Facebook is full of people staving off boredom in creative ways. I envy them and to some extent wish (at least for the short term) that I could change places. .First, I'd binge listen to audio books and assemble very time consuming puzzles. I'd also write for hours... perhaps put in those marathon story sessions lasting 12 hours. I'd draw again and bake. I miss having the time to bake and decorate cookies. I wouldn't miss not eating them. That's the problem with baking. You have to eat at least one of what you make and if you like to cook a lot it's hard to keep that waistline in line.
Instead, I get up early and go to the farm. I clean manure, feed the dogs, horses and cats. And since the farm is once again under a form of construction, I clean up after the construction. This has meant cutting almost 100 apple trees into logs and stacking them for use as firewood later. The old apple orchard is now just a field. There are still plenty of apple trees. But the horses now have a bit more than an acre to used as both a pasture and a riding space.
There was a pond in the space as well. We had hopes that it was connected to a natural spring, but as it turned out, that wasn't the case. Or it dried up. At any rate, the old pond is mostly filled in. There is one low spot. This is a permanent trail element. There is a pile of sand in front of it so you can ride up the hill and down into the depression which will have water from time to time, either because of rain or because we put water in it.
Most of the work has been done by the excavator guy that's worked for my friend for years. He comes with his big truck as he did before. He wears a mask... we all wear masks when in close proximity. Other than that, life is the same as before.
In other, less rural places, the impact of coronovirus has been more pronounced. But in the countryside, in farming communities life must continue. If it doesn't, there will be food shortages. Of course, nothing we're doing is so dire, but the garden will be quite robust this year just in case, with cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, peepers and more.
Food will go up this year. For one thing, there aren't enough day laborers. Many went back to their countries. As with most first world countries, South Korea relies heavily on migrant labor to do the jobs that educated (and Koreans are really educated) don't want to do. But its more than just a shortage because what farmer wants the risk of getting sick, or perhaps even worse, becoming known as the farmer who hired workers who spread coronovirus.
What's worrisome are the horses. The farm continues because it's past the point of no return. My friend said that, in the worst case scenario, she will finish the facilities and then rent them out to someone. But what does that mean for our horses?
Much of managing our horses has been reliant on opening a stables. However, if we cannot open and my friends other business has a major slump, something will have to give over. Because its EXPENSIVE to have horses in South Korea. Lots of horses are coming for sale, and even though it was already a small market, it's gotten smaller as those who have them try to offset the cost of feeding them.
Our vet called to check on our kids... he doesn't see the same horses all that often. Mostly, because his primary work involves racing stables, but also horses just change hands a lot in Korea. The news is grim for the racing industry... it is an industry much like a care manufacturer . Except anybody can invest into a horse and that horses costs about $5000 usd a month to maintain at the racetrack and at least 1200 a month off track. With no races, businesses and owners want out.
More horses are being sent to slaughter, some are simply not being fed, and others are being fed anything that their owners can afford, not necessarily safe or healthy. Of course we can't say much on not feeding healthy things. All of our guys love cookies, bread, pizza crust, try to steal our coffee. Every couple days they get banana peels, apple cores and the like... grandma refrigerates the non-toxic vegetable and fruit scraps and they get a bucket. We also dump brambles into the pasture now again.
But none of this is about nutrition. It's about enrichment. They dine on timothy, but get to pick through the other things for fun. Super loves banana peels, Thunder eats everything, Thor likes the carrots and apples, and Panther being higher than Thunder but more polite about food than any horse has a right to be, waits his turn (which never comes). So, I'm not sure what he likes the most.
The brambles on the other hand (consisting only of things non-toxic) are not particularly yummy. You can often see the "Yuck, but I don't have anything better to do," face as they pick through it. Or they just go take a nap.
They really are pets, which has been commented on at length because its so rare. I know that because of their training they can find homes in Korea. But I wonder what they will think about living in a stall without constant enrichment to help counteract the lack of grazing.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two house cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and three barn cats .
Bear (Gom in Korean) )
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018