Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Geez, It's Cold! GEEZ!

Times like these are when I start to question my sanity. When I start wondering why anyone settled in this place, and chose to stay here. Why I'm staying here.

Last week was a challenge. Days of above-freezing temps led to lots of snow melting, and eventually the temperatures dipped below freezing. Which meant glare ice everywhere. The "arena" Royal and I had tracked out? The lower half is pretty solid ice, with the top part not being much better. We got a bit of snow, which helped slightly, but you don't have to go too far before hitting ice. The road is slightly better, but we still have the same problem as before: close to home is fine, but you run into more glare ice as you go up the hill. The good news is that the front field is a bit higher, so not a lot of ice there, and the parts that are ice are easily avoidable. Royal and I played a bit up there on Saturday.

We can create a pretty good track from walk/trot stuff that has reasonable traction. I prefer to use that area for jumping normally, but the snow has made it a nice flatwork area. Which we will hopefully be able to use eventually, because on Sunday, it got cold. Like bone-crunching cold.

The projected highs have either been in the single positive digits or the negative. Combine that with lots of wind and I'm ready to pack it in and move south. Or west. Anywhere but here.

And it doesn't help when things go wrong. Yesterday it never got out of the negatives, but I went up to see Royal anyway and wanted to give him and the other horses lots of Pity Cookies to help keep their spirits up. Imagine my shock when I go to give Royal his grain in the morning (when it was -8 without factoring in wind chill) and see both gate hooks (the fences are two lines of electrical wire/rope) lying on the ground. The top one was still attached to the line, which was completely slack as far as I could see down the line, and the bottom line was no longer attached to the hook. Which was not good. At all. We do have problems with the lines stretching in the wind, but sometimes it looks like a wild animal hit the line, got shocked, panicked, and broke through. I'm not sure what broke the top line, but it must have happened overnight, and I'm guessing one of the horses saw the top line was down and stepped on the bottom and broke it. Luckily all five were in the paddock when I arrived and looked okay.

I had brought Royal's food with me and hoped I could just let him eat while I fixed the fence. I restrung and tightened what I could of the top line, but Coco wanted to come with, so he stepped under it and followed us. I had to grab my spare 12 foot and put him back, but Gabby decided to join the fun and she got out too. So I chased her back in (and Coco away from the gate), retied the bottom line, and put that back in place. I then started tramping around the fence line to see where the break was. It was pretty far down, but it broke hard, taking a lot of the insulator hooks with it (which makes me think it was a wild animal, because those had been holding the line fine). I had to keep going to find the other half of the break, and bring it back, wrapping it around some of the insulators. I eventually made it back and retied the line with a quadruple knot just to be safe. Now, I had unplugged the fence so I could handle it, and Coco figured that out. I looked back at the horses just in time to see him squeeze between the lines to get to Royal's grain. I ran across the field yelling "COCO! NO! BAD PONY!" which was a stupid thing to do, considering how icy it was. Coco managed to get a mouthful or two before going back through the lines. Royal decided to follow him and broke through the top line, separating it from the hook. So I had to retie the line to the hook, plug the fence back in, get Royal, bring him back to his grain, and baby-sit him until he finished. And then I had to do the task I had originally planned on do, which was chipping off the ice layer a few inches above the water that is formed by rapidly heating and cooling air that passes above the heater. By the end of it, I was cold and coughing up a storm from breathing all the cold air, so no one got any Pity Cookies then.

After warming up inside the house, I went back out to recheck the water, and saw that I hadn't replugged the fence all the way. The same cord is also connected to the heater, so it wasn't operating at full capacity and a thin layer of ice had formed on the water. I plugged everything in fully, broke up the ice, and when back inside because I was coughing so much. I came out again later, finally gave everyone the Pity Cookies, and chucked all the ice chunks out so the heater wouldn't have to work so hard to warm up the water. That seemed to help a lot when I checked it one last time before I left, because it had reached a nice temperature then.

Coco say he's sorry about the whole escaping thing, and he would really like a cookie.

I would really like for winter to be over now.

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