Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"Picture the feeling" ( the ramble as promised )

So I will throw a few pics in here for entertainment but mostly it is a classic Fern Valley  ramble.
As I said in the last post the key words in my head about this particular wander through the cobwebs of my mind are;
Energy, resistance, biofeedback, working with young horses, working with young people, relationships, life.

So Energy and resistance , we something I talked about a while back in this post Resistance is Futile but it fits here too. 
What I said ,in short was the greater the energy can equal greater resistance, where patience,and gentle pressure together create softness and success.

So Picture the feeling? While working with a couple of the young people I see as an EAPD coach , we talk about how things feel when they are going well, and also when they are going badly.Put into context with the horses, especially Tango lately we see the successes when the kids are calm ,using low peaceful energy and creating a flow.  Pictured below at liberty and on a lead, this young horse is moving with them softly and willingly. So in carrying that lesson forward we talk about the "feeling " that creates, and what it would look like in a picture. 



 An example of what I am trying to say for me, when things are going well with a horse I am working , the "picture I feel" is a gentle stream, rolling over rocks and sparking in the sun.Peaceful, pretty and refreshing, I can almost taste the sweetness of the cool water.
When things are going badly, I would say the feeling looks more like dry jagged gravel , hard ,harsh and unforgiving . 
So what feeling do I want to picture when I head out to work with the horses? or with people for that matter?  
Both of the youngsters I see  struggle with sibling conflicts and anger management some of the work I have done has been geared towards that . Finding a balance of energy and resistance , and teaching them that it is not necessary to engage in every battle that is presented. Just like in working horses, it is not always necessary to "win the battle " but to teach a better way or disengage from the behavior. IE when a horse pulls back, pulling harder on the rope is not likely to help, nor is chasing them yelling and flailing . Sometimes you have to disengage them from the fight and sometimes you .Bringing up and old blog post from long ago, sometimes its OK to let go of the rope.

An adult I recently  did a demo with had a very interesting response to resistance. Stated she was fearful of horses,so  initially when I handed her a lead rope it was not attached to a horse, simply I held one end and she the other, I calmly said, I am going to pull the rope and lead you , before I knew it she had essentially set back and begun to pull for all she was worth (which I kinda expected) I held firm and calm and said nothing for a moment or two then said"how is your arm?" She laughed and said pretty tired,  I asked her who was working harder at that point? and the penny dropped, she loosened her grip and we continued talking , all the while with Tango standing nearby, calm soft pressure on the rope no longer disturbed her and suddenly she found (because I am sneaky ) that she was now holding a horse!  How excited was she to be leading a horse that day? well I think you can imagine .

This conditioned response to pull and not let anyone take us anywhere we don't want to go , even if we don't know where we are going is extremely common, our environment makes us often distrustful and anxious and  we instinctive demands control, and we , say it with me here ... RESIST
Our instincts are to run away right away.
Same for horses, so while we are so busy teaching our horses to be calm and (I hate this word ) desensitize them , we become more hyper vigilant, anxious and more sensitive ourselves .Which in turn we telegraph to our highly intuitive critters and we  are sending some very mixed messages.
So on to the Bio feedback . I have recently through work been training on a program called Heart Math   a program using the heart rate variability to help people learn to regulate themselves, their heart rate and breathing and ultimately their stress levels . I am really enjoying the training, and find there are some very useful tools to help me as well and for me to help others. Another program I have done some recent work practising with, is called , Wild Divine , a series of games of a sort and it uses the same type of biofeedback sensor  which reads, heart rate ,temp ,breathing etc and as you go through the lessons you are taught to visualize certain feelings of calm, or happy, etc to achieve the goal in each screen.One was a Zen garden, if you are relaxed and  centred  the stones that float across the screen stack on on top of the other, if you become anxious or "try to hard" they float around and will not come to rest. That one I rock at !LOL  though as a general rule I am a pretty calm gal, any calmer I might slip into a coma! lol. The running joke at work though is when I do get anxious or irritated,is "I need to find my Zen, or start stacking stones"
I am not marketing these systems I am just trying to show that even without the actual sensors, visualizing the feeling we want , and maintaining our calm, is a great way to help us in our horse work, or our people work, or just in life. 
Instead of picturing the rodeo , when something or someone might spook our horse, picture the stream, or the clouds or stones, and see the feeling you want , after all if you "see the wreck " you might just "be the wreck" 

So there you go. Another of my tangled rambles that seem to got here there and everywhere, but they are my thoughts. Hope it makes sense to you .
Stay safe my friends. 
Oh and by the way ,I did go swimming . 250 meters and 10 mins of treading water. No records broken for speed, or distance, but its a start! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Let's get ready to ramble


So I have a ramble brewing in my head , and below  are my cue words I wrote down to  put it all together. 
 Energy, resistance, biofeedback, working with young horses, working with young people, relationships, life.
Now all I have to do is take time one day and put it all together .I just posted this teaser to let you all know I am still here, and thinking (yikes that can get scary!) 
Posted a few pics and fun animations to fill the space till I can get that ramble all typed out.
Meanwhile,









Stay safe may my friends 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Favorite places and spots

Quite a few pictures, and not a lot to say
Just loving the autumn here in Alberta, its been a busy couple of weeks 

 But there is always time to smell the leaves and just enjoy the view 
Took our annual trip to Jasper this weekend with Heather and Marc as always 
It is truly one of my favorite places in the world

As soon as we see the mountains ,it seems we all breath a sigh of relief and feel the serenity coming on . There is a small parcel of land just east of the park gates, that I have often dreamed of owning, funny I told my dad about it and he knew just the spot, it seems he too, has dreamed of living there, since he was a kid. Guess the apple really doesn't fall far  lol 
Even Martin found some peace and joy after the sadness 

We walked around , then headed to town to do a little early Christmas shopping 


 As you can see we came , we saw, we shopped! I was pooped 


then up the hill to Miette, and the mineral springs


Feeling much better after a soak in the hot springs! 
I have had some chiropractic work done on my shoulder and finally after more than 2 years, I have regained nearly full range of motion! I was trying out swimming in the hot pools and I am happy to say I can do it ! will no longer be swimming in circles! Going to try some lane swimming at the local pool this week 

 Heather and Marc tend to take this trip near their anniversary, this year we were a week late, but I think its still OK , 26 yrs Married this year 

 The mountains in all of their autumn finery 

 Martin , at the foot of Mount Pocahontas , with a couple of interesting fellows 

The home to the farm and my "other" favorite spots! 
Tango, just a yearling ,yet this sweet colt has been a great help in the Equine assisted personal development program, wise beyond his age, gentle and kind, he has connected nicely with a couple of youngsters that come here

Then there are these , spots on the move

 They all bring joy to my life, but I seriously need to actually get on a horse, and soon!
But until then ... 


Stay safe my friends 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Finding our feet again

As expressed in my last post .Martin and I both had our world tilted  by some very sad news, it felt like the the hits just kept coming . We spent most of last week spending time with family and preparing for the funeral service.
 Above is Martin and his siblings, below, with Aunt Honey and cousin Grant 
 I also connected with my friends (Mom Brown's daughters) and we shared over the phone many memories and tears. I also wrote a poem for her family that was read at the service , I was unable to attend as it was the same time as my father in law's. I would share the poem here but to honor her very private nature I will for the moment decline , other than to share the title ,which says pretty much what I thought of this lovely lady ."I thought I met an angel once "
The silver lining for me is that I was able to catch up with the girls ,in person for brunch on Sunday. And after a total panic attack ,where I thought "oh my ! what if they don"t love me any more ?" I went , and it was truly wonderful! we fell back into our old friendship  like no time had passed at all. Do they still love me? I think  so, I know I still love them.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself .
Friday was the service for Martins dad, and we were truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support.A big thank you to all who attended to honor him, and to support us!
The service was lovely and the family members who were able to stand up and speak for  him and us were so very brave in the face of their grief.

The weekend was a little low key, just about helping to find our balance again . We had company  on Saturday , Deb and Brian, and we headed out on our gators to just see some sights in our own personal patch of heaven. Did a little fencing , a little clearing and a lot of just enjoying the beauty around us.


 Martin's new workout regime 
 "oh ,you go to the gym? cute"





 "I played in mud and I liked it "
 A little hidden treasure, just off the hay field, blueberries,a peat bog and Tamarack 
 Just follow a little narrow path into a thicket and its like coming out the other side of the wardrobe door

 A little washing up after the dugout diving event 
 The Redneck dipping pool is officially done for the year 
"Its a Love seat mom!"

It was a perfect day, and we enjoyed a fire and wiener roast when we returned. Then got cleaned up and headed to a birthday celebration for my cousin , a good reminder that life ,in fact goes on.

So then back to Sunday, as I said I had brunch with the girls and families , then went to pick up Martins Auntie Honey, sister to his dad, and a spry young 87 yr old lady. Just a few weeks before , she lost another sibling , her sister Dee Dee. Dee Dee was a sweet lady who I had the pleasure of meeting a few times and who also loved to look at photos of my horses. She had exacted a promise from Honey that should she ever return to Alberta she had to go see the "Appaloosas" for her. Well Honey honored that promise and we went out to see the horses. 
 she is a very petite lady, but as you can see Tango is a huge kid, standing next to me in the first pic,it is hard to believe he is a yearling, he looks quite the giant next to her 

 Johnny Handsome , coming up to say hello 
 I think Dee Dee would be pleased 

Brought the cows in as well to wean calves to ship, so Honey says she will now tell everyone she was part of a cattle drive!



Weaned  today and sent them off, so it really is business as usual around here now . The cows out in the pens singing "the song of their  people" all night .Funny thing is I am not kept awake by that sound ,but can be awakened out of a sound sleep by the sudden deafening sound of silence that usually means they have gotten out and are in the hay or some other inconvenient place ! 

So were are slowly coming to our new normal here in the Sikstrom house, not the same as we were,but moving forward .Thank you for all of your kind words and support , you are all so very kind and much appreciated .
Stay safe my friends.