Farm Animals

I like animals, but I don’t consider myself an animal rescuer or a fanatic. Guess it’s because I grew up on a farm.

On a farm, dogs are for companionship, hunting, and protection of livestock—or people. Cats are mousers, usually in the barn. Horses are for work or for fun. None of these things mean that you can’t love them and take care of them. Some dogs, like my Kura, are more . . . decorative. Some cats are more cuddly—mine is a Maine Coon and he is so not about cuddling. He hunts. He stays out in all kinds of weather, but he does come in from time to time, especially to eat.

As you know, I “rescued” my mustangs. They were in a bad situation, and I was able to help. I maybe should have stopped at two, or definitely at four, but now I can’t imagine not having all of them.

That doesn’t mean I can rescue any more, or even help out that much with donations. I made a commitment to these five, and any accompanying offspring. It’s heartbreaking to see so many in need, but I have to be smart about this.

Unlike some people, I do not consider goats or cows or pigs to be pets—they are livestock. *Disclaimer: if I had a cute, cuddly Dexter or Highland cow, I’d likely consider her a pet; but we’re talking a hypothetical milk cow, not a steer.

When I was little, Gramps raised pigs. Fall was butchering time. Some hogs, he’d send to market; one of them was mine. I’d read Charlotte’s Web, so my pig was named Wilbur. He was cute—and when Gramps took him to market, I earned $10. That’s the way a farm works. He’d spin in his grave knowing that some people keep pigs as pets . . .

At my dad’s farm, dogs weren’t pets at all. They slept on the back porch whenever they weren’t needed for hunting, never came in the house as far as I knew. Cats lived in the barn. When I was older, I’d sneak kittens in the house through my bedroom window. Mom was adamant that no cats EVER be in her house—but once I was found out, she changed her mind and has had a cat ever since. The house kind.

Also, I may be a bit squeamish about wildlife. Eating them, that is. I love to watch the deer up around the house, but not sure how I’d feel about someone shooting one of them. Other deer, fine, but not “mine!” Turkey, dove, quail—these are, obviously, birds, and everyone knows how I feel about birds. Fire away!

For the record, I’ve eaten venison, squirrel, and raccoon. Not a fan, but I was a kid, and kids had to eat whatever they were served.

Some wildlife I consider pests. Rabbits, squirrels, and racoons, to be specific. Yes, we shoot raccoons that come in the barn. They carry rabies and three of my horses are not vaccinated. Truthfully, I don’t mind so much if they come in out of the cold, but poop in my barn—let alone my tack room—and you are toast. Period.

There are limits when it comes to animals. Livestock should be useful or sold. Or eaten, if you get right down to it. You can’t keep letting animals breed and keep them all—why in the world would you keep ten chickens and five roosters? Or two goats who lead to six goats and more? These are not pets. They’re farm animals.

Indiscriminate breeding is a bad, bad thing. There are plenty of animals who need homes; creating more is irresponsible. Particularly, of course, if you plan to keep them all. We’ve all heard stories of animal hoarders and it’s heartbreaking. My mustangs came from such a place.

It’s all well and good if you can afford it—and by that, I mean you should be able to afford feed and basic vet care without begging for money or going bankrupt. If you’re set up as a rescue, you still need to have the space and facilities and should, in my opinion, be able to provide the basics even if donations are slow to arrive. It’s kind of like all the GoFundMe projects that we’re all flooded with.

There’s one gal on my social media feed, who I barely know and with whom I have no relationship whatsoever, that was asking for donations to geld a colt. That’s pretty basic, and costs maybe $200, depending on what part of the country you’re in, and is something a rescue should have prepared for. Again, my opinion.

Would I have liked to have Cavalry stay intact? Of course. He’s a doll, good conformation and a great temperament and personality. Flashy, too. But he’d have to live apart from the mares or I’d be overrun with foals. I’m not a breeder, even though I once thought, a long time ago, that I’d do that if I had the chance.

This one tiny filly has me terrified—I check on her constantly and haven’t slept well for a week . . .

And I’ve had two people mention interest in breeding him to their mares. Nope. Even if he hadn’t been gelded, no, for the very reasons I’ve already touched upon.

On the other hand, if I’d had another Catnip mare here, I would have been sorely tempted!






Sneak Peek!

Thought you all might enjoy an older WIP I came across this morning:



The sound was distinct, yet unnerving in the context of a nearly empty room. The lone occupant, an overworked, underpaid freelance graphic designer, slumped over his keyboard. The desk, the walls, the ceiling were spackled and dripping with rivulets of red, interspersed with bits of gray.


In another city, another state, a solitary accountant became immobile in the space of a second, a miniscule amount of time, and landed, reposed, in the same manner.


Chapter One

Nick looked up at the sound. He was alone in his office, desperately trying to keep his mind on his latest manuscript as he carved out a rare half-hour to actually write. He shook off the tension racing up his spine, speeding like an inchworm on meth, and tried to ignore the screeches and squeals from the hallway.

After a short moment, he slammed his hand on the desk and jumped to his feet. He was going to explode if he didn’t get out of there, move around, run in circles, anything to stop this feeling of exasperation and imminent explosion.

As he jerked open the door, he stopped dead in his tracks. His boss lay on the floor, gray skirt soaked red, pale blue blouse wet and clinging, dripping with unidentifiable something . . .

Nick rubbed his eyes. Not unidentifiable. Not at all. What the—

A scream echoed down the corridor. Nick ran. He crashed into the far wall, failing to negotiate the turn into the large room that housed the administrative staff. He clawed desperately at the slick wall to remain upright, and kept going, sliding to a stop.

In the far corner, three secretaries huddled together, eyes wide, gaping at the mess. The youngest, a pretty, dark-haired girl, was the screamer. She was gearing up for another round when Nick approached and grabbed her by the shoulders.

“What the hell is happening?” He roughly shook her as her head bobbed back and forth. She gasped for breath, but made no discernible sound.

Nick glanced at the others. Susie, he knew her name, and another woman, older, who seemed the most calm. “What’s going on?” he repeated, still holding the girl.

Martha took off her glasses and squinted as she wiped them on her blouse, leaving pale red streaks on the cloth. She took a deep breath.

“We heard a . . . a pop, I guess you’d call it. And then blood and . . . and stuff . . . just spattered. Everywhere. The first one was Jane, the desk right next to me; and then Harold. And it just kept . . . happening. All of them.

“Except us.”

Susie reached for the dark-haired girl and put her arms around her, shielding the younger woman’s face from the dripping mess all around them. “This is only Maggie’s first week,” she explained, as though this . . . whatever it was . . . would have been okay had it just happened, say, during Maggie’s third week on the job.

Whatever. Nick shrugged. No time to worry about Maggie and her employment history at this point in time.


Dammit. Now what? Nick turned toward the sound and heard three more in rapid succession. He pointed at the three women. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

He made his way gingerly through the room, trying to avoid headless bodies and more gore and gunk that he’d ever seen in one place. Well, to be fair, he hadn’t actually seen a lot of this, but he did write about it. His imagination was pretty active, but this—

He opened a door and peered inside. Same mess. He went to the next door and the next, ditto.

He came back to the admin room. The women were still huddled in the corner, but Maggie was standing on her own now and seemed to be taking in the whole scene, minus her earlier hysterics.

“I haven’t checked all the offices, but the partners are, well . . . dead. Yeah, pretty sure of that.” Before anyone could react to that bit of news, Nick continued. “We need to get out of here, for starters; I suggest we go down the stairs and at least to the lobby. We’ll call the police from there.”

The four of them moved as a unit to the stairs and shakily descended. They were alone in the stairwell, but when they reached the main floor, all hell broke loose.

As one, they stopped and stared at the chaos.