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Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Cecilia, where are the horses?" Was my question at 7:20 this morning as I idly looked out the cow barn window and down to the pastures, which both appeared to be empty. We looked back and forth as if ten horses might re-materialise out of thing air, then started scanning up and down the valley, wondering where on earth we'd lost all the ponies, especially given that the land is relatively flat. Finally, Cecilia spotted Osk's white butt half a kilometre away at a neighbouring farm.

"Hey B, we found your horses!" She called over to him as he milked. His response was basically along the lines of 'well that's good. They were there when I got home at 2am." He'd been out so late because poor second-oldest did indeed break her elbow yesterday and had to have surgery and get pins put in. She and T spent the night at the hospital.

After we finished cleaning cows, B sent us up to the house early to eat breakfast and then get ready for riding--there were pony rides this morning. We ate quickly and layered up for a brisk mid-May tolt down the road. I wore a black unitard, knee-high socks, spandex leggings, more knee high socks, MEC pants, jodhpur boots, a long sleeved t, a short sleeved t, a light sweater, a long sleeved fleece, a sleeveless vest, a helly hansen windbreaker, gloves, a buff, and a toque and it was just about right as we headed out into the blowing snow and hail. We drove the SUV down to where the ponies had put themselves and collected our two horses that we needed for pony rides. B was pretty funny as he goes 'be careful. they are out of their safety zone.' and then rustled a plastic bag of bread at them. We grabbed our two and tacked them up from the back of the car and then headed off to the next farm, feeling very Iclelandic indeed as we travelled along the windswept road. Amazing ponies though! We are falling in love with these little horses.

Pony rides were good, and luckily short given the weather. We met a kid named Emil, which was notable since the horse I was handling was also named Emil, and the kid had been riding him at the farm every year for five years. The mom, who spoke good English, confessed that they thought he would be dead by now. Poor guy is only 18 and has plenty of spunk left in him!

We rode the horses home and put them out in their un-destroyed paddock. They were a little perturbed to be separated from the rest of the herd, whom we had left at the neighbours until further notice.

It was about 11am at this point and B was in town picking up the girls, so C and I sat down on our bed and thought we would rest for 'just five minutes' and then looked at the clock again to discover that it was 2pm. It was the best sleep I've had since we left Canada, and we both needed it so badly! B and the kids were still out when we woke up, and second-oldest (A) was watching Toy Story while T was napping (super woman needs a break too! amazing!) so C and I had a light lunch and fed A, then bundled back up and went to collect the ponies. We took an armload of headstalls with us and hiked down the road, where C used her horse whispering skills to collect us four ponies to lead back. Once we hiked back again, the four that were left were glued to the gate, wondering where their buddies had gone. One of the puppies, red dog, came with us, and was so windswept he was walking like he was drunk. Very cute!

Once we got all of the horses back from the next farm we got called in for a snack, which was 'feel better chocolate cake' and then headed down to tend to the cows, who were SO loud! We are expecting more bad weather and temperatures into the - numbers, so we shut up the barn, which included bringing all ten horses in to an area totaling maybe ten by thirty feet and collecting some lambs.

Soooo yea. Basically we were told which numbers to get, but the numbers are tiny and on their ears, and generally waved in the correct direction, at which point we lunged through their snowing, windy, muddy paddock to grab a lamb. If we had the correct one, we then went and waved it in front of its mother, to encourage the mom to follow along so that we could get the selected sheep and lambs into the barn. If this sounds too easy to be true you'd be right. Holy crap it was hard to get some of those sheep to follow us! They were totally ready to throw their lambs under the bus and let them go wherever, while running for their own lives. We got good at holding wriggling little lambs though! They are sooo cute! Eventually many of the mums got caught by the horns and hauled inside; much easier.

B had a couple to ear clip (like a brand, but cutting into the ear) and tag, which we helped with. He knew I was squeamish about holding the lamb for it, so he told me I would just be giving it to him...and then definitely made me hold it so he could cut its ear. He gave C the earring maker though, and she put a whole in a lamb's ear and tagged it. T just looked at me and went 'I guess you don't want to be here in the fall when we slaughter the lambs?' Um, no. Thanks though.

We had to bring them water, and instead of undoing the hose to fill up their bucket, as would have been logical, C decided to give me the bucket to hold against my chest (there was no handle) and fill it up for me to carry. Except we didn't think through how the combined effect of me laughing hysterically and walking might create a small tidal wave effect, losing a couple of inches of water all over me. B just looked at us and went, dryly: "That wasn't very smart. In fact it was almost stupid." T was busy trying not to laugh, it was pretty funny. She is really growing on us as we get to know her more. She's definitely super woman, it's quite nuts.

After milking, which was unremarkable except that I got kicked once and C got kicked twice (all glancing blows), we headed up for a light dinner of pourable yogurt, fruit, and egg, and some cereal, and then T gave us an impromptu lesson in Iceland. We learned a bunch of animals, and then 'My name is...What is your name?' 'I'm from Canada' and 'I don't understand Icelandic.' The last one would have been handy around all these pony ride kids!

Even though we aren't nearly so tired thanks to our nap, I think we're still going to try for an early night. 6am for me and 7am for Cecilia comes very early around here, especially with such busy days! After evening chores we came in and were both like 'wow, we didn't have to do any work today!' but then we counted up and realised we still did at least 9 hours of chores and work. Crazy. If nothing else, we'll be fit!


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