The Cold That Snapped

Why do they call it a cold snap? It’s very misleading. Firstly, a snap sounds quick, like it’ll be over in a split second, not days or weeks. It should be called a cold long and onerous. Secondly, a snap implies inconsequential, no biggee, not weather that can freeze your parts or even kill you. Dramatic maybe, but true. When it’s -30 and the wind comes up, shit be freezing. It’s why we horses who live in this climate need to have shelter from the wind. We’re very resilient when it comes to weather but, left exposed in extreme conditions, horses have lost ears (and ended up looking like the two cranky mares in the photo below 😂).

Tempers can get a little short when the weather is cold.

It got cold last weekend. We felt the change coming, and had it confirmed when T put Nevada’s blanket on him while he was getting his afternoon feed. I was hoping she’d stop there, because it would mean it was going to be cold but not holy-crap cold. At twenty-nine, he’s not as muscled or fleshy as he used to be and he chills more easily than the rest of us. Judy came for a visit and Gidget’s blanket went on. But she’s in her twenties too, so, still no need to panic.

Judy and Gidget dressed for the weather.

Then it was Rosa’s turn. Oh-oh. There was going to be wind chill. But I hadn’t lost hope. Although Rosa’s pretty tough for a girl, she doesn’t grow a lot of hair for a Canadian-born horse, and she appreciates the extra insulation when the wind comes up.

When I saw my blanket come out of the barn, I knew we were in for a doozy. Thing is, at this time of year, when I have my full winter hair coat, I really don’t need clothing for any weather. As long as I can get out of the wind, I’m good. If it snows on me, I just have more insulation that I can remove with a roll if I choose. I have rolled so many times this week but this stupid blanket will just not come off.

Coated up and ready.

The rolling itself hasn’t removed the blanket but I think my rolling around like I’m on fire has convinced T that I don’t need extra clothing in the depths of winter. At least I hope it has. If only I could talk! No, thank you, I appreciate the thought, but I really hate wearing those things. If it comes down to it, I’d rather be cold. And I won’t be. I’m part Yeti.

The barn cats don’t need coats, they have “Meowi.”

She never used to put blankets on any of us unless there was a spring or fall storm, when we’d already shed some of our winter hair or not grown it yet. That out-of-season weather is the toughest, and when even I appreciate a little extra protection. Last year I got a new blanket and when winter weather arrived in October, before I had my full winter coat, I was happy to wear it. Itchy but happy. Things changed when Nevada got old and T started to blanket him more often. I think she felt bad leaving Rosa and I undressed in cold weather while our blankets hung in the barn.

She means well and always puts us first, in any weather.

I guess I’m just a natural kind of guy, a bit like Chico who also hates man-made clothing. He took a branch to the face yesterday while vigorously attempting to remove his coat in a lilac shrub, a branch that drew blood. Gotta give the guy credit for clear communication. I’m guessing he’ll be coat-free (and probably shivering) this afternoon when I see him.

Chico and his dreaded jacket.

Even if my please-don’t-blanket-me message has gotten through to T, she won’t remove it until things warm up a little. The blanket has flattened my coat to a point that it won’t keep me warm until it has some time to refluff. Our winter coats work a little like a down jacket, the insulation is in the warm air that gets trapped inside. So, I’ll suck it up for a few more days, try to appreciate the thought behind it, and pray for warm, coat-removing weather soon. And she did pull it off and give me a full body scratch yesterday that helped.

Feeling happier after my full-body scratch and a chance to clean up Nevada’s leftovers.

On the glass-half-full side, the best way for us to stay warm in this weather is to be given unlimited access to forage, and we’ve been scarfing down a round bale since last Saturday afternoon. I’m ashamed to say it but we’re a messy bunch of eaters. If you went to a restaurant and there was a guy sitting in the middle of the buffet table with his shoes on, stuffing food in his mouth and tossing to the floor all but the best, he’d be expressing his inner horse. T comes every afternoon and tidies up, trying to preserve some of the hay we toss aside that we’ll settle for when the bale is gone.

The pile on the left is our bale four days later.

The forecast says blanket-free weather by Sunday or Monday. Hooves crossed.

Twas the Season!

Initially, I was disappointed we wouldn’t be spending Christmas in the desert—lying in the sun, walks on bare earth, decorations hung in a Palo Verde tree—but, you know, being home was a darn fine way to spend the season. The warmth we didn’t have in the weather was made up for by the people we shared time with through the holidays. So, thanks to all of you for making it special.

The non-white, very warm Christmas I was dreaming of.

Things kicked off a few days before Christmas with a trip across the road to visit our very good neighbours, Kerry and Debbie and their two dogs, Coco (an old girlfriend of Logan’s who you might remember from some of his blog posts) and Suki. Oddly, it was pouring rain outside, but inside was cozy and festive. A good time was had by all, human and animal, which begs the question, why don’t we get together more often? (I’ll leave that with the humans to sort out.)

Christmas Day we travelled to Calgary for brunch at my friend Ria’s place (formerly known as the home of G and S). There were pancakes, sausages, and frittata for the humans (which they shared with us) and juicy raw bones for the canines (which we didn’t share with them). I know, not really in keeping with the spirit of giving, but they were very full from their brunch, complaining about overeating, so we didn’t want to add to their discomfort. Thoughtful, right?

Ria and I awaiting the feast.

After brunch, there was a grand long walk up on Nose Hill in north Calgary. It’s a crazy-big park and we wandered for two and half hours in the warm, Christmas Day sunshine. For a winter day in Alberta, it really couldn’t have been any better. I was tired when we reached the car, but even four-year-old Ria was dragging her fluffy butt by the end of that excursion.

Nose Hill walk under Alberta-blue skies.

Boxing Day we were off to Judy’s house. You remember Judy? She’s the one who owns Gidget, the little blonde horse who lives with T and Nollind’s herd of three and, more importantly, always brings me treats. In fact, she gave me this great biscuit for Christmas and, coincidentally, it arrived on the day of my Christmas bath!

Spaw day … funny, right?

This was my first time at Judy’s house but it will hopefully not be my last. This woman knows how to put out a spread. There was so much food with not nearly enough people to eat it all so, guess what, I got turkey, a whole plateful (and a bowl of cat food but I don’t think that was intended). I’m normally a very relaxed house guest but with all of the food sitting out, the bags of Christmas goodies at nose height, and the smell of the resident cat that I never could find, I was a bit of a restless wreck and exhausted (but happy) by the time we got home.

A walk near Judy’s house before our visit.

A few days after Christmas, we were back to Calgary for a dog walk in Bowmont Park with our friend Darren and his dog, Roxie. Roxie hasn’t been real healthy these past few months, in fact they weren’t sure she’d make it to Christmas, but you wouldn’t have known it on that outing. She kept up no problem, only needing one rest stop in the snow. Keep on keeping on, Roxie!

A walk with Roxie and her peep at Bowmont Park.

After the walk, we were off to Nollind’s mom’s house for dinner … and a surprise. A Christmas gift from my grandpa. I don’t know how he managed it, but there it was, a bag just for me, filled with some of my favourite treats. I miss Grandpa Dave, and will think about him every time I eat one of those bacon-flavoured heart biscuits or demolish a plaque buster. Grandma L was quite surprised at how quickly I was able to make a dental chew disappear. She wondered how it could possibly clean my teeth when it barely touches them. A fair question.

Our social life took a breather while T and Nollind finished the renovations on a rental property. Apparently, it was the house they used to live in, back before my time, before Logan’s time. It’s a nice place with a big back yard, but I feel pretty lucky to have come along after they moved to the farm. There’s nothing quite like being a country dog.

All tuckered out after the final day of renovations.

The first week in January, we were off to see more friends, this time on a pretty acreage in the foothills southwest of Calgary. These were friends from the sailing club who invited other friends from the sailing club and, much to my surprise, one of them is a fan of my blog. It is always so exciting to meet someone who reads our stories. Hi Linda! Thanks so much for reading!

And here it is January 10th and the holiday season is behind us. It’s been a blast but, now that it’s over, I am ready to hit the road to Arizona. Problem is, I don’t see any signs of packing. I wonder if it would help if I started dropping hints, like dragging my bed to the porch, putting a few of my toys in a bag, sitting out by the trailer, that sort of thing. I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes. And, if you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I thought the impending deep freeze here in Alberta would press them into action but, so far, nothing.

Seriously? Have you seen the forecast? Stop goofing around and hitch up the rig!

If you’re here on the prairies too, bundle up and stay warm! If you’re somewhere south of this Arctic air mass, maybe send my people a photo of you wearing flip-flops, anything to push them in the direction of hitching up and heading out!

Happy New Year!

2020 has been very full so far but I wanted to drop in this first Fur-iday of the new year to wish you good health and piles of happiness as we set out into this new decade.

My year launched with a dog and pony day! T took Storm for the first ride of the 20s and I did my trail dog and grooming support thing. I think I love horse time as much as she does.

The past two days I’ve been part of the rental renovation team in Calgary. Mostly I supervise, take them for a walk when they need a break, and provide moral support. I really should have one of those support dog vests.

We finished early today, and I hear there may be some off-leash time after lunch. Lunch. Mmm… I wonder what we’re having. Whatever it is, I’ll be close to the action. With all this reno stuff in the truck, I’m in the front seat!

Anyway, gotta go. Storm or I will be back next week with a newsier post.

I’ll leave you with a piece of canine wisdom for 2020: live life like somebody left the gate open!

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