merry christmas friends

It magically snowed for the first time this year on Christmas Eve & it was beautiful! Not a lot, just enough to make it feel like Christmas. 

Every year I get my craft on, and hand make cards to send out. I feature something I've photographed throughout the year. Most of my holiday cards are equine oriented. Sending cards for any occasion is becoming a thing of the past, and homemade ones even more so. I don't make things by hand very often, and look forward to the creative thinking, searching for the right combinations, and even the methodical process it requires to put cards together. 

This year, I combined four of my photos. One from our pines, and three of our horses. If you click to view larger, you will notice the horses & pines are interrelated. As everything in this world is, to a certain extent...

front cover

inside sentiment

Thank you, for being a part of this blog ~ it means a lot to share each others joys & even sorrows. You are appreciated more then you know!! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Healthy Magical New Year!


there is good in the world

Sharing some good in the world, for those of you who may not have seen the video below.

Good luck keeping a dry eye.


build-a-barn ~ Fall update

Our barn sat dormant for weeks at a time during the Fall. Everyone's intense focus was catching up on our house. We lucked out and had an unseasonable warm Fall!! Just like the barn, building progressed in layers. Scheduling is tricky and takes insight to be done smoothly. Whenever someone had a lull, barn work got done.

It's been so long since I've done a barn update, I had to go back and check where I left off. It was early October, and we had just poured the wood plank porch...

front porch drying

Brad marking the ceiling spots for our two barn fans
Our son (Colten) helped Brad get the fan stems mounted
by setting a secure block via the crawl space.
It had to be done before the barn ceiling can be insulated,
which remains on the to-do list.

Mid November a concrete approach was poured at a slight incline,
butting up to the stamped concrete porch.
Looks kinda goofy, but will blend the driveway into the barn for easier loaded etc.
side view

Brad built out (furrowed) the bottom of the porch columns, to prep for stone. We are using the same stone as the front of our house, and the columns look similar. It will help tie them together. Finishing the exposed porch truss also remains on the low priority to-do list.

Both Brad & Colten put in multiple days over several weekends moving dirt & sand, around both the barn and house. Of course Brad puts in double the time everyone else does, but I love that our son wants to help. What a difference their hard work makes!!

View from the barn porch to the future horse shelter, and pastures.
Which still need fencing, also on the to-do list.
Notice a common theme, lol!
 The auto water will connect to the black tube in the middle.
view from the other side
the last not so little pile of dirt
It was a huge job to spread the many piles, and even out the land using small equipment. Our son really wanted us to do it, instead of hiring out. There were sooo many large mounds everywhere! I throughly enjoyed climbing & shooting photos from them while we had our mini-mountains, however everything looks much nicer without them!! 

Colten framed the back wall of the saloon
to make it easier for wiring 
my guys got half the saloon ceiling done, last weekend (iphone) 
Brad is almost done with the wash stall. Just a little trimming left.
Almost ready to hook the water up! 

Our electricians have been working on/off wiring the barn.
 They installed some of our waterproof LED ceiling lights!
We can hose those baby's down, and the risk of fire is much less.

Thankfully only a couple side wall lights were mounted (see wash stall photo) to see how we like them, and if we needed to add more then planned. They are so bright you gotta wear shades! The couple lights that are mounted on the wall, will get moved to the ceiling.
I was worried about remaining holes, but I guess they plug them and it isn't noticeable.

Now that I am close to being done with picking out stuff for the house (thank god, what a pain in the a$$ that has been) I can get back to the barn! No clue why the barn feels fun, and the house feels like a pain. I need to pick out the barn bathroom vanity & lights. Something rustic, simple and self standing. They are all so expensive!! It might just cost less to have one built. Haven't found the right one, still searching. 

We are now officially up to date with posts!! I have no grand tie-in ending photo, so I'll just end with a recent view from the back of our barn. Our baby albino twin (other twin is brown) is growing fast!

Three Shades of Deer


horseless trips

A not so short catch up post, on our much needed Fall trips...

Instead of driving all over in search of beauty, we opted to stay close to where we were staying on both trips. Sooo much beauty to be found nearby, if you look with open eyes. We did bring house building related "homework" but didn't let it get in the way of our purpose. To relax & take in nature, and on the second trip also learn.

On our first trip we reconnected with our northern establishment friends, and laughed. A lot. It had been 365 days since we had a chance to escape from our overflowing to-do list, and yet they all remember us. Not all know us by name, but they do know us by face and what brings us north. Horses & snowmobiles. We normally travel up there 4-5X a year. However between the weird winter, horse & human injuries, and now the building fiasco, we just haven't managed to get away. 

Some people have a hard time figuring out why we often return to the same vacation places year after year. I do love new experiences & exploring sights, but I love reconnecting more. It's familiar. When one of our northern friends came running over in the middle of customer craziness & to give us each a heartfelt goodbye hug - well, that makes getting away more meaningful. This couple does know us by name, and we consider them friends. Read about the last time we saw them, well one of them. We didn't know if we would ever see them together again. The end of that story is happy, she made it :) 

There are things we can do when we are horse-less, like exploring the rapids. I have a short video with beautiful sights & sounds of mother natures crazy power, but for some strange reason it won't upload. I know you've all seen and heard rapids, but they never get old to me.

I could watch water move & listen to the sound,
for hours and hours 

our best twosie
The others are too damn funny 
We also did some things that we do when the horses are with us, but it becomes an entirely different experience with out them. Hiking trails we typically ride, gave me a whole new respect for Koda and trail riding in general. Let's just say I was sucking wind on the inclines.

You may recall WI had waaay too much rain over summer, and all the state & county trails were closed for a couple weeks. We were stunned to find several sections of trail rutted out so bad, that had we been on horseback we would have turned around and not ridden up to the lookout. It's my favorite trail ride. The sad part with remote public trails, is there is no funding or manpower to repair them. Maybe someday?

heading up to the lookout
it appears like you could ride up along the side,
but it was pretty steep with no where to go

It's always a welcome sight, when the climb levels off and opens up. You can catch your breath, while in turn it takes your breath away...

the beginning of the rocky lookout
is on the path to the right
I've always wondered what was beyond
and below the top flat area of the lookout

I heard a lot of "where are you going" and "be careful"
(see Brad?) eventually, there is a drop off
view to the north, from a lower portion of the lookout
colorful trees are as far as the eye can see
the reward is always worth the hike up
I wasn't going to share the above photo, because apparently my spare tire didn't deflate! But what the hell, it's us.
Note to self: press the timer, run, AND suck gut in!!
Late Fall we took a second trip to a weekend photography gathering. It brings like minded people together to learn more about shooting the Northern Lights, and other night shooting. I've been obsessed with Northern Lights since I first saw them when I was 15. Story for another time. Brad doesn't have much interest in learning about the night sky, but he really enjoys the area. Lake Superior is a phenomenon in it's own right. Powerful and beautiful, all at the same time. 

It's become an annual vacation for us. See, we do expand our horizons! This was our second year. Conditions were not right for viewing the Aurora Borealis. Last year we saw the lights as a group on the shore. The Duluth area got hit with an early storm, so we hunkered down and stayed put. SO thankful we arrived a day early. We enjoyed other amazing sights during our stay this year, it's not all about the Northern Lights.

View from our room, the day after the storm:

We snuck out for a short drive during a break between the learning sessions, also taken during the calm after the storm:

Since the Aurora Borealis didn't want to come out & dance, we took it upon ourselves to see some different kind of lights at night at the nearby waterfalls. Brad assisted the wool spinner.

I soooo LOVE the North Shore area, and can't wait to go back!! It's as close to an ocean as I'm going to get, at least for a while. 

If you've read this far, I am totally impressed! Next up, a barn update.


lost in the minutiae

Hello {hello, hello, hello} when you inadvertently disappear from Blogging, the best way I know to get back in the swing of things is to bullet format key moments that kept you away. Normally that works, but in this case my news is interrelated. I'll share an overview and hopefully expand on the important parts. I've actually had a post written over a month, and can't seem to gather related photos. Sad, but true.

I've really missed keeping up with you guys! I truly hope all is well with your worlds, and look forward to catching up as much as possible!!

In October, we went on a couple short get-aways. We decided our annual Fall travel plans needed to be kept for sanities sake. It had been a year since we took anything that resembled a vacation. Altho we took building "homework" with us, we truly enjoyed both vacations!

Other then that, our life continues to be all about building the house. We survived multiple weeks with double daily appointments. It's like organized chaos, until you run up against a wall and something becomes urgently stressful. The meetings and to-do list is more manageable these days, but never ending. We've run up against many walls, and found a way through all of them. Not without losing sleep. Besides the ridiculous waits for timbers and ceiling material, we also came up against unusual lighting and venting challenges. The biggest stumbling block we've had to endure is tile. Tile has been the worst!! We have no tile in our current home. I had no idea it would be such a fiasco!!

I started looking at tile in August, and think (hope) I'm through the worst of it. The wonderful gal we were working with got let go about a third of the way through the process. We had to start all over with an incompetent sales chick. I took the reins early on, and did all the remaining ground work of searching for matches, getting samples etc. She did nothing, unless I showed up in person. The day after our tile design was drawn up (wrong I might add) I was informed our shower wall tile was discontinued. That was the last straw. If I hadn't invested all the time, and we truly liked the tile we had so far - I would have pulled the whole frickin' job! We almost did. The owner of the company is an associate of Brads. When he called to find out how things were going, he heard our frustrations. Funny how she suddenly started responding and we actually got tile ordered yesterday. 

Needless to say we bought different wall tile from another place, through the original sales gal who stayed in constant contact. Who does that?? She helped me through this whole ordeal, even tho it wasn't her problem any more and she wasn't getting paid/commissioned for her hard work. Thank god for her! I am so thankful for her endless help, and will make her a card (with a gift) in appreciation. 

The barn has had some additional work done on it, but for the most part has been on hold. I've really slacked off on taking building progress photos. I do have a few new ones to share, eventually.

Have I mentioned, it's holiday season? Um, yea - that's not helping get things done. 

I am still rehabbing my shoulder. It's painful and not my idea of fun, but I haven't given up! Thankfully Koda seems to have completely healed from our accident!! We've struggled to find time to head north and ride our horses. Twice a week, on the good weeks. A couple slipped by where we didn't see them at all. Our peace of mind is, soon we will be together every single day. Forever. 

Enjoying sunny 50F plus, at end of November
(L-R, Brad, Nemo, Koda)



build-a-barn ~ around the corner

The porch floor project mentioned on my last build-a-barn post, has been poured. We decided to go with the wood planked look (vs boardwalk). We used a wider 8" board stamp. The Saloon floor is a 6" board stamp. We still have to stain/seal both barn floors. It seems nothing is ever really completely done...

half way done
porch crew working hard

wet stamped concrete

taking self portraits to new heights
I am 60 feet tall!
Brad has been working super hard again, on both barn & house stuff. I really worry about him. He is burning the candle at both ends. As we move deeper into Fall, the pressure of our complicated homestead build increases. At least after a long two and a half month ordeal, the truck hauling our ceiling material for the house FINALLY arrived! For real. "It's been shipped" is kinda like "check is in the mail". You don't believe it until you see it! I am happy to report we no longer look like Smurfs standing underneath a gigantic blue tarp! Having a roof on our house means it's go time. Make up for lost time. Crunch time. For most everything. They said things will move fast after the roof goes on. They weren't kidding!!  

Even with an unseasonable warm Fall, it's hard to forget that winter is around the corner. All under/ground/outdoor related things have to be completed. Soon. It will get cold, and the ground will freeze. Eventually. On top of everything else, field work had to be done. Brad sold three crops of alfalfa earlier this year, before planting Winter Wheat last week. Thanks to our daughter, the wheat is already sold. The horse pasture also had to be replanted. 

We are still planning on having the house & barn done by the end of this year. Not an ideal time to move in WI. I moved in the middle of a freezing cold January snow storm once, and don't care to ever do that again. With that said, if this winter is anything like last year it will be a non-issue. On the other hand, we may just wait until early Spring. I might even be ready by then??

Remember how I said construction requires multiple stages of digging, then filling, then re-digging, then re-filling? Well, we dug the barn area up. Again. I think this is the last time?! This year.

digging the water line for the auto waterer
(iphone pic)
We made the decision on shelter placement for the horses. With the house up, we could actually look out of it and see where shelter placement would block our view of the horses. We decided to clear the brush strip between the barn & house, and tuck the shelter-to-be partially among a few remaining larger trees. It will be closer to the barn, semi-protected from elements, with a partially unobstructed view. We would love to be able to see our horses inside the shelter, but both house & shelter face similar directions. 

The shelter will have a Ritchie waterer inside it. We won't be digging it out of snow storms, and unfreezing it, like the last place we had our horses. Someday we plan to add another open sided type shade shelter, further down the pasture. Mostly for Nemo, who's allergies continue to be problematic. We can't wait to bring him home...

future shelter will be on the left
a wide connecting path will be on the right
Work on the barn interior has slowed down. It's all about catching up on the house these days. However, we did finish deciding on stalls. Now it's time to order them. Gulp! We also looked at interior barn doors (again) and are in the process of having the plumbing & electric hooked up in the barn. It won't be too much longer & we will have a toilet on the land. One that doesn't consist of sand & hiding behind buildings. A real flushing toilet! Yipeee!!


View other Build-a-Barn posts to date.


We started building our 60'x80' barn December 2016. Building a barn from scratch is a very long process. I've documented and photographed our barn build step-by-step. For memories that last forever. This page contains all the related build-a-barn posts, and will continue to evolve until our barn is completed.

April 2017

2016 Build-a-barn links: 

let the building begin ~ the barn (excavating, footings, support walls)

2017 Build-a-barn links: 

build-a-barn ~ phase two (poles, stick puzzle, winter building)

build-a-barn ~ raising the roof (setting trusses, crane, sky views)

build-a-barn ~ the fun continues (structure, trusses, dividing wall)

build-a-barn ~ making progress (interior, roof, cupolas)

build-a-barn ~ rapid change (walls, trusses, barn & land video)

build-a-barn ~ taking it all in (stall walls, ice, reflection)

build-a-barn ~ now what (horse side, builders last day, 

build-a-barn ~ dig it (trenches, well, services)

build-a-barn ~ productive weekend (layout, wall support, multi tasking)

build-a-barn ~ months progress (services, storage walls, digging & filling)

build-a-barn ~ one section at a time (room flooring, heat tubes, drains)

build-a-barn ~ summer update (center aisle, saloon floor, interior framing)

build-a-barn ~ getting more done 
(porch ceiling, interior framing, storage entry)

build-a-barn ~ around the corner (porch floor, water lines, shelter placement)

build-a-barn ~ Fall update 
(driveway approach, moving dirt, electrical)

2018 Build-a-barn links:

build-a-barn ~ fresh air (stall bar distances, bathroom)

build-a-barn ~ excitement is growing (stall delivery)

build-a-barn ~ stall parts (stall parts, saloon update)

build-a-barn ~ two months later (stall snaffu & barn to date)

build-a-barn ~ stalls are up (stalls, wooden panels)

build-a-barn ~ a few changes (horseshoes, feeders, barn to date)

build-a-barn ~ doors (tack room door, winterizing doors)

2019 Build-a-barn links:

build-a-barn ~ inside shift (tack room, wash stall, saloon, bathroom)

2022 Build-a-barn links:

build-a-barn ~ door upgrade (garage door)

build-a-barn ~ updates (ventilation system, manure pit pad)


road to recovery

July 30th seems like such a long time ago, and yet it feels like yesterday. I am reminded of our accident daily. I don't dwell on it, and yet with most every movement it's impossible to not be reminded of how quickly life changes. With one wrong step.

Fall always finds me pensive, more so then any other seasonal change. This year is no different, and perhaps magnified. Everything is chaotic and everything is unfinished, in every area of my life. At least it feels that way. SO what's a person to do? You do whatever you can, and then a little more. The rest lays dormant, much like the plants and trees will soon be.

You can't change the past. I for one, don't want to. It makes me who I am. What I can do is devote myself to what matters, today. The most important thing I can do is spend time healing our injuries, the best way I can. It's the path to being able to do all the other things that matter, tomorrow.

Koda remains on full day turnout, with no leg wrap. Late afternoon his wound is rinsed, wiped and a light wrap with antibiotic ointment is applied. We are starting week four of his rehab riding, we are up to 12 minutes of walking a couple times a week. Ideally it would be 3X. I figure between a couple rides, turn out, galloping to the gate, hand walking to/from, he is getting enough movement. I hope. Koda's wound is very close to being healed. Once it is, they suggest one last recheck. Glad to be nearing the end, it's been a pricey ordeal. 

As for me, my doctor sent me for Xrays, and MRI's. Two Orthopedic doctors later, resulted in polar opposite opinions. I am also on the road to recovery. I think. Strangest outcome I've ever experienced. Is some of my Rotator Cuff completely separated? or torn? Jury is still out. Because of the varied opinions, I have a third Orthopedic doc appointment at the end of the month. What everyone does agree on is unlocking my (almost) frozen shoulder. I had my first steroid shot, which I am happy to report allowed me to sleep, lying down! The root of the pain remains, and when moved in the wrong direction finds me either fighting swear words or tears. But the constant evening dull ache/throbbing is gone. Yay! I started seeing an Athletic Trainer (similar to PT) and came home with 14 less then fun exercises from my first appointment (not counting variations).

my phone screen saver
(October 2014)
This year we will go on another horseless trail riding vacation. Sigh. It's never the same without our horses, but we are going regardless. We haven't taken any vacations since last Fall, and really need a break! The road to recovery can be a long, and painful path. But it's one well worth taking. 


build-a-barn ~ getting more done

With every week that passes, more things get done on the barn. The house, not so much. It has been at a stand still for weeks. The wood ceiling material our builder ordered from his supplier has yet to arrive. Without it, we can't put on a real roof. The giant blue smurf tarp doesn't count. At this rate we may be living in the barn saloon after all!

We didn't want to waste manpower or time, so the two guys building our house worked on the barn overhang ceiling instead. It's a work in progress.

the overhang, looking up
The entrance to the storage side of the barn got poured. Eventually we would like to have everything but the area with the six (potential stalls) windows done in concrete, or maybe just a center strip. For now, we will probably finish up with fill & top with gravel.

level flooring helps doors seal tighter 
looking out of storage side
Brad had the great idea of adding an interior window to the saloon! It faces the barn aisle, and will let in more natural light. You can see if someone comes into the barn, or if they are hiding taking a break in the saloon. 

all framed up
Board by board, the barn rooms are shaping up nicely. It's actually starting to look and feel like a barn. It doesn't smell like a horse barn, yet.

my guy working hard on the tack room
view from the other side

I walked over to look at the house site, came back - and just like that we have a saloon window!

adding this window was genius!

two saloon windows are better then one

inside saloon
There has been so much progress on the barn, yet much left to do. Most related decisions have been made, but not all. How to finish off the inside of the saloon, is a big topic these days. Just for the record, we are not putting in a bar. Sorry to disappoint everyone! We have zero plans of bartending and hosting big ol' barn parties. It's just not us. We will however enjoy the cherished space with friends & neighbors. Whatever we end up doing, needs to be low maintenance and useful. A refrigerator, comfy seating, and some type of cupboard/counter space comes to mind. Still in the dreaming stages.

Next on the agenda, pouring the porch...

ready, set, go


View other Build-a-Barn posts to date.