From winter’s cold to summer’s heat
September 29, 2010
Some of the things that people ask never cease to amaze me. My husband and I live on 40 acres outside a large metropolitan city. We enjoy the quiet of the country and although it is a 30 to 40 minute drive home from work, it’s nice to have the time to unwind after a busy day. Many of the “city dwellers” that we both work with don’t understand that rationale, but that’s okay.
Probably the biggest advantage to living in the country and having a few acres is the fact that we can have animals. We have had chickens for a number of years, raising little ones with the help of a sitting hen. The kids raised rabbits as 4-H projects and we have had numerous cats come and go as they preferred. Dogs have always been a part of our family ever since we were first married, and, of course, we have horses.
People’s ears seem to perk up when you mention horses. So many have fond memories of riding a horse as a child either at Grandma and Grandpa’s or on a vacation trail ride. Since we have mentioned to our co-workers that we have horses, they will upon occasion ask how the horses are doing or ask if we’ve been riding lately.
Last winter when the snow was pretty deep and the wind was blowing, one of the guys I work with asked, “So, what do you do to keep your horses warm in this kind of weather.” Well, I explained that we have a three-sided “barn” so that they can get out of the weather, we feed them plenty of hay and we keep a tank heater in the tank so they have access to water. Evidently not satisfied with my answer, he continued. “But don’t you do something to help keep them warm?”
I was stunned at first and my mind started flashing pictures of us installing a furnace in the three-sided barn and watching our propane bill increase 10-fold or worse yet, us leading the three horses into the house until the spring thaw. Now our home is fairly modest in size so to house our three horses we would probably have to give each one their own room. Half of our rooms have carpet the other half have lament flooring, so you can probably guess which rooms I would choose to have the horses stay in.
Anyway, as I am shaking my head trying to get these images out of my mind, I try to explain to the well-intended co-worker that the horses “fur coat” naturally thickens for winter and provides a great deal of warmth and protection from the cold. I also add that before horses were domesticated by man they did just fine out in the open with their thick fur coats and eating snow for water. I tell him there are still wild horses living out in the open just as their ancestors did. He nodded in agreement and left with a thoughtful look on his face.
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I guess I’m amazed at how “out of touch” some people are with Mother Nature and about how all things are naturally given what is necessary for them to live in their environment.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised then, when this past week with temperatures hovering in the 90’s another co-worker asked, “So how do you keep your horses cool in this kind of weather?” With a replay of the images from before I quickly replied, “Sorry, we don’t run our air-conditioner unless company is coming, so the horses will just have to stay outside and suffer through the heat right along with the rest of our family.”