Sunday, May 25, 2014

Out of the Gate

Red-wing Blackbird on the Pond
Chasing off a Hawk
Snow Melting on High Peaks
Tree Swallows Nesting
Right Horses, Wrong Pasture
Busted Fence, Snapped Barbed Wire
Minimal Horse Damage
Back at the Ranch
The call of a red-wing blackbird gets me out of bed. Groggily, I ask Todd what the names of the horses are. (Names trip me up as I wrote last summer when the horses arrived.)

"I don't know," is his pre-coffee grunt of a reply.

So I begin thinking up new names. The sorrel mare was here a short time last fall and I had called her Sweetie, but she needed a better name. The palomino needs a "golden" name.

I watch the blackbird chase off a red-tail hawk in the early morning blue sky. He must be guarding a nest in the reeds. Behind the pond, one of the peaks from the Selkirks is still crusted in snow, but I can see exposed rock. What a perfect time to return to Elmira.

The mares must be in the far pasture and I find shoes so I can go take pictures. Outside Todd is walking back from the horse barn with the dogs. "The horses are gone," he tells me.

We just got them last night! Gone? "Where," I ask as he rolls his eyes at me.

"Not here." This man really needs to pour some sunshine in his coffee. He then points to the open gate. Todd calls the Cowboy and I grab dog leads. I'm a buckaroo; I can find horses which turns out to be easy as soon as I spot my Neighbor trying to open the back gate while juggling a cup of coffee.

Can men not function without morning java? I really want a cup too, but my horses are missing and I've got priorities. "Morning! Have you seen any horses?" I ask.

"Just coming to get you. They took out my fence." I go through the gate and we walk the quarter mile back to his place. I see the mares in his pasture.

Neighbor points with his coffee mug at the cedar post the sorrel mare took out before snapping three lines of barbed-wired. We know which mare went through first because she's cut. Our place doesn't have barbed-wire because it's bad news for horses.

She lets me walk up to her, but she's skittish. Neighbor says something spooked them to drive them through the fence like that. Back at our place they simply walked out of the gate. I don't think grizzlies or wolves or even wolverines open gates.

Clucking and cooing softly I tell her she's a good girl. I want to see her cuts. They're not deep, which is a blessing. She'll live. I've seen horses cut up so bad that they've had to be put down. And last year we had a mare get tangled in old hot wire from the Blue Bird Ranch. We had to unwrap at least twenty loops from the mare's leg. Fences don't always contain horses.

I wrap a dog leash around the sorrel's muscled neck. Horses have powerful necks, and I pat her for reassurance. I walk her over to the palomino and wrap a lead on her. Neighbor takes the palomino and we walk out of his pasture. "My gate was wide open," he says.

Of course, leave it to a spooked horse to plow through a fence when a gate is open. We walk back to my place leading the mares. The sorrel is still jumpy, and I'm hoping she doesn't kick me or pull away. My mind is 100% buckaroo but my body can't keep up. That why I write and no longer ride.

Cowboy and Husband arrive to open gates and we get the mares settled in to the Elmira Pond pastures of plenty. Cowboy jokes that the grass wasn't lush enough. I tell him about Neighbor's fence and the men discuss its repair. We look at the sorrel's cuts and decide nothing needs more than bag balm which I offer to do until it heals. Her hoof is chipped but Cowboy is a farrier so he'll trim up the hoof.

We discuss the knapweed issue--last summer I dug some plants out, mowed more but it's a nasty weed. Todd wants to burn it and I'm concerned with keeping chemicals out of the pond. Cowboy suggests a few harmless chemicals if there are such. I see more mowing in my future.

Funny, but neither Todd nor I say that we're moving as if some miracle of God will keep us here and him employed closer than eight and a half hours away.

I even start planning the garden I swore I wouldn't plant. How can I not sow seeds even if I won't be here to harvest? Do the migratory birds ever worry about building nests that they may never use again?

I ask about the horses names--Snapper and Beary. I knew Snapper, but Todd said it was the other mare. I shoot him a wifely told-ya-so look. I think I need coffee, too. Talk dwindles. Neighbor says his coffee mug is empty. Todd grunts that he hasn't even had coffee. We depart, each seeking to fill our own cups.

Day one of horses and already an adventure right out of the gate!


  1. Glad the horse's injuries were minor. Hope Snapper and Beary settle in now that they've had their adventure.

    1. They are munching grass like living lawn mowers! Such a relief that Snapper wasn't injured. I couldn't believe she went through that fence with just minor cuts--horses must have guardian angels, too!