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We Are Flying Solo

February 25, 2014

Home At Last

Well, some of us.  In a flurry of superhuman attempts to beat the daylight all weekend, I did manage to get the boys onto that patch of grass, a match I have been pursuing since last May.  Can I really have done it?

They managed two steps before they dropped their heads in excitement over a long-lost green friend.  Definitely the most peaceful move-in I have ever experienced.

Approximately four seconds in
 When I can't ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble along with a bucket and wheelbarrow. When I can't hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out by the fence of the field where my horses graze, and watch them.        ~Monica Dickens
Is this really for me??
And it was good.

February 21, 2014

Long May You Run

My 30th, Solo's 13th in 2009
I couldn't imagine a more fitting phrase for the birthday of my center of orbit, my sun, my Solaris.  Thanks, Neil Young (it was even inspired by his horse). 

I didn't know Solo's exact birthday when I brought him home.  From his Coggins, it appeared to be sometime in early spring, so I simply assigned him one that would be easy to remember:  mine.

While I often forget what day it is & rarely do much about my own aging, I always remember & celebrate not just Solo's day, but every day since he came into my life & irrevocably changed so many parts of it and me.

So here's to you, my very best friend, partner, & piece of my heart.  Even thinking about the insane adventures, ups & downs, glorious triumphs and the darkest of heartbreaks brings tears of both sorrow & gratitude of unimaginable depth.   

Seeing your head shoot up at the sound of my voice is still the best part of any day & even through my current exhaustion, the thought of seeing you at home is what keeps me going.  I cannot wait to present you with the farm that I built for us. 

Memorial Day 2006:  I brought him home
Our partnership would not exist but for the team of wonderful people that surrounds us &, most of all, the two who made it all possible along the way.   

Thank you, from both of us, although those words fail to encompass the emotion, to mum & Jim, the founding members of Team Flying Solo, for the gift of this extraordinary relationship that was & still is more powerful, more miraculous, and more intimate than I ever dreamed.

I revive, then, my inner 12-year-old girl and the Ridiculously Cheesy Solo Montage from a 2010 nighttime fit of boredom.  I love you, buddy.  Please resist your genetic drive to be a walking suicide machine for a while yet, ok?

The song is by Templeton Thompson, a very talented and very kind singer/songwriter and horsewoman 
I had the pleasure of meeting about five years ago at an Equine Affaire in Raleigh.

2011 Area II Indian Smurf Award:  For courage in the face of adversity
I hope we have many stories left to tell.  I WILL get you back in shape this year, I know you are bored and I am so sorry -- I know how much you have left to give, although you owe me nothing!

We have a fresh start with your younger chew toy brother, who entertains us both, & Awesome Crew B, who always lends a hand & a shoulder.

And we have you, my wonderful readers and friends.  You are part of our team too, & sharing our journey has enriched it even more.  It's hard to believe that there are over 200 of you on our feed now; I thank all of you for letting me share my shiny, stubborn, loyal, kind, & altogether remarkable flying Solo with you.      

As Neil Young so fittingly wrote:

We've been through some things together, 
with trunks of memories still to come.
We found things to do in stormy weather,
Long may you run.
Although these changes have come, 
With your chrome heart shining in the sun, 
long may you run. 

February 13, 2014

Winter Ridiculousness

My front yard right now
I lived in the Ohio River valley (Northern KY) from age 8 - 18.  So I learned to drive on snow and ice.  Mostly ice.  It's not rocket science.   But strange things can happen, so while our usual 1/2 of snow per year leaves me unperturbed, raining ice pellets & frozen sheets of slush with more snow on top makes the decision to stay in and work remotely an easy one. 

However.  I moved to North Carolina for a very specific reason.  My most hated task as a kid was shoveling snow and I would go to any lengths to avoid it.  I tried the whole Gulf coast thing, but discovered that was merely two years living in a flat, sweaty armpit from hell (aka Texas) and we lived out west when I was younger, so I knew I wanted to stay east of the Mississippi.  So I set my sights on the Carolina piedmont.  It has seasons, but winter is about 3 months of rain and cold wind in spurts (mostly January) with a week of 60 degree days in between.  It still makes me crabby by February, but hey, that's when spring starts!

Today there is over 3" of snow on the ground, coated in a layer of ice, quickly being covered by another layer of snow.  It is not only past noon, but it has been here SINCE YESTERDAY.  I want my money back.

I'd love to go visit the horses, but after watching the ice pellets fall for over an hour and the curtain of fat flakes out the window now, the thought of the bundling and driving and hiking and then driving again and thawing and unbundling, all without having some oblivious nut run into My Precious...cost-benefit ratio = negative.  If we were all at the farm?  Absolutely, I'd march out the back door and at least take some pictures despite my deep hatred of the white devil.

So I'll just keep tying up loose ends of the statewide fisheries conference I have to run next week, I've only been working on it, oh, since last August.  And in the meantime, I will let you enjoy the wonderful video I found yesterday of Swaps, the astonishingly tough and fast 1955 Ky Derby winner who was the great-great-grandsire of Encore's dam and the darling of the recently closed Hollywood Park (I wonder what they did with his statue?).  In July of 1955, he was Sports Illustrated's cover boy and the 1956 Horse of the Year

I see the spitting image of Encore in him in the beginning as he walks off the train with his big eyes and bright star -- right down to the surfer bangs!

PS:  It's STILL SNOWING.  I hate being cold.  I hate things that get in the way of my outdoor activities.  I hate snow related sports.  I hate ice.  JUST.  GO.  AWAY.   Because I just hate winter.  In case you wondered.

February 10, 2014

I'm A Real Boy, Er, Farmmmm!

But first, don't forget to vote for us and my completely ridiculous face in the Carolina International contest we are losing, LOL!  The prize is a coveted horse trial entry that I long to be able to do.  Thank you for all who have given their support, y'all rock!!

Now, to the topic at hand:

It is, ladies and gentlemen, real indeed.  I give thee...
Flying Solo Farm at dusk
Where I do not live.  Nor do my horses.  But hey, it's a process!  We started from here: 
Almost exactly the same vantage point last August

Things that do live there:
A feed shed!
A wonderful fellow Adult Rider has a farm nearby and the shed had been laying disassembled in her pasture, so she generously offered it to me and even brought her husband over to help put it back together!  Three cheers for no feed tubs in the laundry room!!
Finished fencelines
East side of main pasture opposite house
I have a couple gates to build, a battery for my fence charger to buy, and a few more buckets of dirt to move.  Oh yeah, and maybe put some gravel down in front of the house.  The grader still has some work to do and the factory still has to send a few parts and repairs for the house, but it's passed final inspection. 

If the atmosphere will just cooperate, in about two weeks, my boys will be able to watch this:
Sunset from the run-in site.

February 8, 2014

Help Us Win A Horse Trial Entry With One Click!

By the way: VOLUNTEER!
It's that simple!

I hadn't much hope for competing this year; I've sunk every breath and penny into getting the farm ready for the boys and there's nothing left unless Carolina Horse Park starts accepting hay string as currency.  But then...

As some are aware, this year, CHP's traditional spring upper level HT, Southern Pines II, will become an FEI event, the Carolina International CIC***.  Fingers crossed, this will be great for our beloved park, bringing in all kinds of great resources.  Hugh Lochore has come up from Chattahoochee Hills and is working with our  wonderful Marc Donovan to create amazing new courses.  I hope they don't mind me posting their fantastic new logo -- I'm spreading the word!

Solo always made sure Solo looked good!
And there is a contest.  Not only a contest, but a contest using a skill our friends know I EXCEL at:  making ridiculous faces while riding!  And the entry to one of my favourite horse trials, a chance for Encore and I to have a run after all, which any of you who have read here for any time know how much that means to me.  You can imagine my squeal of surprise and delight when we made the finals (of course, Solo is so sexy, he deserves it; dang, he looks good, I am GETTING that Solo back).

So take a minute, lend us your click and I will thank you a million times!!  You can find the Finalists album on Carolina International's Facebook pageAll you need to do is "like" the picture of Solo and I, we are currently photo #12, with Solo looking sexy and me looking, well, ridiculous.  This is our entry photo for those who may not recognize Mr. Shiny on sight. 

Note:  if you voted for us prior to Friday at 7 pm, they reset the votes, so please vote again!

February 5, 2014

The Auger Returns: A One-Act Play

Setting:  A mild day in a North Carolina field.  Two people are going about the business of setting a 6 x 6 and a 4 x 4 post as anchors for Flying Solo Farm's shed dividers.  However, the tractor currently has the frame drag attached, so it must be traded out for the auger, which sits in the lovely, but unnecessary hole it made in November.

ACB:  He even matches the tractor!
Eventer79:  Hey, honey, I'm just going to go dump the drag and fetch the auger, I'll be back in a little bit, ok?

Awesome Crew B (hereafter ACB):  Ummmm, ok.....

Eventer79 exits stage left.  Eventer79 re-enters stage left 45 seconds later.

Eventer79:  Yeah, that is a really stupid idea.  This is going to take two people, will you come with me? [note that the auger had been placed in a temporary storage location on a slope and is heavy as shit]

ACB:  Sure, I wondered how you were going to pull that off.

Eventer79 and ACB exit stage left with tractor and unhook drag before proceeding down the hill.  Enter auger stage right.

Eventer79:  Lalalala, I'll just back up to it and we'll hook it right up, because we left it set up that way last time!

Auger:  heh heh heh heh.....

ACB:  Ummmm, hey, the top bar is blocked by the PTO housing?

Just keep backing, just keep backing...
Eventer79:  Oh yeah, duh.  I already forgot that you have to take off the top arm of the 3-point hitch first and that bar goes there.

ACB:  Ah, that's right, ok, we're good now, just roll back a little.  [connects uphill 3-pt arm]

Auger:  Now watch this...

ACB:  W.T.F. [despite much struggling, kicking, and pondering, we cannot get the downhill arm to line up with the pin]

Enter Amazing Neighbour stage right.  Proceed with hammering and head-scratching.  Eventer79 is glad that she did not attempt this alone or else she might have needed a sleeping bag.

Auger:  You shall never defeat me...



Neighbour:  Let's just disconnect the uphill one and then do the downhill one first.  Then the uphill one will be easy.

Eventer79:  Oh.  Well.  Yes, this is why I like having you around, you always have better ideas!

Auger:  Dammit...

Seat with a view.  Well, pre-shed.
Cheers erupt, the throttle is increased and the triumphant team of Eventer79 and ACB roll up the hill with waves of thanks to Amazing Neighbour.

Auger:  Oh, you think you're great now, huh?

Eventer79:  Something feels funny.  Like something is catching.


ACB:  What the..the PTO came off.  But it was on there really well!  Sigh.  We'll just hold it till we get to the shed.

The returning party arrives at the shed and with the application of much grease, proceeds to firmly reattach PTO and double check that everything is secure.  Hole locations are flagged, measurements re-measured, and it's go-time.

Eventer79:  You better drill a bloody hole this time, you recalcitrant beast, after all that!!

Auger:  Grumble...

The hitch is lowered, PTO engaged, clutch lifted, and...

Auger:  Fine.  Whatevs.  I know where you live...

After much leaping and dancing for joy, the second hole is drilled, posts set and leveled, concrete poured, and holes tamped down.  Hope remains, then, for holes where you actually want them!  Lesson:  do not store your implements on a slope if you want to hook them up by yourself.  Noted.

We have very serious groundhogs in NC.