I’m going to paint a picture. It’s a balmy 65 degrees and overcast at 7:15 am this morning on the Gardner HLH Farm. A black and white blur bursts from our house sprinting towards the barn. Emerging from the barn as quickly as it got there, the blur is loaded with a bucket, neon pink halter, and purple lead rope as it dashes across the yard, into the pasture, through the hole in the fence to be greeted by a line of traffic from the neighborhood behind us. The blur’s first thought is “I should have put on pants, and also shoes.” That thought is followed by “Please people don’t try to touch the pony.”
Let’s go back in time about 30 minutes. Offspring is dressed, ready for school, and flopped across the bed watching cartoons. Darling Husband, bless him, is still snoozing. I’m standing in front of the mirror wearing my favorite black Guinness hoodie, undies, and slip on Birkenstock sandals that function as slippers applying mascara before I get changed into clothes for work. Then the most terrifying sound in the world, the doorbell. We’ve only heard it three times in the past three years and every time it was the herald of impending doom, think apocalypse. No one comes to our front door, primarily because there is usually some manner of farm animal in our yard usually mowing the grass or occasionally just chilling when we needed to segregate someone and we’re currently low on individual paddocks.
There is a popular meme floating around equestrian groups on Facebook. It goes something like this. “If you are my neighbor, at some point you will see me chasing horses in my underwear.” This is my moment. I peek around the door to be greeted by a total stranger that informs me that one of my “tiny horses” is loose. My first thought is “Damn it, Tater!”, but as I gaze across the pasture I see a bay appaloosa butt. Drop the F-Bomb with a capital F! There’s no time to thank the messenger. This is a Defcon 1 type of moment. Moonshine aka Dixieland Delight is our newest addition to the farm. Actually she’s tied with Koda, but that’s really irrelevant. Moonshine is also our wildcard. All our ponies originate from some level of hell, but unlike the other predictable devils on the farm, Moonshine is feral. She’s not trusting of new people, and will bolt from strangers.
Moonshine is currently standing on the side of a very busy street at the exact time everyone in the neighborhood is exiting for their daily commute to work. I’m just praying that no one decides to do something stupid like exit their vehicle and attempt to reach for her which will undoubtedly send her hurtling across the street and into oncoming traffic. Hell, I’m her owner, and I will not reach for Moonshine. Instead I shake the bucket filled with sweet feed, set it about 3 feet from her, and wait until her head is buried in the bucket before wrapping my arms around the little neck I want to strangle.
By this point Darling Husband has made his way across the pasture and is replacing the rail Moonshine pushed out in order to make her escape. She really just pulled it loose while leaning across to reach the grass on the other side of the fence. We’re super lucky none of her companions were paying attention to this exit route. So now I make the long walk around the property in my sandals and underwear leading a squirrely pony alongside the road while her pasture mates charge the fence line acting like she is being drug to her death. Joke’s on them, we’re just coming back to a more secure opening or so I thought.
Darling Husband is waiting at the first set of gates, not the entrance I would have chose, but I’m in a hurry and decide not to walk down to the gates by the barn. Now the gates Darling Husband is currently holding are two 20 foot gates that attach to each other. We designed this wide entrance to make maneuvering long trailers in our driveway easier. They were never meant to be opened for livestock because it takes two to three people to handle them. As I try to slide past Darling Husband and avoid getting my sandal clad feet trampled by the 3 ponies and an eager young mustang that are all fired up after the great escape adventure, Apple Jack and Tater Tot breach the opening.
Darling Husband scrambles to wrangle the two miscreants back into the opening while holding onto the 20 foot gate threatening to swing wide open. Tater ignores him to graze right beside of the gate, and an excited AppleJack prances back inside. I yell at him to shut the gates and leave Tater until I can get back to the gate, because Tater is easy to catch and currently pre-occupied with her grazing, Apple Jack not so much. There is another popular meme that becomes relevant at this part in the story, “I’m sorry for what I said when we were working livestock.” Except I’m not really sorry for saying it, just sorry DH’s feelings were hurt that I was pissed when did not listen to me.
Darling Husband thinking he knew best continues to hold the gate open attempting to push Tater through the opening, at which point Apple Jack blows past him. As she goes by Tater decides an early morning romp will be way more fun than grazing so now we have two ponies loose on the property instead of one. Cue the expletives. I work with each of these animals individually at least 5 days a week. I’m well aware of their personalities, and in a crisis situation my authority on the subject of how best to handle them should not be questioned. Darling Husband leans over the fence and feeds them treats occasionally, but does not have the hours of behavior observation logged on the ponies that I do.
Apple Jack and Tater Tot, bucking and snorting head for the barn only to wheel around and charge past us down the driveway toward the roadway. Of course, the property gate isn’t closed thanks to our early morning visitor and Moonshine’s escape. At this point I grab the bucket that thankfully has a few handfuls of sweet feed left inside and begin shaking vigorously. Both miscreants come to a sliding stop, wheel around, and head for the bucket. I wrap a lead around Apple Jack knowing Tater will follow the bucket. Now we all head to the gate by the barn that can easily be maneuvered by a single person and two errant ponies.
Crisis averted we return to Defcon 5, and I secure the barn door Beau Pony is busily trying to open since I didn’t apply the pony dead bolt earlier in my rush to capture Moonshine and head back to the house. One would think that this is enough excitement for one day, but while Darling Husband and I were wrangling our demons back into their enclosure Offspring has been ransacking our home. I don’t know where he found a spray bottle of Clorox Clean-up since our chemicals are stored behind child safety locks, but I return to a home smelling strongly of bleach and a toddler running through the house clinging to his find.
I corner Offspring, retrieve the Clorox, and inspect him. Luckily he did not spray himself and only managed to spray the tile floor in a couple of places. Honestly, the entire floor could probably benefit from that attention this weekend, because you know, farm dirt. I don’t think he managed to spray any soft surfaces, but I’ll find out once the bleach works it’s magic and discolor fabrics and leather as it dries.
So it was just another exciting Friday on the Gardner Hard Luck Horse Farm. No horses or humans were harmed during the shenanigans, and now a hot wire runs around the inside perimeter of the pony paddock to ensure that everyone respects the property boundaries.