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Cardboard Castles

It will be a surprise to no one who knows me that I spent hours, days, weeks designing and "building" horse barns as a kid.

I used the family living room to make barns, using chairs as stalls and rugs as my riding arenas. My bedroom was an ever changing "barn under construction". Trees with roots above the ground became the basis for outdoor barns. Boxes of all shapes and sizes became "portable" barns. As a preteen, teen, and young adult, I doodled barn designs all over, spending hours thinking about how to make top performance barns.

My parents tried their best to turn me in a more "normal" direction. I had a big doll house and beautiful dolls that held my attention for a minute, but those Breyer horses always won over.... and I'd be back to designing barns in the living room, much to my mother's annoyance. Those toy horses and cardboard barns were the beginnings of my decades-long career with horses. They were some of my favorite creations, and recently I was reacquainted with the joy of this mental exercise.

Aubree is a young rider. She is kind and strong, 8 years old, and LOVES horses and dogs. Over the winter, Aubs requested time with the puppies that I was raising, so we began to hang out every Wednesday afternoon. The puppy time quickly evolved into puppy and play time. She, I and an increasing number of kids, got lost in projects. Lots of painting; old Yankee Candle jars, signs for the puppies, messy handprints everywhere.


With that said, the main project was designing and building a barn. A cardboard castle, if you love toy horses. The barn walls are somewhat weak, being made of thin material and there is no roof, which might allow the rain to pour in. But this barn is a masterpiece. Stalls, cross tie areas, a tack room, wash stalls, a sitting room, grain area… “Mini Meadows Farm" has it ALL. As icing on the cake, this simple cardboard box created energy, joy, and laughter.


Now the puppies have moved on to other phases of their lives and our Wednesday play group will as well. Farms are ever evolving pockets of work and joy. I'm quite sure Aubs and I will find another project.


Every day, I have gratitude that my career is one stemming from passion, passion that began before my concrete memory was in place and flourished from there.


May this cardboard box feed our younger generation with imagination and passion to carry on.


With gratitude for cardboard castles,


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