Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jackson Enjoys the Snow

Tuesday morning dawned very cold but beautiful.  There was an inch or so of snow remaining on the ground and a lot of ice.  I grabbed my camera  and headed down to the barn with Brett to do chores.

This is what the daffodils looked like just a few days ago:

We got a half inch of rain in addition to the snow, so the arena will be sloppy.  The weather is staying cold through the end of the week so it won't be usable for awhile.

The sun was just coming up over the ridge and the horses and donkeys were all feeling good in the cold, fresh morning air.

Even Jackson was poking his head out of his stall in a happy, interested way.  I hadn't seen his eyes this bright in weeks.  I let him out to walk around while I mucked.  He immediately went down to say hello to Kalvin and then rolled in the mud.  He was looking good, walking normal -- I think the cold must have felt good on his feet.

...and then he happily went back into his stall for breakfast. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snowy Day

Yesterday when I was driving to work, I heard on the news that our "chance of snow" had changed to "blizzard watch."  Yipes.  Brett was still at his daughter's and the Subaru, which has all wheel drive, was at the airport.  I was driving my fun, but not snow worthy, car.  I had a few meetings in the morning and then I packed up some work and headed back home.  I was able to get home and stock the hay cart, muck and add more straw to Jackson's stall before the snow started at 2:30. 

It was wet, thick snow that melted as soon as it landed. 

Brett was due to land at 4:45 and the airport is an hour or two (depending on traffic) away.  He would be driving home during rush hour, in the rain (which Californians do not know how to navigate well) so I knew it would be close to 7:00 before he was home.  I prayed the snow continued to be light and not stick.  I was afraid they would close the Ortega Highway which is the road up to the top of our mountain. 

Brett called at 5:00 and said he was on the ground waiting for the remote parking lot shuttle.  I headed down to the barn to do the evening chores.  The snow was still thick and wet, melting into my jacket and gloves.  The dogs weren't thrilled with accompanying me to the barn.  The goats hadn't left their shed all afternoon and the chickens were all inside their hen house, dry and warm.

Back up at the house, I put the dinner rolls in the oven and started making soup.  Brett got home safely just before 7:00. 

Herbed Monkey Bread (its in your book, Lori)

Potato leek soup with collard greens and bacon

The wet snow continued through the evening, changing to hail periodically.  I had both wood stoves roaring (one at each end of the house: in the great room and in our bedroom) so we were toasty inside the house.  Brett was back home and the animals were all tucked in for the night. 

It was a good day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Earning Her Keep

Friday while I was hanging out in the orchard, Passage jumped out of the boulders and ran past me.

I went closer to see what she had caught.  Gopher.

These pesky rodents eat the roots of young trees and anything else they can get to.  Passage is worth her weight in gold.  She not only keeps the rodent population down in the barn, she hunts gophers in the orchard.

And then she relaxes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Don't Wanna Wear A Blanket

You know how little kids insist they don't need a jacket on cold days?  Well, Winston pulled the same stunt.  He'd been very good about sticking his head through his blanket neck and standing still while I buckled him up.  Last week he changed his mind and started evading the blanket.  The first night, I stood in the middle of his hay and wouldn't let him eat until he had it on.  The next night he was a pill for Brett.  The third night he snaked his head away from me every time I reached up to put it on. 

Last Thursday and Friday were warm days with highs close to 70F.  Thursday night didn't get overly cold -- the low was around 48F.  So, Friday night when Winston said "No ma'am; no blanket for me" I said, "Fine" and put the blanket away.  He's clipped so I knew he'd get a bit cold but I also figured he wasn't going to be unbearably uncomfortable with temps in the mid 40s. 

Friday morning when I checked the temperature on my way to the barn, it said 39F.

Winston was racing around the pasture like a madman.  True confessions:  I laughed.  Poor cold baby.  I did feel kinda bad but mostly I thought "See?  You did need a blanket." 

Last night when I went out to the pasture with his blanket, he stuck his head right on through.  Good thing, there is a storm coming in and the forecast says we will get more snow. 

It did get quite cold last night - below freezing - but Winston was nice and warm.  The roof of the house (which is black) was covered in frost.

Later this morning, I went on a ride around the ranch with one of my neighbors.  She has a very calm bombproof horse so he was great for Winston's first venture out and about.  When Brett and I took the horses out a few weeks ago, we made a beeline for the trail so his bridle trail experience was limited.  Today, he spent 40 minutes wandering up and down the roads with horses racing in their pastures, cars passing us, and dogs barking behind fences.  He was amped at first but settled and I was able to keep him on a long rein the whole time.  When we got back, he didn't want to come in the gate  -- he wanted to keep going.  And my horse who was losing interest in working?  He was happy to see me, happy to leave the pasture, happy to be tacked up and happy to be out  in the big world.  Yes!

Happy to see me. 

"My name's Winston and I can do anything!"

Sunday Stills: Trees





Sycamore Resident

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feeling Philosophical

Thank you to everyone for the wonderfully supportive comments.  I'm feeling stronger today -- less shell shocked.  Which is not to say that I couldn't fall right back to into the pit of despair in a heartbeat.

Linda commented that a door has shut and that struck me as so accurate.  Isn't that what life is like?  Doors closing, doors opening, windows letting in light or banging in the wind...

I'm focused on giving Jackson the best possible life, for however long that ends up being.  I'm not sure that he will come out of the next acute flare up of his laminitis.  So, I could confine him to his stall limiting the weight he puts on his feet and I could just feed him grass hay.  I could force him to be quiet and he might last longer. 

But, really, is that a life?

I don't think so.  Jackson deserves to live whatever life he has left to the fullest.  His remaining time should be full of what brings him happiness; not what gives him the most time (which is a selfish motive focused on me, not him).  Life in a stall is not a life.  At least, it isn't for Jackson.  He will out of necessity still spend most of his time there, because his feet get sore so quickly, but he will get out every day.  That's my promise to Jackson. 

In the mornings he will get one carrot and a small handful of sweet feed with his vitamins.

He is social, so he will go out in the pastures in the morning while I muck.  He can stand in the sun and visit with Kalvin while Flash and Winston are in the barn eating their morning supplements.  And as often as is possible, he will eat his breakfast with the herd.

His days of doing this may be over...

But, his days are not over.
As long as his eyes sparkle with welcome when he sees me, 
as long as he nuzzles me for attention, 
and as long as he wants to live,
he will.