Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's the last week of the year...

I'm still not sure what happened to 2009...

All at the farm was peaceful when I was finally able to get there on Sunday.

Saturday the roads were still completely blown shut . Sunday was better, although the country roads had not been plowed (at least by the county) yet. My first attempt was a failure that almost had me - with the BIG truck - stuck in the middle of the road. The snow had blown a solid three feet deep for about a half mile stretch, and I couldn't tell how deep it actually was until I hit it.

Check it out - there's still dirt down there!

Luckily, four wheel drive and the fact that I hadn't gotten too far in saved me. I backed up until I finally reached a driveway and was able to turn around.

I'd no sooner gotten home than J called and said the roads to the south were open. A neighbor had plowed his way out, and G had their drive cleared enough to be passable.

He was still clearing paths out to the cow bales with the tractor when I got there, so I manned gates for a bit, and then grabbed a shovel and made sure the grain bin would open and the gates would close.

The horses can usually go through that passageway out to pasture - not at the moment. The drift is too deep.

They didn't seem to mind, though.

Monday we actually had sunshine. M & T walked along the drive treebelt with the .22 looking for rabbits (no luck) while I spread hay. The horses had the winter zoomies and raced around being silly for a bit.

Watching the hunters

What are they up to?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Driveway update

Whew! The driveway is now clear, at least behind the Blazer. The plows did a number on the driveway, but after some more shoveling, and thanks in part to a kind neighbor and his snowblower, I can get out if I need to. (And thanks to him, the drive wasn't blocked with a lot more snow. He was outside when the plows went by and he knows the guy driving the final snowplow - there were three of them lined up one behind the other - thanks to D, the driver didn't make the last swath across our two drives, just the first two, which was MORE than plenty - LOL.)

I had about half the distance shoveled when D finished his driveway and came over to give me a hand. We didn't clear behind the red truck, but I should have help with that tomorrow, so it shouldn't be too bad.

Blazer clear, after I'd shoveled out a walking strip to the garbage cans I tackled the icy pile covering the front walk and managed to get a path chopped through it. Ugh. Hopefully it will stay clear, but my guess is the plows'll be back to "clean up" the intersections and it'll be packed back full of ice & crap in the morning.

Snow yesterday, snow today...

Not a wordless Wednesday, but maybe a speechless Saturday? Nah.

I haven't been able to get out of the driveway since Thursday afternoon, but the report from the farm is that the horses are weathering the storm just fine.

I've been occupying myself cleaning, cooking, reading, and putting up with velcro-cats (they seem to have decided that since I'm here, I must be sat upon by one of them at all times).

A few storm pics:
This was the view down the back steps yesterday
I'd shoveled the whole walk clear the evening before.

The steps this morning.

The drift behind the cars was as high
as the top of the tailgate on the red truck.

But the UPS guy's footprints from last Wednesday
are still perfectly visible on
the one strip of pavement the wind kept clear.

The house sits on a corner - in front of us is one of the city's emergency routes, which means it's been plowed constantly. They just now finally got around to plowing the north-south street that the driveway opens onto, however.

Which means that they've left a car-width deep, waist-high ridge of frozen snow chunks for me to remove before I can get the Blazer out onto the street. And they also just plowed a huge mound onto the sidewalk at the corner. Said sidewalk was previously cleared. And as the homeowners we can be fined by the city for not providing a walkable sidewalk. Grrrr! This is just one of the reasons I HATE living in town.

T and the kids are on their way back from Kansas where they've been sitting through their portion of the blizzard. They were supposed to be back Christmas eve, but best laid plans... I suspect they'll end up staying south of the SD border tonight, as the roads are still reportedly impassable. But hopefully they'll be here in the morning, we'll get to have Christmas, and the cats can attach themselves to someone else - LOL!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To friends and family,
pets, of course - and strangers, too.
To all God's creatures great and small:

Hope you're somewhere warm and safe
out of the wind and weather,

to you all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Almost-Christmas Reminiscence

Jennifer over at Braymere Custom Saddler (she does really neat custom model tack - check it out, if you have a moment!) posted last week about a pony ride - complete with pictures of fuzzy adorable ponies. Scrolling down the page sent me on a trip down memory lane.

When I was oh, eight or ten maybe (?) my dad and I were visiting my grandmother in Iowa for a week or so around the 4th of July. The town where she lived was having its version of Frontier Days - a Rendezvous had taken over the downtown square and surrounding streets.
For those of you not familiar with Rendezvous, they're sort of combination street fairs/flea market with people dressed in period clothing doing traditional tasks like weaving, carding, blacksmithing, etc., and selling their wares.

I was fascinated by the knife and ax throwing competitions, but what really had me loitering longingly was the pony ride. We'd been in town for a week, and while I had cousins around, I missed my pony. I was too big to ride these particular ponies - they were more of the Shetland variety - but still, they were cute, fuzzy, had that pony smell... The ride wasn't too busy, and the man working the ride let me rub their foreheads and scritch along their necks while they stood there waiting for paying customers. They wuffled my shirt, and I remember wishing I'd brought an apple or something along.

After my dad and grandmother had looked around enough, we all walked back to my grandmother's house a few blocks from from Main Street. But I couldn't stop thinking about those ponies. I was too big to ride them, and I didn't have any money anyway, but surely no one would mind if I walked back and just petted the ponies some more. I was old enough to walk to the grocery store alone, and the ponies weren't much farther than that. More importantly, no one had said I couldn't go back by myself...
I don't remember consciously thinking that it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, but it wouldn't surprise me if the thought crossed my mind.

After a quick check to make sure my dad and Gramma were still occupied inside, I slipped off the porch and down the street back to the pony ride.

When I got there the man was just rotating out the ponies for a new set, so without thinking twice I started helping. Oddly (in hindsight) he didn't say a word as I adjusted halters and loosened cinches on the group finishing their shift and brushed out manes and tales. I don't know how long it was before my dad appeared to retrieve me. I do remember that I was standing with my nose pressed into pony mane, rubbing the little bay's withers.

My dad apologized for me being a bother, and the man just shrugged.

"She was no trouble. Seemed to know not to get under their feet."

You know, I didn't even get in trouble. It was like my dad knew that those ponies were an irresistible magnet as far as I was concerned. Or maybe he was just so relieved that I hadn't been snatched off the street - although people didn't worry too much about that in those days... and besides, my folks always said any kidnappers that grabbed me would return me quick enough. In any case, he just told me to stay in the yard if I was going to be outside, and that was the end of it.

The pony ride wasn't there the next day, to my great disappointment.

Winter Wonderland

The good news this morning (for this area, at least) was that the storm track shifted further east, and we're no longer in the 2' range. Maybe a foot, although the 40 mph winds are still on the slate. Today was still windy, but was only gusting to around 35 mph.

Coupled with the four inches or so of light fluffy snow it did make clearing the walks sort of pointless. Good exercise, but still pointless. And of course when I got home the plows had been through and I got to re-shovel that, as well... Hey, that means I can eat more cookies! Knew there had to be a silver lining in there somewhere-LOL!

I headed out around noon after getting the driveway and sidewalk (temporarily) cleared. We had a brief break in the storm and the wind actually died down for a bit. Taking a rest to switch directions, but the respite was welcome.

The trees were coated with snow on one side - the other side of the tree belt was completely blown clean. But except for a few snow creepers started, the roads were pretty decent, and I only needed to kick in the 4-wheel for a few of the streets in town.

The horses had cleaned up the extra hay I distributed yesterday, and were enjoying afternoon naps. They had icicles dripping from their manes, tails, even their eyelashes.

And a couple of them had some seriously nasty wind tangles. Too much ice in the mix to get them cleaned up today, though.

More hay and some scritches, and I headed off to pick up some last minute stocking stuffers for the kids. Crossing my fingers I can make it out tomorrow!

Merry Christmas Eve to you all,
four-foots included, of course!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I want for Christmas?

Well, it sure wasn't a blizzard!

It doesn't look like much here, and I made it home this afternoon without too much trouble in spite of the freezing drizzle, but the rest of the family is stuck in Kansas until the weather clears up. I was crossing my fingers all the way home that the farm owners would decide to postpone their travel plans, as we were to be feeding everything this weekend. Thankfully, they did.

Since the current prediction is between 18" and 2' - yes, that's two FEET - of snow by Saturday a.m. (along with winds to 40 mph, it should be just fun, fun, fun!), I was contemplating just staying out there rather than trying to navigate the drifts between here and there. Glad to know they'll be home and I don't have to worry about sheep stuck in snow banks!

A momentary pause here to be extremely grateful
the horses' waterer is available and working!

Not too sure what tomorrow is going to bring drivability-wise, I filled hay bunks and rolled in a couple additional ones and filled them, too, as well as making sure that the bale feeder itself was full. If I can make it out tomorrow morning I'll make the rounds and restock the low ones. Otherwise they'll have to make do with feeding from the bale.

Then was down to shmooze a bit with the four feets. The wind this afternoon was out of the northeast - not a direction we ordinarily see. And it was blowing along a lovely ice mist that stopped just shy of being drizzle. Tucked away out of the wind behind the north tree grove the horses were remarkably dry and seemed toasty warm in their winter coats. And they were quite prepared to socialize. After hanging out for a while making the rounds rubbing bellies and wishing them Merry Christmas, they trailed me back up and dug in to their hay.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Waterer is open for business!

Thanks everyone for your kind words & thoughts regarding our watering situation. Believe it or not, five days later the vet had still not reappeared to fix/drag 0ff/collect his chute. Giant black mark, in my book! Granted, he's not a horse vet, but still - Hello! you'd think he'd have a little consideration for the rest of the four-footed world, wouldn't you?

I was really stressing over what to do about the water situation, as I'm back up here and T was heading down south for a few days, and I've heard "well, they can eat snow" from the farm owners on occasion before. Thankfully, G was on board with "the horses need water" line of thinking. T headed out early this a.m. and with the (newly returned - HOORAY) big tractor, he and G dragged the chute out of the way.

Whew! That also means bales can be moved and I can panic over something else (like the fact that T's ex is visiting over Christmas....). Ah well. At least that's just a people thing and doesn't involve possible colic and death! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When life is exciting...

I usually wish it wasn't. Boring is good! November was nice. Than it got cold. Initially, that wasn't so bad. The ponies ate hay and put up with my silliness.

But the sub-zero temps have been hard on equipment. Two tractors and the skid loader at the farm cocked their toes up. The tractors went down first - the skid loader, after a week or better of tugging round bales about, started spewing hydrolic fluid and died. They came yesterday to winch it onto a trailer and haul it off to be fixed.

T, bless his heart, has been feeding the horses the part of the week that I'm in Aberdeen, so he was the one who got to load the back of the pick-up with hay down at the bales and haul it to the horses.

As if the tractors weren't bad enough (and it wasn't just the horses needing hay - there's also the 200+ sheep & the cows, so little wonder the skid loader quit), the vet was out to castrate calves on Thursday. Working calves involves closing the horses out of the upper lot. Usually not an issue, as it doesn't take more than a few hours.

Unfortunately, the cold weather wasn't done claiming victims, and the hydrolics on the chute went. And unless we're working on the second three, that was unlucky event #4! Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.

But the chute, sans lifting power and sans tractors evidently couldn't be moved, either. The good news? The sheep & cattle can all still get to the waterer which is behind the chute. The bad news? Yep, you guessed it. The horses can't.

That little blue bit back there? That's the waterer.

And that's where the chute's parked. Smack in the way.

So we're doing the bucket routine - hopefully - temporarily. Which of course meant we first had to find the big buckets, and one of them had to be patched. This was the quick fix. It's amazing what you can do with electrical tape. As T said, it's not quite duct tape & baling wire, but it's up there.

But the horses are happy & healthy, and that's the important thing, after all.