THE GUNFIRE DIDN’T seem exceptionally loud as it carried across the street and snow on the night of Feb. 24. The barrage was full of quick blasts though it didn’t last but maybe half an hour at most.
A majority, if not all, of my neighbors have firearms.
In fact, not just a few could claim to be armed to the teeth. There is even a cannon around here as well as gravel pits where many people go for shooting.
It seems someone is regularly firing off rounds and long ago I quit trying to figure out what they are doing; be it sighting in, shooting cans or attempting to remove a coyote or raccoon. None of it bothers me at all.
Even my critters are accustomed to the noise.
Just today, on a break from writing, I went out to clean stalls and fill water buckets.
The neighbors across the street were shooting and I specifically watched the horses and goat to see their reactions. They truly couldn’t care less.
In the sunlight, they lazily picked for nibbles and not an ear twitched in reaction to the shots.
Only one dog even seemed to care and she appeared to be attempting to be louder than the gunfire. There was no nervousness at all in the rest of her body language.
However, all of this bomb-proofed and accustomed behavior found a limit on a recent Sunday night.
It’s been a rough winter for our tall Nubian goat, Gorgeous George.
In the summer, we put his horse companion down due to cancer. Then in the fall, his doe friend died.
On being an “only goat,” he has become a loner as the remaining horses are not very welcoming.
When the snows came, George found leaving the safety of his goat paddock to join the horses just not worth the effort of navigating snow deeper than his belly.
Even the horses with their longer legs stuck to the same old trails through the snow, foregoing their usual careless galloping and bucking. Nobody seemed to be moving about freely.
All of our animals, from chickens to cats to horses, were exhibiting signs of cabin fever and boredom, all being pretty tightly wound up and cantankerous.
Unfortunately, when the gunfire and my dog’s barking arose that night, George went looking for companionship and left the goat paddock.
It was dark when my daughter and I went to feed the pasture animals. I called the horses and noted they came from an area they don’t usually hang out in at night.
But they came sauntering in, each walking in their own paddock and stall like an orchestrated routine.
My daughter couldn’t find George because he had left his area. She circumnavigated the pasture to end up where the horses had come from. There was George, laying flat on the ground, looking dead.
I got there in a hurry after closing in the horses, and saw he was still alive. He was missing huge chunks of fur from his neck and one of his dew claws was ripped partially off.
We noted right away all of the wounds we could see were superficial, thankfully.
However, it became readily apparent he was not going to be able to walk back through the deep snow in the frightful state he was in. He fairly yelled profanities at us when we even suggested walking by trying to get his feet under him.
By this time, my son had arrived and I sent him back to the barn for a heavy horse blanket. We rolled George onto it, my past emergency medical training coming into play. Then the three of us skidded George over the snow on the blanket like a log through the mud.
Finally, we got this injured fellow into his stall with lots of fresh grass hay for a bed. My kids got him alfalfa and grain, but all George wanted to do was rest, laying on his side as flat as a fat goat can.
In the refrigerator, I keep a syringe full of banamine, an equine non-steroidal anti-inflammatory which is the first line of defense against severe colic in horses. I called Dr. Erik Splawn of Happy Valley Veterinary in Sequim to see if the banamine would be alright for George.
Splawn has always been super about answering my calls and letting me know if my ideas are sound. This time he gave me a go ahead on the shot and an appropriate dosage.
I gave George the medicine and he didn’t react at all to the needle stick. All he wanted to do was sleep. Poor fella.
In hindsight, the snow was the oddity.
When George went wandering, my youngest and most playful horse, already on edge from weeks of being cramped to the same trails in the snow opted to play too rough. He was like a kid with way too much energy for his little room and a fragile toy.
George seemed just like a new toy because he had been staying away because of the deep snow.
George is doing well now. His wounds are healing very nicely and they all remained superficial. He greets me at every feeding, standing patiently.
Now, he is blocked from going out to look for companionship from the horses by a board and snow that is still deep.
All he needs now is a friend his own size.
Zorina Barker has lived on the West End for most of her life. She is married to a Forks native who works in the timber industry. Both of her kids have been home-schooled in the wilds of the Sol Duc Valley. She can be reached at 360-461-7928 or [email protected]
West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.
Her next column will be March 19.