Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Big Black Monster


It’s not easy to be married to someone who is horse crazy. Yesterday, in the pouring rain, Silk’s stall flooded. She was cowering in the one dry corner in the back, so my husband attempted to divert the water. I was in the house when I saw him with a huge roll of black plastic over by the side of the barn. I ran out because that black plastic set alarm bells off in my head. If I were a horse……

Silk was very glad to see me, and let me lead her to safety in Siete’s stall. My husband began mounting the huge sheet of plastic to the side of the barn with boards and a screw gun. The horses were quiet, but concerned. I started bailing the “poop soup” from the stall. I filled four big muck buckets with stinky brown liquid. I could hear the rain thundering on the plastic, which unnerved me since it was on the wall next to Silk’s feed bucket. As a final solution, my husband mounted another piece of the plastic to create a run-off funnel for the water that was pouring off the roof. More loud noises were added, but the water stopped coming into the stall. I insisted he put lots of big rocks on the plastic so it couldn’t blow and rustle too much.

I bought three bags of wood pellet horse bedding at the feed store and threw them down on the wet spots in Silk’s stall. So, now it was dry, but Siete was acting like someone had attacked her. She refused to come see me for hugs and kisses, so I knew she was really freaked out. Mother and daughter huddled together. At dinner time, I coaxed Silk back into her stall for the night. The rain had slowed down, but it was still making a rat-tat-tat on the plastic, especially in the funnel attachment. Around 8:30, I went out to check on the girls. Silk was cowering in the back of the stall and hadn’t eaten any of her hay or even touched her water. Last thing I needed was for someone to colic. I dismantled the funnel and rolled it up under a big rock so that at least part of the noise stopped. It was quiet with only an occasional rustle of plastic. I reassured Silk and Siete with lots of comforting words and neck scratchies. It was the best I could do for the moment.

This is the part where I reveal to you how insane I am. At 3 am, I woke up because the wind was whipping around outside my window. I began worrying about the Big Black Monster rattling next to Silk’s stall. I went downstairs and stuck my head out the back door. The wind roared and a tarp over our firewood blew wildly. I grabbed the flashlight and headed for the barn. Silk is my four-legged sister, and even though it was only 15F degrees, I had to see if she was okay. Both horses were sticking their heads out over the top of the Dutch doors. Silk was obviously relieved to see me. Her eyes were soft and grateful, not frightened. The wind wasn’t that bad, and the black plastic had so many rocks on it that it only made a slight noise. There was nothing I could do except be there to tell the horses that I wasn’t scared and they were okay. I kept thinking about the Mary Oliver quote. This was my one wild and precious life.

In the morning, I opened up the front doors so they could come out into the corral. Siete rushed over to the fence by the Black Monster and stood guard, protecting her mother. I could sense Silk was still uneasy, and I made my DH (Disgruntled Hubby) pull out the screws in the wall of the barn and roll up the plastic. He warned me that it would flood again with the next rain. We can’t really fix the problem until the ground thaws. The horses went out in the pasture. I cleaned both stalls and added fresh shavings. All is right in the world again. After lunch, Silk took a siesta and so did I.

13 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like you had a fun day and night and could probably use more than just an afternoon siesta, sounds like you could use a full blown day at a spa with a good masseuse. I really hope the rain has stopped for a while and things dry out.

detroit dog said...

You're not insane; you're a good mom.

As for the plastic and rocks, well, it looks like the back corner of my house last week. (flooded basement.) What helped for us in one area was putting down a ton of topsoil and lightly grading away (the rest of the yard is still a swamp). Our neighbors have the same problem, and built two-foot high brick planters against the house. Perhaps silk and siete would like their own flowerbeds?

Good luck.

Bill Evertson said...

I love your husband- erecting a big black tarp tent in the rain to keep the barn from flooding. Then dismantling it to keep Silk and Siete calm. I think you're married to a hero. (I'm sure you know it) with the winter we've been up against; all freezing rain , I hope you find a solution for the girls.

Farm Girl said...

Oh, what we do for our horses! I love that you go out and give comfort too. My non horsey husband has rolled his eyes at me on several occasions, but I do what I think is needed anyway! My horses are worth the aggravation. (of trying to convince him I just need to do it!)

billie said...

Wow - you're not crazy, or if you are, I'm right there with you. I have tromped to the barn many nights to check on things when I felt one of the horses might be upset.

Putting drops of Rescue Remedy in water buckets (and under my own tongue) sometimes helps.

I hope you're resting peacefully tonight, with no interruptions.

Island Rambles Blog said...

Sounds like you are so in tune with your horses...I love how your describe them. And I hope the rain stops, I know it is such a worry.

FloridaRobot (Jim) said...

Do you think gutters on the barn could help?

This is a great blog and I enjoy stopping by every day. Thanks

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Night Owl said...

I hope the rain has stopped, my mare would have been scared of the big black monster as well, only she doesn't live near me, I'd have to get in the car to check on her :-(

Strawberry Lane said...

Pray for sun!

No, you aren't crazy going out in the middle of the night.

I probably would have put a sleeping bag in the middle of a puddle and spent the night with them.

Your hubby was a trooper to try to solve the problem. Tarps are sometimes a necessary evil, which horses don't seem to understand.

Every year we think the drainage problems around here are solved, but they never are.

You sure are a good mom! Look forward to seeing your springtime photos with all the lush green and beautiful trees.

That's when I'll be calling the moving van!

LJB said...

If you left the tarp in place, the horses will get used to it. It is novel to them, and novelty arouses either their curiosity or their fear -- two sides of the same coin.

I sure know how hard it is for ME not to tolerate upset horses in the few days it may take for them to adjust! *g*

Victoria Cummings said...

I think that LJB is right - They would have eventually learned to live with the black plastic by the barn - BUT I certainly don't need to have Silk colic or get injured right now. Come Spring, I'll get out the sheets of black plastic and do that Linda Tellington-Jones TTouch exercise where you lead the horses between the sheets of plastic to de-sensitize them.

M. C. Valada said...

Victoria:

I've taken a number of "bomb-proofing" clinics with Rod Bergen out here in L.A. and I can't keep Ace away from the black plastic obstacle--he loves to walk over it.

I did some training on the tarps on my own by leaving one laying over a fence where it would move in a breeze, but he had plenty of room to approach and move away from it. Then I put a tarp on the floor of his stall where he would have to stand on it to eat or cross it to go outside. I did stick around on the days I had the tarp on the ground to make sure he didn't get caught up in it.

The thing Rod emphasizes is making it so "it's no big deal." Using the clicker is also a good way to work on these things.

--Christine