Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Great Escape--The Sequel

Well folks, it's been quite a day.  From finding my son's window open (Lord only knows how without the knob) after a 29 degree night, to having him "help" me with laundry by cramming in 2 extra full loads on top of a "clean" one in the rinse cycle . . .eeesh.

Still, I think it beats yesterday.  I headed down to the coop to check for eggs at about 10 AM, and noticed that the gate to my horse pen was hanging open.  I had time to notice that the chain was on the ground before I looked up and saw BOTH of my horses in the field across the road.  With a heavy sigh, I went to the barn to get some alfalfa pellets to rattle in a bucket. 

(I'm not going to post a picture of the horses today because I don't want to use THAT much profanity.)

Approaching them circuitously, rattling the bucket and calling them sweetly, I had high hopes.  THEY, on the other hand, had high spirits.  They went charging off through the field.  I called my trusty husband on my cell, since (thank goodness) he had the day off and was at home.  I tried to keep them in sight while he rounded up Arthur and got in the truck. 

They played quite a game of silly buggers at first, coming closer to the house, then charging away.  At one point, we were within 100 yards of their pen. Up on the railroad tracks, back into the unfenced pasture, then OVER the tracks and away they went.  Scott and I ended up in two vehicles just trying to keep tabs on them.  "Does nobody out here believe in FENCES?" I thought, for the first time in my life. 

After several hours of chasing and calling (our minutes are probably GONE for the next 6 months), we finally found someone who DID believe in fences, and as a matter of fact had their own herd of broodmares--and his unused pasture had an open gate.  Mind you, we were a couple of miles west of our house by now, and had spent plenty of time trampling around outside the vehicles in 40 degrees with about 40 MPH wind.  It was COLD.

We got them in the pasture (separate, but next to the broodmares), but they got out again.  The air literally would have turned black if my son hadn't have been with me.  Another hour or so of chasing ensued, and wonder of wonders, we eventually got them back into that same pasture.  Now mind you, it's a BIG pasture.  By then we were ALL tired, cold, and cranky.  Scott went home to get the trailer (a girl can always hope for a miracle, right?) and I stayed in his car, shivering.  His heater really doesn't work that well, and all I was dressed for was a morning round of chores.

He soon came back with his Carhartts.  I'll tell you what, that was the best Christmas present I ever got him.  We trampled around some more.  A LOT MORE.  Arthur, to his credit, was awesome at staying in the truck and amusing himself without destroying anything (a rarity in itself).  Still, we had no joy.  At this point, we had been out chasing for 3-4 hours with no signs of catching at all.  At the beginning of this shindig, I had called Barb and Ralph to ask to borrow the Rhino (since they were out of town) but wasn't willing to use the boltcutters to cut the latch that Ralph uses to keep it secure.

I was ready to put up LOST HORSES posters (and tell whoever found them that they could keep the hussies).  Scott hadn't eaten, and Arthur had only had some granola bars and juice.  All the while, I was cursing myself for having Arabian crosses.  Arabs are known as "drinkers of the wind" and prized for stamina.  Heck, if I would have had Quarter horses, they probably would have been worn out by now!

We were headed back home to take a breather when Barb called to let us know that she and Ralph were back, and had a pretty good idea of who owned that land.  Scott ran into town to get oats (since alfalfa pellets, after all the fresh mouthfuls they'd had that day, were probably unappetizing).  Sure enough, Barb made a call or two, and the landowner said he'd come out and help us.

So we remobilized.  Back in the truck.  Ralph, being the wonderful person he is, not only came to help, but brought BEER.  (I really needed one by then!)  Barb headed back to meet Caitlin coming home off the bus.  We got out to the pasture and met Gary, Toby, and Lisa. They went tooling around the pasture in their truck after the horses.  I'd have done that myself, but . . .it didn't belong to me and I didn't want to impose any more than I already had.  Sure enough, within 15 minutes, they had my (*&@#_$(*& mares caught and headed back towards the trailer.

Then the fun ensued.  Remember, the wind is whistling along at high rates of speed.  It's making the trailer whistle too.  My girls haven't been trailered in over a year.  And, to top it all off, there's a thunderstorm coming in.  (Thank GOD the weatherman was wrong and it wasn't raining all day.)  So, with much prodding, pushing, and cooperation, we got the horses into our trailer just in time for it to start raining.  YAY.  (I really hope our wonderful neighbors liked the barmbrack that I gave them--I wanted to do something to say thanks!)

We got home in full rain.  Scott had to move the plow to be able to pull the truck around to the horse pen.  With Ralph guiding, he finally got it backed up and got the gates set up.  We were ready to unload.   Amid cracks of lightning and crashing rumbles of thunder, we got Aurora out first.  She didn't seem to want to come out, after all the work it took to get her in there.  As she was coming out, it started to hail.  With groans, we took her halter off and turned to Aces.

One of their adventures was running through a barbed wire gate.  Aces had gotten a cut on her upper leg, plus a nick on her nose while trying to load into the trailer.  I was armed with Bag Balm, and there we stood in the rain and hail, trying to smear the balm on her cuts.  She was dancing and flinching, and we were all getting wetter and wetter.  I decided to call it good.

Well, now that they were back, better feed them, yeah?  Make home a nice place again?  So I trudged down to the bale, forked them plenty of hay, and stopped to close the chickens in . . .but wait, the chookies needed food.  Back to the barn.  Feed the chickens.  Throw the cat out of the coop.  Wait, there are more eggs.  Put them in a bucket that I hold at an angle to my chest so they don't get wet.  Get inside.  What's that?  Now that I'm inside, the SUN IS SHINING?!?  GAAAAH.

Scott is a truly wonderful husband.  We both got in (dripping wet) and he said "how does pizza sound tonight?"  I would have kissed him if I had the energy.  As it was, smiling was an effort--at this point, my back was locked up tighter than Fort Knox and I needed dry clothes.  I decided in favor of the pajama strategy.  After all, even my UNDERWEAR was wet.  He was awesome enough to run into town for pizza after he changed too. 

Padlocks for the gates are in order.  More gifts for neighbors are in order.  (I took Ralph half a dozen smoked eggs today.)  I'm still exhausted and sore, but so very thankful for folks willing to help.  Folks, no matter where you live, cultivate good neighbors.  BE NICE TO THEM.  Someday you're going to need their help.  Just be sure you help them back.

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