Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It Was A Good Idea - Until It Wasn't

We have a nasty winter storm coming in. Nasty. Not only a boat load of snow, but lows way below zero. Of course, during the bad weather is when the horses need a new bale put out. Not the day before the storm, not the day after the storm, but the day of the storm.

We could have put it out yesterday, but we really wanted them to clean up the last flake and a half (we feed big, square bales - about 1400# - so a flake and a half is a significant amount of hay). And I worked open to close yesterday, so unloading after I got home at 9:00 pm just didn't sound like a ton of fun.

Jay and I planned to unload the new bale when we both got home from work tonight. Because of the storm, my campus closed early and I got to come home early. I was pretty excited to get off work while the "sun" was still up.

I figured I could borrow L.E.'s jumper cables, jump start the truck (the old girl doesn't do cold) and have the horses fed long before Jay got home and we wouldn't have to feed in the storm, in the dark.

I should have known the day was going to go sideways when I got home and couldn't jump the truck. The truck was parked too close to the fence for me to get my car close enough for the jumper cables to reach. I moved the car as close to the truck as possible, figuring I didn't need to be able to get in the truck's driver's door - I'd just crawl in through the passenger side.

Still couldn't get close enough for the jumper cables to reach, so I moved my car to the other side of the truck. I parked so close that I almost couldn't squeeze myself out between the cars. I knew I'd have to climb back in my car through the passenger side. While, I'd managed to get a lot closer, I was still six inches short of being able to make a connection with the jumper cables.

A smart girl would have just waited for her husband to get home and followed the plan.

I am not a smart girl. I am a do-er.

The horses had cleaned up the left over hay and were getting obnoxious about getting fed. I couldn't blame them, it was cold (did I mention it was 8*F?) and I was messing around forever trying to get the truck started. Again, a smart girl would have just waited for her husband to get home and followed the plan.

Again, I am not a smart girl. I am a do-er, and by God, I was going to do this.

I put my thinking cap on. Always a dangerous move. Even if the truck wasn't going to move, the horses still needed fed. I know I can't carry a flake from the big bale by myself, because they're bigger than me, I just can't get figure out how to get my arms around them without them disintegrating. I thought about getting the wheelbarrow, but have you ever tried pushing a wheelbarrow around in snow drifts?

As I was cussing and stomping around, I looked over and saw the truck bed liner that had blown out of the truck over the summer in a micro-burst. It was folded over and frozen to the ground, but it would make an acceptable sled wouldn't it?

Then I remembered that I still had my tow hook attached to my car from when I got stuck up at Mom and Bill's a couple of weeks ago. A plan was hatched! I'd drag the bed liner to the truck, cut the strings, let four or five flakes fall into the now-sled, drag it to my car, attach it to the tow hook and drag it right into the pen.

I sprained my shoulder patting myself on the back for being such a problem solver. It wasn't easy - that bed liner was frozen to the ground and frozen into an effed up shape. I slipped and fell in slow motion while trying to stomp the bed liner flat again, but, by God I'm a do-er and I was going to get this done!

Lots of cussing and stomping and patting myself on the back and I was ready to drag the bed liner food sled into the pen.

Genius. Sort of.

The horses were good and worked up and I had to chase them away from the gate more than once, but we've done this every ten days for almost two years. They know the routine - the gate opens, they go to the other side of the pen. Usually, there are two of us to take hay in, but we've both done it solo successfully. As obnoxious as the horses were being, I figured they would jump on the hay once I got it in the pen, but just to be on the safe side, I opened the gate just a foot, then got in the car and pulled it up until the bumper was touching the gate.

I got out of the car, and went to swing the gate open. The horses retreated to the other side of the pen. Good horses!

I got in my car, pulled forward and off we went. My idea was working! I sprained my other arm patting myself on the back for being such a problem solver.

The baling twine I'd used to attach the sled to the tow hook gave way, but I wasn't worried, because I'd cleared the gate and would be able to close it without any problems. I drove my car around the pen so I could just drive straight out. I saw the horses go for the hay, and just knew they'd dive into it. I came around the last little bit of my turn and saw Pearl sniff the gate, then she took one step across the invisible boundary. I hollered at her to get back; she looked at me, with a glint in her eye, I think she even flipped me off, before she sauntered out the gate.

The other two decided that they wanted an adventure more than they wanted to eat and off they went with her. I had slowed down when I saw what was happening and must have stopped the car. The horses were still in the back yard, so I just left the car there, thinking I could herd them back into the gate.

I stomped out of the pen and called for them to come back. I mean, they come when called all the time. But not this time. This time, they looked back and went, oh shit, Mom's coming ... run!

Up the driveway and across the street they went. The farmers had pulled into the driveway to check on their cattle and asked if they could help. I asked them to keep an eye on them while I went to get their halters. L.E. stuck her head out of the house and asked if those were our horses loose across the street.


They weren't going too far from home, and once they were safely across the street I felt better. I didn't want them anywhere near the street as people were coming home. I told L.E. to get the halters while I pulled my car out of the pen so I could close the gate.

Unfortunately, when I stopped the car, I lost my momentum on the snow/ice and I was not quite stuck, but not quite mobile either. With lots of cussing and driving reverse/forward/reverse/forward, I was able to get my car moving in the right direction through the gate. I was starting to feel like things were going to be okay and then I slid and got my back bumper hung up on the panel. I said screw it, threw the car in park and then swung the gate closed until it rested against my stuck car. The opening was blocked by my car, but I didn't want to waste any more time before catching the horses.

L.E. was smart enough to grab some granola bars from the tack room and by the time I got to her, she had Pearl interested in a granola bar. She bribed her close enough to catch. Copper was still pacing back and forth in the field, but Skeeter's granola bar radar clicked on and she came right up to me to be caught.

I didn't even bother to attempt to catch Copper, knowing that he'd follow wherever his mares were going. He's so herd bound that there was no way he was going to let them out of his sight. In fact, by the time Skeeter and I had walked back across the street, Copper had passed us on his way to find Pearl, who was in the pen with L.E.

I don't know how long they were free - probably only about 20 minutes, but when your horses are loose it always seems longer.

Once the horses were safely back in the pen, I asked the farmers to please help me get my car untangled from the fence. As upset as I was last week when I realized that someone had sideswiped my cars, I was rather thankful for it tonight. When I got hung up on the fence, at least I wasn't putting the first dent in my car - the dent already existed.

With some huffing and puffing, they were able to push me through the opening in the gate before I lost traction and came to a stop. I didn't care. The car can fucking stay there for all I care. All I wanted to do was secure the gate and be done.

I thanked L.E. and the farmers for their help and slogged through the snow drifts to the house, cussing all the way.

Sometimes being a do-er bites me in the ass. I shoulda just waited and followed the plan.


Dreaming said...

What a day! Ugh! My fingers and toes are freezing in sympathy.

Linda said...

Wow, we had a similar thing happen this morning! Same exact story with the bale..bitter cold, a little left, etc, etc. Fast forward to this morning, my husband went out to put a round bale in--he threw them some flakes of alfalfa--they usually stay and eat it, but today, they ran through the gate! They were all over the place, but he blocked one of their exits with the tractor and then ran them back in through the gate. I got there to help right as they went back in.

Shirley said...

Well you get points for using ingenuity to get the job done! Dang horses could have cooperated though.