Moose River Farm Blog

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring is in the Air...and All Over My Clothes

       Good Evening,
     Forget singing birds, extended daylight hours and warmer outdoor temperatures.  For those of us who spend significant time in a barn there is only one true indication that spring is on its way!  Proof arrives by way of natural forces such as static electricity and blowing wind but, defies others, such as gravity.  It sticks to my clothes and invades my mouth, nostrils and ears.  My hand is of no use to wipe at my nose because it too is covered with the prickly material.  Simply writing about it makes me itch.  
      Believe it or not and despite weeks of anticipating the discomfort, I am thrilled when shedding season arrives.  Once every strand of winter hair is released the animals glisten with good health in the spring sunshine.  I never tire of gazing at their shiny coats.  It is the equine equivalent to watching chlorophyll rejuvenate the complexion of green grass. 
      In my barn shedding is a multi-species task.  The number of individuals from each group is directly related to the amount of fluff, clumps, wisps, hunks, wads and bristles that float in the air or scatter on the floor.  Evidence from the horses’ desperate attempts to scratch the hair off of backs and bellies lies in the imprint left behind where they've rolled in melting snow.
     The goats have a different tactic.  They rub the sides of their bodies against any potential scratching post, including the walls and bars of their stall, stacked hay bales and unsuspecting human legs. If the latter is clothed in fleece or corduroy, all the better. It’s a guarantee that much of the debris will stay behind once the goat walks away.
      Fiona's winter layer of long black bristles will not fully molt until mid-summer.  By then the hairs simply fall out by the handful.  If not swept up carefully these bristles migrate into the laundry and work their way into the fabric of underwear, socks or t-shirts.  The next time the garment is worn, a surprise is waiting to poke tender skin. 
      The baby donkeys arrived in December with their first winter coats fully established.  Those coats conceal so much, like a lottery ticket before the icons are scratched off to reveal the prize.  Presently, their bodies are holding on to the hair for fear that the Adirondacks may have a few more blasts of cold weather before a lasting warm-up takes hold for good.  After twenty-seven winters in upstate New York, I know better too!
Sandi thinks there is nothing like snow to scrape the hair off and exfoliate!
"Ah," says Welby. "That feels so good."
Liam the goat is shedding soft cashmere...everywhere.
Makia drops to roll and have a back scratch.
Can't wait to see what these two look like in their summer coats.
The donkeys and Fiona are still holding onto their winter insulation.
Ultimately, local residents will use discarded winter hair to line their nests.
(left, bear hair and right, horse hair)

3 comments:

  1. Love this Anne! Northern Lights Animals enjoyed their first session at the hitching posts with shedding blades yesterday! Thankfully not too windy - sometimes it's hard to be sure you are upwind from the flying hair! Makes me ready to pack away the snowshoes! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jackie,
    I know you can relate to this. Happy Shedding!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great description of the season. Before Swimmer was retired and in a program for the winter, I would clip him to keep him comfortable during his weekly workouts. Come Spring, there was no hair to shed!! What a wonderful discovery.
    But now, my horse is a man of leisure - with a full thick coat of hair that is finding it's way into my clothing, nostrils, mouth, and eyeballs!
    Oh the joys of Spring shedding. The good news is that it's Spring!!

    ReplyDelete