Scarf wrapped around face, orange hi viz coat ( padded) zipped up under chin, mega warm wellie socks on, two sets of gloves keeping fingers cosy, I head out from the warmth of the snug cottage towards the farm. Sunny days make way for chilly nights in Spring! Brrrr…….
Smack! My face connects with (thankfully) thickened glass. “Ouch!” rubbing my nose with a rubbery hand, tears of pain fill my eyes as I realise it’s locked. Fumbling with my key, I realise the futility of my actions, as the door is locked from the inside, key visible through the glass. I knock, ring the doorbell and rattle the letter box hoping himself hasn’t fallen asleep in front of the tv. Inside, the little dogs bark a warning, but no sign of Himself to let me in.
After what seems like eternity – probably 5 minutes, Himself unlocks the door and sighs at the less than endearing sight of woebegone me standing forlornly on the outside mat. “I thought you’d gone!” he says, with a touch of irritation. “Waddaya want?”
Looking at him, standing blocking my entry into the house to painstakingly remove double layered gloves and put on woolly warm hat – the one with the huge pompom, I have an overwhelming urge to say something sarcastic. A response that would take his breath away and cause untold offence, that would create an icy barrier between us for weeks.
But my mind is blank. No witty response available. I stand looking at him, my nose throbbing, salty tears on my lips, saying nothing. He stands back to let me in, sighing heavily and waits like a disapproving butler, guarding the doorway, until, when I am ready to leave once again, he opens the door just enough to let me out into the night before hurriedly closing and locking it once more.
It’s dark and chilly as I continue on my journey. Tall silver birch trees sway in the wailing wind, their branches groaning, clicking in the darkness.
Hurrying along the well worn path I quickly reach the dimly lit farm and push anxious thoughts about monsters and bogey men out of my head. I hum instead. The strong metal gate creaks with a sinister high pitched elongated squeeeek as I pull back the bolt. Once inside the yard the ground beneath my feet is soggy with dirty damp sticky mud and I squelch along to the stables, glad of my protective wellies.
I’m in a hurry tonight, for my two little equines are waiting in their windy wet field. They’ve had a wonderful day out, munching grass, squabbling and resting, the way equines do. Horses have this ability to chill out in the field. They stand stock still, heads slightly lowered, their great rubbery soft bottom lip slightly open and go into their own time space. It’s a lovely sight. Sometimes I envy them. Though I can find a million reasons why I have no time to stand and just be, perhaps I could give it a go. I laugh inwardly at the thought of neighbours seeing this middle aged woman standing alongside little horses in the field, doing nothing on a cold dark night. Hmmmm…….Perhaps I’ll try mindfulness with my horses another day.
Inside the stable is dusky, dusty, grey. I set to with vigour, deftly cleaning out last night’s muck, heaving it over the little wall to land, intact, in the wheelbarrow. If not, it’s a small job to sweep it all up. Fresh straw liberally thrown down to bed in, water replenished, I’ve started on the hay nets when I hear a distinct whinny directly outside my stables.
My blood chills. Goosebumps pop spontaneously on skin, I imagine my hair standing on end as I stop, immediately, ears cocked as though to hear better. Fingers of dread climb from my solar plexus up into my throat. I feel frightened.
There’s something, someone, directly outside my stable block and I am trapped inside. There’s no one around. No one to hear me scream. No one to save me.
Himself will be fast asleep in front of the tv, oblivious to my present danger. I pat the pockets of my jacket for my mobile, trying to remember if I brought it out. Drat! there’s no signal here anyway!
I stand, frozen, until, hearing nothing more, I force myself to move. Clasping a blue plastic shovel in both hands, I stealthily creep towards the narrow exit. Heart hammering, scarcely breathing, I look out, eyes straining in the dim light.
OMG!!!!!!! Involuntarily, my body jerks backwards, away from the huge frame of the 17 hands grey that is standing directly in front of me.
“Whew!” I exclaim, exhaling loudly, “It’s you!” The horse looks at me quizically, snorting softly. Eyeing the equine balefully, I consider the situation. On the one hand I’m comparatively safe, in that the ‘intruder’ is one of the horses on the yard. On the other hand, however, the challenge is to return it to its stable safely. My head reels at the thought of the horse galloping away from the yard in the dark, to perhaps injure itself on the various bits and pieces of farmyard equipment scattered around!
Murmuring softly, avoiding eye contact, which is comparatively easy to do as I’m tiny in comparison to this majestic equine, legs shaking, I slip out past the horse, as quietly as a little mouse. Horse pays little attention to me as I creep up to his feed bucket and carefully put some chaff in. I approach carefully, and call his name. His head lowers towards the bucket that I offer from a distance and I feel relief pour through me as my plan works and he takes a step towards me.
Softly, as though in slow motion, I lead him over to his stable and am just about to throw the bucket in when, quick as a flash, this big horse turns away and trots over to the feed area, straight in the direction of the soaking beet. Oh no! How can I get him away? My heart sinks and for a moment I feel helpless and frightened. I don’t want him barging at me when I try and approach him as some horses can become seriously defensive about their feed.
Luckily he’s wearing a coat. A nifty blue number. I approach him, and collecting all of my courage, which is not a lot, I hold onto the coat at his shoulder and with a cluck cluck, turn him away from the beet towards his stable door, the feed bucket clutched in my other hand.
To my surprise and delight, he obediently follows me and within a moment he clip clops into his stable. I quickly close and double bolt his door before popping the feed bucket over it, offering him lots of encouraging noises. He brings his big long equine head to my level and I scratch his nose and neck. I think we’re both relieved that all is well.
Up the dark field, my two little equines stand patiently waiting to come in. Head collars on, we run down into the yard. They are soon settled, munching hay, happy to be in their cosy beds. Leaving them for another night, I shake my head in wonderment and thank my lucky stars that all are safe, settled and in their stables tonight.
Thankfully my key slides into the lock and there is no drama on my return home. Himself is snoring louder than ever in front of the tv when I return. Ho hum! Sweet dreams!