Saturday, June 27, 2015

Horse Persons

Ginger and Wally, who insists on rolling in the dirt!
These two equine beings constitute my wild horse herd. They are not genuinely wild but few people have ever ridden either of these beasts. Ginger was ridden a few times by a consummate horsewoman many years ago and returned to me greenbroke, not a finished horse as I was expecting. I fell off when Ginger suddenly whirled around on a dime - as all good Quarter Horses can do. The laws of centrifugal force cast me ignobly onto the sand of my neighbor's riding arena in shame and embarrassment. In my defense, I was riding an English saddle for the first time in my life, with two bad knees. It might have been different had I been riding a western saddle. I was incredibly lucky that I did not break anything, not even my ass. I gave up on my idea of ever riding again after that. The pain in my knees makes it impossible anyway.

Wally is a clever horse. According to his former owners, when inexperienced people attempted to ride him, he simply refused to move. When experienced riders saddled up to make him behave, he would only back up. He refused to move forward. It is possible that he has some form of horse dyslexia because he survived being struck by lightning, amazingly enough. Knowing Wally the way I do, I think it is far more likely that he understands exactly the dynamics of not cooperating with his captors.

There are people who could and would take my horses and "break" them. Wally would know to ride out - or else. Ginger would likely have the worst of it as she firmly believes she is the Supreme Being. It would be ugly and horrible to break her. As it stands, my horses are safe to be around, to halter and lead. They are safe for the farrier. The vet is a bit dicey but that is understandable! (If I thought I could rabbit punch the doctor and get away with it for the pain and suffering he inflicts on my person...) Ginger unfortunately kicked a human being last year, but I believe she was aiming at Wally. Our human friend was collateral damage. If she had intended to kick our friend, the outcome would have been quite serious if not tragic. As it was, there was no bruising or swelling but I continue to regret that it happened.

The best advice is to always pay attention around horses - just in case.

I also did not name these wild beasts! Ginger surely must be named for the fictional mare in the children's book Black Beauty - the chestnut horse of great spirit and suffering who died of ill treatment and heavy work in the streets of 1800's London - the way countless real horses have died of ill treatment at the hands of human beings.

Wally's name is a shortened version of a fancy Arabian name that I was never told. He is a registered Arabian. His former owners kept his papers as a way to insure that I would never be tempted to sell him for instant cash but that would never happen. I might have to find a new home for my horses some sad day, but it will not be for money.

I do not know what names I would have given either of the horses. Based on my track record with dog names (Nuke, Duke, and Jake) and the one horse I named Annie, they would likely be unassuming, unoriginal names but never Ginger or Wally. It is too late now as both horses know their names - either from the sound of it, or from the energy behind it. I have never figured out which it is with horses. Science has already proven that dogs can understand over 150 human words. While horses learn voice commands, they are such an intuitive and sensitive creature that I think their communications with human beings occurs well before a human voices a single word.

I sometimes feel badly for Wally. If I could afford a real barn, with wide stalls and big doors that could be closed against the cold winter winds - he could eat and drink in peace apart from Ginger's constant dominance. If I could build a nice paddock for him to live in, his beautiful tail and mane would grow luxurious and long. I could braid his mane and polish his hooves. He would never be covered with cuckleburrs or mud.

If Ginger had a real barn to live in, she would be the first to enter and the first to exit. She could shelter against the cold and heat, too. Her mane would never grow luxurious, but her tail would. All three of us should have had better fortune in life!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Rain and the Beauty it Brings

Even the hilltops are soggy!

Rain in Pottawatomie County

Nothing feeds my spirit as much as the living Kansas sky.

I have not seen a single Monarch butterfly yet this year.

Just a taste of the magic.

Good night, Kansas.

Front yard - steamy, like the jungle!

Abundant prairie.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Soon To Be Under Assault

These photos are of the property directly across the road, in an amateurish panorama looking west to east. This will eventually be under the assault of a rock ledge quarry. This is the view visible from my home.
Directly North

A preview of what is to come.
Two machines and a mountain of prairie earth.
It is difficult to see the extent of the digging because of the summer vegetation.

An idea of how deep it can go.

Three of us rode horses in this pasture once - now entirely stripped and piled high.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

And Then The Rains Came...

It has been raining - in waves - for days. The parched and cracked prairie soil is now thoroughly soaked and cannot absorb any more water. I lost track of the total number of inches of water collected in the gauge this spring but it is more than twelve inches in the last several weeks. Exactly two inches fell yesterday while I was at work. Awake in the middle of the night and checking from the safety of the front door, the flashlight beam reveals another three inches in the gauge. The rain is falling still. The creek is roaring.

I no longer have to worry about my house flooding should the little creek escape its banks. It is not entirely impossible for my house to flood - simply because I know to NEVER say never. It would take an apocalyptic amount of rain falling in a very short time on already saturated soil to flood the new house. As long as the rain comes in waves, the water rises, roaring in a downhill blast out of the valley, but subsides to a benign flow in a matter of hours.

I am not complaining about the rain. The long term drought left an ugly mark on me. I am not complaining about the invasive trees encroaching into my pasture - at least not right at this very moment. Their roots are holding the earth together and slowing the unimaginable cumulative amount of water from draining directly into the creek. I am celebrating the lush, green cover of tall grass and prairie plants and weeds firmly anchoring the soil. I am imagining the underground water levels rising in my well though I must exercise restraint. There is a multitude of disgusting things on and in the ground that water contacts on its journey into my well - snakes, grubs, horse manure... you get the idea.

The return of the rain is most pleasing.  The familiar splashing beneath the open windows and the constant rushing of the little creek mean I am home.
Every spring there are different flowers adorning the prairie.
Wild roses.
The rains bring an abundant and verdant prairie.
Nothing but green...
An overflowing pond - something impossible for the last several years.
Every season there are more Missouri Primroses on this bare bank.  My favorite wildflower.