I guess most of you reading this won’t see the benefit of driving to a barn/farm every morning at sunrise to do…well, chores. I mean, as a culture we’ve progressed beyond agricultural (physical chores) to industrial (9 to 5 time clocks) to technological (working from home, cell phone computers, passwords, digital storage, strange new tech words like Bluetooth, Siri…), so why would going back to laborious early morning physical work have any appeal now that it’s no longer required?
I’ll try to explain because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for well over 20 years.
First, Nature. This barn/farm is on a few hundred acres and is bordered by thousands of acres of open land. There is simply no better way to start our day than to be out in and appreciating nature. It puts everything in perspective. Our tiny little day-to-day first world complications and struggles reprioritize themselves almost effortlessly. Fact is, it’s a lot broader than our little place in it, so it’s a beneficial reminder and humbling comfort for egos of any size.
Second, the stars of this show: Horses. This is a barn/farm for boarding about 100 horses in various pastures. These handsome/beautiful animals have been the most important to human progress for centuries. Until the relatively recent advent of the internal combustion engine, they were the primary human transportation for travel from one place to another, for geographical exploration of continents and subsequent cartography. They plowed our fields, which produced foods for families; pulled the carts, which brought the foods from farms to markets to communities; and carried all our building supplies in far more efficient capacity than any manpower could have provided and therefore allowed us to develop civilizations. And when it comes to the unfortunate but essential task of defending our civilizations, they were sacrificed by the millions well into the 20th century.
(An additional benefit is watching my dog Love run off leash for miles in complete freedom and unfiltered expression of joy! So good for her to chase deer, rabbits and other uncatchable wildlife. If I ever doubt her anticipation of this wonderful way to start the day, all I have to do is ask her if she’s ready to go to the barn.)
My “chores” are minimal: while there are many things to monitor and tend to when necessary regarding Coal, the actual daily duties are usually not difficult. He’s in about a 10-acre pasture with nine other horses, is usually waiting for me by the gate or is ready to come in as soon as he sees we’re there. I prepare his breakfast of feed and hay, put him in a feeding paddock about 15 square feet and walk with my dog in woods and fields for 45 minutes to an hour where we rarely see anyone else. When there are no complications, that’s about it for “chores.” Fact though: I’d never go walk for an hour with temps in the teens, in sleet, pouring rain or hurricanes, except breakfast is still needed so off we go without questioning the responsibility. That time of the morning there are only six or seven other folks there but it’s still a pleasant social time with those who share similar interests.
In today’s world, these wonderful animals are living in the least burdensome conditions they’ve ever known. Much like humans in developed nations, they have plenty of available food and water, are groomed, pampered, provided with health care and are living a life of comparative luxury. Considering all they’ve done and sacrificed for us, the connection in humbly caring for and spending time with these wonderful, nonjudgmental, physically powerful animals who are eerily aware of our moods, is a privilege and a way to say Thank You.
And also, there’s this: on a dry erase board on my refrigerator years ago, I wrote “There are few things in life more relaxing than riding my horse in the woods.”
Still there. Still true. So actually I’m not going to do chores, I guess; I’m just being self-indulgent. Guilt free.