down

Why does my body forsake me?

This will be a relatively short post; though I have said that to Nate before I started writing the last four posts, we’ll see if this one is actually short. This time I think it will be because my hands/wrists/forearms have been really bothering me; steadily getting worse all week and today they’ve been pretty much non-stop pins and needles and achy/sore.

This may be because we running out of room for poop and I haven’t had a chance to go get more free pallets to make more compost bays because all my free time is taken up with trying to build this hay shed plus the working 10 hours a week at Fleet Farm (seemed like a great idea, but wow that eats up more of my actual time than I thought it would!). Anyway – we didn’t have any place to put any more poop so Friday I just had it and decided to unload the oldest poop from the first compost bay so we could line it with chicken wire and start using it again. We do not have any equipment yet for dealing with, well anything, so that meant I shoveled it all into the poop cart, then shoveled it all back out again to its new location.

Of course my hands/wrists/arms may also be bothering me because all these mats and mud-control grids arrived and I started unloading them and placing them in their various homes. We got a super great deal from Cashman’s and with the freight shipping it worked out better getting them all at once than getting some now and waiting and getting more later. I know I will use them all eventually, even if they don’t all have 100% certain homes yet. I am also nowhere close to being done with that project (shocker).

Or the issue may be because I sort of fell down the stairs a little bit on Monday. I mean, it was more of a slip and slide down three or four steps before catching myself on the railing, but it wrenched the heck out of my arm and shoulder.

Regardless everything I do hurts at this point: cooking, typing, playing on my phone, using the mouse on my computer, picking up poop, laying down in bed. I should probably go see a doctor, but I don’t have time this week because I have two shifts and Fleet Farm and I have two days of Get Out The Vote events to run at my regular job at North Hennepin Community College and I’m trying to build this F***ing hay shed.

Remind me again why I wanted to have my horse at home?!

Oh yeah – this is why:

Can’t beat breakfast in bed. Also this is why we need to get those hay boxes built! The hay is for eating Leeloo, not sleeping!

Mish Mash

What a Week

This week has been a lot. I started two new side jobs in an effort to earn that barn money (anyone sitting on a pile of cash they aren’t using?). One of those is cashiering at Fleet Farm. I’ve had three days of training so far and start my first day as an actual cashier next week. I decided to get a job at Fleet Farm because you get a twenty percent discount (on most stuff) and they sell almost everything I need; from toilet paper, to horse feed, to lumber, you name it, Fleet Farm probably sells it. I’m a little worried about how my back will handle standing for 5-hour shifts but we’ll see how it goes; worse case I’ll just ask for shorter shifts.

The hay shed project is going VERY slowly which has me worried we won’t get it done in time but we’re chipping away at it. One of the 11-foot 6×6 beams is done and one of the 36-foot 6×6 beams is mostly done. We have to fully assemble it at its final location because it would be too heavy for us to move. Nate has declared that we are never building anything ourselves ever again. I chose not to remind him that we still have at least four more hay boxes to make; and since Juniper, Leeloo, and I all agree we need one more horse it is actually six more hay boxes that we need. And we still need a lid for box number two. But at least that FF discount has already come in handy!

Glue and screwed cut-offs to make a big beam

Used bigger boards – went much faster!

On another front – we FINALLY got the last medication we needed to really attack Juniper’s eye abscess. We are treating this thing with three drugs: an oral antifungal, an antifungal eye ointment, and an antibiotic eye drop. The oral antifungal and the antibiotic eye drop came in two weeks ago and we’ve been giving them daily, but we didn’t get the antifungal eye ointment until Tuesday night so this past Wednesday was our official first day of the full treatment plan; which we’ll need to do for six-eight weeks.

The vet says progress is being made. The first picture (on the left or on the top depending on what size screen you are on) is from 9/15, the second picture (right or bottom) is from 9/29. The vet says the blood vessels you can see within the abscess in the second picture are a good thing because that means the body is able to get the things it needs to heal to the site that needs healing, and that overall the eye looks more comfortable than when she was here to see it. We’ll be doing a follow up appointment sometime in the next few weeks.

Taken on September 15

Taken September 29

Juniper remains a willing patient and I am getting better at the eye-drops. Partly because we dropped down to giving an anti-inflammatory just once a day and a tiny bit of swelling came back. This isn’t great, but it makes it MUCH easier to actually get her eyelid open enough to get the drops in and the swelling is very minor. For any horse owners reading this we are giving banamine because it apparently works more effectively on the muscles in and around the eye than bute does; but we’re giving injectable banamine orally with her food since that is a thing you can do. We went this route because the injectable stuff is much cheaper than the paste in the tube and Juniper rears when you try to give her an oral paste. We will be working on the rearing issue as soon as we’re done dealing with the eye. Rearing to avoid stuff is not an acceptable behavior.

Juniper remains a willing patient because we’ve been using the clicker training (treats – with a purpose); however an unintended consequence is that Juniper is getting VERY possessive of me. She is learning that the blue fanny pack that holds the medicine also holds the treats. Nate randomly got an obnoxiously blue fanny pack as a promotional thing, and I instantly stole it to use to hold the various eye ointments and drops and treats. I highly recommend one if you need to give these types of meds because you don’t have enough hands to hold everything and if you put the ointments in your pocket they get too warm and melt, making them very hard to apply. However, Juniper now recognizes the obnoxiously blue fanny pack and comes trotting up to me (which is great) and then immediately pins her ears and tries to bite at Leeloo (which is not great). This is ridiculous on two counts because first – Juniper is wearing a grazing muzzle so that threat is utterly meaningless, and second – if she actually did make contact with Leeloo, Leeloo would hand her a** to her so quickly her head would spin. Usually, Leeloo doesn’t take offense, but it is hard to give eye drops and ointments to a pony who is constantly trying to attack another horse. Which means we’re still having to separate them in the round pen to medicate, unless I happen to have a helper available who can distract Leeloo for a minute.

This will pretty much be my life for the next six to eight weeks. All the normal life stuff I have to do, plus working on the hay shed, working at Fleet Farm, and giving medicine to a jealous pony four to six times a day. Remind me again why I wanted to do this?