Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Let the digging begin!...

From Jim:  This morning Don, our good next door neighbor will bring his serious-big backhoe over and start digging the drainage for the upper barn!  Hurray!  The barn flooded several times this last winter during some of the biblical downpours-like 6 to 10 inches and hour.  The current drainage was just overwhelmed.  Don is a blessing.  Dr. Darling will be here again today.  There are a bunch of critters that need floats and we still have a few that have reached their time and will be getting their wings.  Babe, our POA, and Cash, an OTT will be a last act of kindness today.  They are now so old and so frail.  We have  loved both of them and I'll dedicate a whole blog to telling their stories.  The sanctuary promises the animals that their welfare is the prime concern and that places the burden on us to do the right thing for them.  We never like it and will never get used to it, but we will always honor our responsibility to the wonderful creatures.  Thank Goodness for Dr. Darling.  His wise and knowing counsel makes our difficult choices bearable.  I hope you had a chance to read yesterday's blog.  As I grow older, I realize that I don't know a lot, but I do know a few things.  I know that we need to live our lives to fullest, everyday, all of the time.  There's a limit on our time here.  We need to make the most of every moment.  I hope you have a wonderful and joyful day, full of the wonder and surprizes that are waiting just around the corner.  Oh, and love on your critters.  Those are good moments for sure!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


From Jim:  Yesterday was a hard day.  It was jam packed with things that had to be done.  It was Quest's time and that was really tough.  It was a day to celebrate the little ones from the school that came to learn about the sanctuary and about our critters.  There was a lot of hard work that had to get done so than the backhoe could get at the drainage work for the barn.  Many fences that had to get moved and rebuilt.  It was a school board meeting day-a chance to give back and insure that the kids would have a strong place to receive their education.  It was really OK when it came time to put our heads on the pillow.  And, today, we got up and got at the chores and took care of the herd-food and water and the odd pet or scratch or pat on the nose.  Banjo, in particular, needed his pretty face rubbed.  Juan asked to be in his "special" turn out, where he can spend his day eating and dozing in the shade of a big old oak tree.  The modified goat pen needed some shoring up, as goats tend to leak through fences.  Gotta love em!  It'll be a little cooler today.  That's a nice change.  The sky is glorious and blue and beautiful.  We're going to lunch with some really dear friends.  Life will flow along.  The art of being in the moment is always a work in progress.  Worry and regrets and second guessing are the thieves of our present.  We fret about the future and bury our now in the past.  It's easy to do and such a waste.  Life is about living and being in touch.  It's about standing on the edge, not leaning back or forward too much.  Our equine friends are so very good at sharing this with us. They accept what is and move forward.  Their days are filled with living.  They seek peace and know how to enjoy the content of their days.  Yep! Yesterday was a hard day and that's really and truly OK.  It was the day we had been given and we're grateful for it.  Hope your day is wonderful and peaceful and joyful!  Hope your heart sings!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Good Bye Quest...

From Jim:  Quest was a big leapard Appalousa.  He was Donna's horse and a great old friend to both of us.  He had quite a story.  He had been a string horse and was attacked by a mountain lion.  The big cat ripped his withers open clear to the bone.  The wings of his vertabrae were exposed and the wound gaped open by many inches.  The folks that were running the dude string gave up on him and were going to shoot him.  He was rescued and, with a lot of care and attention, recovered.  Even the 4 or 5 inches of his mane that had been ripped out grew back in.  Quest had been born with a moon eye on his off side.  He never let that bother him.  He was a good mannered trail horse with a good fast walk.  The most remarkable thing about Quest was that he wanted a home, a person of his own, a chance to be someone's very own.  He sure got that with Donna.  As he grew older, he enjoyed being groomed and petted.  He would spend lots of time napping and hated to be awakened.  I woke him one time and for a week he would turn his back on me everytime he saw me.  He had a temper.  A while back, as he got into his late 20's, it was harder to keep his weight on.  We moved him to the front yard and feed him senior equine 3 times a day and still his weight would fall off.  Saturday morning he was standing in his stall, wouldn't eat or drink, but didn't show any signs of colic.  Maybe a bad tooth?  Maybe a choke?  A virus?  By Monday morning it was time to call the vet.  Dr. Darling thought is was bad, but there might be chance if it was a massive choke and could be pushed on through.  The tubing was really abnormal, like nothing we had ever seen.  We've tubed many many critters.  This was way different.  Then chunks of the tumor came back when the fluid returned.  Quest"s stomach was blocked off by a mass.  Probably had been growing for some time and finally, the blockage was complete.  There was nothing to do but let our old friend have peace and end the pain and suffering he was feeling.  We had Quester for 7 years.  He had the home and the person he wanted and he was a true pet and part of our family.  See you at the rainbow bridge old boy.  See you again.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Posey and Sugar Pie...

From Jim:  Here, at Home At Last, we love longears.  These donkey/horse hybrids are pretty amazing and wonderful critters.  Two of ours are miniatures-Posey, a mini-mule, and Sugar Pie, a mini-hinney.  They're both mollys and both gunmetal duns.  They're each very special in their own way.  Sugar Pie was rescued from a local mountain community where she had been abandoned and survived with her friend, mini-mule Maggie, by going feral.  As you can imagine, this was a tough time of life for this little critter.  She did not exactly find our kind to be trustworthy or even very useful.  Maggie, who got her wings at 45 years of age, was even more suspicious of twoleggeds.  They were a pair for sure.  As the years went by, Sugar Pie slowly came to understand that at least some twoleggeds were "OK", if not great.  She made good friends with Gracie and is part of a small herd of longears and horses.  One member of that herd is Posey.  This little girl suffered more than abandonment.  She was abused, beaten in the face with a coiled rope while a grown man forced her to spin like a reiner.  Like most mules, maybe all mules, abuse is often a one way street.  Mules are about self-preservation, not a bad trait.  It can result in a mistrust of people that can, and often is, impossible to overcome.   At the sanctuary, we never force the issue by putting a frightened and untrusting animal in a pen and "desensitizing" them.  I'm pretty sure with a mule that would be a waste of time anyway.  Nope, we put them with a herd, at liberty, and offer them friendship when opportunities come around.  It can take years and may never happen.  For them, sanctuary means being left alone by our kind.  We respect that.  Posey and Sugar are friends.  Posey has a lot of equine friends and moves from herd to herd.  Fences for her are about like they are for most mules-somewhat of a nuisance, but no big problem.  We love our Posey girl for her willingness to just get on with it and have a good life.  She has come to tolerate us and knows she won't be chased or cornered, but has no use for contact.  We've caught her only for necessary vet care, shots and all.  You see this is her sanctuary which we share with her, not ours.  There is never an expectation that critters here will do anything but be themselves.  We would be happy to see Posey master her "demons", but it sure isn't a requirement.  There's no calender in play and no timeline or fixed set of goals.  There's just the flow of life and what it brings.  So Sugar Pie has learned that getting petted is a fine thing to do and Posey wants no part of it.  Well, alrighty then.  We love them both for who they are and for the certainty that they are the very best critter they know how to be.  How many of us can say that about ourselves?  Posey and Sugar Pie are just fine here at Home At Last.  Just the way they should be.  Oh! and go love on your critters,  they either were or had mothers and need to celebrate!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thoroughbreds and Mules...

From Jim:  We have some really high-tone thoroughbreds at the sanctuary.  One of our boys was training up for the Rolex when he was injured.  Another permanently registered with the Breeders' Cup.  Still others that were highend dressage critters.  We also have some wildy mules that were put on the ground, but never trained.  Two are a pair of molleys that are Bacshir crosses-curly horse mules.  Now the reason they are mentioned in touching sentences is because they've formed a bond-mule to T-bred, T-bred to mule that's pretty remarkable.  Our two big old T-bred geldings, Pedro and Marny are the apple of Tawny and Tango's eyes.  They find the same devotion returned by their boys.  Another of our T-breds, Teddy, hangs with Toby, the Kiger mule.  Our Standardbreds have Wild Bill, another Kiger mule, as a stablemate.  Our Hackney pony, Sweety Pie, is great friends with Lady Bug, a Hackney mule.  And Jake, our Brabant Belgian is a very close friend with Tucker, our Appie mule.  These friendships, however, are not the same as the closeness that Pedro, Marny, Tawny and Tango share.  At the sanctuary, we try to always respect the friendships that form within the herd.  We are very careful to not separate pals.  Sometimes we even need to bring a friend along for a vet call or farrier work.  That can be a trick when part of the pair is a wildy mule!  Separation anxiety can be a training issue for horses that have work to do, but here the animals are allowed to just be themselves.  Their days are their own.  We have experienced an almost universal response from folks that visit the sanctuary.  "The animals are so peaceful".  "They're so calm and gentle".  "They get along so well".  It's true.  We manage the subsets of the herd to keep the aggression levels balanced.  We're careful about space for all of the critters to freely move about.  We make sure there's food in abundance.  And, we care about their peace of mind and emotional well being.  Seems pretty straight forward to us.  We believe that sanctuary is a state of mind.  Peace, security, friendship, kindness, and love are all part of it, but as a wise man once said, "The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts".  A state of sanctuary is a nice place to park your mind.  Oh, and go love on your critters!  You'll like where your mind finds itself.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Hay! Layed down and ready to bale...

From Jim:  Gotta get hay tommorow.  It'll be the last of last year's.  We went through 5500 bales.  There was none to spare and the back wall of the barn is showing pretty much side to side and top to bottom.  The new hay looks really good.  Our late winter rains and Lyle's extra shot of fertilizer worked wonders.  There's something comforting about the May cutting and baling of the next year's hay.  It's another of those cycles that fill in the patterns and routines at the sanctuary.  The back wall of the big hay barn will disappear for another year and by the time we see it again there will be all of the changes that are sure to come with the passing of the months.  We'll set aside the very best hay for the winter months.  Anything that's not just perfect will be used right away.  Some of the hay that was cut to make way for the swather will bale up a little loose and be fed during the next few weeks.  The harrow-bed will most likely be in the way when I pull in to get a load and squares of hay will be sitting here and there until the squeeze can put them to bed in the barn.  We use a square every 5 days.  That's 12 bales a day on average.  We'll hold back 4500 bales this year.  The herd is down some.  We have some critters in foster care at really great homes and a number of our very senior animals got their wings this Spring.  Their days of smelling the sweet aroma of new hay have come to an end.  But, the cutting and baling of new hay is about life and the joy of living.  It is another expression of the promise the sanctuary has made to the critters.  Not tomorrow, but the next load will be new hay.  It'll be hay that was headed up, loose and maybe a weed or two, but it'll be new hay...the start of another cycle. I like that!

Return of the Blog...Sort of...

We've been off this blog for sometime now.  The new blog, that was part of our new webpage, decided to have an issue and doesn't function right now.  I will try to use this venue until the newer blog is repaired.  We'll see.  This has been a very challenging time for the sanctuary.  Winter was late, wet, and intense.  We're still working on repairing the damage.  Also, the demographics of the herd meant that we've faced a number of euthanasias recently.  That's always really hard.  We miss our old friends, even knowing that they were no longer enjoying life.  We still have more to ahead of us this year.  The efforts to gather the necessary funds for Dunny's eye surgery has been both uplifting and frustrating.  $5000 is a lot of money and it's going to take awhile to gather it up.  On the other hand, the days go by for us and for Dunny and we work to get donations and he still can't see.  The generous folks that have sent gifts lift our hearts.  The time it's taking is a test of our patience.  Oh Well!  We'll not give in or give up.  Dunny's eyes are just too important.  If this "make-do" blog will work, I'll try to get back to a regular edition.  Because it's no longer supported by our browser, I can't spell check or print pictures.  That will have to wait for the blog to get back into service.  Thanks again for all of your support, both financially and emotionally.  We sure appreciate it!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dump Day...Recycle Day...

From Jim: The white Ford pickup is loaded with trash and recycling stuff. We recycyle what we can and it's fun to see if the stuff gets enough money to pay the landfill fee for the stuff we can't. The solid waste stream that's produced by our economy is down right scary and a real shame. Our "land fill" is called Mt. Trashmore because it long ago stopped filling and started climbing. It's plainly visible from Hwy 99 as it shines in it's black plastic tarp and tire splendor. Scientists say the contents will take about 100 thousand years to break down. Let's see, we've been a nation for a couple of hundred years and our trash grows by leaps and bounds every year. Hmmm, maybe we can have a whole mountain range. Over packaging, toss-away diapers, plastics of all kinds, and so on and so on. I worry about it some. It's not just the land issue, of course. It's the almost certainty that the by-products of our waste will find their way into the water. Ultimately the chemical compounds that we've created that resist biodegradation will go to the sea. We have no right to despoil this place for all of the other living things. They have as much right to be here as we do. We are the only species that knowingly poisons itself. I sure hope there will be a strong enough wakeup call soon enough to not really crash this ecosystem we require along with the other critters. We can do better and it's about time we got on with doing just that. That'll do for this rant.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Moments...So Precious!

From Jim: The content of our lives is measured out in brief moments-fleeting and fragile and leaving us with memories that compete with the flurry of everything else that's going on. We, our kind, has a way of letting the moments get by without much notice or fanfare. Sometimes, we even try to hurry through them. We want to move on and leave stuff behind as quickly as possible. We lean way out and stretch ourselves into a future moment at the cost of the one we're in. I'm going to suggest that we give each moment it's due. That we make it a habit of our mind to slow down enough to appreciate the moment we're in and enjoy living-simply being alive. The herd offers us this lesson every day and in many ways. Now I understand, we're not what they are and shouldn't try to be, but they do seem willing to share this planet and this life with us. They prefer peace and quiet, with an occasional rumpus, to angst and fretting. They find a good nap or time with a friend to be just fine. They savor each meal and are very content to celebrate feeding time as a highlight of the day. A pat on the nose or scratch on the neck, or maybe even a carrot or horse cookie-Well, that's really nice! That moment is focused and shared and connected. I've watched them hunt up just the right spot, with just the right splash of sun and the right guard horse and luxuriate in good old doze. You know, hind foot cocked, nose drooped, an occasional nose twitch or ear flick, but really just soaking in the warmth and quiet. The guard horse taking that moment to be a herdmate and try not to sleep on duty. Sometimes, when we're filling water tanks, someone comes for drink of the cold clear water. It's a "thank you" that's hard to miss. Some will even want to play with the hose and frolic a little. That common chore becomes a special and fun and gratifying moment. The point I guess I'm working towards is this, The time we have will be what we make it to be. We can rush through it, worried and stressed, or we can appreciate the unfolding of the events that make up our days. How we choose to go at life is up to us and the frame of mind we opt for when the day starts. Is everything in life pleasant and fun? Of course not, but all of it can be seen as part of our life and appreciated for that. The other side of the lawn isn't all that far away for any of us. Throwing moments away is high-cost practice. Oh, and go love on your critters, Good moments there!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Straw Hat Day...

From Jim: Since forever, I've marked the change of the seasons by which hat I put on. In the Fall and on through Winter, I wear a felt hat. My old Resistol has completed it's fourth year and it shows it. At one time it was black, but it's had enough rain on it to be bleached sort of reddish, brownish black. The creases are really more memories now and the pinch crown is sure enough pinched. Trouble with felt hats is that they develop a kind of personality, maybe even a cult of personality and get hard to replace. I'll stop every now and again and try on hats, but the idea of starting over with a new hat is more than I'm up for right now. Besides, the weather has turned and it's straw hat time. I won't need to think about felt hats for quite a few months and, by then, I wouldn't want to take a new hat out in the rain anyway. Today, I wore my newer straw hat for chores. My old straw hat needs to get tossed in the bailer. The poor thing is just falling apart. I think I'll pull the brim wire out and feed it to the goats. Generally a straw hat'll last about 1 1/2 seasons. It never fails but that you'll have to get a new straw hat around mid-summer, when it's 100 and hot, and the dust wants to stick to everything, but especially that nice ring just outside the sweat band. I've noticed some of the cowboy boutiques offer hats that already have that well used look. They're stained and crimped and frazzled. You have to pay more for that as it's considered stylish. I've not convinced those folks to offer me much for the real thing, thus the goat snack. I like a 4" brim, tall crown with a ranch crease and not too much bend in the front of the brim. It's seems so futile to get a broad brim and then fold it up so the sun leaks in. There's some pretty good straw hats around these days and they're pretty spendy. Makes for future gourmet goaty treats I guess. I've worn Resistol hats since I was a kid. I've a Stetson or two and liked them fine also. The main thing about a good hat is that you come to feel like you need it on in order to leave the house. If you don't, you probably need to hunt for a new one. When you find the right one, don't expect that it will get all the respect an old timer deserves. I cringe when I hear,"You're not wearing that out to dinner tonight". That's why you have to have a "dress hat". But that's for another blog. Hope you loved on your critters today! It's a good thing to do.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chad 2.0...

From Jim: Chad is a buckskin Quarterhorse around 30 years old. Before he came to us, he was a therapy horse. He has worn his teeth to the gums and keeping his weight up is a real issue. He was retired because his back got too sore to continue working. A couple of days ago, he pulled up lame on the left rear-really tender. There was swelling from the hock down to the fetlock. The hoof and leg showed no external wounds. He had apparently wrenched his hock, maybe a slip in the mud or ? He has some arthritis in his legs as any 30 year old does. A twist would hurt a lot. The swelling, a pitting edema, was sinuvial fluid building up in the capsule of the hock joint. We loaded him up and took off to the vet's clinic. Dr. Darling was booked up and, due to a schedule that would have been really difficult to change, it made sense to take Chad in. An examination confirmed the injury. What to do with a 30 year old with worn out teeth and arthritic joints that's torqued a hock? We try to let the animal make the call. If they're done, weary of the battle to go on, off their feed, suffering moment to moment, we offer a final gift of kindness. If the critter makes it clear they're in the fight and not ready to pack it in, we go for treatment and the chance to recover. Chad was all in! He was not about to concede and give up. The good Doc drained the joint, injected steroids and antibiotics, and wrapped the leg for support. We made sure Chad got some pain meds. We're keeping him in the stock trailer. It's clean, dry, and warm. It restricts his movement. He hates it and lets us know what rotten people we are. He'll be there until tomorrow when the wrapping comes off and exercise will help more than hurt. In the meantime, Chad thinks that we're mean this time. Chad may not make another winter. He might not have even without this injury. So why go to all the trouble and effort? Because it's what a sanctuary is all about. Chad's days are precious to him and to us. He wants to live and feel the warm sun and enjoy his feed buckets full of senior sack chow. He wants to be petted and groomed and share time with Juan, his friend. We needed to give the chance to have those things. His days of work are over. These days are his. We want him to have as many of them as he can get. We would never ask him to suffer needlessly. He'll let us know when we're there. Dr. Darling often says, "Short term pain for long term gain". If, for Chad, that long term is just one more summer, well, that's OK. For him, that's all of his time and we value it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Great Expectations: How To Feed in the Mud

From Donna: Now that the rainy season is almost over (I think), there are some words of wisdom I have to share with you about feeding in the mud. First, however, we have to talk about the different types of mud.

There is, of course, the semi-wet, mostly dry stuff that may drop off on the floor, but is easily swept up. You can wear just about any shoe or boot and you can be assured that nothing dire will happen.

There is the mud that gooshes and requires a more substantail type of foot ware. It's kind of fun, because it is so squishy.

Then there is the serious stuff. It comes in two types. There is watery ooze that when you step in it it's OK if your boot is high enough. You can step sink, step sink. No problem unless you want to move quickly or hope to keep your pants dry.

The BAD stuff is gooey, sticky, deep, and devious. One step is OK and then whooosh you are sucked in to your kneecaps and there is no moving forward, unless, of course, you strain too hard and land on your face. Occassionally, the backside hits first, but usually it's a face splat.

Now, here is the advice.

Go out to feed in a good mood. Be ready to laugh at stuff, especially yourself.

Expect to have fun. Do not expect to stay clean.

Expect that every piece of clothing from pants and shirts to socks and underwear will be stained with mud.

Expect that your socks will come off inside your boots, just before you become bogged down and have to step out of your boot and into the mud to get it pulled free.

Expect that when you step off the tractor you will sink to your knees and at that moment the calves will come bouncing up to give you sandpaper kisses.

Expect that when you go to put your knife back in your pocket it will fly from your hand, land under the tractor, and sink into the mud. You think about leaving it but can't remember if it is closed, so you must goosh around, while standing on your head.

Expect that sometimes the tractor will quit and not restart when you are at the farthest point from any turn out and you will have to hand carry all 34 flakes up the muddy hill to the critters.

Expect to slip and slide and get fairly good at navigating slippery rocks. No one gets really good because when one gets too cocky the rock moves and the slipping and sliding becomes a wild arm waving balancing act- usually resulting in a person-mud interaction.

I have found it is best to remember to close your mouth as you head for the mud. I'm not sure of all the nutirents in the mud-manure mixture, but I can tell you it doesn't taste good.

Expect that when you go out after a cloudy day the heavens will open, soaking you to the bone. It will continue to pour until you pull in the drive after feeding everyone. The sun will then peek through.

Expect that the horses, donkeys and mules will expect you to be there rain or shine, mud or dry. Their expectations and trust make all the mud and goo worthwhile.

Things we hear...

From Jim: There are several recurring comments we hear pretty often. The most frequent is "We really like or appreciate what you do". Thanks for that. It's a nice affirmation that we're not viewed as totally demented by everyone. Actually, it's humbling to have our work acknowledged by other caring folks and it does mean a lot to us. We also hear, "I didn't realize there was such a big problem with unwanted horses". That doesn't surprise us. The plight of horses in our modern society is not very well known. Part of our mission is to make this issue more generally understood and to work toward lasting solutions. We share our beliefs about responsible ownership, breeding, and good practices regarding care and training. We have tried to be a resource to the horse community and we've certainly received a warm welcome from many folks. We hear, "How do you afford it? Isn't it really expensive?" We work very hard to raise the necessary money. We are so grateful that folks make donations and support the thrift store. We hear, "I wish I was wealthy and could give more!" All of our gifts are deeply appreciated. When someone donates, no matter what the amount, we know they have made a choice to help the horses and that they've sacrificed something to do that. Wow, that's pretty incredible! We hear, "I hope you're getting help. How do you two do all the work?" Donna and I love what we do. We're getting older, but we're used to physical farm/ranch work. Our days have a structure and pattern we find purposeful and comforting. And, yeh, it gets cold and wet, and hot and sweaty, and dusty and muddy. That's part of the deal. We hear, "Why do you do this?" We say, "Come meet the herd and see if you think they don't deserve to live and be cared for". We hear, "Aren't you angry at the people who have abused these animals?" We want abusers held to answer and restricted from having animals. We prefer to use our energy, our life forces, to care for and love our critters. We think it does them more good to be loved, than to have us spend our efforts being angry. There's a lot we hear. Most of it is music to our ears. We hear from really wonderful people that really "get it". We like that! Take some time to love on your critters. It'll be good for all of you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quincy: A very long road...

From Jim: I know I've told you a number of times that I am constantly learning about the equines that surround us. Sometimes the lessons are small and subtle. Other times, the insights are profound. Quincy was one of the latter. When we got him, he had been through a number of failed adoptions. He had been seized by another county's animal control and placed at another sanctuary. He was the most abused animal we've had. He had been beaten with ropes, chains, boards, wire-you name it. He was covered with scars and sweenies. His hock had been broken from being tripped by a rope and pulled off his feet. As horrible as his physical injuries were, his psychological wounds were far worse. He would shudder and shake when touched. He was in fear ALL OF THE TIME. Quincy is a Quarab-cross of Arabian and Quarterhorse. He inherited a mind that was naturally trusting and quiet. The abuse he was given was a complete betrayal of the careful breeding that gave him a desire to be with our kind. He was shattered. Everyone that had tried to adopt him, gave up because he was unreachable. They had followed the conventional wisdom-round pen, lots of attention, efforts to desensitize him from his fears. Quincy couldn't get across the abyss that had been caused from his horrible abuse. When we took him, we went at it very differently. We put him a herd and let him relearn how to just be a horse. We figured he wouldn't do too well with our kind until he was OK with his own kind. One year, two years, three years passed. I asked only that he put his nose on my outstretched hand. This was always done when he was at liberty. It was his choice alone. No pens, no restraints, no ropes-just Quincy and me. Slowly, he began to stretch his neck toward my hand and eventually made very brief, tentative contact. He would recoil back-eyes wide, head up, ready to wheel and run. We caught him up only for vet care. Put him a stall, sometimes took an hour to quietly get a halter on him. Funny thing was, one haltered, he was a perfect gentleman, even in his state of near panic. That quiet peaceful mind was in there still. Well, the years have passed and Quincy now gets petted regularly, expects it. He catches you and wants attention. He has defeated his demons. He still carries scars, but not as many. His hock is huge and always will be, but it works fine. He can get spooked, but not much more that any other horse. His eyes are soft and gentle. He has a place in the lower herd and many friends. His days are good. He's at peace and in good health. His resilience, and will to get well, his capacity to move on and make a good life, his unwillingness to feel sorry for himself, his loving peaceful ways-There's some lessons! Quincy will live out his life with us. He's home, at last. He has helped make this Home At Last. His lessons to us have helped us deal with other critters. He has enriched our lives. He's a good boy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Navaho, Smoke, and Stoney...

From Jim: I was down in the lower turnout, day before yesterday, to cut some firewood. It really is strange to be cutting firewood in April, but we have a big storm on the way and it's supposed to get colder for a few days. Well, anyway, while I getting the chainsaw and all of the other "wood-cutting" junk ready to go, Navaho (AKA Navvie), Smoke, and Stoney showed up. These boys are Quarterhorses. They are all around 14-2, 1050 lbs, and stout. They've got big round rumps, massive shoulders, and nice thick necks. They are gentle, quiet minded, and kind. Smoke was being trained up as a reining horse. The trainer pushed him too hard, too far, and he was too young. Bowed a tendon, and learned to dislike and mistrust people. He was scared to death. It took about a year of careful, gentle work to get him settled. The bow healed, but left a cosmetic lump on his foreleg. He's sound and peaceful now, but sure needed to get out from under the situation he'd been in. His papers are overwhelmingly good. Three Bars line. It's nice to be able to pet Smoke on the neck and have him doze off. He's a good boy. Stoney came to us really lamed up. His front feet were so sore it was thought he might have some really serious injuries or disease. Turned out he had been run really hard, day after day, on a gravel driveway. The small stones had been driven into the soles of his feet and were completely buried in the tissues. Brian dug seven rocks out of his front hooves with a screw driver and a lot of patience. Some antibiotics and bute carried him along till he could heal. He quickly returned to soundness and hasn't had another problem. Can you figure out how Stoney got his name? Navaho was rescued from a dirt lot. There had been three horses there. Two had starved to death. They were laying there, dead. Only Navvie was left alive. He was a yearling, stunted and poor as a snake. He had no love of people and had never been taught a thing. With a lot of extra care, lots of good food and some supplements, and a patient hand, he overcame his rough start in life. He's a big ole boy now. Got his size and his gentle mind back. He expects that he'll get petted whenever you're around him. So, there's the story of three young, nice horses that were given some pretty bad cards and overcame all of it to be the wonderful Quarterhorses they always knew they were. I guess it would be easy to spend awhile being angry with the ignorant fools that messed them up, but I'd really rather use the time to love on the boys. And, yeh, I got some firewood cut. Not as much as I would have, if the boys had left me alone. I'm sure glad they didn't. It was a nice afternoon.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Store...

From Jim: Home At Last is an expensive proposition. The upkeep of any large animal is costly and we have a bunch of 'em. Thanks to Home At Last Thrift and Gift, it's not as hard as it might be. Folks that shop there are significantly benefiting the the herd. The change that gets dropped in the donation jar adds up too. The items that are donated to be sold play a real part. Altogether, shoppers, donors, contributors, and volunteers are making a difference. At the sanctuary, we're pretty focused on what we do. It's easy for us to forget all of the efforts that are going on. The day-in and day-out energy that is given to keep this special place going is amazing. Everytime we visit the store, we're so impressed with the enterprise that bears the sanctuary's name. If you haven't stopped by, even for a look, I hope you will. The folks that work and volunteer there are wonderful and really nice. If you have some "stuff" to donate, take a few minutes to drop it by. And, you never know when you'll find a real treasure as you review the offerings. It's been pretty overwhelming to have such a significant commitment from so many great people for the support of the critters. I hope you know how much we appreciate it. Without the efforts of so many, our herd wouldn't have a home at all. Now, they are home, at last! Thanks!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Oh Happy Days!...

From Jim: Easter! Spring! Renewal! The Spring is my favorite season. I love the soft colors and the new life that's all around. It's the time to cut hay and put it up. It's when the chickens get serious about hatching some new peeps. It's the tail end of the cold, but not blazing hot. There's a promise of another year in the air. Here, we often lose a number of our seniors in the Spring. They hang on through the winter and come to their end when the weather is better. We've come to expect it and I will never like that reality. The Spring is when our last gift of kindness gets asked for the most. We're blessed to be able to be here for our great residents when their time comes. The cycles come full circle. It's also what Spring means for us. The beginnings and endings touch edges as they should. We are a part of that. There's a very spiritual aspect to these Spring moments. Many feel that there's not much to support a spiritual part of the living experience. All of us living things are simply biological computers, supported in biological body. And that's it. I'm not able to agree. Without something more, much more, life would be a painting without color. The sharing of time and connections with living things are so much more than simple computations and stimulus/response behaviors. There is a part of us and all critters that transcends that. The Spring seems to make me especially aware of this, and that's another reason I love this season. We bumble along, getting through the days, and taking so very much for granted. The times when we appreciate the wonderful gift of life and a life well lived are truly special and profound. Why we are so blessed, I'll never know. It bends my knees in humility and gratefulness. I wish a wonderful Spring for all of you. Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Toby: Mule, Gardener, Escape Artist...

From Jim: This morning found Toby in the front yard, selectively destroying all of the emerging plants. His sense of landscaping is pretty much limited to eating it. He's been asking to be let our in the front with Juan and Chad for the past few days and finally took matters into his own hooves. We love our Toby boy. He's a Kiger mule and strikingly beautiful. His primitive markings are truly outstanding. He's also full of personality. When he arrived he was a wildy mule-never had been taught anything. He came with Tango and Tawney. They're curly mules. All three had been rescued after being abandoned and left to fend on their own. Because of their lack of training, they were deemed unadoptable. Toby decided, in his best mule-like way, that if no one would train him, he'd do it himself. He found a way through the fence and in with the Backyard Bunch. He let it be known that the mule was open for business and in need of lots of pets and attention. His level of trust was a real surprise! He's a young guy and still has a lot to learn, but there's no doubt that he's willing and gentle of mind and spirit. I think that's from the Kiger side of the equation. One of the joys of the sanctuary is the opportunities that critters like Toby offer. This little mule has fulfilled his need to be a pet by his own determination and through his own efforts. Where that need to be with our kind comes from I'll never know or understand, but I sure enjoy it. Toby may wreak havoc with the yard and show no respect for the fences, but he lets us know that he loves us and that he's home. That's more than enough. We really do love our Toby boy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Always look your horse in the mouth...

From Jim: That old saying of not looking a gift horse in the mouth has to do with aging a horse by it's dental development. It's pretty accurate if you know what you're looking for up to about 20 or so. After that, the markers you look for are pretty much gone or amorphous and the guessing game gets sort of vague. That's not what this blog is about. This is about making sure your horse's teeth are able to do their very important work so that the animal can stay healthy and flourish. Used to be that the grit that was part of the grazing/eating process ground the chewing surfaces down and usually kept sharpies and points from developing. Also, horses didn't have the kind of care they get now and didn't live as long. They were usually still erupting teeth when their time came. We now see horses that have worn their teeth to gum and can only get by on sack feed. These guys are late 20's or older-sometimes a lot older. Genetics plays a role here. Some horses get really good teeth. Breeds like Arabians and Barbs will generally have good teeth. Same with some of the older Quarterhorse lines. Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods, not so much. There are, of course, individuals of all breeds that win the tooth lottery or get the booby prize. That's why you have to look at their teeth-often. They will fall off their weight pretty quickly if their arcades are sharp and causing cheek abscesses. Sometimes their occlusion is just out of shape and they can't grind roughage properly. A good float by a vet will always cost a lot less than the wasted food and health issues that bad teeth will create. Points and hooks and waves and the occasional abscessed or fractured tooth all need to be addressed by a Pro. This is not a good do-it-yourself project. Way back in the day, when I was an apprentice farrier, we did the floats, rasped by hand, used a rubber jaw block and a lip twitch to get the advantage over the critter, rasped away till the hooks were flat and called it good. Wolf teeth were clipped off with the hoof nippers. That's how it was back then. It was hard on horses, hard on us, and, though it helped, it was nothing compared to what a trained vet can do now. I guess knowing the difference makes me especially sensitive to why it's so important to get it right. Forty some odd years has seen some real improvements in the care of equines. I'm sure glad for that. I suppose the critters are too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rico and General at the Rainbow Bridge...

From Jim: Today Rico and General got their wings. They were good horses. Rico was a Thoroughbred, tall and graceful. He had a wonderful personality, a great sense of humor, a true charmer. He had been placed at Home At Last by a loving owner that wanted him to have a safe and secure retirement. His performance days had ended and he needed to just be a horse. He was in the upper herd. His best friend was Pedro, another T-bred. They were quite a pair. Rico was fairly young, early teens. About two months ago, he began to lose weight and started looking poor. We had the vet check him out. His teeth were OK and his blood showed only one abnormality-one generally associated with starvation. Rico was eating regularly, but we stalled him and poured the feed to him. His appetite was good, he ate well, and he continued to fail. He had a lump on his forehead, not a traumatic injury. It was a tumor. Rico had a very aggressive sarcomic cancer(Dr. Darling says it very rare). There was no treatment or hope of a cure. The mass doubled in size in a week. Rico lost more weight in that week than full starvation would have caused. We gave him the last kindness we could. It's really hard to see these great beasts suffer and fade. Better to provide them a peaceful and pain free end. General was a rodeo horse. He was too old to work and was in a pasture with his friend, Harley. A dear friend of Home At Last had the two boys moved here for their retirement. Harley is younger and he'll have some more time with us. General had reached that stage in the equine life cycle where he could no longer absorb nutrition. He was eating well and starving to death. We've seen this so many times with our very senior critters. It was time for General to rest and no longer grow weaker each day. We are so grateful that he had the time with us. He was a good boy. I often say that these animals are the very best they know how to be each and every day. If they could be better, they'd do it. I believe that. We face hard decisions about our friends so often here. We have a sad place in our hearts when the time comes to see them off. It's such a privilege to get to know them and have them be a part of our lives. Fair winds Rico and General! See you in a better place.

A Sustaining Effort...

From Jim: The sanctuary has had a month and a half of really nice support. Since our local paper wrote an article about Home At Last, donations have just about covered the feed bill. The thrift store has been contributing toward the vet bills. We're still having to dig into our our declining retirement account, but not as much as in the past. That means the herd is able to be sustained. That means they have a lifeline. We sure have appreciated it. There's a constant and unending need for support. The animals' needs don't go away or diminish or "get paid off". They are linked to their lives. We're not a rescue/rehab/rehome operation. Our critters, for one reason or another, are not adoptable. They're also not ready to die. They just need a place to live and be cared for. Around here, everyday of life is a good day. The future needs to be accounted for in our thinking, but can be a little much if pondered all of the time. I suppose you could say faith has a lot to do with our outlook. We trust that our supporters will hang in there with us and their numbers will grow to meet the needs of the sanctuary. The scale of our efforts is pretty much fixed by what Donna and I can do in a day. Seventy to eighty critters seems to be the limit. There's certainly many more unwanted horses, but we have to focus on the herd we have before us. We have to sustain them with your help. We are getting on towards 70 now. The years have slipped on by. We still enjoy everyday and the work that fills them. We also recognize that we won't go on forever. We have and will plan for the security of our critters. Their future mustn't be dependent on us alone. Home At Last is a small partial solution to a huge problem. The need to provide for unwanted animals of all sizes is nothing new, but it sure is hard on the critters when we, as a society, don't pay attention to it. We hope others will be inspired to adopt and foster rescue animals. We are humbled by the great folks we've met that are working so hard and making sacrifices to help our fellow creatures. We share this world with them and they share it with us. We sustain them and they sustain us. What kind of world would it be without them? What claim to humanity would we have if we ignore the life around us? Thanks for your sustaining effort. Thanks for your humanity.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A few minutes with Cal...

From Jim: Every so often someone asks us why we do what we do. Why have you "dedicated" your life to taking care of horses? The answer to that is not some grand and noble calling that will earn us a place in the "goodie-two-shoes" hall of fame. It's because of times like the few minutes I had with Cal this morning. Cal came to us by way of Butte County Animal Control. He had been darn near starved to death. When he arrived at the sanctuary, we were cautioned that he was a wild boy, hard to catch and pretty high strung. He had been at the AC facility long enough to have most of his weight back on, but was sure in need of some kind hands-on attention. That was a while back. Cal is a big love now. Comes when called and expects a pet on his ears. He has a lot of friends in the Backyard Bunch, mostly hangs with the other Arabians. He was sunbathing by the fence this morning after feeding time. I went and stood across the fence from him. When he stirred awake, he leaned in for a pet. I advised him he would have to "come close" and, like always, he stepped forward. A gentle nose bump on my extended hand completed the greeting and it was on to some serious ear scratching and T-touches on his neck. Often, Cal will close his eyes and soak up the attention. Today, he needed good solid eye contact. He needed me to softly praise him and let him know what a really good boy he is. He needed to share his peace and happiness with me. So, why do we do what we do? I guess you could ask Cal. He knows. Life gets by pretty quickly. Time passes, no matter what you're up to. The sanctuary is a place where time is filled with precious irreplaceable moments with great souls, like Cal's. I'm pretty sure he, or one of his herd mates, would share with you too. It'll clear up any questions about Why.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


From Jim: We feed 14 bales of hay a day. Each bale runs about 135 lbs. We feed twice a day, morning and late afternoon. There is always hay laying on the ground when we go out to feed. That's good. Means we're giving everyone enough. There's all manner of formulae and ratios for the correct amount of feed. Experience tells us, feed till they won't/can't clean it all up. After awhile, there's surprisingly little waste. The other big issue we pay real attention to at feeding time is how's everyone doing. Some of our older guys need to be in a pretty non-aggressive bunch or they get driven off the feed. It's a cruel reality that occurs with herd animals. In a natural setting, it helps to insure the survival of the herd. At our place, and for domesticated critters, it's not at all necessary. We are responsible for the survival of the herd, not Darwinian nature. The behavior is hard wired into the DNA of equines, and it has to be managed. Feeding time is also a time to check on our "watch-list" critters. We always have some that are at or nearing the end of their life cycle and we want to insure that their passing is peaceful and kind. There's also time to pet an old friend and share a quiet moment or two with our animals. Sometimes we have a few minutes to work on trust building and overcoming an abused animial's fear. It's really important to see these guys frequently and regularly. The work is constant and not subject to being called 0ff on account of weather. The logistics of having sufficient quantities of good quality food never end. We need to have backup plans for the times when a machine won't start or there's a flat tire or.... The point is, feeding time regulates our days. We plan everything around those hours when the herd will get fed. We have a few trained volunteers who have taken the time to learn the feeding routine. We try to not take advantage of these good folks unless we really have to. Illness? Sore Back? Conflict in Schedule? Well, those things and any others just don't get to be in the way. It's the way of it. Our critters know we'll be there when feeding time comes around. So do we.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sweet Sunshine & Good Neighbors...

From Jim: Boy Howdy! Two days of sunSHINE! It may not have dried up all the mud, but it brightened me up a bunch. There are critters taking naps all over the place. They are basking in the warm sun and dozing the day away. The cleanup work will start around the end of the week, when the tractor has half a chance. Probably ask Larry for a day or two of operator time. Our neighbor Don, will limber up his big backhoe and dig a SIGNIFICANT drainage around the upper barn. The dirt will be used to fill in pads for a few new horse shelters to be built this spring. We're also looking to re-route the driveway for a lot less slope and flatter ground for the gate. Don will do in a day what I would need a month for. Steve will be around when the weather gets better. He had some knee surgery and the wet ground was not what he needed while he healed up. His tracklayer will make pretty quick work of cutting the roads back to grade. We have a nice concrete pad near the front turnout. I finally have the materials to build Dr. Darling the clinic I've promised him. I'll round up Jim H. and Jess to help frame that up. Linda wants her wedding to be there, so we'll leave the siding off and she can have a covered, but open venue for her vows. Brian will be here this weekend to celebrate his and Donna's birthdays. I think they're having Brian's Samoan BBQ chicken on that day. It's a real treat with a super sacred double secret recipe only known to Samoans and those they trust. Brian's one of the latter. Since Donna and I are vegetarians, the recipe will not be sought by us. We will, of course, apologize to the resident chickens, who are also not Samoan. I expect they'll get the bones though. They are not vegetarians either. Margaret will join us. She's anxious to meet Linda's son-in-law, who is also a Brit. Margaret is a vegetarian and not Samoan. She is a Brit, however. We always send a few of our horses to Margaret's for the summer. At 85, her daughters don't want her feeding during the winter anymore. On the other hand, she can't stand to look at her empty pastures. I think she'll have Stuart and Skittles for summer camp this year. So, it's a time for some sunshine and for the friends and neighbors that have blessed the sanctuary with their kindnesses and good hearts. Man! I really needed a few days to enjoy the bright skies and warm days. Too soon, It'll be hotter than a cheap pistol and I can whine about that. But, today, well, today is just a whole lot better than OK.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Storm Damage...

From Jim: We've had some pretty nasty weather here lately. Winds over 50 mph and rain in heavy sheets-real downpours. After awhile, it takes a toll. The upper barn, including the tack room and feed room, is completely flooded. Water runs in the back door and out the front. There's about 4 or 5 inches of standing water in the inside stalls. It will take some work to get that straightened out. The T-posts have sagged and tipped on some of the fencing. The ground is saturated to more than 18 inches deep. The roads have started looking like drainage ditches. We live in the Feather River canyon, near Lake Oroville. The canyon funnels and concentrates the storm clouds and highway 70 drains 10's of thousands of gallons of water down our driveway. It makes for flood potential, and we got it this March. We needed the rain and the summer and next fall will be better for having had it, but right now it's a mess. I'll need to apologize to the tractor for what's coming as the clean-up gets underway. I'm pretty sure the sanctuary will be closed to visitors for the next few months while we get repairs taken care of. Some of our young volunteers will have a very limited experience until I can make certain that they will be safe during their visits. This is not the first time we've had flood damage, but it might the worst we've had. One of the frustrating things about it is that you really can't get to work until the rains slow down and the ground firms up a little. The tractor can't do much with liquid dirt. Eating soup with a fork comes to mind. Anyway, give us a thought as spring develops. We'll be digging out and fixing stuff.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stuart and Skittles...

From Jim: Stuart and Skittles are best friends. That's really nice, because they both had been loners for quite awhile, before pairing up. Stuart is a Kiger Mustang. Red Dun, primitive markings, absolutely beautiful. When we got him, he had been road foundered and his sheath was so filthy he was having issues urinating. He was also a couple of hundred pounds underweight. The poor guy was really hurting. It took about a year to sort him out, but he's just fine now. Recently had his teeth floated. At 12 or so, that's not unusual. Kigers (we've had 4 of em) are some of the sweetest critters you would ever find. They're like the best of the best Quarterhorse minds. Really peaceful, really gentle, really friendly. We like this breed a lot. We're down to 2. Our first Kiger, Sweet, passed away quite a few years ago. We just lost Tiger Lily a couple of weeks back. That leaves Stuart and Rosie. Kigers seem to live to be in their early 20's and then they're done. Rosie is getting on in years now. Great mare. Skittles is a little Quarterhorse. She was a barrel racer and, true to her breed, a real sweety. She was surrendered to retirement to make sure she had a good safe home. Tawnee put her with us. She knows our policy of lifetime sanctuary and the standard of care we provide. It's sure been nice to work with Jason and Tawnee. Well, anyway, Skittles was doing OK, but she was mostly just off by herself. Stuart, the same. Then, one day, they were by themselves, but in the same corner. The rest is history. They stall together, eat together, nap together, and hang out together. They are inseparable. When we had their teeth done, Skittles was first. As she came out of sedation, and we returned her to the turnout, Stuart was "at the dentist". Skittles let us know that this was not OK and didn't settle down until her Stuart was back at her side. These two are in the upper herd, so she wasn't actually alone, but she wasn't with her BFF. They likely would text that, but hooves don't mix with keyboards. Naw! But a horse with a cell phone is a funny thought, maybe they'd use a bluetooth. In California, they'd probably make it illegal to text or talk while being an equine. Enough silliness. Stuart and Skittles are examples of what Home At Last is all about. We want the animals that live here to be happy, not just survive. To be sure, most wouldn't have made it, if we weren't here, but keeping body and soul together is not enough to truly give sanctuary. Sanctuary is a state of being. It is peace and love and security. It sure is nice the critters like Stuart and Skittles will share that with us. Makes our life so much richer. Equines are social in nature. They need to be with their own kind and have the emotional fulfillment of bonding with another. We like that.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Gifts and Memories...

From Jim: The sanctuary has received several wonderful donations from folks lately. They came from people who wanted to note a friend's birthday or mark the passing of a loved one or friend that had loved horses. Their gift was about what someone they had known would have done or had requested in lieu of a present. The herd will benefit from that kindness and we hope our benefactors do too. The good feeling of doing something so kind should be celebrated. We are humbled to be able to be a part of that. So many of our critters were mistreated and abused and neglected by our kind and, now, are cared for and supported by great folks. That's a balancing of the equation that's worth noting. Probably sounds a little silly, but I think our resident animals have a sense that they are in a special place and loved by a lot of special people. They know peace and security and gentleness. They are well fed and with their friends. Because we are remembered, the herd will continue to have all of that. That means more than my poor ability to write can say. THANK YOU!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Frankie and Brandy...

From Jim: Frankie is a big ole Warmblood-Oldenberg-17-2, white and a real character. When his loving owner retired him here at a pretty young age he had ruptured a stifle and the repair surgery had saved his life, but ended his working days. More than that, he had a tumor on his neck which was growing aggressively and putting pressure on the carotid artery and jugular vein, right side. He was beginning to show the signs of diminished blood flow to his brain. Dr. Darling opted for surgery to remove the mass. Well, it turned out there were two tumors. One was the size of my fist, the other a little smaller but involving some lymph nodes. They were melanomas. They don't internalize very often in equines, but they had with Frankie. After several hours of extremely complex surgery, the tumors were out. I've never seen finer surgical work in my life. Frankie has no recurrence and is healthy as can be. Brandy is a Quarab-one of those Arabian/Quarterhorse crosses. The Quarterhorse side had a lot of Thoroughbred. She's tall-16-1 or so. She's a beautiful liver bay. She had been trained up as a reining horse and was on the way to some championships when her hock became arthritic. Her competitive career was over, but she became a wonderful saddle horse. Brian loves her a bunch. She has always been a loner. Due in part, I'm sure, to being stalled alone during her reining days. Well, on the sanctuary, there are no barn queens. We had her in with the lower herd, but they're a pretty spirited group and Brandy was somewhat overwhelmed. She lost some weight as her teeth had gotten sharp and needed a float. After her dental work, we stalled her for awhile to get her some extra sack feed and hay. She put her weight back on and when we turned her out, it was with the Backyard Bunch. She and Frankie have become really close friends. First time we've ever seen Brandy show so much affection for another critter. We like that. They're about the same age and make a very pretty couple-tall and stately. The way of these animals is always an interesting study. They are such unique, special individuals with personalities that give them very definite identities. So, Frankie and Brandy have found one another. Very Nice!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mud Puppies & Mud Ponies...

From Jim: The dogs have taken it upon themselves to bring the outside inside. They are able to carry several hundred cubic yards of mud on each foot and track it around the house to a depth of several feet. Ok, that's an exaggeration, but not by much. OK, by a lot. Anyway the house has a lot of dog tracks. The dogs have also found some delightful substances to roll in. Doggie cologne like eau de cow poo, eau de dead thing, and, eau de "I don't want to know". They feel rubbing on us, to share the moment, is the least they can do. The dogs are not building up a storehouse of goodwill. The horses, donkeys, and mules are really tired of the rain, wind, and mud. They are cranky. They are posted on the high ground, trying to stay out of the muck. When ever an opportunity presents itself, they lay down for a nap. The greys and whites in the herd are truly something to behold. We have a least another week of this weather coming. The few breaks have not been enough to drain off the excess water, so the mud remains and grows gooeyer (gooier?) and nastier (nastyer?) Spelling notwithstanding, it's a mess. Donna has made a real effort to keep the house cleaned up. I would have given up and adjusted to living in an indoor bog. Knee high rubber slippers would be OK with me. The next few months will degrade into heat and flies. My rational side knows this. My current mindset says, "So what? This is a no way to live". Donna asked me if I was depressed. Me? No way, I'm as happy as a pig in slop. I have to try and remain patient until the afternoon feeding, when I can, again, enjoy the beauty of nature. Uh Huh.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bucky gets petted...

From Jim: This morning Juan asked to be let back in with the Backyard Bunch. He was missing his friends, which include Bucky. Bucky has very malformed front feet, but gets around just fine. He has had no love of people, considers all of us to be pony-getters. As I waited for Donna to bring the tractor up to the gate from the stable, Juan requested a thorough petting. Bucky was near by, hanging out with his friend. I asked if he wanted petted too. Sure enough, he leaned in for a scratch or two. Soon, he was getting petted all over along with Juan. The trust that Juan showed, along with his loving ways, must have inspired Bucky. Anyway, that's what I'd like to think. Bucky was quite happy to be loved on and, I think, a little surprised that the "pony-getter" could be a friend. It's taken a couple of years for this to happen. These guys really do move at their own pace when it comes to overcoming their fear and mistrust. We think that's OK. It's one of the things I really like about the sanctuary. There's no preconceived timetable, just days and weeks and months and years for us, and no calender for the critters. Bucky got petted today. That's a good thing. We both enjoyed it. Hope you'll go love on your critters too!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Soon, a Good bye to Babe and Moon...

From Jim: There's no more putting off the inevitable for some of our very senior critters. They are no longer able to hold their weight and there's nothing left to do for them. Their teeth, what's left of them, have been floated. They have feed in front of them almost all of the time. They just don't have the metabolic processes left to flourish. We can only offer them the last act of kindness, a peaceful and painless end. The reality of this is so darned hard. We've learned that denial and procrastination are cruel illusions. The animals will hang in there, in a constant state of deterioration, until they're too weak to stand. That's not OK. Starvation is painful. Part of the aging process for equines is the loss of their digestive tract's ability to absorb food. They're not all that efficient anyway. A healthy horse will only absorb about 15% of the nutrition in their forage. That's one reason horse manure is such great fertilizer. By the time they've reached the stage Moon and Babe are in, they probably are down to 4 or 5%. It's just not enough to meet their body's needs. They starve. It's horrible. We can't fix it. We hate that. Babe is Pony of America. She's been a wonderful saddle horse for kids. Not a mean bone or bad habit in her. She's a sweet and loving pet. Moon is an ancient Appie. She's lost one eye to euveitis and the remaining eye is none too great. Like Babe, she is not able to hold her weight. Moon is a lover. Likes to be petted and have her sweet head held against your chest. Like our other critters at the sanctuary, Moon has become a beloved pet. Now, her time is here. Dr. Darling will help us with the final assessment. We've had seniors on a watch list for some time now and these are not surprises There will be those last few quiet moments to say Good Bye.
I think it's important to note their passing. These animals have been the very best they know how to be all of their lives. They ended up here because they were thrown away. They deserve to be remembered for how truly wonderful they've been. Our herd, for us, is about individuals. It's about their willingness to accept our kind. It's about celebrating the days of their lives and the joys they've brought to ours. Soon now, Good Bye Moon. Good Bye Babe. See you at the Rainbow Bridge!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Salt and Batteries

From Jim: It just never fails that when we buy a bunch of 50 lb blocks of salt, it rains, melts some off the blocks and the rest sink in the mud. Besides being heavy, and clumsy to handle, salt blocks never last very long. We generally buy them 20 or 30 blocks at a time. This last time, it rained before I could get the dang things out of the truck. The bed is now stained a nice ugly trace mineral red with melted salt. The metal's gonna love that! It'll be time to get more salt pretty soon. It's always nearly time to get more salt. Same with batteries. I find them to be heavy and clumsy also. They don't last and when it rains, they tend to go flat and I have to jump start the tractor. Our tractor works every day, but not for more than a couple of hours. The alternator is tiny. Looks like a miniature. I suppose if you ran the tractor 12 or 15 hours a day, it might get the battery charged up, but for what we do, it's not enough. So, without a boost from the battery charger every so often, the tractor won't start. It usually chooses not the start after it's loaded with hay and in an awkward spot to reach for a jump. There's generally a quagmire of mud to wade around in. It'll be time to buy another battery pretty soon. Same with the GMC diesel. It has two big ole batteries. They're getting old, so's the truck. If I happen to let it sit for a couple of weeks, starting is no dice. This usually occurs during the rain, when the trailer is hooked up, and there's mud to wade around in. And, of course, when it's raining, I can't run a cord out to the truck and hook up the charger-Perfect. I'm thinking in a civilized world, salt and batteries would be a crime. You know, you're going along, minding your own business, getting on with your chores, and then there's this salt and battery thing facing you. It's just not right. That's pretty much all I have to say about it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Juan and Chad, out and about...

From Jim: The "formal" gardens of the sanctuary, known commonly as the overgrown front yard, are being groomed and trimmed by Juan and Chad. We are very careful not to plant anything toxic to equines.These two old guys have been asking for the opportunity to be allowed to do this task for awhile now. It means that going out any door may now find a mule or horse waiting for you. They are ever hopeful of a handout of a carrot or some sack feed. It's pretty hard to resist them. Both are quite old now and may be at their last spring/summer. It would be hard to imagine two sweeter animals-kind and gentle and peaceful. They do not have advanced degrees in botanical studies however, and, if it grows, it can certainly be chewed on. The "keeper" plants are taking their lumps. That said, seeing these two really enjoying themselves is worth the price to the foliage. Chad's old teeth are worn to the gum and he cuds his forage and drops it out of his mouth. Been that way for some time, and sack feed is where he gets his nutrition. Still, being an equine, he loves to graze and we think he should have that pleasure. Juan, with his hybrid mule teeth, still has fairly effective arcades and trades off between grazing and dozing. He is a wonderful mule. As I've told you before, he is one of our sanctuary's ambassadors and greeters. You really wonder if Juan ever did anything wrong in his whole life. What a boy! Chad had been a therapy horse. He helped our kind until his back gave out. One of the great folks that knew of Chad retired him here and takes care of his sponsorship. We think that's terrific. Wish every therapy horse from every program could be assured a proper retirement. They sure deserve it. We're at the end of the month and at the end of funds that were donated as a result of the nice newspaper article. Enough donations were made to just about cover the feed bill for March. We're hoping and praying that the support continues. For everyone that has pitched in-THANK YOU! We are so very appreciative and the animals receive every penny. They surely deserve it. Well, it's about time to get ready to feed. I'll give Chad and Juan a pat on the nose for you!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Getting on with it...

From Jim: Yesterday was another day to say goodbye to dear pets that had reached the end of their life. We were blessed to get to know them and share in their days. Maggie and Tiger Lily passed quietly and peacefully. They deserved that. Today, we'll haul in some more hay in preparation for a week of rain. Better to haul hay on dry roads and have time to tarp up before the storms. We will see more of our very old members off this spring. We have 6 to 10 that are in their late 20's and 30's. For most breeds, that's a full lifespan. Thank goodness for our vet, Dr. Darling. His wise and caring advice makes it easier for us to make the best choices for our friends. We'll try to get water pumped today. Get the laundry done and the dishes washed. Maybe get the floors cleaned up for a few hours. Around here, keeping the floors clean is a fool's task. Our little ranch house has all laminate floors. Carpeting would have been silly. We try to drop wet and muddy coats and boots in the breezeway. The dogs are stopped and paws are wiped off, except when they're not, and the whole place gets tracked up. The woodstove will get fired up and stay that way for awhile. We're about out of firewood for this year. The late winter weather was not planned for. I'll need to cut some more pretty soon. We have a bunch of down wood, so it's not really a problem-just need to do it. I'm looking forward to straw hats and leather boots. Felt hats and rubber boots need to be put up and the seasons need to change. It'll be time to check out the first hay cutting and service the trucks and trailers. There's a lot of building to do and fences to fix. The roads are a disaster and will need graded. We'll need to get on with it. Life does go on and is for the living. The sanctuary will continue to provide the safe haven for the critters and for us. The hard days will become softer memories and the pangs of loss will lessen. Getting on with it is the best medicine. The tempo and rhythm of the days doesn't leave much time to mope and that's good. Well, I guess I better get to work.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Saying Good Bye...

From Jim: The vet is coming today. We'll have three horses' teeth floated. We will also euthanize Maggie and Tiger Lily. It is incredibly hard for us. Maggie was a feral mini-mule we rescued out of Berry Creek. She's way old now-45 or so. We had her for 5 years. She never overcame her fear/dislike of people but she was happy here and had her equine friends. We admired her toughness and spirit. Tiger Lily is a very old Kiger Mustang. She had lost an eye in an accident and was going to be shot as she was deemed to be worthless. She has been a sweet wonderful mare, as her kind tend to be. She's now unable to hold her weight and her suspensory ligaments are failing, down at the fetlocks. It's their time. We know it. We hate it. The sanctuary is absolutely dedicated to the issue of quality of life. We're here for the animals, not for us. That's a tough proposition some days. We feel that to truly offer a full quality of life to each animal, they must be loved and cared for as the pets they are. Their days need the security and attention that brings them peace. They need the standard of care they would have at any loving home. That means we make an emotional investment in each of them. We know them and their loss really hurts. There will be tears today. It's fitting that we cry, because it's a way to say how wonderful they were. Their souls have touched ours. We'll say goodbye and they will have the last gift of kindness we can give them. Dr. Darling will share our sadness. He's a very kind man. Today will be hard. There will be more hard days ahead. It's what we do.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living Off-grid in the middle of a herd...

From Jim: Home At Last is a stand-alone off-grid ranch. We use the sun and wind to make power. Our computer uses an air-link and our phones are cellular. There aren't any wires coming onto the ranch. We have two solar arrays. The main array provides electricity for the house, barn, and two of the wells. The secondary array powers up the lower well, which provides our domestic water. There is a fair amount of management and maintenance to keep the systems working properly. On the days when wind and sun fail us, we use a back-up diesel generator. This doesn't happen very often and we usually use about 5 gallons of diesel a year. We chose to be off-grid because it seemed like a really good thing to do. It doesn't use up fuel or produce any pollution. It's fun to show students what's possible without any "new" technology" required. It fits our notion of stewardship for the land and it's creatures. Which brings us to the herd. We live, literally, surrounded by animals. There's a view of critters from every window in the house. Whenever you're outside, you'll have an animal near you or with you. The sanctuary belongs to them. We share it with them or, maybe, they share it with us. Anyway, our lifestyle is different from most folks. We never have to wonder what to do with our days and the work never ends. Having a purpose and passion for what your days are filled with is pretty important to a happy life. Living what you believe in is a true test of your convictions. Too often, we've heard complaints about the anonymous "They". "They" should do this and stop doing that. "They" should pass a law or repeal a law or tax or not tax. Pogo said, "We've met the enemy and it's us"! I hope you will find something that makes your life full and rewarding. I promise you, it won't be about you. To serve a cause beyond yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself. So, we're off-grid, in the middle of a herd. We like that!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Packy and Banjo...A pair to draw to...

From Jim: I know I've mentioned the unlikely friendship between Packy and Banjo before. It's so interesting that I think it's worth a little essay. Old Packy is a retired rodeo roping horse. He's out of the Packman line and, like all of his line, he's huge. He's all of 1200 pounds, bay with a nice wide blaze and white socks, a right proper Quarterhorse. He knows his business and can turn and take off with the best of 'em. His mind is peaceful and quiet. I love him a lot. Really glad he's here for a good retirement. Banjo is a two, near on three, Angus/Jersey cross young steer. He was rescued from the dairy industry as a "dropped or bummer" calf. We got him when he was 2 days old. He was a bottle baby and treated like the pet he is. Now, at 1000 pounds he is a lot of pet. We had him polled along with Julian when their horns were budding up. He's been loved and petted and handled, but never trained. He's not halter broke, he's "bucket" broke. We're pretty careful around the "calves" now. They're big and quick and cows. They kind of "bull-doze" their way around. Banjo is not as visity as Julian, but still expects a pet and a gentle hand. Well, since the great break out, Banjo has attached himself to Packy. Where Packy eats, there stands Banjo, head down, sharing and looking lovingly at Packy. Packy pins his ears, tosses his head, occasionally runs Banjo off, but to no avail. Banjo is Packy's friend. Packy is learning to live with it. Why a calf/steer would pick an old roping horse for a pal is beyond me. There are plenty of others critters to choose from. There's something about the friendships that animals make which tells us a little more about who they are. They so obviously think and feel and remember. They make choices that are more than just chance. There's a mind in there. I never planned on having steers for pets. I figured they'd outgrow their welcome as they matured and weren't "cute" anymore. Well, they're still cute. They're smart and have real personalities. They're pets and they know it. And, Packy is Banjo's friend. It's just that way.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The "Bovine" Spring!

From Jim: Our calves, Julian and Banjo, both at around 1000 pounds now, have been tuning in on the "revolutions" of the mid-east. They're all in! No more strong armed tyrannical dictatorial husbandry for them. Oh No! Now is the time for "Bucolic Democracy"! Power to the Cattle! Well, at least, they've discovered that the heavy rains have disabled the electric fence and the world is at their feet. Or maybe, just the backyard. Anyway, they're out in the with the backyard bunch. If you'll recall, they had joined into the "occupy" movement and I think they are just natural born followers, just herd-like in their behaviors. I'm pretty sure they will continue their revolt until I fix the fence sometime next week. So for now, they are content to be a part of the Backyard Bunch. One of things that's really amusing about this is that Packy, an old rodeo horse, is also part of the herd. The grudging arrangement they have made is fun to watch. Banjo seems to really prefer eating with Packy. Packy? Not so much. As he pins his ears and moves away, Banjo softly lows and follows-ears all perked up. They are quite a pair. Julian finds all of that confusing and is just happy to vacuum up as much hay as possible. When he loses track of Banjo, the bellowing begins. The calves are still the pets they have always been. They're just really big and really quick and really strong now. A bucket of sweet mix is the best way to move them around, but you sure have to stay out of their way. Funny boys, these two. Banjo and Julian, my lesson to Donna about how dumb and miserable cattle are. I did not win this one. I seldom win any of em. The spirit of democracy and liberation is alive and in the good care of Banjo and Julian!

Friday, March 16, 2012

From Donna: Yesterday my goal was to put away Gracie, Maggie and Sugar. Dressed in my fanciest over sized muck boots, sweatshirt and rain jacket. No hat. Didn't want anything to get in my way when the great round-up started. Took Gracie's fancy teeny tiny halter and lead rope, plus another bucket of grain, and out I went ready for a chase. Well, Gracie said "What's in the bucket? And how about if we go in the barn?" Too easy. Then came Maggie. It's been at least 6 years since we had a halter on her. Took the bucket, set it next to the other bucket, put a rope around her neck and put the halter on. Whoa!! Wait a minute! This is far too easy. Sugar didn't like the fact that her friends were leaving her so she trotted behind Maggie and into the barn. Less than 15 minutes and they were snuggly and warm with lots of extra food. Maggie even let me pet her. What have I been missing?

I was sweaty and hot, coughing like a fool, but the round-up was over. Maggie is very, very thin, but she gets a week of extra special attention before Dr Darling comes for an evaluation.

A cold front is moving in with low snow levels expected, and bolstered by my mini round-up today I am going to put some of the other oldies in the barn to weather out the storm.

Jim says my mind is random abstract ( actually he says random abscess) so here I go. Weather reminded me of wethers. Do you know why a leading event is called a bell-wether event? Neutered male goats are wethers and in days of old a bell was put around the neck of the goat who lead the herd. A bell wether. Oh well.

Jim says he is going to put a snorkel on the tractor because the mud is so deep that soon he will be driving underneath it. No complaints here. I still like mud better than flies. That was yesterday's leading debate. Which is worst- mud or flies. Flies, I say, flies. Even if last night when we made a quick visit to the lower barn and my boot failed to follow, resulting in one gooey, muddy sock.

Had tea with friend Margaret yesterday. Why is a cup of tea with an English lady so much tastier? We watched the birds enjoy (make that destroy) her emerging garden. She has so many lovely plants and the birds eat every one of them. We just live across the highway from one another, but our bird populations are different. The turkeys don't visit often here. I guess the dogs keep them at bay. But I do have the ravens and she doesn't. She has doves. We don't. And the little birds who eat her emerging sunflowers-stripping the leaves before they can grow- don't visit us until the sunflowers already have their seed heads. Very strange.

We are loving the rain. The wells have been replenished. The lake is filling and there might even be some snow in the mountains. The winter was dry and was cause for concern, but I think we will be OK for summer if we manage our water carefully. How we keep Sweetie Pie, Quincy and Jake out of the big stock tank while they play Splash the World, I don't know. Those three go though more water than15 thirsty horses.

Overnight it seems like all the frogs have returned. It was so loud last night when I opened the door we could not hear ourselves talk. Love it.

Thank you again to our wonderful friends and supporters. We count on you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Back At Last

From Donna: Whew!!!! The virus that caught up with me when I returned from Denver has finally decided to let go a little. Poor Jim- I'd only stayed a few days visiting family "because trying to run the ranch alone is hard work." I'd be home and help Jim. WRONG When this bug finally lifted its ugly head and decided to move on Jim had not only been running the ranch by himself but had a sickie to contend with, too. Many dear friends offered to help but following Dr's orders we stayed far away from folks. Too virulent and debilitating. Anyway, I think we are back on track. Now, if Jim doesn't succumb to it we'll be OK.

Also back are the frogs. The dry winter kept those little songsters away. Do they live in the hard soil until the rains come? Who knows??? Can someone tell me about Pacific Chorus frogs? Their joyous and lusty singing makes life wonderful.

The rain is back, too. Yes, the mud is knee deep. The horses complain that it is our fault and we are all soggy beyond belief, but no fussing here. The blessed drops have replenished the wells and we will have a good run for Summer. Things had been very dry and very scary.

Folks have been very generous in responding to our need for help. Many new friends and contributors have stepped up to help the wonderful animals here at Home At Last. We look forward to making more friends and to have the support continue.

If you wonder why we don't post new pictures it is because the computer won't share them with us. Oh yes, we can find them, see them, but post them? Nope. They sit it their splendor, mocking our lack of skills to get them where we need them. Oh well, some day......

Going to try to move Maggie, Sugar and Gracie to the mud spa today. Our barn has flooded. The mud has oozed to every part of it, but at least it's warmer than outside and with the cold front moving in I'd like the girls sheltered a little. I know this sounds simple, but it is not. Maggie has not been touched for years, Sugar has similar issues and Gracie can run like the wind when she wants to and I can't. Should be worth a good show.

Jim is sleeping in a little. Patches is knocking vases off the kitchen window sill and I'm just happy to be able to breathe without coughing. Side thought. I use salt and pepper shakers as flower vases. Looks pretty in the window when Patches leaves them there- or on the table all lined up.

Thank you for helping us care for the animals and for being the good people you are.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ranch Call...

From Jim: Our vet, Dr. Gary Darling, was trained at UC Davis. He's a large and small animal vet, with a lot of experience with equines. Like most, but not all, large animal Docs, he has a mobile rig, truck with a vet-pack in the bed. It's crammed with all manner of equipment and meds and such. That's a good thing, because a ranch call at the sanctuary can be a real scene. We've got a bunch of critters here and they're not all equines. All of em are Dr. Gary's patients. That means barn cats with eye infections and goats that need their shots and worming, and dogs that are tick magnets. It means calves that need polled (dehorned) and colts that need gelded and old guys that need their teeth floated. We have any number of critters with issues from abuse and injury. We have critters with congenital defects. We have animals that are at the very end of their life cycles and will need the last gift of kindness. It's just a whole big bunch of medical stuff and our vet is up to it-Thank Goodness! I can't imagine trying to have the sanctuary without our good Doc. There are times when we take critters to the vet's clinic. It might be a question of convenience, or a matter of scheduling, or an emergency where transporting is quicker and serves the animal's needs better. There's the equivalent of over one year of animal health care here every single week. Where the average horse owner might see colic once or twice, we'll see it 12 or 15 times. We'll have 20 or 30 floats a year. We immunize 70 or 80 critters a year. We euthanize 12 to 20. We treat uveitis and obstructed tear ducts. We overcome starvation issues and digestive failures. We deal with melanoma and carcinoma and sarcoids. There are surgeries and wound treatments. Through all this, Dr. Darling is our teacher and coach and practicing vet. Ranch calls happen about once or twice a month. Some last minutes, others can take most of the day. Our vet is a key player in what we do here at Home At Last. We sure appreciate him!

Monday, March 12, 2012

not so TINY BUBBLES...

From Jim: Well, we've got a storm on the way, big pressure gradient, low pressure coming. That means a fair chance of weather colic. An equine's gut is around a 100 feet long, counting the large and small intestines and the cecum. That last item, the cecum, is located where the large and small intestines find each other. It's a big old fermentation vat. It's full of bugs. In polite company, they're probiotics. But they're really bugs, bacteria. They play a real important part in the digestive process by breaking apart the forage matter that equines eat. The process creates a by-product, methane gas. You may have gotten a whiff of it once in awhile. Whew! OK, so here comes the big science lesson for the day. An equine's gut is a closed system. It has, or tries to have pressure around what the atmospheric pressure is. When gas develops from digestion, they vent it. Thus, the sniff. Sometimes, when there's a big change in barometric pressure. The internal gases are caught at a higher pressure and the falling barometer causes them to expand to take up more volume and, thus, reduce the pressure, to equalize it. That can and usually does make for "gas pains". We've probably all had them sometime. Our equine friends don't do well with belly aches. They stretch and lay down and roll and generally are miserable. Colic is bad because it's a symptom and the causes can be life threatening. If you have the slightest doubt, call the vet. Colic is a true medical emergency for equines. We usually dose the coliced critter with banimine. A listen for gut sounds is useful. I use a stethoscope, but an ear on the flank works too. Gas makes a high pitched squeak or squeal, kind of like rubbing your fingers on a balloon. There may or may not be the usual gurgling and plumbing sounds. The vet needs to know that. I prefer injections because I can confirm the dosage. That can help with a diagnosis. The degree of relief is telling. Also the time it buys might allow for some gas passing and bowel movement. Again, colic is serious business and the vet is the best line of support. We are in touch with the vet as soon as we notice the signs of colic. That gives him a head's up and he's got an accurate time line. So, we've got a storm on the way. It's a pretty good one, they say. We'll watch the herd very carefully for the next few days. The animals that have had gas colic will get an extra look or three. I suppose I better check on our banimine supplies, syringes and needles. Hope I don't need em!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Filling the Water Tanks...

From Jim: We have a bunch of water tanks. That figures since we have a bunch of equines. It takes awhile to fill them, around an hour and a half. This can be one one of the nicest parts of the day. It's a quiet activity, standing with a running hose and watching the water rise. Pretty much every stop along the way, from tank to tank, finds a critter that wants to share this time. They want petted and loved and to be with you. By now, we know their "favorite" spots, and the lip moving and neck stretching are fun to watch when you get it just right. The peace that comes with these times is priceless. The sound of the gurgling water, the smell and touch of a big old critter that needs some attention, maybe a clattering raven or the wind brushing the trees, all of that is food for the soul. I think about the meaning of sanctuary a lot. The notion that a time and place is set aside to promise peace and safety and love. It's a state of mind and a state of being. Most everyone that visits Home At Last comments on how peaceful the animals are. They don't expect that this many can get along and quietly live their lives. We have simply come to expect it. The wild rumpuses are a celebration, not a contentiousness. The occasional squeal and snort is horsing, not fighting. The "knees and necks" of the GET YOU game is playful and joyful. I think the natural response to safety and kindness is peace and gentleness. Our critters have been through so much. They've overcome so much. Way deep in their beings is the capacity to be the driving energy of the sanctuary. They bring the feeling that people always comment on. Having been a soldier and a policeman, I've known conflict. I wish that the world could know sanctuary. I wish the world could spend some time with me, filling water tanks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Pen is Mightier...

From Jim: Our local paper recently did an article on Home At Last and the struggle that we have keeping the sanctuary going. The response we received was overwhelming and humbling. Your generosity resulted in donations that will just about cover the hay bill this month. Your gifts to these rescued animals mean that they are safe for another month. Thank You so much. Donna and I appreciate that in these times, you chose to go without something so that these critters wouldn't have to go without anything. We hope you will have a warmth in your hearts that comes from sharing. In this very troubled world of ours, acts of kindness push the scales back towards hope and humanity. We try to thank everyone that sends a gift personally. We feel it is a very personal choice to support this place and deserves a direct response from us. This expression of our gratitude is a public recognition that good folks are doing good things. Our kind sure has the capacity to make some pretty big mistakes. We also have it within us to be caring and kind and loving. We'd like to celebrate that with you! Thank You and bless your hearts!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rain on the way...

From Jim: The weather guys and gals are calling for a series of rain storms, starting Sunday PM and lasting for most of next week. Rats! I'd like a nice soaking shower followed by several warm days for, Oh, I don't know, say the next three or four months. Well, we're going to get a bunch of storms, all in a row. I better put the waterwings back on the tractor. Sunday I'm going to get a trailer and truck load of hay and get it tarped up. I'll need to open up all of the stalls in the stable. The barn, which flooded in the earlier storms, will just have to flood again. It's been too muddy to get the backhoe to work on the drainage. That will be a spring time chore. Maybe a late spring time chore? Maybe early summer? There's a cumulative effect of wear and tear on the sanctuary during winter. These wet springs can just extend and amplify the damage. Horses move a lot of dirt and mix up wonderful batches of mud and goo. Their hooves seem designed to pick up dirt with every step and masterfully blend it with H2O to a perfect consistency of muck. We have a number of greys and whites in the herd, but not that you would notice now. They are mud/pintos and muck/paints. I'm pretty sure they'll blame us for the incoming storms. The sanctuary has only so many possible critters to blame and usually we're it. I'll need to stock up on some diesel for the generator. and turn the wind turbine back on. The dogs will need a bunch of old saddle blankets and beach towels to get dried with. They will also blame us. The cats will just go on being cats. They may or may not blame us, as for the most part, other than a warm lap, we're not too noteworthy. The goats will shelter in and cry plaintively that the food they ordered in has not arrived. Yep, the weather guys and gals are calling for rain. Maybe they'll be a little wrong? Hey, it could happen. We need the rain. The hay crop needs the rain. The wells need the rain. I know all that. I'm thankful for the blessing of enough rain. Around August, I'll write about heat and flies. The weather guys and gals will be calling for days in the hundred and three range. I'll hope that maybe they'll be a little wrong then too.