Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting Along With a Dilemma

It's been a month since we put our elderly Belgian Draft Horse, Bear down.  When Bear left us we moved Gus into the pasture with Bob our Quarter Horse and Poco our Appaloosa.

Initially things were a bit rocky as the dynamics of reforming the "herd" took place.  Poco and Gus have shared a pasture before and get along well.  They greeted each other happily but Bob immediately stepped up and pushed Poco away from Gus.

Yep, there was a new Boss in town.

Gus is as gentle and kind as he is big.  He's willing to let Bob, ironically the smallest of all three horses, think he's the boss although Gus could easily change this if he wanted to with one push of his massive frame.

Feeding time has required us to drop hay out in the pasture for Gus while Bob and Poco share the feeder in the loafing shed.  Initially Bob would immediately come over and push Gus off of his hay.  But Gus being the resourceful guy he is, would merely go to the feeder that Bob had just vacated and pick up where he left off with his meal.  All the while Poco paid no mind of who was standing next to him.  Eventually Bob realized that there was nothing special about Gus's hay and now leaves him alone.

As the last month has progressed things have settled down pretty nicely. Everybody is getting enough food and nobody has gotten hurt.  All three horses now graze and nap together.

They even share the loafing shed in rain storms.

So although things are getting along fine I'm concerned about the upcoming months.  Winter is coming and it brings the strong cold winds out of Canada.  This pasture and its larger loafing shed (where we feed and water out of our outbuilding instead of the barn), are in direct line of these winds which peaked at  +100 mph last winter.

At the end of October we have always moved our horses to the back pastures where we feed and water under the lights of our barn.  The loafing sheds are smaller, fitting two horses well but a bit tight for three, especially for a horse of Gus's size.  These sheds are insulated and provide protection from the winter wind and elements. 

There is nothing as comforting as hearing a storm rage outside at night and knowing your horses are dry and safe.  This set up worked great when we had two horses at home and boarded the third.  But this year we have three horses at home. 

I'm concerned that someone is going to be left outside in our winter weather.  In addition, I don't want to drop hay outside for the "left out" horse and have it fly away, get soaked (or both).  I want everybody eating in the safety of a dry loafing shed and to have the option of seeking its shelter.

Could be that someone has to live alone but I hate that thought as much as someone standing forlornly outside in the middle of a storm.  This is my current dilemma of which I've found no solution.  Ugh!  I don't have many days left to figure it out!  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Going It Alone

My husband has encouraged me to go there alone.

I was hesitant.  I hadn't spent a night there for over 15 months, so swept up in riding I guess. 

But the horses could have come.

And we could have ridden from our front door all the way across the United States.

A call from my childhood best friend who also has a cabin changed everything.  "Come up and let's hang out," she said.  "No excuses!  Let's get together before the snow falls."  I agreed, still unsure about going it alone.

So I brought Hank The Dog.

And Tuna The Mighty Hunter. 

When I opened the door it was as if time had stood still.

It was as if I'd just left.

Nothing had changed.

Just like a Mom, the little cabin welcomed me with open arms.  I could hear it telling me how it had missed me as much as I realized I'd missed it.  And just like a Mom, I could hear it asking me in a stern voice, "Where have you been?"

My friend was not here.  She was delayed.  I found myself the only one here.  I would be going it alone for a few days.  So Hank and I took walks (lots of walks).

To the "store" where the millworkers used to get their supplies.

Past the trains that used to haul the logs from the mill to the nearby train tracks.

To the schoolhouse that was used for the millworker's children.

Into the millpond that used to be filled with water and full of logs when I was a child. 

With every step I found myself getting in touch with my own center core and re-evaluating who I was.  It was good.  It was cleansing. 

Soon others arrived, including my friend.  It felt odd to be back around people after the silence I'd become comfortable with.  Time passed and soon it was time to return home. 

As I packed I set my first goal for 2012.  Next spring after the snows are gone, I will be back - with Hank, Tuna and the horses.  And we'll go it alone.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blessed Days

They arrive in the fall.  The temperatures have cooled down and the winds that will rob us of power have yet to arrive.  They are the icing on the cake, the cream on the top, the best days of the year for riding.

My riding pal Haley and I came up with the name Blessed Days (or BDs) when I used to board with her.  We had frozen in the winters, been soaked in the springs and sweated (and swatted bugs) in the summer.  But each year when fall arrived we discovered the perfect riding weather. 

I still haul in to ride with Haley whenever I get a chance.  Last Wednesday when I awoke to find a sunny, crisp fall day, I called to tell her what she already knew - it was a BD.  Didn't take us long to put our day's priorities down and arrange to meet for a ride.

On this particular BD, Haley and I rode indoors because the outdoor arena was muddy (from the prior non-BD).  As usual we worked our horses in silence and then rode side by side to discuss whatever came into our minds.  We always have the most unusual and hilarious conversations.

To cool our horses off, we took them for a walk around the property, still jabbering about this and that, laughing all the way.

BD's are full of deep blue sky.  Haley and her horse Harley D in the background.

I can hear them, "Sigh.  Do we really have to do this?"

I can't believe I've had Bob for four months.  We have really bonded and I'm grateful to have found him - he is a gem.

Haley and Harley D.  Harley used to be a circus horse.  He can do all sorts of cool tricks.

Blessed Days don't last very long so it's important to stop and enjoy them when they come along.  They give us something to remember for the rest of the year.