On Sundays I generally sleep late. The alarm goes off every other day at 0500, but on Sundays I have no alarm at all and my body takes full advantage of that fact. I do not ordinarily wake up planning to go off on a walkabout mission finding the horses.
Finding the horses is never a planned event, but always something that I move to the top of a priority list and its usually a situation that presents itself in the most inconvenient times. Finding the dog was a first time occurrence earlier during the week, but finding the horses is a sporadically yet regularly enough thing that I have made more than one blog post about it here through the years.
This morning was one of those inconvenient times. I woke up with a headache, probably from sleeping too late. It rained and stormed last night, so the water is up. It’s not as up as it would have been if I had started looking for them earlier, though, so perhaps my late start was a good thing, after all.
I started out with the usual routine of feeding animals in the morning. First Badger. Bobbie Sue is no longer with us, so he’s the only dog. Ordinarily he’s waiting outside the back door to see when I start feeding, since he can no longer hear the sound of food hitting his bowl. He wasn’t there. Yesterday we left the shop door open for him and the light on, and the old house door open because we knew the rain was coming. I brought him in the old house to show him his food bowl and the hay on the floor, and Rob brought him in the shop to show him where his bed was. Badger inspected both with a sort of disinterested look.
So he wasn’t there when I put his food this morning and I had a dreadful feeling we’d be out in the rain today searching the backroads again. But I still had to feed the chickens and horses. By the time I’ve fed the chickens the horses are usually waiting at the gate, snickering at me to hurry up. Not this morning. But we just brought them a new bale of hay the other day, so I thought since I was late getting started this morning, they’d just gone back to the hay. They’d hear me when I opened the gate and come then.
Not so. Comanche didn’t snicker when the gate chain banged against the gate. If I don’t want them to come up, I’m quiet about that. But this morning I wanted them to hear it so I made extra sure it clattered good. The creek was high so the water was loud and I thought maybe they didn’t hear it. They almost always can hear me whistle even with the high water though, so I tried that. No answer.
I resigned myself to crossing the creek to see where they were and what they were doing. Headache and all. The creek turned out to at least not be over my boots, so another point for sleeping in. The extra hours gave it time to go down a lot. I crossed the creek and walked up the hill to the hay feeding spot. No horses. No immediate signs the fence was down, either. I called them again by whistling, but didn’t get a reply.
Walked to the back end of the field and that’s when I saw the back gate. Wide open. And two horses trotting up the path from the deep yonder toward their own field so they could come get second breakfasts. So that was good. They hadn’t gone any further than the wilds right beyond the gate. And the grass on that end wasn’t rich and green like the grass they would have encountered had they gone up the mountain and into the hunting club to the east.
Too much rich and green grass would have been bad for them. It can cause them to colic or founder because it’s a sudden and drastic diet change, so I try to be extra vigilant about fences and gates during spring.
When I made it over to the gate I saw that the latch ring dangled from the chain. It must have gotten loose and most likely Shasta noticed that and nudged it until it gave way. I rigged it to stay shut until I can get back out there to make a more permanent fix.
That’s our house on the hill in the distance. The creek is down at the bottom of the hill they’re on now. My morning feeding chores and then walkabout while finding the horses amounted to almost a half a mile’s walk this morning, so at least I got a little exercise on this muddy, drizzly day.
They waited for me at the bottom of the hill, then sped past me at the creek. Because I was slow in crossing and they’re much better at it than me with my clumsy rubber boots and only two legs. If they wouldn’t have been soaking wet, I think I would have hitched a ride.
Oh, and by the way, by the time I got back from finding the horses, Badger had found me. He caught up with me in the field as I walked back to the house. So all is well again here on the Wild Ozark homestead. No lost pups or horses this day.
Happy Easter if you celebrate it that way, or Ostara if the seasons mark your passage of time more than the holidays. Either way, Spring is here, even if there is a chance of freezing rain this evening.
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.