Friday, December 31, 2010

The Good, The Bad, The Holiday Season

I hope you experienced a wonderful time with your family and friends over the holiday!  We had a very, very nice Christmas together but tragedy knows no seasons.  It doesn't know that nothing sad should happen in December.  Don't worry, nobody passed, no funerals were attended and nobody got sick and a lot of wonderful moments were had, but the stain of sadness was experienced during my month of December.


I could tell I felt better about the season this time; you see it will be almost three years since Dad passed in February of 2008 and Christmas at our farm was the last time I saw him.  No matter how hard I had tried, I wasn't the same but this year felt better for some reason.  Snow stayed on the ground early this year, the weather was cold and it was so much fun decorating the house and finding really good gifts for my family and friends!

Now that we live on a farm I am no longer thrilled when the holiday season arrives.  Don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving, I love Christmas and I love being with my family, but I do not love when the killing season begins and for us it starts the week of Thanksgiving and goes on and on for several weeks. In fact, I just heard shots today across the river and up the hill and sadly shook my head.  I prayed very hard that my bucks would escape injury and death and come back home to me.
Little Autumn Boy, will be safe from harm?
I had lunch with a horsey friend December 23rd.  I was so excited to give them their gifts.  One was a signed copy of 'Secretariat'!  My friend and her mom are fabulous and I have known them for years.  Jessie and my friend's gelding, Cyrano, were in love back in the day when we all used to board together.  When we changed barns, I requested Jessie to be stalled beside Cyrano so they could peak at each other through the spaces between the boards.   Cyrano and Jessie would travel together those days when we trained in Lexington even though we were not at the same riding level. Cyrano had a majestic look to him. He was very elegant and regal.  I believe his whithers stood 17 hands tall.  He and my friend were a perfect match and competed all the way up the levels to Bromont International ***CCI.   Every time I saw her or we spoke on the phone, I asked about him.  Cyrano mysteriously broke his hind leg later that day.  It was dangling and my friend who works for an equine vet knew it was the end and fed him as much grain as he wanted.  Thankfully Cyrano didn't seem to be in pain and ate as though nothing was wrong.  Thankfully the vet got there within 45 minutes and laid him to rest.  Rest in peace dear Cyrano, although you were not mine, I still loved you and my tears flow for you as I type...
Cyrano was the tall dark bay on the right
Speaking of friends the day before Christmas the good husband calls and asks who decorated the gate.  What in the world was he talking about?  I asked my family members and thought one of the younger ones was fibbing when she told me no...nobody decorates our gate.  I certainly didn't decorate our gate! I grabbed my camera and told the good husband to hold tight so I can see first hand.  Oh my...was I in for a sweet surprise!  I saw little cans of cat food dancing across the entire lane attached with twine, two red stockings at the latch with bundles of carrots at each gate end and so many fuzzy red and green mini stockings with each of our baby's name written on the fur.  How cute is that?  Little tears drizzled down my cheeks as I read the note from a young friend who also rides and has farm sat for us.  How considerate, how thoughtful and how original!  I was so happy and so pleased that she even thought that much of me to give my babies these gifts!  Thank you dear M! That was my favorite gift!

Christmas morning was perfect.  While everyone was in the bed, I began prepping for the delicious dinner.  The old traditional southern cornbread and pecan stuffing was made, the 18-pound turkey was cleaned and rubbed with special spices and gently put in the oven. Stockings and gifts were opened and everyone was happy.  Two of my guests came back from a walk a few hours later and I learned something was wrong with one of my deer in the final hour of the cooking.  The stuffing was just stirred and turned, the home grown green beans and onions were simmering, sweet potato swirls with their brown sugar topping were slowly cooking and rolls were just popped in the oven with the mashed potatoes warming by their side. I left it all and went outside.
I am uncomfortable showing him injured...this was last November.
My dear Bossy's Boy wobbled precariously side to side with legs that looked ready to break any minute. In shock, I just stood there and watched, trying to determine what was wrong.  It was his back or hips.  Either his hips were dislocated or a bone was broken somewhere in that area.  I think it is the hip but nothing stuck out, the tail wiggles and there are times when a step is made that doesn't look awful but invariably the snow causes a fall.  I was heartbroken.  What in the world do I do? Dad always said 'do not play God'...but I think Dad would have shot him.  I fed him corn, mixed with Blue's grain with some banamine.  He ate it.  The others left him alone but his mother Bossy was near.  I stayed out there a long time just watching.  I have come to the conclusion that he was hit by a car.  He was home for good the week before and I was elated that he had survived another killing season.  Then he was gone for a week and now this....Christmas is supposed to be happy not full of worry and concern.
January 2009 he came home with an arrow stuck in his side. This was taken 9/2010
I fed and cleaned stall as usual two mornings later.  The snow still blanketed the farm, the pond was still frozen and on my walk back up the driveway I noticed a large dark looking fox scampering up the hillside and into the thickets.  Funny, I haven't seen my foxes for months and for some reason this summer, fall and now winter, I haven't seen my groundhogs, possums nor my raccoons who always would hang around for some leftover kernels.  I spotted some trespassers on the tracks and took their photos. This was the second day in a row they walked past the farm which I didn't care for so I trekked up Cardiac Hill to get a bird's eye view and snapped more photos and found out where they lived.  In this day and age, one never knows what is on the minds of strangers.  But before I saw them go into their house, I saw this....

Oh no, I feared this for a long long time.   For the first time since we owned the farm I heard the howling around the hill and at the edge of the farm at midnight sometime in October. I saw one in the fall just above the house while Sammy and I were in the driveway and I yelled at it so Beauty could have more time to escape. The coyote was not in hot pursuit and stopped to look at me and Sam for several seconds and then trotted off.  Thankfully Sam did nothing.  Unfortunately I haven't seen Beauty for some time now.  I called a hunting friend who was supposed to come and seemed eager to hunt the coyote but each morning he came up with an excuse not to show up.  Sigh....
With Bossy's Boy in poor condition I am extremely concerned.  But so far so good.  He doesn't come around each evening but I have seen him two times since Christmas the last time being yesterday.  When I thought his walk improved somewhat, he would slide and fall.  Now the snow is gone but slippery mud remains.  I read on a deer farm forum that broken bones heal and I have seen three deer overcome broken legs and I did read that a fawn broke its hip which healed as well so for now, I will wait and see.  I hate that he doesn't come daily so he can receive his banamine.  I hate that I didn't see him tonight.  I hate that he got injured after escaping from more arrows and bullets.
Happier days, Bandit, Bossy's Boy and little Buttons 9/2010
Wonder if my little Buttons survived leaving the farm?
The last of my guests left yesterday after a week's stay.  I miss them but they are home safe.  It was good to have my family visit the farm and celebrate Christmas, it is a blessing to have friends and to know you are thought of, it was good that I survived falling down the curved staircase three weeks ago with only bruises (yes that did happen!) it is good that our animals are fine and seem healthy and best of all it is good that my husband is by my side and we are fine.  But it is bad that Cyrano is gone, Bossy's Boy can barely walk and the coyotes have decided that my land is their prime food source.  It is bad that Daddy is no longer with us and that Mom continues to be severally depressed after three years.  But the New Year will soon be here and we have so much to be thankful for.  Whether good or bad, I am thankful for life's lessons and thankful that overall we had a wonderful holiday season!  Happy New Year and may you experience good health and the love and warmth of family and friends!

13 comments:

baystatebrumby said...

I hear gunshot and get nervous too. I hate animals suffering in any way. I could never be a hunter! Who could shoot a deer?

♥I am Holly♥ said...

What a beautiful post! I am so sorry to hear about Cyrano. I know that was hard to deal with. The cans of kitty food on the gate are wonderful! The deer...how beautiful they all are....I love them so much and get very upset when they are hurt or killed by hunters. I wish you and all a very Happy New Year! Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

Flat Creek Farm said...

A lovely post as always! The gifts from your young friend were the best of all. Those gifts are truly from the heart, and will be enjoyed by everyone at the farm. Wonderful! We do have a female deer who visits around the donkey pen and yard quite often and she has a limp. I think a leg may have been broken at some time, and healed. Sometimes it seems more bothersome to her than others. At times I wonder if it's the grown-up deer that hubby rescued as a fawn from being caught in a fence on one of our walks a few years ago (the baby didn't seem to have a broken leg though). I always wonder about these things. You, on the other hand, are SO GOOD at keeping track of your deer and naming them!! I applaud you for that.

Since I'm writing a letter here... ;)...At one time you had asked if my donks were afraid of the deer I think? They just stand and stare, and are always eager to get a little closer. So cute to watch the young deer interact with the girls. Never too close, but a few feet away, and both deer and donkeys are ever so curious! I love to watch them.

Happy New Year, and thanks so much for sharing your beautiful farm with us. -Tammy

varunner said...

First off, beautiful pictures. Sorry Christmas held so many bittersweet moments for you. Hope that things are looking up now. Love the gate - that is just too cute. And your coyote shots are really awesome - even if he is an unwanted guest.

Rural Rambler said...

Well some beautiful pictures but yes alot of sadness and worry. I think our hunting season is over here. We have heard no shots for a month. Peace is back. Great sadness over Cyrano. I am so sad for your friend and you. But the young gate decorator, how sweet is that? I can see how that would be a favorite gift and warm your heart. I am happy that you enjoyed your holidays although they were touched with sadness. I want to wish You and Your Hubby a Happy New Year and hope it is filled with all that is good and wonderful!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

You really have taken some beautiful pictures, and your post really strikes a cord with me, because I could have written parts of it myself. I am missing my parents during the holidays and the season was made better by the kindness of others...I also worry about 'our' deer during this time. I think knowing I'm not alone in these feelings, has provided comfort...Thank-you for that! All the very best to you and your family (2 and 4 legged) for 2011!

Mary Ann said...

I don't know where to start... I love deer, but don't want them to pass deer worm to my llamas... but we, too, wince at the sound of shots here in our country, both for deer and for birds...to hear someone laugh of killing 29 geese and 30 ducks makes me sad and uncomfortable... we are seeing less and less deer around our house, and now, no more quail.

My mother suffered at Christmas too, it's so hard for some at the holidays.

I hope Bossy's Boy survives to grow strong and mighty.

Thank you for your beautiful pictures!

Verde Farm said...

So sorry about the deer. I sure hope he makes it and his bone heals. I know what you mean about the sound of guns. It startles me sometimes early in the morning and wakes me up. Also sorry about Calypso. That just breaks my heart. I know that was very hard on your friend. The gate decor was so thoughtful and kind. A special peson did that. Glad you enjoyed your family time and your home looked beautiful. Great pictures :)

COUNTRY GAL said...

Lovely post and photos ! I understand how you feel, I was raised on a farm as well. I to lost my dad 15 years ago in Nov and my mum three years ago in Oct, both loved Christmas and made it so fun and joyful for me . My dad even went to great lengths to make deer prints and santa foot prints in the snow for me to see when I was little, to this day every Christmas I remember that, my mum always made my favorite Christmas cookies and they both loved to decorate the house inside and out. But I know I will always have those wonderful memories. I am sorry to hear about the deer and Calypso. Hope you have a good day and a Happy New Year.

thecrazysheeplady said...

This was actually a beautiful post. Sad, but beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you a Happy New Year.

Sharon said...

Your pictures are so beautiful and I love the stories about your animals. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

Willard said...

Season goes out here tomorrow and I will be so glad when it is over. It is just late flintlock season and they allow so much deer hunting earlier that there is little going on now since the weather is so bitter. I lost several this year between the outlaws before season and hunting season.

It is amazing the buck survived the arrow wound and I hope he survives the most recent injury as well. I think I recall reading in your comment on Fred that he is doing better. In the case of Fred there was probably little they could do at his age, especially since both knees were in bad shape so there was no chance of a long term good outcome.

Terra said...

This is my first visit here, and your stories are very compelling. I like your cat photos too, in a more recent post.