The Real Story!
Okay - Girls and Boys! If you follow along at all, you know we had a small contest. It was an exercise in imagination. I posted several pictures and asked you to come up with the story. The day you were describing was a really long day. From time-to-time, it gets crazy around here. So crazy I don't believe everything that happens. Which is really crazy because I am here, and I walk each and every step. I told you I would give you the full story, and here it is.
Ladies - there is going to be some terminology that is going to bore you to death. Things like: splice, vice-grips, channel locks, threaded fittings, Tephlon tape...just skip over that. I am only putting it in here because I know a few boys that will be reading, and going, "Yep. That's what you do. That's how it goes. Yes. You have to have that."
To be fair, let's start the day before. It started off wonderfully. You can catch up on the events. Go ahead. I'll wait.
After having an awesome start to the day, it turned ugly on me very quickly.
My barn cat, Kid - Billy the Kid, has decided that he wants to be a house cat. He has taken over the mud room. He spends his time in deep, coma-like naps or teasing the dog under the door. He does everything very innocently. I mean, just look at him.
At some point on Tuesday, he started feeling bad. He left a few things on every, single rug in the mud room and had stopped eating. I just assumed he ate something that did not agree with him, and he would work it out. I was not too concerned because I know what he eats and I believe he has an iron stomach. I feed him Fancy Feast and Cat Lover's Soup for the Soul cat food. He supplements his diet with the heads of many things. I know this because he leaves me little decapitated bodies around the barn.
Because Kid was not feeling well, he had spent the day running in and out. One minute he meowed to go out. The next he meowed to come in. It was back and forth. He finally went out and just disappeared. I thought he probably went to one of his usual spots to take a nap.
I was trying to wind up a very busy day. I was in the process of cooking some bone broth.
I was also in the process of trying out a new soup recipe for dinner.
(I reduced the curry to about 1 tsp in this recipe. I am not a huge fan of curry, but it was okay.)
So with pots full of liquids on the stove, the Man in Charge came in from his day with a scared look on his face.
What's for dinner?
We talked for a few minutes about our day. Then, I told him to keep an eye on things because I wanted to go outside and find the cat before it got really dark. I knew it was going to be really cold and I didn't want him sick and freezing outside. Plus, if he felt really bad, I was certain he would stay hunkered down where ever he was, and I did not want to be wondering around late at night looking for him.
On my way across the back yard, I noticed something on the other side of the creek. It was Deuce. He was laying down. He was upright, but down and that is not typical. I switched gears from the cat to the horse and made my way across the creek. He stayed down until I got over there. Then he popped up and stood in place until I reached him. I asked him what he was doing. He looked at me. I told him we didn't have time for any messing around and he should get back to the barn so I could keep an eye on him.
He blazed a trail to the barn. Running ahead of me. Then, turned and waited for me to get there.
I closed the pen outside of the barn and turned on the lights so I could see him from the house. My plan was to keep an eye on him while I finished dinner. I opened the door to his stall, and before I could get out of there, he went inside his stall and dropped down.
Deuce has not had a bout of colic. Not once in his entire life. This looked like colic. He had a look on his face like he didn't understand what was happening. He kept looking at his sides. His belly was hurting, and he did not know what to do about it. This was new to him.
I ran inside. Turned off the soup. Grabbed the Man in Charge and our evening began. As you read, it was after 10:00 when the vet left. My horse was resting comfortably. He had been sedated. Given pain medication. A tube had been run up his nose, down to his belly, and we had pumped him full of mineral oil. The only thing left to do - wait!
And go eat!
My Full-timer had come home, and in the madness, finished dinner for me. I said I wasn't a fan of curry, but I was hungry. I ate, and it was good. It was warm. That was important. I probably won't ever make the soup again. If I did, I wouldn't put curry in it.
We took a short break, and then the Man in Charge headed back to the barn to check on our guy. This was when we realized our other horse was not feeling well. She started trying to go down in her stall. We called the vet. Luckily, I had enough medication on hand to get her under control. We were just hoping that we did not need to pump her full of mineral oil.
I can do a lot of things.
Tubing a horse with mineral oil - not one of them.
I want to learn...but not on my own horses.
Is that rude?
You see, if you take a wrong turn going down and end up in the lungs, dead horse.
Well, we had several discussions that night regarding what could be causing our problem.
One horse with colic - unfortunate.
Two horses with colic - environmental.
Going to bed at 3:30 in the morning, fully dressed, does not promote restful sleeping. I flew out of bed the next morning and ran to the barn to make sure everyone was still standing. Laying eyes on them, and sighing with relief, I had a busy day ahead of me. My first plan of action was to go to the feed store and buy some shavings that were not cheap and not dusty. The dust in our barn had reached epidemic proportions. While I would have bet you the dust would have caused respiratory issues instead of colic issues, I wanted to get it ruled out as a possible trigger. The stalls were dusty. The hay was dusty. Their water was constantly getting dirty. Everything was dry. Possibly this was part of our problem. It was certainly something that both horses have in common. Their feed diets are completely different, but as a precaution, I have removed all processed feeds.
I knew that my Full-timer was going to need my truck that day. So I ran through the shower and headed out to the feed store early. Running to the truck was when I noticed this:
The white ribbon you see whipping around in the breeze is electric fence tape. No, it does not hold anything together. It is a nylon strip that has wire running through it. It is used in electric fencing (especially for horses) because it is highly visible. This photo is along the back fence line of our pasture. You see, my horses live on the right. My neighbors horses live on the left. I have a stallion. They have two mares. One of their mares is really young, and she likes my stallion. She vocalizes her admiration often. This makes it necessary to put a little distance between them. He is a good horse, and he has never been bred, but we all have our limits. This fencing has been taking a beating. I didn't realize how much so, but the wind has switched from north to south and back again, at 30, 40, 50 mph, repeatedly this winter. It just simply ripped in two pieces.
Now, I had a mental list of my own things to do on this morning - this was not one of them. On this particular day, the wind was cruising above 25 mph with gusts over 35 mph. I ran to the feed store and grabbed what I needed for the day. I came back and unloaded my truck before my Full-timer needed to leave. Then, I put on my coveralls and all my gear and headed to the back of the property to address this mess.
When was the last time you had a good game of tug-of-war?
This fence tape is only two inches wide. At 30 mph, it was whipping me around like a rag doll. That stuff was blowing over the neighbors fencing. Their horses were freaking out. They were doing their best to stay as far away as possible, and I could understand why. Once I laid hands on it, I was a little scared. I gathered the pieces together, and quickly saw the problem. Then, I quickly assessed my capabilities of dealing with this alone. Zero. There was not a single thing I could do to fix this. It was not humanly possible to get this stuff put back in place and then pull it together to splice it.
My next plan was to try and gather each end up, then tie it down somehow. This would keep it from blowing across the fence and causing issues for anyone else. I would have to enlist a lot of help to get this fixed, and it would not be on a windy day. Sorry to disappoint some of you. I know you have been holding your breath, waiting for me to get to the part where I zapped myself on the electric fence. I was awake enough to turn the fence off before I started.
I finally managed to get everything under control, but it took up a lot of my morning. With the fence tied down, I headed back across the creek to the barns. The first task on my list - repair the water leak in the chicken barn. You see, I raised about 30 guineas and at some point they decided to peck all the insulation off of the water spigot inside the barn.
I do not know why.
Then, during one of our many freezing nights, the pipe busted.
Insulation at the top.
Insulation at the bottom.
Nothing in the middle.
Okay. So, it didn't help that I must have turned the red valve off, turned the water off to the barn, and did not drain the water between the valve and the actual spigot.
It doesn't matter who's fault it is. I needed water. I was going to have to fix it to get the water back on to both barns. My goal was to strip the stalls in the horse barn and get as much of the dust out of there as I could. Water was a necessity.
To start, I cut the pipe just below the red valve. Then I cut the pipe just below the spigot. Then, I grabbed a coupling I had from previous repairs and glued the thing back together. For some reason, I was so confident this would solve my problem, I re-wrapped the whole thing with insulation before turning the water on, and testing it out.
My spigot was leaking on the top.
I ran back and shut the water off. Not to worry, though. I was not going to let this beat me. (Sorry. There are no pictures of the first repair.) My next plan - unwrap everything and cut the spigot off the top of the pipe.
This is when the search began.
What parts could I find to repair this thing? After searching through more fittings than any one person should have, I found a valve and a 90 degree fitting. If you look closely, you will see that this is a gas valve.
Yes. I knew this going in.
I don't know why I had it. I did not care. It was on another fitting, and I had to get them apart before I could use it. This involved a vice grip and some channel locks. You will be proud to know that I had not used one curse word up to this point. I had my headphones on. I had my music on shuffle.
You would not believe the variety of music that I can listen to in one afternoon.
I was singing.
I did not care.
Some may look at my feeble attempts at repairing this leak as rigging things. I prefer to look at it as MacGyvering things.
On a side-note: Had I been MacGyver on this day, all I would have needed was a compass, a transistor radio, and a bag of fertilizer, and I would have just blown the whole thing up!
On a super-side-note: Top Ten MacGyver tricks you can use in your everyday world. Click HERE.
I know I am all over the place.
Is everyone still with me?
Do what you need to do to catch up.
On with the plan...I removed the valve from the old fitting and found a threaded fitting that I could glue onto the 90. Once assembled, and yes, I used Teflon tape, this is what I had.
Hard to tell from the photo, but the valve is doing it's job. It is the threaded fitting behind it that is leaking. I ran and grabbed the channel locks and tried to tighten it. Each time, the stream shooting out of the pipe just switched locations.
I ran and shut the water off.
My next plan. I cut the valve and the fitting off the pipe. I went back and rummaged through all of the fittings again. I did not have another valve. I did not have another threaded fitting. I found a cap. I could just cap the line and put this project off for another day. This would not solve my water problem in the chicken barn, but it would let me have water in the horse barn.
I went back to the barn. I put primer on the pipe and on the cap. I put glue on the pipe and on the cap.
The cap did not fit on the pipe.
I may have muttered a word or two at this time.
I got up from the ground. I walked around a bit. I thought. I went back and looked through all the fittings AGAIN! I walked around a bit more. Then something hit me like a post driver on the top of my head!
I have about five water hoses that are 50 feet or longer.
I can easily get water - where ever I want it - from my house.
I put a piece of duct tape over the pipe to keep the dirt and debris out. This could wait.
I grabbed all the garbage from my little repair endeavor, and headed to the other barn to get started on what was really important.
I still had a pretty good attitude.
Even though I had just lived through a serious blond moment!
Then, I looked up and saw this:
I am serious when I say the wind has been brutal. It has been so abrasive and abusive and destructive. For about five seconds, I considered grabbing the ladder and the hammer.
Instead, I headed to the house to drag some hoses out and put them together so I could have water in the barn.
I put Deuce out in the pen. Then started the daunting task of stripping his stall. All of the dirty shavings went out to the pile. The cleaner shavings went to the chicken coop. No sense in wasting them. I drug the hose inside the barn and sprayed the stall down several times during the process. It didn't make much sense to stir up even more dust while trying to remove it. Once the stall was empty, I sprayed it down and swept it out. It was a lot of dust. I felt like I had eaten buckets of dirt. I was coughing. I was blowing my nose. It was bad.
Even if this has zero bearing on the colic issue at hand - it needed to be done.
I washed his buckets. I placed a huge rubber tub on the ground to keep any hay off the ground. I gave him a 50 lb. salt block to encourage him to drink more water. I put down four bags of the best smelling shavings I have used in a long time. I mean, I worked. I had the same to do in the other stall, and when that was all over, I drug all the hay in from the hay barn. I was starting to run on fumes. I stacked the hay. I rummaged through every bit of tack we own until I found hay nets. I used the hay nets to dunk their hay in water, in an attempt to rinse any dust from it before I gave it to them.
I did every-single-thing I could think of to make sure they were eating clean food.
By this time, we were into the evening hour. I had raked, sprayed, swept, cleaned, lifted, hauled, moved, glued, cut, stretched. pulled, you name it, and people were getting home and wanting something to eat. Dinner had not been on my radar. The Man in Charge made it home, and we met in the kitchen. His first act, open the pantry and simultaneously ask,
What's for dinner?
Why are there sardines in here?
Who's eating that?
You're not eating that?
Are you going to sneak those into something we eat?
This made me start laughing. You see. A couple of night's before, I had gone shopping with my Full-timer. I stopped on the canned meat isle. She was talking about something, and I am certain she thought I was going to buy tuna when I said,
I suppose if you are going to eat sardines, skinless and boneless would be the way to go?
This freaked her out. Rapid fire questioning:
Who's eating sardines?
Are you really going to eat that?
You're not trying to sneak something in our food are you?
Currently neither one of them believe I am going to eat sardines.
The sardines are still in the pantry.
I've got a quarter that says - both the Man in Charge and my Full-timer freak out when they notice the sardines are gone.
I was still laughing. The Man in Charge was not laughing. Then, he turned and noticed:
Remember the bone broth I had started? Well, I forgot about it. I guess I turned the burner off, but the pot was still sitting on the stove the next day. Full of broth and bones. I have to say, after sitting out all night and all day, not really smelling so great. I had fished the bones out and rinsed them off. My thought being that I would give them to the dogs. Then I dumped the rest of it. I thought about saving it, but then decided it was probably not worth it.
He was looking slightly horrified.
Then, when I said I needed to run to our local veterinarian's office, and I was thinking I would pick something up for dinner while I was out...everyone jumped on board!
You've worked so hard today.
Ladies - there is a lesson in having sardines in the pantry!
Once the Man in Charge was relieved I wasn't going to try to feed him something gross for dinner, he asked the next question,
What are you going to the vet for?
Remember how this whole thing started? Kid. Not feeling well. Well, he still didn't. I had given him some Pepcid to calm his stomach down, but no luck. I had smeared Vaseline on his paw in the event he had a hairball blockage.
I read that they lick the Vaseline off their paw and it lubes up the hairball.
This seemed like a good plan to me. Due to his extra-curricular diet, he has hacked up some pretty nasty stuff in the past. He did not like it at all. The facts are, nothing was working. He had not eaten for two days and he was starting to get pretty lethargic. As tired as I was, if I hadn't been looking for the cat in the first place the other night, I would not have found my horse. If I had not found my horse when I did, there is no telling how late we would have been up. Not-to-mention, the longer the horse suffers, the worse things can get. Besides, I have different vets for all these guys. I might as well be sharing the wealth, right?
This is Kid.
Please note how muscular his thighs are.
The white, fluffy stuff in his abdomen is his small intestine. If he were to have a blockage, it would have been there.
Dodged a bullet.
The dark line in the center of his abdomen, is his large intestine. My vet informed me that it was dark because it was either full of diarrhea or gas. Impossible to tell by the film. He checked his bladder (it is on there somewhere), and it was full, but felt fine. He gave him two shots. One to help calm his stomach. The other to help with the pain. His opinion, he should be fine in a couple of days or sooner.
We load this guy up in his carrier. We put him in the truck. We go across the street and grab dinner. Then we head home.
By the time we get home, Kid has relieved his bladder inside his carrier. He was laying on a bed, but that just made it worse. His whole belly was drenched in the foulest smelling urine. He was a little wobbly and very sad. We couldn't just leave him like that. I grabbed my Full-timer and we devised a plan.
I started filling the sink in the bathroom with warm water and baby shampoo. A little bubble bath, if you will. The plan - I would grab him and hold him suspended over the sink. My Full-timer would grab a cloth and wash his under side. Then we would do our best to rinse him. There was just one down-side running through my mind. You know, beside the fact that we were going to bathe the cat.
That large intestine.
I looked my Full-timer dead in the eye. The conversation went like this:
Me: If this cat poops all over the place, I am going to throw up.
Her: If you throw up, I'm going to throw up.
Me: Well, we may have one heck of a mess to clean up by the time this is all over.
Being the brave little troopers that we are, we plunged right in. I grabbed the cat. She grabbed a hand towel. She started bathing. At precisely the same moment, Kid let loose with some really toxic gas. Only I didn't know it was gas. You see, at the exact same time the smell hit my nose, a rush of warm, wet, ran down my leg.
I flipped out.
I almost dropped the cat.
It took a few seconds before we all realized that my Full-timer had just been a little over-zealous in her washing, and had dumped warm, soapy water down my leg. We laughed hysterically. We finished with the cat. We laughed more. We dried the cat. We were still laughing. My sides hurt from laughing. I can not express the exhaustion I was feeling by the end of this day. I have never loved my bed more in my life. The real crazy part - It's was just another day, like any other day.
I wouldn't trade it for the world.