Our High Hope

She was picked from an internet photo.

But before she was even picked from that poorly taken photo, she had already stolen a place in my heart. I copied the phone number from the tattered piece of paper tacked around other crowded ads vying for attention at our local feed store.

I had no idea how this was all going to be pulled off. I just knew the time had finally come. The ad was for adopting an orphan foal. $350/foal. Health Certificates and Coggins, $62 extra. All the way in Kentucky. We did not own a horse trailer, had no barn, no fencing, no supplies, or feed. We had nothing except an open heart to adopt an orphan foal.

Which begs the question why was I even looking to purchase one? I was forty-eight years old! What kind of energy, and time did I have for raising a foal? Our kids were mostly grown, wasn’t it time to downsize for goodness sake?

Sometimes it does not pay to think too much, and I believe after my first phone call to Casey Creek Horse Rescue & Adoption I quite thinking about those little details. They told us it is best to adopt two foals. We did this, but ended up selling the gelding after ten years. Sometimes horses and folks don’t fit together well. That is a whole different story.

They told us the next round of foals would be ready for adoption one month after foaling. This round of babies were to be born in March 2005. Which meant we could pick them up in April 2005. Photos would be posted on the website of the available orphans. So we waited.

I knew all about her before I ever saw her. I had dreamed of her for many long years. I knew I wanted a filly, a buckskin, and one of moderate size. Didn’t matter if she had papers or not, I did not care. Momma gave me, and my twin sister, our own horse each when we were sixteen years old. A million dollars would not have made us happier. My little bay mare, Dolly, was fast as greased lightning. She had a super disposition. I could trust her with anyone. Yes, I knew what I was looking for.

When those photos were posted, I picked her out immediately. She was foaled March 10, 2005. We had to pick three in case they had been adopted before we got there. It was time to go. Only thing remaining was getting a trailer and driving to Kentucky. We had foals to pick up.

The borrowed bumper-pull horse trailer was filled with two stainless steel bowls for mixing milk replacer powder mix, two little halters & lead lines, a few brushes and $824 in cash. We were on the road. First stop was Mom’s farm in Clifton Forge, VA. She was all ready to join the excitement of a road trip for horses. Her farm hand would keep the place for a night. She sat in front with Bill, keeping track of towns, mileage/times, and fueling stops. Helen and I settled in the back seat of our comfortable GMC Suburban and enjoyed the scenery.

A cool evening greeted us as we made our way to the little hotel for the night. Next morning could hardly come fast enough.

The thick morning mist that had settled in the night was beginning to move out as we made our way to Casey Creek Horse Rescue and Adoption, Inc. The early sunshine seemed as excited with this day as we were. Jeanne was already out at the barn. She had a bunch of foals needing attention.

The farm was quaint. Makeshift stalls were cattle panel and such tied together to hold a newly arrived foal. There were tiny little foals in each small stall. Most were standing quietly in corners with little interest in life. Jeannie said they get depressed being taken from their mommas. I very nearly burst into tears to see all those orphan foals. At that point I wanted all of them!

Mom was busy asking Ken about the operation. Just where do these orphans come from? How are they fed? Is anything known about them at all?

Jeannie was busy throwing a rope over the neck of one of her big goats. Instantly the goat stood stock still while Jeannie milked her out. I was shocked to see that goat stand so still. Jeannie said she was an old milking goat and the rope over her head made her think she was tied! It was funny. The milk was for the foals.

Ken told us these foals were nurse mare foals. Their mommas are rented out to be wet nurses to the big quarter horse and thoroughbred farm mares where their mares may have rejected their babies or to be re-bred in their foal heat. Because these nurse mares had just dropped a foal, they were more willing to take a strange one. This leaves her baby with a most uncertain future. Thus began Ken and Jeannie’s work. Bringing these foals to their farm and adopting them out. Very little is known about these foals. They all came from different farms.

Suddenly, we heard Mom happily shouting. “Take a picture! Take a picture!” There she was, holding a huge old white turkey, pleased as ever with her catch!

The sun shone cheerfully in that barn full of foals, chickens, turkey, goats, dogs, and cats. I found my little foal very quickly. She was quiet, and was standing in the glowing sunshine. Ken put a tiny halter on her and sorta ‘led’ her out of the barn out into the yard. She was so tiny.

I chose her name from a suggestion Mom had made. She said she had a pretty mare years ago at riding school. Her name was High Hope. It was a perfect name for this little orphan. We were both so full of high hopes.

It was time for us to go. Time to start an exciting, new chapter of raising orphan horses. There would be no turning back. All the details would work themselves out. It was time to for this little orphan filly to go home.

High Hope was going home to Virginia.

This is the internet photo I first saw of High Hope
Drinking their mixed powdered milk from stainless steel bowls.
Taking a rest stop.
We had to stop every few hours to give them their milk.
Welcome home to Virginia, High Hope.
She was so tiny.
Mom showing off her catch.
Our daughter and our orphans.
Two pretty yearlings.
This very helpful little booklet was in the adoption papers. It was very well written and encouraging. Jeannie Holland signed it for me.
Inside of front cover.

March 10, 2020, High Hope will turn 15 years old. She has filled every high hope I ever dared to imagine, plus many, many more.

The Time Warp

Shirley is a granny.

She has been a granny for ten years. She says she has grown pretty used to it by now. In the beginning it took a lot of heavy thinking and re-arranging of herself to grab onto the thought of grannyhood. Gettin’ old was for everyone else. Shirley just knew she would not have that issue. Ha! Sometimes things have a way of sneaking up on a person. Age, for Shirley, was one of those sneaky little things.

Used to be when she talked about her life twenty years ago, she was a young momma with little babies running all over the place. Not so anymore. Twenty years ago she was a middle-aged momma, with a bunch of teenagers on the loose! How did that happen? Don’t ask Shirley. Time seems like a mystery to her. An enigma. Shirley remembers her momma telling her that the 30’s and 40’s were the busiest times of ones life. What she did not realize was that those years would vaporize into a vague misty memory. Her momma never told her that.

Caught in a time warp somewhere along the way. Sorta like flowers coming up in springtime. They seem to be so slow in bursting forth to color the dull winter earth. But are they? Eyes were just taken off the emerging plants. Had there been a more careful watch, the growth may have been noticed. More times than not they actually start growing before one thinks they should. Shirley finds herself gingerly stepping all around the bird feeder as they make their tiny, magical entrance. Then suddenly blooms are dancing in the breeze!

Maybe that is what happened in the middle of lifehood for Shirley. She got so busy and tied up with daily going ons that she missed that whole transition from young momma to grannyhood. Poof! It just seemed to appear!

A real strange thing happened to her the other day. Her husband, Snoot, was looking through old photos. He came upon an old family photo of them. Shirley just looked and looked at that young woman (that was she). After a few moments she quietly remarked, “I knew her once.”

Surprised by her own words, and the feeling of the vapor of time, she was caught again in the mysteriousness of it all. How can something, dear reader, seem so long ago, and yet like only yesterday at the same time?

Not that she would want to go back. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Pushing ahead into a new day has always brought joy and excitement to her. Today is a day that has never been she thinks with anticipation to herself, wonder what’s in store for this fine, new day.

She plans her days to be sure, but there is a question to everyday that no one but God Himself knows. Life happens. Shirley would say that far more than we think is out of our hands. Just try not putting make-up on a day because it is Saturday and it simply does not seem necessary. Or putting on that ugly old shirt that should have been thrown out months ago. Well, there is the ‘invitation’. Nine times out of ten somebody will decide to drop by that very day for an unexpected visit.

There are, of course, very serious events in lives that completely re-arrange one’s whole life in a moment. Those are beyond the scope of this little blog. Shirley’s thoughts are centered around the normal, daily passage of time. Those daily moments that fill a day, consume a year, and turn into decades often without even being noticed. How many full moons do you see, dear reader? How many stars do you gaze at regularly? Do you ever watch anymore the sparks of a fire as they rise up to Heaven? Have you listened to the Mourning Dove’s early morning song? Do you even know it? Are these the things that fill the time warp?

Shirley and Snoot live on a farm. Life is very much the same day in and day out. Routine is important to the well being of livestock. Truth is routine is important to humans too. Shirley says don’t mess with Snoots feeding times unless you want trouble. Routine can become boring though. Shirley has ways of shaking things up. It is funny watching her chase the horses around the fields with an empty trash bag snapping in the breeze to get ’em going. Getting the dogs and cats all excited and watching them run around like mad makes everyone laugh.

One word Shirley really loathes, and has all her life—‘bored.’ She would not allow herself to say it as a young girl, neither were her children, nor will she hear it out of her grandbabies. Life is simply too short to ever be bored.

Intentional. That is Shirley’s word. She has determined in herself that life is magical. Every day, moment, season of life, with nothing to be taken for granted. The following song is a favorite of Shirleys. It says it all so beautifully. “Don’t let me miss the Glory”, by Gordon Mote.


A Truth Learned from Dandy

Dandy is my pal. We have been pals for over nine years. He is a good dog. He is the best personal trainer one could ever want. He encourages me to stay on task everyday with our daily romps outside. He is always wanting to go on walks, regardless of the weather. He knows the time of day. How he can tell time of day without reading a clock is a mystery. I suppose, like the horses, he can tell by the sun. So what about all those cloudy days? He is still on time.

He is a fine sized dog too. Standing about knee height, my fingers can reach his happy head for a friendly scratch whenever he likes. He weighs about 35-40 pounds. He is part Border Collie. Thank goodness he is only part. This breed likes to run and run a lot! He is liver colored with four white paws, a white blaze and collar, and a little white “shepherd’s lantern” on the tip of his tail. He was adopted from a pound in southwest Virginia. We are often asked his breeding. Our response, “He is 100% Pure Pound!”

Folks like him. Two fellas just recently told me they wanted him. “No, you don’t,” I told them, “You don’t know what you are asking.”

Suddenly I realized I had just expounded a Biblical truth. For those very words are in Scripture. To be exact they are found in Matthew 20:22. Depending on the translation, mine says, You do not know what you are asking.

This was in response to the question the mother of James and John had asked of Jesus. That is, if her two sons could sit on two thrones next to Him. Matthew 20:22 is Jesus’ response, “You do not know what you are asking.”

The fellows that thought they wanted Dandy did not know what they were asking either. So I told them. This dog gets up every morning at 4:30 am; he is very, VERY verbal; he will tell you when he is ready to have his breakfast and supper (regardless of the time), and he goes in and out of doors a hundred times to day to keep a check up on life out here at the farm. He loves running hard daily, and he chases everything. He is in everyones face because he knows everyone thinks him adorable.

Dandy helped me realize the truth that I may not always know what I am asking for either when in prayer to God for what I think I want. He has helped me take a step back from requests I make of God that have gone unanswered over the years. Perhaps I really do not know all that I am asking for. Maybe God is not as unfair as it seems at times after all. This causes me to wonder more fully about the request I have made. Do I really know all that is involved with my request?

I do know this; in order for me to understand God and His thoughts, I must know Him. The best way to get to know Him is to read His word—The Bible. There are so many wonderful versions available the excuse of not understanding it is not plausible anymore. My favorite place to begin is in Proverbs. There are thirty-one Proverbs. It takes very little time to read one per day. It is guaranteed wisdom will be learned after spending time in these beautiful words. Who among us could not use a little more wisdom in life?

Just think of all the real truth you will learn from your pets and the great, wonderful world around you by learning Gods Word! Amazing!

Enjoy the photos of my pal, Dandy.

The very first time we met in the pound. How does one refuse that face? And YES! he is barking.

He was taken everywhere with us to socialize him. Mom sure liked him too.
He kept a close eye on Mom as though he knew she needed watching as she grew older.
He enjoys trail riding with the horses.
My pal.