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Calm before the storm

Wednesday (October 11) The morning was once again gorgeous, with the temperatures expected to reach a high of 20C (70F). Somehow, though the sunshine was bright and the skies mostly clear, the day had a touch of gloom to it, and I was surprised/not surprised to find myself choking up at the thought of leaving.

I went in and said goodbye to Linda before she left for work (yes that’s right, in addition to the crazy amount of work on the farm, she also holds down a full-time job!) and snapped a picture of her and Normand while I still could.

We packed up our lawn chairs, grabbed the last of our laundry out of the dryer and made ready to hit the road once again. Normand was both kind and amusingly male as he insisted on making sure everything was ready, loading hay and cleaning the stalls in the trailer. While we waited for the water tank to finish filling, I wandered around the property one last time and again spotted my friends the hawks.

I called Normand over and asked what they were. He threw out English references that I didn’t recognize, I helpfully threw out the names of numerous birds, we weren’t connecting across the language gap.

In frustration as he tried to find the right words, he growled, “Ah..English!”, to which I laughingly responded, “Ahh, French!”. But once again our game of Frenglish charades worked and I managed to determine that they’re some sort of vulture.

This time however there were 6 or more and as they whirled and glided over the property, sometimes not even 10’ above my head, I could see the beautiful silver under feathers standing bright against their black wings.

I nearly broke my neck starring up and trying to catch pictures, but to no avail, they were simply too fast. Interestingly enough, there is apparently a large colony of them that lives at nearby Lac Champlain that has existed there for roughly 120 years now. It feels like there’s a remarkable tidbit of history everywhere you turn in this part of the country.

Before long, the tanks were emptied and refilled, hay was loaded, stalls cleaned and there was just no reason to delay any longer. We said our goodbyes to Normand, about 5 times actually, lol. I thought Cape Bretoners were masters of the “gift of gab” until I met some Frenchmen! Tabernac! Then, the sad moment was upon us, and we pulled away, bound for our next destination.

After being away from horses for so many years, I’d forgotten how to read their expressions and develop that sense of a horse’s state of mind. I struggled to relearn their language. It was in the quiet hours I spent wandering that farm that comprehension dawned. I stopped trying to speak to them, and instead relearned the value of simply listening.

As we moved on to our next stop, the day turned grey and though the rain held, it was strangely symbolic of our mood. We were not only sad to leave, but we’ve been on the road a very long time now. While I’m having the time of my life, the constant activity and the travel and the not-so-great nights have begun to take their toll on me. I suspect they have on Monique as well.

Where drove about 3 ½ hours to Toledo, Ontario, to the home of Julia Kaczan and Kaczan

Canadians. Sadly, we couldn’t stay long as we needed to make it back to Russell, Ontario for the night. We picked up Toundra (Double S Lupin Toundra) a mare that Monique purchased. She’s not only a lovely mare, but she has been confirmed to be carrying a colt by Kelbeck (Swallowfield Eno Kelbeck). For my western Canadian friends, this means we could have access to a Kelbeck son for breeding in a few years!

Of course, being the animal nut that I am, I snapped a few pics of Julia’s dogs, a mastiff, a mastiff/great dane cross and two puppies of the same mix. While I snapped pictures, Monique and Julia loaded Toundra into the trailer and we were off again.

We arrived in Russell, On sometime around 7pm. It was already dark, and we were both very tired, this day for some reason, having been far more exhausting than any of the rest.

Christine Levesque of Nautica Equestrian was still teaching a lesson when we arrived, and I quickly made my way to Jinx’s stall to see how the little ragamuffin was doing. Not that I was worried, I knew she was in good hands, lol but I didn’t expect the little horse we left to have turned into a puppy while we were gone!

She wanders the alleyway of the barn at liberty with a fellow orphaned filly, following Christine around like her best friend! She is also loved to death by the numerous girls of varying ages (8-58?) who can be found at the barn on pretty much every evening. She is doing great, and I expect the most serious problem I’ll have with her is her desire for attention. Personal space please?

Despite having worked all day, Christine had a spacious box stall ready for Toundra and burgers and roasted potatoes done on the BBQ for us! We ate in the alleyway of the barn, sitting around on various tack boxes and though it probably sounds a little counter intuitive, I think that made it taste even better.

Her husband Doug arrived around the same time and backed the trailer in for us. Monique is normally perfectly capable of doing it, but this time it was very dark in a strange driveway on a narrow road and the parking lot had several client’s cars in it. As much as I wanted to stay up and talk, it wasn’t long before I sought sleep with Monique right behind me.

Tuesday October 12 – Our day started out with breakfast at a local restaurant in Russell. Christine and a member of her barn staff/family, Cole Leblanc joined us while we discussed some current events, animal ownership and of course, how fabulous Canadian Horses are!

The day was sunny, though the leaves seemed to be falling faster everyday and the rain the night before left the air feeling damp and cold. I spent some time doing my aimless wandering routine and snapped a few pictures.

I watched Toundra munch happily in her small private paddock, loved a barn cat (noticing a

trend?) and enjoyed the antics of various school horses. I ended up crashing for a nap mid afternoon and Monique helped Christine and Cole clean out her tack room. I swear, I do not time these naps to avoid work!! I just have to grab sleep when I can!

I came into the barn in the late afternoon and here was Jinx wandering around the barn “helping” clean the tack room. She had saddle bags (tiny ones) on her back and looked like she literally didn’t have a concern in the world!

Then we all loaded into Cole’s car and drove to the home of Julie Pate (retired military) who is another barn alumni and between her and Christine, we enjoyed not only hot showers but a delicious home cooked meal. Though the conversation was amazing and the company equally so, the shower and then the hot food on a chilly, wet fall day, were just enough to make us drowsy. We called it an early night and headed back to the trailer, preparing for what would begin the next day.

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