Monday, March 8, 2010

Today has been just the kind of day that puts optimism back into one's vocabulary. It's been absolutely beautiful, a nice soothing temperature with a gentle breeze from the south end of the pond. After months of mud and gloom on the farm it is such a wonderful change, and a welcome and much needed relief. Since rain is regrettably in the near future I planned to, and did manage to ride all three of the horses I currently have working under saddle. After I had let them eat their breakfasts I started with Kitty, my oldest mare, and for a change of scene from the dressage arena, I rode her on the spot of land between the little pond and our neighbors.

This small field has been my favorite place to work a horse since we moved out here 15 years ago, in no small part because of the shade from bordering big oaks. More recently it has become a bit smaller and parts of it are quite soggy thanks to the resident beaver having raised the level of the top of the dam and thus the water level has raised and has encroached on the area.

It is an ongoing, epic battle for us out here with these flat tailed buck toothed, rodents, and so far he is way ahead. The game goes like this...if there is a tree to be chewed up, he does, it dies. Then he uses it to make a higher dam, or increase the size of his condo, or block the overflow pipe, just generally just being royal pains in the butt by flooding land and killing trees. I knock the damn dam down and next day it's back in place. Round and round ad nauseum. Beavers also know when you have a gun and when you don't. When you don't, they will taunt you by swimming past you and flap that damn flat tail, usually when you are least expecting and scare the crap out of you. Have a gun with you in the boat or on the edge of the pond and where are they? no where to be seen.

Our current beaver has a nice large condo of mud and logs, and old duck box parts all piled up at the shallow end of the big pond, and just recently managed to harvest one of the willow trees we had planted two years ago on the edge of the pond and had carefully covered with the anti beaver fencing around its trunk. I haven't found whether he used this tree for a dam or his den yet. We have dynamited the den a few times, and have managed to shoot a few of our resident beavers with rifles, but when one dies, several more of his kin just move up from the creek below the house. The amount of destruction and cost of cleaning up this rodent's artistry has been almost unfathomable. I hate them but am somewhat resigned now that we are only players in their world.

Any way, after Kitty, I rode Sunset, my most wonderful red mare, had a super session with her and then took her to eat the lush green fescue grass on the driveway edge. There is a such a desperation in the horses now for the green stuff. I have to admit feeling the same but my interest is not in the food value of grass but more in line of the healing quality color of green in general. There is some speculation that horses are color blind. I don't know for sure but I know that a horse can tell shades of green and know which grass is going the be the most choice by that, the paler the green the more tender and most wanted.

It is shedding season now for the horses and I am still wearing, breathing, and eating the hairs that were loosened when I brushed them off. I also hate shedding season but am resigned here too in that when its done , once again my furry yaks will be glossy lovely beasts again. Horses, like cars, drive or ride better when they look good. The birds are glad its shedding season and come in to the barn to pick up the hairs I knock off me and the brushes to line their nests.

I was standing in the aisle of the barn between rides today and heard the most wonderful sound I can think of, couldn't see its origin but I heard them. Purple Martins. These fabulous birds are the quintessential harbingers of spring to me. The quiet chirping, clicking songs they sing as they fly around over the farm and the pond are hypnotizing, inducing a smile on my face every year they return and grace us with their melodies. Today there were two males and two females. They flew around the farm for a while, and then they circled the houses and finally lit, and began checking out the housing situation for this year. The females did most of the decision making in this area and the males politely sat on the top of the house and chirped, resplendent in their glossy purple garb. They never seem to stay long enough for me in the summer, when they migrate back south, but for today they lifted my spirits and I look forward to hearing then chatter over my farm for several months to come.
Tomorrow calls for more rain and I have plenty of rainy day stuff to get finished but for now I will head back out and soak up the remains of a splendid spring day. I might just get on the tractor and go assault the beaver dam again too.

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