Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Traitor Within

So my little trip to the ortho Doc this morning turned into another dive down the rabbit hole.  For some reason, I was surprised.  You'd think I'd learn! 

Turns out my knees are in good shape, better than they were 10 years ago, and the orthopedic specialist cannot help me.  Sounds like good news right?  Um yeah, not so much.  I struggle with several autoimmune disorders including celiac disease.  In spite of an obsessive adherence to a no gluten diet, my traitorous body is still trying to destroy itself and my bones appear to be the latest battle ground. 

Next stop on this little adventure will be a rheumatologist to see if they can pinpoint the latest inner traitor and find a treatment that I am not allergic to.  Good luck with that one.

Pardon me for a bit now while I go find a corner to set all of this aside, out of my way.  I have more important things to do after all, I need to go walk my dog and hug a donkey.

Cold Comfort

I think last night may have been the coldest yet, way below zero and a vicious little wind.  I woke to frozen pipes again along with a crushing migraine.  Not a good combination.  I took the night off from work to deal with all of it and keep the fire burning hot.  The water is finally working again and the migraine has had it's wicked way.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.

I go in the morning to see the orthopedist about my failing joints.

My mind is overfull of thoughts and ideas that I want to write, but I struggle to find the energy to bring them into cohesion.  They remain scattered fragments like ice crystals blowing in the wind, whole novels worth if I could ever pin them down.  In brief moments of calm they form shimmering mirages, only to shatter with the faintest breeze and the latest crises.

This cold is wearing.  Everything is harder and takes longer, it is exhausting.  I have been trying not to whine about it too much, but I can't wait for this weekend when the weather forecasters claim it will be 30 degrees.  It will feel like the tropics.

There has been a lot of sunlight the last few days, but it too is harsh.  A cold, unforgiving brilliance that blinds the eye and gives no warmth.  Its faint promise is found only in its increasing length.

I would like to say that Spring will be here soon, but February is usually our worst month.  Considering what this winter has been like so far, that is a daunting thought.

The light does grow longer though.  I will try to hold to that.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where's the snooze button?

I'm get'n up Ma, really i's so cold...just give me a few more minutes...

The Vocabulary of Cold

Squeak, squeeeeaak, squeeeeeeeak, scrunch, squeak:  the teeth grinding noise of frozen snow grinding under each foot step.

Crack/splash/crunch/damm-that's-cold!/splash:  breaking the ice that has formed in the water trough in spite of it's built-in heating element.

pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease....: said in a fervent, prayerful undertone with held breath and eyes squeezed shut every time one approaches the water hydrant in the barn.  Oh please, pleasepleasepleasepleasepleeeeeeeeeease....

Oh, THANK YOU GOD!!!:  On a gust of relieved breath when the water actually flows.

whooooooooooossshhhh:  the tiny, but vital sound of water draining back out of the hydrant which gives one hope that it may actually work the next day.

clunk/clank/clunkclunkclunkclunk....clunk, clunk: The sound of frozen solid donkey poop rattling into the muck bucket like a bunch of golf balls crashing into a plastic barrel .

"Oh, Sh**!!!" : heard when one steps on a frozen solid "golf ball" lurking under the bedding just waiting to twist the ankles of the hapless human foolish enough to think she did a good enough cleaning job.

Arrrghh/ooooof/!#$#@$:  slipping on the ice and falling on one's a**.  Definitely NOT as cute as the penguins.

munchmunchmunchsnortwhufflemunchmunch: The sound that makes it feel like it all might be worth it.

rararararaaarsputterr c'mom,c'mon,start will ya,you can do it roaororoarvrooom, vroom, vroom: I guess I might make it to work tonight after all.  Sure hope the car starts on the way home so we can do all of this again tomorrow.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Stills - F

This week's challenge is the letter F.  We are still sunk deep into the super deep-freeze.

The light has been interesting, but VERY cold.

It is tiresome.

So, the rest of these are from the archives.  From warmer days.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Better Than Wide Screen

In lieu of TV in the barn, we opted for the better choice...a little walk in the woods and some super yummy birch bark....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter Doldrums

I wonder why Ma is always playing with this thing when she could be playing with me?  I just don't see the appeal.

Maybe if i steal her gloves again, she'll have to get with the program and give me a good scratch to warm her hands up. 

"Ya know Ma, we're getting awfully bored doing nothing but stand around growing our unibrows back in. "

"We've nearly finished with that job too, see....."

"That frozen sun is so bright, i gotta wear shades..."

"With nothing but freezing, freezing cold for as long as the eye can see...."

"We'd really like to know what you're going to do to provide some entertainment around here?  Staring at the walls is getting awfully dull.  Speaking of walls...there's lots of room on this one for a wide screen.  Really Ma, if your not gonna warm things up, it's the least you could do don't'cha think?"

"Hmmm, not a bad idea kid.  A nice full hay net and a good movie...get on that would ya Ma?"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Deep Freeze

Headed back into the deep freeze tonight after a high temp of 2 degrees today. It's been a long winter already and I don't think we'll be seeing moving water again for a while.  Pardon me while I go hide under the covers.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I've had some questions about blanketing from several readers and my blogging friend over at Mulewings also asked me to weigh in on this debate.  She had a very interesting post on the subject a couple of days ago that raised some interesting points, I may share some thoughts on that later as well.  So, for Janet, Cynthia, Val and others who have asked about blanketing, here are my thoughts on the subject.

First and foremost, blankets are a risk to a horse or donkey's safety.  Anything that can constrain, restrict or entangle is a danger. No matter how well made, well designed or well fitted, blankets are a risk.  With that in mind, always think hard about your reasons for blanketing before doing so.  All the shiny catalogs and slick advertisements would have you believe that any responsible, caring owner would blanket every horse.  NOT TRUE.  A healthy, well-fed horse who is well acclimated to it's environment will be better off without blanketing.

That said, there are times when blankets are necessary.  Older horses, horses in poor health, thin horses or horses that have been relocated to a colder climate form a warmer one may all need blankets.  Donkeys pose a separate issue depending on the environment they are living in.  They can handle cold temperatures, but from what I have observed, it takes them much longer to grow enough coat to deal with exteme cold.  They are very adaptable, but seem to take much longer than horses to do so, which leaves them vulnerable.  Baby donkeys are especially susceptible to cold.  Do not be fooled by the the fluff they have, especially if you live in an area like this one where it can be 60 degrees one day and 10 the next.

Last year, Emma and Ramsey finally got their full winter coats in February or March, just about the time the horses started shedding theirs.  This year they seem to be doing the same.  Winter came early and hard this year as well and they were both cold, which is why they are both wearing clothes.  Also, donkeys are not equipped to deal with wet weather.  While they have thick coats, they lack the water shedding ability of horses and become saturated easily, they need protection from wet.  Their longer, coarser coats do not protect from wind as well as a horse's short, dense coat either. 

The decision to blanket should be based on the individual animal's needs, not a blanket generality (no pun intended:).  If your critters can do without a blanket they will be better off.  They will be safe, have healthier skin and be more comfortable. 

The decision to blanket should never be made lightly.  It is a significant commitment in time, energy and money.  You will likely need more than one (of varying weights) for each animal.  Blankets have to fit properly, be kept clean and checked daily.  Good grooming and hygiene are imperative to prevent skin irritation.

The question I get most often is, "how do I know if I need to blanket?".  My answer, "ask your horse or donkey".  I know this may seem flippant, but it is not.  Think about why you want to blanket and take a close look at your horse.  What does his coat look like?  Do you know what a healthy winter coat really looks like?  Does he shiver?  Does he have adequate shelter and food?  Is he maintaining weight?  Is it hard for him to maintain weight?  Is the horse body clipped?   Is your goal just to keep him clean for riding or does the critter need heavy, warm blankets?

A healthy winter coat is short, sleek and shiny and can poof up or slick down quickly and easily, which is how equines regulate their temperature.  A lot of very long scruffy hair is often mistaken as a good thing, but it is actually a sign that the horse has been unable to grow a good coat and is compensating by growing extra guard hair.  All that long scruff hides the fact that they lack the dense undercoat which provides true warmth.  In horses, this is usually a nutrtional problem, but can also be a sign of an underlying health problem.   Donkeys naturally have longer, coarser coats. 

The other question I get most is, "how do I know when to blanket?"  This is the one that is really hard to answer because there are so many variables.  You really have to know your animals and pay close attention to the weather.  The main thing to keep in mind is that if you have chosen to blanket, you have to keep up with it, it is an all or nothing proposition.  If you have made it this far without blankets and your animal is doing well, then leave well enough alone.  If you have an older horse who starts losing condition, a donkey who is struggling to keep warm or has to deal with a lot of wet weather, a highly stressed animal or one who is being ridden a lot, then a blanket may help.  Be very careful about it though, especially this late in the season because you absolutely do NOT want a horse to be sweating under a blanket.  That is a very dangerous and unhealthy situation.

Your horse or donkey should feel toasty warm under a blanket, not hot and not cold.  It is up to you to check frequently and adjust accordingly.  Blankets take away the animal's innate ability to regulate their own temperature and put the responsibility for that on your shoulders.  Be obsessive about weather watching.  Take them off at every opportunity.  Keep them and the animal clean.  Check them often.

And if you also happen to have an aging Border Collie who can't stand to be left out of anything, but who also becomes very lame if he gets cold, suck it up and make sure he stays warm as well.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quite a list!

I knew all my blogging pals would come through, that is quite an impressive reading list you have provided.  Thanks, everyone, for all the great book suggestions.  Some of them, I've read, but most of them I haven't.  I'm going to make a list and head to the library as soon as possible!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Read any good books lately?

I love books, always have.  I also love audiobooks and I'm lucky enough to be able to download lots of them for free from the library.  I listen to them when I'm driving and working....I go through lots of audiobooks.  Trouble is, it seems to be harder and harder to find a good book.  Got any suggestions?  

I am not terribly fussy, I am open to just about any genre except true crime and really graphic horror stuff.  Those things usually make me feel like I need to run my brain through a dishwasher.  Other than that, I just like a good story with good characters.   Whether it be a murder mystery, fiction, science fiction.....whatever, I don't care what category it falls into as long as it's a good story.  Why is that so hard to find these days, is it just me?  What are you folks reading?  Really, I want to know, I'm getting desperate!

January Thaw

This week has been all about ice, ice and more ice.  Most of the pasture is clear now so my little herd has taken to tiptoeing out to it and disappearing over the knoll.  The rest of the world is all about ice, which is beautiful, treacherous and doesn't leave much time for blog writing.

Watch your step.