Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, January 6, 2020

2020: Oh - the places you'll go...

2019 saw the realization of a ten year plan come to fruition: buying my property, living on site in a travel trailer fondly known as the Shimmy Shack, creating the farmette and planning  + building a house. That was the biggest, most complex goal I had ever set for myself. Sometimes it's still surprising when I look around. And then I take a glance at the to-do list lol.

The word "goal" comes with baggage. When goals aren't met within time frames, or life gets in the way, the disappointment/guilt/shame can be very counter-productive. Probably even worse for us type-A horsewomen. I'm going to follow the lead of several other bloggers and re-frame my "goals." How about intentions, objectives and targets? In the context of my profession (landscaping) I often aim higher than what may be achievable, in the belief that I'll end up further along than if I hadn't been ambitious. That's usually how it works out.

So - as far as 2020 goes, the plan is to piggyback on the momentum of the house project.


As of Jan 1, I took over the family business, which amounts to assuming the billing and accounting responsibilities, as I've been running the day-to-day work for a while. Theoretically this means an increase in income - fingers crossed. I've set up a budget that should address 2/3 of my non-mortgage related debt this year, and wipe out the rest next year. If all goes well with that plan, the next step is making two extra mortgage payments (applied to principle) yearly to reduce the mortgage from 30 years to +/- 17. Financing an actual tractor for the farmette I mean the business would be my reward.


I'd like to continue to prioritize my health this year. I've lost twenty pounds since May 2019, with the idea of losing thirteen more by this coming May. To be able to continue to do my job well into the future I will have to remain fit. There has also been a lot of walking and a bit of running in the mix. Basically I've adopted healthier habits, and they seem to be sticking. For 2020 I'd like to use my health insurance to get up to date on screenings, and incorporate regular yoga + meditation components.


After recovering from two disastrous hurricanes in the last three years, a few things became clear. Mental health-wise if nothing else, everything on the farmette that is on ground level will have to be raised. Buildings, sheds and the garden. The garden component is already in process. The buildings + sheds are more complicated and will have to happen in phases.

For Val this means a long shallow ramp up to a raised run-in on pilings. I can't tell you how stressful it was to look out at Val's paddock during hurricane Dorian and watch 3 feet of surging flood water surround him while 100 mph+ winds were shredding everything. There was literally nothing I could do.

Because my hay barns have repeatedly been inundated, I now have half the storage I started with. Consequently there are (at least) twice as many trips off island to restock, which adds $3-$4 per bale to the price (a roughly 30% increase). If I can't address hay storage - having a horse will not be sustainable. This project will involve lots of money, materials and time, but as they say - hope is not a plan.


Last year Val experienced several (additional new) health concerns.

In the spring he developed "heaves/asthma/copd" which was most likely due to allergies; environmental and hay-dust related. Despite the grim prognosis the vet gave me, I have been able to control his symptoms well with daily allergy meds and Ester-C, so far. I'd like to build a hay steamer this spring with plans found online. Next, an extremely hot six-week spell last summer had all the horses in the area becoming anhidrotic. One A/C got us through that crisis. And then there were the never-ending abscesses resulting from an extremely wet winter...

Val turns 18 in a few weeks. Health issues are to be expected. Health issues that stem directly from circumstances beyond my control stress me out. I've just about got his feet back in order from the spate of abscesses, with judicious trimming and using Durasole. As of today, it's been almost nine weeks since the farrier's last visit - no word when he'll make it down next. I went ahead and did a full trim myself over the weekend, because Val can't wait that long - so I'm preparing to take over the trimming full time.

Hopefully in 2020 some (all) of the complications of horse-keeping here on the island will be resolved. Never fear though - Val is happy, relaxed and sassy as ever.


Right before Christmas I went off island overnight for the first time in over five years to see Hamilton (!!!). This was possible because I finally found a reliable farmsitter. My employee took a trip to the Keys over the holidays as well. We decided to close up shop from Christmas through New Year's, which turned out to be a great idea. No time pressure made holiday activities much more relaxing and enjoyable.  From this year forward, there will be mandatory vacation time. The boss said so. ;D

Pie in the sky:

I'd like to find a groovy little vintage travel trailer (Shimmy Shack II?!), and fix it up to rent as an airbnb for people who want to bring their horses to ride on the beach. Still running the numbers - this will likely be a 2021 project.

 A few readers have reminded me that I never completed the house building series. Indeed. It has actually taken this whole year to furnish and arrange everything. Most of my possessions came out of storage infested with water bugs, their eggs and excrement. (a disgusting surprise - I agree... possibly tmi, but there we are) Everything I wanted to keep and bring into the house has had to be thoroughly and individually disinfected and cleaned - a time-consuming process. I'm almost there, and ready to document. Soon...


  1. Love your goals! Having safe places for horses, hay, and humans is such a priority - we've had our barn flood and made some major changes to hopefully prevent it from happening again. Here's to a great 2020!

  2. Your life on the island fascinates me. Congrats on everything you’ve accomplished, good luck in your new endeavor as a business owner and I hope Val does well in 2020

  3. These are good goals. I can imagine how stressful the hurricanes were- I cannot imagine! I also can't imagine how you deal without a tractor. I would be lost without mine. You will love it.

    1. I have the use of a borrowed tractor for big jobs, but I'm definitely ready for my own.

  4. ugh so sorry about the bug infestation but I think your intentions for the year (and honestly for years to come) sound great and I wholly believe you can do it!

    1. The bug thing was super gross. Thanks for the vote of confidence. You are one of the bloggers that really inspire me with what you accomplish. :D

  5. YAY FOR TRACTOR! Fingers crossed so big on that.

    And OMG I cannot imagine having to elevate everything. =( Still, as you noted, hope is not a plan. It's awesome that you're as forward thinking as you are about things.

    Best of luck with all of your endeavors this year!

    1. Being forward thinking is my alternative to wallowing in self-pity lol. I've really enjoyed watching your barn dream happen. 2020 for the win!

  6. I think you've got a good handle on everything that needs doing to make it safer and easier on you and Val. I hope he does well in 2020 and you get to enjoy lots of fun times together. Sorry to hear about the bug situation that must have made your heart sink when you saw that. But you're very resourceful and I'm sure your place is looking great. Can't wait to see the pictures. Congratulations on losing that 20 pounds that's a major achievement Hope I can do as well as you this year.

  7. Can I bring Reginald (our tiny camper) as our own Air BNB and come bother-- erm, visit-- you?!?!

  8. Good to see you blogging again! Fascinated to see the development of your property and house-keep up the posts!

    I think you posted about abscess troubles for Val with wet weather. I also have had these problems with Jet and Farriers Formula double dose for a year has eliminated the problem. J has good feet and goes barefoot but has had abscess troubles pretty consistently with extra wet weather. We are on a year plus without a recurrence so I thought I would just pass it on. For whatever reason some horses grow a slightly more abscess resistant foot with some extra supplement.

  9. We had more abscesses in 2019 than I'd ever seen, but then I said that at the end of 2018. Two record breaking rainfall years in a row does bring out the abscesses! I hope 2020 is the year of the tractor for you!!

  10. We had 90 inches of rain here in 2018, and in 2019, a super wet spring followed quickly by drought. Hoof care was a nightmare.

    I vote for Year of the Tractor!!


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