Sometimes, barn chores suck.

There is nothing fun about hauling individual water buckets down a frozen lane to fill a 100 gallon water trough because your water spigot froze (like it did last winter).  There is nothing fun about going out to the barn with a headache, or head cold, or stomach flu.  (I’ve done all three.)  And there is nothing fun about forgoing potential plans with friends, or trips, or vacations, because you have to take care of the ranch.

Occasionally, taking care of the critters is the last thing I want to do.

Here’s the trick though: sometimes, when hauling my butt to the barn to do what needs to be done, and I’m grumpy and irritated, I let my inner 8-year-old give me a pep talk.

Everyone has that kid who they used to be buried inside somewhere.  Mine just happens to be a horse obsessed little girl in pigtails.

From whatever age I was first self-aware, I was obsessed with horses and ponies, but when I was 8, I started actually riding horses.  I wore pale pink cowboy boots with fringe and glitter; I’m pretty sure they were never intended to see the inside of a barn.    My pint-sized helmet made my head look huge, and my parents had to buy me a ring to wear on one of my fingers because I was still really bad at telling my left from my right.

I still have memories of that first ride, the first time I ever settled into a saddle…and walked around in a circle.  I mean, if we’re being honest, there was nothing at all exciting about those first few rides.  The horses played follow the leader, and I sat there, thinking I was riding but in reality I was only sitting.  Still, I was thrilled!

As a kid, riding lessons were absolutely the highlight of my week.  I adored all of the horses I rode, even the more difficult ones, and I wanted a horse of my own more than anything else on the planet.

So, on the days when barn chores suck and my head hurts and I want to scream for things not going well, I try to channel that eight-year-old who would have given up every last material possession she had to have her own horse.

A few weeks ago, when one of my horses had an absolute hissy fit during our lesson and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to scream or maybe cry (it hadn’t been a great week before the lesson either):

Me: “I hate this.  I hate this.  I hate this.  One easy horse.  I just want one easy horse.”

8 year old self: “You have a horse!”

Me: “Yup.  I have a horse…one who is acting like a complete turd.”

8 year old self: “But you have a horse.”

Me: (With a notable sigh and shrug…) “Actually, I have five…”

8 year old self: *Jaw drops to floor.*

Me:  “…and llamas.”

8 year old self: “You should never, ever be sad.”  (Life is simpler when you’re eight.)

Nothing is ever all good or all bad.  Most of the time, by a landslide, the farm and my critters are good.  Sometimes, they aren’t, but when they’re not, it helps to remember that they are literally my childhood dream come true.

And that I, and my inner eight year old, love them to absolute pieces.

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And of course, my wonderful llamas!