Preparations vs. Packing: a Contrast

Two days ago we had a delivery of hay, and yesterday a truckload of shavings arrived. Today is the big day. Foxie and Smoky will arrive. The farm is ready for new life.





I can’t help but think about the day, over a decade ago, that I prepared to send Crimson away. I knew it was the closing of a chapter in my life.

In this excerpt from my memoir, Motherhood: Lost and Found, I describe a very different time:

Crimson leaves tomorrow. I have already packed his brushes and tack in my Blazer. In the morning, I’ll load a bag of feed and two extra bales of hay in the trailer. Does he sense a change coming? I’ve told him I will miss him, that I’m not sure when I’ll be able to bring him home.

When I walk up to the big pasture I find him lying down. Instinct tells me to check for signs of colic. His stomach is normal, not bloated. He isn’t biting at his flank. Usually, if he is resting, he gets up as soon as he sees me and gives his body a shake. But this time he stays on the ground and watches me approach, with his front legs curled into himself.

He looks like a large dog or, with his chestnut coloring, a doe. It is a cool, clear day and he is on the lower part of a knoll, just out of the wind. His head slowly droops so that his muzzle rests on the grass and his eyes close. He appears to be enjoying the November sun.

As quietly as possible I sit down crosslegged beside him. His eyes open slightly and his head jerks as if he has fallen asleep and woken himself up. Gradually he lets it sag again. I’m not sure how long we stay here. The sun warms my knees and the earth’s dampness creeps through the denim of my jeans. I reach out my hand and feel warm puffs of air from Crimson’s nostrils. He extends his legs as if he is about to stand. I tense, preparing to move out of his way. But he rolls over on his side, stretching his neck against the cool grass. Instead of scratching his back and immediately getting up, he stays motionless.

Is he savoring his last full day on the farm? I watch the barrel of his stomach swell and recede. Slowly I lie down beside him, so that my head rests an inch or two from his half-closed eye and my body less than a foot away from his bent legs. I know the danger, how an unexpected noise could cause him to flinch, strike out with his hooves in an effort to quickly right himself, how his thousand pounds could crush my ribs. But I stay here, matching my breath to his, staring at the blue expanse of sky.

Crimson’s legs remain still, defenseless. A long sigh quivers through the length of his body.

IMG_3007 (1)

painting of Crimson by my friend, Joanna Rissanen

I’m so thankful that today is a very different kind of day.


(For more information on Motherhood: Lost and Found, see



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