A few days ago I saw a close-up photo of a Fell Pony owner outdoors when the temperature was twenty-four below zero. She had frost on her eyelashes and eyebrows and on the hair around her face. I admired her courage taking her camera out in that weather. Our temperature was the same, but I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture! I did, though, take my camera out a day later when it was ten degrees warmer. My young stallion Willowtrail Black Robin had frost tingeing his entire body and especially concentrated at the tips of his forelock and mane where the hairs had touched the snow. The picture unfortunately doesn’t do justice to the sight that greeted me before sunrise that morning.
Today we had a break from the frosty weather that has dominated the last month. Water dripped from the eaves for the first time since before Christmas, and I actually got too warm wearing my expedition weight long underwear for the first time since I put it on in early December.
I write letters to my elderly father regularly. Here’s an excerpt from the one from December 11: “Winter is definitely here now. Saturday we had four inches of snow during the day. Yesterday another inch fell and then another inch overnight. Sunday night between those storms it was fifteen below. Last night it was ten above when I fed, twenty five degrees warmer. Positively balmy by comparison!” When I talked to my father on Christmas Day, he chuckled about my description of temperatures well below freezing as ‘balmy!’
This morning as I was riding my Fell Pony mare Restar Mountain Shelley III, I realized an advantage of this frosty weather. Our footing has remained good. When the weather warms, snow melts into ice and can make riding down the driveway treacherous. During this run of cold weather, the snow has stayed crunchy underfoot, and Shelley has rarely slipped. The one bright spot for me of going out to do chores in this frigid weather has been riding Shelley. She seems to look forward to it as much as I do, and I didn’t even realize I wasn’t worried about footing, a topic that has been at the forefront during other winters.
The warmer weather, though, is definitely welcome, and not just by me. Late this afternoon when I went out to feed, the ponies were the mellowest they’ve been in a long time. They’d obviously all been enjoying sunbathing!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2013