Wow, it's not even the end of January and I'm so tired of the ice...I mean the mud...I mean the icy mud! I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about and have some version of this mess in your life. At the ranch it means pens full of snow that became puddles, then lakes, then ice rinks, then mud pits. I don't remember ever having such crazy up-and-down temperatures in winter. Our staff and volunteers have been busy just trying to manage things during the weather changes and everyone has really pitched in to make sure the horses and donkeys are as comfortable as possible. For the most part this means breaking up or covering up ice, checking blankets and replacing bedding.
Sherry's husband Hank is my hero for spending a lot of time with the tractor moving buckets of dirt and dumping it on the icy parts both inside and outside the pens so staff and horses can both move around without slipping. I did buy a good pair of ice cleats at Bob Wards and it's really helped...haven't fallen once. It's amazing to watch the horses move around or to walk them in and out of the barn because they can tell the difference between ice and snow, and they'll try really hard to avoid the ice. Our muckers are also heroes, as I mentioned in my last post, for working hard to muck as much as they can in difficult weather.
The past few days have been warm enough so that a lot of the ice has melted and Debora was able to break up a lot of it by dragging, so with a few more warm days we might get on top of it all. Of course, February could bring it all back again! I still marvel, though, as I walk around the ranch how lucky I am to be around horses and look at mountains and breathe fresh air. Just being there to feed and water these amazing animals, to care for them and make sure they are comfortable, to talk to them and see them respond...it's a privilege.
Laura Weise is a Wings volunteer who lives in Stevensville and will be bringing you stories of life at the barn.