This week I bought a new wheelbarrow, which is one of the most-used things on a small horse farm. I use wheelbarrows to move manure and stall waste, leaves and rakings, to carry firewood and hay. We don't have a tractor and for the most part don't need one. This time of year the horses aren't in stalls much and the bulk of the mucking we do takes place in the fields and paddocks.
I'm a one woman mucking machine. So having a nice, well-made and balanced muck barrow makes life so much easier! This one is all of those things and I love the cheerful color in the winter landscape.
This week our weather made one of North Carolina's crazy roller coaster ride loop-de-loop patterns. We had two bitterly cold days and nights, then a slight warming with rain, then another cold day and night, then yesterday the temperature soared to 70 degrees and sunshine for a few hours before rain blew in and cold right behind it. The horses seemed to weather this crazy changing weather just fine but yesterday as the rain and cold rolled in I developed a migraine which put me on the sofa for the afternoon and early evening. I've read that rapid shifts in barometric pressure can do this, and it seems to hold true for me.
In spite of the few hours of 70 degrees, it is winter now. The entire farm has put on its winter wardrobe: the muted yet lovely colors of brown leaves, gray tree trunks, and bits of hay left behind by the herd. The evergreens are deep and dark, and the horses and donkey and even the painted pony blend into the landscape. It's one of my favorite times of year, though when we get a lot of rain and the ground goes to mud it becomes tiresome.
Now, though, we've had just enough rain to water the earth and hasten the compost process. Leaves mixed with hay scraps and manure break down fast, and everywhere I walk the earth is soft and spongy. We had such a spell of dry before this we never got to overseeding and liming, so that has now been pushed to early spring to do.
Everything is dormant, and maybe that's why a cold winter morning is so perfectly still and quiet. It's a peaceful, perfect time, like those moments in movies when time stops and everyone freezes in their steps. It's just me and the herd, communing.