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Windchill remembered…February 29th approaches…

Monday, February 27th, 2012

February 27, 2012: February 29th will mark 4 years since Windchill’s last day among us. I know people will be lighting candles in his memory all over the country and we’ll all remember the little guy’s resolve, his gentle spirit, his quiet (and sometimes not so quiet!) faith in all of us and the friends he made all over the country and in fact, the world. I’ve had the honor of being around a lot of animals of different types over the years – lots and lots of horses in the past couple. Some have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and I can’t wait to see them again. Each leaves an indelible mark on our soul – even the small ones, like the kittens I’d come to love and have lost. Crash I still miss your little ‘tude, so laid back, you always made me laugh. If I needed to find you I just looked for Halo and there you were.
Windchill really changed things. He changed me. I remember the day-to-day crap from prior to meeting him, and how different things are after being near his soul. Who would’ve guessed so much spirit could be placed inside a frail, 9 month old body. So much personality, so much faith, so much forgiveness. We can all learn from that can’t we. Love, laugh, whinny a friendly hello or reminder that you want your hay NOW, and don’t let your circumstances drag you down. And that there’s friends waiting to be met, you just have to open the door to your heart and let them in.
The world became a smaller place – and a brighter one. While Windchill was re-learning how to stand, we were re-learning to believe, and re-learning what it was like to be young again. Remember when you were little – all those ‘strangers’ on the playground were just friends waiting to be met, new names to add to your friendship listing. Strangers far and wide were drawn to a little 9 month old’s colt struggle and he was never alone again. Neither were any of us.
Windchill slipped quietly into the beyond February 29th, 2008, as surprised as we were. I remember the night today as clear as the night it happened. Stepping out into the clear, cold night for his last check of the night and that feeling that something wasn’t right. Walker slipped out of the garage, confirming the feeling. Walker was with Windchill all the time. Racing to the barn, opening the door and no whinny. There was always a whinny when we walked through that door. And knowing. Knowing before I opened that stall door. Burying my face in his neck, still warm. How peaceful he was. No struggles. Still under his blankets, head resting on the towels. Wondering whether to tell Kathi then or let her sleep. Walking slowly back to the house, waking her up to tell her Windchill was “gone.” Her bolting upright, asking where…the death threats, etc. had become part of our reality, so her first assumption was he had been taken…explaining he had passed away. Watching as the scene I had just lived was re-lived – her throwing the door open, calling to him. Checking him. Then holding him. She confirmed he hadn’t suffered. Needing to know the same thing…was he under stress in his final moments, did he suffer and finding some peace in how he drifted off never to wake up.
Neither of us slept that night. I spent my night researching everything I could find on neglect, starvation, abuse looking for a reason, something we’d missed, something we could’ve done to change the outcome. She spent her night knowing we hadn’t. At 4:30am I’d come to the same point. By 5am I wrote the announcement to the world that would never be printed. It was too filled with anguish. Kathi re-wrote it by 7am. An hour or so later the world would share the pain and join the hell that had been ours for the previous night. I would have to relive the same feelings as visitor after visitor arrived that morning to see the little guy, not having seen the blog post from that morning. The same disbelief. The same look of shock. Then the tears. By mid-day I was numb, exhausted, drained, lost.
4 years later and I can feel all of that like it was this morning. 4 years later and it was just last night wasn’t it? That’s why I hadnt’t read the blogs in detail until I started your book last year. I haven’t looked at the pictures in the photo directory on my computer from February though March, 2008 until I posted my archive online not long ago. Pictures never seen finally shown the light of day again.
I’ve finished the book finally, Windchill. It will tell the world your story and what’s happened since that time — the magic continues, your spirit lives on in the re-telling by volunteers who remember to people eager to learn. Kids, adults, senior citizens… Your torch and memory were carried on the shoulders of a little horse appropriately named Magic to literally thousands of people each year and will be again. There’s been good, there’s been bad since you were last here with your head on our knee in a stall on a bed of straw, pushing yourself in circles around your stall driving us crazy as we restored order to the chaos you created in there. Laughing at the brightness in your eyes. Today we laugh, and sometimes cry, in your memory. Even more love you now than even then, amazing huh? God bless a little 9 month old colt who taught us to believe again in humanity. Thank you Windchill, from the bottom of all our hearts. We miss you.
(Jeff Tucker, Raindance Farms, LLC)
PS – for those lighting candles in Windchill’s honor, please email me a picture and I’ll try to get them uploaded on a special page here and on his forum:
jeff @ raindancehorses.com

Goodbye guard kitten (post from the past)

Monday, June 14th, 2010

October, 2006

It is apparently the year for loss. Not normally a cat person, until recently, I had three. The youngest was an insane little guy that I did my best to ignore. It was impossible, he had more personality than that little body should have had. Fortunately he grew into that huge personality instead of it continuing to grow as well. He ignored the warnings of the older two – instead worming his way into their structured lives. Whenever we were in the pasture, there followed Aslan. I couldn’t work outside without the little guy being right there. A constant companion to the Great Pyrenees, he hunted grasshoppers like nobody’s business.

I buried him on Friday. He didn’t come in one night, and when he didn’t come to my calls the next morning I knew something was up. He always came when called. I found him alongside the road.

I didn’t think to show the other two cats their now-accepted best friend was dead. They called to him, they searched, two older veteran mousers searching for the one that forced them to play, to run, to jump for no reason. I didn’t realize they felt such loyalty to each other. But they do.

A couple of days later I looked into the giant blue eyes of my little girl and tried to find an answer to her question of why he had to go, he wasn’t even a year old daddy…I didn’t have an answer. She was right, it wasn’t fair and he was way too young to go. Only the good die young, right?

My girls helped me make a cross. My daughter summed it up the best I think:
Aslan, 2006 to 2006
Farm Lion – fierce, proud and insane
We love and miss you

I would never have guessed I would miss “just a stupid cat.” But I do. Run with Blaze Aslan. I guess we’ll listen for you in the wind. And we’ll never forget. Sigh.

Goodbye Blaze (from April, 2006)

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Last night I had to put down my collie, Blaze. She’d become a part of this farm, having gotten her the month after I moved in. She was a working dog and this was ‘her’ herd. She and Skidder, our border collie kept watch of the herd 24/7. I can only remember maybe two nights that they slept inside the house, the rest of the time they had to be outside watching the herd.

She was my constant companion and a friend and playmate to the horses, always playing their game of tag. Having brought her lifeless body home, we gave Skidder time to grieve and came back to find him quietly laying with his head on her back. He stopped calling for her in the middle of the night like he had done the previous night. He helped me bury her, staying at her side. At one point he tried to stop me then realized the futility. I let him say his “goodbyes” to her before covering her up with the light she had chewed up in my driveway and her favorite bones and blocks of wood, and that blue blanket she wrapped herself up in on cold winter nights, sleeping in late in the mornings. She wasn’t exactly a morning dog…not unlike her owner.

I went out to see what my 13 year old had written on the white cross. “Blaze, soar on incandescent wings, rest in peace.” I guess I can’t find anything more profound to say to you Blaze. Now I have to listen for you in the wind as you chase the herd. Only this time, I won’t call you back and tell you to stop teasing them. It’s good for them Blaze. And it’s good for me. God bless you and you’ll live in my memory and heart forever.

Raindance’s Blazing Skies
February 28, 2005 – April 6, 2006

03/19/08, 11:19am…hot toddies…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

March 19th, 11:19am: Okay guys, I apparently have no clue how to make “hot toddies” as recommended on Windchill’s Forum. I think somebody needs to give me far more precise measurements, the one I made could’ve cleaned rust off old pipes. I could only take a sip. I should clarify – I made that last night, not this morning.

03/17/08, 5:40pm…the secret for getting better

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

March 17th, 5:40pm: Hey, if you haven’t seen snowfall in awhile – click on the Raindance North cam (http://raindance.ww.com). It’s coming down in big white fluffy flakes. The cats have lined the window sill to watch it and bat at it as it falls gently downward, oblivious of the feline mayhem that awaits it on this side of the window if any of it makes a wrong turn and ends up inside the house. Apparently we’re supposed to get a couple of inches. Merlin kitty watches the snow at raindance farms
Merlin kitty watches the snow fall this eveningI’m doing okay guys. I appreciate the concern. It’s taking me a little longer than I thought it would to get back fully on my feet. I don’t really like it, it removes some of my immortality and invulnerability I’m finding. Unfortunately neither life at the farm, nor life at work have slowed down even though I have for the moment and that isn’t helping. I’ve given up even trying to answer emails or work on organizing this site or even blog, just too hard to breathe right now and I figure a couple of days slacking won’t be the end of the world, right? I miss our morning coffee time together though- for that I’m sorry. But…if I can’t have coffee right now neither should you, why should I be the only one suffering at the moment (kidding – keep having coffee, I don’t wish this on anyone and there’s no need for you to face life going unleaded). I will let you in on a little secret for recovering from the flu, a bad cold or walking pneumonia (aside from Patty’s amazing pork chops and gravy that she dropped off out here along with the fixins to make a hot toddy which I hope to try tonight – thank you Patty!) – don’t let this out, I work in healthcare and we don’t want to lose the business but since you’re all friends and you’ve gone out of your way to help me, us and Windchill – I’m going to reveal the secret here, right now – it’s Doritos. Also orange juice but if you don’t have orange juice just ignore that part, the Doritos is the secret. You never saw me sick before this did you? I suppose you’re thinking you had never seen me before this but that’s irrelevant. I suggest Spicy Cheese Doritos but the correct Rx is based on your level of illness. Just email me if you get sick and I can prescribe the right type of Doritos according to your symptoms. Anyway, I stopped on the way home to get some tonight so I’m pretty sure I’ll be cured soon and in my weakened state you managed to get the secret out of me. Anyway, thanks for bearing with me here while I fight this crud, unfortunately it all caught up with me at once and mix that with the feelings – I suppose even the depression – of losing Windchill and I guess it takes a little more time to recover. We haven’t been resting much though – we have the non-profit’s name, articles of incorporation and mission statement done. I guess I just hate not doing anything and that’s stuff that can be done in the house. Anyway, mostly wanted to let you know I’m doing okay, down but definitely not out.

02/27/08, 4:47pm…

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

February 27th, 4:47pm: Great news! I came home from work today and when Windchill heard me enter the barn he tried to stand up, leaning on a hay bale calling to me! What a great thing to come home to. I suspect the little man is going to be very easy for tonight’s lift. Must’ve been our pizza party for him last night (he ate hay just to make sure that that statement doesn’t get blown up into we fed the horse junk food and let him stay up too late).

I am sorry that some of you feel that his life was not worth saving and I’m also sorry that some of you feel that now that he’s famous that he shouldn’t be in a “smaller, uninsulated, backyard barn.” He doesn’t seem to mind and he’s grateful for the opportunity that we gave him to live. He’s surrounded by people who love him, in a warm soft bed. We feel that it is in his best interest to tighten security at Raindance Farms. All weekday visitors need to be cleared through us and we have added additional cams, one of which we will be web-enabling so that you can watch him along with us. The others are being placed for security. This colt is giving his all to survive – we are keeping him surrounded with people who love and care for him and constantly post the cards, well-wishes and prayers that people have been sending. Under no circumstances will we allow this colt to become part of a political agenda. He’s monitored by medical professionals who are routinely updated. He has passed his blood work  and lab tests thus far with flying colors – so his system is functional and his digestive tract is fully functional (as is the end feeding that). Additionally, There are only two people who can make arrangements for Windchill – myself (Jeff Tucker) and Kathi Davis.

Windchill in sling

Windchill in sling

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Windchill 'talks' with Kathi

Windchill 'talks' with Kathi


Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Windchill resting

Windchill resting

02/27/08…Windchill and Kat

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Windchill and Kat

Windchill and Kat


Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Windchill and Gary Niemi

Windchill and Gary Niemi