I joke sometimes that we live in Mudville, Nowhere. The plain, unvarnished truth is that in the spring we do. It’s Bugville in the summer with flies the size of my fist waiting to attack, and the Arctic in the winter when the temperature is exactly equal in Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Wind adds a never-ending challenge to the wonder of life here – tearing down any impermanent structure and throwing it across fields with glee. But mud? Mud is the bane of our existence.
Have you heard “The Hippopotamus Song”? I holler it out loud at the top of my lungs as I slog hay around to the masters I serve. They particularly appreciate the line “mud, mud, glorious mud” even as I curse and cry.
Mud has a life force all its own and there are days – like when my boot is stuck three feet away from me – that I have to force myself not to collapse in a puddle and wail. I think about mud year-round, but in Mud Season my mind struggles to let go of mud obsession:
- How can I reduce the mucky, sticky gross issues?
- Do they really need hay over in that dry spot?
- Perhaps I could just dump feed over the fence?
- How can I get it off the big grey horse (my advice here? Don’t bring home a big grey horse and dream that grooming, and lots of it, won’t be a major part of your life!)
- Is there a way to navigate the gates without losing my footwear in muck?
- Should I roach every mane so they no longer stick like glue to necks?
- Will I be knocked out if a muddy tail wallops me by mistake?
- Why do horses love rolling in mud quite as much as they do?
These questions and more circle around and around in my brain.
We drive on slightly different tracks for paths we need to traverse regularly and use alternating sides of any double gate we can. I vacuum the horses that like, or need, to be clean and my upper body gets a good workout brushing the horses who aren’t happy about loud noises and their skin being sucked up. The absolute Pigpen of my group? Well, he gets to stay filthier than I might choose.
I test minimizing mud in various ways; if it’s suggested, I’ll try it. “Cover the mud” they said. Down went wood chips and straw – but mud loves to defeat that challenge.
“Get the organic matter out” they said. So we scraped the dirt around the gates and put in gravel. Mud loves to eat gravel. We go through a lot of gravel around here.
It’s tough when I have to get up, go to the barn quickly to water or turn out, then change my clothes before leaving for work. I have limited energy and time for getting dressed as it is, let alone adding a full change to the morning routine – but going to work with mud streaked down my pants or splatters on my shirt isn’t cool, either.
There is no winning with mud. It’s a survival game of the highest order. And mud nearly always scores too many points in a season. I suppose if I were a more noble person I’d admire mud for its tenacity and usefulness or find a way to appreciate that it isn’t really quicksand. It’s just mud, but it drives me mad. Here’s to the next season of nature… hurry up and arrive!