As I write this, the wind is rattling the barn roof and bending the trees and the rain is hammering down as promised by the weather forecasters on TV yesterday. Tail end of yet another hurricane. I came home early with the horse today. Four of us were riding at quite a height on an exposed hill and it wasn’t just raining, but hailing with the storm force wind. No need to pay for a facial or an exfoliation – had it for free this afternoon! I find it quite stressful trying to load the horse into the lorry with everything being whipped about with the wind and rain. If it is a really strong wind I find it extremely hard to push the lorry ramp back up as well. I have to think about parking to suit the external elements as well as everything else.
Now home, all my wet outer-wear and some of the tack is hanging to drip in the barn and the first load of horse kit is in the washing machine. Everything else will have to wait until tomorrow to be cleaned and oiled. Still I cannot complain, I suppose we were spoilt with a beautiful October and you can’t call it cold, even now, in mid November. Last night I picked half a dozen sizeable, ripe tomatoes from the poly tunnel and a lettuce from the garden itself. Amazing for this time of year.
When a horse does quite a bit of work in the winter, as mine does, owners usually “clip them out”; basically means taking a lot of the hair off to reduce sweating; other wise it is like the poor old horse running round doing a marathon in a thick, woollen winter coat. The amount of hair removed corrulates to the amount of work the horse does and how they are kept. Usually, a horse living outside will have less hair taken off than one living inside all the time. Then to keep them warm when they are not working they have to wear a “rug”. Oh yes, you can spend a fortune on rugs! Out door rugs,(of various thicknesses to suit the weather) indoor rugs, travel rugs, rugs with hoods, rugs without, sweat rugs, wicking rugs, bug rugs . . . . . . . I could go on. It’s endless what the manufacturers tell you need. Also, some horses seem to have a penchant for shredding the most expensive of their rugs on fences or thorn hedges. In fact some horses can be extremely ingenious as to how they are going to wreck a rug, on what, or even completely step out of one and leave it in the field to be trampled!
“Clipping” is not one of my favourite jobs but this has to be done 3 or 4 times between end of October and the New Year when the horse’s coat will stop re-growing. My eyesight is so poor I find I have to do it in daylight, which means standing outside to clip. So, the slightest wind and there are clouds of tiny little bits of clipped hair flying every which way as you work. It gets up your nose, in your eyes and always manages, somehow, to work its way down into your underwear. Ah. ****. At least my mare is reasonably good at standing still; as you can imagine some horses are less than tolerant of such an operation!
Some traditional clipping “patterns” form nearly everything taken off to just a tiny bit over the chest.
With the weather deteriorating I have started putting food on the bird table once again. It didn’t take long for the tits and resident robin to find the fat balls and get stuck in. There has been a flock of long tailed tits flitting around the garden, but as yet they have not come back to the bird table. This year we seem to have had an increase in the goldfinch population; I love to see them; they are so colourful.
Across the road from us is an old, neglected orchard (all the trees having been removed a long time ago). However, because it is a funny shaped plot with a large ditch running down the middle the farmer has let the thistles and weeds run riot in one corner; it is too difficult to mow to tidy. This has been become a great feeding ground for the finches and other birds and insects.
This week I finally persuaded himself to come swimming with me. I do try to go once or twice a week, usually at a lunchtime when it is reasonably quiet. Early morning swimming seems to be frequented by the serious training swimmers doing “lanes”. I was never much of a swimmer and “potter”up and down the pool. But I know I am using other muscles and it must improve your core strength. We are lucky at present that swimming is free to pensioners. There is talk that the Council are going to close the pool, when the school campus, which is adjacent to the leisure centre is replaced. The pool isn’t that old, about 15 years ago I think it was built (very badly). The Council have relinquished running the leisure services to a “not for profit organisation” in the last few months. So the community waits to hear what is to happen. Following our Thursday lunchtime swim GOS has done nothing but grumble about his aching elbows!
It’s a bit draughty here in the study tonight. The wind has got up more. Downstairs to the sitting room I think and the crossword . . . .