Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

First Christmas

The downtrodden farm, hubby and I had purchased for our first home, needed so much work, it was almost ridiculous. More than anything, we wanted to be in for Christmas. The problem with that was, there was so much work to do. It wasn’t just the cleaning that needed doing, there were repairs to make. Okay, I’m glossing over the real problem, it needed massive cleaning. There was a two week period where we didn’t have possession of our new home, but there were still cats in the house … cats and no litter box. It wasn’t just bad, it was horrible. There were door frames to replace, carpet to scrub, and believe it or not, they’d removed the fan above where the stove used to be. There was a gaping hole, to the great out of doors. For at least two weeks, anything that could fit through that hole, bugs, birds, bats … whatever, could access the house, no problem. On top of that, they’d left us with only one light bulb per floor. They had a moving out party, and the place was a disaster. Anyway, we got possession on the first of December, and worked like mad to get in by Christmas. Somehow, we managed it. Sure, the house wasn’t anywhere near ready to live in, but there was a bedroom ready, appliances in the kitchen, and an old, blue arborite table with matching chairs, in the farmhouse kitchen. We had a few decorations up as well as a Christmas tree in the corner, so it was pretty well perfect. We were in our home for Christmas.
The only thing that was missing was most necessary furniture and the horses, well, most of the horses. It wasn’t truly home until we could fetch all our horses to be with us. We’d whipped up a temporary pen to put a few horses in, but winter in Manitoba, is not the time to put in fence posts. The rest had to wait, until that could happen. Or did it? I got this great idea in my head. We had tons of snow, as it hadn’t seemed to stop falling that winter. We had a big machine that could move snow, and I could see no reason for those two things, not to come together. Back then, hubby still humoured my ideas. He got busy pushing snow and almost before we knew it, there was a rather large rectangle of which the perimeter was made up of a barrier of snow. We had to wait a day for it to harden, then he got to work carving away the inside walls. By the time he was done, there was a pen with a ten foot tall fence, made of snow all around. It looked very much like what you’d expect a deer yard to look like out in the wild, except more uniform. Of course, we also had a gate at one end. How else could we get them in and out, if not for a gate? We now had a big pen, and the horses could come home. I was beyond pleased. An extra benefit was that, they were sheltered. Barely a breath of wind could be felt behind that sheltering wall of snow. It was quite simply, wonderful. Our farm wasn’t complete until our horses came home, and with the new snow-pen, they could.
We brought them home, and everything was tickety-boo perfect. We were in our new home, the horses were safely content in their new digs, and we had the means of keeping the snow-pen clear of snow, so no problems. Until spring came, that is. You see, with spring comes longer days of sunshine, and warmth. With the sort of warmth that heralds the arrival of birds, flowers and green grass, there’s also the issue of melting snow. Sure, snow melting into long, glistening icicles that hand off eaves is pretty, and it’s wonderful to feel the warmth of snow on your face, but there was a downside, too. All too quickly, that ten foot high fence began to shrink, and it shrank at an alarming rate. It was as if every time I looked at it, it was shorter than the minute before. Never mind by the minute, it was shrinking by the second. Still, it had been rather tall, so we had time. We were sure of it. Surely we had time to throw something else up, something to move them into before our deer yard became a dressage ring. In no time at all, it had gone from a ten foot wall, to hardly any wall at all.
The decision was taken from us. I went out one bright, sunny morning, and there they were … high-tailing it across our field of dreams. Well, that field was more of a nightmare than dream, as it was covered in dead thistle and weeds. Our future with that field was taming it, yet right then, at that very moment, it was a field of exuberant joy. It must have been great fun, as there was a good deal of kicking up heels and accompanying farts. They were having a great time.
I ran for a bucket and some grain, and coaxed them to me. Instead of galloping willy nilly over that weedy field, they galloped enthusiastically at me. Turning tail, I ran as fast as I could for the little pen which I had, most thankfully, had the wisdom to open the gate of. A few minutes later, they were safely enclosed again, all blowing and snorty from the excitement of it all. Now there was no choice in the matter, they all had to crowd into the small pen up by the barn. We gave them loads of hay to keep them busy and content, and waited for spring. We had real fences to make. No more of this snow nonsense for us.

  1. Fashioned for me. Felt interpersonally touched, challenged and inspired! I found myself springing into action, eager to manage the farmhouse let alone stable the steeds! Thank you for this.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB