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Not Just Horses

For the most part I consider myself a pretty independent person and generally view myself as a person who can handle whatever happens to present itself each day. From time to time I like the pass the buck to Jason. A couple of days ago I was working my way through morning chores when I heard very suspicious noises in the back barn as I was scooping out feed. I walked to the middle of the barn which is a large hay storage area, and tried to identify what I was hearing. However whatever was making the noise had itself well hidden at the very back of the barn behind the hay. I wasn’t about to walk back there and investigate when I could dump that task on Jason.

I have good reasons for being cautious. A few years ago I heard noises coming from the tack room when I was in the barn one evening. I opened the tack room door to find a very large raccoon eating the cat food. He was most displeased by my appearance and immediately picked up my nearby riding helmet and threw it at me. Thankfully I have quick reflexes and slammed the door shut so the helmet bounced off the door instead of me.

I immediately pulled out my phone and called Jason. “You need to come to the barn and deal with a raccoon in the tack room.” Jason was less than enthusiastic about doing this but I kept pestering him until he grudgingly said “ok, I’m coming.” A few minutes later a grumpy Jason walks in the barn. He opens the tack room door to have a look with me looking on over his shoulder.

The raccoon had finished the cat food and was angry that we had the nerve to not have an unlimited supply of cat food available. He picked up the heavy metal bowl that had held the cat food and proceeded to throw it overhand, with amazing force and accuracy, right at Jason’s head. Like me Jason also had quick reflexes and managed to slam the door shut and barely miss getting beamed in the head. The bowl hit the door and then hit the concrete floor with a deafening clang.

There was also the time that our dearly departed schipperke, Bear, tangled with a raccoon. Bear had a penchant for picking fights that left him pretty beat up, and the raccoon encounter was no exception. One trip to the emergency vet later he had another round of stitches, staples and drain tubes to show for his experience.

Needless to say, after we both narrowly missed getting a smack down put on us by that raccoon (along with other unpleasant wildlife run-ins), we’re pretty cautious when dealing with wildlife we can’t even see. Thus when I heard what sounded like a wounded, rabid, or just plain unhappy animal hiding in the shadows behind the hay, I decided to let this be Jason’s job.

I texted him, “bring a rifle when you come to the back barn.” Apparently this text message got Jason’s attention as he appeared at the back barn about five seconds later with a rifle in tow. He jumped out of the car yelling, “what’s going on??” I’m sure he was thinking there was some dire emergency of sorts.

Me: There’s an animal at the back of the barn behind the hay making noise.

Jason: Where is it?

Me: I don’t know, back there somewhere. (I point in a general direction.)

Jason: Have you seen it?

Me: No.

Jason: Have you looked for it?

Me: Not really.

Jason: Do you know what it is? Is something wrong with it?

Me: No and I don’t know.

Jason: Do you know anything?

Me: I know there’s an animal in there that at times is making odd sounding and loud noises.

Jason: So what do you want me to do?

Me: I want you to deal with it. I’m going to keep feeding.

Jason cautiously peered into the barn, and then walked to the hay and climbed on top of a bale. He looked around, rifle in hand. He then announced it was too dark to see anything back there. Then something scurried through the shadows. Jason made the dreaded announcement, “I think it’s a


And you thought running a retirement farm was all about dealing with horses . . .

Bear after his raccoon encounter. Bear was no stranger to stitches, staples and drain tubes. Jo the goat is checking him out and saying “you look different.”

The story pretty much ends there because although we could hear something from time to time, we were never able to really see it. And neither one of us was willing to chance a raccoon encounter when we were squeezed in between hay bales in the shadows where we couldn’t see well. So Jason fired off a couple of rounds to hopefully scare our visitor off. We never heard it again so we’re hoping it escaped out the back of the barn and left.

I always laugh, sometimes only in my mind and other times out loud, when people make some comment along the lines of “oh, you get to play with horses all day.” I understand why someone would make this assumption, and of course there is a lot of horse time, but that is a pretty romanticized notion of running a retirement farm. People who make these comments are always genuinely surprised as I start rattling of countless examples of farm life that have absolutely nothing to do with horses (or cows, or crops, or whatever a particular farm revolves around).


Griselle and Sparky

Kennedy and Donovan

Merlin and Bruno


Miss Lyle and Mina


Tony, Ritchie, Leo and Chance

a better view of Leo and Chance

Homer and Moe

Blu and Nemo

Hesse and Walden

Cocomo and Flyer waiting for breakfast

Dutch and Renny

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