Reading through my Facebook the past two days is an interesting look at what has gone on for people in the past year. Some recaps are tragically sad, while others are humorously uplifting, but all of them have left me wondering, what the heck happened in 2015?
I’ll start with the important stuff – Darrell and I are still alive and, apparently, healthy. So I’d say that’s a successful year. My time these days is measured by the memories Darrell and I create together. The hardships we struggle through, the joys we share, and the goals that keep us going. So really, any year that means we’re still together and loving life is a great year.
But yes, many other things happened in 2015. I lost Argo in 2014, but that loss has been present with me daily. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of him. It is rare for more than a few days to go by without tears falling when I think of him. Far too often I have caught myself thinking that it was time to go turn Argo out, only to remember that he is no longer here. I’ve had some truly bad days this year, where the grief has overwhelmed me and I have struggled to get out of bed. When I walk around the property I can’t stop myself from thinking how much he would have liked it here. When I’m sad I long to once again sit in his stall while he buries me in hay and listens to me spill my troubles. I want to run my hand over the little indent on his neck and feel the soft grey hairs beneath my fingers. His coat was always so soft. Instead, I try to focus on the incredible memories, for those leave me smiling on a daily basis. I focus on being thankful that I had so much time with him, and try to remember that he loved me as much as I loved him. And then I cry in Darrell’s arms until the grief subsides.
My great uncle passed away in 2015. While I had not seen much of him in the past few years, it was sad to say goodbye to the man that I always regarded as a grandfather. My love of birds was in no small part shaped by his passion for pigeons and the stories he shared. He was one of the greatest pigeon breeders in Canada, his rollers being sought after by many. Those birds could fly and boy could they spin. He took such great pride in them and could remember so many of the ones he had known over the years. He used to pass birds on to me and my father to breed from and eventually look after in their retirement. He was always so happy to hear that his favorites lived such long lives, and that their offspring had turned into great performers. Aside from the birds, he was just a great man. He was always smiling, always laughing, always happy to listen to anything you had to say.
2015 was the year I also said goodbye to one of the greatest horseman and friends I had ever known. I had lost track of her in 2014 after I had graduated from Fleming. She had been a rock for me while I dealt with the insane driving and the stress of going back to school when I had so much going on at home. It wasn’t unusual for her to stop communicating with me for an extended period of time – she had her demons to face, just like the rest of us – but as the silence dragged on to a year I googled her name and found myself staring at her obituary. It was such a shock. It’s still hard to believe that I will never again get to talk to her about horses, or her cats, or gossip about the people we knew in the horse business. I met her when I interviewed for a job on a horse farm. After talking to the owner I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to work for him, but when I talked to his farm manager for an hour after the interview, I knew I wanted to work with her and learn from her. I’ve never regretted that decision. I only stayed at the job for four or five months, but I made a great friend who I will never forget. She taught me everything I know about handling and prepping thoroughbred yearlings for sales, she gave me so many insights into horse behaviour, and there was never a group of horses better cared for than those that were under her care. She lived for her cats, a more comical crew of felines I will never meet. Those cats were spoiled, happy, and quirky, having survived several close brushes with death before being welcomed into her home. She was initially quite reluctant about me having Darrell in my life. He earned her respect the day he alerted me to one of the horses choking, and continued to get it when he supported me in going back to school. I miss her emails, her sarcasm, her quick wit, and her devotion to the horses.
But before this post is too depressing, I have to point out all the good that happened in 2015. Like welcoming my second nephew into the world. My god the kid is awesome. He is perfect, just like my first nephew who turned one this past year. Both of those boys bring me so much happiness. I love visiting with them, I love seeing my sisters with them, I love watching my brothers-in-law playing with them. While I have never been fond of kids (I like critters with fur and feathers better than children having tantrums), I fully expected to love my nephews. I just didn’t realize how much. Nothing brightens my day like getting a new picture of them and hearing what they’ve been up to.
This past year I also found my chicken obsession. From the four white leghorn hens we inherited when we moved here last winter, we now have a flock of 21 chickens of a variety of breeds. I wanted one rooster originally – I’m now up to three. The chickens were my surprise of 2015. They have been an incredible source of happiness and amusement. Need to relax for a few minutes? Go watch Chicken TV. Need breakfast? Go collect eggs. Need a hug? Visit with Daisy and Chuckles. Need to chat? Go find Smokey, she’ll talk back. Yes, all the chickens ended up with names. We had to renovate the coop to fit them all in. In 2016 I plan to turn an old camper trailer into a second coop, buy an incubator, and starting hatching out some eggs. We’ve loved having them around.
Then there’s the farm, though technically it’s only 4 acres so farm doesn’t really apply, but I still describe it that way. The reason we didn’t fish as much as we would have liked to was largely because we have spent the entire year working on projects around here. From fencing for the horse paddocks, to the vegetable garden, to projects in the house, gathering and chopping firewood, and everything else that we decided to do, it was one heck of a busy year. Of course, one would think that maybe this means things are done and we can have more free time for 2016, but I want to enlarge the vegetable garden and start using the ideas of permaculture around the property. I want to plant fruit trees and build pens for meat birds, some turkeys, a cow, and maybe a pig. Now that we have our own place, I want to grow our own food. While Darrell agrees with doing all of this, you should see the look on his face every time I suggest another project.
Fishing. We just did not do enough of it in 2015. That is the only resolution we have made for 2016 – to fish more. That shouldn’t be a problem now that we know how many beautiful brook trout live in the little stream across the road. Literally, right across the road. How did we luck out on that? But while we didn’t get out as often as we wanted, we did have some awesome times. From a week of big bass on our summer vacation, to finding pike in a local lake we didn’t expect them to be in, to exploring new water (and finding even more pike). We fished the Fish-A-Thon For A Cure where I somehow got the big bass award with a tiny fish, but more importantly we raised a lot of money for a great cause and had an awesome day on the water with great people. We fished the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular again and had another dismal outing fish-wise, but an amazing time otherwise. We went pond-hopping and had a blast catching panfish on the 2-wt fly rod. Darrell even got a pike through the ice at Island Lake that put him on the board and got him some great prizes. I can remember every moment of him catching that fish. It was just too much fun.
I spent a lot of weekends volunteering at Ontario Women Anglers/Fishing 101 for Women events. I met so many amazing women, had a blast showing some of them new skills, and loved watching them catch fish. For some reason they even let me do a seminar on crappie fishing at the Reel Women seminar at the Spring Fishing and Boat Show. I love talking to a group of people, it’s one of the few ways in which I am quite outgoing. I’m looking forward to organizing a couple of OWA events this year with my awesome co-organizer.
And while I am sure I am forgetting many of the other awesome things that happened in 2015, this post is already incredibly long and I want to add the most important event. We added to our family. No, we did not have a kid. We did, however, bring home a puppy to join Jack and Molly. It wasn’t planned, but while visiting Darrell’s mother on her birthday, we saw the puppies from an accidental litter. They were already four months old and two had found a new home, but for some reason I told Darrell we should bring one of the remaining three home. Next thing we knew, Panda was in the backseat of the car with Jack and Molly for the ride home. Despite his odd colouring (he’s a piebald), Panda is a purebred Australian Shepherd, just like Jack (Molly is a Setter mixed with who knows what). For the first few days here he was the world’s most perfect puppy – no accidents, no barking, no chewing things he shouldn’t chew. Then he settled down, the carpet got peed on, shoes got chewed, paper was pulled off the table to be torn to shreds, and he started annoying the cats (which I don’t think Darrell minds). But he’s learning to behave and is still the most laid-back puppy I’ve ever known. He fancies himself a lapdog and I don’t have the heart to tell him otherwise. He’s pretty cute, incredibly loving, and though Molly hates sharing the attention, Jack really enjoys having him around.
So there is a look at our 2015. It had its ups and downs like any year, but we’ll take the memories and move on to 2016. I look forward to all that we have planned, and the adventures we have yet to dream about. Here’s hoping for more time on the water, more visits with fish, and a great year for everyone!