Sunday, January 11, 2009


On the Cusp

Oh, I was so hopeful! I so hoped that maybe this season would be long but not so bitter. Thinking that maybe, just maybe, there would be some consideration for us since winter began with earnest in November this year. And given the early season and the ice and the winds that maybe, just maybe, the North Pole wouldn’t drop down this year….

The forecast for next week tells me just the opposite. Forecasted -22 at night. Forecasted highs of -4 at the heat of the day. And forecasted for at least a full week. It’s not just a visit from the North Pole! Oh, Ole’ Man Winter is bring the whole darn family down from the North Pole for a vacation!!!

And yes, as a friend of mine would tell me, it is January in Wisconsin. Yes, I am able to look at the map and then the calendar and shake my head in recognition. But oh, I had so hoped that maybe this year would be a moderate season!

I have made my lists and all is as ready as I can make it. I have beet pulp in the kitchen ready to measure and soak and microwave so it is as hot as I can make it for Cole. I will feed him three times a day during this cold spell since he gets no hay in his tummy. And I will add hay cubes in to his routine as well. One blanket during the day and another blanket added at night.

Little Rosie will wait for her pregnancy test until after this cold spell has passed. I will not ask Dr. Brian to venture out for a simple pregnancy test during this bitter spell. But I will care for her and insure her water is open. She will go in the corral during the day with a single blanket on and then in the stall at night with a second blanket for added comfort. She has been through much worse but I will do my best to help her tolerate this cold as best as she possibly can.

The girls on the Helen Keller side have a bale in the barn and two large bales just outside the back side of the barn – out of the wind as much as possible. If the winds kick up, I will simply close their door and let them eat hay and drink water in out of the weather.

The kids on the Gelding’s Side have two bales in the barn and four bales outside of the barn. They will continue to consume gallons of water but I am only too happy to fill their tank. Good water consumption means good hydration which means good manure and good body heat from good eating. Eat, kids! Eat!!!

The crew in the old barn I will care for with blankets during the day and extra blankets at night. PONY! will probably not leave the barn and Gracie with Blaise will venture out to the bales outside only if the sun is out.

The birdfeeders are all filled to the top and fresh suet cakes are out for the birds. I will keep a careful eye to make sure their food supply does not lessen. Boards are floating in all of the stock tanks so their water supply is good, too.

In the house, I have hung extra blankets on the windows to keep the cold out and the heat in. I have cleaned the pellet stove and the wood stove. I have filled the wood box. I have moved myself downstairs for the week so as not to have to even think of going up to the unheated bedroom. Little Girl is downstairs amongst us and adjusting quite well. I think everyone in the house will be too focused on sitting in the heat draft from the pellet stove to think about rivalries and pack placement!

So I am as ready as I can be. But I am worried. That gnawing fear is in the back of my head and I try to shake it off but I know it won’t leave until this cold front has moved past us. Professor tells me to look forward and breath. I do. As best as I can. But the fear is still there.

You see it hasn’t been very long since Big Jim rested in the hay in the barn on that brutally cold January night. He went down somewhere between my “Good Night” at midnight and my “Good Morning” only a couple of hours later. Doing everything I thought I could and should do, he still decided he needed the rest. And just last winter Miss Bette slipped on the ice and was buried in the drifts of a brutally cold blizzard. My fears tend to overtake my common sense and I worry. As any Mother would do, I worry about the kids.

And I worry about the kids that no one is preparing for. Those that no blankets will be draped over to help them brave the frigid night airs. Those that no extra rations or shelters are provided to help them fight the cold. I worry so for them. And I pray for those that will die this coming week. Those that are weak and ill and on the cusp of crossing. This cold front will push them over. I pray that the push is mighty and strong and swift with no hesitation or pause whatsoever.

It is in this time that I mutter and ask myself and the horses and anyone who will listen, “Why do we live up here?” I will ask that question countless times this coming week. And then I will lift my eyes and look at the horses that surround me. I live up here for them. For the very few that can be saved. I live up here for them. Knowing full well that not all of them will be saved but knowing that at least one more effort is being made to save a few more.

We are that effort. As tired and overdone and “done with it” as we all are, we are that effort. We must not pause. We must not take a rest. We must not think that we’ve done enough. We must continue to sell coupons and bulbs and breakfasts and walk miles and have galas. We must continue even though we just stopped! If we pause, then who will save the ones waiting for us?

We must continue because a round bale of hay could mean the difference between surviving the North Pole air or lying down to die. We must continue because if we can pay the $50 for the starving creature, we can take it from its hell-hole and give it a chance to live. We must continue because for the few that have us in their minds - that see us in their freezing dreams - we must find them!

Someone told me recently that they had decided that it was time to take some time off – they “didn’t feel like doing any fundraising this year." And I can so totally understand that feeling! But then I get the email or the desperate telephone call. And there must be funds in the account to pay the driver for the transport. There must be hay from somewhere to deliver to the starving herd. There must be resources or those desperate creatures who call for us will die.

I cannot turn my back on them. I cannot sleep knowing that those within my reach will die because I was tired or wanted to take some time off. Freezing to death doesn’t take a vacation. The pain of starving to death doesn’t take a holiday. And I’ll have plenty of time on the other side to rest. Right now, I’m here in this place at this time to work to save some lives.

And yes, I know the work never ends. I know I keep asking and asking and asking… I know the posters and canisters and bulletin boards never stop. I know that the emails and work and committee meetings only continue on and on and on. I know. But I also know that for each meeting and each canister there is a living, breathing creature out there that we can help. Only if we work will we be in a position to help. And so work we must do!

Take good care of yourselves and your “kids” - whatever they may be - this coming week. It will be difficult and dangerous. Human and horse lives will be lost in this next week. But I, for one, will be caring for the kids and working hard on the telephone and with emails and with letters and with presentations to rally the support to save a few more. Just a few more. Not them all. Just a few more.

After all, that’s why we live up here, isn’t it?

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd

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