It’s shortly after 6 am on Thursday morning as Melissa and I open the door into the day’s first light on what promises to be a bright, hot Tennessee summer day. The sun has just broken the treed hillside that makes up our eastern horizon and is beginning to make a stab at raising the fog that has gathered overnight in the low spots in the valley between two ridges where most of our farm lays. It is quiet and peaceful; the shadows still lie long across the fields and the air feels fresh and cool as we walk to the barn to begin preparing feed for the horses, all of whom are out in their pastures. I herd and cajole the fainters (World’s Cutest Fainting Goats) from their stall to the goat pen behind the barn where Billy and Bubba have spent the night. Billy is calling mightily for his fainter friends to join him. While I herd goats Melissa makes rations for each horse in the two pastures nearest the barn.
When the rations are nearing ready, we begin adding additional supplements and medications as necessary for each horse. I step out the front of the barn and call to the horses who make their way sedately to the gate. Melissa and I each take a pasture and begin feeding, checking each horse over thoroughly for signs of ill-thrift which may appear overnight. This morning we don’t find anything amiss with anyone, and both pastures finish eating about twenty minutes after they began. We remove their feed bags as they finish their breakfast, stopping when we’re done to fill up their water troughs. After re-hanging feed bags in the barn and stopping for a minute to play with the fainters, we walk through the pastures together and begin the cycle again for the pastures farther from the barn.
As Melissa prepares feed, the cows come through their pasture for a morning drink and I take the opportunity to check them over as I top off their 300 gallon trough. By this time, Melissa is done preparing feed and we each choose a pasture. This morning, I choose to do the “big boys” field at the end of the alleyway, a few hundred feet from our feed prep area. I load their feedbags into a hand pulled wagon and start toward their gate. At this point, the sun is fully up and the dew is starting to burn off the grass. I call to them several times, but they choose to ignore my voice, preferring instead to lounge in the trees near their run-in shed. Long wise to their tricks, I leave the wagon at the gate and proceed up toward the shed and the treeline.
When I’m somewhere between the two the big boys spot me, and as if on cue they explode out of the trees in a massive gallop that is completely awesome to watch. They thunder by me, but they slow down as quickly as they became excited and they wait more or less patiently at the gate for me to show up and feed them. As I feed I again check over everyone carefully to ensure that no problems have developed overnight. This group of horses (and this pasture) is the largest one on the farm and it takes a fair while to finish feeding and checking them. As I pull feedbags off they amble toward the water trough for a drink and then make their way out into the pasture nearby where they begin to graze. When everyone is finished eating and the last horse leaves the water trough, they move off as a group. Again, I stop to refill water troughs and have another look at the horses. Some minutes later, I finish.
As I pull the empty wagon down the alley, I see Melissa is finishing up her second pasture which means morning feeding is nearing it’s end. I double check the troughs in these two pastures and I find everything satisfactory. We put all the feedbags back in the shed and walk together toward the house for coffee and some breakfast before carrying on with our day. I look at the time; it’s 8:00 am. As I listen to the birdsong breaking the quiet of the morning, I think to myself as I do every day that somewhere in the world horns are honking, phones are ringing, people are yelling at one another, traffic is jammed and nerves are frazzled. But not here.
Apollo and Homer
Grand grazing while Chance and Hemi hang out; they make a nice group of bay horses!
Leo, Trigger and Ivan were all napping with their heads hanging over the fence
Lexi rolling while Bonnie looks on
Tony, Chance, Elfin and Homer