This all means one thing: I'm in heaven.
Apart from The Teenager who really only requires minimal care (There's food in the fridge, and don't worry we won't go into the basement) my favourite part of this experience has been donning my Dr. Doolittle cap and looking after the animals.
When I was about seven years old, I sat in my Bup and Nan's living room and told my Bup, "When I grow up I'm going to be a veterinarian's assistant."
"Well Cait," my Bup answered, "why don't you be a vet instead?"
Yes, why don't I be a vet instead! I became an encyclopedia of animal knowledge, and even had a little vet office in my room, where I had files on all my sisters' stuffed animals.
I was on my way.
I carried the veterinarian dream around like the Olympic torch, until I actually started working in a vet's office. Then the depressing reality struck that yes, vet's do care about the well-being of animals, but also they are running a business. Sometimes the well-being of the animal can't take precedence when the animal's owners won't pay the bills, or they won't entertain the idea of treating the animal if the bill will be over 'x' dollars.
Ah, it's just a dog. I'm not spending that kind of money on it.
But the day the dream died is when a lady came into the office and wanted to put her two ten year-old shelties down.
She didn't want them anymore. She also didn't want anyone else to have them.
The vet's conversations about re-homing to loving people fell on deaf ears, and her wishes had to be met. I was in tears that day, and had to leave early. That night I wrote in my journal for probably two hours, trying to make sense of it all.
But I couldn't make sense of it. Because being a vet is hard, it's realistic, and it's not all puppy dogs and kittens.
When reality checks, it hits hard. Realizing I wasn't emotionally strong enough, nor did I want to be, to deal with those realities of the practice, I let that childhood balloon go. But obviously my adoration of animals is still going strong.
Of course like most little girls, horses were my first love. I had horse calendars, horse books, and horse toys. I had horses on the brain.
I was lucky that I had family who had horses, so whenever we went to Bup and Nan's you could always find me at the stables.
For two summers I worked for my aunt, caring for her horses and also the rodeo livestock. When they went to rodeos on the weekends, I stayed behind and looked after the horses that remained and whatever stock didn't make that trip.
Those were the two best summers of my adolescence. I relished all the time I spent on the back of my horse, trotting in the hills through sagebrush and tumbleweed, chasing coyotes (yes, I was mean).
There's nothing nicer than stroking the soft muzzle of a horse, feeling their warm breath on your hand, while their long ears twitch at every sound. Also, I really love the smell of horses.
So when Dan's aunt and uncle asked us to care for their pets, it was a no brainer for me.
I have been spending chunks of my days hanging over the stable fence, with dogs at my feet, feeding the horses treats and catching whiffs of their warm earthy smell that's a mixture of dust and freshly cut hay.
And I have to admit, it's the littlest horse who has stolen the biggest piece of my heart.
Jony: pronounced YAWN-ee
Jony is a co-dependant miniature pony, who paws the ground every morning when he sees me coming. He has associated my presence with food, and is especially happy to see me in the morning.
I suspect that perhaps his affection isn't genuine, but I'm only here for two weeks so I'll take what I can get.
Wild Wild West
Dan's aunt told me she got Jony eighteen years ago when she was looking to buy a new saddle for her mare. The seller told her, "Buy this saddle and I'll toss this pony in for free."
Of course we all know there's no such thing as a free animal, and where horses are concerned 'free' is very expensive. But as Dan's aunt said, "It was the best deal on a saddle I ever got."
Jony is co-dependant, and always needs to be with his large female buddy Orania Z. If they are separated, he throws a FIT. But Jony is also 32 years old, so can you blame him for needing constant companionship?
I don't like to be alone.
Jony also has really great hair, that is easily tousled in the wind.
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, and have such amazing tresses.
Actually, hate me if you want; I'm beautiful and have amazing tresses, so I don't care about you or your opinion.
The highlight of Jony's day (and Orania Z's as well) is when we take him out to evening pasture, so he can graze on the fresh green spears of grass.
Ready to go, sporting his very edgy black leather fly mask.
I killed myself laughing the first time I saw these two walking together.
This is honestly one of the sweetest things I've witnessed, to date.
Once in the field, it's time to kick up those little hooves and have a wee bit of a trot.
I'm so fit and sporty.
But when I say 'wee bit of a trot' I do mean wee. Jony is old everybody, one loop around the field is good enough for him.
Then it's time to get down to the business of eatin'.
Where the green...er, sepia...grass grows.
And eatin' some more.
Come back in three hours.
Yes, Jony is a sweet pony. He has a bit of a Napoleon complex, is quite bossy in the morning, but has such fabulous hair you totally forget these minor character flaws.
And I think he's small enough to fit in my suitcase when we leave. Our second bedroom is definitely big enough for him.
P.S. Reading this post I bet you'd never guess I figured out I can change my pictures to be SEPIA coloured. Woo! I also figured out black and white too! Watch out, I might go crazy with this power over the next few days.