It is now almost 12 noon on Monday, February 5th, 2007. I have read all of your kind words on our bulletin board and please know they are greatly appreciated. But please bear with me as, for now, I cry because somehow my efforts have fallen short.
Big Jim decided - on his own and without any help from me - that it was his time to cross in the wee hours of this morning.
Sunday morning Tara had joined me for 8am feedings, and for that I am grateful. It gave Tara a chance to see and talk with her Big Jim and lead him off of the hill over to stand by his Bonita out of the wind. Funny how Tara went against my wishes and braved the cold to be here...funny how she spent some time with Jimmer...
The Sunday afternoon feeding was uneventful. Feedings were done and stock tanks were filled and all seemed well. On the way out of the barn, I paused to look over at The Helen Keller Side, or The Royal Court Side as he had called it.
There standing behind the round bale was Big Jim. A tummy full of feed, a warm coat over his massive body, and inside out of the cold winds and in the company of his girls, Miss Bonita and April. His eyes were starting to close as he slipped in to a sleep. I told him I would see him in just a few hours and I closed the door to head up to the house.
At just before 8pm, I ran through the barns to check on everyone before I slept. All was well. Big Jim and Bonita were munching on some hay while April was looking for even more kibbles of feed on the floor. I left the low lights on in the barn not so that they could see, but so that I could see when I returned.
Midnight came and I bundled up. Funny, how when I went outside in the 22 below weather it seemed like a nice night! No winds to speak of. Finally! Dear Lord, we need a break from the winds! I roused and fed The Old Horse, fed fresh hot beet pulp to Old Man Cole, fed Blaise and SLG and then headed out to the other barn.
The herd on The Geldings Side was either sleeping or eating...but all was well. I put feed in the feeder for Bonita and Jimmer and more in the buckets for April, PONY!, and Gracie. I was concerned about Gracie. She seemed to be cold, but a hand placed under her two winter blankets told me she was as warm as toast under there.
When it was time to leave the barn, I saw two handsome butts facing me as they devoured - and shared - their midnight feed. It was Miss Bonita and her man, Jimmer. Both were content and filling their tummies on even more feed.
I slept again but awoke when the clock said 3:18am. I was uneasy. In fact, my attempt to lie in bed failed so I headed out to the barns. The Old Barn was fine and so I made my way down the driveway to check on the other barn. Immediately upon opening the door, I knew Jimmer was crossing.
Only two bumps appeared in the low light - the butts of Bonita and April. Our Big Jim had laid himself down with his back to the wall right next to the round bale and was resting. "Jimmer! What's the matter with you? Get up!" I hollered testing for his usual response of a moan and a half attempt at rising himself. But he did nothing. He was crossing. My mind knew but my heart refused to accept.
Sitting next to his huge head, I could feel his moist breath and saw that his breathing was shallow and infrequent. We talked and shared our love for each other and I made sure he knew that we were eternally grateful for his presence and his kindness while he had graced our barns.
When I was convinced his spirit had moved on, I went back to the house for blankets and a flashlight. I needed to see the sawdust around his feet. I needed to know if Jimmer had tried to get up at all.
Before I covered his massive body, I looked at his huge feet. I saw absolutely no evidence of him moving his feet after he had lay down. It's as if he became tired, lay down, and just drifted off to a deep sleepů. much like the closing thoughts from his blog on the previous day "...for fast and deep sleep...". Jimmer's crossing was fast. It was a deep sleep. And it was on his own time and terms.
So join with me and cry for Big Jim. But also revel in his greatness and take a moment and read his blog... Submitted for you all just hours before he decided it was his time to move on... To find DukeDuke and Jerry and Slim. And to have four good legs and a strong back again! To be where all good, loyal, and dependable creatures go! He leaves a huge hole in The Royal Court Side and in The Herd.
I am honored to have known you, Jimmer.