Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter feeding

It’s a heat wave! We’ve had temperatures back to above zero and I am happy. It’s pretty sad when you think 18 is warm. Last weekend we had a high of -14 with wind chill making it -25, so you can see why I am happy to have it up to 18. I often giggle when I see people complain that its 32 degrees and they think it’s cold. When it hits 32 here you see people wearing shorts…no joke!

What sucks when it’s really cold is that I don’t want to be at the barn. I do chores 2-3 times a week so I need to be there but I think if I didn’t have to be there I wouldn’t be there. How horrible am I? But it is cold out there! Here is how my barn nights go. When I get to the barn I first have to have a 5 minute pep talk to myself that the sooner I get out of my toasty warm Dodge Ram the sooner I can go home. Then I shuffle into the barn and get to work. On my way through the tack/feed room I check cat food mountain and add if necessary, then slowly walk through the arena because it’s the warmest spot in the barn. Then I plug in the heated hoses because they take about 20 minutes to thaw. Then I giggle as I pass the arena mirrors because I look like a sumo wrestler with all my layers on. When I get to the barn door I pause, and take a deep breath…flip on the lights then head on in. I frown because the barn boys haven’t been sweethearts and brought in hay for me. As I pass each stall I hop in and move feed pans towards the front, also checking how gross the monsters managed to make their water buckets since I cleaned them the night before. I grab the hay wagon and off to the Quonset I go. Depending on the snowfall and if snow plow boy has been there is a big factor in getting hay. If snow plow boy has been there getting hay is easy…if not…its hell. Once I get to the Quonset I check the water of the devil ponies…I mean Icelandic’s. They scream and screech and make all kinds of blood curdling sounds until I throw them their hay. I know you shouldn’t reward them for that kind of behavior…but seriously…listen to them once and you will do whatever it takes to shut them up…Then I throw hay to the geldings that live in the Quonset and check their waters. Then climb up to the top of hay bale mountain and throw down some bales. Carry them out to the cart and drag them back to the main barn. A gelding almost always manages to pull a bale off as I pass by their paddock. SO I mumble some curse words and load it back up. Then start tossing hay to each of the 14 stalls, admiring at how awesomely clean they are. (New barn boy is an awesome stall cleaner!). Then it’s time to bring in the beasts.

First is the paddock with my monster. He’s the boss, and he loves me so he gives me no problems. Then is a horse I like to call Moose…because he looks like a moose and acts like a moose. He is then followed by the only ‘western’ horse in our barn.

After that I go to the bad boys paddock and bring them in. They are horses that don’t seem to know how to behave with any other horses other than themselves. Then it’s off to the barn owners geldings. They are easy to bring in in the winter, but they usually bring me to tears at least once in the summer. I leave the girls till last, because I don’t like mares. And they are witchy. And they can be mean and pushy, and evil. In the winter it’s not so bad but again in the summer...ugh.

Once they are all in I start filling buckets since the hose is finally thawed. And as I’m doing that I check to see if everyone has all their blanket straps in place and adjust as needed. When all the buckets are filled, and the disgusting poop/hay/yuck filled buckets have been scrubbed and filled and I’ve succesffully dumped at least one poop/hay/yuck filled bucket down my leg, I head off to the tack/feed room to start mixing grain.

I’m amazed that I’ve memorized each horses feed schedule. I can’t even remember what I learned in college but I can tell you everything that every horse I’ve ever met has eaten for supper. So I line up the buckets and start filling grain. Some of the “special needs” horses don’t get grain so I give them their “special needs” feeds. Then it’s on to the smartpaks…Love em!! Then add the other supplements that are in big tubs. Then load them up into my grain cart and away I go. When I get to the barn it’s like a zoo. Every horse is making some sort of noise. I dig out their feed pan that they’ve buried under their hay. When I’m done giving the monkeys their food I check their water one more time and top off any that need it.

When that is all done I rake the aisle and sweep the mat by the cross ties. And by then I’m pooped. Keep in mind this is done in sometimes -40 degree weather. Can you see why I’m in no mood to ride?

Our arena is heated, but only to about 42 degrees, any warmer and the horses could get sick, or something along those lines. I just get so exhausted in the winter that I don’t want to add the extra effort of going to the tack room and dragging out all of my tack. I would just hop on bareback but I have trouble getting up there all by myself.

I am not a very good horse mom…especially since 17 horses aren't really that many to take care of. There are plenty of barns with way more horses! I just don't like riding in the winter...


  1. And I thought I was the only one! I am a bad mom during winter, I get what I need done and usually just can't bring myself to ride...I feel a little better, now, LOL

  2. What a schedule - in the freezing cold!!! I worked at a boarding stable for 2 years in Pennsylvania. We had freezing cold, but more along the lines of 0 - 15 degrees, never -40! In fact, our inside barn water did not freeze so I carried the buckets of water to 20 stalls but now thawing. I only have my two at our barn so I am not worn out when done with chores. I feel like riding. I do think stall cleaning warms you up - you got stuck with the "cold" chores!