Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

To See With Ears

Over the short months since Lucky Jim, the blind Appaloosa joined our equine family, we’ve gotten to know him quite well. There’s still a long way to go, but forward strides have been made. Some of those strides have been huge. He doesn’t completely trust us yet, but he’s very close. We can stroke one ear, but not the other … yet. We can’t pick up feet, but eventually will. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and though it can be taken in a day, it takes time to earn back. We’re in no hurry. No hurry at all. The foundations we’re rebuilding, are ones we’ll stand on, for the rest of his days.
Just recently, we were a little late home, so a little late feeding the hungry masses. Well, hungry masses that equalled four anyway. Spirit, the black Morgan mare that truly believes she needs Senior horse feed, yet doesn’t. Ranger the young stallion that gets his ration of hay and token chunk of carrot, and of course, there’s Aurora and Jim. They’re the ones who need the twice daily scoop of Senior feed, and they look forward to it with eager expectations. The second we closed the doors to the pickup truck, a loud chorus of neighs both greeted and demanded attention. It wasn’t as if we were atrociously late. They were used to being fed the last meal of the day at dusk. It was now just past. Dark or not, they were being just a tad overdramatic. To hear them bellow, they were starving, undoubtedly starving.
We hurried to change into chore clothes, or in my case, footwear. After all, I could feed a few horses without getting dirty, no problem. Sure, history said otherwise, but this time would be different. The girlchild would bring the pickup around to the back, so I could use the lights to see by. We’d be done in no time at all.
We learned something interesting. The dark means nothing to a blind horse. The beam of a flashlight doesn’t spook or cause any concerns at all. Jim was neither spooky, or concerned about anything other than his feed. He loves that Senior feed. He wasn’t waiting at the gate with Aurora. I called, and he came trotting out of the darkness, straight to me. His only concern, only interest was in whether or not I had their feed. He followed me through the gate from the pasture into the pen, Aurora shadowing us in her impatience.
Back in the house a bit later, I was pretty pleased with myself. I’d managed to do chores without getting dirty. Then I saw it. The big streak of manure-mud across the back of one pant leg. Sigh and groan, so close, but no luck. The curse of the inevitable struck again.
The next morning, chores went as per usual. Aurora has been extra snarky the last few days. Her threats and prissy faces are lost on Jim. She’s taken to trying to stand over the feed tub, much like a bulldog guarding its food, all to no avail. Oblivious to it all, Jim searches out the tub, and gets his fair share. Aurora’s feeble attempts to threaten him, always makes me chuckle. She still hasn’t figured out that he can’t see her.
A few hours later, I started up the water truck, and headed out to fill troughs. That darn Aurora whinnied at the top of her lungs, alerting Jim to my presence. He already thinks the sound of the little truck means treats. Aurora’s enthusiasm only solidifies that idea. I can ignore her constant requests for treats, but it’s super hard when it comes to Jim. He’s so hopeful, and if he comes all the way in to see what’s going on, we like to reward him. Still, I had nothing with me, no handful of feed, nothing. I felt so guilty. Poor Jim, those ears of his were watching, studying, expecting something.
“I’ll get you two a bit of hay,” I promised, “I’ll be right back.”
I don’t think they believed me, as they kept their full attention on the water truck as I went to park it. They called as I walked back, and called again as I picked a flake of hay out.
“Jeez, I’m coming,” I answered, “just give me a minute.”
His answer to me was another whinny. Apparently I was too slow. As I tossed the flake in to them, I had to laugh at myself. They sure had my number.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB