Saturday, May 10, 2014

An Epic Week at Owl Tree Farm

Well, now...I write about three posts a day in my head. That is where I spend most of my time these days: thinking things over, contemplating, brewing, and mulling, and musing. Each day for the last week I've had something to write about. It seems that a day can't go by on the farm without something happening and I'm plumb wrung out. Today, has been more of the same...

It all started a week ago today. When I went out for night chores, I found our fat little Jasper with a swollen leg. From hoof to haunch, he was puffed out and wasn't putting any weight on the foot. Since the joints seemed to work, I quickly assumed it was a snake bite, but I could only find one little tiny spot I thought might be a puncture. I made a decision and administered Benedryl. I was proud of myself for not freaking out, not calling the vet for an emergency house call. The next morning he was about the same and I gave him more Benedryl. By evening, the swelling was down a little....Whew! disaster averted (or something like that.) 

It was then that I noticed that Ben had a trickle of blood running down his head. Uh-Oh! Ben has a history of issues with his horn scurs and this had to be trouble. I couldn't see that anything was wrong and figured it was cracked somewhere. Fingers crossed for it to go away like magic, but I knew I would have to watch it closely. 

The next day, I spent half an hour on the phone with the vet. The milkers are having parasite/cocci issues again. I was feeling so frustrated. So inept and as if I was learning nothing that I finally said, "I feel like I'm taking one step forward and two steps back. Am I doing anything right?" He reassured me that I was, but at that point I was finding it hard to believe.

Two days later, Ben doesn't come to the barn for dinner. I go out to get him and when he looks straight at me I can see that his normally flat-to-the-head horn is sticking up in the air. Every time the horn flops around, he panics. I get him tethered and proceed to just look at the horn, trying to access the damage and how to proceed. Again, the horn would flop and he would go bezerkers. Completely nuts. I knew I had to get that horn off, but I hadn't even touched him yet because he was like the Tasmanian devil, whirling and flipping. After about 10 minutes of this, I found myself with my back against the wall with his tether at my hip.

Ben jumped up and crossed my body and put his front hooves on the half wall behind me. All I could think was, "This is going to be bad." Instead, my little Ben-Ben leaned into me and tucked his head under my chin, I could hear his little panicked puffs of breath. He was scared to death of that "thing" that was touching his head. I hugged him awhile, but knew I had to get it off.

It took another 10 minutes of wrestling and I got thrown around a lot, but I finally got a firm hold and ripped the horn off. 

The next day, I had to deworm Vaca and start cocci treatment with Gypsy and Fanny. Vaca took it like a champ, Gypsy fought a bit, and Fanny....well, Fanny slammed me into the hay manger twice before I got the dose in her....and I had four more days of that to look forward to. I stood at the half wall and sobbing with exhaustion and frustration.

I felt like I had been hit by a bus that day, but worse than that I was starting to question myself. 

That night there was a snake in the chicken coop...yet another thing to deal with. I left it there that night (with it's egg belly it was stuck in the grooves of the wall anyway), but I knew I would have to deal with it the next day.

Morning comes and I'm exhausted. Milking, then moving the chicken tractor, then the snake. I moped around all day, so tired, so frustrated. I cleaned house instead of doing anything outside...but I knew that when evening chores came I would have to dispatch that snake if it was still there.

It was and I did.

Then I wrestled with Ben to spray his wound and he body checked me into the wall. Sharp shot to the kidney, (but then he gave me chin cuddles.)

 This morning, I found Rhett (200lb. +) snuggled with Jasper. I saw a baby bunny, a Painted Bunting, a Black Swallowtail.

I gave cocci meds without too much fuss. I erected a pretend electric fence (we will see if it tricks them) for the girls. I drove my big-ass truck. I confronted the neighbor who is trespassing and mowing our ditch (and I suspect spraying herbicides too).

 I was empowered. I was in charge and doing my best. Sometime during this week, I saw this quotation on my facebook page and I've been saying it to myself ever since, but today it clicked: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." (Maya Angelou from

I'm still exhausted, but all these trials have served to spur me on...I am doing the best I can, but I know I can be better. I'm working on that part.