After the Northern Lights display (again!) last night, the clear skies led to a thick frost this morning which at least gave us a clue to the minus 6 outside temperature despite the relative warmth of the cabin. All hands were at breakfast as there was no stockyard work today. As the sun began to rise and the mercury eeked over zero we togged up and set off to split logs. Before long we were shedding the outer layers as the humping and heaving generated its own warmth. 4 truck and trailer loads later, about 3 weeks supply, we broke for early lunch.
Marilyn insisted that we went for a ride immediately after as she was hoping that the remaining hay in the field would be dry enough to bale later but wouldn’t test it until 3pm (and she was right). We cornered and caught our mounts, Sara being slightly easier to catch than usual and Roger resuming his partnership with April who had ditched him twice previously. Admittedly she had been led astray by the rider of Journey who had now left and he was able to enjoy this trip from a vertical position throughout. We headed up the road, well track – like New Zealand only the main highways are metalled – attracting the attention of fields of neighbour’s horses on both sides including some who had been at the ranch previously. Most noticeable was Bear whose absence of ears makes him most distinctive and we realise how much we use these appendages to read their expression. These had frozen off during a prior ownership and unfortunately isn’t too uncommon hereabouts, Rascal, one of the cats has one missing and one of the cows at George’s had neither but also lacked ovaries and uterus so a really poor deal! For your interest this latter deficit is called Freemartin and isn’t uncommon with twins where the dominant one steals all the gender defining elements.
Anyway, we rode up to St Cyr Lake. Bruce claims that it isn’t a lake as it is too shallow, being no more than 2 metres deep, but as there is barely more than 2 metres elevation anywhere that would be about right. I didn’t know that lakes had to achieve a certain depth. Despite the presence of a 16′ boat in the yard which we drained of rain water a couple of days ago, we cannot launch it as the ‘shore’ is just bog. However it was a lovely ride in the warmth of the sun although all of us took an extra layer just in case.
We returned at 3pm and Roger and I accompanied Bruce to the field to check the damp reading on the new bales. Unfortunately we had to return to the kitchen to rally the troops as it was a respectable 14, it must be below 18. So it was back to the field to load the flatbed with another 70-80 bales. Whilst there, neighbour Dale turned up and we loaded a further 160 into his trailer! At least we only had to stack the initial collection in the barn, fortunately with our colleagues’ help as the alternative plan was that Roger and I unloaded them all tomorrow when the others would be at the stockyard!
We were given instructions as to the barn animal chores for the morning as we have volunteered to be in attendance so Jeanette can get straight off to work, then collapsed back in the cabin under the guise of making the fire. Dragging ourselves back to the house for supper we were met with a significant compliment. Marilyn, Jeanette and the girls had been talking about us and determined that we were fitter and stronger than many of the younger helpers who had passed through the ranch. We were very flattered, just as well they hadn’t seen us a few minutes previously!