Sunday, November 30, 2008

October in a Nutshell

October began with not only tremendous stress regarding our financial situation with respect to our mortgage crisis, but with an earnest effort to rehabilitate a sweet grey horse who had been abandoned in an apple orchard in Stockton. For the sake of brevity, LeRoi's entire story will be stand-alone later. The 'Reader's Digest Condensed Version' reveals that he was with us for just five days ~ days that were both short and long ~ and he took a piece of us with him. LeRoi died on Friday, October 3. I will always carry the vision of what might have been for him.

October 4 ~ The Olmstead Loop
Our dear friend Mary Gaspari joined me to ride the loop in preparation for the National Rescue Ride. This was Buck's first ride off-site and he was a dream. The sweet Dolly-Mama certainly outperformed the much younger gelding, who needed a few breathers. Cool is a beautiful place to ride.

October 8 ~ Dr. Paglia to the Rescue
Paddington underwent surgery at Animal Eye Center in Rocklin to remove both of his eyes. He arrived into rescue with glaucoma in his Right eye and somehow ruptured his Left eye. Paddy Bear landed at Wonder Dog in San Francisco after his Momma passed away. Her adult children tried to keep Paddy to honor their Mom, but the big old bear did not do well with infants. We are happy to say, however, that they did not turn their backs on the big Boston boy and took financial responsibility for the care of Paddy’s eyes. Thank you, James, for coordinating with us for Paddy’s care. I wish there were more people willing to care for the senior dogs as you and your siblings have. Paddy looked a little rough immediately after surgery, but he has healed nicely and CLEARLY feels better. We love Paddy very much.

October 9 ~ Time for a Tractor
We use our little garden tractor a lot, mostly to collect and haul the daily manure offering to the neighbor's garden. The old Craftsman that we'd found on Craigslist for $100 literally broke a rod. After a Summer of assorted tractor repairs (belts, tires, battery, starter, and fuel filter after fuel filter), we collectively decided it was a better idea to spend a little more upfront and repair a lot less. Once more, Craigslist to the rescue. For $500, we were able to obtain a nicely maintained Yard Machine just two seasons old, with 21hp and an automatic transmission. And guess what? It actually mows, too! Woo hoo! It was a big expense, but absolutely necessary. The new tractor is treated with great respect and it towed the old Craftsman off to scrap. :o)

October 10 ~ Ready Steady Eddie
I went out to check the horses' water and found Eddie standing over the trough, dribbling blood from his lip. I can't say for sure how the injury occured, but Guy immediately took him to Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center for stitches. I'll refrain from posting the most graphic of the photos, although Guy took some amazing shots of the procedures. Eddie healed beautifully and now bears a sexy scar for all the ladies!

While Guy was taking care of Eddie, I dealt with our failing septic. In the end, our tank simply needed to be pumped, but this is a tough operation to run without use of plumbing for a day or two. With all of the dog and horse hair that runs through our laundry, we are certainly harder than the average household on our septic system!

October 17 ~ Goodbye to Our Friend
Miss Dolly died. That morning, she displayed all of the symptoms of colic. Because Dolly was of advanced age and possessed a multitude of melanomas, we chose to call the vet for an emergency euthanasia rather than to try to prolong her life. She died before the vet arrived. Her passing was so unexpected. She had been the picture of health. I am certain that the excessive melanomas that hardened her lips and covered her tail bone and surrounding areas played a role in the colic.

During the Spring of 2007, Dolly experienced a bad bout of laminitis, which was not her first. I was confident that with Rachel's assistance, we could restore Dolly's feet to a healthy state. Then in November of 2007, Dolly, along with five other of our horses, contracted strangles. I promised Dolly that if she stuck with us through the healing, she would have a wonderful Spring and Summer. She did. The Dolly we all knew through the Spring and Summer of 2008 was a happier and healthier version than ever. She was a willing partner and a sweet mare. Dolly will forever live on within our hearts.

October 18 ~ When one door closes...
Suddenly, there was an opening at 'The Inn' and we had heard about an older Quarter Horse in need. A woman in a nearby town was going through an unexpected divorce and her soon to be ex-husband was threatening to shoot the horse and his pony pal. While the woman did not have the cash to pay for the first year's care, these two babies came with a dowry of quality tack that we could really use. Volunteer extraordinaire, Margaret Andrews, jumped in the truck with Guy to save these two sorrel kids. Margaret named the pair Ranger and Ruby. Ruby exhibits the all the sassiness that ponies are known for and Ranger adores her.

October 19 ~ National Rescue Ride
What a day! Deep gratitude to everyone who helped make it so excellent, but the day began with a bit too much stress for my taste. We met some amazing people that day and enjoyed some fun conversations. This event will receive the coverage it deserves on its own page.

October 21 ~ Surgery for Sutton
Our own Guy Sutton underwent lapband surgery. Due to upcoming increases in his co-pay, it was important that Guy complete the surgery in a timely manner. We are incredibly proud of Guy's relatively recent commitment to his health. In March of 2006, he gave up alcohol. On Halloween 2007, he smoked his last cigarette. Between May 5, 2008 and October 21, he shed 20% of his body weight in preparation for this surgery - twice that amount that Kaiser required. His medications have dropped off significantly and his knees no longer fail him.

Unfortunately, Guy experienced a small complication and was readmitted into the hospital on October 27 for three more nights. An abcess had developed, which turned out to be a staph infection. He handled this hiccup gracefully and once home, we packed a gaping wound twice daily for another week. This didn't keep him from his chores for long, however. Thank you, my dear friend.

A Chance for Bliss would certainly not be where it is today without Guy's love and commitment and these healthy choices mean that we can look forward to his vital participation for a long time to come.

Nearly 100 pounds have disappeared since last Christmas. Soon we'll reveal the Christmas 2008 version. Congratulations, Guy.

October 28 ~ Easter Seals
The last Tuesday of the month brings our beloved friends and a flurry of activity around the ranch. A couple of new faces and some familiar friends, whom we will all get to know better very soon.

John with Grace and Max

Steven with Daisy

Marcellos and Bow Tie [aka Osama Bin Bo]

Les aka Poppa aka 'Keeper of the Brushes' :o)

Master Groomer Kim with Eddie and Handsome

Yvonne with BoBo and Miss Piggy

Heather & Spike, assisted by Rachel & Marcellos, supervised by Les!

October Overall
An assortment of October snapshots.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Moving Right Along

September 2008
The nutrition segment of Rachel's Hooves 101 class caused us to reconsider horse feed once more, striving to bring down the sugar or fructan levels as much as possible. While we hadn't considered it before for other reasons, alfalfa became a new component of our regimine. Ross Hay Ranch sells cubes by the ton, which they load with a tractor into the truck and we then shovel into our storage containers. Our Ford truck can tolerate right around a ton of cubes, which is more than the photo below shows. The cubes are not easy to eat for old horses with poor teeth, but they can easily be soaked.

September 7
With the assistance of the incomparable Eric Entz, Woody completely broke down the Koi pond and gave it a thorough cleaning. This was a filthy and time-consuming job, but resulted in an absolutely sparkling and healthy home for the fish and turtles. Thank you, Eric - you're always willing to jump in when the work is hard and dirty!

September 8
We were invited by Pamela Gorman (For Pets' Sake) to speak at the September meeting of Nevada County's CAWS ~ Coalition for Animal Welfare and Services. It was a great opportunity to meet and share ideas with various nearby rescue organizations. As one may well imagine, animal welfare work can be daunting and emotionally difficult, but Woody's heartfelt passion for animals and vision of possibility served to inspire some rescue veterans. A sincere thank you to Pam Gorman and Beverly Allbright for their friendship and support.

September 9
Buck and Jake arrived. Jake is a Mustang gelding with bi-lateral stringhalt, which may or may not be reversible. He appears to be 12 years old, according to his brand. His pal, Buck, is a 10 y/o gelding, reportedly Quarter Horse with what appears to be strong Barb influence. Buck was recently gelded and it took him a few days to relinquish his hopes of dominating Star. Buck is turning out to be a nice trail riding horse and Jake is happy to be part opf a "herd." Our hope is to (someday soon) explore Jake's surgical options, but in the meantime, the disorder is not painful and he has lived with it for at least two years already. These two came from a dog rescue who ended up with the horses when they were seized for neglect in 2006.

September 16
The sanctuary was scheduled for two live segments with Courtney Dempsey on Good Day Sacramento. That morning, Courtney was called away to cover a warehouse fire in Galt, so reporter Lisa Gonzales covered our story. Due to a traffic accident on the freeway, Lisa arrived almost an hour late only to find it impossible to get a live signal out of our little piece of Penryn. Lisa and cameraman, Shock, instead recorded material that aired the following day. It was a rare treat for us to have reason to gather together all our "ponies" in one spot. Horses are simply more beautiful living in harmony together.

The Good Day Sacramento clip can be viewed here.

September 19
Our eldest horse, Odie, made it clear that he wanted to sunbathe on the front lawn. We thought perhaps his time was drawing near and we allowed him to lounge as he pleased for a few days in a row. He thoroughly enjoyed rolling and sleeping in our front yard and we were happy to let him do as he pleased. In time, he seemed to perk up and be ready to go back to his daily routine. Whatever the old horse wants, he gets... within reason, of course. Not too much sugar, Sweet Boy.

September 26, 27, & 28
Our trusted resource, Craigslist, revealed that a homeowner in nearby Rocklin was giving away DG ~ decomposed granite. He was digging a wine cave into the hill behind his home, which produced massive amounts. With Winter fast approaching, free DG seemed like a miracle for mud management. When all was said and done, we were able to move roughly 50 yards of DG for the cost of an overnight dump truck rental, although we had the truck for three days.

My best friend and geologist, Mary Gaspari, stopped by to check out the excavation. I love seeing things through her perspective.

Spreading all that DG was backbreaking work, but it was a big blessing. The boys both enjoyed driving the 7-speed Ford F650 big rig, of course!

September 28
The day we rescued LeRoi from his orchard. LeRoi's story will be told in greater detail at a later time. He deserves a rememberance.

September 30
Easter Seals HTR came for their fourth visit. Admittedly, I was not the best photographer that day, being physically and emotionally tired. I apologize to those whose photo I neglected to take. The date on the photos is incorrect because the camera battery had been allowed to die. Details, details!

As the clients gathered in preparation for departure, John acted as spokesman for the group by announcing their decision to choose A Chance for Bliss as the beneficiary of the proceeds from their 2007 Annual Holiday Shoppe. A check in the amount of $1,000 would be prepared right away. My response was delayed ~ this seemed surreal. I mean, we should be the ones donating to Easter Seals, no? Isn't that right? How could we accept this?

Well, graciously I suppose it the best way. It was a stunning concept to receive a donation from them and took me a while to process. This relationship is a perfect example of how we can help one another. Isn't that the Golden Rule?

Thank you, each of you, Easter Seals clients and staff, for lavishing our fur-kids with such loving attention and giving of your financial gifts to us. Our lives have been enriched immeasurably by you.