Thursday, August 16, 2012

Maggie's Farm: Not working@MF no more :-)

The Royal order of the muck buckets
It's the end of a long era of barn work. 

When I bought Harvey in 1996, he required major surgery within a few months of my purchasing him. Sinus surgery.   A vet tech at my co op was a little too explicit about the risks to horses going under general anesthesia and Harv's surgery.

I was beyond hysterical--a complete drama queen.  One of my bargains with God was that I would be grateful for Harv every day, and would always care for him myself. 

So Harv came through the surgery fine. True to my word, I have continued to care for Harv, and when I moved out the co op, keeping my end of the bargain was to do barn work. 

Since 1998, I have worked for six barns, doing mucking, driving tractors (albeit in a limited way),  giving meds, sweeping, watering, de-cob-webbing,  putting up hay, turnout in all weather conditions -- everything. I learned everything I know about good barn management from a few  people who trained me and set an example. Doing this work made me a better horsewoman. I love the work, actually, especially when I feel good about the care. I thought I would always do it, but lately I've been realizing how hard it is to make my life work with only one non-work day a week.

I've had a good run.

Now, after sixteen years of six day weeks (Sunday through Friday) and a bare minimum of 50 hours "on the clock" for one employer or another,  it is finally time for a break. I'm throwing in the towel on barn work. I will have Sundays off. Bob is happy, because for the first time since our marriage we have two full consecutive days to spend together. We can think of doing something fun on Saturday  nights without me watching the clock. I can go to Dressage at Devon's "Big Night!" It's like a whole new world of "weekend."

Hats off to the folks who take care of our horses. I'll never take those folks for granted.


  1. It's time. You are at a good place where Harv will be well cared for, even if you are not the one doing it all.

    Enjoy your time off and find lots of good ways to spend those precious hours for "freedom."

  2. I tell you what ... NOTHING makes you more appreciative of the barn workers more than when you do the work yourself! And, the other thing that makes you feel their pain is dealing with the completely whacko, never-satisfied horse owners that honestly think their horse farts rainbows and deserves to live like a prince and eat bonbons off a china plate.

    I have my own farm. It is constant, constant, CONSTANT work. Feeding, mucking, etc 2x/day. Managing the occasional "boo boo." Dragging and maintaining the arena. Fertilizing the fields. Mending the fences. ETC. Then, squeeze enough remaining energy out to longe or ride ... which winds up requiring a superhuman level of energy.

    Some days, I do really miss having the luxury of showing up to a boarding barn with all the chores done and the horses fed so all I have to do is groom and ride. BUT, the trade-off of having my horses under my own careful care, not having to deal with barn drama, and not having to share arenas with lackadaisical riders makes it ALL worth it!!

    Still, if I ever had to go back into boarding for ANY reason ... you better believe those barn workers and managers will be getting treated like PRINCES/PRINCESSES by me!!!! Every day, I would be asking what I could do to make their jobs easier. Heck, I'd learn how to make a darn good cupcake too! ;)

  3. So... you're quitting barn work altogether or just taking one more day a week off? Either way, it's a great idea. You have way more time for your own horse when you aren't monkeying with everyone else's.

  4. Good for you! I stopped having to work weekends myself back in April, and OH, what a relief it is. Do NOT feel guilty, and DO stifle the urge to muck or turnout or do something other than be with your horses at the barn (you know things probably won't be to your total satisfaction). Relax and enjoy, you've earned it!

  5. Good for you!!! sounds like you've more than earned it. I think taking a hand in our horse's care is a huge part of a good education (as well as empathy for barn management). I'm not sure I want my horses at home again, but I'm so grateful I had them there for 10 years...

  6. Congrads on your "retirement"! When I moved and became a boarder again, instead of a worker, at my current barn, at first I was a little lost. Ok, I rode, now what do you mean I can just go home? What about those stalls over there or dragging the ring...But it is pretty nice to get there with clean boots and to leave with clean boots. :) Enjoy your free time!

  7. Ditto! I noticed how quickly I plumped a bit after quitting barn work. No more hefting and dropping hay bales. But I definitely have better horse sense from these experiences, even beyond horse, ie time management and efficiency, Enjoy!

  8. You've earned a day off ;o) I like having my horse at home, and it does keep me fit and trim (though I could stand to lose maybe 15 pounds, heh heh), and it has made me very appreciative of the hard work that has to be done at the stable by the staff (and because the staff can be very transient, by the owners as well. Managers at McDonald's pick up the slack when the hourly help doesn't show up. Same as at the barn).

    I've come to appreciate good care, too. There is a difference between just picking up the poop you can SEE versus going through the bedding and fluffing it while searching for "the perfect apple." And there's a difference between the way a woman cleans versus a man (that "search thing," again). But enjoy your Saturday night and Sunday!! You have earned it.

  9. You have definitely earned that extra day off! Enjoy it and enjoy those work-free barn visits!


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