Raising Del

I had forgotten that the last time we raised a puppy(Rudy)- in the late spring/summer of 2012 – that we had kids here- they were off from school in late May- those were the private school days. We had a long stretch of summer ahead of us and we had time to raise a puppy. That was such a huge help to have them help me raise Rudy.

I had forgotten what a puppy can be like! They are busy and have to be watched when they aren’t confined. In the two weeks since Del came home we have become a sleep deprived pair- reminding us of the days when we had little kids. Del began with waking every two hours and and that has now morphed into going 4-6 hours without needing a bathroom break. That has made for some wonderous stretches of sleep.

I am used to waking at night. Nature calling. A middle age “benefit”. So I am no stranger to being up in the night – and can usually fall back to sleep in a few minutes. I think the difference is now I am lugging a 15lb puppy through the house and then down the deck stairs and after the puppy does his biz and is corralled (and reminded that 2am was not play time no matter how much fun it is trying to steal that boot and drag it through the yard )- we head back up the deck stairs and he goes back in the crate and I try to fall back to sleep.

I have been able to settle him sometimes when he whines in the night – his crate is next to the bed- but other times it is necessary to take him out. And of course I have the option to tap out and tap in Kevin who sleeps with wireless ear buds in. We have been taking turns with the nightly puppy relief breaks. That has helped both of us. I also need to thank Alexa – of Amazon fame- for providing soothing music all night.

It isn’t so bad as some nights are just so pretty. The moon and stars and cool air. The horses mill about or snort. It is so quiet- no cars -no other humans. Standing in the rain- on the other hand- nah- not so great.

Del has done well with the house training. Though not as well as I thought. I have caught and corrected him a few times when he has peed right in front of me – it was all good timing – took him right out to show him the correct place to go. But I found he must. have gone in his play area when i stepped away for too long and even though I had floor cover over the rug – the rug got peed on. My bad planning.

My attempts to clean the carpet resulted in the room smelling like dirty feet. So out the carpet went. We planned on replacing it anyway but not until after the puppy was fully housebroken. If you get really miffed about your stuff when it gets dirty, stinky, torn up, barfed on…etc DON’T get a puppy and maybe not even a dog.

We have six dogs here. We have flooring that can handle a pool of water on it for 24 hours. It is made for pets. We have only inexpensive rugs in the house. I don’t spend much on quilts or blankets. The dogs get on the beds and couches. I have never been too strict on that unless it becomes a dominance issue within the pack and causes bad behaviors.

This pup found shoes one day and loves them. I have to admit I find it hilarious to watch him dragging giant shoes all over the place. I am definitely more relaxed – or sleep deprived – as I let a lot of things go that I may not have with past pups. But I admit it may not be funny when Del as a grown dog decides to eat all of our shoes. So the ‘leave it” and “drop it” commands are being taught now even if I am laughing as I say them. Hey you got to enjoy your pup. They grow fast.

And he is growing – in his first week he gained a pound and a half. He was a whopping 15 lbs at 8 weeks and 17.4 at 9 weeks- And Kevin just weighed him today and he is 19 lbs – which Kevin said is his floof (fluff) haha. He is fluffy! The size of his paws promises he won’t be a small dog. The trajectory of his weight at this point points to a VERY large boy. I do expect that to level off though and I am noting the weight changes each week. So we will see!

As far as his making buddies of the current dogs here at home- it is slow. Someone asked me if the other dogs were pulling their weight in that they could help me tire the puppy out. So far they are not into playing with him. Rudy has a couple times but both very brief. And Del loves Rudy. He follows him all over the yard. Del loves to take walks up the lane with him, and generally thinks he is the best thing ever. Rudy says “meh”. He is feeling jealous I think. I do think that is an emotion dogs have!

Trying to make friends

In my experience these friendships – or even- basic putting up with takes time. Two of our other dogs Reece and Pierce are very playful but I don’t trust the puppies safety with them yet. I am fearful they will get carried away and over excited. Del is too small for them yet. But all co-exist fine when he’s on the leash around them. Lemon -our old Lab- was one of my puppies 11 short years ago. She can be a terror. But in her old age has done some mellowing. She has more patience and I can let the puppy around her in the yard and house – that doesn’t mean she won’t give him a correction if he needs one- but I watch her. I am happy she seems to like him. She ignored Rudy for weeks when he came!

One day last week I woke up to a different puppy. He was crazed- hyped up! I was like holy cow – who is this dog? It was like he was possessed from the beast within. I think I recall this stage from past puppies. I found the worse they got the more likely they needed a nap! And so that seemed to hold true. Today I woke to a calmer pup – though he does have a sassy side. He has the sit command down. And when in the crate or play area he is learning to self calm. All good things for future training. I know we are in store for many different phases as he ages!

The shoe thief

I haven’t done too much socialization with him except for visitors here at home as I don’t want to expose him to too many germs with just one set of shots.. He did go to Southern States and we carried him in. He and Rudy were a hit there.

I am really thrilled to have this dog. As this is my first Goldendoodle I am new to the breed and I look forward to seeing how he will grow. He is a smart bugger- so I see some antics in his future!

Now I need a nap…..

Horses and me…retiring my mount

There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for having the ability again to be as active as I am. After the years of terrible chronic pain where I was very incapacitated as a result of cancer treatments – and after four surgeries – and finally PT with amazing therapists to help ease that pain – I am not without pain or flares of intense pain – but I am doing life where pain isn’t the first and only thing on my mind. I’m am lucky. I am blessed. I am grateful.

Every time I ride a horse I say a prayer for my safety and also a prayer of thanks for the ability to ride. Beyond riding I’m thankful for the time I can spend with horses just caring for them. There is nothing better for me than smelling a horse each day!

Having a bond with a horse is a privilege. I love dogs and have four of them. But unlike dogs who love you no matter what – horses are more discerning – you have to earn their respect and trust . It is when you gain that respect and trust that an amazing bond occurs.

Me on one of my favorite schooling horses.

Sometimes the respect and trust takes time and other times it happens faster. That doesn’t mean you can’t jump on a horses back and ride it. I have been doing that weekly at a local riding school. Under strict Covid guidelines I groom an assigned horse and I saddle him or her up and I can mount up and ride and learn the buttons to push to get the horse to do what I’m asking. I can improve my strength and riding skills and confidence. This is all good. And if I’m lucky I might get the same horse each week and it’s with the repetition that the bond can build.  Each horse has a different temperament and personality. It is fun and a challenge to learn a new horse each week. 

Having horses on my property requires me to spend time daily with them.  This allows me to really experience my horses differing personalities and witness the way they communicate together.  It is amazing-  and the way they try to communicate with us is a gift. I learn so much about my horses by watching their body language. Ears pricked forward, ears flat back, one ear turned back, the laxity of their back when I am on them, again the ears help us know if the horse is paying attention to us or to something else, they will nod their heads to communicate something. Just yesterday Yukon, our bossy chestnut, tossed his head repeatedly toward the field that he was telling he wanted to graze on- it was the opposite of the one I was offering him- and when he didn’t get his way he trotted off indignantly into the offered field and went to bite and chase my new horse Umay. This is when Yukon is “hangry”. He gets grumpy and more bossy and the horses know to leave him be.

Harley and me

All of this wordless communication is a privledge to be a part of. Horses will play games with us. Knock over their water bucket just after you fill it. Poop in their feed bins. Yes they do this! I think it is deliberate – lol. They will nudge you and sniff you up and down to see if you have a treat on you. My favorite is human nose to horse nose. We each breath in each others breaths. I think there is some spiritual connection in that. And for me it relaxes my being.

To sit among horses and watch them eat hay, graze, mill about each other is comforting for me but also helps me to see how my horses respond to each other. Who is the boss. How the boss acts. How the lower horse is dealing with the bossier one. Sometimes they come up and nuzzle with me. I am part of their world for a time.

Then there were three… Umay, Yukon, Harley

We have recently gotten third horse and I will write about her soon. I am in the process of retiring my horse Harley. He’s a 20ish Tennessee Walker and I have shared many pictures of him over the years. He has been an incredible horse. He isn’t a show horse. He’s just my buddy and a pleasure ride for me. He sat -barely ridden- over the years that I dealt with the worst of my pain issues- and when I would get on him bc I so wanted to be on a horse despite how bad I hurt – Harley never acted up. It was as if no time went by between rides. He kept me safe as I sat on his back. He has been my friend.

It has been with a heavy heart I have had to realize that as I have eased back into riding much more often that he has aged. He has gotten less fit and he has developed PPID- which is basically Cushings Disease in horses. This takes a toll on a horse even with medications.

Harley’s Chiropractor

It is a bummer. He and I click so well. But when I ride I have felt his back leg go out a bit. He is stiff. I see how low he keeps his head. He is so willing but I know he is off.  I have now enlisted an equine chiropractor and a body work therapist to help him at least be more comfortable in general. If he improves under saddle then that is icing on the cake. If he remains as he is under saddle he is safe for pony rides and my husband could walk him around on him. But I feel as if I have missed out with him. It is again one of the things that from my time dealing with my pain issues. Now I will help him deal with his.

I want to get back years I have missed because of the cancer issues but I can’t so I have to move forward. Lamenting won’t do anything. So forward we move. When I do ride Harley the moment I mount it is like I am in a familiar car. With my new horse I don’t have that familiarity yet. That will take time. We are trust building now. Harley already knows me. He knows which way I want to go almost before I do. It is a dance – a communication between horse and rider- it is what makes little girls fall in love with that big pony.

I am so lucky I have that in my life.

I am a grown girl who still loves ponies.

Harley and Me…

Bob Cat (aka Kiwi)

You know it is never a dull moment here. And with the stay-at-home  orders because of the Covid-19 virus  you just want things to be dull.  But it seems for us it just never is. I wrote in a blog post a while back that we were missing  one of our cats. He is our sweet barn cat Kiwi- a black tuxedo male. We have had assorted cats over the years here and I love the tuxedos! And now Kiwi – Bob – has the label most expensive of all barns cats here at Glory View Farm!

If you hadn’t guessed as yet – Kiwi- came back after being lost for about 4 -5 days. About 5 weeks ago I was in the barn and feeling sad that he still wasn’t back – it feels empty when an animal dies or goes missing – they each fill a space.  All of a sudden I had this feeling I should to go outside and look for  Kiwi. I didn’t understand that niggle but I know when I get it to give it a listen.  So I went out of the rear of the barn to the fence line and I was looking in the field at nothing but emptiness when I heard a faint meow. I didn’t see anything where I was looking but the little sound was coming from my left which is the dry lot where the horses loaf when not out in a pasture-  I assumed it was our other cat Pearl calling for dinner. I looked around and didn’t see Pearl. I heard it again- so it must have been real. But where was it coming from?

Kevin stepped out of the barn and I asked him if he heard a meow – and just as he was going to answer I spotted Kiwi by the right side of the shed in our dry lot. I told Kevin I saw him and ran through the barn and walked around behind him just as Kevin- who by then had also spotted him -walked to the front of him. Something was off.  Kiwi was having trouble walking forward. He seemed very stiff. I was afraid to lift him but had to take the chance he might bite me if he was in enough distress. I thought his backend was injured but I was able to pick him up without him biting or getting upset. I might add here that I am allergic to cats- it is a pretty good allergy too- but I won’t let that stop me from helping one if needed. I just have to careful not to touch my face after I touch him. And I can’t put my face to close to their bodies.

We got him in our gym which is part of the barn and we got him some food and water and I looked him over. I suspected he had an abscess.  He had a nasty looking area on his back hip and his tail seemed wonky and there was an area that looked like it may have been injured. He had a back claw that looked bad and his front ears were lightly scratched up.  He ate just a bit but drank well – but I knew he needed attending to.  He needed a trip to the vet- but is was Sunday – so it was the emergency vet for him.

The vet visits during Covid-19 are different now. We called ahead and Kevin took him in. Kevin called the desk when he arrived masked assistants fetched Kiwi from the car and they took him to be  examined by the vet. The would call Kevin on his cell with their assessment.

Basically they took the conservative approach and treated him for abscesses.  They didn’t feel like he had any breaks – like his pelvis or ribs. But they warned us about the tail. He could have more going on.  He came home and was left crated in the gym so he could recover for a day or so. But he didn’t really perk up. He wasn’t eating much and when I let him out of the crate he just seemed that he could not walk forward. And he wasn’t moving the tail. I had the feeling we had more going on there.

I was worried so Kevin took Kiwi to our regular vet a couple days after his initial emergency visit. They had the same routine of them coming out to the car to grab Kiwi but Kevin could come right home as our little farm is only a couple miles away from the vets office.  Soon after Kevin got home they called and asked to x-ray Kiwi and we said of course. We waited anxiously for news. Not long after the first call, the vet called with some grim news. His tail was completely broken. She said it had to come off.  What a bummer- not bc I felt bad for him losing his tail but for the fact he must have been feeling so crummy for a while. We ok’ed the surgery for the next day. Kiwi spent the night at the Vet’s office.

The good news is that Kiwi did great in the surgery. They removed the tail and fixed up the wound on his back hip. The bad news was he needed to be confined for a couple weeks and wear a cone of shame- an e-collar. He would be fine in the gym in the crate.  He was be given exercise time in the gym (he was not allowed to do any heavy lifting- ok that was a joke) and he began within days to get very tired of the e-collar and sick of being indoors! This was a good sign.

He became his playful self quickly, he was eating and drinking.  I let sister Pearl visit him – she was not into the e-collar and would hiss at him. I worried maybe she would not understand it was her brother because his tail was missing. I worried that he might not get along with our feral cat Jet anymore bc he had been gone so long. One day when Jet was in the center aisle of the barn I opened the gym door hoping Jet could see or smell his buddy. I don’t know if he could Jet does not let humans too close and there was no way to coax him closer.

The vets at our regular practice said that they had two differing opinions on what may have happened to Kiwi. One thought it was a fan belt injury- where he may have gotten caught up in the engine of a car. He had a classic break that is indicative of that event the vet said. There was the hip cut too and that made the other vet think it was a larger animal that may have gotten him. I wondered if he had run off and then been attacked (he had not been one to run off though) or if something had grabbed him on our property. We definitely have cars around a lot – though I had never seen him get close to them. Kevin had seen some blood on the fence near the driveway so I think whatever happened it was right here at home.

I have had my own thoughts on what happened. I think maybe a horse stepped on  his tail but I can’t figure out the cut on his side. A horse could crush him. So I am not sure the horse makes sense. But whatever happened it had been a few days before the day we found him- his wounds weren’t fresh. Perhaps he went into hiding after he was injured. He could have been under that shed – there is room under there for a cat to hide. I had that experience years ago when I found our sick cat Momma under there.  Kevin had looked for Kiwi there when he first went missing but it is pretty deep so he may have been there. I won’t ever know. But that was where is was standing when we found him. I am so glad he was able to be found!

The best news is that Kiwi is out and about again and playing with his friends. He has stayed put and seems to not notice he is missing a tail. He looks cute too. Our friend Mike suggested we rename him Bob-Cat! Hilarious. So now I call him Kiwi and Bob (sometimes Bobby and sometimes Manx- I think they are the cats with no tails right?  I need to google that.)

In addition to the cat injury  and along with my kid leaving for the Navy, our cooktop was fried in a brownout- which required a repairman to come into the house tell us we needed a new one- this requires him to come back to install it. And at about the same time we had a large clog in the main pipe to our septic – not good– which also required a plumber to come out. This all during a time we would rather not have anyone come into our home. I really am wishing for dull days!

That Cat

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My barn cat Ziggy died yesterday. A hit and run.

I was outside yesterday morning with my very old sheepdog- letting him pee out front because he can’t get down the back deck stairs anymore- when I saw a young teen get out an SUV that had pulled into my neighbors driveway across the street – she went up and knocked on the neighbors door.  I know the neighbors don’t have teens so the SUV and the teen seemed out of place.

Her knock was not answered and she turned back toward the car.  I think she had seen me when I first stepped outside a minute before but I had stepped back behind the tree in my yard not wanting to be seen bc I was snooping. Yes I admit I was. But I wasn’t hidden well. The teen began walking back to the car.  I had called my dog to come in and I as I turned to go in I glanced over to the SUV and I saw that she was not stopping at the SUV. She was passing it and heading my way. I pretended not to see her. I am not a morning person – and I am not big on conversing before I have some food and my tea. 

 It was 7:30am -I thought she must be selling something. But it was way too early to be selling things- so that theory made no sense. Then it dawned on me as I heard the low ring of our doorbell that she wouldn’t be selling anything – something else was up -so I went to the door.

Maybe they were lost I thought. Some homes on this stretch of road are hidden down long driveways with their mailboxes on the opposite side of the road. So I opened the door and I was definitely not expecting to hear what I heard this young lady say. 

“We-my mom and I-wondered if you knew who owned the cat we saw over there. It was killed by a car.”

“Oh f*ck”. Were my first words. Then my apology for such words. Then I say to this young person – Oh well well you’ve heard them before. I was rambling.

Then my questions – is it black? Yes. Did it have white. I think so. She said – but we aren’t the ones who hit him. No. No I know.  Then I am saying I can’t handle picking the cat up I’ll get my son. (Kevin was out of town). She said –my mom says it has a collar. Oh my cat doesn’t have one. (Later I realize that she misheard her mom most likely).

At that moment I’m still not sure what I’m feeling. I’m not upset – it might not be our cat right? I’m just there bumbling my words -but I know I can’t handle getting too close. I walk over to my driveway and look past the car and I see a black leg with a white paw laying still on the other side of the road. Oh shit. I’ll get my son I say.

Get a trash bag I tell him. Get the dead cat across the road. I think it’s Ziggy. I don’t even know what he said- but my almost 19 year old son went outside and got that cat in a bag- our much loved barn cat. Though at that moment I didn’t want to believe it was him. Then I wonder if he thanked the girl for stopping. Then I think how this could have unfolded had we not answered the door. Would I have found him hours later when I went to get the mail or when I took my mom to the doctor that day? 

The things that go through the mind.

Even after my son had done this terrible chore. I’m asking him was it Ziggy? Can we be sure? He didn’t know for sure. He went back to look. Maybe he couldn’t bring himself to look again he didn’t say. When he came back in he still wasn’t sure. I was upset and irritated. How can you not know know your own cat I asked him? But shock is shock. And his was not wanting to know it. And there is his mom in shock wanting so hard to believe it was someone else’s cat. I even texted my neighbor that lives up behind us. Checking- Is Jafar at home? But he doesn’t wander far. He’s bigger than Ziggy. She confirms quickly -Jafar is at home..

It was Ziggy, Ziggers, Zigman, Zig….he is gone…as I write this I still can’t believe it.

I talk to my husband on the phone just before he has to go to a meeting. He told me to have my son take Ziggy to the vet – drop off his broken body. They will take care of him.  I was in shock. I didn’t know what I was feeling. Anything?

But then the like a sheet being slowly pulled off my body reality waves over me. And the tears came. So many tears.

F*ck, f*ck, f*ck. Why?

Just moments before the biggest worry I had was picking up poop on the bedroom from my old dog. But things can change in an instant.

The other day Kevin and I were going to a town nearby to shop and just as the road widens to 4 lanes a groundhog jumped out onto the road. Kevin had little room to do much bc of the traffic and sadly we hit it.  I bent over in my seat and held my ears yelling – no, no, no, no….- on and on. Kevin was rattled- and I am sure my reaction didn’t help. I cried – but calmed enough to shop for the few things we went out for. We were so upset about the groundhog we took a different route home. Since that day last weekend I had been really shook up about that incident. I had been trying to figure it out- look at it. See what it meant. 

But then Ziggy got killed on the road. 

As that sheet of shock wore off the tears burst forth for this sweet cat. For that groundhog too. For the son who struggles in rehab in Florida. For my guilt. Guilt over taking a cat from a nice lady who couldn’t keep him and making him barn cat. But he was born to be a barn cat – he took to it in days. I feel so much responsibility to my animals- and you can’t really control a barn cat. They are enigmas. But still I feel I failed in my responsibility.

I cried and cried. This was why the hitting of the groundhog hung on to me in such a way. I was needing to grieve things I had been holding in. 

There have been so many tears. Guilt and sadness about that and other things. Tears that have needed to come out – not all about this cat – this sweet cat. Tears I have hidden behind a wall that I build in order to be able to walk into each day with my armor on. Those tears clawing to come out and it took the loss of one sweet cat to break the dam.

The cloak of grief over a sweet cat and so much more. That cat that made us smile and laugh. That cat that hunted like no other.. who left us many gifts of dead prey in the barn. Rubbed up on our legs, followed us all over as we did our chores or I rode my horse. That cat who played with his buddy Jet in the barnyard. (Jet has been missing since last week- but I am hopeful he returns.) That cat that went too close to the road. That cat who died and now I grieve for so many things – and maybe in his leaving – in my finally breaking open- because we can only hold things in for so long or they become toxic to us- maybe that cat gave me a final gift. 

Thank you Ziggy- for being our cat…your job with us was complete and on you go to whatever is next. We will not forget you….

 

Ups and Falling Down!

The other day I took this picture:

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When I see this photo I see accomplishment!

I was trying to mark a milestone.  I had just accomplished the feat of taking the wheelbarrow out of the barn and rolling it along as I scooped up horse manure. This may sound super boring and probably an unsavory job to many people but it is a job that I happen to like – you can get a lot of thinking done when you scoop poop- and you often have the company of one or more farm animals. I have been unable to do this job for quite a while because of my chronic nerve pain in my arm and back.  So I was having a “look at me ” moment.  I thought if the nerve pain didn’t flare up too much the next day I would post this photo and brag on this accomplishment.

But then this happened!

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Do you like the dog as prop in the photo?

This must have happened because I was so full of myself from picking up manure! I was in the chicken yard grabbing some items I left in there and I turned caught my foot on the hose as I was stepping forward.  It was one of those falls where you think you have caught yourself and you expect to be upright but you end up on the ground. I landed on my side and my rear – and on my non- nerve damaged side. Thankfully.  I had to make a nice turn to end up that way. I do think one of my guardian angels helped that move because I don’t know how I landed like that.

On the ground my first thoughts were “did I land on a chicken?” (I didn’t – they all ran far away – chickens!) and “ouch my ankle” and then “this is not going to sideline me”. NO No no!!  The next thought was me wondering if my cowboy neighbor who was out feeding his equines saw me fall. (Kevin was nearby but on a loud tractor mowing a field).  I did not want my cowboy neighbor to see me on the ground! It is bad enough that I need he and his wife’s help for all kinds of things (they are young and able!) but I didn’t want him to have to come ask if I needed help getting up off the ground- I would feel ancient.

So I took a deep breath- assessed the damage and hauled myself up off the ground.  My left ankle was tender. But I was ok…I was not in that much pain–lie lie- I was. But I went over to finish some things for the horses including some brushing all the while hoping they didn’t knock me over!  I just could not fathom that something was going to take me down for the count. But I knew I needed to assess the damage to my ankle – both ankles hurt but the left seemed to be getting worse by the minute. So I went into the gym part of our barn and I took off my boot. I could see where I twisted it. Not too swollen.  Good.

I had twisted this ankle before years ago leading a horse down a hill.  But this fall was worse- it hurt much more! I was a bit worried but I waited for Kevin to get off the tractor so he could take a look. He thought it was a sprain -but because it was getting more painful pretty fast we opted to go to the urgent care for an x-ray.  It didn’t take long and they were fairly certain I had no break – but gave me the films with instructions to see primary or ortho as needed – and they locked me into a boot that felt like a ski boot and off I went.

I will admit to moments of self pity and negativity.  I am just beginning to get back in shape and being able to do more things and I did not want this to slow the progress. And I was back needing someone to help me – poor Kevin has had enough.  But I decided not to make it bigger than it was. It is just a sprained ankle. It will take time to heal but maybe I can work around it some and keep moving some.

I got home and broke out of that boot and iced my ankle all night.  I woke up with pain the following day but it seemed less than the day before which surprised me but gave me some encouragement.  I still felt like I needed the boot because I did want to try do something constructive with my Saturday. We always have a list miles long of things that need to get done. I was in the middle of spray painting a wrought iron table I picked up for $50. I wanted to complete that project. So I put on the boot and Kevin covered it with a trash bag and I got painting.  I was able to stand just fine and after a while I became so involved in my work that I forgot I had a sprain (and nerve pain for that matter!).

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Spray Painting!

Today I woke with less ankle pain again. I am paying for the spray painting with some nerve pain in my arm and back but I expected that.  I still can’t move my ankle certain ways. I feel like the foot needs support.  I had taken a knee brace and somehow made a foot brace out of it and that was providing support. The boot seemed like overkill. Today I went to the drugstore and grabbed a couple ankle compression bandages and an ACE wrap. I will keep some form of protection and compression on for a while. I think this is going to heal sooner than later if I can keep from aggravating it. I can see how I will still be able to do most things. I just need to elevate it some each day.

Well it is funny how one minute I was so excited about picking up manure and the next I was flat on my butt with a sprained ankle.  That’s life . You just have to take your joy moments and appreciate them. I will be back picking up horse manure again soon enough.  I am grateful my PT is going well and  that I am doing things I haven’t done in so long. I have hope!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geldings finding balance

Yukon Sticking his tongue out at me? I wouldn’t be surprised.

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Note – Gelding is a male horse that has been castrated- making them no longer stallions. Typically Geldings can be kept together. Stallions are often turned out alone – maybe some are turned out together but i have never seen it. I think that would lead to fighting. I have three Geldings living here.

Mare- female horse

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Once again this human is learning about horses and how they interact. Horses will teach us a lot…it will never stop. When Airy and Harley lived here we were very used to that dynamic of the two of them together. They ate their grain side by side. They shared a stall. Airy was the boss as many mares are when they are turned out with geldings. We were very comfortable with the routine with the two of them. After she died we knew we were going to add at tleast one new horse so Harley had a buddy.

I knew the dynamic would change and we would have to learn how the horses interacted, what their needs were and we would have to determine a new routine based on the dynamic between the new horse – and now its a dynamic of three horses since we also have my neigbors horse Hank here.

The arrival of Hank and his meeting Harley was very easy and I think I had thought this would be the case with Yukon.

Yukon arrived a few weeks ago with little fanfare. His arrival was uneventful. The truck and big trailer that was hauling Yukon pulled down our driveway and turn around and popped open the gate and out Yukon walked. Head up ears perked. “Where am I?”

We put him in one of our

Getting off the trailer with Sara the Days End Farm trainer

pastures and the current horse residents – Hank and Harley- began the dance of meeting by getting to know each other over the fence. I spent time watching all of the horses reactions.

Hank and Harley checking out Yukon.

Right off I could tell Yukon wanted to be top horse. He spent time nipping Harley – the current herd leader- from over the fence. Harley is my horse and we added Yukon so Harley could have a friend as we lost our mare Airy suddenly in August.

Hank had a few little pushing matches with Yukon over the fence but Hank is much smaller than Yukon and Hank is much different in personality then Yukon is.

Hank didn’t want to challenge Yukon at all and hung back from the fence more often than Harley did.

Over the first few days I spent some time with Yukon out in the field. I wanted some bonding time just he and I. It was a hot week when he arrived and he spent time back in the trees that line the property on one side. Hank did the same when he came.

I wandered out there with Yukon and we sat under the trees for a bit. He kept trying to chase off our barn cat Ziggy. He definitley has a bossy side and I think he is testing the waters. He;s a big horse 15.3 hands. Hands are measured at the withers of a horse- thats sits where the neck meets the back. So Yukon is 5’3″ to the withers and he has a very long neck making him oh so tall when he holds his head high. His body is very long as well. Harley is the same amount of hands but the rest of him just ins’t the size of Yukon.

Looking at the barn from the edge of the pasture. Oh and Yukon’s long back is in the photo too

Temperment wise Yukon is pretty good with humans. As I visited with him the field I was able to lean against him and take some photos over his back. He is nudgy about treats and loves attention. In many ways he reminds me of harley.

Speaking of Harley – I was under the impression that he would try to maintain his head of household status when we let them all be together. I wasn’t off on that. He was that way at first. But it turns out he was bossy over the fence but not once they met face to face.

We decided to introduce all of the horses a few days before we went out of town. I hoped that some routine would be established with feeding and such after they were together a few days.

When we put the together all the horses met up in the pasture and sniffed one another and there wasnt much fanfare. They began to graze near each other and that went on for a bit. I thought that was that. But after about half an hour Harley decided that Hank and Yukon could not be near eachother and he bagan this odd weaving between the two of them . I guess he didn’t want to give up his friend. (Hold on loosely Harley…Hold on loosley). That behavior went on for a while and then Harley began the hazing process by not allowing Yukon too close to the overhang part of the barn.

Here Harley performs his weaving ritual!:

But soon the tables turned and Yukon began to haze Harley. He didnt have to do much- just tip his ears back and drop his head – which is a sign from one horse to another – to move.

Hank has been kind of in the middle of all this. He isnt vying to be top horse. He just wants to be friends with both guys. It seems that he is -though both Harley and Yukon boss Hank around but he doesnt seem to mind. The conflict seems to be between Yukon and Harley.

When we left last Monday for the beach it seemed like things were getting more settled. I figured Yukon won for top horse.  What I realize now is that these things take time. Since i have gotten home I see that some things are better and other things need to be settled .

One moment Yukon and harley will be hanging out in the dry lot next to eachother and the next Yukon won’t let harley under the barn overhang. He tries to claim all the hay piles for himself.

I know Yukons feeding regime is differet now, he had been fed in a closed stall- we do lock him up for his grain but have been letting him out after he finishes to allow him to share hay with the other horses.

Yukon has naviclular issues which means he has painful feet and being stalled can make him stiff so we havent wanted to stall him for too long. – I think his lack of manners when it comes to sharing hay is likley due to his being fed in a stall and not having to share his hay – and i think he thinks that all the hay that is put down is his.

One thing I feel is that the horses have to work these things out between themselves but when there are humans around them a horse cannot behave in a wiley manner and get all the other horses riled up.  Horses moving quiclky to avoid eachother and then a human being in that mix is very dangerous. So I will not allow them to behave crazily if we are working around them.

I have had to stand by while they are eating and not allow him to push another horse off the hay piles. Some posturing is normal but he cant have all the hay for himself. And he cant have the entire overhang to either especially in torrential rain. And we’ve had a lot of that lately.

I think it will take me a while to get used to having three horses. There is more crowding. More poop. More feeding. The good thing is we do have Austin -Hanks owner- who rotates in and helps with the care. Huge for me since I’m unable to do many of the chores now.

I am enjoying learning more about horse behavior. I know they will settle in- it just takes more time in some instances.  I will try to stay out of their posturing as much as possible – I know they will figure it out.

Yukon is a very nice horse. I think he just needs to settle in some.  Learn he doesnt have to own all the hay and know he will get lots of attention.

Since I began this post last week – yes last week (I can’t seem to find time to sit and write) – things have settled down more. I am pleased with this. It’s still a quite a frenzy at feeding time. I’m getting used to it.

I realize now how easy it really was to care for Harley and Airy. Three geldings together is different but fun. I’m pretty sure they will be quite the crew.

I’m sure it will make for some funny stories.

Did I mention Yukon is big?

This little surprise

So we didn’t get our new guardian horse Yukon yet. He comes to us next Monday. He wouldn’t load last week on the trailer we borrowed. Maybe he was too big. Maybe just a bit afraid. It had been a while since he had been on a trailer but he would not get on. So he is still at Days End.

So the rescue is bringing him to us next Monday. I think this will work out well. I am very grateful to Days End for the transport.

Harley has been doing fine. And here’s the surprise! Harley has a friend. Yep he got a buddy already. And he will have Yukon too!

As luck would have it our neighbor Austin decided he wanted to get a horse so he can do roping. Like in roping calves in a rodeo. Currently , Austin is a bull-rider. Yep a real cowboy and his sweet wife live right next door . They are the owners of the donkeys that I have posted photos of from time to time.

Austin isn’t retiring from riding bulls right now but I think he sees at some point his body may get too beaten up and it might be time to change to some other rodeo event.

So he decided to get a horse. He had a pony growing up. I saw a photo – so cute. They were buddies. His pony lived quite a long time. So Austin knows equines. So his getting this horse wasn’t jumping in to something he doesn’t know. And he rides giant bulls I don’t think any horse will intimidate him.

So anyway knowing that Harley was alone he asked us if he could keep an 8 yr old quarter horse on our property for a while. He needs to build some fencing on his land.

I knew Yukon was coming and I have never had more than two horses in our pasture. Both Harley and Airy are easy keepers. Which often -and in our case does – mean that they get very fat on grass. Grass can be harmful to horses like this so we only let them graze every other day or we use grazing muzzles which limit their grass intake. We always seem to have lots of grass and with Austin fencing in his pasture area there will be enough if we need to share.

So we agreed to have his horse here and we worked out the details and probably will tweak them every so often -and this past Sunday Mojo (now named Hank ) arrived.

Harley was very excited. He whinnied and pranced when he saw Hank for the first time. We have photos but It was dark.

We kept them apart for a couple nights. They nuzzled over the fence. Got to know each other a little. When Austin took Hank out for a ride on Hanks first full day here , Harley called to Hank and he called back. Buddies in the making.

When we put them together it was non-eventful. No kicking or biting. But I think I thought there would be no establishing for position because they got along so well over the fence. But of course I was wrong. Harley decided he needed to establish he was boss. So he pinned his ears as Hank approached him. Hank got the message and stayed away. They would graze nearish to eachother but if Hank got too close Harley would pin the ears back take a step and Hank would walk away.

This is when they first meet. Keeping a good distance but grazing calmly.

Moving closer. Notice the “dance” :

After a while , Hank came in to explore the paddock. I saw him sniffing the ground and checking out the trough and the stalls. Harley who was loading in a stall made sure Hank knew he wasn’t welcome in his stall right then. Come on Harley stop being a snob I thought.

Harley was hazing Hank and it seems mean but it’s what horses do. He might want a companion but they have to do their horse dance. Set the tone for their relationship. And after Harley was bossed around by Airy for so long I am not shocked Harley wants to be the boss now and Hank isn’t challenging that it seems.

Hank is the more spry one. Younger and a better mover but he is also one relaxed horse. Bombproof so far under saddle and very chilled out on the ground. So he let Harley do his thing and he seems ok with his place in this small herd.

Here is how calm this horse is. A ride in the corn(video by Austin Gosnell).

At one point Hank stood alone under the line of pine trees way out on the edge of our field. I came out to the paddock to check on them. I was hoping they would be hanging together. But Hank wasn’t there in the paddock so I walked into the pasture and looked all around and finally I spotted Hank hanging in the shadows of those trees. Maybe he wasn’t sure what he should do with Harley and his attitude.

I walked back to the barn and I looked at Harley who had ambled out of his stall to see what I was looking at way out in that field.

I said “Harley you have alienated your new friend and now he’s out there all by himself.”

And I looked at Harley and he stared out in the field – we couldn’t see Hank from there but I bet Harley could smell him. And what did Harley do? He called to Hank. I was like dang Anne he understood your scolding- wink wink.

Harley got no answer from Hank so he walked into the field and called again. Soon Hank was seen slowly walking towards Harley and what does that big oaf do? Decides to give Hank a run around. Harley head down trots toward Hank and Hank trots away from him. It’s a horse thing. Again it’s seems anti-social but it actually establishes the social hierarchy of a herd. Harley is not fast so it was funny. But I thought that may have been the final haze ritual Because once that runaround was completed they both began to graze much closer together.

That afternoon we had to head out of town for a few days to take my sons to college so we left Austin to care for the horses. Happily the next morning he reported that they were together and massaging each other. I’m not sure what that looked like but ok!

Later in the evening Austin couldn’t find Hank in the paddock and was surprised to see he had been invited into Harley’s stall. Just like he and Airy used to be. Watch the video by Austin Gosnell.

Now all this bliss will be shaken up on Monday with the arrival of Yukon. So that will be another story unto itself.

Hopefully three will be ok and not a crowd. Yukon is big and confident but lame (as in bad feet) so it will be interesting to see how it all flushes out.

More to come on that….

Here are some more photos of Hank (and family). Courtesy of the Gosnell’s.

Clarissa and Hank

Hank eating hay

Austin the bull rider and Hank

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Ziggy. The awesome cat.

Harley alone- maybe not for long…

Airy has been gone four days now. Things are quieter. Things still feel off.

Though he has quieted down a lot since Monday, Harley my Tennessee Walker was very upset the day we put Airy down. We had the vet img_5705give him a sedative and he saw Airy’s body. It didn’t settle him down too much. He pranced around the paddock calling to her. He got no answer. He was pushing up against the fencing trying to get to where he last saw her. I feared for his safety – I feared the fencing might give. So we opened the pasture gate- the one furthest away from her body and hoped he would graze.

He would run in and out of the pasture calling to her. Not gonna lie – my heart was breaking for Harley too. He was confused and stressed and I had no way to take it away. The first night was hard on everyone. My initial shock wore off and the dam of tears came flooding out. I could not stop crying. I cried for the loss and the trauma my horse went through leading to her death and I cried for my living horse who was calling periodically throughout the night for a friend who would never answer.

I could not sleep in my bed that first night. I took to the family room couch – it faces the front and side of the property and is furthest from our paddock. I couldn’t bare to hear Harley calling to her. I put earphones in and listened to the oceans waves and read my book and must have dozed for a few hours.  I woke at six and it was quiet. I hoped it would be a better day for Harley.

The truck came to take Airy’s body away. I could not stand to go out so my ever strong husband went.  Sadly Harley became very upset when he saw the truck. I could hear him from inside. There was no way to block his view and I am not sure he knew what was happening or if he just knew someone was near where he last saw his friend. When the truck pulled away Harley went on calling her.

I knew he was under duress and I wanted badly to help him. I had little I could do though. I went to the feed store and got some natural calming paste and I got some probiotics. In times of stress Probiotics are helpful to help alleviate ulcers. Thankfully Harley has been eating and drinking just fine.  I gave him half the paste in the tube and hoped it might help a little. I brushed him and pet him and talked to him.

Wednesday he was much more quiet. He called a couple times and was much more vocal at my approach to the barn. I have been watching him. And he mostly sticks to his stall. Thursday we opened the pasture gate closest to my neighbors horses and I was hoping he would feel some comfort in seeing them- if they venture out in this heat. I normally do night turn out in summer but now I will do whatever I can to make Harley less stressed.

We had six horses and two donkeys between four small farms on my side of the road. All of our pastures close together. Now only three of those horses remain as one of my neighbors lost two of her horses suddenly on the same day a few weeks ago. So it is a quieter place these days. I miss my neighbors horses too as I was “friends” with her equine boys.

Horses are natural herd animals and I feel they need companionship. That is not to say they can’t be alone – I have seen it before and even the vet said Harley may settle in and do fine as a lone horse. But would he miss having a buddy? I am not sure I should put the human term lonely onto an equine- do they get lonely? Is he grieving? I am not sure what it is but herd animals depend on each other for safety, companionship, and even to help keep the flies at bay (horse will stand near each other and swish their tails to keep the flies off each other!). There is a need there.

Since I can’t know what he feels because I am not a horse I can only go by my observations. I think Harley was confused and stressed that his companion was gone. If we had a third horse maybe I would not have seen the same level of stress. Horses do bond and I think when they are separated whether by one horse being moved to another farm, or herd, or through death it can cause stress. But something in Harley’s behavior leading up to Airy’s passing and after leads me to believe he knew it was a permanent parting. Horses may not understand death fully but I believe they feel something that lets them know that something more serious is up.

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Harley and Airy in the pasture

So I am sure Harley is confused- he’s always been in a herd. Maybe he is lonely or whatever a herd animal feels when it is now a herd of one. As the days move forward he will settle down and perhaps he could be ok as a lone horse but I am not sure it would be the best thing for him- and lets face it if I feel this way then it causes me stress so its not the best thing for me. Looking outside and seeing just one horse seems off to me.

So right after Airy died my concern shifted to Harley being alone. What were we going to do?  If Harley were being boarded with other horses or if we had a third i would not get another horse. Part of me doesn’t want another horse. There is the expense and there is the fact that physically I am not the same person I was when I bought my horses years ago. I have limited use of my one arm and at this point I can’t ride.  So I don’t want a horse that requires being ridden – if I can ride Harley again that would be so great but two needing to be ridden would be too much for me. We also considered having a boarder here. We could get some help maybe in exchange for board – but there is liability in this and I wasn’t sure I wanted to take that on.

I know there are tons and tons of horses out there in need of homes and I know there are plenty of horses just looking to be companions to other horses. Ones that can’t be ridden due to health issues or age. But I still don’t want to own one. The other day soon after Airy died I began my search to see if my needs for a horse could be met so I could meet Harley’s need for a companion. There are a vast number of horse rescues in Maryland but there is one in particular that I was pretty familiar with. I looked on their website – Days End Farm Horse Rescue  – and I saw what I was looking for – a guardian program! Ingenious really.

With the Guardian program a person take possession of the horse – typically these horses are not ridable but can be great companions “pasture pals” to other horses-  and Days End retains ownership of the horse. As guardian we would provide for all the horses needs but these expenses can be written off on the our taxes.  We could return the horse to the rescue if the need arose. This sounds like it could be a good fit for us.

Saturday we will go out to visit a prospective Guardian Program horse named Yukon. A quarter horse Gelding about 18 years old. Chestnut in color (coincidentally the same as Airy was). He is said to have a great temperament and gets along well with his current pasture mates.  We have to have a couple visits with him and one of the trainers at the rescue. If we all think he could be a fit for our farm then he will come here soon after.

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Harley and me- selfie

We need to restore some balance here. I am still grieving the sudden loss of my horse and that will ebb in time but life has to move on and the focus must be on the needs of the creatures that are still living here.

Maybe Yukon will be one of those creatures.  I will let you know how our meeting goes!

 

 

 

 

On the loss of a horse

 

 

Airy 2012

Arizon – or Airy – Arab – she was 26 years old. This is one of my favorite photos of her.

There is a time for everything

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance…..

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Authors Note- I want to thank every person who messaged me, commented on my Facebook post about Airy- your support and care means so much….. and thank you Kirsten W. for the muffins ❤

 

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This past Monday  I had plans to go out to Tractor Supply with my son Luke to grab some needed feed and bedding for the animals.  I was ready to go – purse on the counter- I was filling up my water cup..one of the ones that keep your water cool all day. It was a regular day. Then it wasn’t

We had returned from the beach the evening before. -we had been gone for almost a week. When we went down to the barn to check the horses  we found some things that were not done the way we would have wanted them. It seemed like our caretaker cut some corners. We fixed the mistakes. I put the horses out on pasture. They seemed fine- no worse for wear. We headed back to the house.

So back to Monday. Earlier in the morning Kevin brought the horses in and grained them and set out hay for them .  Later as I was readying to go to Tractor Supply and I was filling up that water cup  Kevin was looking out of the back slider at the barn. I asked him what he was looking at. I thought the cats. We have one elusive kitty we only see from a distance. Kevin said , “Airy was just rolling, then she got up and pooped but now she is down rolling again.”  For some reason my internal alarm went off. I just had a bad feeling. You just know your horses and mine will roll but they never roll get up and then go down right away to roll again. We needed to get down to the barn.

Our day just went from normal to super stressful in 30 seconds.

When I got to the barn Airy was down.  Sweating, covered in dust and mud. Her eyes were far away. We tried to get her up but couldn’t. I could see she was very bloated. Oh crap…

I said or maybe yelled “Call the vet – she has colic – hurry”. Kevin ran to get my phone in the house – neither of us grabbed ours as we went out the door. When Kevin went in Airy got up walked a ways. I could not get to her fast enough before she went down again. Rolling….

I should explain what it means when horse colics. I have heard colic as being called  a horse stomach ache – and I guess it is that because there is pain – but it can turn to a deadly situation when the intestines twist causing a blockage that can only be fixed through surgery. It is very painful even in a less serious case. Horses cant vomit- they have a one way in and out system.

Wikipedia describes colic as” abdominal pain, but it is a clinical sign rather than a diagnosis. The term colic can encompass all forms of gastrointestinal conditions which cause pain as well as other causes of abdominal pain not involving the gastrointestinal tract. The most common forms of colic are gastrointestinal in nature and are most often related to colonic disturbance. There are a variety of different causes of colic, some of which can prove fatal without surgical intervention.”

During signs of colic, I have been taught try to get a horse up and walk them around and not let the horse roll. As it can make the gut twist up (but I was told differently after the vet got there.). So we had to try to get her up. At one point -when Kevin ran in to grab the phone- I was holding the lead rope that connected to her halter and i was pulling on her with all my might (with my one good arm)as she lay on the ground trying to writhe from my grasp. I screamed “Stop you are going to kill yourself…stop stop! ” But somewhere inside I wondered if it was already too late. But I couldn’t go there. She had gotten colic maybe five years before this episode and we had the vet out and she was good as gold after they put a tube up her nose and put oil into her stomach. Oh and they gave her pain meds too. Surely they could get her straight again. But this time she seemed so much worse than before.

I was in utter panic inside but I was trying to keep my mind straight. I called the vet and tried to talk as Kevin and I worked on getting her up. If anything we wanted to move her from the hot sun. But if we could get her up we could get her walking.

Thankfully they said the vet was able to come right away but it would take time. We were able to get Airy up but she was not happy about it. We kept her walking in the shade and put wet towels on her. Kevin leading me following behind with a crop. I texted my neighbors to see if they had any pain meds. My neighbor, Nora, gave us oral Banamine- an NSAID.  I gave it to her as best I could and we kept walking and walking. My son Luke helped by bringing us water and watching for the vet. Airy is normally somewhat feisty and there was none of her spirit there as we walked on and on.

Walking and walking

We thought the banamine was working because she pooped and passed gas. Later we came to find out thats not a sign of improvement. She seemed to pick up her gait. But soon she was slow and hoping to be able to get down and roll.

It seemed like hours that we walked her around. It was likely only 30-40 minutes. The vet – Dr. Engle – pulled in and immediately he told us to stop making her walk.  Thats when I learned that we didnt need to make her walk and later I googled about it and found this.  Walking can be good but in other situations you are just tiring everyone out. How do you know when then to walk? In our case we all were exhausted. Now I know in her case it wasnt making a difference and now I know to stop walking a horse that is so tired.  I now feel very regretful that in her last minutes of life I was making her maybe more stressed. It hurts my heart.

After Dr. Engle gave Airy pain medicine by injection he then examined her and listened to her stomach sounds he said it was” quiet in there”. So he did a rectal exam and that is when he gave us the news I had not wanted to hear..maybe somewhere I knew what he was going to say but I had packed it away in some far reached area of my brain. He said her intestine was turned some. Not all the way. He didn’t look hopeful. I asked him the question. “Does that mean we have to put her down?”

“It looks that way…but we aren’t there quite yet” He said.  What options did we have? There was surgery  10k.  It doesn’t make sense on a 26 year old horse and he wasn’t recommending it.They also said they could find tumors during surgery and still she might not make it. I knew that wasn’t an option for us – for her.  I began to cry. I tried to hold i together but it wasn’t working.

Tubing Airy – I was in the stall with Harley.

We went on to talk a bit further about trying to stick a tube up her nose and send some mineral oil through her to see if that might help. This is what they did when she had colic before and it worked. So we decided to try this as a last ditch effort on saving her life. I stepped away to try to compose myself.  I went into the gym  which is attached to the barn and  our young friend Kirsten was there  – she was so sweet trying to comfort this very sad lady.  I grabbed kleenex. I headed back out.

My son Luke was running all over the place trying to help. Moving Harley out of the way, grabbing me more water. I can imagine how stressed he was. I could see it on his face. He felt for me and for the horse. Part of the time I didn’t even register he was there but then I would need him and he would be nearby. I am so thankful for him. And there is my husband – Kevin- who is always ready and willing to take on the hardest tasks form cleaning up the grossest of messes to leading a dying horse around in circles hoping she might recover so his wife wouldn’t be heartbroken. He is always amazing but in these situations he is stellar.

Time was standing still or it was my brain – I didn’t want to know what was going to happen next.

I stood with Harley in the stall hugging on his neck. I knew if Airy didn’t pull out of this colic and we put her down he would suffer too. Horses are herd animals and Airy and Harley were very bonded. I hurt for him.

After the vets (there were two of them here now- another showed up while I was somewhere in the barn) finished giving Airy her intubation of mineral oil I walked out and waited with them to see if she perked up. Kevin walked her around the paddock and I asked the vets what were we looking for with her. They said just any change in demeanor. Which mean she needed to perk way up. Her eyes were listless, her demeanor was not good.

I then began to ask the tougher questions because I knew we were at the end of a rope. I wasnt going to let her suffer any longer. What do we do with her body? How do you euthanize a horse? I got the answers as I watched this lovely beautiful animal struggle. She had been such a good horse. A companion to Harley and friend to us. It was my duty to not let her suffer any longer.

Kevin with Airy some years back.

…I had tried to ride Airy years ago. She was all Arab- proud and sleek.  She had a wonderful gait. Nice trot you could sit easily to. But we would get only so far in her training and she would spook or be “on her toes” too much and I became nervous to ride her- I feel off her once but I got back on but it scared me – I didn’t feel experienced enough to handle her –  and then I got Harley.   Airy’s training was put on the back burner. At that time the horses were boarded at Windsong Arabians not far from where we lived back then.  So sometimes I’d tack her up and ride but most often I rode Harley. Then in 2010 we moved them here to our farm and she became the pasture pal that we needed for Harley. I worked with her some while she was here but I never rode her – and I think she was just fine with that. She was the beauty in the field.

I think you know how the story ends here…once we saw no improvement in her demeanor and Dr. Engle did a rectal exam and found that he no longer could get  in as far as he had when he arrived which means things were not getting better and I could see that she continued to be in pain…I called time. It was her time. We took her out of the paddock to a place where she could lay down on grass – out of Harley’s site – and so the person who would pick up her remains could get to her easily.  She did lay down on her own which was better I think. She took a bite of grass- how fitting- she loved her grass. They gave her more sedative and I said my goodbyes. But there are no words that seem enough. I told her it was ok to go. She was a good girl. But the words are flat… but the hearts… they connect. She knew what I felt.

I left Kevin with her and I went into the gym. I wasn’t sure I could see her slip away. I didn’t want to see her if she was afraid…I didn’t want to convey any of my distress to her in what should be a peaceful passing for her. After she was gone I went to her. I knew her spirit was gone – I could feel that-but I pet and kissed her a final time.  She still had some grass in her mouth.We covered her with a sheet and towels and Kevin snipped some of her tail hair for me to keep. She had the most beautiful mane and tail.

The vet checked out Harley as he was distressed even though he couldn’t see Airy. They gave him a sedative. They led him over to see her.  They hoped it might help him to see her. He sniffed her body and then began eating grass. They led him back. Later he began to call for her….that has been hard.

In the end it is a blessing that we can be merciful to our animals. We can hasten their deaths- we can keep them from suffering. We have to make hard choices. In this case the choice was clear…but it was hard.  As my friend Jon Katz writes often- we have to be stewards to our animals.

A farm has a heartbeat of its own made up of all the beings that live here and for the moment the heartbeat is off.  Airy’s death doesn’t just make me sad it effects my other horse as well – which I will write about later. Everything just feels off. One less horse to feed. One less soul to connect with. There is an emptiness- I feel it..Kevin does too.

I am crying my tears now- many of them. My heart hurts but it will heal. I have my regrets. Why did I let her out into the pasture that night when we got back?  Did anything that was off from when the caretakers were here effect this? Should I have been on the lookout for more signs she wasn’t right? She seemed good Sunday night.  Did she just eat too much grass? But hindsight won’t help. She is gone. I just have to process this and grieve. The vet said this is just a case of bad luck. Her age- 26- the fact she had colic before- all were things against her. Dr. Engle did not want me to beat myself up.

After Airy died, Kevin came into the gym and he told me she was gone. We both cried a bit but then he showed me a picture. It was of a beautiful butterfly on Airy’s leg. He told me the butterfly was there through the entire process of her being euthanized. The vet said he had seen spirits leave before but never through a butterfly.

Well Miss Airy you flew away on butterfly wings….Fly free girl … and thank you….it was wonderful knowing you….

 

 

A sign…finally

It took almost 8 years but we finally got a farm sign. Farm might be a stretch -this place is really a farmette -well that’s what it would be called here. At under ten acres that seems to be what they call places like ours in Maryland and perhaps it is named such as it isn’t a true working farm. It’s a happy place for horses and fowl and dogs and cats.

In Texas I’m sure a a farmette would be a place with 100 acres and our little four acre homestead would be defined as a house with a little land! Big farm or little – naming a farm seems to bring it personality and the sign is the piece that makes it reality.

When we moved here during the summer of 2010 we were renting to own with plans to buy within a year. Well for many reasons -one year stretched into seven. We finally bought it last November and we got the first sign this last winter and are just now getting it mounted! Too many other things took priority!

But from the start we called our place Glory View Farm. Well because it’s view is glorious. The driveway sign will go up next.

I’m so glad we have the sign. It makes it feel like home- after 8 years it finally is ours.

Many thanks to Torched Timber for creating this one of a kind sign!