Karen Griffiths’ horses Lacey and Indy enjoy their new home in Happy Valley, with one exception: the funny-tasting water. At that, Lacey turns her nose up in disgust. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

Karen Griffiths’ horses Lacey and Indy enjoy their new home in Happy Valley, with one exception: the funny-tasting water. At that, Lacey turns her nose up in disgust. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

PENINSULA HORSEPLAY: Moving homes creates changes, challenges for family

Life-changing events have necessitated the need for my family to downsize and simplify.

CHANGES. WHETHER THEY’RE good or bad, they happen to us all.

Part of life is learning how to accept them and move forward, right?

Life-changing events have necessitated the need for my family to downsize and simplify — thus sadly, we recently sold our paradisiacal property in Sequim with Big Blue House on the hill.

My folks bought the large home 20 years ago to help my sister raise her four children.

I was able to convert an outbuilding there into my own little home.

Now, the grandchildren are adults, and my sister has her own home in Sequim.

While I’m happy the home sold to another multigenerational family with young ones to raise, I’m going to sorely miss saddling up the horses and simply meandering down the driveway to ride through what I considered my extended backyard: the Cassidy Creek state Department of Natural Resources trails.

Three years ago, my dad passed away, and now my mother suffers from “old-timer’s disease.”

Time for a change

Thus, it became apparent it was time for a change.

Simply put, the two of us needed to downsize and simplify.

Happily we found just the place in the aptly named Happy Valley.

The past few weeks have proved to be a flurry of seemingly endless activity.

As we started to pack up to move from a packed 6,000-square-foot house, plus my little studio, it didn’t take long for me to realize I’m not the superwoman I think I am, and I’m certainly not the younger version of myself who had the energy to do whatever I set my mind to.

I thought I could pack up our belongings in time for the professional movers, but that proved too large a task.

We had two weeks after closing on the new house to be out of the old one.

In that time frame, I thought I could lay new click-style flooring throughout the 1,300-square-foot new house and put a horse- and dog-strong fence around the perimeter of the new property’s 2.85 acres.

My helper for those two weeks was my willing aunt, Mary Swinney — a mere two years older than I — who flew up from Southern California just to help.

Two days into laying the floor, I got hit with reality: I’m a 58-year-old woman who doesn’t have the energy I had in my 30s or even 40s, and I also live with multiple sclerosis.

When my close friend Cyndy Sanders came by to help, she said, “You need more help,” and suggested calling Express Employment Professionals.

Thankfully I did, because they sent over Jefferson Davis to help me finish the flooring, along with Tom Finley and Levi Fahrenholtz to build the fence.

Put up a fence

I’d decided to put up a round wooden post and welded wire fence, and then run a hot, or electric, wire along the top.

The electric wire is to keep the horses from leaning over the fence and ruining it to eat the grass on the other side, plus the wire deters my husky mix from jumping over and running around the neighborhood.

I’d ordered the posts from Leitz Farm during its June sale, and I also special-ordered my class three woven wire fence there.

I find most local stores only carry the class one wire fence. I’ve used it before, and it’s not as durable.

Both are galvanized, but class three is thicker and stronger and lasts longer.

I rented a one-man hydraulic auger through D &K Rentals in Sequim.

Knowing it’s more powerful, I really wanted to rent the more powerful mini-skid steer auger; however, owner Dick Nichols said he wouldn’t “put an auger bit less than 9 inches wide on it because the rocks around here just chew up those smaller bits.”

The majority of my 100-plus round posts were less than 4 inches, so I knew digging a 9-inch-wide hole would cause way too much play within the post’s hole, even with forcing dirt back down in the hole around the post and compacting it using a tamping post.

Worked together

While I went back and forth working at both the new and old homes, Finley and Fahrenholtz slaved away with that one-man auger — during record-breaking heat when the clay ground was almost as hard as a rock — and after one week only had half the holes dug.

The poles in those holes were nice and tight, and it only took a half-bag of concrete in each to really set them, but I was on a deadline and needed to move in.

The following Monday, I rented the skid steer, and the rest of the holes were easily dug within the day.

The problem came when we went to stretch the wire fence to nail to the posts, because sure enough, it was difficult to keep the posts vertically level due to too much space in the holes. By the way, D &K also rents a wire-stretching tool.

No superwoman

To further illustrate I’m no superwoman, after the professional movers came and went and I realized there was so much more to move — and I was almost out of time and totally exhausted — I called up my friend Patty Grice and moaned, “It’s too much. I just can’t do this anymore, and I’ve got so much more to pack up and move.”

Words can’t express how grateful I am to her, because she and her husband, Mitch, gathered nine of our friends who then spent two full days packing and moving us.

Wow, right?

What loving and supportive friends I have.

Now, the dogs, horses and mother and me are all safe and secure in our new “Happy” home, but the work is far from over.

The garage and house are overstuffed with too much stuff, and I need to build a horse shelter and fence a “sacrifice” area, or the main fenced area the horses will live in so the entire pasture doesn’t get ruined from over grazing.

I also need to add a water filter action system to at least one outdoor faucet. I used to brag how wonderful and pure our water tasted at the old house, but here it’s got a bad smell and taste.

The first time Lacey and Indy took a drink of water here, they looked at me as if to say, “You expect us to drink this?”

Yes, but hopefully not for long.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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OPEN’s Spring Tack Sale is Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 251 Roupe Road (off Hooker Road). Proceeds benefit rescued horses, minis, ponies (such as the one pictured with grossly overgrown hooves) and donkeys. Western and English saddles, saddle pads, halters, sheets, bits, bridles; western jewelry, clothes, boots and more. (photo by Valerie Jackson)
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