The Four Ponies of the Apocalypse…

Sunday…

7:29 am.

I’m still curled up in bed, asleep enough to be dreaming, when the phone goes off.  I don’t check it, letting the caller go to voicemail.  I snuggle back into the sheets for a moment before thinking that I should at least look to see who it was.

Bad Pony…

If I’m getting a 7:29 am phone call from the neighbor who I’ve always had in my phone as “bad pony,” it’s probably because I have some bad ponies…

I roll over and begin to sit up.

“I think the ponies got out,” I tell John.

The first time this happened with John, when I got a call that the horses broke loose from their pasture well before dawn in the middle of winter– this was early in our dating life–John moved like molasses, a lot of “what” and “huh” as I shot out of bed.  Now, more than a year and a half in, he beat me to the window.

“Can you see them?” I ask.

“Yeah…” He pauses before replying, “They just ran down the driveway.”

John watches as they run up the hill towards the neighbors, tiny tails bopping joyfully as they trot to freedom.

(98 acres out here, and those tiny monsters just want to eat my neighbor’s front lawn.)

We left them in a temporary pen overnight, letting them graze and enjoy the cool evening, but apparently they got bored at some point and pushed a gate away from the fence.

Guys, letting miniature ponies get bored is like feeding gremlins after midnight.  JUST DON’T FUCKING DO IT.

I pull on the official uniform of “my livestock escaped before I got out of bed”: yesterday’s jeans, a gray tank top with no bra, flip-flops, and a baseball cap.  John, apparently competing for the redneck hall of fame, pulls on dirty jeans and muckboots.  He decides to forgo his shirt entirely, showing off the beginnings of a notable farmer’s tan.

I know it seems unlikely, but the ranch really is part of a very nice neighborhood, probably the nicest one in town.  I am just at the edge of it, but the real estate around me is not the sort that you would expect to host rogue ponies, or horses, or llamas. However, at some point or another, I have chased each species through a neighbor’s yard.  Behind the ranch, I am surrounded by farmers and country people, the sort that just happen to have old horse halters hiding in a barn somewhere that they grab when someone else’s horse (read: mine) shows up in their front yard.  But next to the ranch?  I have genteel city people who moved out-of-town to appreciate the peace and quiet.

Fortunately, these particular city people think I am an amusing novelty and that ponies are cute.

I think that I have four ponies and that there are supposed to be four horsemen of the apocalypse. (Or alpacalypse… maybe llamageddon…)  As I walk up my driveway and see the ponies looking at me wearily from the top of the hill, I think that those apocalyptic horses probably won’t look like people expect.

Immediately across the road, my neighbor rents out his massive colonial-style home as an AirB&B.  This weekend’s renters chatted with my boyfriend as he tried to flank my four tiniest horses.

“We just woke up,” they told him from the driveway, “and there were tiny horses running down the road.  It was so cute!”

Cute…

John’s presence sends Violet, Slash, Gem, and Cody running back into my yard, the temporary neighbors looking on with amusement.  They would have a story to tell about their vacation rental in the country.

“Just don’t let them go back up the road,” I tell him.

“No kidding,” he replies.

Two laps of the front yard, one detour to the big horses’ barn, and an almost-trek through the manure pit in flip-flops to head them off later, the ponies run back into their pasture, seemingly at least a little confused about how they got there.

Such, I suppose, is life with livestock.

<<<>>>

Ponies tucked safely away, John and I walk back to the house together.  He makes coffee–he makes really good coffee–and we sit on the couch until our cups run low and the barn calls us back out to finish morning chores.  The rest of the day will come soon enough, bringing with it more work than either of us woke up with any intention of completing, but for a moment, we sit back and appreciate the momentary, and elusive, peace and quiet of the country.

img_4013

I really need to learn my neighbor’s name…

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Our humble bonfire

Let’s just start here, shall we?

The Alpacalypse is coming
The Alpacalypse is coming

The above might just be the greatest picture ever taken…In the history of all of ever.

The 25th marked our first (hopefully annual) bonfire party at the ranch.  The week leading up to it marked 7 days of complete insanity trying to prepare for our first (hopefully annual) bonfire party at the ranch.

I will admit that I sort of scheduled the party as a shove; I knew that we would work harder to finish things if we had some sort of deadline.  And we did.  I was under the (incorrect) impression that we would work harder over the course of 6 weeks or so.  No.  That is not how we roll around here.  Mostly, we let things roll into major crunch time.

Guys, four hours before the party starting, I was painting baseboards.  The morning of the party, I was still hanging and glazing cabinet doors. The night before all of this went down?  This is what my kitchen  looked like.

2014-10-24 19.35.37 2014-10-24 19.35.42 (And then Jeremiah photo-bombed things.) 2014-10-24 19.35.45 (I would like to point out that we don’t live like this; we still don’t live here at all, and about every corner of the house is undergoing renovations.)

Miscellaneous boxes were still piled high in the living room.  Any and all dusting that I had done days before had been rendered pointless as Jeremiah had drilled through drywall and installed new light fixtures since then.  (Drywall dust…everywhere…)

I spent Saturday morning working on the house.  When I left at 2:00pm (to go back to the other house, fix food, and shower), the house was still a mess.  However, as I was the one in charge of feeding all the people, I couldn’t stick around.  So, I took a deep breath in, explained to Jeremiah what was still left to be done, and prayed for a miracle as I walked out the door.

When I got back, carrying large quantities of food and fearing that I would be met with chaos, I found my miracle wiping down the counters of a mostly spotless kitchen.  Jeremiah’s mama to the rescue!

There is no way to tell this story without mentioning that my mother-in-law completely, totally saved my butt.  Seriously.  Unequivocally.  She showed up early and finished all the cleaning…without even being asked, by the way.  (I think I hugged her about ten times over the course of a half an hour…I honestly could have cried.)

Anyhow, thanks to her (and a lot of help the day before from siblings, cousins, parents, etc), we had a very presentable home when most of our guests began showing up.

Our tiniest guest showed up with his mama and dad early in the evening.  He and his parents were treated to a private tour, complete with pony introductions! 2014-10-25 18.08.49 2014-10-25 18.08.58 2014-10-25 18.09.06

Isn’t this the cutest! Violet and Slash love ALL tiny humans, but they seemed to take an extra liking to this little guy.  He loved them right back with grins and pats and giggles.  It was adorable.  Jeremiah and I gave a lot of farm tours over the course of the evening, but this one was probably my favorite.  It was definitely my bitty babies’ favorite.

Of course, farm tours notwithstanding, the main event of the day was the bonfire itself…and holy cow was it a fire.

Have I ever mentioned that Jeremiah used to be a professional fire officer?

Did you know that basically all firefighters are pyromaniacs who have managed to productively channel their “interest”?

Fire
That tiny looking person standing in the lower left is my husband. He stands just a little bit under 6 feet tall.

Well, now you do. There were no fewer than five firefighters present at the bonfire.  I was briefly afraid that we would need all of them involved in some sort of professional capacity. still fire still aflame Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire fire 2 everything burns aflame The guy walking around in bunker gear is my dear, sweet husband/personal pyromaniac.

My hero...
My hero…

At one point, he brought out the big guns to push the fire around.

This should probably be on an advertisement for Caterpillar.
This should probably be on an advertisement for Caterpillar.

(We actually had to build a secondary, smaller fire to roast marshmallows and hotdogs.  The actual bonfire was way too big and way too hot.)

Around 30 people came by over the course of the evening.  Friends from college came down and stayed the weekend.  My grandparents even took the time to travel down several hours to check things out.  (Grandma, I know you read this, so I thought I’d let you know that your pumpkin bars were a major hit!)

Good food.  Great company.  A fire that will probably live in infamy.   For a bonfire, that equals success.

I am so glad we had this party.  (I am also so glad that it’s over and the pressure is officially off.)

(By the way, the watermarked photos of the fire were taken by an incredibly talented friend of mine, Bob, who actually takes photos semi-professionally.  Big shout out to Bob for letting me use these photos on my humble little blog!  Also, if any of you are into web design and would like to trade for pictures, he’s your guy!)

(Second by the way, all of the animals were way out of the way of the fire.  Even though it looks from the photos that the flames were rolling towards the pastures, I assure you that everyone was perfectly safe.  The llamas weren’t even that interested.)