Rivulets Run Through It

After a snowfall of any size, there is always mud. Gradual melting is a rare event. Instead, after a few chilly days, temps rocketed up to 50 or 60 degrees. And if you’re lucky, a heavy rain lumbers through — like yesterday — and voila!

Major mud… plus a bit of flooding, free of charge.

This afternoon, as I waded through the mire to hay the horses, I heard running water. Clearly, Martin forgot to turn off the tap after filling the water trough. It’s a common mistake — I’m guilty, too. It’s a 150-gallon stock tank and it is slow to fill. You get distracted, wander off, and that’s that. Eventually, someone walks out and hears it: that steady rush of water cascading over the side, pattering the ground, and burbling as it forges its way along the slopes.

So today, when I heard the sound of forget, I bee-lined for the trough. But the water was steady and nowhere near the rim. The hose wasn’t even hooked to the spigot.

It turned out, the sound was emanating from the vast amount of rainwater and melted snow flowing unfettered through the horse field, carving rivulets in the grass. There wasn’t a visible origin or a final destination. It was just water on-the-run, racing to congregate and make mud.

More damn mud.

I refuse to photograph mud. Instead, here’s a look at this week’s sunsets. Each night threw a different hue.

Monday, we saw the faintest peep of departing sun, shrouded in snow-fog.


Last night, after a day of rain, a strange gale wind roared through like a rogue wave. It blew for 10 minutes and then fizzled out. But it thinned the fog and cracked the cloud cover.


And finally, tonight. Uncomplicated and uneventful, but colorful enough to upstage the mud below.


The Great White Blight… In Pictures



If you’re on Facebook, or if you peruse the local papers, then you’ve gorged on snow photos.

Well, I’m sorry to subject you to more. I promise, this’ll be quick and painless. And then we can move on:

With all the white hype, last Friday, Martin tried to resuscitate our tractor, which was suffering from starter problems.

With assistance, Martin kicked the tractor into gear, but it blew a hydraulic hose, which rendered the bucket inoperable. (The bucket was a lead actor in this performance.)



While Martin gave the tractor mouth-to-mouth, I went grocery shopping. The choices were slim pickings.



Snow started falling and accumulating on Friday night. By Saturday morning we were snowed in: the drifts sealed the mudroom door shut.



Snow permeated every crevice. In the mudroom, snow billowed through a wisp of a crack in the dog door. By morning, an inch of snow filled all of our shoes.



Much like the storm of 2010, the drifts piled up along the fencelines… and 18 inches really meant 3 or 4 feet.



The drifts proved too much for Maisie.



On Sunday — tractorless — we began to dig out. The horses were the first to be liberated.



The path to the sheep was ponderous.


Eventually we dug a trench to the sheep shed and — crawling and slogging — I ferried hay and water to them on a sled.

The sheep were utterly ungrateful.



All the while, the kids rode out the storm at my cousins’ house (where the risk of a power outage was minimal.)

It was a struggle over there:



Without an operable tractor, we were paralyzed. So we called for backup; Andy and his Cat plowed us out.

But first things first: we had to mark the drive, so Andy knew where to plow.



Andy removed the snow like a peel from an orange…



… and in the process, he created a mountain of snow… a sledding hill from what was once a plateau.

The kids built a luge run and an igloo.

It is part of the landscape until melting overcomes everything.

And life returns to normal.

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Barn Improvements 2.0

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In late 2014, the horses got an entirely new roof on the barn. It’s hard to top that gift, but just before Christmas last month, the horses got new windows, too.

Like the roof, the windows were a necessity. In the horses’ stalls, the original glass panes are long gone, and for a decade, we’ve improvised with plexiglass sheets, which Martin screws in for the winter, and removes in the summer.

But these flimsy plastic sheets aren’t always tough enough to withstand the worst winter winds; sometimes they blow into the stalls over night. And I worry that a horse will catch his lip or nose on a jutting screw head. (You’d be amazed at how horses manage to injure themselves. In leu of screws, we’ve tried using wooden slats, but they never fit properly. Besides, the horses chew them.)

Of course, Home Depot doesn’t stock replacement windows for a 95-year-old Dutch style dairy barn. Trust me, I looked.

But my friend Wild Bill stepped up to the plate and offered to make them for us.

(Why is he “wild”? I’ve known Bill for donkey’s years and the name suits him. Here’s a picture of him with Brynn last year.)


Anyway, this wasn’t a simple project. Weather, wear and time had altered the casings and sills, so each window would have to be designed to fit its respective space. And, they’d need new fittings that would secure each window against the wind, but facilitate removal in the summer.

Wild Bill found a solution. He custom-built the frames for each of the 12 openings. And he came up with a simple but clever latching solution using 4 standard window closures…. and he color-coded the latches so that we’d be able to match each window to its respective sill and casing.


So, there you go. Another project in the can.

If you’re keeping score at home, it’s horses 2, humans 0. We are still living in a house with a leaky roof and broken windows, but the horses, cats, and raccoons & possums are toasty-warm this season!