Wednesday, December 15, 2010

cold and clear

Last night I went out later than I usually do to help my husband lever the huge new round bale into its shelter. This involved two jump poles, an extra straw bale, and me laying my entire weight on the end of the pole and then shrieking, "It's not working!" But in the end it worked perfectly, and the hay ended up right where it needed to be.

My husband generally does the night-time feed for me, so I'd forgotten how a clear, cold night can be almost magical. All the equines were enjoying their barn time, with lots of hay, straw bedding, water straight from the well (and thus not ice cold!), and lights off. I peeked in at them and saw 6 pairs of blinking eyes.

Out in the arena, the Mystical-kit was dashing around chasing leaves blowing in the wind. I never knew how quickly a small gray body could get from A to X, or how fast a 20-meter circle could be run!

The wind was finally beginning to die down, but we had one more frigid night to get through - 12 degrees F - and the temperature was slowly dropping toward that low.

One of the best things about caring for horses, and I'm sure it's true for caring for any farm animals who live outside, is that it brings us into contact with nature at different times of day than we might otherwise experience.

Early mornings in winter can be brutal, but there is a clarity of thought that coincides with those coldest mornings that I find impossible to replicate without the actual sensation of the early morning sun and the cold.

Similarly, cold nights have a sense of magic, as though something is waiting to happen but you have to be very alert to see it. For a few moments, I waited.

Then I walked to the gate, on along the well-worn path in our backyard that leads to our back door. There's something palpable that happens when I come out the back door to head to the barn - a feeling of being drawn forward, to the horses and the donkeys, to the "barn time" that is for me very different than any other time. Actually it's more like walking out of time, leaving the world ruled by clocks behind.

There is also something special about walking from barn back to the house, especially at night, when the lights from within are shining through the doors and windows, and now, nearing the winter solstice and Christmas, the lights on the tree are twinkling, much like the stars twinkle in a dark night sky.

Feeling the warmth of the wood stove, seeing cats lying on sofas and chairs, Kyra and Bear already inside on their beds. When we go out in the cold, clear night, maybe what is waiting to happen is the homecoming at the end.

8 comments:

Kate said...

I do love that I get to be outside several times a day in all weathers - I do like it once I'm out there although sometimes I dread going out.

Matthew said...

Thanks for the help with the monster bale.

Before we had the hay tent I could use the truck to pull the 1400 pound bales over on end, but I guess now it will take clever application of a lever and fulcrum!

billie said...

Kate, you live in much colder clime that we do, so I'm sure the severity of cold/wind adds the dread part.

billie said...

Wow, Matthew, I didn't know it was that much weight - I was thinking 1000 lbs.

Good thing for the herd here that SOMEone understands how to apply the laws of physics to everyday problems. :)

(hint: it certainly isn't ME!)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Around here we call that lever and fulcrum stuff "cleverage" :)

billie said...

Great term, C!

ponymaid said...

Billie, I enjoy the sights and sounds of winter from inside the barn. The sound of Herself's feet crunching in the snow as she makes her way out for last hay. The creak of frost on the door frame as it opens and the cloud of condensation as the cold outside air hits the warm inside air. And then we eat...

billie said...

Oh, Sheaffer - the inside view! I love it.

Around here, if anyone dare be late to the barn, the sound of very loud braying ensues. And since they know where my window is, and know I often am sitting here at my desk, I sometimes get honked at from close range indeed.