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  • Evidently I can’t write cohesive posts anymore (as my unfinished drafts seem to indicate) so I’m back to my favored form of blogging
  • In farm news, we have new poultry much to the amusement and disdain of the USPS.
  • They came in waves
  • First the French Guinea keets that were met with coos and smiles
  • Then the Khaki Campbell ducks that convinced the well-meaning postal workers that they needed water so that I ended up wearing water/duck poo soaked shorts home from picking them up at the post office.
  • And then the Novogen chickens which brought the ire of the postal worker/armchair animal husbandry expert that felt the need to lecture me on the cruelties of sending chickens via post.  Whatevs lady… I don’t recall asking for your input.
  • All the new acquisitions are doing very well and are growing by leaps and bounds.
  • It’s been a while since we’ve had ducklings and we all managed to forget how excessively messy they are.
  • They are super cute tho…. so that helps
  • In other news… It’s been too hot to do much with the horses.
  • The heat has been brutal!!!
  • So it was probably a good thing that I decided to go ahead and have the lipomas on my forehead removed.
  • Surgery was a beast.
  • Post op was a solitary nightmare.
  • I don’t even wish to relive it to blog about
  • in a nutshell…
  • facial surgery is painful (all them nerves gotta be feeling things!)
  • I reacted poorly to the anesthesia (hello panic attacks and hot flashes for 2 weeks!)
  • my family and friends UTTERLY ABANDONED ME for the duration (Love you guys soooo much!)
  • but on the plus side… tumors were lipomas (non cancerous) and I’m rocking some pretty bad ass scars… on my face.  GRRR!
  • I’m in the process of opening an Etsy shop… maybe.
  • I’ve been making lots of jewelry and happily people are responding very positively to what I’ve made.
  • I’m thinking of making a whole separate blog for that as I don’t necessarily want that traffic over here.
  • The boys are still avid cyclists.
  • J and B are planning several rides this fall… mini “tours” so to speak
  • Aside… Froome won the Tour de France so there is happiness in my house
  • He is B’s favorite cyclist
  • Along with Peter Sagan who is becoming X’s new favorite as X is becoming interested in cycling as well… particularly sprinting.
  • I think that X has always liked the cycling thing he just didn’t think his build was conducive to it, until I pointed out that Sagan is built like a tank (compared to Froome) and he’s a very accomplished sprinter.
  • I am coming to a place of peace with cycling.
  • We will see how this tentative peace holds once the weather turns and we are all vying for ride time.
  • I am feeling optimistic
  • School is in session for us and has been since the week after the Fourth of July
  • With the exceptionally unrelenting heat we’ve been having I felt that it was in the best interest of all parties to just go ahead and start now so that we could enjoy a few Fall breaks instead.
  • It’s going well.
  • X and I are avidly reading right now.
  • He’s reading Harry Potter (his first time through the series)
  • I’m reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth.
  • I thought the first two in the series were pretty good, but half way through this one and I’m starting to lose my immersion in the story.  At this point I just want whatever is going to happen to just happen already.
  • I hate when a novel turns that way for me.
  • J bought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which I will be delving into once I’m finished with Tris and Four.
  • I almost forgot about Luna!
  • We have a new dog!
  • She’s a Lab/Staffie/Bully mix (I hate using the word Pit)
  • She’s adorkable (typo intended)
  • She loves me and is a big 40lb teddy bear already and will probably get even bigger!
  • She’s about 4 months old now and is all-elbows and knees and goofy gawkiness.
  • I love her immensely and Joop tolerates his “little sister” better than he would like me to believe.
  • The gardens are doing well
  • We desperately need to put up more pickles as B has eaten all of ours.
  • All of them
  • As in there are no more
  • We are getting really creative with zucchini and squash
  • We have a deer problem this year which is annoying.
  • X and B have been huge helps to M.
  • X has done much of the plowing and B is a pro at picking both vegetables and bugs!
  • I’m certain that I’m leaving something out but for now that’s it… hopefully there will be a new proper update (sans bullet post) soon!

So I think it’s pretty much general knowledge that a great deal of things have gone wrong here at the farm in the past few weeks.

As previously mentioned I had a riding accident back before Thanksgiving… I did NOT fall off, but managed to knock my spine out of alignment.  Multiple visits to the chiropractor ensued and everything was fine until about 2 months ago when I was innocently shaving my legs and suddenly did “something” to my back again.  I thought it was simply a rotated sacrum as that had been a problem before.  After a weekend of excruciating pain (thigh, knee, calf and arch of foot cramping constantly) I revisited the chiropractor fulling believing that he would again solve my back problem.

I was wrong.

The pain level never abated so I finally sought treatment from our family doctor… only he wasn’t in that day and I saw one of his partners.  That doc decided to “prediagnose” me before ever seeing me and after calling me “fatty on a horse” while reading my chart (outside the room… I guess she thought I couldn’t hear her? IDK… I thought it was rude) she swept into the room and said I had sciatica… and when I didn’t present pain in the place she said I should she stated that I was in so much pain I couldn’t feel it.

‘Cause yeah that makes sense.

So I left angry and frustrated with prescriptions for Prednisone and Lortab.  For the record… neither of them helped with the pain level.

So still in excruciating pain I tried to maintain some normalcy to my life.  Lauren, bless her, has helped me work with all the TBs and their ongoing skin funk issues.  She has done the work, while I held the rope… nothing like feeling completely useless right?

Wednesday (5-23) afternoon Lauren was helping with the horses and on letting the TBs and Baxter out of their feeding pens, she saw Bax go down in an apparent colic.  She sent for me immediately and I rushed out with halter in hand and we began our standard colic procedures.  Thank goodness for Lauren as she walked  and walked my sweet boy round and round the driveway because me and my bum-leg couldn’t walk 10 feet before failing.  We gave him banamine and Lauren continued walking him until he pooped and passed gas and just to be safe we took his temperature which was normal.  And for a little while I sat with his big giant head in my lap while I sat on the mounting block (the giant tall one that Jim made special for me to mount my tall boy).  I told Lauren the story about how I got Baxter and then I burst into tears saying how I didn’t know if I could handle it if anything happened to him.  And my sweet sweet boy sat there with his head on my knee, dopey from the meds, letting me love all over his face.  Then he decided that he needed to go graze and I got a big hug around his neck, and a cuddle in his big shoulder and we turned him out in the yard.  And so he grazed and acted normal… blinding us with his shiny healthy coat and frustrating us with his tenacity to try to eat the scrappy hay around the hay wagon… to the point that we had to turn him into the pasture.  He drank, he pooped, he passed gas.  Everything looked normal.

We checked on him again multiple times and every time he looked fine. He was his normal, lively self.  I last saw him at 3am and he was fine.  And I remember heaving a sigh of relief that my boy was ok.

During that night the pain in my leg hit an all new level and I was left writhing in agony.  I had called Jim upset and frustrated that I had not been able to even walk Baxter during his colic. I rehashed the horrible doctor’s appointment and how I felt frustrated that nobody really cared.  Jim promised to ask one of the docs at work to see what they thought and I hung up the phone feeling like maybe some headway would be made.

I woke up the next morning when Jim came in and he told me how he had spoken to one of the orthopedic docs and he wanted me to schedule an appointment with him. And I was pleased because I thought at long last some progress would be made to alleviate the pain so that I could start riding again.

Later in the morning Lauren called to check on Baxter and although I had not seen him that morning I was certain that he was fine as he had given every indication that he was over his colic.  I hung up feeling pretty good about everything and was game to try the new stretches that M had read about to try to alleviate some of the ongoing pain in my leg.

I was laying on the floor with M trying to massage the knots out of my thigh when Jim came in.  He sat down and held my hands and I thought it was because he thought I was in pain (which I was… but M had made me laugh so it wasn’t so bad at that moment).  And then I looked up at his face and he had “that face” on… the one that’s foreshadowing impending doom… and I said “what’s with that face?” still laughing from M’s ongoing attempt to massage out the knots in my leg.

And then he said “Baxter’s dead” and my world imploded.

I remember screaming and pushing Jim away.  I remember blindly searching through the house for my shoes because regardless of any pain in my leg the pain in my heart was greater and I had to see my sweet sweet boy because I just knew that Jim was wrong.  It couldn’t be Baxter, not MY boy… let it be any other horse but not my boy. And there in the garden, separated from all the other horses I found him and reality hit.

My Baxter was dead.

Baxter… ohhh my sweet boy.  I still have not come to terms with his death… I have had many many horses in my life but none like Baxter.  Wherever I went he kept an eye on me.  He listened to me and although he wasn’t really a lovey horse… he was always aware of me.  Lauren rode him once for me and the entire time he kept one ear turned on me as if to ask “is this ok Mom?” I had a long long time with Aimee, 17 years I think and my world was rocked when she died.  I only had a short time with Baxter and the hole he’s left in my heart is gaping and sore.  My reaction to people who don’t understand the connection that many of us have with our horses has been scathing.  I posted this on FB in response to being told that he was just a horse:

 He was more than a horse… he was my sanity, he was my air, he was my diamond ring and warm fuzzy shoulder, he was my rock. On his back I conquered dragons, between his ears I saw heaven, he was never, ever “just a horse”

I remember returning to the house in a fog.  I remember sitting on the couch with M and Jim holding me up as I sobbed and then I saw Lauren come in the door.  Poor Lauren.  30 seconds after I had hung up with her that morning, Jim had called her to tell her that Bax was dead and to ask her to come to the house because he and M had to go to bed (they had worked the night before) and I was going to need somebody to lean on.

We explored every thing that could’ve gone wrong, called numerous vets and even tried to arrange a necropsy.  We ended up not doing the necropsy because we didn’t have a way to get Baxter to the vet that could do them.  I spent the day in agony.  Lauren and I cleaned brushes which only brought on a new wave of sorrow as I realized I wouldn’t need that cool Haas brush anymore because Baxter was dead.  We spent time working on Paris’ back (her skin funk is the worst) and every time I glanced up into the pasture I would see Lucy and my brain would say it was Baxter and I new wave of misery would crash over me.

It was a long hard day followed by a long, painful night.

Somewhere in the misery of losing Baxter I forgot about making the appointment with the orthopedic doctor.  Once again the pain in my leg kicked it up another notch and after screaming at Jim he scheduled the appointment and which was last Friday.

This time instead of snarky, catty we were met with sympathetic and curious.  I was actually examined and he found that I was  very weak on my right side and lacked any reflex in my right ankle and also had lack of feeling all along my right calf and foot. His initial guess at diagnosis was that I had a ruptured disk which would indicate a need for surgery.

Did I ever mention how terrified of surgery I am?  No? Well I am.

Immediately I thought he was going to tell me that my riding “career” was over… that riding was no longer going to be possible and I was like a landed fish gasping for air because riding is what keeps me sane and grounded… what do I do if I can’t ride?  These two months without riding have driven me nearly to the edge of reason and it’s only because Lauren has been coming to help treat the tbs that has kept me feeling like I even had a toe in the horse world.

So he spent a good while reassuring me that after a some time off to heal I would indeed be able to ride and that the surgery would only side-line me from my regular activities for a couple months or so.  Funny how glibly he said that “just a couple months” but that’s better than forever right?

So he scheduled an MRI and gave me new meds (that still don’t work but I’m building up the dose and once it’s a full strength the hope is that it’ll work at least somewhat) and off we went.

The MRI was one of the most horrific experiences of my life.  Not because of the closed in space but because I was unable to move to relieve the pain in my leg for something like 30 minutes.  I tried so very hard not to move only to have the little scratchy speaker snark out “you really need to be still!”  I tried to explain to them that my leg was spasming and moving on its own but they weren’t buying that (tho it was true) and so I was repeatedly “encouraged” to remain still because I was “having this procedure done for a reason…” which I thought was rude.  I glared at them meanly before I left.  It made me feel slightly better, although I doubt they noticed.

So this morning as I woke up as Jim came up the stairs (he worked last night).  He came to the edge of the bed and had that look on his face again.  My immediate response was “who’s dead?”  He assured me that everybody (and horse) was still living.  Then said that he had talked to my orthopedic doc last night and had seen my MRI.

Yeah that face foreshadowing doom….

Turns out I have a seriously bad ruptured disk AND a bulging one as well.  So it looks like surgery is on the books and I have no idea how he’s planning on treating the bulging disk as I don’t see him until Friday to find out what’s going on.  I have no idea how this affects returning to normal for me but right now I’m trying to come to terms with the idea that I won’t be riding for a long time if ever.

If Ever.

Pardon me while I go wallow in self-pity for a while as I think I’ve pretty much used up all my coping skills and yet every time I turn around more stuff is being thrown at me.  At what point do I just throw up my hands and say “you win!” to whoever is lining up all these wonderful things for me to deal with.  Give me pain like nothing I’ve ever experienced, take away my usefulness, take away my friggin’ horse (who was INNOCENT) and now take away riding too…  I realize I’m nothing in the scheme of the world but I’ve ever tried to be helpful and I try to do the right thing… to see things from other people’s perspectives and act accordingly.  I’m not judgemental or catty… I give with a loving heart… I do right when I see the need.  I help when other’s scoff… I believe in the goodness of others at all times and yet… and yet… I repeatedly find myself on the bottom of the heap… the nobody that everybody including family and friends can walk on regularly.

And I’d like to sit here and say “I’ve had it, I’m done” but I can’t.  When the neighbor’s down the road call and need help with their horses, I’ll hobble out there as best I can to help.  When family need help so that they can go “do their thing” I’ll be right there to help yet again… without even being asked…

And yet here I sit… in agony… my horse dead, my heart near broken… in physical pain.. and yet it continues to pile on.  More and more and more…. at what point do I break?

My FB peeps have already heard this story but I thought it should live on in infamy here so…

Friday night Jim and M both worked and it ended up that I had to take them supper later.  Around 10:30p I headed out to the car and had that weird feeling that I wasn’t alone… Ike wasn’t barking but I had that strange feeling… so I jumped into the car, locked the doors and headed down the driveway.  As my headlight  illuminated down the road I saw a pair of eyes reflecting back from the dead center of the road.  There stood Leo in all his glory, looking at me like “What?” as I glared at him from the interior of the Rover.  So I was thinking “great! My spidey-sense is going off and now I HAVE to get out of the car to deal with Mr. Grass-is-always-greener.”  So I climbed out of the car, snagged Leo’s halter and attempted to lead him back into the fence so that I could subsequently fix the breach.  Leo would have none of it.  He set his feet and refused to budge.  So I thought FINE! I’ll just walk him back up to the house and put him in with Woodrow and Leo.  But first I had to turn off the car, find my phone and hold on to Leo all at the same time.  20 minutes later Leo was contained, the fence repaired and I was back in my car.  As I had started down the driveway (walking back to my car) I commented to Jim (who I had called as soon as I got my phone) that Ike was barking like mad but I figured it was because Leo was not where Ike thought he should be and basically forgot about it.

So I went off to the hospital, dropped off the food, came home.  The boys were sacked out on the couch and Sophie was dancing to the iPod (which was turned up louder than normal).  I messed around in the house for a while, not really paying attention to the time and finally sat down to do a blog update since, other than the music which wasn’t bad, the house was quiet.

Suddenly I heard Martha come shuffling in from her room and she all but threw the phone at me saying that it was the Fire Department.  I noticed the time was very nearly 1am.  So I picked up the phone and a voice says it’s the Sheriff Dispatcher and they have an emergency… I say “O…K….?” and he proceeds to ask me whether I own cows.  So I say “yeeesss…..” and he says that there have been “multiple calls” about cows running up and down the biggish road above us, running down the railroad tracks and running down the neighbor’s road.  I assured him that my cows would not travel that far, but he asked if I would drive over to the next road over (my neighbor’s road) and meet the Deputies there to see if the cows were mine.  I, still feeling that this was impossible, told the dispatch guy that I didn’t have beef cows, my cows are milk cows… Jerseys.  That threw him and again I felt confident that the cows out were somebody elses.  So I drove over to meet the Deputies and what do I see?  Maisie’s backside walking away from me down the railroad track.

Great!

So I fired a call off to Jim and his work thankfully let him come home to help me.  Also we lucked up as the Deputies were kind and very helpful.  I attempted to snag Maisie but she uncharacteristically shied away from me and cavorted off towards the middle of the road again.  So the deputies and I were finally able to run Maisie Margot and Millie up into my neighbors empty cow pasture where Desmond was already hanging out just as Jim pulled up with the bucket of feed that I didn’t think to bring.  So the deputies left, while wishing us luck in finding the fence break and we headed for home to fix the fence and get the cows back in our pasture.

I headed on up to the cow paddock while Jim went in to change and right off I noticed that the electric fence was all up and working.  So I walked around behind the barn and found the wire panel broken down as though all four cows had hit it at the same time.

Odd.

But I figured something had spooked them and cows are weird… so I went to find where they had broken out of the horse pasture.  I didn’t have to go far as the gate to our trails was twisted and warped where obviously all four cows had gone over it as well.  Which really didn’t make sense as there was an easier to jump fence right beside it.

Really Odd.

So as I was fixing the gate and contemplating the weirdness of it all, I was overwhelmed with the vile smell of drunk-vomit.  I turned around (remember that weird feeling from earlier?) and saw Jim walking towards me so I asked if he had a drunk patient or a vomiting patient and he said no… then the smell hit him.  Then the realization that someone HAD been in our pasture hit.

Grrrrrr.

So we walked a short ways up on to the trails and did find several places where the stench was very strong.  I was livid.  I fixed the gate and then snooped around the walkover gate in the cow paddock while Jim fixed the panel behind the shed.  I found a partial cowboy boot print right where somebody would’ve stepped down from the walkover.  None of us wear cowboy boots.

So, now livid, we went to fetch the cows from the neighbor’s field… just as they were contemplating jumping into a different neighbor’s field.  Luckily we got them headed in the right direction and past our inquisitive but not helpful horses and into their paddocks.  Maisie and Desmond went into their paddock easily, while Millie and Margot had to go into the high-security pen because they were still too strung out and kept blowing by the regular paddock gate.  Ike managed to weasel his way out and made a beeline down the road.  Seriously… where was he going?  IDK!  But Jim was able to snatch him up as I was retrieving the snack cart (aka the Ranger) from the horses.

Nearing 3am we decided that everything was properly secure and Jim returned to work.  It took another hour for me to calm down as I was (and still am) very livid about the whole experience.

Earlier in the afternoon, while Jim was getting ready to go to work, he heard a 4-wheeler go tearing through our woods, so we think they saw the cows then, got drunk, thought about going cow tipping (which makes sense from the way Maisie was acting) and made their way back over to the farm.  IDK if they were up there when I left to go take M and Jim their supper… sort of makes me feel sick thinking about it though. Anyway we figure that they climbed into the pasture, got the cows stirred up and chased them behind the barn where the cows hit the fence together and knocked it down.  At that point we think that they attempted to get the cows to go back into their paddock but instead blocked the cows so that they ended up going over the trail gate.  After that IDK what they did.  We found tracks well up into the woods and the police said they had calls from 2 different roads after midnight plus people calling to say the cows were on the railroad tracks.  The tracks are not really visible from anywhere so only somebody on foot would’ve seen them.

The next morning Jim and I investigated the trails and found more boot prints and ATV tracks. Later Julie and I went riding and Baxter was so terribly on edge and snorting that I know he must have smelled the stench of them too.

So now I’m just a little more paranoid than normal.  I’ve had to go out and do head counts a least twice every night and I’m sleeping with my handy dandy mega-watt Stanley spot light by my bed just in case Ike starts up his warning barks.  And I’m very glad that neither the cows nor an unsuspecting motorist were hurt.  Plus the TBs, could’ve easily gotten out had they noticed the gate down, but since they were all crammed up together as far away from the cows as possible, makes me think that someone they didn’t know was in the pasture too.  There were no horse tracks around the trail gate so I know they were never near it.  But it does scare me.  The what ifs have driven me crazy!

Luckily Jim is off tonight so maybe I’ll get over my paranoia while he’s here… otherwise I’m going to drive everybody crazy going out to check on the animals… but what else can I do?

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Last night Jim called me to say that he was checking the horses and Willow was down… that she seemed ok, but couldn’t seem to get up.  I geared up and headed out and found her lying calmly, looking serene.  I had observed several days earlier that she was looking incredibly large, as though pregnant.  So I checked under her tail and found everything swollen, indicating (considering her calm and serene demeanor) that she was in labor.  So we backed off and observed her and her actions seem to indicate that she was indeed pregnant.  We had very little history on her from her previous owner so there was a great deal of unknown.  We left her alone and were very unobtrusive with her.  Around 3, when it began to lightly rain and get colder, we decided that things were becoming questionable even though she was still calm and serene so we called Dr. Stafford.  A great deal of miscommunication as well as a cellphone malfunction followed so instead of him coming out at 4am, he didn’t get our call until 7am.  He arrived at the farm early this morning and even he thought she looked pregnant and was presenting as a pregnant mare in trouble.  After a thorough exam it was discovered that she was not pregnant, but had some sort of tumor/gut anomaly and had most likely ruptured her colon or strangulated her gut.  We made the decision to put her down, which became a situational fiasco because her veins were collapsing.  It was a horrible, horrible experience and I’m glad that Dr. Stafford (assuredly the most kind and talented vet that I have ever dealt with) was here.  He was respectful to us all but most importantly to Willow. 

At 4am I knew that things had made a turn for the worse.  I knew from then that Willow wasn’t going to make it as she went from being calm and serene to agitated and fretful.  During the miscommunication/cellphone mishap I pretty much hit the wall… I punched Jim (his shoulder), I railed against the universe, I used language reserved to the coarsest of sailors and I screamed at Jim and I cried… sobbed and got really mad.  There was Willow, in pain, cast on her side in the cold rain.  I couldn’t help her… we tried putting a pad under her head so that she wouldn’t get mud in her eye but she would just thrash it away… there was nothing I could do to help her, I couldn’t make the rain stop, I couldn’t get her up to move her out of the weather, I couldn’t do anything but watch her suffer… knowing she was dying.  I  ultimately piled a big armful of hay next to her head and she ate at it even as she was laid fully on her side… something I’ve never seen a cast horse do. 

Jim and I stayed up all night, allowing for a little more than an hour’s nap sometime after 4… we were in and out more times than I could count.  At daybreak I sat at the kitchen table and tried sipping a cup of warmish tea (made the night before) to stop the daggers in my throat, but all I could do was blink and let the tears fall… I cried until I had no more tears to cry and even as I sit here at nearly 11:30pm my eyes are still like sandpaper. 

I had pinned a great many hopes on Willow… her kind and willing personality as well as her unflappable nature (spooking wasn’t in her repertoire) made her a dream of a horse.  I was so looking forward to riding her one day… had just the day before made the analogy to Jim that me driving the Porsche (long story) was like him riding Willow.

I will never ride her… will never have her turn those bemused brown eyes on me again… never see her fling her head up when I whistle… never hear her slow, heavy steps sneaking up behind me… never feel her nose trying to fit into my jacket pocket where she knew the treats were hidden… never see her school Fantine on who exactly was boss mare in the draft paddock. 

Oh how I miss what we could’ve been… but more than that I miss was she was…

Goodbye my dear sweet Willow…..

To the people who have been stealing our horse feed… please stop.  I appreciate that the economy isn’t good right now and that feed prices are continuing to climb upward  but that doesn’t excuse the fact that you are a thief.

For the first time in the 30+ years that I have lived here we are going to have to lock down our feed room because the thieving is that out of hand.  Just this week you’ve taken over 40lbs of feed. 

We do not use a commercially available feed.  It’s not like running a couple miles into town to pick up a new bag.  In an attempt to support our local SC economy we use locally milled feed, so we have to CALL in an order, WAIT for it to be milled and then DRIVE 45 mins to go pick it up.  So not only are you stealing our feed, you’re stealing our time.

And furthermore… if you are who I’m most definitely sure you are… your horses are nice young light horses requiring minimal feeding on your lush green pasture, especially since you use them for absolutely nothing.  My horses are older DRAFT horses that require a great deal more feed and because of their age and condition screwing with their feed ratios isn’t a good idea.  When I take on a horse I take it for the long haul, not just for the duration of it’s usability… so I really don’t appreciate your stealing the food right out of their mouthes.

And further-furthermore… I am not particularly happy that you feel that it’s “OK” to steal our feed so that you can continue your self-destructive lifestyle.  If you can’t get your drug money and your feed money to run out evenly then either kick the drugs or get rid of the horses.  Simple.

So, just so we’re clear… DO NOT STEAL OUR FEED… it’s wrong, illegal and in your case stupid.

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