Friday, October 07, 2005


A "Typical" Week at Refuge Farms....

As I sit here on Friday, I realize that yes, in fact, this past week has truly been a typical week here at Refuge Farms - at least as typical as a week can get here on The Farm! Read on....

On Saturday, a young lady from the Spring Valley area, Taylor, held her 11th birthday party at The Farm and what fun! We brushed April and fed PONY! and Unit and Babee Joy and just enjoyed all of the horses as young girls do! The questions were remarkable! Special time was spent with Halima, a little Arabian mare who is in her final stages of life. The girls touched her so tenderly and just hugged her. What a sight it was....such emotion and empathy from these young hearts. Amazing, just how wise these young women are!

And then it was time to open birthday presents. This young lady had asked her friends to not buy her a present (yes, you read that correctly - not buy her a present) but instead, her friends were asked to make a donation to purchase hay for the horses! How do I explain the gratitude for such selfless gifts from such young souls?

The result was Taylor picking the weeks of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Easter to be the weeks where her birthday money purchased a round bale of hay for the herd. "Why Thanksgiving?" I asked. "So the horses can have a feast, too" was Taylor's simple but honest answer. Thank you, Taylor, from the entire herd.

While the birthday party was happening on one side of the barn, the other side of the barn had the opposite spectrum of life experiencing the Magic. You see one of our volunteers had brought her two sisters out to The Farm so they could all see just what their little sister, Luretta, has been up to! Grace and Betty listened to a few horse stories and then out came the carrots! April, of course, was forefront with her mouth searching everyone for her carrots...and what did she find? April found the carrot in Betty's hand....and the smile broke out on Betty's face big enough for all to see!

You should know that Betty is the oldest of the sisters and is currently residing at a local nursing home. Typically, Betty would have been in her wheelchair, but this day she stayed in the front seat of Luretta's car and we just pulled the car right in the barn and opened the door! April, seeing that carrot in Betty's hand, simply put her head right in to the car with Betty and said "Hi!". It was quite a sight and most enjoyable for Betty. A bit of horse hair in Luretta's car and a bit of carrot drool on Betty, but no one seemed to mind!

The week ended with Cole, our 35 year old gelding, deciding that he couldn't get his feed in to his mouth fast enough. And so he literally inhaled the feed and developed a choke. Now a choke for most horses is serious but not as panicking as with Cole. You see, Cole is most likely of all the horses to develop pneumonia and is old enough that any trauma stresses him to the point of fluid in his lungs, weak legs, etc. So this choke caused me to react swiftly and directly.

I unhooked Cole from his feeder and took my fists to his throat. Now I know that sounds cruel and inhumane, but it's intended to dislodge the clump of food that is stuck in his throat which was causing him to be unable to swallow and also causing his saliva to flow in to his lungs instead of his stomach.

If Cole had not wanted the treatment he would simply have walked away. But instead he lowered his head (to let gravity work on the choke) and positioned himself where I could best attempt to help him. When I needed a rest, Cole followed me and literally put his head over my shoulder and pressed in to me, saying, "Please....more." In a short 45 minutes - what seemed like hours - I had a horse who could swallow, albeit tentatively, and was moving with me around the barn. It was only at that time that I took the time to call the vet and release the other horses - in that order.

Dr. Lisa arrived and we successfully tubed Cole and administered some warm water. This told me the choke was truly gone. Cole was safe. The worst was over and now it's just the after care.

Due to his age and the fact that his throat is raw, I'm sure, I have him on antibiotics and have him on warm, wet, soggy feed for 5 days. His hay soaks in water overnight and is fed to him in his water barrel. This morning he seemed to be alert and actually a bit angry at being confined!
That's good!

And our dear healer, Babee Joy, spent the night standing next to Cole in the barn for support and company. That girl is a natural care giver. She is amazing. So protective of others - horse and human alike.

There you have it! A typical week at The Farm. Oh yeah, this week also saw the weather go from 84 degrees as the high on Tuesday to a high today of 42 degrees, if we're lucky! We won't go in to all of the cares and preparation for such a radical change with such fragile creatures....
some other time we'll talk about weather and it's impact....right now I need to get out and check on Cole!

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,

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