February 17, 2010

Long Faces on the Farm

There are now a couple new faces on the farm. My sister's two geldings, Cloud and Justin. My sister had moved up near Topeka not two years earlier and had taken her two horses with her. We all know life has its ups and downs, some times you think you are on the right road, only to find that road is too rough and never does lead where you want it to go. So sometimes we have to backtrack and start over on a different path but my sister did pick up a special souvenir for her troubles.

Extracting oneself from a toxic relationship is tricky enough but when you have a new baby and two horses in tow it can become quite the tangled web indeed. My sister asked me if she could put her two horses on our farm and if we would care for them. It is just about impossible to find a pasture to rent for horses in this area, so I told her we could do that. This would not be a simple task, because many obstacles stood in the way. Her horses were three hours away and neither of us owned a trailer they would load into. The first issue to deal with was the fact we did not have an extra, adequate shed for them because all of the shelters on the farm were being used for our own animals.

There was an old shed that had originally been built 13 years ago when we first moved to the farm. It was built with salvaged materials even back then so the wood was not in good shape. The corner posts and many of the boards were no good anymore. What time and weather did not destroy, the wood bees had finished off. Luckily, most of the metal siding was still in reasonable shape and could be salvaged. The shed would have to be rebuilt and we were well into winter by this time, all we could do was pray the weather would hold out until we could get it done.

The shed was not the only thing that needed to get done, we would have to build a large pen as well. The reason for this is one of my sister's horses will not stay in an electric fence at all and of course what type of fence is all of our pastures? Electric of course! It has worked for the goats, but apparently not for Cloud the horse. The plan was to divide the shed in half so both horses could use it. This way we could let the horse without a personal vendetta against all electric fencing be out in the pasture and the other one would have his own large pen made out of new cattle panels. We would upgrade the size of his pen to a small pasture later on, but money and time was running short, we had to get it done before we were hit with snow and weather that would prevent us from moving the horses at all.

The rebuild of the shed was under way, and the weather was not cooperating. The wind was sharp and we were trying to beat the weatherman's prediction of snow. Any person who has ever hit their thumb with a hammer in below freezing weather knows it is no fun to work on such projects in the winter time but it had to get done. Bless my husband's heart, he put the most work into it and he was working on it right up until we unloaded the horses.

That in itself was probably the biggest challenge of getting her horses moved back home. The Ex had access to a trailer, in fact he had moved them up there. To say he was not so willing to move them back would be an understatement. Things had happened that had all of us concerned about the safety of her horses while they were up there and the relationship was falling apart. I did not want them to become collateral damage in all of this.

My sister and I both had been working hard at trying to find someone willing to haul the horses home or a stock trailer we could rent. I can not begin to recount the number of people I called or emailed, trying to find someone willing to help. We were not looking for a free ride by any means, yet nobody seemed willing to help. There were many people that haul their own animals all over the place, to shows and such that did not even return my email.

I felt sorry for my sister, she was stressed to the max. She certainly had a lot on her plate with her new baby and this messy break up. I don't expect charity from anyone and I really hate to ask for help but sometimes we all do need a helping hand. I was a little surprised, given the situation and our clear desperation that up to that point only one guy had been willing to haul them and his exorbitant fee had all the sympathy of a mafia shakedown.

I sent out more emails, not really expecting anything back. I asked all the farmers and ranchers I knew if they had a stock trailer we could rent or if they knew of anyone who did.

One of those emails was to Meredith, the owner of Capering Valley Nubians, who is the breeder of our buck Pepper and many other fine dairy goats. I knew she had a gooseneck trailer that would not work with our truck but I was hoping she would know someone with a bumper pull trailer.

She emailed me back and said she knew someone with a trailer but it was all open and by then it was just too cold to haul them in that. She went on to say if we could not find one she would be willing to haul them. This was unexpected, though I should not have been surprised because Meredith is a very nice and generous person. This was no small favor, it was about a six hour round trip and she didn't even know my sister but Meredith said she knew what it was like to need a helping hand. I already had a great deal of respect for the fine dairy goats that she raises but it certainly gave me a whole new respect for her as a person. I felt a lot less cynical, knowing that the "good neighbor" is not dead in our society after all.

We waited for a sunny day and Meredith, my sister and I headed up to go get the horses. It was a long trip, made even longer by the fact my back picked that day of all days to give me all kinds of problems but despite the pain I was in, it was also fun for me to be able to talk with someone who enjoys talking about goats as much as I do.

I had only seen Justin in pictures but Cloud has been in the family for 2o years, first as a shared horse between my sister and I in our teenage years and now as my sister's horse. When we got there, Cloud didn't want to get into the trailer, which was a surprise because he has always been easy to load in a stock trailer but eventually he did get in. Then on the way home one of the truck tires started to leak air and we had to make a stop at Wal-Mart to get it fixed where they continued to not impress me with the speed and efficiency of their auto department. This made us not able to get home until after dark, where Jamey was finishing up the shed and pen. Since it was a strange, new place for them we put both horses in the pen for the night.

Cloud and Justin are very bonded with each other and Cloud gets particularly upset if they are separated. They are Mutt and Jeff, Cloud being the tall, lanky one and Justin his short, stocky counterpart. They are both Appaloosas, something that is easy to see in Cloud with his loud spotted coat but Justin looks more like a Quarter Horse in appearance.

My sister lead Justin around and showed him the fences so he would know where they were when we turned him out in the pasture. The boards are a temporary gate on Cloud's pen until we can get one put in. Cloud did not like Justin being led away and started to call and run around his pen.We tied Cloud up while Justin was being led around the pasture to help keep him calm but he kept his eye on Justin. One eye is all he could keep on him because Cloud does have a cataract which causes him vision problems in one eye, but at 24 years old surgery is not a good option for him. He did calm down and has begun to adjust to Justin being outside of his pen, though he is still most happy when his buddy Justin is near and doesn't wander too far from him.

Justin is much younger than Cloud. He can be a little jumpy and he is rather spirited. My husband calls him Forrest Gump because every where he goes he is "running". I didn't tell my sister that though, she doesn't always appreciate his sense of humor. They are both quite different than my old mare Lakota who was so calm and easy going; she never got herself into trouble. Neither my husband or I ride anymore so she was just a big pasture pet but unfortunately we lost Lakota to cancer. I have missed her, so it is nice to see horses on the farm again. It has been quite the adventure so far having them here and I will write more about that later but they are here, we were able to get them home with a lot of work and the help of a generous person.

If you are someone who is looking for a nice Nubian dairy goat in southeast Kansas you should check out Meredith's website at http://www.freewebs.com/caperingvalleynubians/


Callie said...

Wow! Meredith is a wonderful person! Great friends and neighbors. Hope everything works out well for your sister on her new path. I admire your strong family ties.

Tiffany said...

I am so happy to hear that you got your sister's horses there and that, even though it was hard work, all went okay with getting things set up for them. Lots of Kudos to Merdith! It's so wonderful to get such help from fellow farmers. I look forward to more fun stories about your new long faces. :)

KathyB. said...

During difficult times it is not easy to ask for help, and when you do and find your plea is not answered it becomes desperate and feelings of hopelessness can settle in, leaving even day to day things seeming bleak. I am so glad you found a friend in your need and obviously a friend in deed, and friend in all the best senses of the name~I hope your sister is able to connect with the people who really do love her, as you do, and heal.

Jennie C. said...

Good neighbors aren't so scarce. I live in a whole town full of them. We're new to this place, but they've taken us in and love us just like family, which most of the locals actually are. :-) Our neighbors loaned us their trailer last summer to go pick up our cow, and as soon as we got back, he started loading his own cattle into it. EVEN THOUGH HE NEEDED IT, HE'D LOANED IT TO US! Astounding! But that's how they are here. They'll just give and give and give, no matter what. It's a beautiful community.

Anonymous said...


You are a very good Sister!!!

It is a good thing your sister got out of a bad situation.

I was very angry as I read about the lack of help you were getting. Then I continued to read that Meredith stepped up to the plate. Most people in society do not realize we do not get to choose our moments in which we show our humanity. The moments choose us and that is when one gets to show their true character. Thank you Meredith for stepping up and taking a stand on the plate. Really really good karma credit you have just rcvd.

I am sure everything will work out for your sister and wishing all of you the best of health, peace, prosperity and the time to enjoy it all.

Brenda said...

A very touching story and adventure. I'm sure your sister has much greater peace of mind with her horses in a safe place. It must have been a great sense of relief when Meredith offered her help.

I hope all turns out well for you all.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that someone finally helped out! I'm also happy to hear the horses are safe and sound now. I hope things get better for your sister :-)

Melodie said...

What a happy ending ! I am so glad it all worked out!

Denise said...

You are a great sister! How I miss riding!

Stopping by from SITS to say HI! I have made a promise to myself to visit and comment on all blogs posted to spread the love!

Flartus said...

Wow, that's quite a journey you've been on! How generous of you and your hubby to go to so much effort to help your sister out. I'll bet she's even more grateful for you than you are for Meredith!

Those are both beautiful horses; Cloud is a good-looking 24-year old.

Best of luck to your sister!

GardenofDaisies said...

Oh my goodness. I am shocked it took so long to find the help you needed. Kansas folks are usually very neighborly and helpful. Thank you Meredith for coming to the rescue. Glad those horses are in a good place now.
And I am so glad that your sister and adorable little nephew are getting out of the bad situation they were in.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I'm glad the ending was as good as could be. We could all use a "Merdith."

Pricilla said...

How wonderful that Meredith helped you!
The horses are beautiful. I love to watch the horses across the street as they run.

I hope things get better for your sister. As to her ex - Karma.

mother plus teacher said...

Hate to admit it, but i'm not very shocked that others weren't helpful. I'm glad your neighbor helped out. The horses are beauts!

amothersheartinwords said...

one of the things I look forward to most in life, as I advance in age, is being able to help others - to "pay it forward" if you will, because I have had a few Merediths in my life, and there just isn't anything better than an angel in disguise, is there?!?!

Glad the horses are doing well - sounds a wee bit like my geriatric ward over here....

you made me laugh, too, about the hammer in sub-zero and being unimpressed w/walmart...haha! You are funny!

Jennifer said...

Thank you all for your kind comments! Yes, I am very grateful for Meredith's help. I really don't know what we would have done without it.

Alissa said...

The world definitely needs more Merediths. I also feel for your sister, more than once in my life I've found myself hitting a pretty rocky patch and having to rely on help from family and friends to get back on my feet again.

Stephanie said...

Farm life is always an adventure isn't it? :)

Thanks for responding to my question!
I remember reading that on your blog before, and have seriously been thinking about getting a nubian doe to breed with our buck. We originally went with meat goats b/c we wanted them for clearing the woods and weren't quite ready to commit to milking, but now I am getting the itch to give it a try. Just trying to think it through.

farmlady said...

Meredith was very helpful in a situation that really needed help. I admire that.., but you need to give yourself credit too. What you did for your sister was wonderful. You and your husband went out of your way to take those horses in and that is what "family" is all about. In my book, you are a really fine person and a super sister...

Bossy Betty said...

Beautiful horses and a helpful sister! Who could ask for more?

JoyceAnn said...

Glad to hear you got the horses home safely. It seems like the most unlikely person is always the one you can always count on in times of need. She's truly a wonderful person to help with a task like that.

~ Many Blessings ~

DayPhoto said...

Isn't it wonderful when everything starts to work out. When that happens I finally know I am going the right way.

Here is two thumbs up for Meredith and prayers for your sister and baby.


Twisted Fencepost said...

Such a sad and stressfull situation. I'm glad you got the help you needed and everything turned out well.
And I hope things get better for your sister, soon!