December Tails

December has come in like a balmy September.

The weather has been comfortable.

Winter coats have not exited the front closet yet.

Our family has gone to a few holiday events already.

Zoe had a holiday dance program at the Masonic Temple in our town.

The Masonic Temple in our small Illinois town is quite beautiful, but quite old.

It is not handicapped accessible.

There are a gazillion steps just to get into the building and there are steps to walk up to get to the best seats for viewing the stage.

My dad has torn the meniscus in his knee and needs surgery, and for now he can’t do a lot of stairs.

We had to sit lower down in the main auditorium area.

All of the steps inside the building are narrow.

Super narrow.

And the leg room once you sit down in the once-was-padded-but-not-any-longer seat is similar to a seat in coach on any commercial airline these days.

My daughter dances at the Masonic Temple every December with her dance company.

And every year my dad says “Wow, those Masons were short weren’t they?”

And every year we laugh.

“Big arms (since they were Masons) and small feet” we reply.

Laugh-Snort-Giggle

So, we watched a holiday dance program crammed into the small seats of the Masonic Temple.  The dance company donates the proceeds of the show to the local Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.  It’s a nice cause and it’s a fun way to get the holiday season going for our family.

Gigi sang in an outdoor tree lighting ceremony last night with the children’s choir she’s a member of.

Her choir is associated with the local university that Man-Farmer works at.

Her choir participated and a local middle school/high school choir sang a song as well.

But, the highlight for us was the horse drawn wagon.

It was a bit windy last evening, so the temperature was a bit colder than it had been the last few nights.

But, it got us in the holiday mood.

the chatter of the people…the huge pine tree that had been strung with lights…the hot cocoa being handed out.

And the silver bells that were attached to the horses pulling the wagon.

Isn’t there just something that screams CHRISTMAS when you hear sleigh bells in December?

The line was long to wait for the wagon.

But it was worth it.

Just to see Gigi’s’ beaming face as she climbed into the wagon.

That always makes everything worth it.

When she saw a guy walking around in his Santa suit handing out candy canes she bolted the other way.  She still gets nervous about strangers in costumes. She doesn’t like small talk.  And she’s not 100% sure what she wants to say to him this year.  She hasn’t decided what she really wants for Christmas.

She loves making Santa sweat…


Speaking of horses, I dealt with a runaway pony at the end of last week.

Not my best moment.

And I have the wounds to live with.

Our pony, Buttercup Luck, is on the geriatric meter in terms of pony age.

She’s 17 years old.

She’s an old gal who still likes to see how fast she can run.

And if she sees an open door…

ZOOM!

She’s gone!

I was cleaning out the stall that she shares with the goat sisters.

I was at the back of the stall spreading some pine shavings when I glanced over to the red gate that closes them into the stall.

It was open.

I saw it.

The goats saw it.

The pony saw it.

And she decided that her moment was NOW.

So she went through the opening into the barn, taking a right turn at the duck house and she saw my mistake.

I think I saw it at the same time that she saw it.

I had left the main door to the barn open when I had initially come in to clean everyone’s home.

The chickens are usually walking around inside the barn if they aren’t outside during the day.

Luckily it was a warm day and so the chickens weren’t inside underfoot when the pony started her trot through the wooden structure.

No chickens were harmed on Buttercup’s little adventure.

I, on the other hand, was injured.

Many mistakes were made by me on this day in the barn.

I clean stalls and chicken coops and feed hay and seed to animals daily, so I get complacent.

I do the same things daily and often run on autopilot.

Many days I need to remind myself to keep order.

Working with large animals requires order.

And as my large, 800 pound, pet went trotting through my barn with her eyes firmly locked on an open door, that to her meant adventure, she reminded me that my outing into the barn that afternoon was out of order.

Our pony has escaped a few times in the 6 years we have had her with us.

And she’s never been easy to catch.

She’s huge.

Like I said, she’s 800 pounds (give or take a 100 pounds…our farrier always tells me she’s too fat) and when she’s out of a fenced-in area she runs with abandon.

She bucks.

She does a smashing impression of The Lone Ranger’s horse when she balances herself on her back legs pawing at her freedom.

I have all of these images seared into my brain from past escapes of her confines.

So, I did the worst possible thing that I could have done…

I grabbed her tail.

I grabbed her tail to try to “put the brakes” onto her trot.

To get her to stop.

Why I thought pulling on the tail of my ginormous pet to stop her from leaving the barn was a good idea, I don’t know.

It seemed like a good idea in that millisecond?

Instead of her stopping, it accelerated her.

And I didn’t let go and that made her run even faster.

But I HAD to let go.

The barn wall was heading right for me.

Or vice versa.

She took a sharp right out the door as I slammed into the wall.

My head didn’t hit anything, but my leg did.

And I layed there for a minute because I knew, just knew, she had left the area and was running down our busy street.

I managed to stand back up and I peered around the side of the open door.

She was there.

She had gotten distracted, rather quickly THANK GOD, by some tall grass by the pasture fence.

The fence that she’s normally behind.

And since she’s never passed up a good snack, she stopped running and started eating.

No bucking, no running with wild abandon, no Lone Ranger’s horse.

Just eating.

I quickly went back into the barn that I had just been assaulted in to get her halter and lead rope.

That things that hook over her head to keep her under a bit of control.

I slowly and nonchalantly walked over to her.

The goats had escaped too, but they never run away.

They are very needy and like to stay with the group.

They don’t run with abandon unless you are giving them graham crackers.

Buttercup was chewing on the grass that she had found right at the fence line and I sauntered over asking her how she was liking her snack.

She looked up.

Our eyes met.

And my blood pressure shot up because I knew a fight was about to begin.

Either she was going to win or I was.

The options before the both of us were…bolt or capture.

Our eyes met.

It felt like a hundred years passed.

Instead of 5 seconds.

She was chewing and she seemed content enough with that because I put the purple halter on her.

No struggle, no conflict, no show.

I walked her back into the barnyard by the side gate.

And then had to run around as fast as I could back INTO the barn to close the red gate that was still open.

The gate that was the precursor to the drama that had just unfolded.

Once it was shut and latched I realized that I had the most horrible headache.

My blood pressure went up so high-so quickly, the adrenaline that had coursed through my body when I was trying to stop my horse from bolting, caused me to have an instant headache.

I crawled my way back to the house (not literally) and processed my wounds.

I had scraped my leg on the wooden barn wall when I slammed into it.

Scraped it right where my ankle bends, at the bottom of my leg right above my foot.

My shin area hurt a lot, but there wasn’t much external damage.

Probably just some bruises there, I thought.

But, damn, my scraped area still hurts a lot.

It hurts to bend my ankle.

When I get out of the car.

When I get off of the couch.

It makes me limp for a few steps.

And it’s my reminder to keep order.

When you are dealing with both large animals and small children you need order…

consistency.

rules.

rituals.

And love.

Because even though my pony almost gave me a heart attack because my blood pressure went to 800/225 in a millisecond, I still love her bunches.

I lover her fuzzy chin and her long eyelashes.

It was all my fault.

She just took advantage of my mistake.

And she gave me the opportunity to learn very valuable lessons.

Always close the barn door behind you.

And don’t pull a horse’s tail.

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