Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

A Love Letter to Northern Farmgirls (and Boys)

Farm Photo - Snow covered porch
Not quite primetime for porch sitting, but so pretty before it’s covered in paw prints.

Texans are tough, and boy are we a proud bunch, but I have to give it up to my Northern farmgirls (and boys). How do you do it all winter long through snow and ice and wind?

As predicted, February pulled old man winter from its bag of tricks this week and sent us plunging to below freezing temperatures. (Yes, from all Texans we are deeply sorry for all of our tweets, Facebook posts, and other musings about how it is 70 degrees this winter and we are sitting on the porch while you are bundled from head to toe.)

Before I was a farmgirl, the cold was just an irritant, but thanks to the modern invention of central heat and air, totally doable. However, while heat is a requirement on the farm, it’s not enough to just sit inside and drink hot chocolate. Those critters need fed.

One of my hearty Midwest friends asked me, “Do you even have clothes for this?” Kind of. Layers of flannel pajamas, jeans, hoodies, coats, scarves, and gloves are all piled on until we wobble out to the great white winter to do chores. Hey, we weeble, we wobble, but we sure hope we don’t fall down. (You kids from the ‘70s and ‘80s know what I mean, and if not, here’s a refresher.) I’m sure we are a site.

Horse Photo - Ranger in the snow
Ranger was stirring up trouble today. He loves the cold and chasing his fellow buds. (But look at that mane!! If you look closely, you can even see his mustang brand.)

Even more exciting, our critters become like toddlers in the snow. They love it. We’ve got horses chasing each other through the pasture, and dogs (a.k.a Maybelle) running crazy laps around the yard. It’s all fun and games for 15 minutes at a time, because this farm mamma starts to shiver after that. Pathetic, I know.

On top of it, if you are a Northerner and you watch any of our local TV channels you will probably truly find yourself rolling on the floor laughing (or crying, it’s that silly). We’ve got reporters bundled like the Michelin Man out on freeways and parking lots scrapping up a half an inch of ice and labeling it delightful things like “icemageddon.” Seriously, people?

If you must know the truth, even us locals cringe a little when we watch the media spectacle, especially when the national news comes on and we see folks in Boston. Holy cats – that is some serious snow and winter. And with that realization, we will say thank you for our little touch of winter. Our two days where we are homebound and schools are closed. The knowledge that we’ll be above freezing before the week’s end, and likely by next week we’ll be back out on the porch.

So to my Northern farmgirls (and boys), my hats off to you. I see you digging out, resilient and determined to push forward. You are feeding, watering, and mucking your herds with valor. Making it work for good no matter what. I’ve seen horse rescues and folks going out of their way to make sure all critters great and small are taken care of. You guys are tough! From our farmtastic life to yours, we raise a glass of sweet tea and say you go, girl (and guy). You are amazing. We pray your spring flowers will be there soon, and you too can sit a spell on your porches.

P.S. – Just one request. You might be sending this letter back to me in August when it’s sweltering.  We are Texan tough when it comes to summertime.

Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

I Should Have Named Him Fabio

Ranger grazing - hair and all.  Special thanks to Kelly Hoodenpyle for the amazing picture.
Ranger grazing – hair and all.
Special thanks to Kelly Hoodenpyle for the amazing picture.

Ranger is our six-year old American mustang horse.  And while Ranger is a perfectly good horse name (his official name is Lone Star Ranger), I really should have named him Fabio.

Let’s start with the obvious, the horse has an amazing mane.  It’s full and long, with his forelock covering his eyes.  It blows in the wind, is fun to brush, and looks gorgeous when he runs through the pasture.  His tail is equally as impressive.  Practically touching the ground, and double bonus, it’s oodles of fun to braid.  While I’m definitely a proud mama, the little guy is a looker.

His second fabio-esque trait is the fact that the horse just likes to pose.  Cowboy will often look out into the pasture and say, “Your horse is posing again.”  While the farm is relatively flat, there is some slight variation, and we have small berms throughout.  Ranger tends to find a berm, wind a blowing, and just stand there, as if to say, “Aren’t I just the most handsome horse you’ve ever seen?”  It simply makes me smile every time.

His third fabio-esque trait is that he likes the ladies.  He’s a gelding (and for my city friends that means he shouldn’t care about the girls, think Bob Barker spay and neuter your pets), but he is IN LOVE with our mare, Sweet Suzy Q.  What’s even funnier is that she’s 22 years old.  But to be fair, she’s equally sweet on him. Does that make my horse a cougar?  I digress.  The point is that Ranger spends an inordinate amount of time following her around and placing himself between her and the other geldings.  And like good geldings, they don’t care about Suzy or that Ranger is trying to be a bossy pants about who Suzy stands next to.

So there you have it, Ranger should have been named Fabio. But to me, the part that is most interesting is his personality.  You see, before I had horses, which was not that long ago, I really never thought of them as having personalities.  I thought of dogs and cats with personalities, but it just never occurred to me that large animals are just as funny, amazing, and often times neurotic.  The truth is that they have personalities in spades.  Some love attention, some are playful, some are curious and get into all sorts of things.  Ranger happens to fall into the latter category, prompting our trainer to say he should have been named Dennis the Menace, since he doesn’t mean to get into trouble he just can’t help himself.  But that’s another story for another day.

Ranger is my first horse.  He’s taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  Cowboy likes to say that our biggest challenge with Ranger is that he’s smarter than we are.  So whatever you call him, my horse by any other name is still Ranger.  Mustang, magnificent, and all mine.

A small plug, if you have never experienced the beauty or the story of our amazing American mustangs, wild horses who live on government lands, check out the MustangHeritageFoundation.org or ExtremeMustangMakover.comRanger is a makeover horse who competed as a yearling.  We were blessed to adopt him into our family.