This morning, while I was watching the news, I finally got some good news. And I’m not talking about the world news or politics, I’m just talking about the local weather. When good ole Zach came on channel 13 and said we had a 40 percent chance of rain, I was ecstatic. While most of Missouri is under the clutch of a drought, it seems like our farm is been completely squeezed of all water. The grass that normally feeds our animals is turning into the consistency of straw and the ponds are almost two feet lower than normal this time of year. If we don’t get a decent amount of rain soon, (hopefully today!) we have two options. One is to start feeding hay, and to start feeding hay in June is every farmer’s worst nightmare. The second option is to start cutting the herd, which isn’t a very happy option either. Either way we could really use the rain.
With it only being June, that means the rest of the summer could be rough on our little family farm. April and June are usually are wettest month but this year we are almost 5 inches behind in rainfall totals. All I can say is I really hope the sky opens and finally let our pastures get their fill of a thirsty Thursday!
Who needs a guard dog when you can use a horse instead? 15 hands and 33 years old, he’s definitely not your average guard animal. He is pretty scary to the UPS man when he comes trotting at him looking for grain.
But we don’t usually have horses wandering around our yard. After we built electric fence last week, our horses were limited to eating off the round bale. Being so old, the other three horses aren’t very good at sharing the hay with Barney, and he isn’t very good at eating it when he gets some. So until the grass gets a little longer, Barney is stuck being our guard dog munching on the front yard (he goes back with the other horses at night though).
Barney has been a part of our family for almost ten years. Back then, I was one of those horse crazy kids that had to have a horse NOW. By chance, a guy at my dad’s work was headed to Alaska for six months and needed a temporary home for his horse and mule. So I got a horse for me and a mule for my riding buddy (or whoever I could con into riding with me). But at the end of the six months my nine year old world ended, and Barney and Ruby (the mule) had to go home. Six months later they came back as their owner headed to back Alaska and they haven’t left since (probably cause they didn’t have the heart to take them away from me again).
Barney wasn’t just my first horse. He basically taught me to ride. Granted, I had been taking horse lessons at B and B Farms for a year or two but that was riding in an arena. Barney taught me the ins and outs of owning your own horse. But most of all, Barney helped me find my passion- barrel racing. As my first barrel horse, he won my first rodeo and put up with me as I learned the ropes.
But just like every good guard animal Barney is getting old, really old. And it’s coming to that time in an animal’s life where the owner has to make a hard decision. For now, Barney is perfectly content munching on the yard, but when winter rolls around again, it may be a different story. How am I supposed to make that tough decision?
Technically, I’m not on the road right now, which is a good thing since most of the roads I travel are frozen over from our most recent attack of Missouri weather. Back home, snow was always a good thing, with no school and farm style sledding (with a four-wheeler and any flat, slick material you can tie behind it). But in college, I have decided that snow is not my friend. My boots and any wet, slick surfaces do not work together and college students are not as accepting of my stinky insulated coveralls as other people are. But the one main reason I hate snow in college is because it cuts my weekend short by making my drive back a whole twelve hours earlier.
As an average college student, I spend a large amount of time traveling down the blacktop. And I’m traveling for the same reason that most college students travel; to go home and see that special someone. Here’s where some people get a little confused. I actually have two special someones, and each week when I get home, they are the first things that I want to see. Throwing my barn boots on and heading to the pasture, I am usually greeted at the fence. Chex, a 12 year old Quarter Horse, and Rowdy, a 7 year old Paint, make the two hour drive home worth every minute.
Most of my college friends can’t figure out why I would want to drive 120 miles each Friday just to drive those same 120 miles back on Monday morning. But most of those friends don’t have two horses that can take away your worries as soon as you hit the saddle. One of my biggest regrets of choosing Missouri State University was leaving those two horses behind. So instead of the average weekend in the dorms, I spend my weekends traveling back down the road.