Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Updated Sale Pages

The promise of spring over Ravenseyrie

Our snow has all melted again and now we lots and lots of rain.

Encantara enjoying a morning romp

And mud, of course! But also, green shoots are pushing out of the sodden landscape.

Altamiro and one of our resident Sandhill cranes

I was able to get a few newer photos and so have updated and rearranged the sale pages for our Ravenseyrie offspring. Click on the titles at the top of the blog to now view the youngsters by year.

Animado cuts a fine figure in a midday fog at Ravenseyrie

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hot Flashes and April Snow

In my last journal entry, Eva inquired in the comment section: "Lynne, is it still grey and icy up there? Here the grass is already in full bloom and ready for first cutting."

I have been delayed in replying to this query for a variety of reasons, most of which are a direct result of a sort of torpor my mind and body experience all too frequently these days on account of a naturally occurring biological process. I will spare readers any in-depth graphic descriptions of the symptoms that have become a part of my present state of being--but I should warn you, I will not be socially graceful and attempt to hide the issue at hand in the way that our society expects. This author is now fifty years old and in the midst of "the change" (menopause!), and you may from time to time hear me whimper and moan while I do my best to turn this unpleasantness into some sort of beautiful living poem.

This condition is not a disease, despite the ads of pharmaceutical companies and the treatment philosophy of most gynecologists.

Mental attitude has a lot to do with how you experience menopause. If you see it as a tragic end to youth and sexuality, it will cause you great distress and leave you susceptible to the persuasions of those who will try to sell you eternal youth in the form of pills. If you see it as a natural transition to the next phase of life, you can accept it with serenity and without the help of the medical profession.

--Andrew Weil, M.D.
Natural Health, Natural Medicine

Though I seem to be spared the worst of the symptoms that strike fear in women (and those around them!) I find that the pesky hot flashes, muscle and nerve pains, indomitable fatigue and menstrual upheavals have disrupted my usual smooth way of living. Couple this with the scattered mental state of my thinking brain--where even to put two simple sentences together requires the most determined focus--one begins to understand the reason my personal correspondences, studio work, at home projects and even the Journal of Ravenseyrie have fallen into a relative disorder.

On top of all this, (and here is where I finally answer dear Eva's question) while a good many of you are enjoying the return of spring and fragrant warmth of emerging greenery, our lovely island (being in Northern Canada we shouldn't be surprised) has been twice in the last week treated to a winter-whiplashing.

Welcome to the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve, Manitoulin Island

Now, its, true that I am a charter member of the positive thinker's club and this has made it possible for me to not only live in a region of the world that experiences long, harsh winters, but to truly enjoy and thrive in such austere environs. But I confess! I find myself feeling a little grumpy when waking up to a January landscape in late April!

Yet, it is short-lived angst for such resistance does nothing to improve the situation. Before depression overtakes me, I put maybe just a little more effort and mindfulness into my daily Qigong and Tai Chi exercises, which not only help one embrace menopause without resorting to invasive hormone therapies, but likewise facilitates a much needed mental shift away from deleterious physical and mental resistances.

"In Natural Flow Qigong you allow yourself to participate, without effort, in what is naturally occurring. By doing so you cooperate with the power of the entire universe."--Roger Jahnke

A rereading of some highlighted passages from favourite books is of great assistance, also, in helping me see a better perspective (considering events in Japan, Libya and other regions, puts things in an appropriate perspective, too!)

If there is no joy, ease, or lightness in what you are doing, it does not necessarily mean that you need to change what you are doing. It may be sufficient to change the *how*. "How" is always more important than "what". See if you can give much more attention to the *doing* than to the result that you want to achieve through it. Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents. This implies that you also completely accept what *is*, because you cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.

Become an alchemist. Transmute base metal into gold, suffering into consciousness, disaster into enlightenment.

--Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now

When faced with the realization that the outer world is once again wintry, our disgruntled feline, Mignon uses his own brand of alchemy to change his perception to one of peace and acceptance...he comes back inside and takes a long nap!

The horses here at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve do a much better job of accepting what is, and serve time and again as a source of inspiration that helps me become an alchemist with elements of my little world that feel heavy, painful and lacking in joy. They are so much a part of the environment, much moreso than those of us who dwell in warm, protective buildings with all our many comforts--they have not become as weak and non-accepting as we when the weather is rough. The horses take comfort in their communal groups, retreating to sheltered regions of their landscape during inclement weather and an inherent knowledge that all things pass and goodness prevails. (It helps, too, no doubt that they know Kevin and Lynne will bring food to them in these sheltered spots!)

Lynne Gerard and Kevin Droski
photo taken using the "thermal" image feature of Apple's iPad2 PhotoBooth application

The peaceful shelter of the lee side of the edge of the westerly forest is enjoyed by the family band

And out of the windbreak areas, Kevin and Lynne feel the full force of the elements as they return to the house.

With today's foul weather, I decided to stay home and not go to work at the studio (uncharacteristic of me, as I do not generally indulge in sick days, or "playing hooky".) If we did not live here on this land with these horses, I could let the five a.m. hour drift on by and get out of bed whenever I felt like it. I could schluff around the house drinking coffee and tea and reading books, researching on the web, etc. and not have to go outside until the first spring flowers appear. But I think that type of indulgence would quickly have me come undone...

As light came this morning over Ravenseyrie, we could see even more snow had fallen during the night than expected.

And as many readers may recall, I love a good storm and have a strange desire to be out in it, feeling of the elements, experiencing the harsh discomfort and then coming back to the house only after the needs of the horses have been tended to. The warmth and comfort of our human interior realm is much more appreciated then, and I am mentally and physically recharged from the dynamic experience of being one (if only for a short time) with the storm-swept landscape.

After chores, Kevin and Tobacco enjoy the warmth and comfort of our human interior realm.

The ages and stages of a woman's life provide both tasks to accomplish and attitudes in which to root herself. For instance, if according to the following schema we live to be old enough to enter the psychic place and phase of the mist beings, the place where all thought is new as tomorrow and old as the beginning of time, we will find ourselves entering yet another attitude, another manner of seeing, as well as discovering and accomplishing the tasks of consciousness from that vantage point.

Strength does not come *after* one climbs the ladder or the mountain, nor *after* one "makes it"--whatever that "it" represents. Strengthening oneself is *essential* to the process of striving--*especially before and during*--as well as after.

--Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
Women Who Run With the Wolves

No, I won't insulate myself completely from the weather or rail against it and I won't try to stifle menopause, hide it from others, or pretend that my life isn't changing. It is by running into the wind, by feeling both physically and mentally the rising and falling, flowing and stillness, contradictory and enigmatic elements in the natural world that I find underneath (and pervading through) an acceptance, peace and understanding of myself as just one expression of a cosmic creative force. Observing all that, and sensing that it is me, but also not me, I can choose in what manner I want to participate...and I want to make something beautiful with my existence. I cannot create beauty by resisting hot flashes and April snow (a futile effort anyhow!) but by dancing with them in full awareness. This is how I can sled my toboggan of hay into this winter-whiplash with a song in my heart and a rhythm to my step.

Inner peace has the natural effect of pouring out--as transmission--for the benefit of others. There is no guarantee that your inner peace is going to actualize peace in the world, but it is completely guaranteed that people who have attained inner peace are peaceful with one another. There is no more likely path to world peace than the fostering of inner peace for all the people in the world. While you may not be able to cause peace in others, you can definitely work toward causing peace in your self. This contributes to the critical mass of peacefulness in the world.

Roger Jahnke, O.M.D.
The Healing Promise of Qi

A Sandhill Crane gleans oats and barley from the horses' breakfast

Whether the sun shines, or doesn't shine, whether or not it rains, amidst hardship and the deepest sorrow there is beauty to be found...make the choice to find it...and if you cannot find beauty, empower yourself by creating it.
--Lynne Gerard

Monday, April 4, 2011


The Family Band at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve

It was a beautiful morning. The snow had mostly melted from the previous day's warmth and while the ground had once again frozen stiff, the rising of the early spring sun was beginning to soften the landscape with its slanted glow.

Zorita (Sorraia x Sulphur Mustang) looks especially lovely in this light, doesn't she?

Bella (reg. Spanish Mustang)

I had been keeping my eye on Bella because though she had me convinced last September (preceding a scare with acute diarrhea) that she had aborted her fetus, she was in early March of this year looking quite round. Bella has a large girth even when not pregnant and she is an "easy keeper" which has her almost always looking like a pregnant mare. I remarked to Kevin that if Bella wasn't just carrying extra fat, we should be looking for a foal about the time Ciente has hers.

As you know from my last journal entry, titled "Esperanda", Ciente kept us waiting a bit longer than we anticipated. During that time since Bella's shape and behaviour had not altered from her normal way of being, both Kevin and I opined that most likely she was just doing very well this winter and carrying extra pounds. When there was still no change in Bella, even after Ciente delivered her foal, I felt quite relaxed and comfortable with the thought that Bella would not have a foal this year and likely be coming into heat later in the spring. (Actually, I confess, to my human sensibilities, it seemed quite nice to think that Bella would have a year off between foals--but with an autonomous semi-wild herd, one learns to go with the flow.)

Even so, I kept watch, but refrained from stalking her with a camera. I noted on the evening of March 27th that Bella's udder had trebled in size. "Hmmm...maybe she's not just fat after all?", was the feeling Kevin and I now had. But a little doubt still lingered, since Bella's behaviour and body shape were still unaltered and perhaps her udder was so large looking because Pinoteia (Bella's 2010 filly) had for whatever reason not nursed that day.

When that lovely dawn came on March 29th, the family band did not come up for breakfast as usual but were off to the west. A quick check with the binoculars settled the questions once and for all--Bella was not just fat, she indeed had been pregnant all along and this morning had a buff coloured form at her side!

How different a morning this was from the morning of Ciente's delivery of Esperanda! While I always desire to be with the mares when they foal, I gotta say that all the times they have done it without me have certainly kept me from the usual stress I indulge in. It is true, after all, that sometimes, "ignorance is bliss". Bella just did not have me worrying the way that Ciente had, instead, she kept up her normal habits, waited for good weather and then got the job done! (Speaking of waiting...Bella's gestation time turns out to be +/- 359.)

Let's look at some photos from that charmed morning:

Just hours old and already managing to negotiate walking on ice!

Bella's foal was dry, ambulatory and nursing as if she had been up for several hours. And, as if it knew I would be wondering whether it was a he or a she, the foal urinated while I was spreading out hay for the rest of the family members. The "water" was coming out the back, not underneath, so using my "keen powers of deduction" I declared, "It's a filly!"

I will spare readers the up close and personal look at the birthing sight (which I am fascinated by), but I do want to document that the horses were not far off from it. This tells me they hadn't moved much since the delivery, were likely nearby Bella at the time she foaled and the big event took place in the open grassland. The afterbirth, umbilical cord and amnion were all there and frozen stiff. It was around 7 am by the time we got breakfast hauled out to where the family band was and it is likely that the delivery took place several hours before that.

Bella's filly naps while her dam enjoys a pan of oats, barley and alfalfa cubes.

While I roam around with the camera taking photos, Kevin has come out and finds himself being explored by Ciente's filly, Esperanda.

By the time early evening hay was being served up, Bella's filly was showing off how well she could balance and run now that she was out of the cramped, dark womb:

Esperanda was watching intently, but was permitted from joining in the romp by Bella keeping her body between the new filly and the others.

Since she wasn't allowed yet to play with her new half-sister, Esperanda decided to wander over and probe her sire's tail while he nibbles at emerging grasses.

Of course my thoughts were beginning to get a feeling for what character this new filly had, and from the very start, it was obvious she knew she was high born. What I mean to say is that any foal born to Bella has certain privileges, acknowledgements, indulgences, etc. which all others in the family unit recognize belong to her simply by right of being born to the dominant mare of the group. Bella's prior two foals, Animado and Pinoteia accepted such privileges with never seeming to be aware of them (though surely they were) and they never demanded to be treated like royalty. However, this filly certainly was aware of her special status and expected to be treated accordingly.

Between my paper back Larousse Portuguese dictionary and the various online translator websites, I came up with a few names to try out on the new filly. Portuguese words meaning "privileged", "favoured", "advantaged", "elite", etc. were either so unappealing as names that I didn't try them, or when I did try them, Bella's filly would ignore me or walk away, both responses conveyed with an almost scathing haughtiness. I began to think of her as a little-princess-with-attitude and so explored some names that suggested a more royal bearing, which were equally shot down by the little miss. I began to think the name "Altivez" (haughtiness) would have to do, since at the very least when I spoke this to her, her ears pricked in my direction. But, truly, I didn't want to name her something that had a bit of negative connotation. I began to affectionately call the filly, your "highness" and when I looked up the word for this ("alteza") I thought we were on to something.

This morning I went out to try the name out on her. I had a bit of a bumble though...I addressed her as "Altiva" (haughty). She shook her head and I realized I'd gotten the wrong word. Hmmm, what was the word? Out of the blue I said, "Altavida". The filly took several steps in my direction. "Is this it? Is your name, Altavida?", I inquired more directly. "Yes!" she seemed to say, because she began running around and the more I said, "Altavida", the more she leaped and cavorted, culminating with her coming up to nuzzle me.

So, then, we have a name! Meaning "highness". When I relayed the events to Kevin, he informed me that I'd made a mistake...that "alteza" was the word for "highness", not "altavida". My error was what had garnered the most convincing "yes" from the filly, however, so I wasn't really willing to go back out and inform the haughty little gal that I really meant "Alteza", not "Altavida". Besides, "alta" means "high" and "vida" means "life", and this filly of Bella's is obviously destined to lead the high life, so why not join the words and make a name of them? Perhaps this is what the zoological park manager in Springe, Germany did when he gave Altamiro (high view) his name. So there it is! Altavida!

Here are some photos of Altavida and Esperanda enjoying themselves capering around and on the old barn ramp:

As you view the following photos, note the expression on Altavida's face and body as she already takes up the dominant role of driving Esperanda here and there:

And here are two nice photos of Bella, who was not just fat, after all:

We are still full of anticipation this spring because Belina, is due to deliver her foal in the upcoming days:

Altamiro, with Bella and Altavida

Soon, I will be updating the sale pages as well as putting together a couple more articles in the "Documenting Altamiro's Offspring" series and continuing to write about what makes the Sorraias so important to preserve.