Thursday, March 3, 2011

Farm Life isn't all it's cracked up to be.. Or is it??

Sometimes, I wonder what life might be like without horses, without chores, without the responsibility that never goes away.

I get up at an hour that, in most people view, is insane, atleast to most 8-5’ers in the work force. This morning’s routine wasn’t all that different than most mornings. It started with putting on the coffee, bundling up in coat, boots, mittens and hat and slogging out to the corrals and hay barn to feed the horses. By this time, my eyes are mostly open but still in a sleep fog and could be easily startled by any stray cats that come running out of the hay barn as I enter. Recently, my morning routine has gotten a little more complicated. It involves extra pampering for my older grade gelding Rebel. I have been giving him a beet pulp mash with electrolytes morning and night. (more on that in a minute)

Giving Rebel beet pulp requires me to pen him off from the other three horses he shares a pasture with. We have an adjacent corral to that pasture where the shed and water are and there is a two strand wire gate , electric, with insulated handles that separates the corral from the pasture. At any given time, there is 6-8,000 volts of electricity running through my fence so I usually don’t have any trouble.

This morning, Rebel was already in the corral, (he knows the routine) waiting for me. I ran over to shut the gate before the other three caught on to what was going on. Just as I got the gate, Maggie, Brego and Cassidy were just coming around the corner, only 10 feet from the gate. I quickly shut it, which I know they saw . Satisfied with myself that I got it latched before they could beat me to it, I turned around , walked 5 steps and CRASH, here comes Maggie.

Yes, she had busted right through the wire gate like it wasn’t even there.That's my girl... (but that is not what came out of my mouth)

Normally, I am a patient person when it comes to horses and generally, all animals (which people who know me are always amazed at, because I am the most impatient person with other people) but this??? This kinda got me peeved….

Maggie has been a problem with busting through electric fence since she arrived on the scene two years ago. She’s like a tank and just goes… with total disregard to what is in her way… It’s an issue I have had to work on a lot with her because she was a real sow to handle on the ground. We resolved the handling issue and she is now very respectful on the ground, but apparently the fencing piece hasn’t sunk in yet. She doesn’t think fences apply to her I guess.

Anyone know what the wire /voltage was that they used in the Jurassic Park movie to keep dinosaurs in??

So there I was, 5:00 this morning morning, with my flashlight, trying to fix the blankety blanken wire gate, which was completely busted in two. I ended up having to just piece it together so I could at least hang it safely out of the way. It would have to waut until I could deal with it in the daylight and when it wasn’t 20 degrees out.

So , that is how my day started today . Sometimes I have to wonder on days like today.. is it all really worth it??

Yeah.. even in the face of constant work , repairs, issues to deal with, I consider myself one of the lucky few who have space, horses, a lifestle in the country. How many people out there would give it all up for this life?? Probably a lot more than we realize. Farm life, it's definitely worth it...

Back to Rebel-
So, after two episodes of mild to moderate colic in the past Month, giving him beet pulp seems to be keeping him from trying to dehydrate himself to death, something we are still trying to figure out… Also, for the first time in the 17 years I have owned Rebel, has decided that temperatures below 40 degrees are too hard on him so he now gets blanketed as well. I guess it stands to reason. He’s about 19 years old, give or take and has been pretty low maintenance up until this winter. I shouldn’t complain but he has me worried. He’s been a great horse, with challenges, but a great horse nonetheless. We've seen some things together over the years and in his semi-retirement, he's once again, proven his worth and willingness and has become a back up archery horse for my husband. He's actually my husbands "fast" archery 19, he still runs faster than most horses half his age. He’s the horse that first got me interested in endurance many years ago and was an amazing athlete and always full of P&V.
This process has been hair pulling for both my vet and I to try to pinpoint what exactly is going on with him. He’s been such a stellar of health. Each day is a new challenge. His behavior seems to vary from normal, to withdrawn, to full on depressed. Some days he barely wants to eat and only does if I stand there with him. Some days, he won’t move for hours on end, just standing in his shed unless I take him for a walk. Sometimes, he lapses into another colic episode, I give him a dose of bantamine and he snaps out of it within a few hours. The only thing I have been able to narrow down is that I think his colic episodes are brought on by him not drinking. I don't know why , but sometimes he just stops

At first thought, I thought it was the water tank heaters but we have tested them and all the other horses are drinking just fine from them. Besides, we have them wired to a GFI so if any little trickle charge is detected, the breaker trips… no shocking or scaring the horses that way.

I suspect something more serious might be going on with Rebel but it’s hard to say what. Could be ulcers, could be a tumor, could be anything really at his age. All I know is that he is definitely not himself and definitely doesn’t feel good.

Tomorrow afternoon, I am taking him into the vet. We want to rule out it’s not his teeth bothering him. Rebel was due for a float this year anyways. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is the cause of the issues.

I will keep you all posted.


Tammy Vasa said...

We do round bale feeding so I miss the morning chores. They are pretty self-sufficient. But in the winter when we have snow storms or frigid weather, I hand feed alfalfa to them in the barn, if nothing else, to get them out of the weather for a bit. I enjoy that time with them - but it is after work, not before. ;) Funny that she hasn't respected the e-fence gate. Ours are deathly afraid!

Good luck with Rebel. It is so much easier knowing what you are up against. They throw us the curves, don't they?

CG said...

I hope you figure out what is going on with Rebel! That is frustrating, knowing something is wrong, but not exactly what it is.

Funder said...

So what's the dx on Rebel? Poor old guy :(