As I lay in bed, listening to the sounds of the babies moving about, I could not stop the tears from falling. In the morning, for the very last time, we would be loading Annie & Lil Bit into the trailer to start their journey to their new home in Lompoc, at Return to Freedom. Slowly, I drifted into an uneasy sleep.
At about 2:00 a.m. I awoke with a vengeance. The sound of thundering hooves radiated all around us. In the front, where the babies were, and in the other two areas where the big guys were, you could hear them flying around. Every once in awhile you would hear them blowing and snorting. "Matt, something is out there". All of a sudden I heard a blood curdling scream. It was clearly an animal in the horrible throes of death. It was out on the highway side of the road and I raced out as fast as my knee would allow (which is not very fast at all). I had grabbed the huge spotlight and I was calling desperately for DaBubbles. I couldn't find him anywhere. All of a sudden the light went out, (of course - lol) and I could hear Matt calling me telling me not to be out there without a weapon. But I couldn't go back, I had to know he was ok. I finally heard him running around, and breathing a big sigh of relief, realized that the kill had been outside of our gate. Most likely the cat had taken down one of the deer that used to hang around. My adrenalin was up and my heart was racing. By then, realizing the danger was no longer, the horses and dogs had all settled down and were quiet, and we knew the danger was over. I kept hearing that scream over and over in my head, and my heart was aching for the little deer that was now dinner.
Matt and I went back to bed for a few minutes and then we decided, let's just load 'em up and head out. We had brought the babies into the inside nursery and they were all over the place. There was no way we would get any sleep, So for the last time ever, I walked Lil Bit and Lil Orphan Annie into the trailer that they had come to know so well. They just hopped in as if to say, where we goin' this time? We got them settled, rechecked everything on the trailer and off we went.
The drive down was uneventful for the most part. The babies traveled beautifully, and thoroughly enjoyed their little breaks and "milk stops". They ride standing up part of the time but like to just lay down and chill much of the time when we travel. We were about an hour from Return to Freedom when we noticed a large semi with a flatbed trailer who was all over the place. He would go from 35 - 65, and would often be completely on the side of the road and other times be about 3 feet into the oncoming traffic lane. Now I am pretty protective when we are pulling our little ones, and I sure didn't want to be in front of him. After 3 separate calls and a great deal of time, most of which we were having mini heart attacks as he came within inches of wiping folks out, including a large fuel tanker, the CHP finally showed up. He flashed on his lights and began to follow the truck. Seems like it took 10 - 15 minutes literally for the guy to finally pull over. We stopped in case they needed a statement, but the officer told us that they had seen enough. Once again, the angels were with all of us on that highway.
We pulled in to Neda's place, and were met by a bunch of beautiful women. However, when we opened the trailer door, the babies who could definitely tell that momma was being weird, decided that they would rather stay in the trailer. So we took a bit of time to let them figure it out. We had added a piece of wood just inside the back door so no little hoofers could get caught, and this was only the 2nd time they had seen it. I think that with that piece of wood, coupled with so many folks waiting to meet them and them knowing that "mommy was different", they had decided why not stay in our cozy little trailer that is like our second home. So we gave them a few minutes to settle in.
After they were unloaded, they went into a beautiful arena. Both of these babies are secure, confident and ready to take on life. They pranced around, showed off a bit and literally just soaked up the love. That night when we came back from dinner, both of them ran up whinnying when they heard "their" truck. It was really nice to be invited to stay there overnight. We got to wake up to some of the most beautiful scenery there is, and I think it was easier for the babies to settle in when we were there for breakfast like normal. I do have to say though, dropping off two babies that have bonded so well is so much less dramatic than dropping off one. These guys have each other and are so secure that this will be an easy transition for them, although not so much for mom.
We spent a good part of the day with Neda as she showed us around and explained what they do. Return to Freedom is an amazing place and a great one to support if y'all need a good tax write-off. Their operating costs are about $6,000 a day, and they have done studies with the PZP that prove you can manage the wild ones with it. As is the case with humans, not all mares respond to the PZP, so that core group of mares is with a stallion that has had a vasectomy. The other mares who respond positively to the treatment are banded up with the stallions. Life at Return to Freedom is very close to "nature" and the horses are living in their family bands. I cannot begin to imagine the kind of responsibility and stress that could come with taking such excellent care of so many horses. As she says, "these horses are yesterday's emergencies". We were talking about how everyone wants to "save" the horses during the emergency, but as soon as it is over, the day to day costs of feeding, veterinary care, hoof care and all the other expenses seem to fall on the rescues. We need folks to support these horses the rest of their lives.
You can sponsor one of their beautiful mustangs, and even if you cannot do a full sponsorship, anything helps. Shirley Allen at Lucky Horse Rescue & Rehab in Dayton, NV also has some babies and big horses that could use a sponsor. Honey Bandit & Donkey are also available for sponsorship at our place. There is no end to the amazing places that need sponsors for the "saved horses". Even $5 to any organization out there can make a huge difference for these animals and allow folks to provide the awesome care they deserve.
So Annie and Lil Bit are happily munching away at their new home. They are surrounded by awesome folks and I heard a little secret that the staff run out on their breaks and visit with them, so we know they are still getting that special treatment they love.
Remember, please visit the websites and help if you can. http://www.whmentors.org/lhp/orphan01.html (Shirley's foal rescue) & Return to Freedom, where Lil Bit & Annie live http://www.returntofreedom.org/about-us/ and of course www.chillypepper.weebly.com to see our latest.
During the year 2014, we had 10 babies here, Precious, Mikey & Ikey, Texas, Janie, Baby Boo McClellan & Luna, Lil Bit & Annie and Running Bucket. Running Bucket is still on a nurse mare, (whom has done pretty much all the work) and has a potential, but not for sure adopter. All of the others have found wonderful homes, with the exception of our beloved Janie, who is now in the arms of the angels. THANK YOU EVERYONE who made these babies' lives possible. Y'all are amazing and so very much appreciated.
It has been a crazy spring this year. Not including the three that we placed the beginning of this year, we have had 7 critical orphans so far, and also have had great success in helping place some older horses. Texas is doing well and thriving in his new home back in NV. Running Bucket is thriving with her adopted nurse mama and growing fast and more beautiful than ever. As most of you know, God gave us a very short, but beautiful time with Janie, whom we had to let go due to the severity of her injuries and health issues. My heart still aches for her, and I treasure every beautiful moment we had together. She was one of those beautiful creatures that emulate love and trust and all that is good. While my heart was still in a million pieces, God sent the most amazing angel to help ease the pain.
God sent us a beautiful little foal named Baby Boo McClellan. She is almost identical in appearance to Janie, although her face is a little bit longer and her eyes not quite so large. However, the expression in those doe eyes was the same. After spending most of the day in the blazing sun, frustrated beyond belief while watching the rest of the gang forge ahead, I had a moment of self pity, wondering why my leg is so painful and of such limited use. While everyone else climbed from the bottom to the top and back to the bottom of these amazing mountains, I limped along as best I could, watching the action from a distance. Hmmmmmm, so much for being able to drive right to them. I am so never believing that line again. :) Matt was amazing and did his best to hang back with me and not make me feel quite so useless.
Matt and I then took the shortcut and were picked up by Mikel Ann Hetrick, the lady who is responsible for Baby Boo actually being alive to be saved. She had been following the bands and watching over this beautiful, severely beaten up foal, making sure that we could find her. Baby Boo had been with 3 different bands, desperately trying to find solace and food within. The mares continued to use her for a punching bag until finally, she would move on to a different band. She was using every bit of adrenalin left in that tiny little body to stay alive, and she barely made it back with us. She is now doing very well, although she is still stiff and just beginning to play a bit more every day. Sweet Pea, who was named Luna, is Baby Boo's best friend and they will be going to their new home together. Yes, I am already crying......
Annie and Lil Bit have been hanging out and they are the best of friends. So far, the plan is for both of them to be adopted together and they will be moving to Southern California as far as we know.... Again, crying........
Honey Bandit continues to amaze. He is absolutely gorgeous, the oh so bossy leader of the band, and just a pleasure for all the folks that come to visit to see. He is sleek and one of the happiest horses around. He loves "watching over" all the rest of the crew and seems to really enjoy the "manners" that he feels he must remind everyone they need.
We are excited to share the date of Saturday, August 16, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. to ?????? with anyone who wants to come and help celebrate not only the miracle of Honey Bandit, but of the wonderful folks who are part of this family rescue, and the lives of all the babies you have helped us save, equine as well as others. As usual, we will have good eats and drinks and y'all can bring your families to the cool mountain air and enjoy a day of celebrating. We talked to Honey Bandit and he didn't mind waiting for his birthday party, so we will also be celebrating one tough little mustang growing up.
We are 7 miles past Shingletown on Hwy 44 East. There is a big white sign on the right side of the road in a tree that says "SIDEBOTTOM". Turn right and we will be the 2nd house on the left. You can't miss us and we really hope that y'all come in and say hi and see the improvements we have been making. Brings the kids, grand kids, parents and friends to enjoy the beautiful mountain air and enjoy DaBubbles (our miniature) and Belafonte our (miniature goat). Come see what YOU have helped to make happen. Oh, and by the way, Donkey thinks y'all should bring him some carrots as he is doing so well protecting all the critters. Although the mountain lion has been seen hanging out for a bit out back on the cameras, there has been no hanky panky, so we are loving Donkey. Anyone with any questions can reach us at 530 474 5197. If y'all want to help with these babies and their munchies, hay etc, you can go to Palominodancer@yahoo.com to Paypal or you can go to our website at www.chillypepper.weebly.com or come and visit us here at 34694 Sidebottom Rd, Shingletown, CA 96088
We are looking forward to another fun and fabulous Open House!
Date of Rescue: June 1, 2014
Saved by: Mikel Ann Hettrick
OUR LATEST RESCUED ORPHAN. SHE IS BABY BOO McCLELLAN. God sent me an angel to remind me of my beautiful Janie
Meeting Lil Bit and Lil Orphan Annie. WHO DOES SHE LOOK LIKE ? JANIE!!!!!!!!!
Heading out to pick up Baby Boo McClellan
Lil Bit, Orphan Annie & Baby Boo Mcclellan getting to know each other. We had to separate them after awhile, but they are hanging out next to each other and this way Lil Bit cannot jump onto Baby Boo's back
I am typing this while waiting for our vet to get here. Then I will push the post button. Vet was here and Janie is no longer suffering or in pain. Her beautiful little soul is free and she can run freely in heaven with no pain. Her condition was not "fixable" and she would never be free from the horrible joint pain. It wasn't fair for me to keep hoping she would get better when she so clearly wasn't. God gave her a little bit of happy time to play with the other two this morning, but she has been down ever since, and was down about 47 out of 48 hours this weekend. The infection is reeking havoc on her and Doc said even if we got rid of the infection this second, she never would have gotten better and would have always suffered. This was not something that they could physically treat as so much damage was done. Her mama knew and that is why she was rejected. She had a problem internally with her umbilical site. (We could see it on the ultrasound) We had to let her go to make it right for her. This is the hardest part of what we do, but sometimes our job is just to love them while they are here and make sure they leave this world safe in our arms without fear. My heart is in a billion little pieces and it makes me physically sick when we can't help them......
As I hang out with Janie today, my heart is breaking, as this will most likely be our last day together UNLESS WE GET A MIRACLE TONIGHT. She is very uncomfortable and even though we have her on pain meds, she is still having pain and can't seem to relax. She has been pawing and shaking her head and flipping her tail back and forth like crazy. She doesn't appear to be able to get comfy right now. She actually had about a little time where it looked like she was trying to play earlier today. My hands are shaking so I can barely type as I think about losing our little angel Janie. She is so beautiful and looks right into your soul with those great big eyes. My heart feels like it is being torn apart. On one hand you so desperately want to find an excuse to keep trying. But it is not fair to "pretend" when she has been declining since we got her. We knew she was going to be a miracle if she made it, and the first vet called it in an instance. He is very familiar with mustangs and their babies and knew as soon as he heard what was happening. So please keep praying. I know we could have a miracle....
News is not good. Lil Bit's wound on his neck looking good and we are keeping the infection away. Vet is pretty worried about what his bloodwork is going to say though. He is still extremely critical. Janie is in dire straights. We need prayers like never before. Her joints are septic - she had issues with her umbilical site internally. We were actually headed out to put her down when the 2nd vet said we have a very slim chance of improvement. She then pointed out that we already had a catheter in place so we didn't really have anything to lose. Her chances are extremely slim and our hearts are breaking. On top of that, the vet bill was well over a $1000 after the donations that we received. God bless you and thank you so much for all who donated any amount. Sometimes I don't think I can keep doing this. There is so much pain involved, not to mention the added stress that comes with it financially. I wish I was rich and we could afford every little thing that these babies need on their own, but we aren't, so we do the best we can and love and appreciate all those who are part of this.
Hopefully we found the culprit for what was making Lil Bit so sick. He had some sort of puncture wound that was sorely infected. He was so tiny and so skinny that his skin covered the wound even when you ran your hands over it. (Still feel so totally bad for not finding it sooner ). Anyway, we got him all cleaned up and medicated so hopefully he will be feeling better quickly.
Need lots more prayers. Lil Bit has a 2" deep hole in his chest. We are treating it and he is already feeling a bit better (He kept us all up last night while he played and he hates my guts now cuz I cleaned his owie). But he is still struggling and really weak. Janie can barely walk again today. She cannot use her hind leg at all right now. Please pray there is no spinal or permanent injury. She is also running a high fever. We are treating her and doing everything we can, but she needs major prayers. She is resting quietly in the stall right now, and we are watching her constantly, but they both need prayers!!! Thank you - these babies are beyond precious and need to feel better quickly............
May 16th (Today)
As I stood watching Janie in the nursery, tears streamed down my face. My throat hurt so badly I couldn't breathe, and my heart was breaking for this beautiful little girl who was trying so hard to fight the good fight. Today was a really rough day for her. She couldn't use her left leg this time. Yesterday she couldn't use her right leg. She was still running a fever and yet shivering from the pain. I waited anxiously for the pain meds to kick in. Finally, she stopped her shivering. After awhile she looked at me and gave me the "get me up" whinny. I helped her up and she drank some milk. Prior to this she would call me and want to drink her milk lying down. After awhile she tried to lay down. She was literally doing headstands as she simply could not get her hind end down. It was so heartbreaking to watch. After about 4 or 5 attempts I simply lifted her up and laid her down. All the while the terror in my heart nearly choking me. Doc warned me that if she has the shifting lameness (not sure the exact title), she may not win that fight. All I could think about was how many folks were out there praying for her and that is what can save her........ A few hours and many tears later, Janie popped up by herself to get one of her middle of the night feedings. PTL! This morning she is pretty bright eyed and I have only had to help her up once. She is far from out of the woods yet, but I am hoping and praying that the antibiotics are doing their job. She is full of love and definitely not wanting to leave, but if and when she lets me know, I will respect this little one and do what we have to do. However, I am continuing to pray and asking all of you to please keep up the good work because she walked up to me with those big doe eyes looking deep into mine and gave me her milky ooey gooey good morning kiss. She wants to be here and we need to make it happen!! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR PRAYERS! (please note that I will not let her suffer needlessly and if the pain was too much we wouldn't leave her in it)
Janie this morning. Hard to believe that her back end could be having so much trouble when you see that beautiful little face and those amazing eyes. What a love!!!
New blankies thanks to Auntie Sharon
We use fresh goat's milk whenever we can get it and love using it, and a healthy foal nursing a goat would be great. However, we do not get "healthy" babies, and unfortunately I do not have the time to take care of or milk the goats when there isn't a baby that is nursing. Many, if not most, of the babies we get are not even able to stand and nurse and we would still have to bottle feed until they were well enough to be able to stand and nurse. I am all for goats milk, I simply do not have the time to invest in milk goats. Anyone who wants to raise goat milk and provide it for the babies would be much appreciated. I do not have time. Out of all the babies that we had, only one of them was healthy enough to be able to be matched up with a nurse mare. The foals we get are not regular orphans for the most part, and most of them are orphans that the band has tried to kill due to unknown health reasons and when we first get them you are working around the clock literally.
HELP NEEDED FOR JANIE AND LIL BIT! Hey guys, Janie and Lil Bit need some help financing their trip to the vet. We almost lost Janie last night.... Not sure how much it is going to be, but we are heading out right now. We have reached the point where we need to do even more than we are doing right now. The phone number at Crossroads is 530 365-3685 if anyone wants to help these little ones. Unfortunately, these babies don't come with a checkbook!!! and mine isn't worth much lol But they still deserve the very best care - I think! So thank you once again for helping these little ones!
Please send more prayers. Lil Bit is hanging in there. He is still totally weak and exhausted and spends most of his time down. However, we are also really worried about Janie. When we got her she could barely stand, and we carried her into the house. She needed some help getting up, but could do so on her own. The next night she could not get up by herself what so ever. I was up all night helping her get up so she could potty and get her milk. The next day she frolicked about for a few minutes here and there - which is when we videoed, and that night she needed help getting up and down randomly throughout the night. Yesterday she would play for a few minutes, although somewhat clumsily, but by late yesterday afternoon she couldn't even walk on her leg. She was down for a very long time so we had to help her up. Her leg was swollen and she was in a great deal of pain. We treated her last night and this morning she is so very much better. She is still down and resting quietly with her brother, but the swelling is way down and she is using it. We know she was either stomped or kicked, and she has a few scrapes and owies to go along with those bruises. We are pretty sure that (kind of like us), she got to feeling pretty darn happy and over did it. But we do know that there is an injury there that could be a pretty big problem for her (one of many?) and we need to monitor it carefully and we need lots of prayers for her! Y'all are awesome and I know you can help her out, and do not forget Lil Bit. Every day he is here is a blessing and miracle!
The FABULOUS FIVE at Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang, becomes the FABULOUS FOUR, after tragedy turns to joy. The Fabulous five consisted of Texas, Annie, Janie, Lil Bit, and Bucket. However, after the hard work of some wonderful folks and my awesome hubby, Bucket is now matched up with a wonderful mare who lost her little one. The folks who suffered the tragedy of losing their beautiful baby turned their heartbreak into joy and gave Bucket the best possible start to life she could have as an orphan - a new horsey mama. This would always be the best possible outcome for one of our orphans. (The photo of Bucket, who is now called Running Bucket by the youngsters that helped her through the process of meeting and hooking up with her new mama - are courtesy of Chyrle.) THANK YOU TO ALL INVOLVED WHO SPENT THE ENDLESS HOURS TO GET THESE TWO SUCCESSFULLY AND SAFELY HOOKED UP! YOU ROCK!!!!
A quick update - Matt and I went and picked up 3 more orphans tonight. We were so blessed that Matt was able to take the one without injuries and help match her up with a mare that lost her foal. PTL it was a success.
The other two are settled in, although definitely in critical condition. Appreciate all your prayers and love for these little ones. Annie is doing well, although a bit miffed, as is Texas, about not being the absolute center of attention.