Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Question

I don't understand people who like to golf, I don't understand people who like to rock climb, bungee jump, or sky dive. I don't understand people who like to fly, and I really don't understand people who like to shop, I just cannot relate.

So I guess that I should not find it odd that there are people who cannot relate to what my Husband and I do. But I must admit that I get a little testy with people who ask me "the question" that makes my blood boil.

We like living on a farm, we like raising animals, we like feeding animals, we like caring for animals, we like shoveling our hard earned money out onto our manure piles without ever turning a profit. That is what we do and enjoy.

Get over trying to understand it, it will never make anymore sense to you than continually buying shoes and clothes, wearing them a couple of times and giving them away, does to me. It will never make anymore sense to you than paying ridiculously high prices to play a game of golf or trying to kill yourself with some dangerous sport or hobby, does to me.

We love our animals and enjoy them and part of that love and enjoyment includes a commitment, a commitment and responsibility to feed and care for that animal while it is under our ownership. Just because the weather is horrible outside doesn't give an animal owner the right to skip a feeding, just because money is tight doesn't give an animal owner a right to quit supplying food or expect those animals to fend for themselves.

We had a situation come up today, a friend who recently had surgery, went to check on a mare that was due to foal. When she arrived the foal's nose was out but no feet were showing and the mare had stopped laboring.

She called the Vet, then called me. I told her what I would do in the same situation, which was push the baby back in and find the feet. She called me back a short time later to tell me that she had done what I had told her but that she couldn't get the legs to straighten out, so she just pulled her out by her knees.

Everything went well and the baby and mare were both fine but the baby's legs are very crooked from being in that position for so long and she couldn't walk or even stand to nurse. My friend just milked the mare and gave the baby a bottle then asked if we would come down to try to get the baby up to nurse it's mother, since she couldn't do that because of her surgery.

We went to the place where she keeps her horses and my DH got the pretty, dun, blanketed, appy filly on her feet and held her head up and steadied her to nurse. This filly will be fine, her legs will straighten out with time and she is completely healthy. But without human intervention both the mare and filly would have died. Without someone spending a couple of days helping this foal to nurse she will not survive.

While we were there someone else who has horses in the same barn, asked us if we had seen another horse that is at this barn. We said that we had, it kind of stuck out like a very sore thumb. She has been feeding this poor, young, skinny horse her own hay just so it will survive. She has talked to the owners about giving it away but they won't because they love it too much. They did say that they would sell it, but they want a good tidy sum for it. My feelings about this is that if you are eating, then your animals should be eating. If you are not doing without meals, then your animals should not be doing without meals.

If you have the money to have cell phones, cable T.V., an internet connection, go to places of entertainment, or go out to eat, then there is no excuse for not taking care of your responsibility to your animals.

I will climb down from my soapbox now and get back to my original point. I am spending many sleepless nights right now because of my pregnant mares and does. It will get worse as time goes by and they get closer to kidding and foaling. It is my duty to take care of them, since we are responsible for them being bred in the first place.

I know many people who own animals and take very good care of them but when it comes to birthing, they will not lose any sleep over it, to me this is just like not feeding your animals, because you are eating out all of the time. Which gets me to "the question" that I hate. The question that people will ask is, "Why do you have to watch them so closely, don't you think that they can have babies without your help?"

The answer to this question is this, "Were you home alone when you gave birth or was your wife home alone when she gave birth?" Yes, animals have been giving birth unassisted for many, many years. But what makes them any different than people? Women have been giving birth for many, many years as well. It isn't that I think animals are as important as people, but I have an investment in these animals and there is just as much chance of something going wrong for them as there is for humans.

The investment that I have in these animals may not necessarily be a big financial investment but with horses it is eleven months of care and waiting for a foal. With my goats it is five months of care and waiting. Do you really think that I don't want to be there when they give birth.

If you have raised animals for any length of time, you know the simple things that can go wrong during a delivery. Things that can easily be fixed if you are present but if you are snoring in bed those simple things can kill both the mother and baby or babies. Sometimes it is just a knee that gets stuck or the sharp little hooves that try to perforate into the mother's colon or a breach. With twins, triplets or quads in goats, it can be a tangling of legs or two competitors racing to be the first one out. These are things that can be corrected without an injury or death.

Last year one of our foals was just huge, she got stuck at the chest, we had never had this happen before. Her head and shoulders were already out and it took all of the strength that my Husband had, with his feet braced, to pull that baby out. He was sliding the mare backwards and we were praying when she finally popped out. It happened in the middle of the night. If we had been asleep we would have awaken to a dead mare and foal in the stall and it would have been very difficult to have gotten them out of that stall. My poor Husband was extremely sore the next day.

A friend of ours had a foal get stuck at the hips, the mare was panicking with the baby mostly dangling out and flopping around. Our friend was not strong enough to help, but luckily the Schwans delivery man arrived just in time to put some muscle into the pull and they got the colt out.

I am not saying that I am present at every birth but I miss very few. If I do miss one it isn't because I wasn't doing constant checks. There are times when you think that you can safely slip away for a couple of hours without anything happening, only to find out that that two hours was all that it took and they are either in the middle of giving birth or have just gotten done when you return home.
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