Thursday, October 27, 2016

Orange is the New Grey

I'm having my barn thoroughly repainted and repaired, dicey boards fixed, the whole bit. Yesterday when I went there, early in the morning, one of the work crew asked if I could move the horse that was standing next to the Dutch doors on the pasture side. "I'm going to start power-washing that side," he said.

The horse in question was Pal, our 29-year-old Quarterhorse; my mare Sarah was in the same field, father down and out of sight. I yelled, "SARAH!" which startled the workman--should have given him warning--and Sarah came galloping up, eyes bright. Sarah can be annoying in a hundred different ways, but she always looks happy to see me.

I moved Pal and Sarah into the small field behind the barn. We call it the pony paddock, but it's really a sacrifice lot, which is to say a plot of land so small that the horses will completely destroy the grass and make it look like heck. On the other hand, they've got room to move and they can't eat so much that they make themselves sick. Gully and Hot Wheels are very, very good at overeating, and the grass this time of year is super-sweet, so they were already in the pony paddock.

Pal was happy enough to move, because he's always happy enough. Sarah was DELIGHTED, because Hot Wheels, our red pony, is her special friend. She loves being around him; she moves him, she shares her hay with him, and she just generally enjoys his company. For a long time I felt rather sorry for Hot Wheels, being on the receiving end of so much affection, but gradually I could see that it was not unrequited. Hot Wheels also likes Sarah.

I went off and did my things, which mostly consisted of brooding about the fact that it was Wednesday, and my editor had promised to get back to me about my book on Wednesday, and she hadn't yet--maybe I'd better check my email again--and in late afternoon went out to feed the horses and check on the work and take the garbage down to the curb. The workmen had made big strides on the barn, repainting the repaired front, powerwashing the side, and replacing the section of wood fence between the two fields. It's next to the water pump, and the water troughs, one for the big field and one for the pony paddock, sit on both sides of it.

"Thanks," I said, pointing to the fence. "Sarah keeps knocking the top boards down. Whichever field she's in, she wants to drink out of the water in the other."

"That the big grey horse?" the man asked. I nodded. "Man," he said, "that horse is crazy. She got her feet in the water trough and was splashing and kicking."

I sighed. "She does that. It's why I've got the trough in the big field up on blocks, so she can't get her feet in it. The other horses don't like drinking muddy water."

"I tried to run her off," the workman said, "but she just ignored me. She got herself as wet as she possibly could, and then she laid down in that orange dirt and rolled."

Of course she did. "Sarah!" I yelled. She yanked her head up from the far corner of the paddock and came flying toward me, streaked with orange clay, her friend the red pony at her heels.