Haying Season 

The system to the north was taunting me, offering me the better part of a day to fret over its arrival.

Page 9 of 10

"How bad is it? Can you hang on for about an hour? I’ve got another emergency. Delivering a foal."

"Just come as soon as you can," I said, and hung up the phone. I looked at my watch; it was seven-thirty. The minute hand jumped, and stalled.

I gathered up two fleece sweaters from my bedroom, leaving boot tracks on the carpeted stairs, before running back out to the barn. I found Ella firmly stroking the pony’s ear in a hypnotic rhythm. She had pulled all the gray hair off his ear. His black skin glistened under her palm.

"Dr. Shaw will be here in an hour."

"Good. My arm’s getting tired."

"Things will get easier after this Ella, I promise. We can board the horses. Move back to the city." I stared out at the night and listened to the rain rattling heavily on the sheet metal roof. The smell of sweat-soaked hair and blood rose from the pony. He bled slowly now, minutes between each drip that fell onto the slick rubber stall mat.

"I don’t want to go," said Ella, "I thought we got most of the hay in."

"We did."

"Why do we have to go?"

"Because it’s all too much, Ella. I can’t take care of everything by myself."

A barn swallow flew through a large air vent at the peak of the roof. It settled on one of the joists connecting the rafters. The swallow’s long forked tail switched back and forth while it tucked a tuft of grass or hair into the half constructed nest it was building.

"You don’t have to do it all," said Ella. She stopped stroking the pony’s ear. She put her arms around me and held on. "You got me." We stayed like that for a while, and I was soft inside her wiry arms, holding me in, keeping me together.

I remembered the fleece sweaters and we each put one on over our damp T-shirts. Ella kneeled to check underneath Poncho’s chest again.

"He’s not bleeding so much. I think it’s closed up," she said, and resumed stroking his ear. His breathing was lighter now, more comfortable.

"Why are you doing that?" I asked.

"To stop him going into shock."

I smiled. "He’s going to look funny with one black ear."

"Don’t worry Mum. He doesn’t know."

The sky grew dark outside. Six barn swallows came in for the night and perched along one of the rafters, their orange bellies lined up like a string of tiny patio lanterns. They watched us wait, while we listened to the patter of the rain come and go in waves.

Readers also liked…

Latest in Whistler

© 1994-2020 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation