Tag Archives: Paint Horses

Rosemary and Star

IMG_3308Here in central Texas, Erath County, we remain in a drought.  Since Christmas, however, rain has fallen and we do not have to boil our water before drinking.  The date for near-complete water extinction has been extended into the future.  No specific date for extinction has been given, but the February 15th date for extinction is no longer in effect.

In the photograph above, I hold a rosemary blossom, indicative of moisture in the air and soil about the large rosemary bush on the west side of the ranch house.  The scent of rosemary lingers on my fingers as I type.  I use the rosemary for several recipes, but I favor its use when I prepare a sauce for steaks or lamb chops.

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Before Christmas, my good horse Star died of colic.  The old boy was fourteen years old and in his becoming ill, the first veterinary I called to the ranch said he was a strong, stoical horse in that he did not lash out at us, his handlers.  Star was diagnosed at six in the evening and had to be put down at two o’clock the next morning at the Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery compound in Weatherford, Texas, where he was surrounded by three female veterinarians who took control and managed his passing.  Without being sentimental, I still look out my porch windows, even today, to see where Star is in the pasture.  Is he loafing under the mesquites?  I know he is not there, but I still look.

Star

Star Bars Moore will be just fine.

Star Bars Moore APHA 808164, loafing in arena pasture under mesquites.

Star Bars Moore APHA 808164, loafing in arena pasture under mesquites.

 

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Filed under Life in Balance, Plants and Shrubs, Star

If she isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, I’ll give her to you!

Wild Flower Gal with verbena (north Erath County, Texas, late winter, 2007).

Four winters ago, my neighbor, Jerry Wood who lives two miles south of me on County Road 114 stopped at my mailbox as I retrieved letters one morning.  We chatted for a few minutes as he kept his diesel truck running and as we closed our conversation he said, “I have a horse, Jack, [words unintelligible over the engine noise] I’ll give her to you!”

“I’ll give her to you?”  I had three horses at this time, two tobiano black paints and one quarter horse, Sweet Hija, and another horse added to the remuda would not be a problem to train and feed.  But, a gift horse?  I thought as Jerry drove off that he must be terminally ill or something drastic was going on like divorce or bankruptcy.  I immediately decided that if the horse was sound, I would take her off Jerry’s hands and ease his problem — whatever it was.

Within the week, I drove down to Jerry’s with my trailer hitched up, pulled into his corrals and saw Wild Flower Gal, a sorrel tobiano paint that was drop-dead gorgeous.  “Why would he even want to get rid of this beautiful creature?” I quietly thought.  In any case, he took her through her paces, showed that she was healthy and halter-trained and I liked her behavior so she would fit in after getting to know my other three horses.

After seeing her training, paces and overall friendliness, I asked Jerry, “Are you sure you want to give this beautiful horse to me, Jerry?”  I thought he was making a big mistake to give Wild Flower Away and I did not want to exploit Jerry’s problem — whatever the heck it was — in his hour of crisis.

“What?” he said.

“You did say, didn’t you, Jerry, that you were giving this horse to me?”  This was quickly going in a perplexing direction I did not like.

“Oh, no!” he quickly replied.  “I said, ‘If she isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, I’ll give her to you.'”

“Oh, you did?”  This was definitely in embarrassing territory.  “How much do you want for her?”

“One-thousand dollars,” he replied.

I became a tad dizzy in my thinking at that point, but my mind quickly cleared the confusion:  Jerry’s diesel engine had blocked out his words, “If she isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen…”  And I had slammed his statement into, “I have a horse to give you, Jack.”

What to do?  Buy the horse and lighten my bank account?  Probably the best exit strategy.  If I did not buy Wild Flower Gal, I would probably be the center of an oft-told tale at the Hannibal Country Store concerning my over-eagerness to gainsay another yegua for free.  I did not want that circulating around the cracker barrel.

So, I bought Wild Flower Gal, loaded her up and brought her to my stables.  Jerry signed over the pedigree, pocketing a thousand.

Wild Flower Gal was pretty, but not the prettiest gal I had ever seen.  But, pretty enough to buy and train and sever any anecdote about my confusion.  Several months later I snapped the photograph of her in late winter browsing through the wild verbena.  It was fitting, this photograph, because she was in a pasture of wild flowers that reflected her namesake.  I sold her a year later for a thousand dollars to a family near Abilene, Texas, that showed her at halter and loved her well.

A lot of lessons emerge from this story.  Verify and clarify conversations of commercial intercourse.  Cut your engines when conversing.  Above all, there’s no such thing as a free horse.

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Filed under Horses, Sweet Hija, Wild Flowers of Texas

In the field with Ant Lions

 

After Ant Lions and the alleyway, a beautiful violet blossom of rosemary is seen before the cold winter blast tomorrow.

Yesterday, November 23, 2010, late in the afternoon, I wanted to walk into the pastures, grove and corrals and first observe, then photograph, then write a post.  Frankly, I never got farther than the alleyway between barn and stables.  Since my intent was to observe sentient creatures especially — invertebrate as well as vertebrate — there emerged enough activity that I did not even venture past the barn or first corral.

Between the house and barn is a distance of 300 feet.  The house is about fifteen to twenty feet higher than the barn, providing a panoramic view of our countryside — Sims Valley, Upper Salt Cove, Twin Mountains, Salt Creek and Barton Creek.  From house to barn, I see yellow butterflies feed on small white flowers.  Acorns from the Live Oak trees continue to fall on the ground, making a crackling sound, and on the slope down from the house the acorns are like marbles under my boots so that I step gingerly lest I slip and fall.  Small birds flit about the underbrush and yucca.  I walk into the barn alleyway and sit down on a step-up crate that I have to climb on — like a small ladder — to mount horses.

Sitting on the step-up in the alleyway, I hear a solitary crow, then see the crow fly west to east, towards our duck pond.  The crow persistently calls, but no reply comes from other birds and it flies towards Morgan Mill, avoiding the duck pond treeline and mesquite on the other side.  Ducks quack, but I decide against walking to the pond to photograph the noisy assembly.  A turkey vulture circles in the sky over Salt Creek.  Our two horses, Star and Lilly, are nowhere to be seen as they had sauntered into the Grove, perhaps down into the creek bed.

A stern cold front is to pass through central west Texas tomorrow, putting the temperatures into the 50s F. for daytime, 20s F. for the night.  As I sit on the red-colored step-up, the temperature reads 80 F., the sun quite warm, the cold front a day away, the sky clear.  I look down at the ground in the alleyway and see small funnel traps, drilled by Ant Lions that throw dirt up frantically and then wait for ants and insects to kill and eat.  Of the ten or so dirt traps, three of those traps are being fussily arranged by bugs.  The sun beams down on their efforts and I bend down more closely to see if I could discern the sentient.  I could not, but the dirt continues to fly up over the one-inch funnel, prima facie evidence of invertebrate activity.  How fragile, how strong at the same time, life is.

As I lean over to see the funneling Ant Lions, I place my hand over a stable railing to balance myself.  The air is still, the sky clear to the south and east.  Then, quite discreetly a gentle zephyr comes through the alleyway from the north.  I face south and the cool air moves over my neck and hand grasping the rail.  The air is definitely cool and I look up into the sky and the clouds move across, northwest to southeast.  I know the cold front is a least a day away, but this is a prelude, an advance-scout for the weather change.  The clouds persist in clustering, the Ant Lions stop their funneling, the temperature falls a few degrees and I stand up, whistling for the horses to come to supper: long-high whistle followed by three short-low-toned whistles, a pitch change of about an octave.  Two minutes later, Star and Lilly emerge from the creek bottom and walk home to me, their grain and alfalfa.

I feed Star and Lilly.  I walk back up the hill to the house and pace the three terraces, looking for a possible photographic shot of an errant Monarch or striped lizard.  I find a small blossom of rosemary to photograph and by 5:00 p.m. I go inside the house to write of Ant Lions and alleyways.  I mince rosemary for our dinner.

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Notes:

After the second sentence in the second paragraph, I shift to present tense.  I had written this piece using past tense, but decided to change the tenses.  I like it better than past tense in this post.

The camera was in the pickup and when I saw the Ant Lions — Doodlebugs — I started to fetch it and photograph.  The wind — zephyr (I don’t get to use the word often) — came up about that time and I knew if I went to the pickup, I would lose my place in the alleyway and, besides, I could not capture on Kodachrome the wind passing over my flesh.  So, I stayed put and let things transpire.

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Filed under Life in Balance