3:20 p.m.: Pudgie Conroy feeding Violet, a calf, at Sheep’s Run farm on Rumson Road in Rumson. (Photos by Connor ‘Solstice’ Soltas. Click to enlarge)

“Okay, Stinky. That’s it.”

The one-year-old calf’s name is Violet. But to Pudgie Conroy, a Middletown native turned full-time stable tenant in Rumson, calling her bovine charge “Stinky” – not to mention “muddy” and  “sweaty” – on the year’s hottest afternoon yet works just as well.

Said Conroy, “I feed Violet once a day, but I’ve been cutting her back little-by-little because she’s a year old now and doesn’t need as much.”

Once Violet’s milk bottle is drained, Conroy heads to the stables to shower Buck, a horse.
3:30 p.m.: Conroy cleaning Buck at Mulheren’s stables. (Click to enlarge)

Buck needs more than a cool-down, though.

“The little tiny gnats get in his fur, and they lay their eggs,” Conroy said, “He’s raw there, on his chest, from scratching them so much.”

The stolid Buck stands nearly motionless while being washed, and Conroy has to jostle him out of the way, using other nicknames like “Buster” and “Big Guy,” to complete the job. Conroy applies a special shampoo to deter the pests, then rinses Buck from mane to hoof.

Conroy’s youthful demeanor  – leaping down from pickup trucks, twisting a mechanical crank to lift trailer hitches, nicknaming her charges, and wisecracks galore – belies her lifelong experience with horses. Her involvement with them dates all the way back to childhood in Middletown, where she used to ride ponies. At 14, she forged a birth certificate to work at Monmouth Racetrack, which at the time required employees to be at least 15 years old.

“I was no jockey, just an exercise girl,” she said. “I used to gallop horses around the track.”

Conroy began working at Rumson resident Nancy Mulheren’s Sheep’s Run farm and stables in 1997, and has since learned to tend to cows, too. It’s rewarding work, she says, even on hot June days.

“Once I got this job, I never left,” she said.

Today, redbankgreen engages in a bit of Sol Searching as we chase the sun across the Green on the longest – thanks to the Summer Solstice – and, by coincidence, so-far-hottest day of the year. Please check in regularly to see where we’ve been. Suggestions? Send ’em here, please.