Daily Stuff


I have to laugh whenever someone says that I’m “retired.” First, I’m a little young for that, and second, if you’re on a homestead, you will NEVER retire. NEVER.

On a typical winter’s day, after starting the coffee, I feed the small critters, a dog and two cats. At least one cat inside, but on most mornings, the other one is outside. Speaking of, the dog needs to go outside too for a few minutes!

I try to get the fire in the furnace started before feeding time; it depends on much the constant meowing is annoying me . . . My perfected method of fire starting is (after emptying the ash pan) to throw all the little stuff in, add a big wad of newspaper or whatever I can scrounge from the burnables trash can, put a couple logs on top, and then use 17 matches to get it going.

I exaggerate. I normally only use seven . . .

By now, I’ve started the caffeination process of two cups while I read the news and catch up on email and so forth. The fire needs tending about every 15 minutes and, with any luck, the blower will kick on in about half an hour.

Or so.

Next, I layer up and whistle to the horses; they answer. If the temp is below, say, five degrees, I’ll take the farm truck to the barn. Otherwise, I use the Mule and spend another ten minutes getting it to A) start, and B) actually move. It prefers reverse.

I unlock and open the gate, providing the lock isn’t frozen, and open the barn and turn off the alarm. After doling out everyone’s grain rations in their buckets, I have to wrangle down a bale of hay.

This generally involves reaching and pulling until one works loose, then I jump out of the way in case more than one has chosen to cooperate.

I load up, making sure to have a hammer somewhere close at hand, and mosey on over to the pasture. Chestnut knows her spot, so dropping off her bucket is easy. I move around to the other side, by the gate, and take in Cody’s and Cav’s buckets. Cody still isn’t particularly interested, but Cav lets me hold the bucket while he eats. About halfway through his breakfast, I set it down and try to encourage Cody to eat.

That doesn’t work so well, so I ignore her and go get the hay, spreading it out in three different piles. Next, I have to break the ice on the water trough. The end result is available water, wet gloves, and ice freezing to my glasses.

Once back inside, I have to feed the fire again, and then I have regular household stuff, just like everyone else. Cleaning or dishes or laundry or meal planning and grocery list making. You know. Stuff.

If it’s bitterly cold, I’ll go back out to the pasture around noon with lunchtime hay. If it’s not, I’ll spend an hour or so doing chores out there or working with the horses.

And sometimes, after lunch, I’ll take a nap. Hey, it’s winter, amiright?

But there are also things to tend to in the greenhouse, and garden planning, and projects in the barn. And cooking dinner, and more dishes. And the constant, every hour on the hour, feeding the fire. See, if it goes out, we get cold. And it’s a right bitch to get started again.

By evening, I’m beat. It can be a real struggle to put on and take off six layers of clothing; I get plenty of exercise just doing that . . .

So we watch a lot of movies. Or I do some leather work, which I’m just getting back into, and I may yet give that knitting thing another shot. Or not. We’ll see.

 

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Work Wednesday—Almost Here!


Late yesterday morning, I received pictures of our new horses! In case you haven’t seen them, here they are:

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I spent the rest of that day basically jumping around the house; it’s a good thing almost all my work was done for the day! Well, except for the finishing touches: 003

And of course, the neverending saga of putting additional screws in the fence. Thankfully, the sun finally came out around 2:30. More or less.

My assortment of halters, ropes, and, inexplicably, a book called “The Backyard Cow,” arrived mostly unscathed, and this weekend we’re taking delivery of 50 or so bales of hay.

A lot of work? Yes. Cold? Yes.

But not nearly as cold as the weather in South Dakota, where the horses are coming from . . .

I’ll write more on Friday, but my horses are coming from a rescue that’s under court order to adopt out a certain percentage of the herd. The deadline to apply was November 30, which was about two weeks after I first heard about it.

The remaining horses are going to auction December 19-20, and yes, some will likely be sold to kill buyers. Again, more about this on Friday.

Now, I jumped at the chance to own a couple wild mustangs—come on, who wouldn’t? But I’m also rather practical. Most of the time. Okay, some of the time. But our intentions were always, once we moved out here, to get a couple horses.

I don’t think this is exactly what my husband had in mind . . .

Those of you who came out about a month after we closed on the farm will surely be wondering what the heck is wrong with us—the place was a wreck before you all came out and helped with clean-up. And we’ve done a few things since then.

We’ve been seeding the pasture area, spring and fall, and we’d always planned to put in the fence this year when the weather turned a bit cooler from those nearly-forgotten summer temps. We stepped up the timetable a bit after agreeing to work with a neighbor’s horse, and having her live here for a while during training, but neither he nor we were in a rush.

Then I saw the adoption site.

And here’s the problem—a lot of folks think, “Wow, free horses!” and they’re off and running. Sure, I thought that too, but 1) I have space and 2) I have facilities for horses and 3) I can afford to pay for transport, feed, vet, farrier, etc. And, well, 4) I have experience and quite a collection of tack and tools gathered over the years.

But some of these adopters, gosh, I really wonder if they know what they’re getting into. Some are sending their adoptees to be boarded; some, at least on social media, indicate little knowledge or experience; some can’t afford the hauling fees—how can they afford to board or feed the animals?

I understand that they’re saving the horses from a kill pen, but still . . . On the other hand, those in charge of approving adoptions presumably went over the applications and did give approval. So perhaps all is well.

I only know that were things we had to do before the arrival of our pair, and yes, we’re doing them. Probably will even be finished days before they arrive. Really, we only moved up the date, not the purpose.

In a nutshell, these horses are coming to a home where they’ll have plenty of hay and grain, shelter, vet care, and their very own people—none of which they had in South Dakota.