Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Sub-Zero Routine

with 2 comments

As we stepped out of the barn last night, after our late bed-check of the horses, Cyndie commented about how much she likes that we have been sharing this night trip to the barn. I do, too. Every chore is better when you can split the load.

The past week has produced an uninterrupted string of below-zero temperatures overnight and the forecast indicates this will continue for some time. The cold gets compounded by some very windy periods which have created dangerous wind chills. To be safe, it has become routine to bring the horses inside the barn overnight.

We let them out during the day so they can soak up the sunshine and move around to their hearts content. This also gives me space and time to clean the stalls. At sunset, they come up for their dinner feeding, which is when I have been moving them back inside.

DSCN2683eSomewhere around 9 p.m., Cyndie or I take Delilah out for her last walk of the night. Lately, we have both been going, because we also make a special stop at the barn. The horses stay warm by burning calories and need to have enough hay to keep their furnaces fueled, so during this extreme weather we have added a night-time status check.

It feels like such an intrusion to disrupt their quiet dark space at that hour, so I suggested we use our headlamps and leave the overhead lights off for this late-hour visit, to minimize the disturbance. The horses appear to accept this gesture and remain calm and quiet while we go about our business.

Making everything routine helps them to feel comfortable with our presence. With hushed tones we navigate topping off the hay reserves in each stall, each of us grabbing a couple of flakes off a bale and visiting two of the stalls.

Then we turn our attention to their water buckets, adding water as needed and straining out hay debris that they all spill in there. Cayenne is the worst, as she loves to dip her nose in her water when her mouth is full. Her bucket and hay bin become a frozen hay-cicle. Legacy is the neat-nick who barely drops a few stray strands of hay in his.

As quiet as possible, Cyndie slides the stall doors open and steps in to strain out the soggy hay while I fill a spare bucket with water from the frost-proof hydrant. We do a little hand-off of strainer and bucket through the door and she pours it in.

In a way, it is a lot of rigmarole but the horses understand the drill and tolerate us quietly. We tip our headlamps down to keep them out of the horses eyes, so it becomes this tiny circle of light we move around within, amid the larger space of darkness and sleepy equine souls.

In minutes, we leave as quietly as we came. Stepping back out into the frigid night air, we realize that as cold as it is in the barn, it does protect them from the extreme bite that these winter evenings have been dishing out this week. Our new routine is helping all of us cope as well as possible during these sub-zero nights.

My experience dictates that when this pattern finally breaks, the next phase of winter will feel remarkably warm and comfortable to us. We’ll adjust our routine to one that is much more relaxed. The horses will stay outside at night again, and I won’t have to clean their stalls every day. Until that time, we’ll keep making our special night-time excursions to tuck the horses in for the night.

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Written by johnwhays

January 10, 2015 at 8:50 am

2 Responses

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  1. I love the image of you two quietly orbing around in the dark with those majestic creatures. What a great night time task once you get past having to leave your warm house !

    Jane

    January 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

    • I’m so glad you wrote to express that. That image is very much what I was hoping to convey. You are so right about the perception of getting past needing to leave what we were doing in our warm house. It’s a hurdle that takes effort to act on, but the reward is oh so great once we get there!
      Thank you for writing!

      johnwhays

      January 11, 2015 at 10:47 am


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