Lauren left for Malaysia in the early hours of July 27th to spend some time with her friend Mia and her family. This has left 100 year-old Cindy at the farm pretty much on her own as the dog days of summer continue in earnest. It has been brutally hot and humid for the last week and for this week except the day before Lauren left where it was just a balmy, humid 84.
Due to Ally still recovering from a stitched up hand, Alex being on vacation and other changes, I have been on my own at the farm most of the time. Fortunately, Ally was released to return to work on Friday and I welcomed her back gratefully. My neighbors are in Singapore so it is super quiet around the farm. Everyone choosing now as the optimum time for their southeast Asia vacation. Like who does that? Vacations in SE Asia? Anyway—
While working my day job and coming home to do the night chores of getting horses in, hosing them all down (they are covered in sweat), feeding, distributing hay, turning out the night horses along with feeding dogs and assorted cats has been a little overwhelming, but nothing prepared me for the weekend.
I wanted to get a ride in on Diva before Jordyn came out Friday night. I was in the saddle before 5 pm while the temperature was still hovering close to 100. Nothing wears out a horse like the hot sun and wet sand (from our previous day’s shower). My little ride made Diva the perfect saint for Jordyn when at 6 pm she climbed on-board and I moved on to taking a dressage lesson with Nancy Lindsey.
Taking a dressage lesson with Nancy is an arduous task on a cool, winter day. Under the blazing sun of summer it is a little like torture. You certainly want a buddy in the ring to divert her sharp eye from you and your horse. Thankfully, Jo Ann and Mickey were there to suffer along with me. To make the lesson a little more adventuresome, I was riding Feather in Lauren’s absence.
Feather needed to keep up her workload and I needed the lesson. Perfect idea in theory. But the things Lauren does with this mare (and they seem simply to happen) were not quite as easy when I tried. First, Feather was bored, bored, bored with Granny on board! What in the world was she doing away from her fan in the hot summer sun? And with this old, silly amateur on-board, it was really quite ridiculous. The horse Olympian Bernie Traurig said had been born in a perfect frame, was not framing up for me!
Feather in a frame, where she is round and working off her hind end. She can even do it on her own-but not for me!
Okay, so we worked on that. And we sweated. And worked some more. Just to make this super fun, occasionally Feather likes to bolt. As in two years ago she bolted and Lauren broke her arm. Or four years ago, she bolted and Jordyn almost broke her back. Yea, that kind of bolting-jumping out from under you at a dead run kind of bolting. We think it is a stifle issue. The vet will check Feather out when Lauren returns. But back to my story-around we go in relatively respectable posting trot, with Feather in somewhat of a frame, when out of the left corner we come like we have been shot out of a cannon! A few seconds that felt like a lifetime flew by and I was settled back in the saddle again with Feather quietly standing there like she had never moved an inch.
This could have been me flying from the cannon. My old cowboy hang tough muscle memory saved me!
The good news about this event was it further confirmed our thoughts on the stifle issue (that is a part of a horse’s leg for those of you not up on horse anatomy issues). I did not fall off or break anything! And Nancy Lindsey gave me some great tips on how not let it happen again (I was thinking never ride the horse to the left or never get back on the horse again) but she had some more constructive ideas like put a breast collar on the horse so I have something to hold on to. She also told me something that I have long thought but could not support.
She told me I handled the ordeal better than Lauren does. Now, make no mistakes, Lauren is a WAY better rider than me. I cannot do the things she does but in terms of handling young, spooky, crazy or difficult horses, I have more experience and more confidence. Lauren won’t like this but it made my day!
So, that was Friday. We got in the house about 7:30 and Jordyn asked me about dinner. Was she kidding? I was supposed to feed her? Not a chance. I was exhausted. I don’t remember what she ate but am pretty sure she found something. I was chugging Gatorade.
Saturday was a lovely 100 degree day filled with many opportunities to meet my FitBit goals (which I almost doubled). First, I did some mowing-like with a push mower, a power push mower but still. I got back in the house during the worst heat of the day to catch up on the all those chores. Somehow, Lauren goes out-of-town and does not clean the house prior to her departure. She did manage to use every towel she owned which were now in the laundry room and leave her bedding for me to wash. It was just a few loads.
I was back out in the sun with my migrant worker outfit on (old tattered shorts, a ragged tee-shirt and an old cowboy that looks like it has been run over) by 2:30. The horses needed to get out of the sun as well. Each of them deserved a hosing off before sending them to the shade and blowing fans in their stalls.
Quickly it was time to put dinner on the table (or in the trough as the case might be) for the horses, dogs and cats. That is a total of 21 animals. Yes, I am crazy. Ask anyone.
I had made it through Saturday and was on to Sunday! At some misguided moment, I had agreed to do everything (morning to night) at the farm on Sunday. I neglected to remember that I had not done all the chores myself for several months (after I broke my ribs) and the whole heat factor sent this way off the chart into totally stupid idea time.
Thinking I was going to get to sleep in a little (what would that be like?) I fed the horses, dogs and cats about 5 am. Then while they rested in the relative cool of dawn, I went back to bed. I got up at 8, put on another one of my top-notch outfits, filled my water jug and headed to the barn. I got all the horses including super baby Sims to their respective pastures and actually got the main barn cleaned in record time. I took a break. I was dying. The heat was nuts.
I got going again on the remaining seven stalls. I did two of them. I stopped and laid down in the shade. Drank some water. I was ridiculous. How does anyone do this? Then I started thinking of all the other people I knew-none of them were doing anything this dumb, or hard, or hot. Geez.
My late start (brilliant as it was) did not take into account the heat rising as day went on. I was on stall number eight or nine and it was past 11:30. Of course, I had not eaten. I started getting muscle cramps. I hoped for a heart attack-hospitals are air-conditioned. It just went on.
By the time I had made the dinner and breakfast feed for all the horses and several hay bags for the night horses, I was so far past my tolerance point I was into delirium. I got into the house about 1:30, showered and tried to imagine going back out to get the horses in, feeding and doing turn-out. Wasn’t happening. My one day of showing I could be Lauren or Ally was a failure!
I stumbled out to get the horses, in yet another of my migrant farmer looks, (if you are considering this look for Halloween, let me know, I have many versions) to find my friend Jo Ann there. I begged her to help me to feed and hay so I could go back in the house and lay down. Thankfully she agreed.
I was an absolute zombie. I fell asleep by 7 pm. But I was chipper and off to work on Monday just a little sore for all my fun. Man, I admire all you barn, farm and event managers/workers. Actually anyone working outside in the summer heat. My name is Cindy and I couldn’t do it!
I even wore out the youngest of the dogs, Maui. Totally asleep on Sunday afternoon.
Thanks for riding along! Stay cool and safe!