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Archive for the ‘things that happen’ Category

It’s bee a while since I’ve been here.  Lots of happenings have kept me away.  Let’s see…  Illness, unpacking, more fencing, bad weather, more bad weather, great weather, gardening, colic, tornado, injury, new family member…  I think that’s about right.

I never did find my battery charger for my camera, so I bought a new one.  Bad Pants finally unpacked the card reader.  So, this is mostly a picture post catching up on things.

Roxanne's attempt to "unzip" herself, mostly healed.

Wearing Daddy's t-shirt to keep her stitches and my floor clean- this was earlier than the first pic, as she still had her drain tubes in.

New living room set we purchased right before Rox unzipped herself.

Dude's dye-free, completely from scratch gingerbread house.

another view

Pasture space upon move in, and garden.

Pasture space, run-in and ponies March 2012. Note the front paddock and run-in were all the builder provided for 4 horses.

One of the cleared piles ready to burn on move in.

Builder's version of "burned" burn piles.

Shingle damage to the cottage from the storms.

This guy showed up on Feb 29 while Sugar was colicking. We've had no luck locating his owners.

He's a redtick coonhound, which are apparently a dime a dozen here in the South. No microchip, no response to my ads, no lost reports with AC. It was suggested by the vet that he was probably dumped, as that's not uncommon in our area.

He's about 18 months old, really well-behaved, clearly has had some training, doesn't dig or jump fences, is good with other dogs, and mostly good with the cats. He's very friendly and housebroken too.

So, we're keeping him. He's adopted Dude as his person. We've named him "Bob" or "Bobby", depending on the day. Soon he will be scheduled for a neuter, microchip and vaccs. He'll never be a stray again!

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If I have been quiet recently, forgive me.  It’s been a tough time with my typical anti-holidays sentiments, my family visiting from out of state, work around here trying to get all set up for ponies home, etc, etc, etc.

However, I’m struggling most with knowing I’ll be saying goodbye to a dear, dear friend of mine sooner rather than later.  She has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  At best, I will be saying goodbye for the last time about five years from now.  At worst, it could be tomorrow.  She will leave behind two severely special needs children, who she will never see grow up to become adults, and who will always, always need their mama.

My heart is breaking for her children, for her family, for myself, but mostly for her, as God has tested her more than Jobe her whole life.

Life is never fair.  But sometimes, life really deals a rough hand to wonderful people.

 

*There’s a point at which I don’t know what to say to my beautiful friend.  I mourn the loss of my friend, am in shock at the impending loss, but yet she is not gone.  I want to mourn for ME, for MY LOSS, but yet she is here still and faces Death with such a positive attitude and outlook.  No self-pity, no fear…  Just a beautiful, serene, loving outlook on life and an ability to treasure every moment, every breath she has left.  I cry for the shadow looming over her life, yet here she is, celebrating what she has, and what she has been given.  She is one of the bravest and strongest women I know, an inspiration and example to so many people for how to live.  Yet, I wallow in my own selfishness and cry for my impending loss…

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For those of you who haven’t befriended me on Facebook, I’ve been quite busy with a new project.   I’ve been so busy, in fact, that I have put the Bake-Off on hold for a bit.

So, without further ado, let me show you what’s been going on.

**WARNING: Graphic photos** 

While I admit that the photos I will be sharing below are not that bad, IMO, I do realize they could upset some readers.  So, if you’re one of those, please feel free to skip this post entirely and know I took in a skinny, starving mare near death and I’m working on making her better.

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Meet Sugar, a 14hh, upper-teens, stock horse type mare.

Just 12 days ago, I helped rescue an abandoned horse at the end of our road.  Her owners didn’t want her any more and turned her loose, just like that.  She’d been fending for herself for some time in a swampy area.  But, in case you haven’t heard, Georgia is in the midst of a drought.  Our ponds are mostly dried up and the grass had been dormant for most of the summer.  So , the swamp was dry, with no water and no nutrition in the grasses she was eating.
Mind you, this is the second horse I’ve found since moving to Georgia.  You can read about the first one here.
I told my husband I was going to go take a look at her.  He told me we just couldn’t take on another horse.  We’re already full up here.  AND he’d just purchased another for me a few days previously as a surprise.  (I knew about it.  Oddly, he bought her that SUNDAY night.  It’ll be some time before I bring her to Georgia though, as she’s a baby and in Oregon).
So, he protested mildly.
After seeing the plight of this little mare, at how painfully thin she was (and still is), and seeing her old injuries that weren’t cared for, my heart broke.  I spent the next half hour trying to get the owner to relinquish her to my custody (and he was a scary, strung out, tweaker dude!), followed by 90 minutes of slow walking to move her the two miles it was to my house.  I could not leave her there.  I simply couldn’t.  A couple more weeks on her own and this mare would have died, if she hadn’t wandered out into the road and been hit by a car first, causing a terrible accident and loss of lives.
During that walk, I prayed that we’d make it home safely.  That Sugar wouldn’t go down, and would have the strength to make it to my house.  I sweet talked that little mare the whole way home too, calling her “Sugar HoneyBaby” and begging her to not go down on me, all the while pleading with God to keep vehicles from flying up the road at us, causing an accident, or spook, or worse.
We made it home.  Sugar was in pitiful condition.  I gave thanks for our safe journey.  I gave thanks that my husband’s soft heart caved when he saw her.  And since then, I’ve worked hard to put weight on Sugar and to make her comfortable.  She’s gaining steadily (52 lbs the first week), but she’s not out of the woods yet.
It’s also been financially tight for us to take Sugar on right now.  Not only did we just pay a substantial amount of money for my new filly, but my husband’s company announced they were changing our pay cycle and we’d be going an extra week before being paid again, all on a payday that is already reserved for rent and bill and whatnot.  But some how, so far, the Universe has provided, not just for us, but for Sugar too.  (Because, rehabbing a horse is VERY expensive.  In 11 days she’s cost roughly what I spend on my two horses here at home for a three week period).
I de-wormed Sugar yesterday, as she was finally strong enough for a mild de-wormer (pyrantel, if you’re wondering).  Even then, I was deeply worried about a chance of colicking.  Oddly, colic and founder are my worst fears when it comes to my horses.  I’ve never really had to deal with either (except a little belly ache with Casey because he was cold last winter).  So, I checked on her hourly, until after midnight.  She’s fine today, a little quiet, but fine.
In the past 12 days, I’ve been able to piece together that Sugar was someone’s beloved, well-trained baby in the past.  She blankets like a pro, even lowers her head to put on and take off the blanket, de-worms without need of a halter and doesn’t fuss, and is about the easiest going mare I’ve ever known.  Of course, with some additional weight, some of that may change.
I don’t know much about her past and I can only guess at it from what I observe.  I do know she came with a calcified knee injury, but I don’t know how old it is.  She needs her teeth floated, but appears to be about 16-18.  She fly sprays like a champ.  She spooks sometimes, but she spooks in place.  She has an eye injury that has left her with some vision impairment.  And she spooks when strangers she doesn’t know approach her from the left, the eye with the vision impairment.  Once she knows and trusts you, she’ll follow you anywhere and actively seek out your company.
Sugar came with the name, “Cocoa”, but we changed it for obvious reasons.  I’m told that she is papered and that her previous, previous owners would just give me her papers.  But so far, that hasn’t happened.  At this point I haven’t been able to find out anything more about her.  Not her registered name or breed or date of birth.  But that’s ok.  I’m learning about Sugar all the time, just by what she shows me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a broken down old mare to go love on and a stall to strip.  🙂

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As you know, last week had some of the worst tornado activity in the history of the U.S.  Many have been left without homes, whole towns have been nearly destroyed.  Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee were hit the hardest.  You can see some of the Google Earth before and after photos here.  Just mouse over the photo to see the “after” image.  More images of Alabama can be seen here.  They were taken by a very talented photographer, Amanda Chapman.  Please scroll down through her blog to see the unbelievable devastation left in the wake of last week’s storm.  When you’re done, I’ll be here to tell you my own tale.

Done?  Need to get a tissue to dry your eyes?  I’ll wait.

Ready? Good.  As Mrs. Mom loves to say, “hold on to yer butts!”  It’s going to be a bit hair raising.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest.  Tornadoes just weren’t part of our weather vocabulary.  About as close as any one in the PNW got to tornadoes was while watching The Wizard of Oz, when the tornado whisked Dorothy out of Kansas.  Earthquakes, blizzards, flooding…  Those were normal.  Tornadoes just were not part of life there.

Flash forward to June 2009.  We had a rare tornado cell go right over our house in Oregon.

In March of this year (2011), we discovered I cannot hear the tornado warning siren one town over, about 4 miles away.  What we didn’t know is that we are surrounded by sirens.  And as we learned on April 27th, I can hear some of the other sirens around us.

That fateful Wednesday morning, I woke up and hustled Dude out the door for his CRCT testing (state education standards testing).  We were there a little before 8 a.m.   Bad Pants had let me know that we were due for high winds and thunderstorms in the early afternoon, before I’d left, so I shouldn’t really stop to see the horses on my way home that day.  At 8:30 a.m., BP texted me that our local tornado sirens were going off.  Minutes later, I heard a loud, annoying buzz coming from inside the building we were in for testing.  I had no idea what the noise was.  Of the other 20 or so parents that were waiting with me, no one seemed alarmed.  NO ONE got up to investigate.  NO ONE moved to another room, away from the 20′ high floor-to-ceiling windows.  NO ONE.

About 15 minutes later, I found a building official who told me the noise I heard was a weather radio.  It had gone off signalling a high wind warning for the area.  She kindly reset the weather radio to go off only for tornado warnings, as she had heard about the sirens going off near my home herself, on her way in to work.  Then, she told me they had an emergency plan in place and filled me in on it, easing my mind.

Bad Pants texted me to tell me the sirens had gone off due to a pressure change from high winds.  Everything was ok.  He reiterated that I should not dawdle coming home though.

The trip home was uneventful.  I’d noticed the sheer number of dead animals at the side of the road on the drive in and home.  Odd, I know.  But, I have a theory about that for another time.  The important thing here is that they were all predators.  All of them.  Let’s just say it was extensive (and odd, don’t forget odd) for the sake of moving forward in the story.

Once home, Bad Pants filled me in on the tornado that hit Chattanooga, TN.  Chattanooga is only a couple hours north of us, and very near where Barrow’s breeder lives.  I started paying close attention to the weather reports online.  The weather alert services I signed up for in March kept sending me messages that we were under Tornado Watch.  I paid very close attention, even following The Weather Channel on Twitter.

As the afternoon progressed, we started hearing more and more reports about tornadoes hitting Alabama.  Around 4:30 p.m., Barrow’s breeder popped up on Facebook, letting everyone know they were ok.  A tornado had touched down in her front yard at 8:30 a.m. that morning and moved off into Chattanooga.  They were all ok, with only minimal damage done to fences.  Approximately twenty minutes after her Facebook posting, 2 more tornadoes struck her area and she fell silent.

Around 5 p.m. we were put on Tornado Warning.  My phone went off every few minutes with warning messages from the weather alert services.  (I believe I counted 5 tornadoes hitting Tuscaloosa, AL before 9 p.m.).  Tuscaloosa is only a couple hours west of us.  The storm was marching straight at us.

As the evening wore on, the air around us became denser.  It was heavy, humid and hot.  We sent Dude up to bed so he could get some rest as he had more CRCT testing in the morning.  BP and I continued to watch the storm march in.  By now, I had the song, “The Ants Go Marching” stuck in my head.  As more and more tornado reports came in, worry really began to take hold.

Around 10:15 p.m., Rox got in my face and started licking my chin.  I’ve learned this is her way of telling me a storm is coming, or, she really, really needs to pee.  As I’d taken her out not long ago, in preparation for the thunderstorms, I knew it wasn’t the latter.  Rox chooses to be annoying to get my attention, as she doesn’t like thunderstorms herself.  Her joints felt like they were on fire to the touch. I gave her some aspirin, hoping it would help her be a little more comfortable.   I was certain she was hurting.

Minutes later…

Tornado sirens went off!  I yelled for Dude, trying my best to wake him up.  I ran upstairs into his room and shook him so hard I was afraid I was going to break his arm.  It was hot.  Like a baby wrapped too much and quite warm, Dude was difficult to wake.  Just as I grabbed him to drag him bodily downstairs, he woke up.  We ran downstairs to climb into our tornado shelter, a closet in my bedroom next to an old, covered over fireplace, the safest place in the house.

The wind screamed around the corners of our house.  From our little closet, we heard thunder booming, drowning out the sound of the tornado sirens.  Yes, sirens.  We heard 4-6 different ones all told.  And yes, I could hear them.   With multiple sirens going off, fear really began to take hold.

I worried for my pets.  The closet is too small to bring them into it.  Instead, they were crated and their crates pushed into the hallway, with Roxanne in a down-stay next to them as we don’t have a crate for her.  The cats huddled in the hall on their own, freaked out in their own right.  I worried about my horses, 8 miles away, and hoping that my landlord was smart enough to leave all the horses turned out to pasture and not locked in stalls inside the barn.

I posted to Facebook and here on my blog, asking for people to please pray for the South.  The storm that had practically wiped out parts of Alabama and Northern Georgia was at our door!  My mind kept racing as to whether or not Dude would be able to go to testing the next morning, if it would be cancelled or rescheduled, or even if the building would still be there.

I don’t remember how long we stayed there.  It felt like a long, long time in that hot, sweltering closet.  Eventually, the sirens went off.  We went back to watching the weather reports, closely tracking the storm.  And when it looked like it was all done for a while, we sent Dude back up to bed.

No sooner had we done that than Bad Pants looked out the window to see a funnel cloud out our southern-facing windows.  No tornado sirens were going off.  No emergency text messages on my phone.  And the funnel cloud was CLOSE.  For the first time, terror truly struck my heart.  I screamed for Dude to get downstairs and we all ran for the closet again.

No sirens.  NONE.  Wind was screaming around my house as we waited and waited for the tornado to hit.  I believe we individually prayed more than we’d ever prayed before.  Being in that closet without any sirens going off, without any way to know what was happening was terrifying.  Was it going to hit us?  Was it going to roar on by?  What about the neighbors?  The woods behind us?  The hay field across the street?  Had it touched down?  How would we know when it would be safe to come out again?

Eventually, it got a bit quieter.  Bad Pants ventured out of the closet, looking out the window.  That particular storm cell had moved on.  It wasn’t in sight.

We came back out of the closet again, checked the weather reports, checked our weather warnings.  (Still on Tornado Warning).  And then the reports started rolling in.  The funnel cloud we saw moved off north-east of us, throwing cars and rolling semis on the freeway, east of here.

The storm had marched up to our area, broke apart to go around us to the north and south, and then form up again a few miles to the east of us.  There were tornado reports to the South and North of us, but the funnel cloud we saw went right over us, missing us completely.  How?  I don’t know.  I watched the storm on radar march right up to the freeway, just one mile from our house.  One Mile.  And then it broke up, parting like the Red Sea, to go around us and re-form to the East.  We were spared!

But the night was far from over.

Wave after wave of thunderstorms hit us, each one holding the potential to be carrying a tornado within it.  We’d watch the orange and red lines on the radar march up to us and then break up when it reached our area on the map, only to re-form on the other side.  We had thunderstorms overhead.  Loud, booming, house-shaking thunderstorms directly overhead.  Lightening lit up the outside like daylight.  But the tornado cells kept breaking up right before they reached us.

About 2 a.m., when he had calmed down, I put Dude to bed in our closet for the night.  At least I knew he’d be safe there and I wouldn’t have to drag him bodily from upstairs into the closet or worry that I couldn’t get to him in time.

An hour later, at 3 a.m., the tornado warnings came off.  Bad Pants and I went to bed, listening to the thunderstorms moving away from us, but prepared to jump into the closet if need be.

We didn’t get much sleep that night.  I was up at 6 a.m., getting chores done and taking Dude to testing.  The sun was shining brightly, the sky blue and cloudless.  Driving in to testing, we saw a little wind damage.  But the odd thing was that we saw score upon score of dead armadillos at the side of the road.  Only armadillos.  Bodies of armadillos that hadn’t been there the day before.  The predators that had been dead at the side of the road before, all the dead critters from the day before, were GONE.   Only bodies of armadillos littered the roadways.

Testing happened as scheduled, even though everyone was tired.  Nothing stopped.  Life moved forward.   I checked on the horses on the way home.  They were grazing peacefully, only stopping to call to me when I stepped out of my vehicle.   Life around me was peaceful and normal.  You’d have never suspected the chaos that had happened the night before unless you’d been here.

I went home and continued to keep an eye on the weather over Mrs. Mom.  Johnny Reb was declining and the storms containing tornadoes were marching her way.  As friends from all over continued to pray for her, Johnny Reb and the family during this time, those storms broke apart, leaving her only with some thunder showers.

Barrow’s breeder was able to get a message to us that they were ok, but the homes of many of their friends and neighbors had been destroyed.  By the Grace of God, the tornadoes had missed them.  They would be without power for 3-4 days, but her family was ok.

Be it a topographical anomaly or not, I fully believe the prayers of many kept Mrs. Mom and I safe last week during the days of terrible tornadoes.  I thank those of you who sent out prayers to whatever deity you pray to, and those of you that just sent positive thoughts our way.  The tragedy that befell Alabama and N. Georgia could easily have struck us as well.

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And no, not in the fun, drinky kind of way.

If you’re living under a rock, on a mountain top, without tv or possibly in the wilds of Alaska, the South is getting hammered by tornadoes.  They’re saying that this is likely to surpass the Super Outbreak of 1974.

I sat and watched Twitter pretty closely early this evening.  I counted at least, AT LEAST, 5 tornadoes going through Tuscaloosa, AL.   Countless more hit Birmingham.  And you know what?  I live due east, the direction the storm is heading.

At 8:30 a.m. this morning, high winds triggered tornado warning sirens here. Dude and I were two towns away for his CRCT testing (state testing, like the WASSL out West).  The church we were at for testing had weather radios.  Yes, plural.  The weather radios went off, and I sat in a room of at least 20 adults who did nothing.  NOTHING!  We were in a room with floor to ceiling windows.  I didn’t know it was the weather radio.  I’d never heard one before.  But, after several seconds, I did get up to investigate.  And you know what?  I CAN hear the weather radio!  Luckily, it also was just going off for high winds.

At 8:30 a.m. this morning, more than 2 hours away from us, Barrow’s breeder, Jenny, had a tornado in her front yard.  The same tornado went on to smash Chattanooga to bits.  Eight hours later, a second, then a third, a fourth and a fifth tornado went through her vicinity.  They were spaced out over a couple hours, but still.  That’s a lot of angry weather!

This storm cell is ravaging much of the South.  It’s leveled homes and businesses.  It’s left many homeless, and at least 32 people confirmed dead at the time of writing.  It seems that someone has p*ssed off the Weather Gods.

As the storm moves east, it’s condensing down and gaining strength.  Tomorrow, the entire Eastern Seaboard will be under storm warning, from the Florida Keys to New York.  Already Maryland and Pittsburgh have seen Tornado Warnings.

So, if you remotely pray, even just once in a while, please send out a prayer for those of us in the South.  I don’t care which deity you pray to.  Allah, Buddah, Odin, Ceredwin, Shiva, Isis, Ra, Jesus, Jehovah…  I don’t care.  Please just take the time to send out that prayer.  Heck, if you’ve got some extra time, pray to all of them to make sure we have our bases covered!

Now, I’m going to take my dogs out to potty one last time before the storm gets here, make sure my phone is fully charged and prepare to lay low.  I’ll check in with you when I can.

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Almost a month ago, we had the tornado siren go off here.  I was on the phone at the time and didn’t hear it.  Even after Bad Pants got me off the phone, I still couldn’t hear the siren.  Not from inside the closet next to the brick fireplace, the safest place in the house, nor outside the closet in our bedroom.  I’m not sure I could have heard it if I was standing outside, as the tone seems to be right under my hearing register when the sound travels any distance.

This has caused some consternation for us.  How am I to hear a weather emergency like that?  It’s not like our area uses air raid sirens, which I can here.  Instead, this is the siren they use, which I can’t hear from the 4 miles away we are from it.

That is what our siren sounds like.  Annoying when I’m listening to it on Youtube, impossible for me to hear in real life.

Most of the time, Bad Pants is home to alert me.  Or Dude.  But there are times that perhaps one or both won’t be around, or will be using earbuds or headphones and not hear the warning.

I have plans to teach Barrow to alert me to this specific sound once he gets older.  Only, I have to figure out how to teach him to do that.  If I can puzzle that out, I can teach Roxanne NOW.

Eventually, we want to get a couple of these:

But, as you can imagine, they are not exactly inexpensive.  And I’d need more than one for our home.  And I need the vibrator as we have lightening often enough that the strobe light you can get to go with it might not be enough to wake me.  Though, ideally, one of these with a loud alarm noise should do the trick to get my attention.

Of course, we’re still researching these units.  Some are pre-programmed for your area at the manufacturer’s, which is nice.  Apparently this particular model is not.

In the mean time though, I’ve found a couple text and email notification websites.  They’re free, as long as you use only one location.  I signed up to use this one and this one.  I’d like to compare the services before I shell out money for multiple locations monthly (we live on the border of 3 counties).  However, the drawback here is that my cell phone doesn’t always have signal during thunderstorms.

We are actively researching, plotting and planning for tornadoes.  And preparing for a future that might become quieter for me some day.

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George, the little cat whom we were told would only live a single month at most when we adopted him, gave us his heart for 19 months instead.  In the end, his little, tiny body began to fail him.

It’s amazing at how a tiny, sickly, old cat could steal so many hearts in such a short time.  From being locked in a car on a hot July day, saved by shaving, fluids and an ice bath to making a nearly 3000 mile journey cross-country, George has had a tremendous ending to his life, in which we spent spoiling him and filling with love every day.

I doubt I will ever eat turkey again without thinking of the little cat we bribed to make it to and through each holiday.

We returned him to the Universe today.  He will be sorely missed.  I hope Heaven has provided him with turkey and Grandmas laps.

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