Rocky

Flip the calendar; we made it to June.

I’m tired to the bone… as though I’ve been flattened by an 18-wheeler.

Which means it must be June.

Yea! We survived another season of hell. Most folks refer to this time as April and May, or “spring.”

Not us. One moment it’s late March: you’re cruising down the road, arm dangling out the window, and barely breaking the posted speed of 25 mph.

But flip the calendar to April and suddenly, the gas pedal’s been jammed to the floor. Your skull whacks the headrest as the car takes off, and you’re hurtling down the road at 120 mph, desperately clutching the arm rest and struggling to stay in your lane. The scenery flies by in a blur, but there’s no slowing down. You grit your teeth and white-knuckle the wheel until finally — thankfully — you hit max speed, activating the governor. The car slows, eventually rolling to a stop, and in a daze, you glance around wondering, “Whoa… what just happened?

You have raced through a mish-mash of activities, softball practices, games, parties, school performances, horse shows, hunter paces, steeplechases, pony club, doctor appointments, meetings, end-of-school events — one piled atop the other — for 8 weeks.

Or a marathon 11-weeks, since this year’s hell slopped onto a third page.

Apparently, today is… June 22.

The 22nd? Yowza.

Judging from Facebook, it appears that we party endlessly and trail Brynn and Rocky, obsessively photographing them at various venues.

Really, other stuff has happened. I’m just too tired to name it, or find any gooder words to describe… the other stuff.

So here’s an illustrated glimpse of recent going-ons —  based on iphone photos:

Yes, Brynn gladly accepted a couple of sidesaddle opportunities. (Thanks to Sarah, Liz and the pit crew who assembled child and pony at multiple events.)

And on one occasion, I actually wore a dress. (Yes, I do in fact, own dresses. The hat, however, was a loaner.)

Prior to her sidesaddle debut, Brynn added vaulting to her equestrian resume.

Her glam look was also short lived. Later that day — 50 miles away, with the word “West” inserted before “Virginia” — here she is, a few hours later:

I realize that there are usually two other kids in our possession. At some point in May, my mom whisked them off to France, for a 10-day jaunt in Paris and Provence.

I know, rough life.

Sometimes those kids — including the other one… the small, bossy model — forget how good they have it.

Like the day they set out for the pool, while Martin moved last year’s forage across the loft, and unloaded a hay wagon… in 93-degree heat.

When I discovered those chore dodgers, I accused them of the worst offense. “You’re posers — city kids pretending to be farm kids.”

Brynn burst into tears and wailed inconsolably… as if I’d cursed her very existence. (Nothing worse than being a called a “city.”)

Of course, I’d never curse Brynn. Out loud.

But some days stretched my sanity to its limits…

… and forced me to resort to desperate actions.

Let’s see… what else?

Brynn celebrated a birthday. Cayden “graduated” from elementary school. And Hadley participated in, well… everything.

At present, all 3 are at an undisclosed sleep-away camp. (They don’t want other kids to “discover” their retreat, so they simply call it The Camp. In fact, Hadley glared at me murderously, when I mentioned our drive to West Virginia. Good luck finding them based on that tip.)

In their absence I’ve been trying to restore order. On Monday morning, I composed a list of chores and plotted a clean-up plan.

The mudroom seemed a logical point of attack. I sighed, then waded in.

But that morning, I did not restore order.

I kicked clear a path, slammed the door, and spent the day guarding the couch and the TV.

You never know when they might try to escape.

And me without my dog crate.

Unicorn wannabes and other equine oddities

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A vet once told me, “Sheep are looking for a place to die.” The meaning: by the time one seems sick, it is probably a goner.

Apparently our sheep’s sludgy, algae-covered water trough is a fountain of youth, because our crew refuse to the kick the bucket. (Check Funny Farm next week, to see if I jinxed them with that statement.)

Setting sheep aside, I can attest to this fact: if you own a horse, he will get hurt or sick. Remember, Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, and that your horse will get injured or ill.”

The last part is often omitted.

Fortunately, most ailments are recognizable to owners: colic, hoof injuries, skin lacerations — routine stuff that may or may not need the vet.

But every so often, a horse will throw you a curve ball.

Like Chance, my older Thoroughbred. I rarely ride him so he receives minimal attention — a cursory glance to make sure nothing’s broken or bleeding, and that his 4 legs aren’t sticking straight up in the air.

But earlier this summer, it was impossible to miss the lump protruding from his forehead. It was rock-hard and didn’t appear to be injury related.

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This particular condition has a name… which I’ve presently forgotten. But my vet assured me that it isn’t causing him discomfort and it should go away. So far, it hasn’t receded much. He appears to be sprouting a unicorn horn.

Jazz, my other horse, has his own facial imperfection. It also appeared without provocation: a trail of distended veins on his right cheek.

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This is a permanent development but it is benign. Really, no big deal. (I texted my vet for the medical terminology for this veiny disorder and Chance’s unicorn head, but apparently she’s too busy working — stitching wounds, saving horses and such — to field my random blog questions.)

Not all of our weird equine ailments have been harmless. In my last post I mentioned Rocky’s eye. (And kudos to Brynn for noticing, “something’s wrong with Rocky’s eye.) Ultimately, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a tumorous growth on his eyelid. The tumor was surgically removed (a more conservative option than taking the entire eye). But with this approach, we decided to follow up with chemotherapy, which may reduce the chance of recurrence. It comes in the form of a topical gel, applied inside the eyelid, three times a day, for several staggered weeks.

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Ironically, on Monday — the same day that Rocky received his first dose of chemo ointment — Brynn also began a new course of meds: a foul-tasting antibiotic, also three times daily. It’s thick and gloppy, and according to Brynn, “tastes like rotten peppermint and salt.”

Brynn isn’t thrilled but accepts her meds as long as we provide strawberry milk or a candy chaser.

Rocky, however, is a noncompliant patient. Very noncompliant.

Treating him is a two-person circus three times a day: Martin physically, forcibly, wrangles Rocky into submission so that the pony’s head is still, while I try to pry open his tightly clasped eye, and deposit a 1/4 inch dab of Mitomycin-C inside the lid.

I’d like to say that it’s getting easier over time, but it ain’t. And safe to say, Rocky hates the sight of us.

If nothing else, these thrice daily episodes enforce the mantra that Rocky and other ponies believe: Kids are generally kind and less troublesome. Those big humans are not to be trusted.

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Hunting & Dancing with Hounds

New Funny Farm content coming soon. But after a busy weekend, I can only proffer up a few pixs and captions.

On Saturday Brynn hunted untethered — “off the leash,” as she likes to say. In other words, without any speed moderation from yours truly.

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What does this mean?

It means that I’m dispensable.

I’m still useful when it comes to tacking up the pony, or tightening his girth. I am menial labor.

But in the hunt field, I am a nonessential employee.

Last week, Brynn was frightened to ride down steep slopes and cross creek beds. This week she was blase. Freed from the lead, she announced that I could fall in behind her. “You can stay back there,” she said, gesturing toward Rocky’s tail.

She’s a teenager, embodied in a kindergartener.

Which is impressive and annoying at the same time.

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Chatting on the hack home

 

In the meantime, Hadley is still honing her hound handling skills. Pictured, this isn’t Kennedy, but another effusive hound in the pack.

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Dancing with hounds.

Or just bonding.

Either way, it’s a feel-good experience.

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(Photos by Karen Kandra & Robert Keller)