Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Frosty Morn

My kitchen view of the pasture this morning was of total white, glimmering, and cold. The horses were standing heads lowered in what rising sunshine there was like reptiles on rocks. At least for today there is no rain forecast. That apparently changes tomorrow with another front line moving across the state to keep things continually soggy. I have now fed the horses and will do a few other things and let it warm up a bit before riding one of two of them later this afternoon, time allowing.

It has been so incredibly long since I have had a solid full day, or any length of time strung together, to really work the all horses. I did get one short ride in on Sunset last week, or was it the week before. Can't even remember. I could barely remember which rein you pulled to go which direction. I am exaggerating of course but in fact while the muscle memory does remain, like riding a bike, the subtle communication lines between the horse and myself are so muffled that what remains are simple gross indicators. Kind of like not speaking a foreign language in a long time. While the basic vocabulary is there, the fluid use and thinking in that language, escapes. I haven't forgotten how to sit there but I can't remember my check lists of what we were working on the last time the horse and I were in tune. The horses too have a hard time focusing on me and are like kids who have been on spring break for a week or two. From past experience I know it all will come back as soon as I get time to get back to a regular schedule with them, but it will take a frustrating regaining of lost ground.

When I was down at the barn feeding the beasts a little while ago, I did notice that their collective focus was on something either in the woods or at the far end of the field beyond my vision and hearing. It apparently wasn't scary enough for them to pass over their food so I didn't bother to worry about it either. Now, though, back in the house the mystery goes further...I just got up to check on the laundry and passed by the window that looks out to the back of the pasture and woods that they had been so focused on and there was something out there that I absolutely had no idea what it might be.

Right by the fence line, I could see a medium sized reddish furry thing that looked to have a symmetrical outline almost like some strange aardvark, ant eater, sloth or something. Grabbing the binoculars definitely cleared my confusion as to the unidentifiable animal on premises. The very strange looking animal was actually two. It was an amorous pair of red foxes working out the production of future cubs for the spring. They were totally locked up in their efforts and it was pretty amusing watching their confusion at their situation with their attempts to travel hooked up but facing opposite directions. One would walk one direction with the other walking backwards and then this would reverse and they would try go the other way. The look on both of their faces made it apparent that they had both forgotten the earlier amorous feelings that got them into this problem and they each indicated it was over and they wanted to get on with their day. Canines sure have a weird way of doing things. These two finally worked their way out of my sight and I am assuming it all worked out and there will be a batch of new cubs in a few months. These two also must've really appreciated the purchased quail that we had been putting out over the months trying to get a covey established. Hors-d'oevres pour les renard.

My first guess for probable cause for the horses' distraction had been deer movement. They too are in their season amorous mode, running around with non of their regular shyness , fearing nothing, crossing open fields during the day light with oblivion, totally focused on just one mission. The big S word. Obviously these foxes' S morning activity and mission must have been what the horses and dogs were listening to earlier when I was feeding.

The wonderful part of my world out here in this animal kingdom, is that there is just no end to the continuing many surprises and I never know what in the world I am going to see on this farm. I have found that the animals don't lie very well and if they say their attention is on something, there is a pretty good chance there is something and I should keep my eyes and ears open. Openness to their visual and aural observations has revealed to me eagles, wild turkeys, ospreys, many deer, bobcats, the approach of strange cars and cows, and so many of the other creatures and pending situations that exist just beyond my normal awareness abilty to pick up on as early as they do. Their awareness of possible danger has also saved me a time or two from stepping on an unsuspecting snake laying in the grass. It is this wonderful play of observation and communication with the animals here that I love and feel deeply grateful for. I cannot imagine the hole in my spirit that I would feel if disconnected from all this and my animals, by having to live in the urban, concrete, sterile world that so many have to endure. I am, so lucky.

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