Saturday, September 17, 2011
An Aging Farm
Sigh. The animals are getting older.
Whispy came to the Dogtor's family as a rescue horse. She was already old and slightly arthritic, not a horse for riding. So into the pasture she went, gentle and undemanding.
She is now over thirty and pushing the conventional lifespan of a horse.
I did not grow up around horses, and at first I used to get an adrenaline rush being alone in the stall with her. In the first winters of my time in Vermont, I would fumble with gloved fingers to switch the water bucket (as they freeze easily here). She would hover over me, probably just for the company, but at first I found her looming size intimidating, as if she was saying, come on, small non-horse person, get on with it.
The other morning, the Dogtor came in from "doing the barn" to report that Whispy was on the ground, and though he tried to get her up, he couldn't. He suggested I say my goodbyes. I went out with a handful of carrots. As I walked across the yard - the first true fall morning - I started to cry. And then I saw her walking across the pasture - somehow she had willed herself up. She was bleeding and had a cut on her nose and hind quarters, but was up and eating. She inhaled the carrots.
Later that afternoon I brought her some soft pears that had fallen from our tree. Now, more practiced in communing with horses, I leave my hand at her mouth so that she can take the pear in two bites.
Though she is up and walking, she doesn't look long for this world. It is apple season, and I will visit her often this week, shielding her from the ever-hungry goats (whom she loves), so she can eat her share.