Friday, March 27, 2015

Halawa Moon hits his teen years

Harley turned thirteen on Monday. Yes, the Jockey Club said he was thirteen as of January 1, but I always hold off until his actual birth date so I have a reason to give him extra carrots and apples.

Our farrier came on Saturday, and my almost-teen acted like a three year old. I thought I'd take some of the energy out of him by taking him for a walk/jog down the the road before Butch arrived. I think I only managed to get him keyed up. First, he wouldn't go down the road and stopped every five steps. With a lot of urging, I was able to get him down to the Orris Falls trail head. The minute we turned back for home, Mr. Prancypants danced his way home like he'd just heard the bugle playing "Call to the Post".

Butch attempted to trim his feet, but Harley was being such a bad boy, John saddled him up and took him for a ride while I held the saintly Ruffy.

By the time they came back, Harley had broken a good sweat. I think John rode the "prancypants" out of him. He still wasn't on his best behavior, but he was much better than before John rode him. Butch is the most patient farrier I've ever known, and we (the horses and us) are lucky to have him.

So while we wait for spring to finally come, and the snowbanks to melt, we'll begin the maple syrup season. We boiled down our first batch a few days ago--dark amber, almost Grade B, but how yummy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring fever

Just when I thought winter's back was broken, Sunday's rain turned to a steady snow all afternoon. By 3:30, the wind picked up and I figured it was time to go check on the ponies and see if they were ready to come in out of the weather. I fluffed up stalls, filled buckets, and stuffed haynets, while keeping an eye out for Ruffy.  She's usually the first one to arrive by the gate, telling me she's hungry and wants to come inside. And where there's one, three others quickly follow. Everyone was wet, but not soaked and cold. The shelter and hay seemed to have kept them comfortable. Their thick winter coats have served the horses well, this winter, and the extra oils in their feed has helped.

But today....the sun sparked on the snow, the mercury climbed up to the forties, and the horses were taking snow baths while I skied around the pasture.  You can still see a smidgen of snow on Ruffy's rump. Everyone took a turn, wallowing in the wet snow. I think they were feeling warm! I stripped down to just my turtleneck and vest in the blazing sun!

Then the horses got curious and had to come investigate me and my skis. Ruffy sniffed my poles...

Rolex nibbled on my ski tips, while Harley observed...

And then Harley took a turn sniffing my poles...

And when I started pulling mints out of my pockets--I was surrounded! And the begging began.
"Please, mom, just one more?"

Then I zipped away on my skis. The horses didn't venture too far; the snow is still a foot deep in most of the pasture. But I did see another sign of spring. The springtails (aka snow fleas) have arrived! Tiny little black critters, hopping about in the snow, eating microscopic bits of matter, telling me spring is here...even though we're supposed to get snow again tomorrow.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The back side of last!

Winter's back is finally broken...we hope. Temperatures soared into the 40's on Monday; a promise that spring was truly coming. As snow dripped off the eaves, it even sounded like spring. We tapped the trees, the sweetest joy of spring dripping into the buckets.

But without the proper rise and fall of temperature, the sap won't flow. Thursday morning brought more snow in a short-lived blast; enough to cover the roads. Just another "ha-ha!" from Mother Nature.

With the snowbanks still a few feet high, the woods remain inaccessible by horse. And there's still a good 12 to 18 inches of snow in the pastures which keeps our horses hemmed in to their small patch of tramped out space. I attempted to pick the manure out, but I needed the sled to haul it away while post-holing up to my knees! I'll be happy to see the back side of winter this year.

I think the wildlife will be happy when winter ends as well. A bald eagle soared over my truck and landed in a pine near the Great Works River this past week. Out for an early morning hunt, only to find the river frozen? Maybe the bird was hunting the recently awakened chipmunks that I've seen scurrying over the snow. Last week, driving to the barn, John and I saw a herd of deer moving up the powerline and into the woods. John caught the last two curious stragglers with the camera.

And across the road, the horses watched the deer herd with pricked ears.

The cleared roads and drive have given John an opportunity to work with Ruffy and her driving. She did well, considering the lack of work she's had all winter. She got a little sideways and stiff, ready to go like the ex-racehorse she is, but I was impressed by how well she did.

We traveled up to Buxton for another load of hay last Friday. With winter hanging on, green grass seems a long ways away. As the snow slowly recedes, we New England horse folks will be snatching up whatever hay is available. It will be tricky to get the grass to come in and not get torn up by hooves during mud season. I suspect we'll have to sacrifice one pasture to save another.

Rain finally came this afternoon, but we're supposed to get another 1 to 2 inches of snow tomorrow...ooh boy...