“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 Kimball, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love
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.