Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Morning Chores

One of my favorite times of the day is early morning, just before the sun breaks over the Wet Mountains. Shortly after getting up, starting the fire in the cookstove, and programming the rice cooker to make the best oatmeal ever conceived (more about that in a future posting), we head to the barn for morning chores.

During the winter it’s just the horses that need attention and they are more than ready for breakfast. They are all getting old (ages 21 to 31) so their feed ration includes a special pelleted concentrate for old-timers with poor teeth and digestion and all the beautiful Wet Mountain Valley hay they can eat. Our oldest horse, CB, no longer has any molars so he is relegated to the pelleted feed only. He is unable to chew hay any more but otherwise he is healthy and happy. The other three horses have their own share of old-age problems and receive various supplements in an attempt to help them age gracefully.

The horses have their choice to eat inside the barn or outside as we fill the feeders in both locations. Most of the time they prefer outside unless the Valley winds are at their worst. They don’t seem to mind the cold or even snow on calm days.

We take this time to check each one for any injuries or other health problems and to clean the barn area of any manure deposited since the last feeding. If the ground is clear of snow we spread the manure out on the pasture; if not it goes to the manure pile for use when the weather improves. We repeat the whole process in the evening.

Only after the horses have received their breakfast do we head back to the house for a morning shower and our breakfast.

From Fleur Creek Farm