“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” I find this to be so true in my life! In fact, as I have “aged” (I love euphemisms!) I have totally embraced the concept that no matter how hard I try to choreograph my life, I had better be flexible because things are going to happen that I have absolutely no control over. Sometimes, I just get so busy with life that even things I can predict and control catch me by surprise.
I had a client 2 months ago that found herself in one of those “Oh NO!” moments. She was a very nice mid 30’s gal who had recently moved to town. She was overwhelmed with setting up her new life. Who hasn’t been in that position? New docs, new schools, new church, new neighbors…. She called and made an appointment for her dog that was “swollen in her private parts.” Before I saw the dog, I asked my tech if the dog was spayed? The answer was no.
I walked into the exam room, took a peek at the back end of the pooch, and announced, “She’s in heat!” The look on my client’s face was priceless. Her vet in her previous town had suggested waiting for her pup to come into estrus one time before spaying her. The pup was nine months old…. The prime age for the first estrus. My client is an educated, intelligent lady and clearly, she knew that at some point her pup would come into heat… but she sure didn’t have that on her radar screen at this tumultuous time in her life! The day before they had been to the dog park!! I told her what to expect, nixed any dog park visits for quite some time, and sent a shocked pet mama out the door that day.
Turning my life upside down
It has only been a year to eighteen months since I have pulled out of my own perpetual fog. Four years ago I upended my life and found myself in need of housing for myself, 5 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 horses. I looked at existing places, but after having built several homes I was determined to have things the way I wanted them both for me and for my animals. Ultimately, I made up my mind to buy land and build my own home. I thought I had secured a place to rent that would accommodate all of us, but it didn’t work out. My landlords were crazy! Farming my animals out or boarding them was simply not an option, so Plan C meant moving into my Living Quarters trailer! One of my dogs was a Pyrenees/Akita mix, and he literally took up half of my floor space.
During that period of time, my life was a blur. “Checking my horses” meant making sure there were no big streaks of red anywhere and they were eating and standing. My gray Arabian, Kadeen, used to have this amazingly long, flowing tail. One day my trainer says to me, “What happened to Kadeen’s tail?” I looked (apparently for the first time?) and sure enough, about a foot of his tail was gone! To this day I have no idea what happened to it. LQ trailers are designed for horse shows and riding/camping vacations, not year-round housing in the dead of winter. Having running water in the morning (not necessarily a given) was a higher priority than the length of my horse’s tail. So I completely understood my client’s absolute shock over the news that her pup was in heat.
“Every man’s (and womans’s) dream!”
And while I am on the subject of building my home, I’d like to tell you about what I built. My pastor says it is every man’s dream, but he’s a guy who likes cars. I built it because I am a horse person and it accommodates my horsey needs. It is a “barndominium”…. a house/barn combo.
My original plan was to buy land, build a barn, and then build a house. But that begged the question… Where would I live during all of the construction? So then it was building a barn with an apartment in it. I used to have foster children and I still take in human strays on occasion. I knew there were plenty of things I could do with a barn apartment. But then one day I decided, why not just build the house I ultimately wanted, attached to the barn?
Perfect for horses
My house has a footprint of 30 by 50 feet, and it runs east to west. My barn is 40 by 80 feet, running north to south. I go through an interior door to feed horses, usually in my bathrobe! I have “barn slippers” and “house slippers”. After I bring them in the stalls to eat, I go in and ask Alexa to remind me to kick them out in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, I drink my coffee!
The garage part of the barn is 40 by 50, and it is large enough to hold my 3-horse gooseneck LQ trailer, my large 2-horse bumper pull trailer, a very large Ford truck, and two cars. Oh, and the nice John Deere tractor that just took up residence in my barn/garage, still very much owned by John Deere!
The horse part is 30 by 30, as ten feet on the east side was incorporated into the house. I have two stalls, a tack room, and a separate enclosed and lockable closet. Unfortunately, I don’t have much room to store square bales of hay. However, that’s not a problem as I have a Hay Hut and feed round bales. I use the squares for traveling and camping.
Perfect for dogs
That leaves my house with the original 1500 square feet, plus a loft that added about 200 square feet. Additionally, there is recaptured area from the barn that became my laundry room, HVAC room and dog area. I have a dog shower! The dogs have a dedicated dog room with bunk beds, an automatic waterer, and 24-hour access to an enclosed concrete run that is 10 by 40.
I have a cabinet that contains all the medicines I have accumulated, a pull-out drawer with dog food, and a counter to lay out bowls during food prep. When I first moved in, I realized the dogs would get on the top bunk and start messing with the triple light switch that was right in front of them at that level, and I would find the porch lights on. I bought a switch cover that would allow access to the switches by a human, but not a dog. So then the culprit started chewing on the cover. Cotton balls soaked in bitter apple and stuck in the switch guard appears to have fixed that problem.
The horses have a very large dry lot that doubles as an outdoor riding arena. Approximately 5 of my 10 acres is fenced as pasture. The pasture isn’t very good yet. We had a horrid drought last summer and it was the first season for it to grow.
Joy after sorrow
I really, really love my place and it was worth waiting for, but the stress and trauma that preceded it was intense. It took forever to get it going…. far longer than I planned. I ended up firing my general contractor three months before completion. I was tired of doing most of what he was supposed to be doing. My friends tell me that this place fits me more than any other place I have ever lived. And they are right. I am a country girl quite happy to be “living in a barn”! Life DOES happen while you are busy making other plans!