WHY IS IT SO HARD to go away?…

I’m sitting here wondering why I make such a big deal about ensuring that everything is super prepared for when I go away?

I mean, ‘prepared’ should be good enough… but honestly, I’m teetering on Obsessive Eagle Scout.

For me (and my obsession), I have to be SUPER prepared in case something awful happens while I’m away – and I have to think of all the awful things that could happen and then prepare for all of those things, plus the regular daytoday stuff like food, water, vitamins and the ‘important numbers’ list.

What is even sillier is that all of this is based upon the notion that I am some sort of stabilizer around here.  Like without me, the whole place would turn into a bubbling frenzy of undirected energy that would erupt into small piles of chaos all over the ranch.

Hello.  My name is Dawn and I am a control freak.

Oy.  I drive myself crazy.

In reality, I’m sure the horses would be fine with whomever fed them, as long as they ate.  The dogs would happily hang out alone all day like they do every other day that I’m working… and the cats, well, they’re cats.

But truly, every time I go away, I always find myself sitting in the dark of night shaking my head and and wondering what happened to the day…


The night before, I made sure I had enough hay.  I didn’t.  So, I set my alarm to get up early so I could be at the local feed store when the doors opened at 8am.  Yes.  A good start.

I told myself that I would need an hour to get everything ready around the ranch and in the feedroom for my departure.  I figured I would do this in the cool of the evening.  I’d get all of my other stuff done during the day.

Uh huh.

And then it started…

As I was walking back to the house after parking the truck, I looked over at Bodhi and realized that he was much further into the pony pasture than he had ever been before.   Odd.  So I went over to check it out and realized that he had pushed his fenceline over about two feet.  Several posts were totally broken and the cross pieces were hanging in the breeze.

Oh great.

Bodhi:  I’m sorry.  (kicking the dirt)  I guess I just don’t know my own strength.


Bodhi:  Take me with you.

Me:  sigh.

This was the moment I started freaking out.  Instead of simply moving him to the upper pasture and dealing with it, I hyperventilated about how Bodhi will be all alone in the upper pasture and how sad he would be…!

I ran through all the alternatives – including running out and buying a goat – and instead decided to put him in the upper pasture and stop fretting.  So, that’s what I did.

Except, he didn’t have a big enough waterer up there… so I dragged the water trough from the arena into his pasture, plus the one he already had.

OK, that was settled.  Now, back to going back to the house…

Oh but… now the animal feeders will have to drag the hay from the barn all the way up the hill to feed him.  I’d better get a few bales up there.

(20  minutes of loud groaning and kicking a broken wheelbarrow…)

OK, now I’m ready to enter the house…

As I restart my journey up towards the house, I realize that the flymasks on the horses were looking pretty ratty.  How embarrassing.


I’d better wash them all before the feeders think I’m a bad Mom.

So, I took off all of the masks and rounded up all of the stompled ones scattered in various stages of deconstruction on the ground.  I find a few that I hadn’t seen in a while.  Old friends.

A little bit of this, a dash of that… the ranch must be perfect before I leave!

OK, heading up to the house for real this time.

But as I was taking off Bodhi’s mask, I felt a lump under his chin.  “Probably a lymph node” I tell myself… “But what if it isn’t?  What if it is an abscess or a bad tooth?!”

I start amping up.   I need to get his temp and check all of his vitals.

–Back to the barn for medical tools.

He appears to be fine.  It is probably just a lymph node.


Better call the vet.



OK, so this time I’m really going up to the house.  But while I was at the barn getting my thermometer and stethoscope, I noticed some unsightly spider webs all over.

Wow.  Look at the spider webs.  While I’m at it…better clean the dog bowls…  I need to wipe off the fridge and sweep in here.  Are there enough hay knives?  I better clean a stall and add new shavings in case someone gets sick.  Oh and I need to open the stall window and clean out the buckets.  I’d better put out more water for the dogs because it is really hot.

(You’ve probably all had that blabber stream in your heads…)

This is when I noticed that my dog water trough was leaking and flooding the barn aisle.

Hmmmm.  That’s OK.  I’ll run up to the arena and get the trough from there….

And, as I do that, I see that the tree up there needs water so I water it since we’ll be gone for 5 days.  While up there, I glanced over and saw Bodhi and wa reminded that I needed to call the vet!

So, I ran inside and called the vet.

While there, I remembered that I needed to cook some chicken for my skinny and finicky, Uber Guard Dog Mastiff who won’t eat while I’m gone – unless he is fed chicken breasts.

Uh huh.  I’m a sucker.  Well trained.

So, since I had forgotten to defrost any chicken, I sat at the sink with hot water running on top of a frozen lump.  After a few minutes of no softness, I left the chicken in the sink to melt on its own.

Back outside, I fluffed up the dog pillows and hid some treats.  I cleaned up all the little things that I’ve let go because no one was coming over… I got fresh toilet paper and towels for Auntie Leslie the house sitter.  I made sure the refer was clean and I washed all the inside dog beds.

Yes I can, Yes I can…

OHMYGOSH it is noon already!

What about the inside duties??!

I ran around frantically emptying all garbage cans, washing important clothes (and fly masks), filling the dishwasher but not running it – yet, and making sure the house was presentable for the sitter.

I heard the vet arrive… so I put on my barn shoes, ran my dirty hand through my hair and skipped out to meet him and his brilliant assistant.

We all studied Bodhi together (which made Bodhi a bit uneasy) and DR says, “Lymph node.  Don’t worry about it.”


The vet and his brilliant assistant showed up and declared Bodhi perfectly fine.


Next on my list was to create the list for the feeders.  I sat down and typed it.

When it was done, my list was three pages.  Too long.

I decided to edit my list but upon further review, changed the type size instead.

I drew a childlike map of the ranch with different colored markers pointing out each pasture, who was in each pasture, what they ate, where they ate, where the water for that pasture originated and where the troughs for each pasture resided.

The first one I made looked like a Scavenger Hunt diagram created by a 5 year-old… So I did it over.

I then clipped the correct check to the correct paperwork for the two different feeders and I laid the paperwork in nice piles by the door so I wouldn’t forget them.

Oh, and I also made a huge sign with the IMPORTANT NUMBERS which I planned to hang on the barn refrigerator.

It was just about then that I heard the ‘ding’ of the washer indicating that the fly masks were now clean!  I think I spent another 20 minutes untangling them all from each other.

Once finished with Velcrohell I trotted back outside to refit all of the horses with their proper masks.  (I actually don’t know why I bother since when I get home after a trip, each horse is wearing someone else’s fly mask.  Never fails – even with Sharpie Names on them…)

Rojo decided that this ‘fly mask thing’ was a new concept from every other day that he has worn it.  Yup.  Lucky me.

Today Rojo was Snortyjo.  Scardeysnortybackemupjo.

Reminding Rojo took about 20 minutes… he was fine once I made myself real small, crawled up to him and sat with my back to him like a little monkey.  That must have amused him because he forgot all about his new fly mask fear.


Anyway, that was done.

OK, cobwebs check, stall check, water check, food check, flymask check, fence board check, gate check, Bodhi check, cat bowls check, hose kinks check, dog bowls check… what am I forgetting?…


Hubby (aghast):  “What in the heck is floating in the sink????”

Me:  Oh, just Nomar’s chicken

Hubby:  “That is disgusting.”

Me:  He doesn’t care.  Oh and thanks for reminding me; I forgot what I was forgetting…


Now for the last bit – hiding the keys and affixing a phone outside.

This trip, we have a new horse feeder who we don’t know but came highly recommended.

Hubby was not comfortable leaving her the house key.  But the second feeder, Auntie Leslie, also house sits so she needed to get in promptly.

We would have to hide the key to the house.

On top of that, Hubby and I had both forgotten which keys locked the barns, the unfinished apartment, the storage room and the garage… That was fun.  We finally ended up dumping the kitchen drawer that had all the keys and trying each one until we had the LET’S MAKE A DEAL moment – a key that worked!

I also had to hide the keys to the truck and trailer.  If there was an emergency, we’d tell the new horse feeder where to find the key.

Except we have no cell reception at the ranch…

So, Hubby rigged one of our portable house phones outside and I hid the keys.

The hiding spot.


So this brings us up to date on the expiration of that day.

I still had a bunch of stuff to do, including organizing a sample dog, cat and horse portion.  But, basically, I was on the slippery slope to vacation.

And you know what strikes me as the most humorous?… Plenty of times I’ve had to run out in the middle of the day and not return until well into the night.  I never worry.  They will all be fine.

Ah yes, but that is because I’d be there to catch them  if they weren’t fine.

And that, my friends, is the cross I love to bear.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

4 comments have been posted...

  1. Nanette Levin

    I used to do this even before I had to worry about the animals. I used to worry about dying while gone and someone having to come in to a messy house to clear it out. It makes it a lot tougher when you’re departing from animals in your care. I get this! Hope you have a very happy vacation.

  2. Penny

    Yep this is me. You should have seen me each time we went to England:) Being that far away and out of the country made me a basket case. We are gone for 3 weeks when we do this and I spend a lot of money calling the house sitter almost daily. We do manage to have a good time each time we go:)

  3. Patricia

    OMG!!! I am you, I am you! the husband mentioned going to the beach in a few weeks and I am already doing all those things just thinking about maybe going!!! Thank you – I thought I was the only one…

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