Tuesday, October 28, 2008

hush for a while

We suddenly have COLD here. I was shivering in the barn before we came in for dinner last night, but realized later in the evening that the temperature was 34 degrees out and would surely drop lower. So around eleven, I suited up in my husband's LL Bean down coat and my black fleece hat and marched out to the barn to blanket the horses.

I always wonder if I should blanket at all. But given that they go in and out all night long, and since two are older, I do it. I'm using single weight sheets, so not piling on the layers, but still... do they really need it?

By the time I went out last night it had dropped to 32 degrees, and the forecast for early this morning was wind - and a high not cracking the 40's. I tossed my blanketing dilemma to the birds and they got their sheets on.

It was so quiet out, the way it gets when the cold comes. Quiet with horses snuffling and then the pure sound of a donkey braying in the night. Rafer Johnson and Redford got cookies and then my husband came out to help. I mucked and he blanketed and we gave extra hay. Rafer Johnson escaped the barn and headed directly for the round bale! He is walking well now, using his leg almost normally. The puffiness is almost gone.

I was glad my daughter and I had devoted the day to switching the donkeys across the barn to the center stall, nice and warm, and moved Salina over to the end stall beside them. The geldings have their three stalls back. And everyone can come in if they want, or take a walk if they want. Donkeys in the barn aisle for now, but eventually they'll get access to the grass paddock with Salina.

Those LL Bean coats are warm - my body was toasty but my fingers started tingling in the cold night air. And those few moments of cold quiet reminded me of a favorite Sam Keen passage:

The Word is still spoken in sparrowsong, windsigh, and leaffall. An electron is a single letter, an atom a complex word, a molecule a sentence, and an indigo bunting an entire epistle of the sacred. The ocean whispers its mystery within the chambered sea shell. Listen quietly to the longing in your heart for love and justice and you may hear an echo of the holy word that addresses you. Hush for a while. Be still and know.

-Sam Keen

For some reason the cold nights and early mornings of winter are times I hear this most succinctly.


Janet Roper said...

Brrrr, tis the season for layers, for horses and people. But no matter now many layers I do for my hands & feet, they are always cold. Wishful thinking for May already.....When it gets 50 below here, temperature, not wind chill, I'll send some if it your way!

Love the Sam Keen passage. Where is it from?
Janet & Shiloh

billie said...

Oh dear, Janet - you can keep those 50 belows! Whoa!

I love that Sam Keen passage too - so much that I have it on a sticky, but w/o the attribution to where it originally hails. I'll see if I can find it and get back to you with the info!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oooh. Indigo buntings are one of my favorite birds :)

Billie, I often wonder about this blanketing thing, too. I think we humans feel cold, so just assume that our horses must be, too.

I think it depends upon the horse. A horse that stays stalled all the time or is shown and clipped would probably need a blanket or sheet if outside.
And a horse that is allowed to go outside at will and is permitted to grow in a nice thick furry coat, does not typically require a blanket.

My neighbor has 3 horses and never blankets, even when our temps get down to below zero up here in the mountains. Her horses are permitted to grow their thick wooly fur coats and are always nice and toasty warm.

My horse has already grown her thick fur coat, so the only thing I am concerned about is sleet or cold wet rain. So I will use a waterproof, breathable sheet to protect her skin from being soaked through this winter, but that's all.

We had snow two weeks ago, and now we've got a gorgeous Indian Summer. The nights get down to the 20's, but today it was 78 degrees!

Of course, I had to go riding. :)

Fall in New Mexico is my favorite time of year.


billie said...

Lisa, I know so many people who don't blanket. The "rule" at the barn where we boarded was blankets for nights when it went under 50 degrees, and during the day if there was rain/wind and less than 50 degrees.

When we moved out here, I shifted that to 40, since my horses can all come in on their own if it's raining and cold.

Now I find myself thinking in terms of 35.

The hardest thing about boarding was we had to put the blankets on (we did self care board) before we left for the night, and take them off the next day when we arrived. So it was often a headache trying to sort out how to do this so the horses were warm when needed, but not sweating.

Here, we can blanket late when the temps actually drop, and get the blankets off before the sun warms them up.

We don't clip - and ours have nice coats. But I never want to see them shiver! I have seen horses shiver and they looked miserable.

Especially not Salina, who is 25 and has arthritic knees - I have often wondered if putting leg warmers on those knees during cold days/nights would feel good to her.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hi Billie,

Yes, I can imagine that would be one of the hardest parts of boarding with cold weather.
Especially here, what with temps down in the 20's at night, and then jumping up to the high 70's during the day. I'd have to rush to the barn before the sun came up to make sure my horse didn't roast alive with her blanket on.

Oh. And I love the idea of the leg warmers for a horse. I was planning on knitting myself a pair so I can ride this winter while my legs stay warm. I might make some for my horse now.


billie said...

Oh, Lisa, you knit! You're officially invited to come sit by the woodstove and teach me how! :)