Stroll with me for a ninth time! As summer simmers to an end and fall frolics closer, I have much to share with you and would always love to hear from you, too.
September '09 Newsletter Contents
Feature Article:Patterns on the Wall
Story Time..."Finding Stillness"
Playground Activities and Calendar: Goats and Gardens, Lindsay Talley, Block Party, WAFT, Inspiring Clarity '09
Vacation Rental Specials, et al
Patterns on the Wall
I soaked in the tub of steaming hot water after a long day, my eyes casting about at the simple scenery of my surroundings. As a thousand times before, I found myself lazily scanning the random markings on the masonite siding that was installed in the 1960's. The gold markings look like a paint brush just swept here and there making nondescript designs that meet without reason on the grey background. Yet, depending on how I am feeling, what I am thinking about that day, what is important to me in life, and what my brain seems to recognize over and over, I see pictures in the scribbles. I see pigs and dogs, Santa, a little girl with braids like Pippy-Long-Stocking, and women in hats from the past. I see faces of all sizes and shapes, mostly defined by their noses. I see someone ice skating and I see horses, lots of horses. When I try to look at the scribbles to deliberately see something different, my brain just keeps insisting on what I have already seen. Different pictures appear only once I have a very strong focus without trying; a strange combination, I realize, but it has a lot to do with what is truly essential to me.
That is what I know my life is like, too; seemingly random brush strokes that come together over and over to make meaningful experiences for me. Much of what I see and experience is laid out in a predictable way because of long practiced patterns. If I am happy with the results of my pattern behavior, then there is no sense messing with it. However, if I am in any way conflicted by an experience, I have the opportunity to perceive it or picture it differently, although this takes deliberation and devotion.
It can be done and it takes passion. Sometimes I am clearer on this fact than at other times. Often, I feel so wrapped up in the moment to moment interpretation of my experiences, trying to manipulate them and make them something other than they are, that I do not trust this magic, but it really does not matter if I trust it or not. It happens with or without my trust.
More and more, though, I do trust. I trust that my life is of my own manufacture in the sense that I get to choose what is important to me. If I do not believe in my choices, who is going to? Take my decision that I want to raise my young gelding, Indie, in such a way as to allow him to make choices rather than tell him he has a limited number. I do not have to encourage Indie to make choices. He makes them rather liberally, without any encouragement from me particularly. This is the hard part for me, having spent over 40 years believing I was the "boss" of my horses, in charge of their every move. So, the real challenge for me is to deliberately shift from what I have practiced for so many years in regards to horses and me to something new, something that calls to me as if from the other side of a thin veil.
As a very young child I ran with the herd as naturally as if I were a horse myself. I knew I was included and flowed harmoniously with the movement of the whole. As I grew older I found myself swept up by the ideas and ways of humans who described to me how it was done. I prescribed to this way and turned around to teach it to others, too. Yet, throughout the years I have never forgotten what it felt like to be with the horses in an inclusive manner rather than a constrained one. This memory has supported me over the years and eventually brought me full circle to realize that I can choose the way I want my relationships to feel inside me. I prefer relationships that enhance the joyful places within me, the playful state of mind. I like to have fun and when I am "bossing" a horse or a person or anyone around, I do not feel good about it and I do not have fun. It is when both the horse and I are choosing to be with each other that my heart sings.
However, just wanting this kind of relationship with my horses, especially Indie, has not instantly led to the experience. The decades of practiced patterns in the art of forcing horses to do what I want continues to emerge, just like the paint strokes on the wall. It is taking deliberate intention and deep passion to shift those patterns. It is my intention to stay true to what I envision and want, even though the old pictures often hover at the edge of my awareness. I am devoted to this shift so that the brushstrokes of the ideas I have can come together with Indie's to perhaps form meaningful experiences for both of us.
Story Time..."Finding Stillness"
Yesterday, I was out doing the morning chores at around 6:30. This consists of milking and feeding the goats. Willow gets her grain on the stanchion, and while I milk her she eats. I then sweep out their large, airy stall and re-bedding it with straw where they sleep. Next, I give them fresh grass hay and a scoop of organic alfalfa pellets in to the long, shallow box that hangs on the wall. Oreo, Willows girl baby from last year, shadows me the whole way once I enter the stall. She tries to step in front of me and slow me. I have to walk as if she is not there or before I know it she has stopped me. This is what they do to their mother's when they want to nurse, too.
I go from the goats to the chickens. We have 45 hens. They are wide awake by the time I get there. Chickens sleep at night, although it is a deeper state than the kind of sleep I experience. They sleep on rungs or dowels we have screwed from wall to wall inside their secure coop. The rungs are successive, the lowest being the farthest from the wall, the next highest a little closer, the top rung being fairly close to the wall, but with enough space for a hen to huddle and hang on.
The senior hens get the highest rung. The newbies get the lowest. Each night the hens hop their way up the rungs to the appointed space that is theirs. There is some cackling, shouting, wing flapping, and grumbling during this process. Some hens get tossed off the rung they claim is theirs, so they have to start hopping their way up all over again. Others shove their way into a row of warm, feathery bodies that simply makes just enough room for her. Then, the hen house goes quiet.
By dawn, they are up and at it again, the coop echoing with their laughter-like cackles, as if someone told a great joke or a juicy piece of gossip. I enter their yard and set out the tray of food; an organic crumbly mix. Grabbing half a coffee can of scratch--a mix of wheat berries, corn, and various seeds--I go to the big, sliding door of the coop. As I unlatch the door, I can hear the hens vying for the best spot behind the door. I can feel them thumping on the door, pushing and shoving like a bunch of kids wanting to be first in line. With one strong shove I slide the door all the way open and the hens burst forth, a flood of colorful feathers.
As I finish my chicken chores, I glance out at the horses. They are all grazing serenely in the pasture. Their bodies are symmetrically placed, exact and precise in the space that lies between them as they graze, their heads facing the same way. The morning light is diffused by a thin cloud layer, draping them in white gold, not a shadow to be seen. I am held in this place of peace and beauty with the sounds of happy chickens and goats, white-gold awareness washing over me and I am part of it all. All it takes is looking at the horses and there I am because there they are.
Perhaps it is the ceaseless patterns about which I spoke earlier that pull me under. Or like the young goat who steps in front of her mother causing her to stop, the patterns catch my eye and I am stilled long enough to feel the river running through me. Whatever it is, those moments are an elixir to my soul, not because my soul is bruised and battered by life-although I can say that I have often thought that---but because it is like coming home. Somehow the deepest part of me knows that that immersion is my rightful place. It is where I am recognized and included.
GOATS: In all my years (51) I would have never guessed goats would be such a big part of my life. I feel like Cleopatra, in that I have enough milk right now in which to take a bath. Hmm, I wonder if the patterns on the wall would be different if I soaked in milk. Ha! No way! What a waste that would be. I love the versatility of goat milk. I am making cheese, ice cream, yogurt, frozen yogurt, kefir, and soon I will try goatcycles. It is all a hit with our neighbors, as we sell it on an honor system basis right out of our "old hen house" kiosk. You can come any time from 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. to get eggs and goat products.
LINDSAY TALLEY: When I am not milking, I am in the garden. I have a new helper, Lindsay Talley, who is learning how to milk and how to keep my gardens happy. This is very important as our vacation rentals (a 3 bedroom/2 bath and a studio cottage) both enjoy harvesting from the organic gardens. I brought Lindsay into the picture because I want more time to be with the horses. Right now I have stolen moments sitting on Indie's back for no other reason than to sit there. It is wonderful just hanging out with absolutely no agenda.
BLOCK PARTY 09: Our annual Block Party is scheduled for September 13 from 12:00-4:00. It is a potluck open to the community. Among other things, I will be offering up...what else...goat ice cream!
WEEKEND ALONG FARMTRAILS 09: WAFT , September 26 & 27, 2009. Volunteers needed!!!! This will be our third year opening our doors the last weekend in September for people to come for demonstrations with the horses and Farm Life Tours, all free. Demos and Tours are at 10:30 12:30 and 2:30, followed by taste treats of the various goat products, free Taylor Maid Organic Tea (iced or hot) and the opportunity to purchase pie by the slice or whole, as well as the goat goodies. Please contact me if you would like to help. In exchange I will offer time with me and the horses arranged as a group event after that weekend.
INSPIRING CLARITY 3-DAY WORKSHOP: Inspiring Clarity Workshop , October 16-18, 2009, here at Full House Farm. Spend 15 hours with me and the horses as a participant or as an auditor (observer). Lunches and a dinner are included for participants, providing opportunities for indepth conversation with Christine and the other participants. Learn about what Christine calls "Spacious Intimacy" and "New Leadership". If you are interested you can contact the workshop host, Janice Drescher , for more information.
If you think you might like me to come to your area for a clinic, please contact me and we will dream it into reality!
Fall Vacation Rental Special!
Our wonderful new Studio Cottage has been a great success! This intimate space can sleep 1-2 guests, has a complete kitchen, darling bathroom, a beautiful queen pillowtop bed under a skylight, a big deck and a hot tub for two under the oaks, both with sunset views. So, if you have been wanting to apprentice with me, visit for the weekend, or just have somewhere to stay while you explore Sonoma County , check it out!
By the way, it is ever so fun and delicious to explore this area via Farm Trails. Farm Trails is an organization that supports farms and farm related businesses in Sonoma County. Their Map & Guide lists all the members, what they grow or sell, and how you can visit. In fact, this month celebrates all the farms in the area with the annual Weekend Along Farm Trails , which I mention above. We are still offering a low, discounted price on the studio to everyone and on the 3-bedroom/2 bath Retreat Home we have a special "Last Minute" discount. If you book 30-15 days prior to your stay you can receive 25% off the base rate. If you book 14-0 days prior, the discount increases to 50% off the base rate! That is hundreds off! Why not make it a pattern to come visit us...
Know anyone who could use this?Imagine arriving at Full House Farm Vacation Rental & Retreat for a short reprieve from your fast paced life. You drive down the driveway and park next to the little path leading towards the house. Climbing out of your car, stretching out the kinks, you follow the path into the lush, shaded landscape. Just over a little rise you hear the soft murmur of a waterfall as it tumbles into a small pond at the edge of the patio. A patio table and chairs call to you, but you decide to check out the house first. Inside, a bottle of locally grown and bottled wine sits on the kitchen table with two wine glasses beside it. On the counter is a tray with a luscious loaf of fresh-baked bread from