Who let the horses out?
By Christine Tailer
As I do every morning, I headed down to the pasture to tend to the horses and cattle. I filled the horses’ starvation paddock feeder with hay and rubbed their necks when they came up to me and nuzzled my pockets looking for treats.
No treats to be found, they headed over to the gate that led out to the main pasture. The little mare stomped her right forefoot, impatiently begging to be let out of the barren paddock and into the lush expanse of the pasture beyond. I looked at her rather round belly, and with a sigh, I told her I could not let her out. It was for her own good, and of course the little gelding would stay with her. It is only fair.
The cattle, on the other hand, can eat the lush pasture grass to their hearts’ content, and eat they do. Happy, sleek, and fat cattle are what we wish for, and our two heifers are certainly living up to our expectations. I bid the little horses farewell, filled the cattle trough with fresh water, and headed over to Greg’s shop. Our self-appointed task for the day was to build some shelving in the barn.
In time, we took a break for lunch, and as we headed back down the hill to the barn, Greg turned to me and asked whether I had relinquished, and let the horses out of their paddock after all.
“No,” I responded. “Why are you asking?”
I followed his gaze over to the pasture. There I saw the two little horses contentedly grazing way out on the far side of the expanse of sweet green grass. The recent rain had certainly woken up both the hayfields and the pasture. My gaze then crossed over to the horses’ starvation paddock, and there, lying down and lazily relaxing, were the two cows, hard at rest and contentedly chewing their cud, not a speck of green within their prodigious reach.
Something was quite wrong with this scene. The cattle were supposed to be eating their fill, and the horses were supposed to be on a diet. What, I wondered, could have possibly gone wrong?
Then, putting my best deductive reasoning to work, I was able to figure it all out. The starvation paddock fencing had been pushed down from the pasture side, thus allowing my dear bovine to step through into diet world, and once the paddock fence had been knocked down, the little horses had gleefully stepped out of their paddock and into the green buffet waiting just beyond the fence.
Both sets of four-footed creatures seemed quite content with the arrangement. I was not. The thought of raking up sloppy cow droppings and trundling them down to the compost pile in my wheelbarrow, did not seem appealing in the least, but really, all four of these creatures simply had it quite backward.
I gathered up some chain and strong carabineers and headed straight over to the paddock. I lured the cattle out with a treat. They actually do eat treats out of my hand, and it is a good thing when situations such as this arise. They obediently followed me back out through the fallen fence and into the pasture and enjoyed their offered treats. There is nothing quite like the raspy lick of a cattle tongue.
Greg and I then proceeded to secure the fallen fence with the chain and carabineers, and with the fence secure, I called the horses back over into their starvation world. I was not quite sure that they would answer my call, but they did, and of course I gave them a treat from my pocket once they were back where they belonged. I rubber their necks and bent down to give them a kiss them on their noses, and only then did I turn to leave.
As I locked the paddock gate, I was amazed to see the cattle lying right beside the fence they had knocked down. They swished their tails lazily through the early afternoon sunlight, and the little horses were standing right beside them, on the paddock side of the fence, also lazily swishing their tails.
“Now, now” I called to the four creatures, “that is quite enough of that.”
It had suddenly occurred to me that the day’s events had been a well-orchestrated, four-footed conspiracy. It certainly appears that I need to build a better fence.