This past week at the barn I spent time doing something that I like almost as much as I like being around horses - gardening! I'm working on bringing the community garden back to life, and part of that is making new beds with a dirt/compost mix that seems to be working really well (if there's one thing we have a lot of, it's manure). Part of volunteering at Wings is helping maintain the facility and I'm happy to help with that. I do all the watering when I arrive then see if anyone needs help, then garden. Here's a look at some of my efforts.
I didn't do a post last week because I was camping up on Flathead Lake all week (wonderful!) and I got back this week to find six new arrivals at the barn! You can check out all the pictures on the home page. I will be getting more info on their backgrounds soon. Two Quarterhorses, Hoback and Scooter, came in, as well as four donkeys. Three of the donkeys are related and were owner-relinquished. All four donkeys are overweight due to being overgrazed on rich pasture. This picture of Brighty illustrates what happens - oversized belly and fat flaps.
Yes, it is actually almost the end of May and today a friend of mine reported snow falling in her front yard. You gotta love Spring in Montana! There's nothing else like it. This week was spent preparing for the first barn sale of the summer, which meant uncovering all the barn sale treasures, dusting them off, organizing and arranging them all for the sale. Regular volunteer Angelica is a natural at arranging, by the way. And Sherry and Debora came up with a great way to display all the clothes. I bought a few treasures myself, including a heavy flannel shirt from Eddie Bauer (like new) and a simple manual elliptical machine. Turnout was low because of the weather, but it gave us a chance to get it all organized. You'll have a chance to check it all out next month, June 11 & 12. In the meantime...
The first horse I ever loved was named Fawn. She was also the first horse I ever rode, on a trail ride in Wisconsin where I was visiting a friend’s family when I was about nine. I fell in love instantly, and when I got back home I tried to convince my parents that I had to have that horse. I neglected to realize what it would mean for my parents to rent a truck and trailer, drive 8 hours each way and then find a way to board and feed the horse. All I knew was that I wanted her as my best friend. I pictured us riding around the neighborhood, passing out candy canes at Christmas. Needless to say, my parents rightly said no. :-)
It was a busy week at the barn for me! With Spring coming on strong some facility maintenance is needed, so I started setting out hoses and working on the community garden that is nestled between the horse pens. It’s kind of overrun with violas (but aren’t they pretty?) so I was digging those up and transplanting them to pots, and I also took some home for myself. I love to garden, so this chore wasn’t a chore at all for me. I also planted daylily’s and iris, and I cleared up the onion bed a bit. There’s a rock pile at the end of the garden that needs to be moved out, but before I do that I’m going to use as many of them as I can to outline garden beds. Where I live there are a lot of rocks, so I’ve gotten good at learning to move them as few times as possible!
This past week saw a new arrival at the barn, a horse that a local vet asked Debora to check out and possibly take into the sanctuary. You can read her brief bio here. Debora said she’s been renamed three times, so she wanted to wait a bit and ask the horse what her name should be. I love that approach! It’s a mark of respect for animals that I wish was more prevalent in the world. So, pretty soon they decided on….Freckles! One of the things that Freckles needed immediately was a hoof trimming, and Debora called on Cody the farrier for help. Cody was able to come out on Monday and he got right to work.
This week I woke up to about three inches of snow at my house on Monday. Yikes! What happened to spring? I figured there would be some shoveling to be done at the barn. Sure enough, there was snow piled up on the north side, making the big barn door unusable. I spent some time shoveling snow and chopping ice because I knew if I was slipping and sliding any horses getting near the barn would be too. It’s always good to look around and see things from the horses perspective…what could be in the way, what might fall over, what might catch their hooves? A horse that already has physical challenges really doesn’t need another one. :-)
The boarders are gone, so it’s time to clean the stalls…again. :-) It’s actually pretty soothing work. You just do your thing, listen to music or make up mucking songs (don’t ask) and get into the rhythm of the work. In between stalls I’ll take a break and say hi to more horses. This week I got to meet Lola and Doc, and I started working on taking pictures of the horses for the website. One of my skills is doing websites, so part of my volunteer effort is updating the site to add more content, this blog being step one of that process.
This week started out really rainy! I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to do at the barn but I went anyway. I’m slowly getting to know the routine and the chores that are needed so I don’t always have to ask for guidance. But at the beginning of the week the stall were all clean, and you can’t groom horses in the rain or do most of the other outside chores. So I tidied up a bit in the break room and called it a day. Later in the week the weather was better, although still kind of cold and windy, so I was able to meet a few more horses and do some grooming.
My second week of volunteering at the barn involved mucking and sweeping stalls, and more sweeping, and more sweeping! It’s pretty windy at the facility so the hay, shavings, leaves, grass and all kinds of assorted bits fly around all the time. It’s an ongoing chore to keep things looking nice, but it’s also a great workout. :-) Right now there’s a lot of horsehair flying around because all of the horses are shedding their winter coats and they all need grooming. I found out that horse hair is magnetic!