All day Saturday we prepared for the big storm heading our way. Saturday's weather was a blessing because it was the only nice day we had seen for two weeks. It has been raining and raining. We also had 5 ton of hay being delivered that would need to be stacked inside our hay barn.
The media was hyping up the storm to a “superstorm” which was a little over the top in my opinion. but looking at the radar images, this storm was definitely going to be on the upper end of intensity. The scariest part of this storm was that the rain would continue and then the temps would rapidly decrease and turn to snow and ice.
Hmmm. Wet horses, rapid temperature decline, high wind speeds and snow?? These are the conditions that can kill a horse in short order.
We got all the water tank heaters installed but that required emptying the “summer tanks” first. Normally we can just dump the tank and replace it with the tank set up for the heaters however.. it wasn’t that simple this time. The paddocks were a fine mess due to all the rain , mud that was past ankle deep with standing water (yes , which would be freezing up with this storm) . Tipping over the tank where it stood and dumping more water in front of the tanks wasn’t going to be an option.
Ideally we would have invested into a sump pump by now , but instead we do it the hard way.. empty the tank bucket by bucket, carry it over to the tree row and repeat , until the water level in the tank was low enough to drag the tank out . . We have two 150 gallon water tanks that this needed to be done with and ofcourse, I had just filled them 3 days before so they were about half full.
So while hubby was stacking 5 tons of hay, I was sloshing around in the mud , buckets of water in tow and trying not to re-injure my already strained ( possibly worse) hamstring muscle that I had already done 4 days before from slipping in mud and nearly ending up face first in it.. (that’s another story). After a lot of slip sliding around, I finally got the tanks emptied, dragged out and replace with the new tanks for the winter. We got the tank heaters in , tested, and insulated tank covers in place.
I did one last “Dry run” blanket lesson with him because I knew I would have to blanket him Monday and he would need to have it on for several hours, or days. My smallest blanket is a 69” inch and it’s slightly too big but was going to have to work. I wasn’t going to buy another blanket in a size that he would be grown out of in a few months.
Up until that point I had put it on him a few times , walked him around and took it off. This time, I put it on him and turned him loose in the round pen with it, in the event he panicked over the leg straps. I didn’t anticipate a reaction since this wasn’t really new to him and I was glad to see he didn’t seem to care.
Sunday came with more rain and about 48 degrees. The storm was scheduled to start at about 6 pm. I made sure everyone had plenty of hay in front of them most of the day. I debated on when to blanket. Most of my blankets are waterproof but it was pouring and I decided to wait until later to get all the blankets on everyone. I wanted them as dry as possible when the wind hit. Either way, it was going to require each horse to get a good toweling off first before putting on blankets. We had to separate Otto and Cassidy and move Cassidy into the other pasture because he wasn’t letting Otto into the barn. For this storm, the one horse that needed to be in a barn was Otto! Otto wasn’t happy about it and I was a little bit concerned he wouldn’t stay in the barn if he couldn’t see Cassidy.
We got out to the corrals about 5 :00 to start this process and the wind was already picking up and the temps were definitely dropping.
Mother nature can be such a wench.
We no more than got Otto’s blanket in place and settled into his shed with his evening meal that the loud smattering of rain on the metal roof of the shed went silent , the wind gusted and rattled the walls the of the shed , and then the ice/snow mix started. It was literally within a 30 second time frame it switched. Then the wind howled some more. The snow started coming down so hard that we could literally not see more than a few feet in front of our nose. Lovely..
Otto quickly figured out the b best place to be was IN THE BARN!
We had to pull the other horses into the hay barn where there was sufficient light, and cover from the snow and wind. One by one, we toweled them off and got the blankets on. JB practically put his own blanket on while we were trying to dry him off.
It appeared this storm was going to be as bad as they had predicted but it’s nothing new for us here in the Northwest.
All the horses had access to cover from the Spruce trees to block the wind or could get into a shelter. Everyone had a big pile of hay and access to water. It’s about all we can do without having an actual barn and stalls for everyone. Generally, our horses do just fine. I wasn't worried about any of them except Otto. This was going to be all new to him. The frigid temps, snow, blanket and 50 mph wind gusts with ice.
These kinds of nights are always restless for me but I had spent so much energy all day Sunday worrying about it, I slept like a rock. Hubby said he woke up at 2 am and looked out and could see Otto laying down in his barn and seemed fine.
This morning, everyone was fine. It warmed to 23 degrees and the wind and snow had stopped. Everything was coated in an icey snowey crust. We ended up with about 2 inches of snow, which was less than the 4 they predicted.
I was happy to see everyone anxious for their morning hay and decided to pull everyone’s blanket off, exept Otto's. The other geldings have more than enough of a coat to handle a non windy 23 degrees, especially now that they were completely dry. I had hoped to keep Otto's on through tomorrow but he had other plans.
A couple of hours later, I had to pull his off as well because he had decided he was done with it. He was doing his best to destroy it. He was grabbing it with his teeth and pulling on the front. He already had one of the front straps undone. It was only a matter of time he would have it in shreds. Instead of having a destroyed blanket that he is likely going to need again, I figured it was better to just take it off . No rain, no wind.. he would have to deal with the colder temps. There was plenty of hay for him to help keep him warm.
Once his blanket was off , I turned Cassidy back into the pasture with him. He spent the rest of the morning being a total nut in the pasture, running, bucking, kicking, rearing ( his new favorite thing) and generally being obnoxious to the point of Cassidy having to really get after him.. (can't blame him!)
Obviously 12 hours of being hunkered down in the shed was about all his little half Arab brain could handle.
First storm of the season down.. how many to go????