Thursday, March 26, 2009

Saying thank yous....

Have you ever had something happen that really made you stop and think and count your blessings? Well, the past few weeks have been a lesson. I've started slowly packing up my office and begun the process of training my already swamped colleagues in exactly what it is I do to keep the students & faculty happy in the library. It's not fun, but there are worse things.

Take last night, for instance....

The evening started normally enough. We arrived at the farm - T was to move a bale, a matter of a few minutes work with the tractor, leave me there, take H to get whatever it was that was on her "have to have it tonight" list, and then return to pick me up - only to find that 7 of the 8 horses were making an unchaperoned excursion around the mile section.

Seems they'd spooked through or knocked down a gate panel somehow, and rather than staying in familiar territory, gone exploring. The two pastures & gates that would ordinarily have stood between them and the open road weren't closed as with the recent spring weather, G's been in moving things around with the tractor.

J had gotten home only moments before we pulled in, to discover only one - slightly frantic - horse pacing the right side of the fence, and a message from a mile-neighbor saying that she thought the horses racing through her yard might be J's. J wanted to hook up the trailer, but I figured it might faster to locate & corral them first, or at least determine the situation before we started messing around with transport.

I grabbed a couple halters, gloves & my nail apron with clicker & treats, and with J in her car behind us, we headed out to see if we could track down the fugitives. When we did find them, they were scattered out across the gravel road looking confused. T pulled up to around a 1/4 mile back, at which point they started heading away from us, so I yelled stop at him, hopped out and hollered.
We've yelled "Come On-n" to bring the horses in for at least three generations in my family. No matter how far back in the woods they'd be, we'd yell and pretty soon hear pounding hooves heading our way.

I've instilled the habit in J's horses since I've been here, and thank you God, it worked this time, too.
They stopped trotting away, milled around, I hollered again, and then Sunny whinned a greeting and the whole bunch headed in my direction at a lope. In seconds I was surrounded by anxious, sweaty noses, and you can just bet all those whuffling muzzles got a treat as quickly as I could dole them out.

Sunny was more than pleased to be haltered, and as we were only about 3/4 of a mile from the house at that point, I just started walking in that direction with the whole herd clip-clopping around me. The only bad spot, and I think the reason they hadn't ended up back in the front yard earlier, was passing the pheasant operation directly to the south of the farm. They have a whole pack of kenneled hunting hounds which were, of course, howling and barking their fool heads off at the unexpected entertainment we provided. But with Sunny in the lead (and on one) we trotted right on by. They were back in their pasture, gates ALL closed & fastened, in short order.

None of them - again, thank you, God, were any worse for wear beyond a layer of sweat. Definitely tired, though. I let them drink after they were cool, and passed on feeding the evening's grain - just plenty of hay.

I've been grateful before for the farm's location down a relatively untraveled gravel road. I was even happier that the horses made their escape before 5 PM, when everyone would have been on the road home. Tracking them, they'd run the entire mile section, north, then west, south, and east. The direction they were headed when we caught up with them was on to the east - straight toward another oil road. The mile they did travel down the oil (blacktop, for you easterners) includes a large hill where they would have been practically invisible until.... well, bad endings with cars will be recurring nightmares for a while.

We checked fences last night, and I walked them again today to be sure we knew exactly where they got out. They won't be getting out there again. Did I sleep well? Not really. But I spent a lot of my night saying my thank yous.


Alex said...

yipes. loose horses are my worst nightmare! I too fear what would happen if they were to get out to the road... thankfully we are pretty set back, but you never know, and I have to check fences and double check latches and gates what I get "that" feeling. It's just not worth it! Glad you managed to get them all back safe and sound- love that they came when you called. I wistle at feed time, and would have never thought of it in an emergency. bravo for the quick thinking!

Mrs Mom said...

Sure am glad that all the horses were OK and everyone else too.

I learned the hard way long ago that life is too short to NOT say thanks, every day, several times. When I see my sons playing, my horse in his paddock, the gardens growing, even the pollen on the pond (through watery eyes and all,) I say thanks. (I'll admit- some of those thanks are that I live in the SOUTH now, and not where I have to plow snow any longer!!)