...summer's beginning to give up her fight.

It's officially fall, and I am so happy about it! It's outside coffee, Ugg boots, sleep-under-the-blankets-but-keep-the-windows-open, red leaf weather. Fall is my favorite.

My little family kicked off the first day of fall with a family outing to a farm about an hour away from us in Howell, NJ. The day was a perfect one- in the high 60's with white, fluffy clouds dotting the sky. The drive was gorgeous and we arrived at Horse Sense Farm ready to ride horses and run around!

Look at that smile! 
We recently started taking parts in outings arranged for children with Autism and their families. Often, our group is the only one at the facility in question, which allows the kids to play in an environment that meets their sensory needs (quiet, low-stim, not crowded, etc.) and avoid stares from people who might not understand why one of our children is crying/humming/flapping/etc. Joining this group has been such a blessing. We have met some wonderful families and PJ has had the opportunity to make friends with some stinkin' awesome kids!

Pulling up to the farm, we saw our friends walking the grounds, petting goats, swinging on swings, and riding horses. Pete and I weren't sure how PJ would take the horses- he has certainly never been that close to an animal that large. We got in line and let him watch his buddies put on helmets, saddle up, and be led around the farm. After initially balking at the helmet ("Nooooooooo helmet, Mommy!") we were able to talk him into the required headgear and helped him into the saddle and onto the back of a lovely horse named Nala.

No fear from my Dude! He grabbed the reigns and rode with a huge smile, leaning in to stroke Nala's mane ("Nice to horse!"). PJ was just full of joy, loving every second of his ride and I just could not get over him! I felt a little teary watching him sit in the saddle, seeming so confident and assured. One of the staff led our boy around as he beamed from the saddle.

Don't you want to kiss her?
After our first ride, we ventured into the barn to visit with some of the animals. We met sweet little Daisy, a three-legged goat the owners of Horse Sense took in. She is still there, as I refrained from trying to put her in my purse and bring her home. Have I ever told you about the thing I have for goats? They are so cute!


Animals had the freedom to mill around, dodging running children and parents running after said children. A fat, black pig named Maxwell ambled by the adults chatting. There were kids drawing with chalk in the driveway, playing relay race games through the grass, and swinging on the obligatory farm tire swing in the gorgeous afternoon sun. The farm was, clearly, seeing more foot traffic then it was used to, and yet it seemed like all of these kids could live there. The activity and fun was effortless on this first day of fall.

After another ride on Nala, we headed to a welcoming circle of chairs to have a snack and enjoy the weather. Two seats were carved from tree stumps, one with the initials of the couple who owns the farm scratched into the backrest. It was a revolving door of sorts, with parents rotating in and out of chairs as we alternately sat down to rest and jumped up to chose wayward kiddos. One of the owners sat down to join us, giving us a little bit of insight into a lifestyle that sees you checking on the animals in the barn after a formal event and feeding goats in the evenings finery. He watched our kids with a smile on his face, happy to offer such joy just by opening his gate.

Chalking in the sun.
The day was a perfect one, the kind that you file away in your heart, or blog about so you can have a tangible reminder, even if you wouldn't forget it, anyway. After our fractured summer, our trip to Horse Sense was the only way, really, to start this new season.

{...some more pictures from our day at Horse Sense} 

Handsome helmeted horse rider! 

Hanging by the stall of his horse friend! 

Perfect day...

The tree chair with the owners initials carved in it...

That's Delilah. I know, right? 
...and that's Maxwell. I seriously chased him down to give him a hug. 

Big hugs for Nala! 
Ride 'em, PJ! So proud of my brave Dude! 

Swinging on the tire swing...
PJ, Mommy, and what seems to be some sort of
boogie situation happening in his nose.


SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I freaking love goats and pigs. I want one of each. And chickens. I don't think they'd go over well in a rowhome in Philadelphia even if I do have a larger side yard. LOL

I'm so glad you guys are involved with this group and PJ gets to go out and do awesome things in an environment that's comfortable for him!

Gwen said...

I love these pictures! I'm so glad that PJ enjoyed this and I'm VERY glad that you were able to convince him to put on the helmet!