BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE!
Winter arrived in the Pacific Northwest last week with a flurry of snowfall, and shows no sign of leaving for the foreseeable future. Rain–—our most constant companion in these here parts—erased the white landscape a day or two later, but the temperature has remained unseasonably low. Predictions call for chilly nights that dip into the low ‘20s.
Many readers probably consider this kind of weather positively balmy. Not so to us Northwesterners, and I’ll stipulate that I’m one of the biggest wimps. Whenever I venture outside, I’m draped in a full-length down coat and bomber cap (quite the fashion statement) and STILL am chilled to the bone when I reenter our farmhouse. Fortunately, my very considerate husband considers his primary job now to stoke our woodstoves so I truly should not complain…but I do.
All of us who have horses in our stables knew this day would come. Last summer, I cautioned our new animal caretaker, Anji, that she was now experiencing the glory months, when all she had to do was groom, feed, apply a modicum of fly spray, and send our equines out into their still grassy pastures. Now, the process of making sure the horses are fed, warm, happy and healthy has taken on a whole new dimension.
Unlike my amateur sleuth, Annie Carson, I firmly believe in blanketing. Fortunately, I have a heated cabin where wet and soggy blankets can dry overnight. We have four horses who came in four different sizes, all of whom have an assortment of fleeces, stable sheets, turnout sheets, and heavier blankets. It looks a bit like a tack store right now. A used tack store, anyway.
Jolie and Cinder, the mares, are generally pretty dainty about where they roll and where they stand in sleety rain. Eddie and Lefty, our new rescue geldings, are boys through and through. I’ve purchased the toughest blankets I can, but they still manage to do bring them back as filthy as possible. The good news is that are perfectly dry and clean underneath, so grooming is still a pleasure. The manes and tails do take a bit of work.
Even considering the low temperatures, I’ll take snow any day over rain. It’s clean, it’s crisp, the dampness that rain seeps into your bones is gone, and the horses love cavorting in the stuff. What I never seem to reconcile myself to is the increasing darkness. The night disappears only shortly before 8 am these days, and the entire farm is clothed in darkness by 4:30. If we had any doubt about revising our feed times, the horses are happy to remind us. Except for Lefty, our young squirt who probably would stay out all night, the rest of the herd politely enters the paddocks by 3:30, hinting that they would not be disappointed to see food in their mangers.
We’re rapidly approaching the winter solstice, and for me, it won’t come a moment too soon. I depend on those few extra moments of daylight each day. It gives you hope, knowing that another glorious spring and summer will, in fact, appear.
In the meantime, I wish you all of a happy holiday season. And if any of you happen to be in your stables at midnight on Christmas Eve, and hear your horses speak in anything other than equine, please let me know!