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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!!!!

Happy Christmas everyone and I hope that you're all as happy as I am!!!!!!

I'm also going to The Devils's Horsemen's Christmas panto tomorrow night and to their New Year's Eve banquet! It will be Mike's first experience of them and I'm hoping he'll love them as much as I do!

I'll report back.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone.

Monday, 13 December 2010


I seem to have met my soulmate. It's only been a week but everything has felt just about perfect right from the start. I knew straight away with David and it feels the same this time too. I feel totally accepted for who I am, totally understood and able to be myself without apology or self-consciousness, and I think he feels the same.

We also seem to share the same sense of humour and it's all fantastic fun!!! The dogs all love him too and he them.

For the first time in 20 months I'm really excited about the future.

He's a real animal lover and wants to learn to ride so I'm going to have to up my game as an instructor. I'm going to read 'Learning to Ride as an Adult' before I start.

He has always wanted a donkey (so have I!!) but I need to re-home some more ponies and train him to muck out first!!!!

And I think he and Jack might just suit each other really well. Jack is very calm and sensible these days but doesn't really have a job at the moment, so it could work out really well. I'm going to start getting him back into work ASAP.

He asked if, when I was with David, I'd ever wondered what it would be like to be single. I told him with complete honesty that I never had. I told him I'd felt lonely all my life until I met David and then, straight away, I wasn't lonely anymore.

In the last 21 months I have learned more about loneliness than I ever wanted to know. Thanks to all my wonderful friends most of that had already gone. Now that last small well of loneliness has been filled in too.

Life is great and this is going to be the best Christmas ever!!!!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A New Blog for Bella and I.

I have had a really good day. A good friend of mine helped me to move the alpacas into their winter accommodation and to get ready to get the cattle and sheep in tomorrow before the snow arrives. I've also got a pen nearly ready for the two young Fells if the weather gets really bad, although they look like huge, woolly teddy bears at the moment and very well insulated.

She is coming back tomorrow to help me get them in and it's so much nicer having someone to work with than doing it all by yourself. I am very grateful to her.

I found a blog last night which reminded me what my hopes and dreams were for Bella and I. She says she has "piaffe dreams" and so do I, although passage was my foremost dream (for my friend Colin in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, piaffe is basically trotting on the spot and passage is an exaggerated, very pingy, slow motion trot!).

This is the blog that inspired me to get back on track:
I especially liked her last post but one where she tells how taking part in other activities requiring balance and core strength help to improve your riding, and visa versa.

Ever since I watched Jane Bartle-Wilson and Pinocchio passage their way into view on 'The Art of Dressage' tapes I've longed to feel what that feels like to sit on, and imagined doing it. Clicker training has made incredible improvements to the rhythm and cadence of Bella's trot and I believe we can get there together but my dreams have expanded further than that now, to include canter pirouettes and one time tempi changes (Colin - whizzing around in a canter on the spot, more or less, and changing the leading leg every stride at canter, a bit like skipping, sort of!!).

This is what I always had planned and I've been distracted from my plans for too long already - time to get on with it!! I've begun a new blog to chart our progress:

I also printed off an advert to sell Kate then, after riding Bella this afternoon, I had a little play at working Kate in hand. I feel as though I've spent almost no time on her and done nothing to speak of with her since I bought her and yet she has somehow learned what the click means, learned to love to work, to concentrate and give me her full attention almost all of the time, improved her balance and learned to accept the bit and give graciously to it.

She reminds me of Bella so much in the way her slightly stroppy attitude has turned to earnest endeavour and a bold and sensible outlook on new challenges. I decided that, rather than try to sell her cheaply to a good home to avoid keeping her over the winter, I've done all the hardest parts already, winning her attention and co-operation, so I'll keep on doing a bit with her whenever I can and sell her in the Spring for hopefully a good price.

I must NOT get too attached to her though. She may be like Bella but I already have the original and I don't have time for another. Bella is my pony of a lifetime and Kate will definitely be someone else's pony of a lifetime but not mine. One Bella is more than I could ever have hoped for - anymore would be downright greedy!!!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Training Justin as an RDA Pony.

I've been thinking for a long time that Justin, the black 2yo Fell, would make a fantastic Riding for the Disabled pony as everything about him - build, temperament, breed, height, weight carrying ability, docility, ability to calm himself down in an instant, even at his young age, and his sensible, laid back attitude to everything - it's all too good to miss and I think he's exceptional.

I've decided that if I would like to try and keep him for the 3 years plus it will take to train him to be a safe, reliable RDA pony and I hope that the very special person I've met might help me train him. I always used to like doing everything by myself as far as possible but I learnt last year that working together on something you care about with people you love forges very strong bonds and gives everyone involved huge amounts of satisfaction when it's for a cause they believe in.

Last year that cause was me. Now I have a huge need to do something for people less fortunate than I am and give something back.

The RDA group I helped with last Spring, before Strangles put a stop to my going, was the life's work of someone David and I knew well - Trina Hall. She taught me to ride and her dying wish was that the group should survive her early death. One of the main people who ensured that it did was one of David's partners in a two family business started by their parents. She had been Trina Hall's best friend and ran her to and from the hospital throughout her illness. She has been a good friend to me too.

The ponies at the centre are mostly getting old now and they're desperate to find suitable replacements. One of their best is a Fell who is in his late twenties.

The riders at the centre inspired and humbled me by their attitude to make the most of their lives in spite of what I would regard as appalling difficulties, and the horses and their riding meant so much to all of them. My love for horses has been my saviour in the past too so I know how important they can be and the difference they can make to people's lives.

I can't provide them with a suitable horse immediately but hopefully in a few years time I can provide them with an ideal pony, trained and ready for the job.

Here he is, Justin, the future RDA superstar!!! I think I might start a new blog about his training.

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Latest Arrival!!!

Jessica finally calved just a couple of hours ago. I've been very worried about her ever since I was certain that she was in calf as I didn't really intend to breed from her again, She hasn't had a calf for several years and was supposed to be retired but I didn't have anywhere away from the bull to keep her so I just hoped that she was too old to conceive.

When I realised that she was in calf I was very worried about whether she was still up to doing a calf well, whether carrying it would be too much for her and whether it would even survive, or be really malnourished when it was born.

Well, I needn't have worried!! The calf is huge and beautiful, and looks as strong as an ox (no pun intended!) and was up and suckling in no time flat! Jessica is a very proud mum and looks pleased as punch about the whole thing.

And the best part of all is that the calf is a heifer (female), so hopefully I can keep both calves to breed from in future.

She's never been the world's best milker so I'll try and get both the calves on creep feed (supplementary concentrates - ie calf mix!) as soon as possible. I also want to make sure they grow up quiet and easy to handle, so I've got a busy winter ahead!

Here she is, about two hours old. You might just be able to see that Jessica only has one eye due to being very ill when she was a calf, which was why I had to hand rear her and has meant she's so tame she's just a big pet really!!

Clover thinking "At last, someone to play with"!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

About Love.

Winston Churchill said "If you're going through hell, keep going" which seems like very good advice!

I read somewhere, about bereavement, that "Pain doesn't equal love, only love equals love" which I find comforting and reassuring that I'm on the right track - trying not to feel guilty for being keen and eager to move on with my life.

I also read that all the messages sent by the trapped and doomed people who knew they were going to die as the World Trade Center collapsed, were all messages of love and thanks to their loved ones - not one message was about money or possessions or any of the other trivia that we clutter our lives and thoughts with.

Having people to love - that's the secret of happiness as far as I'm concerned. And having an open and trusting heart.

My relationship with David wasn't always perfect (whose is?) and sometimes he drove me mad (and I him!) but, whenever I went out for the day I couldn't wait to get back to him. It was always his company I sort out above all others and I always told him everything and never had any secrets from him.

It sometimes seemed a bit one sided though. He was very 'old school' and couldn't talk about his feelings very easily. He never did like my writing style, saying it was "Too emotional". I knew how much I needed him but was never sure he really needed me and sometimes felt more of a burden than an asset to him.

All of that changed in hospital. In that last week in high dependency and then in intensive care I was the only person who could explain things to him in ways he could understand, and keep him cheerful and hopeful. The nurses kept telling me he was calm and reassured only when I was there with him, which was constantly in the last few days. I was his only source of comfort and normality and sense of home.

One of the last things I remember him saying is that he "wouldn't have lasted five minutes without me" and those words have been such a comfort to me since.

We were unbelievably close when he died. He became quite childlike as death grew closer and, losing him, it felt as though I was losing not only the person who was always meant to be my partner through life but also the child I never had.

But I refuse to let any of the memories become a monument to pain. "Pain isn't love, only love is love", and that's the only part of all of this I want to remain.

And, at the risk of sounding concieted, I think I'm doing a pretty good job of it, on the whole!!! Plus my juvenile sense fun and eternal longing to find plenty to laugh about has grown rather than diminished!

And that's almost exclusively due to all the love, patience, concern and compassion I've been shown by everyone ever since.

David when I first met him, looking a little smarter than usual!!!:

Taken about fifteen years ago.

And about two years ago. Not a great photo but the only recent one I have:

And this, because he'd have loved it!

This post is a final goodbye, as much as you ever really do say goodbye, and I feel much better for having written it.

I also feel much better for having started doing my accounts and seeing in black and white that I do have a viable and sustainable business going here, all of my own!

Time to move forward with purpose and resolve!!!!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


I've finally got around to backing Merlin, the 6 year old ex stallion Fell Pony. He's been absolutely brilliant and hasn't worried about it at all. I sat on him bareback and got off and on half a dozen times, clicking and treating him for standing still, on Sunday, then yesterday I put a saddle on him (he has worn a saddle and been led around in it a couple of times before, plus worn a roller in his stable a few times) and did the same.

I even dismount normally now (instead of very carefully as dismounting is what often unnerves them to begin with) and he stands like a rock! He is almost unrecognisable from the scared and spooky pony that he was when he arrived here just over six months ago.

I want to work towards doing something for cancer research with my ponies. I don't know what yet but it has to be something I can work on getting myself and them fit and ready for - something that will be hard work for me and give me a real sense of pride and achievement to complete. I read on the blog of some cyclists that some people choose to turn over in bed and go back to sleep but they choose to get up cycle to train for cancer research. I want that to be me but I think it should include my ponies somehow too but without over stretching them too much as this is my crusade really, not theirs!

Any ideas would be very gratefully received!!!

Here is Merlin yesterday:

Merlin gets very excited at the thought of being ridden!!!

What he has to put up with - geese underfoot and a goat hogging the camera!! Nothing like making sure everything's quiet with no distractions when working with a youngster!!!

Proof that he's backed!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Getting Back to Horses!!!

I've decided that I'm trying much too hard and investing too much time and energy into trying to find another partner through life.

I had a date a few weeks ago, exactly the same age as me and in the midst of a mid-life crisis. I tried to help him but after the umpteenth earnest discussion about the meaning of life I told him as kindly as I could that I couldn't help him with his mid-life crisis as I'm only just emerging from my own!!!

I had another first date today who I've spent quite a few hours on the phone to and he sounded ideal. He told me he was laid back and cheerful with a "wicked sense of humour." Today, before we even left the premises, he'd told me about the time he put a man in hospital for 2 weeks, and he told me about a second man he'd done the same to before our afternoon together was over!

Now call me old fashioned if you like but I don't believe violence is the way to solve anything. He also seemed to have a fairly low opinion of women on the whole and the alarm bells in my head were deafening!!! I spent most of the afternoon thinking that I could be doing something useful back here instead and the distance I kept between us kept getting greater the more time I spent with him!

He wants to see me again but there's no point as far as I can see. He told me that it was great that, after all I've been through lately, I'm still laughing all the time. It sprang into my mind that if I spent too much time with him that might change rather fast!!!

He did have a very nice dog though!!!

When I returned one of my friends was here with her mother who lost her husband at about the same age as I am now, after 32 years of marriage. I asked her, after so many years of feeling comfortable together, whether she had decided that trying to find someone else was just too much hassle.

She said that she had had other relationships but the trouble was that she and her husband had spent so much time laughing together and she couldn't find the same with anyone else.

I have a horrible feeling that I will be saying the same when I get to her age in 20 years time. David and I were always laughing about something and had so many private jokes going all the time.

It was a useful experience really as I'm starting to realise that another man would give me a whole new set of problems and demands on my time, so I'd have to be pretty certain he was worth the effort!!!

We went to a game and country show and it occurred to me, not for the first time, that Bella doing a liberty display would be one of the most engaging things there!

I have my pony, trained and ready, and my slogan "Dales Dare To Be Different" I'd be much better concentrating on working towards achieving my goals in that area.

A friend told me that a relationship with a man should be "the icing on the cake but not THE cake." I believe that's the right way for me to look at it and I haven't found the right icing yet by a long way!!!

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Sorry, in a rush, will finish this post later but needed to copy and paste photo to someone!!!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Last Nostalgic Post.

I've finally finished decorating my new small, cosy living room (I like small and cosy!). I painted it bright, sunny yellow and Eugen, my Romanian HelpXer has laid wooden laminate flooring. I bought a couple of pine tables 2nd hand from the market and a very cheap but incredibly comfortable 2 seater sofa from a charity shop. Photos to follow soon!

I found some of my old CDs and just listened to this track. It's the one I chose for the funeral and says it all.

I've got loads to do, loads of animals to love and look after, and loads to look forward to, including a friend's 21st birthday party tonight. I drove my friend's Ford 700 tractor the other day (a BIG tractor!) and was in charge of the haylage bale wrapper, then brought my 2nd cut of haylage down by myself.

I've also hopefully, got a German couple of HelpXers coming on the 20th October. Sarah, 23, is an experienced rider and trainer and Jonathan, 21, is a skilled carpenter. They will be so useful and sound lovely people too.

Onwards and upwards!!!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

My Previous Rescue Case.

I did have a pony whose life we actually saved a couple of years ago. A local animal 'sanctuary''s stables burnt down and when we asked if there was anything we could do to help the owner sent us two ponies as she was worried about anyone seeing one of them.

When I first saw him, when he arrived in the lorry (David went to pick him up) I was horrified. He looked like a dead horse walking and his eyes were totally dead and hopeless and his back end was filthy with diarrhea absolutely pouring out of him.

He perked up a little when he saw a clean, dry cosy stable with lots of hay. I asked what was wrong with him and was told that he had liver failure and was dying.

It quickly became obvious that he was having great trouble eating so I got my dentist, who is really good, to sort his teeth out (several broken and falling out plus lots more overgrown), got my vet to take blood samples (liver almost normal), treated him for his lice and worm infestations and took advice from an equine nutritionist.

Four months later, after feeding him 6 times a day, I had to return him to the 'sanctuary'. My vet, David and I fought to be allowed to keep him here but to no avail, and my vet wrote the 'sanctuary' a very strongly worded letter about what would happen if he were ever to be neglected again. Watching him go nearly broke my heart.

This was him the day after he arrived:

And this was him 4 months later. He was full of life by then and was a really sweet, loveable little character.

I cheered myself up later because I was given Grace and would never have been able to persuade David to let me have her if we'd been allowed to keep the grey pony but it still hurts to think what may have become of him.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Fell Two Year Olds, Now and 6 Months Ago.

I took some photos of the two year old Fells the other day and here they are, along with the photos of them when they arrived here 6 months ago:




Sunday, 19 September 2010

New Arrivals.

I had two new arrivals over the weekend. Firstly my last Aberdeen Angus cow gave birth to a really beautiful heifer calf on Saturday morning. She is Pascoe's daughter and very strong and stocky. She was born very quickly and was up and suckling within 40 mins.

I'm going to call her Clover and my plans are to keep her and her mum, and hopefully to learn how to artificially inseminate them, so I can carry on breeding them without having to keep a bull here. I was going to give up cattle but I love having them here and they are the last cattle in the village now. There were cattle here before me and I'd hate not to have at least a couple here. I'm hoping that if I sell future calves after weaning as quality store cattle they will at least pay for themselves, and I am supposed to earn part of my income from agriculture living here. I'd love to believe that there's money to be made in breeding alpacas but I can't see it. The market is already flooded around here.

This is Clover and her mum, Isobel, at around an hour old:

The second is this young hedgehog I found sitting in the road in broad daylight when I took Grace out for a ride on Saturaday afternoon. He's underweight for hibernation and had some blowfly eggs on him, and a gummy eye, so I picked him up and carried him home. He is eating cat and dog food with great enthusiasm so I hope he's going to be OK with a bit of feeding up.

Spike, my hedgehog!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

My First Date!

I have a date tomorrow night. I'm trying not to get too nervous or excited but he sounds really nice and is a friend of a friend. I hope I can find enough to talk about but that's usually not too much of a problem for me these days!!!

It feels like a whole new start. I already have a whole new life and a whole new me. A partner to share it with would be the icing on the cake and an end to loneliness, but I'll take it slowly without too many expectations or the poor man will head for the hills!!!!!!!!!

Wish him luck!!!!!!!!!!

My Poem.

I have been thinking and researching about grief and what it feels like, and how to survive it and come out the other side stronger and a better person.

I found an article by Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi, which resonated with all I've experienced.

I recognise all of that - grief being "an animal all of it's own" and "your body not being your own". I couldn't believe it was possible to have such strong emotions and I remember sitting in deep despair saying to my wonderful friend, Michael, "People do survive this, don't they?"

I found one book that helped me a lot, 'The Empty Bed - Bereavement and the Loss of Love' by Susan Wallbank who was a CRUISE councillor for many years, but apart from that there didn't seem to be much out there in a form I could deal with and to inspire me to hang on in there as there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

Above all else I needed reassurance that I would not only survive but I could use the whole experience to enrich my life and make me stronger, which is what I believe I am doing. I needed someone who'd been through it to tell me that they'd been exactly where I was and that it wouldn't last forever, and would be worth the fight and the enormous amount of energy and sheer hard work it takes to get through that amount of grief.

If I'd had that I might have been less afraid.

My equally wonderful friend Peter said that he'd tried endlessly to put himself in my place, to try and imagine how I might be feeling and how best to help me. If he'd had some reference to help him it would have made life easier for him too. Luckily for me he and his brother are very empathetic and knew David very well so they instinctively did the right things - they were always there to talk to, kept me company and kept me busy whenever they could, gave me a project to work on and a future to work for - turning this farm around and making it earn my keep so I could stay here. They treated me normally and made life carry on normally around me, teased me unmercifully (if very gently) and made me laugh at every possible opportunity.

I met someone the other day whose husband of 18 years died 3 months after David. She said what she misses the most, apart from the companionship, warmth and cuddles, is the way her husband teased and gently mocked her, making her laugh at herself, and what she hates the most now is the way that people walk on eggshells around her, afraid to mention him or to say the wrong thing.

In my experience what you lose the most when someone that close to you dies is all sense of normality. When you've shared every aspect of your lives and the one person who was always there for you and you could always rely on is gone, leaving you alone with your main point of reference gone forever, it seems like you're in a dream that you'll never wake up from and nothing will ever seem normal again.

People who haven't been through it can't know that. They don't know what you need or how to help and not many are as empathetic as my two friends are, or as brave and persistent (18 months of hard work for them too!) because it must have been very hard for them at times, especially Michael who nearly lost his own wife and soul mate once. She was on a ventilator in Intensive Care, and I know exactly what seeing someone you love in that position is like, and it must have dragged it all back up for him, time and time again.

They are both wonderful and devoted parents which I think had a lot to do with how brilliant they were, and still are, with and for me. I owe both of them my sanity and my relatively rapid progress through grief, and they've kept the faith alive in me that I will find someone else, and hopefully soon!!!

Along with another very special friend in Scotland who gave me all the confidence and reassurance about myself, and about men, that I needed to do so. He has more wisdom and is more intuitively caring, considerate and honourable than he'll ever realise or admit to, and if he's reading this I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Anyway, I thought I might try to write a book - something like 'Grief - What it Feels Like and How To Survive it'. I'm quite lucky in that I'm reasonably good at putting my feelings into words, which not everyone can do, so I thought it might help others if I do. It might also make something good and worthwhile out of all of this.

In the meantime I've written this poem. I hope you like it:

For David, With Love

I strain my ears to hear the voice I know should be there
Amongst the voices speaking in this room
I search kind eyes to find the ones I long to find here
That light that died and left me far too soon.

I knew you had to go although you fought so hard to stay
I know you did the best that you could do
But I never realised how hard my battle then would be
To find my way alone now, without you.

I learnt life’s lessons well from you, of cabbages and kings
Of mice and men and all those other things
You taught me how to live and then you showed me how to die
To face with grace and courage all fate brings.

I taught you childish wonder in the beauty all around
And how to throw your heart before your head
And keeping hopes and dreams alive when all our hopes and dreams
Lay scattered all around us, seeming dead.

You once told me that I’d never know how much I needed you
Until it was too late and you were gone
And life will never be the same without you next to me
But the strength and hope you gave me will live on.

My life has changed forever now, there is no turning back
But I can face the future come what may
There is so much of you still here and everywhere I see
That love lives on and shines to light the way.

Friday, 3 September 2010


I spent five wonderful hours in a combine harvester yesterday and even had a go at driving it in the dark, and was treated to a picnic of tea and cakes with two of my favourite people in the world.

My friend text me tonight to say that he'd just baled my row (the row I combined). I asked if he recognised it because it was so straight and he replyed yes, something like that!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've been having some down times again but I don't fight them anymore. I find that they're managable now and I come out the other side stronger each time. Those five hours were a complete break from everything and I'm so grateful for them.

I remembered this song and listened to it again tonight. I intend to keep right on dancing!!!!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Farm Photos.

I will explain about all these photos later.


About Me

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!