Thursday, February 05, 2009

long day

I'm not sure why this day has stretched on so long, but it feels like about 48 hours ago that I woke up. It was cold out, and when I went to the barn to feed breakfast I realized immediately that I needed to come back in with the big bucket and start warming up water tubs. They were all thick with ice and even where my husband had cleared them before he left for work, they'd refrozen.

The horses were all blanketed and enjoying the sun, and they'd been munching on hay for hours, so they weren't rushing back to the barn for their breakfast. Keil Bay stood out and nickered for his, and it was perfectly obviously he wanted to be served right where he was. But he had to walk around to the gate and come into his stall like usual.

While they ate, we added more hay piles to the front field, trying to find the sunniest spots where the ground wasn't rock hard and bumpy. I went in and out a few times, getting more hot water, and cleared the ice again before dumping it in.

Redford did his new "sound effect" which is the sound of a big truck horn. It's hard to believe that big sound comes out of such a little donkey! (as an aside, the Elevenses newsletter arrived yesterday, and Rafer Johnson and Redford were not only on the cover, they took up the entire second page! Ken and Marty are amazing to do all they do on their farm, plus keep a newsletter going out to their extended family, which we consider ourselves a part of... it's always fun to see what their donkeys and llamas and sheep are up to, and of course we especially like it when our two superstars make an appearance!)

Once we got everyone fed and watered, it was still too cold to take blankets off. I adjusted Salina's knee warmers and we came in for our own breakfast.

I have done a huge amount of laundry today, kept the woodstove loaded, and managed to answer some emails. We mucked and dumped, hauled more hot water, unblanketed around noon, and had lunch.

Did I mention tons of laundry?

On these cold days I go ahead and give everyone some warm beet pulp with chopped apples when Salina gets her more substantial 3 p.m. feed. They were all down in the bottom of the front field, so my daughter and I teamed up and managed to get Salina in the small barnyard, Keil Bay in the back field, the pony in a stall, and Cody in the dirt paddock. The donkeys stayed by the gate in front so they could be near Salina, and we served everyone their tubs. (I suppose this is why Keil Bay was expecting field service this a.m., but we almost never feed this way unless it's a special thing, so... I think he was trying to pull one over on us)

After they finished we opened everyone back up to the field and let them parade around and check all the assorted tubs in the event (which I don't think has ever happened here on November Hill) that someone didn't finish his/her food.

Did I mention I had to haul more hot water out to wash feed tubs after breakfast and again after lunch? The hoses were frozen solid.

I've lost track of what came next. I think we came back in for a break and some cocoa. Then we went back out to get hay set up for the evening, get water buckets back into stalls with nice slightly warm water, finish the last mucking and dumping, and get Cody groomed. He'd rolled himself into a cake of dust.

Mid-way the last paddock mucking, the entire herd galloped up the front hill. Every single one of them kicked up their heels, and then the pony went into some sort of wild pony fit. He was like Nascar Pony*, blasting all over the front field, circling wildly, bucking, taking off like a shot, and basically getting everyone stirred up.

Salina and the donkeys know things can get crazy when the geldings get going, so they came into the dirt paddock and stood by me. Cody played for a minute, but even he tends to get out of the way when the pony and Keil Bay start their game of "nip the armpit." It's brutal (not really, but it does look that way) and Keil Bay sounds like something off the African Veldt.

Without warning, they suddenly galloped into the dirt paddock, dodging donkeys, the water trough, Salina, the wheelbarrow, and luckily, me. They spun around and headed back out front, dodging all of the above yet again. Except the donkeys got in the way of the pony and he basically jumped over them and kept going. It was so wild I asked my daughter to close Keil and Apache in the front field. We let them wear themselves out and then got back to work.

We put Salina and the donkeys into their grass paddock, fixed up the barn for them, and took another break. At sunset, we got the geldings into their paddock and closed the gates, then picked all the hooves.

Now I'm back inside, still doing laundry, wanting to take a hot bath, and wishing I had a chef here to make dinner.

It's been a long day, but a good one. Another cold night but tomorrow it gets up to 50! No crunchy arena, no ice in troughs, and hopefully a good ride to end the week.

* If you're wondering why the reference to Nascar, it's because I've become obsessed with the fact that the hot new novel genre on Publishers' Marketplace is the Nascar Novel. There have been countless Nascar novels and Nascar romances selling like crazy this past month. Clearly I do not have my finger on the pulse when it comes to things like vampires, demons, and Nascar drivers as main characters. Sigh.


Grey Horse Matters said...

That certainly sounds like a very long tiring day. After dinner, a nice bath, a glass of wine and warm jammies should be relaxing.

billie said...

I think I'll take that glass of wine and head to the tub. :)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I never got all that Nascar obsession until we lived in South Carolina for 6 years. Sheesh, those southerners are nuts for Nascar! lol!

Whew! And I thought my day was exhausting. I almost fell asleep (not from boredom) reading all that you did today. Busy, Busy!

Do you ever keep your hoses inside when the temps get too low? We'll drop ours in the bathtub, or sometimes even keep them in the warmer tack room, when the temps drop, and we don't have any problems with frozen hoses that way.

Ok, now you deserve a hot bath, a glass of wine and some rest. Me, too!


ps, Will you share the front page photo from the newsletter? I'd love to see Rafer and Redford as the superstars they are :)

billie said...

Lisa, we have brought the hoses in on occasion. Usually if I remember to take them off the pumps and let the water drain out, they're fine, but since we don't have long periods of sub-freezing temps, it never really gets to be a habit.

The main thing is we don't have hot water at the barn, so even when the hoses are clear, when the troughs freeze I like to warm them up some.

The cover photo is the bunny donkey laying little donkey eggs one from a few weeks back. :) It was fun seeing it again.

Hope you're doing well with the rehab - I need to pop over and see what's up!

Matthew said...

Well at least we have some days in the 60s coming up!

billie said...

Thank goodness!

Victoria Cummings said...

I'm so longing for Spring! I know how you feel about bringing buckets of warm water out to the barn. It's been so cold here the last few days that my fingers go numb while I'm mucking and I have to stop and go into the house to warm them up before I finish. The horses don't even want to leave their stalls. I think the warmer air is going to head up our way too tomorrow. From single digits to the 50's in 24 hours - how crazy is that!

billie said...

I think I was typing in my "warming trend" post as you were leaving a comment - hope your warm day is as nice as ours was today!! And that you get more than one!