Weekly Photo & Poem: Favorite

 
Her years on flat open prairie, the 
hard-scrap jumble of danger and chance 
left only the essentials: ancestral wisdom
and longear sensibility and eyes that watch 
with great vigilance from deep under her brow.
She keeps an entrancing distance. Magnetic 
in her independence.

A woman. The caretaker on a small farm with
a strong back for throwing hay, filling troughs,
mucking and repairing. Bringing a warm alfalfa
mush to her stall but not willing to make it
a bribe. Neither of us mere beasts of burden, we
have each been both predator and prey. We know
the value of self-reliance.

The earth’s sustenance has always been our
natural due. She acquiesces no allegiance, 
acknowledges no dependence on me. She can
make the choice to come closer, without debt, 
and the mid-day sun will warm our bones, a 
blessing on the wind-tossed prairie we 
share. Now guarded equals.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Currently planning summer clinics in Scotland and the UK.
2018 is filling quickly; please contact me here if you would like to host a clinic or attend one. Check out our entire clinic schedule here. 

Favorites

Photo Challenge: Visiting Friends

We shared stories as we drove up the canyon road 
that angled between rocks, colored grape and copper 
and sienna; geometric rocks stacked like massive 
bricks as perpendicular to the earth as castle
walls. Tucked between gnarled trees were ageless

log cabins without porches or windows, creosote  
black and hunkered low on southern exposures,  
open to long meadows edged with pine and aspen 
that quake and sway in the late morning sun. We 
first saw the herd under the shade of a lone fir 

on an open grassy stretch. They'd been watching us 
long before we saw them, a platoon of longear 
sentinels judging our intent. One tall and elegant 
with an aristocratic nose. A stoic gray who asked 
for less than he wanted. A jenny as wide as she was  

tall and just the color of milk in tea. Two rough and 
tumble brothers with a schoolboy sense of humor. Our 
friend's laughter came up on the breeze and we all  
stood shoulder to belly and head to heart, passing  
hours grazing, scratching donkey ears, and admiring 

wise mule eyes. At the water tank, Fiona sipped with
deliberate caution but then left the tip of her pink
tongue dangling just past her whisker lips. She let 
me touch and it felt cool and delicate. And intimate 
beyond reason. Driving back, the road was unfamiliar.
Aspen leaves turned to gold before our eyes as the sky
faded to a pale shade of winter tourquoise. We nibbled 
on cookies made of seeds and apples and grains, and
the particles wedged between our teeth became the 
bittersweet flavor of reluctance and September grass.

 

 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

 

Photo Challenge: Textures

 

She was a coyote fighter, moving 
just off the herd, across the high
desert prairie. Buying her calves 
time to get back to their mothers,
she stood her ground, mouth gaping

open, bellowing loud enough to 
alarm a shy predator into slinking 
away. No one wants to be called out
with such blunt confidence. But the 
calves have all grown and passed on
 
a decade ago. The ranch was parceled 
away leaving her no ground to stand for; 
the last gelding gone for children. Even 
her teeth have expired leaving hollow 
jaw bones barely disguised by coarse hair.

She brings an abiding wealth of survival 
wisdom along to my small stretch of farm
and she has no way to be useful, so now
she brays at house dogs. She guards what
her cloudy eyes can make out of the horizon
 
from inside a woven field fence. Coyotes still 
lurk behind tall weeds, testing her boundaries. 
Do not doubt us, predator, as we turn to face
you. We have survived your kind and we know
our worth. We will always stand for our own.
….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Textures

Photo Challenge: Order

The passing hours of this hot-dry
day spook and buck and bolt, swirling
together and scattering apart in a
a howling dust devil of sharp nickers,
skittering hooves, and manure. Always

manure. I’m only human. I march from
water tank leaks to gate repair, trying
to mitigate the day’s erosion and
prepare for the next thing that will
be a thing I’ve never seen before. But

under the chaos and distraction and
resistance to the very wind, gravity
is a call to order; a call from the good
earth to my body, soil and water to
muscle and blood. Sister, come sit.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Photo Challenge: Friend

One likes to be alone.
One likes to sleep a lot.

One likes contrary opinions.
One doesn't care what others like.

Yawns and snorts, leaning toward 
an itchy acceptance; an unlikely friend.


….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Friend

There’s No Romance in Rescue

It’s my bi-annual report on the animals fostered here at Infinity Farm. I try to balance on a tightrope when I write about rescue. I want to encourage people to adopt and at the same time, not get too romantic about it. I know with bloody certainty than I can’t save them all. I just think that the value of animals in our world is worth our inconvenience.

My little farm has always had an open-door policy when it comes to rescues. In the last ten years, 32 horses, mules and donkeys have temporarily fostered with us for evaluation or training. Most of them found their way to new homes and happy endings. Some found their way to peace.

We have two fosters now. Seamus, or Moose as he prefers, is a Welsh Corgi who’s been here six months. Sometimes when owners give up their dogs, they give a list of faults that serve as a justification for giving them up. In his case, the faults were worse than described. I’ve never met a dog who’s such an expert on punishment.

I’d love to say Seamus is happy again, frapping in the yard and cooing in my ear. It would be a lie. It’s true he rarely bites anymore but he is not a light-hearted little guy. He believes in evil; a trait you don’t often see in his breed. He tries to hide his fear with bravado but it makes him more bi-polar than cute. When he does play, he plays with a vengeance –the dark kind. It’s been hard on our other dogs and now the house has a maze of gates between rooms so that our dogs can be separated. It’s inconvenient.

On a good day, he sleeps on my chest, nearly crushes my lungs, and dreams.

Once Seamus had decompressed a couple of months, I took him to my vet. All of Seamus’ work came apart fast. The good news is that the vet didn’t get bitten. The good news is that she gave us tranquilizers and told us to come back in a week, under medication. The next visit, with a carefully negotiated muzzle, gave us hard medical answers. He has a bad hip and two bad elbows.

There is a term in rescue: Foster fail. It’s a joke that comes with a wink and a nod. It means a foster home has fallen in love. Seamus is the other kind –a literal failure at fostering. He has no place to go from here. He can’t be adopted out safely. Euthanizing is probably smart but he’s still a few months short of his second birthday. For now, he’ll stay. Maybe in a couple of years, he’ll age out of his aggression but by then his structural disadvantages will catch up with him. Bittersweet future.

Backyard puppy mills, like his, deserve a special place in hell. And maybe it’s me that likes the name Moose better. Say Seamus out loud and add an “on” in the middle. It wears me down.

It’s the one-year and one-month anniversary of Lilith’s arrival here. She’s somewhere over a hundred years old but we haven’t carbon dated her. She has “expired teeth” that, if she’d let you lift her lip up, you don’t want to see. She came to rescue from an old ranch where she’d been fighting coyotes for at least a couple of decades. Cantankerous is the charming word for her foul temper.

That extra one-month on her anniversary is because that first month we thought she had come here to die. But that didn’t work out.

Now I worry that she’s gained so much weight that her frail little legs can’t carry it. She has a freight train of a bray that gets a little stronger every day. Her shyness is gone; now when I take strangers into her pen, she strides up for a scratch but the second your hand comes close, she flings her head wildly to the side, ears akimbo, and demands you be cautious with your affection. She’s prickly.

Last fall my Grandfather Horse was failing. He was thirty, with a stack of terminal conditions, and the light gone from his eyes. She rallied and it didn’t feel fair. Because she was older. Because I just wanted him.

Now on her anniversary, she is pretending to graze. She nibbles dandelions, chews with fierce concentration, and then spits them out. There are no coyotes in her pen but she stays in shape goat wrestling. It’s a slow-motion event that involves more ear flinging.

Just yesterday, I was using a hair brush to thin out the steel wool covering her back. She’s itchy so she’ll stand for a minute. Then her butt teeters toward me, as her back feet bounce off the ground as a warning, followed by a kick with her knife-like hooves. Then both of us tiptoe quickly in opposite directions. She doesn’t love me. I respect that.

Lilith is a failed foster, too.  She’s alive but she has no place to go. She needs a few bowls of mush a day and between that, and the biting and kicking, she’s pretty inconvenient.

Maybe that word is the problem.

One hundred dollars; no questions asked. Colorado Horse Rescue Network is having an Open Door Event next month with our buyout program; we pay you for your unwanted horses. Then we do the very best we can for them. We’re pairing it with a free castration clinic. Spread the word!

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

Photo Challenge: Reflecting

It’s the job of a hero 
to stand a strong wind,
invincible against a dark
sky, giving us pause to

reflect on the sum of our
inadequacies and hopes
too precious to name.
Could I be that strong,

that resilient, with decades 
behind me and a dwindling 
future? She holds her ground, 
with steady eyes and no

apology. Our lesser nature 
demands that we measure 
ourselves with cold calculation 
and doubt, though the hero

makes no claims against us. 
Without blame, she holds an
open space beside her. Step
up, she says. There’s room.
….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
Blog  FB  Email  Author  FB  Tweet  Amazon  
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Reflecting

Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

WM Edgar eye close

It’s the irresistible call
to scout hidden ravines and
gaze along the elevated vistas
from the edge of an eyelash.

A wish to explore generations
of memories, honor and courage
beyond self, cautiously stored in
the language of ancient travelers.

Ask permission at the gate,
take the solitary unmarked path
meandering the full distance
between his head and his heart.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
Blog  FB  Email  Author  FB  Tweet  Amazon  
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Wanderlust

Photo Challenge: Surprise

Dawdling through chores,
then a dousing in the shower
And rushing to a book event,
I checked the visor-mirror for

hay in my teeth. It was even
better; a coarse white hair
sprouting from my chin, long
enough to pull, too slick to grip.

Aging requires a tolerance
for physical betrayal but gray
mares like me hold hope that
a certain girlhood dream, one

that involved tossing mane
while cantering the living room
in tennis shoes, still might come
true. One whisker at a time.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
Blog  FB  Email  Author  FB  Tweet  Amazon  
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Surprise

Photo Challenge: Dense

Stupid. Dense. Stubborn. Lazy.

Until we stop seeing others
in our own worst self-image,
these words will describe us.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Dense