Feasts and bonfires with a little New Year’s afterglow

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play, and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

Wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year as Old Man Winter sure has set in.

Such beauty to behold, as frost fairies trail their magic and dust over trees, fields, and window panes.

I held my annual Christmas bonfire for the 20th consecutive year, in celebration of the Feast of Saint Nicholas, and my extended family and a few close hunters and horsemen friends stopped by for some Christmas cheer.

As usual, the bonfire was so big you could see it from outer space. The traditional chili pot hung next to it, a -la-18th century, with large enamel ladle, and the fare was home made by yours-truly.

We also roasted hot dogs, done in a matter of seconds with just the right amount of crisp on them. My cakes turned out wonderful, a white one and a double chocolate, and the cherries and sauce was on the side.

Of course there was a breeze, so as usual, the candelabrums could not be lit, and since the snow had not yet fallen, the sleigh sat idle, also. The one-horse was glad to have the night off, since a jaunt around the field wasn’t on his to-do list for the evening.

My cousins spoke of deer hunting from years gone by, and everyone remarked at the wonderful outdoors under the stars and moon, all enjoyed beside the cheery bonfire.

What New Year’s Resolutions have you made?

To be more kind to animals, perhaps, or to make a concerted effort to understand the plights of them and children?

Or to have more patience, that is a good one, or to notice and thank God more often. Gratitude works wonders. Or to be more self-aware, more critical of yourself, and less critical of others?

Now with winter firmly ensconced, I must get out my soap box once again: Please keep outdoor animals in mind during these freezing temperatures, as you sit in your nice, warm house.

Dogs and cats that must live outside absolutely require extra food during the winter, in order to keep warm, as does livestock.

Be sure to check water troughs and buckets, and add hot water or a safe electric heater, to ensure plenty of fresh water for them to drink.

... It would appear that after 35 years of faithful service at my barn, the “Never-Freeze Yard Hydrant,” (1) hereinafter referred to as the “Water Pump,” (2) because it pumps water, has frozen.

No shame here, it’s been loyal and steadfast for many-a-winter, when it was as cold as 10 F below.

Since the ground is completely frozen, I have purchased an interesting item, so I don’t have to haul 15 gallons of water from my house to the barn twice a day.

It is the Frost King Automatic Electric Heat Cable Kit, for metal and plastic pipes. It is used for mobile home trailers and RV’s, and it lays right on the pipe, held in place by electrical tape. It has its own little thermostat and gets wrapped in some Gamut fiberglass pipe insulation, from Grainger Co.

The Frost King Heat Cable Kit (3) comes in 3, 6, 9, 12 foot, on up lengths, and can be purchased at Home Depot. Follow directions, like don’t bend it onto itself, and it’s working like a dream.

The offending frozen pipe functions once again as it should.

I had put an electric heater on the water pump and piping, but of course, was worried about a fire.

This little unit doesn’t get too hot, so I can sleep peacefully knowing that I will have fresh water from the water pump at the barn for the horses and barn cats tomorrow.

Folks, I continue to marvel at the 8th wonder of the world: that of modern, indoor plumbing. I don’t envy the Amish one bit with their cold privies; I am sooooo glad that at 3 am in the middle of a frozen, winter night that I have an indoor toilet with a warm seat, and a nice hot bath, too.

My thoughts for the first of the year are gratitude, among other things, for such modern wonders, including the sweet-tasting, fresh water that flows forth.

Setting some lofty goals for 2018 while sitting up in the saddle, to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1: My dad, the Plumber. Refused to acknowledge my terminology or offer any help until I used the correct vocabulary of THE NEVER-FREEZE YARD HYDRANT.

2: It pumps water, it’s a water pump.

3: A lifesaving invention by Frost King.