Life here at Fly Over Farm has been interesting this past year. Last spring I realized a dream that has been in the making for more than 10 years. I hate cold weather, everyone who knows me knows this. Ever since we moved to Indiana, I have been scouring the real estate websites trying to find a piece of (cheap) horse property in Aiken, S.C. Last spring, with help from my family, I bought some sand in Windsor, S.C. (20 minutes from Aiken and a lot less expensive)
Horse girl skill #15: Never give up hope even when faced with insurmountable odds. Ever since then, I have been making periodic trips to South Carolina to look at my sand (and throw cash at it!). I have been crying over my lack of budget and the laundry list of things to be done to reclaim this somewhat derelict property. To say the property had a reputation amongst the neighbors would not be a lie. It has been a host to a number of colorful characters. I intend the spend some winters there and am certain I will be referred to as “that crazy girl, you know, the one that bought that POS place “.
The last few months have been spent researching fencing options and talking to contractors and asking everyone I know in the area who is good, who is reliable, and who does a good job. Believe me, I have NOTES. Horse girl skill #12- we can NETWORK like nobody’s business. So far, we have managed to: get the place cleaned up quite a bit, have the fields cut, treated for fire ants, found and cleaned out the septic tank, and as of last Sunday, we have a FRONT GATE and two new sections of fence $$$.
The last trip down involved a couple hours with a copy of the survey plat and a metal detector. Horse girl skill #75 makes an appearance. Apparently, I can not only find pins in the sand, but I can look at a distance between pins, walk it off, then eyeball the next distance and based on the previously walked distance, and find the next pin! (hello….jumper courses) Let the record show that we found all 6 pins we were looking for. So, I was able to meet with the fencing contractor, show him the pins, and develop a plan and now we are looking partially respectable.
The “cabin” on the property is by all definitions a tiny house. It has no actual foundation and has survived for who knows how many years through sheer determination and the unyielding knowledge that one day it will be cute. You know what I mean …we look at that scrawny little 2 year old with the pot belly and gangly legs and can see the fancy 5 year old. (horse girls know all about looking past what is and seeing what could be) As I re-think the cabin design (it’s a gut so I get to completely rethink it) I pull out my packing for a horse show and tack room organization skills to decide what I HAVE to have and how exactly to place everything. I got out my graph paper and started measuring and drawing things in. I looked at the sizes of showers available, how deep the vanity became with the doors open, what size is a standard toilet, and how far does it sit from the wall and came up with a bathroom design that I felt comfortable with. The kitchen plan was also an exercise in research, judicious use of graph paper and lots of compromises. It reminded me a bit of setting grids in the indoor… you can have two bounces to a one stride along the long wall, but if you want a one stride to a three, you have to set it diagonally.
Now I will be engaging in horse girl skill #1: how to feed myself on a budget of $0 a month so that I can buy an 18” wide dishwasher because small is MORE expensive. Horse girls understand that because they constantly see that putting the word horse on a product makes it $20 more than the same thing marketed to anyone else. But, being budget conscious, they will scour the earth for the best price on that item and WILL factor in shipping costs vs. local pickup.
I am pretty sure that my horse girl skills of long range planning will help me get through the next 5-7 years of improvements. I am also pretty confident that my horse friends will be there for me when I encounter the inevitable setbacks, frustrations and overthinking and under planning that accompany all big projects. I mean, we have all been there before. The six months of planning, conditioning and training for the BIG show only to have your horse step on a clip two days before and brew a gargantuan abscess that requires an emergency vet visit and a pleading call to your farrier and you are still too lame to go.
This brings me to horse skill #2: The ability to smile in the face of disaster, find the value of that experience, and start planning the next step while the tears are still wet on your face.