The barn is now full of high quality brome hay bales for Ginger and the WallyLama. Those two horses will have plenty to eat this winter. When the barn is full of hay, I feel a sense of safety and comfort. My horses will be well fed through the winter.
In the cold still mornings of winter, I greatly enjoy pulling down an aromatic bale. When I break it open, the dust of summer and sunshine bursts into the air. "Doing chores" is a direct link into my childhood when I stayed with my grandparents. I eagerly bailed out of bed at the crack of dawn to help those two old people in anyway I could. They loved me just the way I was and I would have walked fifty miles of gravel roads barefoot for them. Whenever my cousin Denise and I stayed together at the farm, we were out of bed even before Grandpa was awake so we could prepare breakfast. Sometimes we served breakfast in bed to those two dear old people. Grandpa, bless his heart, would grumble a little about not even being hungry but Grandma shushed him. He always took care of all of his animals before he himself ate breakfast, so he would not be hungry by dint of long habit. He surely would have preferred Grandma's delicious cooking later in the morning over our clumsy cold eggs and soggy bacon before he even had a chance to get his overalls on.
Some people cannot understand why I would want the expense, worry and trouble of keeping horses that I cannot ride. My veterinarian even gave me an honest-to-god lecture one day, explaining how expensive horses are to keep. He quite rudely explained that it was basically stupid of me to be wasting my money. He quoted a financial self-help book. I have always paid the man before he drove off the premises, so he has no evidence that my horses are too expensive for me to keep, unless he was thinking I could afford to build a much better house if I did not keep horses - which contains a tiny kernel of truth. He is a very good veterinarian and I like him personally. Obviously, he considered me as a friend to whom he could speak frankly. But it was inappropriate, on all levels. A veterinarian should understand about loving animals and needing them in your life. He should understand that above everything else.
And of course there are times each winter when I pause in silence to deliberately consider the happiness and satisfaction I experience living in the country, having chores to do, and the fact that there are horses in my life - horses that no one will ever be able to take away from me. There have been a few times when my other grandfather dropped by for a visit, the siren call of horses enjoying their feed in the cold morning air drawing him near. He clearly loved such quiet moments in his earthly life, and in those few moments, I sense him near. That nearness is worth the trouble of hay and horses.