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17 September 2014

Work and other things

"Being an animal owner means you do what it takes to care for those helpless beings in your responsibility."

Its true that I love working for myself and it affords me freedoms that working for a boss does not. Like I get to arrange my own schedule, and I can refuse to cater to certain unreasonable clients.

I know that sometimes I tell people that we only work weekends, but the truth is we dont work ONLY weekends. I work EVERY SINGLE DAY. The reason I say I work weekends only is because that is when I see clients.
However 25 horses dont feed themselves, fences dont repair themselves, and admin (sadly) does not auto send. Ok, well admin does auto-reply to a certain extent, but when clients ask detailed questions and when clients want to actually book, I cant very well ignire them, as much as I want to.
Every day there are horses to bring in and feed, every day there is fencing to do, every day there are emails to reply to. When horses come in with injuries, it cant "wait till Monday", it needs to be dealt immediately. Horses cannot just be deflated and packed into the wardrobe for a month holiday. Its a monotonous, never ending, "day in and day out" kind of work.
I'm not saying its a bad job to have, I mean I totally would take this any day over office work. I'm just saying that all these people who assume that our family is doing nothing because we
  1. Work for ourselves,
  2. Only See clients on weekends,
  3. Work on a farm,
  4. And numerous other reasons,
should please think twice before assuming nonsense.

Heck animals dont decide that they will only break out of fences between 8am and 4pm, take last night for example. Yesterday morning we checked on all the horses, fed them all, ensured they all had water and were healthy. Then went to Pietermaritzburg for the afternoon to visit family. We got home after 10pm, coming down our front road, still 2kms from our gate, we came around the corner and nearly drove into two of our horses who had gotten out of their paddock and were happily grazing on the road. So we got out and walked the two horses home, fixed and checked on fences, checked on all the other horses too, fed some that needed feeding, and eventually got into bed after 1am. That could not have waited until this morning, it had to be done Immediately.

There was once a few years ago when we had some family visiting and one of the horses got west nile virus. Its a horrid virus that affects the brain, and in this case this horse went in about 2 days from a happy & healthy young horse to a brain dead walking zombie. I say that because he lost all sight or comprehension of what he saw. He got to the stage of not eating or drinking, but just walking. He would walk into and through anything and just keep walking, he literally walked through a big electric fence, got tangled and shocked but kept walking. We didnt want him to hurt himself more, so we put him into a small paddock enclosed with wooden poles (the big telephone poles that dont just break), he walked into the fence, stumbled over it, and carried on walking. Talking to him, calling him, nothing worked. We couldnt call the vet out, because it was christmas day (I may not celebrate christmas, but apparently the rest of the world does and they refuse to do anything on December 25th) and no one, not the vet or anyone else would come out. So we put a halter on him and a lunge rein ( thats a 6 - 10 meter long webbing strap used in training horses to keep them going in a circle), and found an open piece of lawn with nothing to hurt him and stood there letting him walk in circles. For about 15 hours we took shifts, this stupid zombie horse just kept walking, he never stopped and slept, he never drank or ate, he just walked. Eventually we were able to get the vet out to come and put him down the next day. However, the moral of this story is that something like that cannot just be "ignored for the week".
It is something that has to be dealt with.

I hear of people going away for a weekend to the berg, or for a 3 week holiday driving around the country, and I am dead jealous. Because we as a family cannot just do that, the most we can ever do is feed and water all the animals early in the morning, go away for that day and night, and come back the next afternoon in time to feed and water them again. Then even when we do that there is always the constant worry that one of them may get injured, or fences may break and they get out while we are away.

So, no. We work every single day, we work hard and long. We do have a lot of free time, but we do pay for that by working often into the night.
It doesnt matter if we have plans for the day, plans sometimes have to be changed. It doesn't matter if we are sick, we still gotta look after them too. Because being an animal owner means you do what you have to, you do whatever it takes, to care for those helpless beings in your responsibility.

And in the end, it can be very rewarding. 

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