Maybe it’s just been my blackish mood the past few days, but things haven’t seemed quite right with the mares past couple of days.
The weather’s been off this whole spring, but it’s actually been far more pleasant up here in the NW than it usually is (unless, of course, you’re a farmer–there has even been talk this spring that perhaps climate change will start to make it impossible to grow fruit here). The cool weather has made for really lush grass, so I’ve had to do more horse pasture management than usual. All three of the girls are too heavy for their own good right now, but it’s finally started to warm up/dry out, and I suspect they’ll start slimming down now.
The nine acres where my horses live has a ditch/slough (read: mosquito breeding ground) running through it. One of my favorite memories from last summer was watching Dicey eating water plants. She stood knee-deep in the ditch, scooping up the algae/aquatic plants with obvious relish…water streaming everywhere. I swear to you she looked exactly like a black hippo–if only I’d had my camera! I’d had no idea horses would eat aquatic plants like that.
The mares have also created a place in the ditch that they’ve widened into a bit of a wallow, where they can roll in the mud and wash off all that expensive flypsray I keep putting on them. Maybe they manage to kill a few of the larvae while they’re thrashing around out there rinsing off all those pyrethrins (I can always hope).
Anyway. One of my problems during the summer is that the kids who live in the area are all home. I’m kind of an honorary aunt to the kids who live next door to the barn–they’re the children of my brother-in-law’s hired man, and I often let them help me with chores (which they love). But if I’m busy and can’t let them help me with stuff, they wind up doing things I don’t want them to do in a bid for my attention. They climb on the hay, chase my duck (I don’t care if they chase the chickens, but no molestar mi pato!). They shriek, they climb on the weak parts of the fence, they get into the buckets of horse supplement, scare the tom out there that’s finally started to let me pet him, etc.
The other problem is that the only two kids who have been coming out to see me lately are about five and three years old, and the youngest doesn’t speak English (and I can’t understand his baby-talk Spanish). While I’m glad my horses are getting exposed to unpredictable little-kid behavior, it can be really nerve-wracking to try to focus on what I’m doing while babysitting–which is, frankly, what you have to do when two boys that age hanging around in a barn. They know they can’t go into the areas where the horses are, but there is plenty of other stuff for them to get into.
And I know I should just be able to tell them to go back in the house if I’m working, but I can never make myself do that because it’s obvious how much they crave my attention.
Anyway. The mares are still more distant and crabby than usual, probably because the bugs are bothering day and night. Dove in particular hasn’t been her perky self. I did find a Russian olive thorn in her butt last night (the big dummy probably tried to scratch on one of the trees–you might as well rub your ass on a porcupine). There was a lot of pus and I couldn’t BELIEVE how much thorn was buried in there (just a tiny tip was poking out of her flesh, and I almost had to get pliers to get it out). She didn’t move a muscle, even when I was pressing the pus out–but when I tried to put some Swat on it to keep the flies off the wound, she wouldn’t stand still, and we wound up having quite a disagreement about that. I know stuff may sting a bit, but I can’t believe she’d stand like a rock in order to let me pull a thorn out but throw a hissy fit over a little ointment. I’m starting to suspect her main objection is that she dislikes the smell (she doesn’t like Bag Balm either).
I’ve learned to reassure myself when I start to feel disconnected from the girls. Most of it is usually due to me being too busy to spend quality time with them–I often wind up having to spend all the time I have out there doing chores (chickens, feeding the cat, watering trees, scooping poop, etc.) and having the boys around hasn’t helped. I may just have to rearrange my days so I’m out extra early–before little kids tumble out of bed. Then I’ll be trying to work with horses who only care about getting out to pasture for breakfast. Sigh.
“Life is not an easy matter…You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” ~ Leon Trotsky