Tuesday, September 29, 2009

daytime turn-out

This is our third day of daytime turn-out after the long hot summer. I've actually been closing them into the front field instead of giving them the option to wander in and out, mainly because it's been really nice and I want them out and moving and getting back into the swing of this routine.

You can imagine the two who love it the most. This morning the dog across the lane was barking and the guardians trotted down front and center to check it out:

The rest of the herd lounged in the shade and let the donkey patrol take care of the dog:

I was working on fire ant mounds, which seem to be popping up suddenly. You can see why it's important to buy food grade DE:

Yes, he ate it. I'd nearly finished my dusting, so there wasn't much left. Lest you think I've lost my mind, some people feed this to horses as parasite control. It won't hurt him, but it gave him a very white muzzle:

You can probably guess who had to see what was going on:

I turned around and Rafer Johnson and the Big Bay had found their own treasure - a succulent young honeysuckle vine:

The sheer number of the shots I took of this is proof of how cute they were:

And of course Rafer Johnson plays it to the hilt:

Then Keil Bay gets in the game:

It was hard to put the camera away and get back to chores. I stood in the field awhile and had my own daytime turn-out along with the herd. Between daytime turn-out and grinding flax twice a day, there's no doubt we're heading into autumn.

Monday, September 28, 2009

labyrinthine perfection

I discovered this weekend that the labyrinth path is in its best incarnation yet. I haven't been down there since early July, when I injured my back and stopped doing the wheelbarrow chore. And then I worried that without my vigilance the entire project had probably fizzled out.

Oh me of little faith.

I walked down on Saturday with a wheelbarrow of manure and when I got to the bottom of the woodland trail I was stunned. With delight!

The labyrinth path was soft green grass, and it is a true labyrinth now, with trees growing over my head high, goldenrod in full bloom, and a true sense of the mystery and allure of a labyrinth.

My husband expressed surprise at my surprise. He says he told me he had been mowing the path itself, and that it was looking good. Somehow I never quite "heard" this. But he was understating the beauty of that entire space.

I took some photos but because of all the green, you really can't see the path and how it winds down and curves out of sight, pulling you to walk on down and see where it goes.

Once you're in the path proper, it feels like you've left everything behind and are in a quiet, special place. Exactly what I wanted when I started it.

Not quite as frequently as the tide washing sand castles away, the labyrinth path space is periodically cleared due to power lines. So I can't fully control the way things grow down there. But for this autumn, this month, it's absolutely perfect.

Friday, September 25, 2009

does your horse have a job?

I was reading something earlier that made me want to ask: for those of you who live with horses, do they have "jobs"?

If so, how important is that job? What happens if the horse can no longer do it?

It occurred to me as I was reading that my definition of job is very fluid and flexible.

If a horse can't do its "job" for whatever reason, I just find something else it *can* do. Or maybe all my horses have a multitude of jobs, so if one can't be done, it's not such a big deal.

In my mind, simple companionship is a fine and respectable job. Companionship for me AND for the other horses.

I hear horses being referred to as "pasture puffs" a lot. Which intrigues me, because if we as humans can't work because of physical issues or age we certainly don't refer to ourselves that way.

But I guess society does tend to value people for how much they can earn, so from that angle it's a similar phenomenon.

I'm still pondering this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

we have sunshine and wine

It rained most of yesterday, all night last night, and when I woke up this morning I hoped the sound I heard outside the open screen was not rain. But it was.

I had my coffee and tried to gear up for a mucky gray day with horses and donkeys who wanted to get out and graze.

Surprisingly, against all weather forecasts, the sun came out. I uncovered the hay, threw open the barn doors, and let things dry out while I did chores. And then left everything open so it could continue to dry as the day rolled on.

One time I thought it might rain, so I went out and took precautions, but it was a false alarm. The sunshine returned quickly and this evening I was lured out with a glass of wine and my camera, to see what might present itself.

First, Redford came out to join me and met Dickens along the way. Look at those donkey ears!

As you can see, they have become good friends:

Finally, they finished their hello and joined me at the picnic table:

Redford decided that if Sheaffer and Jack are vintners sampling apples, he is ready to sample some of the final product:

Then Dickens went for the wine:

By this time, Rafer Johnson appeared. He'd rather share a snifter of fine brandy with his mentor Sheaffer than sample the wine. Dickens can't help himself. He's a camera hog:

Meanwhile, over at the round bale, Redford illustrates how to be king. I love this shot because it shows Rafer Johnson's unique mane coloring - click on the photo to see his black "points" along the mane. And it shows Redford's snow white belly alongside his dark donkey cross:

My daughter took the camera and captured her pony and the sky:

And then her pony's handsome face:

All in all, a big beautiful day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

trim notes and the equinox

We had our date with the trimmer this a.m. and after taking a drive down the lane to help out a neighbor in need (her horse had lost a shoe and the other one was loose) we returned to get started on the November Hill herd.

I had planned to do Salina first so she could relax and munch her way through the rest of the visit, but Rafer Johnson gently put himself into position by the trimmer's tools and quietly refused to budge. He lifted his hoof and waited for his trim! I don't think I've ever seen such an eager equine when it comes to trims. It's quite apparent that he actively wants his feet done.

Redford went next and then Salina, and we started with the hardest hoof so we could put that behind us.

Then the geldings and we were done.

Trim notes are easy this time - everyone looked good, with Cody and Apache Moon tying for best feet all-around. I suspect it's no accident that they are getting worked daily by my dedicated daughter. I need to follow her example!

Today is the equinox and I had forgotten all about it until the trimmer handed me his sheet and I saw the date up top.

Unconsciously, though, I was aware, because I woke this morning from a long and quite detailed dream about 4 black snakes that linked themselves together into a sort of ouroborus in my front field.

It clicked with me that finding the snake skin on Sunday, and now this dream, both fit perfectly with the cycle of the year and with some other things going on in my life.

Ted Andrews wrote about snakeskins and snakes:

Because it sheds its skin, the snake has long been a symbol of death and rebirth. It sheds its skin as it outgrows the old. This death and rebirth cycle is part of what snake represents. It has ties and significance to the ancient alchemists and their symbolic transmutation of lead into gold. This is associated with higher wisdom that comes with the passing of time. This cycle of death and rebirth is often symbolized by the ouroborus, the ancient image of a snake swallowing its own tail. It is the symbol of eternity.

Before the snake begins to shed its skin, its eyes will begin to cloud over. It gives the snake a trancelike appearance. To many mystics and shamans this indicated the ability of the snake to move between the realms of the living and the dead, of crossing over from life to death and then back to life again. As the skin begins to shed, the eyes begin to clear as if they will see the world anew. For this reason, alchemists often believed that wisdom and new knowledge would lead to death and rebirth, enabling the individual to see the world from an entirely new perspective.

The snake has often been depicted, along with its relatives, the serpent and dragon, as a guardian. It is found in myth and lore guarding treasures, the springs of life or sacred places.

All of this makes so much sense to me right now. I've written before about the feed room feeling like an alchemical space, and finding the snakeskin there on Sunday seems like the perfect symbol.

The idea of a big 4-snake ouroborus in the front field makes me sigh with happiness. Autumn and rebirth and eternity... good things to focus on as we shift to the next cycle in the year.