We took Fate to the lake yesterday, she made some new friends. She simply loves children and must greet everyone she sees. Perhaps she is too nice to push the sheep around.
I have this sense that working animals recognize one another, and are part of a mysterious and ancient community. Our donkeys are very much working animals, many people do not know they are guard animals, that's why I got them. For a decade, they have protected our sheep, not a one has been lost to coyotes or other predators, no stray dog has ever made it past the gate, no fox has gotten one of our chickens. When I see Fate stand with them, I see they are part of a community, they know one another.
I am wary of the mushrooming movement to rescue animals sometimes, it can be an emotional tar pit that sucks people like me right in. There are many animals and people in need of saving. I believe the world will be truly be saved when people like me – and you – care for one person at a time, one animal at a time. And for Mother Earth in every way.
We do need to begin changing the situation in our world, where hostility and cruelty to animals and people is so widespread and unchallenged. Asher, a working horse in desperate need, can help lead the way. So can Nancy Gallimore, who seeks to rescue Asher from the kill buyers who bought him and who needs some help.
"We must regain our conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty," wrote Pope Francis in Laudato Si, his stirring encyclical.
I hear this call in my own life, so does Maria, we have been waiting for it for a long time.
Asher seems to be the start of something like that for me, hopefully for you.
There is so much need, it is very simple to simply shake my head and say I can't handle it all, I will simply live my own life as best as I can. But like Pope Francis, I believe the world will be saved and our lives will be saved and our children's futures will be saved in small steps, not just big ones.
And what else can we do?
Taken together, that could be a powerful revolution, one step at a time, one animal at a time, one person at a time. I have seen it happen several times on this blog with people and animals in need – with our farrier Ken Norman, with Joshua Rockwood and his farm, with George Forss and his book of photographs, with the Blue Star Equiculture sanctuary and the great work they do on behalf of animals and people.
People are good when given the chance. Here is another chance.
So today, and on a smaller scale, I'd like to use the blog for good another time and ask your help, this time for Asher, a beautiful old draft horse with a cloudy past. We know he has worked and had a collar on his neck, we don't know much more than that. He is believed to be between 15 and 20 years of age. Nancy Gallimore lives in Oklahoma, she is a friend and a gifted writer and a beloved member of the Creative Group at Bedlam Farm. She is a passionate animal lover and occasional rescuer and notorious sucker for animals in need. (Check out her great blog for this and other stories) She has much integrity and a great heart.
It's a familiar story to many of you, Asher has been plucked from the jaws of death, one hour a way from being loaded onto a trailer from which there is no return. Nancy can't walk away, she won't let him get on that trailer. "I just couldn't let him die," she told me this afternoon, "I won't."
Nancy wrote on Facebook this morning about Asher, who was purchased by a kill buyer at a horse auction in Oklahoma, some people sent out an SOS to try and save him and she saw it. She found out where he was, called the feedlot, made an offer and has saved him, at least temporarily, from being butchered. She is going through her own money quickly. As many of you know, more than 155,000 horses a year in America are loaded onto trailers and sent to Mexico or Canada, they are killed there by an awful process that involves nails being drilled into their heads.
It cost Nancy $850 to buy him from the kill buyers, he will need to be quarantined for 30 days at a cost of $370, he may need his teeth floated and will likely need several hundred dollars in veterinary care. After his quarantine, she plans to bring him to her farm, if there are any issues she can't handle Blue Star has offered to help.
We owe the horses a great deal, they helped build our world, and although many have forgotten them, they are calling out to us to honor their history and great work with us.
Horses in feedlots are almost always sick. Nancy needs between $1,500 and $2,000 to save Asher. I have no doubt there will be additional expenses, there always are with complex rescues. I'm glad that Nancy is working closely with Pamela Rickenbach of Blue Star. It is a blessed animal to have two such remarkable people watching over them, and they have connected with one another.
I know Nancy well, I have met her in Oklahoma and talked to her often. I am happy to vouch for her, she honest and good. She is concerned that every dollar goes either to Asher or to Blue Star to help them save other animals. The money cannot possibly end up in better hands. The people at Blue Star would starve themselves – and have – before giving any animal less than what they need and deserve.
Nancy has decided to accept some help. It's a lot of money for her. If there is any extra money left over from the contributions she receives, she will account for the money and turn it over to Blue Star. You can contribute to the Asher Fund using Nancy's Paypal account, which is [email protected]. Or you can e-mail her at [email protected] if you would like to ask how to contribute to the Asher fund in a different way. Or you can contact her through her blog.
"I will want him to have a new name," Nancy told me. "Asher is his feedlot name and that is his past. I will make sure he is never in danger again." If you know Nancy, you know that is the way it will be.
This feels like a very good thing for me to do and be a part of. I do not care for my blog to be an animal rescue site, that is not the purpose or function of it. But sometimes we have to step outside of ourselves and the big and beautiful draft horses call out to us to be citizens of the world together, caring for one another and living in harmony.
I do not care to criticize the kill buyers or denounce the work they do, they are doing their jobs just as we all are. It is not work that I can do, but it is not for me to judge anyone who does it. It is past time we started to learn how to love animals without hating people or judging them. You cannot, I believe, love animals and hate people. If you are so inclined to help Nancy save Asher, that would be a meaningful thing to do.
Love is, for me, a civic and political act in our world, it overflows with small gestures of mutual care and concern. It makes itself felt in every single generous or caring word or deed on behalf of an animal, a person, on behalf of the earth. If you watch the news, or the rage and hostility that passes for political leadership in our world, then you know that love in social life – political, economic, cultural, environmental, animal – must be given value anew, must have value for us.
So I'm happy to take one of those small gestures of mutual care and help Nancy save Asher and bring him to his new and safe and loving home. Thanks for thinking about it.
Every morning, a new chore, Maria and Chloe, working together, lunching, keeping Chloe in sheep, establishing a connection. A sweet addition to the chores of the farm.
When there was major political news, I used to convent the Bedlam Farm Men's Club, but then it turns out, the balance has shifted here, as it has in the outside world, and there are not too many strong men left – just wussy men like me and Red and Liam, the mama's boy ram – so we formed a Super Pac instead, we want to be a player in the political world, and watched as much of the debate last night as we could handle before shifting to old Van Morrison videos on You Tube.
Carly Fiorino and Hilary Clinton would be happy here, there are a lot of very forceful women on Bedlam Farm, more coming all of the time: Maria, Chloe, Fate, Lulu, Fanny, Susie, Zelda, Flo, Minnie, the hens. Red and I were there too, but we were kind of figureheads, we were only allowed to be in the pre-takeaway discussion, not the big one.
Nobody cares much what we think.
But the women were there, and were not to be messed with, so we all met in the barn in the cool night and figured out the takeaways from the Second Presidential Debate.
The Bedlam Farm Takeaways:
Chloe on Donald Trump: "Look, the way I see it, he can call me what he wants, he's just another dumb penis with a big mane. I am too familiar with that type of male…You always end up having to kick them in the head. I mean, who wants to look at that?"
Zelda: "Tell me about it, you ever been around a ram? There were a whole bunch of them on TV last night."
(braying from Lulu and Fanny, clucking from the hens and nodding): A lot of clucking and guffawing in the Pole Barn. "Remember that rooster, Winston the 2nd?," asked the white hen. Sure, I said. "Well, thanks for running him off and shutting him up. Could be a backup idea for blowhards," she added, ominously.
Hey, watch it, I said, none of that. A loud and obnoxious rooster is not like a presidential candidate, I huffed…er, I don't think. Necessarily. Maybe.
Maria:" Jon, why don't you just take photographs and be still?"
Jon: "Yes, dear, you may be right." (I thought that I should be quiet, I am just a small penis with little or no hair.)
Fanny: "What is it with that Ted Cruz. He looked like the Gekko on TV, having an enema!"
Zelda: "I think they all had enemas. What gloomy bunch of people…Maybe at the end of the last debate, they'll all throw themselves into the water and commit suicide together on cable news."
Lulu: "Can Marco Rubio smile? Have the nerve endings in his mouth been damaged? Give him a carrot."
Susie: "Don't bray, Lulu. We talk American here. Shout."
Fanny: "I think they all ate sour apples before the debate, they looked like my Aunt Bess when she was constiipated. The woman there did kick the big rooster on the head. I don't think she has any nerves endings in her mouth either, though."
Chloe: "What's wrong with sour apples? But can any of them smile, I mean we have to get up and go to work every day and listen to this? Is it really the End Of Time? And who is that Huckabee guy, he wants to be Chief Of The Apocalypse, do we have to tell the kids that they are all going to die soon if we negotiate? He needs to graze for awhile with some sheep."
Red: "And a good dog…"
Maria: "I'm thinking it could make a goddess intuition political hanging piece, you know…I could weave that hair through some old discarded underpants…put in some dirty rocks and lizard skins, collect the menstrual blood of raccoons and some bones whitening in the sun and pickled body parts of departed mothers and grandmothers that people send me. Something different, you know…we need goddesses in those debates."
Fate: "Awesome!"Susie: "Oh, yes, Jon and Maria, and one other thing. No more rabies shots from the vet, I heard from a frog in the pond that they cause foundering in ponies and blindness in sheep.
We talked about which candidate we could support, we decide it was too early to decide, we need to meet regularly this year. We passed out some hay and oats, we all chewed our cuds quietly for a minute or two, then we went to sleep.
We will meet again next month.
"Did you see that big sheep behind the candidates?," asked Fate. "They said it flies. Wow, I would love to go after that thing and chase it through the air and turn it around."