Sunday, December 07, 2008

First snowfall of the season


The last two days have been in the teens with a brisk wind that takes the temps to zero or dipping just below. We have two mares out of the herd of 10 that we feed and overnight in the barn – Windy and Bentley. The others are winter hearty with heavy, dense coats. They flourish on large, round hay bales and warmed water available to them 24/7 in the pasture. Windy and Bentley are low in the herd’s pecking order and get chased off the food, and have lost weight because of this.

Bentley, a 20+ year old Thoroughbred and former racehorse, has a terrible wind sucking (or cribbing) habit she picked up during her racing career. This habit is born when a high-energy animal athlete spends too many hours standing in a stall without other distractions. Bentley locks her mouth to an edge – usually a stall door or board – arches her neck to get a flexed stretch and then sucks in air. It is an odd sight and a habit that is almost impossible to break. The air fills her gut and leaves less room for food – she feels full, and she is, but with air versus nutritious food. To compensate, we feed her a high calorie feed designed for a senior (elderly) horse, in high volume, top dressed with corn oil as an easily digested fat, and now we are seeing the scales tip in a heavier more healthy direction.

Both Bentley and Windy are mellow, although Windy, being Arabian, is on the high strung end of the mellow continuum. In the late afternoon, she will pace the pasture gate, as if she has a watch wrapped to a front fetlock. Having been a racehorse, Bentley is accustomed to a lot of handling and not much rattles her. My coming late for chores or being slow with the feed ration sets her impatiently pawing the ground, but that’s about it. The other morning I discovered that our six geese cuddle together with Bentley in her stall at night. The geese have the run of the barn, yet they choose to feather in with the 17 hand tall Thoroughbred – who lies down to sleep in her 12 x 12 foot box stall! Would I love to get a picture of that nestling, but once the barn door opens in the wee hours the geese are up, wings and bills flapping ready to go out and Bentley finds her way deftly to all fours, leaning into her morning stretch – and if I’m too slow she begins pawing the stall floor.

As I mentioned, it’s been cold the past few days, so I elected to keep Windy and Bentley in all day rather than turning them out after breakfast. Regardless that my motive was to do something nice for them, this was not Windy’s idea of a fun time. She has a Plexiglas window in her stall – one where she can see the outside horses and visit (95% of horse communication is nonverbal) – which I found open to the air because she had kicked the heavy duty Plexiglas out of its frame, allowing Windy to put her head out or for the herd to visit (one head at a time) inside. No horses were injured, but now Windy has no view to the outside because her window is boarded up. Silly mare! The lesson I’m taking away is that she would rather be outside during the day, regardless of the weather. And, after all, she is dressed for it.

The post office is busy and I am working some days coming up to Christmas – I’m scheduled to deliver mail on the 17th and 27th, which should be fun.

This weekend, Ian’s installing a propane stove in the basement to help with heating the farmhouse. Our wood pellet stove does a good job in our living area and with the propane stove warming the basement; the entire house will be that much warmer. We bought this stove from a woman I work with at the post office, after I mentioned we were shopping for just the right thing - affordably priced - to heat the basement. Coincidentally, Julie was selling exactly what we wanted.

Today, the big flakes started to fall and it's accumulating. I'd say we have two inches on the ground now with more in the forecast. No green anything, other than pine trees, from now til April or May.

E-I-E-I-O

1 comment:

Simon said...

Hi Janet

Good to hear you are getting ready for the snow!... brr. Only a light sprinkling here so far, it doesn't stay long. Alan is
back from Borneo, after a month in the
jungle, helping look after orphaned Orangutans. We are both heading to Waterside for to spend the festive season with Mum and Ken, should be fun. Take it easy, Simon