Saturday, April 25, 2009

foreshadowing summer

This is what greeted me this evening when I went out to the barn, a big giant rune in the sky:

And then the donkey boys, who see a camera and here they come:

It should be spring.

We've had our annual sprinkle of April birthdays: husband, Keil Bay, Apache Moon, and my daughter's is soon to arrive. The baby birds in the barn erupt in a fit of chirping every time we make a sound. We're on our second batch of fly predators.

The carpenter bees are buzzing, insects humming, and green explodes around us in every direction.

But we're into a string of 90 degree days right now, and it feels a LOT like summer already.

Today the big industrial fans got taken down, cleaned, and put back up with new baling twine. The horses came in and I am pretty sure I heard Keil Bay heave a sigh of relief when the fans came on. They're like big sound machines, almost like the roar of surf. When you're inside the barn on a hot day, with the fans going, it's like being on a big ship sailing for a distant destination, motor churning softly, far away from the hustle and bustle of the regular world.

The morning routine now includes feeding, checking for ticks, rinsing any bites or scrapes with calendula tincture in cool water, and then a quick brushing and fly spraying.

The horses go back out after breakfast until the heat of the day arrives, when they wander in again to find clean stalls, fans, hay, and fresh buckets of water. If you go out between 2-3 p.m. you are likely to find Keil Bay stretched out snoring. Other times you find horses playing musical stalls, and Salina and the donkeys are likely to be standing in the barn aisle.

Around 5-6 p.m. they head back to the field, rested and ready to enjoy the onset of evening.

In the next week or so we'll be getting eastern encephalitis shots and updated Coggins, and they'll all have their teeth checked to see who, if anyone, needs floating.

I'm excited to have a new homeopathic remedy from our vet this year, for use on the day of shots to help ameliorate side effects.

Riding needs to be done either first thing in the morning, or well after sunset. I hope to try out the new Cool Medic vest this year, which you soak down with water, squeeze out, and then wear. Supposedly it keeps you cool as a cucumber, which will make riding so much easier on these hot days.

I think we're all hoping this is an aberration, and that we get at least another month of spring before summer arrives. Meanwhile, there are cat and corgi bodies laid out like little throw rugs all over the house, I have put in the annual Lands End sandal order, and I'm counting down the days to Thursday, when the local farmers' market will surely be bursting with locally grown bounty for easy summer meals.


ponymaid said...

I must admit, hearing you use the phrase "heat of the day" warms the cockles of my heart. Are you drinking mint juleps on the porch yet? And how are the two donkey boys with all the heat? If only I had ridden the rails south, I could be revelling in the heat with you...

Sighing deeply.

billie said...

Sheaffer, I thought of you only yesterday when I went out to the barn, where all the horses were reveling in the quiet shade, and there stood Rafer Johnson, body inside the barn doors, head sticking out into the blasting afternoon sunshine, with his eyes closed.

I guess you donkeys have the Mediterranean in your blood, and that warm sunshine is like a tonic.

The nice thing about our barn is that I can always leave one end open before noon, and the other end open after noon, and the donks can go out and find a sunny spot while Salina can remain in the shady barn aisle and keep her eye on them at the same time!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Happy Birthday to all the April babies. You sound as if you have it all under control and are ready for the heat. I'm going to check out that Medic vest and see about getting one. I know you are many miles from us up here, but we registered in at 90 degrees today. The horses look confused to be wearing fly masks, they are drinking lots of water and just lazing and grazing. Not much get up and go for any of us. I would like a month of spring to sort of ease into the heat of summer. These are August temps and it's not even May yet!

billie said...

Arlene, our tack shop has one in the store that they have been keeping wet so customers can try it out. They have tried it out riding and say it works well, so I'm thinking it would make my riding life easier this coming season.

Right now, if you go to the website, you can get a free cap (can wear under the helmet!) if you spend $150, which you'll do with ease if you buy two vests. They also have horse fly masks, blankets, and dog blankets that work the same way.

The blankets are not cheap, but I'm imagining being able to put them on horses instead of hosing - I feel sure Keil Bay would adore his "Cool Bay" outfit.

For now I want to try the vest and see how well it works.

Michelle said...

It was at least 86 here today, and that was later in he day when I finally thought to check the thermometer. My poor ponies all still have winter coats, it was 30 just the night before last!

billie said...

Michelle, it sounds like a number of us had unseasonably warm days today. Whew. Mine are shedding like mad. Salina is mostly done, but the geldings are like streaming fans of horse hair blowing into my eyes, mouth, and nose as I groom.

The poor donkeys - they don't shed until much much later in the season, but they don't seem to mind one bit. And they also don't get tick bites!

Michelle said...

What a bizarre year its turning out to be!

billie said...

Definitely odd weather, that's for sure.

Dougie Donk said...

I'm jealous that you have heat!

After a glorious Saturday, we are now back to the cold, damp, midge-plagued conditions that equal a Scottish spring.

My woman is going on holiday to Portugal next month, but is not receptive to my request for another airline ticket. Surely taking a little donkey along wouldn't decimate her wine ration THAT much?

billie said...

Dougie, you are welcome to come here while she goes to Portugal - we would feed you well and you could bask in the southern sun.

I wish we could all come to Scotland for a holiday - surely we could figure out a way to battle those midges!

Dougie Donk said...

Billie, thank you for the invite, but she says a return ticket to the USA is worth almost a whole YEAR'S wine ration. In the best Scots vernacular, I have "Nae chance, pal!"

However, I do have 23 acres of hill pasture to play in, so if flights from America are more affordable, you would be VERY welcome here.

Combatting the Scottish midge has so far defeated science's finest, but my woman has invested in fly hoods and gallons of the finest midge repellant, so you would be comfortable, I promise.

billie said...

Oh dear, I have visions of leasing a giant ship, with huge box stalls and a walk-about paddock for exercise. I'm sure Dickens the cowboy/barn cat would come along to man the - what's that thing called, up high, for watching out?? - while the donkeys would be living twin figureheads, noses in the air.

We have such romantic ideas of what Scotland is like, I'm afraid, midges be damned, you'd never get rid of us once we got there!

For awhile, Dougie, my favorite late-night entertainment was cyber-shopping for castles for sale in Scotland. A few even came with titles! :)

Kyle said...

Can I come to November Hill and be a horse on your farm? I have excellent trough manners, no parasites except a few direct-mail marketers, and I rarely bite. Have tack, will travel.

billie said...

LOL - you are way ahead of a few herd members if you have excellent trough manners!

We are running low on stall space, but could probably figure something out. If you also happen to be a dressage schoolmaster, we would probably build a new stall just for you!


(and your name kind of puts you many rungs above other applicants, according to the resident King Keil)

daringtowrite said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments on Elm and Chestnut and for the temporary yet flattering idea that a poem of mine might have been the work of Anne Sexton (even if we do share a certain darkness). :)

billie said...

Wenda, it was my pleasure - it is a beautiful poem.

And readers, pop over to Wenda's blog and read it for yourselves. You won't be sorry!!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, do post about the vest.
And let Liz over at Equine Products review hear what you have to say.
Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

I forgot---can you tell me about the calendula tincture?

billie said...

I bought a bottle of calendula tincture that I have heretofore used in a solution I make up sometimes for hoof soaking. Haven't had to use that lately, so when the first tick bit Salina this spring, I decided to make a "wound rinse."

I fill my electric kettle with water, warm it up, and put it in a bucket with one dropper of the tincture, and apply it with a sponge. It soothes the area, and has really helped the bites heal quickly. She reacts very badly to tick bites, and left untended they become oozing lumps. The calendula solution clearly feels good to her.

With the first bite that had gotten yucky, I used the solution 3-4x/day, each time she got fed. For the ticks I've found since, I've gotten them off before they make those big lumps, and am washing any tick bite area once or twice a day. Geldings too, although they never get the oozing lumps Salina does.

Have also used it for some minor scrapes and it seems to facilitate quicker healing.

It will always be in my first aid kit now.