Friday, December 25, 2009


From all of us at Ararat Acres- two, three, and four legged........fuzzy, furry, and feathery.....We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

We wish you peace, happiness and joy. Remember the real reason for this season. Jesus Christ.

Blessings to All with love from,

Charlie and Liz;Cajun, Bear, Radar, Kelly, Foster & Miel (the dogs); Indy, Karma, Leo the Wonder Kitty, Victoria, Pounce, Eli, Leroy, Ellie Mae, Molly, and Thyme (the kitties); Lola, Waco, Cheyenne, Katie, Earl, Maggie, Murphy, and Elvis (the horses); Piggy Sue (self explanatory!); Basil the Bunny and all of his chicken friends & George the Turkey and his friends, the Guineas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pain and Provision........a look at 2009

I have spent many thoughtful moments this last month reflecting on 2009, and my what a tumultuous year this has been at Ararat Acres. We have had several bouts of "not so good" events, lots of stress, moments of unsureness and insecurities, financially panicky moments.....not a stellar year for the faint of heart. But after all the rubble is cleared, and the superficiality life is so wont to adorn us with is stripped away....I have to say that while this has not been an enjoyable year, it has been life altering and soul strengthening. Let me explain.

On February 4th, we lost our youngest horse, Dooley, in a freak accident. I was devastated and heartbroken.
God knows better than I as to why Dooley's life ended, but I believe He knew I wasn't going to have the time and energy to train this young guy any time soon. That, and He needed another sweet horse in heaven.

As we entered 2009, the US economy was well into its decline. Charlie was wrapping up the end of the enormous apartment project that he had been building, and we knew that his employer did not have any new local projects in the pipelines. On April 2nd, he was laid off.
I am so thankful to have parents who taught me to work hard, save money like a squirrel, and keep debt
to a minimum, and that I have been able to share this wisdom and knowledge with Charlie throughout our married life. This background and foundation readied us with the skills and budgeting we needed for the coming months.

At the end of April 2009, Charlie was eating lunch at a local cafe when someone came rushing in to let the patrons know that a truck was on fire outside. It was Charlie's truck, and the battery had caught fire (yes, while parked and not running). His truck was totaled by the insurance company. It was an older truck, but a good one. We doubted we would be able to afford to replace it with a similar truck because of our recent cut in household income.
Yet, we were blessed by the insurance company. With the money we received, we were able to purchase a nearly identical truck truck with almost 100K less miles on it. We even had some money left over, AND our insurance premium did not rise. Praise God!

In May, I lost my most precious, beloved cat, Oliver. He was 17 years old, and he shared my pillow every night. He had developed the cat's version of irritable bowel syndrome and was literally wasting away before our eyes. Multiple trips to the vet, medications, tests...nothing altered the path his life was on, and we had to make the painful decision to put him to sleep. Oliver was perhaps the best, most devoted cat I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and losing him left a gaping, lonely void in my heart....not to mention a pillow that was now much too big for one head to sleep on. Our dear vet came out (as they always do for us), and I was able to say goodbye in peaceful surroundings.
Sweet Oliver. He gave me the final gift of laying on my lap and purring, right up until the moment that his little heart quit beating. That memory is bittersweet, but cherished. He was at peace, and I am ever so thankful for having had his life in mine.

Throughout the spring and early summer, Charlie looked for employment in the construction industry, but was unsuccessful. Construction in Dallas remains stagnant at best, even December.
I am thankful that I have a husband who is a "Go Getter". Who doesn't wallow in self-pity. Who has hands that can create and build. Who is game to try almost anything. I am also thankful for our dear friends who needed (at just the right time, I might add) a large greenhouse our household budget a little boost, and allowing Charlie's hands to remain busy and productive.

Spattered,scattered, and smeared throughout this year, has been my "new" work life. In my "old" work life, I worked roughly 30hrs per week at my real job, and moonlighted at my "other" real job in retail pharmacy and then managed day to day chores and activities around here on the farm on my days off......which in itself is really a full time (but most gratifying and joy filled!) job.
Life has changed for me. Coincidentally(?), about the time that Charlie lost his job, my job went from normal, to busy, to mandatory overtime crazy busy, to **I must be a lunatic to still work here**busy. The hours were nuts, and I must say, so was I. Working 60-65 hrs per week at a job that demands 100% perfection taxes the soul. Being away from home as much as I am now steals the time I need to refill my "joy cup" when working outdoors with the animals. I am rarely a "cryer", yet I find myself tearing up at things I normally find only minimally stressful or emotional. It is December now, and although things aren't perfect at work, they are do-able and they are (mostly) bearable and I have survived. For I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me.

At the beginning of "The Impending Financial Crisis at Ararat Acres", I prayed that Charlie would quickly find another job, and that God would show me better ways to watch and manage money, above and beyond what we already did. We also made a commitment that, in faith, we would continue to tithe at the level we had when we were a two income household. Charlie and I were blessed at the onset of this life season by being prepared financially, having only our mortgage (which is reasonably priced), our monthly living expenses, and taxes. Having as many mouths to feed and care for as we do, this can get costly very quickly. We have nipped and tucked. We have liposuctioned our lives wherever financially necessary. We have adjusted and we have learned to do without. I even have a few more "emergency" measures up my sleeve that can be taken if absolutely necessary. This year hasn't been easy for either of us, financially, emotionally, or physically. And I will admit that I have had moments of bitterness and frustration. Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth when things didn't happen as I had imagined. I do think God would rather hear us ranting and raving to Him, than not talking to him at all! And, what I was reminded is this:
God doesn't always answer prayers in the way we think they should be answered.

Although Charlie is working side jobs to bring in some money, we are still virtually a one income family.
So, how in Heaven's Name have we been able to pay every single bill, all taxes due, mortgage payments, and feed bills, not just on time, but ahead of time this year?
How is it that we've even had "excess" money....enough to bless a few other people who needed it more badly than we did at that moment?
How is it that we've been able to continue to tithe at our prior level of commitment?
All of this without touching our savings.
Believe me. The money hasn't fallen magically from the sky. We've worked to keep our heads above water this year. Way hard. Harder than the average bear. But He gave us the way and the skills to do this via paths that did not exist before we needed them.
The Lord Provides, although it may not be the way you or I want it done. I will be leaving 2009 and embracing 2010 knowing that as long as I trust and believe in Him, He will sweat out the details on my behalf. I know these things for sure.
Who knows. Maybe in 2010 my life lesson will be on better capturing that elusive creature, Joy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

RUMPELSTILTSKIN came a visitin' Ararat Acres........

.....only he got it backwards! He turned our gold into straw. OK, not straw- really it's quality horse hay. Oh well, the horses will be happy munching away this winter.....even if our pockets are significantly lighter. One more thing is now completed on my Fall "to do" list.

Some of the 30 Bales delivered

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Prince Charming

I have felt horribly neglectful of my poor blog, and of my blog reading friends. This fall has been hectic and rough (to say the least!), but all that can wait. I needed a little silliness in my life, and it came hopping by this afternoon, so here I share.



BUT HEY, IT MADE FOR A GOOD PICTURE, AND FOR A FROG, HE WAS PRETTY DARN CUTE (but definitely not cuter than my sweet hubby!)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

INTRODUCING.......Leo the Wonder Kitty

Hello all you fans of God's creatures! This is a long overdue introduction to one of the most precious, most loved kitties to have come thru Ararat Acres' gate. So, with great fanfare, I bring you, Leo the Wonder Kitty (surely you are hearing a drum roll about now).

He may not look like much. To many of you, he may even appear mild mannered, which he undoubtably is. During these moments, he is simply, Leo- your everyday "average joe" of a cat. However, average he is not. See, when no one is looking, he dons his magical cape and becomes:
Leo......The Super Above Average, Rather Extraordinary, Melt Your Heart,Wonder Kitty. Leo started out as a greasy spot on the road, or so some heartless person who tossed him in the road had hoped. He arrived at our church in the care of another church member who had found him. About 3 1/2 weeks old, a spinal cord injury and a horrid respiratory infection. He could not breathe well and could not use his front paws. I did not hold much hope that he would live. We took him home and then took him to the vet, where he stayed for about 10 days- receiving antibiotics and steroids in an attempt to decrease the swelling in his spinal cord. He came home to us with limited use of his front paws, and still on antibiotics. It was unclear if he would walk normally as his paws were "flippy floppy"....sometimes obeying his commands, but often not. Initially we called him Ernie, but it became apparent to us that he had a heart of a lion, so we changed his name to Leo. Despite his rough start, he was unstoppable and totally loveable. He purred, and purred and purred, and he slowly mended. At first we thought he might have a little bit of a mental disability because the trauma injury, but he doesn't. He's just happy to be alive, and high on life. Leo is friends with everyone....cats, dogs, horses (he likes to ride them), doesn't matter. So if you are visiting Ararat Acres, and see a streak of orange come running towards you...... If you see a flash of a cape (that is mostly invisible to those who don't believe)......get ready to open your arms and receive a huge hug from a great big, loveable, ALIVE cat who just celebrated his first birthday. He teaches me about joy almost every day, and makes me laugh almost as often, this guy......who almost became that greasy spot in the road. Stay tuned. Leo the Wonder Kitty has arrived and will be making semi regular appearances here. He's got some stories to tell, and some joy to share.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Contest with Prize! --correctly name this melon

In the beginning, I wasn't sure we were going to have a successful garden this year. The late freeze, the abnormally cool weather combined with the frequent rains made starting a garden a true challenge this year. We start our garden from heirloom seeds every year. Heirloom seeds are different than the seeds you would normally find at your local Wally World or Home Depot. These are seeds that are harvested because of their original genetic attributes. Unlike hybridized seeds, they don't always produce the abundant crop you might wish for (although we've always had excess production thanks to our pollinators, the bees) . Heirlooms are usually known for their hardiness, taste, and uniqueness. Additionally, I recently read an article in Mother Earth News noting an additional characteristic of heirloom varieties. Apparently, while scientists have been working hard to produce hybridized crops that are high producers with the ability to fight off certain diseases (which can be easily done economically and organically if needed by the way), they are breeding OUT the nutrional value of our fruits, vegetables, and grains. Oh happy day. In some cases, the nutritional value of the newer varieties have been depleted by 50-70%. AND, some of these seeds have nasty little chemicals in and on them (genetically imbedded) that cause harm to our friendly little pollinators (and probably we humans as well).

So, without further adieu, I present to you, the mystery melon. Apparently, we had a hitchhiker seed added to our cantaloupe seed packet we had ordered. Charlie and I have already figured out what this melon is, and have harvested one of them (Actually was picked prematurely, thinking it was a watermelon perhaps). In addition to the picture, I will give you a few clues. The first person to guess what kind of melon this is will win a genuine organic Ararat Acres cantaloupe (quite tasty I might add). Unfortunately, this contest is only valid for local participants....I doubt the cantaloupe will ship well :).

In addition to the pictures, here are your clues:
1. It is an heirloom variety
2. The ready to pick fruit frequently weighs 8-10lbs
3. When ready, the fruit will turn from dark green to a deep yellow, with a light orange meat.
4. If you cannot tell in the picture, the not ready fruit is lightly fuzzy, with deep grooves and bumps.
5. The seeds date <1800's.

Good Luck! I'm looking forward to deliver a cantaloupe to someone soon.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Catharsis

Thank you Webster: Catharsis: -noun; the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, esp. through certain kinds of art or music. to cleanse.

Sometimes, you just have to do something to get a rush of immediate gratification. Some people shop. I do windows (thank you's genetic!). First they are dirty, then they are clean. How simple. And even better.... you SEE the dirt, and then you don't. I wish life and cleaning up messes in life were equally simple. However, windows (as in life) are still prone to left over streaking and specks of dirt no matter how much you scrub, and that is a bit frustrating. The good news is this: at least the view isn't so fuzzy anymore. (I'm afraid these pictures didn't do the grime justice...speaking literally and figuratively of course.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

simple pleasures

A few weeks ago after a storm, Charlie found this little bird's nest in our yard. (I am choosing to believe that the babies had already grown and flown away when their home was blown from the tree.) It is such a sweet and perfect little thing. What is even more special is that the nest involves many of my animals. Every time I brush a dog, comb a cat, or groom a horse, I put their fur in the yard or treeline, for the birds to use. Looking closely, I can see bits of Bear (our Great Pyrenees) hair, as well as tail hairs from at least 3 different horses (probably Katie, Maggie, and Lola judging from the colors). The Mama bird did an incredible job of creating a recycled soft home for her chickadees. I always find a bird's nest architecture so amazing. Durable, woven, soft, circular, beautiful. How do they do that using only a beak? I doubt we humans could do such a job using only our mouths!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ode to Mother's Day.......Farm style

I am not a mother to children. God did not have that in His plans for me, and I am at peace with His choice. However,I am a mother and caregiver to many many many of His creations, most of whom were rescued from their former unloved and uncared for lives. If only people would stop and watch.....I mean really watch..... animals around them, they would learn so much and perhaps even grow to love and appreciate what they see. But this blog entry isn't about that. It is a look at Mother's Day.....Farm style!

Every mom has a different style of mothering. This holds true regardless if the mom is a person or an animal. There is the overprotective mom, the adoptive mom who doesn't differentiate between blood and choice, the nurturing mom, the laid back mom, the mom who is still in mothering mode even tho her kids are grown.....well, the list could go on and on.

I will start with ZaZa, our little white silky banty hen. She sat on her eggs last year and successfully hatched 2 chicks. Truthfully, they weren't even her eggs, they belonged to a couple of much larger hens, but she didn't care, and she loved those eggs and loved her subsequent chicks. It didn't take long for them to grow up, and become twice as large as their mama. Even after the chicks developed feathers and could fly up to the roosts at night, ZaZa would choose the nesting box instead, and carefully attempt to cover her teenagers with her wings. Finally, one of them left on her own, and decided that roosting was a less crowded sleeping option. Fast forward a year......Would you believe that ZaZa still sleeps in a nesting box with her one chick (who is now huge!) almost every night. Both mom and baby are in denial that the inevitable "growing up" has happened I think.

Oprah, our fluffy, talkative black Americauna hen, got broody earlier this year, and we decided to let her sit on a clutch of eggs. 4 of them hatched. There just isn't anything much cuter than a baby, any baby, don't you think? We put them in their heated "nursery" with mom, and she proceeded to teach them about life.....what to eat, how to eat it, danger signals, how to drink water, etc. Yes, a baby chick will eventually learn most of this on its own, but Oprah was shooting for the Mother Hen of the Year Award. When I would give her favorite treats of strawberries, she would hold them in her beak and simultaneously call to her chicks, and then hold the strawberry while they pecked at it. Only when the chicks were done would she eat the leftovers (sound familiar, moms?). We watched as she led her little chickadees through the first 6 weeks of life, and when we finally returned them all to our chicken coop, she continued to teach them more life lessons, returning to the nesting box each night to tuck in the babies under her wings. happened. Oprah must have decided that she had had enough of motherhood, so she flew the coop (so to speak), and spent the night with her girlfriends on the roost. I was in the yard and heard a terrible ruckus coming from the coop and went over to investigate. All four chicks were sitting in the nesting box looking at mom and peeping up a storm. They were furious for being left alone, and were giving mom an awful tongue lashing.
Oprah was ignoring them, and had already started to go to sleep. It was so comical, but I also felt sorry for the babies. Oprah had done her job, and it was time to really grow up.

I posted an entry back in February about our loss of Dooley, an almost 2 year old gelding. In it, I mentioned his mom, Waco. Waco is perhaps the most attentive horse mom I have known. Each foal she has given birth to has had the ultimate "mom" experience. Waco is always aware of where her babies are, she talks to them constantly, and clearly just revels in being a mom. She is such "a mom" that she will try to adopt other foals in the pasture. I have witnessed her standing, making every attempt to get a foal that wasn't hers to nurse (this is not common in the horse world). Waco mourned Dooley's death, and would look for him, calling for him frequently. This went on for about 2 weeks. It was oddly comforting to know that I was not mourning alone, and we shared our tears. I was describing Waco's version of mothering to my own mother a couple of years ago, and finished my description by saying " Mom, if you were a horse, I'd have to say you'd be Waco" . After a brief silence, my mom replied, "I think that is one of the nicest things you've ever said about me". Not all people would see the compliment in my statement, but my mom did. She knows how much I love and respect "my kids" and understands the animal lingo and analogies that frequently enter into conversation. My mom is most definitely a "Waco", with a little "ZaZa" thrown in the mix.

Finally, on Mother's Day on the farm, who could forget The Queen? The saying, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" most definitely holds true in bee hives. The queen does set the mood of her hive. If she is moody or irritable, you will definitely have an emotionally unstable hive. Likewise, if you have a gentle queen, you will have a calm hive. Beyond emotions, the queen also sets the style and layout of the comb (messy or organized?). She must be a strong leader for the sake of her family. If she is not, the worker bees will eventually lose their strong work ethic and the hive will become weaker because of it. I think the queen has set a high standard for all moms everywhere.

So, kudos to all you moms out there, and Happy Mother's Day from me and all of "my moms" at Ararat Acres. We hope you have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Springtime B(ee)logging

My sweet little bees are out and about this lovely spring afternoon. They are so busy....almost urgent in their actions. And actually, things in the hive probably do require a bit of urgency. Winter is over, and the queen is actively moving from cell to cell, laying eggs. Eggs, of course, translate to more mouths to feed at home. With winter stores depleted, the girls have alot of responsiblities upon their wee little shoulders......gathering pollen, nectar, and water.....tending to the babies (larvae), and making honey just to name a few. They are happy to be free from the confines of their winter lair.

If you are a gardener, I've got to make my plea now: please please please refrain from using pesticides containing Imidacloprid. This is a "newer" pesticide that is highly suspect in contributing to (if not directly causing) Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Bayer is just one of many companies that makes pesticides with this ingredient. Personally, I am an organic gardener, and have found that guineas do a better job than any pesticide, but everyone has their preferences. So, what is CCD? There has been a mysterious disappearance of entire colonies of bees over the last several years. This is a devastating event for any beekeeper. Beyond that, it is a devastating for anyone who eats.........for 3 out of every 5 bites of food you put in your mouth, you can thank a bee. Without bees, the world cannot produce enough food for all of the mouths that need to be fed. Colonies of bees affected by CCD simply disappear over a very short period of time. They appear to simply wander off and leave the hive, honey, larvae and all. The pesticide seems to have an Alzheimer's like effect on these highly functioning insects. Wow. To me, this is a "canary in the coalmine" sign for us. Really, if the pesticide does this to bees, what is it doing to humans longterm?

Not every flower attracts bees. Most people don't know that. The Divine Creation part of all of this is that the fruit and vegetable flowers that "need" bees for pollination in order to produce fruits and vegetables just so happen to be the ones that bees are attracted to. How cool is that??? So, what plants need bees for optimal production? Plants common to this area include: okra, beans, watermelon, cantaloupe and other melons, cucumbers, squash, zuchini, any fruit tree, grapes, any berry plant, and many herbs and spices. If you plant these things, your efforts will be appreciated by "the girls" and then justly rewarded at harvesttime. The caveat to this is that you've got to HAVE bees in your neighborhood for this to happen. The more pesticides that are used = fewer bees = less food (which means increased food prices). Please get the word out to all of your friends who are gardeners (both ornamental and fruit/vegetable).

Allow those little worker girl bees to bless your socks off, and have a great growing season~

Friday, February 27, 2009

Old Sweatshirts are like old friends.......

I have a couple of “most favorite” sweatshirts that really would qualify for the rag bag. I think one of them is 23 years old, vintage sophomore year at Texas A&M. My other is younger…..only about 20 years old, circa pharmacy school at UT. They are still warm, still comfortable, full of many year’s use….a few holes, definitely worn in places…..and still gracing my wardrobe regularly, despite the fact that I have a shelf full of newer sweats.

Being somewhat of an introvert, I think I’ve always been better at having quality versus quantity friendships. Now that I am in my 40’s, and can speak in decades, I find sweet comfort in my less than a handful of close old friends. Richard, who was my surrogate brother, 3+ decades. Michele, my very best friend growing up, who moved away when we were 12 and 13, yet we still stay in touch….3+ decades. Dana, my college roommate, 2+ decades. I talk to each of them at least a couple of times a year, and we always pick up like time has never passed by. I am fortunate to see Dana (who lives in Dallas) and Richard (who now lives in Mckinney) occasionally. It is a rich thing to have a friend in your life whom has intimate knowledge of you as a kid, teenager, and young adult….those troublesome formative years. We have knowledge of each other that no one else has (not even family), and we love each other in spite of that, or perhaps because of it. We know each other’s scars (physically and emotionally), and our early triumphs. For it is all of these things that has made us who we have become. I talk to them and I know this. I may only have less than a handful of old friends, but I am so richly blessed. Because, despite their knowledge of “all” of me, they love me back. No money can buy, no time can repeat this type of “ground up” friendship.

As I’ve gotten older, I have acquired a larger group of dear friends…. especially in the last 10 years, and I hope when I am in my 60’s they are still in my life…..just like my favorite old sweatshirts

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's not the debut you're looking for, but it's me.

After several weeks of wondering what a new blogger (such as myself) should write about, I decided to just wait until the words are inside me waiting to tumble out…..and thus would begin my first blog ever. Would it be a short biography? Perhaps something witty? Something about my bees? I never thought it would be a vignette about the death of one of my beloved animals. But, that is what is heavy on my heart and mind, and needs to be written.

February 2nd, Monday morning 6am: I am out feeding everyone before work. 6 dogs, 11 cats, 1 geriatric pot belly pig, a bunny, chickens, guineas, and a turkey (all rescues), and our 9 horses. It is still dark outside. The horses know that it’s breakfast time, and they are waiting at the barn. Only as I am feeding, I realize that Dooley, our youngest horse @ 1 ½ yrs, is missing. Mild panic always sets in when a horse doesn’t show up for a meal. They are punctual as a rule (unless a mare is in heat and pining for a fellow across the fence….then hormones just might overrule their stomach). Dooley has never not shown up with the herd, and so my panic escalates a bit. I head to the house, grab my cellphone and a flashlight, and wake Charlie up (who has been suffering thru an explosive stomach virus since the night before). I jump in my truck and start driving thru the pasture looking for the little guy. He’s not exactly little. Really, he’s mostly grown. I get to the front pasture, and find him, laying down by the round bale. I got out of the truck and started walking towards him, calling to him. He raised his head as if he had been in a sound sleep, and then struggled to get up. As I approached, I could tell something was horribly wrong. I couldn’t tell if it was neurological or musculoskeletal, but clearly he was in pain. He tucked his head into my chest and shook. Then I saw his right front leg. I have seen my share of leg injuries and hoof injuries but I had not seen this before. There seemed to be no stability in the leg, and so although he had it straight, it wasn’t touching the ground. I called our vet, Susan, and she headed our way, straight from her house. Poor Dooley was in so much pain, and wanted nothing more than to just bury his head in my arms as I stood beside him. Susan arrived in about 30 minutes, and after a preliminary examination and a shot of bute for the pain, she verbalized what I was thinking. His leg or shoulder was most likely broken, but she wanted xrays to make sure. Susan headed back to the clinic to get the portable xray machine, and we (Charlie was now with me) were given the job of getting Dooley to the lower turnout shed where there was an electrical outlet. In the hour she was gone, we were able to move him about 30 feet. A horse is not built to hop on one front leg, and adding tremendous pain to the equation did not help matters. The second vet visit did not reveal anything on xrays regarding his lower leg. The suspect bone, the humerus, lays across the outer part of the shoulder blade on a horse. Because it is such dense tissue there, a portable xray machine cannot take definitive pictures, so we had two options: load him in a trailer and take him to a equine specialist about an hour away, or give him a day of stall rest, and pray for the best. At this point, we knew that the xray results would not solve anything, other than letting us know immediately that euthanasia was the only answer to Dooley’s suffering. I was horridly worried about loading and trailering him, as he has never been hauled anywhere before. I felt like the trauma of forcing him to load, making him stand 3 legged in a swaying trailer, being away from his family, the pain factor etc, was all just too much to ask of Dooley…..just for an immediate diagnosis would not be fair to him. So, we very very slowly made the trek up the pasture to our barn, a few hops at a time, then resting. I got him in the stall right around lunchtime. He and I were exhausted (and Charlie had long gone back to bed to nurse his stomach virus).
The rest of Monday was spent waiting and watching and praying.

February 3rd: my birthday, but not a good day. Another day spent watching and waiting and praying. Dooley’s pain seems to have abated a bit with medication, making me want to believe that perhaps he just had a really bad bruise on his shoulder and needs stall rest. However, now he had swelling in his shoulder, and he dragged the toe of his damaged leg when he hopped (a sign of nerve damage). He nickers to his family, and eats and drinks. I have a teeny tiny bit of hope, and I am clinging to it. Waco, his mom, keeps leaving the herd and coming to stand by his stall door for hours at a time. He is comforted by her presence. It is so touching. She is forever the mama, even when her babies are mostly grown. I go in the stall many times during the day, and brush him down and talk to him. It is during one of these times in the late afternoon, that I am gently pressing on his shoulder, and I feel/hear the bone on bone sound (technically called crepitus) when slight pressure is applied. Dooley swings his head around and bumps me. “Enough of that.” He says. I am in tears, because I know what I feel is the break. I can’t call the vet. Not on my birthday.

Wednesday February 4th: As much as I don’t want to go to work this morning, I’ve got to go. I missed work Monday and luckily was scheduled off Tuesday. Although my co-workers at work are the best, I feel guilty missing another day. I have put off calling the vet. If I don’t talk to her, then I can live in limbo land …..and live with my ounce of hope that I’m wrong. I get to work and try to keep myself pulled together emotionally. Charlie is at home still recovering from the stomach flu, so I know Dooley will be checked on regularly. I plan on calling the vet in the afternoon, but she beats me to it by calling me about 10am. She is coming out about 5pm tonight, and I am not looking forward to seeing her. I ask my boss if I can leave early, and he kindly allows me to make the drive home a couple hours earlier than normal. Susan comes, and absolutely confirms what I thought I had felt. There is no doubt. He is a broken vessel that cannot be fixed. "All of the kings horses and all of the kings men"……I think briefly about Barbaro, the famous racehorse that was euthanized last year for a broken leg. They were able to use “all the kings men” and all “the kings money” too (which was probably over more than I make in a couple of years), and it still did no good in the end. I am always in awe at how such a large animal can have such relatively delicate legs (and shoulders), but I digress.

So. It is agreed. Susan goes to her truck to put things together, and we get Dooley out of the stall. By this time, all of the horses have come up and are watching things closely. What? How do they know how important this time is to say goodbye? He “hops” thru his herd, and they all nose him and call to him. We take him to a smaller adjoining pasture, as that is about as far as he can go. The horses are all standing in a row, 20 feet away. Watching. Calling to him. I don’t know which is sadder….watching them say goodbye to him, or me having to say goodbye to him. The ending is completely painless for Dooley, but my heart is broken. The horses are mourning. They stand by the fence for hours after he is gone. Waiting for him. I would challenge anyone who thinks that animals don’t have feelings of sadness to witness something like this, and not be moved to think differently.

Horses are mentioned in the Bible over 150 times. However, if you add all the equine (donkeys etc) references together it surpasses even the mentioning of sheep (the #1 animal in the Bible, obviously). I am enjoying the thought of Dooley joining the ranks of the white horses in heaven (he was a bay tobiano, whose body was mostly snowy white….when he was clean). They have a big job to do, those white horses in heaven…..

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” (Rev 19:11)

I hope they enjoy him up there. He’s going to make some angel a great horse.