Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sleepless Nights and False Alarms

For those of you that haven't been following our Facebook page for the Triple O......let me introduce you to Sage. She arrived to the Triple O in November 2011. We intervened on her behalf because she was at risk for being sent to slaughter. Since over 100,000 American horses are shipped to slaughter across our borders north and south each year, you might be wondering why we intervened for this particular horse. Sage is a BLM mustang who was born wild and free in Wyoming. She lost her family, her friends and her freedom when the human factor entered into her life. We don't know her history yet. We don't know how many hands she's passed through since she left the wild. We don't know what types of people she has been exposed to in her "reportedly" fourteen years of life. We don't know why "someone" allowed her to be bred when she herself didn't even have a permanent home and so many horses in this country are displaced and disgraced daily. What we did know is that she was located within a hour of the ranch and she needed to be taken out of harms way and given sanctuary to spend her pregnancy. She needed somewhere safe to have her baby and be a mom. That place became the Triple O. When we learned of her dilemma, we asked our FB friends "who would or could help us help her?". That question was answered within minutes by two FB friends that spoke up and put their money where their mouth is. The sent donations that day via Pay Pal to buy Sage's ticket to safety. Dave and Karen don't know each other and they live different lives in different parts of the county. What they have in common is they want to make a difference in the lives of the precious needy ones. They took action to make things better for this wayward soul that we named Sage, for her wise all-knowing eyes and as a Mustang we wanted a name to honor her Native American background. Since sage is very important in many Native American ceremonies, the name seemed perfect for her. Dave volunteered to be Sage's sponsor until her baby is born. He sends a generous donation every month to help us give Sage everything she needs to have a comfortable pregnancy and a healthy delivery. We were told she'd have her baby in February, then February and March came and went. Now it's April and we're certain she'll be having an April baby. As rescuers we'll never breed horses so this will be the very first baby foal born at the Triple O. The excitement level is high around here with anticipation of the pitter-patter of little feet on this piece of land. We've been watching her very closely and watch for any minute change down to the smallest detail.

For the past week, I've been doing a midnight run to the barn to check on her. To scratch her chin and to watch her breathe. Yesterday we notice some subtle changes. She was a bit restless. Every once in a while she'd look back toward her flank. Her breathing was different. She wasn't in distress but she was different. She has been making a bit of a milk bag but no signs of waxing yet. I've read that only 50% of mares exhibit that sign prior to delivery, I realize that is not a fool-proof way of predicting the impending arrival of this bundle of joy. We don't want to miss the grand entrance of this precious new life and hope to be present for the birth. I said I'd go back out to the barn and sit with her. I took the midnight to 4 a.m. shift. It was a starry starry night and I put my lawn chair next to the turn out area which attaches to her stall. I thought even if it's not her time yet, it would be a good trial run to get her accustomed to having visitors in the middle of the night. I took a few fotos and visited with her. She showed every sign that I was more than welcome to spend the night with her. If I walked away, she'd follow me along the fence line and stay as close to me as space would permit. It was a still night, so quiet that you could hear your own heart beat if you listened. You would expect it to be quiet if you knew how far out in the woods we live. What you might now expect is all the "goings-ons. I had sevral feline companions but Della Rose won the spot in my lap for her nap. Mr. Bojangles, senior member of the the herd (born 5-19-1980) honored me with the job of protector while he stretched out flat on the ground and took a nap just a few feet from my chair. The coyotes were terrorizing our valley with their night run and spine-tingling serenade. At one point they were east and west of the barn at the same time. My companions didn't seem worried so I wasn't either. Lance and Luna squealed at each other from their adjoining stalls if either one of them wandered too far away. Owls hooted, frogs croaked and crickets chirped. Quiet isn't always so quiet. At 2 a.m. MyHoney came out to check on us and said he'd set his alarm for 4 a.m. to take over. I'd dosed off and when he came out a 4 a.m., my head was drowsy and full of horsey dreams. I noticed some thunder and lightening as I headed for the house to get some much needed sleep.

MyHoney's shift was from 4 a.m. til 8 a.m. As luck would have it, storms moved in and torrential rain, wind, thunder, lightening and small hail ensued. Due to the weather, he had to move the lawn chair inside the barn. He set up camp but had to move when he found that he'd parked himself under a drip in our 75 yr old barn's roof. The had to add a paper feed sack to sit on because the wind had gotten cold and unrelenting. He too had several feline companions while he was on duty. By 8 a.m. there was standing water everywhere and  it was the beginning of a dark and stormy day. Sage's mild and barely noticeable "symptoms" did not intensify or diminish, so no baby yet but it will be sometime soon. She's glad we decided to camp out with her. She's glad for the extra one-on-one attention and especially glad for the extra flakes of hay throughout the night. Today she's standing in the doorway of her stall watching the rain fall. We're tired and sleepy but very excited that soon this baby will arrive no matter how many sleepless nights and false alarms occur.It was a good practice run for the real deal and now we do know that our presence is a comfort to her and that she will welcome us as overnight guests in her stall anytime.


  1. Good luck Sage. I cant wait to see pictures of the baby. I wish you a safe and easy delivery.

  2. I have done those midnight observations with our goats...the last one included a yoga mat and blanket and I laid halfway in the stall after the babies arrived and had finally all 3 fed. The little girl I hugged for a long time to keep warm is especially bonded to me now. It is not comfortable out there, but is a joy to be with the mother to reassure her. And you're sure right, it's not quiet at all!!! I know Sage loved your presence and the pre-bonding will help you when the time comes. Hugs and grab a nap when you can!