Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I think we should nix all the others and celebrate Thanksgiving every month. I am fine with changing the meal sometimes, as long as the tradition of eating too much, sleeping, and saying thank you is still the order of the day. Got to love a holiday with such low expectations.

And I have so much to be grateful for. Today, as I took a deep breath, quieting outside distractions… I heard a still, small voice from very deep inside of me say, “I hate everybody.” (Crap!)

Usually I stay belligerently positive; I have a pretty wonderful life. But sometimes I get the Over-stressed/Under-appreciated Flu. Ever had it? You catch it from people, not horses.

Lucky for me, I have the cure right at hand. It’s salvation in the form of a muck fork and cart.  There’s some sort of universal balance struck between human emotional excrement and the actual muck created by horses.

Some days it’s a quick fix- tidying one stall delivers easy satisfaction. But today will require an entire herd’s muck- at the minimum. With another dose in 24 hours.

The first and best thing about muck is that you find it in the vicinity of horses. Once you’re in the pen, you don’t have to start right away. You could take a lean on an old horse soaking in the sun and try to remember why you didn’t name him Prozac 25 years ago.

You can rant to the sky, and the prairie wind carries the anger away, with the lawn chairs and feed buckets. Then shoulders relax after a few forkfuls and there’s an illusion that order is being restored to the universe, one pile at a time.

Wait! I know what you are thinking, and I’m so sorry. We only have 7 horses, 1 donkey, 4 llamas and two goats… and with the mental health needs of the Dude Rancher and myself, we just don’t have one extra turd to spare. I really can’t invite you over for a mental health muck visit. Maybe you could volunteer at a horse rescue?

And so, on I muck from horse to horse. Windy likes a quiet hand on her shoulder. Grace holds back, but her bright eyes follow every step. Nube’ likes to wrap you up in his neck, while Clara prefers to share breath.

There’s a donkey who has totally obscured my view of the muck cart. Time for a trick shot- maybe a twisting overhead lob. Hoop-ilicious! The manure has air time and I wait for it… Swish! My donkey-blind poop toss lands mostly in the cart and Edgar Rice Burro congratulates me with an ear scratch. His ears, of course.

My personal mental health plan is to keep on mucking until the days are long again, the sun is warm again, and people learn to at least mimic their horse’s kindness and grace. I know I’ll have to settle for two out of three, but with enough muck time, I can make that work.

Eventually I muck my way to a full cart at the far corner of the property. I do a combination bench press/belly bump to empty the muck, the barn equivalent of a clean and jerk movement. And as I shake it out, my eyes survey all that is mine. We are a plain little barn. No false fronts, no secret agendas, no hidden muck. Just a multifarious herd of good souls who are forever grateful for a scratch and a kind word.

Acknowledgment is all any of us want.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

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