Lead a horse to water

“‎A farm is a manipulative creature. There is no such thing as finished. Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only the things that must be done now and things that can be done later. The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can’t, is this: do it now, or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. Its blackmail, really.”
― Kristin KimballThe Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

Nite Nite, all her Shetland glory

Nite Nite, all her Shetland glory

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Coco drives 17 hours straight to help me muck stalls, get tractors stuck, charge batteries, celebrate pony & daughter’s birthdays, load horses onto trailers, and care for the farm.

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Manny was born to Laurel on April 7 at 12:08 p.m. with a wide live audience via the #LambCam LIVE link on our website. Mother and son are well.

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Trying to get Nite Nite’s digestive system to kick in, following Bert through the pastures.

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I was so anxious waiting for Laurel to deliver, I had to make biscotti.

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New adventures for this handsome 30 year old at Wing and a Prayer Farm. Carrot cake cupcakes for him(minus the three that Princess Peppermint, the piggy, had hoovered moments before.)

She says it quite well, Kristin does.  I’d just been holding the aforementioned book a few weeks ago, reading the jacket, learning about what this transplant had to say about her experience farming in Vermont after a different life altogether.  There are words, and words, so many words throughout our days & nights and sometimes I feel I can’t put down anything for a reader, only for myself, because we all, as a society, need less, not more, in terms of noise.  I didn’t purchase Kristin’s book because I knew I wouldn’t have time right now for reading, but I truly appreciated her warning, her body of work and writings and I intend to find time to read her publishings some day.  At the time, though, I had not known how perfectly her words would sum up my last 7 days.

Many events, many moments, many chores, much mucking.  My back aches – much mucking.  My eyes want to close – much mucking.  My chest heaves – much mucking.  An opera would most appropriately showcase the drama of “As the Farm Turns” this past week.

Last Sunday, I prepared to drive my daughter back to college.  I climbed into the car and said, “Char, I just know she’s going to deliver soon, like, before this time tomorrow.  She’s so ready.” and Char said reluctantly, “I’m so sorry you have to drive me back, Mom.”  We were talking about Laurel, our Merino who was due to lamb any minute for the past month.  And when I’d tucked the sheep in before hitting the road, she’d shown so many signs of nearing readiness for labor.

The drive to Char’s college is about 2 hours, so that figures well into a plan of approximately 4 hours of labor from the time you leave the farm and return if you’re watching a ewe that has shown signs of beginning.  Laurel wasn’t that close to lambing yet, but it was unfortunate to think that Char, who had come home to give me an extra hand around the farm, would have to miss out.

Ten minutes into our drive we’d gotten the call from the farm where our Shetland pony, Nite Nite, was companion-ing our dear friend’s Fjord pony.  Our fuzzy gal was apparently lethargic, not eating, not herself.  There has never been a time that we could recall our fat pony as without appetite, so something was definitely wrong.  We were about 1 minute away from that farm so we made a quick detour to see what was wrong.

A visit from the vet had us changing all of our plans, dropping everything, to minister to this gorgeous miniature equine that has been with our family for 6 years.  She’s the sassiest pony that you can imagine – dark and fuzzy and impertinent.  Char said she wished she’d try to take a bite out of someone, just to show a bit of her old self.  She could barely be encouraged to move, never mind take a morsel or drink water.  The vet diagnosed her and dosed her and we treated her for a tick-born virus, Aniplasmosis, that was likely scourging through her blood system, creating the symptoms that would worsen before improving this past week.

On one day, we were to consider transporting her to a hospital an hour away for an IV-drip to restore the fluids in her dehydrated pony-shell, so as to support her in countering an impaction in her colon as a result of the virus.

So many considerations.  If Nite Nite were to load onto a trailer, would the Fjord pony, Bert, be distressed and have any issues in addition to Nite Nite’s?  After all, she was at the farm with him as a companion purposefully, as he’d lost his mate of 30 years barely 2 months prior.  Or might he also trailer with her to the hospital? And then we’d pay additional boarding fees for his stay, minimal, however, he’d then be exposed to the stress of transport and more and, being 30 years old, further complications?

If we didn’t trailer her to Saratoga, would she improve without getting the fluids that she was so depleted of?  Would her digestive system be able to move an impaction through after 36 hours of barely any hydration?

In summary – Tara, whom I’ve mentioned in posts’ past, dove in with driving the truck and the trailer to take Nite Nite & Bert for a ride on a bumpy road.

EVERYONE!!!  You cannot for ONE minute think that I am joking when I tell you we took our horses for a ride on a bumpy road.  Alright?

Right now, we are in Mud Season in Vermont.  The dirt roads we live on are like, hmmm, how can I make you understand this….?…they are akin to if you were to drive in your car on top of concrete traffic barriers and then into flood control channels and then back onto curbs repeatedly, purposefully, for miles.  Because there is NO other way to get to your home.

SO, said bumpy ride in a trailer not only loosened the impaction in Nite Nite’s intestines, but also Bert’s, and both ponies arrived at our farm quite a bit lighter than when they’d set out.

We brought the two of them home as Bert’s mama/owner had driven non-stop from Wisconsin to Vermont to help me make the decision to transport and relocate him so I’d better be able to care for our pony.

The tale is possibly confusing at this point. It ends with Nite Nite in recovery, Bert celebrating his 30th birthday party here with carrot cake cupcakes in the barn, and, a beautiful little Merino ram lamb, Mansfield, born on Monday.

Bert’s mama, Coco, is relocated to Vermont again. We’re nursing ponies, mucking stalls and readying the farm for spring with joy and fortitude.  If we could see an end to the list of chores, we’d be both relieved, and, sad.  This past week we’ve taken an ill pony and a well pony, rehabilitated and placed them in a new/old home, we’ve mucked barns and coops and with the rest of the family moved poultry and piggy housing into summer locations, we’ve celebrated dear daughter Sarah Jane’s milestone birthday & Bert, the Fjord pony’s milestone birthday, basked in the pleasure of snuggling very pregnant ewes, and, of course, we’ve baked.



7 responses to “Lead a horse to water

  1. Ha! Your strategy of taking Nite Nite for a ride is the very same one we have used, on more than one occasion, to get hogs to cycle. We used to breed hogs AI and were very dependent on them cycling, and ON TIME. Every once in a while we’d have semen in the fridge (purchased at great expense) … and we’d wait for the sow to cycle … and we’d wait … and wait. And, finally, when the semen was on the edge of its ‘best-if-used-by’ date … we’d load the sow up into the trailer and take her for a bumpy ride through the countryside! The stress of the trip would, more often than not, do the trick and she’d cycle the next day. I’m sure that the little bit of stress induced by your Vermont-winter roads was just the same thing that inducted those smooth muscle contractions of the intestine to do their thing! Congratulations on all counts. And … must say before signing off … the quote which began your post is something that I may have to reblog sometime … totally classic and totally ON TARGET. D

    • I cannot take the credit – it was Coco’s idea/suggestions. We were readying for the vet’s next visit to stomach-tube Nite Nite for the 3rd time and decided we’d take her for the ride prior to the tubing, because we were having to sedate her for the tubings, and didn’t want to try to have to trailer her while she was sedated afterward. It all worked out. Boy, you should’ve seen that little pony when she stepped out on our farm. I think she willed herself well because she was home. She was back to her determined self within minutes! Her heartrate and temperature almost returned to normal within 12 hours. It was so encouraging. Bert is completely at home and today was giving the neighbors pony rides around the paddock. (He used to be the neighborhood pony-ride in his early days in New Hampshire!)

      That is the funniest tale about the piggy’s being induced to cycle after a bumpy ride! Today I was speaking with a friend about having piglets….I was wondering about how to start that process…I read that you needed to be aware of their cycle and not having the experience, didn’t know if I would be able to pull it off. Our piggy, Princess Peppermint, is an American Guinea Hog, an excellent little forager, and I think it’d be neat to have more. Not for me, but to sell. But right this minute, actually, I’m not planning it. Got lambing to finish up! Set up the rest of the jugs this afternoon and separated the ewes. Six are due.

      Thank you for the read, the visit, and hurray for some spring weather, finally!

  2. Wow. What a week you all had. I can only imagine your exhaustion and relief. “If we could see an end to the list of chores, we’d be both relieved, and, sad.” That sentence says it all. And who knew the medicinal benefits of frost heaves?! I wish you all a very calm, uneventful, and healthy spring! x

    • Rebecca – what a week, indeed. I’m fueling with protein & fruit to try to keep my energy up with all the demands of the physical labor right now. And, going to bed nice and early!
      Thank you for the visit on the blog, I’m grateful to your devotion. I’ve had good support this past week, part of it from you, my friend!

  3. When a friend’s wife was preggers and we all didn’t want to leave Nantucket but he thought she should have the baby he took her up and down the dunes – well no baby no rush and he didn’t arrive till weeks after they were home

    • Jean! That’s a funny story. And of course, they come when they’re ready, right? I’d read about lambs and they actually determine when they’re ready to be delivered, sending the mom’s body into preparation/releasing the hormones that help trigger labor. It’s not the moms that pick it! But many times, we say that “they KNOW when it’s time!”

      But when that little pony was heading home, I swear she knew it and wanted to be well for her arrival! She was determined that everything was as it used to be when she got here. I think she willed herself to heal! I really do.

      Thank you for the visit/read/comment!

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