Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Not During Business Hours

We’ve been pretty blessed on the farm, and all of our animals are getting along really well.  We like to think it comes from a lot of love from us and absolutely wonderful vets, both equine and small animal.  On occasion, things go off course and someone gets hurt or injured, and of course when this happens it’s always at odd times.  What do I mean by odd times? Night, weekends, and holidays – when the price and the panic level both rise!

The latest adventure belongs to Ranger. It was once said that Ranger should have been named Dennis the Menace because he simply can’t keep himself out of trouble.  It’s not that he’s looking for trouble or mean in any way, his imagination just always gets the best of him.

On a recent Wednesday evening, Cowboy and I ran into town to grab dinner and groceries.  When we got home, we went out to check on the horses and low and behold there stood Ranger with a horrible gash on the left side his face, hide just hanging there.  Now, for those who know me you know that I have a weak stomach for these things, so I immediately called for Cowboy to take a peek by yelling into the barn, “Come look at Ranger. He hurt himself.”

This got Cowboy’s eyes rolling because, let me just admit this right now, I am a bit neurotic about the critters. I watch them for changes, scrapes, any little thing.  Cowboy is used to this cry from me, and normally it’s nothing or even less than nothing.  So he comes sauntering out with that look that says, “Come on, it’s late.”

Cowboy takes one look, and I hear him say, “Oh man.  That’s not good.”  Which means, you guessed it, call the vet.  Cowboy is a firefighter/paramedic in his day job, so he’s seen a thing or two, and when he votes for medical attention, I pay attention.  After texting back and forth with the vet to share pictures of the injury, it was decided Ranger needed to go to the vet that night

Oh, one minor detail I forgot to mention, this was right after the great ice storm in Texas this past December, which then turned into a mud-pocalypse in our pasture. Cowboy dutifully climbed on the big red tractor and pulled out our horse trailer.  (Oh how I love tractors, but more on that another day.) We load Ranger, lock up the farm and head to the vet.

Long story short, stitches are required, as are drugs.  This is the first time in Ranger’s life he’s been sedated, at which point we learned not only is he goofy when drugged, but he is STUBBORN.  It was great fun getting his groggy hind end back in the trailer for the ride home.  Picture us out in the parking lot, me and the vet pushing on his rump and Cowboy pulling on his front.  Oh what a sight we were!

Back to the farm we went, supplied with medicines and thankful hearts.  Ranger just missed his eye, so we were definitely counting our blessings. Two weeks later, stitches came out and Ranger is on the mend.  The great news is that it looks like there won’t be a scar on his handsome face (because as you know he is my Fabio).

Big thanks to our wonderful vets who always fit us in, night or day or holiday.  We couldn’t live this farmtastic life without you!

P.S. – We found how Ranger injured himself. It was a rogue screw high up on a piece of equipment.  It was an absolute fluke that he found it, but it has been fixed.  Thanks to Cowboy of course, who was up at dawn the next day hunting the source of the injury.  They may be “my” horses, but I know how he really feels about them.

Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Are You New Here?

Horse chore time around the farm is a daily event,  and most of the time it is an uneventful routine, as it should be.  However, like kiddos are often known to do, critters just want to test you.  It reminds me of just one more drink or one more story before bedtime. But with the four-legged variety, there is snorting, blowing, refusal to go into stalls, and running around like crazies.  (For all my friends with little ones, this may not be so different at all.)

Tonight was one of those times.  Our horses know the routine.  We head out to the barn.  Everyone goes in their stalls.  Food is distributed.  Love and neck rubs are given.  Stalls are scooped.  This is not a new event, but tonight you would have thought I was asking them to barrel race at the rodeo.

For starters, Sweet Suzy Q took off running, which only caused everyone to take off into the pasture as well.  Again like the kids, one can sure wind up the bunch.  Once we settled and determined that a lion wasn’t chasing anyone, we slowly worked our way back to stalls.  But still no luck.  Tactic number two – a bribe.  Off to grab the food and see if I could coax them into place.  The thing with a thousand-pound animal is that you just can’t drag them by the arm and stuff them back under the covers.

Success!  Food worked and Suzy and Ranger were tucked neatly in their stalls munching away.  Now for Smokey, my resident jumpy pants.  The little jaunt into the pasture (thank you Suzy) had him on edge.  Snorting and blowing he followed me into his stall. Ears perked at every noise.  Gates swinging, doors opening.  It was like he was new here.  He settled into the goofy pace of eating and going to the end of his stall to check on things and then back to the food.  Whatever works for the big fellow, the bottom line was that he was in.

And finally there is River.  You would think the horse had never seen a stall in his life.  And to make matters more amusing, the donkeys kept right on my tail as I tried to talk and coax River into his stall.  You see the donkeys are last to eat, and they know it.  So the longer River fiddled around the longer they had to wait.  Patience is not something donkeys are experts at (please hold your shock).

Here I am in the pasture, talking to a thousand-pound horse, coaxing him with food all while Sweetie Pie is glued to my backside.  If you were there, you would have heard me yell at the donkeys, “Listen Thing 1 and Thing 2, back off for a minute.  Will ya?”  Yes, you have to talk to the animals to make it through these obstacles.  Finally after sniffing, timid steps, and great leaps of courage, River made it into his stall.  A collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout the farm.  Funny how the sound of horses chomping hay can be music to your ears.

Farm chores are routine and often sort of relaxing as it’s a time to just unplug.  But on those crazy nights when it seems they’ve all lost their collective minds, I find myself looking horses straight in the eyes and asking, “Are you new here?”

River happily munching his dinner in his stall - but not after acting like a crazy beforehand.
River happily munching his dinner in his stall – but not after acting like a crazy beforehand.
Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

I Should Have Named Him Fabio

Ranger grazing - hair and all.  Special thanks to Kelly Hoodenpyle for the amazing picture.
Ranger grazing – hair and all.
Special thanks to Kelly Hoodenpyle for the amazing picture.

Ranger is our six-year old American mustang horse.  And while Ranger is a perfectly good horse name (his official name is Lone Star Ranger), I really should have named him Fabio.

Let’s start with the obvious, the horse has an amazing mane.  It’s full and long, with his forelock covering his eyes.  It blows in the wind, is fun to brush, and looks gorgeous when he runs through the pasture.  His tail is equally as impressive.  Practically touching the ground, and double bonus, it’s oodles of fun to braid.  While I’m definitely a proud mama, the little guy is a looker.

His second fabio-esque trait is the fact that the horse just likes to pose.  Cowboy will often look out into the pasture and say, “Your horse is posing again.”  While the farm is relatively flat, there is some slight variation, and we have small berms throughout.  Ranger tends to find a berm, wind a blowing, and just stand there, as if to say, “Aren’t I just the most handsome horse you’ve ever seen?”  It simply makes me smile every time.

His third fabio-esque trait is that he likes the ladies.  He’s a gelding (and for my city friends that means he shouldn’t care about the girls, think Bob Barker spay and neuter your pets), but he is IN LOVE with our mare, Sweet Suzy Q.  What’s even funnier is that she’s 22 years old.  But to be fair, she’s equally sweet on him. Does that make my horse a cougar?  I digress.  The point is that Ranger spends an inordinate amount of time following her around and placing himself between her and the other geldings.  And like good geldings, they don’t care about Suzy or that Ranger is trying to be a bossy pants about who Suzy stands next to.

So there you have it, Ranger should have been named Fabio. But to me, the part that is most interesting is his personality.  You see, before I had horses, which was not that long ago, I really never thought of them as having personalities.  I thought of dogs and cats with personalities, but it just never occurred to me that large animals are just as funny, amazing, and often times neurotic.  The truth is that they have personalities in spades.  Some love attention, some are playful, some are curious and get into all sorts of things.  Ranger happens to fall into the latter category, prompting our trainer to say he should have been named Dennis the Menace, since he doesn’t mean to get into trouble he just can’t help himself.  But that’s another story for another day.

Ranger is my first horse.  He’s taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  Cowboy likes to say that our biggest challenge with Ranger is that he’s smarter than we are.  So whatever you call him, my horse by any other name is still Ranger.  Mustang, magnificent, and all mine.

A small plug, if you have never experienced the beauty or the story of our amazing American mustangs, wild horses who live on government lands, check out the MustangHeritageFoundation.org or ExtremeMustangMakover.comRanger is a makeover horse who competed as a yearling.  We were blessed to adopt him into our family.