Legend learning to do stairs. Soon to visit our community’s Assisted Living. He is polishing his skills; his ‘cuteness factor’ needs no improvement! I think he will bring a smile to lots of people’s faces…and hearts.
Coming Home to Westcliffe
Since Bill had today off, we did a bit of work on our log lap detail on the front of the house, then decided to “horse around”. First, with Legend, then colt Jaimie. We explored the NW corner of Foxhaven. He is a sure footed little guy, maturing nicely. Jaimie is 8 months old.
Today, Sam asked to be put out with Gold and Jaimie. A minute or so earlier, Dakotah was doing a bit of ear pin chase. Ever the nanny, Sam nuzzled Jaimie a bit, then retreated to watch near by.
Later, Sam and Gold were mutually grooming. Those Foxtrotter lips going in quick circles! I have got to capture that someday!
Jaimie’s Not So Little Anymore
It seems the only constant in life is change. It is our choice to embrace it. Prey animals in general, and donkeys, in particular, are not too fond of change. They are sensitive, alert beings. They are also very smart and take their job of survival (as a prey animal) seriously. For these reasons and more, donkeys make great guardians, if imprinted on the animals they are to guard, like sheep, alpacas or, in our case, miniature horses and our colt, Jaimie.
For the last month or so, since we built our trickle feeders, I’ve noticed a shift in affiliation. Jaimie is best buddies with Legend and Samwise; alternatively playing with each. Little man, Sneakers, plays at hogging the feeder. Sam stands away, at a distance, from his little herd of the littles and Jaimie now. Our ‘biggies’, Dakotah and Gold, are on the other side of our barn with their own turnout and pasture.
This has touched my heart. I have learned to pay attention to it and my intuition. I have been spending time listening to Sam, and taking him on walks to graze. Yesterday, I gave him a some toys (a feed sack and a bottle with timothy pellets) and he mouthed them and carried the feed bag around. Jaimie watched, then kicked at the bottle, rewarded by treats. Then Jaimie wandered back over Legend. No one seems bothered by the shift, except me. They just go with it.
I am not sure if he is deferring to Jaimie, and not sure why? Equids don’t think like us; we are predator, even though I’d love to think I distance myself from that aspect of myself. I have always been for the ‘underdog’. BUT, I wonder why I label Sam in that way? Perhaps, it is the history of the donkey. Humble to a fault and a beast of burden for eons. Oftentimes to their detriment in the hands of humans. Even now, the plight of wild burros and horses is tragic and our politics & greed are taking their toll on these wild ones. (Please take a moment and check out the link; become informed. Be an advocate.)
Or perhaps, he is my spirit animal. As much as I adore the horses, especially my Gold, Sam has always had my heart. Maybe he and I are alike. He is not an underdog, but a brave good soul. I am proud to have earned his trust after unknown, but sure, neglect by former owners.
Well, now Sam has his little ones back and things are a bit more like they used to be. We let Jaimie in with the biggies today. They were great together, although we watched and supervised closely. I think our plan will be to have Jaimie be our social butterfly and spend the mornings with the littles & Sam, and his afternoon with the biggies. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Happy New Year
Moments of Stillness, Moments of Grace
How many moments make up a year? 525,600 minutes or 31,536,000 seconds to be exact. How many blessings this year? Too many to count, comes my quick reply. Yet, in the quiet place in my heart, I wonder how many have I missed? I want to LIVE this coming year, fully and completely. How do I do this? How do I thrive? By setting goals, resolutions, working harder…?
From great writers and thinkers (Thoreau to Emerson) to philosophers and sages (Tolle and Angelo), the secret to happiness and the essence of well being is found in the moment or this very second.
Honestly, my challenge is that I am so busy counting my blessings that I somehow miss the blessing itself. An example is that when walking my dogs, I worry about the others that I left at home. (They typically let me know they are not happy being left out by their barks and squeals.) So I fret. Is my joy robbed? You bet. And, I am sure the walk is not as full of fun as it could be for the dogs either. I am surrounded by beauty but I am not able to fully absorb it. Breathe, that’s better. But (forget those ‘buts’, I hear myself say) not my best…still echoes.
Our horses have been trying to teach me to be still, really still and quiet. I do my best meditation in the barn. It is in the stillness that lets something bigger than myself inside. It is the letting go and giving up control (of the next moment, the never ending list of things to do, of the guilt of needing to do or be more) that allows something else to quietly settle. It is a paradox that by being still, even empty for a moment, that the fullness emerges. At the very least, my anxiety goes down a pinch or, at the very most, a new idea or feeling can blossom sweetly and true. Maybe, I might just find that connection I hear about and keenly sense just beyond the veil, but can’t quite grasp, with my horse. It is like I am looking through a glass, a glass of the noise in my head.
So what’s up with this ‘Happy New Year’ missive that doesn’t, on the surface, seems so happy? It is a reflection of (1) not only how much I yearn to grab every moment I can of 2020, but also (2) how much I need to let go and let the moments touch me. Wishing you an amazing 31,536,00 whispers of grace in the stillness.
Happy Holidays From Our Nest to Yours!
This holiday season is full of tradition and symbolism. “Bird’s nests are symbols of home,” the website My Growing Traditions quotes German company Inge Glas. “They represent love, commitment, and the effort it takes to build a happy home.” Legend goes on to say that any home that finds a nest tucked in the branches of their Christmas tree will be blessed with prosperity in the coming year.
It has been a tradition in my family to decorate our tree with a special nest. It is rich with meaning for me, as it represents the best in us and the hope that keeps a home alive.
Foxhaven is evolving and everyday we are blessed to live in this mountain paradise we call home. Our ‘nesting’ has borne the fruit of creating a haven for us, our beloved animals and an oasis from the pace of urban life for family and friends. It is said that home is a collection of things a person loves, and that a home is a mirror of who we are. We pray our home shows our heart and that all who visit here leave blessed and encouraged.
We have added some lovely art that speaks to our connection with and commitment to nature. I fell in love with a piece done by an incredibly talented artist, Cathy Sheeter, at Art for the Sangres, a show to benefit the San Isabel Land Trust. Bill knew I couldn’t take my eyes of the fox, Sly; he surprised me with the purchase! At a benefit for The Cloud Foundation, I was able to acquire an incredible photograph of Encore, Cloud’s daughter, by Kristen Collett, Arrowhead Wild Horse Photography. I would encourage folks to look into the plight of our wild mustangs and their mismanagement by the BLM. The situation is critical and they need our voice.
We also added some wonderful alpaca rugs; I love bringing in natural elements whenever I can, to our home. What makes them so special is that they are from the wool fiber of a dear friend and her darling alpacas. The darker reddish color is from Cheyenne, the lighter red from Zoe (pictured below) and the cream colors from Indie and Spike. The rugs were woven by Texas Handwoven Creations. They did a lovely job and were easy to work with to create special sizes and color patterns.
Our big projects included landscaping the front, new decks in the back and Hardie Board siding on our house to match our barn colors. LOVE it. It is coming together inside and out!
The best part of creating a home is having friends and family come ‘nest’ for awhile. We had many visitors this summer. They enjoyed our animal friends and it is plain to see that the animals enjoyed them, as well. Everyone at Foxhaven is sweet and loves to have company.
We have feathered our nest with some new animal friends and companions. As you know, we added two English Khaki Campbells, Meghan and Kate, to our little flock of ducks this spring. All four are doing great and bring us smiles daily. However, our best and biggest new family member is our Friesian/Morgan colt, Theodoor’s RedFox Sable (Jaimie), from Sable Ranch. We had a magical summer with him, and his mother, Raz. We were blessed to keep her here until Jaimie was weaned. I feel in love with her sweet spirit; it was a gift to have her trust. Having her stay with us made for a seamless transition for Jaimie into our herd. It is a dream come true for us to raise up a colt from the ‘get go’.
Our New Year will be blessed as we get more involved in the community, nourish friendships, attend several horsemanship clinics, riding (& Bill in NATRC) and grow professionally. Bill fully enjoys managing his onshore and overseas application teams; I am so proud of him as I overhear conversations. He leads by example and his counseling skills make him a good listener and negotiator. I hope to grow NEST, as we focus on managing vacation rental properties, and creating the feeling of ‘home’ for vacation stays in our lovely Wet Mountain Valley.
Finally, Foxhaven will be graced with both Rose (in the spring) and Hazel (in the summer) doing some nesting of their own. That means puppies!! Rose’s due date (yet to be confirmed by ultrasound in mid January) is Valentine’s Day. We hope to breed Hazel & Beau, pending a few genetic tests and OFA radiographs, this summer. See Blessing Wheatens website for updates; and soon Foxhaven Collies website.
Nesting is a rich and ongoing experience. We love our life in Westcliffe. Bill and I wish you a happy holiday & a new year of sweet nesting!
Happy Birthday Sophie
Sophie, GCH CH Blessing Sweet Symmetry, occupies an impish and magical place in my heart. I reflect on her and my journey with this charming breed, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. Sophie is ten years old today. She was my darling in the first litter I ever bred. Her mother, Faith (CH Harmony Sweet Blessing) was amazing in her strength and kindness. She was the poster dog for a true ‘alpha’, benevolence with presence.
Planning for, having, raising and placing that first litter is one of my most treasured experiences. I have many mentors to thank. I realize that there is an emotional debate around breeding litters. I will not engage fully in that here or elsewhere, only to say reputable breeders who purposefully breed do so to be good stewards of the breed. If in doubt, take a moment to read a club’s code of ethics to become acquainted with the high standards we are obliged to abide.
It is a labor of love and practiced integrity to plan and raise a litter of sound & well socialized puppies. Families do not simply ‘buy’ a puppy, but are screened, interviewed, references are shared, home & puppy visits made and, then if chosen, support the family for the life of the dog, including taking the puppy or dog back if some unforeseen circumstance should occur. It is the most prized of tasks of a someone who breeds a litter. I was so very blessed to find wonderful, well informed and good owners for my puppies. Today, ten years later, I am blessed to call them my friends.
Faith was bred to an amazing, talented and sweet dog, CH Reyer’s No Squattin on My Spurs. Maybe that is where the ‘impish’ nature of this litter came from in retrospect! Faith had a flawless pregnancy and whelped six lovely puppies. They were born on my mother’s birthday the same year she passed away, November 14, 2009. This litter, this life, these dear blessings make my heart swell with love still today.
Each puppy had their own personality and visitors and families were always welcome to socialize the puppies. I watched, learned and fell more deeply in love everyday. These observations helped me choose the family most suited for that individual puppy’s forever home.
Charlie was the first born. She came to us by breech delivery, which was a bit difficult for Faith. Charlie was sweet and loved to cuddle. She is the beloved of my dear friends, Jane and Jack.
Mick is a boy with charisma and the most handsome head/face I have ever set eyes on in a wheaten. He stole the heart of Ed and Sue, also my dear friends and dedicated wheaten family.
Shockey is fun loving, athletic and a goof ball. He graces the home with his spirit and occasionally muddy paws of a charming family in Louisiana. (Guess what sports team they favor?)
Grace, sweet Gracie. Sophie and I wanted to keep her as our very own sister, as did my friend Sue. She was one of those girls who steal your heart and wrap you around your little finger with just one look. Debra and Mark, a family from Dallas, found me and then her. Love at first site!
Frank, oh Frank! He and his brothers played and wrestled! He, too, was very handsome and made you laugh at his antics. His new family and especially his new ‘mom’, Mari, appreciate humor and always have easy smiles on their faces and in their hearts. Frank was named after St. Francis in honor of my mom who dearly loved nature and gardening.
Sophie was the terrier-ist and grand explorer of the litter. She was the first to do everything and with the blink of an eye, once on her legs, would be across the room investigating (and chewing) whatever she could find. She was, not surprisingly, quite independent. Here she is visiting my classroom and showing her inquisitive ways. She really did eat the homework!
So, you see, my love affair with soft coated wheaten terriers took on new chapter, as well as new responsibilities. I am blessed to be their steward, protector, care giver, teacher, playmate, companion and their pupil, as well. I have learned and am learning so much through them, and the other animals who grace our Foxhaven farm, and the friends wheatens have brought into my life. I am forever indebted to them, especially my friend and first mentor, Kayce (Kincora Wheatens) who graced my life with my first wheatens: heart dog Duncan and my sweet precious Lily, my first therapy dog.
Back to my Sophie. To this day, she remains beautiful and funny. She was called the “Audrey Hepburn” of our National Specialty where she won Reserve out of many many lovely dogs. She adored showing, although also loved to show impish “let’s do it this way” side. Being a the National with her was, indeed, like a fairy tale.
Today, she is the eldest of our pack of six: two other wheatens, Beau and Hazel, her granddaughter, Rose our smooth collie, Ty our sheltie and Tundra our American Eskimo. Just this morning, playing on the bed while I sang ‘happy birthday’ the dogs wrestled, even howled along and jumped about, Sophie tossing the pillows off the bed. Happy Birthday, darling. (Recent picture below of her granddaughter Hazel, Sophie in the middle and Rose)
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy
or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be
back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.”
― Milan Kundera
To find out more about Blessing Wheatens, visit my website at blessingwheatens.com We are truly blessed!
Two Tablespoons, Eight Seconds Please
Our animals are our compass. They set the course and the rhythm of our day. After a busy career teaching where change and ‘being on your toes’ were the only constants, it is a blessing to be part of their calm. Living in and for the moment is a precious thing; something I am learning to appreciate more and more with each passing day at Foxhaven. I see the horses quietly grazing, tails flicking. I hear contented ducks chortle in their little pond. My dogs reclining softly snoring about my feet. Kittens perched on the porch railing watching birds.
Patience and trust are part of the equation, as well as being open to new wonders here on the farm. I find that meditation comes easier here. I feel part of the herd, the pack, the flock, the farm. The winged chorus of the hummingbirds with their jeweled iridescence, mountain bluebirds and scrub jays competing for the perfect blue and fledglings of all sorts provide the backdrop for my morning meditation. I begin with a deep breathe of gratitude greeting each day from my sacred spot on our front deck.
A new one has joined us our circle. At first it was just a flash of black speeding off so fast to disappear like a wisp of mist. Was it my imagination? No, I see a face, a sweet face peeking from under the shrubs across the yard. A black and white beautiful tuxedo cat has found us. We named the cat Jessie knowing the name would fit either a boy or girl kitty. I sense a female energy.
At first, Jessie hung out in the equipment barn and barn yard, except in the early mornings when we’d find her peering in our front window when we went out for chores. She seemed to be asking for something or looking for someone. When we came outside she would dart away.
Of course, I put out food, water and a cozy bed out on the deck. She found those easily and after a few weeks began to rub against the window frame as if to say, “Thank you”. Not long afterwards, she began to hang out just out of arms reach. For food, you say. Yes, but I feel it was more than that simple. Jessie began to weave in and around my legs and mew. Jessie would follow me around mewing. What was she saying? Did she have kittens? We looked everywhere and no bairn.
Mari and Rita, our domesticated barn cats, were not threatened by her and all seemed copacetic. Jessie moved on her own accord from the equipment shed to the barn. Much better digs, food and company.
Cream, served in a pretty glass bowl on the front deck, became our morning treat and a ritual. In my mind, to tame; in Jessie’s, an answer to her call, her mewing. I wonder if that is what she wanted all along. Perhaps a memory prior to her feral days. Was she an inside kitty who got cream each morning? Did she get forgotten when someone moved? Did the survival or the betrayal make her skiddish? Jessie’s mew, my trial and error replies finally gained kitty trust, and a good long pet & scratch behind the black velvet ears and the white tuxedo chest. Jessie’s sweet mew and my response turned ritual, “two tablespoons, eight seconds please” of cream heated ever so slightly in the microwave won the day…and a new mouser, meditation partner and Foxhaven Farm friend. It is an honor to be adopted by such a special cat. Love you sweet Jessie.
Farm Life: Hay from Sable Ranch. Getting it in the barn before the storm. Bill did a great job while I spotted him and Beau, our wheaten, supervised. Whoever said diamonds were a girl’s best friend…
Small Town --- Big Heart
What a fourth! It was the most colorful, diverse, fun and community-minded July fourth holiday I have experienced. There was something for everyone; I am grateful to call this charming little town “home”. Erma Bombeck was right when she spoke of patriotism being the ability to be with your family …yours and others… celebrating our freedom and this grand community called America with a grateful heart.
The holiday started off with a parade bright with our flag, smiling faces, community folk sharing & showing off their talents, interests, hobbies and small businesses. My husband Bill, on his trusty steed Dakotah made me especially proud carrying the Colorado flag as a member of the Sheriff’s Posse. My next favorite were the llamas who are great companion trekkers. My collie Rose was a crowd favorite and made many new friends with her sweet kisses. Susan, a recipient of said kisses, took a great photo of Rose watching the parade. Yummy ice cream from the White Bird Emporium completed our morning and spoiled our lunch!
Fireworks shown over Lake DeWeese in an amazing display thrilled many a camper. We watched them comfortably from our back deck over a glass of wine with dogs camped out all around our feet. Thankfully, no one got spooked but seemed to enjoy the cool evening as much as we were.
The next evening, we enjoyed a play produced Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts. The Importance of Being Ernest (Oscar Wilde), brightened the evening with much laughter coming from the outdoor amphitheater. The play production was excellent and reminded me of the amount of dedication, sacrifice and talent that it takes to put on a play, much less a summer venue. The play made me think about the value of being authentic and never pretending to be someone we are not. Rather, discover and celebrate who we are!
Again, the amazing people in this community were not only the stage stars, but shown bright in the audience as well with there hearty welcome and sharing. A sweet lady named Anne overheard me say I was cold (reminder…bring layers) as the sun went down, and went to her car during intermission for a blanket for me. Another couple saw Bill’s jacket with the LongHopes Donkey Rescue emblem and introduced themselves as fellow donkey lovers. They have two mammoth donkeys we hope to meet soon. Sweet, more new friends.
Saturday brought the car show sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. It was it’s third year and it has grown to over 50 outstanding cars. People raved at the power of the Lamborghini and were touched by the memories of many of the restorations. What amazed me was the calm of it all as people mingled and walked among the treasures listening to wonderful local bands, stories and enjoying a morning coffee, or a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Rotary Club.
Sunday was a day to relax and take a long walk with my dogs while Bill took off on a conditioning ride with Dakotah to Comanche Lake. Both of us enjoyed our lovely vistas and again were grateful for this place and time in our lives. Westcliffe shines! We are home.
So, our calendar is booked with friends visiting for a taste of small town living and to see our progress on our house. This coming weekend is the High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival, then it is rodeo days! What an exciting little town where there is something for everyone!