The eve of a new year on the ranch

Pigeons flying towards a new year above the Santa Fe plaza.

We make resolutions and there’s nothing wrong in doing so.  We plan to do better, give more and finish the big chores we have had on our list for months, maybe even curtail or give up our vices.  Well, maybe not completely give them up, but back off bad habits.

I work with students, horses and the land.  I work in order to live, not live in order to work.  That’s a big, big difference.  Working with students this last year has been more rewarding than ever before in my professional career.  I attribute that to my nearing retirement and wanting to give what I think is of value to the student before I put the chalk in the tray and walk away.  Time is fleeting and I don’t have time to cover all the points, just the most significant.  So, for this next year, I resolve to cut the excess from the lectures and discussions and get right to the core: finding your voice, writing down your voice and tending to your own garden (Voltaire, Gilgamesh, Trilling).

For my life with horses, it’s a sadder year coming.  We are selling Sweet Hija who is pregnant with a female and Shiners Fannin Peppy, the first foal out of Sweet Hija.  Brenda and I will be left with our two paints, Star and Lilly, both having their share of health problems these days.  In January, we are going to Oklahoma City for the Mixed Winter Sale at Heritage Place.  Market forces beyond my control have cut through our ranch operations with a vengeance and the cost of horse breeding and market conditions force my hand.  What Brenda and I are trying to do, in taking Hija and Fanny to the sale in Oklahoma, is to put these fine horses in the best sale around so that they will have good homes or ranches to live out their days.  So, for this next year, I resolve to focus on Star and Lilly, build some good, strong pens in the Pecan Tree Pasture for their safety.  I resolve not to think too much about our loss of Hija and Fanny and the little one — difficult to push that resolution through next year, I guarantee.

And, finally with the land, I resolve to set up brush piles for the little critters, deer and birds about the place, not shredding every single bush like some of my neighbors.  Further, I want to learn the name of every tree species on Flying Hat Ranch, or at least make a major dent in nomenclature.  I will also continue to plant native grasses about the pastures.

The eve of 2011 is here.  I toast to love, health and fortune to be found among horses and land, family and students — yours as well as mine.

Sweet Hija at full gallop in winter snow (2010).

Fanny strutting in the grove with Shiney (summer 2009).



Filed under Flying Hat Ranch, Lilly, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny), Sweet Hija

15 responses to “The eve of a new year on the ranch

  1. Happy New year, Jack, to you and Brenda, and all in your “family.” “Nothing is Permanent but change.” I hope the changes coming ahead for you and the ranch hold yet unrealized blessings. May 2011 be a wonderful year of discovery.

  2. And I toast to you Jack for making difficult and wise decisions. Life on the ranch may seem a little different without the full compliment of horses but you can be proud and rest easy knowing they will have good homes. With regards to your improvement of wildlife habitat I think this is just wonderful. To take the time to learn your native species and improve the land will bring you great joy.

    Happy New year to you and yours.

    • Thanks, Bill. I read on your blog about your hard decisions. Thank you for your especially kind words in commenting to me. I’m looking forward to the field work with the trees.

  3. Happy New Year to you and your family, Jack! May it be a wonderful and rewarding year!

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  5. Ken Dockray

    Beautiful pics of the horses and text well said. Congratulations and Happy New Year!

  6. Pingback: Additional information on sale of Sweet Hija and Shiners Fannin Peppy, Mixed Winter Sale Heritage Place, January 2011 « Flying Hat Ranch

  7. Kittie Howard

    I’m in awe of your courage. You’re giving up two and a half kids for adoption, a Solomon decision that nourishes the whole.

    You’re on the edge of retirement. You’re giving up part of your soul to nourish the next generation.

    Jack, you’re more than an inspiration, you’re the essence of America. God bless you!

  8. Erin R.

    Dr. Matthews thank you for all your hard work as a teacher. I have learned so much from you and I am very grateful. Cisco will be losing the best when you retire. Wishing you a wonderful new year and Fanny and Hija the best of luck in their new homes!

  9. Learning your trees – you picked a project that will satisfy! The best husbands/wives of their land will know the land well, will respond when there are needs.

    Lucky are your students!! Lucky are we to read your musings from your studies and lucky also to hear you listen to us very well.

    Thank you!!

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