Yucca Nuzzles

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.

Fanny and Jack at Stable Alleyway

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.

Fanny Nuzzles Jack

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.

Fanny’s Head on Jack’s Shoulder

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.

*   *   *

Read on, there’s more…

Pale-leaf Yucca (Y. pallida)

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.

*   *   *


Verbena with Poprock HillI 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

“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.


Filed under Duncan Steele-Park, Horses, Life in Balance, Plants and Shrubs, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)

10 responses to “Yucca Nuzzles

  1. Jack, I *always* enjoy your thoughtful and well-written words. There is a connection between us all: the plant and animal world…all things are a circle. You and Fanny keep communing with the yucca! By the way, I watched Michael Pollan’s “The Botany of Desire” last night…and had read the book not too long ago. There’s much more to plants than what we might realize! Keep writing, riding, and philosophizing! ~ Bonnie

    • Bonnie, I must watch Pollan’s work. So much about plants that I don’t know. Good to hear from you. There is a connection: plant and animal worlds…the circle. Hope your art is going well…I see that you have sold several. I know that starving artists have it tough, but your work should rise above and sell very, very well. Thou be not starved, Bonnie.

  2. Wonderful writing and the pictures are splendid. I just spent a few days in NM and now home to find a new horse in my neighbors pen so your blog post was perfectly timed.

    • A horse in your neighbor’s pen! My goodness, take care of that good horse! What surprises we do have. Are you back in the Pacific NW? Your recipes are really, really good. Later….

  3. Yes, noteworthy items everywhere in the natural world. It’s nice seeing more of your place. And the photo of the poprocks in the silver dish is lovely. Communicating with plants and animals, our good friends, “a unity that, however briefly, overcomes life’s estrangements.” Indeed. I like reading about earthy things.

  4. Thanks, Teresa. When you get back to Minnesota, you’ll probably get your hands in the soil–doing earthy things.

  5. Joining Up. I like that. I have not read a lot of Monty Roberts work. I had not heard that. I think I’m going to go out today with my dad and baby and enjoy the beauty of the springtime

    • Wildstorm, I hope you enjoyed the beauty of the springtime today. I’m sure your dad enjoyed you and the baby. He is lucky. I am enjoying your blog and posts. You write very well. Very well, indeed.

  6. Kittie Howard

    This personalization of plants and animals is beneficial to us all:

    Jack, I love what you wrote above and how you wrapped flora and fauna and human in humanity’s bow, a theme you do really well. Actually, I’ve often thought you could expand this theme into a rancher’s book that others would enjoy.

    I mentioned much earlier that I love verbenas, also my grandmother’s favorite flower (along with zinnias). The carpet of verbena that fronts your ranch house is gorgeous. You and Brenda have a beautiful home. I love the tree out front and a perfect place to watch the sun work its magic.

    I didn’t know much about yucca plants and read your entry twice to absorb this new information. Interesting how Fanny has to have yucca in her diet. And I thank you for basic information about horses. Thanks to your posts, I’m re-gaining my trust in them. My brother suffered a nasty fall from an old farm horse and had to have a plate installed in his head. Fanny looks like a mannered soul even I could approach.

    I’ve saved your posts for this peaceful morning. As you surmised, my finger proved a problem. It has a touch of arthritis in the nuckle (from an accident on the kibbutz) and took a bit longer for the swelling to recede for me to type without feeling that movement ping that distracts thought. I should have a new post either this evening or tomorrow. We’ve been blessed with family and friends dropping by/staying a spell, all enjoyable, but, as life would have it, bunched onto a tight calendar.

    I don’t have much of a patch for flowers outside our condo, tho the condo itself is spacious, also has a deck where I can have potted tomatoes and so on. Anyway, I planted 100 tulips and 98 popped. Last year the squirrel next door dug up 98 and left me two. I didn’t begrudge this for there was a lack of acorn problem last year. I placed unsalted peanuts at the base of his tree to help out. So, fair being fair, Mr. Squirrel left my tulip bulbs alone this year. Normally I’d hesitate to say this but your posts say you understand this.

    And, finally, what is a poprock, Jack? They look sorta like Cheerios.

    Thanks for a beautiful post. Kittie

    • Thank you, Kittie, for your comments! So sorry about your brother. My grandfather had a similar accident–never fully recovered. Good on having friends and family drop by. Verbenas–if I could I would ship you some seed from our pastures. Good for your deck and the work on tomatoes. Brenda grows herbs in pots on our back porch, some in a patch beside the garage. Funny about the squirrel. Yes, he appreciates the peanuts and left your tulips alone. Some network you have. Barter peanuts for tulips. These poprocks are fossils. Some poprocks are just concretions of sediment. Most of those here are small and show fossil ridges. I’m not sure of typing the extinct organism. (I couldn’t find my geology manual tonight.) When you put them in fire, the rocks “pop.” Hence, the term. Other kinds of poprocks exist that are as large as a person and may contain other minerals.

      I look forward to reading your upcoming posts. I have arthritis in my fingers and my right knee. Generally, pain free most of the time, but it’s increasing by the year. Time is fleeting, Kittie.

      Again, thank you for the time and stories you have written on this post. Thanks again for the Honest Scrap Award. I’ve got some bloggers in mind to pass it on to.

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