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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Farms, That Sixth Sense & Jumping Ship

Well hello, World! Long time. Yeah, I know. Hush.

I would start off by saying that it has been a busy couple of months, but I honestly think that is always the case in some form. If it isn't bad weather, it's preparing for upcoming weather. If it isn't dealing with current animal issues, it's preventing future animal issues. If it isn't me drowning in a list of hundreds of pounds of soap I need to make THIS WEEK, it's cleaning up from making all of that soap last week. It is, as we all say on our farms, what it is.

But honestly, no one... and I mean no one... signs up for farm life because they want to be bored.

After recovering from the mudfest we had thanks to days upon days of torrential downpours in early October, The Boy and I set off for a rare and much needed mini-vacation away from the farm. Probably more so for my sanity than his, because it had been well over 18 months since I had spent a single night away. He travels some for work. Me, not so much. I travel from the bed down to the coffee out to the barn and back to the house to start my workday, possibly still unshowered and in my pajamas. Two days a week I set up shop at the local farmers market (showered, and in clean clothes, don't worry), which is just as much of an in-person much needed social outlet for me as it is my biggest platform for local sales. Even though I love my life, sometimes a girl has gatta jump ship and swim away for a bit.

And that, we did. We settled in our downtown Raleigh hotel (conveniently located two hours from home, just in case, because I need to ease into leaving the livestock in the hands of someone else again) and looked forward to a week of everything within walking distance, good food, and lots of lazy naps. Two days into our relaxing trip, I get a frantic message from our newly hired farm sitter. Something was wrong with our miniature horse Snow, who is a 30+ year old pasture mate for my almost 30 year old Arabian mare, Pebbles.

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Maybe I should take a moment to tell you about Snow.

Snow is a stubborn, hearty, constantly-on-a-diet, stereotypical "can't kill'em" miniature horse, even if she is well over the hill and happily trotting around on the other side spreading her shedding white coat like glitter on obnoxious Christmas cards. She falls into the same category as Chihuahuas and cockroaches, seriously. But we love her.

Snow came to us a few years ago from a friend who needed a retirement home for her. Snow taught lots of kids how to sit in a saddle. Snow pulled carts. Snow enjoyed a regular size horse life, until a regular size horse kicked her in her miniature face and removed an eyeball. (Gross! Sorry. True stuff, though: Queasy people won't last long on a farm.)

So Snow healed up and loaded into a trailer bound for our farm, where we were in dire need of a companion for my aging mare Pebbles who had quickly declining eyesight.

Ummm, yes. I know. Let the jokes commence... Snow and Pebbles have one good eye between the two of them. Truth is, Snow needed a pasture and someone to put her on a diet. Pebbles needed a bright white object she could still detect with her cataracts, who was enough of a brat to take charge and lead the way. Solution achieved.

Despite her age, and her now missing eyeball, Snow has had zero medical issues. Save from a minor cut on her butt (and that's just funny to say, regardless), she's been the least of our worries here on the farm. So when I got the message from Dee, our new farm sitter, at first I really didn't think much of it. But a few seconds later, I re-read her message.

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Wait... what? Snow didn't finish her food. Snot from both nostrils? Cue the instant panic. The blood pressure. The suitcase in the corner...

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I asked her to please stay there while I call the vet. She responded that she wasn't going anywhere. In fact, she spent her time waiting for my next contact by petting and calming my big mare Pebbles, who was not happy that her "mini me" seeing eye pony wasn't acting normal.

I sent the photos to my large animal vet, and a quick conversation led to the belief that Snow was choking. She had something lodged in her throat and couldn't swallow, so everything was then coming back out of her nose.

"What do I do?" I frantically asked my vet. "I'm two hours away and my farm sitter has limited horse experience."

I was told to sit still. A vet was on the way, with an assistant, and they would call me once they were on site with an update. I relayed this information to Dee, the farm sitter, who by that point had haltered and walked both horses into the barn and into their stalls. My mother, across town, was on standby along with a couple of horse-oriented friends I was able to frantically text with short messages of what was going on.

Short end of the story: The vet arrived, Snow passed the blockage, and Dee the Fabulous Farm Sitter oversaw her recovery around the clock until I returned home four days later.

Why am I telling you this? Well, one: If you have horses, know the symptoms of choke. I've had horses for 30 years now and never once (thank goodness) have I had this issue, but now I know how to handle it.

And two: Develop a sense, if you haven't already, of people who will step up when needed with livestock.

I like to think this comes natural to me, but I don't know if that is the case or if I am just overly paranoid and micromanage everything when it comes to the farm. Maybe a combination of both, who knows. But I will tell you one thing... I'm grateful for the contacts I have in my "livestock emergency kit" if and when something goes wrong.

In the end, I was able to calm down and enjoy my vacation, thanks to the constant updates from the farm sitter who left no stone unturned, and possibly a glass or two of wine afterward, I could relax, clear my head, and enjoy some down time with The Boy exploring museums, restaurants, and fun bars. We're already talking about another trip somewhere else, when I can jump ship again, since I survived this one and so did everything/everyone on the farm.

I need to swim more, now that I know I've left enough life jackets on the shore. Do you?

[caption id="attachment_1096" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_1401 For local friends, this is my super hero![/caption]

 

Don't forget the nitty-gritty... if you wanna help support the daily workings and future growth of our historic farm, please consider our handmade, straight from the farm fabulous gifts this holiday season!

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