Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April's Closing

After the sublime rest of our two day vacation at the beach, we returned once again to farm world and to all the critters and plants that live here with us. It was nice to see Jack seemingly nonplused about his bout with the horse tranquilizer in our absence, happily barking at our arrival. Marley, Heidi, and Memphis gave equal wags of tails as the others in the welcoming reception committee. Back home is good, but back home means back to work, and in spring on a farm, there is no end to the stuff that needs tending to, should be tended to, and doesn’t necessarily include that which one might actually want, to get done. It can be simply overwhelming, to the point of doing absolutely none of it, which is the exact approach we took the weekend before last.

There was yet another in the continuing series of  full moons to be rising on Sunday. It had been waxing on Saturday and we noticed the fish were being very active along the shoreline in the little pond behind the barn. The scent of fish on the bed was heavy when down wind of their underwater nests. We tossed some lures out and quickly caught several nice fish, both bream and bass, and one bass that was so large and fast it snapped Mark’s line, jumped, and spit the lure back at him. Spring fishing is an opportunity to not miss when at its peak and so that was our plan for Sunday, a catch and fry day. We made some calls for recruits to come help with our mission, our daughter and son in law, two of their friends, and a new friend who had never fished but who was very interested in the challenge to learn. I assessed the inventory of oil and cornmeal, and having sufficient quantities of both, the plan for a fish dinner was on, if, the fish cooperated as was expected of them.

This new friend of ours was someone we met recently at an art reception, and who is an internationally known violinist, female, who is currently in our town on a fellowship with our symphony orchestra. Lianna is from Russian, and she speaks with an interesting accent having learned her English in France and carries the lilt of that influence into her words and which makes for very charming conversation. She is recently engaged to the cello playing French fellow who I spoke of in a past blog, who liked our homemade wine, a lot. She is a lovely girl, dark haired and with sultry eyes, she is lithe, graceful, and is a sensitive soul. She played the violin one night in our gallery while Mark did a photo shoot of her and the walls echoed with the strength of her notes and the resonance of her skill. Lianna is beautiful and charming, etc, and has traveled the globe playing before critiquing audiences, but had never fished in her life. So out to the farm she came to try something new.

I had to spend some of the Sunday in town dealing with family matters with my parents so I missed her lesson but was told when I got back out to the farm the news was good. She had learned how to fish, and most importantly, to catch fish. Not afraid to get her hands dirty, Lianna had easily taken to baiting a hook with a live cricket, and tossing the line and bobber out to the waiting fish and then pulling them in. Not only did she catch her first fish, she caught her first bass, which in fishing fresh water is the gold standard of the fish most prized as game fish. Regrettably she had to leave to go rehearse her violin playing for several hours and was not able to stay for the dinner to come but was smiling and quite pleased with her new found activity and hoped to do it again soon.

There are few things as gratifying as catching very aggressive and strong large mouth bass on light tackle, and on this Palm Sunday, with a full moon rising, the fishing was at its best. We said good byes to Lianna and I climbed into the boat and we began the more serious quest for catching dinner. The fish obliged and we did, and then some, and threw the extras and the too big ones back.

I do not clean fish and left that job to the fellows while I went to the kitchen to prepare the mix for the batter and get the other things ready for dinner A marvelous time fishing, and then eating was had by the weary fisher people, sadly minus Lianna, and that week was done and made room for another.

A fairly monumental moment was had by one member of the barn yard in the past week or so. Frank, the Tank, my former young stallion, well not technically active as such but beginning to try, has become lightened of his load and is now, a gelding. In the history of man kind dealing with its shepherding of animals, and really its choirs too, I can’t imagine the idea suddenly popping into someone’s brain that if one were to cut the prized jewels off of a male animal, it suddenly becomes something one can use for anything besides the sharing of those jewels and their cargo, and no longer is it a rearing, biting, Mr. Stud, who thinks everything is his to, own and take his pleasure with. In the case of the choir boys, it lets them sing at high ranges for many years, their voices not succumbing to the evil forces of those hormones released by those prepubescent jewels. What random thought led anyone to think, ah, “male, cut do dads, then behavior better.”? Deductive reasoning of any sort has to have come with some experience to make judgment enough to elicit change of action. Perhaps an accidental cutting, without death, showed a delightful change in personality and behavior that led others to see a correlation to the lightening of the load of the testosterone producing glands.

Anyway it is a weird way of expressing and controlling animal husbandry, which is a strange name to call it too. Be that as it may, the act of gelding, or neutering a male horse, is critical if one wants a horse that is not prefixed on replication, to all and any ends, including but not limited to having a large horse standing on its hind legs over your head, ready for action. Geldings are not perfect, but they tend to be infinitely more consistent in behavior, and ignore those former urges to feel like, “They Rule,” and rather tend to become great partners, friends, and even, confidents who are comfortable wearing the new blanket with the gold trim their owner got for them at Christmas.

Frank has now, thankfully, joined the fraternity, or sorority, of males relieved of the baggage of the motivation for the perpetuation of the gene pool. Frank has made a definitive change from being a young brat to becoming a very sweet kid once again, and that has made my life safer, and Kitty, his pasture mate and nanny, very happy. Is the process a judgment call of nature? Sure. Do I feel guilt at the disfigurement it entails, the temporary pain, and permanent hormonal change? Absolutely, I do. This is farm world tho, where the animals are often big, fast and dangerous at times, and so my goal is to limit my risks. Having a young stallion is very low on my priority list. Having a superior and mentally focused, riding horse without the potential danger of the effects of its raging hormones is very high, and in gelding, this variable is largely eliminated. Frank is free now from the stresses of these hormones and already shows a more mellow character. This I like, a lot.

Years ago, when my mother’s father died, the estate was sold off, but my mother brought me one thing from his farm. He had been a cattle farmer most of his life on five hundred lush acres of Mississippi delta land, and had run a large herd of well bred Angus cows. The one thing that mom brought me from his life, from the possessions that he no longer needed, was a surgical stainless steel set of the tools one uses to perform an emasculation. I thought that was a rather strange legacy to leave a granddaughter but it was a very nice set of tools, the when and where I might actually use them was up for grabs however. For some strange reason I recently haven’t been able to find this box that holds such a sacred set of instruments and I have reason to suspect Mark of hiding the thing, but have no proof of such. I will keep looking, just in case.

And so, another week, another month, all going by so quickly it numbs the brain. So what of our actions, our experiences, our thoughts and our deeds that happens as we bumble our way through this life? If there were no photos and no written form of what makes our memories, those ephemoral events would be lost.  It is in their chronicling here that sets mine into a form that might be remembered and shared, and so I write as they happen, and I wait, for the next installment which will surely come when least expected and unpredicted.

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