Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I don't see this every day

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).

Then the second horse showed up next to me, following his friend, though I wasn’t leading him. So I opened the gate (the alpacas are on the other side of the pasture, which must be 5-6 acres). I lead the grey horse in and the second horse follows. Then I release them and go out, closing the gate behind me. The horses start running across the pasture, having a wonderful time. They reach the alpacas and they run a bit, too.

So now, I figure I’d better let someone know that I put these horses in the pasture with the alpacas. I was going to call the police, but out at the road, I saw a sign for the farm and it had a phone number on it. So I called. After 5-6 rings a man answered and I told him his horses were loose and that I caught them and put them in the pasture with the alpacas. And the man said, “They’re not my horses.”

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.

But on this day, I discovered I’d just put two horses in a pasture where they didn’t belong with a herd of alpacas. Half-panicked, I apologized profusely to the man and told I’d seen the horses walking down his driveway from up by the barn somewhere and I just assumed they were his. “No,” he said. “I think they belong up the road. I’ve been trying to call but I’m not getting an answer.” I apologized again, and said I was afraid they’d get hit out on the road. To my great relief, the man didn’t seem upset that I’d just put two strange horses in the pasture with his alpacas. When I eventually rang off, the man was going to try and find the horses’ owners, and the two escapees were still in pasture with the alpacas. So I got back in my car and went birding. Isn’t that something? What a way to start the new year!


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Once when I worked on a farm I found a pig, a very large sow, wandering free. I put it into a spare pen.We soon realised it was not one of ours and made several calls to try to find the owner, without success. We kept the old sow, who turned out to be bad-tempered and vicious, for some weeks and it became clear that she was about to give birth to a litter. Just before the happy event an elderly lady, who was one of the people we'd called weeks before, "suddenly realised" that the pig was hers! We'd fed it and looked after it for her for several weeks for nothing!

Granny Sue said...

That's so funny, but I can imagine your panic! At least the horses were safe, that's the main thing. You have the 'pacas something to talk about anyway.

What about those fireworks? Were they at the ski resort?

Carolyn H said...

John: Your pig story is a good one, too. I suppose that was a good way for the woman to stretch her feed dollars (or pounds)

Carolyn H said...

Granny Sue: Yes, the fireworks were at the ski resort. Sometimes I really not very far away from "civilization."

Cathy said...

Lol!! You were lucky that horse allow you to grab them. Some horses don't like strange people. Hopefully too the horses are home by now.

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: the one horse was totally placid, fortunately. And also fortunately, the second horse didn't want to leave the first horse.

Cicero Sings said...

A rather adventurous start to the new year.