Thursday, December 18, 2008

making peace with the mush

We are stuck in another wave of drizzly, warm for the season days. The muckiness of the ground bothers me on some deep level, probably because we have clay soil and it's slippery. I was aware yesterday that I was feeling frustrated with the unstable footing, and even more keenly aware that there is not one thing I can do about it. Except reframe my discomfort and figure out a new perspective.

I decided to focus on being cheerful and to walk slowly. I stopped wincing at the mush and tried to feel my feet sinking in, finding solid ground, and to experience it differently.

When I pushed the wheelbarrow full of hay out to the front field, I heard a loud and persistent bird call that I knew wasn't a song bird. It was the red-tail hawk, sitting on a low tree branch watching me, calling out over and over. This is the third sighting in a week or so. Each time I listen and although I'm not exactly sure what the bird is telling me, I continue to listen. Some things just sink in without having to know the words.

Back in the barn, the Big Bay had his own message. He begged me to allow him to be with Salina and the donkeys instead of the pony and Cody. Keil's front legs were muddy up to the knees, following a morning of rough play with the very pushy pony. I made the Bay promise he would not chase donkeys or Salina, as I didn't want anyone sliding down. He agreed.

So I opened the stall door and said "walk on." He sauntered down the barn aisle, completely content, checking out each stall, each empty feed tub, and then joined Salina and the donkeys by the round bale. It was covered, but I took the big blue tarp off and let them stand in a circle munching while I put the pony and Cody out in the back field with their own hay.

Then I led the Bay into the front field, went back for Salina, and of course Rafer followed. I stood by the gate and waited for Redford, reluctant to give up the round bale, but one, two, three, four, there he came skittering through the barn to find his herd.

Keil Bay kept his promise. All day long he walked quietly and gently around Salina and the donkeys. He carefully touched his nose to Redford's rump and even when Redford gave him a sharp kick, Keil simply stood still and watched Redford to see what might come next.

Three different times the donkeys ventured alone down the big hill. Salina looked up, not concerned but wanting to keep her eye on them. When they went all the way down, she couldn't. So Keil Bay walked very carefully down and in a big circle, gently herded them back up to Salina. It was so touching.

Late in the afternoon the neighbors across the lane wheeled out a big wagon of trash. White plastic flashed and rustled. Keil Bay went into high alert and trotted to the crest of the hill, ahead of Salina and the donkeys, to keep an eye on things. Cody and the pony trotted up from the back field to alert over the fence, rear guards. We've got your six, buddy. Even when separated, the herd members communicate and do their parts.

It was especially nice to see Salina relaxed and allowing the geldings to keep watch for her. She needed a break.

Today is another gray foggy day, although I can see through the windows evidence of clearing. Tomorrow I'm told it will be in the 70s, but windy. The gusting wind is not my favorite either, but perhaps the fact that it helps dry things out will make it more appealing.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I think it was really nice of the big Bay to herd the donkeys back and give Salina a well needed break from her mothering duties. Recently it has been very mucky here too, with all the rain, my daughter almost lost her boot completely in it. Then it freezes into those cups made by hooves and it's impossible to walk, even the horses have trouble. We're expecting snow tomorrow and I don't mind if it gets rid of the mud.

billie said...

OH THOSE CUPS! I go out and trample them flat and rake them in an effort to keep the biggest ones to a minimum. They trap water and the areas take forever to dry out.

I keep meaning to try this and see if it works in the high muck areas, usually the gateways. There are screens made of ... rubber? I'm not sure exactly, but they have some give to them. You put down a layer of screenings or gravel, then put the screen on top, then cover it with screenings. It supposedly makes those areas much less mucky.

There are so many projects I want to do. Need more money AND more time. :)

jme said...

oh the dreaded mush! i feel your frustration :-\ i've been battling it too, and i'll try just about anything to get rid of it. maybe i'll look into the grids...

i love watching them interact in turnout. it's so sweet how keil bay keeps his little herd together so salina doesn't have to follow them. my big chestnut is like that, and if he can't keep the herd together, he'll stay with the lone horse while the others go off. kinda like the buddy system :-)

billie said...

It was funny how alert he was without his two "flank men" in the front field. When he has them, they do a lot of his work for him. :)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Billie, I so loved how you painted such a beautiful picture, using your descriptive words, to tell about all the equines and how they spent their day together. If I had not know they were horses and donekys, I'd ahve thought you were discussing a human family. Their personalities are so tangible, it's uncanny.
Thank you for sharing our stories. I so enjoy reading about your animals and family when I visit your blog.

Oh, and I know just what you mean about the mush and muck. We rarely ever get mushy mud up here. NOt even when it rains, because the rain soaks in so fast. But the snow is so heavy and melts so slow while just sitting there softening the earth. I don't like it and I especially don't like slipping around in it, or watching my horse's feet become slippery either.
Today I almost lost my boot in the muck! yuk.

New Mexico

billie said...

Lisa, thank goodness the wind did dry things out a bit today. If the forecast for tomorrow is on target, we should get at least half a day more of some sun and slight wind before the chance of rain returns.