Monday, October 30, 2023

November Hill farm journal, 195

 I’ve put off writing this because it joins the many things I’m calling “the firsts” - the first time I’ve gone to our barn since 2005 and not seen Keil Bay’s handsome face, the first time I’ve fed tubs and not heard his musical whinny, the first time I’ve made up supplement jars with his not in the line, the first time I’ve mucked without his manure droppings being there, on and on and on. And the first November Hill farm journal without him here in body.

This all sounds very sad, and it is, and some of these things bring tears, a few things bring little fits of sobbing, but one very happy thing is that I feel peace when I think of him. I have been to his grave daily and when I do the goodnight mantra (good night, you Kings of Chatham, you Princes of November Hill) I add (and goodnight Keil Bay, King of Everything, and Salina the Queen). I feel him around us, as I have always felt Salina, but I also have very clear visual images in my mind of Keil galloping with his buddies, the ones he lived with when I first met him, Brio, and Joker, and then later Maverick. I see the collection of his neck and its curve as he coils up to then uncoil in a big, playful forward burst of motion. And I feel okay then about him not being here in his elegant, athletic body.

One thing I haven’t shared here is that I am doing EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) training this month and next month and will be moving on into the certification training in 2024. After years of referring out clients I felt needed EMDR, I decided it was time to add it to my own repertoire of modalities. So many people have trauma in my current practice, and with virtual therapy now the norm, it’s harder to know people to refer them to. 

Part of my training is to experience EMDR myself, and one of the core memories I worked with in two sessions was one in which my kitten was physically taken away from me (and kept) by an adult male neighbor and his teenaged son. I was 3-4 years old. I have discussed that memory in my own therapy previously, but when I reprocessed it using EMDR, I immediately felt the results in my experiences in the present day. I now see clearly how that early memory has impacted my experience of caring for and protecting my animal family.  I have dreaded for years Keil Bay’s passing because I knew it would be difficult beyond imagination. It has been hard, it has been sad, but thanks to EMDR it has not been devastating. 

My experience has been that I’m feeling the grief without the weight of that past memory pushing it into a much more intense level of emotion and powerlessness. 

At this point EMDR is being used to treat many issues, not just PTSD and trauma. I can now highly recommend it as a modality, and wanted to say that here. If you’re considering treatment, go to and look for certified clinicians for the best results. 

It’s fall on November Hill and it’s fitting that Keil Bay left us during this season, since this season is when we first came to our little farm. His grave is being slowly covered by falling oak and hickory leaves, and by acorns, and I’m sure he is happy about that. 

The herd continues to process this loss. Little Man and Rafer are actively seeking comfort from us. Cody seems a little distant and a little angry, but he allows comfort. Redford was the most distressed and it has taken him longer to process this. He is starting to get to his normal self but since he offered his constant companionship both two years ago when Keil went through his initial EPM bout and again recently, I think he is taking this hard. We’re offering Redford special attention and he is slowly moving through his own process. 

One other thing that has happened is I have opened up to the idea of riding again. Yesterday I got out my helmet and tried it on, and am actively thinking of working Cody and Little Man back into light riding time in case my grandson wants to ride. I haven’t ridden since Keil got EPM two years ago and retired, and I haven’t wanted to, I think because he has been my partner since he came to us and I just didn’t want to ride any other horse while he was here. We’ll see how this goes moving forward. 

The biggest thing I’m feeling right now is peace and relief that Keil Bay is no longer at risk of falling, that each day I wake up knowing he’s okay. That his life was long and it was good. That his passing was full of love and many peppermints. And that the bond we have will never be broken. His presence and his spirit are with me forever. That’s a lot, and what a gift from him to me. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Grateful for our amazing vet practice, 3H Equine

 Yesterday I had a call from our local floral shop that they had attempted a delivery but due to our gated entrance, could not leave it, and we could either pick it up or they would redeliver today.

This morning I got a call saying it was on the way so I made sure to get out to the gate and got this:

We’ve been fortunate to have 3H as our vets for close to 20 years, and have always appreciated their excellent and compassionate care, both wellness and emergency. They helped when Rafer Johnson broke his leg, they helped with various and sundry horse emergencies over the years, helped when Salina was ready to pass, and most recently, helped us shepherd Keil Bay easily and with great care and compassion, to that special place beloved animal family members go. 

This display of kindness to us after that night means the world, and I have thanked them today twice. Once before I got the flowers and again after. We are so, so fortunate to have them on our team. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Horses Are Light And Air And Wind And Sky

 (For Keil Bay, 1989-2023)

Horses Are Light And Air And Wind And Sky

Are guardians who gallop alongside cars, always with you, always there. They are winged creatures, though their wings are invisible, carrying you away from things and also toward things. 

Horses hold space and energy, read minds, siphon insights that may otherwise be elusive. They move in rhythms that match pulses, heartbeats, breath, the alternating skip you do as a child, the way your brain processes neural impulses. 

A horse comes to you when you need him, carries you past a mirror which reflects your best self, lays his muzzle on your shoulder, lifts a 70-pound bale of hay in your path in his teeth and tosses it aside. A horse comes to you from dream time, from child time, from the time before you knew what time even was.

Horses sing and scream and snort, gaze without blinking into the deepest part of your eye, smell, and sometimes lick, your hands. A horse listens when you whisper, better than a therapist at detecting the things you do not say.

Horses find the girls who need them. Horses tell the truth and keep their promises. Horses surround you and lift you off the ground to keep you with them. Herd mind. Herd hooves drum-beating time.

Sometimes when you stand beside a horse’s shoulder, hand on wither, hand on barrel, he turns and curls you into the space between his head and heart, a small circle of protection, impenetrable circle of safety. 

When you dream about a horse you’re not dreaming, you are galloping through another galaxy, exploring deep space, tracing neural networks, resetting your vagus nerve. 

When a horse leaves, you send a piece of you with her, and she leaves a piece of her with you. The conversation you started never stops. The partnership you forged never flags. Sometimes you see her galloping the perimeter of the farm, keeping time intact, opening windows into other places, other ways of being, places not yet named.

When you ride a horse you carry that forever in the skin of your calves, feet hanging weightless, a lifted back bearing you across boundaries of time and space, faster than you think you can go, to a place you came from but don’t remember until he takes you there again.

-Billie Hinton

Autumn Into Winter 2023, Daily Readings 4 and 5 (a Keil Bay edition)

 Yesterday’s card, which I didn’t get around to posting:

Ladybug and Sweet Pea are happiness, good fortune, a journey. I felt the joy of this card yesterday morning when I pulled it randomly from its deck, and honestly I feel it this morning even after last night’s huge loss, because when a horse goes peacefully, I think all horse women feel the happiness of that journey. I can say this morning that without question, my journey with Keil Bay has been one of happiness and good fortune, from the day I met him until now. 

This morning’s card brought me to tears and then quiet sobs. If an illustration were Keil, this is it:

Modest fortitude, the benevolent king, that is who he was and is. And brilliance of mind, body, spirit. When I pulled this card and turned it over, I wasn’t surprised. This is the kind of presence he has in the lives of those who love him dearly. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Goodbye, Our Beloved Keil Bay


Keil Bay had a flare-up of EPM this past week and was on treatment for it since Friday. His right hind fetlock was puffy and we think he may have had an abscess brewing. He had his favorite body work, chiropractic care, on Saturday that helped and then acupuncture and a Legend injection yesterday, and his day was good as was his day today. Although not moving normally, he foraged for grass, hay, and acorns with his herd. 

Tonight when we went out to feed dinner tubs he was lying flat out in the grassy barnyard, very still and peaceful. He got up about 15 minutes later and was calm but not really able to walk forward. When he tried to walk he was only able to go in a circle. 

He had most of his dinner tub, many peppermints, and his vet arrived 45 minutes after that. He was surrounded by me, my husband, and both my young adult children, who grew up knowing the Big Bay and loving him. 

Moments after he took his last breath, the barn lights went out for a few seconds and the big bang of a transformer blowing in the distance sounded. Later, after the vet left and we were still with him, as he lay with a peaceful eye and covered in flowers my husband picked from our beds and his blankets, an owl hooted from the big oak tree at F, five separate times. 

The stars were bright in the sky. 

I know it was the right time and I feel grateful nothing that could have gone terribly wrong did. I’m going to be crying for months I’m sure, off and on, as we all try to reconfigure. Cody, Little Man, Rafer Johnson, and Redford stood silently watching as all this happened, and after he was gone they whinnied and brayed. It’s hard to say goodbye to a horse who was so good and so present in our daily lives. 

We love you, Big Handsome Bay. You’ve been my dream. We’re grateful you lived 34 amazing years. I wish I’d been with you every one of them. 

Monday, October 23, 2023

Autumn Into Winter 2023, Daily Reading, 3

 PATIENCE. Needed this today and it has helped to have this card front and center all morning. 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Autumn Into Winter 2023, Daily Reading, 2


Key words: faith, patience, light and dark in balance, creative solutions. Here’s to bringing this to all areas right now. I am worried about the Big Bay but he is out foraging in the barnyard and while he is clearly off in the hindquarters, he seems pretty good. 

If you appreciate the art of these cards as much as I do, support the creator/artist by purchasing HERE.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Autumn Into Winter 2023, Daily Reading, 1

 My good friend Kathleen gifted me the most amazing deck of oracle cards this week, called Woodland Wardens, by Jessica Roux.

They are so beautiful! 

I’ve decided that now and to the end of the year I’ll pull a card each day and feature it here, along with a little “where I’m at” and “how this might apply” as a way to keep track of my own journey into autumn and on into early winter.

Today I’m feeling good. Keil Bay is having a flare of EPM and we decided to treat him with Marquis and the protocol I used two years ago. That kicked off yesterday. He had chiro today and had some big stuff needing adjustment, and his acupuncture will start up in earnest again on Monday. He’s in great spirits and I hope this sets things right for him so he can go into winter feeling great again.

I pulled this card:

This feels so on target today and in general. Being cunning, nimble, and adaptable are all things that will get us through this obstacle. 

On another note, it’s writing weekend and this feels true in that area as well. 

If you appreciate the art of these cards as much as I do, support the creator/artist by purchasing HERE.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Saturday, October 07, 2023

November Hill farm journal, 194

 It’s been a beautiful week here on November Hill as the autumn season is really kicking in. We’ve had cooler temperatures, the leaves are changing and blowing in the breezes, and the horses are growing in winter coats. The temperature tonight is going down to 39 if the predictions are accurate, and can you guess who has NOT YET laundered horse blankets from last winter? Sigh. But I’m going to do Keil’s single weight sheet today and let it dry in the house since there’s no sunshine and a decent chance of rain. He likely doesn’t want the blanket but if it’s clean it will be nicer to put on if he ends up needing it.

The swamp sunflowers are so prolific this year. The terraced beds are amass with their flowers. 

The passiflora incarnata is HUGE and has grown from the ground to the roof of the house this year, as well as over the tops of the three hollies in front of the porch. There are many maypops hanging on the vines too. I’m still waiting to see if any gulf fritillary caterpillars and butterflies show up, as this is a host plant for them. 

This week was sport cut time for Keil Bay and Cody. Little Man removed himself from the barnyard so I’ll catch up with him another day. The donkeys have year-round sport cuts already! It’s nice to be doing these early autumn tasks. 

This week I’ve also been busy submitting flash nonfiction and brainstorming a third book in the Magical Pony School series. I’ve been working on different writing projects like a honeybee going to different flowers lately, though not with the same focus and intention the honeybee brings to her work. Still, the start of fall has given me a boost of energy and excitement about creative work and I am so relieved to be out of the summer doldrums.

In other big projects, it’s time to continue the process of sorting through the garage bay that is full of stuff that was in the garage storage room. This week I did an initial culling and sent one truck bed load away. The next layer is stuff we’ll keep, so it needs to be wiped down and moved into the storage room. I’m replacing the 27-year old fiberglass insulation with new wool insulation, but as always seems the case, that is not going to happen all at once and immediately (which would be so much easier and satisfying) as I have to order it and do it in sections. At least it’s a better time of year for doing that task - summer was absolutely not the time.

In one other big chore, the custom barn windows I ordered a year and a half ago were delayed for several reasonable reasons but are now at our feed store awaiting our pick up. I have no idea how hard the process of installing them will be, but our contractor will be doing it, so I’m thankfully off the hook for figuring anything out. There are only four of these windows in our barn so I hope it will be a reasonably quick job. They’re a big upgrade from the existing wood windows and they will also add a slightly different look to the barn. I hope it turns out well. 

We’re still searching for the new home but thus far there hasn’t been anything that really said “this is us.” I think with horse farms there are so many factors that need to align: the house, the barn, the land. And while we’ve looked at houses with no barn with the intent to build exactly what we want, the positioning of the house and the land all have to fit. We’re not looking to clear forest to build a barn, and that adds a level of complexity to the whole search. That said, we’re fine here for now and as I have promised myself, we will not get into the limbo of not doing work here because we may be selling in the near future. We’re fully here until we’re not. 

In my therapy world, I’m excited to say that after many years of referring out EMDR work with clients who need it, I am doing the training this month and next to be able to do EMDR myself. The training is intensive, but it’s virtual, so I will be holed up in the garret next week soaking in and practicing new skills. 

Life is good.