Not exactly.....The mortgage would need to be paid, perhaps the boys would want to go to college so we kept working in the horse world. Brian became a top judge, traveling 35-40 long weekends a year, judging on 4 continents, including the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and became an educator of horse show judges in the US. Penny continued being the best horse show manager in the world, organizing as many as 20 national and international competitions a year mostly in central Virginia. We both served on numerous committees and received many awards from the United States Eventing Association for our work within the sport. In hindsight our "breaking point" in the horse world seems to have been the 2005, 06 and 07 North American Junior and Young Rider Championship that we hosted/organized at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va. This was an international competition for 14-21 year olds in the three Olympic disciplines of Dressage, Eventing and Show Jumping. We also added Reining and Vaulting as demonstration sports which were well received by the athletes and the governing bodies. While we thoroughly enjoyed the spirit and enthusiasm shown by the young riders, we found it to be an emotional drain on us. After that nothing quite seemed to put that enthusiasm back into us. We continued with the big shows but really enjoyed the more local shows that brought out the local aspiring Olympic riders, some of whom were under 10!
Meanwhile Tantivy Farm was not doing its share, although it became a very comfortable home to the numerous horses, ponies, miniature donkeys, dogs, cats, goats, a couple of sheep and cows, chickens, a peacock and peahens, guineas and white tailed deer that thrived in the vegetable gardens that we carefully laid out. Raised beds means the deer don't have to bend down to eat their smorgasbord. The "dwarf" fruit trees seemed to be a logical choice for easy picking. The deer certainly thought so.
Finally the mortgage was paid off and the boys were grown and starting their own lives and traveling was getting more stressful. As I was coming back to the Shenandoah Valley from judging a competition near Culpeper, God spoke to me. For those of you that know Interstate 64 on the western slopes of Afton Mountain, it can be quite stressful with accelerating trucks after the crest of the hill and jockeying cars for the exits into Waynesboro. This particular evening I found myself "alone" in the slow lane, or so I thought. All of a sudden I heard a voice saying "Stay home and the valley itself looked like two hands spread wide and welcoming. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity and started canceling all my judging assignments for the next year. Soon after that drive, an offer to buy the "big, international" part of our horse business we had been running since 1989 (God again?) meant the two of us could spend all our time at Tantivy except for running the local shows.
We expanded our vegetable gardens and began a Consumer Shared Agriculture business and immediately had 20 shares/customers which is about all we wanted. Gardening had therefore become a full time project and within a year we both realized that we didn't want or couldn't do both and stepped back from all the horse shows and moved on to vegetables and gourmet CSA boxes that included herbal salts, vinegars, sugars etc. An immediate "calm" came over the both of us. Unknown to us at the time lavender had already begun its work on us!
After spending the previous 25 years working away from Tantivy, now we were going to work on Tantivy. Penny had always had a love for lavender and had planted some on the rock ledges in front of our home after the dynamiting was done in 1990. The lavenders had thrived and flourished despite being frequently neglected and even though we didn't know much about those lovely, relaxing, fragrant plants we did know they were special and always looked forward to the blossoming. Oils, salves, lotions, culinary delights etc. were an afterthought as the horse business engulfed any free time, but the evenings spent taking in the aromas lingered in Penny's thoughts. Perhaps she could coax me to White Oak lavender farm 40 miles up the road. When we saw it was a viable business, we agreed that perhaps we could do something on a smaller scale at Tantivy and thus our new dream was becoming a reality. We could "Stay Home"..............