Independence, Liberty, and My Personal Shining Sea

It’s officially mucking-in-a-muumuu weather here at Infinity Farm. The horses all stand in the barn’s shade and watch me fling their manure into buckets. It’s the Fourth of July and I can’t even have fun complaining about the heat when it’s so much worse elsewhere. Like all the black horses in Texas, for instance. Still, my best advice for you, not your horse, is to wear one piece of not-remotely-fitted cotton clothing and let the rest be free. Then hope for a breeze. Gone are the days when we even try to care what anyone thinks. They’re too busy sweating anyway.

I’ve had a quiet month. Not by choice, more by attrition. It isn’t just being chewed up and spit out by hackers on social media. The new Google search algorithm is boasting about higher quality search results, but it appears that small businesses like mine have all been omitted from page one of cyberspace. My blog readership has dropped over 80%. Okay, I might not look like your run-of-the-mill equine professional here in my muumuu, but entire years of sixty-hour weeks have been erased.

I try to be philosophical. The internet giveth, and the internet taketh away. I try to not take it personally, but fail. I blame the AI revolution, not that complaining helps.

My all time favorite Fourth of July was in 1986, the 200th birthday of the Statue of Liberty. I went to NYC for the best block party ever. Those who didn’t want to celebrate left town, and those who did came in from everywhere. The sidewalks were busy and hot. Stevie Wonder music gave us a backbeat, and we were all singing and dancing. It was like a city-wide truce. I was young and could still wear halter tops. We watched the fireworks from a rooftop in Brooklyn, 360 degrees of star-shine went on for what seemed like hours. Lady Liberty never looked better.

Those days are gone. Now, I spend this holiday like you do. I try to keep my animals safe. I live in an area with a bunch of new housing developments encroaching, so every year more fireworks, but the herd are long-timers. I hope the tolerance of the elders can counterbalance the number of fresh idiots moving here, but each year the math gets more complicated.

This year it’s not just the town fireworks. We have new neighbors next door, city folks who moved to the country (which is no longer country, as you and I use the word.) They have invited friends out. They are hooting and setting off firecrackers between their vast supply of fireworks so the prairie has the aura of an urban gang war.

It isn’t just that we are dry here and if they set their field on fire, it will race to my barn. It isn’t just that my dogs are scared, hiding under my desk with brand new chewys. It isn’t just that I have to stay up late to make sure the drunks are packed up for the night and my home is safe. And finally, it isn’t that, just like everything else, complaining does no good.

It’s the idea that we celebrate our country by playing war that I don’t like. I come from a military family. I have veteran friends who struggle even more than my dogs do. You’d think we’d have more respect for them, with our party-colored fake bombs. But it’s America and some people feel they have the right to take over the community in this loud and intrusive way. As if animal people and vets are less patriotic than they are.

So, I walked out to check the horses. An hour ago, I gave them ground blizzard-sized hay bags and they are all tucked in eating. I toy with giving them more but decide to wait for the midnight walk-through. For now, the horses are fine. Edgar Rice Burro gives me the “people are lower life forms” look. He gets an ear-scratch agreement. I’ve given up trying to explain humans to equines. Back in the house, I pass out more bones to the dogs. I’m pretty deep into the almonds myself. At Infinity Farm, we stress eat. The day will come when we break out the hard drugs, but for now, how about another chewy?

I can’t imagine my neighbor’s fireworks investment. It’s up in smoke and the air smells of it. The bang in fireworks is gun powder. It’s an additive; they don’t need to be this loud. But here I am complaining yet again, and half the time, complaining makes things worse.

It’s easy to feel we’ve been wronged, that each of our personal challenges are greater than anyone else’s. Easy to be embarrassed by our shortcomings. Easy to get complacent while living in the lap of choice when even complaining is a dangerous luxury in many places.

Right now, our dear country is at odds with itself. Everyone is complaining, but it still doesn’t help. I won’t get preachy about it. I’m just saying where else could I have had such a lucky life as here? The freedom to work at what I love and to have a home. The freedom to muck in a muumuu and say what I think. Freedom isn’t free, it’s never been truer. It’s our birthright and our responsibility. Sure, it’s messy right now, on both sides of the aisle, as the pundits say. But we are made of better stuff and even as frustrating, sad, or overwhelmed as we feel, Americans have never been quitters. Tomorrow is a fresh chance, and 248 years later, we can continue to try to live up to the ideals of our Constitution.

Meanwhile, Edgar Rice Burro and I will have a slow dance on our little farm, where we have fireworks over the pond every night. The silent kind that helps us remember our blessings.

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82 thoughts on “Independence, Liberty, and My Personal Shining Sea”

  1. Perhaps the number ofsocial media readers fell but I still look forward to these email letters from you. I’m not on any social media other than watching YouTube videos(is that social media?). Any way keep these coming there are more of us, I hope, than you might think…

  2. Outstanding post. I’m very sorry that your blogs aren’t being as widely read as they used to be; they have offered me a reality check for years now. My flamethrowing neighbors took the night off last night, and these days I’m grateful just for the absence of awful. Thank God for the animals. ❤️

  3. Well, my son would agree regarding the Google algorithm! He finally got his business (locksmith) set up only to be told it was “deceptive” or something! So hes been fighting it for a while.
    The picture of you mucking in a muumuu certainly “paints” a picture in my mind, but then I’ve been walking Axel the past few days (in the yard) in my pj teeshirt & sweatpants – havent gotten dressed in two days!!
    Spent 12 hours, thereabouts, last weekend, in the local ER being “monitored” – seems everything is ok except have to add more miligrams of one of my bp meds. Apparently I’ve been stressing out over some issues!
    So – grass needs cutting & wacking (yes, I know it will be there) thats the problem! But its keeping me from our dog walks up back – this sucks.
    We had a beautiful downpour yesterday evening and some fireworks but at least I didnt have to worry about the dryness for a change – and Axel doesnt care, hes pretty deaf.
    I do feel for you with the “newbys” – some here too – much more built up than when I moved up here – only insulated by my four acres. I really really dont get the whole love affair with fireworks – at all.
    Anyhow, happy fourth, sort of.

  4. Also – whenever I read or talk to someone who I feel is a kindred spirit – I tell them to READ ANNAS BLOG!

  5. Pingback: Anna Blake said it better… | sara annon
  6. Thank you for another very thoughtful post. I am sorry to hear that readership has dropped so dramatically but I was afraid that might happen if you were no longer on something like FB. Social media is ‘easy and accessible’ in this crazy world. We horse and dog people all dread July 4th with the insane amount of fireworks and all the dry brush that is just waiting for a spark. Here, in Oakland, the fireworks start a week before the 4th and go on for at least another week – as if this city needed any more issues for the police and fire departments.
    Stay safe and stay cool.

    • Yes, it’s hard to have a small business without social media, but they seem to do well without us… Thanks, Verna. To set off fireworks for a week, aren’t they special. I hadn’t thought of first responders…

  7. Hi Anna Yes, it was noisy here too when I climbed into bed-not as noisy as in former years though. This morning, there is a film in the air from all the firecrackers from last night. I went out last night and put my guys together in their stalls-much better for them as they could then calm each other. Our forecast is calling for hot weather for the next couple of weeks-lots of watering of plants. Hope the elections go as we hope! Take care, Anna.

  8. Wow you really captured how us “country” folk feel. I’m almost glad my horses are gone as to not endure the war zone my neighborhood becomes this time of year. My dogs were drugged into a stupor and huddled under the bed for the whole night. It has become ridiculous.

  9. I see the same stuff here. We are damn hot it Arizona and my horses hang out in the shade. We have 500 homes going in basically across the street and someone over there last night had professional grade fireworks that rivaled the towns show at the airport. We usually have a couple of those who must bring in the ordinanace from Mexico. I worry about sparks too. The horses were unphased but Tucker, the rescue dog we are fostering was not happy but better in the house where it was not as loud. The cats sat determinedly in our laps for comfort.

  10. I’m sorry you’re being encroached upon by townies, Anna. We have stayed pretty insulated from that here on our 9 acres in the mountains outside of Albuquerque. Just not enough land near us for a big gathering of new folk. You can usually tell who’s who though by the complaints on Nextdoor about dirt roads and snow and how often the power goes out. Oddly we got very little firework noise last night compared to past years. Maybe a few years of very dry weather with fireworks bans and National Forest closures did the trick. Thundershirt was enough for the sensitive dog to hang with us rather than hide behind the toilet. Small blessings.

  11. Like you, here at the MT Ranch (Eastern Panhandle of WV) fireworks are legal and used to celebrate any reason (birthdays, graduation, your mother’s boil popped, etc.)
    We had been in a severe drought a week ago and fireworks hysteria builds beginning in June, so I had been very concerned about fires and checked my fields repeatedly during these “live fire” fireworks events. (The locals really love the loud single boom fireworks. I’m apparently not the same type of human that they are – don’t understand the affinity.)
    Last weekend, we received 3.23″ of rain so for the short term, our drought has resolved. Last night (7/4/24) the noise was non-stop and my newest horses (acquired since last Independence Day) I’m happy to say were all calm, happily eating their hay, going about their business of horsing while the fireworks crescendo grew.
    Your comment of “country” no longer being country when city folk move out here also resonates with me… six new houses built in the last 5 years on my street.
    And I agree with you and Edgar R Burrow – Sunsets are the Best gift at the end of each day. I try very hard to attend each one!

  12. Sorry to hear about the impact of Google, et al, on your blog. What was once an open space is now increasingly pay-to-play. As for the fireworks, I am right with you! I have spent July 4th nights in my barn, hoping to keep panicked horses from harm. It always sounds like a battlefield, and I think not only of the animals and our veterans but also of those in the world for whom those sounds are very real and life threatening. That people think it is just a little harmless fun shows just how detached they are. The county I live in previously had outlawed even the “safe and sane” fireworks – I never understood just how lucky I was then! Glad that everyone made it through another 4th!

  13. I truly miss seeing your posts on Facebook and am always happy when your name shows up on email.
    I was thinking the exact same things last night as I sat in the pasture with my geldings. There’s enough shooting and bombing every day all over the world. We don’t need to do it in celebration when it upsets and frightens creatures and people.
    Now I’m off to sweat some more. Mumuus rock!

  14. Love your blog and read it every week. So sorry for the loss of readers tho.
    My experience with fireworks has been varied. When I first moved to this neighborhood, there were a few who seemed to think there was a competition of who could shoot off the biggest and noisiest. Because of the heat, I didn’t feed until after dark sometimes and if I needed to handle a horse, having a TNT blast go off when you’re under a horse isn’t a good thing. I blew my top at these idiots and expressed my feelings to these people that I felt midnight was a good time to put an end to this foolishness. Now (20 yrs later) the neighborhood is mostly horse people (YAY!!). It’s a great relief that the “others’ are in the minority. I totally understand your feelings of the danger of grass fires and the noise.

  15. I read your blog sporadically but lovingly when I can find the time. I even enjoying your complaining. A comment on our times. Would all people were as sensitive as horses.I am so sorry about what the AI has done to your readership.

    Warmly, Shoshana

  16. All the same feelings here. Neighbourhood fireworks blasted til 3:00 a.m. (and they started a week ago, so it’s a nightly ritual.)
    My poor dogs don’t even want to go outside to potty. They just find hiding spots to hunker down in. 😒

  17. So true, Anna! All my friends with small businesses are struggling. And the fireworks thing is getting worse as our country follows. Living in the village as we do, there were fireworks all around us making it hard to figure out where they were coming from. Luckily the horses are now in a place that is relatively quiet fireworks-wise. Life has been so crazy lately that the fireworks are just another thing to deal with. I did find it interesting that in my circles this year, celebrating the 4th was not as enthusiastic this year. Perhaps the state of our country is taking it’s toll? I miss talking to you and hope that your farm is safe.

    • Hi Linda. It does feel different this year. Maybe all of us are tired or sad or just disappointed, but I hope we perk up and speak up. Give Rikki a scratch for me.

  18. I love your blog and I’m not even a horse person (although I love horse people!) and I admire horses from afar. When I see a new post from Anna Blake, I read it immediately or save it for a time when I can savor it. I’m sad that your readership has dropped by 80%. I’m sad for the people who don’t get to read it, and sad for you because I want you to be encouraged to keep writing a lot and forever. Don’t stop! Your observations, your words of wisdom, and your unique way of looking at the relationships between people and animals warms my heart and gives me hope. Plus you are a great writer!

    • Jacqueline, thank you for the kind words. It feels like the rug has been ripped out from under me, but I will flounder on. Thanks so much for commenting.

  19. Please keep writing, we’re all here. You summed up the 4th of July experience, same big noise in my country neighborhood. Thank goodness for stoic donkeys, they handled the booming noise well.

  20. One of my friends who live south of Tucson was wondering why the fireworks display was so quiet. It turns out it was a drone powered light show. With the heat and The lack of rain I find this a brilliant way to celebrate.
    Also, I love Edgar Rice Burroughs top-knot. My Donkey wears a fly mask in the summer and I make sure I get one with the opening in the middle so that his top-knot can stick up. It doesn’t seem like calling it a forelock is quite right. It’s like a little fountain coming out of his head so maybe it’s a fountain of Donkey wisdom.

    • His wisdom mohawk?? It is irresistible. Thanks Ann. I’ve heard of those drone light shows, such a good alternative in so many ways.

  21. We had lots of carrots and still it was pretty horrible till around 11pm. I, too, don’t understand why there isn’t good old music and a drone show?? Who needs these big bangs…goes on all week. I loathe the 4th of July. You said it so well why do we put on a display of “war like noises and call it celebtating?” Are we celebrating war?? Cricket and I are glad it’s mostly over till next year, which comes too fast for us!!

    • Thanks, Nancy. I find as my horses age, it is less disturbing. Always alarming but they cope better as they age.

  22. This post hits home. At least the fireworks part; the muumuus are a bit farther down the pike, so far! My husband and I lament the “kinder nicer” Americans. This new day of toxic masculinity with oversized jacked up pick ups and men in their carefully un coifed beards and tattoos leave you with different kinds of fireworks every day. It’s now an age of “you’re in my way”. They aren’t really in a hurry but just don’t care about laws, rules and decorum-and others. It’s a war zone in our small neighborhood and even though it is illegal, local police do nothing. The yahoos have control, they do what they wish while the rest of us normal humans without that type of mental illness cringe and wait it out with hoses at the ready, as always, to clean up their messes.
    So yep, this is a rant. My mare is at a board barn that has lots of space around it, so far, and it’s in a flight landing path where once a year the blue angels practice overhead, so noises are no big deal to her as of yet. I don’t have a dog anymore; with our video production travel, that’s kinder to an animal like that, so I leave them, just like I left children, to others more capable.
    I feel more of a sadness this year over this 248th year of working towards freedom, because suddenly we have less of it, and it’s hard to make some care, and harder to convince others that it’s a problem when they actually (think) they desire it. I don’t know what will come next, but I’m saving my money and making plans.
    You are right: complaining does no good, confronting is dangerous anymore, and I’m too old to fight externally. All we can do is gird our loins (WTH does that even mean?) and take it one day at a time. And hope that someday soon people on the delivery end of makeshift bombs will grow up.

    • Thanks, Diane. Really valuable comment. Call me naive but I believe in being affirmative, not just in training but in life. I gird my loins with praise for what is right. I vote. I support those I respect. But you are right, no sense in feeding the monsters. PS Nice Rant!! Love me a rant.

  23. Wow, what a great array of comments here. As to fireworks, we get our fair share of them but thankfully they pretty much end by 10 pm. In my commuting days, I listened to a radio station that played classical music. To combat the noise from the younger generation playing their music at full blast during the midnight hour, the DJ suggested we all turn our radios up full blast during a rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth at around 5:00 a.m. while the little darlings were trying to sleep! This tickled me to no end, though I never did it.
    I’m sorry for your loss of readers. In a word, it sucks. I didn’t realize how complicated it is to post things on FB. I thought all you had to do was type out your essay maybe offline on Word or somewhere and then copy and paste it on your FB page.
    Anyway, thanks for still writing, Anna.

    • Posting on FB used to be that easy. My business page was “disappeared” twice. They have spammed this essay. No way to get help or find out why. AI now pulls anything it thinks is a problem, no recourse. Most of my readers weren’t subscribers but followed on social media. FB is doing a lot of this with small businesses. The idea of blasting classical music does crack me up. I wish we could just get along better, but that seems less of an option these days. Thanks, Lynell.

  24. Another great read Anna! Apart from the fireworks, I so agree with the ‘we have such a lucky life’ and ‘remember our blessings’ sentiments, and we should think about that before complaining. Not just in USA – here in New Zealand too 🙂

  25. I’m glad to see so many comments to this post, but sad and annoyed by the shenanigans with Meta and AI that so heavily impact your readership. You have worked your way through so many technical challenges but the latest ones do seem next to unsurmountable. Hmmmmm , guess that word connects back to mounting horses, as the metaphor you have used about getting bucked off and getting back on again. Your words and ideas have been a positive influence for so many I hate to see that throttle down.

    My neighbors set off significantly fewer fireworks on the 4th for which I was most grateful. The show here in the country has sometimes not been much different than a professional one in a city. My horses had a few concerned trots around the pen, huffing and blowing, but it ended fairly soon.

    I imagine Cash would thank you if he could for considering his plight as a black horse in Texas. Usually in these temps, the horses are sweating merely standing in the shade. But this year, both seem less hot, rarely sweating. I think they look as if they are dissociating, and maybe they are ! Now I have a new item on my shopping list: a muu-muu. Loose clothing is the best !!! I’m also ordering a cooling vest.

    • I was thinking about Cash and others. I believe the horses here “disassociate” in extreme blizzards, but that might be the pull-in and shut-down response we call “freeze.” So I agree with you in hot weather and extreme wind. As for your new muumuu, you’re welcome, Sarah.

      I am gratified by the comments too. A writer without readers is a hard thing, as I know from my early years of writing. People encouraged me to fight my way back, but I didn’t just get bucked off. I got jettisoned into cyberspace, judged by a machine. I’ve hired experts who worked at it and then told me I have no recourse.

      My blog has always been my give-back to horses, and will always be free. But the writing and being on FB was also how I got work, and so the financial hit is huge. That said, I really appreciate the kind words about my writing. Truely, I work hard at this craft and welcome that acknowledgment.

  26. I related to every word in this blog. You are a gifted writer. I’m sorry your readership has dropped for whatever reasons. It’s their loss. Hopefully folks will search you up when they realize you are not appearing. The internet is a fickle thing. Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts.

  27. I’m late to the party because I’m still in the 4th of July recovery mode. Our 20 acre farm is in the rural urban divide and has been “boom” crazy forever. I swear it’s a competition that moves around the neighborhood. The fireworks displays are equal or greater to those in small towns I have lived in. The 1/4 sticks of dynamite are the ones I cannot get used to. I flinch every time!

    This year I thought of a new plan. At dusk I got on the John Deere, hooked up the field mower and mowed pastures, with my ear defenders on. My thought was that surely this would blot out the noise and be preferable to sitting in the house getting grumpy. It was better, in that I was occupied, but I could still feel the concussion of the M80’s! First couple of time I thought something was wrong with the PTO. Oh well, at least the pasture got mowed.

    I have had many horses on this hay farm over the years. The two OTTB’s were totally cool with fireworks. Our track has a big fireworks thing on the 3rd so perhaps they got used to it there. Who knows but I loved them for it. I’m not sure they even needed the treat of extra alfalfa at dark, but they were ever so happy to see it arrive in any case. Denny the biggest and spookiest of the two even stood and watched as the place across the road exploded!! A good ole Appy gelding was the one that taught me not to take the situation for granted. He lost his mind. Projectile diarrhea, cantering in place while we held him with two ropes behind the run in shed. That was a very scary situation. That was the many years ago and I have hauled the horses to a big boarding barn every 4th and every New Years Eve since then.

    Thank you for the blog Anna. I too love to find it in my email. Thanks to all the people who sent comments too. There is comfort in knowing there are so many others out experiencing the same 4th. We do have much to be thankful for. Our country is free and democratic. Voting will help us keep it that way.

    • Great comment, Sue. I especially like the mowing plan. I mean if you are going to suffer, why not all the way? The pasture got mowed, that’s more than most of us got done. Yay you!

      My old Appy never got used to it; the year after he died, I remembered him on the 4th and was so glad he could miss it.

      Thanks, we do have so much to be thankful for.

  28. I love your blog Anna. It grounds me every time and makes me smile. Connecting to my horse tribe via internet keeps me sane too.
    I have total asshat firework blasting neighbors too. Four nights so far. My herd and I are beyond tired of it. I long for peace but our world is too small now to find it. I treasure the brief moments of zero human noise.

  29. You are such a wonderful writer; expressing truth with wit and clarity that I can completely relate to. Thank you for being that voice. And happy belated 4th of July too. For all its faults we are truly blessed to live in a country that values freedom. Let’s keep it that way. Keep on posting because I am out here reading.

    • Freedom is so dear to many of us. We can’t imagine a life without it… which is complacency, I fear. Thanks Adele. I appreciate your time.

  30. It’s true, complaining never helps. My little area of the country is also swallowed up by the subdivisions. No words of mine will change it. Where I and my horses live, the property owner, along with his adult children and their young children set off fireworks, giving no thought to the dozen equines, on the very same property, that are frightened. It aggravates me – the thoughtless nature of humans.

    • Some of us have always been that way, others of us not. It seems like the nature of humans… thanks Cindy.

  31. First time commenter, from Chicago area. Like others have said, for some reason this year’s local firework parties were more subdued than usual. But my opinion is that this is ingrained in the American psyche. Look at our “national anthem”, which I put in quotes because I hate that song, would much rather America the Beautiful was the anthem. America’s anthem is nothing but an ode to bombs and rockets, and “we fought a bloody war where hundreds of thousands died horrible deaths but nyah nyah we beat you in the end”. So it’s no surprise that that’s how we “celebrate”, by simulating the war. Contrast that to Canada’s national anthem (no quotes) which is full of “Canada is so beautiful, true patriot love, glorious and free”, etc….

  32. Anna,
    I’m heartbroken that your readership has dropped off likely at the “hands” of AI. Frankly, all I associate with AI is doom. Human intelligence has it’s flaws and I suppose that’s why some humans thought creating artificial intelligence would be a good idea. Anyway, I’m holding hope that a solution to expanding your readership is on the horizon soon.
    “Ditto” to all those who shared comments bemoaning the 4th being celebrated by lighting explosives. I can tolerate a professionally staged display by the fire department from a minimum distance of about 15miles. Everything else is dangerous to home, property, animals, humans and peace. I wish that more Americans celebrated the 4th by giving thought to what our “Independence” really means and how our constitution supports our freedom and attempts to uphold our democracy.

    • Thanks, Laurie. Here is the crazy part, I know so many others who have had the same thing. I’m not sure what the plan is, but it’s common enough to be paranoid. As for “Independence” we will miss it when it’s gone. We need to speak up.

  33. Sincere sympathy to you for your encroaching, thoughtless neighbors. Hope the blog hits pick up. Thank you for what you do and share.


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