Sunday, August 06, 2006

Abraham is dying! Oh, wait, he's just very, very ill! Oh, wait, he's fine and look what he had to eat today.

Abraham, the horse, was sick this morning. He would not eat and seemed constipated. We called our horse friend and after much looking it turned out he had colic - annoying if it’s a human baby, potentially fatal if it’s an old horse. We got the vet lined up, the trailer was ready and he started eating. We listened to his stomach and talked to the vet and all is well. Standing in a field with my ear up to a horse’s stomach listening for gurgling is not something that came to mind when we decided to move out here. However, the relief and pleasure associated with hearing the gurgling was on our minds some 14 months ago – the simple pleasure that comes from working with animals.

It is sort of like first time parents that take unusual joy in each new discovery of a poopy diaper. Green and runny is not the first thing we like to think about with kids, but it is a reality. Taking care of animals to the point of sifting through their manure to understand what is wrong with them is kind of the same thing.

One set of animals we aren’t worried about these days are the chickens. We slaughtered a couple this past week for a customer/friend. I gotta tell you, these were the healthiest birds I’ve ever killed. No fat, just meat. The internal organs were firm and textbook coloring. We have a textbook on this stuff, this is how I know. These were also the first chickens that we have processed since we went free range with them. We had been pasture feeding and while the chickens got exercise, it was not to the same level these guys get. They are, literally, crossing the road all day long. In the mornings when I go to town they are as far as 300 yards from home. We try to get them to come in at night by bribing them with feed, but there is a group (it is a shrinking group) that refuses to come into the shelter at night. Other than that little bit and whatever the cow or horse leave behind, they are on their own for food. The feed bill is less this way, but the predation loss is greater. The horse stepped on a great big ole hen last week. It would have dressed out to about five pounds.

I’m thinking I’ll sue Faith for damages.


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