Last night I was nearing my wits end. Solitary days and the demands of being a 24/7 milk bar were beginning to unravel the last shreds of my nerves. Unable to escape to the underwater bliss of the pool at the Y, I told Dan not to worry about taking care of the animals out in the barn when he got home. Last night, I wanted to get outside, see my animals for myself and do some physical work.
I totally threw the horses for a loop. I made Jimmy and Charlie wait for their dinner as I cleaned out Jimmy stall first. Then I brought them in their stalls and fed them their grain only. While I had the opportunity of an open pasture gate, I dumped my first wheel barrow creating room for the mess that was to come from Charlie’s stall…I cleaned that one out after the horses were back in the pasture for the night.
The boys were still eating and licking out every last bit of rolled oats and corn from every hidden crevice of their feed buckets, so I picked up a brush and stepped inside with my boy Charlie. I love both my horses equally, but there is something special about Charlie. I can’t tell you exactly what it is over Jimmy, but there is just something there. I’m not sure if this is going to make sense, but I feel like Charlie will try to please you, even if what you are asking him to do is scary for him. He is more of a gentleman, whereas Jimmy is definitely the class clown of the team. Jimmy is more apt to kick a stall door with impatience, whereas Charlie will stand back and wait without ever moving a foot. I should have stopped myself a long time ago, but I have entered the danger zone with both of them and one day my heart will be broken double-time when they are no longer with me.
So I stood there and brushed away the mud and dust, new shreds of my sanity slowing sewing themselves back together again with each sweep of my hand. Occasionally Charlie would look back at me with his kind brown eyes that said, “It’s going to be OK” and “AHHHH that feels good!” A ten minute little massage on an 1,800 pound horse is a wondrous ten minute massage on the soul.
After that I divided up some hay and took it outside to feed them the rest of their dinner out there. Which threw them off because normally they come inside at night to eat grain and hay, then we go back outside to let them back out into the pasture. This way, each horse gets his fair share of food and not one hogging it all. I decided to give the hay outside last night so we didn’t have to venture back out later.
Jimmy, Charlie and I played ring-around-the –rosie for a few minutes after letting them back out, since the routine was all thrown off balance. After successfully shutting the pasture gate they just stood there looking at me like I had forgotten something important: the rest of dinner! So I climbed over the gate and led Jimmy outside to the stacks of hay. As I stepped out into the darkness, the wind caught my breath and stole it away with swirling snowflakes. It wasn’t snowing just a few minutes before that! Jack Frost had made an impromptu appearance and he seemed angry at something or someone. Now I was out in a beautiful and haunting scene with wind and snow and two big black horses in the black of night with their manes flying about wildly. I thought it was really cool!
After gathering the eggs and locking in the chickens, I shut off the all the lights and stepped out of the barn into the snow globe that I seemed to be in. Still needing some time to myself, I sat on the cold ground with my back to barn and drank in the winter silence (except for the chitter chatter of the chickens…I swear their lives are nothing but drama!) and enjoyed being covered with a dusting of snow.
I am thankful for the life that I have and my wonderful boys. I am thankful that Dan will come home and take over on the days that I am about to snap and not rush outside after ten minutes saying I’m needed in the house. He can take care of it all. I am thankful for a place to go, just down the driveway, and escape for a few minutes. I am thankful for my animals and all the therapy and creativity they give me.
But last night, I was most thankful for something else. I was so thankful that we have a sloping driveway and that any cars or buggies going by were unable to see the bundled up and frazzled housewife sitting on the ground with an egg carton on her lap being covered in a dusting of beautiful, sparkling snow.