For almost thirty years Rod and I have tended to the animals with only a few hiccups in care along the way. A day here and a day there have required help from friends who will stop in to feed horses, to check on the homestead or to rescue animals from a thunderstorm in our temporary absence. Vacations require another family to literally move into our house so that the smooth routine can continue at Moose River Farm. Somehow it all works and I am more and more grateful for this incredible privilege to live with so many animals.
In August, however, a nagging symptom in Rod's arthritic spine led him to an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed what we already suspected. Scoliosis, spinal stenosis and arthritis were crippling Rod. Major back surgery was the only option to prevent further deterioration and to alleviate chronic pain. Scheduling the operation had to wait several weeks as Rod was already preparing to undergo surgery for a hernia.
With medical repairs on the horizon, Rod and I were forced to divert our attention from the daily caring of our animals. This was a necessity. Albeit difficult to do, I needn't have worried. Surrounding me at all times is a group of people who can step in and take over without missing a single detail in the barn. Animal routines continued without interruption and I was able to completely concentrate on Rod.
"Jean and I are going to come at noon and Vicky will be here late in the afternoon to feed horses dinner. Don't worry about anything here," my friend Michele, (Friends and Blessings) affirmed.
After a long day in the hospital and an hour drive both ways, we arrived home where Rod could spend a number of weeks recuperating. The first several days were rough. Managing pain while Rod's body desperately purged the anesthesia made me reluctant to leave him for an extended length of time. My focus remained in the house. Not to worry, the barn purred along under the care of Jean, Michele, Irene and Vicky. Horses were turned out, stalls cleaned, water buckets filled, and dogs walked, whether I was available to help or not.
After the first week, Rod began to recover quickly; almost too quickly resuming chores around the farm that had waited impatiently for his return. Our caregivers were quick to reprimand him.
"Should you be doing that so soon?" inquired Jean, gently when Rod began raking in front of the barn one day less than two weeks after his surgery.
"I have to do something," he replied indicating a sense of boredom waiting around inside the house for his incision to heal.
All things considered, healing from the initial surgery was simple compared to what was to come. Back surgery was scheduled for the middle of October which meant that I would be teaching school; requiring extended days off to take care of my husband. Although Jean and Michele were headed south within days after the surgery they had arranged to step in once again and take over the animal care. Vicky, Irene and another friend, Lynn had cleared the days on their calendars to help.
Once plans were meticulously arranged and everybody confirmed in their designated roles I could finally direct my attention to Rod's needs during what was certain to be a long convalescence. Then the hospital called to reschedule! The new date threw us all into a tailspin. It was after Michele's and Jean's departure dates. Irene's availability decreased due to work. In the end Vicky, (Special Needs I and Special Needs II), stepped up to take over the farm duties.
Rod's surgery took eight long hours to realign, readjust and stabilize his spine. Dr. Anthony Lapinski was confident that by taking his time and addressing three separate procedures at one time, Rod would receive a favorable outcome. During the long wait, Vicky came to the hospital to distract me. In the late afternoon she made her way back to the farm to tend 11 horses, 3 dogs, 2 donkeys, 2 goats, 9 chickens and a pig. By the time I arrived home, weary and spent, she was preparing a late dinner for me. Afterwards we tended to evening barn chores. I basked in the presence of my horses, precious rejuvenating beacons at the end of a long and worrisome day.
Over the next three days I was able to teach school and head to the hospital to visit with Rod. Once again the anesthesia was wreaking havoc on his debilitated body making it impossible for him to eat. I was thankful for trained nurses around the clock to assist him through this necessary evil of post- surgery. At home Vicky, accompanied by Irene during the day, kept my animals in the calm of their established routines. It was most comforting to me while feeling fractured from their care at the moment. Evening and morning chores were the only times that I made contact with them.
Finally, on Thursday evening, Rod was on his way home to rest and heal in the comfort of our home. Over the next several days we were inundated with phone calls, emails and get well cards from friends and family. Their outpouring was overwhelming and has reminded me over and over again how blessed and lucky we are. From the bottom of my heart I send out my appreciation to all of you during this temporary hiccup in life at MRF. With each and every day Rod is healing towards his full strength; another blessing for which we are grateful. It appears that the most intense moments of this episode are behind us. We look into the future for a cornucopia of possibilities and know that whatever comes our way; we will not face it alone. So thankful for all of you. Love, Anne
Thank you John and Pam Leach, Lynn Durkin and Jennifer Basile for animal care during Rod's recovery. We are so grateful.
Vicky, (holding her baby Scout), resided at MRF caring for animals so that I could be with Rod in the hospital.
Thankfully, my dependable caregivers are also horsewomen...
...who love the horses as much as I do.
My friend Irene, (who boards her horse, Ben, at MRF) frequently cares for the horses in the middle of the day. She calls it her workout!
A new horsey resident to our area, Jennifer was available to help with the horses mid-day once I returned to my job.
....and Michele have stepped in to care for the animals countless times over the last twenty-five years.