Sunday Summer News’

The above photos are from last week’s training trip. We usually travel 8 to 12 km in 3 hours or less on gravel, dirt and pavement. There is a shady place to take a break for half an hour.


This Sunday morning arrived gently. While the cool of the night lay over the fields and the pale light of early morning held our world in a sort of antique painting, I brought Vanille up to the barn for a good brushing and overall checkup. We had time for half an hour of grazing on the few bits of green grass that have survived the severe dry hot weather. Jean François arrived with his friend, Joël, to measure and discuss the building of Tòti’s door and windows. A catalog of door and window hardware was spread out on the table and we chose all the necessary hardware, talked about the shutters and many other details over coffee. It was an exciting moment! This is one of a few jobs left before we can finally say, “Tòti’s finished”. The door and windows are difficult and they are the job that we are not equipped to do properly. The stained glass rear window created by Scott Ecelberger is the heart of Tòti. When it is in place, I know she will come alive. Mark is still doing the fidgety work of the front seat and I think that will be finished before winter.

Jean François has purchased Duplo Composite Horse Shoes for Vanille’s rear hooves. If you are interested, the website is

The blacksmith will attach them next week. We will continue to use her boots for her front hooves. They are great and she seems to like them. After her back feet are protected for long trips on pavement, we plan to take several trips before winter arrives and we find ourselves once again in front of the fire reading books and dreaming of spring travelling.

We’re tired though and the winter in front of the fire will be welcome. This has been a long project, already 3 years, and we have had to learn something new each step of the way. We have not had a proper workshop and tools have had to be improvised, borrowed or bought. Our bank account is way below zero and many things for our day to day life have been neglected and are worn out. I often dive into a project without knowing how it is to be done or what the complications might be. If I knew, I’m sure I would never attempt anything. However, this project has enriched our lives in ways we never imagined. It is a work of love and love is an extraordinary force!

We pulled Tòti out into the pasture and spent two nights living there. Vanille grazed around us but we protected Tòti with a small electric fence in case Vanille decided Tòti might be a nice scratching post. The summer breezes drifted in through the windows and the night sounds of owls, Vanille munching and the rustling of the trees lulled me into a deep sleep. Our two cats were the only bother as they had to explore and leap up on the bed. Our Chat Noir couldn’t quite make it and dug into Mark’s chest with his claws to keep himself from falling. Mark let out quite a yell but it wasn’t too serious. Bella spent the entire night with Vanille. By morning she was stretched out in the grass sound asleep. Our camp stove had the coffee brewing early and I sat outside feeling the grass under my bare feet, watching the dawn arrive. There was no electricity and we had no exterior lights so the stars in the sky were brilliant. There was no sound of cars, no city noise. Tòti rocked a bit when we moved reminding us that we were not in a house. She felt alive. The bed was comfortable and enfolded us. Tòti Bleu is truly a “spirit shelter”.

The last morning I harnessed Vanille and walked her over to Tòti with the reins to hook her up. With Jean François beside me, we set off through the pasture but I went under a low hanging branch making quite a lot of scratching noises on the roof. Vanille took off at a gallop, leaping in the air, Jean François grabbed the reins and she calmed down immediately. For a moment I had forgotten just how tall Tòti is. That was quite a lesson!

Last week Mark and Jean François went off by car, scouting places to visit with Tòti and Vanille. We are all new to this adventure and Vanille is still young and learning with us so we are not quite ready to take off into the great unknown. I preferred not to go along as I want it to be new and surprising the first time we set off for a few days.



Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,

She took me back so tenderly,

arranging her dark skirts, her pockets

full of lichens and seeds.

I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,

nothing between me and the white fire of the stars

but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths

among the branches of the perfect trees.

All night I heard the small kingdoms

breathing around me, the insects,

and the birds who do their work in the darkness.

All night I rose and fell, as if in water,

grappling with a luminous doom. By morning

I had vanished at least a dozen times

into something better.

Mary Oliver





About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Art, barefoot draft horse, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sunday Summer News’

  1. Ann Marquis says:

    Oh what a magnificent journey!

  2. ptwatercraft says:

    Wonderful, Wonderful, Wonderful!

  3. Maria says:

    Bon voyage! Ithe plastic shoes are cool, especially on the elasticity aspect, flexion and spreading of the heel, I was thinking they would not have nails which to me seemed to be not terribly durable on the road but those seem to be practical, you will have to test them on the road with time and see. I still think the boots might have some rubbing consequences but who knows I might be totally wrong….Love you and think of you often, Maria

    • Suzanne says:

      Thanks Maria! We are still experimenting but extremely vigilant. We’re learning little by little. I can say that Vanille’s feet are like iron now. She walks on extremely rough gravel without any problem. It all takes time. She is such a love! We are very careful that she is not in pain. I miss you so much. No one can take your place. How wonderful that you live on a tropical island and ride horses and paint. Lovely life!

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