When you live in the middle of nowhere, or as my sister puts it- “in the middle of nowhere, nowhere”, life has a way of making itself interesting. Toss in the fact that we raise animals for a living and it can get even crazier. Life can go from heart wrenching, to teeth clenching, to grab your gut and laugh out loud, funny, to suck it up and try to not cry, sad. Yeah, when you raise animals for a living, life is crazy.
This year alone we lost a couple colts to the flu virus. And then there was the filly we lost to the open/dry hyena mare that prevented her from sucking on her mama. That one, she died in my dining room while Zach sat up with her bottle feeding her. Terribly Sad. Gosh, I didn’t do a very good job chronicling all the bad! but who wants to read about the bad, anyway? We also lost my pretty gray mare’s baby to the Mountain Lion Incident. By the way, the neighbor told us the other day that he saw that evil, spawn of Satan cat, but I digress.
We have Elvis, that quite literally ripped his foot off somehow, who, by last report was growing back a new hoof and we believe he will be sound again. Which is great, because he is just a rockstar.
While wire cuts aren’t something that happen that often, I never really do get quite used to the idea of having to deal with them. Here, our fences must hold cattle. We don’t have the option of dual fencing- one set for our horses and one set for our cattle as we often rotate the horses and cattle through the same pastures (which is also a super way to keep your horses parasite free, but I digress). Barbed wire isn’t the ideal fence for horses. But it is the ideal fence for cattle. And since cattle is what butters our bread and puts steak on the table (literally) they win.
I went out, after lunch to catch Gump. I normally wouldn’t be walking out to catch him, but on Sunday I sorted off 7 horses, from the 30 saddle horses/colts/geldings that we bring in daily, to keep close. The rest were going back out to pasture so I don’t feel so overwhelmed when I get to the barn. It’s easier to start when you have only 7 to look at instead of 30. Go figure.
Some of you are probably remembering all the trials and tribulations that I had with catching Gump last fall and you’re thinking, “Gosh, Jenn, Really”? But I wanted the challenge, as I believe that Gump and I are are on the same wave-length as of late. I walked through the barn, grabbed a halter, walked through the arena and out to the 90 acre trap where my horse, along with 6 of his buddies, Dino, his little brother included, are kickin’ it.
To anyone who’d have just shown up right then, I’d have been a sight to behold. I have a Blackberry phone in one hand (upon which I’m Twittering), a horse halter in the other; two dogs in front of me, one dog beside me and bringing up the tail I have a big, fat, cream-puff colored billy goat, followed by a black nanny goat. Every single creature following me was sure they were helping.
All my plans for catching my horse went straight away to hell when I got out to where the horses were. Because this is what greeted me:
That would be the kind, sweet, always loveable, and bad karma ridden horse, Handsome Jack. Poor Jack has had it rough, I tell you. As a colt he nearly died from distemper. Last summer he ended up struck by lightning, or the arc of lightning off a t-post. His head was a black swollen mess of burnt skin and his eyes were pussy and oozing, and he oozed puss out of the bottom of his jaw and his belly. Almost all. Last. Summer. We gave him anti-inflammatories, and did the hydrotherapy but there’s not much you can do about these things save for letting Mother Nature do her work, and she does her best work in conjunction with Father Time.
Needless to say, it was all I could do to not panic. First I attempted to release the gate that he was stuck in to see if I could free his foot that way. That wasn’t going to work. So I shimmied through the wires of another fence and ran to the pickup to get the fencing pliers (lucky for me, this happened just a short distance from the house). While I was at it, I jumped on the four wheeler to make my trip back faster.
I ended up cutting the wire that he was stuck in, from both sides. I cut it once on the left side of his hoof to allow the foot to move, and then cut it on the right side of his hoof so he could put it down. But that in and of itself didn’t release the wire. No, that part, I had to do by hand. It was messy. I was a wreck. And sad. And freaked out. This is one of those times I mentioned above, the gut -wrenching times. A horse in a situation like he was in can be super dangerous. They can struggle and fuss and fight and make things worse. But Jack, well, he just knew I was there to save him and he waited so patiently for me to help him. I just love Jack. I really do.
Once Jack was freed, I picked up my halter, walked over to my Gump, who, previously had snuck away from me while I dealt with Jack, and caught him. I led him around a bit, and let him go, because I needed to catch Jack and get him an IV shot of an NSAID and wash that wound out because it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I figured what better to help stop the bleeding than some 45 degree river water?
Jack stood patiently by, again and put his nose in the halter for me while I caught him; he followed me (along with the rest of the 6 horse herd), hobbling as best he could to the closest gate to us; which is the most direct route to the barn. I let that gate down, just in time to see Gump go sailing over it. The rest of the boys stood there watching, waiting for their turn to make a great escape into the yard, but I was ahead of the rest of them.
By this time, of course, all my help had deserted me. The goats were off with Gump grazing in the yard, and the dogs were running around the hay stacks. So Jack and I made our way to the barn where we gave him a shot and hosed out his foot.
I decided after washing it out to leave it open for the night. And then I figured that before my escaped gelding got too loose or big for his britches and decided to really make a break for it, I better go catch him. So here I go again- blackberry in one hand, halter in the other, two dogs beside me, one in front of me, and this time, instead of two goats bringing up the rear, I’ve got a big, orange, neutered male cat that we call “Orange-y” following me.
Gump sees me coming and pretends that he is simply going to walk away to eat grass at a different location. But this horseman is wise to his game, and next thing he knows, he’s standing there, face to face with me, letting me catch him.
So the entire conflagration of critters- the cat, goats, dogs, and horse all go back to the barn. Jack and Gump were given some alfalfa hay to eat, and then I turned them back out into the trap. The dogs went on being dogs, the goats went to visit the broodmares in front of the barn, and the orange cat was just sure I needed to sit and rub him.
And people say living in the country is boring?