Friday, February 25, 2011

It Takes A Family To Raise A Fence

February 25, 2011 - A look back at 2011

It certainly does take a family to raise a fence. We spent two weeks constructing a brand new fence out of trees. Mac or I would fell them, Ike would delimb them, and Izzy would haul the trees over to the fence. We'd measure out a 7', 5' and 3' section and construct an "A" frame (or more like an "X" frame with a 3' horizontal piece at the bottom), space our frames about 12' apart and then lay another log on the top and bottom pieces and nail them together using Mac's nail gun. One of the most memorable days was when one of the nails Mac was nailing must've hit a knot in the wood, made a U-turn and shot right through his hand; in essence nailing himself to the fence. He had to pull his hand away to free himself. He was bleeding everywhere so I loaded him up and took him to Urgent Care. We probably could have handled it ourselves, but him being a fire fighter and in the middle of a fencing project, we weren't willing to chance any long-term effects. Fortunately the x-rays were clear so they just irrigated it and put him on an antibiotic without much concern. They did, however forget about him after x-ray brought him back to his room, which afforded him a much needed hour nap and gave me a chance to sit back, relax, and catch up on some reading. Although considering we got a break from fence building in 3' of snow and it wasn't a terrible date, I think I could have come up with a better way to spend a couple of hours and $75. I think I would have preferred a steak, a movie and a massage. Unfortunately, it was back to fence building as soon as we returned from the Urgent Care. No rest for the weary (unless you were the party that took a nap at the Urgent Care)!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

An Episode of "I Shouldn't Be Alive"

Yesterday was a terribly, tragic, torrent of troubles. Say that ten times fast. I felt like I was on an episode of Animal Rescue (you can read about yesterday's episode here). But today felt like an episode of Discovery Channel's show "I Shouldn't Be Alive". Seriously. I crashed last night at about 11:00 after a rice bowl, a hot shower and starting a fire. I woke up two hours later to a horrible acrid smell. I lay there wondering what it could be. When it dawned on me what it was my heart leapt and I jumped out of bed and ran to the fireplace. It registered a dangerous 750 degrees. We try to keep it below 400. Above 600 you run the risk of fire. What I was smelling were the walls melting. Again. This smell I knew. I closed the dampers and turned the fan directly on it on the high setting and waited to see if it would work. I checked the walls and they were too hot to touch. The temperature gauge slowly began dipping below 700, then 650, then 600 and finally got below 500. I opened one of the dampers back up to see if it would stay low. It did. I returned to bed with my heart still thumping hard. I woke up around 3:00 and 5:00 to check it again. Luckily, it slowly began to cool and by 5:00 was completely out. So scary.

Although exhausted, my alarm woke me up to go do morning chores by 6:30. I felt fear and dread (and cold) this morning. I didn't know what my future would hold but I was pretty sure it wouldn't be good. Before my feet hit the floor I read my Bible and cried out to the Lord. I had nowhere else to go. I begged for forgiveness for my arrogance, pride, anger, haughty words and unkind thoughts towards GA; especially for the previous days since we had words over the horses and fences. I asked Him for his guidance, mercy, grace, energy and strength for what had to be done today, help for the trouble, provision and protection. I'm glad I did. I needed every bit of it. I climbed out of bed and got dressed, pulled my coveralls and mucking boots on. I found my hat and gloves and jumped into the Jeep. I knew MacGyver hadn't finished clearing the road between our houses so I went out to the main road and up the front way to GA's house. I set the four-wheel drive. I got about 300 feet up and found a patch of ice. I lost all my momentum and my tires began to spin. I slightly backed up and then tried it again. I did this several times until I realized I couldn't even rock it out. There was just too much ice. I started to back down the mountain when my tires locked up on the ice and I started sliding backwards. I knew I was either going to slide right off the side of the mountain or bank it hard to the right and slide into the two foot wall of snow and stick my tires. I chose the latter. I was a little freaked out over the sudden stop on the opposite side of the road. At least I was out of the way if someone came down the road. I walked the half mile up to GA's. I was happy to see that all was well. Sharif had a small tear on his shoulder but didn't need stitches. I was going to have to figure out how to get everybody water since the pump seemed to be frozen. It seemed the day was going to be even more challenging than the previous. It all seemed to be too much. I fed all the horses and started back down toward the cabin. I couldn't shake the feeling that something was following me. I kept stopping suddenly and looking back over my shoulder, not really wanting to look, but not daring to not look. Don't you just hate that? I made it home without being eaten by anything. The kiddos were up by that point and we got breakfast. The vet called to update me on Amar. It seemed he was fine and could go home anytime. Oh! The relief. God had heard my prayers and Amar was completely fine. The kiddos and I gave thanks for that! MacGyver arrived home after his shift after stopping first to get some more diesel for the Bobcat. Good man. It seems we needed the Bobcat more and more as the hours ticked by. I told him more about my night, suddenly more aware of  the dangerous possiblities of what could have happened with the fireplace. I told him about my morning. I found myself in tears and he wrapped his arms around me. He didn't have to say anything. I was just so relieved he was home and would share the burden. I shared with him my four acute problems that needed to be addressed:

1. The Jeep was hopelessly stuck but I was alive.
2. We needed to dig the horse trailer out so we could go get Amar.
3. The horses needed water and the pump was frozen.
4. The fence needed to be repaired so Amar and Sharif could be returned safely and without any more incidences.

He decided to work on clearing the road, digging out the trailer from its three feet of snow, and then rescue the Jeep. I decided the kiddos and I were going to work on the fence. After breakfast, we all donned our
Carharts, grabbed the chainsaw and got busy. Ike and I felled our first tree(s) today. We dropped about a dozen 20'-30' trees between us. I was so proud of him, and he of himself. Izzy helped us move and lift the trees into place and then haul off the limbs. We all four worked most of the morning and into the afternoon on our individual tasks and made some good headway. By 2:00 the pumps were thawed and I was able to water the horses while Mac chained up the truck. We were able to haul the trailer down the crazy snow-packed road beautifully since MacGyver had cleared the bulk of it out of the way. The truck pulled the trailer nicely and I called the ER Clinic to let them know we were on our way. Our day was uber-productive and the only thing ahead of us would be getting the trailer back up the mountain, Amar unloaded and he and Sharif back into their pasture. However, once we got to the clinic, the front office ladies informed us that GA had, in fact, contacted them just before we got there. It seems God answers prayers, people. GA had decided to leave Amar at the clinic until he returned next week and have him gelded. GELDED! Wonders never cease. This is the very argument we have been having. I argued that no fence can truly contain a stallion trying to get to a mare in heat. He argued that the fence is weak and it is our fault he keeps getting out. I argued that a standing fence doesn't need to be fixed and the snow is so thick he just steps over it in places. He argued that he hasn't had that kind of problem in the past. I'll refrain from going on. Suffice it to say, we've been going around and around on this issue for over a week now; him blaming me, me pointing to the problem of a stallion and his insane levels of testerone. Even the vet agreed with me. It seemed it took something of this measure to get his attention and agree that something needed to change before something worse happened. I haven't talked to him and probably won't until he gets back next week. I have a feeling he is pretty hot, though. I choose to trust God in this, as well. I've done everything to the best of my ability with the limited resources GA has provided. The rest is in God's hands. MacGyver and I had a laugh (more out of relief) that this is truly an answer to prayer. I was so thankful that God heard me, that Amar is safe and sound, that we were all still alive, and that I am never alone. He is my ever help in times of trouble. And for that, who could ask for more? MacGyver still has some acute stress and strife he is having to deal with at work. We're not sure how that will all turn out, but we know God has heard our prayers and has a plan and purpose for our lives. What we do in the meantime is seek Him daily, constantly and desperately. He hears our cries and turns His ear to us. He gave us a beautiful, sunny day to work and we have a whole day of fence building tomorrow. I believe tomorrow will be even prettier than today. God is GOOD!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Animal Rescue

I realize it's been over a month since I've blogged. I've had plenty to write about but I've been so busy or too exhausted. The last month or so have been a little more than a normal person could bear. We've been sick, the pipes have frozen, we lost water, the weather has been unbearably cold and last week we got three feet of snow. Last Friday the stallions, Amar and Sharif broke out of their pasture to go socialize with the mares. Unfortunately, we were visiting cousins in Steamboat Springs and didn't get home until 10:00 that night. Needless to say, it was a long night. I think we finally crawled into bed at 11:30 cold and exhausted. And then Tuesday night they did it again. Fortunately, we found them about 1:30 in the afternoon and were able to get them situated and the fence patched up by about 4:30. Unfortunately, it was 7 degrees and there was three feet of snow on the ground. The owner flew out to Cabo, Mexico yesterday morning and I had to take the kiddos into town for school. Everybody was safe and sound and feeding quietly when I left. When we got back from town to do afternoon chores at 4:30, we found Amar out of his pasture and straddling a fence trying to get to the mares. His stomach and front end were in the mares' pasture and his back two legs were barely touching the ground on the outside of the fence. The top piece of steel was bent into a "V" shape. He was quiet and a little out of it. I didn't know how long he had been there but he was covered in sweat, even though the temperature hadn't exceeded 35 degrees. I was concerned that he may have cut off the circulation in his rear legs. It didn't look good. I silently prayed that the Lord would help me, protect Amar and not to let him be lame or have to be put down. Ike was with me and we tried to drop the fence but his 1600 lbs +/- 200 lbs pressing down proved to be too much. The section of fence it was hooked onto was frozen to the ground in three feet of snow, as well. I thought that if we could get something under his back legs, he might have enough leverage to jump over the fence or get his weight off the fence so we could drop it. We grabbed a couple bales of hay and I instructed Ike to push it under his hoof when I said go. I used my shoulder to push his weight onto his left leg and lifted his right leg. We were able to get his hoof on the bale of hay but I just didn't have enough strength to lift the other one. After about twenty minutes, I knew I couldn't do it alone. I needed some manpower. I ran inside to call for help. I called MacGyver at the station to see if he could get ahold of our dispatch to get an assist up here. I called the vet and got them on their way. We fed the others to keep them busy and away from the action and tried to get him on the bale of hay again. No good. After about an hour I heard the sirens and shouts from the firefighters. After a few minutes they were gone. Again, I knew they couldn't find me and wondered what to do. I knew the vet would know where we were. I prayed they would intercept the firefighters so we could get some extra manpower and power tools. The vet got stuck on the incline and had to back her truck the rest of the way down the mountain. One of the volunteer firefighters was able to get her truck up top where I was and the vet caught a ride with her. I gave the vet a quick run-down as more firefighters started showing up. With more hands and power we were able to get him up on three bales of hay and relieve the stress on his abdomen. By this time it was 6:30, dark, and the temperature was quickly dropping. Everybody seemed to be out of ideas. While we worked that angle, I asked if they had a saw that would cut the steel pins on the fence so we could drop it. By the time they got back with the saw and had it running, Amar had tried to use the bales of hay just as I had hoped. Unfortunately, he got his right fetlock hung up on the fence and was now balancing vicariously on three legs. It made me cringe. The Animal Control Officer arrived about that time and asked if we needed help. The vet requested a transport to the local Equine ER Clinic so he could be checked out and help for observation. She had to go back down the mountain to get radio contact. It seemed to take forever, but the firefighters were finally able to get the saw running. I'm sure the weather didn't help. But as soon as they got it running strong and started to cut into the pins, Amar freaked out enough to get the rest of the way over the fence. We all cheered. The vet and I ran aound the fence to secure him and check him out. We were both pleased to see him being able to hold his weight on all four legs. The relief was short. As soon as he was free of the fence, the shock started in and he began shaking violently and swaying side to side like he was getting ready to go down. I called out to the firefighters to "block traffic" from the other horses who were curious to what was going on. She quickly sedated him to calm him down and we got him back outside the fence and over to the single light pole so we could check him out. His shaking grew worse and I feared he was decreasing rapidly. His gums were pale and he didn't look so good. I asked her if he needed some fluids for the shock (which is one of the first things they do for people who are in shock and have had some kind of trauma). She said that would be a good idea but she would have to get down to her truck to get it, which was a half a mile down and then back up. Somebody offered to give her a ride down. I think she was gone twenty or thirty minutes. The Animal Control Officer said everybody was getting stuck and were having to back down the mountain but they were blocking the main road below. She called for a horse trailer but didn't think they would be able to get it up the road. She wanted to know if we thought we could walk him down to the road. By the time the vet returned, Amar was eating some snow and nibbling at the bales of hay he had previously been resting on, and his shaking had decreased dramatically. The vet explained that, unlike our human counterparts, a catheter (IV) was a surgical procedure and would have to be sewn into his neck and would need some assistance to keep it sterile. It reminded me of old war movies I'd seen of the army medics doing field surgery to stabilize someone for transport. That was basically what she was doing. I always find it so fascinating watching them work! I held Amar's head, not because he was struggling but because he was sedated and wanted to drop his head. I had to get my shoulder under there to be able to support that kind of weight. Once we got the IV started, the ACO told us the transport was on its way and that we might want to start the trek down the mountain. He did pretty good, even though he was wobbly at first. He woke up enough halfway down that she had to give him more sedative. That made for a much more compliant boy! The road was, of course, slick so we just took it slow. Once we turned the corner and saw the flashing blue and red lights, he startled a little so we called down to have them turn off the lights. I couldn't see the trailer but assured it was coming. When we reached the bottom, there were SO and fire vehicles absolutely everywhere blocking traffic. After a few minutes two more ACOs arrived hauling the trailer. They got turned around and loaded Amar. It was about 8:30 by then. The vet showed them the way to the hospital and one of the firefighter was kind enough to give me a ride back up the hill. I asked him if he wouldn't mind helping me get Sharif into Mia and Serena's pen so he wouldn't be left alone all night. He graciously complied and was able to lead Sharif in beautifully while I distracted Mia and Serena. I took him back to his truck and Ike and I headed home. It was about 9:00 when we got home. We all ate a rice bowl and I sent the kiddos to bed. It had been a long day! I had to email Gary to let him know what had happened and so he could contact the ER Clinic. I had know idea what would happen next, but I knew he was NOT going to be happy. I called the vets to make sure they had my contact info, made a fire, took a hot shower, prayed desperately that Amar would be okay, and then crashed. I was so glad the day was over but I knew the next day had its own set of troubles!