For Better or Worse (Chapter Six, page 1 of 2)


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Thursday morning when Carmen was taking care of the horses, she noticed that Casper’s nipples were dripping. It was a good sign that the foal would be born soon. Glancing around to make sure Destiny was still safely in the little pen inside the barn, she pulled the phone from its holster on her side and called Alex. The receptionist said he was out on a call so she left a message for him to call her when he got back.
She finished feeding the horses and let all of them out except Casper. Alex would probably come home to examine her. Lifting Destiny from the pen, she continued with the chores.
The chickens were next on her routine. She filled the feeder and let Destiny throw some grain through the fence. She always laughed when the chickens fought each other over it.
The rabbits were always last to get attention, since they almost always had some food and water. Occasionally a deer would wander under the shelter and eat some of it, but the J-shaped feeders protected most of it. Alex and Bill had run a water line to the hutches, so they had a constant supply of fresh water. She had removed the sides of the shelter a few weeks ago for the summer so they would have fresh air and a breeze as well. They only had 4 does and a buck, but that was enough to provide them with all the rabbit meat they could use. One of the does had some 3-week-old babies running around. Carmen had removed the nest box only a few days ago. She reached into the cage and, after several foiled attempts, managed to capture one of the little bunnies. She squatted down to show it to Destiny.
Destiny touched its soft furry body and stubby ears. The tiny pink nose wiggled and the pink eyes regarded Destiny suspiciously. Destiny giggled and looked up at Carmen.
“Wabbit,” she said.
“Rabbit,” Carmen agreed. “We’d better put him back with his mommy.”
She put the rabbit back in the cage and closed the door securely. They needed to get back to the house. Alex would likely be home for lunch and she wanted to bake a chicken.
Back at the house, Carmen prepared the chicken for the oven while Destiny sat in her high chair playing with some cereal. As she opened the oven door to put the chicken in, her cell phone rang. Ignoring the persistent ring, she put the chicken in the oven and closed the door. A glance at the display confirmed it was Alex.
“Alex?” Carmen answered.
“Yeah. Saundra said you called. What’s going on?”
Casper’s nipples are dripping.”
“When did that start?” He asked.
“I don’t know. I noticed it when I was feeding her this morning . . . about 9:30.”
He was silent a moment. “Well, keep an eye on her. I’ll be home for lunch and examine her then.”
With all the trips to the barn, the morning passed quickly. On her last visit before Alex arrived, Casper still hadn’t eaten her grain and she was pacing around in her stall.
When Alex came home for lunch, Carmen picked up Destiny and followed him to the barn. She watched as he examined Casper and answered his questions. Finally he turned to her.
“Do you want to watch this birth?”
“Can I?” She asked eagerly. Alex usually insisted they leave the mare alone, only checking on her now and then. So far, she hadn’t been there to witness any of her foals being born yet.
He smiled. “She’s pretty comfortable around you. We can watch as long as we stay back a ways and don’t make noise. Why don’t you call Mums and see if she’ll watch Destiny?”
“Will it be soon?”
He led the way out of the barn. “Most mares foal at night, but I think it may happen within a few hours.”
“I’ll call Mums,” she said. “Meanwhile, I have lunch ready.”
“Great, I’m starving,” he said.
Carmen called Mums, who said she would come over and pick up Destiny. She offered to watch Destiny overnight and Alex said that might be a good idea. After lunch, Mums arrived to get Destiny. Destiny ran to her, excitedly.

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