Sunday, December 02, 2007
There is Snow on the Bales
They gave us fair warning! They told us it was coming! No one should have been caught unaware! No, I’m not talking about another gas price increase – I’m talking about snow! White, ground covering, gotta shovel, crunchy-when-you-walk, blindly white, drifting snow!!!
Saturday morning was a typical morning – pick the barns, top off the tanks, feed, and while everyone is hooked for feeding, move ten round bales in to the pastures. Unwrap the round bales, unhook the horses, pick the barns again, empty the wheelbarrows, and head in to the house. I had to get to Applebee’s before the lunch crowd to put up our table tents advertising our Christmas Breakfast on December 8th, and so I decided to head in early to be home before the snow hit, which was forecasted to be mid-afternoon.
While I was picking the barns after their morning feeding, I heard something hitting the barn. Addie-Girl and Cole and April were tucked in the corner of the Helen Keller side. Miss Bette and The Babies along with Beauty were standing in a semi-circle facing the door on the Gelding’s Side….hhhmmmm….. Their instincts and weather systems were far better than our human systems! They knew the snow was coming earlier that mid-afternoon! In fact, they knew it was right on top of us!
At just about 10am, the first icy crystals started hitting the ground. Moisture! Insulation! Snow! I went outside and put my face in to the falling snow. But wait! That wasn’t soft snow! That was icy, hard, needle-like white pellets! Yikes! Ice!
That shifted my priorities from running errands to caring for The Herd. PONY! and Gracie and Spirit would be stuck outside simply because they would not venture in to the small space of the barn with the big ones in there, too. Lanna was already tucked on the backside of a new round bale, but she needed to be checked. Sweet Lady Grey and Blaise would stand outside the old barn unless Blaise were put in to a box stall. Their eyesight was so poor – on both of them – that the barn area was scary and so they needed to be checked.
PONY! and Gracie were put in Miss Bonita’s stall and a half-barrel filled with water was started. Spirit came in to her stall, which is used by Beauty at feeding time. I ventured out in the ice storm to check on Lanna and found her shivering in the cold. This ice would melt on her and then freeze, which wasn’t too bad, but the wind! It was strong and out of the East and just didn’t let up. Lanna needed to be blanketed and brought in the barn for shelter.
So, some changes were made. The sixteen-foot gate of Miss Bonita’s stall was moved to another set of hinge pins to allow more space for that stall. I was so glad that Kathy had hung that wrench in a special spot for me in case I needed it! Sprit was moved over to join Gracie and PONY!. This left a ten by twenty stall for Big Lanna, which she would undoubtedly feel was too small for her, but it was better than being outside!
I accomplished the first set of changes, got a tank heater going in the blue half-barrel of water, retrieved and then tied Lanna to the post in the center of the barn. I brushed her off to help her dry and let her stand while I checked on the two older ladies up in the old barn.
Sure enough, Blaise and Sweet Lady Grey were standing out in the wide open with their butts to the wind. I called and they gladly came in the barn! With really no encouragement, Blaise went in to her box stall and Sweet Lady Grey parked herself outside of the wall – well inside the barn. With a round bale for her, I threw Blaise some hay and offered her some water. They seemed just fine for the time being.
I searched with horse blanket tubs and found the 87” blanket that I had used for Richard at this very time last year. It was the largest I had, and so armed with it and a deep breath for patience, I went back to the big barn to care for Lanna, not sure what this would bring.
Lanna trembles when she is in new surroundings, so I wasn’t sure if the shaking flesh was now cold or new surroundings. Probably a combination of both. Regardless, I brushed her again and tossed the blanket up on her. Now, I have to be honest. I did this last part while I was standing up on the gate at her head. Lanna is one big girl. And she is quick. And if that hindquarter should swing over at the sound or feel of the blanket, I did not want to be on the ground!
It took us a few attempts, but eventually, she would stand still long enough so I got the blanket over her shoulders and then worked on getting it over that sizeable rump of hers. Every strap was fully extended and it barely reached under her tummy! The sides stopped in the middle of her rib cage and the back foot of her duppa was hanging out in the air. She did look a little comical, although I told her she looked very nice and that this blanket would help to dry her off and get her temp back up…she listened with eyes wide open and nostrils flared! It was easy to see that I was stressing her!
In to the stall she went where she quickly walked the walls and gates to determine her boundaries. She was offered hay, but wanted no hay now! There was too much to deal with! Something was hitting the barn! The barometer was up and her ears told her so! This thing riding her back! And now this small space! Every instinct in her told her she should be outside where she could escape if she needed to, but she stood while I rubbed her chest and tried to calm her. A quick glance at the clock on the wall and I knew I had better hurry if I was to be on the roads at all today and be safely home.
By 3pm I was back in the barns to check on things. More changes were needed…
Addie-Girl, April, and Cole were like three dominoes standing in the corner trying to escape the strong winds from the East. The winds were so strong, in fact, that our rubber strips used to prevent the hot summer sun from penetrating the barn were blowing up over the roof and were denting the metal of the barn! When that happened it was like a small bomb going off in the barn and everyone jumped! Me, too! Unexpected and at random times, it was sure hard to relax with that happening.
And Spirit was not happy in with Gracie and PONY! Gracie had been pushed up in the round bale – not just next to it but in it! – by her protector, PONY! While he stood behind her on full alert, Spirit was over in the corner by the water barrel and her eyes pleading to get outta here!!! I had few options! I could put Spirit up in the other box stall of the old barn or let her outside or…. Wait a minute. Why not try it?
Haltering Spirit, I asked her to be patient and aware of size. Be aware of the narrowness of the stall. The height of the walls. The blindness. And the sheer size of her new stall mate. I put Spirit in with Lanna.
Hay was offered and both of them focused on that for a while. Long enough to get through the nose smelling and squealing and teeth showing – even though Lanna couldn’t see them, Spirit made every attempt to show off her very back molars!!!
Handsome chose to stay outside in the storm, which didn’t surprise me. He obviously isn’t used to being in a building and a storm will put him on full alert. Inside isn’t natural unless you get used to it. It was just too soon for Handsome to come inside. And Josephina, of course, would choose to be outside with her man. No need to even try on those two!
About thirty minutes passed and the rounds were made to check on everyone again. The Three Dominoes were still just fine. PONY! had allowed Gracie to get out of the round bale. They were fine. The semi-circle of big mares was still intact – some dozing and some watching the storm. Blaise was sleeping and Sweet Lady Grey was eating out of the round bale in the barn. Lanna and Spirit? Well, introductions and egos were past, and they both settled down “to a long winter’s nap”. I smiled as I stood in the barn. It had been some work, but The Herd was safe.
Sometimes you can plan all you want. You know the snow is coming and you think you are ready. Then when it comes you realize that you need to adjust your plans and your itinerary. They must be cared for and be sheltered. It’s that “watch over” thing.
I fed at 7pm and then rechecked everyone at midnight. Blaise was munching on some hay while Sweet Lady Grey now slept. The semi-circle had changed their order, but stood pretty much the same. Josephina and Handsome were covered in snow and ice, but that natural insulation was keeping them warm. The Three Dominoes were a bit snow covered but intact. PONY! and Gracie were sleeping with PONY! resting his chin on Gracie’s back.
And Spirit and Lanna? My first thought was that Lanna had eaten Spirit! I couldn’t see the little one! But then I looked down. There she was! Sprawled out on the ground with her legs stretched out and sound asleep. Big Lanna stood at her feet much as she had stood at Jeri-Ann’s feet while her baby had slept.
With that picture in my head, I headed up to the house to rest myself. Content that we had weathered the first storm. Knowing there would be more to come in this winter season. Grateful for the moisture and the insulation for the ground. And tired.
There will be snow on the bales in the morning. And the ground will be white. But The Herd will be dry and ready to play in the new grounds. Ready to leave their prints in this sheet of softness. And also, hopefully, ready to go outside and poop!
Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd