It’s after 8:00; I’m still in bed, under covers, and I’ve only REALLY been awake for about 15 minutes. Over and over, I have to explain this. I don’t do early mornings unless I have to, and on weekends, I don’t have to.
People who hear about the ranch always assume that I’m up before dawn. They expect, I suppose, that I am out by the sunrise, scattering chicken feed from the pockets of an apron that I would assumedly be wearing while singing “The Hills are Alive” from The Sound of Music.
My sweet spot is between 7:00 and 8:00. Which is why I’m still not quite out of bed when John comes back in with coffee.
John is almost always awake first. His job, as a process engineer for a company about an hour and a half from here, requires that his ass be at his desk by 7 am. His internal clock is set differently than mine.
He makes coffee for us on the weekends.
Really good coffee.
I’m keeping him.
He offers me my coffee cup. I stretch. Sit up. Take the cup.
“Good morning, gorgeous.”
This is my wake-up every morning that we wake up in the same space. It’s less often than we’d like since he still lives and works over 100 miles away. The distance, which both of us coming off of bad break-ups had initially found so comforting, is starting to get old.
I take a sip of the coffee. It’s hot and delicious. Fresh ground. Just a hint of cream. No sugar.
The day, we both know, will be long, so coffee is slow.
It’s already hot outside when we finally make it to the barn. Truthfully, wiser ranchers and farmers start chores earlier than me to beat the heat. I trade in 5 to 10 degrees of comfort for an extra hour or two in bed. We all make choices.
I start cleaning stalls while John fills hay nets. These are the daily chores, along with collecting eggs and feeding chickens, letting the cats out of their room, and making sure the horses have food (either hay or pasture). Weekends are usually full of stuff that doesn’t make the day-to-day and this one is no exception.
Cinco is so easy to catch. Basically, you want up to him and ask politely. He stands still while you slip a halter on and walks with you maintaining respectable distance. I bring him into the center of the barn and hand him to John, and head into my feed room to grab my hoof trimming tools.
That’s a thing I do now. I never budgeted hoof care into the equation when I brought all of these guys home. That may seem shortsighted, except that I was married to a farrier (a horse shoer/trimmer) at the time, and I hadn’t planned for the marriage to spectacularly fail. After it did, I was left with the choice of learning how to trim my own horses or getting rid of them, because there was definitely not room in the budget for a good farrier, and the idea of having my ex out to the ranch every six weeks made me feel ill for quite a while..
That brings me here, with Cinco and John. (On a related note, I’m pretty sure John never saw himself holding horses for trimming either…Life does not always take us where we expect.)
Trimming hooves can be a little bit like performing surgery. The hoof is complicated, a live piece of their body, and it’s important to understand the anatomy before cutting into it. Fortunately, I was already fairly well-versed in that before I ever picked up a nipper. (It’s a side effect of travelling with and listening to a farrier for hundreds and hundreds of hours.)
The actual work though? All the book knowledge in the world didn’t make it easier to cut into a hoof for the first time. I knew enough to know just how much I could fuck things up (though my other horsey friends pointed out that one mildly bad trim wasn’t going to do too much damage).
My first trim was of my friend Lauren’s horse with her husband’s supervision. Then my horses with Lauren’s help and supervision. Now it’s my horses with my supervision (and an occasional Facetime session with Lauren and her husband).
Since those first few experiences, there have been a lot of “good enough” trims. Not perfect. Not exactly what I was looking for, but functional, especially for my herd of horses who are rarely ridden and who are never worked particularly hard. But this one? By the time I came to the end of the trim, even I thought it looked pretty damn good.
Of course, there was blood. Not Cinco’s. Mine. I rarely remember gloves when I first start a trim, and I have a nasty habit of hitting my knuckles with the rasp. A blood sacrifice to the equine gods, I suppose.
Noonish: (Trims take me a while)
I wiped the drips of blood off my hands, and lead Cinco down the lane to the backyard. Typically it’s where I keep the dogs, but the grass is high, and I don’t much feel like mowing. I watch Cinco as we walk down the drive, and I’m pleased with how he’s moving. The trim will serve.
He is nervous at first until we catch and bring the other horses down to join him. Any nervousness at being in a new field is overshadowed by the security of being with the whole herd and the joy of being in a fresh field with more grass than they can eat.
I have work to do in the garden. (Occasionally, while I pull the weeds that I never have quite been able to keep up with, it occurs to me that I can buy groceries…)
I have errands to run. (There’s a gardening tool at Lowe’s that I feel I must have but that it turns out I will barely use after tomorrow.)
I need to deworm the cat. The baby llama needs a shot. The hay nets are empty and need to be refilled.
When was the last time I watered the flowers on the porch?
Before the day is over, I take two showers, sweating through my barn clothes twice. (My mom wonders sometimes why I have to do so much laundry…this is it.) We settle down after evening chores just in time to see some friends pull up the driveway. They meet the new baby llama.
They pet the critters who come up to greet them.
We settle in for conversation and wine and some fresh popcorn.
There’s one more day in the weekend. One more slow morning with delicious coffee. On Monday, mornings speed up. John will leave just before 5am. I will do the chores that must be done before heading to work myself.
The rest will wait until the weekend comes around again.