Rewilding the Herd – As We Live and Breathe

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In my last post in this series, I talked about the purgatorial state that follows big changes – that part nobody warns you about, when you’ve done everything in your power to make your dreams come true and they obligingly do, at which point you find yourself suddenly entirely blank, lost, blind, deaf, tired, ineffectual and generally confused. Anybody else? No? Just me?

One of our dear readers, Patricia Rothchild (hi Pat!), left me this incredible, affirming, and comforting comment:

What a lovely piece. It reflects lives lived well in concert with one another and the elements that support them. Your next steps will become apparent. “I don’t know” is a challenging, rich and exciting place to hang out. It keeps us humble and attuned to life’s directions.

And just like that, the I-Don’t-Knowness took on a shape, a purpose. I let it be, and I did my best to settle into the unknown, to let go of my conditioned need to define and direct in a time of stillness.

I had to leave again, and spent three weeks away from the farm, part of that spent studying Ki Aikido in England, part of that spent wrapping up more loose ends in my old hometown. It was all hard work, but it was compelling and invigorating and reminded me about where I come from, what I’ve left, and what I believe in. I drove back the 12 hours from the city solo, taking the time to let the road sweep away what wasn’t needed anymore.

So back on the farm, late summer is in full swing. My mother has tended the garden, goats, chickens, puppy and horses lovingly and everything and everybody is in great shape. The bugs have effed off, much to my delight, and the horses have a newfound sense of peace about them.

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When I left, my herd was still a little shy. They were, I think, first amazed and then intimidated by the sheer scope of the place (500 acres!). They spent their time as near to the barn as possible, mowing the field down to nothing around the barnyard, and more often than not I’d see them in their shelter, avoiding the bugs and the overwhelm. When they escaped, it was into the back yard! Hundreds of acres and they’re wandering around the driveway…

But now, as they’ve eaten the best grasses and plant life is slowing down, they’re moving everywhere as they forage. They seem to have mapped the whole front 15 acres extensively, and they stride out with purpose to munch on whatever they’ve found in this corner or that. Their range is expanding, and I’m watching them come in from further and further away as they seek out their delicacies near and far. They are eating a wider array of plants, too, and I love that they are able to select what they want rather than gorge on the same kind of grass.

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All sorts of stuff in every mouthful…

Each of them looks just perfect to me without supplementation of any kind (besides carrots) – nobody’s overweight, even on 30 acres of pasture, yearling Firefly is full-bodied and well proportioned (and still nursing, by the way!), and Amalia, who bleaches from chocolate brown to almost buckskin every summer, has instead kept her luscious rich brown, so I assume this means she is finally getting the minerals she needs, naturally. Here they are, Spero, Amalia and Firefly.

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They walk and run more every day than I could ever exercise them, have taken on a guardian role by chasing off bears and coyotes, and tell us when they want their water changed by bugging my mother telepathically – true story!

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Excuse the burrs in their manes! While I’m excited to harvest wild burdock root this fall, I’m not as impressed with the perpetually 80s hairdos…

The other day, I set out to the high point of our property where we found a grove full of the most stunning old cottonwoods, where I wanted to sit and connect to the land in a way I hadn’t made time for yet. I took my prayers and offerings, and the puppy, and a bear bell. As I walked through the pasture, Firefly ran to catch up, and then Spero and Amalia joined us. The horses followed us up the road through the dense forest, completely relaxed and excited to explore. Up to this point, they had followed only until the edge of the fields before turning and running back to the barn. This time, they followed me right to the heart of our new home, sampling plants along the way, playing chase with the puppy (not fun for puppy!) and stopping for visits and view appreciation moments.

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They escorted me to the game trail that led to the grove, and then off they went back to the barn. I found my trees, I stayed a long while in that dark and quite place, speaking out loud my hopes and dreams and needs and desires and promises and responsibilities as a caretaker of this glorious, soulful place.

When I came home, they greeted me in the front field as though I’d been gone for ages. We celebrated our reunion with belly rubs and face-mashing, and I finally felt at peace, too.

So the I-Don’t-Knowness continues, but now it feels like an ally, like a book waiting to be read, like a thousand possibilities and their endless outcomes. Reminding me, yet again, to trust the horses and the land and all the goodness I’ve found thus far in this wild, wild life.

A barefoot hoof trimmer, a singer/songwriter, an amateur farmer - these are some of the hats Kesia wears when she's not full to bursting with wondrous equine co-creation.
Rewilding the Herd – As We Live and Breathe

14 thoughts on “Rewilding the Herd – As We Live and Breathe

  • September 5, 2016 at 4:11 am
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    All so lovely, Kesia! Thank you for validating my own disorientations and acknowledgement that sometimes doing nothing and waiting are the best answers, the most honest response along a journey.

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    • September 6, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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      I don’t think it ever feels totally settling, or maybe I need more practice to really relax into it all the way. But staying alert while enjoying the view…that we can keep reminding ourselves to do! Best of luck on your own journeys, Diedre, can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

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  • September 5, 2016 at 7:16 am
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    Hi Kesia,

    Wow, 500 acres, what a leap! I don’t know much of your life prior to the last couple of blogs; however your writing has me feeling very connected to your journey. It seems there’s a purgatorial state that goes with making a decision prior to finding a place to land as well. This is the case for me anyway. I’ve been rearranging my life for 8 years now and all the moves have been taking me in the direction to living on land with my horses. I’ve been exploring properties for the last 6 months and have not yet landed. The feelings churning inside are making me feel like it’s time to narrow down and make a move because it is mostly fear holding me back. Reading your beautiful story today is giving me inspiration.

    Many thanks,

    Joan

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    • September 6, 2016 at 4:02 pm
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      Joan,

      Thank you for your lovely words! I can definitely relate right back to you; I spent about half my life looking for ways to make this happen and it’s still so stunning that it is actually happening. The fear is real, and not unfounded, and absolutely has to be acknowledged…but just go for it, my dear! As Mary Oliver writes, “Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” We’ve got your back 😉

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  • September 5, 2016 at 8:17 am
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    Beautiful article Kesia. I can feel your soulful experience. Sending love and peace to you and the herd.

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  • September 6, 2016 at 1:41 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your peacefulness with us. I love my Burdock too and keep coconut oil in the barn to remove any burrs the horses collect. It is also excellent for conditioning their manes, tails & forelocks. I have a Spirit tree that helps me ground and redirect when needed 🙂 Love & peace always, Paulette

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    • September 6, 2016 at 8:58 pm
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      I love coconut oil! On my skin and hair, in my belly, and definitely the go-to for burr duty! Thanks for sharing, Paulette!

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  • October 24, 2016 at 8:01 pm
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    Resonated, I’m in that place of not knowing and it’s rather magical and liberating now that I’ve accepted it! Carry on!

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    • December 28, 2016 at 8:27 pm
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      I missed this by a couple months, Heather, I’m sorry!

      Magical and liberating…yes! And so uncomfortable and prickly before accepting it…

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  • December 28, 2016 at 12:08 am
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    Howdy, I am really enjoying your adventures… The part where you found your place and you spoke out you hopes, dreams, desires, etc… is something I (we) all need to do… With so much on my plate ( which is something I need to clean off) I lost that time I use to make to get away and clean the heart and mind and reconnect, even if it was in the middle of the night, early morning or afternoon. Just sitting out here with these horses, breathing in and out, helps out big time. They at times come up and assure me all will be better and move for I want to eat where you are sitting now… Thanks

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    • December 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm
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      We can get so caught up in just getting by, just getting through the days in one piece. It’s these times when we need that visioning and dreaming the most, ironically. But getting by is in itself a very worthy and necessary thing. It’s taken me ages to let down and connect and listen to the land…I’m still not there yet. Human busy-brain and the deep grooves of neurological pathways created by our beliefs and culture are hard to shrug off.

      Haha I love that – getting all zen and then they want to eat right where you are…because clearly that’s where the best grass is…

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  • December 30, 2016 at 11:40 am
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    Wowzers, Kesia this is beautiful! I just now stumbled onto it. What I see in your story is the Hero’s Journey. This is the trip that uses stress to propel us into our best versions. Every Hero’s Journey provides a blueprint for how to engage energetics that carry the power to destroy us, so that it transforms us instead. You are creating a map for stressed souls to follow into their own Promised Land.

    There’s no ,ore needed service now. Thank you.

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    • December 30, 2016 at 8:05 pm
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      Well, Pat, I don’t know what to say! This is beautiful. And the idea that feeling my way through life and talking about it honestly might help call to others on their own paths…that’s gold to me. Thank YOU!

      Reply

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