Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Are You New Here?

Horse chore time around the farm is a daily event,  and most of the time it is an uneventful routine, as it should be.  However, like kiddos are often known to do, critters just want to test you.  It reminds me of just one more drink or one more story before bedtime. But with the four-legged variety, there is snorting, blowing, refusal to go into stalls, and running around like crazies.  (For all my friends with little ones, this may not be so different at all.)

Tonight was one of those times.  Our horses know the routine.  We head out to the barn.  Everyone goes in their stalls.  Food is distributed.  Love and neck rubs are given.  Stalls are scooped.  This is not a new event, but tonight you would have thought I was asking them to barrel race at the rodeo.

For starters, Sweet Suzy Q took off running, which only caused everyone to take off into the pasture as well.  Again like the kids, one can sure wind up the bunch.  Once we settled and determined that a lion wasn’t chasing anyone, we slowly worked our way back to stalls.  But still no luck.  Tactic number two – a bribe.  Off to grab the food and see if I could coax them into place.  The thing with a thousand-pound animal is that you just can’t drag them by the arm and stuff them back under the covers.

Success!  Food worked and Suzy and Ranger were tucked neatly in their stalls munching away.  Now for Smokey, my resident jumpy pants.  The little jaunt into the pasture (thank you Suzy) had him on edge.  Snorting and blowing he followed me into his stall. Ears perked at every noise.  Gates swinging, doors opening.  It was like he was new here.  He settled into the goofy pace of eating and going to the end of his stall to check on things and then back to the food.  Whatever works for the big fellow, the bottom line was that he was in.

And finally there is River.  You would think the horse had never seen a stall in his life.  And to make matters more amusing, the donkeys kept right on my tail as I tried to talk and coax River into his stall.  You see the donkeys are last to eat, and they know it.  So the longer River fiddled around the longer they had to wait.  Patience is not something donkeys are experts at (please hold your shock).

Here I am in the pasture, talking to a thousand-pound horse, coaxing him with food all while Sweetie Pie is glued to my backside.  If you were there, you would have heard me yell at the donkeys, “Listen Thing 1 and Thing 2, back off for a minute.  Will ya?”  Yes, you have to talk to the animals to make it through these obstacles.  Finally after sniffing, timid steps, and great leaps of courage, River made it into his stall.  A collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout the farm.  Funny how the sound of horses chomping hay can be music to your ears.

Farm chores are routine and often sort of relaxing as it’s a time to just unplug.  But on those crazy nights when it seems they’ve all lost their collective minds, I find myself looking horses straight in the eyes and asking, “Are you new here?”

River happily munching his dinner in his stall - but not after acting like a crazy beforehand.
River happily munching his dinner in his stall – but not after acting like a crazy beforehand.
Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

Upwind vs. Downwind – It Really Matters

Admittedly, I didn’t grow up in the country, so it’s fair to say that I’ve had a learning curve.  In fact, I’m still learning every day.  But if there is one thing that I’ve learned for sure, it is this —  it is incredibly important to know the difference between upwind and downwind.

When I lived in the suburbs, I never gave too much thought about upwind and downwind.  But now that I’m a country gal and have regular large animal chores, such as mucking out stalls (for my city friends – that’s a nice way of saying scooping horse poop), I’ve learned to pay attention.

Picture it (totally borrowing a line from Sofia Petrillo here) …  It’s a hot, windy summer day.  Dirt is in the air.  Birds are chirping.  Oh, and another fun and pertinent farm fact, the hotter and drier it is, the faster the poo dries out and breaks apart.  Fascinating, right?  Anywho, I’m wearing my pink rubber boots and scooping stalls.  However, I make one fatal flaw when I start.  You guessed it.  Not paying attention to upwind and downwind.

I place my scooping wheelbarrow in front of me.  I get a good big scoop full on my muck rake and go to put it in the bucket, when a Texas-size wind kicks up and blows a big old gust.  My muck rake is poised over the bucket to unload the cargo, but I’m not fast enough.  It’s too late.  The wind covers me in poop particles and dust before I can dump it.  There I stand, muck rake in hand covered in dusty poop particles.  What’s a farmgirl to do? Laugh, simply laugh (with your mouth closed of course)!

It’s safe to say that I fully understand upwind and downwind now, which comes in handy in all sorts of ways in the country.  Skunk smell?  Best to be upwind.  Cows in the pasture?  Best to be upwind.  The bottom line, when in doubt, choose upwind.  You’ll be sure to stay clean, but I’ll warn you, it might not be as much fun.

A windy day.  Great for taking horse picture with flowing manes,  not so much for scooping.
A windy day. Great for taking horse pictures with flowing manes, not so much for scooping.