Friday, January 11, 2013

January Thaw

The annual January thaw is upon us. While most people relish the warm temps and melting snow, I'd prefer the numbing dry cold. Forty degrees and rain feels colder to me--it sinks into the bones and can only be cured by hugging the wood stove. Thaws also mean ice, my nemesis around the barn. The horses slip, I slip, the wheelbarrow skids. And if you want to ride, the only place left is the boring road! Bring on the snow--I"ll wait for the thaw to occur in March, thank you very much!

Rolex and Ruffy enjoying winter
The horses don't mind the dry cold either. It just gives them a reason to prance out of their stalls and kick up their heels every morning. If I stand there long enough watching them, I'll get cold, but barn chores, like shoveling and sweeping, etc. seems to keep the blood flowing enough, even to my toes (with the help of toe warmers). I'll actually peel layers off! So when people complain about the cold, they just need to get out and enjoy some activity.  If I need to warm up my hands, I can run them along Harley's fuzzy neck and let him breathe on my fingers as he searches out carrot bits. I'm toasty in my insulated overalls, long underwear, and wooly layers--warm enough to pause by the manure pile and gaze up at the glittering night sky overhead.What a wonderful time of year for stargazing--the cold makes the air seam all that much clearer.

Last week, on a sharp, clear night, I didn't have the stalls cleaned until after dark. Usually the horses wait up by the gait for me to get them. When I walked out to the pasture, something spooked them and they took off down the hill. After repeatedly calling, whistling, and bucket-shaking, I had to post-hole down the hill to round up at least one--the others would follow, or so I thought. First I got Ruffy, but she got "stuck". Her buddies stood by the fence, snorting and watching the woods. She would not go up the hill without her friends. Then I tried to get Rolex--hah! She was too busy trying to keep an eye on the woods. And Harley, well I threw a rope around his neck and held on. They continued snorting, blowing, and peering into the dark woods. Once I convinced Harley to come up the hill, the girls followed--at a canter. Everyone tried to get through the gate at once as they jostled each other for the safety of the barn. I think there might have been a coyote or two out there--possibly hunting for something to stave off the bitter cold descending into the woods.

My fuzzy guy
This weekend might be a washout as rain moves in with the rising mercury. A freezing rain is predicted for tonight--the worst kind of precipitation. I let the gang take turns wandering around the barn aisle while I mucked stalls. Each one has a different take on this situation.

Harley: Oh, I can walk around and bother everyone. Shucks, she shut the aisle door to Vance and Gator (He gets stuck there). Maybe I'll go help Rolex eat that pile of hay in front of her stall. Better yet, I'll just eat her leftover beet pulp/alfalfa mash. Hmmm.....what that outside. If only I could see through that crack in the doors better. Hi Ruffy, ok, ok, I can take a hint! Can I come home now, Mom? Is my stall ready?

Ruffy: Oh my--is this allowed? Can I walk around out here without a human on the other end? Hi Rolex--oh never mind, you cranky redhead! I'll go see Harley instead. Hi Harley, what are you doing in there? Wanna come flirt with pretty me? (Sniff sniff, squeal) I think I should be in the crossties when I'm out here--this is too confusing.

Rolex: Ahh, free at last! Who should I go bother first? Hi Ruffy, can I eat your food? No? Awe, come on? Yours is better...OK I'll go see Harley. Hi Harley, what's up? What are you doing with your teeth on the stall door? Why do you do that? Can I come in and play--dang, the stall guard is up. Let's see, what else can I get into. Maybe I can push the broom with my teeth and help Lisa? Oops, that didn't work. Oh, what's that under her vest? CARROTS! Yippeee! Ooops, I knocked them under the stairs. Hmm, stairs, can I go down those? Well, maybe not tonight. BONK--hey, what's that bucket doing there? I just hit my head on it! No worries, it's still hanging. What are you doing in that stall, Lisa? Filling my hay net--oh yummy! My favorite edible toy--eat some hay, swing the hay net, eat some hay, swing the hay net. I think the US Equestrian Team ought to have a mounted tetherball team--I'd be awesome at it! 

And so ends another night at the barn. All are snug in there stalls, with lots of hay and beet pulp mash for dessert. We'll see what Mother Nature has in store for us this weekend. I could always clean my tack!


  1. Lions and tigers and bears - and wolves and coyotes - Oh My!
    I agree with you on the fresh dry cold, with one caveat - no wind. The Mistral has been blowing here for two days and it's been bitterly cold - peel-the-skin-off-your-face cold.

  2. I am with you when it comes to the colder temps. Rain in winter is a bone-aching mess! I love the horses' points of view. Our fuzzy-furry friends have such unique personalities.

  3. Do you know what I find the most challenging? When it is really cold and snowy, and then the thaw comes so everything is wet and slushy, AND THEN IT GETS SUPER COLD AGAIN and now the snow is covered with hard, knife-like ice, and the trails are too dangerous, and it will be April before the trails are horse-worthy again! The rain! Darn it all!!!!!
    I hope the upcoming week sees Mother Nature behaving for both of us!!!!

  4. Funny dialog with those horses!
    Yup, these are the rough times with weather. We've always got the colder, wetter, grey's why I can disappear...I just die in it.
    Hope you do get more snow....


Thanks for visiting Harley's blog.