making (farm) friends

When we came to this place, our intention was to create a simple little farm where our show horses could retire and live out the rest of their days grazing on green acres — it was our precious Merlin who originally inspired that dream. But what we didn’t anticipate (well, let’s just say I didn’t anticipate; ever-practical Mike, of course, knew better) was how long it would take us to get the property ready for horses again. Restoring the barn, seeding pastures and building new fencing alone took us two years. And during that time I went searching for some farm friends — people we could go to for advice and support…neighbors, vets, a great farrier, hay and shavings suppliers, riding buddies and others. Here we are today, almost five years later, and all the puzzle pieces have come together to form a beautiful picture of country life and friendship. We met Michelle, a young horse whisperer, who’s become one of the most special people in our lives; Scott, the country doctor who used to practice equine medicine in metro Atlanta, though we had never met, and now has a thriving practice in Alabama; Danny, our farrier, who tends to all the horses’ feet, most especially Merlin’s…he made our most special horse more comfortable with his old racing injuries and prolonged his life; Randy, who despite his policy of only delivering full truckloads of shavings to local farms, made concessions and now delivers half-loads to us due to our small barn’s storage (he most likely does this because we’re Auburn alum); David and his family, who own a beautiful farm in the valley — he was one of the first friends we made and showed us simple pleasures (like how to size a rattlesnake “9 buttons and a rattle,” the meaning of “going loafing” and took us to our first Trade Day); Mike H., a farmer friend from Hokes Bluff, who owns cattle, llamas and lots of really big trucks – he helped build the riding ring and has since become our go-to guy whenever we’re faced with a job too overwhelming to handle on our own — like creating Merlin’s final resting place; Barbara, who grew up here, has traveled the world, and now lives on her “Funny Farm” down the road where she raises goats and chickens, gardens (she’s a master gardener), and keeps bees which make the most delicious honey, caused us to fall in love with Great Pyrenees after meeting her Lily, and oh, she’s a massage therapist, too; Mr. Wigley, the retired high school principal…he tends to our lawns and orchard and keeps us stocked all summer long with garden delights, most especially his perfect peaches; Allen (aka Buster), the very first person we met — he cuts and bales the hay twice a year, was attached to this land before we were, and probably knows it better than anyone…you might say we inherited him and we’re the luckier for it; neighbors Byron and Carol, who both graciously allow us to ride horses on their land; Glenda, one of the loveliest southern ladies you’ll ever meet, who at 19 married her sweetheart and together they bought 57 acres of pastureland and over decades turned it into a beautiful horse farm (she’s now been there over 40 years and still going strong); sweet little Taylor, the barrel racer…she  came into our lives just this year; so did Rebecca, an extraordinarily talented dressage rider — who reached Prix St. Georges level with her beloved Chase — and here she is practically in our own back yard.

So many friends, so many memories already. We are humbled and sometimes a bit overwhelmed by all the kindness we’ve found along the way. And every time we get here it feels like home.

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