One of my friends posted a lovely, heart-rending poem about the death of a stray calico that had joined her family briefly. I did not read it until today, but it really resonates with me. So much that, although I intended to work on my novel this weekend, I again did not this morning.
Instead, I seem to be starting yet a THIRD one...the one I always thought I'd write first, and have been calling "My Horses Call Me 'Mommy'" in my head for years...
Yesterday, a neighbor and I were on the subject of rejected foals, skirting around the idea of pending death and its inevitability. She owns one of Debut's solid bay full sisters, and bred her last year, getting a filly which she raised very well, but they crossed her again (to a palomino QH, hoping to get one -- the mare being bay, it is unlikely, and they did not).
This one came two days ago in the rain and the mare is rejecting it. They get up every two hours to feed him, but it is not looking good. She came to me for help when the "horse vet" was out of town.
I could not come up with a thing that fit her situation... The mare and foal were moved to a shed and warmed, cared for, the mare allowed her "human" to milk her out with no apparent discomfort, but would try to savage the colt when he tried. For two days, they have been forcing her to feed him. Giving her any leeway at all, she tries to bite him and push him away. Once when they'd turned him and her both loose after he'd finished feeding, she dove at him and tried to bite him on the back. (Not a friendly little nip-- a huge horse bite designed to do damage.) We can't figure out a THING that makes sense when she could raise her first one fine and lovingly...
"Surely you've had trouble," she said. Image after image began to flash by... foal after foal. One of the neighbor's whose mare was in trouble while they were out of town. The people they had watching the place came up to get me when a maiden mare foaled early and wouldn't accept the foal. It ended up on a rug in my then brand new mobile home (back when I swore I'd have NO animals in the house this time), in the utility room over night. I fed it borrowed foal lack every two hours, keeping it alive until they could get home and the vet would be available. I'd had the trailer all of two days... Some stick-to-it-ness!
I told her about Louise's first foal and its early adventures. (Moved to a completely new post in MY journal, as it is way too long for a comment.)
At one point, we talked about Sweetie, whom she was surprised to see still alive. In fact, she lay as a dead dog, flat on her side, and had not roused when Wertha pulled in... As we were watching, I could not see her rib cage raise. We watched for the longest time before she took another breath. She asked about her food -- was she eating. "A little, so I feed her frequent enticing goodies to stimulate her appetite. It helps if the cats get there first, so she responds to 'competition'."
After she left, I spent the rest of the night reliving some of the troubles... Going down memory lane with death after death. It was five a.m. before I fell asleep.