Another Day in Xanadu.

Setting atop Sierra as she munches some oats and barley.

Today I saddled up and rode the horse.

We were awoken to the sounds of kids playing and squealing with the thunder of tiny feet on wood floors and the sounds of dog tags and mischievous laughter. Eyes popping open I see predawn turning the foggy misty field out my window a pretty shade of melon orange. The youngest boys are still potty-training, so a load in the wash, the boys in the shower, and breakfast of oatmeal and milk served as I start the fire going to warm the house and get out the door to the animals all patiently and loudly awaiting their freedom and chow. I have a pattern or circuit I do to maximize economy of effort. (With limited hours in the day and much to do over a fair walking space this is important to get stuff done.)

I start feeding 12 hour water soaked scratch and opening up the chicken coops that are closest to the house and call to the chickens as I feed to get them gathering and used to being fed in the same coop for each bunch and at the same times of daylight or twilight every day. I open them up and close with a count and an egg check of the nests. This is fun for the kids and my oldest has an uncanny ability to find them.

The pigs I feed in their trough or walk their paddock tossing it as if to the birds which keeps them occupied for a while before they turn the yard more. The girls get a feed of about 4 cups a day per lady of grain, molasses and forage along with garden scraps before they hit our kitchen. They are in heat today so I need to get a boar lined up for next month… I turn them loose in their paddock but they have access to the barn for inclement weather. Closing them up at night is the same easy task of shaking food to get them coming running.

Last I greeted Sierra at the gate to her corral with Halter and reins in hand. She walk up and I looped the halter around the back of her head buckling it as she nickered and blew her morning grumblings at my tardiness. I had a shallow green feed bucket with oats, barley and a bit of Alfalfa pellets that always catches her attention like a dog likes a steak. I led her to the back yard and let her munch on the tasty crunchies as I brushed her down with a curry comb and brush and checked out her feet. While I was doing this my beautiful Wife held the lead and talked to her while managing her feed rate with a mother’s patience. We were gifted an old, well-used and loved saddle and tack by a close friend and after sourcing a blanket folded to size I placed it on her back and we walked over to get the saddle. She stood patiently lead secured to a post as my novice fingers found the leather and buckles and tightened the latigo to the cinch thus securing the saddle to the 1000 lb mare that is withers high as my nose of my 5’7″ height. She turned to nip gently at me a few times and was admonished with a soft no and a gentle push on her nose followed by a tap and finally a hand to the halter and a stern “cut that out”. I finally got everything tightened up and took a hold of the left stirrup and stepped into it and stood up holding the saddle horn and leaning over the saddle as I swung my leg around and over her butt and pivoted in the saddle.

This seemed to be her chance to show her opinion of these goings on and she stepped right off like we were on parade. I quickly realized the stirrups were to long and my right foot was not going to find a home. I called her to a whoa (STOP, when she is listening) and stepped off and adjusted them to fit my short legs as she grazed happily in the sun. Upon remounting the second time I was pleased to see that my feet now not only reached the stirrups but that when I straightened my legs my butt was no longer in contact with the saddle. This made me quite happy because it meant I could control my ride and not bounce like a bag of bones with her every step. She stood and turned left and right in circles with little neck reining and slight toe and heel pressure on her sides and then with a gentle ya and heel she took off in a smooth run!

I sat atop her for about 30 minutes and let her finish the bowl of oats as I chatted  with the family on the back porch and through the windows to my sons as they played on the top bunk in their room. I took the saddle and blanket off of her and placed them back on their “make do” rack of a railing and brushed her down and removed her halter. As I turned her loose and put up the tack she walked back to the sunny spot and joined the chickens and ducks in their chorus of nature eating and moving through the suns illuminated travel cross our yard.

Coffee was made, firewood chopped and stacked inside… I think I’ll have breakfast…



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