Wednesday, July 29, 2020


I was doing some cleaning today. The house like everything else is a disaster. It's odd how when I clean I can find stuff from years ago that we no longer need. As Mike said, it's easy to tell when major events happened because we'll have weird stuff from that time of year because we just couldn't handle dealing with it at the time.

I'd stopped developing pictures years ago and have them all saved in random places. But the final few rolls of film (pre digital camera), I came across today. It was random from a few different trips and they made me both happy and sad looking through them.

Then I saw it. A picture I don't even remember taking but I will hold it near and dear to my heart. The minute I saw that picture I burst into tears. Even thinking about that picture make me cry. It must be the stress to be so overly sensitive. It was a picture of the four original horses we had when I was a teenager. More specifically it was a picture of my first two beloved horses. My dream horse and my riding horse, both hold a special place in my heart but oddly it was my riding horse that caused me to cry.

Oh how I miss him. It's been more than ten years and yet seeing his picture brought back all the fun memories of him. I don't have many pictures of him because he was here pre digital so for some reason I don't have many. It breaks my heart to know I don't have as many as some of the others. I didn't remember his expression to be so quirky but I miss it. Maybe because I saw him for his personality and not for just his looks. A little red Arabian gelding with an unknown history. Any time I rode him, it was like we were riding as fast as we could away from the gates of hell with fire licking at his heels. That boy could fly. I miss him and I miss my confidence in riding and the exuberance of being young (and not worrying about falling off and getting hurt). Gone are those days (along with the slim figure) but I remember riding him like it was yesterday.

Riding Zeke was like riding Ace. Now that Zeke is retired I miss riding and the challenges of riding an arabian. Lightening is ok but doesn't have that same zest (or worldly experience).

In my cleaning, I've also discovered bags of hair from horses that have since left us. I never take a large chunk, just enough as a keepsake. I should take more so I can send them in to make keepsakes for each one. It's hard to say goodbye but coming across these little bits of past horses sometimes is tougher than I thought. I know what we do is good for the horse and their overall health and safety but sometimes its' just plain hard to let go.

I may frame that picture. It's one of the last ones that I know I have developed. Maybe I'll pause in cleaning and take a break from finding these little bits of history of the Sanctuary. I'm no sure my heart can take much more. Unexpected sad tears are a bit hard to take some days.

Monday, July 27, 2020


We had sweltering heat over the weekend. I'm sure some are used to the higher temperatures but I and the horses are not! 88 degrees with a heat index of 100 degrees is a bit much for anyone. The big herd hung out in the run in shed off the barn for the entire time it was scorching hot. Luckily the heat broke Sunday and we had cooler temperatures. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the cooler weather. Well, cooler as in less humidity.

We are focusing on some home improvements for now so the horses are enjoying their time without me pestering them. I walked out to the pasture to find fly masks and do a check on everyone least night. I need to put up a bit more temporary fencing so that they can enjoy the grass at the bottom of the pasture. I need to get that done this week so I can let them out next week. I want to try a different set up than in the past to see if it helps ease the stress on the other two portions of the pasture. Last year it worked out ok that we did some flipping around of pastures but this year is different but still not ideal for the horses to get down to the bottom part of the pasture. The horses love that pasture the most. I think they enjoy wading through the water even if it is standing water from the slew backing up into our pasture.

Jim is enjoying his nightly grain. We paused his grain in hopes that the summer pasture would help him gain weight. Sadly it didn't so we are back to graining him and he'll have to have more added to his diet to keep him at the right weight. He lost weight so we'll be doing our best to try and pack on some pounds before the first snow flies. It hurts my feelings to even talk about snow in the middle of summer but its' a reality.

I spend 6 months dealing with snow and winter, all of spring dealing with the after effects of whatever type of winter we had, have one month of summer where it's too darn hot to do much but make sure everyone has water and pasture, then it's back to prepping for the first snow fall and back into winter. It's a vicious cycle.

I had thought our hay was baled and getting moved off the pasture but apparently that hay is more cow quality rather than horse quality. I'm very picky about our hay and have dairy quality hay. That means it's soft and easy for the horses to eat instead of more brittle and course. The softer the hay, the better so those that have a hard time chewing won't have as difficult time. I'm hoping that our hay will be baled soon. Then it can sit in the field for a week or two before we haul it home. I used to be paniced about not having it home until our hay guy said it's better to not have your hay all in one spot because it can start a fire. I had never thought of that so now I'm ok with leaving the hay sit out for a week or two before bringing it home. We don't have any place to spread it out so once it's home, they are close to one another and if a fire broke out, we'd lose our entire supply of hay. It pays to have a farmer as a your hay guy.

But I'm hoping the hay will get baled soon and I need to make arrangements to see if we can pick up some small squares. There's lots to do but we are heading into August, which is our crazy time of the year. We have two birthdays in August (and another in September) so planning for childrens' birthdays is always crazy. Throw in COVID and trying to figure out birthday presents and such when not going into the store, I'm a bit of a nut case. So you may or may not see much of me in August as I frantically prep for birthdays and school starting. The stress level has risen a lot in the last week and then prepping for winter stuff (to take advantage of the heat) also has me bustling as best I can.

But if you happen to notice a considerable lack of posts, it's not that we aren't around, it's that I'm trying to get everything done and some things have to give, which includes social media. But if you have any questions, drop me a line and I'll get back to you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Days Getting Shorter

I always love the buildup to the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. But after that, we start to lose daylight and that too sends me into a panic. It's not like I don't know it's coming and it's not like it doesn't happen every year, but with such limited time to get everything done, it sends me into a tail spin.

With my current working predicament, I am home so I can go from working at the paying job straight to working on stuff at home (although more than half the time it's not sanctuary related). I love mornings in June when I can go out to the horses and already have the sun up and shining. Now the sun comes up after I'm already at work so I miss out on watching the sun rise over the hoses.

We did get one project done at home. It's not sanctuary related but it will make the place look better and make life easier if/when we do tours at the place. We poured a large concrete patio in the front of the house. It'll be nice to have some place to stand in the spring that's not mud. Or when I need to grab something from the house and have a horse in hand, I can have them on concrete and not tear up the yard. Of course there's all the cleanup that still needs to be done and that'll take a bit of my time to get wrapped up but I'm already moving on to scraping and painting the house. I'd started that project before we started the patio project so the house is looking exceptionally dumpy at the moment but hopefully we can get it looking sharp soon. I've already said I'm only painting this house once. After that, we'll be putting on different siding. The siding is too old to take on paint these days.

We don't know how old the place is, or the outbuildings, or even the fencing. We have to guess and my guess is about 80 years old. When we pulled out the concrete footings for a fence that went around the yard, there was a note saying it was from 1950. We've seen notes when remodeling the house that things were done in the 1940s. So I'm guessing the outbuildings and fencing are all 70 to 80 years old.

Sadly, after that many years of hard use, they don't work nearly as well. We need to contact the fence guy from last fall to see where we are on the schedule and get some fencing done. I walked the mare pasture the other day and noticed how bad the fence line really is. I don't think some of our fencing can handle another South Dakota winter.

There's just so many projects I want to get done and I don't think they will get done before the first snow. I realize it's only July 22nd but at the rate projects are getting done and with the number of projects we still have on the To Do list, I'm just not sure how they will get done. The pandemic and additional health problems have slowed our progress down to a crawl. And then comes August where sanctuary life is put on hold so that we can enjoy our children's birthdays and prepare for school. It's going to be a stressful but interesting August and I want to take advantage of the fun times while the kids are still excited for birthdays. I'm juggling three birthdays, school, and return to daycare all in two months on top of preparing for winter.

So if you don't hear from us when August rolls around, it's not that we aren't here. It's that the horses and sanctuary are pretty much on what I call auto pilot, where they enjoy their grazing time and nice weather and don't have me pestering them except to check to make sure everyone is doing ok. There's not much to report when they are on auto pilot and I'm not sure you want to hear me lament about not getting anything done because we are doing family stuff.

I do have a bunch of stuff that needs to get done for the sanctuary and it's all behind a computer. So if you want to help but don't know how, let me know and I'll set you up with a few different projects to choose from. Even with my brain struggling to muddle through a day during the pandemic, I have a ton of old ideas from when I could brainstorm clearly. And if you'd rather swing a hammer and get some physical activity, I have projects that need attention too and I'd LOVE to get them done before the first snow.

Here's to making the most of the remainder of summer and enjoying the sunlight and sunshine from sunup to sundown.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Slaughter Auctions

South Dakota Horse Sales in Corsica used to have monthly horse sales. As times change, so do their auctions and with COVID, they like everyone else had to make changes. I have only been to their auction once or twice and always come away feeling sick.

For a very short time, there were more local horse auctions that I would insist on attending and again would return home feeling sick. Those auctions have disappeared and now as far as I know, there's only the one (although there is a local auction at a smaller scale which may sell one or two horses). My stomach did a flip when I read the notes from the last sale held in early June. I know that it's a reality but it's still hard to read when it is in plan writing.

LOOSE HORSE SALE: Buyers are short on saddle horses and Sellers are short on time and choose to sell the drop off and go Loose Horse Sale way to market their horses. This resulted in many high dollar horses selling in the Loose sale and going back out to the country including to Buyers from out of State, and that requires a health and coggins test. The top Loose horses sold for $4,000 - $3900 - $3400. & $2850 - $2800-$2800-$2800, or top 10 avg. $2.870.00

NEW RULE: The Loose horse sale was meant for horses going to weigh up market (slaughter). From now on, if you want your Loose horse marketed as a saddle horse or bred mare with footnotes and a pedigree, you must submit a Neg. Coggins test upon delivery or it will be Green Tagged in as a Market/weigh up sale horse only.

While I'm glad they are trying to get the saddle horses and broodmares more notice for those owners who provide notes on their horse, it still angers me that the owners don't try and do more with their horse to find them a home. Even at auction, why not put the horse in the catalog sale or at the end where they are consigned but not listed (sorry, I lost the technical name for that one). I've had friends dump their horses off at loose and "hope they got a good home" at this sale. I was flabbergasted when I heard that because I would have taken them and figured out a way to afford them. Any horse going to this auction loose has an extremely high rate of going to slaughter, with the exception of a few high dollar loose horses.

I so wish that we could do more for these horses. But we have to turn away horses where owners are doing right by their horses and reaching out to find a home. This year funding is going to be very tough to come by and I'm struggling. We won't close the sanctuary down completely but we will have to shutter our doors to any incoming horses if we don't find the funds. That's where I need help in finding someone to help me look for grants. They are going to be few and far between and I don't seem to be looking in any of the right places. And fundraising is pretty much out until I figure out how to make our name a little bigger so people know us. Current friends and family are pretty well tapped out and in my personal life, we are pretty well tapped out of funds for anything but necessities so heading to an auction to rescue a horse from the loose sale is out.

I wish I could do more to help save lives. It doesn't feel like I'm doing enough. As our horses grow older and we lose them, our numbers decline and with funds low, we can't open our doors to any more. I always worry for those horses where we have to say no. Did the owner find someone willing to take in that horse? Did that horse get a permanent home with someone to love and cherish them? I guess because we are a sanctuary, I need to remember that heading to auction to help save a horse and get them out of the slaughter pipeline isnt' feasible. It just seems unfair to the horse to work all your life and then find yourself at in auction and overlooked because you're unadoptable due to age and health conditions.

But for now, all I can do is look at the report and wish that we could head to the sale and pick up at least one horse to bring home. But to do that, we'd need funds and would first go to our waiting list to accept those horses. Always a catch 22. But the reports are a reality and I need to figure out a way to do more with less.

Monday, July 13, 2020


The cicadas started singing about two days ago. They are right on target for when they start to sing. It always puts me into a tail spin for some reason. I guess because we only have a month left of summer before school starts (no matter which method the school district decides to go) and that puts us straight into fall, fall activities, and prepping for winter. Summer is so short and filled with so much that it's hard to get everything done.

I have a ton of projects that NEED to get done before the first snow. It's July 13th and I'm talking snow. I know it's crazy but winter will be here before I know it and I'm stressing over everything that needs to get done before then.

We need to wrap up getting a patio in front of the house and then paint the house. Although it's not sanctuary related it does make better appeal for if/when we do have tours. I guess I'm a bit proud and want the place looking nice and that includes having a painted house and a place for people to sit after taking a tour (although we rarely get tours).

But we have to get a new roof on the old garage and although it's not directly Sanctuary related, it is where all the mechanical stuff gets done so we do need to get it wrapped up. We had one side done a few years ago but the other sides are leaking. Sadly, there are four sides to this darn roof rather than two. I also need to get up on the barn roof and fix the tin that keeps flipping up in the wind and renail it so it's secure and doesn't let it more rain. Id' forgotten about until lately when we've had some serious winds.

Then there's fencing that was supposed to be done in October but we are no longer on the waiting list so need to get back on. We need the perimeter of the entire pasture fenced and then the drylot fenced as well. It's big money that we need to spend but oh so worth it when it gets done. And i'll be able to have my corral panels back.

I also want to put in an auto water in the mare pasture near the barn. That way in the winter I'm not lugging the hose or buckets of water every day to keep it full. And in the summer time, I can go on a vacation and not have to worry about water for the horses. It'll be good to have but we need to raise the money for the auto water AND get it installed which is more money.

And last but not least, we need to get our 2020/2021 hay. I'm not sure if it's been cut and baled but we need to get prepped for it and get the money. We haven't done any fundraising and I know everyone's funds are in short supply so there's going to be very little cash on hand to buy the needed hay for this winter. I'm overly stressed about it. Without funds to buy the hay, we wont' be able to accept any other horses in and with COVID continuing as it has, there could very well be more senior horses that need a home for their twilight years. It's all very worrisome and I wish I could do more but my hands are tied because my first priority are to the horses currently at the Sanctuary.

So that's what's been going on and what needs to get done before the first snow flake and when the first cicadas start to sing, that's all the stuff that goes through my head every time they start to sing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Escape Artists

I came home last night after the sun had set to discover the ponies had dismantled the corral panels and were enjoying the buffet in the yard. Luckily they hadn't gone far and it was still light out but it was a shock pulling up the driveway. Luckily after years with the ponies, we all know that we need to go slow and not stress out over their escape. They've learned to stick close to home and enjoy the finder grasses the other side of the fence has to offer. They were more than willing to go into their pen (and the kids were content to sit in the car while I wrangled the ponies).

I knew I needed to move them yesterday but time was limited. It'll be a project for today instead. I could have moved corral panels and got started on getting them switched over yesterday but at 10:30pm, I wasn't feeling the excitement of that task even though the coyotes were near and singing to me. Let me tell you, I do not enjoy their songs. It's bad enough when they start howling in the distance but when it sounds like they are in the pasture, I get a little jittery. We've had coyotes in the yard before so I would rather not be out when they decide to wander through the place.

We've had thunderstorms two days straight so that put a stop to any outside projects. It's been the fun thunder rumbling kind of thunderstorms so I was ok with it. We are going to be doing more outside cleanup projects this weekend and my fingers are crossed that the weather holds. All of my projects are contingent on different parts getting done. I have two house projects that I have to do in order or I can't get them done (or it'll be a bigger pain in my rear later on). I'm hoping we can start tackling some of them this weekend. Some will be horse related and if anyone comes out for our cleanup day on Saturday, I'll be sure to put them on the Sanctuary stuff. Otherwise, I'll be working on home improvements that we'll get to use for the Sanctuary.

After 15 years, it'll be nice to finally change a few things that I've wanted done so many years ago.

Now if I could just get some better fencing for the ponies.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


We lucked out and missed the worst of the storms last night. I kept an eye to the sky the entire day in case we needed to move horses around. But it ended up being a fairly nice day and didn't get too humid and hot like they'd predicted. Today on the other hand will be a different story (after the rains come through).

We are supposed to have rain off and on all week. It's going to make getting some of our projects done more difficult but I have a feeling that this week, most of the outside projects weren't going to get done anyway. Glass half empty today I guess.

The big herd spends a good portion of their day up in the lean to out of the sun and in the breeze. It's turned the leanto that we just cleaned into a mess again. I can't keep up with cleaning it out every day what with this new schedule that we've been doing since mid March. Hopefully I can get out there and get it cleaned out this weekend but it's just one more thing on the to do list.

We did acquire three roosters yesterday. Someone could no longer keep them and wanted to find a home for them. We've been missing our rooster we had 10 years ago so said yes. I don't know anything about chickens or roosters so this should be interesting. These three are a different breed than the one we had years ago but it'll be interesting to figure out their personalities. And for anyone who doesn't think roosters have personalities, they are wrong. Our old rooster would wander up to the house and crow at us if he didn't hear us up and moving around by 10am (gone are the days of sleeping in!)

We'll introduce you to them when we figure out who is who and what they are like. Right now they are tucked in the barn (because we have no chicken coop) and seem to be settling in. Now the difficult part will be to keep Penny from chasing them all over the place.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Happy 4th of July

We hope you all had a happy and safe 4th of July. We took a much needed break to spend some quality family time over the long weekend. The stress level is still fairly high for some family health stuff but we are making the most of it.

If you didn't catch our Facebook Live update, Diavlo has perked up. I was so worried about his potential depression but he came around much faster than I had figured. I had based my worries and fears off of Brego, who went into a deep depression when he lost Ivan. I knew Brego was a sensitive horse but hadn't realized how sensitive. He didn't perk up for weeks. In fact, it wasn't until we lost Bo four months later and Zeke was left without a best friend, that Brego perked up after hanging out with Zeke. So my worry was that Diavlo would do the same because he was so devoted to Jessie. But he went through his three days of mourning and was fine. He hangs out with Mayhem but isnt' nearly as protective of her. He gets annoyed by her but tolerates her. He looks for the big herd, so we may do some swapping later this summer/fall and put him in with the big herd and move Mayhem in with the ponies. We'll see how it all plays out.

We need to swap pastures this week or weekend. They've all been on the same pasture for the past month so now it's time to rotate to the next pasture. I should have done it after only two weeks to give the grass a break. It's what the pasture management class said I should do but old habits die hard (and I still need to put him some temporary fencing). At some point that temporary fencing needs to become permanent. But at this point, I need to start pushing to get our perimeter fence installed. After that, I'll be able to worry about the interior fencing. Good fences make good neighbors and we are risking becoming bad neighbors soon if we don't get better fencing up.

I can also tell that the days are getting shorter, even if it's only one minute at a time. But there's a long list of things that need to get done. This week is supposed to be icky hot so I'm planning on washing blankets so they will hopefully dry. The humidity is something else right now. But once they are washed and dry, we can apply water proofing and we'll be ready for another winter. I'll feel better once that project is done.

I'm sure that I'll fly into a tizzy here pretty soon. The katydids are going to start singing soon and those make me anxious. Not because of what they are but because they signal the beginning of fall. Oh not really, we still have two months of summer heat and humidity but there's SO MUCH that needs to get done. Up until the end of June, I spend all my time fixing things that break (I still have hay nets out too) or dealing with winter stuff and then from July on, it's prepping for winter and working on projects that can only be done in the summer months.  The katydids are a reminder that I only have a few short months to get them done.

And with our current situation, we are home more, which would make you think it possible to get more projects done but in fact, it means we get less done but I still see all the stuff that needs to get done. It's a bit of a catch 22. We are doing our best to stay home and social distance to keep everyone safe but in doing so, we stay home and I come up with more projects. My simple house project that would have taken a weekend, has now snowballed into two major updates. I'll need to take time off to work on some of the projects outside but can't do that because we are keeping kids home from daycare until school starts, if schools starts. So it's going to be a balancing act to get all these projects done.

We'll see how it all works out and if it gets done it gets done and if it doesn't, it'll simply be added to next year's long list of projects that need to get done. And when I say "simply", I add it to the list but it sits there stressing me out. Always ways to improve the place. It's been 15 years and we finally seem to be making headway on some areas.

In the mean time, we hope you had a relaxing, fun, and safe 4th of July. Now back to reality!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Second Half of the Year

Today marks the beginning of the second half of the year and what a year it's been so far. Pre-COVID, I had high hopes of implementing a bunch of new programs and doing some additional fundraisers. That all came to a screeching halt. With such a small presences online, we don't know how to proceed with any fundraising online so this will definitely be a tight year.

I am really stressing over funds for our upcoming winter hay. I did chat with our hay guy so we do have that lined up. Well, at least he knows we want hay and we also have access to small squares of hay. But again, it all costs money and we need to figure out where that money is coming from. With only one fundraiser this spring just before COVID-19 hit, we haven't been able to get ourselves out there. And I don't feel comfortable right now asking for funds. There are too many people who need their money to keep a roof over their heads but on the other hand, we need to keep food in our horses's bellies.

So it means we will be tightening our belts and pinching pennies to see where we can make the most of what we need. I'm hoping we can talk with our hay guy this weekend over the long holiday and get everything lined up (when to haul, cost, etc.). I'd like to get everything lined up now rather than later.

But it also means that we won't be able to accept any additional horses into the Sanctuary for long-term retirement. It makes me sad to say no and to even consider the possibility that we can't help horses in need but we have to be protective of our current horses. My biggest fear is that we will become a rescue that needs to be rescued.

Hopefully soon I can get my focus back and return to thinking about the Sanctuary. It's been a day-by-day sort of living since the pandemic hit mid March. Some days I think I have it together and the next day I sit in tears questioning everything.

I know I could really use some help. Most everything I need help with is online or helping me brainstorm and implement my ideas. I am great with ideas and terrible with follow through. And the more time I spend behind a computer instead of out in the real world, the more introverted I become. Any introvert will understand that feeling.

We have many projects that still need to be tackled this summer. In fact there are more projects that are on the list than what we can get done because of our personal life schedules being so chaotic (it's hard to do major projects when you're making sure your toddler doesnt' wander off into the corn field!)

So fingers crossed that the second half of the year is much easier than the first half, there are less stresses and tears, and that we can continue to do what we do. Without your support, we can't keep our doors open and help our seniors enjoy their twilight years.