Sunday, November 15, 2009

At Mom's

Today Erik needed some "me time" so I took the boys over to my mom's house. She was sore and hurt from stacking firewood, so I cleaned her bathroom and the boys played. I love my mom's farm-y house!

Then we went out and gave the horses some loving. This is the skittish donkey she's had for a long while now. He's no less crazy than the day she brought him home! Well, not true. Like all my mom's animals, he will now approach the fence as soon as he sees you; he's looking for food. But make a move that you'd like to rub his head or pull a burr from his mane and he'll shoot away from you like a pinball.

These two horses were 'gifted' to my mom, many years ago. Both came from friends who could no longer keep them. Bree (on the left) is a typical mare...sweet natured with us, a total biznatch with other mares! Grace (on the right) is a crazy cart pony that I used to beat off with a stick (I can't stand upredictable animals near children!!) but who has since become a (nearly) tolerable creature. At least, I no longer think she's going to bite me in the back when I turn to shut the gate. That's progress!

My mom got Cactus and Jackson the same way; a pony and a horse that were neglected and homeless. Both of them had to be (finally, mercifully) put to sleep last month. At nearly 35 years old each, they were miracles of science. My mom was spoon feeding them a special gruel for the last few months of their lives, and it broke her heart to say goodbye. Especially Cactus. Roughly the size of a moose, with the temperament of a particularly relaxed basset hound, he had the biggest heart that I'd ever met in a horse. I miss him terribly, as he was "my" horse, the one I drew to every time we visited. But, like all my mom's animals, he had eyes only for her! (I know he loved me in his own way. :)

The week after a tearful goodbye at the farm, my mom's friend hitched up the trailer and took her to their friend's ranch, where she runs a horse rescue operation. The friend is particularly found of Paints, but there is never a shortage of abused and neglected animals. A horse is such a magical creature, in my eyes, and it's particularly galling to see one that has been starved or beaten. I'm really not sure what's wrong with people.

And so this is how we end up on this particularly sunny and gorgeous fall day, playing with our two new friends! Meet Bella. She is a quarter horse who stands exactly my mom's beloved Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse mix from our childhood, sweet Gypsy. From the back porch, looking into the corral, you could almost mistake her! But up close she's brown (not black) and much taller (and slimmer ahem) than Gypsy.

She was rescued from a ranch in Montana (her brand is so curious to me! you don't see a lot of that as a 'gentleman farmer'!) and "Montana" was the name that she came with ... right up until my mom saddled her and took her for a spin. Now she's Bella. I think she would approve.

While she was there, picking up Bella, there was another horse, a large gelding, who kept following her around. He pushed on her, and breathed on her, and my mom (who is, I swear, a horse whisperer) told him to get lost. At which point, he nickered into her ear. She turned around slowly, really looking at him for the first time, and immediately said, "This one too. Put him in the trailer."
And so we have Jack. He is the one who comes to the fence, not for food, but for love. He will follow you, step for step, up the sidelines, with his sad eyes and his soft nose.

Oh my gosh. Have you ever petted a horse's nose? Like velvet.

Okay. So that's two mares, a gelding, a cart pony, a donkey, and, let's not forget, the miniature pony and the two goats. If I didn't love those animals so much, I would really be making fun of her right now! But honestly? I kind of get it.


  1. Did she not tell you the whole story about Jack? I don't know if you remember the two horses that were on Happy Valley that she was taking flakes of hay to because they were starving. Beating a new path for months. One day they were gone. So, when mom went to the horse rescue place, Jack kept nudging her and trying to get her attention. The lady was like, you don't remember him do you? Because he sure remembers you. Turns out he was one of the horses she used to walk a quarter mile with hay to feed daily and he remembered her voice. THAT is why sweet Jack is now at Mom's.

  2. I miss your Mom and Dads house. I used to love going up there and spending time with all the animals... and the dogs and birds which thought they were human family members.