Weekend weather woes

Published 12:42 pm Friday, January 5, 2024

I have come to believe that weather apps are somewhat akin to a Magic 8 ball: they are rarely spot on, but more than likely vague and unhelpful.

“What does yours say?” I asked my friend Donna, she of the Norwegian Fjords ponies that have moved into the farm, as we both sat on a tack box, hunched over our respective phones, trying to determine an accurate forecast.

“Cannot predict now,” she said. “How about yours?”

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“Ask again later.” I replied, then shook my phone and tried once more.

The thing is that when one has livestock it is imperative to have an accurate forecast in order to properly look after them. Is it cold enough to blanket? Is it going to rain? If so, I need to bring into the barn the retired horses that live out in the field. Even with warm, waterproof blankets, it’s not pleasant to have cold rain dripping down their faces, ears and necks. I certainly wouldn’t like that, even in quilted Carhartt coveralls.

And most importantly, we needed to know if the excitedly rumored whispers of a slushy, icy mix for the upcoming weekend was on the books.

‘’Oy vey,’’ said Donna, which always sounds funny to me in a southern accent, “Look at all that pink.” She had pulled up the latest computer model showing a strong likelihood of a wintry mess splattered all over the southeast. 

“Wow,” I said, cringing. “That’s not even like mostly in North Carolina and we might get a few flurries. “That’s showing us smack dab in the middle of it.”

And that meant one thing: extra bales of hay (think bread for horses), Horse Quencher (milk) and extra bales of pine shavings (toilet paper. Lots and lots of toilet paper).

“Let’s go before everything at The Hayrack is sold out!” I said as we bounded to my truck with the alacrity of Starsky and Hutch on their way to bust the bad guys. 

When we arrived approximately four minutes later (living close to a feed store was a prerequisite to whichever farm we ended up buying all those years ago) we were already too late.

“Can I get 10 bales of the eastern timothy?” I asked hopefully.

“Sorry, sold out.”

“Any idea when the next shipment is coming in?”

“After the holidays it’s hard to say. Could be tomorrow, could be next week.”

“OK, how’s the orchard-timothy mix look?”

“It’s OK.”

I suddenly wondered if I shook her, I might get a different answer. 

“Alright,” I replied, thinking that if we indeed received weather bad enough for businesses to lose power or trees came down to block roads, I’d better get what I could now, instead of being under prepared. “I’ll take 10 of those bales and 10 big bales of the white pine shavings.”

“Sorry, sold out of that too.” This was a blow. Horses drink 10 to 20 gallons of water each day and during the winter, easily go through a bale of hay daily. They really, really need ‘toilet paper.’ 

“We do have the smaller, ‘Queen Medium’ shavings.’ 

‘OK,’ I sighed, ‘It is what it is. I’ll take 10 of those.’

After unloading upon return, as well as tucking in each horse and filling water buckets with warm water, it was dark as I finally came into the house. Paul was standing, remote in hand, watching the local news weather forecast.

“Did you pick up extra groceries for the weekend?” He asked.

“Yes, I did.” I replied, not untruthfully. 

Mountains of hay, actually.