Five Years!

Today marks the fifthe anniversary of Hal and I coming to Albert’s Bungalow.

Five Years!

I’ve just read back through all my posts since I began Poo Picking in the Dark, which it surprises me that I didn’t actually begin until the November after we moved in, and, we haven’t stopped have we?!

Looking back, we’ve achieved such a lot, and learned even more. Yes, there have been some terrible lows, the whole Leonie situation will haunt me for life, however, there have been so many more highs. Yes, it’s hard work, no we haven’t had a holiday since we’ve been here. No, we don’t have any money. Yes, we have a great quality of life.

I still have to pinch myself regularly. I still can’t believe I’m here with my own little yard and my own school. The last five years have been full on, but we’ve done all the big stuff now. So now it’s time to consolidate on what we’ve built here. Here’s to the next five years.

day 20 – All Wound Up

Gone 2, Oh My Word! What is wrong with Breeze today? She’s behaving like some idiot Thoroughbred, not a sweet little elderly Cob. Florence is a bit wound up too. Granted, Breeze is quite an anxious soul, but things have hit a whole new level today.

Things seemed perfectly normal when I went down to check them first thing. Yes, they were both all over me like a rash, but this is not necessarily unusual behaviour. It was another one of those lovely silent mornings, just me the horses and a solitary owl in the whole wide world. It was a bit cool and clammy, foggy in fact, which is something that doesn’t really exist in my world, but there didn’t seem to be anything unusual going on. So what had changed by 11 o’clock this morning when we came to catch them in?

There was nothing untoward going on whilst sorting the stables out. So perhaps it was my fault for asking Hal and Ben to catch them in by themselves, while I went back to the house to use the loo. Whatever it was, by the time I got back down to the yard all hell had broken loose. Florence was dripping with sweat, and Breeze was behaving like a complete tit. Apparently Breeze had gone into one while Ben was leading her up. Then Florence decides to play silly buggers when Hal tried to get her in quick so he could take over from Ben. I had planned to hack out with Helen, Benz mum, this afternoon, and the idea was that Ben and I would get the horses clean and ready to tack up, while Hal worked with Steve, Who was coming to do more tree pruning. Yeah right. We couldn’t groom either of the horses, Florence was absolutely dripping, and Breeze was barging and stamping all over the place. Every time somebody opened her stable door she would try to barge out through them. I tied her up outside with a hey net, as she much prefers this, but no, that wasn’t good enough either. We gave up and put the kettle on at this point as I didn’t want Ben getting squashed

Steve didn’t get to us until, which cramped our style somewhat. So while he and Hal tackled the Blackthorn, I tackled the grooming. Florence was a bit shamefaced at her earlier behaviour. However, although not being so silly and rude, Breeze was still very much on high alert. So, as time was marching on Helen took Madam into the school, and they did some really nice work.

It’s on days like this that I wish I could speak fluent horse.

Day 14 – Peace

Hooray! The wind has dropped😅 Although, as I walked back up from checking the girls first thing, , through the pouring rain, I couldn’t help wondering where Hal had left the keys to the Ark.

I decided to have another R&R day today. Back on it tomorrow. Apparently so did Florence and Vreezd. While Hal was out in what turned out to be a lovely afternoon, clearing up after the storm, they were both laying down taking their ease.

Day 5 – Autumn Essentials

So far this year my hay is untouched, I have far too much grass and to scarily fat horses, and whilst I can’t claim to be entirely free of mud, it really isn’t worth writing home about. Yes, The nights are drawing in, and they are noticeably cooler, but, even though they have now been clipped, The girls are still perfectly comfortable without a rug.

Is it really October? It’s really difficult to think about the autumn essentials when the weather is so mixed up that The local farmers are in the process of bailing silage.In the last five days the land next door to us has had grass cut, turned, and bailed, with the bales being removed yesterday evening. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a late cut of silage. It must be a real relief, as after the first cut, which happened oh so very long ago, The grass just didn’t grow again until September.

Usually by this Time of year I am wondering if it is safe to start using the hay that Steve cut back in June or July. Whilst I always try to bring horses in as late as possible, and never until after the 5th of November, normally by now my resolve is beginning to crumble. Usually I am already beginning to run out of grass, monsoon season is in full swing, and the mud is beginning to make itself known.

So, apart from a good pair of wellies and some decent waterproofs, which are primed and ready to be worn in an instant, I think the mot essential thing to have at this time of year is am open mind.

Day 2 – electric Fencing and Bale Twine

I wonder who first cane up with the concept of electric fence tape. You know, that sometimes white, sometimes green, tough, nylon , ribbon, with wires running through it, that can be found all across the land, wherever horses are. Whoever it was, I’d like to shake their hand. This simple solution to a fencing need is an absolute godsend to us blind horse owners, as I expect it is to sighted owners who spend a lot of time servicing their horses needs when it’s pitch dark out there. You see, apart from the fact that it keeps my horses in the small patch of land where I want/need them to be, it makes the best, and most flexible guide rails! In fact, it’s adaptable, flexible, durable nature makes it perfect for the job. With the right amount of tape, and the correct placement of the plastic stakes that usually complete the electric fence package, , you can put a guide rail across the most undulating of terrains, and around the most circuitous of routes. Whilst it can be a bit of a faff to put up, it’s impermanence means it can fairly easily be taken down, moved, or reconfigured, when needed. I love it!

For the last year or so the way our paddocks are laid out, 2 in the bottom field and 4 in the top field, hasn’t really changed, so I, kind of, know my way around. I still use guide rails though. After all, I wasn’t actually put on this Earth to be a human volt metre. My guide rails take me to the energiser. Finding the fence by walking into it and then following it until I find the energiser, is just too painful!

This system works extremely well. Unfortunately though, are Energizer got badly damaged, when the guy we get our hay from accidentally ran over it while turning his trailer and truck around. . Hal has mended it, because obviously buying a new one would be far too difficult, but it has started giving me the occasional electric shock when I am groping around trying to find the on off knob. Hal’s simple, low tech, and extremely effective solution to this new problem is… bale Twine!

Now, anybody who has spent any time on the farm will know that, without bale twine, The entire agricultural

Economy of Great Britain would collapse. I’ve never yet been on a farm where bale Twine hasn’t been used to hold gates or doors open or closed, men’s or replace broken straps, tie up animals, .. the list goes on. Yes, it does, itself, break, and yes, it will eventually rot, but it’s durable, and there’s usually a ready supply.

So, Hal’s simple solution? Tie a length of twine to the guide rail, and then tie the other end to the small plastic D-ring that is on top of the energiser, in the corner that the on/off knob is at the bottom of. It works a treat! All I have to do is run my hand along the guide rail TIL I hit a knot , then follow the twine TIL I reach the energier, trace down the corner, and there’s the knob. It couldn’t work better. No more electric shocks for me.

WinterReady

ow can it be the end of September already?especially when we are still being blessed with such gorgeous weather. This time last year Mark had just finished the school, and the drains around it were running like fast flowing streams. We still had four horses back then, and we were already supplementing hay in the field, as our land was just a barren boggy wasteland. It was so wet that we couldn’t get a tractor on it to cut the hedges.

Compare then to now. Well, at the end of August, the unusually hot, dry Summer had left us with a bit of a dust bowl! The ground was rock hard, and, like last ear , we hardly had a blade of grass to our name. Since then, a smattering of rain, nixed in with lovely warm, sunny days, and cooler, dewy, nights, and, Hey Presto!, a textbook September flush. Now we only have the two horses, both of whom are extremely good doers, I am having to be very careful. That said, I’d far rather be facing Winter with too much grass than none at all.

We have a barn full of hay, a few bales of good quality haylage left over from earlier in the year, and more hay up at Steve’s. leonie’s stable is full of bedding. The hedges were cut on Thursday, and the bigger trees are being trimmed this week. The horses have been clipped. Rugs washed and ready. At the moment, our land is lush, green and dry under foot. I think we are as ready for Winter as we can be.

Let’s just hope it isn’t the four solid months of snow that the local News people keep going on about.

Mud Mud Glorious Mud

Will it ever stop raining? More to the point, when will it stop raining for Long enough for everything to start drying out? Please! We need to have a summer this year.

Everything is permanently filthy and saturated at the moment. The horses never seem to be entirely dry. It’s far too warm to put a rug on then, so they seem to have developed a shell of mud which is virtually impossible to remove. Manes, tails, feathers, and even beards are rapidly morphing into mud encrusted dreadlocks. . Although we haven’t entirely run out of grass, the top field is mostly a trashed boggy wasteland that will need reseeding, if we ever get a Spring that is. Sweeping the yard has given me a deep empathy with King Canute

,I can’t hold the tide back either. Even the avenue down to the bottom field and the muck heap, where no horse treads at this time of year, is so wet and slippery that Hal is having massive problems getting the barrow too and from the muck heap. It’s fair to say that it’s all a bit of a struggle at the moment.

It is strangely comforting to know that we are not the only people who are struggling. Nearly everybody you meet who keeps horses is in the same boat. Really though., it’s getting to the point where that boat should be an Ark! It must be just as frustrating for anybody who is a cattle or sheep farmer, or makes a living off the land in some way.

Sadly the mud Took a terrible toll this week. In a field which is only just down the road from us, an elderly horse got so badly stuck in the mud that a full blown rescue had to be launched. . I don’t know the horses owners, or much about the horse, but I really feel for them and their plight. The ground is so wet at the moment that it was impossible to get a tractor onto the field in order to attempt to lift the horse. Fire and rescue, The specialist animal rescue team, had to attend. It took several hours to get the horses out and up. The horse was taken to a nearby stable, but sadly it didn’t survive. Apparently the horse was 34 years old, A remarkable age, and has been a part of that family for over 30 years. After such an ordeal the poor Thing must have been exhausted I can only imagine how devastated the onus must be. Horses leave extremely big holes in our hearts.

The mud poses A whole new set of different challenges for those of us you can’t see. Firstly, and similar to ice in a way, it is not always easy to tell where it is safe to walk. Yes you can poke at the ground with a stick, but unless you do this you have no way of knowing if your Nextep is going to take you into deep impenetrable bog. The other problem is when you drop something. A classic example of this happened to me yesterday. When we were bringing the horses in, this prime example of human intelligence dropped a head collar into the quagmire. Then had to scrabble around with her bare hands to find it. Cue One short fat middle-aged Horse, owner completely plastered in mud from head to toe, clutching a slippery mud in crusted pile of mank which vaguely resembled a head collar and lead rope, and one totally disgusted horse, onto whom said horse owner was trying to place the aforementioned item.

For a brief moment this morning, when I was giving the horses their breakfast, that magical special time it is just me and then, there was a brief hint of spring in the air. The temperature was just right, there was a gentle breeze, The dawn chorus was in full tune, and, I kid you not, it wasn’t raining. Could this be a sign of things to come? Sadly it didn’t last long. Oh well, it’stime to buckle up, and go and face the elements. I wonder if my coat is dried out yet?