Some nights, sleep just doesn't seem possible, regardless of how tired I am. My mind races in multiple directions, going over lists of things I should have done today and even longer lists of things I need to tomorrow. I usually give myself two hours to fall asleep. If I'm still awake two hours after I crawl between the sheets, I'll generally sneak out of bed and crank up my computer. I say 'sneak' because Yeoldfurt is already slumbering and there's no sense in both of us being sleep-deprived the following day.
Sometimes an hour or two of surfing or Solitaire is sufficient to make my eyelids heavy. Other times, I just stay up all night and tough it out the next day. Sometimes these bouts of insomnia are related to particular worries in my life at the time, but most times they just seem random. Tonight, it's definitely random. I'm just awake and bored with trying to go to sleep.
I used to lead a very different life. I was a frustrated suburbanite, longing for wide open spaces and what I imagined to be a slower-paced country life. Sure, I knew even then that livestock and large scale gardening were labor-intensive propositions. But still, everyone talks about the rat race of city life and I longed for the country lifestyle. I got my wish when Yeoldfurt came into my life. He came as a package deal with a couple of horses and I came as a package deal with a couple of horses of my own, a dog, a cat and two grown kids. We spent the first six months of our new life together in a tiny little town in northern New Mexico. The kids probably thanked their lucky stars they were grown and didn't join me in that particular chapter of my new life. The dog and cat didn't complain much but the four horses would have probably preferred to stay in Texas too. They couldn't figure out why, as far as their eyes could see, the only thing green seemed to be the sagebrush and the cactus ...and the alfalfa that we threw to them twice a day to make up for lack of pasture.
Life was good in New Mexico, but very different. Before I moved up there, I had a pager, a cell phone, Internet access and a landline. When I got there, I discovered that my cell phone and pager didn't get reception except in Albuquerque (150 miles away!), there was no Internet ISP's available (pre-satellite days) and there was a waiting list for a landline. Oh, my... talk about withdrawal! But we were only up there six months and Yeoldfurt got transferred back to Texas. By then I was weaned of my connectivity addiction. These days, I use a phone only as a last resort. I still love Internet and email, much more flexible with an inflexible schedule.
Our first place in Texas was a little 5-acre tract with a mobile home about halfway between Houston and Galveston. It was a bare patch of dirt with rickety fences when we bought the place. We were there six years and made some major improvements. We seeded and fertilized, fenced and cross-fenced, built a couple of run-in sheds and landscaped around the mobile home. The property was located at the end of a small but upscale neighborhood with custom homes on oversized lots. There was a little park at the other end of the subdivision from our property and we used to saddle up and ride down to the park. Nothing like the clippety-clop of horses hooves on pavement to bring out the kiddos in a neighborhood. It was good desensitization for the horses when a passle of kids came running or cycling up, waving and begging, "I want to ride!" If we headed out the other direction from our driveway, it was only about 100 yards to cross a county road and then we had 100's of acres of rice patties and hay fields to ride through and around. There were few fences and always access roads around the fields, so it was a nice place to ride.
Wanting to get away from the humidity and hurricanes of the coastal area, we moved up here three years ago. We have 11-1/2 acres now, and are up to six horses, a dog, three cats, and eight chickens. Three of the chickens have the misfortune (for them) of being roosters and will soon move to the freezer. The five hens should start laying soon and we'll be self-sufficient in the egg department. The dog earns her keep every day, letting us know when anything is amiss. The two outside cats do a pretty good job keeping the smaller varmints in check and the one inside cat ...well, she just IS. I can't say the horses earn their keep anymore either. We raised our last foal in 2008, had him sold before he was weaned. His dam is for sale and so is the three year old we bought back as a rescue late last year. The people we sold her to a year earlier grossly exaggerated (overestimated?) their abilities and experience with a young horse and darn near ruined her. But she's back sound and sane and up for sale again, but only the (truly) experienced need apply! So if we can sell those two, we'll be down to our goal of just four horses. Two that are our rides and two that have earned their golden retirement.
The chickens and the garden are new projects within the last six months and have really impacted our daily chore routine. I'm not complaining, it will all be worthwhile once we start collecting eggs and gathering from the garden, but life sure is busy these days. When I was still trying to sleep earlier, I was thinking back to when I longed for the 'slower-paced' country life. I almost laughed out loud at the thought. Now that I'm living my dream, my day starts before the sun is up and finishes well after the sun goes down. But I wouldn't trade this life for anything.