Monday, September 27, 2010


Sometimes it feels like I just get over grieving for one animal, when we lose another one. I know you must think I live in an animal cemetery given the number of animals we bury. And yes, most of them rest here in their earthen plots. They all have their own stone markers.... it is a peaceful place. I love them all, and I hate hate hate hate hate this part of my life where I have to say goodbye to my sweet friends. But I'll never stop loving and never stop rescuing because of it. Charlie says (and I so agree), the goodness of our helping animals and the joy in our lives because of it so outweighs this pain we feel when we lose one.

Sweet Earl. Earl the Pearl. Uncle Earl. Earl...aka Baby Huey. I believe he is nine this year. My how time flies. Earl was born at Ararat Acres. One of the few furry family members that has that distinction. He was born with a club foot, a structural deformity, that while not immediately life threatening, was a definite future threat to a long life.

See, there is this old saying: No hoof, No horse. Beginning when he was just a foal, we started managing Earl's condition. He wore glue on shoes (because his feet were too small for regular horseshoes) for probably a year. His structural defect lead to bouts of laminitis (for more info on that, click here) which got worse and uglier every year. Summers have been the hardest. Inevitably, he would abscess on a front hoof. We would go thru (every summer) a month of wrapping, soaking, doctoring, changing stall bedding (for he had to become an indoor horse during this time), etc. I can make the best duct tape horse boot on the planet.

Earl has been ever so patient with all of this, although he sorely misses his friends as he spends his days in isolation. This summer has been the worst. His episodes of pain have been so obvious. Clearly, we have been fighting a losing battle with a structural deformity that has finally gotten the best of all of us.

Regarding the Obvious (that was his APHA name). Earl. My mom always thought we had named him after my Great Uncle Earl. I never had the heart to tell her differently. We give all the boys their barn names of country music singers. Earl = Earl Thomas Connelly, Earl Scruggs, Robert Earl Keen, Goodbye Earl (that was actually a Dixie Chicks song, and our Earl was a much nicer person than the one the song referred to).

Sweet Earl. Always quick to befriend a new horse. Even Donkey Boy.

Earl. My problem child who frequently found unique ways to hurt himself. Doesn't every mother have one?

A redhead, our Earl. Being a lightskinned sorrel paint means sunglasses and protection for the sunburn prone areas. I am an expert on prevention of sunburn on horses now because of him.

Earl. Who was so sweet with all the foals we've had. We never had to worry that he would hurt them, despite their youthful antics. Frequently, he would join in their "reindeer" games. A great babysitter, our Uncle Earl, during weaning season.

Young Earl, who managed to almost scalp himself by running into a wood fence when he was less than a month old. He lay with his head in my lap while tears ran down his face. It hurt, I could tell it hurt as we waited for the vet to come sew him up. Proof that horses do cry.

We called him "one of the girls" simply because he was the only guy in the pasture, and he was good friends to all of them. Don't we all know a guy like that :).

He only unseated one of us one time.....( it was Charlie)....and when you step on a live electrical wire, it's only natural to buck, right?

Have you ever been licked across the face by a horse? No? Well, you should have spent some time with Earl. He was loveable like that.

Soft peppermints. Yes, it's wrong to give a horse too many sweets, but he sure does like them on occasion.

Sweet Earl. You were a tall man with a big heart. You are missed by all of us and you are loved.

March 2001 - September 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Melons Are Alot Like Life

(Today's post is brought to you, in its entirety, by Charlie)

It is always better to pick a side, rather than to straddle the fence of life. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ending the Drought

In the last week we finally received some much needed rain. Hay prices were rising due to lack of local hay production,and potential animal injuries were on the rise from the dry, cracked earth. Our pond was completely dried up. The grasshoppers appeared to be thriving on the lack of moisture. But then the sky opened up and graced us with about 5 inches of rain in the last week.

Another kind of drought. One year, 5 months, and 12 days (not that I've been counting). Charlie has received an offer for a job, building a large apartment complex. He begins October 1st. We are blessed. And we have survived the drought. Praise God!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Heron In The House and A Donkey On My Doorstep - (part 2)

After last week's harrowing event, I thought I'd lighten things up with a pictorial update of Donkey Boy. I'm not sure exactly how we've managed around here these last 15 years in the country without the love, companionship, and complete adorableness of Donkey Boy. He has moved in and made himself at home. Although we "put him to bed" in an enclosure at night (for his own safety), for the most part he pretty much has the run of Ararat Acres. He has proven himself to be trustworthy and liked by all the animals....although Murphy and Elvis (aka- "the boys") are by far his favorite running buddies. He has managed to sneak into their pasture at least 3 times, and all 3 times, The Boys appeared to be delighted by his presence. What makes this unusual is that Murphy is still a stallion, and therefore should not be all that friendly towards testosterone toting equines (other males). Such creatures could be considered a threat to his manhood, if you get my drift.

In the above pictures: Donkey Boy and Elvis race each other. Elvis and Murphy watch Donkey Boy (not pictured) hang out with me. Donkey Boy and Elvis in conversation.
Additionally, Donkey Boy has mastered every set of stairs on our wrap around porch. At any given moment during the day, we may hear "tip tap tip tap tip tap" as he wanders around the porch, looking for someone to scratch his ears, face, back, belly, etc..... Heaven forbid that our windows be open and he hears us inside the house. Then, we may get a donkey serenade until we go out and do some obligatory ear scratching.

Donkey Boy checks out one of the cat's lairs.

Donkey Boy and Leo The Wonder Kitty explore to the left........."Come On...I'll show you the right side too". (Doesn't this sound like the next super hero duo to conquer the world: DONKEYBOY AND LEO THE WONDERKITTY....TO INFINITY AND BEYOND! )

Currently (as of this post), the only place still out of bounds is inside our house. Hey, we do have our least for now. Charlie keeps threatening/asking about putting furniture protectors on DB's hooves so that he won't mar the antique wood floors we have. (And this, from a man his former life.....was somewhat of a city boy!) We are still normal enough people to keep the donkey out of the house :). That's all I have to say about that...for now anyway.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Heron In The House and A Donkey On My Doorstep

(Author's Note: The following is a true story. I couldn't make this stuff up....even if I tried. Really.)

This last week has been a flurry of activity, and I have so many entries I'd like to post, but not nearly enough time to recreate what goes on in my life. This one, however needs to be the very least as a public service announcement and as an apology to my husband for putting up with me.... his very own Ellie Mae Clampett (at least that is what he very recently called me).

The story goes like this: Last Friday was my day off. While heading out to run errands, I saw a blue heron standing by the side of the road on the edge of town. Hmmmmm....this is something blue herons typically don't do. They are usually seen in ponds and waterways, spearing frogs, crawfish, and fish with that long beak of theirs. Surely you've seen them if you live in Texas or other states in the south. They are about 3 feet tall. Long legs. Long neck. Long beak.

As I was headed briefly into the next town over, I made a mental note to come back the same way to see if the bird was still there. An hour later, I returned...and yes, in fact, the bird was still standing there. Well shoot. What's a person to do, but do a U-ie in her truck, grab a towel (kept for such emergencies), and try to catch a big bird who looks like it needs help. Upon close examination, the poor bird had a pretty badly broken right wing. My towel is big, so I was able to cover the bird including its eyes, get in my truck, and drive to our vet with it in my lap and its head tucked under my arm.

Our vet clinic doesn't work on birds, but gave me a phone number for the Living Materials Center , a somewhat local facility that will take in wildlife that needs rehabilitating. They agreed to take my feathery friend if I would bring him/her to them. Having not eaten all day, and needing a better way to transport a large bird in traffic, I called Charlie at home, and he offered to fix me a quick sandwich and then would drive with me down to the LMC with our heron. I got home, ready to quickly eat, put the heron in a kennel, and then head south. I walked into the kitchen with the (very quiet, very still, and very large) bird still wrapped in the towel with his/her eyes covered and beak held with my free hand.

Charlie greeted me and said, "Wow. That's some bird.", as I uncovered his/her head so he(Charlie) could get a better look (1st mistake). Then, (2nd mistake) I released the bird's beak while saying, "Watch out for the beak. It looks like it could do some damage." (3rd mistake..I didn't say this soon enough) The bird lays in my arms for oh, about 5 seconds, and then SQUARRRRK!!!! ....It unfolds its neck, and goes straight for Charlie.....RIGHT UP HIS NOSE!

OK, you can laugh now. WE can laugh now, but at the time...when blood was spurting everywhere, and I wasn't exactly sure which part of his face had been ripped off by a 3foot bird that I had invited into our house....we weren't laughing. I was trying to subdue an angry bird. Charlie was spitting blood out of his nose and mouth, and I was trying (mentally) to figure out how we were going to explain this type of injury to an emergency room that had seen Charlie about a month earlier following another run-in with a sharp object. I mean....there was ALOT of blood. ALOT of blood (and blood doesn't even bother me...but I really don't like seeing it coming out of my honey's face). It was several minutes before everything calmed down, the bleeding had subsided, and Charlie got near enough to me (and the bird) to realize that there was no visible wound, only 2 very very small scratches on the side of his face.....and one slightly swollen nostril. Exactly how many people in the world can claim this as a near fatal injury? Believe me, the obviousness of how easily that bird could have pecked his eye out, pulled part of the frontal lobe of his brain out of his right nostril, or left a serious life long scar on his face has not evaded either one of us. We can laugh about this now, when we could be crying (I had nightmares for two nights. Seriously).

The rest of the story is fairly brief. I ate my sandwich (with a queasy stomach, thinking about what I had allowed to happen. Yes, I knew better than to allow myself....even for one moment... to think that a wild animal could be trusted. I have handled too many animals to have permitted this type of thing to happen). We loaded up the heron into a large kennel (It remained calm and subdued for the remainder of its journey), and took it to the LMC. Unfortunately, the heron's broken wing had happened several days prior and infection had set in, and the bird had to be euthanized. I had suspected that this might be the ultimate fate of the heron from the beginning, but I could not with good conscience, drive by that bird and not stop to help. And yes, I would stop again, in a heartbeat. But.....I would hang on to that beak, no matter what.

Charlie jokingly calls me his Ellie Mae. (He doesn't know that she was one of my idols growing up....and that's a compliment of the highest order!).

I'm nearing my stay tuned for part two!