On Death with Dignity

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I just put my horse Willie down today.  Actually, calling him my horse is a bit of an exaggeration.  He was Rhine and April’s horse, and Amy’s horse, and Romey’s horse, and also my horse.  I rode him for about five years before he was retired from the saddle eight or so years ago.  He lived in the field with Donkey Hodie after that, just being a horse.  He had a great life.

I want to tell you about Willie’s death.

First, a story.  My mother died of Leukemia in 2003.  Her death was a typical upper middle class American death—in a hospital bed, surrounded by her children and her husband of many years (my dad).  Mom had only suffered through cancer treatment for a year or so.  Having been stricken during a Thanksgiving drive north, she then briefly beat the cancer into remission with a bone marrow transfusion.  But in the end, the leukemia came raging back and killed her in a couple of weeks.

The last week was bad.  Basically, mom was gone and was being kept alive by vigilant hospital care—hydrated, fed through an IV, medicated, and drugged out of her mind.  We had a DNR order in place.  We tried “administering her drugs all at once.”  Basically every euphemism for euthanasia was obtusely explored.   But she hung in there for two or three days as we all kept vigil.  Finally her kidneys were overwhelmed by the morphine, I guess, and she started to balloon up as she went septic.  We all knew she was going to die, and there was absolutely no point in pretending otherwise.

So finally we had an idea.  “Lets hook her up with a self-administering morphine drip,” I said.  This for a woman who had not moved or said a word in three days.  The staff made it happen.  So “she,” meaning I, pressed the button for several hours until my mother finally died.  It was all very absurd and not at all easy.  I remember the death rattle and the weird intakes of air every 2 minutes near the very end.

Fast forward to twenty years later.  Willie was 32.  He only had 2 teeth left on each side of his mouth, and he could no longer chew grass.  He could eat grain, but not with any efficiency.  It took him hours to eat a couple of scoops.  Basically, Willie was slowly starving to death.  In consultation with the horse dentist, I decided he would suffer too much during the winter.  It was his time.

So I called the vet who has known willie for years.  He and his partner came out this morning.  Willie was in the paddock with Hodie having a last meal of grain.  He spent a couple of hours before that in the sun in the field, grazing without actually getting any grass chewed.  We walked him down to the spot where he will be buried, fed him some more grain, sedated him, and injected him all in about ten minutes.  Willie was calm when he died.  He died fast.  And he died easy.  He did not suffer a pointless winter, half starved.  In fact, he did not suffer at all.

When it comes time for me to die, I would rather die like Willie, with some dignity, than like my mother.

Goodbye Willie.  Thanks for being a good horse.  Good boy he was.

Iulie on the Farm

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Down to the river

Checking on the new tree (planted earlier this year).




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Irises for your iris

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Irises are my favorite flower.  So we have lots of them and are always looking for more.


Not an iris.

The new poplar tree on the old tree house location.

Snek Fren on Farm

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Three different days.  Three different snakes.  This eastern black snake was on the trail by the river.

This long black racer lives under the red shed.  We see him pretty often.

This rat snake was also on the trail by the river.

It’s funny how non-poisonous snakes act all dangerous and really dangerous snakes just disappear.

Spring Peak Three: Rocket Time

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What’s the difference between Dame’s Rocket and Prairie Phlox?  Why the difference between four and five (and alternate toothed leaves).  This is rocket on the trail by the river that we walk every day.



And some black locust to perfume the air.


Final Moonshine

Haircut on the Fence Line

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Spring is a great time to remove huge dead trees from the fence line before they fall on it.  JC is just the man for the job.

The tractor was set to roll after days of freeze plug replacement.  And of course the battery decided to give up the ghost.  But we got it going.

Before.  JC up a neighbor.



The supervisor.

Down she goes.  Tractor pulled it the right way.


Possibly more impressive was removing a snag from a tree on the trail.  You can see the snag on the right.

Peep peep peep

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The 2023 batch of chicks has arrived.  12 peeps: 6 barred rock and 6 noir marans.

Moonshine would like to eat the peeps.

One week later, the peeps were twice as big.  They will be introduced to the flock on April 20th.

Spring Clean for the January Queen

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Unseasonably warm weather brings out Spring behavior.  Chicken palace?  Clean.  Horses stalls?  Clean.  Goat enclosure?  Picked up.  Baryard?  Clean.

Big Dog, Little Girl

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Look at that smile on Moonshine’s face.

Tree elf.


Little creatures are exhausting.

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