Thursday, October 22, 2009

Norman the Wonder Horse

Tom and Norman in less confrontational mode

So, there I was minding my own business, passing the time of day with Robbie the farrier as he worked on Norman's front right. Next thing I know I am flat on my back unable to move my arms, and being stared down at by both Norman and Robbie with decidedly confused looks. As I reconstruct the event it seems Norman was growing tired of standing on three legs and moved back and upwards. I stopped that little sorte, but leaned forward as he came forward and down. Norman's head then moved with the speed of a striking cobra, and I was taken out with an uppercut to the jaw that Mohamed Ali would have been proud of. Lifted off my feet I performed a backward swallow dive (and probably one and half twists, a reverse pike, a double lutz and sundry other contortions!) landing on my shoulders and, ultimately, my head. Now I swear by the good old British working class cloth cap - goes with the whippets, and fish and chips. Mine is actually Donegal tweed, and as good a protection from a hard, earth floor as you can want. My paralysis of the arms was momentary, and as I had no visual or auditory impairment, staggered to my feet in a jiffy. I did, however, have a continuous tingling down both arms, and extremely sensitive upper arms. Needless to say trimming was suspended, and Jorg on hearing the news proscribed immediate rest, and a visit to the ER as soon as she got home.

Well I don't know about anyone else but I don't like to leave jobs unfinished, even if I should be resting, so I put out the horses waiting for trimming, milked the cow and took the muck spreader out to empty! All ready for when our volunteer Becky arrived. Of course Jorg didn't quite see my valiant efforts at normalcy in quite the same light, especially as I didn't answer my phone (loud mower!). After a short reminder that blows to the head, even with a miniscule brain like mine, are dangerous, and blows to the butt painful if not terminal, we set out for the ER.

With all the discussion going on at the moment about the healthcare system and its failings, it was quite impressive to see the triage system up close and personal. Whenever I have gone to the ER in the past, there has always been that 20 minute period after being seen that is devoted to examining the contents of your wallet to ensure payment can be expected. Not this time. I'm sure I wasn't in any real danger from the blow to the head, but they didn't take any chances, and I was seen by a doctor within 10 minutes of being admitted and had had a CT scan, all before the inevitable discussion about my healthcare provider. Top marks to Centra Southside Community Hospital, with treatment every bit as good as you would expect from a big city outfit.

So back to Norman the wonder horse. What he succeeded in doing was to show that I had some arthritis of the upper vertebra, with a bone spur that pinched a nerve and caused the arms problem. I'm now due an MRI to check this out, and have the indignity of a "soft" collar to keep my head straight (fat chance!). So, thank you Norman, and I will remember next time not to lead with my chin!

Basil the Chick

At last some photos of the youngest member of the farm menagerie. Basil and his Dad and Mum Merlin and Saffron.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Busy Times

Alison (left) and Pebbles

The last four weeks have been non-stop down on the farm. In the Rescue we have taken in two horses and a blind pony. This puts us at full strength based on our current accommodation and funding rules. More on our new arrivals will be found on the rescue web site.
To ensure that we have stalls for everyone, should we need them, the milking parlor has taken over the connex hut adjacent to the red barn, so that the sheep can return to their old stall in the red barn. This frees up a stall in the 10-stall barn and allows both Star and Wonder to return to that barn. Change is always useful as it wakes me up from my strict routine and makes me aware of any other jobs that need to be done. So easy to fall into a daily round that ignores potential problems.

Our two silkies became proud parents (no photo yet) and we are hoping that the unseasonal weather will not be too cold for the chick. Mum is keeping a good watch on him/her, and Merlin appears to be shaping up as a good Dad.

Last week we played host to a group from Charlotte Crossing in Charlotte Court House. CC is a psychosocial rehabilitation day support center, offering individuals an opportunity to work on Crisis stabilization, appropriate social interaction and daily living skills. The corner stone of the organization is that: "through Dignity and Respect, each individual can rise above, and over come, adversity in their daily lives as a result of positive interaction. Virginia has had a poor record with regard to mental health support and the farm and the rescue are pleased to join with Charlotte Crossing in providing an outreach capability to the group. We welcomed:

Chris, George, Henry, Larry, Linda, Quang, Stanley and Viola, along with Mr. John Deem and Ms. Owens.
After a short presentation by Tom and Jorg, the group took a tour of the farm, which included seeing Priscilla milked. Despite a cold, damp day a good time was had by all, and the farm and rescue animals were on their best behaviors. Refreshments and a bagged lunch were taken in the tack room, giving everyone a chance to warm up. On a sad note, we learned that Stanley had had a heart attack and died a day or so after the visit. Our condolences were offered to the group and the family.