Most of us have blurted out in a sarcastic way, “Just livin the dream,” and we absolutely do not mean it in a positive way. It’s usually after something negative has happened. For me, it’s because my skidsteer broke down yesterday. Here is the story:
I woke up slowly, started to stretch and my hand reached out to search for Lainey. I touched her soft fur, felt her breathing and settled in for my morning talk with God. I really need Him now, because this is the time of year I struggle with depression. I dread going out for chores. It’s below zero, lessons and training are cancelled, chores are hard and it seems like everything we do is painfully cold, and our physical endurance is sorely tested. Everything is frozen, we have to chip away at doors to open them, walk carefully because hidden ice under the snow can take us down, and our hands are painful because often times we have to remove our gloves to take care of the horses. So yeah, getting up in the morning and looking forward to the day can be hard. I would rather stay in the house and avoid it all!
So I pray, “please God, give me the strength and the joy to get through another day.” I flip the covers off, slip my slippers on and head to the kitchen for my coffee. I warm my hands around my cup, pick up my knitting, and listen to the morning podcast I enjoy. An hour later, I’m dressed and ready to head out. Joanie’s here already, she comes out a bit early to spend quiet time with her horse. I know she enjoys that so I slow down a bit as I dress for the weather.
My heart sinks as I check the weather. Another below zero day, I sigh as I walk over to my outdoor gear. My shoulders slump as I shrug on my heated vest, snow pants, heavy winter coat, scarf, two sets of gloves, hat, and heavy winter boots. It feels like I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders. Literally, the gear I just put on has to weigh at least 1,463 pounds, well, I guess maybe just 20 pounds. I tend to exaggerate a little bit…….
I open the patio door and step out, it’s so cold that even though I have on all that gear, I feel the coldness wrap around my body and try to get in. It succeeds in a few places, in the space between my neck and the scarf, the gap between my wrist and my gloves, and my right ear that is exposed where my hat was pushed up when I bent over to tie my boots. I make adjustments on my walk to the barn and I muttered to myself, “just livin’ the dream.”
I walk into the barn, start making up morning feed, and put food for the horses in each stall, Joanie comes around the corner, we say good morning to each other and proceed with morning chores. We have 18 horses to bring in for their feed, water tanks to fill, hay to take out, beet pulp to soak for night feeding and then sweep and clean to barn and office so it’s ready for the next round of chores.
Kristin shows up with our Starbucks order and we hurry to the office for a little break and warmth. Ahhh, my heart smiles as we sip our apple cider that Karen sent us. It’s nice to be appreciated like that and it lifts our spirits. We smile at each other as we sip our warm treat. We chit chat a bit. Discuss the horses and any changes. We talk about the blankets and who may need them and who doesn’t any more. We make our game plan then carry on. It’s so much easier when you have good friends to talk to and share with. I walk out of the office with a lighter step as we banter with each other and continue with chores. I actually find myself smiling under my mask.
As we near the end of feeding, Kim shows up with a smile on her face and a gift for us of knitting needles. We pile into the office again and our conversation changes to our newest passion, knitting! We talk about patterns, our current projects, and our favorite yarns. Once again, I leave the office with a lighter step and a smile on my face.
As we finish up feeding we check the hay levels in the feeders and decide to fill them all up for the weekend. That’s five, 900 pound bales we have to take out with the skidsteer. Joanie and Kristin chip away at the big barn door to open it and I finish sweeping the barn and office. Joanie goes to start the skidsteer and it doesn’t start. It doesn’t even turn over. My heart sinks and I panic a little bit. The horses have to have hay to stay warm, they can’t handle the cold without it. I don’t understand because we keep it plugged in at all times in cold weather to prevent this from happening! I open up the door to get access to the engine and can’t find the battery. Grrr, it’s so frustrating, why isn’t the battery right there so we can see it? Joanie suggests we take the side panels off and look there. The skidsteer is parked so close to the bales that I can’t get to the right side, but I can the left. I peel my outer gloves off for better dexterity, and the cold quickly attacks my hands. I get the left panel off, and of course no battery. I go to the right side and squeeze my hand between the hay bale and skidsteer and pry the panel off with numb hands that feel like wooden blocks. Sure enough, the battery is on that side and I bonk my head on the skidsteer as I try to see the terminals to attach the battery charger. I back off and try to see it from the top and I must have gotten my face too close to the metal bar on the back because face mask gets stuck. I peel my face away from the cold metal as tears of frustration well up in my eyes.
Joanie and Kristin come over to help. Joanie takes the clamps from my frozen fingers, Kristin holds the flashlight and they successfully get the charger attached. We go back into the office to warm up and let the battery charge. 5 minutes later we try to start it, nope, 15 minutes later we try again, we wait a little longer and try again. It’s just not starting! We say a little prayer together and try again. Nope, not gonna happen.
We put our heads together again and decide to bring my truck in and jump it. The ladies direct me into the barn, which is such a tight fit for my mighty Tundra. We hook up the truck to the skidsteer and try to jump it. Nope, no go. I mutter to myself. “Just livin the dream.” My hands are frozen blocks again as the ladies help me navigate the Tundra out of the barn. We meet in the office again to warm up and make a game plan to get hay out. First of all I call John and ask him to get a hold of the John Deere shop and see the they can come get our machine and haul it to their shop to fix it. Then we decide to haul small squares to the horses, since there’s no way we can take out the 900 pound bales without our machine.
Joanie climbs up on the hay stack and throws down 10 bales. We load 4 on the wagon and the three of us pull the wagon out to the boys pasture, we fill one feeder, haul the wagon to the barn again load it up, and repeat the process. On our way back to the barn John calls me to let me know the shop is giving us a loaner and picking up our broken machine tonight. Yay, we will be able to take out hay tomorrow! We load up the wagon again, take hay out to the girls and head to the barn one last time.
We have a lighter step and feel pretty good about the day. We chit chat with each other as we gather our things. We decide that God was looking out for us. I had small squares, I rarely buy small squares, but this summer a woman contacted me with hay she had cut and it was a great price and I ended up buying 200 bales over two cuttings. Karen supplied us with a warm drink to start our day, and we were offered a loaner! Then, the most incredible gift I received was the friends I have in Joanie and Kristin, they stayed by my side in terribly cold weather for 5 long hours to help me insure the horses would be okay. They didn’t have to but they did. Under my breath I said, “Just Livin the dream” and I smiled. Yes, I am livin the dream with the help from God, my friends, my husband, and community. Livin the dream indeed!