An open gate is never good for animal owners


As anyone who has—or has ever had—livestock, seeing an open gate gives you a particularly sinking feeling. This particular chilly, blustery day, I threw on my trusty barn jacket to hurry out and do chores. I knew I could get them done in short order and come back inside where it was warm.

As I headed down toward the barn, I saw the open gate. I saw both of my horses on the wrong side of it. I hadn’t even let the chickens out yet. I trudged to the barn to get my bucket of alfalfa pellets and started walking obliquely toward them.

Apparently alfalfa pellets weren’t going to cut it when they had the first buffet of spring green laid out before them. They took off into the field across the road. Trying to keep them in sight, I pulled out my cell phone and called my hubby. I’d approach them, using my sweetest voice and rattling the bucket. No dice. They just ran faster.

Scott got Arthur into the truck and tried to help head them off while I trampled around the fields. By now I was getting pretty chilly. Once they were within 100 yards of home, but then turned off and tore like fury in the other direction.

Scott gave me the truck and went back to his car just so we could keep up and keep them in sight. I even called Barb and Ralph to borrow the Rhino, but forgot that they were on vacation and it was locked up tight.

The chase literally went on for hours. I was getting pretty cold. After all, I thought I was only going to be out for a few minutes! I was looking for a field with a fence just so they’d stop running. Didn’t anyone out here believe in fences? Sure enough, Gary S. did. Our girls stopped to visit his broodmares and after more chasing, we finally got ours in the neighboring pasture.

Still, it was a BIG pasture. Scott went home to get the trailer. When he got back, we kept chasing. Thank goodness he’d brought his Carhartts so I could warm up a little bit. My son (bless his darling heart) was being awesome at amusing himself in the truck. Of course, I wasn’t going to drive all over someone else’s land (I wasn’t raised that way), so it was all on foot.

Finally at about 3 p.m., we gave up. None of us had eaten and we were getting crabbier by the minute. I was ready to put up “Lost Horses” signs and tell whoever called that they could keep the dang things.

So we headed back home. Sure enough, Barb and Ralph had just gotten back from vacation and Barb thought she knew who owned the pasture. She does truly work miracles. She made some calls. Gary, Lisa V., and Tobe M. agreed to come out and help. Barb agreed to wait and meet my daughter’s school bus.

Back out we headed with the trailer. Ominous-looking clouds were gathering as they tooled around the pasture. My crazy horses even went through a barbed wire gate at one point. Finally they headed back with both girls in tow. Then the adventure started.

My horses aren’t mean. They don’t kick. They haven’t been trailered in over a year. So here’s all of us (including Ralph) trying to get these girls into the trailer. With much pushing, pulling and struggling, the horses were finally loaded. I thanked these wonderful neighbors—after all, how many complete strangers would come help you with your animals?—and headed for home, just as it started to rain.

When we got home, it was raining in earnest. I opened Aurora’s door, and wouldn’t you figure, she didn’t want to come out. I guess it didn’t help that it started hailing at that point. After she came out, it was Aces’ turn. She had a cut on her leg so I slathered it with bag balm and hoped for the best as the hail pounded on my back.

I fed them and the chickens in the pouring rain. I was soaked to the skin and none too cheerful.

Folks, I kid you not. The second my foot hit the threshold, it quit raining. Two seconds later, the sun came out.

As I peeled out of the sopping coveralls and found dry clothes, my husband had one of his finest moments ever. He turned his exhausted face to mine and said, “How does pizza sound tonight?”


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