Living the Dream

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I forgot to step tall over the hot wire.

I felt my rubber muck boot catch the bottom wire of the horse fence.  My ankle caught the strand that I had strung there this summer.  My knees hit the snow.  The five gallon bucket I had been filling at the spigot fell forward out of my hands and spilled into the stark, white snow, soaking my hands through my gloves, emptying in a mockery of the small task I was trying to accomplish.

I was wearing too many layers to injure myself in the fall: my legs were insulated against their snowy landing spot by two pairs of pants and a pair of heavy duty coveralls.  Rather, the -15 degree windchill made the possibility of frostbite through my wet gloves my most pressing concern.  I stood up slowly–the only possible way to stand in coveralls–and, swearing at the wind or the weather or my own clumsiness, began to refill the bucket.  Ponies need water.  It is my job to make sure they have it, whether the process for getting it is pleasant or not. Continue reading “Living the Dream”

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And…this is winter.

The snow falling outside my office window in the Heights probably means many things to many people.  For me, it’s a gently falling reminder that old man winter beat us back to the ranch.  We still aren’t moved back out there.

Just a few days ago, temperatures hovered between 55-60 degrees in our little corner of the planet.  Now we’re in the 20s, complete with two days of snow.  Illinois is like that, almost specializing in drastic weather changes that come in the night.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been expecting the cold.  Our winter supply of hay–minus one flatbed load that we still need to pick up–is safely tucked away, either in barns or under tarps.  Our grain room, likewise, is nearly full.

And, yet, the cold hit yesterday, and I found myself running around like mad trying to tie up loose ends.

I ran from store to store. At the first, I picked up a heated base for my chicken water, a sinking heater for my horse trough (the one from last year is toast), and cracked corn.

The cart that served as evidence of how woefully underprepared we were.  I wonder how many carts like this went through check out yesterday.
The cart that served as evidence of how woefully underprepared we were. I wonder how many carts like this went through check out yesterday

Then to another store for winter gloves that stand a chance against ranch life.

Back at the ranch, I noticed a shivering alpaca, just one, so I dug the winter coats out of the feed room

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This one was too big…and pink.
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Midnight Idol is probably our oldest alpaca, and the tiniest. This coat fit him very well, and it probably wouldn’t fit anyone else.

Eventually, several of our animals will be in coats, but I prefer to wait to put them on until they act cold.  The more they regulate their own temperatures without help, the better.

We also dug out heat lamps, and, before leaving for the night, we shut our old men into their stall with their very own heat lamp.

Today, we will head out again, buying posts at Lowe’s for a pony shelter that needs to go in yesterday and winter clothes for Jeremiah.  (Do you believe he went through all of last winter without a heavy winter coat?  Said that if he bought one, winter won.)

And so begins another season out at the ranch.  Hopefully, the big snows hold off for just a bit longer, and we can get moved back out before the roads get icy.  We shall see.

Also, since I’m new at this one, does anyone want to share some friendly advice for keeping chickens nice and cozy?  I have two that have bald(ish) backs from getting picked on, and I’m afraid of frostbite.

And, I’m panicking…

Ever since we moved our horses to the ranch (very early in the pre-buying process), Jeremiah and I have been talking about, finally, being able to entertain large numbers of people.  For the first time in our married life, we finally feel like we have the space to have big get-togethers.

A few weeks ago, in my eternal optimism, I decided that we would definitely be moved back in by the middle of October.  (I have no idea why I thought that, but I did…)  With that in mind, I decided we should hold a bonfire/housewarming at the end of October.  You know, really celebrate moving back in after all of the set backs and “rug pulled out from under our feet” moments along this crazy ride.  And what’s not to celebrate?  We are, after all, moving onto our dream property.  Our horses are there!  Eggs are fresh every day!  I have little ponies!  I’m taking care of llamas who I have LOVED since I was a teenager!  This place, and everything it is and can be, is amazing and beautiful and a huge gift to our lives.

I figured we could have a lot of our projects done by then.  We could be moved back in.  All would be more settled and right with the world.

But, the thing is, we’re not actually moved back in yet.   And, the more I think about it, the more I have no idea why I thought we would be.

So that started me thinking.  (I should not be allowed to do that…)

It’s going to get cold soon.  In fact, the cold settled in for a bit over the last few days.  Thus far, it hasn’t gotten cold enough to require turning on the heat in the big house, but it will.  (And never mind heating a house I don’t live in…)  Once it does, we won’t be able to vent out the house like we have been; since we moved out, it has been shut up a few times, and each time the mothball smell and mold issues came back like a raging flood.  Jeremiah and I can’t even really work in there when the house is not venting.  There is pretty much no chance we can consider moving back in, with the cold, until we can bring Serv-Pro in to clean up the basement.

And while we’re on the subject of things I’m vaguely panicked about, I’ve had Jeremiah’s truck for several weeks while he’s been running around God’s Half Acre with my car.  And suddenly I’m realizing how much it costs us to keep the vehicles running back and forth to the ranch every day.  (I think it’s around 10-15 dollars a day for the truck…)  I could do the math, but I really don’t want to.  I am pretty sure that amount would more than pay for our hay for the winter though…

Oh, and speaking of panic, the snow is coming guys.  According to the Farmer’s Almanac, who totally nailed their predictions last year, the snow in my area is going to be another snowmageddon…  Last year, going back and forth during the worst of the winter was pretty bad.  There were times when the roads were so bad that it took over an hour to make the twenty minute drive to the ranch.  We were hauling water from one barn to the other, coming out multiple times a day to knock ice off the horses (who didn’t want to go into their nice, bedded stall with the heat lamp), and the only thing that made all of that ok was the knowledge that we wouldn’t have to do that routine from the Heights again.  And, it seems, maybe we will.

last year knocking the ice off of Vinny...
last year knocking the ice off of Vinny…

And, so, I’m panicking a bit over here.

I think I’ll go breathe into a paper bag now…