Saturday, February 22, 2014
So this winter has been useless for walking, what with the snow and ice and bitter cold and all that fun stuff that makes a person with a gimpy leg think twice and thrice about trying to go for a walk. But today was different! Today was mild and the pavement was clear and by golly, it was time to get back into it, at least to the end of my little side street and back -- a quarter-mile walk if I go the full length. So out I went, and it was glorious. I was marching right along, feeling wicked good, and had made it about two-thirds of the way to the far end of Kimball Avenue, when I confronted my "You shall not pass!" obstacle -- a mini-lake of meltwater accumulated on the far side of a large speed bump. Can't go around it on either side; the snowbanks are high and steep enough to block it, and there's no plowed sidewalk beyond them to get to via driveway. The water was deep enough to get up to mesh areas on my walking shoes and soak through. If my leg worked properly I could have taken a large long step and safely gotten to the shallow end. But it doesn't, so I couldn't. So I was forced to turn back, thwarted. But it was nevertheless a pleasant, if abbreviated, walk, and I plan to do it again tomorrow. Still, spring can't come fast enough!
Monday, February 17, 2014
It is never easy, for any of us, to realize we can define ourselves, and then do it, because we all arrive at adulthood encased in layers of Other People's Expectations and we swim in a constant sea of OPEs. It's far easier to just go with the flow, no matter how miserable it makes us. It took me decades to claw my way out of all the OPEs I'd internalized and accept myself for what I was and always would be, what I wasn't and never would be, and what I could and couldn't do about it all. The end result might not appeal to other people, but it works for me, and that's what matters. Words by Jim Wright/Stonekettle Station; artwork by Rynko Brown.
Watch the gimpy old lady dodge a bullet! My furnace started making weird noises on Saturday, turning itself onnnn... thenoff... onnnnnnn... thenoff... onnnnnnn...but not blowing hot air up to the registers every onnnnnn time. Sunday it was more noticeable, and when I went to bed the onnnnnn sound took on a whiny overtone. "Oh no," I thought, "is the blower motor going?" So I turned the thermostat way way down to put minimal stress on the thing. This morning as I woke up I heard it come onnnnnnn... thenoff... onnnnn.... a short pathetic attempt to blow air... onnnnnnnnn no air... and when I went downstairs and turned the thermostat up a few degrees it continued to try but got no air coming up at all. So I turned it off and called my furnace guy. Got his answering machine, called the emergency number it offered me, and left a message on that. GOD BLESS DAVE WILE! He answered within an hour, came within minutes of hearing my woes, checked it out, and proclaimed the problem: condensation water buildup in some piping. He blew out all the pipes, checked it for further problems, and declared it done -- all for a mere service charge. Dodged a bullet!
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
When I arrive at the barn and get out of my car, Ben bellows. He's so excited to see me! And the bucket of beet pulp mash I'm bringing him. Mostly the bucket of beet pulp mash he's about to get. Definitely the food. People inside the barn know when I've arrived by the bellow. Yesterday, after giving him his lunch and doing other stuff, I was inside the barn chatting with Hilly. Apparently Ben had finished his mash, noticed my car was still there, put these two items together and come up with: "Bellow! You're still here, come feed me more!" Hilly told me this Ben story: When she puts the horses out after their breakfast grain each morning, she takes them in a certain order. Ben stands quietly as horse after horse is led past his stall. Then it's his turn and suddenly it's BELLOW! as the excited TB hovers impatiently by his door. Ben's not the sharpest crayon in the box, but he knows what he knows.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
So: Today I turn 65. Whoopee me. My body decided arthritic knuckles, a bum knee and sometimes iffy hip weren't sufficient reminders of mortality on this happy occasion; nope, gotta twist that old knife some more. So I awoke for a bathroom run in the wee hours and discovered: My inner ear vertigo is baaaaaaaack! Crap. I lurched cautiously to the bathroom, took the Claritin-D my doctor's prescribed for it, and tottered cautiously back to bed. Woke up at the crack of 9:00, got up cautiously, and began my day with still stuffy ears and lingering vertigo. It's diminished to where I can function all right, so long as I make no sudden moves. Now I just have to wait till it decides to go away. For a while. But it will return, oh, yes, it will return. And if not that, it'll be something else. The body is crumbling and there's no escaping mortality.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Now, this is being an obsessive horse-mom, for sure. I'm just back from driving over to the barn to change Ben out of his midweight into heavyweight blanket because it's supposed to turn colder overnight. Never mind that he likely would have been perfectly fine if I'd waited till tomorrow to do it; never mind that I might have woken up the barn owner coming down the driveway at 9:30 or so (sorry, Annette! But you know me.); never mind all that. Nope, I'd planned to change him out tonight, and would have gone much earlier if I hadn't been stuck at home working on a mega-rush job. So go I did. The Benster was lying down when I got there, blinking in mild bewilderment when the light came on. The mare across the aisle whickered hopefully; she knows my off-hours arrival means she's going to get at least a handful of hay. Ben got up when it became clear that cookies would be involved, and wasn't too stiff behind when he first moved -- a good sign that his hocks aren't bothering him too much now that he's got the large good-footing paddock and big stall to move around in. So the blanket got changed, the pitiful remnants of Ben's supper hay (the barn's regular two/three giant flakes plus my own two large additions) got covered with two more fat flakes of my hay (the special stuff from the farm that he really really likes), the mare got a couple of handfuls, Ben got his cookies, and I got to depart feeling a sense of accomplishment after a hectic day.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Ow ow ow! Last night I was slicing up stuff for my supper salad. Then suddenly I was slicing the top of my left thumb half off. OW! Blood is flying. I ran the tap over it. It kept bleeding. I wadded a paper towel over it. It kept bleeding. I cursed at it. It kept bleeding. I lurched upstairs, washed my hands, dabbed Bacitracin onto the wound, wiped the blood spatters out of the sink with a reddening wad of paper towel over the thumb, wrapped the biggest Band-Aid I could find over it, and watched more blood seep out still. Yup, it's not going to stop with home remedies. Time to go visit the friendly folks at the emergency room. And here I am, already in my nightgown and robe for a quiet evening of supper munching and TV watching. More cursing my clumsy stupidity as I rip off the nightclothes, struggle one-and-a-half-handed into going-to-the-hospital clothes, and stomp back downstairs and into the car. I drive to Beverly Hospital with my paper-towel-wadded left thumb sticking up mournfully from the steering wheel. At the hospital, the Misfortune Gods decide to take pity on me -- there's an open spot on the first level of the parking garage! Once inside the hospital, things aren't too bad. I get the intake done by the triage nurse reasonably quickly, have time for several pages of reading on my phone's Kindle app back out in the waiting room, then get led off to an exam room where in decently short order a cheerful doctor helps me peel off the layers of protection I'd applied and examines the damaged appendage. By now it's stopped actively bleeding and is contenting itself with the occasional ooze, so after he cleans it he decides not to stitch it. Instead, he applies several coatings of surgical glue. I'm departing, instruction sheet stuffed in my purse and thumb held carefully aside, in about two hours from arrival. By now it's too late to stop anywhere for something hot to eat (hey, it's 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday out here in the sticks; the few sidewalks are already rolled up for the night) other than a lone McDonald's, so I content myself when I get home with salty snacks and chocolate. I manage to find a gigantic Band-Aid, 3x4-inch, and get it folded over the thumb so that the fold sits just above the top of the digit while the bottom adheres below the first joint. Thumb armor! This makes life marginally more awkward than trying to remember Don't Touch Anything With That Thing, but works better. After a few hours of quietly mindless enjoyment before the TV, it's off to bed. This morning, the damn thing is still prone to slight oozing if I happen to bump it on something but otherwise seems to be doing well. Looks awful, but I think I'll live. I'm supposed to avoid getting the thumb wet, lest it undo the surgical glue, so for feeding the cats and then cleaning their litter boxes I pulled on a pair of examining gloves. Worked fine. I've currently got a little latex finger cot on over it -- and yes, it does look silly, like I'm wearing the world's smallest Trojan over it, but it's less clumsy than going back to the mega-Band-Aid. And I'm still pissed at myself. Clumsy oaf!
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Ha! This morning I was schmoozing with Teddy in his cage through the side door by which I deposit his food dish on the second tier of the tower. Stanley got jealous, made his way onto the tower cage top, and squirmed on his belly toward Ted, trying to dibble his paws through the bars to smite his rival. I dashed upstairs for the camera, sure that Stanley would have exited by the time I got back. But no! There he still was -- and here he is, with Ted oblivious to the menace above him -- or, more likely, unconcerned because Stanley can't get him, neener neener neener. First photo I converted to black and white because it was taken without the flash, and upping the exposure enough to make things visible produced a messed-up color balance. Second shot is with the flash. There's no third shot because Stanley got down before I could go around to the side so I could shoot up through the side door to capture his belly fuzz sticking down through the bars.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Stopped by the farm where Ben used to board today, to do the away-all-day owners the favor of letting their dogs out for relief and feeding their horses, and I went into the barn, where the calves -- who have grown prodigiously in just a couple of months -- were spending the day inside what used to be Ben's stall. The place reeked of bull crap. That stuff, it appears, is way more nastily redolent than horse manure. If I'd had any thought of bringing Ben back for the summer there (which I've already decided isn't going to happen), that would have put the kibosh on it for damn sure. Yuck.
Monday, January 6, 2014
It's a plus and minus day. On the minus side, I spent a horrible night in the ravages of a blossoming head cold, unable to sleep as it grew in strength until finally, around 3:00 a.m., I gave up, slithered out of bed, and went downstairs to the reading recliner. With a blanket and Schooner to keep me warm, I started into Antonia Fraser's history of the Gunpowder Plot -- well written but not the kind of exciting read that keeps one eagerly turning pages -- hoping that it would help me drift off to sleep. I did doze a bit, after an hour or two; then around 5:00 a.m. I got up to try taking yet another remedy, said the hell with it, and lurched back upstairs into my bed again. Mirabile dictu! I slept till the alarm woke me at 10:00, and after only a few snooze button punches and multiple Schooner harassments, I got up to feed the cats and start my stuffed-up, sneezing, snivelling day. Around noon I headed out to the barn to give Ben his mash, not looking forward to seeing what the overnight rain continuing into today had done to the thick fluffy snow cover deposited on us over the weekend. What do I see as I turn down the unpaved driveway? Bare dirt! The whole plowed part of the barnyard is bare dirt! Sure, there's still lots of big snowpiles that will freeze rock-hard tonight when the Arctic front comes through, but the walking surfaces are BARE DIRT. Even Ben's paddock should be safe for him tomorrow, given how much old manure has been surfaced by the snow-melting rain and warmth. So it's a big plus, this rain -- the harsh freeze headed our way won't turn everything at Seven Acres into a bone-breaking skating rink. And another thing -- yesterday I checked under Ben's blanket and discovered the big lug has gained back pretty much all the weight he'd lost. Now I can taper him off the daily mashes. He won't call that a plus, but I do. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Note from January 8: Strange: That horrible no-good awful ack cold I started a couple of days ago? It's over already, or just about gone. I don't get colds very often (one benefit of being a semi-hermit), and in the last couple of years it seems that when I do get one, it runs its course in a day or two. I'm probably jinxing myself by saying this, but I can't recall the last time I had one of those drag-on-for-weeks colds. Maybe I've got a kickass immune system? Or I'm really really lucky.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
What's up this lovely morning in New England? An incipient blizzard, that's what! Well, maybe the blizzard itself will stay south of Boston, but right now it's 20-something degrees (I refuse to look at the outside thermometer, which isn't that reliable lately anyway, plus it's getting covered with wind-driven snow) here out on Cape Ann, where the slamming together of a gale-force Arctic blast and the storm rushing in from the southeast, sucking up even more power and moisture from the ocean as it (eventually) pulls out to sea, will give my little corner of the world well over a foot of snow before it's done toying with us sometime tomorrow. We'll be headed into single digits tonight, and probably drop below zero by tomorrow morning. But I don't have to go out for anything, the horse is safely tucked away in his big stall with lots of food and people to look after him onsite, and I intend to Get Stuff Done over the next couple of days. Starting with making French toast! With gluten-free bread, Olivio fake butter, and The Amazing Egg egg-white fake batter. But at least the maple syrup will be real. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sigh. Made the fake French toast and it was just as crappy as I'd expected. But at least the maple syrup was good, and there was plenty. You can drown out a lot of cooking sins with enough maple syrup. So what do I do now for fun? Why, go over all the Medicare supplement come-ons the insurance companies have been sending me lately and try to figure out what I should do come February when I turn 65. At least, no matter what I pick, it should cost me less than the health insurance I have now.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Wasting time watching one of those "Ancient Aliens" shows on the History H2 channel, and beyond all the other absurdities of such woowoo speculation lies one simple question: Why would beings scientifically advanced enough to defeat the speed of light limitation, with untold numbers of galaxies to explore, waste their time playing deity to backwards savages, building pyramids and mounds and all sorts of other mysterious structures beyond the capabilities of the savages they instructed, on an obscure planet circling a run-of-the-mill sun way out on an undistinguished arm of a commonplace galaxy? It's particularly disheartening to me to see such garbage on a channel that supposedly seeks to enlighten its viewers about history when the preceding program on H2 was a two-hour exploration of the engineering marvels of ancient Egypt, with thoughtful explanations of precisely how those long-ago people -- supposedly unable (if you buy the ancient aliens theory of antiquity's achievements) to have constructed their massive monuments without starfolks' assistance -- went about doing just that despite their lack of modern machinery. Turns out that those ancient Egyptians were endowed with the necessary smarts and skills to do it all themselves. And I guess that's what really pisses me off, when you get right down to it -- the underlying idea that human beings, especially those not blessed with all our modern apparatus, were simply too dumb and incompetent to figure out anything more complex than mud huts; that "primitive" peoples were -- and still are -- lesser beings than our smugly smart current selves. So Neolithic man wouldn't have a clue what to do with a computer? Big whoop -- your average modern man wouldn't have a clue how to survive, let alone thrive, in the Neolithic world. It's just different skill sets, not a quantum leap in intelligence.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Monday, December 16, 2013
Decided to switch from rough to full board today -- I just can't face doing horse chores through another winter! Ben will still get his daily visit (unless the weather sucks), and his daily beet pulp mash and extra night-time hay, but no more mucking for me till the ground is bare and the temps don't freeze my fingers off. Thank goodness at Seven Acres they spread traction thoroughly over the plowed areas, as any snow packed down from plowing or walking has turned to ice – and we have another storm due in tomorrow into Wednesday. I bring buckets of pre-assembled mash home with me after every barn visit (beet pulp, bran, and a weight-builder supplement) so I can slosh in hot water the next day before setting out for Seven Acres. It makes for an enjoyably fragrant ride over, I must say. Today as I crept like an old lady (shut up!) from my car to Ben to deliver his lunch mash, I was grateful I didn’t have to push a laden wheelbarrow over the gelid surfaces between the shedrow and manure accumulator. Ben can handle winter a lot better than I can.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
How did I get so old?!? Old hag, old crone, dumpy old lady???? I mean, I was never a raving beauty, even in my college years (too much of that Germanic Graf facial structure): But in my twenties I cleaned up reasonably good, as in my Metro Cite pass photo on a trip to Paris: Into my thirties and forties, I at least didn’t scare small children: Nor did I scare the horses (or other four-hooved critters) heading toward the half-century mark: In my fifties I was still reasonably non-haggish: But here I am, almost 65, and MY GOD LOOK AT ME!
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Excellent change coming for Ben tomorrow -- another boarder is moving out, at least for several months, and Ben gets to move into her horse's big stall in the shedrow -- about as big as what he had at the farm -- and the good-size paddock, with firm, not muddy, footing, that Ben used to be in the last time he lived at Seven Acres. I know the footing is good because I personally laid down three nine-yard truckloads of stone dust in it, by wheelbarrow and shovel and rake, back when I was young(er) and strong(er). Ben got his first turnout post-injury yesterday, for a couple of hours in a small paddock. He was quiet and totally noncavorty, so I'm hoping getting turned out into a larger paddock won't inspire him to get stupid and reinjure that suspensory. In any case, having a larger stall, with more light and air, will be especially appreciated given we have a couple/three more or less stormy days coming up to start the week, when he'll have to stay in. Ben in the paddock he’ll have, back about five years ago: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Update, Sunday: One-day delay on the new stall for Ben, as the boarder now in it won't be leaving today, but instead tomorrow. But! Because it was drizzly this a.m., most of the horses weren't turned out when I arrived in late morning, so I popped Ben into his old/new paddock, and did not remove him later when the owner of the soon-to-depart horse showed up. No way was I about to haul him out when he was enjoying it so much -- and he was. He didn't cavort or otherwise get silly, he just puttered around sniffing and looking, then dived into his hay. Having him in there for daily turnout is going to be very very good for him. And tomorrow he moves into his new big stall in the shedrow corner known as "the four-stall".
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Unwrapped Ben yesterday and the fetlock is looking better -- in fact, looking better than before I moved him to Seven Acres! It had been puffy but he was sound on it at the farm. Now it's almost clean. He's walking well; we did our first hand walk, in the indoor ring, and he behaved no worse than pulling hard -- no eruptions, no cavorts. He also got some grooming and general loving on by a couple of little girls beforehand, which he of course inhaled with delight. It's very cold and windy today, though, so I might ace him before trying another walk -- or might not try at all, other than moving him to an open stall while I drain his swamp. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yep, chickened out about trying to handwalk Ben today -- it's very cold and viciously blustery. He's still getting used to having to step up and down over thresholds to enter/exit stalls, is hesitant and nervous when asked to, and needs some persuasion, so when I took him out of his bog for mucking, I just led him a couple of doors down to another stall and parked him there so I could tidy up unobstructed while his lunch beet-pulp mash soaked. When everything was ready for him, instead of taking Ben back home I led him out further down the aisle into the ring, walked him a few dozen paces in a circle, observed how snorty he was (though obedient), and said the hell with it, so took him back up the aisle to his stall. He was just as happy to get the LUNCH!!!! he expected; I was just as happy not to have to walk around the ring for the next ten minutes on alert for any nonsense while freezing my ample butt off; the beet pulp mash had nothing to say to either of us on the subject. I'd be more willing to do the handwalking even on a day like this if my left leg were back to full strength and I could rely on it, but it's not and I can't.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
This morning Ben came out of his stall walking firmly on that bum leg. He stood quietly for having the bandages unwrapped, for icing, and for rewrapping afterwards – all done by the barn manager, Hilly, far more swiftly, efficiently, and effectively than I could have! The fetlock is still puffy but some of the swelling has gone down. So I don’t believe he did any major damage to himself. As I’d hoped, a lot of his distress from yesterday was from his being a sensitive soul, freaked out at the whole situation, rather than actual disastrous damage. Let’s hope the rest of his recuperation goes as well.
Monday, November 18, 2013
It was funny, at first.... Then it all went to hell. More detail later; gist now: Ben got turned out in new herd; was chased, things settled down; then chased more, and torqued left hind suspensory. Suspensory was already compromised before this, but had been sound on it. Iced while waiting for vet; seen by vet, Banamined, wrapped, back to stall for recuperation. Stall rest, icing/cold hosing, bute, Surpass till recovered. I did not need this. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Just back from checking on the Benster. He was pointing his toe on that leg when I got there, but I also saw him put it down flat, and when I was in the stall with him he was able to sidestep behind pretty much a full circle in order to keep his nose close to my cookie pocket as I moved around the stall perimeter. He gobbled down a two-cup serving of his senior feed, oblivious to the gram of bute in it. He’d eaten about half of his supper hay – all Seven Acres flakes – so I gave him a mega-flake more of that to nibble on overnight. Ben has an amiable companion, a little gray mare in her midteens, in the stall next to him, and they are able to sniff noses. They appear to like each other. Ben in general was reasonably relaxed and calm. I’m thinking the smallness of his stall may actually help speed his recovery since he’s supposed to be kept as still as possible and he sure can’t do marathon stall walking in there the way he could in his gigantic stall at Alprilla Farm. I took a lot of photos today of Ben’s turnout adventures, also of the barn layout for those not familiar with it, intending to do one of my photo essays on the blog to share with you all. Then this happened. Somehow I just don’t have the heart for it – at least not for now.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
And it's all good. More later. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ben's safe and sound at Seven Acres, and is settling in well. I went over to the farm a little past 11:00 this morning, hiked out to the far field where Ben stood on watch against any threats from the Dread Calves of Doom, slipped his halter on, and then slipped an oral dose of acepromazine into Ben. Wonder of wonders, he didn’t have a grass quid in his mouth to spit it out with, so got it all – then got a cookie for his troubles. I unsnapped the lead rope and let him follow the Cookie Human as far as he felt comfortable back toward the barn. I left him partway into his first field and resumed removing the last of his stuff from the barn while waiting for Lael to arrive – his masseuse when he had to work for a living, and a calm, smart horse handler. When she arrived we went back out to collect Ben, and she led while I walked between him and the DCoD. The ace had had about a half-hour to work on Ben; Lael wasn’t emotionally invested in the whole situation and thus was relaxed about it all; and I discovered that a cane can substitute quite nicely as a longe whip for flicking toward the hindquarters of a horse who’s thinking about stopping. I only needed to poke his butt with it a couple of times. With very little trouble, we got Ben out the gate and up into his stall. We left him there and departed – I to Seven Acres, to deposit the last stuff, get last-minute details set up, and await Ben’s arrival; Lael to help Brenda hitch up her trailer, then direct her to the farm and load up the traveler. Lael phoned me when they’d finished at the farm to tell me Ben blew once or twice, then loaded as if he’d been doing it every day. Ben unloaded equally well at Seven Acres and looked around in some bewilderment. The goat pen up near the house caught his attention and he freaked a little bit, but Lael had his lead rope and dealt easily with it. We led him to the back barn and into his stall, with only a couple of hesitations to check things out. Inside his stall I pulled off his blanket, made sure (via cookie toss) he knew where his food bucket was, and left him to settle in, with a flake each of Alprilla Farm and Seven Acres hay. I took along a few more flakes of Alprilla hay to feed while he adjusts to the new diet. I’m just back from checking on him this evening. He’d cleaned up all the Alprilla hay and shoved the Seven Acres hay around; didn’t look like he’d eaten much. I daresay he’ll change his mind when there’s nothing else on his plate. Other than wanting to see a new menu, he looked fine and relaxed. He’ll be in tomorrow since it’s going to be bucketing rain; then Tuesday he gets to meet his new daily turnout friends: two aged geldings and a couple of gelding ponies.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Moving day Sunday, looks like. Got almost everything moved to Seven Acres* except the horse -- and the Smartcart for mucking his stall. And his little containers of supplements, all measured out into daily portions. And.... Well, it's just amazing, all the horse gear one accumulates over the years. Once we're settled in I'm going to put a box on top of my trunk (now sitting in the main tacking-up area) with various things in it and a sign: "Free Stuff! Take whatever you need." But I'll never give away Nick's old bridles. Or my two favorites of Commander's. Or Ben's two best. Even though I'll never use them again. Heck, I've still got Nick's old grooming box in my basement, with all his tools in it still grubby from the last time they got used on him, and locks of his mane and tail from the day we put him down. Couldn't even bear to look at that box for a year or two afterwards; will never chuck it out or reuse anything in it. Damn sentimental old fool, I am. Oh, yeh -- both photos in upper right on the blog front page are from previous sojourns at Seven Acres. It's the Hotel California of barns! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *Warning: LOUD music plays when you click in there; button to kill it at very bottom of each long page.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Aching but better, in sum. I stayed abed till 10:00 despite starving cats taking turns reminding me that breakfast was late. When I got up I didn’t feel too bad. The right knee seems to have gotten over it; the right ankle is puffy and still sore to touch in spots but is fully weight-bearing and surprisingly not terribly achy. I have yet to unwrap the Ace bandage to see what Technicolor delights lurk beneath it; that will come later today. The first joint of the middle finger on my right hand somehow collected a bruise in all the excitement and is unhappy but fully functional. The sorest part of me, in fact, is my left hip – yes, the replacement part. But that seems to be muscle strain, not anything more serious. If a day of icing and ibuprofen doesn’t settle it down, I’ll call my orthopedist and get checked out. I intend to stay home today, stay off the stairs as much as possible – the air cast makes taking them difficult – and in general pamper myself. Oh, and I was informed last night that the calves will be moved away from Ben within the next day or two. Update, next day: I've been asked to take Ben elsewhere. We'll be leaving as soon as this weekend.
Monday, November 11, 2013
As it is, I’ve escaped anything more serious than an evening in the emergency room, a scraped, bruised and painful ankle, and a mildly wrenched knee. But I would not care to have a large, frightened horse stomp my ankle into the ground again. This evening I arrived at the farm at about sunset, planning to bring Ben into the barn for the night. While he has come down somewhat from his original stark terror at having to pass by the calves, I knew that he would still be apprehensive, especially since his two herdmates/security blankets were staying way out in their field rather than coming along with him. What I didn’t know till I got there was that the calves hadn’t been brought into their stalls for the night yet, and were boinking around in hungry frustration. Ben’s bad enough at going by them when they’re quiet, let alone when they’re running, bucking and calling. This was not going to be easy. But given the weather forecast and the gathering dark, I had no choice but to do it then and there. Leaving my cane in the barn, I walked out to the gateway to the far field and called Ben. He came to me, keeping a wary eye on the distant bovine antics. I haltered him and began leading him in fits and starts across the first field, and it was immediately apparent that, despite a dose a few hours before of an equine trank, he was still tense and apprehensive. Eventually we got through the paddock past the calves and approached the gate, but having them behind him seemed to spook Ben even more; he began slewing in abrupt jerks. I was perhaps two steps from reaching for the gate when Ben lurched forward and plunged into me. I fell sideways, clutching the lead rope in my left hand, just too far from the fence to catch myself, and landed on my right side. Ben pulled back. I held on. He plunged again. His forefoot slammed down on my right ankle, grinding it into the hardpacked stonedust. I screamed. And held onto the lead rope. After an eternity, Ben got off my ankle. I sat up enough to find the muck shoe yanked off me in the fall and get it back on; then somehow I got hold of the fence, pulled myself upright, and tried to put weight on that foot; all while still resisting Ben’s efforts to break loose and flee back to the far field. It held me. It hurt, oh did it hurt, but it held me. So I did what had to be done: I got Ben through the gate, up the driveway, into the barn, and into his stall – already set up, thank heavens, with hay and water enough for the night. Then I hobbled to where my cane was and with it hobbled to the house, where Maria sat my shocky, shaky self down, wrapped an icepack onto the ankle, left a message for her husband at work, and drove me to the emergency room. (Turns out she’d been in the front of the house, practicing her violin, and hadn’t heard me scream.) I was lucky: the ER wasn’t busy, and I was x-rayed, seen, treated, and released in under three hours. Lucky that the x-rays showed no break, chip, or separation, perhaps because my ankle was already flat on the ground when Ben crashed down on it, and so did not suffer any bending stresses that could break leg bones and rip ligaments. Lucky that Ben didn’t manage to break away and bolt back into the night with the lead rope flailing at his forelegs. Lucky that, as freaked out as he was, he managed to stay just this side of controllable while I got him to his stall. So here I sit, an icepack on the ankle, which is Ace-bandage-wrapped and in a small air cast to protect it, with antibiotic aboard to beat off any infection that might try to set into the abrasions left by the stonedust and Ben’s shoe, or perhaps shoe nails; I didn’t happen to note exactly what was digging into me at the time. I’ve taken an oxycodone, which is helping the ankle, the mildly wrenched knee, and the left hip and knee, which began registering their own complaints at such rough treatment once the shock wore off. I’m to keep the ankle elevated as much as possible, stay off it as much as possible, for the next couple of days, and otherwise follow the voluminous instruction sheets I was released with. It was an awful experience, for sure. But it could have been much worse.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Learning not to be quite so ASKEERED of the Dread Calves of Doom? It certainly looked like it today. For the last couple of days I’ve been bringing a few cups’ worth of grain in a bucket out to Ben in his fields at midday/early afternoon, partly to add to his caloric intake beyond his breakfast meal (also only a few cups), since he’s fretted himself thinner than I like, and partly to lure him closer to the DCoD in an effort to desensitize him. After all, how bad can things be with a mouthful of sweet feed? So out I’d go, gimping my way across the first field to the gateway into the second with bucket plainly visible. The first day I had to go some few yards into Ben’s safe place to get him moving toward me. When he’d walked up and gobbled a couple of mouthfuls, I backed up to just inside the first field. He checked out the DCoD, came on, got another mouthful; I backed up another few yards; he hesitated, worried, came on; and so forth till Ben was midway across the first field. Then the grain and his tolerance for THEM both gave out and he trotted back to safety. Yesterday I waited within the gateway and he walked right up to me. Again it was mouthful or two, back up, Ben advance, mouthful, repeat. This time I got him, with some wary pauses to look for THEM, all the way through the paddock/first field gateway and a few yards farther on. He was nervous going that far and finally chickened out, turned, and trotted back to the first field; dithered; walked back to safety. Today was even better. Ben was less tense the whole time and made it several yards into his paddock before I ran out of grain and he decided to leave – but at a walk, and he stopped in the first field, perhaps to chat with the white boys, who were both in the lane during all this, gazing hopefully at the bucket. I hurried back to the barn, got a couple more cups of sweet feed, and went back to the first field gateway. After one look to locate the DCoD, Ben came strolling over readily and allowed himself to be lured more than halfway across the paddock – and this with the calves up nibbling grass and moving about! When the grain and his tolerance gave out, he walked back out calmly a short distance into the first field and settled down there to investigate whether there was any edible grass to be found. We still haven’t reached the WhaddayaGonnaDo? state yet, but Ben’s gotten past “I’mGonnaDIE!!!” and I have hope now that he’ll adapt to living with monsters.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
So there we are, Ben and I, yesterday afternoon, emerging from the barn at midday so that the mighty Thoroughbred, having sheltered from the storm overnight, can rejoin his white buddies in the freedom of the fields. As we march down the drive toward the gate to his run-in, Ben is up-headed but otherwise relaxed and happy to be going out. Cholla is way out in his field grazing intently; Counterpoint is watching Ben’s return from the lane. Then as we near the gate he sees them. THEM. The Dread Calves of Doom. Not merely lying in their shed next to the paddock he must traverse to freedom, oh, no. Now they are outside and standing! Even moving around, nibbling grass! Aaaiieeeee! (As seen earlier this week, the Straits of Doom:) Ben snorts. He blows. He gets up on tippy-hooves. He sidles, dithers, lurches forward by inches as I one-handedly open the gate. A quick dash gets him through and he slews sideways to the DCoD just long enough for me to undo the throatlatch and tug the halter off his sky-high head. SNORT. Okay, Ben, you’re loose. Freedom lies through the gateway to the paddock, through the paddock to the first field. Will you dare the danger of passage past the DCoD? Dither sidle slew tippy-hooves to the gateway. As he passes into the paddock he surges into a nervous trot. By the time he gets to the field he’s running for his life. The DCoD, after a curious glance, have ignored him. Ben runs about in the first field for a bit, pausing now and then to stare and exchange bitter comments with Counterpoint. He flings his right foreleg up and out as he half-rears. After a bit he settles down to staring, striding tautly about, snatching mouthfuls of grass here and there. Eventually he says the hell with being so near THEM and trots out to his far field. A good wallow in the still-wet grass – down on his left side, roll roll roll (but never all the way over; no, he never does that), up, shake, down on his right, roll roll roll, up, shake – and Life returns to Good. Until the next time Ben must make his fearful way past the DCoD.