Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dashing Through the Snow

Yesterday, Manitoulin Island participated in an early snowstorm which swept through sections of Ontario, and what began as light flurries in the morning, intensified and lasted all the day long. We've over 20cm on the ground...not something many folks (us included) were fully prepared for at this time of the year.

Scotland Road, which is the only road weaving its precarious way up the East Bluff here in Gore Bay was in extremely poor condition when it was time to close up shop down at the studio on the bay in the village and head back up to Ravenseyrie. Thankfully, Kevin had dropped me off in the morning because he needed the Jeep for some errands...this meant he came back to fetch me and so I didn't have to cope with the tricky situations that soon faced us. Our little red Jeep Wrangler is a perfect vehicle for this rugged landscape, unfortunately other folks drive less robust machines. Before we could get to the wood-fired warmth of our little home, we had to help a large truck stuck in the middle of the road at a non-ordinary angle and also a van that couldn't make it all the way up the first steep hill. Kevin and his trusty tow strap, along with the 4-wheel traction of the Jeep righted things and we managed assist these people and yet make it home before night fall. It was snowing heavily again, and in the early evening dimness neither of us could spot the herd. Likely they were deep in the bush, insulated from the snowy madness.

Of course, my mind had been on the horses, especially the foals all day.

Animado was born in the day after an early April snowstorm...some of you will remember...for others here are a few photos from then:
Animado, shortly after being born on April 12, 2008...attemping to stand, with his mother and father giving lots of encouragement.

The next day, Altamiro and Bella keep themselves separate from the herd and Animado pretends that he might like to eat hay, too.

The April snow was quickly melting, and Animado was fascinated by the water's reflection.

But for Interessado and Fada, other than the light skiff of snow we'd had last week, this incredibly altered landscape must be rather startling. I wasn't worried about them (okay a wee bit!)...but I would have liked to have known where the herd had holed up for the evening.

This morning, Kevin and I were out just before 6am in the chill darkness with our shovels, clearing paths, digging out doors to sheds, and making it possible for gates to once again be serviceable. Slowly, dawn came as we completed the shoveling chores, and I set about putting the herd's typical oat breakfast together. On a normal day, there would be hooves knocking on the side of the shed and the snorting sounds of horses prompting me to move a little faster in my preparations. This morning, not one mule was near...not one horse was in sight. But, I knew...they'd emerge from the forest at some point.

I went out to the gate and make loud clanging noises on the metal cross pieces. And then I saw, not too far off the Zen Elm trail...movement just near the tree-line. The herd! Wanting to capture some images of the youngsters in the first big snow of the year, I had brought the camera out. Here we have some video footage of the energetic herd, "dashing through the snow" as the horses and mules came up for breakfast:

What a sight! Look at the puffs of snow kicked up, like dust from a speeding truck! And, before you know it, the distance is covered and they are upon you. How wonderful it must feel to gallop like that!

The camera was quickly set safely aside, while breakfast was distributed to eager customers. The snow was deep out there, and the grass well covered. We hadn't yet set up the wee shed (remember we have no barn, yet) to keep a large round bale of hay handy to peel off meals providing extra forage during the deep snow times, so when the horses and mules were just about finished with oats, I went around to each pan and put in heaping scoops of compressed alfalfa hay cubes, which we keep handy as "treats". Then, I went back to retrieve the camera and take a few photos.

When I got home from work later today, Kevin had arranged things so that there was now hay in the shed, and I had just enough daylight to bring a tobaggon-load of mixed grass hay out to the herd in the wind break near the tree line to the center-north of the property. I almost needed snowshoes, it was so deep out that way! I was not able to manage the camera, which is a pity, because Zorita and the foals all found my extended form to be a fearful image plodding its way towards them. But the others knew what my angled body, with a long strange tail trailing behind meant--food! Soon, I was surrounded and, taking off the bungie-cord straps holding my mound of hay tight, I began to set out piles for everyone. Interessado and Fada didn't hesitate one bit, and were soon munching the coarse hay as if they'd been doing it for weeks already. Everyone looked to be in good form and taking the change in weather well in stride.

It's hard to believe that just a few days ago, the landscape looked like this:
Dee, grazes late in the day, off to herself, near the Red Osier Dogwood shrubs, with shades of lavender clouds over head.

Just a few days ago, Altamiro, looks thoughtfully off into the distance...perhaps sensing a change in the weather is soon at hand?

Who would have imagined we'd have this much snow so early? I'll close now, and go mark on the calender that we've begun feeding hay...on November 20...several weeks earlier than usual.


Kris McCormack said...

Thank you for sharing a piece of your "morning at Ravenseyrie," Lynne. How lovely to see the herd coming home for breakfast.

Are the babies still faring well in the snow?

Lynne Gerard said...

I really liked that dash for breakfast video so I'm glad you enjoyed it, too.

The babies are doing really well, I should never have worried for them...they are stout "east-bluffers", born on the island and ready for whatever comes their way!