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. 😉
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”. 🙂

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.

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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.

November

Here we are, first week into November.
Hard to believe we’re there already.
I feel like getting ready to hibernate for Winter, and yet, there’s still so much to do.
Like, right now, I’m writing, but I should be out cleaning and re-bedding the chicken coop. That’s my plan for this afternoon.

But, for now, a chance to catch y’all up on things here…

We’ve finally finished putting the meat chickens in the freezer.
In running the numbers, it was definitely worth doing more chickens, than last years small amount. It was, however, too late in the season to start 50 chicks. Next year, we’ll start them earlier.
I plan on getting eggie chicks, so doing meaties early won’t be a big deal…we’ll do them together.

Since there’s only 3 of us to do the butchering, we can’t do all 50 in one day.
I wish!!
But no, we’re not fast enough for that. So we broke it up into 3 different days. Which, truth be told, worked out well, because we took out all the biggest ones in the first round, which gave the others a chance to grow. Second round, same thing.

Of the 50 chicks we ordered, we lost 3.
1 to a piling incident.
1 to the mean nasty bitch hennys.
1 to a heart attack…which is an unfortunate possibility with Cornish Cross birds.

Turns out we had gotten 51 from the hatchery, because my finished numbers show we processed 48 birds.
9 stayed whole as roasters.
39 were parted into breast, legs/thighs and wings, with backs and necks saved for soup fixings.
Feet were fed to the dog…who ate soooooo many feet. And feathers. I swear, that dog is going to sprout wings, she ate so many feathers. Weirdo.
Livers were saved for friends who enjoy them.
Hearts, gizzards and trim bits were bagged and frozen for winter cat food.

In total, we got 141.1 pounds of meat for our freezer.
Factoring in initial cost of chicks and feed, not including time, infrastructure or butchering supplies, our winter chickens cost us $1.24/pound.
So, really, not too bad.

Next up, comes the pigs.
That starts this weekend.

I think the ducks will be happy to no long have the pigs as neighbours.
And, to be brutally honest, I’ll be happy to no longer have to care for pigs.
Pigs are cute and fun when they’re little.
Once they get this big (they’re around the 200-250lbs mark) they’re butts.
Oh, they have their moments, like with the straw…but man, I’m just tired.
I had thought of wintering some, some year, but I don’t think so.
By November, I’m just done.
LOL!

And then there’s this duck:

Indignant Duck is indignant…and wants me to know it!!

Y’see, we’ve run out of time to get the duck house installed before hard-core winter hits. There’s other things that have to be done before and there is only 3 of us…
So, the ducks have been bunking with the hennys in the insulated coop.
Now that the meaties are gone, we moved the other poultry in there.
Which is why I’m supposed to be cleaning it… 😉

Ducks are not happy about change.
Rain especially.
He’s been rather insistent that he shouldn’t have to sleep with “those stupid girls”. We won’t discuss that the hens have been bunking in the temp. duck house anyways. Still…he doesn’t want to be in the coop with them.
So nightly “put the birds to bed” has been even more fun, with the ducks running away and refusing to go in the coop.

And then…

Last night, Hubby picked Rain up and put him in the coop.
Oh. My. Duck.
The world was ending, Scary Guy Walking touched him, Rain was Going. To. Die. He was so traumatized.
The next morning when I let everyone out, he chased me around the poultry yard, trying to bite and peck me, quacking his fool head off…he went from playing “trauma duck” to being full on rage-y “Indignant Duck”.
Ducks are incredibly expressive.
It did not help at all that I was laughing at him.
😀

Check out my “hard keeper”…

Remember I said I was happy with Sable’s condition this year?
Just look at the picture…

Holy fat Palomino!

Yay!
Fat, sassy, and happy as can be!
Yeah, she looks pregnant in this shot. lol
But seriously, she’s doing really well, and I am so happy for it.

Basking in the Fall sunshine…

Astrid’s back to 98% health.
I’m still liniment-ing and stretching her daily, just to be sure. She’s been trotting and playing, so that’s one less worry for me.

Ghost and Gabrielle

This ^^^ is my poultry helper crew.
They’re sitting in a sandbox that was the ducks’ pool for a while, but is actually The Kid’s flowerbed that never got set up when we got out here.
Now, it’s the feline viewing gallery.
Feline cheering section?
That Ghost is so adorable…and so flippin’ fat now!
I’ve been calling him FatGhost.
I love him dearly, though. ❤

Finally, a lovely shot of our Ruby, dozing in the sunshine…

I am FarmHer

My day starts at 4am.
On a good and lucky day, it’ll end around 8:30pm.
Normally though, it’s closer to midnight, sometimes as late as 2am.
Even on a 2am night, the day starts again at 4am.
There is nothing fashionable about my life.

I have been covered in shit and mud.
I have worn blood more times than I can count.
I’ve been slobbered on, bitten, kicked, stepped on and chased by a crabby sow or two. I’ve also been nuzzled, snuggled and had the sweet breath of a mare blown in my face in greeting.
I’ve had my hands freeze, gloveless, in -35*C weather to prove to a Certain Girl I wasn’t going to hurt her.
I’ve cleaned and treated wounds.
In good weather and bad.
I’ve ended the suffering of those who couldn’t be treated…and yes, I’ve cried over every one of them.

I’ve held a weak kitten in my shirt, close to my skin, and heart, in hopes of revival.
I’ve sat under the cold starry sky soothing piggies scared of the bangers a neighbour put out to keep geese off his field. The same piggies who will fill my freezer for winter.
I’ve had full conversations with a cheeky duck who loves to talk.

I have eaten $0.25/package ramen to make sure any extra money goes into animal feed.
I’ve gone without coffee more than once, when a sick, injured, or just plain sucky animal has needed me.
Some days, whiskey just ain’t strong enough.

And yet…

I chose this life.
It’s hard and messy and sometimes really ugly.
It’s also amazingly beautiful.


I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Those nickers, squeals, chirps and quacks that call for The Food Lady.
Those mares who tuck noses under my arms to be close.
That cheeky duck and his pal, who follow me, peck me and call me.
The chickens, meaties and hennies alike, who crowd around, knowing that I’ll bring them treats over and above the regular noms.
Pigs who scream for left over coffee, garden weeds and waste, and love those scratches on the forehead so much they fall over happy.
Cats who practice the ancient art of “lap sitting” and even that dog, who loves to roll in the stinkiest things and rub up against me…

My heart, my soul, my spirit…
They belong here.
On the Farm.
I am FarmHer.

Blogaversary

Holy Moly folks!
Today is our 4 year blogaversary.
4 years of rambling about this Farm life.
4 years of pictures…we’re just starting to run out of storage space.
Hehe. I may have to spring for a paid account soon. 😉

Here’s a few pictures to celebrate 4 years…

Mr. RainyDay Duck

Such a handsome, cheeky duck.
I’m telling ya, ducks rock!
Chickens are fun, but ducks have way more personality…at least, my 2 do.
That’s why they’re permanent residents. They’ll get girlfriends in the spring, so that we can hopefully have some ducklings to add to our Freezer Camp stores in the Fall.

Mr RainyDay Duck and Sir JazzyHands taking over the chicken coop…

This year’s batch of ex-battery hens have been unpleasant.
They’re mean and nasty bitches.
Even on high quality foods, with lots of greens and straw to play in, the coop treated in case of lice, and ample places to dust bathe, they’re still pecking each other. In too many cases, to death.

So, next year, we’re going with eggie chicks.
And this year’s lot of ex-batts are being disciplined by the ducks.
Sir JazzyHands takes no shit from nasty chickens…he’s not a mean duck at all, but he keeps those egg laying bitches in line. 😉

❤ CoalCat

We have a rule…when kittens were placed in homes, we told folks, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll take them back.
This Coal Cat is a returned kitten, who’s home placement didn’t work out. It’s taken us a few months to reintegrate her into Farm life, and she’s now happily an outdoor hunter cat…who also loves a hella good snuggle with the humans. ❤

“I’m itchin’ my leg, Mama. Don’t take my picture while I’m itchin’ my leg!”
~ Cookie

Poor BabyGirl has had a rough week.
We had some goose hunters out pulling bullshit on the field next to ours, shooting simply to scare the Girls…normally, they don’t care about guns, but when 5 guys shoot before daylight, in the darkness, that scares the bejeebus out of even a well adjust horse.
Once they were wound up, they just couldn’t settle while they jackwangs were shooting. And, of course, they could *see* the Girls running, so even when there were no birds, they shot off rounds just to see them run.
And Conservation was a damn joke to deal with.
😡

The next day, my poor Girl came up lame.
Like 3 legged hobbling lame.
On went the halter, Kid fed her grass while Hubby and I went over that horse with a fine toothed comb.
Turns out she has a stone bruise in her right rear hoof…so epsom salts soaks and a clean hoof were the order for her week. Then, I ran out of epsom salts, so I switched it up to sea salt soaks.
And today, she’s doing much, much better.
Stiff and sore, from compensating for the booboo hoof, but better.
She’s biting Astrid again, so… 😉

And, one of my favorite pics from the last few weeks…

It’s the rainy/damp season, and she gets ouchy.
Some days are worse than others. Some days it’s too hard to get to the beet pulp spot to eat and get her supplements in…some days she’s also a colossal Drama Queen. LOL!
But, because I love her dearly, Hubby is patient with her, even when it’s clear she has her D.Q. crown on.
Here he held her bucket for her while she ate…she was obviously hungry because she had her piggie nose in there before he bent over enough for her to eat comfortably.
What can I say, she’s my special pony, and I love her.

In 4 years of writing this has been my most popular post…
They Don’t Need to Understand

Or, if not my most popular, my most read post.

So here’s to 4 years, and darn near 500 posts.
We’ll probably do something to celebrate 500…maybe a giveaway of a print? Or an Equi~Gem?
We shall see.
I welcome y’all’s input.

Now, can we all chant “4 more years!! 4 more years!!”…because that just makes me giggle. 😉

Labour Day Weekend

How, oh how, can it be September already?
I feel like I’m going into Fall kicking and screaming.

“I don’t wanna get ready for winter….waaaahhhhhhh!!!!”

*sigh*

And yet, the signs are all there.
The cooler nights.
The geese are coming back.
Combines on the fields.
Horses are getting fuzzy… 😥

I’m not ready for fuzzy horses…last night at beet pulp time, Bella said she isn’t either.
Ah, but we have no choice. Time marches on, and away we go towards the coming winter.

This weekend has been a busy one.
Hubby worked Saturday, came home to take The Kid back to the city for back to school shopping.
Grade 11, this year.
Once more, where is time going?!?
How can I be okay with watching my baby girl handle a 1200lb animal, including jumping, and yet, be so on edge with her handling her Father’s truck??
It’s not that I doubt her skills.
She’s had a good teacher…
It’s the fact the she’s grown up enough to be legally allowed to take the truck out.

*sigh*
Damn that Father Time. 😉

Yesterday, Hubby worked on the winter duck house.
We cobbled together a quick shelter when we realized that putting them in the coop with the meat chickens wasn’t viable.
Now, we need to put together an insulated coop (with a heat lamp) for winter. Still don’t know genders, but that’s okay. In spring we’ll figure it out, and we’ll add whatever gender we need to get baby ducks.
Hubby is building a good-sized coop, because we’re all pretty darn enamored with ducks.
And we all like duck meat.

Ducks ❤

Seriously, how adorable are these 2?
Rain (front) always has an opinion…I have to admit, I love that.
I love an animal that you can have a conversation with, and I can totally do that with Rain.
Jazzy (back) is much quieter and a little more wary…s/he is warming up slowly, but is still uncertain of this crazy person who keeps trying to pet her/him. LOL!
Today, I had them both nibbling grain out of the feed scoop.

Speaking of feed scoops…

This one:

😉

Has learned how to lick the pig grain out of their feed scoop.
Now, nobody panic…the pigs eat a crushed wheat/barley mixture as their primary feed. Nothing that can harm a horse in any way.
In fact, Sable gets anywhere from 1/4-1 full cup of this grain mixture a day in her beet pulp.

Yesterday though, she had the pleasure of eating it from the scoop, once I was done feeding the piggies.
Just a few licks, as a treat. 🙂

“I like apples…”
~ Cookie

I’m so loving this taken-from-below set of images.
The Girls look so different from that angle, and it’s an absolutely fun set. I’ve got a few more I’ll share over the next few days…

With the forest fires, the high winds from the North, and our own smudges for bugs, we’ve had a few fairly smokey days…the haze on the image above is only 1/2 from the smudge fire.
It’s been hard on The Kid, and Cookie has been coughing a bit too.
😦

And then, there’s my MaxCat, who in one frame sums up my feelings for today…

“Really? You want me to what now??”
~ MaxCat

I’d love to crawl back into bed with a good book and a big bowl of bbq chips. Not to be though. As always, there’s work to do. And, I don’t have any chips.
We’ve actually managed to break the chip addiction in the house. Haven’t bought a bag in near onto 3 months.
Whew! That was a hard habit to break!
Anyways…
Onward and upward.
Winter is coming.
Boo.
😉

Friday’s Hunt x2

I figure after making all the way through the alphabet last round, I should make just as much of an effort to do the same this round.
I make it sound like it’s hard work, but it’s not, and this really is one of my favorite link ups to join in on.
Life just gets busy at times, so some weeks will be double prompt weeks…like this week is. 😉

We’ll start with last week’s prompts:
Starts with B, Unbalanced and Door

Starts with B

I don’t have a horse whose name starts with b, however, we did go to a rodeo last weekend, so I have a photo of a bucking bull for this one.

The air this bull got was amazing.

I am in absolute awe of the athleticism of these bulls.
For the past few years, we’ve seen the same bulls over and over again, and it’s obvious these guys know their job is to buck, and they enjoy it.

Unbalanced

No matter how many times I watch a horse get up, I hold my breath just a little bit. They look so unbalanced, and legs can be so fragile.

Lookin’ a little drunk there, Astrid. 😉

And then they’re up, and we’re all fine. 😉

Door

Heh, when it doubt for a prompt like this, I go back to images from the Stable…there’s always something I can use!
Like this:

This young lady and her trusty steed silhouetted by the light from the big door.
They stood like this for a few moments after their ride, just enjoying the view and each other.

This week’s prompts:
Starts with C, Building and Something I Wear

Starts with C

Are you expecting a Cookie picture?
Ha!
This time, it’s a cat…my GhostCat.

Being adorable…

He had found a length of rope in the grass and was playing with it. Rolling and singing, tossing it in the air and pouncing.
Happy, normal cat things.
Wonderful things to see from my former feral tomcat.
Guy gets neutered and remembers how to play.
🙂

Building

We finally gotten all of the winter straw bales moved to around the pig yard. The last two were the one’s on the north side of the garage, which made for a small cubby beside the building where the horses could hide from southern winds. Rare around here in winter, but still happened enough to place a couple of bales as windbreaks.
Ruby figured this was a great place to sleep in the sunshine:

All that’s missing here is her horn.

Something I Wear

It’s that time of year…
Outside a lot, sun shining, cutting hay and weeds and working with animals.
A hat is a must…but hats get sweaty, so they need to hang to dry.

You can tell which one is mine, by the hook it’s on. 😉

Sharing with Friday’s Hunt hosted by Teresa at Eden Hills.