Following round up, two of our bulls decided they’d had all the fun they could stand here at the ranch, and they headed north. Somehow the fence at the northern boundary had got loosened, and they hopped through it, and made for Cochise. Luckily someone saw them, read the brand, called us, and we got them back home. It brought home the reason why it is illegal, in Arizona, to turn out cattle without a brand – it sure makes for good friends and neighbors!
I remember a few years ago we’d had a lot of summer rains, the grass on the Flats was tall and lush, and Gerry decided that we needed more cattle. He went to the auction and came back with 25 head of some kind of Hereford-cross cows, which looked as if they had come straight off the Apache Reservation. They were high headed, horned, and wild – and also apparently homesick, as, once they were turned out, they resolutely headed north, fence or no fence. We spent most of that summer trying to bring them back from various distances, and we swore we would never do anything like that again. Interestingly, the bulls which had headed north were also new bulls – we bought them about four months ago, and they had been, until now, in the mountain pastures. Perhaps, out on the Flats, they heard the siren song of their old range, and were heading that way? I sure hope not – a summer spent chasing bulls is no fun at all.Some of you may remember the couple of summers we spent trying to keep a few of our cows home. It had been a dry year and somehow they had discovered that the grass on the local golf course was a much tastier proposition than the dry old range rubbish. And, having to trail six miles or so to get to it, they decided they would overnight there. They found themselves a little hollow, out of sight of the greens keepers, where they hunkered down during the day, and then at night …. attack! The golf course lady wasn’t too happy with us, you can bet! Finally, we managed to persuade most of the cows to stay home, but the two ringleaders had to be sold, in the interests of community harmony. (Privately I thought it was a very good use to which to put the golf course, but I guess a lot of you wouldn’t agree with me there! I thought it might save them the cost of having to mow the greens, to say nothing of free fertilizer.)
And I had a suggestion that I should tell you a bit about horse colors. I guess it may prove to be interesting to non-horse people, so, even though a lot of you are familiar with the subject, here goes –
The most common color for a horse is probably what in the West is called sorrel, and English riders call a chestnut – that is, a reddish coat. We have a great collection of sorrels, and about the only way you can tell them apart (unless you note their conformation and similar characteristics) is by the other marks on them, such as a blaze, or white socks or stockings.
White socks, while looking very nice, can be a bit of a put-off if you know your horses, as a white sock often ends in a white hoof, and white hooves are traditionally not as hard wearing as black hooves. I remember reading an old country rhyme warning of the dangers of white socks. It advises –
“One white foot, buy him,
Two white feet, try him,
Three white feet, think well about him
Four white feet, go home without him.”
These days this probably isn’t as important as it used to be in the past, when farriers had less resources and less knowledge, but it does have a basis in fact.
Perhaps the most unusual color is one that is called a cremello, which has only recently been added as an official color registry. A cremello is not a white horse, but rather a very pale palomino, that is, the color of very pale butter, and it’s really attractive. In Mexico this color is called sabino, and hence the only horse we have of that color here, we call Sabino.
Unfortunately, he also has blue eyes and white skin around them, so he is sadly in need of sunglasses. I wish, for his sake, that he lived someplace where it rains a lot, and stays cloudy. I tried to help him once by buying a set of green racing goggles, but this was a disaster. First of all, he looked like a bug-eyed alien from outer space, and secondly, he hated the goggles and did his best to be rid of them, so that experiment went nowhere – write off $100! So now we content ourselves with putting pink fly repellent around his eyes, which cuts down on the glare.Another popular color, and a registered breed, is an Appaloosa. Appaloosas are horses of varying colors, some with a solid background with a blanket of spots over their rumps, some spotted all over, and the louder the spots, the more sought after the horse. Infuriatingly, often the spots only come out as the horse matures, so a much-looked-forward-to baby can be born solid colored, and may spot out later. I remember Gerry telling me about some acquaintance of his who had bred two loud colored Appies and was very excited about the coming foal. Disappointingly, it was born a solid color all over – no spots at all. He sold the horse to Gerry – and lo and behold, at age four or five, the spots appeared, and he became the flashiest of Appaloosas, winning many prizes for Gerry at local shows. I bet the breeder was frosted! Here are a couple of photos of some of our Appies.
Finally, in this Appy story, the origin of the breed. Appaloosas were originally Indian horses of the Nez Perce tribe in north western part of the country. The tribe lived along the Palouse River. As American cowboys discovered the hardiness and value of the horses, they became sought after – and when someone asked a horse owner where the horse came from, he was told he came from the Palouse River country – or, he was a Palouse. Eventually ….. Appaloosa.
And, as there are many horse colors, you will just have to wait for more of them in the next issue of this blog!!In the meantime, I imagine that you also are being inundated with political jokes, stories, situations and what-have-you – and so I thought I would share with you something that I received on my e-mail recently that was neither political nor crude, and is certainly worth reading! So here it is…..
GARDEN SNAKES CAN BE DANGEROUS…
Snakes also known as Garter Snakes (Thamnophissirtalis) can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here’s why.
A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze. It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants. When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa. She let out a very loud scream. The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa. He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him on the behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor. His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance.
The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out. About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That’s when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.
The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch. Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.
But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted, and the snake rushed back under the sofa. The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.
The neighbor’s wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband’s mouth on the woman’s mouth, and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.
The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man’s throat.
By now, the police had arrived. (Breathe here…) They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little garden snake! The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.
Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table. The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.
The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog, who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it, and smashed into the parked police car.
Meanwhile, neighbors saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department. The firemen had started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power, and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).
Time passed! Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world.
A while later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.
And that’s when he shot her.
It was worth it, wasn’t it? At this time when almost everything that comes your way on the internet is depressing, I found this one worth sharing!