I've had a dog in my life for as far back as I can remember. There was Corky that caught fish in my mom's decorative pond, Lancelot that thought the malamute down the road was in love with his one-foot tall self, Jake who was captain of the boat and my heart - and now Tank and Jag, the dysfunctional brothers that make us laugh every day. I've stepped on their feet, tripped over them, ignored them in selfish moments, left them for hours, yelled at them, crammed pills down their throats, given them lettuce as a treat and taken them to the vet. And yet I can count on a grand greeting when I wake up in the morning or walk through the door after being gone thirty seconds to take out the trash. They cuddle with me when I cry, wag their hind ends when I smile and trust me when things get scary.
I can't say I've earned this royal treatment but that doesn't seem to be the point with them. They love me in spite of myself. Isn't that what we do as parents with our children? With our spouses? With true friends? We love them for who they are to us. We tolerate and learn from the part of them that doesn't quite gel with us. We accept them for all the things that make them uniquely them. This is about as close to unconditional love as we humans get. Canines are by nature loving, trusting and loyal. It comes freely and without reservation. They want us to be happy with them AND with each other.
Like all the animals in my life, these guys are teaching me every day how to be better, kinder, more genuine. I'm not a star student by any means but fortunately my teachers refrain from all harsh judgments and see potential in everyone. If gold stars were wagging tails, I'd have a million of them.
Herd behavior is so interesting to observe. With each change here at the ranch - whether it be a new horse moving in, a foal born, a horse going to their new home, an aging horse or a death – the herd adjusts and establishes a new order. With wild horses there is always a mare in charge – and second in command is the stallion. The rest of the herd falls somewhere under these two.
Here, from day one, the mare in charge has been Sugar. She is the smallest but the mightiest. A look from her or a toss of her head and horses scatter! It’s really quite funny to watch. In her younger years, she might have popped that leg out to emphasize her point, but these days, it’s all in the flip of that head. However, in the last couple of years we have watched a slow progression. Kit, Sugar’s undeniable daughter (they could not look or act more alike) is being groomed to take over and the process is almost complete. Kit is now 5 years old and all muscle and attitude, just like Sugar when we first brought her home. The confidence these two exude is admirable. They are strong and forceful but not bullies. It’s simply their duty within the herd to guide the others. Sugar has been a phenomenal teacher. Kit has taken to her new position well, but I find it so sad to watch our Sugar age albeit gracefully.
Passing the torch requires changes from the older mare as much as the replacement. Whether she instinctively has to or chooses to, I do not know, but she separates herself from the herd. We’ve watched this escalate over the course of a few years. Sugar spends more and more time grazing by herself or coming in for some human TLC. My heart hurts as I watch her because I know how strong and regal she has always been. However, when I look in her eyes I don’t see sadness. She’s as proud as ever. She’s just doing what she’s meant to do – taking care of her herd the way nature intended by training the younger, stronger Kit to take her place.
We have no stallion so our gelding Beau assumes the role of second in command. Since the two other boys we’ve had - Joey and Jackson -have been adopted into other families, he has never had to jockey for position. Beau has been quite content to do whatever Sugar tells him for years. It’s obvious that the transition to Kit is not complete in his head because he still gets annoyed with her for tagging along with him everywhere he goes! It used to be him following Sugar’s path and I suppose that will soon be the case with Kit.
The rest of the herd seeks their place within the lineup. Although it doesn’t change often, it is by no means set within the lower ranks. It seems to depend on how they are being treated by the King and Queen as well as how they handle themselves among their peers. It’s not necessarily the strongest that are higher in rank. Horses, like people, are so very individual. Some horses have no interest in bossing around a herd-mate. They are content to pull up the rear of the line at feed time. Some become Miss Congeniality and work at keeping the peace. Some are continually playful and dance around the others like every day is a party! And still others work hard to stay in the middle of the pack so that they aren’t really noticed.
I could tell you who currently holds each and every one of these positions within the C4 Ranch herd. Belle’s recent passing has defined the remaining herd members’ positions more than ever. She was the bridge between royalty and the commoners. I would have loved to see her as Sugar’s successor but she was far too docile for that. I watched with awe and respect as she took a back seat to Kit, a mare thirteen years her junior. Belle was bigger, stronger, faster and probably smarter than all the rest. She never used those characteristics to bully her way to the top. Horses seem to know and accept their positions in the herd without cockiness or shame. Each role, from the bottom to the top, is of equal importance. The end result is a functional family with unconditional love and respect for all members… I know a few human families that could benefit from sitting in our pasture and paying attention.
Sugar and Kit the day Kit was born.
Sugar with a three year old Kit. A bit of a family resemblance,
don't you think?!
Kit in the forefront, literally and figuratively.
She loved any kind of treat – the normal horse temptations of course - carrots, grain, pears, apples - but she would do tricks for a handful of vanilla snow cone or Sonic ice! Today I stopped at the stand in Farmersville for the first time and
bought a large vanilla and strawberry snow cone. It was delicious! I was already smiling at the thought of sharing it with Belle and Beau. (Both of them meet me fence-side at the sight of a big Styrofoam
It wasn’t until I was pulling up to the C4 Ranch gate that I remembered Belle wouldn’t be meeting me at the fence … again … ever. I caught the tears in my throat for the 100th time in the last week and drove up to
the barn. I walked over to the closest fence post and called Beau, our sweet boy that always knows how to make me smile. He saw the cup and came prancing over in that clumsy Walker gate of his. He slurped up the snow cone from my palm and then laid his big head on the top of mine while I filled my hand back up with the sweet ice. When the cup
was empty, he stood there with me and let me cry into his neck. He didn’t move. It was me that finally broke the moment with a big kiss on his snout. I know he understands where my sadness comes from and feels it too. We’re all running on autopilot right now.
She came to us in early 2004 a little “broken”.
- She had been kidnapped and starved for about three months when she was younger so food was not something she took for granted. (That girl LOVED to eat and watching her was a complete joy. She appreciated every bite.)
- Although she enjoyed stall time, it was quite a while before she was really comfortable with the door between the stall and the run being closed. We assumed it had something to do with being trapped in the past so we respected that and left her door open.
- She had a fear of strangers, especially men. The man that had kidnapped and abused her also stole her trust. You could see the fear in her eyes and feel the tenseness in her muscles when someone new would come around. Her flight instinct was in overdrive for a long time, so we made certain to introduce her to new faces and let relationships form at her pace.
- She lost a 5 month old foal to a tragic accident right before we bought her. This loss only added to her distrust and caused a sadness to define her for a time.
It was not overnight, but she eventually conquered all of the concerning bullet points above.
She still appreciated every meal and ate like it was the “best thing EVER” every time, but she was no longer anxious about eating – she was satiated and content and she knew there would always be more.
Stall time with the door closed changed from a prison to paradise. She would casually eat her hay and stare happily out her window. She’d talk to us when she was ready to go back out in the pasture, but there was no urgency in her voice. She knew we’d get there eventually and open that door.
She learned that all men are not evil. She formed a bond with Tim and counted on him to pound any horse fly that landed on her. (She would come in from the back pasture every evening and wait for him to save her from the stinging beasts! Between bombing missions, she would rest her sweaty head on his chest in thanks.) Our farrier and vet respected our protectiveness and took the time to earn her trust. She became a model “pedicure” client and patient. She didn’t flinch for the vet and she would hand the farrier her big pancake feet!
She gave us two beautiful foals, Derby and Liberty, and I was in awe of her motherly instincts. I have no doubt that the opportunity to be dam to these fillies allowed her to redefine herself and heal her soul.
Those of you that haven’t spent much time around animals may laugh at the thought of a horse’s “soul”, but I assure you, the goodness and purity in animals puts humans to shame. Belle was a perfect example of
If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you may already know that she was my “watch-horse”. I could count on her to let me know if something needed my attention…like the night Beau got caught on the other side of the fence or when a little deer was stuck on barbed wire at the back of the property. She would warn me when a bad storm was coming or simply if someone pulled into the drive. If I wasn’t paying attention, she’d get in my face and make sure I “heard” her!
She said “please” with a bow and a barely audible neigh. “Thank you” was eye contact and a little lean in my direction. She told me she loved me every day by lowering her head to my level and closing her eyes. She’d wait for me to kiss her big ole nose and lay my head on that wide, flat part of her face just below her eyes. We’d stay motionless for several seconds. I’d whisper to her, “don’t tell the others but I love you best”. She’d let me hug that big, beautiful lightening bolt neck. I’d breathe in her awesome horsey scent and say, “you smell ALMOST as good as Beau”. I swear she understood me because she would open those big brown eyes, pull that head up and show me her “evil” eye at the sound of his name! It made me giggle every time. We did this routine hundreds of times.
Referring to Belle’s “evil eye” is not a play on words – it was absolute fact. Belle’s left eye was kind and soft and could melt your heart. Her right eye, especially in the beginning, was cautious and darting, sometimes making you a little wary of what was to come. I think it was her way of reconciling the horse that hadn’t been treated well at times in the past with the horse that loved to run (and win), played in water with childlike abandon, simply adored being a mom, could make alfalfa look
like a lobster dinner, and had her humans trained so well. (Even my friend, Helen Bailey, an artist that can draw horses you want to reach out and touch, could see the difference in her two sides.) She was gorgeous from either view.
All of our animals are such an important part of our family. Each and every one has something different to teach and share with us. And each has a unique place in our hearts. But Belle snuck into mine in such a profound way. She stamped her name on it in permanent ink and claimed her spot. I have NO doubt that she was “supposed” to come into my life. I needed her just as much, if not more, than she needed me. She was my confidant, my protector, my rock, my friend.
She learned that if she snuck over to the corral gate alone in the evening, I would open it for her and produce an extra treat. We’d do our “I love you” ritual and she’d be off again. She was a no-nonsense
girlfriend. She took care of things, let you know how she felt, but had no time for idle gossip. She was the same way within the herd. She was the biggest and no doubt strongest, but she never pushed her weight around. She was the first one by your side in a crisis but otherwise stood confidently in the background, ready to step forward if needed...In my mind, she is stepping forward now and offering that big flat spot on her face for me to lean on.
Belle was one of the true loves of my life. To say that I miss her is not adequate. We lost her unexpectedly last week.
She came to us a little broken. She left us whole and happy.
Today I brought her a snow cone.
She was just about the ugliest horse I had ever seen – scrawny,
balding, and sunburnt from the intense Texas beams in July. At first it was the foal at her side that caught my eye – a handsome little sorrel and white colt that we would later nickname Joey. It was through that perfect little “boy” that I got a glimpse of what his dam must have looked like in her younger years.
We had gone to a nearby ranch to look at a black and white mare and her 3 month old foal that were for sale. (This was going to be our first foal and we thought it best to start with one on the ground!) The mare we went to see was stunning and her little filly was equally beautiful.
Going home with them was a no-brainer.
The black and white pair was pasturing with Joey and his dam. We stood watching the four of them for quite some time, enjoying the babies’ attempts to hide from our view behind their moms. It was at this point that I made eye contact with “Bobbie” - the pitiful looking, sunburnt, bald mare with the cute son. She had big brown kind eyes with a hint of sadness in them. All of a sudden, I heard myself asking if the sorrel and white pair was also for sale. Much to my husband’s surprise, I had decided that she needed us. She was well bred and well
fed but that was a working ranch and there was no pampering going on there. Bobbie was in dire need of some TLC and I knew we could offer that to her.
It turned out that she had been quite the promising roping horse but when she was just three years old she hurt her left hip in a barrel racing
accident. Since then, she had been a proven brood mare to the rancher we negotiated with. She went home with us, along with Joey, Babe and Dani. (There has not been one person that’s come to our ranch since that hasn’t openly or privately wondered what we were thinking when we bought her!) We like to say we rescued her that day but it’s accurate and honest to admit that we got more out of caring for her than we could have ever returned. We fell in love with her immediately
upon getting her home and vowed to each other, and to her, that we would never sell her – she was part of our family.
Bobbie was our “middle child” – you know the one - that child that never demands anything and sometimes gets overlooked at treat time -
Or the one that appreciates every bit of attention she is afforded but doesn’t make you feel guilty if you’re in a hurry. She never pushed us around or even came close to stepping on our toes. She was respectful and kind. In the horse world, she was the same. She never provoked any herd members. If one of the others wanted to feel important and toss their mane around like a big shot, she let them. She was, as I like to say about the most accomplished of humans, comfortable in her own skin.
And that skin never was pretty up close, no matter how many miracle cures we tried! I took a photo of her a few years ago that my friend Paige likes to call her “Glamour Shot”. It was taken in the distance with Bobbie standing regally and cropped just far enough away that you couldn’t make out her scars or thinning hair. She was beautiful and it’s the way I started seeing her every time I looked at her.
We held up our end of the pampering bargain by bathing her in sensitive skin medicated shampoo, covering her 1000+ pound body in sunscreen, providing shelter and a fan on those hot Texas days and making sure she got regular pedicures. She paid us back a thousand fold with two more beautiful babies that share her kind spirit.
Bobbie was that parent we should all strive to be – the perfect combination of protectiveness and trust that allow children to grow up feeling loved and confident in their independence. Her children recognized it too. I saw it especially in Rey. Even as an adult horse, she was respectful and protective of her mom.
The last year or two, Bobbie enjoyed her “old mare” status. She learned quickly that once you reach that magic age where your hip bones look a little pointier and your belly droops a little lower, all you have to do is come to the gate and neigh for an extra meal. I could count on her call about five o’clock every day.
We said “good-bye” to sweet, BEAUTIFUL Bobbie last night. She is missed so much already. As my husband said, “home seems a little empty tonight”. But our hearts smile as we imagine her with a thick fur coat and mane, running with no pain to the gate for an extra portion!
We love you, Miss Bobbie. We will forever be grateful that you became part of our family.
...It's pretty apparent to me after this evening's walk that it's not me! These boys LOVE to swim but since the weather has gotten a little cooler and they take longer to dry, I haven't been letting them in the ponds.
However, that all changed a few days ago when we went on one of our typical walks around the property. In true doggy fashion, they always find something to roll in but it's usually a dead bug, a crawdad hole, or a snake skin if I see anything at all. This time they dove under the fence and found new smells on the neighbor's side. They began rolling feverishly as if they just couldn't get close enough to whatever had their attention.
I was taking photos of the horses and didn't give them much thought until I started heading back to the house and called them to come with me. When my two puppies appeared before me, unrecognizable and dressed in cow poo, I immediately screamed at them "go swimming" in the meanest voice I could muster. They took off with lightening speed and I heard a spash long before I got to the pond. I found a stick and threw it at least a dozen times for retrieval to make sure they were clean before getting anywhere near my back door.
The next day we went another route on our walk, avoiding the neighbor's pasture, and stayed close to the woods instead. There we came upon an area where wild hogs have been partying in our pasture leaving huge dugouts of dirt. Tank and Jag quickly grabbed hold of their scent like it was lavender and rolled to their hearts' content. By the time we left that area, I had two dirt brown dogs from head to toe. Again, I yelled, "go swimming" and they happily ran to the pond. By the time I got there, Jag had found the stick from the day before and brought it to me. After several tosses, we were on our way back home.
This evening I grabbed my camera like always and we headed out. We went to the back pasture to check on Beau. (His feet have been doing really well so he's getting to spend more time grazing with his girls.) As soon as I turned my back on those little Corgi hoodlums, they were back under the fence wallowing in whatever nastiness they could find. I no more than called their names before they dashed past me and ran to the pond. I never had to give the command. THIS time, Jag actually took the stick and laid it by the bench where I usually sit my camera before he dove. I swear to you they literally frolicked and smiled as if their plan couldn't have worked better. What better way to get to go swimming than to get dirty and be ordered into the pond?!
Now I find myself smiling at my very clean, very tired Corgi Boys. I'd like to come up with a plan of my own to avoid this newly developed ritual tomorrow but I'm pretty sure I'll be outsmarted again. Who's in charge at your place?
I once considered myself quite the dare devil - racing mini-bikes as the BACK passenger on a horse; running off the side of a mountain in a glider;cliff jumping into the lake; night diving with my dive buddy holding the flashlight; raising children - but now, I get my death defying thrills from walking in my backyard at night.
Each night we take the dogs out before bedtime for what we call our "flashlight walk". Out here, especially on a night with no moon, the flashlight is our only light. Since we have no idea what's lurking out there (like that snake that got our horse Bobbie last month OR the wild hog that might decide to attack OR the coyotes we hear howling every night OR, heaven forbid, the skunk that has it in for Jag), walking around at night here is an adventure.
A few nights ago I was out by myself with the dogs when I was met with what looked like hundreds of eyes in the not-far-enough distance. I quickly took the dogs back inside before they figured out that something worth chasing was on their land and went back out on my own. (A hundred yards from my backdoor and I felt like I was in an episode of American Hogger.) I walked to where I had seen the eyes and shined my light. They were still staring back. I moved closer and closer until I realized that the coyotes or wild hogs I thought I was going to find were actually deer - fourteen of them (okay so there were twenty four eyes, not hundreds. Blame my adrenaline.) There were big deer and baby deer - some motionless, some eating - but none terrified of me enough to run. I was quite flattered that they thought of the C4 as friendly territory. Since then, they've been in that spot every evening.
We went out a bit earlier last night. The deer weren't in their spot yet but the persimmon tree by the pond was ROCKIN, literally! We shined the light in the tree and the eyes looking back at us looked like Christmas tree lights. Apparently Smokey and Bandit (the thieving raccoons that terrorize our cat and destroy our barn) had brought their friends and family to feast on persimmons. I admit to complete joy watching those little suckers scamper out of the tree and run into the woods when we got close. (Anyone who thinks a raccoon is cute has not cleaned up after one.) And I don't know why I referred to them as "little". My friend and I were on foal watch one night and saw one stand up on his hind legs, use both hands to push in opposite directions and open the big barn doors. There are days when that is a feat for me!
We live on the edge of Corps of Engineer land so there is no telling what is living in those woods. Lots of hog hunters come through here boasting of their catch and my husband has caught the rascals rooting up our back pasture. I have gladly never come across one. It's the coyotes that boldly run across our land in broad daylight and sing all night long that unnerve me. Tank and Jag think nothing of chasing them. Although I know they could never catch one, I fear the day a coyote decides to turn around. That's another animal I thought of as small and thin, but no more. The ones that trot through here are fat, happy and can jump a four foot fence like they are skipping, all the while never taking their eyes off of you.
The sounds are everywhere out here. The donkeys and the cows next door heehaw and moo "hello". My favorite is the roosters that have no idea what dawn is and doodle doo every time we step out the door after dark. Even the pond is not immune to night terrors. We have frogs the size of big rats loudly croaking and turtles by the hundreds that plop into the water as we walk by.
There is no telling what kind of excitement awaits us when we head out on our flashlight walk each night. We look forward to ALMOST any adventure. I offer two lessons in this rambling story. (1) Adventure is as close as you allow it to be, and (2) when someone tells you that they are enjoying a "peaceful" life in the country, you can rest assured that they are not being completely honest. The stars at night ARE big and bright here in Texas, but so are the critters.
This morning I was getting my coffee and looking out the kitchen window. Belle caught my eye, as she so often does when the sun is hitting her coat - so much so that I reached for my camera to take the distant shot. What I realized when I looked through the lens was that Belle, along with the other horses, was on point - ears perked and bodies stiff and ready - watching.
I can always count on Belle to keep a close eye on things. No trespasser - human or otherwise - can get past her. I turned my attention in the direction the herd was looking and, sure enough, something that wasn't part of our ranch family was hopping back and forth across the far fence. Fortunately we were far enough away that the Corgi Boys didn't notice anything so I put them up for safe keeping and grabbed the shotgun. I wasn't sure what I would find because a few days ago I witnessed a couple of coyotes chasing a white cat that has taken up residence here. (Einstein the cat was still here yesterday so you can stop imagining the worst.)
The question I should have asked myself at this point (but didn't) was "what did you bring the gun for?". Looking back on the situation, I suppose it was a prop to make me look tougher than I am, because I have no idea if it was even loaded and am not gun savvy enough to feel comfortable checking! (I can shoot a target - moving or stable - but apparently I am a pampered Annie Oakley since I've never loaded my own gun. This is now at the top of my "skills to learn" list.)
I had the distance of a couple football fields to walk but
kept looking at the last spot where I had seen movement as I made my way. The next thing I knew, Belle was standing on her back legs and began a quick dash towards the woods as she came down. She stopped at the edge of the property as
quickly as she has started. She stood in that spot for a few minutes and then did what I call the "Belle Dance". It really should be called the "something is not right here and hurry to me" dance because she only does it when she's worried.
Once I got near the horses, Belle made her way to me and did her dog trick. She is as good at pointing as any hunting dog, just not quite as stealth. There in front of me, just past the trees, was a precious little deer - on the ground, stuck in the brush, and terrified.
I'm not sure if he had been playing with other deer or running from something but he was clearly stuck now and a prime target for the coyotes I had recently seen. I'm not sure who was more jumpy - me or him - but after a few EEEEEKs from both of us, I was able to loosen the hold the branches had on him and he quickly disappeared.
I gave Belle a big hug and leaned on her strong neck for a minute. Then, as if nothing had happened, Belle turned and went back to the herd who had all put their heads down and begun grazing again. Were they blind? Did they not just see me save a life? Why were they not as exhilarated by this experience as I was???
I'll tell you why - because in nature, instinct and intuition rule. Challenges and threats are part of every day and animals make decisions based on what they know instinctively to be best. They groom and guard each other. The protect their
family and their friends from predators. They are loyal and forgiving. They choose their leaders for their strength and accomplishments. The teach their young to be able to stand on their own and they respect their elders. Belle used her communication skills to let me know my part in the rescue
of this little guy. To her and the rest of the herd, there was no act of heroism, just a responsibility to another being.
So.....in true human fashion, I humbly walked back to the barn where I told Tank and Jag about my noble feat. (If I use the right tone, they think anything I tell them is incredibly newsworthy!)
Bobbie's recovery from the snake bite last week has been slow but I'm happy to report that she is improving daily. At first her coordination was really off, making it difficult for her to walk a straight line into her stall or even stroll through the pasture without running into the fence. We wanted to close her in a stall to prevent this but the steroid she has been on for the snake bite had her pacing and anxious. Instead of locking her up, we did the next best thing - we put Rey in the small pasture with her.
Rey is a four year old foal out of Bobbie. She is gentle and cautious and has never stopped showing her admiration and affection for her mom. Even under normal circumstances, they spend a lot of time together. At some point it changed from Bobbie looking after Rey to Rey watching over Bobbie. For instance, when the herd moves from the front of the property to the back pond, Bobbie's pace is slower than the rest so she lags behind. It's not unusual to see Rey standing between Bobbie and the others patiently waiting on her.
When we put her in the pasture with a pitiful, snake bitten Bobbie that couldn't hold her head up or walk a straight line, we hoped she would protect her and reduce the obvious stress Bobbie was under. She did not disappoint us. That first day when I witnessed Rey watching Bobbie's every move and quickly putting herself between a fence or gate or tree when Bobbie would begin to lose her balance, I was humbled. Rey hardly ate. She just stood close by and watched over her mother. She let Bobbie lean on her when she slept (Bobbie was not coordinated enough to lay down for several days) and Rey would guide her to the water trough now and then. When we called them to the barn so that we could give Bobbie her shots, Rey would walk her safely into the corral and wait to escort her back to the pasture.
It's been a week and Bobbie is doing very well. She is holding her head up. Those big brown eyes have never been more beautiful. She's regained her strength and along with it, her coordination. I'm sure the prescriptions had a great deal to do with this miraculous recovery, but I can't help but believe that Rey's attentiveness and calm were the real medicine.
Once again, the more I pay attention, the more I am amazed. This week Rey reminded me that patience and compassion are invaluable in our relationships - as friends, parents, children, partners, even strangers .... yep, I'm being schooled by a four year old horse.
A few nights ago we were out back throwing a frisbee with the dogs as we do most evenings. Tank and Jag were barking happily and we were enjoying the breeze and the first reasonable temperature in ages.
The herd was out by the pond, all but Bobbie. She was making her way towards us. At first I thought she was just coming to say hello like she usually does (in hopes of a carrot) until I realized that she was holding her head unusually low and to the side. Her eyes were heavy and so sad looking. Something was definitely wrong. She was coming to ask for help.
She gladly followed me into the corral but never lifted her head, even when she did her normal "talking" to ask for some grain. We put a small feeder on the ground to see if she indeed had an appetite and were pleased that she went straight to eating. From her posture we feared she had wrenched her neck or her back and treated her accordingly but by the next morning it was obvious that we were wrong. Our old girl had been bitten by a snake.
Her lip had swollen to several times it's normal size and the fang marks were now clearly visible. Her huge, painful lip made eating and drinking difficult and she had no sense of balance. She didn't appear to be cognizant of her surroundings and was not responding to normal communication.
The vet gave her fluids using a bucket of water, a hose and a pump - a method I had never seen. This Macgyver move saved us from having to haul her when she was in no shape to stand in a moving trailer. He gave her shots of antibiotic and steroids and left us with twelve days of syringes. He expects her to be fine and although I was terrified that the 12 hours that had past would be catastrophic for her, he felt we had actually caught it early.
Shortly after he left, she made her way to the water trough (even though we had a water bucket conveniently on the floor of her stall) and I was thrilled to see her swallowing several big gulps. We had put Rey in the corral with her because we knew her company would be comforting. We witnessed Rey guiding Bobbie away from harmful objects and standing quietly by when she rested. I'd seen mares do this with their foals but it was so sweet to see Rey do this with her dam.
What I really found amazing was what my friend Sandy and I witnessed next. The walk to the trough obviously took all the energy Bobbie had, so she just stood there - head still low and eyes almost closed. Kit was on the other side of the fence by the trough watching her closely. Both of these young mares, Kit and Rey, stretched their necks down to meet Bobbie's face and proceeded to gently lick her mouth right where she had been bitten. Their three heads remained connected for several minutes while Bobbie stood motionless enjoying their care.
I understand that animals can sense when something is wrong, but it still astounds me that they knew exactly where she was hurting. Nature is phenomenal. That includes "us humans" although I think we let a lot of things muddy up our instincts and intuition.
We rose especially early this morning to give the poor girl her first set of shots for the day. She teetered a bit when I first started leading her but she quickly got her rhythm. She's eating and drinking and the swelling has gone down considerably. Her eyes are brighter and she's seeming more like her old self.
The vet says we're lucky that this is our first snake bite in the nine years we've been here. I'm sure sweet Bobbie isn't feelng too lucky...
A good friend of mine recently asked, "What makes you smile?" Ever since the question was put to me I've been paying attention to the things that bring joy to my heart. If truth be told, I'm a bit of a country dork and my city friends would heartily agree if they could see inside my head.
After a walk with the boys this morning that had me smiling the whole time, I decided to keep track, just for today, and write down the things that made me smile. Here goes:
- I woke up this morning with a headboard! It's made out of a door that hung in the original 1930s home once on this property. I smiled because I refurbished it months ago and it's been leaning on my bedroom wall waiting for my husband to put it up. Yesterday I wondered why on earth I was waiting on him. I have a brain, two hands and HIS tools!
- An unexpected quick visit from our oldest daughter made me beam. I was able to meet her friends from school that I've heard so much about and discover that they are just as wonderful as she said.
- I couldn't help but laugh out loud watching Tank reunite with his aforementioned girlfriend.
- I had a phone conversation with our youngest daughter that was full of confidence, laughter, accomplishments and goals. A happy child makes a VERY happy mom.
- Two crazy Corgis butts wagging always make me smile. This time it was because they know a camera in my hands means an unhurried walk around the property for them.
- The flowers I planted yesterday were still there!!! I thought for sure Belle would have had them for breakfast.
- The two gallon jugs of 20% vinegar on the barn table that I picked up yesterday made me smile because it means my organic-minded husband has completely worn off on me.
- I found a pallet in a "storage" pile that I could turn into a coffee table like Sarah did on "Sarah's House" (HGTV). After all, I'm a pro now that I've installed my headboard, and again, I have his tools.
- Beau was covered in shavings which means he got a good night's sleep in his stall.
- The smell of the fresh shavings I put in Beau's stall for tonight conjured up memories of Rey's Barn and playing in the sawdust pile.
- Abby the cat talking to me from the top of the shed where the Corgiboys can't reach her deserved a giggle.
- Too much HGTV had me thinking about turning the dilapidated shed into a cool chicken coop.
- That got me to wondering how in the world I could keep the Corgiboys from torturing these imagined chickens. Chicken herding Corgis had me laughing.
- A job well done that resulted in a clean water trough for the horses put a smirk on my face.
- Jag inspecting the clean trough brought on the laughter.
- The view of a half-mowed pasture made by smile and realize that, by definition, ranch work is never done.
- Our persimmon tree weighted down with perfectly beautiful fruit would have made Julia Childs grin.
- Wondering what the heck I do with persimmons made me think of Frank from college and his grandmother that made the best persimmon pudding....or was that rhubarb pie? Either way, I was smiling thinking about it.
- I sat on my parent's old bench while I watched the dogs cool off in the pond. Thoughts of my parents brought on a tearful smile. I was one lucky girl.
- Watching my husband on his John Deere, completely oblivious to the fact that he's so covered in grass and dirt that he resembles George Hamilton before the gray hair, made me laugh.
- The smell of fresh cut grass...and horse manure made me smile. (Horses really can say that their poo doesn't stink!)
- Jag made me proud when (on the third try) he learned that if he barks at a horse I've tied in the barn, he goes back inside. The first two times I grabbed his collar and walked him to the door. The third time he walked himself and waited for me to let him in. He immediately barked to be let out and came out slowly with his nose in the air as if to say, "horse? What horse?" (Tell me you're not smiling too!)
- I thought of Jake (our first Cangelose family Corgiboy) when I passed his grave, marked with a metal sculpture of a Corgi Fairy. Years later, every thought of him still makes me smile. Adding to that amusement, I remembered Cam recently learning about the myth of Corgi saddles for fairies and laughing hysterically.
- Our crepe myrtle showing its appreciation for this summer's rain with tons of blooms had me looking in awe.
- Giving Bobbie a bath AND staying dry because I replaced our old "Jaggified" hose with a new dog proof one really had me smiling.
- I smiled at Jag for being terrified of the gunfire next door and wanting me inside with him. (And I smiled again because I was thrilled to be needed INSIDE because it's 101 degrees outside.)
- I stopped to look at the painting Kels did of Cameron and Beau when she was twelve that hangs in our den....that made me go look at the one of Jake in our room done around the same time. I am still amazed at how well she captured their faces.
- I love the C4 Ranch sign made out of a plow disk that Cam had made for her dad's birthday. (Which made me smile thinking of highlighting the artist on the blog soon because he's amazing)
- I smiled because my friend in Georgia asked when I was making my flight reservations. - Not "are you coming?" but "when?"!
- I laughed at Jag sleeping at the back door holding one of his twelve Frisbees so he'd be sure not to miss an opportunity if we headed outside....and at Tank lying on the back of the sofa hoping we didn't go outside again and disturb his nap.
- I smiled a satisfied smile at the clean smell of orange oil when I mopped my floor.
- I'm smiling now at myself trying to find the right spot on my beloved rustic kitchen table for my water bottle to sit steadily while I type this.
Hmmmmm. This is reading a bit like a gratitude journal. I suppose that makes sense because we should be grateful for the things that make us smile. The lesson here for me personally is that it's the little things that keep me smiling on the inside. There's nothing monumental listed here. In theory, all I should have to do is pay attention in order to find something that makes me feel good enough to smile. Implementing this strategy when life plants a hurdle in front of me will be the test. That fact also makes me smile.
Life, no matter how simple, gives us a bounty of things at which to smile. What's making you smile today?