Sunday, April 12, 2009


Easter Sunday

It is Easter Sunday. A day of resurrections and new life. A day of new beginnings from what was old.

I am off to deliver The Old Coot to his new forever home and to bring two blind mares back here to be reborn before they, too, are fostered to new loving homes. I'll return this evening and tell you my impressions of this world of rescue and just how it is Easter here. Every single day.

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

Monday AM: Please forgive me for not getting this posted yesterday. It was 9:30pm before I came into the house last night after a day of re-homing The Old Coot and, truly, two resurrections.

The Old Coot had managed to worm his way in to my heart while he was here recovering. His stamina and ability to survive this past brutal winter without a source of water, shelter, or hay left me in complete awe of the little horse. And to also survive the passing of his companion in those hills caused my heart to break for him. And tears to roll for the one we could not reach in time.

The Old Coot's demeanor was quiet and withdrawn upon arrival. A gentle horse without an appetite and content to simply stand. And wait. For what I wasn't sure. Any attempts to entice him to eat or to interact with me failed miserably. This little horse was a puzzle.

Dr. Brian had the piece to the puzzle, however. His hunch about low blood counts proved true and after treatments to restore his red blood count, the little horse began to eat and even lift his ears if coaxed.

Soon, he was genuinely hungry and then a personality returned. This is the part that is the reward for the hard work! To see a personality erupt! To see a spark of playfulness. Or curiosity. Or even stubbornness makes it all worthwhile.

The Old Coot's weeks here also saw him win others over, as well. Many hands worked on his mane and tail and body that were all infested with burrs. Once free, his tail never laid flat again! He was an Arabian and proud of it!

Diane is his new owner and received him with all the love and understanding that a rescue Mom could ask for. She took him and introduced him to her cats and her goats and her pastures and her horses and her sheep and her chickens and her llamas. I told The Old Coot that he was now at Old McDonald's Farm and we all laughed. The animals are all well cared for and content and were most curious of this new little horse.

It was an hour that tore at my heart but as I hugged Diane, I told her I was grateful for her because you see, I loved this little horse. "Anyone other than you and I don't know if I could have let him go." Diane understood completely and gave me and The Old Coot a bit of time together. And then I turned and let him go.

His bellering could be heard out on the road as he became friends with his new pasture mates over the half-door. His stares at the llamas were postcard quality. And his interest in all of the "little ones" was comical. He was surrounded by life and will thrive there. This was a good placement. This was a life saved.

A short hour after leaving Diane's driveway and the truck pulled in to a farm with not such a happy ending. This farm is a mixture of old and lame and young and pregnant mares and stallions and concrete and barbed wire. There are literally animals everywhere. The little blind mare was what pulled me back in to this driveway.

My visit to her two weeks ago had found her in a stall in the basement of a dairy barn standing on six or so inches of wet manure. Her hay was urine soaked and she was frightened. Next to her and across the aisle from her were two large stallions. She sensed their presence and was terrified. With no place to go and no eyes to see, her instincts had her on guard and allowed no rest for her.

I spent time next to her and found her jumpy and defensive. Understandable. I whispered in her ear that I would be back for her and so I was. Baby Cakes was her name. We left that in the basement of that dairy barn, as well.

This little mare is in a box stall this morning and resting comfortably. She has eaten literally every morsel of the half bale of hay I left with her and has scoured the feeder for every possible crumb of feed. She is resting on her right side and did not jump when I touched her withers. She turned her head and instead, allowed me to scratch between her ears. Isn't it amazing what a sense of safety and security can do?

But in the stall next to her is the true rescue of the day.

My contact for the old blind mare was a kill buyer that I have known for years. Many have come here by the way of this man: Joseph, Hannah, RedMan, Beauty, Gracie, Chief, Miss Bette. When he calls there is usually a horse in tough shape on his mind. He has options for the horse, sure, but for some reason he calls and usually I respond.

Well, the call this time was for an Appaloosa mare that was blind. His options were limited for her since she could not be shipped North. I opted to accept her rather than to allow her to be shot.

But what was in the yard waiting for me was an emaciated, blind, crippled, stallion. But the old boy is beautiful. A big head with beautiful blue eyes and a bald face. He was a magnificent horse in his day.

Today, however, his is fading in front of me. He is hungry! But his teeth are so bad that he chews the hay and then lets the wad roll out of his mouth. How sad! To be hungry and want to eat but know that you cannot swallow the feed or you will choke. So, it is beet pulp, feed, and soaked hay cubes to the rescue. He licks his bucket clean and when he hears me come in the barn, he already turns to the corner where his feed bucket hangs.

Time will tell if he will survive. I have not found any manure yet and no sign of urine. I'm guessing everything he manages to get in his system is absorbed but there needs to be something passed. His call is mostly air but he does call. He is proud and he lifts his head and forces the air out of his lungs. He is missing someone that he that he has been separated from. He is gentle and loving and full of scars from the past few weeks of trailers and cattle prods and other horses pushing him around. But he, too, rests in the stall and sleeps. He, too, rests knowing that he is safe and secure.

And so yes, it was Easter Sunday yesterday. How appropriate. How very appropriate. To place The Old Coot in a new, loving home. To bring the old blind mare here for a search for her new loving home. And then to rescue the old dude from a certain painful and lingering death.

This necklace is one of my favorite pieces. I have never worn it as jewelry. Can't do that. But I look at it every day as I dress. It reminds me of Easter and hope. It is as important to my daily routine as the FAITH bucket is to me. This necklace was a gift to me from a Sister in Rescue.

She gave it to me and told me to hang on to it. Take it with me, if I must, on rescues. Let it work its powers by just being with me, she said. And she was right. There is power in this necklace.

First, it is a cross. And being raised in the Christian faith, I know the significance of the cross. I also think this cross tells me of the load we ask some of our "pets" to carry. Like The Old Coot and The Old Dude. How can we allow these creatures to just fade away from starvation and neglect? The pain they endure because we can't seem to be responsible...

The cross is even more meaningful when you realize it is a barb of barbed wire. Fence that we create to fence them in and then we forget them. Leave them to suffer while we go about our daily chores. Surrounded by our fence and not cared for us...

The cross.

Notice, though, that there are beads decorating the cross. These beads are the lives that are saved by a bit of effort and a little willingness to try to help. Like The Old Coot. A shining example of what this world of rescue is all about. A bit of patience and love. A bit of food and warm water. A bit of medical talent and medicine. From starvation comes a feisty little horse. From the cross comes a jewel.

But this necklace can hurt your hands if you squeeze it. The barbs will puncture your skin. And that, too, is on purpose. Because in all of this Easter there is also the loss of those we cannot reach. Or even those who come here that we cannot help. I, for one, will continue to work to bring jewels here for the beginning of their new life. And I will shower them with love and hugs and food and hay and water and medicine. And I will support them as they decide to fight or move on. And I will re-home them and I will help them cross. Whatever is their decision.

Yes, the barbs will hurt and yes, there will be tears. Yesterday was a perfect example. Tears of joy for The Old Coot as he stood and bellered in his new stall. And tears of sadness for the desperately weak one now safely laying in the straw. It was Easter Sunday yesterday. And how appropriate was our work on that day...

So yes, it is the season of Easter. Of spring and new life. Of life that went dormant and is now awakening to another season of growth. Of the old blind mare who now rests comfortably in the straw bedding and sleeps. And of The Old Dude who eats hungrily when given something his mouth can manage. These are the jewels that came to Refuge Farms this Easter.

So, I leave you this morning to go out and feed and hug the healthy ones. To medicate and feed the weaker ones. To shower them all with a heart bursting with appreciation for their fragility and their strength, all in the same skin. To be grateful for parents who rasied me to care. And to give of what I have so that the road for others may be a bit easier. To be grateful that my life has taken me here to this point. To have a life that is full of hard work and rewards - Easters every day.

And all the while, my barbed wire cross will hang in its place to remind me. That pain is part of this process. That the original cross brought tears of grief and joy. And that, every once in a while, if I work really hard, there will be a jewel.

Happy Easter, everyone. Pray for peace.

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

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