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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Prep Monday—Critters


It’s important to prep for everyone, animals included. Our outdoor/indoor cat, Arthur, has a nice, cozy, straw-filled house on the front porch with an old towel and an old thermal curtain. She does, however, come inside at night when the temps are below freezing. She’s also very fluffy.

Doesn’t need coaxing anymore, either.

Our indoor/outdoor cat, Wilson, is in his element out here. Can’t hardly keep him in, which I prefer to do between sunset and sunrise, at least. He’s a Maine Coon and twenty pounds of muscle (and fluff), so he pretty much calls the shots.

And while the almost-four-year-old puppy loves to go outside, particularly for walkies, she’s pretty picky about going outside to do her business. Weather doesn’t seem to faze her, especially since she’ll just jump in a lap or snuggle in a blankie—or bury herself under the bed pillows—to warm up.

For myself, if the wind isn’t too bad and the sun is out, or mostly out, or even a tiny bit out, I can manage. Particularly since I just got a new Carhartt coat. Holy cow, how did I manage without it? That plus gloves and earmuffs, and I’m set. For windy days, or too much time on the ATV, I have a ski mask.

Also, the greatest socks in the world . . .

The big thing you have to remember is to stay hydrated and warm up every now and then. Even if you’re not sweating, you still need fluids, and while warm drinks are great, be sure to keep up your water intake.

Right now, we’re prepping for our new horses, arriving within the week. I think. I hope. Not entirely sure yet . . .

We’re building a run-in shed, 10X16, with metal siding and roof and of course, a wooden kick panel on the inside. Contrary to the common wisdom of facing south, ours faces east. We seldom get weather from that direction, and our prevailing winds come from the south/southwest. Picked up a couple bales of straw for the flooring, and we’re about ready.

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Our weekly town trip included a stop at our local MFA for feed buckets, a mineral block, and a few vet supplies. Might not need those last, but these mustangs are coming from a range in South Dakota under very harsh conditions, and eventually, at the very least, these things are good to have on hand if you have any livestock at all. Cuts and scrapes from fencing, sticks, fighting, and the odd incident—I once had a horse with a pretty deep “butt cut.” Yes, right THERE. Not even sure how that one happened, but it was a good thing Bingo was a very steady mare, because dressing that thing would have made any other horse completely psycho.

And yes, just like for people, water is important. We have inside and outside water for the aforementioned small critters, and a nice, deep tank for the horses. It’s unlikely to completely freeze, but no, we don’t use a heater—we do it the old-fashioned way, with a hammer and a few whacks!

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