Four white feet – go home without him!

I don’t know what I would do without horses!

For one, I don’t know what I would do with any excess money, always supposing there was such a thing – but, money or not, horses – and dogs – supply that zest for life that seems to be so wanting today. The latest ray of sunshine here is a little bitty piece of equine fluff born to mare Isha Thursday morning, the day after Pearl Harbor Day.

Last year, about the time that business began looking miserable and hay prices were skyrocketing, I had the insane notion to breed this mare – as if I needed any more horses – as the only alternative to selling her to some uncertain fate or to putting her down. Isha is a pretty useless piece of horseflesh, not being what Gerry called “a usin’ horse” in that she has never been broke to ride, and her only role in life has been to be a brood mare. However, at that she is very good. So in a weak moment, I had her bred to a super stallion owned by the foreman of the local cattle feed lot, a very good looking, well conformationed, good tempered, all black Quarter Horse.

We have had quite a few baby horses born here over the years, and generally this was attended by fuss and bother, sweat, blood and tears, at times a dead baby, at times costly complications – so that when the stupid moment when I agreed to breed Isha had passed, I often asked myself what the heck I had been thinking. But the year’s gestation went by quick as a flash, and here was Isha, about to give birth, in December – which was in itself a stupid thing, considering that all horses are deemed to have a birthday on January 1st, thus making the new baby officially a year old at birth.

In the past, while awaiting similar events, I remember weeks of nightly visits to the corral, agonized watching of the mare, discussions with the veterinarian, one time an expensive emergency medical visit to the corral, which, luckily, ended well and resulted in filly Millie (short for Milagro, meaning miracle in Spanish, as her birth was, indeed, a miracle) – but this year, being older and feeling not all that spry myself, I decided that the South Cochise Pasture was a good place to leave the mare, and trust to the God of horses and good luck. We knew that the time must be growing pretty close, so the last week or so I had taken to daily meanderings out to the pasture to check on her, knowing all the time that it was a fruitless endeavor. Mares, being prey animals, give birth pretty fast and the baby can almost – not quite, but almost – hit the ground running, so it was a silly idea to keep checking, but – it made me feel better. So on Wednesday evening I checked her, as always … nothing. Isha grazed placidly, attended by her buddy Sassy and the two donkeys, Miss Sarah and Miss Katie, and looked mildly surprised at yet another visit.

Then on Thursday morning at 7:30 Danny was coming in at the front gate, and, as always, looked across the pasture to check on the horses….. and saw a little head poking out of the grass. He ran up there and found that Isha had only just that minute foaled, and, surprise, surprise, Miss Katie the donkey, was busily snuffling the baby with the mare placidly looking on. This in itself was amazing, seeing that not an hour later, Isha almost killed pasture mate Sassy for coming within 25 ft of her. Horses – will I ever understand them! I guess that Katie is the godmother. Later that day, by great good luck, our ex barn boss Sarah, and her mother Susan, came to visit, and between Sarah and Danny, the mare and foal were brought into the corral, Sarah carrying the baby part of the way. Now at Day 3 of her life, she is at least 10 lbs heavier and a whole lot squigglier – and every time I come out to visit, she is nursing – living up to the old saying of “eats like a horse”!

She is not black, nor dun, nor buckskin, as have been the previous foals of the stud, but a light sorrel with a white edging to her tail which is very attractive and unusual. She has a big white blob on her forehead ending in a short strip down her face, and she has – of course – four white feet!! For those of you not in the know, here is an old time jingle of advice to eager horse buyers:

“One white foot – buy him
Two white feet – try him
Three white feet – think well about him
Four white feet – go home without him!”

So here is this baby, with four white feet, not black nor dun, nor flashy buckskin, but a boring sorrel, with a run of the mill blaze on her little face and nothing much to distinguish her from a million others but ….. she is lovely! Of course, the white feet may very well turn dark yet – two of them look as if they may, and the boring sorrel could conceivably turn into a dun – but who cares! She’s lovely, she’s healthy, she’s feisty … and she’s ours! What’s not to love!

Her name, I decided today, is Ayita, which is Cherokee for First to Dance and she looks as if she would like to dance, already, on this day 3 of her life, bouncing around the corral on little fleet hooves, darting here and there, poking her little face at fascinated dog Tuffy, then whirling around and ducking under her mother to do what she does best, which is to eat. Here’s a few photos…

Please click on any of the thumbnails below to start slideshow:

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And apart from that, things have been quiet at the old homestead. The weather turned unseasonably cold for this time of the year, and the other day we had temperatures down to the low teens. Some of you may remember that I had turned my front porch into a sunroom, with some indoor plants and a fountain, with comfortable wicker furniture, making the room ideal for some quiet time – but this very fact made it unserviceable for its past use, which was as a scruffy repository for overwintering cold-sensitive plants. So this fall, the problem was what to do with three large hibiscus and a smaller bougainvillea. The only place that even remotely lent itself was the front entry porch, which is about 5 ft. deep and maybe 12 ft. long, and which has a roof over it – but which is also open to the east, from whence some cold winds blow. My solution was, I think, quite inventive. I went and bought 3 heavy cloth shower curtains (they have a design of palm trees on them, but you can’t have everything) and these we hung over the opening to the porch, so they can be drawn at night and keep at least some of the warmer air in. So far it has worked very well – the other night, when the temperature went down to the low teens, I put a small heater in there and so far, all the trees look healthy. In fact, one of the hibiscus has even gone so far as to produce flowers – in December!! It does look a little strange, I admit, to see the front door of the house shrouded in palm decorated shower curtains, but necessity is the mother of invention, and this was a lot cheaper than a glasshouse … or, for that matter, four new trees!

And my Christmas season this year will be a very different one from the past 30 or so. A good friend of mine from the UK is coming to visit and will be staying in the Cowboy House next door, and I have been invited over for a real English Christmas dinner, so that’s something to look forward to …. And New Year’s Eve, which for the last few years wasn’t all that much fun without Gerry, I plan to spend at home, with a gin and tonic, watch the ball drop in New York and then – go to bed – at a nice, civilized hour. Several of my good friends, thinking that I might feel lonely without Grapevine’s festive New Year’s Eve party have invited me to celebrate with them, but the idea of trekking some 60 miles on a cold night doesn’t appeal, and I will spend it quietly at home with dog Tuffy for company.

I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas and a safe, festive and happy New Year, and I hope that 2012 is a good year for us all!

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14 Responses to Four white feet – go home without him!

  1. Pat Saccoccia says:

    I wish you a merry christmas Pat Saccoccia

  2. Kelly & Al says:

    Ayita is a cutie….I’m glad it all went well. We will be in McNeal for a month and look forward to our stay in the Sulphur Spring Valley.


  3. Claudia says:

    What a cutie:=)

  4. Jerry Van Sant says:

    Congratulations “Grandma”…She’s beautiful! Hope you have a safe and happy holiday season. We still miss “our” Grapevine, Love, Jerry & Cindy

  5. Rob & Susan Dunham says:

    Well, you needed someone to keep you busy and entertained. Right? Haha
    December 29th will be our first wedding anniversary and we are still so grateful for the wonderful day you and the staff arranged for us last year. I am glad that we had the opportunity to be married at the ranch we so loved after many wonderful vacations there. Our love and best wishes to you, Danny, and all the critters. Be safe and happy holidays.

    Rob & Susan

  6. Francesca Teague says:

    Hi Eve, congratulations! So pleased to see mare and foal looking so well. Ayita is such a cutie! Miss you lots. Have a great Christmas and enjoy your traditional festive English meal. Lots of love Frankie

  7. Lizzi Townsend says:

    Have a great christmas Eve, and a great New Year, thinking of you, love Lizzi Townsend

  8. theresa & Chris says:

    Congratulations – she is very cute! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you enjoy your “English” Christmas dinner. You will have to let us know how it goes! I hope you get all the trimmings – stuffing, pigs in blankets and of course lots of brussel sprouts! Followed by a generous helping of Christmas pud. Mmmmmm!

  9. Eve says:

    Hi Everyone – how lovely to hear from you all!! Theresa and Chris – if you think that brussel sprouts are some kind of a treat for me, think again!! I am pretty well against all vegetables as a breed, and brussel sprouts …. ugh! So if that’s your idea of a good English Christmas dinner, thanks – but no thanks !! I do hope that my friends Chris and Colleen are planning more palatable items. Stuffing, pigs in a blanket….yes, and pudding…..yes, yes. But NO brussel sprouts.
    Have a great Christmas, everybody and thanks so much for keeping in touch!

    Eve, Tuffy and Ayita (who is nowadays rebelliously being halter broke……)

  10. Paul and Shannon Harris says:

    Congratulations Eve!!!!! I know it has been a long time, December of 2008 to be exact, but we just wanted to let you know once again how much of an influence you, your staff, and your ranch had on my wife and I. Shannon and I visited your ranch for our anniversary in 2008 and had the most wonderful time. Since then, we have added 3 horses to our family. We were hoping to be able to visit again and be able to see everyone, but as many people know, finances come into play in this economy. Even though we cannot come to visit, we are so glad you have been able to keep a blog up to keep in touch with everyone whose lives you have touched. We wish you the best in your retirement and hope to keep in touch!! If you have time, please email us. We would love to hear from you.

    Paul and Shannon Harris

  11. Marilyn says:

    Hi Eve, I’m sure you enjoyed your Christmas dinner with or withour brussel sprouts. No doubt the celebrations for New Year were a lot quieter than you have been used to in recent years.
    Best wishes for 2012.

    Love Marilyn and Dai

  12. Alessandra Navetta says:

    Hi Eve

    Happy New Year. I love reading your blogs. I think of the ranch often, having returned on multiple occasions. Since my husband doesn’t ride I would usually come alone. I always felt welcome and enjoyed myself because of your wonderful staff and guests.
    I especially enjoyed the visit when you allowed me and my daughter -in -law to accompany you on one of your critter walks. I have the photo of you walking with the animals on my mantle.
    Wishing you much good health and good fortune in the new year.

  13. Kerry Johnson says:

    Eve, What a baby, Katie is a god mother, and what a good one she will be , we are well , have a wonderful new year. Love to you , kerry

  14. Mary Clements says:

    Wishing all a great 2012. Living by the lake I saw the shooting stars the other night and thought what a wonder. I will try to appreciate the “small” and wonderful things of life this year.

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