Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A blizzard, a chimney fire, then spring sneaks around the corner.

Winter arrived with arctic cold that held New England and most of the eastern United States in a frigid grip. A blizzard roared in, dumping snow and leaving thigh-high drifts at the top of the pasture. We had to dig our way in through the gate to turn out the horses. Our poor farrier, St. Butch, gamely trimmed the horses under mind (and finger) numbing conditions. The saddle remained idle, and out came the cross-country skis. Orris Falls was a dream of dry snow and fast trails!


We only blanket our horses when truly necessary, but when the mercury reached no higher than zero and the relentless wind blew, we decided to utilize the extra insulation so our horses need not expend calories trying to stay warm. Blankets plus unlimited hay made for happy horses.

Early on a Sunday, towards the end of our arctic freeze,  I heard the wood stove roaring, looked out the window and saw smoke pouring from the chimney. John called 911, calmly stating, "It appears we have a chimney fire." The South Berwick Fire Department showed up with two trucks, and all the extras. Bundled in my Carhartt overalls and down parka, I watched as they knocked it down and "condemned" my wood stove from further use until I had it inspected and cleaned. Long story short, and nearly $2000 later, I re-lined the chimney, just in time for the impending heat wave. But we know Mother Nature isn't finished with winter yet!

Snow on Saturday covered the frozen mud, laying a fluffy carpet over the ugly brown. The horses enjoyed snow baths and hay, but soon decided to paw for the grass hiding underneath. This winter seems to be exiting quietly; just small snow storms followed by rain. But I wouldn't be surprised if a late blizzard catches some people off guard. The around-town-crampons and shovel remain in my truck until winter truly recedes.

John and I took a break from barn chores to sit on the hay sled down in the pasture, and watched the horses enjoy the bright warm sun and breakfast.

Grain seems to be a second choice for food in the morning, surpassed by grass and morning frolics. By late morning, thirst will send them up the hill for water which is when they will finally eat their breakfast meal. Once the sun disappears, the lights come on in the barn, and I whistle into the darkness, thundering hooves and shadows appear at the gate, ready for dinner.

Rolex & Vance check out the hay sled

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