A "Look Back"
Ewes are bred and expanding nicely, bulbs are tucked in, horses sporting rain sheets, dog kennels freshly bedded with cozy hay. The ground outside this morning is crunchy with frost; inside, Palm Cottage is warm and festive with Christmas aroma and decor. I'm snuggled on the couch sharing my blanket with Phoebe and Petey, and thinking about the year that is quickly closing down.
2010 has been a rewarding and productive year for us here at Palm Cottage Farm. Steve has made some spectacular changes to the world outside. "Wren's Pond" which he started in 2009, metamorphosed from a blackberry choked puddle to a groomed and serene mini - resort this year, thanks to his vision and hard work. We and our friends have spent many glorious hours there, admiring the population of salamanders, bullfrogs and dragonflies, building fires and roasting wieners and marshmallows. The adirondack chairs, hammocks and picnic table are bundled up for the winter, but Wren's Pond is already refilled and getting ready to provide pleasure for all in a few more months.
"Ripley's Magic Forrest" has blossomed from a messy woodlot to a park! Magic, indeed! Thanks again to Steve, and his trusty Kubota, of course, there are wide and beautiful trails, open meadows, and serene vistas to enjoy there now. The Forrest leads into miles of logging roads open for dog walking and horseback adventures, if you aren't too scared about maybe meeting a bear or a gnarled logger or two!
Speaking of Ripley, our wonderful girl has had a wonderful year of trialing. What a joy it is to walk to the post with Ripley, and I know she feels the same way. That girl simply loves to trial! She suffered a couple of health setbacks recently, but she is recovering well and is in bursting good cheer. My fondest hope for Ripley and me is that we will be able to compete in the Colorado 2011 finals together. If that is not to be, I'm still so happy and grateful to have had such a grand time with this one of a kind dog, especially her performance for me in 2010.
Other animal highlights for 2010 include Tucker's move to Open (note that what you hear me yelling from time to time when at the "whipping post" with him is his NAME: Tucker. Not any other, much less acceptable, word. Honestly); Brynn and I have really started to become a team, Bruce and Steve's Tilly (aka "The Electrifying Stink Doggie") are taking off in their training and really showing a lot of promise. A very special and zesty new puppy joined us last summer and we have been having a blast with her. Welcome, Piper! There is much to look forward to in the coming year with the dogs.
My own little pony, Clover, came to join the barnyard minions here at Palm Cottage in 2010 as well. Clover is a Haflinger / Quarter Horse cross. She is as sweet and cuddly as a horse can possibly be, and she puts up with being leapt upon by various yahoos and trundled around the farm. She is a perfect addition.
My faithful students have made so much progress. Working with them has helped me learn a tremendous amount. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to share their journeys, and happy for the chance to share what I've learned, just as others have done for me.
We've had several fun and rewarding events here over the year, with the pinnacle being our fourth Palm Cottage Farm Sheepdog Trial held in the third week of July. This trial just keeps getting better each year, and it simply could not happen without the energetic, creative and hilarious input of my dear friends. I'm scheming like mad about our 2011 edition! Imagine! Hot sun, heavily fragrant lilies, dry and golden rolling hills, ridiculous Luau attire, smoking' barbecue and, of course, that challenging course are just a few months away! It's hard to believe, as I sit here nestled by the Christmas tree looking at the frosty world outside.
Anyway, thank you so much to all who have been a part of Palm Cottage Farm. What a humbling privilege it is to be able to live this life, and to share it with such fine friends - human and otherwise.