A Stableboy’s Farewell

This is an unfamiliar sensation and situation for me. New territory as it were. There have been lots of scary feelings like this for me during my time at Storybook Farm, but the way I feel today is completely different.

This is my favorite view in the morning at the farm. Baloo and Watson are always there to greet me.

As some of you may or may not know, it is my last week at Storybook Farm. At the beginning of the summer, I was offered a new job in Hunstville, AL, and after much prayer, deliberation, and advice of family, I decided to take the next step and move. I’m really bad with feelings, but these feelings might be sadness at leaving, self-centered fear to get out of my comfort zone, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for every single day I’ve been privileged to walk around Storybook Farm.

In my own grandiose and #self-absorbed (Fall Festival 2017 :)) fashion, I want to go out with a bang and flash. I’m definitely one for the theatrical, but a blog post with some fancy lettering and photos will suffice I guess.

I want so badly to personally write or call every family that has shared their love with me for the past 4 years and let you know what a difference you have made in my heart. In volunteer training, I’ve referred many times to our riders as the most precious “cargo” we have at Storybook Farm, and I firmly believe that. Families – thank you for entrusting us with your children; it has been an honor to walk this path with you. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me; thank you for making me stop working for half a moment and have a conversation. My time in Paddington Station Arena was always the highlight of my day. I’ll miss the dust in my face, sun in my eyes, and smiles from your children aboard their majestic steeds. I’ll miss the competition of Red Light, Green Light, obstacle courses, relay races and dancing on horseback. Riders and parents, you have taught me truly what it means to be a Child of God. You’ve taught me something that I had forgotten: how to laugh, love and enjoy the time God has given me, and I am eternally grateful!

We didn’t even ride a horse. We just talked. About ice cream, sandwiches, and what was in the mailbox.

To all the volunteers – thank you for putting up with me. I know I talk a lot and say some pretty stupid things from time to time, and you laughed – even when they weren’t funny. You have given me the ability to feel at peace and confident in my own skin; I never had that before here. I always felt different and like I didn’t fit in. A special shout out to Lillie, Caroline, and Erin who showed me the ropes at Storybook Farm when I was just starting out. To Ole Smokey, who taught me how to do “man-stuff.” I would have been completely lost without you, man; thank you! And at the risk of sounding like an actor accepting an Emmy, there are so many volunteers I could thank by name, but there are too many. Each have shown me what it means to have dedication, passion, and an attitude of service. Something I was sorely lacking previously. Storybook Farm is my home, and I will always be comfortable here because of the volunteers’ collective spirit of warmth.

To Dena – thank you for giving me a chance when I didn’t deserve it. Thank you for showing me into your farm and family, and for giving me a new purpose and direction in life. For those that don’t know, I have a degree in Computer Engineering, and I thought I was destined for greatness in the video gaming industry. I thought life was going to serve me on a silver platter. Dena, you changed all that for me (for good!). You showed me what it means to work and enjoy what you do. Jobs don’t have to suck the life force out of us and they really shouldn’t. Thank you for pushing me to be my best; thank you for teaching me the ways of the horse (they’re actually pretty great); thank you for feeding me; thank you for being patient when I broke something; and thank you for being a mom away from mom.

Emma – you will always be my favorite.

So many memories abound at Storybook, and all of them are magical and special in their own way. I once saw a large grasshopper get eaten in mid-air by a hawk/falcon/eagle? swooping down as I was cutting the grass in Sherwood Forest. I literally cheered as it happened, and it may have been the ABSOLUTE COOLEST THING EVER. The time stands out when Dr. Dolittle was on stall rest, and while I was walking him, he decided to rear up to show me the bottom of his hooves from a magical vantage point underneath him. While scary, I came through unscathed and our relationship progressed to a new level. He even gives Friar Tuck a run for his money as my favorite, and that is quite a lofty statement if you knew how much I loved Friar Tuck. There was the time a local blogger interviewed me for a local story. I even rode a horse at Storybook one time; Boo Radley and I went for a jaunt in Paddington Station Arena. I quickly learned I’m not an equestrian. But best of all are the memories I have of the people I have met during my ride at Storybook Farm. Seeing a couple of boys’ faces light up when “Mr. Andrew” came around the corner with Friar Tuck; having secret conversations with a preciously shy red-headed girl, and discovering what we can to together as a team in Paddington Station Arena.

If you don’t know already, I started as a volunteer in Spring 2015 seemingly alone & scared out of my mind. After volunteer training, I wanted to run away and never come back; I thought a horse would kick me or God-forbid, my big mouth would get me in trouble and I would say something inappropriate. I thought I couldn’t handle the responsibilities and pressures I thought volunteering/working at Storybook Farm would entail. Little did I know that every day at the farm, I would be blessed by the presence of others. I never knew that God didn’t want us to be alone. Storybook Farm, you gave the ability to know others, to trust them and depend on them. It is truly a gift from God to have others in my life. Today that is my greatest asset, and I love you all for that.