THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Having dealt with way too many worries in the past few weeks, Gwen the Beautiful and I decided make a positive, life-affirming move.
As in bringing something new and young and vibrant to The Mountain.
Like…a new horse.
Huck the Spotless Appaloosa is about eleven years old now, and his gal, Elaine the Not So Wild Mustang, is twenty. Huck may not possess all the equipment of a stallion, but he’s always had the attitude.
He’s the kind of guy who gives real meaning to the “proud” in the farm saying, “proud cut,” so we knew he’d be happy if we added a young mare to the family.
The universe was on our side on this one. No sooner had Gwen and I agreed to start searching than we saw a flyer at Paradise Market advertising two mares for sale.
One was a registered Arabian, too rich for our blood even in this time of lowered horse prices. (Paradise’s First Law of Equine Economics: When the hay costs go up, the horse costs go down. Think of it as inverse supply-and-demand.)
The other was a six-year-old sorrel who in her picture looked a lot like Huck, except that her blaze was narrower and she had white stockings on her hind legs. And the price was, more or less, right.
I called the number on the flyer, and the next day Gwen and I drove over, under, and through some territory we’d never been in before and found ourselves at the woodsy cabin owned by George and Rachel, a young couple whose love of horses was so great that they’d gotten in over their heads and needed to sell a couple so they could spend their money on something else, like, as Rachel put it:
“Groceries. Yep, groceries would be nice.”
Gwen and I went into the pasture to meet Rosie, who did indeed look like Huck but on a much smaller scale—twelve hands high to Huck’s seventeen. She was as quiet and easy to get along with as she was petite, and when I talked to her she winked at me. Which made it a done deal after a little obligatory haggling.
Twenty-four hours later, Rosie was in our corral, Huck trumpeting his glee while Elaine looked on patiently. Rosie didn’t hesitate. She rushed to Huck and presented her hindquarters in true horse come hither fashion.
Huck snorted and squealed and reared, and Rosie snorted and squealed and swished her tail, and then the two of them were off, running together like foals, playing the mating game that Huck always has loved even though—as far as I know, and Elaine’s not saying—he’s never brought it to a conclusion.
Huck and Rosie raced around all day, but when I brought out the evening meal everything changed.
I put the hay out in three piles, but Huck snapped at Rosie and forced her back, away from all of them, while he and Elaine ate together. And when Rosie went for water Huck raced to beat her to it, snapping to keep her away from that as well.
“Uh-oh,” Gwen said. “Looks like we’ve got a problem.”
Huck turned to her and whinnied. “No problem. Not at all. I just have to let her know the rules.”
“What is this?” I said. “A fraternity?”
“What’s a fraternity?” Huck said.
“A band of brothers, with the older ones coming down hard on the younger ones so they’ll appreciate it more when they finally let them be.”
“Rosie’s no brother,” Huck said. “But what you’re saying sounds right to me. I’ll make a fine sister out of her, you’ll see.” And he whirled and snapped at Rosie’s shoulder and again gave chase.
Throughout this past week, Huck’s continued his hazing, lightening up just a little bit every day. Rosie drinks when she wants now, and each horse eats its own pile of hay, except when Huck decides to munch on Rosie’s. At which point she just moseys over and eats his.
All under Elaine’s patient gaze.
Oh, there’s been one other change. Burl Sr., the Farmer of the Year, came over this morning. “New mare?” he said about Rosie.
“Just got her,” I said.
“Looks like you got two for the price of one,” Burl Sr. said.
“What?” said Gwen.
“Look at that full, round belly. That little mare’s in foal.”
Talk about a life-affirming move….