When Mark and I decided to move to Maine, we had two reasons:
first, we wanted to be a little bit closer to my mother, happily retired in Augusta, and second, we wanted to have enough
space for horses. Our reasoning for choosing Morgans, specifically, was part nostalgia and part practicality: Mark and I both
have fond memories of Morgans we met as kids—and I had also visited Maine Lee Morgans as an adult a number of years
ago, before Dick Lee passed away, and I loved riding his horses—but more to the point, both of us realized that Morgans
are among the best suited horses for a northern New England climate. They originated in Vermont, after all, and their hardiness
is as much a part of the breed's lore as their versatility and friendly disposition. So we did some web searches on various
Morgan breeding farms, focusing primarily on farms in Maine. We stopped in for a visit at Maine Lee Morgans, now run by Dick's
daughter Trudy and her partner, and were impressed not only with the quality of their horses, but also the fact that their
herd wintered outdoors with no apparent ill effects. But it was a visit to Brook Hill Classic Morgans that cemented it for
us. I'd seen pictures of Casey and Piper on the Brook Hill web site, and Casey in particular was, to my still-inexpert
eye, the quintessential Morgan. Through further research, we came to see the pattern: "sport" Morgans, though they
are beautiful horses, just didn't fit the image in our minds' eyes of the horses we'd known when we were younger,
but Lippitt Morgans did. Seeing the Brook Hill horses in the flesh (despite their thick winter coats) only emphasized that
feeling. Piper was then in foal, so we expressed interest, never realizing that the foal she dropped would become our first
purchase... but the rest, as they say, is history.
What's in a name?
People often ask how our farm got its name. When Mark and I got engaged in
2002, roughly the same time we started planning the farm, my mother, like most mothers of over-30 single daughters,
was all excited about planning our wedding, even though we were more than a little bit vague on the date. But the first obstacle
was that we didn't have any formal engagement stuff, i.e. I had no ring, which bothered me only a little but upset my rather
traditional mother a lot. So Mom decided to give a subtle hint to Mark as to what was required. At Christmas, she presented
him with a fairly large cattle brand with the initials "MH" (which she'd happened upon at an auction) and invited
him to use it on yours truly to warn off other potential suitors, in lieu of the diamond ring he clearly had decided not to
give me. Mark took it with his usual good humor (but not quite in the spirit in which it was intended) and began to address
the sticky problem of where on my person this brand—approximately 5 inches square, mind you—ought to be placed, when I pointed out
to my mother that, unfortunately, the brand would read "HM" not "MH" when cast upon actual flesh. At which
point she remarked that we would need to come up with a name for our farm that reflected the proper orientation of the brand.
The first thing to leap to mind, given my mother's affiliation with the Episcopal church, was "Holy Moly." So when
Mark and I purchased the land in Maine that our farm now encompasses, there was no question as to its name: Holy Moly—which
is what most people say when they see the house Mark built for our family. So it worked out fairly well.
Needless to say, we will not be branding our horses with this monstrosity, though
it hangs in a place of honor in the barn. And in case you're curious... Mark did, in the end, give me a ring.