One Day at a Time

So I got lost there for a bit.
Had to.
Dealing with Cookie’s death has been a challenge…

My own grief, my human family’s grief, my little herd’s grief.
My mares are having a tough time adjusting to 3 instead of 4.
They’ve lost a foundation member of their herd and it’s been hard on them.
On all of us.

So, I took a break.
Because the whole “Cowgirl up, rub some dirt in it and keep going” thing was too damn hard to do.
I needed some time to process this.

I still look for her every morning.
I miss that pretty face, that morning nicker, those grumpy ears when the hay doesn’t come fast enough, the sly hugs, that sweet breath, her sass and charm…

But, I also needed a break because…whooooaaa…horse people.
They have opinions.

Now, the folks on my FB friends list, and all y’all here (blog and FB Farm page followers), have been amazing. I’ve had folks checking in on me, making sure I’m okay, I’ve had meals delivered, I’ve had a few come out just for hugs…and I’m usually okay ’til the hugs. Then I cry and I warn ’em…hug me and there are gonna be tears and snot. LOL! I ain’t one of those dainty, pretty crying people.
Even knowing that, they still hug me.
I am so very grateful for those people.
I hope you all know that.
❀

The ones I needed a break from were the ones with their opinions.
And I kinda didn’t want to say anything about it, but then, I kinda do, because being an asshole is never okay.

So, for the record:

  1. If you don’t know me, aren’t on my friends list, have never even seen me in person, you have no right to question Cookie’s care.
    Or the care of any of my animals.
  2. Demanding to know the treatment she underwent, or demanding to see vet bills as proof that she was being seen will get you a resounding “Fuck. Right. Off.”
  3. Using the tired, pathetic standard of “I just care about the animals” while verbally kicking the crap out of me is bullshit.
    It’s rude, it’s a lie, it’s an asshole thing to do.

Understand this…
I have already beat myself up over this.
If the beating I’ve been giving myself were visible on my body, I would be black and blue from head to toe. I have gone over her last day millisecond by millisecond, wondering what I could have done better, what more I could have done, how I could have saved her.
I will carry the guilt of her death until the end of my days.
Even though I did everything that could be done.

We did a necropsy.
I had to know.
It was hard and ugly and there was a lot of (my) tears and a lot of blood.

Her aorta had ruptured.

Y’know what I (or the vet, or a team of vets, or anyone for that matter) could have done to save her?

Nothing.
Even if we had known that it was a possibility, the only thing we could have done was put her down before it happened.
As much as I hate it, would give near onto anything to change it, it was her time.
And when I look back at her last 15 months, look at the patterns of “not herself” moments, I realize, it’s been coming since her very first colic in June 2016. She had been a walking, trotting time bomb that could have blown at any time. I am so damn lucky to have gotten the extra time with her that I did…
This whole time, since that day, I have been treating an arthritic mare with an underlying condition…
http://horsesidevetguide.com/drv/Diagnosis/1127/ruptured-aorta-ruptured-aortic-aneurysm/

And while we all understand that this is something more common (though even then, rare) in older stallions, it’s not unheard of in other horses…and my Girl was anything but a typical horse.
Leave it to her to have something we couldn’t know about until after her death.

❀

Reading the symptoms tab (under my role and things I might observe) I found things that I chalked up to the arthritis…going off her feed for no reason, lethargy, her general “meh” about everything some days…the signs were there, but there was no reason for any of us humans treating her to suspect it.
Hell, it’s not something doctors jump to diagnose in humans either.
Not until ruling everything else out.
And, we all thought that we were treating arthritis…we were.
We just didn’t know there was more, and there was no reason to go searching for more, because she was responding well to the treatments she was getting.
Bear in mind, every where I say “we” I’m including our vet team.
Seriously, it took a team to treat that horse.
πŸ˜‰ ❀

~~~~~~~~~~

And now, for the well-meaning (I hope) ones….

I’m not quitting.
I still have 3 horses who need me and need to be cared for.
We’re not selling them, or the Farm.
We’re not giving up.

I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind. The idea of running away from it all, going back to the city, and protecting my heart from this happening again…

But, see above.
I still have 3 horses who need me.
I made them a promise, and I’m not going back on that.
‘Til the end of their days, they are here.
At Midnight Calico Farm.

That said…

I’m not looking for a 4th horse.
Not now.
Please don’t send me ads, pictures, links.
Like some seem to think they should…
When it’s time, it’s time.
It’s not time right now.
We’re all still hurting, my little herd is in flux, trying to figure out where everyone stands without their 2nd in Command.
Ruby’s confidence is shaken because she doesn’t have her backup.
And her friend.
They were together the longest, from the Rescue, to here.
They were The Paint Alliance, the Painted Ladies for years.

Waiting patiently for the treats in Mom’s pocket…

Cookie and Ruby

Being chased by the Jolly Ball…

Storm Paints

When the time is right, and the Girls have settled, we’ll consider a 4th.
Our pasture can hold and support 4, and so, it will.
We’ll save another from going on a plate or in a dog food can.
Maybe it’ll be another ex-broodie who needs a soft landing and a little (lot of) love…Goddess knows, I have a soft spot for them old gals. ❀
But maybe it’ll be a gelding who needs some TLC.
Or it’ll be a baby.
When the time is right, we’ll know…and we’ll know who.

But not now.
One day.

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Here’s to the Broken Ones…

Yesterday we re-lit Cookie’s pyre.
Out here, weather plays a huge factor in everything we do, and last weekend, when we lit her up, the wind came up, and it started to snow.
Keeping the fire burning was more dangerous than leaving her for another week.
Yesterday was a beautiful day.
Cool, but not cold.
No wind.
Quiet and serene.

Hubby pulled out the tiger torch, piled more wood on and around the pyre, poured a little gas for good measure, and lit her up.
Ahh, it was beautiful…for the brief moment before I remembered why we were having this fire.
πŸ˜₯

❀

Friends came out in the afternoon to lend some moral support, tell stories and remember our wonderful Girl.
Have I mentioned we have some incredible friends?
Yeah, we do. ❀
(I’m still hearing about the amazingness of the ribs that were brought out for us last week…Hubby is droolingly in love. πŸ˜‰ )

Go Cookie, go!

Last night the 3 of us decided a happier bonfire was needed, since it was such a nice night.
We warmed our dinner (home made soup and bread brought by the friends who visited earlier) on the fire, and had a few drinks.

Cookie

At one point Hubby, who has had a hell of time with this…
From his wife and Kid falling apart, to moving her body, doing a necropsy and building and tending the pyre…
As hard as this has been on me to lose her, it’s been as hard on him to deal with the aftermath…
No doubt, I am a Blessed woman to have him.
He’s given me a chance to fall apart and work towards putting myself back together, while having to do some pretty unpleasant things…

Last night, over a roaring bonfire, he stands up, and says:

“Here’s to the Broken Ones. Those horses who are lost until they are found by the Ones who will love them and help them heal.
Here’s to the Ones who find them, and hold tight until their love puts them back together again.”

❀ ❀ ❀

❀

Hell yeah!
Here’s to the Broken Ones…

On Dealing with Grief…

Thank you.
For the comments, the emails, the messages, the calls, the love…

This grief has been like no other I’ve known.
I’ve lost other animals I’ve loved, lost both my parents, and other friends and family…as hard as those have been, this has devastated me.

Cookie was the entire reason we bought this Farm.
Her picture on the Rescue website was what pushed me to search for reals for land.
Hell, I showed her to Hubby and said “That’s my horse. We either need land, or we’re going to board her…but she’s mine.”

She was our mascot.

Ima Midnight Tuxedo belonged at Midnight Calico Farm.
It was meant to be.

There is a bond between horse and person that we humans are sometimes lucky enough to have develop.
I like to think Cookie and I had that.
I jokingly called her a “MamaSuck” and my Mama’s Girl.
Once I was able to gain her trust (and that was an ordeal and a half, for sure…one I wouldn’t trade for anything ❀ ) it was clear that we had something special between us.

One of the things I’ve been doing to deal with this grief is sharing pictures of from our life together on my personal FB page.
Then, I realized I should do that here too.
I know some of y’all followers loved her too.
So the next few posts are going to be a sharing of our life together…
She was by no means an easy horse to live with, but by the Goddess, she sure was easy to love. ❀

This is Nikki. I loved her from the very second I saw her…I knew this was going to be my girl.

This is from the very first day the Girls came home…she was still Nicki (or Nikki…either spelling worked) then.

When she became my Cookie…
Here’s what I posted on FB about this picture:

She came to me with the name “Nicki”.
The only response I ever got to that name was she’d turn her bum to me and walk away.
And then, one day, she was so exasperated with me…it was like she was saying “Listen lady, if you’re going to keep annoying me, at least get my name right!”
I laughingly said “You’re going to be one tough cookie to crack!”
She nickered and nodded.
I went back through the sentence, saying each word, and every time I said “Cookie” I got a reaction…a nicker, or a nod, or this face…
I said “It’s Cookie, isn’t it? You’re name is Cookie” and she farted. LOL!! I took that as a yes. πŸ˜‰
So I took this picture of her, and 10 days after she came home, reintroduced my special Girl by her right and proper name…
❀ Cookie

Our very first Christmas photo shoot.
Poor Girl.
She had no idea what I wanted, had been home just over a month, still so unsure of the humans who kept showing up and bothering her…though, to be fair, those same humans kept bringing the food, so they couldn’t be all bad, right?
And then this…
It was sheer luck that I caught this.
Hubby had reached over, and dropped it on her as she brought her head up to move away…this was my first lesson in “have the camera ready at all times”. πŸ™‚

If she had only known what was to come in her life here, with all the different things I put on her.
LOL!
I think she would have stayed, even if she’d known.
She really was happy here…when she let herself be.

Later, I had this photo tattooed on my forearm…

Just freshly needled…

Starting the ugly phase of healing..I’m so, so happy with it. Squee! I can’t wait ’til it’s healed!

She’s not just with me in my Heart (always and forever in my Heart) but under my skin too.
❀

Tomorrow…

Tomorrow makes 4 years since the Original 3 came Home.

Tomorrow we should be celebrating Gotcha Day for Sable, Ruby and Cookie.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Gotcha Day with Sable and Ruby.

Today…

Today I am mourning my heart horse.
Today I am mourning the best damn horse that ever walked the face of this planet.
Today I am mourning my Cookie.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, my sweetheart, my best equine friend, my heart, my soul, my spirit…crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Reunited with her Felix…

He looks so smug.
“My Girlfriend’s tail. MINE!”

I never dreamed I’d be taking my own advice about hoof clippings for jewelry…at least not for another 15 more years, at least.

Little did I know this was to be our last photo shoot together…

Hubby captured this gem while I was trying to convince her that the yellow ribbon was safe to be in her tail…

Coal has been our little magickal cat through this whole ordeal.
I don’t know what the two of them were discussing here, but when they were done Cookie came to me and let me put the ribbon on her…
And Sunday, while we were trying to get her through the colic, Coal kept kissing her face, snuggling in beside her, and sitting on her back.
At first I was frustrated and kept pushing Coal away, until we humans (finally) realized that Cookie relaxed when Coal was near.
That little feline was comforting the equine. ❀

Sable saying goodbye…

Our little herd is fractured.
We gave everyone a chance to come to Cookie’s body, sniff her, and say their goodbyes.
Horses grieve.
Trust me, they do…they are…

There, on the shores of Lake Midnight, we lit her funeral pyre and sent her to Valhalla, like the Warrior Queen she was.
Sleipnir had better be on his best behaviour…my BabyGirl will kick his 8 legged ass into next week and beyond should he so much as look at her wrong.
Like the Warrior Queen she is.
❀

Lest We Forget…

much ❀ to Lynn Johnston for this amazing strip…

Hubby calls this… “He’s a horse’s ass, but he’s my horse’s ass, and I love him and can’t wait for him to come home…” ❀

“…Carry me home down The Highway of Heroes
People above with their flags flying low
Carry me softly, down The Highway of Heroes
True Patriot Love
There was never more…”
~ The Trews

May we always remember and honor those who came before and died so that we can be free…

Lest We Forget.

And Then There Were 2…

We’ve been working on sending the pigs to Freezer Camp.
So far, 4 have gone to Camp, with 2 left to take care of this weekend.
We’re down to AndyPiggie(picture) and CharlottePiggie.

First to go to Camp were:

1. LitaPiggie, who was the biter and meanest pig of the 6…she was also the one who kept climbing onto the pig shelter and trying to make the leap into the chicken yard.

I won’t miss that miserable b***h at all.

2. ImeldaPiggie, so named because she loved shoes. My crocs the most…she also enjoyed a good back scratch and a belly rub. Of all the pigs this year, she was the sweetest girl.

3. MaryPiggie. The runt of the 6, and the toughest. This girl fought for food every darn day, even with 3 feeding stations. She just wanted all the food, all the time. Healthy and happy otherwise, just hated sharing food with her piggie sibs.

4. GeorgePiggie. Our smallest boy, who turned out to be quite the chunk. Had he not been castrated before coming to us, he likely would have made quite the boar for a small farmer like us. George rivaled Imelda for friendliness.

We’re getting into weather that is not conducive to pink piggies doing well outside. Cold like we have now (a record of -21*C this morning!!) means pink piggies start to lose body condition, and can actually freeze to death.
Certainly not what we want for these guys.
Pinkies are not meant for outdoor 24/7/365, that’s for sure!
So, to make sure they’re still happy and healthy until their date with the Freezer Camp director, they get ample straw bedding in their shelter, to snuggle down into and stay warm.
They also get 5-6 hot meals a day.
Smaller than when there was 6 of them, and just enough that they can finish it each time.

I use a mixture of hot water, left over coffee (hey, it happens sometimes! πŸ˜‰ ), and a pint of milk poured over their grains for each meal. And, the past week they’ve been getting a 1/2 cup of yogurt too, just to make sure tummies are working well and processing the food.

Seems like a lot of work for pigs we’re just going to kill, right?
It is.
But, the rule here is Happy Food Tastes Better and the best way to keep pigs happy is with a full belly and warmth.
Just because we’re going to butcher them, doesn’t mean that they deserve a lesser quality of life.

As far as we’re concerned, they get the same standard of care as any other animal here.

Hot mashes for horses?
Yup.
Hot mashes for chickens and ducks?
Yup.
Hot mashes for piggies?
Yup.
Really, what’s one more hot mash to make up, to keep the animals that will feed us for the winter happy and healthy?
That, to me, is time well spent.