I have some photos about plants, animals, terrain and fossils I would like to show you. There’s always a photo opportunity here on Flying Hat. April offers some comforting snapshots about the place. There’s a lot of communication taking place, even with horses and yucca.
In “Fanny and Jack in the Stable Alleyway,” I am with Fanny and she wants to show her gratitude for the grain she got this morning. She sees the camera and wants to get her picture taken as well as give me a nuzzle in the neck.
Fanny is not an aggressive horse. Nonetheless, around horses, a person must be cautious. They are flight animals and when frightened, they will kick or bolt forward. Fanny is a good mare and her trainer, Duncan Steele-Park and the crew at GCH Land & Cattle Co., have taken her good qualities and improved them. From the day of her birth, we have been familiar with Fanny, lifting her feet and touching her.
A nuzzle on the neck is good sign that the horse has “joined up” with a person. “Joining up” is a trademark term of Monty Roberts, The Man Who Listens to Horses (1996) and From My Hands to Yours (2002).
Our horses have human contact–tactile contact–every day. The touching includes a “sacking out” with the hands. “Sacking out” is an term describing a procedure to rub the horse with a foreign object, i.e., a sack, halter, lead rope, blanket or with the hands. A daily touching and haltering with the horse boosts the familiarity between horse and human.
In most cases, horses anticipate the tactile contact. Lilly, our oldest mare, will glide up alongside us and stop, allowing us to rub her under her mane on the neck. The horse’s approach should not crowd the space of humans and it is best if they stop a few feet away and present themselves, more or less, with their flanks exposed. Even after a person becomes acquainted with equine behavior, it is always best to position the body at the flanks or broadside to the horse.
The daily contact with horses is a good thing for them and us. We rub the horses once or twice between the eyes, a place they cannot see, as a sign we are trustworthy.
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Read on, there’s more…
I have spent thirty minutes typing this yucca plant. I may be wrong, but my factor analysis seems correct. It is a Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida). As stated in my “Notice to Readers of Sage to Meadow,” if you discern an error in my typing this plant, please correct me.
Pale-leaf yucca is endemic (native only to a particular area) to North Central Texas and may extend into the Edwards Plateau, growing on rocky soil and outcrops of the Blackland Prairies and the Grand Prairie. It bears sage-green or bluish-green, orderly-arranged leaves having a noticeable waxy bloom, or glaucous appearance. The rosette itself is stemless and small, providing a spherical, coarse-textured look in the landscape. It may be single or have multiple offsets. Like all yuccas, Yucca pallida requires good drainage. It may be grown in the shade garden for textural interest, but may not bloom as well as those in more sun. [Texas Plant Database, Texas A&M University.]
In my analysis, I also figured the yucca might be Yucca contricta (Buckley yucca) or Yucca necopina (Glen Rose yucca). In the next few days, these yuccas will blossom and I will provide field photos.
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I write so often about Poprock Hill, I thought I would provide a photo of the hill. This was taken earlier this April before the full eruption of grasses, but you can see the proliferation of verbena in the foreground. Notice also the abundance of Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida) on the terraces below the ranch house. Poprock Hill is aptly named by local settlers because of the poprocks that are plentiful about the hill. I collect them, and with each rain poprocks emerge from the soil.
“Poprocks on Silver” shows several poprocks, large and small, that I have collected.
These photographs I have posted illustrate that even on simple, unglamorous land, there are natural items that are noteworthy and significant for study. The yucca plant I typed (hopefully, correct) required me to go back out to the terrace and look closer at the edges of the leaves to determine if there was a white line or if the leaves were curled, narrow or broad. As I began to type the yucca for posting, I got interested in the yucca for its own sake: what was it? Was it rare? Endemic? The Glen Rose yucca is a uncommon plant and needs some protection from extraction and destruction. Did I have a Glen Rose or not? I find the yucca in Texas worthy of further study. I may start a yucca farm.
Finally, I think this post with photos shows how connections can be funny and personal between species. Fanny and I communicated and I think both of us got pleasure and companionship out of the contact. The yucca could not respond. Whoa there, cowboy! From a Native American point-of-view, the yucca and I were talking to each other, weren’t we? It showed me its style, color and emerging blossoms. I watched it and it “told” me what it was doing. Yes. Certain species of the yucca can be used for soap, shampoo. And, when I give Lilly her supplement for her osteoarthritis, the veterinary insisted that the supplement include yucca. This personalization of plants and animals is beneficial to us all: medicine, companionship and a unity that, however briefly, overcomes life’s estrangement. That’s talking with the plants and animals. Maybe they are our relatives.
I wish you a pleasant week ahead: nuzzle your yucca, but be very careful. Like with all relatives.