So this is the 'Freshman class of 2013'. Well that doesn't mean that they will graduate in 2017, it just means that they arrived at Safe Harbor this summer! They have all spent the required week or so alone in a pen adjoining the horse herd and we've made sure they were healthy and that their injuries wouldn't be too much for running in the big pasture. They've been accepted now by our gelding in charge (Memory) and second in command (Paint). And the all important lead mare (Zsa Zsa) has given her approval! But instead of fully integrating into the ranks of the herd, these 4 have chosen to keep hanging out together. It's not that they are all timid spirits, actually I sense that one of them will end up being quite in charge, but for some reason they have been enjoying security in being a quartet! So, like anxious freshman everywhere, they are sticking together at the lunch table! (Individual stories to follow on our 'sponsorship page').
A blanket and bucket of grain.
It is a challenge to run this rescue ranch. I so want to provide a comfortable home for elderly animals and give them the respect and peace that all elderly creatures deserve. And I know this means that I will witness the end of many lives. I must learn to embrace the sadness of our losses and then feel the joy in their moving on, knowing that they felt loved and wanted at the end.
This winter we lost the gracious and noble Missy, a 34 year old quarter horse who had spent her life as a trail rider. In her later years she had become very thin and frail. When she came to Safe Harbor, got into a warm blanket and realized there would be a bucket of grain for her night and day, she began to greet me at the fence. We heard her nicker after she stayed with us a few weeks, finding her voice after she knew she would have enough energy to speak. She was gentle and curious and we could see how happy she was in her new home.
She was only with us for a month before her physical problems and advanced age got the better of her. I waited for hours that night before allowing our veterinarian to help her pass, not wanting her to miss a single moment of her existence.
Malaya, our 'grandma sheep' needed a quiet, nurturing place in order to thrive. It was easier a few months later when I lost our oldest Shetland sheep, Malaya. Malaya was at least 12 years old and had been with us for 5 years. She was brought to me by a careful shepherdess who realized Malaya was unhappy in a large, breeding herd. I was told she needed a quiet place. At Safe Harbor she lived with 7 Shetland sheep and 2 watchful llamas. Her life was calm, full of sunny Colorado summer days and a warm barn during our cold winter nights. Malaya loved to be petted and I spent countless hours at her side stroking her head. Her tail would wag with delight and she would paw at my leg if I stopped scratching her. She never tired of my company and I smiled every time she approached me for affection. Malaya became well known in the neighborhood as our 'grandma sheep' and people would come by to sit with her.
Why did I say her passing was easier? Because I found her one morning in her sleeping place in the barn. She had passed in the night. And although I felt such deep regret that I was not with her when she died, I was relieved that she was able to leave in her own time.
So much to learn about these things. So much to observe.
Two perfect lives. And a privilege to have shared time with each of them.