By Patty Wilber
Last year we had essentially no snow. It even rained in December.
This year has been much more like the “old days” (20 years ago when we first moved here). Over this past Christmas week we got something like 18 inches of snow and New Year’s Day we got another foot or so.
And it has been cold–below zero at night and teens and 20s and low 30s during the day. Maybe low 40s by Saturday though–we do live in the Southwest after all, not the far North!! And then, sigh, there is a chance of snow Sunday.
So, given that, you might think that the worst thing about winter might be the cold. But no. If I dress right, these temperatures are manageable.
How about trying to plow the arena and the driveway with the front end loader on the tractor–the tractor that really does not want to start in the cold and makes weird choking noises when we start by spraying the starter spray down the air intake? Nope. I actually really enjoy doing tractor work, once I get the poor thing started!
How about dragging a race track ring around the semi-plowed arena to get a little sand up to accelerate the melting of the 18 inches of snow we got piled with, only to have it stay so cold and then cloudy that all that just ices up. This leaves the unplowed deep middle snow as the best spot to ride, if you discount the snow that balls up in the horse’s hooves–only those with shoes (6 out of 9 have shoes). No. That is not the worst.
How about having to put chains on the 4WD to pull the trailer up from the barn to the house in case I need to get out? Nah! Jim had the chains on in a jiff–great muscle memory from 1997 when he put chains on every day (the road was not yet paved) just to get to work.
Plowing? I did a pretty decent job using the float feature of the tractor bucket…only to have it all snowed over the very next day! Nope. That is not the worst thing, especially since the truck and trailer are up at the house now.
Maybe it is having to break ice in the water tanks? That is a bit of a chore, except in the big back tank that has both a heater and a pond pump to move the warmed water around, as well as a wire burrito. *Some* horses (now banned from that pen) take the burrito down to chew holes the air hose or attempt suicide by eating the electric cord. That is not the worst thing.
How about having to change iced-over blankets? They are heavy and awkward and then they hang in the basement over chairs so they can thaw out! I have spares so the two blanketed horses do not have to go without. Also, even though the blankets got icy, the horses were both still dry and warm underneath. The non-blanketed ones got a little icy, too, but consider that if they have a a few icicles and snow on them, it means their body heat is not escaping to melt things. I have not had any horses shivering! Yay!
Blanket management is not the worst part.
How about feeding with winter gloves on? I totally lack dexterity with my warm gloves on and my fingers often feel cold no matter which gloves I wear. But that is not the worst part!
The worst part is that the little fingers of the gloves gradually fill up with hay bits until my pinky won’t fit in there anymore. And the gloves are too thick to turn inside out, so you have to sort of dig out the hand packed (get it?) hay dust with a nail or something, but you can never get it all out. And even worse, if they are your old favorite gloves, the liner is sort of worn so those hay bits GET IN THE LINER and then they are never coming out.
And that is worst thing about winter!
Stay warm everyone!
P.S. I did a lot of tractor work this week and my farrier, Naomi, got in all the way to the barn, and out (more importantly) without trouble. AND I think the arena will be rideable this afternoon–at least the perimeter!