pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

A Chapter in That Proposed Book?

(Moved from a post in a friend's journal.)

Louise's first foal, born in the hay mow of the barn, who then crawled under the long door in a rain storm, through the stallion's pen, several feet thick in mud, either under the people door by the barn, or under the double gates in the middle of the fence connecting it to the yard, across the yard with the two broodmares waiting to foal, then under the electric wire without destroying it, and finally standing up in the little dab of driveway separating the farm entry from the road, going to the double gates there, and trying to suck on the chains that held them shut. Just inside, the two mares in waiting were frantically trying to mother him over the fence.

When my next barn check showed up a mare with NO foal, I looked at the 4" gap in the corner of the sliding door where evidently the stallion had tried to attend the birth, only to be stopped by the chain, and decided that had to be where the foal went. I turned on the yard light, but no foal, so I began shuffling through the mud without lifting up my boots, feeling for a body under the muck that was not visible in the rain. On one pass, I noticed the odd behavior of the two mares in the shadow of the cedar tree in the front yard right beside the gate. The boss had turned on the subordinate one and driven her away.

"I didn't think either of them were within a week of foaling; I'd better get them in, too," as I gave up my morbid search of the barn lot.

When I got Pandemonium Louis (who stood at Steve's until his death) into the front yard, Kamana ran off with him. I had a terrible time getting him away from her. Dawn wasn't near as much trouble until I was trying to get him through the gate into the stallion pen. She almost caused the escape of the stallion into the front yard, where he'd have been a real asset! Then the mud. Keeping him on his feet and moving was such a chore. I was exhausted by the time I got him to the lip of the people door. Getting him over the sill was nearly impossible.

Then, when Louise came up, she refused him. (Of course, by then, she 1) had no idea this was what she'd produced, 2) could smell at least Kamana on him...) So, at two am, the vet arrived, tranquilized her and stayed until 5 with me, helping me make sure he got to eat. We both made it to work the next day...I know at least I was none too shiney...

I'd hold the long rope on her, and she'd feed him. A neighbor fed him that way during the day, and by the next night, she'd relented. She never did totally accept and mother him well. He was Steve's colt, so when I took Raven west that summer, Louis went along. You probably remember the year we pulled in early in the morning instead of late at night, having stopped at a rest area 50 miles away for the night when we just couldn't go any further. I had Sarah W., her first trip west, or even out of Iowa, with me, so we'd toured the corn palace. The next day, we took Raven out and arranged his head so it lined up with the presidents, making the "fifth head". We put Raven and Louis in separate stud pens. Louis couldn't get enough attention. He played with the piece of wood floating in the big tank when we finally reached your place.

But before we got there, at the rest area that dawn, Sarah took Raven into the alfalfa field while she was still half asleep. He had on a halter with a defective cheek snap, and it caught on some alfalfa. As he ate, he slipped free of it, continuing to graze calmly nearby with Sarah blithely holding the rope end attached to an alfalfa plant. When I got the stall mucked out and Raven's grain placed, Louis watered, gave him the last of Chuck's grain, which he'd polished off, instead of going off feed as most newly weaned foals do, etc., I glanced over to see Raven, totally unencumbered, about 20 feet away from Sarah, who was dozing on her feet.

Cautioning her to stay still, as she WAS between him and the open highway (a highway patrolman once told me in all seriousness that they SHOOT animals that are out on the highway, as they are such a hazard to traffic,) I talked cheerfully to Raven, telling him breakfast was ready, walked up to him just as if he were in the home pasture, reached under his neck, grabbed a chunk of his mane from the far side, put my thumb on his cheek, and led him to the open trailer.

Louis, alone for the first time that trip, panicked and tried to turn around, banging against the side of the trailer and hollering his head off, as we three were ALL out of his sight. (Finally, he was acting like a newly weaned foal, but not over his uncaring mother, but his sire and foster-mom...) Sleepy people began to emerge from cars and campers.

As I neared the trailer door, Louis's frantic calls turned to wickers of welcome. Raven made a dive for the trailer door, breaking away and leaping smoothly in, plowing into the grain at once. I seem to remember George scoffing when I told that story, maybe just the look on his face, I can't remember clearly now, but when we did set out for Mt. Rushmore, I do remember deliberately taking Raven halterless and showing off a bit... knowing he'd repeat, and also knowing if he went elsewhere, it was several miles to a road, with a closed GATE baring the way... He did not disappoint, however. He's a good boy.

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