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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's a Good Day to Die

~ blizzard conditions ~
Patrice is hosting Chats on the Farmhouse Porch, number 127; her questions, my answers.

1. Have you been watching the Olympics? No, haven't a clue what's going on in the world but I can tell you what's happening here and in more detail than you, probably, want.

2. Does the grey winter affect your moods? Some but I spend a lot of time outside, no matter the weather, so I'm not as affected as someone who works inside. Also, when I knit, sew or spin I'm either in the sun room with natural light or using OTT lamps. If you're not familiar with OTT lamps, you should be, they make all the difference in your ability to see, no matter the time of year.

3. When was the last time you held a baby? Recently although I have no clue who the baby was nor her parents. If I see a baby in the grocery store and start making goo-goo eyes and the parents don't freak out, I ask if I might pray for their baby. No one has ever turned me down so I take the baby and pray God's blessings on the baby and the parents. Young folks seem to, especially, appreciate the prayer and, yes, other folks stand around and gawk but so what? If they're Christians, they should be joining in prayer and if they aren't Christians, maybe it'll make them think...eternity is a lot closer than any of us know or expect.

4. Do you do a thorough spring cleaning each year? I'm going to this year because the house/farm is going on the market. I'm hoping to hire some help and if you're a praying person, pray I'll find someone to help me do major cleaning.
~  deep ice at the barn door ~
5. Please tell Wendell a bedtime story. ...Once upon a time, there was a farm where there were only three, cold and mud. All the animals lived to be tremendously old and were given only the best hay and mountain water to drink with treats of grain and molasses. There was a unicorn flying over the farm and no animal was ever turned away or denied food, water or shelter. The sheep were rare breed Shetlands from the Shetland Isles, some Romney's from the Romney Marshes of England, one Columbia Suffolk cross who was an Easter lamb and then unwanted and two Merino's who were bottle fed as babies and were absolute terrors! The four alpacas were beautiful, but aloof, creatures who walked proudly among the sheep, heads held high and they always chose the best places to sleep at night. The horses were rare breed, American Curly horses who were gaited, colored and, for the most part related to each other in planned breedings. Tumbleweed, the black mare with white stockings, was a rescue but the rest were all related by either dam or sire. There were dogs, house cats and barn cats and, unfortunately, a skunk and o'possum who lived under the house and a squirrel who lived in the tree. It was a Peaceful Kingdom where there was always time for nose kisses, head rubs, body hugs and, most importantly, love. (Except in the case of the skunk, 'possum and squirrel, they were encouraged, to no avail, to move.)
~ the husband, Sam and Sadie ~
As with all of life, the only constant is change and vast changes came to the farm. The husband died, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving his wife to manage as best she could. For the first year plus, she managed (although she was at a loss as to exactly how she managed!) and farm life ebbed and flowed with the seasons. She tried her hand at raising steers, or neutered bulls, but decided having ten "teenage boys" who weighed one thousand pounds each was an accident waiting to happen. The steers left, the fences were repaired and, again, farm life ebbed and flowed.

~ left, Abigail and young Sam ~
The second summer after the husband died, their beloved Jack Russell, Abigail, who had very ancient bones, just couldn't manage. She was tired and it was time to say good-bye. Just a few weeks later, their beloved Australian Shepherd mix, Grace, who was even older than Abigail, died. For months, things were settled and then, just before Christmas, the woman's other beloved Jack Russell, Sophie, died so now the woman had only Sadie and Sam, three five year old pups.

~ Gracie ~

~ Sophie, Sam, Sadie ~
That winter was hard; it was cold, extremely cold with temperatures twenty degrees below zero and wind chills much lower. Snows were deep, followed by icy rain and more snow, making everything treacherous and dangerous. The woman's sheep were old and had a lot of problems that come with old age.
~ Harry Shetland ~
Harry Shetland was blind and lived in the barn with access to a small lot were he could drink warm water from an electric water bucket and lay in the sun to warm his old bones. Twice a day, the woman would carry Harry and Sophie cracked corn and grain with fresh hay. Sophie Shetland was just as old and her arthritic bones, many days, prevented her from getting to her feet. Carly Shetland, at twenty years the oldest of them all, was allowed to live in the yard where she toddled, eating her molasses and grain mixed with pain meds, drinking warm water and eating alfalfa hay the woman brought to her twice a day.

February was a hard month, full of deep snows, extreme cold, high wind and low temperatures. Harry and Sophie were suffering and the decision was made to release them. The woman and her vet explained to Sophie and Harry, this was their last gift. They had both had wonderful lives, much better lives than a lot of parents give their children (how terribly sad!) and they were to look for Dave when next they opened their eyes. On that same Friday evening, the vet looked at some barn cats and told the woman, "Start bringing them to the office, we'll begin spaying and neutering next week."

That weekend was terrible; the temperatures were horrid, the wind was horrid, the snow and ice made walking difficult and, sometimes, almost impossible. On Saturday, the woman carried (!) Carly into the house and put her in the mud room where she thought Carly would be more comfortable. Carly didn't like being inside so the woman carried (!) her back outside but Carly needed help all weekend, getting to her feet. Even so, her little tail would wag with excitement when the woman would run to her, calling, "Carly, hold on, Girl, I'm coming, I'll help you."
~ home ~
On Monday, it was almost warm, at least, not as tremendously cold as it had been and, at dawn, wonder of wonders, Carly was standing on her feet, calling for breakfast. The woman ran to get Carly's breakfast and pain meds and put them in front of her and Carly's tail began wagging as she started to eat.

When the woman went to the barn Tabby, one of her cats, was crying so the woman picked her up only to see where something had chewed on Tabby with grim results. The woman ran hurried to the house, got a towel and carrier and took them back to the barn. She gently placed Tabby in the carrier and then into the truck; as soon as the vet clinic opened, she took Tabby and left him but later the vet called and said it was too late, Tabby couldn't be saved. The woman buys a lot of cat food in the winter in order to keep the barn cats close to the barn. When the snow is deep, there are a lot of predators (coyotes, foxes) looking for food and during the night, coyotes can be heard all over the valley.  There's no way of knowing what tried to kill Tabby but what is known Tabby had a wonderful life on the farm.

Late Monday afternoon, the rain started and Carly was having trouble staying on her feet. Her fleece would get waterlogged and her poor little arthritic legs couldn't hold her weight so she'd fall over. The woman kept running into the yard, righting Carly but then dark came and it was harder on the woman. She leaned Carly against the porch and left her covered in prayer. At dawn Tuesday morning, the woman ran to see Carly and had to help her to her feet but in the space of thirty minutes, the woman had to right Carly half dozen times and the hard decision was made.
~ Carly Shetland ~
It's a good day to die and tomorrow would be better; even so, the woman chose to do the right thing by her beloved little ewe and made the hard decision. The woman drove the Ranger from the barn to the yard and lifted Carly into the bed which was no mean feat because Carly weighed 65 pounds. The woman then drove the Ranger to the barn lot and struggled to put Carly into the bed of the truck which was horribly difficult. The thick ice underfoot made a hard job dangerous and only a lot of crying and praying got it accomplished. The woman put the dogs in the house and drove to the vet clinic, second time this week and it's only Tuesday.
~ Carly, covered in snow and ice ~
The woman held Carly, both to say good-bye and to prevent her thrashing around. Part of the woman's prayer was, "Good-bye old girl, you've been such a joy and delight to me for so many years. Run to Dave, as soon as you open your eyes, run to Dave, he's waiting on all of us."
~ the woman, Abigail, Sadie and Sam ~
The woman returned home, took Sam and Sadie for a walk and then they all went inside the house. The woman took two aspirin and laid down in the sun room where the sun was warming both room and bones alike. She thought how her life had changed, so dramatically, so suddenly over the past twenty-seven months and wondered what the future would bring. She dozed, drifting in and out of sleep, letting the sun warm her bones and the aspirin diminish her pain. When she awoke, she took the dogs to the barn, gave the kitten her meds and food, locked the front gate and then walked back to the house where she fed the dogs then filled the tub full of hot water and Epsom salts. When the tub was half full, she lowered herself into it and sunk again into a half stupor, waiting for the hot water and salts to work their magic.

Today was a good day to die but tomorrow would be better...much better.

Blessings ~ the husband ~ the animals ~ the life ~


  1. It has been an awful winter for so many and it seems you haven't been spared from some heartbreak.
    Tomorrow will be better.

  2. Lord Have Mercy... Please!

    Hugs, You Dear Woman.

    It seems no man could have handled this winter on the farm. I sit here tonight with tears amazed at the tender grace and goodness you have bestowed upon the animals.

    So He gave them.... You!

    Rest, and prayers!

  3. I have no other words than I love you.
    You are in my prayers.



  4. Sandra, I read your bedtime story and know without a doubt that only God's love, strength and grace could have sustained you through all these "body blows." May we all cling to Him so well!

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  6. Oh my . . . You amaze me . . . Sleep well tonight!

  7. Dear friend in heart. I so admire the devotion you have for your charges. I too have done much of the same for my loves as have many before us and many after us, God willing , will do. I could never understand the "it's just a dog or goat or sheep or or" no it is a gift from God and the deal is we do what it takes to be worthy of His Gift. You my dear have gone beyond and the angels are singing of your courage to give your beloved charges wings. Sleep well Shepherdess.

  8. I am so sorry for your losses, my thoughts and prayers are with you not just at this sad time but always. I so admire you and the life you have given your animals. Your blog is one of the first I open each day, you inspire me. Thank you so much for all you do.

  9. Ay, Sandra. I'm sorry.

    Love to you. ♥

  10. Oh dear Sandra ~ What a story, life, love, death, and strength to live through it all. I feel like such a wimp compared to what you have gone through. May you continue to feel God's love, peace and strength flowing through and surrounding you, especially as you prepare to sell the farm and move.

    I love you and wish you well ~ FlowerLady

  11. Oh Sandra this made me cry oh I do know how hard the struggles of farming and the death that comes with that and I do understand your pain in doing that but I have no idea how painful it would be to lose your husband and have to count only on yourself to carry the load. You made me cry I could actually feel the pain. Great writing. HUGS HUGS B

  12. I'm so sorry for your loss Sandra. I cried when I saw it coming and then again when it did. Carly was a lucky girl to have you. Hugs and Prayers! I understand that you need to sell the farm, but I'm going to be so sad when you do. I love your stories!

  13. I'm in total agreement of what Annie shared. (((Hug)))

  14. Sandra, I can see how hard a winter this has been for you. Still, take comfort in knowing you are a good shepherd, a good steward of that with which you have been blessed. May God continue to shower His grace and blessings onto you in unexpected ways.

  15. So sorry for your losses, Sandra. May God comfort you. Love, Mildred

  16. You are good, very good. Praying for babies and loving on animals. God be with you, sister.

  17. I am so sorry to hear the loss of more cherished animals. You have endured a LOT over the past couple of years. I'm not surprised to hear that you are planning to sell the property. There comes a time in one's life to close chapters and begin new ones. It was hard to say goodbye to our acreage and downsize to a much smaller place, but it has been a blessing to us as we get older. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

  18. Dear Sandra, my heart goes out to you. Thank God for your faith, which I know leads you on!

  19. Oh my... my eyes are full of tears as I write this. May the Holy Spirit lift you up and comfort you, and yes the old saying is true... tomorrow will be better, much better. Warm Regards, Tammie

  20. You tell an awesome story lady and the tears just would not stop! I want to be as strong as you are. My heartfelt prayers are with you and hope you will continue to tell your beautiful stories for a long time to come!!

  21. Your story is one of a rich full life. Wendell liked the part about the curly horses and is trying to talk me into curlers or a curling iron! So much happy and sad with animals. So much life. You are a strong lady, but God's children always have him to rest their heads on. Thankful for that! Thankful for you!

  22. Sandra, I am so sorry for what you have been through this last 2 months. I just got to know Carly recently and it is just so sad to lose a pet and two (Tabby) is just too much.
    Good that you are selling and moving on. Good luck, sweet lady.

    God bless you,



  23. Such a tender heart felt story , my heart goes out to you and your many trials in this dreadful winter ,I pray better days ahead for you andyour animals . God Bless and take care .

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  25. Your beloved animals had the best possible life with you and Dave.
    The Lord is holding your hand, Sandra, and He will lead you to the next place safely. Sending love, my precious friend....

  26. oh sweet friend - sad sad sad - and yet - there is tomorrow - I join you in regretting all our farewells - and praying for good tomorrows.

  27. Interesting header Sandra. You think I didn't stop and read that really fast? You worry me. Every day I think how glad I am that I don't have to get out and brave this stuff to take care of anything! Then I read about you, and we're pretty close to the same age. I can only imagine!
    You've been through a great deal. I'm glad you have plans that will hopefully bring you an easier life, at least one frought (?) with less danger. Like broken hip danger, or some other bone. I still maintain though...your dogs must certainly be the most well-dressed in the county. Love it.
    You could write children's books with the 'good' stories. Ever thought of that? I hate losing pets, and have a hard time talking about it. Have you noticed?

  28. To every thing there is a season,
    and thankfully there is also grace.

  29. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and thinking what courage you have to keep going and doing what you are doing on the farm...I pray that peace, joy and love flood your little farm in the coming days...may Gods' blessings overtake you with abundance during these harsh winter months...may spring come soon to neck of the woods...will be lifting you up in prayer for the days ahead of you...take courage and know that even with these hard decisions over the last couple of days, that our heavenly Father has not only been with you, but is wrapping His loving arms around you...may this day be filled with an abundance of peace for you.

  30. "Good-bye old girl, you've been such a joy and delight to me for so many years. Run to Dave, as soon as you open your eyes, run to Dave, he's waiting on all of us."....

    Oh, Thistle, all your your friends visit you by heart in this lonely coldness full of ice and pain and hard losts and snow and no colors. Like a very lonely film with wonderful music, but the actor feel real pain. The photo, where I can see you on the green meadow is like a lost dream, it really hurts to see such happiness.

    Tears change into diamants and golden drops, so valuable, the Lover loves your tears, you help him carrying the pain of the creature. Is this better than happiness?

    "If you want to enjoy everything, go where you enjoy nothing." (St.John from the cross).

    "Who seed with tears will harvest with joy."

    Good bye, Carly, the sun is shining over a wonderful green meadow.

    Jesus is with you, Thistle, nearer than in other days.

  31. Sandra,

    I am so sorry for all of the obstacles that are put in front of you each day of this log cold winter. I have been following along and praying for you. I know God has great plans for you.


  32. I'm so sorry Sandra - sitting here at work eating my lunch and trying not to cry, unsuccessfully. Mostly sorry that you had to handle all of this by yourself. Wish I was there to give you a big hug. You are in my prayers.

  33. Dearest Sandra- I wish more than anything that I could do something to help you. This winter has been pure hell for you. I hope your beautiful farm sells this spring to someone who will love it as much as you and Dave did. I hope you find someplace to live that does not require winter outside work-- like maybe a condo in Florida:)

    I'm sorry about Carly- but I knew in my heart that her time was coming. Dave is loving on her now--

  34. Dearest Sandra,

    Oh how Life has changed so dramatically for you over the past year. So many challenges and heartaches. And, yet, you face them always with a Grace which is so wonderfully inspiring. Your Life and, indeed ours, is the richer for it for you give of yourself so much that surely rewards in your soul must keep you safe and warm.

    We think of you so very often and were heartened by the wonderfully warm greeting which you left on our blogpost. Although we are separated by so many, many miles our chance encounter in Budapest shall remain for all time close to our hearts.

    This is such a remarkable tale of endurance, hope and joy. All love to you, J and L xx

  35. looks like a beautiful winter wonderland, but Dog Gone, I tried to rake the roof and can't move my 78 year old arms. The men here want $30.00 an hour to roof rake. Can
    you believe it? Kids don't want to work. yvonne

  36. I love the animals, but they sure are a big job on cold days..
    Stay warm Darlin. yvonne

  37. I wish I had words to ease your sorrow :-(

    And I know the decision to sell has been a very difficult one for you. Again, words don't seem sufficient.

  38. Tired, weary bones. So sorry for your heavy loss this winter and your weary soul. You manage to tell the story with dignity and grace anyway. You need a trip. Praying for you and your future plans.

  39. So very sorry that it was time to let Carly go. I've enjoyed her dotage and her antics, and esp. your love for her. She's up there with Dave now, and the others who've gone too. Bless her heart -- Carly's a perfected ewe!

  40. I am so sorry..what a hard time you have had and what love and care you provide!

  41. Oh my...and I will pray and send a virtual ((((((hug)))))))


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