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March 8, 2015: The Real Scoop

It’s been some time since I’ve written about pen cleaning. It’s time for me to get up on my high horse and write a dispatch about this.

Recently, via email, my best friend ever, Jakki Welch and I were talking about our shared love for animals. I asked her if her daughter Eva was still a horse enthusiast. I kind of knew what the answer would be, but I asked anyways. (Our asking one another questions is what keeps our conversations ongoing.) She replied that Eva, who used to like to ride, would like to ride again, but as when she was younger, still has no interest in doing barn work.

Eva’s lack of interest in doing barn work mystifies Jakki and me, who have always enjoyed this particular aspect of animal care. It also raises the question, why is it that some enjoy riding and cleaning up after animals, while others only enjoy riding them? My theory is that the answer has a great deal to do with our individual genetic history. Those like Eva are from gentry stock who exclusively rode for pleasure. And those like Jakki and me are from peasant stock – we near-exclusively tended to the animals of the gentry stock.

This is just conjecture. In my case, I also have obsessive compulsive disorder. I could say “suffer from” instead of have, but I don’t see this as being a physically or mentally debilitating illness. I in fact use it to my advantage and to my animal’s advantage.

I clean up after the horses several times a day, and I clean up after the goats and chickens once every two days. I’m the sort who has to have a sound rationalization for my behaviors. I rationalize this one by telling myself and whoever else will listen that this is good for their mental and physical well-being.

Next: 66. 3/9/15: Sex Change

Over time, I’ve become attuned to my animals. It would now break my heart to see any of my animals standing around in ankle-deep mud, water, and manure. What I then knew, but have now internalized, is that cleaning up after the animals enables me to check in on them and see how they’re doing. A case in point – if a horse isn’t eating or drinking its water, something is amiss.

All our animals are now in enclosures. The up side for the ponies is that this is better dietarily since they don’t have the opportunity to gorge themselves on fresh grass. This then would increase the likelihood of their foundering or becoming excessively obese. The down side is that most of their exercise takes the form of lengthy walks and rides.

We’ll someday have access to pasturage. I’ll then come up with a differing manure management plan. I’ll of course first do research and see what others are doing. I suspect that if we have more acreage, that I’ll then drive a tractor and pull a harrow. And I’ll have to do like the cowboys of old and hop on my cayuse and periodically ride the fence line. Yee haw.

Right now, night cleanup is a bit more difficult because I have to use the headlight. Plus, by then I’m pretty tired. But I clean up after the horses because I know that if I don’t, that I’ll have more to do in the mornings, that is the time in which I get my indoor work done.

The past few days we’ve been dealing with more precipitation than usual. Precipitation – what else do you call it? For the past few days it’s been near simultaneously snowing, raining, and sleeting. I’ve been scraping the slush off the front mats in the horse enclosure, using the scraper and a shovel. This morning I was pleased to find that this surface was smooth and relatively ice-free. And also, the poop scooping took no time at all.

As I worked on this project, I thought about those who board at places like the local riding academy. Equestrians pay a godly amount of money to board their horses, who live in stalls and get limited turnout time. The majority of these animals wear multiple blankets most of the winter, and are clipped to an inch of their lives.

A barn attendant cleans the horse stalls and feeds the horses. This because the owners aren’t up for doing this themselves. Some might say they’re too busy, but this is a rather lame excuse. If you really want to do something, you do it, no matter how much you have on your plate.

To me, this is the ultimate absurdity, for I see tending to the animals – all phases of care, as being a part of the bigger ownership picture. Exercising horses and getting them out and about is also important.

In the mornings, the first thing I do is go out and tend to the horses. I then come in for breakfast. Pete and I then talk about what we’re going to do. Of course, all phases of animal care are discussed. Rain or shine, it’s all got to be done. I would not have it any other way.

Next: 66. 3/9/15: Sex Change

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