For those of you who read my last post about the tragedy that struck my ranch on May 18th, I'm writing this update. That last post was so dark and sad, and I didn't want you to think I was still in that place three days later. My days are still filled with tears, but sometimes, now, they are the happy kind.
After Luna passed away, my most immediate concern, obviously, was feeding Simon. Baby horses eat a lot and frequently. Our vet gave us temporary baby formula to tide us over until the official foal milk formula came in. We tried to feed him from a bottle as advised, but he wasn't having any of that nonsense. If he couldn't have his momma's boobie, he wasn't having any boobie at all. So I went to the website for The Last Chance Corral, a wonderful organization that raises orphan foals who are being saved from euthanizing (at the hands of The Jockey Club, shame on them!) They teach all their babies to drink milk out of a bucket, which has all kinds of benefits, including the fact that the baby no longer sees the human as a huge udder. I was all for not being seen as a walking udder by a horse that was getting bigger and stronger by the hour, so we worked our buns off to teach him how to be a bucket drinker. After a full day of frustrating fits and starts, and lots of sticky, sweet milk splashed everywhere, he became a bucket drinking expert! I was so proud of him, I couldn't stop crying. The stress of starving my mare's baby had passed.
The next issue was the feeding schedule. He needs to eat about every 2.5 hours. He also can't be left alone. So we were sleeping in the outdoor stall with him in sleeping bags and then in a tent. My children and I took shifts. None of us were/are getting any real sleep, just a couple hours grabbed here and there. The kitchen and house were a disaster and the dogs basically neglected (they were fed as usual and cuddled at night, but that's it! They lived outside in the yard, which they didn't mind, but is not their usual routine.)
On top of all this, we're still in the middle of a household move. My youngest is finishing up the school year in our old house (supervised by her daddy) and I have the two big kids and all the animals 6.5 hours away in our new house. The day my horse went into labor, my husband threw his back out and delivered his truck to the shop for repairs. So when I called him bawling my eyes out, telling him how we had to put Luna to sleep, he had no way to come help me. So for a day and a half, my two big kids and I were on our own. But then on day two, Husband got his car back, drugged himself up with Advil, and drove up to help out. Having him and my youngest (horse-crazy) daughter here really made a difference. Our spirits lifted and we had renewed energy!
Because I know that the universe has wonderful plans for me, I was not surprised to get a note from my horse trainer (who lives 6 hours away where I used to live) telling me that he was going to be in the area to visit family and could stop by to help out. I jumped at the chance to have him over to solve my last problem with Simon: this foal needed a horsey companion who would teach him how to be a horse. Horses hand-raised by humans alone usually end up being real jerks: biting, kicking, etc. They need to be socialized in a herd. My trainer Carlos suggested we find a really old gelding who would be patient with a silly foal while also strong enough to teach him some manners.
Enter Garfunkel. His real name is Sapphire, but he's been living with goats for 10 years and he's a little … shall we say … funky from that experience. So I named him GarFUNKel. Besides, with a foal named Simon, it was just too hard to resist. 🙂
Yesterday, Simon met Garfunkel for the first time. He was nervous, but Funky was awesome. He gave Simon a sniff, decided he would do, and went about eating his hay and otherwise ignoring the baby. Last night, Funky was tied to the outside of Simon's stall and he babysat the little colt all night. We showed up a few times to feed Simon and make sure Funky had ready access to hay and water, but otherwise, we stayed away. Simon didn't call (neigh) for us at all, so I took that as a good sign. Before when we left, he would go berserk calling out. Talk about heart-breaking!
Today we will continue to habituate them to one another and Simon to the electrified paddock fence. Right now he keeps insisting he's one of the humans and should be able to follow us out the gate, and he's constantly looking for a way around the electric wires. He can't be trusted out of his box near those wires without us supervising (for fear that he'll get tangled in it and seriously injured), so for the next couple weeks, that's what we'll be working on — that and getting him to accept Funky as his buddy/grandpa/babysitter/substitute momma.
For those of you who know horses, you're probably wondering why I didn't put Simon with a mare who lost a foal. Just to set your mind at ease, I did try this avenue, but the two I found were very far away, and I wasn't comfortable with giving Simon to someone I didn't know for 6 months. Luna sacrificed her life for him, and to me, that means I need to personally ensure he has the best upbringing possible. That's with me or at least close enough to me that I can visit regularly.
So, that's the scoop! I know it's not about books or my writing, but it's what's consuming my life for the moment. I hope in a week or so when things smooth out that I'll be able to finish War of the Fae books 9 and 10. Those are my priorities just after this baby is settled.
Many thanks and great big hugs to those of you who reached out to me with messages of support and love and kindness, and for those of you who sent out happy thoughts into the universe or prayed for us. It helped!! Just when I thought the darkness was going to swallow us whole, the light came in and solutions started presenting themselves. The floodgates opened, and I'm sure it was because of YOU and the power of all your positivity!