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 picture?
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.