Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Progress and Old Mama Sugee naps

Martyn got a lot of the shelter winterized and we will finish it this weekend. Or he will. I am not much help on some of these things. He is more of a perfectionist on building projects [thank goodness] and he always kindly suggests I do something else while he builds. I am not much for straight lines, as you know, so another job we are tackling this year is straitening anything I might have rigged up in the past 11 years-hey, sometimes I had to build quickly on the fly, it's part of a Dirt Farmer's life.

Anyway, it gave me time to spend with the piglets and Old Mama Sugee, who is still with us. As you know, I had a period this summer where she was having regular seizures. I haven't witnessed one in over a month–that doesn't meant they aren't happening, but I haven't noticed any cuts on her from falling. And she seems to be eating faster, like she has more stamina. The heat has subsided, so perhaps that has something to do with it. She is old. When you get to 40 as a pony, your days are numbered, especially since she survived such neglect in her elder years.

So is good quality of life for an elder pony just laying around in the sun? That is pretty much what Sugee does. I feed her in the morning in a contained outdoor stall so Wilma can't eat her feed. That takes her about 2-3 hours to finish 3#. Then I go out to feed the pigs at noonish and let Sugee out into the main pony paddock with Wilma. She usually does a few rolls, then naps. Sometimes she naps laying down, sometimes standing up. The panic I felt in August about putting her down as subsided. My vets agree, it doesn't have to happen today or tomorrow. And we are all prepared with the details should I have to act quickly and of how to cremate her.

I think the trick with working with elderly animals is to not be too much of a human. You have to acknowledge what animals like to do to be happy and feel safe. They want to know they have food and water on a consistent basis. They want to feel they have a place to rest, unencumbered by noise or nuisance. They want to know the herd, flock or pack is near, and that threats will be averted consistently. And they like to nap. Even the younger animals do a lot of laying around. Sometimes I take photos of Sugee and am almost hesitant to put them up-simply because she has a sort of Eeyore look, a sad look in some photos. But I have come to believe that Sugee has what she needs right now. She's not looking for much else. She got to spend this last year in a safe place, with food, and with her daughter. If she can't sustain this weight going into winter, she will need something I can't give her-youth and new blood cells and stamina. If this current elder quality of life suffers further, I will act for her.

Until then, her soft ear less head is something I love. One of her ears is totally closed shut after the ear was removed. But one is a tiny stub, and it moves just like an ear when she hears her name. She whinnies to me each morning and night when she knows food is coming, and I lead her around by her mane due to her blindness. She is one heck of a survivor.

She has put on weight since June, and I am looking at getting her a coat for fall and winter. Some of my followers are donating their old dog coats for the elder goats and if you do donate-in return I'll send you a book. I will buy a filly blanket for her, but if anyone has one-feel free to donate it if you aren't using it anymore-and I'll send a book too.  I can always use dog coat with the elder Misfits!