The Autumn Barn Chores

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Red-splashed trees and shrubs announce the season. It's autumn--that transitional time of year between summer and winter--and with time ticking until the first north-Idaho snows, that means tending to a special set of chores. I started in on them about a week ago.

First on the list was to finish priming and painting the run of board fence that'd been scraped and prepped, then abandoned when the call of summer horse-fun got too loud to ignore. I knew it needed doing before the late-fall rainy season hit, so I devoted one long, lovely afternoon to rolling on the white stuff.

Now it'll probably take half the winter for the paint to wear off my gelding Riley, who--Curious George type that he is--couldn't resist poking his nose and swishing his tail into the wet paint. Naturally, the wet-paint tail means he has white-paint streaks all over his butt, sides and hind legs--for a new variation on the reality that there's no longer any such thing anymore as a Quarter Horse with "excess white."

Then, after a final check on the supply of hay and bedding, I put in my time on the ladder. The barn gutters needed a good cleaning, and those fly-dirt-blackened light bulbs had to go. If there's anything I can't stand, it's a too-dark barn, so some new light bulbs were in order.

After many years at the end of a cold-water hose, I now have the luxury of a hot-water bathing area for horses, adjacent to the barn. Or at least, I have the luxury of one when the weather's above freezing. Next chore on the list was to give all the horses one last trip to the beauty parlor before draining the hot-water tank and the water lines. I've screwed up on this front a time or two, failing to shut the washrack down before the first big freeze and then having to repair busted lines. Lesson learned on that one!

Next, I went through my lotions, potions and other liquids--in the washrack, the horse trailer, and my tack room--to get them gathered up and stored in a no-freeze zone. There's nothing like opening your trailer, come spring, to find a burst bottle of hoof black all over your favorite something. Been there, done that, learned my lesson on this front as well.

There's still more to do, like putting rear-tire chains on the tractor, for snow traction, and reorganizing all the horse blankets. The process is somehow satisfying, though, as I get ready for another year's refrains of "let it snow."