When Life Demands Overtime

Life is like an ocean. Always changing and never exactly the same as it was the day before. It swells with success one moment, and the next it might pull you into a trough of trial and tribulation. There are moments when the sun rises over the horizon and paints a picture so beautiful it takes your breath away. Then, often when you least expect it, a squall will threaten to tear away all you hold dear, and your state of normalcy is forever altered.

For those within my circle of friends the waves got a little rough recently. I board horses, and four weeks ago, one of the older horses on our property had a severe episode of colic, resulting in a displaced bowel. The owner of this horse was out of town at the time. So when the vet recommended IV fluids for 24 hours, the overtime duty fell on me. Thankfully, since changing IV bags and keeping a colicky horse under control while you administer these IV fluids is a two-man job, I had help from the owner’s extended family. For only the third time in my life I pulled an all-nighter. The first being the birth of one of my daughters and the second being a ‘pack an elk out of the mountains’ trip with my husband.

In the middle of the night, when things didn’t look too promising, I dropped to my knees and said a quick prayer that we could keep this horse alive at least until the owner returned, if not a full recovery. Upon receiving my phone call earlier that evening, the owner had immediately left Idaho where they were vacationing and were driving all night to get back to their horse.

When the soft light of dawn lit the horizon and I heard their diesel truck pull into my driveway. I said a silent pray of thanks that her horse had survived the night and if nothing else, she would at least have the chance to say goodbye. Although I was dead tired I don’t know that I’ve ever felt better. There is nothing more gratify than stepping in and serving someone else when it is something they desperately want but can’t do for themselves. That horse went on to surprise us all by making a full recovery.

Not 6 days passed before another elderly horse on our property choked. His teeth had finally worn so thin he couldn’t chew his hay and a wad of it had lodged in his throat. I stood in as the vet-tech, holding the tube as the vet pumped fluids down his throat and cleared the blockage. He was on medicine for the next week and is currently on a ‘no hay’ diet.

Before his course of treatment was finished my young paint mare named Fancy started staggering. She looked like a drunkard. Unlike Toby Keith, I don’t give ‘beer to my horses,’ so I knew I had a problem. After a series of blood tests we determined she had eaten something toxic—maple leaves by the look of it. Leaves off the red maple tree can be fatal to horses. Leaves from the sugar maple or silver leaf maple can also make them sick. During a major windstorm (gusting east/northeast winds) a few days earlier, sugar maple leaves had blown into the pasture where my horse lived. In a normal year with Oregon’s typical southwesterly winds those leaves never would have come into her pasture.

They say bad things come in threes, so I was hoping the tempo out at the barn would return to normal. But Mother Nature is a busy lady, and last night we were pummeled with heavy rains. My son, a couple of my horse boarders and I worked the late shift shoveling mud and digging ditches to reroute the water down the hillside and away from the barn. Soaked through and splattered with mud, a hot shower had never felt better than it did last night at eight o’clock.

My dad always said something like, “If you don’t suffer a little bit, you won’t remember it.”

I’m thankful for all these little struggles that help me recognize and appreciate the blessings of a normal eight-to-five kind of day.

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