Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shovel, Shovel, Shovel, Snow Brings Nothing But Toil And Trouble!

       It all began with an innocuous January six-incher (15.24 cm), which we all were actually glad to see.  It was certainly better than the cold rain we'd been having through December.  Trail rides would be a nice diversion from trying to do dressage on an alternately frozen or deeply puddled sand arena.  Here are a few photos I took of the horses the day following that January snow. This is Firefly.  You can actually see three of her hooves:

           Here Dolly is just fetlock deep:

       But then this is where we started to get more than we bargained for.  Enter storm number two sweetly named Iola, Greek for dawn.  We got nine inches with that one.  Here are a few more pictures after that storm, starting once again with Firefly: 

                              Firefly  Iola                                            Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

       Now Dolly:

       Deeper, yes, and since the snow was light and fluffy it was pretty easy for the horses to move. We had some terrific trail rides.  For those of you who live where there is little or no snow, riding through powder is like riding a cloud.  And if you're lucky enough to have an Andalusian like Tica--pictured below--you're riding a cloud in Heaven: 

   Tica                                                                                       Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

       The next snowstorm, Juno, made her entrance January 28th, and settled in northeastern Massachusetts for two and half days.  It was brutal.  Juno is the Roman goddess who looks after women.  Well, Juno, I have all mares.  What were you thinking?!

       Elementa, Dolly, and Ice ventured out of their run-in shed when I tossed them morning hay shortly after 7 am:

       A gust of wind blew diamond-dust snow back into my camera's flash resulting in an image of Dolly and Elementa in what appeared as a glittering twilight:

      Then came Firefly and Ice.  It looks as if it's hours later, but was literally just seconds after the above.

                                                        Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

A few minutes later it began to get a bit less windy.  Dolly eagerly made her way back to the run-in shed after breakfast:

Then Elementa:

      Elementa /Juno                                                                     Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

       I have a most remarkable, talented working student named Zoe.  She works and rides at Windflower and would rather have a hand cut off than miss a ride on Firefly, whom she half-leases. I would have been stunned if any of my students had showed up on day two of Juno, that is, except Zoe.  She is one of the most can-do people I've ever met, child or adult.  Here she is with Dolly:

   Zoe and Dolly                                                                          Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

       Zoe had come for her lesson mid-storm! Okay, I need to be at least as intrepid as my students, so out I went:

   Zoe and Firefly during Juno                                                Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

       Bareback dressage:

      Zoe and Firefly                                                                    Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

       The day after that we saw the sun:

Zoe and Firefly                                                                Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015 

       If any of you farm owners are lucky enough to have a student as dedicated, hard-working and talented as Zoe, guard her with your life!  She'd be willing to summit Mt. Everest if it meant she could ride a Tibetan Wind Horse to get there!

       Later in the next day, things got slightly warmer and sunnier.  By afternoon the sun came out.  Here are Elementa and Dolly playing:

                                                            Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015

                                                                                          Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015

Elementa and Dolly                                Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015    

       That same afternoon Dolly took a sunbath:

       Missing from this section on winter storm Juno are my Andalusian mare Tica and our Shetland pony Kip.  This is because they spent the night and day in the barn.  At seventeen and twenty-one respectively, they are the grandes dames of Windflower and entitled to the maximum comfort we have to offer.
        Age is not the only consideration with Kip.  She is but ten hands tall (1.02 m), and while the horses have never had any encounters with coyotes, save a sub-adult who was playing with a yearling--play bow and all!--I worried.  Getting their normal rodents and the occasional weakened deer in over three-and-a-half feet of snow must be very difficult for the coyotes.  Also, because of the plow and the trails that the horses have made on and off the farm, I worry that we have supplied easy access roads to our wild animals.  It would be difficult for little Kip to fend off one coyote much less a pack. So, just in case, Kip is put in at night. 

        Juno dumped thirty-three inches (83.82cm) on top of what we already had but Old Man Winter wasn't done with us yet.  Next storm a week later was Linus, and by this time many of us did want to suck our thumbs and take our favorite blankets to bed.  The forecast was for six (15.24 cm) to eight inches (20.32 cm).  We got fifteen (38.1 cm)!

       Dark humor abounded.  The storms seemed to arrive on weekends and shut us down at the beginning of the Sunday.  You know those green highway signs with reflective silver lettering that you see when changing states?  Well, someone Photoshopped one of our state.  This is how it appeared:  "Entering Massachusetts" and just below, in slightly smaller letters:  "Closed Mondays." 

       Piled-up snow in Boston comes in a variety of monochromatic whites and grays.  Someone posted a picture of a huge pile of snow with "Boston's Version of Shades of Gray."  (The movie Shades of Gray, with all its bondage, gadgets, and gizmos, was just about to open in theaters.)

Just One More Storm to Go--Neptune!

       Neptune, the Roman god of the Sea, arrived the day before yesterday with howling winds that delivered another nine inches (22.86 cm) of snow. While the plow made it relatively easy for me to walk to the barn, getting the hose out to the horses's water troughs was a different matter.  We used to have both hot and cold water in the barn during winter, but I got tired of dealing with leaking, broken pipes, so I had it shut off.  We now depend on a large hose running from the basement.  It really isn't a difficult arrangement except when you must haul the hose through snow that's four feet deep.  I tug the hose along with one hand keeping myself balanced with a ski pole in the other.  Hose trail pictured below:

       And here's our  house:

       This morning while I was getting their breakfast ready, Dolly and Elementa cavorted in the front paddock:

    Dolly and Elementa                                                  Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015

While Tica waited patiently:



Is Nothing Sacred?

       Some of you may be familiar with The Vermont Teddy Bear Company.  It was started in 1982 by a Vermont gentleman who sold his bears in an open-air market in the city of Burlington. Tourists began to ask him to mail their purchases to their homes.  That is how the largest internet business for selling stuffed bears began. Valentine's Day is the biggest holiday for orders. When my son Alec was ten, I took him on a tour of this company, one of the few, it seems, that has not outsourced any of its work to China.  We visited, looking at shelf after shelf of charming, sweet, albeit pricey bears for every occasion and of every profession.  We had a lovely time.

     So, I was disappointed to learn that this Valentine's Day,  The Vermont Teddy Bear Company was offering a "limited edition Fifty Shades of Gray Bear."  Their ad shows a man bear in a suave suit holding the front door to house half-open with a pair of dangling hand-cuffs in one hand hidden behind his back.  He also sports a blindfold in his kit of kinky tricks.  

       The first stuffed toy of many American children is a teddy bear.  He is tucked into bed with them providing friendship and security through the night.  Many children keep their bears into their adult years.  My twenty-nine-year-old son's Walter Bear still sits on his bed here at home wearing a t-shirt that Alec himself wore as a toddler.  Walter has a loose eye, and his nose and ears are worn, but he remains an important member of this household.

       It is sad that the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, in a quest of money, has perverted and prostituted itself so.  If it had to create such a bear--and it didn't--why on Valentine's Day, which celebrates sweet romantic love?  I would think Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) with all its gay and often vulgar abandon would have been a more appropriate choice.

Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Winnie the Pooh and Paddington are crying!
Coming Up In My Next Blog

 What is this?

                                                    Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2015

       We weren't sure at first because we spotted it from a distance farther  away.  (Actually, it was eagle-eyed Zoe who saw it first.)  It's a great horned owl.  Initially, we thought a wing was broken, but when we got closer, we saw that it was hopelessly tangled in monofilament fishing line.

       Stay warm and thank you for reading The Windflower Weekly.
See you soon.


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