Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Smokey’s Eye

No, this is not a post about smudged eye makeup trends.  It’s about our soft-hearted fella of a horse and his journey back to health.

For those of you who follow us on Facebook and Instagram, back in the spring, you saw pics of our big grey mustang Smokey in the equine (a.k.a. horsey) hospital with an eye injury.  This is his story.

Horses are fun-loving creatures with big personalities, big bodies, and some times they can get themselves into big trouble.  Because we live on a farm with trees and fences and stalls, sometimes these precious babies injury themselves.  And try as you might, you simply just can’t fool-proof your farm.  (I mean, seriously, we’ve got horses who can open gates, but that is for another time.)

One spring evening at feeding time, Smokey moseyed up to his stall as usual for a snack.  But this time, something wasn’t quite right. He had his right eye shut tight, tears streaming down his cheek.

After a little eyelid wrangling, we could see he had something going on with the eyeball itself, and made an after hours call to the vet.  Two things to note here. First, trying to pry open a horse’s eye against his will, oh holy cats that is not easy.  It’s a crazy combination of eyelids of steel and a bobbing head.  Second, as we’ve said before, these things don’t happen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Nope, if we are going to injure ourselves, we’re going to do it right. No sense in playing games.

It was quickly determined the next morning that he had, in fact, scratched the eye. Drat!  The remedy?  Eye meds four times a day should do the trick.  Did you see my comment above about strong eyelids?  Well it got to be a game. We’d look out and see him with his eye wide open. He’d see us, and yep, you guessed it, he’d slam it shut.  Quite honestly, he was just tired of us messing with him.

Seven days went by, and the vet came back out and determined that not enough progress was being made.  Smokey was at risk of going blind in that eye. In order to save his vision, he would have to go the horsey hospital where they could put an IV system through his eyelid and dispense medication directly to the eye.  (Oh if I could have reasoned with this big beast and told him what was coming, he may have opened his eyelids big and wide.)

My Farmtastic Life - Smokey the mustang heals from an eye injury
Smokey bending down to sniff and be petted. I sat on the floor of his stall, talking to him.

So off he went.  It was slow going.  And after a week, not only did he still have the eye issue, Smokey decided he didn’t want to eat much and developed a fever.  Not eat?  That horse has never missed a meal.

Here’s the deal. Horses are herd animals, and mustangs especially. Smokey was born in the wild to a herd, and ever since he arrived at the farm he had his band of fellas, one bossy mare, and two ornery donkeys.  Smokey doesn’t leave the farm.  It’s his sanctuary.  He hates change and snorts and blows at anything different just to let you know he’s paying attention. Heck, once our farrier (that’s a horse pedicure giver for our city friends) showed up in a different vehicle, and Smokey was all about letting us know something changed.  He’s observant. To a fault.

So Cowboy and I decided we had to go visit our fella and see if we could help figure out what had him down.  I had the wild idea that maybe if we could bring him a sense of home, he’d relax.  So I took an old towel and trudged out to the pasture rubbing down all the horses to capture their scents.  Yes, they all looked at me funny, quite suspicious, and probably convinced I was just a bit nuts.  Cowboy also thought I was slightly off my rocker, but as he always does, he just obliged me.

My Farmtastic Life - Smokey the mustang healing from an eye injury
Smokey sniffing his towel and finding comfort in the scents of home.

Off to the vet we went, towel in hand.  Oh if I could just adequately describe that moment.  Smokey sniffed and sniffed.  He touched his nose to the towel. He visibly perked up.  He would move his nose to the towel and then back to take a bite of hay.  He was eating!!!  He softened to our touch. He was relaxing. My heart was aching for our big grey soulstang – he missed his herd, the people and the four-legged ones.

So Cowboy and I made a promise to him.  For the rest of his stay, no matter how long it took, every day one of us would try our best to make the 60-plus mile round trip to talk to him, to brush him, to comfort him.  And just like magic, it worked.  Slowly but surely, he settled in, his appetite returned, the fever left, and he healed.  It took nearly three weeks, but Smokey still had his sight and an even bigger heart.

My Farmastic Life - Smokey the mustang heads home
The veterinary staff getting ready to load Smokey up for the trip home. Let’s just say, this fella is not a the easiest loader. (The patches on his neck were from his IVs. Such a fashion statement.)

These horses continue to teach us so much.  No one wants to be alone in this world, and when we’re hurting and scared the most is when we need the touch, the scent, the spirit of home.  And if we soak in the healing, we too will be able to see again.

P.S.  Big thanks to our amazing vets, especially Dr. Imel, at Peak Performance Equine Hospital.  They are simply the best.  They allowed us to visit Smokey as often as possible, texted us with morning updates, and took the best possible care of our fella.  We will be eternally grateful.






Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Church on the Porch

I grew up in church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, I was there.  Sunday school, choir practice, youth group, sermons, lots and lots of sermons.  It’s where my best friends were, and it was the lense I learned to see the world through.    

Throughout our years together, Cowboy and I have attended quite the menagerie of churches.  We’ve seen the beauty and, unfortunately, some of the really ugly. We’ve been members, participants, told we couldn’t be members, or worse only one of us could join. (If you know us at all, you know we’re a packaged deal.  For better or worse, you get both of us.) We’ve taught Sunday school, volunteered, and attended Bible studies.

And right now, we are officially on a break. There, I said it out loud.  We are churchless.  Without a church. Without a denomination.  

But what does that mean?  Does it mean our faith in God is diminished?  Does it mean we love less?  Does it mean we are no longer Christians? Nope, absolutely, 100 percent no. In fact, for us, I would even dare to say that our faith in God, our love, and commitment to what it really means to be a Christ follower is stronger than ever before.

When it comes to church, we have not found the right fit for us, a place that speaks to us, a group where our core values line up.  It doesn’t mean it’s not out there, it just means we haven’t found it, and so instead of continuing the exhausting search, we are taking a break.  

So what do you do on a break? You have church on the porch.  We are intentionally taking time to sit on the porch and soak in the awe and wonder of God’s creation that surrounds us.  

Watching the horses laze around the pasture, while dogs nap in the yard. Watching bees and dragonflies buzz through the air, as hummingbirds hover at the feeders. Marveling that a single Basil plant growing out of an old horse trough can smell so fragrant and get so huge.  Feeling the breezes on skin warmed by the sun. And being grateful, oh so grateful.  Not because everything is perfect, because that will never be the case, but because we’ve let go of the perfect in return for finding peace and joy in the moment.

My Farmtastic Life - Maybelle rests in the shade of a Basil plant
A fellow church on the porch attendee, Maybelle rests in the shade of a Basil plant.

Observing our surroundings is just one part of church on the porch.  There is reading, discussing, listening to music, inspiration of all kinds.  For me, church on the porch brings clarity to my crazy thoughts, a deep rooted grace of sorts.  The conversations are special, personal, and helpful.  Oh, and most importantly judging is banned from the porch. Curiousity is welcomed.

Sometimes church on the porch happens on a random Thursday evening. Sometimes it’s a glorious Sunday morning.  Sometimes once a week and sometimes more often.  Sometimes for 15 minutes and other times for hours.  There are no rules.  Just time to revel, to meditate, to laugh.  (Laughing is totally okay during church on the porch, in fact it’s encouraged.)

So if you are struggling right now to find the place you fit, don’t be afraid to do what is best to nurture your soul and explore your faith.  It may not look very traditional, but what you may find is oh so spiritual.

P.S. I absolutely love to read.  Right now I’m working through a series of Rob Bell books, including: What Is the Bible?, Velvet Elvis, Love Wins, and How to Be Here.  If you need a little inspiration and are looking for a more expansive, inclusive view of God, I highly recommend these as a great place to start.

P.P.S.  Please don’t take this as encouragement to leave your church if it is working for you.  We think that is a beautiful thing.  This a personal story of finding a new way to express our own faith, while struggling to fit within the traditional boundaries and options present for us.