Hey Stranger, Part Two

“One more night, I thought to myself…one more night until we can bring them home and ensure that they never want for anything ever again.” …

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The following morning, I was up early and heading down the road with a cup of black coffee in hand. My husband was kind enough to take over the morning milking, farm chores, and child-wrangling that usually filled the first half of my day. I am a stay-at-home mother and a farmer. Usually people oooh and ahhh at my idyllic lifestyle…mostly I spend my day feeding things (the human and animal kind) then dealing with their poop (the human and animal kind). But on this particular morning I was on a mission. I made my way to Salida and pulled into the sale barn. Everything was quiet. I thought, for a moment, that I was the only one there until I heard the chatter of a one-sided conversation over by the corrals.

I walked through the gate to find Kristie, one of the ladies who had worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of the horses in their new homes. In fact, she was still hard at it trying to find a home for a little colt who needed a change in housing situations. At the same time, she was nursing a gelding who had stolen the hearts of many at the auction the day before. He had a badly hurt leg and was unable to put weight on it until after he was adopted and then cared for by the vet. I reintroduced myself in this quiet setting, a completely different atmosphere than the previous day at auction. We chatted for a moment about the horses and then I took some time to sit quietly by the corral with the mare and filly I was about to transport home.

Once the auction guys arrived to help us load the horses, I moved down to the trailer and prepared it for the girls to load. I thought about how grateful I was to have the opportunity to load them in a quiet, peaceful setting. The men moved the girls through the maze of gates and runs all the way up to the trailer doors. I stood where I could be seen so as not to cause any spook, but also where I was out of the way of the forward motion the men worked calmly to sustain. Once they were halfway in, I moved over to the trailer door and as they crept past the threshold, I slowly closed it shut. We were finally ready to go home.

The short drive was uneventful. I arrived home before my husband who was out collecting groceries for the new arrivals. I backed the trailer to the barn and had our intern help with the gates between the trailer and the stall. As I opened the door, Mama and baby walked out calmly and went directly into their stall as if they had lived there all along. I saw to it that they had clean water and fresh hay, lots of bedding and a little grain. They settled right in. I sent Sharon a short message, “I hope you’re ready…” with a picture of the mare and foal. She replied back that they were to be named Esperanza and Grace. “Esperanza and Grace. In Spanish, hope and wait are the same root. Blessed be. Thanks.” Indeed.

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It didn’t take long for the girls to get the hang of the routine: I come out in the morning and feed/water and muck stalls, my husband comes out in the evening and does feed/water and tucks everyone in for the night. And, of course, if anyone passes by your stall in the hours between, you take your cue from the goats and sheep and pretend like you’re starving until someone brings you a snack. Mama Esperanza was not shy about letting me know when she was low on hay, spending most of her days munching in the cool shade of the pinions. Little Grace, however, would not be tied to one spot for very long without a fight. She spent most of her day prancing around the paddock showing off for the boys in the neighboring paddock. Aside from copious amounts of flirting, she ran circles and circles around the fence line with quite an impressive speed. No doubt this girl has some Arabian blood in her.

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After the long weekend had passed, I made an appointment for the girls to see our vet. I had been able to get a halter on Esperanza and clip the giant tangles out of her mane. I had also been allowed to pick up her feet and brush her all over. When the vet arrived, she helped me to get a halter on Grace, who I had begun to lovingly refer to as the ‘Wild Thing.’ Then she gave each of the girls a once over and gave me advice on how to proceed. We both agreed that neither were ready to travel across the country to their permanent home in North Carolina, but that some love and care would quickly remedy that. Her overall impression was that the filly looked impressive and well while Mama Esperanza, though recently neglected and very thin, was a very calm, respectable mare with good potential. We then talked about the rest of the farm as I gave Grace her first lesson in leading around the paddock.

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I don’t know how long Esperanza and Grace will be here on the Acre with me. I do know that it will not be long enough. I know that I will be forever grateful to Sharon for giving me this opportunity to have a hand in the rescue of these two horses. And I know that they will be well cared for at her farm, in her arms. We have a plan for her to come out to visit the farm and pick up the girls – the infamous trip out west. Maybe next year I can drive back east to visit her farm and the girls, to see how Grace has grown and how Esperanza has settled into her new space. I can already feel the tears flowing for when I must say goodbye. But I know that their future is bright and that tears are a very small price to pay for that truth. So for now…

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I take each day as it comes…

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And I cherish each moment that I have…

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And, of course, I share it all with Sharon…who patiently awaits her turn to bring them home, and each night she says:

“Good night, good Crowded hearts.”

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2 thoughts on “Hey Stranger, Part Two

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