The past few weeks have flown by, as December and January tend to do. It’s getting colder – sure, you say. It’s winter. I mean cold in a, there’s snow flurries again, kind of way. I have to wear leggings and snow pants, a sweater and a jacket, don’t forget your gloves or hat kind of cold. We keep tobacco stakes near the water tubs and the duck bath to break ice every morning. The sun doesn’t clear the ridge until almost 9, until then it’s just cold. This morning I checked the weather, it said “11 Degrees. Feels like 5.” If it feels like 5, why is it 11?
With our ATV out of commission and the Explorer taking our neighbor to work, Sadie and I have to get creative with hauling hay and water. I drain all the hoses before night fall to keep them from freezing. We have had to fill gallon jugs to take to the chickens occasionally. The other morning, I backed her van down to the barn lot to fill with hay for Tug and Zoom. Well, it didn’t quite have enough gas in it. I mean I got it started, but as I backed down the driveway, what little fumes were left went to the back of the tank. Sadie held the gate open and I fought to turn it around to get the fumes floating the other way so it would start again. With no brakes or power steering, it was pretty hilarious. The windshield was completely covered in ice, I manually rolled the window down but the mirror was frozen too. I yelled for Sadie to get out of the way and half rolled, half slid down to where I could start it again.
I opened the door and Abbie hopped in, wanting to help. I stumbled out of the van and Sadie met me at the barn, we laughed and our breath rolled up into the flat grey sky. Frozen fingers make for slow going, but we got everyone fed and I put two bales in the back of the van. I had no problem starting it once it was pointed downhill, it was just a matter of backing it out of the lot, across the road and up the driveway to the shop. Abbie helped me. We filled the van with a few gallons from the cans in the shop, and I got Tug and Zoom plenty of hay to keep them warm.
The following evening, after filling the tank completely, I opened the gate for Sadie to back down to the barn. I slung two bales of in the back and slammed the trunk, walking back to the road with hay poking my neck and face. I held the gate open, waiting for Sadie to drive through so I could close it. She revved the engine, the tires spun in the mud and the van slid a few feet before stopping.
Sadie put it in reverse, backed a few feet down the hill, then tried again. Nothing. She cut the engine and I sighed, walking back to the van. She opened the trunk and we each grabbed a hay string on one of the bales. “Maybe we can get Wes to tow us,” she said. “Maybe.” I replied. “Let’s just wait until morning, once the mud freezes over, we should be able to drive out.” I nodded, wiping my nose with a gloved hand before lifting the bale off the ground.
We both knew we had to be at work in the morning. If it came down to it, I could drop her off on my way to the office. It’s a long walk across the road and up the driveway, we were both panting when we got there. Zoom nickered once he saw what we were half carrying, half dragging. I love that sound, it means ‘hey it’s good to see you, what did you bring me? I’m excited to eat it.’ It’s about as close as you can get to having your horse say thank you/i love you.
We cut the strings on the bale and swung the have over the fence, walking back to the house to the sounds of the two horses happily munching.
The next morning we both approach the van slowly, as if it was some kind of sleeping animal we weren’t sure about. Sadie solemnly handed me the keys, walking around to try and push the van out of the mud.
“Once you start, don’t stop!” She yelled over the sound of the engine. I put the van in reverse, said a quick prayer, and zoomed up the hill. Sure enough, the mud had frozen over, the wheels found traction on the frosty grass and I made it to the road. Sadie put her arms up, I could see her yelling but I have no idea what she said.
And that, boys and girls, is why you never drive a minivan down into a muddy barn lot.