2017… And so it begins.

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Reminiscing about greener days on the farm

I almost just shot a coyote!

My god… how life has changed. But if a creepers gonna creep on my flock, I’m going to have to take them out. Just call me Laura Ingalls effing Wilder. No, don’t do that. I don’t think she’d approve. Plus, I don’t know if she’d actually shoot a coyote, but it’s 2017 baby, and this farm girl’s got a gun!

Hey all! It’s me, y’know that sweet sweet blogger you’ve missed hearing from? I can officially say that I completely failed all of you in the year of 2016. Like, seriously. I had three blog posts. Three. Ugh. The worst. But I’m back! And better than ever! Well, I don’t know about the better part, but definitely back. More prepared maybe. After having a kid, I seem to have snacks on me at all times so that is an improvement.

In the past, I’ve started the year out with a recap of our past years goals, how far we’ve come and what life is looking like for the New Year. I did a great recap of 2016 already, and for the most part it covered our goals and accomplishments. You can catch up here if you missed it. You will see in our current list of goals and aspirations, we seem to have lost our minds and decided that we can, and should do all of the things.

Who needs sleep anyway.

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“We do Mom. We need sleep. The baby is mobile and he is everywhere!”

I’m headed back to work a real job in March so things should get so busy that we’ll be taken down a few notches, but for now, here’s our list:

  • Install deck railing and child gate – we attempted to get this done before winter hit in 2016, but it just didn’t happen. But we need to get on it because we have the busiest little boy on our hands and he is just raring to get out there.  So definitely #1 on the list.
  • Landscape and clean up the farm for the family reunion – Every three years, my husband’s family has a family reunion, which is awesome! We were, um, voluntold a few years back that our farm was picked to host the family reunion and we were very excited… when it seemed so far away. Now, it’s here! In July.  And we have some things to do. The theme is Pioneer Days though and I am already planning a pack horse race so… it will be a good time regardless if our farm is presentable!

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    Luckily, I know a decent landscaper ❤

  • Honeybees – this is happening this year. Even if we just have to get some bees and learn the hard way. It’s happening.
  • Horses – Currently we have 20 horses on the property: 12 mares, 4 geldings, 3 colts and 1 stud (Thor is back!!!) We’ve been keeping everyone fed and the colts are finally weaned. They are hanging out with our stud horse Thor and learning that humans aren’t so scary… which means we’re actually managing our wild herd! My father-in-law is brining hay across the river to the remaining wild ones and we plan on bringing more across this spring. We still don’t have an exact count of how many total there are, so we’ll just have to keep catching them.
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    So. Fuzzy.

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    This little one is very friendly and just wants to be loved by me

  • Garden – Oh, the project that just keeps on giving…
    • Organic Certification: Our commitment to producing crops organically is going to be official! Clay and I decided to go pesticide free on our commercially farmed 88 acres of farmland when we moved onto the property, so the first summer would have been 2014. We need a minimum of three consecutive years of no pesticide use to qualify and plan on having certification by 2018. We are initially going to certify our crops and have plans to move into certifying our poultry, eggs, honey and any other products we may venture into on the farm. So. Exciting. We will continue to practice organic methods of fertilizing (compost, worm tea, cover crops) and pest control, as well as continue to strive for a permaculture balance on the property as a whole. Organic certification will mean that we are going against the grain of the farmer’s and fields around us to provide a healthy ecosystem for our family, our critters and the wildlife that share this land. It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time and I’m beyond thrilled to be learning and living the process.

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      The grass and weeds had a very healthy year in 2016. I promise you there is food in there somewhere!

    • CSA Farm Boxes: A long-term goal of the farm is to become a community supported agriculture (CSA) operation. Basically this means that people in our community will invest in shares of our farm and crops at the beginning of the season to help us buy the supplies we need and then, in return, will receive a share of our harvest throughout the harvest season. Eating local at it’s finest! So this year I want to commit to selling 5 boxes per week for 10-12 weeks… gotta start somewhere!
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      2016 dinner harvest

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      I am planning on getting some of my preserves tested this year so I can offer them through my farm boxes at the end of the season

    • Set-up small greenhouse, prep, dress and mulch 100′ beds, install drip lines, manage pathways, work on grass issue, plant 5 fruit trees (pear, plum, apricot, honey crisp apple x2), plot 2 fruit tree guilds in the food forest, fix raspberry bed and prep remaining 100′ beds on west side of acre garden. All while keeping a small child from burning and overheating in the open field…there’s going to be a lot of dirt eating this summer. Yup.
  • Chickens – my small little flock needs some filling out and my egg basket needs more colour (did you know that egg colour is addicting?). As of now I have 1 rooster and 9 laying hens, a mixture of green and pink eggs mostly with one blue one thrown in for good measure. I received an incubator for Christmas this year (thanks Mom and Dad!) and have my first set of eggs incubating as we speak! If all goes well and I don’t absolutely kill all of them, then I will be hatching many many more. Eggs on order include: Black Copper Marans (dark brown egg), Ameraucana’s (blue egg), Silkies (small white egg), Blue Isbars (green egg), Cream Legbar (blue egg), Icelandic (tinted white egg), Lavender Orpington (light brown egg), Wheaten Marans (dark brown egg), Olive Eggers (olive green egg) and silver and blue laced wyandotte (light brown egg). I think I can officially claim that I’m a chicken farmer…. or a crazy chicken lady? Same difference in my book 🙂 We are also embarking on the world of turkey ownership this year… it could go either way. They could be super awesome, sweet and fun to have on the farm or I could have to face one down and hit it with a shovel like that one time I was 12 at my friends house. Could go either way…

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    Current egg basket. Just set 24 of my gals eggs in the incubator and expect a hatch on February 28

  • Cabin – there is much to do in our 16×20 cabin on the property. After meeting with the bank regarding the build of our dream forever house it’s been determined that we must live in the cabin for up to 12 months during the actual building process. That means me, my husband, our toddler and 2 large dogs will be moving in and living that REAL homesteader life. So yes, much to be done in the cabin. But stoked to be planning our dream forever house!

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    Work in progress…

I suppose that sums it all up. Seems doable, and if not, definitely a lesson in patience. I must say, I can’t remember a time when I have ever felt more fulfilled with my daily life or with where I am. It truly feels as if we are in the exact right place at the exact right time. And with the state of the world today, it feels good to be connected to our land, our family, our community and our happiness. 2017 will be a year to learn, grow, be kind and over all else – love.

What’s on your plate for 2017?

~Katy

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Winter and Wild Horses

IMG_7339Autumn is in full swing and slowly fading to winter. We have lucked out in the weather department as October has been relatively warm and nice, though we’re losing daylight which makes the work/farm/life balance more difficult. It’s hard to get home at 5:30pm and get things accomplished before the sunset at 6:00pm. But thus is life in the North and as always, we’ll adapt… time to find the headlamps!

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving and we had much to be thankful for this year. Plus, it’s only the first of the double Thanksgivings we get around here, so cheers to that! Clay, his dad Timber, brother Taylor and friend Fernando spent all day Sunday working on our horse corrals. Looks like we may get wild horses on the property this winter if all goes to plan.  And then we’ll be completely prepared to brand, cut and buck them in the Springtime… Hopefully right around March 12th since, y’know, we won’t have anything else to do. Except for that whole birthing-and-raising-a-baby thing. Minor details.

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Timber wants one more round of rails on the top – these horses don’t know what fences are and the last thing I want to do is chase them around the farm if they escape!

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Timber and Taylor working hard. Wyatt trying to act big and tough to his friend Cubby… although off the camera, every time she barks at him he falls over backwards. Real tough guy on our hands

As the boys worked hard on the fences, I took the critters on a nice long hike to one of my favorite parts of the property. It was a wonderful day.

The Mighty Peace River

One of my favorite spots and view on the property. The boys seem to like it too

Thanksgiving Monday, Clay and Timber headed across the river to check on the wild bunch.  If you’re new to the blog and are wondering why we have these wild horses or where they came from, check out one of my very first posts here.They found about 20 horses and everybody looked pretty fat and happy heading into the winter. Makes me excited to see them on the property soon.

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I’m in love with this little guy ❤

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This one needs an epic name… Harry Trotter anyone? (thanks Laura;)

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This group of horses is one of my favorites. I love the roans and the greys

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A different group of paints

Next steps will be to finish the fencing and install gates on the corrals. Then we’ll set trip wires on the “horse traps” across the river (which are basically just smaller corral enclosures baited with salt blocks and hay). Next we’ll accomplish the very simple process of loading and transporting them all in horse trailers to our house. Easy peasy. Now I feel queasy. I’m sure it’s just the pregnancy.

There’s always something happening on the farm and I can’t wait to see what new adventures bring our way. A very gracious thank you to my husband who took the photos for the corrals and the wild horses – 3 hours both ways in a truck did not seem compatible with my bladder this time around… maybe next time.

~Katy

The Wild Ones – Update August 6, 2014

This weekend brought the mess and chaos that canning brings to my house annually. It was hot, it was sticky and most importantly, it was magic.

More on that whole scene later,  the real reason to bring it up is because while I was so busy storing away goods for the winter my father-in-law got a chance to head across the river and check on the wild ones (jealous).

He found 29 horses in all, and everyone looks happy, fat and healthy. The teeny tiny babies I fell in love with this spring are growing into fine horses and it’s so nice to see.

Here are a few select photos from Timber’s trip (thank you for taking them in my absence). Clay and I will attempt to canoe across the river to check them out ourselves this fall, somewhere between kayak trips and hunting trips and all the work in between.

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Loving them oats

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Two little foals growing up fast

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Beautiful colorings

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Enjoying a gorgeous day

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Someone has some very similar markings to Mom

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Looking pretty healthy for wild horses

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Sweet

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I want to call this one Bambi because I think the mark on it’s side looks like a deer…

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The Bachelor Bunch, aka Clay’s idea of our future pack string

Hope you enjoy the updated photos as much as we did. I am itching to get my Nikon D5100 back into commission and over the river and through the woods.

~Katy

Springtime on the farm

We’ve been busy around here at Canadian Acres. Spring seems to finally have sprung, and with it brings terrible farm road conditions. Will I ever be able to wear shoes other than muck boots again? Oh well, no time to worry about that now, there is so much to do!

This weekend we burned the land around both our house and the guest cabin. Now that’s what I call a hot date on a Friday night. Burning rejuvenates the land, clearing old growth to generate new growth. It also adds nitrogen to the soil and it’s good practice to keep wildfires at bay. The weather has warmed and I finally enjoyed my cold beer without freezing my hand. It’s the little things in life, y’know. This is the beginning of our lofty landscaping goals and we had a wonderful evening enjoying our backyard.

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Burning the hills

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Wyatt enjoying some dried grass and a warm bum

The farm has plenty of wildlife visitors as the fields clear of snow and uncover wheatie goodness from last falls harvest. What joy to wake up to such guests daily. The whitetail deer have become regulars (I just love those tails), and flocks of Canadian geese bed down at night and leave for the river early, making sure to wake us with their calling. Geese! It must be spring! Our dog Wyatt is unimpressed by all these new “intruders” and finds pleasure in his guard duties. Oh how thankful I am that he is slow. One of our trail cams captured our first predator, a wily coyote that has been eluding Wyatt for sometime now. My hunter husband is itching to spot him with his gun handy. I am adamant that we keep our upper field as a sort of refuge which means no killing things on purpose, so we’ll see how that goes.

I am most offended by the temperature on March 27th...

I am most offended by the temperature on March 27th…

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Whitetail tail

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One of my chickadee friends that frequents our feeders

The wolf pack came through again at the end of March and judging by the size of their tracks… my, what big wolves we have. I caught a photo comparison of our dog Maynard’s paw print next to a wolf track and it’s crazy! Maynard is not a small dog, a greyhound pit bull mix weighing in at 75-80 lbs, so that’s a big freaking wolf. Both dogs were on high alert for a few days and peed on, well, everything.  We’re hoping to catch the pack on one of our trail cams, so fingers crossed. Clay got his spring bear tag and the season opened on April 1st, so we are hoping to find signs of waking bears soon.

Maynard track vs wolf track... it's like he has creepy little bird feet

Maynard track vs wolf track… it’s like he has creepy little bird feet

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Scouting for bears

Today was the last feeding of the wild bunch for a bit since the road is thawing and does not make for easy transport of large amounts of hay. Good news is that we have another baby! An adorable pinto baby that I love and want to keep forever. It’s a good thing I always listen to my husband and don’t get too attached. Our corral plans are coming along nicely and I just found out I get to learn a new skill – peeling logs for our corral rails… sounds fun, right? Well, except that there are 500 to do. At least once it’s done, it’s done. Next, we’ll be clearing the 40 acres we’ve designated for the horses of trees and finishing the fencing. Which will coincide with the building of the chicken coop and putting up the garden fence and planting said garden and teaching the dogs to love chickens and wearing our muck boots and occasionally sleeping and… Like I said, we have much to do.

Newest little

Newest little

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Hungry bunch

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So sweet

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This little has grown!

Speaking of chicken coops, I finally ordered my chickens! Come end of May, we’re adding 25 little chicks to the family. I can’t wait to figure out how to keep Maynard from eating them. Ah, adventures in farming… where the mud runneth over and the work never ends. Happy Spring!

~Katy

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The frozen Peace

Feeding the Wild Bunch

Yesterday, Clay and I headed out into the clear cold day to feed our wild horses. My father-in-law feeds them every Sunday throughout the winter to help supplement their natural grazing. This would be Clay and I’s first time over there without him, and we were pretty excited about it.  We were loaded high with 8 bales of hay, 2 bags of oats and a 1 salt block. Now I was eager to go initially as a) I love the horses and b) it was supposed to be at least 20 degrees (according to the lying cheating weather app on my phone) but as we closed in on our destination after 3 hours in the truck, the temp hadn’t gotten above 3 degrees. Seriously! It’s almost freaking April! I mean, come on Mother Nature, can’t we be reasonable. I always get testy with her this time of year. Ah, the joys of being a northern girl. At least I dressed for the occasion in a very fashionable three layer ensemble.

We were a little worried we wouldn’t see any horses as per their typical range activity, but sure enough, early on the road we spotted a group of three – a stud, a mare and a new baby! Oh my goodness, my favorite thing. Days old and as tiny as can be. We drove to a pullout and opened some oats. It amazes me how quickly they correlate us with glorious tasty oats. The stud was a gorgeous boy and I think Clay may have his eye on him for a possible ridding horse. He keeps warning me to “not get too attached” to the littles as it is early in the season and there were plenty of wolf tracks to be found. But alas, it’s just a reality of having a wild herd and the circle of life (enter Elton John music here), and I feel fine with getting attached and taking lots of photos as I feel they have the right to be oohed and ahhed over, to be documented in our herd history even if it’s for a short time.

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Handsome stud

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New little

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Clay the oats man

After plenty of oats and a goodbye, we headed down the road to our actual hay drop-off spots (clearly marked on the map for us by Father-in-law). The first few stops we were alone, save a woodpecker and some squirrels. But this is beautiful country, albeit cold, and there is a soul soothing sense in the quiet wilderness of it all. This was my first time actually moving hay and my god, why do they make them so heavy? Seriously, 1400 lbs?? I mean, wow, that’s a lot of awkward pushing and rolling. I was happy to help though and Clay is so fun to watch in his role. He just loves it.

As we approached our final set of corrals, we were content in finding at least three of the herd and anxious to see more. Much to our delight, 17 more were waiting for us and their goodies to be delivered like a line at a buffet. Even more delightful was that we had found the second herd group we hadn’t seen the last time! They are beautiful!

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The herd happy for some hay

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Clay enjoying the view

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Curious

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A favorite mare in the middle

Clay got out and started pouring oats as I walked around and  climbed on top of bales to start taking photos, attempting to document as many as I could (WAY easier said than done since they kept following me around thinking I was the lady with the oats). Adorable little buggers. We counted 16 adults and one teeny tiny brand new baby. Again, my favorite. We identified the stud as a beautiful bay instead of the pale face palomino we first thought. He was in fine form and being quite the show-off. Our three preferred mares all seem pregnant so we are very excited to see the new babies to come.

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Another favorite mare

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Love this mare! I call her Katniss because I think her mark looks like a mocking jay

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Favorite mare

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Baby!

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love love love

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Feeding time for littles too

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Those eyes

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Feisty bay stud

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These two are some of my favs based on their wild hair and sweet, curious dispositions

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Okay, okay… last baby pic

We dumped the bales and just took a moment to watch and interact with them all. I love how they are so expressive and each have such differing personalities. I’m already having personal preference for some. The young ones are very curious and I’m always drawn to the ones with kind, gently eyes. Clay was attempting to feed them hay out of his hand, but maybe it’s too early for that. He didn’t have any takers. But they really don’t seem to mind having us there, as long as we have oats.

As we headed back for home, we ran into the first three and stopped to give them some leftover hay from the trailer which they seemed happy for. With that, we settled in for the long drive home. Although it was a cold day, it was a gorgeous one and held with it so many miracles and so much hope, I think I can wear more layers for a bit longer. Plus, we saw swans on our way back, so maybe spring isn’t too far away after all.

~Katy

 

 

Our Wild Horses

Husband and I took a trip with his father to feed our wild horse herd. After a 3 hour drive to our grazing lease, we were hoping to easily locate the groups. It was a cold day of -20F (ugh), but beautiful and sunny. The hay was loaded high on the trailer and the bag of oats were waiting as a bribe. Since the horses live without human contact for most of their lives, it’s not always guaranteed we’ll find them, but this day we were lucky. As we drove onto the lease, we found a large group of about 20 horses sunning themselves in a large field. A beautiful sight of fat and sassy well-wintered horses. This group was an especially welcome sight as  father in law hadn’t located them in awhile. They were all eager at the sight of the truck and even more excited about the oats. Maybe not so wild after all? It’s amazing to me that this is my life and I sometimes just stand there open mouthed in awe. Which is decidedly awkward for all involved, but hey, I’m getting better okay 🙂 Horses are such gorgeous animals and to see them in a large herd in the wild is kind of a cool thing. Definitely not something I thought I’d get to see let alone deal with on a daily basis. But life is funny like that, and I do like to laugh.

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So where did these wonderful creatures come from and how did we end up with them? Well I lucked out in the marriage department as they are a result of my father in law’s old rodeo stock and outfitting pack horse stock. Our family used to provide rodeo’s with bucking horses and after they got out of that business, the remaining horses were released onto a grazing lease along with some mountain horse stock from the family outfitting business about 10-15 years ago. Now we have a hearty herd of wild horses with one remaining Tuchodi mare who they estimate to be about 30 years old (the white horse in the photos). She is the only one branded and the only one whose been ridden. Never thought I’d be in the business of breaking horses… I think maybe I’ll be the supervisor and ensure there is plenty of lemonade.
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 There seem to be 2 main stud groups across the river grazing, a pale face pinto stud and a blue roan stud. The blue roan stud group is who we found and most of the mares look pregnant which means babies to look forward to this spring. We estimate the total count between 45-50 horses, so we will have our hands full this summer when we bring them over the river to our property and start managing them.  Managing them will include branding, gelding, breaking and introducing a new stud into the mare group which will be released back onto the grazing lease next fall. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. This is all quite new to me and I had to ask husband to check the above terms twice to make sure I sound like I know what I’m talking about. I think I nailed it. I look forward to learning and laughing and BABY HORSES!!  There will be plenty to do, but hopefully we have the resources and large men to help do it. I guess that’s the beauty of marrying a cowboy!
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Springtime will bring the building of corrals, the clearing of pasture and reinforcing fences. Then we have to trap them, get them in a trailer and teach them some manners. All sounds easier said than done in my book, but hey, that’s what this adventure is for. Plus, I’ve waited 32 years for a horse of my very own… so why not start with 50… I was never one to half ass anything.
~Katy
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