Of course, this latest 80-degree dare-I-say autumnal weather is just a feint; hot will soon return. But beastly hot? I hope not. One of the saving graces of living in this area is fall. Autumn here is more like spring anywhere up north--and I love the winter. I have smelled the faint trail of Autumn, and she will not let me down.
I have much to do in temperatures that do not make me lose consciousness from the slightest exertion. The round pen stands ready, and both Sara and Jezebel are in excellent shape. The farrier came yesterday and gave me some tips on both the pen and the arcane science of bridling. I pretty much have the idea of the round pen and all its possibilities. However, getting a reluctant horse to accept a bit is eluding me. A horse resisting getting a piece of metal stuck in between its teeth is like a 1200-pound toddler resisting a spoonful of pureed spinach. There's no getting those teeth apart by force. One must use guile in both instances, and one must ensure that the operation, far from being painful, can actually be okay. In the case of a toddler who needed the iron and vitamins of spinach, I slathered each spoonful with mashed banana or applesauce. Went down, every bite.
I tried using molasses with Sara's old bit, the one that came with her, but it's very big, and she was able to spit it out before I could get the bridle fastened. I got her a much better bit and bridle, but I still had trouble getting all the parts where they needed to go. Thomas Black, the lanky cowboy farrier who comes every six weeks to trim the horses' hooves, showed me the nifty hand placements I need to use. He's about a foot taller than I am, so it's much easier for him to pull the bridle up and "seat" the bit at the same time. Still, the two-step version he showed me should be a good method for me. (I plan to have molasses handy, just in case Sara needs persuasion.)
Jezebel continues to grow into a nice horse. She stood very quietly for her pedicure again this time, having considerably improved since the second time when she reared and broke part of her stall. Yessssiree, considerably improved. She is looking very good, sleek and shiny. The poor grazing means that she and Sara are both well-muscled; the large amounts of hay we've been giving them provide their nutritional needs, while the movement out in the pasture is good exercise.
"The eye of the master fattens the flock." I was finally able to get a round bale of hay for the goats, and they have been eating for the past week, slowly, quietly, and blissfully. They surround the bay and stand there chewing what's in front of their faces, then they go off to lie down and ruminate in the shade. Everybody from the front pen looks better.
Sasha is honeymooning with Scout in the middle pen. Frances has also moved into Scout's harem. Little Flora was supposed to accompany Frannie, but Flora got back through the fence to her mother. We'll have to have another little goat rodeo to get the two remaining F-girls (Flora and Fifi--yeah, okay, I ran out of short names beginning with F) into their nuptial pen. The T-girls are all of Elvis's wives, and he is very much in love with all of them. (All right, here goes: Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc, Dopey.... no, no: Topsy, Turvy, LittleBit (another lapse in nomenclature, another story), Trixie, Toni and the late Two-Bit. Whew! (All the boys babies are named Fred. All of them. Fred 1, Fred 2, etc. Just Fred.) And we are having trouble telling some of them apart... )
Substitutes are the oft-overlooked safety net of public schools.
But that will be the subject of another journal. For now, the weather's nice, the animals are in the field, and life is good.