Seasonal Challenges

Thursday, October 16, 2019

I’m feeling the weather change, sensing it in every pore. It mutes nature’s colors and blows winds against me, here in this dry lot, from shifting directions. I see occasional stronger gusts making clusters of bare dirt rise and circle to resemble little tornado-like swirling dervishes. Here inside the horses’ loafing shed I’m nailing chicken wire over bare wood that’s been embattled by restless horses. I’m trying to chew-proof the shed’s structural elements. The unremorseful culprits banished so I can work unbothered, stand beside a gate waiting patiently with heads lowered and rears toward the most aggressive winds. Now, the dirt shows the tiny plugs from early rain drops and I turn to the ladder to finish quickly.

I climb with tools–hammer, pliers, a metal cutter–two steps up (my feel-safe limit), but this puts me at a height to reach, grab, and heft chicken wire to unroll from it’s heavy body on the floor. My hands brace the wire at a ceiling support, while I manage to position a nail and fender washer before grabbing a hammer and starting to pound. Here’s a confession: I hammer like a girl, pounding ten times to drive a nail, whereas a guy can finish in three swings. Anyway, after securing my nail and fender washer combo, I move the ladder to the next overhead support, and so on until most of the exposed wood is wire-covered.

All the while, I must wrestle with anger about chewing damage and acknowledge self-guilt for not exercising the horses adequately. This season of cooler weather has brought chilly days that sometimes are downright cold. It’s not conducive to riding against wind in an open vehicle pulled by a horse. This has meant minimal exercise for the well-fed and ready-to-go horses, now chewing wood to relieve energy. Next week, I’ll have their shoes pulled for the winter, and today will start adjusting their feeds to accommodate less activity.

In several weeks when the grasses freeze and stop growing, the horses and I will take daily walks down the road to a neighbor’s large dormant pasture. There they may graze and wander freely. They will enjoy moving around on pasture and less will need more exercise.

At this point, I stop and start loading tools, leftover wire, and ladder into the Gater’s bed, and at the sound of its motor the horses look over and watch me drive out of their dry lot. In a few moments, I open the gate and they filter into the larger area and move toward their windproof shelter now papered with chicken wire. What’s been instructional to me is that this shelter has stood for years housing horses and never before showed teeth damage.

Such problems of horse ownership go beyond horses. While choosing to live with animals is fun, it’s also work. Simply, the critters doing what they do without malice causes destruction in various ways. Some problems that begin tiny easily are ignored, but if left untouched may become too-big challenges that consume precious time, energy, and money.

Dear Friends: Daily, more learning from a semi-rural-life with animals. Diana

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