Saturday, 7 June 2008

Our mighty warhorse

I was right, it has been a great day. We have spent most of it in the garden planting more spuds, digging more of Williams contribution into to soil and winning the war against intruders thanks to the Great Wall of Rock HQ (fence) erected by Tracey and I over the last few weeks. This mighty construction towers over the beasts that threaten our vegetables. Any bigger and it would be visible from space.
There is one small gap, and true to the rules of smallholding animals twice the size manage to squeeze through. This takes effort on their part and as there is a vast array of tasty goodies available their side of the fence an uneasy truce now exists between stock and gardener. I have only had to evict three chickens, Budge the Jersey Giant Cockerel and a rather surprised beagle who inadvertently managed to get through the gap, thinking I was missing her she braved the thorns and barbed wire and feeling very pleased with herself trotted across the pea seedlings to greet me. Quite what reception she was expected I cannot say, being chased down the path by an irate owner wielding a garden fork probably didn't feature too high on her list and for a nearly sixteen year old dog she managed a remarkable turn of speed as she dashed back through the gap.
Filling the gap is on tomorrows job list.
As I look back over some of the tales from the Rock I often wonder if it's only us that has these adventures, or problems, sometimes near disasters. So much happens on a day to day basis its hard to keep up. Today we found that we are not alone in having to deal with the unexpected.
Tracey was going to the hairdressers, I decided to go and collect the animal feed from Countrywide while she was having a girly moment. As we set off along the main road we always look out for two things. Bernese Mountain Dogs, a friend has three so we look to see if they are out in the garden. We also admire the three working horses in a field next to the road, Shire Horses, massive beasts and they always look fantastic. Today as we drove past we could see one of them had its right front leg over the wire fence, head down it was munching on the grassy verge. It was obvious the horse was in danger, the other two were pressing against the wire and it all looked like an accident waiting to happen.
We turned Rene around and went back to see what we could do. As we stopped alongside the horses we saw in the equine melee a young man struggling to free the horse from the wire. What had happened was the huge Shire had been leaning over the wire and somehow managed to tread the wire down, this had then got wedged between the sole of its foot and its shoe. Trapped, it tried to tread the fence down and had caught its other foot the same way. As it struggled to free itself it ripped one of its huge metal horse shoes off but the left foot remained stuck fast.
There it stood until the farmers son had seen it and he was now trying to free the beast. Now these are big horses, standing over seventeen hands high, about six foot to the top of its shoulder, and the three were stood over the chap desperately trying to cut the wire. Tracey helped him by soothing the worried horse, I stopped the others as they pressed forward to have a closer look. Its a testimony to the gentle and calm nature of these horses that they stood quietly and allowed their owner and two strangers help out one of their comrades in his plight.
At one stage the trapped horse looked me straight in the eye, he seemed to be searching me to see if I was going to be any help. After fifteen minutes of effort the young farmer freed the beast, very relieved he stood up and thanked us for our help. The horses reassured each other that they were fine and began to line up ready to walk back to the farm. We told him we were from the Rock, he was looking after the farm while his parents were on holiday and could have done without his dads "toys" making more jobs for him. We sympathised as he went on to explain that the sheep had broken out yesterday, keen to show his ability to manage while his parents were away the animals seemed to be conspiring to undermine him. We got back into the car as he walked off across the field with three shire horses dutifully following him. Top of his job list now was fencing, no matter what else was on the agenda he had that as well.
We drove past an hour and a half later and could see that he had already repaired the fence. So its not just us that have our days totally rearranged by the antics of the animals we look after.
I would love a Shire one day, they are falling in numbers as no one wants such huge horses any more. Not so long ago every farm had at least one and these loyal beasts were responsible for transporting and getting the harvest in.
For the time being I am happy to learn my horsepersonship with William our Welsh Cob and Trevor our Miniature Shitland. Trevor got a treat today, a wooden hurdle instead of his stable door. This allows him for the first time since moving into the stable to see whats going on, the standard stable door is as you can see a bit too high for him.
I thought as I have been extolling the virtues of Shire Horses I had better show you a picture of our Mighty War Horse stood in his stable.
Scary isn't he?

No comments: