The title of this blog probably brings to mind daffodils, green
grass, baby bunnies, and all manner of beautiful spring-like images. Spring is
great, I’m completely in agreement there, especially on the heels of a frigid
February, but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns out here on the farm.
Spring for horses means mud, lots of mud. The paddock beside
us can be dry and pristine and ours is still filled with mud. It’s like we
manufacture the stuff or attract it in some way.
Then there’s the hair thing, the shedding of our winter
coats. You humans just put your heavy coat away in the closet and pull out the
light spring jacket. How great would that be? We shed, for weeks, months even.
And all that loose dead hair gets itchy, so we roll, in the mud. Getting the
I should clarify on one point. Most of us “shed” our coats, a process that starts slowly and picks up momentum as we get deeper into spring. Nevada “ejects” his coat. It’s like he just hits a button on the first really nice day and it starts rolling off in sheets. He leaves these white mats everywhere he rolls and when he gets a grooming it looks like it snowed in that one spot.
So, where was I? Mud—check. Hair—check. Right. We’ve now arrived at the ugliest part of spring … manure. T and Nollind are diligent about cleaning up after us in the summer months so we can live and graze in a nice clean pasture. But, in winter, when the piles of poop freeze to the ground, they just leave it where it lands. The snow covers it every now and then which makes things look clean for a few days, and then more snow covers up the next layer, and so on. When all those layers of snow and ice disappear, we’re left with a lot of … well … shit. If you’re really disgusted by that idea, just keep in mind that it’s only processed grass.
Do you know that the average horse will produce 50 pounds of manure daily? Crazy thing is, we only eat about 25 or 30 pounds of hay each day. Aren’t we remarkable? Anyway, if you take four of us times that 50 pounds and multiply that by the 150 days or so since the last time they were able to clean the paddock, that’s 30,000 pounds of manure we’ve dropped on the ground over the winter, the majority of it in a 100 by 200 foot paddock area.
I think you’re probably getting the idea that early spring is not a pretty time on a horse farm. But it’ll get better. One day, when things are drying out, they’ll show up with the Kubota and its snow blade (aka manure blade), the rakes, the shovels, and move what they can of the winter accumulation. Spring cleaning takes on a whole new meaning when horses are part of the family.
Once the big cleanup is complete, the green grass will find its way to the surface, as will the dandelions, our paddocks and pastures will become the picture of pastoral perfection, and spring will truly have sprung.
I was totally on board with T and Nollind’s staying-home-for-the-winter adventure. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, winter camping, making snow angels, and a healthy dose of cozy, indoor cuddle time all sounded like a good winter to me, but then the weather turned frigid. I enjoy snoozing in my dog bed as much as the next 10-year-old pooch but, two weeks later, cabin fever is setting in.
When I enjoy this weather least is during my first-thing-in-the-morning constitutional, when I’m all warm and sleepy from bed and hit that minus-a-billion air that freezes my nostrils shut and makes me wonder how long I can hold it if I turn around and run back inside. The cats used to have an indoor bathroom but the peeps have never installed one for me. Pretty sure I’d figure out how to use it when the weather is cold like this.
So, I’ve been dreaming … about the desert, about long walks on bare earth, about lying in the Arizona sun, about Sid time. I didn’t think I’d miss it so much but I’ve realized that being outdoors is crucial to my feeling-goodness and there’s not nearly the outdoor time here in winter that we have when we’re snowbirding.
That old expression, “There’s no bad weather just inappropriate clothing” has some truth to it, but the theory doesn’t really work for a dog who dislikes wearing clothing. My replacement would be something like, “There’s no bad weather just inappropriate planning.” In other words, there’s no winter weather two or three days of driving can’t fix.
In case you’ve never been to Arizona in winter, and are wondering what I’m talking about, here is a little side-by-side photo comparison…
Below left: Feb 2018 = Sleeping just outside the door, luxuriating in the sun. Below right: Feb 2019 = Sleeping just inside the door, sulking because it’s cold.
Below left: Feb 2018 = Where are we going today?! Below right: Feb 2019 = Can I just stay in bed?
Below left: Feb 2018 = A hug because she loves me. Below right: Feb 2019 = A hug because I was shivering and lifting my paws.
Below left: Feb 2018 = Appropriate clothing and looking happy. Below right: Feb 2019 = Appropriate clothing and … well … apparently, clothing isn’t everything.
I’m going to hang onto this last pair of pics and start posting them around the house in the fall, just in case they get any crazy ideas about not going to the desert next winter!