Category Archives: pancake

part 4 of 4: the inconsolable soul – the end

part 4…the end.

this is the part in this crazy story where i should be able to start out this post with these words:

‘with every great story comes a happy ending and in the end it was all worth it because we are pregnant!’

this is not that story and that is not our ending.  we are not pregnant.

every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – semisonic

in the years since our story begun, we have come a long way – we still have a long way to go, but we are on the right path.
before our “break,” in my last conversation with dr. w, he said that if we wanted to come back to him he would recommend ivf but that he didn’t feel that would even help.  he told me in his no sugar coating fashion that the medicines would be tougher and considering what i went through the past few months, i could and should expect the worst when it came to the side effects.  as reassuring as that was, we talked about it.  we really did.  we dissected our thoughts and actions, we looked at the positive and negative, and we prayed.  at the end of the day, we decided to wait.  we didn’t really want to do ivf at that time since the percentage of success would be so low.  and, we wanted to give ourselves extended time to heal before we tried any more iui’s, so we waited.

in our waiting, we were faced with new challenges.  challenges of dealing with, and learning to live with, infertility.  one of those challenges was being able to respond to people when they ask why we weren’t pregnant and asking if we just didn’t want kids.  it takes time to respond to those people because with each question it rushes me through all of the stages of grief.  when i get back to the acceptance stage, i don’t know how to answer.  i don’t want to make the person feel bad because they didn’t know, but all i can really do now is give a sad smile and shrug.  sometimes when people complain about their children or their pregnancies, all i can do is breath and relive the pain.

**i am not saying now, or ever, that 1. i would have been a great mom that didn’t complain.  i might have, but having been through all of this, if i could have gotten pregnant i would have embraced the bad and horrible because for me it would have been a victory.  it would have been better than being in the state that i am in right now.  2. That people can’t complain. everyone has a right to be miserable in their own situations and i get that.  sometimes it is hard for me or other people going through infertility to grasp what people are saying because we are stuck in the mentality of “if only i had that problem.”  3. that other people can’t share their happiness with people going through infertility or that we expect people to only be sad around us and not share their good news and their joys.  it isn’t that we aren’t capable of being happy for anyone, because often times we are.  but with everyone else’s happiness inside us, there is still that sting of heartache.  that with everyone else’s happiness, even though we are genuinely happy, there is still a place in our heart that breaks.  and i am not sure that there is anything that will make that go away.**

each month that passed, a little bit of sadness enters in, but it eventually leaves.  most of the time that we have been taking a break has been uneventful.  i have had some more cysts rupture (but nothing that sent me back to the hospital) and i have had some lingering effects of the treatments (mental and physical).  i am telling you, my hair used to be so sleek and shiny instead of the afro fuzz ball that it is now.

in april of 2013, i found myself having some issues.  i started bleeding and wouldn’t stop.  i called my doctor and told him i was annoyed and to fix it.  he prescribed something and told me to call in 3 days.  i did and he said “did it stop?”  i said “no, what else is there?” he gave me another medicine and told me to call a week later.  i called and he said “did it stop now?” i said “no and if it doesn’t stop soon i am going to go insane.”  he told me he would call me back.  he wanted to check into something.  a few hours later, his nurse called and told me that he wanted me to have an ultrasound (still not a fun one) and to come see him in the office.  this has become a new way of life – just do what we are told when it pertains to my “mickey mouse.”  i went to the ultra sound and the tech asked me if i was familiar with the “type of ultrasound we were doing that morning.” i laughed at her and said yes.  i am sure that she didn’t get the joke but i giggled.  if only she knew where this all started.  i had the ultrasound and when i asked what she was looking for, she wouldn’t tell me.  i asked her if it looked ok and she said, “the doctor has to go over it with you.”  i will admit, i wasn’t overly concerned because i have been here before.  after the ultrasound, we had several hours to kill because my appt with him wasn’t until that afternoon.  we went and had breakfast.  we went shopping and i got to go to target – i love target!  we killed time and i went to my appt.  andy went in with me, but opted to stay in the waiting room.  when they called me back, i went into the room and the doctor walked in. he sat down and pulled up the ultrasound so that we could look at it together.  he showed me that my ovaries were fine (not in the ‘you can have a baby’ fine, but in the, fine for alison’s screwed up ovaries).

he then went on to show me my uterus. he said, “ok, do you see this?” and showed me something gray and white on the screen (let’s be honest, everything on those screens is white and some shade of gray – but i digress).  he told me it was the lining of my uterus.  oh – i don’t know why i didn’t recognize it because years before, i got to see it each month four or five times a month.  he told me that the lining was a great thickness and he was glad to see that.  i looked at him as he continued.  he stated, “i was worried that since you were bleeding so bad and since you didn’t stop with those medicines that you had cancer.”  i nodded. “oh ok – wait WHAT?” he told me that because my ovaries don’t work right that i am at an increased risk for cancer (which dr. w did mention to me at our initial consultation).  he said that when i was talking to him on the phone that he had a bad feeling about it and wanted me to have the ultrasound and come in to talk to him about it.  he stated that he was concerned that he would see a very thick lining and if he did, he would want to do a d&c to clear it out and do biopsies to diagnose.  he was certain now that i was fine and that for some reason unknown to him and to myself, i just had a lot to bleed the past month and a half.  he offered to do a biopsy if it would calm my nerves and put my mind at peace.  i said, “um, yes please.”

he got his nurse and told her that we were going to proceed.  then he told me how he was going to do it and that he was going to get several samples.  he told me it was going to be a bit uncomfortable.  i remember hearing this when i had the xray and when they did the actual iui procedure, so i said ok – thinking that this would be the same.  i was on the table and he said, “here we go.”  all i have to say is: uncomfortable, my ass – it hurt like hell!  he did the first biopsy and i almost climbed over the top of the table.  i was mad.  i may or may not have said a choice word and told him through clenched teeth before he took the second one that he needed to revisit his definition of uncomfortable.  he moved a little faster and at the end of it he asked if i was ok.  i said i was, but i wasn’t happy with him.  all in all, i was glad that he had the forethought to be worried even when i hadn’t been. i had labs drawn that day as well and those were a piece of cake – since i am an expert now!

time passed and the results came back.  i was fine – cancer free and, for the time being, worry free.  he counseled me on what to look for in the future and when i needed to come in for more tests or biopsies (which i told him i didn’t think i would ever do again).  that biopsy was something that you can do once because you don’t know, but once you know that pain you wouldn’t volunteer for it again – ever.

at any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end. – christine mason miller

In our story, we will always be labeled as an infertile couple (if not by other people – by ourselves).  we will always be a part of that club even if we didn’t ask to be.  we will always wonder what could have been.  but we decided that our story is not going to end how so many do.  we were going to stay together and love each other.  we would not let this rip our relationship to pieces.

something that i haven’t talked about that much is andy.  yes he is sprinkled here and there in the story, but i haven’t really focused much on him.  through all of this, he was my rock and my sanity.  he was my punching bag (verbally) and the recipient of my anger and lashing out.  he was my voice of reason when i went on an irrational rant.  he was the calm to my raging storm.  if I was having a bad day, his look of understanding and compassion and a smile of “bring it on, i can take it” was all i needed to see that there was a light at the end of this.  in his eyes, i could see, and still see, the promise that he made me – that i was his forever.

there are days that i still question if he will wish he walked away when he had the chance.  there are days i wonder if he will ever resent staying married to me because of all of this.  there are days where i feel so insecure that no matter what he says i believe that he will hate me.  but then there are the rest of the days.  the rest of the days that have built our relationship. the days where we were in the midst of our darkest time together – in the midst of anguish and despair that a lot of couples don’t experience together.  it wasn’t like there was one sided, earth shattering grief for one of us where the other was there to hold you up. it was earth shattering grief for both of us.  we had to hold each other up and keep from falling in the process.  we were fully invested in the good days, where we hoped and dreamed of having a family.  and we were fully there in the dark days when it seemed like a black cloud was flying over us raining down despair.  our story, as horrible as it was, gave us a foundation stronger than we ever thought was possible.

because of the lack of spontaneity and intimacy that comes with fertility treatments, we have spent the last few years re-falling, deeper and deeper in love.  we have found tremendous joy in doing even the simplest things together because, through all of this, we have realized that we don’t need to take things for granted.  we run our errands together.  we make a game of giving ourselves challenges (find the most random gift for someone or something we can restore) and go to thrift stores to try to fulfill those challenges.  we are more intentional about having date nights (something that we didn’t really do before we realized we had infertility problems).  we find simple pleasures in random mini road trips, looking for hidden treasures in the world.  i knew that i loved andy a long time before we even started dating and i knew i loved him when he asked me out.  there was no question in my mind that i was head over heels in love with him when he asked me to marry him and on the day that we said “i do.”  and as cliché as it sounds – the love that we had back then is nothing compared to the love that we have right now.

every great story on the planet happened when someone decided not to give up, but kept going no matter what. – spryte loriano

when we said our vows, i believed that ‘for better or worse’ would come with old age – dealing with ailments and sickness.  i never imagined that it would creep in so early in our marriage.  i can honestly say that andy has been there through the best of times and the worst.  he has seen me at my best and at my very worst.

our story, as imperfect and unwanted as it is, has been our greatest love story.

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. – victor hugo

i feel God again.  that doesn’t mean that i understand everything that he is doing in my life.  i still don’t understand why he put the desire for children in my heart if he knew that i would never be able to get pregnant.  it doesn’t mean that i agree with everywhere he has led me.  it doesn’t mean that i don’t still get angry with him and ask him why.  especially when i see a new mom with a 4 week old baby and the mom admits she did heroin 3 weeks earlier.  it doesn’t mean that i have to like what he has done in my life.  it doesn’t mean that i am not broken anymore, because i am.  it doesn’t mean that the sting isn’t there sometimes.  it doesn’t mean that i only have good days now.  it doesn’t mean that i have it all together and don’t cry anymore.  the important part is, i feel him again.  my faith has returned – a little damaged but there.

the youth and their families we worked with in monroe and here in greeneville have helped.  family and friends have helped. little glimmers of hope for peace have helped.  understanding and compassion from people in and out of our situation have helped.

as weird as it might sound, pancake helped.  i was already doing better (most of the time) by the time we moved to tn, but i feel like i have been doing even better when pancake arrived.  we loved going to the farm and riding around and hanging out with the animals (even when they didn’t have the time of day for us).  it was a scene of calm and peace and we needed that.  we would sit and listen to the cows chewing on the grass (which is surprisingly louder than you would think).  we would watch jack wander around, ignoring us.  we would listen to the river and look at the mountains and ponder why they never looked the same.  but when pancake arrived a whole new ballgame began.

i was responsible.  ok, i really wasn’t “responsible” for anything other than love and treats because gene fed him and took care of basic needs, but i felt responsible.  we uprooted him from his family and took him to a strange place and contained him in the barn for a few weeks.  i watched him go from refusing to leave the barn to waiting for me in the barn lot when i took too long.  i watched him go from standing as far away from me as possible to running full speed to us when he saw us.  pancake.  my weird little donkey.  i watched his personality develop and with each development, we laughed more and more.  everything from his squeaky bray to his obsession of walking behind the other animals with his head on their rump made us laugh and smile.  we shared our stories of pancake and his equine friends and we noticed that other people laughed too.  it seemed like there is something about an ass that makes people smile (not all people, i am sure, but just go with me here).

we were talking one day about doing some fundraising one day and our ideas became bigger and bigger and we decided we needed to just start a company.  we played around with it (one of andy’s wild ideas) and came up with a name and a concept and a business plan.  we laughed about it.  one day at lunch, andy told me that we had a website.  that our fundraising idea was now no longer just an idea.  it was real – tangible.  within the last little bit, we have a business license and a website.  we are business owners.  we are starting out small, but our plans are huge.  pancake and his equine friends made us happy and helped heal us and if it brings a smile to someone’s face, then we have made a difference.

from the pits of despair to the path of healing, we have turned the story into something we never could have imagined.  so sometime tomorrow, november 1, 2014 will be the first day of:

the bossy donkey company

http://www.bossydonkey.com

tomorrow will be a new adventure in it’s own right with the launching of our own company.

i know that infertility has robbed me and us of certain rights of passage, and no matter what happens from here on out there are some things that deep down i will always grieve, but it is ok.

our story has lead us here and in the end, our story is just beginning: we are adopting!

hey hey hey a farm photo post

this past weekend me and mom were farmers.  we went to the farm to feed the animals and ended up herding cows.  we didn’t get them where we wanted them…but we tried and will try again.

we have been trying to get to the farm a lot but with the cold weather and it getting dark so early it has been rough getting out there.  i will say when we do go it makes me so happy to be with the furry animals.

now for some pictures (most of these are from feb with some from last weekend).

new resident

new resident

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amazing sky.

amazing sky.

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debating on nibbling the camera.

debating on nibbling the camera.

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a man and his horse.  (we got him so far before he got spooked and ran back to his mom)

a man and his horse. (we got him so far before he got spooked and ran back to his mom)

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my buddy coming to see me.

my buddy coming to see me.

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moving the horses to a different field.

moving the horses to a different field.

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me and andy on "our" hill.

me and andy on “our” hill.

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sometimes it frustrates me that the camera doesn't capture as good as real life.

sometimes it frustrates me that the camera doesn’t capture as good as real life.

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breath taking views

breath taking views

always looking for a treat

always looking for a treat

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jack is fun to take pictures of because he reminds me of eeyore.

jack is fun to take pictures of because he reminds me of eeyore.

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hold me

hold me

silly boys (notice pancake sticking out his tongue)

silly boys (notice pancake sticking out his tongue)

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jack and pancake (notice how jack is listening for pancake to attack)

jack and pancake (notice how jack is listening for pancake to attack)

argyle growing up

argyle growing up

andy and the furries

andy and the furries

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poor jack looks fluffy

poor jack looks fluffy

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it is time to work the cattle which means shots, vaccines, and new tags.  that is why they are in the barn, but fear not they will be turned out again soon and will be back to eating grass and mooing.

alban hills

(that is the name of the farm incase you didn’t know – or if you actually cared).

i mentioned will getting attached by the horses while he was in town.  well the proof is in this post.  it was really muddy when we went out there so we stayed in the kabota and fed them treats from there.  abbey distracted will and penny grabbed the treat bucket and tipped it over.  it was a feast for everyone!  jack was sad so he blocked our path so that he could get some special loving!  he always looks so sad.

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with it getting dark so early it is a little hard to get good pictures of the animals.  but i still love taking my camera trying to get a great shot.

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i know the animals love the treats but it makes me happy that they come running when we get there.  a while ago we went to feed and saw a blue cow.  he was so slate gray he was blue.  by the time we could get a picture of him (his mama was really protective) he has already turned more gray/cream and less blue.  all of the baby cows are getting so big.

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i can’t wait for days to be longer so we can spend more time wandering around and playing with the animals.

furry happiness

we go to the farm to feed animals i have stated before that it is more for my benefit then it is for theirs.  they can eat grass and be happy with that, but who doesn’t want a little treat every now and then.  it doesn’t matter how bad of a day that i have had going to see the animals and ride around makes me happy.  some people go to happy hour and have liquid happiness i go to the farm for furry happiness.

i have enjoyed being able to go see the mountains and have enjoyed being “responsible” for animals.  pancake has come such a long way.  do i trust him yet – not at all, but i feel a lot more comfortable around him and he does me too.  i can now put my forehead on his and he crosses his eyes and looks at me but doesn’t jerk away like he has been shot.  he has gotten to the point where he always wants to run to us.  which is awesome but a little scary when he is flying down a hill and you are at the bottom. pancake also does this thing where he will just stick out his tongue after eating!

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pancake has always had personality (which was evident when he tried to take dad out and escape the horse trailer) but it is really starting to show in a fun way.  he loves treats.  sometimes he gets really excited and tries to eat your hand with them but he responds to ouch and stop and a firm hand on the forehead.  he tries to steal other animals treats also.  he also loves the camera.  i will get the camera out and he comes to see it.  he wants to smell it and lick it and see if it is a treat.  he loves having his picture taken even if it mean photobombing another picture!

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he still gets antsy around the horses but has gotten more bold and will come around them.  i recently learned that he slurps his water.  he will put his lips in a bucket of water and uses his lips like they are his personal straw.  it is really funny but could be a little annoying if he did it all the time around me.  (the horses also drink this way too).

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now that the weather is getting cooler all the animals are feeling a little frisky.  pancake is running circles around us and jack.  jack has gotten a lot more mobile since pancake has come to live at the farm.  jack runs and kicks and makes a weird heehaw noise.  it is a little more like a screech noise but still gets the point across.  jack also gets excited about treats.  he doesn’t bite as much as he lips.  he will take the treat from me but my hand ends up in his lips.  he really loves the caramel treats that we recently got.

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argyle is growing up so much.  we put the halter on his….and he lost it.  we are still looking in brush and on limbs to see where he got it caught..  he is almost taller than me.  he is fuzzy (with his baby/winter coat).  he loves for his butt to be rubbed.  he will let me rub his head and neck and then he turns so that we can get to his back and butt.  he also will still rub/lean up against me like a big dog.  he loves attention and treats and is getting a lot more bold with the big horses.

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the other horses are still crazy.  they love treats and being bullies to the other animals.  flag is getting a lot nicer and actually will listen to me (well sort of).  abbey and penny are still a little jumpy and bossy but they are sweet and get treats too.

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dinozzo…he is getting big!

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we love to take my camera (in part for the animals but also for the mountains).  you never know what you will capture.  (all of the pictures are from the last several weeks).

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my dose of furry happiness.

the country: a beautiful thing

growing up we took a lot of family vacations.  i say a lot but i have no idea how many we really took because when you are younger things seem more often.  i know that we travelled all over and i am amazed at some of the places my parents have told me i have been but i don’t really remember.  some of the memories i have of those vacations are of me and will running through museums trying to get through them as quickly as we could so we could move on.  i remember waiting on my parents (who according to my younger self) were the slowest people in the world.  it was a race to get back to the hotel/camp ground to go swimming in the pool.  ah the joys of family vacations as a child.  when we loaded up for vacations as teenagers it was more of the same, but instead of running to the end, it was more avoid and hide from my parents (who according to my teenager self) were the most embarrassing humans alive.  it was a slow form of torture.  looking back i realize that it was actually (dare i say) fun.  now looking back it makes me a little sad.  not only because of the carefree vacations but because i missed out on a lot of things because i was too hurried to really look at the things in the museum or appreciate the sites.  i was too busy making fun of things that we had to do to really absorb it and the history.  as a teenager i was so annoyed that i wasn’t with my friends that i missed out on a lot of great experiences.  i might have been physically there and going through motions but i didn’t really “get” it – whatever “it” was.  this is true for our trip to washington dc, the nasa space center in fl, countless museums across the south, the cherokee reenactments etc. 

that rambling leads me to this:

i grew up in the city, yes i spent time in the country visiting family on some weekends and in the summer but let’s face it…i’m a city girl.  there are times i pretend that i am a country girl…like when we go feed the animals and i move a branch out of the tractor path and act like the world stood still until those tasks were accomplished.  i pretend that i know what i am doing when i grab the horse’s halter to put fly medicine on her face – but in reality i am thinking “please don’t pull me through the fence.”   i pretend that i trust pancake when i think he is really plotting against me (especially when he flattens his ears).  i pretend that pancake has come a great ways and it is all because i am a self-proclaimed donkey whisperer.  i pretend that if it wasn’t for me and andy, argyle would be so skittish around humans that he would be considered for the rodeo.  i pretend that when argyle goes to his new home (whenever that might be) that i won’t miss him because he is just a horse when i actually think that i love him and there is a great possibility that i will cry when i drive up and he isn’t standing in the field with his lanky legs running to the fence to greet us.  

i pretend that i have always enjoyed doing these things…but i haven’t.  i can remember when i was growing up and was “forced” to come to tn with my family.  it was a time when i was starting to really have a social life outside of neighbors and family friends but wasn’t old enough to stay at home so my parents did the responsible thing and took me with them.  i drug my feet the entire time.  i longed to be with my friends in the city and hated that i was missing all of the latest things.  i was worried that my best friends would replace me in the 72 hours that i was out of their sight.  i missed the beauty in feeding animals with my grandmother.  i missed the knowledge in riding around town with my grandfather making deliveries and picking up boxes.  i missed the freedom in running through a tobacco field looking for tobacco worms.  i missed the experience of riding on the tractor around the farm.  i missed the familiarity of walking through the barn yard with the cows.  i missed the understanding of why we picked and shelled beans and cut up apples.  i will take a moment to make it clear that i did all of those things and for the most part i plastered a smile on my face but it isn’t until now – years later – that i fully grasp what i was missing out on by not truly living in the moment.  i didn’t take advantage of the situations and now that we are living here there are things i wish i could do again and wish that andy could experience because they really were life changing things – if i had only let them be.  no one in my family grows tobacco anymore and when we pass a field i am reminded of running through the rows and looking for worms.  it makes me sad that andy may never see one and get to step on it.  we won’t be able to walk into a barn and smell the dried tobacco.  i missed out – i took for granted those experiences because i wanted to be somewhere else.

i have been thinking a lot about all of this in the past year and have come to the conclusion that if i would have moved to tn earlier in my life (or if i was born and raised here) i would not be as appreciative as i am today to be doing the things i am doing.  if i lived here when i was in high school i would have applied to college and moved far away because i wouldn’t have appreciated the experiences that this little town has to offer.  i would have been the first of my class to skip town and get on with my life.  i would fled and never looked back and honestly would have never realized what i was walking away from. 

it took moving to the country to realize how much i took for granted and still take for granted.  i feel like i am more aware now (as compared to when i was younger).  i see the outline of the mountains in the morning sun and notice the way the sun highlights the ridges.  i see the clouds casting shadows in the valleys.  i laugh when argyle leans into me to be rubbed like a big dog.  i practice tough love when i take the feed buckets away from jack and pancake.  i practice tolerance when the horses try to steal each others sweet feed.  i sit in awe listening to the creek at night in the cool mountain breeze.  i enjoy riding around the farm looking for baby cows and wild turkeys.  i do all of these things now with a true appreciation and it isn’t because i am a farmer or a country girl, but because i don’t want these experiences to pass me by again. 

living here in the country with a second chance: it’s a beautiful thing.

funny animals…

so a while ago we went to the farm to feed and took the camera and got some great pictures!

oh no I lost my ear!

oh no I lost my ear!

just kidding here it is!

just kidding here it is!

he is so funny and likes having his picture taken (as long as he gets treats in the process).

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I also found some pictures of when Bryson, kelli, and betsy came to see the baby horse (from back in june).

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this past weekend we went to Bristol to see friends and andy went to the race (with dad).  I am so tired (even after a nap) and am not ready to go back to work tomorrow….but next week is a short week and we have some wonderful plans (i think) for labor day so I am excited about that).

pancake is a jerk and other farm animals…

many weeks of events narrowed into one post:

pancake:  is a jerk.  he was let out into the barn yard (while i was at the beach) and he rolled in the dirt and acted like he was going to be good.  sometime that night he busted through the electric fence and got jack, the other donkey, and the horses and cows to inter mingle and go to places they shouldn’t have been.  so he is a bad influence.  so i was upset about that when i was informed that he was chasing the little calves.  it was feared that if he kept chasing them he would run them to death (it can really happen).  and my fear was that if it killed a calf pancake would be no longer…when i got back from the beach i found him (in the field with the cows and jack and the horses) and we had a talk about how bad he was.  he wasn’t to chase the calves any longer and he wasn’t to be mean.  he was to be a sweet donkey and stop running through the electric fence.  i am happy to report that he hasn’t been through anymore fences.  he has been good (as far as i know) and has been hanging out with jack.  he seems to like his friend and seems really happy in the field.  now when we go feed he will run to me (i am not delusional to think he is running to me….it is the sweet feed and treats that he loves).  when we are done feeding he will follow us back to the gate wanting more treats.  we can rub him and pat him now (he still gets a little skittish depending on if the horses are around) but for the most part he is getting used to us.  he had a cut on his neck (jack bites him and tackles him) so i had to get some purple spray to put on it.  i got the wrong kind because it makes noise coming out of the can…but we were both troopers and he didn’t kick me so it was all good.  even though he is kind of a jerk he really is cute and i love him.

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jack:  is old.  he has been around for a long time.  i think his official name is black jack but he has since faded and isn’t pure black anymore so i just call him jack.  he is so funny.  unlike pancake’s ears (that are always pointed straight up) jack will let his ears flop over and he looks sad all the time.  the first few times i would feed him he would just get a mouth full of food and would look at me.  now he sticks his head in the bucket and won’t move.  (it is funny seeing two donkeys trying to put their head in the same bucket – they don’t like it and act like they are going to fight it out).  we have witnessed jack nipping at pancakes legs and we have seen him tackle pancake.  we have seen him run and cut off a horse to get his sweet feed.  he will come to us and he will follow us when we go back to the gate.  unlike pancake who puts his head through the gate jack will but his head against the gate almost like he is bowing in prayer for one more.  and looks up like well…  jack is very relaxed (unless abbey is around) and you can rub him and pat him and put him in a head lock.  he is a sweet boy.

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abbey and flag: are horses.  we have started feeding the horses in the field because they make pancake and jack skittish.  they are demanding and want food yesterday.  we take an extra bucket so that they can have some sweet feed.  (i admit we try to sneak up to the field so we don’t have to worry about them being around while we feed).  they are both beautiful but they are a handful (especially when i am still not too trusting that pancake won’t kick me at some point).  abbey rules the field and all the other animals (cows included) will get out of her way.  flag isn’t as mean but is big and so i think he intimidates but is actually not as needy/demanding/bossy.  they really are sweet and if i wasn’t worried about getting kicked by them or the donkeys i wouldn’t mind them a bit.

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penny: is a horse full or surprises.  a while ago when i went to feed pancake i heard luigi making a fuss and pancake was making noise and i heard another noise that i didn’t know.  i walked around the corner and there stood penny with her baby (we call him argyle).  her owner didn’t know she was pregnant until a few days before she had the foal.  she refused to let me touch her and cornered me in the barn twice when i was feeding luigi.  she wouldn’t let the colt get close to me (she would snort and he would back up).  finally she ate some sweet feed and she is my new best friend.  as long as her head was in a bucket she would let us pet and brush her.  i was finally able to touch argyle by brushing her and moved on to him and he was ok (mostly).  we have made great progress.  penny body checked me and made me drop a bucket and almost fall on my face (never get in the way of a horse and her bucket).  argyle bit me (he is chewing a lot).  he will let us pet him and thinks he is 1. a dog (he leans into me when i rub him) and 2. a rodeo star (he will randomly run around bucking).  he is so funny to watch get bigger.  he is letting us pet him and pat him and will approach us when we call him.  i still am cautious about him kicking so i keep my hand on his back and make sure he never turns on me.  (andy laughed at me when argyle bit me…i got to laugh at him because argyle bit his leg hairs and pulled).  penny is a beautiful horse and her colt is so handsome.  we have great plans for him to win the kentucky derby….ok maybe not.

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luigi: is the proud papa.  he is still funny.  he tries to eat my camera when i take pictures of him.  we are able to brush him a little bit…but he really is only interested in flapping his lips and eating treats!

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blackie: is not my favorite.  dad went to check on pancake and blackie was in the hay loft.  blackie is a 18 foot black snake (ok maybe not 18 feet but when you are talking about snakes 2 feet might as well be 18 feet).  i seriously think he might be 5 foot but the next time i went to the barn i talked to the snake…i said please don’t ever show yourself while i am here.  i know that black snakes are good and i don’t want to kill him…but if he sneaks up on me or freaks me out i am not promising i wouldn’t throw my bucket at him.  we made a pack (at least on my end we did) that i wouldn’t hurt him as long as he stayed out of my way.  now when i go i make sure i turn on lights and that i look before entering.  blackie creeps me out.

we have had so much fun checking on and feeding the animals.  it has been an adventure trying to gain the trust of an animal that doesn’t really understand what is going on.  pancake was taken from the only family that he has known.  jack was thrown together with a crazy young ass.  penny had to trust that these strangers wouldn’t hurt her or the baby.  argyle had to learn that we wouldn’t hurt him or his mama (now if he would learn to not bite).  and blackie understands his hiding places is the difference in life and death.

with andy’s summer schedule i had to feed alone a lot of the time and it was hard work and sometimes scary.  “farming” is hard work but it is so rewarding when the animals walk up to you and put their muzzle in your hand after thinking that there would be no way they would ever warm up to you.

night farming: pancake summaries

thursday night

this past thursday night i went to feed pancake (andy had a meeting) so i went alone.  i went home and decided that since it was going to storm that otis might as well ride with me (because i didn’t want to give him a bath) so we went a little later at night (i waited around to see if andy would get out of his meeting so we could go together (but he didn’t so i went on).  when i got there, gene said he had opened the door to the barn and gated everything so that pancake could get out of the barn and have some green grass but that he wouldn’t come out of the barn.  i drove into the barn lot and parked with the windows down a little so that otis could smell the farm air and see me so if he heard thunder he wouldn’t flip out.  i got my bucket of sweet feed and his little bucket of treats and went to the stall door.  pancake was leaned as far out as he could with all four feet still in the stall.  i stood close enough to get his attention with the treats and sweet feed but he wouldn’t budge.  i finally let him get a taste of it and pulled the bucket away and he stepped up and out of the barn with his front legs.  i will admit that i smiled to myself a little smug smile and thought “this is easy i can get him out of the barn.”  i was wrong.  i called and coaxed and begged him and bribed him with fresh carrots and started to count to him like he was in trouble.  that is when i realized i needed to go home.  it was funny when i started to count his ears perked up and he tilted his head a little like “so what.”  i was about to pack it up when andy called and i told him to come out there if he wanted to.  i watched pancake and realized he wanted out of the barn he just couldn’t get past the water dish so i got in the stall and tried to move it…it was heavy so when andy got there he slid it out-of-the-way.  pancake tried to step up but kept getting his feet tangled up and would chicken out.  i decided that he is really clumsy.  he started getting frustrated and would go in his stall and walk to the end of it and come running back to the open door only to slam on brakes and blow snot at me.  he hasn’t brayed in a while but he flares his nostrils and blows snot when he is frustrated.  i let him smell his halter and was going to try to get it on him to bring him out of the barn and that is when he got really annoyed and started kicking.  he backed up to the wall and kicked.  he went to the other end of the stall and kicked and kicked one more time (i think the last time a bird tried to land on him – i would have kicked too).  andy got there and had similar luck like me.  we petted him and gave him his treats and took some photos of the sky and him and luigi (who is a HUGE mooch).  we left and i was sad because i couldn’t get my ass out of the barn….(sorry i had to).

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friday night (5/24/13)

after graduation we went to the farm to see pancake one more time before we left.  we stopped at the gate and said hey to gene and he told us pancake still wouldn’t come out and we would have to hang some pictures and he would be at home and that he was going to run him out of the stall saturday if he hadn’t come out.  we already saw the moon when we were leaving graduation and it was so pretty so we took the camera to get some pictures with the barn and moon.  i took a few and andy took a few.  i turned towards the barn and lo and behold pancake was out of his stall and standing in the barn’s breeze way.  he was looking at me and was thinking either “look at me” or “you are late where have you been and where is my treat.”  i was so excited that he was out of the barn even though he didn’t go too far from his stall door.  he would turn and run into his stall and come back out and eat more.  he kept tripping over the barn threshold.  clumsy donkey!  since it was so late we loved on him and luigi for a few minutes and took a few photos and went on home.  part of the reason i didn’t get to bed early like i wanted to.

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tuesday night (5/28/13)

we didn’t get by to see pancake monday night because by the time we got settled in it was just too late.  so we went tuesday night (and sad to say we didn’t get any photos).  when we pulled up pancake was in the barn lot munching on some green grass.  he was smelling something and i guess the wind blew it because he jumped straight off the ground and kicked his feet in the air.  he looked at us and walked to the middle of the driveway (that cuts through the lot) to greet us.  he stuck his muzzle out towards us and smelled for treats.  i was able to rub his nose and head a little bit and andy was too before we went to the barn to get his feed and treats.  we passed pancake and he ran up behind us and followed us all the way to the barn.  he kept speeding up and it made me a little nervous that he was behind us and our backs were to him.  we got his feed and treats and he was in heaven.  he let me rub his head and his neck and i was able to rub down to his shoulder.  andy was able to rub his head and his neck a little bit (but pancake has sort of gotten used to me so after andy’s summer trips he will be able to work with him more).  he tripped over a rock, a clump of dirt, his own feet.  he was so excited to get his treats.  when we got done loving on him i poured the rest of the feed into his trough and put his treats up and when we started going back to the car pancake followed us most of the way back (and then i guess he realized he wasn’t getting anything else from us so he went back to his food).  so we went to the farm and my ass followed me everywhere i went!  (sorry couldn’t help that either).  i realized when i got in the car that he doesn’t make me nervous walking behind me because i think he is going to stomp me or anything…but because he is so clumsy and i am scared that he is going to trip and take me out!

wednesday night (5/29/13)

andy had another meeting (starting to see a pattern yet?) so i had to venture and feed pancake alone.  i passed gene on the way to the farm (he was on the tractor) so i knew that he wouldn’t be there when i got there.  i went straight from work so that i didn’t have to get back out and didn’t take a change of clothes so i got out of the car in my dress clothes and a pair of fake crocs i bought on my lunch break.  i went through the gate and towards the barn looking for pancake.  he was no where.  i got all the way to the barn and didn’t see him.  i looked at the gate to the back lot and saw that it was WIDE open!  i got his sweet feed and treats and figured gene locking him in the stall.  i went around the corner to open the stall door and it was wide open too!  my heart sank!  i just knew that gene let him go into the field with the other animals and i would never get to pet him again!  i started for the back fields to try to get him to come to me when i heard a snort behind me.  i turned and looked and standing in the weeds was pancake!  he was in the hay-field on the other side of the fence.  i fed him and loved on him.  i called dad to see if he was ok in the hay-field but he didn’t answer – he looked happy so i left him in there.  i wanted to test my limits with him so i put his treat bucket down and walked a little ways away with his bucket of sweet feed and turned to see if he would come to me.  he looked at the treat bucket and looked at me and took one timid step for me and made a 90 degree turn straight for the treat bucket.  we got there in the same amount of time so no harm done.  i learned from my mistake and picked up both buckets and went back to where i was and he followed me!  it was wonderful.  i am able to pet his head, neck and down his shoulders on both sides and his back (between his shoulder blades).  when i was done i went back to the gate and he came with me.  when he realized i wasn’t going to give him anything else he took off through the field towards the cows and horses and black jack and brayed and brayed.  (in the middle of his full-out run he stopped to eat some grass).  when i go tonight (thursday) i wonder where he will be?!

i feel like progress is being made and i couldn’t be happier.  it has been an experience and i know that there is more to come!  i think that giving him space and letting him get comfortable and making the first move is the way to go (at least in this situation).  i can tell he has gotten more comfortable with me being around and isn’t as jumpy and that lets me know that our approach of being patient and not rushing him is working wonders.