Moose River Farm Blog

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Morning Ritual

        Good Morning,
        I am often asked what time I have to get up in the morning to take care of the animals before I leave for school.  Then I am asked how long it takes me to do my chores.  The responses to both of these questions, (5:40 and 45 min), usually provoke a sympathetic sigh from the inquirer until I explain that I need to visit the barn every morning in order to prepare for the day ahead.  Right now many of my horsy readers, who care for their own horses at home, are nodding their heads in total agreement. 
        Horses are delicate creatures who benefit from frequent barn checks to ward off any potential situations that might require an expensive veterinary visit if ignored for too long.  Colic, trauma, and various kinds of lameness respond more favorably to treatment in the early stages of onset.  Therefore, I rarely let my horses go more than eight hours between barn checks throughout the day.
        Since horses are able to tell time, it is also important to keep them on a regular feeding and turnout schedule.  By doing so, the barn remains a calm, quiet, and soothing sanctuary.  
        Although my knowledge and training have established the regular barn routine, there is a part of me that mentally and physically needs to visit the barn each morning to smell, touch, and interact with the horses before I begin my professional day.  It is also the same part of me that craves these identical factors at the end of my working day. 
        In today’s excerpt from Finding My Way to Moose River Farm, I invite you to join me as I head out to the barn at 6:15 am for morning chores and my first horse fix of the day. 

Morning Ritual
  “Fiona,” I call.  “Come Piggily.  Time for your breakfast.  Come come Pigiletto.”
“Ump, Ump, Ump,” (Fiona) grunts as she lifts her bulk, blanket and all, off of the cushion that she has been sleeping on since last evening when a fire in the fireplace lured her to the bed there.  She marches through the kitchen, stopping for a long drink that practically drains the community water bowl before heading out the back door.  Her food is waiting in a rubber dish at the bottom of the steps.  With a few happy grunts, Fiona’s daily routine has begun.
With my coat, boots, hat and gloves in place, I am also ready to go outside with Fiona.  After her breakfast she quickly stops to clean up stray bird seed under the birdfeeder.  Then, she and I make our way out to the barn.  The cold air blasts in our faces.  I can’t wait until spring.  Winter in the Adirondacks is very long and since it is only February, there is still a lot of winter left.  I act as Fiona’s plow through the several inches of snow that have accumulated overnight.  By walking first I lower the height of the snow so her belly will not freeze.  She grunts softly with each step she takes behind me.  
At the barn I reach for the light switch and am greeted simultaneously by a high pitched whinny from the last stall on the right.  Sandi a small Trakhener gelding, is hungry and reminds me not to forget him back there in the far corner.  Some of the other horses greet me with low rumbles, clearly indicating that they too are hungry.  I begin my ritual distribution of hay to each stall.  This is also when I make my daily inspection of each horse’s condition and appetite, both an indication of how the horses are feeling today.  When I lift the lid on the grain bin, Fiona is at my side as if on cue.  She grinds her snout into my ankle which is a signal for me to drop a handful of sweet feed on the floor for her.  The horse’s grain is already pre-measured from the night before to save precious time and to assure prompt service.  As I deliver grain I am relieved to witness each horse dive into the grain with gusto.
Next, I become aware of a soft bleating sound from the eleventh stall.  Three goats jump up to peer out over the door.  They are hungry too.  After feeding them their own grain ration, I return to close up the grain bin.  Fiona has finished her handful of grain and is now making her rounds checking out the stalls of several horses who sling feed out of their bins.   I can hear her protesting with high pitched squeals when a horse lowers his head to sniff at her. 
I check the clock to assure that I am still on schedule before I begin cleaning the first of ten stalls.  Mucking stalls is the best form of meditation and at this hour of the morning, just ninety minutes before I begin my professional day, this mindless chore allows my thoughts to simmer, and plan for the coming hours at school.  Before I know it I am emptying the wheelbarrow on my final trip to the manure pile behind the barn.  I check every water bucket to make sure it will last the morning, and split up a flake of hay for the goats.
“Have a good day my loves,” I chortle as I reach to turn off the light switch and head back to the house. 
Fiona, who is still busy cleaning up the last bits of grain on the barn floor, begins to mumble in short contented grunts.  Left in the dark, she trots to catch up with me.
The bitter cold forgotten, I have had my barn fix, as satisfying as a hit that brings calm to any hard core drug user.  The difference is that my dose results in an appreciative high for all that I possess.
Fiona is my company for morning chores.
My first view of the barn every morning.
    

1 comment:

  1. Anne,

    Love the part about your stall cleaning being meditative. If everyone could find time during the day to do something meditative to calm their mind and find peace it would be a better world! Also, chuckled about the Sandi whinny. Also remember well him banging his leg impatiently on the stall door!

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