Tag Archives: Bannockburn Farm

#Road-trekking and Making One’s Home

I’ve been in Indiana for a month and half, having traveled here from Connecticut, and before that Maine. It has taken me a year and a half to get to this Midwestern state from my original starting point: Jonesport, Maine. I might as well have rocketed to the moon, it’s that different. First, my launching pad is coastal. Jonesport sits with her toes in the ocean, and most of her residents earn their livings from the bounty that ocean provides. My first re-fueling station on my travels was North Stonington, CT, which happens to sit mighty close to the historically famous Mystic Seaport.

I didn’t stray far from the scent of briny fog. Plus, I was still in New England, where Yankee sarcasm and ingenuity still thrive hale and strong.

Third stop on my road trek? A moonscape compared to the craggy coast and its spiking spruce trees. Indiana is flat in comparison, with acres upon acres of corn and soybeans. As I drove with one eye on the pavement stretching endlessly before me, and the other scanning the scenery, I developed a queer sensation in my gut. Yes, the sky stretched marvelously above me. Which wasn’t unusual. I’ve been on the ocean with no land in sight.

Land was the difference here. I was traveling across solid ground, not fathoms of an alien world beneath my keel.

Oh, and what a strange land it was compared to what I’m used to! With all that farmland flattened out on either side of me as I drove along, I delved deeper into that hollowness that was my gut. The deduction? All this agriculture without an animal in sight was unsettling. What my farming friends in New England would give for a quarter of the wide open acreage! Think of the many types of vegetables they could plant. They could feed their small collection of livestock right from what they yielded on the farm. Goats, pigs, cows—nothing would go hungry, no pastures chewed down to the roots. Imagine the grazing rotations!

Alas, my Maine heart was saddened by the lack of such diversity. Corn and soybeans. Corn and soybeans. Corn and soybeans.

Not only is the land different, but so, too, are the homes. Granted, I’m generalizing here, but it seems I see more squat houses here in Indiana. Neither do many of the homes have large windows through which to enjoy the view. My suspicions? Tornadoes. Those sovereign entities of hell that would lay waste to the glass walled, high-reaching homes of the northeast.

You wonder then, what with my skin draped ’round my bones without their heart, why I’ve decided to stay in Indiana for a bit?

Frankly, at first, I wondered the same thing. Why didn’t I tuck tail and run back from whence I came?

Well, I’m not big on judging first impressions. I like to give things a little time for their true threads of gold to shine. Staying on in Indiana has achieved what I was hoping it would. With the dust settled from my move and the pace at the farm having grown into routine, I’m gleaning the gems from my daily living. The horses are now familiar, our relationships forming through daily interactions. My early morning hikes to the barn are resplendent with glittering stars in a wide, pre-dawn sky.

It’s the folks here, too, who have allowed me to coax my battered heart back out into the sunlight. A strange landscape this may be, but the people, as they are in New England, are the salt of the earth. They are not alien, but kind and generous. From what I’ve seen so far, they work damn hard for what they have, and are quick to stick out a hand to help a neighbor. Just like the folks I left back home.

So, here I’ll nest for the time being, writing novels and shoveling horse manure, until my longing to travel tickles my feet again.

~S.C. Dane

#Bucking Horses and Rambunctious Foals

Well everyone, another week has passed and I have no clue where the time went! As I’ve lamented, I’m busier than a mouth at a pie eating contest.

I’m enjoying the new job working with the horses. Sometimes, though, I’ve been so busy I’ve forgotten to step back and take a look at the view. I’m not talking the landscape here, either, unless you count a herd of horses charging through a field. Which is what I remembered to enjoy today as I was calling in the mares with their foals.

I heard them first, rumbling across the earth as they crested a hill to charge toward the barn. I stood back as they galloped by me, hooves kicking up dirt clods and toplines stretched flat as they raced each other. Occasionally, a mare or foal would buck and hop, or kick up their heels and toss their heads. Happy horses, these.

We also put all of the yearlings together in a great spread of a pasture where they could run and establish the pecking order without any of them getting trapped, or seriously hurt because of it. Again, it was a moment I stopped to enjoy. This age is really when you begin to see the potential growing in these fine creatures. Their athleticism gained within one year is astounding. Until you watch the four year olds. Then, by glory, you see a magnificent horse with chutzpah!

But I’ve skipped a couple of growing years in between! Needless to say, there is beauty in every age. Even the older broodmares bear a wisdom and a kindness that make them a true pleasure to work around. I never forget to take a few moments to enjoy these women. While I’m picking stalls, I offer to scratch an itchy spot here, or caress a tender muzzle there.

All these moments I’ve described are what make the stall cleaning worth it. Just the smell of the barns, or the soft nickers at feeding times are enough to keep me enjoying my work, no matter how physically tired I am at the end of the day. I think it’s why I can still write, even though my body feels like all it wants to do is stand under a hot shower to slough away the dust and manure streaks. Which is fine, since all I need to ask of it by then is to rat-a-tat my fingers across a keyboard.

But it’s my brain and spirit which are still surging strong, despite the wear and tear of a busy day. Am I getting as much time as I crave to write? Of course not. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and I can’t do everything I want. But living and working with a large herd of horses isn’t a shabby way to spend one’s life. It’s all about doing what we love and finding the balance that works for us. Someday, there will be a reversal. I won’t have the strength and stamina to do what I’m doing now.

I know this, which is why I’m enjoying my trek across our beautiful country while I have the energy to juggle all the flaming pins I’m holding. Will I get burned? Perhaps. But where would be the breathtaking moments if I didn’t chance it?

~S.C. Dane