|Fireworks from the deck of my cabin|
As readers of Roundtop Ruminations might remember, my plan for the New Year’s weekend included some birding to start the new year off properly. I birded a bit on January 1, after watching a midnight fireworks display put up by the ski resort from the front door of my cabin.
I’d also planned to go birding a bit more extensively on January 2, as I wouldn’t have my family’s traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner to attend in the middle of the day.
True to the plan I set off in the morning, heading towards the Susquehanna River, about 10 miles from the cabin. While on the way, I was driving past this farm that raises alpacas. The farm is run by what some would call a gentleman farmer. That simply means someone whose main livelihood does not come from farming. For a while the folks raised horses and then the horses gave way to sheep and a few years ago the alpacas arrived.
Anyway, as I was driving past, I looked up their long, long driveway (close to .25 mile) and saw two horses walking down the driveway along the fence. Both horses had expensive blankets on. It was only half a second after I’d passed the driveway that I realized the horses weren’t inside the fence but actually walking down the driveway all by themselves. So I stopped the car and backed up. By this time, the horses had reached the end of the driveway to appear on the public road.
So I got out and walked up to the grey horse (the other was black with a lot of white markings) and caught it by the halter. I tried to catch the second horse but he tossed his head a bit so I figured I’d better just take one at a time. I started to walk the one horse up the driveway and saw a gate to the big pasture where the alpacas were. Rather than walk the whole way up the driveway and then go back for the second horse, I figured I’d put the first one in the pasture and then go back and see if I could catch the second horse. By this time, the second horse had crossed the road, and a car came by (filled with teenaged skiers who avoided the horse but kept on going).
Now would be a good time to report that this was not my first livestock roundup. In fact, in this rural area, they happen rather frequently. I’d say once a year is about right. Usually, it’s cows or sheep that escape, though these were not even my first horse adventurers. This past spring I encountered a tiny calf that had wandered out onto a road by easily walking underneath an electric fence that kept mamma on the other side. That little one was herded back in without further incident. The strangest roundup happened years ago near Hawk Mountain Sanctuary when friends and I were returning from an evening dinner only to find a bison calmly lying in the middle of the road. That one had broken out of its pasture and was enjoying the warmth of the macadam on a chilly November evening. In those pre-cellphone days we were lucky to find the owners at home and left them to manage the animal.