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Posts Tagged ‘pastures’

 

The Road OutSometimes I drive down my country road and simply have to stop and take a picture.

It’s not that there is anything magnificent to snap.

And it’s not the glorious foliage or even the way the light hits a leaf.

It boils down to a “feeling” and a need to listen to the world.

Fields n Cloud Cover

 

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Friends of our just moved to Virginia and had never seen round bales of hay. They dot the countryside and punctuate already expansive views of fields and pastures along our scenic byways.

As my friend’s family made their final approach by car to our area, their youngest son kept jumping up and down in delight and calling, “Look Mom, Look at the BUFFALO!!!!”  And I suppose if you look quickly, the round bales do resemble a herd of buffalo.

Local farmers use the hay to feed their livestock.  We used them too, for our horses to eat during the lean, sometimes snowy or icy winters we have here.

Have you ever seen round bales like this collection I found on my way to town?

Baled Field
Storm Brewing

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Martini and Lucy

Entranced with country living and having the space for pets and livestock, my husband, Bill, and I knew we were going to adopt a couple of horses and learn how to ride.   Our new local friends would simply smile, nod, and like tolerant parents, watch us city dudes stumble around the equine world.  They were always there to pick us up though (literally), and always ready to help.

MARTINI

Martini was a bit past her prime and no longer fit to show, but she was the beloved first horse of a young lady named Ariadne.  Isn’t Ariadne  (pronounced Airy-ad-nee) a cool name?  Ariadne was a Goddess in Greek mythology.  By the way, Martini had a boyfriend named Rossi.  The deal was, Martini would live on our land and we were responsible for her medical care, feeding, and general happiness.  In exchange, I could ride her if I learned how to ride and Ariadne would give me lessons.

LUCY LOOSE LIPS

Then we got a horse for Bill.  Lucy was a great big Draft Horse (really of undetermined origins), a brood mare who had already had ten babies. Lucy was delighted with her new home and nothing much ever rattled her. She was odd, I thought, because she refused to eat apples but loved watermelon rinds. They called her “Lucy Loose Lips” because her bottom lip had a funny way of hanging down.   If she moved it, she would remind you of the talking horse, Mr. Ed, on television.  O.K., you are probably too young to remember Mr. Ed!

Lucy Loose Lips

So we were the proud caretakers of two horses.  Now what?

  • Do we have to build a barn?
  • Do we need a tack room?  What IS a tack room anyway?
  • How much grain do they need?  Do they like oatmeal?
  • What about water?
  • Equipment.  Where to get saddles, reins, pads, covers, boots, helmets?
  • How much will this all cost? Are you KIDDING?
  • How do we know if a horse is sick?
  • How much will vet costs be?  Are you KIDDING?
  • No, I don’t want to learn how to give them shots!
  • What does “float their teeth” mean?
  • Clean their hooves?  Are you KIDDING?
  • They need shoes even for trail riding?  Are you KIDDING?
  • Ever tried to comb out a horse’s tail?
  • Where are all those flies coming from?
  • A round bale?  What’s a round bale?
  • How do I get ON her back anyway?

Most of these questions, and more, came clear with the help of kindly locals who patiently coached us.  The Horse Whisperers we were not.

A DEAD HORSE?

Resting Horse, Not Dead

At one point I looked outside and Martini was lying on her side in the pasture.  Alarmed, I ran out to comfort her.  She didn’t move, just rolled her eyes at me.  I was convinced she was very ill and  dying – maybe even dead!  So, I called a horsey friend.

The diagnosis?   “She’s resting you know.  That’s how horses take catnaps.”   And sure enough, Martini finally rose to her feet, shook her head and was perfectly fine.

A PLACE TO GET OUT OF THE WIND

We built  a “run-in shed” they could use in bad weather.  But, I would see Martini and Lucy standing in the field with icicles hanging from their winter coats.  They obviously preferred the great outdoors to the comfort of the shed!

EXPERT RIDERS

We took riding lessons and soon were able to stroll along the trails in our area (without chaperones!).  After a few years, it always seemed too hot, too cold, too buggy for riding comfort, or we were too tired (which meant most days of the week), so our trail riding tapered off and finally stopped completely.

EXTERIOR EQUINE HOME DECOR

Martini and Lucy eventually became landscape accessories.  They were happy just to look beautiful grazing in the pasture.   And we were happy for the lovely vistas with the horses in the forefront for perspective.

Martini and Lucy both died many years later of the maladies of old age.  Lucy Loose Lips was 32 when she died,  and never missed a meal.

Country Tip for City Dudes: 

Horses are not only fine friends and fun to ride, but they make lovely exterior lawn décor when you are all  ready to retire.

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What’s life in the country without bird feeders and bird houses?  Oh, we have them all right – sugar water stations for the hummers, sunflower and thistle seed feeders, and various avian hotels.  But, when I heard about the plight of the American Bluebirds (not finding enough places to raise their young), I bought three houses just for them.

PICKY TENANTS

Did you know there are rules about bluebird houses?   Like they need to be placed about 5 feet off the ground on a fence post or a tree overlooking a pasture, and facing south! Imagine?  What would happen to the little birdies if their houses faced north for Heaven’s sake?

And if you are lucky enough to acquire a bluebird couple as tenants, they might manage to have a family (very cute to watch), but then they kick the kids out, and abandon the nest.  They can return two or three times more in a season, but get this – they want a clean house.  They start over each time and it has to be from scratch!  Soooo –  As the landlord, you have to clean out the old nest to make room for the new.   No wonder bluebirds are having trouble finding homes!

AVIAN HOTEL MAID

Still, I followed all the rules to make the bluebirds happy and placed one of the houses on a tree at the edge of the woods, overlooking a wide stone driveway.  Somehow it worked.  We got a family of bluebirds.  They made babies and then left me with the cleaning up to do.   Their house was down a little, grassy slope.

Wait!  Don’t leave me yet.  The story gets better.  I promise!

A SLIPPERY SLOPE

It was just after a rainy morning when I decided to clear out the previous tenant’s nest.  I headed for the little slope, started down and that was a BIG MISTAKE!  Swisssssssh!  My feet went out from under me in the wet grass. Next thing I knew I was flat on my back with my ankle turned at an odd angle and obviously badly broken.   Uh Oh!

At this point I was calmly thinking, “I BROKE MY ANKLE FOR THOSE D——- LITTLE BLUEBIRDS IN ORDER TO GIVE THEM A CLEAN HOME!  *@$#!X&**$#!!!!!” 

My husband’s name is Bill.  I call him Billy.  So I started yelling, “B – I – L – L – YEEE !!!!!!!”  I knew I couldn’t get up and certainly couldn’t walk.  I was lying on the slope contemplating crawling home.

B – I – L – L – Y EEEEEEEEEE!   I knew he was in his little den inside the house and the window was open.  Why couldn’t he hear me?  After about 12 top-of-the-lung screams there he (finally) was.  “Where WERE you? “

And here is what he said, “I thought it was a cow mooing from across the pasture.”

He thought I was a cow?

Now I ask you, how does one mistake a woman’s cry for a cow’s bellow?

To his credit (or due to his odd visualization of size and weight) Billyeeee  then decided he would carry me into the house.  “Are you serious?” I asked.  “Better get a fork lift!”   So, instead he called 911 for an ambulance.  The paramedics came in short order, wrapped the ankle and carted me off to the ER and eventual surgery.

Obviously, I survived.  The bluebird house is still there, and if there are any interested families, they will have to clean it out themselves. This avian hotel maid has quit her job.

This is a country-life adventure I just had to share.

Do you believe I was mistaken for a COW when all I wanted to do was provide a clean home for a family of bluebirds?

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