Monday, July 11, 2016

Toe the Line

This weekend was a struggle between the horses misbehaving, the dogs having accidents and getting sick, and me being the equivalent of a car up on cinder blocks.  I had zero gas in my tank and no tires.  I tried eating foods that would give me energy, taking vitamins and drinking coffee, but in the end the only thing that got me moving was an unwanted burst of adrenaline.

Here's an example of one morning I had.  Keep in mind that everything was happening very fast and I had little time to process all of it.  Plus I was still half-asleep and desperately trying to get back to sleep the entire time.

1.  Got up before sunrise, and took the dogs out to potty before I even had a chance to comb out the rat's nest on my head.  Hoped I wouldn't run into a neighbor.  Went to the barn to feed the horses and clean up manure before it got too hot and found Lostine limping.  Her hip injury was more serious than I thought.  I only had one dose of Banamine left and, with it being the weekend, I would have to pay for an emergency ranch visit if I got the vet out to prescribe more, but chances were that she was on vacation like every other vet around here who vacations in the summer to get out of the heat when the majority of his/her clients have done the same.

2.  In the process of trying to juggle a bucket of pellets and the jar of fly control powder, I dropped the jar and spilled the majority of powder all over the ground.  One more reason to not bother to fork out week's paycheck to buy any horse supplement in powder form.

3.  Went back into house after doing barn chores and playing veterinarian, only to find that a dog left the largest puddle of pee ever on the carpet right next to where I lay my head while sleeping.  It took half a roll of paper towels to soak it all up and no amount of scrubbing could get the stench out of the carpet.  (Once Midge and Scrappy pass away, we plan to rip up all the carpet and broken tiles, and lay down laminate flooring, but in the meantime, our house smells like a subway station in the summer and I do everything I can to discourage company from visiting.)

4.  Tried to wash my hands only to discover that the soap pump was out of soap.  Hunted around the house for either a new pump or a refill.  Woke my husband in the process of rummaging.

5.  Finally got a moment to pee myself and wash my hands again, only to walk out of the bathroom and nearly step in a fresh pile of dog poop right outside the bathroom door.  I was only in there for about 30 seconds, but someone couldn't hold it, despite me already taking them out a short time before.  It is not uncommon for me to have to hold my own bladder for the first few hours of the morning because the dogs cannot hold theirs.  They get to pee half a dozen times before I do, and the one time I try to sneak in a quick bathroom break for myself, I am left a big, steaming pile of crap as my reward.

6.  Tried to wash my hands in another room after cleaning up the dog poop only to find out that another soap pump was out of soap.  Wrote soft soap on the grocery list and found another refill.

7.  Took all the dogs outside only to have them do nothing, because they already did it on the carpet.  Tried to feed them, but all the Chihuahuas would do is fight over the food, yet not eat it.  Took their food away and told them to go lay down.  Gave Midge her insulin injection.

8.  Sat down to eat my own breakfast.  Scrappy sat down next to me and promptly vomited on the couch.  I tossed my breakfast in order to clean it up.  Gave up on breakfast and just took my pain pill on an empty stomach, which made me nauseated.

9.  The trash stunk of urine soaked paper towels, so I carried that bag out to the pickup bin.  Walked back inside, shut the garage bay, locked the door, only to have all the three dogs shaking their collars to say that they needed to potty... again.

10.  Opened everything right back up and took all three outside.  Pondered whether I should take Scrappy to the vet on Monday since he's peeing way more often, which means he may have another bladder stone.  Also, pondered when I would have time to get the equine vet out to look at Lostine's hip and prescribe Banamine, because of my own doctor's appointment scheduled right smack in the middle of the day that I was not willing to cancel, because I've been waiting all month for it.  I am constantly having to postpone my own health care because the dogs and horses have a 100% success rate in getting sick or injured right before I am due for my own medical appointments.

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that about 50% of the time when I took the dogs outside, either Stewie or Midge had a dingleberry stuck to his or her butt that would not come off for anything.  I had to grab a stick to knock it off, and if that didn't work, drag a reluctant dog into the bathroom to pull it off with toilet paper.  However, with my lousy luck, the dingleberry usually fell off somewhere in the house between the entry and bathroom and someone either stepped in it or ate it before I could clean it up.  Whenever the dogs eat poop, I usually have vomit in my near future, whether it be theirs or mine.

Then there was this other morning, which I will tell in story form instead of list form:  Rock and Gabbrielle always finish their hay hours before the two older horses, and then they stand in their stalls staring at the house, willing me to come out and release them.

I obliged, but left Bombay and Lostine locked in their stalls to finish eating.  Rock was adamant about standing at the gate to Lostine's stall in order to claim her leftovers.  Gabbrielle didn't like that, so she kept herding him into corners and kicking him.

I yelled at her, she stopped, only to start up again as soon as I went back in the house.  She put her ears forward and gave me her innocent face when I was outside, but the second I went inside, those ears were pinned back and she charged Rock.  I ran back outside and flung a rock, hitting a water trough, which spooked her, and that set her straight for a little while.

The dogs were pestering me to take them out to potty for the umpteenth time, and while we were out there, Gabbrielle had the nerve to attack Rock right in front of me.  During their scuffle, Rock banged up against the main barn gate and somehow knocked it open.  Either I didn't latch it properly because I was half-asleep, or Rock managed to wiggle it out of the latch before bumping into it.  Up until that moment, all I could think about was getting back into the air conditioned house and picking up where I left off in my sleep.

However, if I didn't react immediately to this latest predicament, (keeping in mind that my predicaments change from one minute to the next and I can hardly keep up with them all), I'd have a much bigger problem on my hands.  I ran the dogs back into the house, and ditched them with their leashes still attached, then ran down to the barn to shut the gate before the horses realized that it was open.  Fortunately, they were so focused on each other that they didn't see their chance for escape.

The whole time I was running around, I was thankful for the prescription medication I was on, because I knew that without it, I wouldn't be able to run at all, none-the-less walk without the help of a cane.

I knew that if I didn't do something with Gabbrielle, she'd be a terror to the herd the rest of the day, so I planned to lunge her in the round pen.  However, I first had to let Lostine and Bombay out of their stalls and clean up the rest of the manure.

I only had a few piles to clean up, but it took a ridiculously long time, because Gabbrielle kept running past me either to chase Rock away from some leftovers or to get into the stall I was cleaning to see if there was anything in the food trough there.  At one point, I let her eat leftovers out of a trough while I was cleaning and she spooked at something and bolted, side-swiping me on her way out of the stall at a gallop.  I was so angry at her for not respecting my space and putting me in danger that I chased her and threw the manure fork at her the way someone might throw a javelin, only I had the plastic basket facing forward instead of the handle end.

I did not expect to hit her, but the fork landed lightly on her back and rode her a bit, bouncing up and down like it was having a grand old time, and then it bailed off onto Rock's feet.  Both horses stopped and looked at me like they were asking what the heck that was all about.  I could have asked them the same.  I would not let Gabbrielle back into the barn after that, so the scenario went kind of like this:

Grab fork, scoop poop, throw fork and poop into wagon and chase Gabbrielle out of the barn.  Grab fork, throw it back down, and chase Gabbrielle out of the barn.  Grab fork, wave it in the air, and chase Gabbrielle out of the barn.  I gave up on cleaning and dragged Gabbrielle out of the barn via lead rope and halter, and lunged her in the round pen since she clearly was not respectful nor scared of me chasing her.  She could run in circles until she decided to follow my rules.

Once in the round pen, she was on her best behavior because she wanted to just get the session over with so that she could return to the barn to eat leftovers.  I even tried to make things harder for her by backing her around the pen with hand signals, side passing her with hand signals, and making her maintain her pace while pooping, but she did everything I asked flawlessly.

While I was lunging her, my neighbor's annoying grandson was hiding in the bushes in my back yard saying, "Horsey, horsey, horsey..." over and over in a mocking tone.  I couldn't see him, so I put my hands on my hips and glared angrily in the direction of the voice, and it immediately stopped.  I wished that my silent conveyance of raw anger could stop the animals from hassling me the way it stopped that kid from harassing me.  I knew I should have flushed him out of the bushes and delivered him straight to his grandparent's doorstep, but I already had so many things try to drag me away from dealing with Gabbrielle that morning that I was no longer willing to do anything but focus on getting her ya-yas out.  By this point, I had completely abandoned the idea of going back to sleep.

I lunged her until she had sweaty white foam squirting out from between her butt cheeks.  Then I cooled her down and locked her in her stall for several hours to give the other horses a break from being bullied and beat up.  However, without having Gabbrielle in the mix to keep them in line, Rock and Bombay began play fighting and trying to rip each other's fly masks off their faces, which really pissed me off because I've already spent a fortune on fly masks this summer.  I've had two brand new fly masks get destroyed in less than a day.  So, out came the rock scoop and slingshot.  They stopped, only to start up again as soon as I walked in the house.  I then ran out and flung rocks at metal objects until they separated.  I decided that if I caught them doing that one more time, I was going to lock both of them in stalls on opposite sides of the aisle where they couldn't reach each other.

The good news is that all the dogs and horses usually take a siesta in the middle of the day and early afternoon, so I did get to relax, but only when they allowed it.  Then late afternoon came, and the insanity started all over again.  Summer is synonymous with chaos for me.  Because I can only spend a few minutes at a time outdoors before heat illness symptoms set in, I have to break up my barn chores into several small increments throughout the day and night, and everything has to go like clockwork.  Of course, it's doesn't go like clockwork, so there are days when I never finish cleaning up manure or dog poop, or the horses don't get groomed, or the horses don't get their supplements, or the injured horses don't get their cuts treated.  I'm always having to sacrifice something.  I miss the cooler temps, when life is so much easier.  Summer is just about trying to survive, and practicing as much patience as possible, but I'm not very good at either.


ellie k said...

It sounds like the horses are bored, tired of the heat and love to have your attention and know how to get it.

Cheryl Ann said...

I can understand your situation. I get up, let our dog out, feed the cats, run to the bathroom, feed the birds, feed mealworms to the mockingbird family, fill up the hummingbird feeders, THEN have my coffee. By then, the feeders need to be filled AGAIN, so I go outside and fill them and water. I usually fall asleep for a morning nap about this time (7 a.m.)!!!
Cheryl Ann