Work Wednesday—The Mustang Saga


As you already know, a few weeks ago I found out about four herds of wild mustangs that were endangered: starving, neglected, and headed for auction if they weren’t adopted. It was suggested that you adopt at least two, so I applied for a mare and a foal. I was approved, and finally arranged transportation for them.

They arrived last night.

Freezing cold, around 23 degrees, but clear, with a nice full moon. Jerry, of Pegasus Equine, pulled his giant rig through the gates around 10:00 p.m. In order to unload mine, he first had to bring down two others.

And one, I swear, was The Black Stallion. You know, of Walter Farley fame? My absolute dream horse, and I finally, finally got to see him! Okay, sure, I know it wasn’t him, but still . . . he had a high old time, calling to the neighbors’ mares across the road; and they were sure answering him!

Then, at last, my two came off the trailer. I am pleased to introduce Catnip’s Christmas Cody and her colt, Catnip’s Comanche Cavalry:

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They ambled through the pasture, grazing a bit, and I gave them hay and water. Chestnut, our visiting horse, paced back and forth along the cross-fence, probably all night.

I finally went to bed around midnight, but still couldn’t sleep—I see a nap coming on this afternoon, if I can tear myself away from the windows!

This morning, still 23 degrees, I put out more hay and refilled their water bucket and gave Chestnut her grain and hay. Broke the ice on the water trough too, naturally. After the requisite thawing and a little more coffee, I went back outside.

Both Cody and Cav watched me as I went into their pasture; earlier, they’d approached within 10-12 feet—of course, I was carrying an armload of hay. Chestnut was looking over the fence, but no longer pacing, so I fed her a carrot and opened the gate. She ambled on through, glanced at the others, and started nibbling on grass.

Cody and Cav stared at that gate for a minute, listening to Chestnut but not looking around at all, then they walked on through to the north pasture. After a minute or so, Chestnut followed them and I walked back over and shut the gate.

They found the hay, then the water trough; Cav seems partial to the mineral block. Chestnut is enamored with Cav—she follows him around, they’ve touched noses a few times, and once, apparently, he gave her a little nip because she quickly put him in his place. Cody looked up at his squeal as if to say, “Knock it off, you two!” and went back to her hay.

They’re moving around as a group now, just a couple hours after being in the same pasture. Cav is having lunch; or maybe it’s his third breakfast . . . and, as you can see, Cody is making herself at home:

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Prep Monday—97


Most people, in mid-December, are counting the days until Christmas. Not me. Only 97 days until SPRING!

I do not like cold weather. Period. You know that meme that says “I’m not going outside until the temperature is above my age? Yep, I could have originated that.

The problem is that once I get cold—to the bone, frozen, chilled—it takes forever to warm up again.

Whiskey helps.

Everyone has heard, of course, how to layer clothing. I start with what used to be called long underwear but is now referred to as “base layers.” Whatever. I do like the silk ones, though, and they aren’t as bulky as the old style. So I start there, and add a thermal shirt, a t-shirt, and a flannel shirt. Plus, when I go outside, I put on my amazing new Carhartt coat and snazzy deerskin (with Thinsulate) gloves.

Oh yeah, and pants. Always pants. Two layers. I’m also partial to wool moisture-wicking socks, thick ones.

My husband brought home some ski gloves for me last week. They’re a bit too big, but very warm; I can’t, however, do any chores that require gripping things, like hay bales or lead ropes. That could make for a sticky situation . . . or not, as the case may be.

And yes, I wear all but the coat and gloves (and earmuffs and scarf) inside too. I really hate to change clothes once I’m dressed.

Chant with me: 97 days! 97 days!

I’ve mentioned that we use wood heat. Mostly. We’re getting the hang of it now—last night it ran until about 2:00 a.m., I think. We also discovered a neat trick:

When the fire is going really well and is very, very hot and the blower still hasn’t kicked on, if you smack it just right, it’ll start up. Who knew?

Point is, this morning it was all the way up to 60 degrees in the bedroom when we got up!

Yes, we use some electric heat, particularly in the morning before the furnace kicks on. And I generally keep a space heater under my desk during the day because, in spite of the open floor plan, there is a large chunk of wall and some 20 feet between me and the vent.

I do, however, sit right next to a bank of windows. Chilly sometimes, but most of them are sheltered by a deep covered deck area, and when the sun is out, it’s quite toasty.

Sun is the thing I really miss during the winter. That weatherman is a liar. Or he’s too dumb to tell the difference between “cloudy” and “sunny.” Jerk.

If the sun is out, I’m good outside down in the 30s; if it’s cloudy, all I want to do is sleep.

Speaking of, on a homestead, you don’t get to do that. Good thing I never did—Dad’s rule was up and dressed and breakfast eaten by 9:00 a.m. And he was being generous. My friends all got to “sleep in” until noon or lie around in bed.

Some of them still do . . .

I don’t get it. On any given morning, we have to start the coffee, build a fire, feed two cats and one small dog who are all dancing under our feet, and then take one outside—where we watch her pick the right spot and it takes FOREVER.

Then our horsey visitor is whinnying for her breakfast.

If you’ve ever wondered how your day will go when SHTF, it will NOT involve staying in bed!

If you have a homestead, you already know all the work that happens on a daily basis. If you plan to move in with someone who has a homestead—and they’re expecting you—rest assured that you’ll be feeding livestock, working in the greenhouse or garden, making repairs, helping out the neighbors, cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood, cooking over a fire, and so forth.

If you’re planning to remain where you are and you’ve stocked up, you’re still going to have keep warm, find or grow food, and do most of the things you do now but without the conveniences currently in place. Try it sometime, say, over a weekend for a day or two. No appliance use, no electronics, no electricity or natural gas. Minimal errands. Make do with what you have on hand. Try it. I dare you.

And if you ARE prepared, eventually those preps are going to run out when it comes down to it. You have to be able to replenish and restock. Evaluate where you are, both physical location and preparedness, and set some goals now, today.

And keep warm. Only 97 days to spring!