The Beacon Hill Children's Farm with all its animal and human members is saying goodbye to PEANUT BUTTER.
Last week we had to take the heartbreaking step to accompany Peanut Butter on her last journey and as sad and overwhelming as this was for everyone at the farm, we tried to say our final goodbyes, thank her for all the good times she gave us and let her know one last time how truly special she was. For us Peanut Butter will always be a “one of a kind” horse and while she was small for her kind, she leaves an incredibly big hole behind.
It is absolutely remarkable how this little horse lady had such a huge impact on so many lives. We are all very touched and amazed about the many messages we’ve received since her passing and they are all filled with memories of Peanut Butter, lots of sympathy and good wishes for the farm team. And while this is a very dark and sad time at the farm with so many little daily details reminding us of this precious horse lady, we all know that the sorrow and pain of her absence as well as the love and adoration for this beautiful and kind horse is shared by many. Thank you.
Let’s remember Peanut Butter in her 24 years at the farm: With her proud age of 30 years she was our oldest farm resident and through her consistent presence, friendly nature, nearly perfect manners, positive energy, joy for the little things and her kind gaze with these wise blue eyes she has forever embedded herself into the soul of our little farm.
Peanut Butter was born on June 26th 1991 and when she came to live at the farm in 1998, she was just seven years old and expecting her first baby. She gave birth to a little colt named Jelly. A few years later, in 2001 she became a mom a second time, this time to a little filly called Honey. Her third pregnancy in 2007 was disrupted by a serious medical complication and unfortunately ended with a misscarriage. To our great relief Peanut Butter wasn’t hurt physically, but because we were worried about her health, we decided not to breed her again. Nevertheless, Peanut Butter had so many more happy years ahead of her, she became very tightly bonded to both our donkeys, Opal and Taffy, the three of them are like family. And Peanut Butter also made a perfect auntie to the babies of her two donkey friends.
In her younger years Peanut Butter was a very active lady, some volunteers would take her for walks to explore the park and she even learned to free jump: almost like a little show horse – but just for fun. Back then their diets were not as restricted by our vets, and so Peanut Butter and her two friends Opal and Taffy, were free to roam the farm yard in the morning to look for any bits of grass. But these three ladies are quite ingenious and resourceful and what they found was much more than just grass: Peanut Butter’s specialty was it to sneak into the small staff office to check out the staff’s lunches and food scraps in the garbage, Taffy would even try to climb the stairs into the feed shed and if Opal found a gap in the fencing she would go straight for the peacock food. Obviously, her mischievous long-eared friends have rubbed off on Peanut Butter and our little well-behaved lady learned a trick or two from them. Peanut Butter was never one to shy away from an adventure with her friends – she was always ready to seize an opportunity and jump in with all four hooves. This little trio kept the staff on their toes and made us smile many days.
All three of them really enjoyed their time together and they were gracefully growing older side by side. Peanut Butter always wanted to know exactly what her friends were up to, she would get rather upset if she couldn’t see them or didn’t know where they were. They all took great comfort in being together, having their daily routine and stability during their mutual senior time, they shared their yard, shelter and their food. They were even seen squeezed all into the same barn to hide from the rain, laying closely together for long naps in the sunshine and scratching each other’s backs. The three were just a great fit and made up their own little herd; Peanut Butter had found her family with those two donkey ladies.
During the last few years their lives became more sheltered and their health required more dietary restrictions which made their food very specific and in Peanut Butter’s case very soft. As often with advanced age, she had some dental problems which after a short time and several dental vet visits resulted in not many remaining teeth. But that wouldn’t slow Peanut Butter down much, we changed her diet to all soft mash and the older she grew the more we had to increase the feeding amounts. From now on, she and the donkeys had to be separated at meal times, but luckily they could still all join and hang out together when Peanut Butter was done eating.
Peanut Butter’s old age as well as ongoing and growing health issues made her life more and more difficult. Since the summer of last year she had been dealing with a chronic illness that was managed through daily medication. The winter is always a particularly hard time for our older animals, and Peanut Butter was no exception there. During the last winter she had a colic that a few weeks later was followed by an acute respiratory infection (which came on top of her already chronic equine asthma). Luckily, both of these severe medical crises were successfully treated by fast and repeated visits from our vets and lots of extra care from the staff. Thank you to everyone who had helped Peanut Butter to make it through this winter with its cold weather and health problems successfully.
We all knew that Peanut Butter’s immune system was compromised and that her chronic equine asthma would require a lot of care and constant monitoring to keep her as safe and healthy as possible. According to the instructions by our vets and farrier to comply with her new feeding and housing needs we changed and updated her barn and their shared enclosure in Beacon Hill, so that everything was ready for Peanut Butter, Opal and Taffy to return for the new season. Everyone was thrilled to have them back in town. Peanut Butter settled in well, she especially seemed to like the new half-door of her barn. We all found our daily routine of feeding her lots of small portions and sneaking her meds into her as well.
Unfortunately, by the end of March Peanut Butter had another very severe respiratory infection, the vet came the same night and they started a longer treatment plan with antibiotics and additional inhaler and bronco dilator. The first week of this was very dire as Peanut Butter’s symptoms got better but she had lost interest in most foods. We were so worried Peanut Butter had given up, but we were not ready to give up on her yet – just one more try. Another follow-up vet visit with x-rays of her lungs, a lot of helpful instructions and advice, then a change in diet and the staff spend a lot of time with her – day and night. And slowly bite by bite her interest in food returned and so did our smiles. Peanut Butter was also allowed short grazing times – which she looked forward to and could barely wait to get there. We could slowly increase her feed servings and her symptoms became less and less. We all took a deep breath and even though the vets had warned us that these respiratory episodes would keep on returning and that we should all prepare ourselves that this might be Peanut Butter’s last year with us, we felt that we had won – for now. We had fought for Peanut Butter and she certainly had given everything, and now she was in good spirits and on a good path of recovery.
But it was just “cruel” how short this time of hope and respite would be. A few days before her next recheck appointment, her breathing rate started to climb up again, and we contacted our vets at once. The diagnosis hit us very hard, as even with increased meds her breathing wouldn’t slow down much, her disease and lung tumour had progressed so much that the meds didn’t work anymore. We had arrived at the point that we all had hoped to never reach, but of course realistically we also knew that this time would come. Now, there was only one way left, because after everything that Peanut Butter had given us in her time here, she deserved that we give her the best care till the end. Following instructions by our vets we were able to keep her relaxed, stress free and happy with her friends over the weekend. And this also allowed us to spend some last time with her, spoil her and prepare for a final vet examination.
On Tuesday morning last week, her condition hadn’t improved and so sadly the diagnosis hadn’t changed either, it was unfortunately time to do the only last possible thing we could do for her: Say our goodbyes and accompany her on her last journey. Our love and devotion for our animals is deep, and the decision to let her go now without any more potential suffering was an incredibly difficult one to make. Could we have done anything else for her, would our love and care have allowed her to live on healthy, we would have done and given anything. But sadly, out of respect to her there was only one direction left, and we would go that path together with her. The farm team took her grazing, said their last goodbyes and then we walked her over the rainbow bridge. Thank you to our vets to allow Peanut Butter a peaceful and safe passing and that she didn’t feel alone.
R.I.P. Peanut Butter – for us you will always be a very special great little lady and your spirit will remain with us at the farm. You taught us so much and gave us the best memories that we will carry in our hearts forever.