Ah, the last Friday in March. I will not be sorry to see this month end; other than friends’ and family member birthdays and being teased with spring-like weather, it’s the lousiest month of the 12! The sun has reappeared today, but we’re back to below freezing overnight temps that have not only iced over outdoor water tanks and barn buckets, now the once softened mud is Grand Canyon hard and undoubtedly as treacherous! Believe me, I bear an inch-long scar on my right kneecap from a fall on the frozen December pasture when a granite-hard horse apple rolled one way and sent me crashing hard on all fours. Ouch! Recalling it now I rub my knee.
Last weekend, a young Charolais bull squeezed through the common south-facing fence line into our pasture. He didn’t show any bullish manners, in fact, within minutes of his great escape he realized the error of his ways and really wanted to rejoin his buddies, all of whom were lined up like birds on a wire watching him. Our horses often entertain themselves watching Chad and Cameo’s cattle – we call this cow TV – but this doesn’t mean they wanted one of the stars in their living room! As the horse herd leadership snorted, stamped and arched necks in the direction of the offender, Ian spotted the visitor. A quick call to our neighbors to the south informed us that Chad was away on business, but Cameo called for proper bull wrangler reinforcements. While we waited, Cameo unpocketed a neighborly jar of jam for our trouble. This jar was as pretty as I’ve seen, with its two layered fabric hat finished off with a satin ribbon. This dressed up neighborly kindness inspired my inner Martha Stewart and I vowed to tailor and bejewel my entire stock of jammin’ gifts-on-a-shelf.
The wrangler arrived, located the widened spot in the fence, noting the electric was not flowing, and as Cameo and I stood visiting in our assigned portion of the pasture with arms outstretched, ready to waggle, Ian and said wrangler guided the big boy home.
A nest watch update – the count is five eggs (up from the earlier reported two) underneath the goose, which is giving them lots of warm, feathered breast time. Goose egg gestation is 28-30 days, so our goslings should hatch sometime in mid-April.
As my Facebook friends know, earlier in the week our six Pilgrim geese went on walkabout and were gone overnight. The geese routinely spend the night in the barn, whether I shoo them in or they situate themselves around dusk. This independence concerned me, as they can fall prey to out-of-season hunters, coyotes, vehicles; a mother worries! I was more than miffed with Gracie Goose for leaving her eggs unattended. Neighbor Chad stopped by one his 4-wheeler to chat bull and when I mentioned the missing geese he suggested I take a gander at our neighbor’s farm to the east. Chad was sure he’d heard pond frolics uncharacteristically coming from that direction in the early morning hours.
I must have looked confused, as those neighbors have dogs that the geese would surely choose to avoid. Chad said ‘not so’, that the dogs and family had vacated their 10-acre farm for whereabouts unknown. I was so shocked -- not that they didn’t say good-bye, we were nodding acquaintances and their two horses tended to get out and “visit” for days at a time until Ian and I would catch them and walk them the quarter mile home -- it was more that this is the second neighbor on our little dead-end road that has been drastically affected by the economy (the first returned their home to the bank at the beginning of the winter months). Six homes share this mile-long dirt road – the father of the neighbors who just left once owned much of the surrounding acreage with our farmhouse as its homestead – and now two houses are vacant with two families paths changed. I'm hoping wherever each path leads, that it is to a less stressful and much happier destination.
Ian and I strode east to the neighbor’s to find the six happily swimming amongst trees in a snow-melt lake and when they saw us they swam away from its edge; not a guilty, ashamed beak in the gaggle! Ian outsmarted them – not just a handsome pretty boy, this Brit – and got them turned to home, where I sequestered them in the chicken coop. Now reacquainted with her nest, Gracie and group seem to have put aside their wanderlust.