April Thirty and Zero Degrees

Shelley and her frozen feathers on April 30

The house popped loudly at 4am and woke me up.  The house only makes that noise when it’s extremely cold.  While it’s common to hear the sound in January, I’m not used to hearing it in April.  Sure enough, when I got up and looked at the thermometer it was zero degrees Fahrenheit on the last day of the month.  I dressed quickly and headed out to feed.  The ponies were of course happy to see me.

It’s tough to have temperatures this cold this late in the season.  The ponies are shedding, so they don’t have the same protection they do in the middle of winter.  The previous morning it had been twenty degrees warmer, though still well below freezing.  More of the ponies were shivering then than now.  The ground had been soft and wet the night before, so the mud had collected on the ponies’ feathers and then frozen.  When they walked my direction, the tinkling sound of ice balls greeted me.  I’m convinced that that coldness along their coronary bands makes them get cold easier than just straight cold temperatures.  Because I know that, as soon as I heard the house pop, I began making plans to go out to feed.

I’ve called this winter that is, in theory at least, now ending our whiplash winter.  We’ve had nice weather then challenging, cold weather then warm, heavy snow then none at all.  Last week we had warm temperatures that had dried the mud and allowed me to wear my hiking boots to do chores.  At zero degrees I was back in snow boots, and I donned mud boots by the afternoon.  I wonder how long the whiplash weather will last.  Regardless, I will be ready to adjust my feeding schedule to whatever the ponies need.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2017

There are more stories like this one in the book What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.

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About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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