All About Animals: Winter Wonderland

In late February we expect rain, winds and cold weather here in Shasta County, but tomorrow the weather forecast predicts snow. That’s not really a big deal, I thought. Over the years it has snowed a few times here on the farm. A light sprinkle – just enough to cover the ground. Before you know it, it will melt and quickly disappear. Simple as that.

Early the next morning, as usual, I was up well before dawn. I stepped outside to start morning chores and, sure enough, it had snowed all right! But wait, what’s this? Not exactly the light ground cover that I had expected – closer to 10 inches, I’d guess. Swell, just swell….

Just to be clear, this wasn’t my first encounter with deep snow. You see, I’m a Michigan girl, born and raised. But now that I recall, the snow and cold weather are the biggest reasons that I moved to “sunny California.”

Well, back to morning chores. They must be done – rain, shine or yes, even snow! So, off I trudged, bundled up as if I were headed for the North Pole, all the while resisting the urge to lay down to make a snow angel.

I trudged on, checking every nook and cranny. As I entered the barn, out bolted my dogs as though the recess bell had just rung, their night jackets still on, keeping them dry and toasty warm. They ran, bit the snow, and frolicked like pups. Silly dogs, I thought.

Next stop, the bunnies. They were safe, tucked warm and dry in their hutches, munching on carrots. The goats lay in their barn on beds of straw. The llamas were contentedly chewing on flakes of alfalfa, not a care in the world. Ponies, donkeys, and horses were standing in their stalls….all except Jammers. He wasn’t in his stall and nowhere to be found. I climbed through the downed brush and limbs that covered our driveway, blocking us in. That’s when I saw him. I froze dead in my tracks. He lay motionless on the ground in the deep snow, unable to get up; his body laying downhill, his legs uphill, disallowing him to right himself. My gentle black giant, my huge 1600 pound kind, powerful friend of 23 years needed help and fast! The adrenaline kicked in. I ran through the snow and brush back to the house to tell Bob. He jumped into action, chainsaw in hand, he began clearing a path out for his tractor. I grabbed Jammer’s halter, warm blanket and long ropes. I paused briefly to call my pal Buffy, my ace in the hole, my go-to person who lives 1 ½ miles up the road. But downed trees and power lines on the ground across the road between us would prevent her from coming to help. My heart sank. I knew that she would have come if she could. That’s just how she is. I tried not to panic as I ran back to my sweet Jammers. He had all but given up. He was cold and shaking, his eyes had started to glaze over. By then, Bob had cleared a path and he was on the way with his trusty John Deere.

That’s when out of the corner of my eye, I saw her. She was running through the pasture, climbing fences as she came, ropes over her shoulders. Buffy, my pal, Buffy, ran over a mile through the deep snow to help save Jammers. That’s just how she is. A huge weight lifted as she drew closer. The rescue began. We covered his cold, shivering body with warm blankets. We then tied long ropes around his neck and legs, attaching them securely to the tractor. John Deere pulled slowly and gently. Buffy and I pulled with all our might, knowing there was no time to waste. We fell, slipping in the deep snow, got up, fell again, our boots filling with icy water, our jackets drenched. But soon we had Jammers on level ground. Bob, with the help of John Deere, was able to roll him over, allowing him to get his feet beneath him. A few more mighty pulls with lots of encouragement and up he popped. Buffy and I positioned ourselves on either side of him, balancing my cold and weakened Jammers. Happy to be up, off we walked back to the warmth of his stall. His blanket securely in place, warm water to drink, and alfalfa to munch on, had him on the road to recovery. With a toss of his long mane, Jammers assured me that he would never ever go out to play in the snow again without permission.

As for Buffy, Bob and me, we won’t soon forget our afternoon adventure on the farm, enjoying the “Winter Wonderland.” Thanks Buffy, Bob, and let’s also not forget, John Deere.

Chic Miller

Since 1990 Chic Miller and her husband, Bob, have owned and operated Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary, a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal sanctuary on Gas Point Road in Cottonwood. The Millers care for hundreds of abused and neglected animals. Animals that come to this sanctuary remain there for the rest of their lives. Chic is a retired nurse and takes care of all the medical needs for the injured and ill animals. Aside from a few volunteers, Bob and Chic take care of all the daily chores. The Millers care for hundreds of animals, including dogs, horses, ponies, pigs, llamas, goats, cats, chickens and yes, even a one-legged turkey. Chic Miller can be reached at 530-347-0544. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to help support Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary.

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