The horse's pasture to the East...

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Little Barn, Big Storm
I love the Midwest. I've lived in Maine, Wisconsin, Germany and traveled all over the USA and Western Europe, but the Midwest is home. 

We have a big sky, open rolling land, small towns and where we live? No noise except the wind in the grass and trees, insects and animals. I value my quiet space. Natural sounds are my music (although I do admit to rocking out occasionally, especially when I exercise).

This morning one of my inside/outside barn cats came in for his breakfast with a wound on one of his back legs. He had a serious cut that exposed the whole inside of his leg, muscles and tendons. Pretty awful. Tough little guy that he is he jumped up on to the cabinet where I keep his bowl, asked for his saucer of milk and food, and never complained. He didn't even limp. Barn cats are strong and Buddy's no exception. 

He's a sweet tempered long, tall skinny drink of water. He let me roll him over and, carefully, sponge his leg off with warm water. He'd already cleaned it somewhat but it was still oozing so I cleaned it best I could and decided to take him to the Vet's office. It was past my skills of home doctoring.

I wrapped him up in a towel and tucked him in to an old flannel pillow case. And here's an imaginative use of a Savvy String you Parelli folks will appreciate. I used that to put around his neck in case I needed to catch him. It worked very nicely as a leash (something I should probably invest in. I've never used them with my dogs. Never had to, so I don't keep one here. Note to self: buy two leashes, one smaller for the cats, one HUGE for Miniver.). I didn't have to use it but I did feel safer carrying him inside with my hand on his Savvy String leash.

We're lucky. All of the country Vets live within a few miles of us and have their offices within a mile or two also. It was an easy trip to make. When I turned in to the little parking lot, it was jammed with trucks...not a car in sight. 

There was a fellow who'd pulled in just ahead of me with a trailer hooked to the back of his truck, horse inside. The Vet came running out with his kit of supplies and leaned in to talk with the man who was driving. I sat there, watching, since I was "taking the time it takes" with my frightened barn cat who never leaves his territory.

Buddy was better off calming down for a few minutes so I stepped out to offer help. I've helped this Vet before when he's been out to a friend's house for inoculations on a her herd and when he had to put down one of their colts, always something that people need support for when they have to go through that. He knows me and his assistant wasn't there yet so he accepted my offer. And there's reason number 2 that I love my home. In the city there would have been reason to say no thank you. The thought of a law suit would have been in the back of the Vet's mind. Here folks know each other and offers of help are always accepted. Reason number 1 to love my tiny town.

I helped to back out a frightened little pony, a pretty liver colored gelding with a blaze down his nose. He was in obvious pain from lacerations on his left front leg, probably from getting caught in barb wire (not going to give my opinion of the nasty stuff. Suffice it to say it is the wrong kind of fencing to have around a pasture with horses in it.). The Vet had to use a tranquilizer to calm the horse so he could clean and stitch up the horse, right there in the parking lot. As soon as the horse was calm again I turned it over to the owner and went to get Buddy, who was curled up on the seat asleep.

When I turned to go back in to the office, there were people streaming in with dogs, cats and one little pot belly pig. There were five emergencies this morning. Guess it happens like that sometimes, in waves. Everyone walked past the pony standing in a pool of blood, half asleep, with the Vet doing his work and no one blinked an eye lash. They were all farm and ranch people with their animals to see to. And one young woman with a small dog in her arms stepped forward to open the door for me (my arms were full of frightened cat) and another stood up, offering me her seat. People are like that here, polite and easy going. I like that. Reason number 2...

I left Buddy for the day. It was ramming and jamming with all of the emergencies...a dog that had been hit by a car, another that had been bitten by a copperhead, a pony in the parking lot being cleaned and stitched up, a puppy that was dragging a leg around and trying to sniff butts and Buddy, with his bloody leg. 

When I went back this afternoon I saw three kids walking home from school, down a gravel road. they were walking along talking, throwing stones and laughing. How many kids do you see walking home from school down country roads anymore? Not many. I smiled and waved at them. They waved back and said, " Hey Miss Nancy." as I slowly drove past. Reason number 3 to love the Midwest!

I walked in to pick up Buddy and the Vet came up to shake my hand. " I'm sorry Nancy. I meant to say thank you this morning for your help. It was busier than usual. You do have a way with horses though. So I'm glad you were there to help. Made the morning start in a more controlled way." Nice guy! He told me he liked Buddy, that he was lucky. The wound wasn't dirty and he was able to sew him up pretty easily without using anything except some local to ease the pain.

I stopped to chat with Dee. She always gives me all the local gossip, who's winning at the local shows, who has puppies or kittens that need homes. She brought out Buddy for me and helped me to tuck him in to his carrier, stopped to hug me before I left. " You ought to drive down the road a bit to come see the two Mini's I've rescued. Total rascals. You'd love them!" And out the door I went, smiling. Reason number 4 to love the Midwest. The bill did not cost me next month's grocery bill and everyone stopped to say thank you!

When I drive home the back way it's down a bit more than 3 miles of dusty, gravel roads. I drive past goats in their field, and horses across the way...a retired band of broodmares that the rancher has kept deep in to old age. He isn't the kind to throw out his animals just because they take more time to care for. 

I drove past soy bean fields that were being harvested, the same three kids still walking home, pastures that had been mowed a second time this year. (The hay has been wonderful with all of the extra rain.) And I drove down our road with the hills and twists and turns, more like Arkansas than Kansas. Reason number 5 I love the Midwest. The land here is so unexpectedly subtle in it's beauty.

When I turned in my drive the neighbors waved to me, came up to the truck and wanted to know how my gardens did this year. And how was Buddy? Reason number 6 I love the Midwest. Somehow people always know, through some mysterious ether, what's going on. I always feel like someone has my back. Even though next door neighbors are, sometimes, a mile down the road they're more attentive to what we're doing and how things are going than they were in town in the suburbs. And they're always willing to offer a hand too. Small family farmers are like that.

At the end of the day I just can't complain. We live on a thin dime here. Things are used once, twice and one more time for good measure. Every sunset is beautiful and every sunrise takes my breath away. And, best of all, I live with my horses right outside my back door and neighbors who bring by an extra carton of eggs just because.

It doesn't get any better than that!