Friday, February 17, 2017

Ahh...winter vacation!

Most people's idea of a winter vacation is to pack up a suitcase with shorts, t-shirts, a bathing suit and suntan lotion, hop on a plane and head south. Our winter vacation is simply a time to relax and relieve the stress of barn chores, battling snow, and getting to work on time. With the pressure off, we can leisurely wile away the hours cleaning stalls, digging out and scrubbing the water tub, and maybe, get in a little riding or cross-country skiing.

After a multitude of snow storms, the sun broke through, melting some snow and offering an absolutely lovely day. The snow remains knee deep in most places, so delivering the hay required snowshoes as well as my trusty plastic sled. I decided to send the sled down without me on board. That way it wouldn't take a nosedive into the deep snow. The horses trammeled out a chute of sorts for it to rocket down--which, as always, erupted a ruckus. "The hay sled is here! The hay sled is here!" Everyone investigated and began snatching at the hay bales, jostling for feeding space. I waved them back, swinging baling twine in the air. It's not a job for a neophyte--keeping oneself safe as they close in like sharks, pinning ears and chasing each other away. I've even considered wearing my hard hat when they're being especially rowdy!

The pecking order worked itself out: Vance, head honcho, sampled each pile before settling on one. Rolex hassled Harley and Ruffy, trying to share their piles. Ruffy, having none of that, sent her packing. She nosed her own pile for a bit before sidling up to Harley and taking snatches from is pile. Harley tolerated her nose in his feed bucket earlier and agreed to share his hay as well.  They have a unique partnership.

Ruffy, Harley, & Rolex enjoying winter.
Rolex and Ruffy seemed particularly interested in the cedar tree. They have stripped the bark on some of the lower branches. All that nice hay, and they'd rather chew cedar! Late winter always brings on the need to chew on something besides hay. They will be happy when the clover and grass come back!

Rolex trying to upend the sled.
To survive on a New England farm, there are a number of tools required. A working tractor with a bucket would be ideal, but alas, I'm without at present. My little 4WD Tacoma gets me to the barn, and my snow scooper allows me to dig my way into the driveway when necessary. It is also key to getting the path cleared out to the manure pile. And, of course, my invincible plastic sled not only delivers hay, but gives me a hoot when I go barreling down the hill, especially when there's an unbreakable icy crust. But two items from my old backcountry winter adventure gear have been lifesavers: my ancient (25+ years old) Sherpa snowshoes and my Voile avalanche shovel. That shovel travels with me all winter until the last storm has melted away.

Today I used all those tools...and it's only Vacation Day 1.

And, it's our girl, Ruffy's 10th birthday! Welcome to the double digits, girl!

Rolex & Ruffy