Photo & Poem: A Cure for Sadness


Jerk out the fencing staples and
carefully pocket them, leave
nothing in the dirt. Pull the sagging
wire fence free and drag it to

open ground. Fold a few feet of
the end over, stepping it flat, and
make another fold, untidy as a fitted
bedsheet from the clothesline.

Reset posts as needed, unroll
the stiff field fencing. New staples
secure it by the gate, stretch it tight
and true. Raised by women with harsh

features and thick fingernails who
smelled of bleach and coffee, and
blunted their sadness with hard work.
“You take that outside,” they said.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm

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Anna Blake

25 thoughts on “Photo & Poem: A Cure for Sadness”

  1. Oh, I know that feeling. We suffer the loss (and self-flagellate), assure those who remain, give thanks for the gifts, and shore up the fence. And so, we begin again. It never gets easier though, does it? Sorry for your loss.

  2. As always, a very timely post, and one that pulls at the heart. I love it.. and the photo is excellent. Thank you, Anna, for being such a steadfast mentor for us.

  3. OOPS. Sorry ? I guess “mentor” can have many meanings ! I tend to think of it as one who is a “guide,” someone who is just a little further down the road and can offer suggestions and possibly direction to others traveling the same general direction … and in that way, I see you as “mentoring’ many of us who seek better conversations with our horses … and in this case, today, who seek to express deep feelings in words.

  4. Anna,
    So true. We went north to look at an equestrian property yesterday. We are too old to start working a small horse farm, but we considered it, briefly. A beautiful 11.38 acre farm, built in 2001/2004 (barn) and all good and wholesome. It was sad — and I felt that. No one lives there, presently. Empty stalls, empty tack room empty chicken house, empty house. But, as I read your poem it reminds me — “All is better outside.” The barn, chicken house, pastures, all other buildings are thoughtfully constructed and the house was immaterial in such considerations, it appears. Small, plain, and not well-designed, of little consequence. A place to sleep, to shower, to eat, plenty of storage. This family (and I am sure, the next) lived outside.

    I imagined my Thoroughbred playing and running in the lovely large pastures, going in and out of the beautiful barn as he wished. All systems operating. A donkey, perhaps, a goat maybe. A dog for protection. A few cats that can cope with a dog.
    Chickens, definitely — Guinea Hens or Bantams.

    It is a farm of total silence at present, but alas, we are not the ones to save it from the silence. In another life.

    It was sad leaving. We didn’t speak. We both felt our age — we couldn’t manage it alone. It was good to dream, even if only for a couple of hours.

    But then, a thought: Captain Jack is very gregarious OTTB and loves a large herd. He’s best living in his current barn, I think.
    He’s the barn welcome committee for new horses. It’s his main job. I can’t deprive him of that. Twenty-three year old Simon, the Tennessee Walker, would likely have been perfectly happy with the quiet farm.

    “It’s still better outside.” Spirits soar in rolling pastures and in the barn, and returning to our cul-de-sac home with a short driveway, we stopped the car and looked at each other. “Don’t you suddenly feel a little claustrophobic?” My husband asked.


  5. It’s always better outside. I spent many hours inside crying and I know why the barn always calls my name. The wind and the sun can dry my tears. My heart is always happy there.

  6. Yes Anna! Setting fence posts, cleaning troughs, moving hay, and then manure……all a part of Zen equine pursuits. These tasks that complete a physical need more importantly fill an emotional one. I sometimes panic when I think about trying to cope in life without these tools of outdoor living.


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