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.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Today I brought Ben in at midday, ahead of another storm forecast to sweep over us this afternoon/evening and run through tomorrow. Imagine my surprise to find him grazing (between bouts of STARING) in his first field! I daresay it didn’t hurt that Herd King Counterpoint was lying down for a nap in the lane near where Ben was. The Benster was still very nervous about being brought in past the Dread Calves of Doom (quietly lying half-inside their shed), despite multiple carrot pieces finding their way to his tense mouth. Still plenty of high-headed stares, some snorts, and enough muscle-tensing for a thorough isometric workout. But indeed he did come along with fewer and shorter stops, and overall I thought he was not as close to freaking out as he’d been yesterday. You might say Ben’s terror level started when they moved in next to him at DOOM!!!!, went through Doom!!! yesterday, and today reached Doom!! Let’s hope he gets down to WhaddayaGonnaDo? soon. For those following his health issues: On being put back out yesterday late afternoon, Ben got up from rolling without difficulty and after shaking himself walked off with a relaxed stride, so the hock injections this summer seem to be holding up well. His hind pasterns/fetlocks do sink, especially the right where he had the two suspensory pulls a year or so ago, and the left fetlock is enlarged and puffy-looking, but he trots out evenly without any sign of a limp, so his failing suspensories are still pasture-sound functional. The DCoD had their first lesson at being yoked together yesterday! Alas, I missed it, but did see a short phone-video of it today. The little guys did very well, and looked immensely cute in their wee yoke. Hopefully I can get some photos this weekend of them harnessed together.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Today I led Ben past the Dread Calves of Doom and we all survived, an outcome I wasn’t sure of till the very end. It started with a nasty cold rain, not pouring but not quitting either, as I drove over to the farm. I worried that Ben would take a chill, since he certainly wouldn’t be sheltering in the run-in, not with the DCoD looming beside the paddock he’d have to cross to get there. I wanted to get him out of the rain and into his stall in the barn, but would either of us survive the attempt? I’d tried luring him in from the far field yesterday, and had some greater success than before; he’d come halfway into his first field. But there he’d stuck, dithering about between bouts of snorting and rigid staring, before it was All Too Much and he trotted hastily back through the gateway to the far field. Sure enough, he was way out in his far field in the rain, looking hunched and miserable as I drove past toward the driveway. No help for it; gotta rescue the boy despite himself. I took halter and lead rope and gimped out past the run-in, through the paddock, through the first field, and called to him from the gateway. He came, licking his chops in anticipation of treats. Instead he got a halter onto his upheld head – a halter on which I did not snap the throatlatch. Better to let him slide out of it if he flung himself suddenly into plunging away than for me to be yanked off my feet and for him to bolt with the lead rope flapping between his front legs. We started in – Ben looking looking LOOKING toward the little hut where the DCoD lurked placidly cud-chewing, stopping every few steps to LOOK even harder and tremble; me quietly, patiently encouraging him, giving him time to collect himself, then gently tugging him into motion again. I kept as much of a wary distance from him as I could, unhappily aware that, since Ben was between me on his left and the calves to his right, if he plunged sideways away from them I’d be right in his panicked path. I took him at a sharp angle from the gateway across the first field, away from the DCD toward the paddock gateway. Getting through that gateway was an inching progress of tiny step tiny step HALT STARE persuasion QUIVER STARE coaxing tiny step HALT etc. etc., punctuated with Ben’s running commentary of snorts and blows, but we made it through and began creeping across the paddock toward the run-in and its exit, only yards away now from the focus of DOOM. I’d moved to Ben’s right side by now, just in case. Ben was wide-eyed, shaking, stiff with fear, but it looked like we’d make it! The gimpy-legged old woman would get her terrified Thoroughbred to safety! Then it got worse. Oh, no, not Ben; no, I happened to step over a yard-long, Y-shaped piece of vine lying on the ground. It leapt up and snagged the left ankle of my sweatpants with its tiny thorns and wouldn’t shake off. So there I am, a gimpy-legged old woman leading a terrified Thoroughbred with a yard-long piece of thorny vine flopping from her ankle. I tried stepping on it with the other foot to wrench it off while also sidling sideways and watching Ben for an explosion. It snagged the other pantleg without giving up its first hold. Great. Now I’m a gimpy-legged old woman leading a terrified Thoroughbred with a yard-long piece of thorny vine clinging to BOTH legs and flopping about between them. Somehow I made it to the run-in gate without falling. Ben was teetering on the edge of losing it completely, sidling and lurching as much as walking, but he never quite went over the edge. At the gate I snatched a moment when he was in rigid stare mode to reach down and rip the vine away. Then I got the gate open and Ben through it. He scurried out, looked back at DOOM, then dived for a hurried mouthful of grass – and I knew then we’d make it. Oh, he was still fired up the rest of the way into the barn, he still stopped at the entrance and needed coaxing to go in, but that grass-dive told me enough brain cells were still functional that we’d be all right. He was shivering in his stall so I went to the tackroom to get his polar fleece sheet. Drat! I’d brought it home. So I drove home to fetch it, drove back, put it on the less shivery but still wet horse, and departed -- into departing clouds and emerging sunshine. Yup, I went through all that for a rainstorm that ended an hour later. Still, I don’t regret it. Ben will get some drying-off and warming time. His fields are eaten down and the grass has died, so it won’t hurt to give him a big hay feed, more than he’d stay to eat in his run-in thanks to the DCoD. I’ll go back and put him out in a few hours, knowing that if I do need to get him in again, I can do it. And we will all survive.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Sunday at the farm was much like Saturday: placid calves, horrified horses. Ben still wouldn’t come with me beyond the gate between his fields, not for carrots, not for cookies, not for nuthin. I guess it’s understandable he’d be more distraught than the white boys, since the Dread Monsters of Doom live right next to him and menace his path to the run-in (though he did manage to overcome his terror long enough to come in for his breakfast grain): Cholla and Counterpoint at least have Ben’s territory to absorb the first charge of the savage cattle before they surge into the white boys’ bastion: As you can see, Ben is on alert at a safe distance (he hopes); Cholla has weighed gazing versus grazing and gone for the sensible course, and Counterpoint keeps watch from the lane. It’s a nervous business, being so close, and he grows increasingly fidgety. Is this really such a good idea? Perhaps his forward observation post should be somewhat less forward? Or maybe this is a Very Bad Idea and he should get the hell outta Dodge while he can! Run away! Back behind the lines! And so I left them yesterday, doing what comes naturally in the midst of unnatural HORROR:
Sunday, October 27, 2013
When last we saw our mighty Thoroughbred, he was warily watching the newest members of the Alprilla Farm family – two barely-month-old bull calves, destined to be oxen laboring (but not too hard) in the fields and woodlots of the farm. Their pen was what humans would regard as a safe distance away, but to Ben’s troubled mind, not far enough; no; a few dozen miles would be much more reasonable. Alas! Rather than their departure, what the horrified horse witnessed on Saturday morning was just the opposite. They moved in next door to him. Yup, Cedar and Clay have acquired more elaborate digs, a much larger pen and the shed formerly home to the pigs raised at the farm this summer – and it’s all right beside Ben’s run-in! To wit (scaring the hapless giant witless): You can just see Clay lying down, below the distant greenhouse, waiting for Noah and Cedar to get back from a training session. The foreground here is Ben’s first field, and from the angle below you can see just how far Ben thinks it safe to stay away from Monsterland. Even at that distance you can see how on guard Ben is. The white boys aren’t as upset, although they’re not too happy about it either. Periodically the three of them will gather to stare at the Brown Menace. Cholla (far right) isn’t as gobsmacked as the other two, and at times will wander off to gobble what’s left of the grass, while Ben and Counterpoint keep watch. Ben tries to stay as close as possible to the white boys – safety in numbers and all that – but sometimes it just gets to be too much and he has to leave them to their fate and retreat. Noah has been working on the calves’ basic training, mostly halter leading, obeying simple commands, and so forth. On Saturday he took Cedar out for a long field walk/training session. Clay wasn’t too thrilled at being separated from his best buddy, and softly lowed now and then, no doubt adding to the horror for the horses. But then... What was that? Yes! There in the distance, across the little pond, there came Noah and the Lost One returning! Clay rejoiced! And so it was that Noah brought Cedar back, having hashed out who was boss at some length during their expedition. The two calves rejoiced at being reunited – and yes, I tried to photograph their antics but they were too busy cavorting to pose for me. After a few minutes and several failed attempts to capture the wily Clay, Noah managed to get the halter on the frisky Beast of Burden In Training number two, and they set off for his lesson. Clay got over his silliness and settled down to lead politely. Noah fetched some grain from the barn for his tired first student. And then he and Clay set out for the fields. And how did the horses react to all this? What did they think of all this to-ing and fro-ing by the Dread Monster Calves of Doom? Nothing good, you can be sure! Cholla and Counterpoint watched with dismay. Counterpoint, mindful of his duties as Herd King, rushed in closer to monitor the developing crisis. Ben stayed back. No way was he going to come any farther in than the gate between his fields! I couldn’t lure him any closer, not even with cookies, and this is a horse who’ll do almost anything for a cookie. Noah and Clay disappeared into the far hayfields. Cedar settled down for a lonely nap. Ben and the white boys watched... watched... finally relaxed enough to drift back into their fields and go back to grazing. Though now and again, Herd King Counterpoint would take up his watchman duties and check Monsterland for stirrings of Doom. The End – for now....
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Well, Ben’s alert level may have dropped from DEFCON 1 (“It’s the end of the world as we know it!”) to 3, maybe 4, over the last couple of days, but he’s still wary of the latest inhabitants at the farm where he lives. Disturbing, they are, to any self-respecting horse. Unsettling. Not to be trusted. Gotta keep a sharp eye on them whenever they’re visible, make very very sure they don’t try something, even (shudder) get loose! Who knows what they’re capable of? It could be anything! What new inhabitants? you ask. What could be so perturbing to a normally calm and easygoing fellow, who’s been around the block more than a few times? Why, none other than these fearsome beasts: Yeppers, great big Ben is askeered of two month-old bull calves who don’t even come to midthigh on me. They’re Dairy Shorthorn calves, rescued from the usual fate of such critters and destined to become a yoke of oxen working on the farm. Very friendly little guys, love to have their ears and tiny horn buds scratched. Names are Cedar and Clay. They’re still figuring out this whole halter-leading thing and getting used to life outside a dairy barn’s veal-calf cages. Their wee outside pen is visible from Ben’s run-in paddock, about 30 yards away, and the big goofball has been gobsmacked by them since their first appearance. He seems to have given up spooking backwards into panicked flight at any movement from them, but he still watches tensely whenever he comes in from his fields, even when they’re lying down and only the tip of a red-brown ear is visible. Heck, today he was staring over there and they weren’t even outside; they were staying in the barn because it was chilly and misty, and Cedar had the runs. I do hope Ben gets used to them soon, since he’s going to have to live with them being around, and even the sturdiest gelding’s ears can get tired of being constantly pricked in alarm. Not to mention the fact that his stall in the barn is across the aisle from theirs. He’s out 24/7 for now, but winter is coming....
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Some photos of the resident felines enjoying life, just because. First up, Pumpkin (foisted on me by my vet's office) and Peanut (adopted from the local shelter), hanging out on my bed, now that summer's over and the annoyingly slick sheet is covered with a snuggly comfy blanket: Next, Squash, brother of Pumpkin, and Schooner (shelter kitty) bask after breakfast by the slider to the deck: And finally Stanley, youngest shelter graduate in the household, contemplating (a) life, the universe, and everything, or (b) his next meal: Or perhaps he's pondering what a handsome fellow he is:
Monday, September 9, 2013
The knee has continued to bug me, be weak and ouchy and uncooperative on stairs, so I decided to see what a physical therapy session could tell me. Turns out the knee is bothering me because my ankles pronate and throw the whole leg out of alignment. Both legs. I was turned loose with a recommendation for arch supports (over the counter recommended brand; if they don’t do the trick we’ll go the cu$tom route) and some exercises to do to strengthen the hip, thigh and around-knee muscles. My hip is doing well for where I am post-surgery, the therapist said, so at least there's that -- not to mention, I can stop worrying about having to have a knee replacement. I’ll continue seeing the therapist twice a week for a while, and we’ll see how things go. So I’ve been walking with supports, and doing the exercises, and boy do I ache! More than when I went in for the PT visit, but I expect that’s from the muscles, tendons, ligaments being asked to work differently than they have been. As they get adjusted and strengthened, the pain should go away. Meanwhile, there's always ice and ibuprofen. I did a mile-plus hayfields walk yesterday and today at the farm, finishing tired and a little achy, but well satisfied. And yes, I did have my cellphone along – also the cane. Not to mention, on today's walk, Tedder the German shorthair pointer who lives at the farm, and who ran joyously several more miles than I walked.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Four and a half months out from surgery, the hip is doing great. There’s still an occasional bit of discomfort, and it doesn’t feel quite the same as a normal hip (maybe it never will?), but it works just fine and the relief from pain and debility is wonderful. Now, if the cranky knee on that side would just quit bothering me….
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Yesterday, during evening barn chores, I achieved a considerable step up in the path of my recovery: I climbed the ladder to the hayloft, wrestled two hay bales from the stack to the ladder opening, dropped them, climbed safely down, and moved them to the opposite end of the barn. This was not easy. I still lack strength enough in that left leg to climb the ladder normally, so had to do the gimpy hitch-step: while grimly clutching the ladder, lift good foot up one rung, raise bum-side foot to join it, repeat. Coming down it was lower bum-side first, etc. As for moving the hay, well, no way was I going to try lifting 40 to 50 pound bales. So they got to where they had to go through a judicious mix of sliding, end-over-end flipping, and held-vertical corner-walking. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. This is for me a big deal, another thing I no longer need to rely on others to get done. About the only barn chore left to accomplish now is getting a 50-pound grain sack from where the feed store delivers it (lower level at rear of bank barn) into a cart, up the drive to the main level of the barn, and out of the cart into the grain bin. Which will need doing in a couple of days. Which I’m not ready for yet, so will gratefully accept help – this time around. I expect to be able to manage it myself next time, in a couple of months. Now, if I could just stop needing the cane to walk down stairs….
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Greenheads and a heat wave. Whadda revoltin' development. At least Ben is placidly enjoying his daily cold hosing instead of going through his usual shrinking shying "Stop stop I don't like it!" dance. He even likes having his face misted. Then he wants to go right back inside the barn to wait for the evening's blessed banishment of the bugs, when it's finally safe to emerge for overnight turnout. I've whacked off several inches from his unkempt shaggy mane, just rough-combed out most of the snarls and then hacked away with the scissors, never mind the long, fussy, arduous mane-pulling process, which Ben hates anyway. It actually came out looking good. I continue to improve, slowly; can't go for the long walks I'd been building strength with while it's so brutal, but am managing Ben's mucking, feeding, watering as well as the usual ruck of daily chores without trouble. I can now walk a lot without the cane at home and when doing barn chores but need it on stairs, especially going down, and feel safer having it with me in the outside world. I expect there'll continue to be improvement over the coming months, but if I never got beyond where I am now, the hip replacement would still be worth it, oh yes, so very much worth it all.
Monday, June 17, 2013
And it appears that taking on the mucking of Ben’s daily output hasn’t harmed my recovery; indeed, one might consider it a new phase of physical therapy, advancing me beyond mere walking. I haven’t felt much discomfort while doing it, nor subsequently, nor stiffened up afterwards when immobile for long stretches; if anything, I’m doing better post-mucking today than the first day, Saturday. It’s still impossible for me to climb the ladder to the hayloft or haul hay bales about, but I’m getting help with that till it’s back within my power. I’ve been taking the cane along on the mucking runs, to help on the uphill push of the loaded (not TOO loaded, mind you) cart, but leaving it hanging on the fence during the manure-forking process. Today I didn’t even need the cane for the uphill. Ah, the cane. I’d like to ditch it entirely, but it’s not quite time yet. I hardly use it at all at home, indeed have reached the “Now, where did I leave that thing?” point in our relationship, but it still feels safer to use it to steady me when I get up after sitting for a while, at least for the first couple of steps; to help haul my carcass up the stairs; to offer support on my daily walks. I’ve tried parking it on my shoulder when I’m out walking, yesterday and today, and seeing how far I could get before needing it. The answer has varied but, well, let’s just say I’m not going to be putting in any canefree miles just yet. Still and all, things are progressing nicely, and it’s good to be back to taking care of Ben again. He seems happy to have my attention and is diligent about leaving lots of material for my physical therapy sessions at the farm.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Big plans for the weekend: I'm going to see if I can take over Ben's care. Two days ago I mucked out the run-in AND scrubbed and refilled the bathtub that waters Ben and his two buddies, hauling the hose there and reeling it back, and doing all this after having walked a mile and a quarter before driving over there; then I went grocery shopping and hauled home several bags of cat litter and canned food, among other things. No pain or stiffness as the day went on, and I woke up the next day feeling fine. So I'll be taking over from Renee, who's done the Benster-care for the last few months, over the weekend and on Monday, and if three days of barn chores doesn't lay me low, I'll take over for good -- no doubt needing someone else at first to throw down hay from the loft for me, for however long it takes to build back up to being able to climb/descend ladders and pick up hay bales. But that, too, will come. I’ll be careful, I’ll listen to my body, and if it says “That’s not a good idea, ya know,” I’ll back off. But I do feel it’s time to at least try.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
So we finally get perfect walking weather after that ambition-sapping stretch of heat wave, and I can finally get back to strength-building, walking walking walking, pushing past the personal best (two miles!) I’d achieved just a couple of days before the hot humid horrors descended. Not so fast, there, podner. I’m sick – started a sore throat last night, woke up every hour or two to be reminded of it, and awoke this morning to confirm that, yes, indeed, I do have a sore throat, the soreness now creeping into the ears; my head is getting stuffy, and overall I feel crappy – mild enough that I can still sit quietly and proofread but crappy enough that going out for a two-mile, or even a one-mile, or even the half-mile end-of-my-street-and-back walk is probably not going to happen. Well, I’ll try the end-of-street walk after I’ve had my coffee. And I’d been doing so well! Not only the walking, but getting around the house without needing the cane most of the time, even on the stairs; finding my range of motion in that leg increasing; being able to lift more, with greater ease – heck, yesterday I even mucked Ben’s run-in. Granted, there were probably no more than a half-dozen dump piles (a minuscule output for the big bay doofus), I was using a Smart Cart, easier to maneuver than a wheelbarrow (especially with one hand while the other pegs along with a cane), and by the time I’d dumped it and put the cart back in the barn I was done for the day on exerting myself – but still! I’d planned to muck again today, but unless I start feeling better (maybe the coffee will help) that’s not going to happen. Grumble grumble grumble.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
At least, one would assume so given that: This morning I walked a mile and a scootch loop, with one crutch, and that used as a cane for more than half of the distance; This afternoon I walked a half mile with the cane only, and not too many rest stops along the way; At home I hardly need the cane at all, other than on the stairs; And now I’m comfortable enough sitting at my office computer to go back into my raw photo files and spend a pleasant half hour or so editing the following images from a ramble around the farm in Essex where Ben lives, back in October: