Back to School!

“You are rude! Stoney! You need manners!”  Savannah waved her muck fork menacingly at Stoney, who backed off and headed back into the paddock.  She then turned to me, muck fork held upright in classic farmer fashion.  “I’m in a bad mood!  I’m tired! I don’t know why I’m tired!” Slapping her hands on her her thighs to add emphasis, she said, “I mean I got twelve hours of sleep last night!”  I’m not exaggerating with the exclamation points.  Savannah always talks with exclamation points.  And Stoney was being rude.  Sometimes you have to duke it out with him before he will agree to respect your space.  But it’s the second week of school and we are all crabby.  Sara is stressed by a math teacher who only gives a days notice for tests.  Shani is irate that they are spending the first week doing “getting to know each other” exercises.  Kate is being assigned essays in her math class that have nothing to do with math and she loves math so how could they do this to her!  Allison has been just plain irritable.  Arya, who is seven, is having a blast.  But she’s the exception.  Rachel, who I picked up because her dad’s car is in the shop, was beside herself at not having seen the horses in sooooooooooooo long!!!!!!!

On any given day, I need to arrive an hour or more before the girls as there is lunch to feed, paddocks to muck, meds to give and the occasional hoof to soak.  Add to that moving mats, distributing shavings, stripping stalls, cleaning the hay room and loading in hay and you had Wednesday’s extra long list.  I’d spent the entire morning running barn errands.  Since both Rachel and Meera have minimum days on Wednesday, I picked up Rachel early, told Meera riding started at 3, dumped both of them at Campo with instructions for feeding lunch followed by please clean the paddock and drove back to down town los altos to get lunch.  When I returned, Savannah had joined them.  The three of them working together had not managed to get the horses fed, though they had managed to have a very thorough discussion of how best to do it.  Minutes later we got a call from Sara.  “Where are you guys?  I’m at Quail.”  She missed the memo about riding starting at 4:30.   Sara made it to Campo in time to shove the scissors into her half chaps and walk around cutting open bales of shavings that Savannah, Meera and Rachel were strategically locating around the paddock.  This ended up involving a lot of waiting because Rachel and Meera kept dumping the bales out of the wheel barrow unintentionally and Savannah just kept getting in the way.  Last task at Campo was moving two heavy, floppy, 4′ by 6′ stall mats.  Each girl took a corner and tried to lift but mostly only managed to flip the mat back and forth and on top of each other.  In the end it took Meera shoving with her feet while bracing herself against the hay bales to finally get the second mat into place.  Since we were all so crabby i figured we might as well just get all the barn chores done, but I also figured, with all of them working together, it wouldn’t take very long, which turned out to be the opposite.

We barely made it over to Quail before Kayla arrived.  We were all still pretty crabby.  Kayla, however, looked with gusto and the hay bales that needed moving, sunk a hay hook into a bale and started having at it like a dog with a tug toy.  It still took four of them, two pulling and two pushing, to move a bale, but they finally started to enjoy themselves.  Half way through moving the second bale, Rachel says, “Let’s just ride the horses to Bullis school and play in the play ground!”  An idea, like many of Rachel’s ideas, that was greeted as the best idea ever.  There is an honest to goodness pathway easement through the school yard so we are breaking no laws when we ride the horses through.  But we usually do so at the end of a ride, when it’s getting dark and parents, if not actually waiting for kids, will soon be.  And every time someone says, “One of these days we should stop and play in this playground.”  And that we did, but not before taking the herd on a run across Clark’s field.  As they were all skilled riders and I had both a tired, hot dog and the responsibility of cleaning up the horse poop, they got to the playground well in advance of me.  They parked the horses in the dodge ball squares.  Whether they enjoyed themselves in the playground or not, I don’t know.  I was stuck with Sara, who’d had her toe stepped on by CG, holding the horses.

They all got picked up from Quail and we did a pretty good job of getting everyone back at a decent time.  Certainly by the time they were picked up, no one was crabby anymore.  Savannah’s dad had to pick her up later than usual.  I had promised to drive Meera home.  Not wanting to leave Savannah alone, I had Meera wait with her while I walked back down to the bottom of Quail to remove a manure pile.  I arrived at the pile at the same time as an older man was walking past.  He said, “What’s with all this manure on the pathways?  It’s everywhere!  I’ve lived here for three years and there’s manure all over the pathways.”  Seeing as I’d walked down the hill to remove manure, it was rather a rude thing to say.  I should have had Savannah deal with him.  She would have put him in his place.

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