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January 10, 2017: The Horse Life: The Watering Routine

Pete’s home. Had been in CA visiting family. Got home at some ungodly hour – he’d had a long day – he had to take an early train to the airport and then wait there for his evening flight. It was an instance of hurry up and wait.

I got up before he did (as I usually do) and stoked the woodstove. I’d filled the wood box and the adjacent kindling box last night, so there was wood on hand. I got the fire going and then headed out, in order to feed and tend to the horses.

As I am writing this I hear Pete filling the twelve-or so four gallon water buckets. The distribution of labor is such that when he’s gone, I’m in charge of watering the horses,

Alys and the watering stations

goats, and chickens and feeding the dogs. When he’s here, he’s in charge of watering the horses, goats, and chickens and feeding the dogs. I who am the horses’ caretaker (chambermaid and home entertainment director included) have noticed that the horses most like to drink after eating hay. This, in the morning, gives Pete and me some leeway in terms of delivering the goods. Our having a small window of time enables me to feed, pick up the poop, and for us both to eat breakfast.

Here’s the post-breakfast routine: Pete stacks the full water buckets next to the sink. The handles broke some time ago so taped them up with red and grey duct tape. Next he puts the bucketed water in the three enamel pots, which are on the wood stove. Once the water was heated he pours the water back into the four-gallon buckets, puts the lids on them, and carries them out to the sled. We put the sled next to the porch steps. I call this area the parking lot. I shovel it when it snows.

The small, plastic, missile-shaped sled (which Vickie gave us for Christmas two years ago) has plywood on the top and there are round holes in the wood. Putting the buckets in place keeps them from bouncing all over. Pete pulls the sled down to the to the horse paddock. This is an art itself, one that’s akin to walking an energetic and fast horse. It’s a dance because the sled can and often does go every which-way. If you step in front of the sled at the wrong time, you can (as I have been) get knocked over.

If there’s ice in the buckets Pete breaks it up with a stick and then removes the ice with a deep fat fryer basket. He then fills the buckets. The buckets (hopefully) are only half full. Otherwise, he has to dump some of the colder water to make room for the warmer water.

It’s important to be attentive to the process so that the horses get a final product that is just right, which is not too hot and not too cold. And is of course, the process is air temperature dependent. If the water is too cold it freezes faster. If it’s too warm the ponies are apt to burn their little lips. The latter has never happened, and we are working to ensure that it never will.

Next: 11. 1/11/17: How to Undress a Moose

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