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At The Off Grid Prefab Home, Sunset.

Temperatures and temperament at the off grid modern prefab home have been tumultuous. But the energy efficiency of the SIP house, with its passive solar design embracing winter's rays, adding to our thermal mass, helps to keep us warm.  During winter the south glass embraces the winter sun's rays, casting long light indoors:

Our poor sweet horse Riata has lymphoma, and it is killing her quickly.
We are in shock, and of course, heartbroken. The timing is horrendous- I rehomed Jax, our Percheron Arabian who is too strong and stud-y for a rider like me, Monday.

The good news is that Jax was matched with an AWESOME horsewoman- she has a penchant for "cases", and turns difficult horses into amazing, high level equines.

Jax is, well, Percheron Arabian. If you know about horses, you know it's a crazy combo (like a bully mastiff-pit bull mix when they have a bad temperament vs. team-oriented) and to add to that he is a very stud-y gelding... I just can't fight him every. second. of. the. day.

He is so handsome... Goodness gracious he is The Unicorn In The Mist.
All the higher level riders breathe when they see him canter, "He... is... gorgeous!"

I could be selfish and keep him and say, "Hey, look at my gorgeous horse I can't ride, restless in the pasture."
 I could match Jax with an aggressive personality to match his own, who will be kind but firm, and grow him into the horse he deserves to be so that he won't be passed around, to a sad slaughterhouse end.

So Jax leaves today.  I am happy for him, but numb.
Knowing he was leaving weeks ago, I just kept thinking, "And once Jax is gone we can focus on riding riding riding Riata! Think of the FUN WE WILL HAVE IN THE PASTURE without Jax to bother and butt in on us!" I had been thinking all this time, once I knew Jax was placed to leave at the end of November, that once he left it would be Our Time.

And now she's dying, and with her, our dreams.

Meeting Carey a few weeks ago, her horsemanship, experience, and great personality with the horses- strong, but always loving to them - assured me this was the perfect place for Jax. This was reconfirmed as soon as he was un-trailered onto her farm. 

She let him settle in...

He looked around at all the other horses to play with, the expansive pasture, his ears perked about, you could see him thinking, "Uhhhhhmmmmmm where is this... but, uh, COOL!"

Then she worked him, to see what he knew, and, testing her, he threw Every. Trick. And. Tantrum. In. The. Book at her.


She yawned, climbed up, and rode him.

Jax is in a better place, and I am happy for him.
Riata is going to a better place, soon, but that hurts, terribly. I still can't believe she's terminal.

This year we are just so thankful. Even through these hard times, we see the positive. I am grateful for every day Riata is in our lives, and grateful for what Jax taught us, and that he is doing so well in his new home. We are grateful for the friendships that have deepened into family here. Through these challenges our friends have enveloped us with love.  We are deeply grateful.

On Thanksgiving Day we returned to my parent's home, Bienvenue, for a pleasant time with cousins.

Somehow instruments were pulled out, and everyone played, and sang, even if they didn't know how to sing or play.


Returning to the off grid prefab house, we brought along Nephew 3, for another weekend of work, play, and adventure.  Having a hungry Nephew in the house meant we had better get cookin'!

Two Day Chicken
Roast Chicken:
Slice up lots of onions, winter squash.  Add in some carrots. Top with a whole chicken, stuffed with fresh rosemary. Sprinkle the chicken with lime juice, salt, pepper. Roast it all up and serve with a good salad and fresh bread.

Indian Indian Soup:
The next day, take all the root veggies/ onions / jelled pan juice and mash, well. Pull apart the chicken into small bits. If you need more onion, then mince an onion and begin sauteing in coconut oil. Make sure you have a nice amount of mashed winter squash/onion/carrot mix, and stir that in once the onion is soft. Now add in water, to make a nice, rich broth. Stir in a can of coconut milk, the shredded chicken, salt, pepper and liberal amounts of curry. Get it? Indian as in American Indians who relied on squash, and Indians overseas with their curry!

That carcass with rosemary and savory goo stickin' to it? Yeah, simmer that. Cool, strain, freeze the broth. Anything left over you can throw to the foxes.

We continued Thanksgiving with friends on Friday. Children playing indoors and out, adults laughing at the table, delicious food, a wonderful warm evening... and then we bundled ourselves back to the prefab house, which, even with the cookstove now out, was still so warm and welcoming.

On Saturday, after barn chores, I told the kids that when they finished their work we could spend the afternoon with Riata and the B's herd, just loving on her in the cold winter sunshine.  We are going away a few days and I wanted to make sure they got a lot of time in with her...

But first, cookstove whirring, I cooked them a large lunch, while they...
swept the house
stacked wood
and cleaned their rooms...
And then, Pipsqueak 2 skipping, Nephew 3 and Pipsqueak 1 jostling each other to be first, we headed into the pasture.

I knew immediately.
They say they tell you when it's time to go, and Riata did.
Shaking, all of this a blur, I somehow dialed calls out to the vet, to friends, while telling her over and over how much we loved her. I told the children to step back so she wouldn't crush them if she fell...
I somehow got all the other horses up and into stalls.

In about three seconds several families were there, surrounding her, and we, with love.
And then we let her go.
Riata's sunset.
R.I.P. Our beloved sweet, sweet, beautiful horse.

We are devastated.
This picture, I took, after everyone left...
Here comes cranky Pepper,
I was unaware she was approaching when I took this...

I took a picture of the sunset, Riata's sunset.
And then... Pepper hugged me.
How can we be so empty, and so full of love, at the same time?
Thank you Pepper, and everyone...we miss Riata terribly.

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