No, this is not about chewing.

It’s about a human who is developing a hair trigger for alarm.  Yesterday, I lost one of my Quarter horses, Brandy – Otoe’s Second Wind, the one who who had encephalitis earlier this year.  He had improved to the point that he could walk correctly but with effort and some pain.  The first improvement was rapid, the next 20% was slower but steady, and in the past few days he seemed to be sliding backward a little, but not extensively.  I fed him yesterday morning, and when I went out again to feed in the late afternoon, I noticed Harmony standing at the door of the barn.  It seemed like something was wrong, and it was.  It looked like he had died not long after he had breakfast.  We knew there was a possibility that the encephalitis was from a tumor or that he may have had bleeding in his brain, like a stroke victim.  27 years ago, he was a fuzzy nosed weanling, and I brought he and his brother home with great excitement, and the hope that we always have when we bring a new creature into our lives.  For the Newfs, 10-12 years goes by in a flash.  With horses, it is the same.  27 years seems to have disappeared!

Horses, like Newfs, seem to understand something and experience distress at loss.  Harmony was his pasture buddy.  She nickered excitedly as the backhoe arrived and Brandy was moved to where he was buried, with some support from Whippoorwill, who is kept in a separate area and may have been more interested in breakfast than aware of what had happened, although she and Brandy were good buds too.  They thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities to go for a romp or a run together, and her instigation helped his attitude for his recovery.  For Harmony, some of the same distress sounds were in her nicker as when her then young daughter (Whippoorwill) went into the spring pool with Brandy and Sam when we first arrived at this farm.  She’s more of an alarmist than I am, usually.

Maybe we’ve both earned a little justification for a sense of alarm at the present.  I’m still reassembling thoughts, and didn’t get much sleep for the past couple of nights.  After finding Brandy, my nephew and great nephew called about arriving soon for a surprise quick visit.  I had been eating a plum, and had offered a bite to the Newfs.  I’ve found a fruit that Newfs universally (in our household) reject!  It was very sweet, maybe too sweet for them, and it was fairly gooey.  When I stopped to do some quick cleanup in preparation for guests, I forgot about the half-eaten plum that was sitting on the counter.  Later, after feeding the dogs and trying to get everybody to bed, I noticed a red spot on the floor.  I wiped it with a white paper towel, a sticky red spot that looked like blood from an infected area.  Then a new alarm went off.  I took a clean white paper towel and started checking both Newfs for anywhere there may be bleeding – first Banner’s sutured area, and others, then Jade.  There was no evidence of blood loss, but I’m not comfortable with mysteries.  After putting the Newfs to bed and returning to the kitchen, I saw the plum and remembered the expression on Banner’s face when I gave her a bite.  She is often skeptical about new foods, but takes the bite into her mouth and spits it out quickly with an expression of disgust and a wrinkled nose.  Then she will re-evaluate, reconsider, and often eat what she was given.  I must not have noticed that she didn’t eat the bit of plum.  I felt relieved of one distress, and a bit silly.

There’s a reason for the expression, “Time waits for no man.”  (or woman)  Any time we lose someone close, human, horse, Newf or other, it adjusts our perspective.  We have regular reminders that life is fragile, and temporary.  Their memories become their tribute, and Brandy left me with many good memories.  I have a set of shoes from him, from Edison and from Sam.  When we get to build the next barn, these will be mounted and hung, along with some other good memories.  If the world is a little less bright without them, perhaps we will all be where things are much brighter again at some point.

The Bay Brothers

The Bay Brothers

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