Last weekend I found myself housesitting at Horse Heaven. As with any small stable or farm taking time off even for a day can prove difficult. After all, the daily routine of chores that must be done doesn’t allow much time for being away from home. There is a constant demand to feed animals and clean stalls. But Connie, the owner of Horse Heaven, was having a birthday and friends had invited her for an overnight celebration. So, I volunteered to help and stay over at the house to do chores as well as doggy sit Louie, a terrier, who couldn’t be left alone. After all, dogs are happiest at home with a friend.
I packed my overnight bag with pajamas, a change of clothes, and of course a good book to read. My husband, Moe, volunteered to help with the barn chores too. When we arrived at Horse Heaven, Connie went over a written list of chores that needed to be done. The list was valuable since so many little jobs had to be remembered including feeding the birds on the back porch.
Then, just before we said our farewells, Connie looked down at my sneakers and suggested I wear her boots if they fit. She purchased the boots after breaking her wrist while walking across the street to the barn last year on a snowy day. Not only did the boots have good tread, but she had also fitted them with ice cleats. The cleats are designed to grip ice and snow.
Moe and I watched Connie drive away down Murry Creek Road. Then, we walked to the barn to finish the morning chores. Moe got right to work loading horse manure into the wheelbarrow, and I gathered a load of hay for the horses. After the chores were done, Moe left for home, and I settled in at Connie’s house with Louie.
The next morning started early at 5:30 when Louie needed to go outside. I dressed and let the dog out only to be surprised by seven deer near the back porch eating birdseed. Of course, Louie started running and barking at them. The only problem for the dog was he had a rope that wouldn’t allow him to chase the deer. The small herd with white tails held high crossed the street and ran uphill to an open field next to Connie’s house.
As I waited on the porch a banditry of chickadees descended on the birdfeeder. Along with the chickadees came house wrens, blue jays, and a downy woodpecker. I looked across the backyard covered with snow to the mountain ridge and heard the roar of a stream not far away. It was still dark outside, as the sun had more than an hour before rising. When I looked toward the sky the stars seemed to hang like sparkling diamonds above the treeline.
In due time, the morning sun peeked out from the hillside where the deer had run. I slipped on Connie’s boots and headed for the barn to feed the horses and let them out for the day.
It wasn’t long before Moe arrived to help again with the chores. But before we started cleaning stalls, Moe gave the horses treats, and then, I let them out of their stalls. The horses exited the barn single file and headed toward the pasture beyond. As the horses walked by me I thought that they all were doing well although getting older. Pepper is the oldest at thirty, but still active. Time goes by while birthdays turn the clock another year.
Before long, Connie returned from her mini vacation filled with news of her birthday experiences. And soon Moe came to pick me up. We said goodbye to Connie and Louie and climbed into Moe’s truck. As we drove away toward home, Horse Heaven loomed large in the rearview mirror.