Sunday, May 31, 2009

Almost 4 months since I last posted. I know that I have readers who follow my blog, and I'm sure you'd want to know why it has been so long.

It all began back in 2007. We had been learning to drive, and had *Beau trained. Both of us really enjoy driving, but the arena we had built in 2004 while lovely, is a bit narrow for turning the cart. It is amazing what an extra 12 feet can do for your turning radius. We decided to have another built. Our original building is 60 ft X 120 ft; we decided to go for 72ft X 150 and having actually 140 ft to use and 10 ft for storing the carts.

Additionally, we thought we would like to expand our business by offering lessons. I began studying with a local Centered Riding (c) instructor, planning to work towards my certifications with them. I chose CR because it had helped *me* so much. What my overall goal was to be able to offer instruction to those people allergic to horses.

Because we had so enjoyed working with the company that built the first arena, we chose to contract with them for the second one.

Less than six months from the day the company arrived to erect the building, on the morning of February 14, 2008 we awoke to mangled steel and ripped tarp. The entire building was gone; unuseable; demolished.

Although I am not free to talk about the WHY of the building falling, nor will I mention the WHO of the company that built it, because we have had to enter litigation concerning this; I am free to talk about what this has done to me.

I have trouble looking at the ruin (we had to leave it until all "parties" involved decided they really should visit the site); each time I see it, I don't see it. I have built walls around my heart so that I don't feel anything. But the truth is, I do feel. I feel pain, I feel the dissolution of dreams, I feel the lethargy, the inability to carry-on. Finally, about 2 weeks ago, I was able to admit that I really do have some depression over the point that I have trouble working with my horses at all. This inner voice asks constantly, "What is the point?"

And because there are expenses involved, and we have horses to feed too, I have had to go to work away from the farm. This pulls me away from the horses even more, so I find myself in the cycle of "I don't want to work with the horses....I do want to but don't have the time....I feel guilty I'm not working with the horses.....I don't want to work with..." etc., etc., etc.

I found that this cycle is touching other parts of my life as well. I love photography, I love taking pictures of those beings I am blessed to share life with, but I have a listlessness to get out and take pictures. Without new pictures, why keep the website updated? I have to be careful when I take the pictures and try NOT to let the fallen arena be in them, so.... I always loved working on the, I don't.

To make matters worse, even though I am feeling depressed, that aspect can in no way be used in the litigation. Why? Because most likely it will be settled out of court, and not be in front of a jury. Although the falling arena has had life changing implications for me; has mangled my dreams; no one will be held accountable for that.

This hole that I am in, I have to find my own way out of. I'm sure I will, but after almost a year and half of living with this, I decided I had to write about it.

My mother always said that every black cloud had a silver lining; I've typically found her to be correct. Yet this black cloud is immense, thick, and dark. I've yet to find that lining; I'm hopeful that I will eventually.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

12:55 a.m. - I had been asleep for a couple of hours, but *Babe's restless walking woke me. She was also pawing which is typical *Babe reaction to anxiety of some sort. I stayed covered, but peeked out from time to time, as it was cold. She would circle the double stall, and stop; sometimes pawing, sometimes taking a hay snack; then circle again. I felt she was most likely in beginning labor.

2:25 a.m. - I must have drifted off for a bit, because the silence woke me right up. I peered out of my sleeping bag and couldn't see her standing, so I shoved back the covers and realized she was laying down. I hopped off the bale and slipped on my shoes. Her head bobbed in my direction, acknowledging my movement. Using only the Christmas mini-lights we have up, I walked until I could observe her rump. Her tail was out, and her peritoneum was bulged, with her vulva lips beginning to separate. I continued to walk past her and turned on the 100W bulb at the end of the arena. As she laid there, her water broke. Not with a rush, just with a hefty dribble.

A moment later she stood up, and sniffed the amniotic fluid, swishing her upper lip in it and then flemining. She laid down and pushed some more. At that point I saw some of the sac pushing out in a small bubble shape. With the next push, there was a bit of hoof. Again, she stood up, and turned in a circle, then laid back down. At the next push, more leg came out, and I chose to turn on the big lights. I also had brought over some towels...I didn't know the temperature, but the prediction has been 8-10 F, so I wanted to begin drying off the foal as soon as possible. I also put on rubber gloves.

As the lights came up, I saw a second hoof, slightly behind the first. More pushing, but little progress. Slowly the legs got longer, and longer, but still no nose. I decided I should break the sac from around the hooves, and by the time I got in and knelt behind *Babe there was about 12 inches of the first hoof showing, still no nose. That worried me. As with the end of each contraction the foal would slip back up some, I chose to grasp the legs and prevent that. As she would push, I helped with a steady pull out and "down", and the nose appeared!!

Once half of the head was out, I removed the sac from around the head area exposed. At that point, the foal's mouth was partially open and the tongue, slightly purple, was hanging out. I'll be the first to admit that I have never seen a foal's tongue prior to it breathing, so I was somewhat concerned. After the next push, with some helpful pulling from me, the head got delivered. I completely removed the sac from its head, and the nostril quivered! Phew!

By this time I could see that *Babe was tiring. It is unusual for a horse to labor so long. As prey animals their labors are fast so that they do not make an easy meal for a predator. My experiences with *Walker and *Glory also told me this was unusual, as typically when the head is delivered, the rest tends to slip right out. I grabbed a towel and began rubbing the legs and head dry. Again, with the next contraction I helped, and we got the shoulders delivered; THEN the rest slid out onto the ground. I began vigorous toweling and marveled at the darkness of this Curly foal. I didn't not check for its sex, as drying it was paramount for me.

When I had gone through 3-4 towels and dried what I could. I quickly ran up to the house and got Chuck and Guin. Guin, my ever faithful helper, had fallen asleep in the house before coming down. Guin and I got back down and we toweled some more. She is the one that discovered it was a filly. The last filly we had, *GMC Sierra Verde, was born in October of 2002. Six and half years with only boys. After we dried her as much as we could, we put on her foal blanket.

Two weeks before Guin had dreamt of the foal being born. In the dream the foal was black, and had jumped up and started talking to her, introducing itself as 'Valentino'. This foal just missed being born on Valentine's Day, but is black, active, and VERY talkative.

Her name is *GMC Acadia Valentine, and we are calling her *Love. Without further ado, here she is:

Thanks for sticking with this blog during the process. I hope you enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

No mini-me's as of 8: 30 am, 2/14/09........

But, last night was cold. Not just uncomfortably cold, but deep into your bones where it takes hours next to another human body to warm up cold. 6F when I came up to the house at 4:30 a.m. because my bladder wouldn't wait any longer. Guin and I both had our egg-crate pads on top of the hay bales (we have the 800 lb square variety), with two sleeping bags, and several layers of clothing (including our snow pants and jackets) on. Spot decided he needed to keep us company all night long as well.....funny cat. With two equine bodies, two humans, and one cat breathing into the 60 X 120 foot building, we had enough condensation to leave a bit of frosting on us all. *Babe still has some in her no wonder she held off labor.

At 12:15 I said to *Babe, "Okay, it's Valentine's Day. Anytime now." At first, she seemed to take this to heart (excuse the pun). Guin noted that she was standing oddly, she would slightly tuck her back legs under her, tail out, and strain. I missed this as I was buried under my sleeping bags, and it only happened a few times. You know how you have to see something happen 3 or 4 times before you figure out what is happening, only to have the occurance stop? Yep that was it. Then around 1:30 she became restless. She'd circle her double stall and stop; circle again, stop; tail out the whole time. There were a few grunts but sometimes it was *Glory, lol. She laid down; she rolled; she got up, she circled. She laid down but not completely recumbant. She was down 10-15 minutes and then she got up again for the remainer of the night. The last time I remember was 1:30 and the next was 2:45, so I slept for a bit. Checked her and went back to sleep; woke again about 3:30 and vowed to stay as long as possible.

As mentioned earlier my bladder finally said enough. If you don't live in a wickedly cold environment, then you have no idea of how feeling the cold causes your bladder to think "Time to empty NOW"; so at 4:30 I rolled off my bale, put on my shoes and walked like an old lady on the ice to go back to the house. Did I mention that our driveway is ice right now? Meltoff that refreezes at night is particularly slippery...a world class skater would have trouble negotiating it. But the moon was shining down brightly, the stars shown crisply, and all was going to be right with the world as soon as I was in the house and peeling off my layers. At that point, with Guin and Spot still in the barn, I chose to crawl into my normal bed and use the love of my life to warm up.

About 7:15 I pushed Chuck out of bed, "I need a cup of coffee.". Usually, I get the first one, but not this morning! That's when I spied the note laid across my said.."NO CLONES AS OF 5 A.M.....As for that vanishing mom act - Spotticus and I shall not fall for it again! It was an evil, evil trick. 8^0 - Sleep deprived, terribly cold daughter and the cat who's licking himself."

So, I knew I needed to go check. After my second cup, Chuck head down to get hay out to everyone, and I got some beet pulp soaking. I like to give them the extra carbs that pulp affords after a cold night. Then I headed down, and sure enough, no mini-me's. I told her that it was supposed to warm up to about 25F today and it was a GOOD day to give birth.

Then as Chuck fed her a few treats, I observed the following: Belly has a point at the bottom (the V I'd mentioned a few days ago is quite pronounced); her vulva is more swollen and the lips slightly parted (I was able to pull them apart without her objection and she is quite red inside rather than the regular pink of mucous membranes); her udder has become ponderous. I pulled some milk from her and brought it up for testing. The pH has dropped completely off the scale, as in below 6.8; there is NO doubt that the ppm is at, or above, 1000. If I thought the milk looked like condensed last night, it is more so this morning. Immediate butterfat, very sticky, but still bland to my tastebuds.

Okay, everyone, let's chant "It's a good time to give birth!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

No little foal yet. *Babe did spend a few minutes touching both of her sides. This is often a way that you can tell they are going into labor; however, in this instance I suspect it was what we call "Braxton-Hicks" contractions in humans. They are contractions that tone the uterus and get it ready for the job ahead. This was about 11:30 last night and afterwards she stood quietly sleeping. Guin was the one who noticed it. Then toward early morning (2ish?) she dropped and rolled, well only on one side, lol, as she is a bit unbalanced. Then around 4:30 she laid down to sleep a bit. When I tested the fluid this morning it was slightly sticky, no real butterfat, and bland not salty. It measured about 400ppm.

This evening it was looking more like condensed milk! It tasted bland, perhaps with a hint of sweetness, was very sticky and formed butterfat quickly. 1000 ppm

Valentine's baby?

Guess where I'm sleeping tonight? Single digits too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

There was no visible change in appearance this morning. The fluid was more opaque, sticky, bland tasting and did produce a bit of butterfat when I rubbed my fingers together. pH is still hovering between 7.2 & 7.5. ppm above 200 but not really 400 by the color.

This evening the fluid was definitely opaque but not really condensed milk looking. Sticky, butterfat producing, but not sweet. pH hanging around 7.2, but the ppm, according to three sets of eyes (mine, Chuck's, and Guin's) looked above 400 but not quite 1000.

I don't think she'll give birth tonight however, the weather here is awful....intermingling rain and snow; temperatures dropping from mid-30's F today down into the low teens overnight. So, we've decided to move her and *Glory in (for company) and Guin and I will sleep down there "just in case".

The birth of a foal happens so quickly, compared to a human birth, and so if something goes wrong it goes wrong very quickly too. This is not something I'm willing to risk.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I noticed this morning that her udder has almost lost the center "crease" between the two halves and that her tail is being held loosely, and canting a bit towards the left side. As the muscles of the pertineal area relax in preparation for birth, the tail looses some of its mobility. Her vulva is quite swollen. Measurements are the same as yesterday - 7.5 pH and 120 ppm, or slightly above. The fluid is a bit sticky, no butterfat formed this morning, and it is still salty.

Tonight, as last night, it was too dark to make any visual observations. I got the same measurements as this morning.

I'm sure that many of you reading are thinking, "Hurry up *Babe!". It is so easy to get anxious in waiting for a foal to be born. I thought I would check back on *Glory's last foaling. I looked at how many days from the first fluid measurement, until the fluid had turned to looking like condensed milk and having an off the chart ppm measurement. It took 12 days. If *Babe runs similarly, we're looking at around the 16th of February.

So sit back, relax, and be glad that YOU aren't the one who will have to sleep in the cold, lol!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I missed posting last night, so I'll post two days in one.

2/9/09 - AM - udder is more evenly filled, teats further engorged. VERY easy to milk, I got about 1/2 teaspoon this morning. The pH has dropped this morning down to 7.2, but remember that this is not a particularly accurate measurement. I am using pool strips with the little colored squares, so sometimes the measurements "bob" up and down for a bit. The hardness was between 120 & 200 ppm. When I dabbed my fingers in the fluid, and rubbed them together, they became slightly sticky, and no "butterfat" formed. Fluid tasted salty - AND yes! I do taste it. If you drink cow or goat milk, it is no different.
PM - Fluid was a bit cloudier this evening and a few flakes were to be seen. Measurements were the same as this morning.

2/10/09 - AM - There was a bit of "wax" on the teat ends this morning, most likely from the previous evening's milking. Definitely looked more cloudy, it looks as if there are tiny particles floating in the fluid. More viscous too. 7.5 pH and 120-200 ppm.
PM - The fluid had about the same appearance and viscosity as this morning. The udder felt more enlarged, but it was dark when I milked her so I could not see if there was a difference from this morning in how it looked. Same measurements as this morning. When I rubbed a bit between my fingers it formed "butterfat", but it is still salty.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

This morning, all was the same as yesterday evening; 120 ppm and 7.5 pH. This evening when we went out, there was a different "aire" about her. She whickered to Chuck like a mare to a foal (which *Walker does all the time, but *Babe never has). Her teats were more engorged, and she never threatened me with a hoof as I had my hand approach her teats to rub them.

The pre-milk was much easier to express and I got a bit more than 1/8 teaspoon, so progress is being made although the testing was the same as in the morning.

She also seemed, while willing to speak to Chuck that way, more wary of the mares and two geldings in the paddocks next to her. She was flashing a lot of "mare ears" their way.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

This morning I was happy to get 1/16 of a teaspoon instead of a couple of drops, lol! She tested out at about 120 ppm, with no changes in either alkalinity or pH. This evening I got about the same amount, with the same hardness factor, but the pH had definitely dropped, down to about 7.5. Now, I'm not sure what the significance of the pH dropping has, but I have noted before that as the birth approaches the pH drops. This happened in *Leo's and *Bill's births, and most like with the others, but my notes were less detailed then. Each birth I learn more.

Perhaps we'll have a Valentine's baby?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Well, I had a small mis-hap due to my beloved cat, Spot, this morning. I had only collected a few drops of pre-milk, and he decided to knock my film canister off the table! I still managed to get a bit into my bowl to mix with the water and test. This morning the hardness was between 50-120 ppm.

This evening, *Babe's udder was definitely a bit larger and very, very firm. I also notice she is shedding out her hair around her udder, but not anywhere else. Tonight the hardness was between 120-200 ppm.

Moving along...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

This morning I noted that *Babe's backside is jellied all the way down to the bottom of her thigh (top of the gaskin) on both sides. Her udder did not look that much bigger but the filling of her teats was more pronounced. I was able to strip some pre-milk out, but only got a drop to come out of the container, lol. Never the less I did test it.

In order to do the testing you mix 1 part fluid with 6 parts distilled water, swirl and then dip in a pool test strip. Primarily you are watching the hardness factor, which is given in parts per million (ppm).

This morning the fluid was clear amber in color, and tested at 50 ppm. This evening, Guin stripped the fluid. She got about 1/16th of a teaspoon, and it tested at 120 ppm.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Accouchement: the confinement of child-birth; lying-in

We are quickly approaching *UB Raggae Babe's accouchment. I thought that, since I tend to take a more scientific approach, toward this lovely event, I would share some of it with my readers.

The estimated due date was January 28th, 2009. We are now some 7 days past that date, but I'm not surprised. I've never had a mare birth during the winter, but I have heard that many of them will "hold" the birth off until the weather is right.

I have been assessing her each day checking: her profile for the shape of her belly, her tailhead for "jelly"ness, her udder development.

Two weeks back I noted that she had less of a round underline to her belly and more "V" shaped. This indicates that the foal should be in the correct diving position and typically occurs about 2 weeks before birth. I also noted that her vulva was beginning to swell some, and sag a bit. Last week I noted that she appeared to have been rubbing her butt against a hard surface, most likely the board fence. Until yesterday, her teats had been "kissing" (the nipples touching each other), but then yesterday they were pointed straight down. Advancement!

I have been daily rubbing her nipples using approach and retreat as she takes HIGH offense to having this done. But yesterday she was much easier going about it and my fingers game a way with a bit of dampness, which once dried made them sticky. PRE-MILK!!

Last night, this morning, and this evening we tried to milk a bit of fluid from her so I could test it, but could only get a drop or two. Enough to see that the fluid is a pale amber color, not enough to do the hardness test.

By refering back to my notes on *Glory and *Walker, I'm guessing that birth will take place in 15 days or less.

I guess we'll see! Check back for updates!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

When Chuck and I woke this morning, I looked out of our french doors to see this deer huddled in front of *Beau and *Red's paddock gate. The pictures, of course, aren't very good as I had to take them through the window. However, they are good enough for you to see that she/he has a bit of blood at the left corner of her mouth.

We were first concerned that she could have been hit by a car and that the blood was a sign of internal bleeding; but as the time progressed and she got up to move on, we weren't sure what had happened.

Chuck went out to hay and afterwards watched her browsing around the apple tree behind our arena (where the old pond used to be). He said she was limping a small bit, but seemed fine otherwise. He checked the gate area and found just a wee bit of blood, and then he tracked her movements. He found that she had come down from Route 2, and that some predator's tracks followed her, but that when she went through the rope fence we put up this year, the predator stopped and turned around. The fence was most assuredly not what stopped the predator (which most likely was a coydog), but the close proximity of the much larger herbivores did. The deer must have felt save among them even though she startled them!

One could take this for what it was; a happenstance. I, though, always look for a deeper meaning. The deer symbolizes compassion and love; gentleness and closeness to the Great Spirit. As she arrived here on the first day of the new year, I will take this as a sign that this is where I need to concentrate my efforts this year. To share compassion with those around me who need it; love my family and friends as much as I can; to keep my soul and spirit quiet and gentle so that I may hear the Spirit around me and allow it to influence all that I do.

May this year bring all of you love and good fortune.