03 January 2012

I Don't Blame Him

Here, kitty, kitty!
The weather in Iowa this winter season has been snapping back and forth as fast a the crack of a whip.  One minute, it's beautiful--balmy almost--the next, it's bitter and painfully cold.

Most of us don't really care.  With all the windows replaced and the nooks and crannies insulated, our house is a refuge.  The cats wallow in the sunshine, wrapping their tails tightly around their feet.  If there's a chance of being pet, they leap from their spots and come running over.

The sheep are probably least bothered of all.  Their wool has been replenished so they look like fat, dense cotton wads.  Their thick hair, mingled with an abundance of greasy, water-resistant lanolin, keeps them toasty warm, even in the windiest, sharply frigid temperatures.  It's no wonder a cozy wool sweater can have its wearer sweating in no time.
Then there are the horses.  I don't deprive them of the any of the other comforts that the rest of my animals have: they have ample hay, grain, crystal clear (and heated!) water and a snug shed that Jack built just for them.  Come chilly weather, their hair lengthens and thickens and though horses prefer cool weather, the cold can make them kind of grumpy.  Especially Stoney.
Look at that face!  And that's right after I gave him a heaping scoop of sweet feed!
Stoney's never been one to enjoy winter, even when he lived in the luxury of a stall.  I'm not sure if it's because he gets less sleep--the frozen tundra isn't exactly conducive for laying down (and yes, horses do need to lay down to go through a REM sleep cycle once in a while) or if he's a crab because he's cold.  I can't exactly blame him.  If I had to shiver my way through several months straight, I don't think I'd be very pleasant either.
Whatever the reason, I don't take his grumpiness personally.  Dancer doesn't seem to either.  There's really not much that bothers her, even Stoney's permanent scowl.

Even our tiger, Hercules is undeterred by all the nastiness.  He patiently waits for the horses to drop crumbles of food so he can snatch them up.  Weird, I know.  He's very open minded when it comes to eating.

After all these years of working with horses, I sometimes forget that they are livestock, still worrying and fretting that they are comfortable.  More often than not, they are fine, barely even noticing the dip in temperatures. Maybe with all this free time on my hands, I'll use up my sheep's course wool and knit the grouchy gelding a sweater . . .
. . .but then I have a feeling that he'd still be cantankerous . . .

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