I always used to like January. When I was a child that had a lot to do with the fact that my birthday is in January, which gave me something to look forward to. As I grew older I began to view January as a kind of retreat. Nothing happens in January. But after the hectic month of December, with all its activities, obligations and rampant commercialism, this stillness offers a resting point at a time when energy is at its lowest.
January is bleak. It is the dead of winter, with spring still a long time away and life seemingly stagnant. Nothing grows, the land is drained of all colour and the earth is deeply asleep. But this is also the month where the light begins to slowly push back the dark and the days are lengthening.
And longer days is what I need now. This week I started the extra hours in the main practice. The drive to get there takes well over an hour, so I have to leave very early in the morning, before the rest of my family is even considering getting up. Before I go, I look after my horses. Feed, water, hay. It is of course pitch dark, so I have to do it with a torch under my arm. The first morning Minnie and Cassie were not expecting me and they were in the bottom of the field. Minnie was lying down and Cassie was standing guard over her. It took them a while to come up, even when I started rattling the feedbins. Too early for breakfast.
The second morning Cassie had let herself out of the yard again and she was standing under some trees closer to the house. I was still half asleep, and I didn’t see her. Cassie saw me though, and when I walked past her she stamped her foot, drawing my attention to the fact she was there. I paused and waited for her to come to me and then walked on to the yard. Minnie was standing at the tape, head high and all lathered up because she gets extremely anxious when Cassie does her Houdini trick. I bought a new electric fencer that day to stop Cassie getting out.
After spending my day travelling and working in two different offices, I feel exhausted and it is so tempting to sit down for a while and rest. But there are jobs to do and by the time I come home in the evening the daylight is already fading. So I have a quick cup of tea and get out again. Minnie and Cassie are waiting for me at the gate. They follow me into the yard and hang around me while I do my jobs around the yard. So little time to spend with them and most of it is in the dark. Still, light or dark makes no difference to the horses. It feels good to be out with them and the work and fresh air revitalise me.
Here is Cassie, checking out what Ollie and Zebby are eating. She obviously had a nice roll today, or rather a mud bath!