Today we unexpectedly had to say goodbye to our farm’s eldest resident, Cody.
When I did morning chores, I found him peacefully lying in his favorite spot. There was no struggle, it looked as if he had his late night dinner and then just laid down to rest and never got up again. His last vet check a few months ago indicated a heart murmur and at his very advanced age (40+), a pulmonary issue seems quite likely.
Though technically not “ours” (he was on forever board here for a family member), he was our dear friend and a part of the farm family. Cody has been a fixture of this farm since we moved here nearly seven years ago. Other than the dogs and cats and Mama Pig, Cody had resided here longer than any other animal. It seems impossible to imagine our farm without the old man ambling about.
Cody was not what anyone would call a “good” horse. In his younger years, he was spooky, pig-headed and rather difficult to ride. He could be nearly impossible to give shots or dewormer to until his vision started to go and I could sneak attack him. He would charge through any open gate that he spotted and then parade around like he “got away” with something…even when you wanted him to go through the gate. He didn’t like any change in routine or companions or even what sort of coat I wore and literally until right before he died last night, he insisted on nose-rattling as if he had never seen me before every time I brought him a meal. He was exceedingly peculiar, stubborn and set in his ways—the epitome of “weird old man”…but my how we ended up loving him anyway.
Whole segments of our farm and life were molded around keeping Cody happy. I daresay I have spent more time contemplating Cody’s diet, mental health and overall comfort than I have my own. Though entirely “useless” in terms of farm economics, Cody ended up with the best of everything most of the time—the most expensive feed, the comfiest stall (with his own fan) and an inordinate amount of our time and attention. I did not begrudge him a bit of it. It made my heart happy to see the old man enjoying life.
In the last few years, Cody had run of the farmyard in the summer…with its tender white clover to nibble on. He liked to enter buildings not meant for him and if we left the garage door open, it was inevitable that we would find Cody standing in there, despite no apparent “comfort” in that space. He also loved to get into the the yard next to the house and use the landscaping plants to itch on. I would be working in my office and hear a scraping as Cody used the entirety of juniper bush as a body brush. Having Cody in the yard meant he got extra hugs, extra treats (including many a watermelon bought just for him) and that sometimes, when he came galloping up for his dinner with his failing eyesight, that we almost got runover.
“Yard Cody” also meant we spent our evenings listening to the symphony of his GI system, for he was the gassiest animal known to man. The decibel level and length of his colonic instrument was unlike anything I have ever encountered and if he had not otherwise been so fantastically healthy, I would have been worried. Indeed, other than his heart murmur and his slowly degrading vision, Cody seemed like an unstoppable force in his utter good health. No arthritis, no metabolism issues, none of the typical infirmities of extreme old age. We joked that he was really a zombie horse and would never die.
But he did die. And he did it on his own terms. I am thankful that he passed the way he did—in his sleep, without preceeding difficulties. When he had that off day a few weeks ago, I began the dread that we might soon have to make that hardest of decisions for those who love animals. Instead, he spared us all and made the decision for us. For that, I am grateful.
As weird and difficult and as much trouble as he caused, I find myself so profoundly sad this morning. I will miss the old cuss. The gate charging, the refusal to leave stalls, the extra chores he created through all his Cody-ness. They were a pain in the butt, but they were my pain in the butt to care for and all those moments will be deeply missed.
Rest in peace, dear Cody. I hope you and your beloved Ginger find a green pasture to amble through. I will see you there someday and we will share a watermelon together.