Motherly Love

There’s something about a visit from my mother that makes me feel like I can climb Mount Everest. Or at least drag myself out of the depressed slump I’ve been in lately. This isn’t a new thing- my mom and I have always sort of had an us against the world kind of deal. That’s not to say we’ve always gotten along- for all of my high school years, we pretty much hated each other. A lot. We went to family counseling, where I made her cry quite often and then hated myself for it later. I still hate myself for it now. It’s like your own personal hell, knowing you’ve made your own mother cry.

We were both battling with some things back then- I was your typical angry teenager, with the added benefit of an absent father (which I, of course, blamed my mother for), depression I refused to be medicated for, as well as anxiety, which made high school just another level of hell. She was the over controlling parent who never let me go anywhere with anyone, and then got angry when I sat at the barn for hours reading a book by myself. Her worry that I wasn’t a normal kid combined with her stress over money, aforementioned absentee, soon-to-be-divorced father, and the lifestyle changes she was trying to hide- namely, her new girlfriend- turned her into some sort of satanic monster.

When I moved out, everything got much better. We were able to be friends. And while she’s still wildly over controlling, and I still have what the therapist called “an abrasive personality,” we get along pretty well.

This morning, she came over to yell at me. And although I swore to myself that I wouldn’t say a damn thing, because having her believe I was just lazy is so much better than having her know I’m an epic failure as a human being, I didn’t manage to hold out, instead having a mini meltdown over how I’ve bombed every job interview I’ve been to, I can’t find anywhere to move to, no one will give me a loan, Boyfriend isn’t helping me out at all, Boyfriend doesn’t know how to save a damn cent, living literally from paycheck to paycheck because he’d rather buy slightly illegal drugs and go shoot his new gun my father sold him and golf and buy shit we don’t need than help me with a fucking down payment… And although I’m pretty sure she couldn’t understand half of what I was crying into her shoulder, she patted my shoulder and told me everything would be okay and that I needed to grow a pair and shape up.

And it worked. Maybe because she’s the only one who really truly believes in me despite knowing every stupid thing I’ve ever done, or maybe because she can call me on my shit, or maybe just because she’s my mother… I have this odd fresh outlook. I can do this. I can get a job, even if it’s only until I find something better, and I can find a place, even if I have to lease five acres for a year instead of buy them. So I got fucked over by my boss. I’m not the first person or the last person that’s happened to. I can get over it.

The alternative is giving up. And while I’m newly capable of giving up, I would never lose myself to the point that I lose my horses. They’re my babies. They’re the only reason I get up in the morning at all.

My mother was just the one who reminded me of that.

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Moving On

Last night, my best friend called me crying because for the past month, her boyfriend has been abusing her. Not physically or verbally, and possibly not even on purpose, but it has been clear to everyone around her that the breakup is looooong overdue.

As she sat on my couch and said over and over again that she didn’t want to break up with him; she wanted everything to go back to how it used to be, I nodded and patted her shoulder and didn’t tell her that going back was never going to happen. I didn’t tell her that she needed to let him go, and I didn’t tell her to move on. I didn’t tell her the truth- that he didn’t care about her anymore, or at least he didn’t love her like he used to.

As I lied to her and told her it would get better, I realized something.

How many people should I accuse of the same thing?

How many times have I wanted to go back six months, to when everything was perfect?

How many times have I cried about losing my dream job through circumstances that I couldn’t quite understand?

Like Amanda, I had never done anything wrong that I knew of. I had never done anything different. One day, my boss just decided to let me go. Since I lived on her farm, in a matter of days, I went from happily living my dream life, on my dream farm, in my dream apartment, my four horses living in the pasture right outside my living room window… to losing my job, my home, and almost my babies.

Thankfully, throughout it all, I somehow managed to keep The Boyfriend, and we ended up moving into his old apartment. And all four of my horses remain in their pasture at my once dream farm, and I drive an hour four times a day to feed them and hug them and tell myself that everything will get better when we find a minifarm and they’re living right outside my bedroom window once more.

Except I can’t find anything I like. I am not satisfied by anything we go see, constantly saying it’s not big enough, or it’s not good enough, or most recently, there are holes in the middle of the pasture. What I never seem to say is, I can work with this, or this is a fantastic starter home, or for fuck’s sake, we can fix this.

I am permanently not happy with anything, and like the proverbial lightbulb suddenly lighting up, my dim, depressed lightbulb flickered on when I realized that it’s because I haven’t let go of the old farm yet.

I’ve blown all my interviews, and some I haven’t even gone to, and it’s because I don’t want to work anywhere else.

I didn’t show up for my interview at a farm that was even better than my last because, even though the barn owner personally tracked me down and asked me to come in with my résumé, I figured what’s the point- I did my best at the last horse farm, and that obviously wasn’t enough.

I’ve turned down every single one of the twenty nine properties I’ve gone to see because they’ve all fallen short of the magical perfect farm I see in my mind.

I am holding out for a boss who will never love me again. I have been broken up with, but refuse to let go or move on. And everyone in my life is patting my shoulder and holding my hand and telling me it’ll get better when all they really want to tell me is to fucking woman up and figure out that nothing is going to change. Life is not going to go back to how it used to be.

Last night, Amanda listed all of the things she does that should make her boyfriend continue to love her- she tries so hard and she’s the only one in the relationship who’s working at it. She constantly makes excuses for him and let’s him walk all over her. She jumps to attention when he tells her to do something, and she turns a blind eye when he cheats on her.

Many times, I’ve listed all the things I did that should have made my ex-boss love me- I worked twelve hour days six days a week, even when it was negative five degrees outside. I let her skimp on my already tiny paycheck, and I turned a blind eye when it was one, two, three months late. I happily did the worst jobs, didn’t complain when she added twelve more stalls to my agreed upon routine, usually worked seven days a week rather than six, helped the vet and spent nights up with sick horses long after she went to bed. I single handedly ran an eighty horse breeding operation, and I did it without a single flaw. The customers all loved me, and told her as much. I worked through every holiday, constantly made excuses for her, and even after she let me go, I continued to make excuses for her to my family and friends. I always used to say that she was the one person who could tell me to jump and I’d ask how high. She was the most important person in my life.

And I can’t let her go, even now that I hate her for what she’s done to me. I can’t let that farm go. I can’t move on with my life because I have already lived my dream and there is nowhere left for me to go but down.

I am a hypocrite, telling Amanda to break up with her boyfriend and move on to bigger and better things, as I am incapable of following my own damn advice.

Necessities

What do I really need in this search for a farm? I need at least four acres of pasture. An acre for each horse I have. Of course,plenty of people put ten horses on five acres, but the rule of thumb is an acre a horse. That way, the pastures stay nice and grassy and don’t get eaten down too quickly and the horses have room to gallop. So I need at least four acres.

I also need a house (and laugh if you want- I found a beautiful farm I was prepared to live in one of the horse stalls to have. The Boyfriend had to talk me down). It doesn’t have to be a huge house, but we’ll have four dogs and six cats (at least four of the cats will be indoor/outdoor, though). So we need room to move. And room for all of Boyfriend’s fishing stuff and gun collection, and my books and horse stuff. We might even need a separate room each. Plus the bedroom. And a living room. Boyfriend also wants a nice kitchen, because unlike myself, he can cook without burning the whole damn house down.

A garage. If there isn’t a barn on the property, the garage will be turned into a barn. If there is a barn, Boyfriend will be ecstatic to have a place to park his beloved sports car.

So. Really only three necessities. Land for the horses. A house for us. And a place for the horses to get inside in inclement weather.

YOU WOULD THINK THIS WOULD BE EASIER TO FIND.

Boyfriend mentioned the other day that I might be getting greedy. (Not that he isn’t.)

Because in all the searching I do, I tend to gravitate to twenty acres. I really want twenty acres. I really want an arena and a place to trail ride and some open space to run on. I really want an ACTUAL FREAKING FARM. I even found one! (Actually, I’ve found two within our price range, but since the first was the aforementioned houseless wonder, we won’t count it.) It’s wonderful. Two barns on twenty five acres with a house and an indoor arena and a quarter mile track! It used to be an old racehorse training facility and I want it so badly I can taste it.

The problem is that it needs a lot of work. This is a farm that hasn’t been functioning in ten plus years. And it isn’t just that everything needs to be cleaned or lightly repaired, either (although some things do need to be repaired). It’s the simple fact that the upkeep for a twenty five acre farm… isn’t exactly easy. There’s this saying that a well maintained barn can run itself… straight downhill. Meaning that to keep a well maintained barn well maintained, you need to do a lot of maintenance. And while I’ve always had the dream of opening up a Thoroughbred rescue, realistically it shouldn’t be a goal. Rescues need volunteers and grants and money and insurance and sponsorship for vet care and money. A lot of money. Each of my horses cost roughly two hundred dollars a month- in a good month, where no one has injured them self or knocked over fenceposts or gotten sick. Two hundred is their bare minimum for food, hay, hoof care, medicine, and supplements. Now, understand that my horses (except for Destiny the draft) all need special care. Kahlua gets medicine every evening because she used to have a neurological disorder called EPM. Lucky gets medicine every night because she was abused before I rescued her and has so many problems that to list them would take an entire novel. Lucky, Kahlua, and Romeo all get supplements for their hooves and joint supplements (Kahli and Rome because they’re working and Luck because she has had arthritis since she was three years old) and alfalfa hay to help digestion and fix/prevent more ulcers. Their care sort of goes above and beyond what an easy keeper would need, but in the world of ex-racehorses, this is just getting started on what they need to thrive.

All in all, just the idea of opening up a rescue right now makes me tired. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Which is when I ask myself, do I need twenty acres? Or do I just want a cross country course and a track? The answer is the second one.

I tell myself that using the extra fifteen acres to make hay would be useful because then I wouldn’t have to buy hay! But to buy the equipment to cut and bale hay is a boatload of money and to actually make money, or even just break even, I would need around sixty acres of premium grass to make into hay. So that’s off the list.

Onto what Boyfriend wants.

A deck.

And a fenced backyard in which we can put The Dog From Hell (aka Angel the Border Collie) when she needs to run off some steam.

He also really really wants a garage, which means that I would need a barn for the kids.

So we’ve almost compromised. We’re looking for five plus acres with a barn, a decent house, a deck, and at least a backyard where we could put in an Angel fence, if there isn’t one there already.

The problem is our price range. It’s low. We’re just starting out, and our price range is loooooow.

In this price range of looooooow, and fulfilling these five needs, we’ve found a farm we can afford that I don’t completely like (see Perfect- A Search as well as Perfect- A Failure), a farm I like more (but still don’t love) that we can’t afford, and the farm that we can afford and I love, but is already under contract with a buyer.

At this rate, I’m ready to just quit. I’ll give in and get anything that’ll get my horses in my backyard before Halloween.

Perfect- A Failure

After my rant about the house a few days ago, it might be surprising to hear that we’re talking to the bank about it on Thursday, but it’s true- we are. As for all of my grievances against the place, The Boyfriend won me over (sort of) by listing all the good things about it (which I have a tendency of overlooking, in my search for perfectionism). He also wants me to credit him for my argument against the militia zombie apocalypse village down the street- apparently I keep using the word “militia” when he’s the one who used it first.

Anyway, the good things:

1.) The house. The house is eighteen hundred square feet of glorious perfection (except for two room that are painted in neon colors, but we are close friends with a professional painter). That’s eighteen hundred feet in which we can house the two of us, plus our four dogs, six cats, two rabbits, and the various animals we both bring home found wandering the street or injured.

2.) All appliances remain, including the brand new washer and dryer. (Also, there’s a mini laundry room, which is good for us since we’re both untidy to the extreme. Does anyone else have The Chair?)

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3.) The dog fence. It’s not huge, but with part of the yard fenced in with chain link high enough to keep the previous owner’s Great Dane in, it should restrain Angel- The Boyfriend’s psycho Border Collie who has an intense dislike for my horses. And most people. (You can’t blame her though- she was born on 12-12-12, the day of the apocalypse, and Genius named her Angel. Poor thing didn’t have a chance of being a good dog.)

4.) The garage. This is mostly for The Boyfriend, who was pretty bummed about the fact that at any place we found, I was planning on converting the garage into a barn. This garage is a two and a half car monstrosity with tons of shelving and cupboards and cabinets- he can barely contain his glee.

5.) The barn. Four stalls, two of which we will be using for storage and two of which we will be knocking out, because I whole heartedly believe in keeping horses naturally (which a lot of people think I’m nuts for, considering I have four show horses, but hello, the horse wasn’t designed to stand in a tight space for twenty three hours a day with food only twice. Constant movement keeps them healthier both physically and mentally, and constant food keeps them from getting ulcers and seeing as they are herd animals, they’re so much happier when they can maintain a more natural lifestyle) so they’ll have a huge run-in shed to get out of the weather.

6.) The tack room. This gets a point all of its own because it’s the cutest tack room I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s made with mismatched planks of stained wood and it looks really rustic and I’m in love with it.

7.) The fencing. Even though all the high tensile wire is going before my kids even think of stepping foot onto the property, the fence posts are all solid and rot free. And there are a lot of them, which is good, since I’ve always wanted to make a paddock paradise which consists of fencing off the center of the pasture and making a track around the outside. Like this:

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Basically, it keeps the horses moving more and keeps the grass from being eaten too far down. Which, in turn, means that they can actually go out on grass for a few hours every day through spring, summer, and fall, instead of the pastures you see where there’s barely any grass at all. This does have its downfalls- first, hay has to be fed all year, but since I feed hay free choice anyway, this isn’t new, but also, the outside track has the potential to get very muddy. I’m already getting quotes on different substances- I don’t want to put in sand because horses sand colic very easily, but I only want pea gravel in a few spots, not along the entire track. I’m still researching this.

More examples:

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8.) It should make Boyfriend happy, since I’m obviously not going to find everything I want at the very first house I ever buy and he really likes the place.

9.) If we stop looking, decide on this one, and get the ball rolling on our loan, we should be able to get my horses in before winter.

10.) We can move.

So now, rather than driving The Boyfriend crazy showing him a million properties on the computer every night (and not going to bed until looooong after he’s already asleep because I’m searching for more), I’m driving him crazy showing him mortgage proposals and gravel quotes and the cost of renting a backhoe. And I’m still not going to bed until looooong after he’s asleep because I’m researching FHA loans and down payment assistance and how much it would cost to put drainage in through the pasture. Either way, the poor guy is in over his head.

Perfect- A Search

The Boyfriend and I are currently house hunting. Which you would think would be easy… Or at least only slightly difficult, but we have discovered that house hunting is incredibly, explicitly hard. Not because we can’t find anything we like, and not because we can’t find anything in our price range of very very low. Not even because both of our credit ratings suck (although it doesn’t help).

Our house hunt is harder than a pornstar’s dick…

Because of me.

I am at fault. I am the problem. I am willingly able to admit that, if not for my standards higher than the empire state building, we would probably be happily settled in a cozy little ranch house by now, my feet on his lap as he watches football and I read a book, the dogs curled up on the hearth and the cats knocking shit off the counters in the kitchen.

Instead, we are going to look at our twenty-seventh house tomorrow while I cross my fingers for something that doesn’t exist and he hopes I’ll just give up on trying to find something Better and we can put a down payment on the property he loves before someone else buys it.

The reason behind my difficulty does not lie in my controlling tendencies (okay, maybe just a little) or my perfectionism (who am I kidding? Of course it does) but rather in the fact that I have four horses. Four big horses. Four big, expensive show horses. Who need specific proper care and a specific type of landscape and a specific kind of neighbors and a specific speed limit on the road nearby. And okay, yes, I am a control freak who specializes in perfectionism and suffers diagnosed anxiety. As The Boyfriend asked the other day- what is really the harm in having a pasture that’s completely flat? Is it really going to kill my horses if they don’t have a hill to run up and down?

He tries to show me that I’m being silly, demanding a certain topography (gently rolling), but that’s what’s best for the stifles, and Lucky already has stifle issues, so she definitely cannot be on flat ground constantly, and there isn’t a stinking hill for twenty miles around the damn place.

So he told me we would build a hill. He’s too good for me, and he has no idea what he’s getting himself into. Poor man.

Of course, as soon as he thinks he has solved one problem, I give him another- it’s too small (I have my eye set on a solid fifteen acres), it’s too wet (although he says he thinks that’s because the current occupants have been doing doughnuts with their fourwheeler in the middle of the pasture), there’s no place for me to ride (taking away any of the already too small pasture area isn’t going to fly, and there aren’t trails or woods or maintained fields for another twenty miles around. And the speed limit on the road is 55, so I won’t be going on a leisurely walk down the street to benefit bone structure any time soon), and my largest and most insane point against the property is that the neighbors look like the whitest trashiest creepiest gun toting rednecks around. I swear to you, half a mile down the street, there’s a white trash militia. Complete with seven different Do Not Enter signs and a gate rusted to hell. The Boyfriend asks if I’ve met any of them (and also claims that our two shotguns and two pistols and four dogs will do a wonderful job of guarding the property) but my main job is selling horses and I can’t do that when Billy Bob and Gus have rusted out garbage in the yard on either side of us. Nor can I do it when every person for twenty miles has trash in their front yard. Wanna buy a thirty thousand dollar horse? Just pretend you don’t suspect him of having fucking tetanus from chewing on the bucket of rust our dear neighbor won’t get off our property line. There isn’t a damn grocery store for eighteen miles. There isn’t anything for eighteen miles. The entire town consists of one gas station, three auto shops, Dawg’s Diner Bar (I am not kidding), and a hillbilly car racetrack. And a Beagle dog club for some reason- I can’t figure that one out.

I can only imagine the state of the streets after a heavy snowfall- neither of us will be able to get to our jobs, not to mention that damn it, I wanted the kind of neighbors that I could borrow a cup of milk from without getting shanked. I come from small town farming country. I don’t desire to move to redneck heaven.