Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Pied Piper of Alprilla Farm

That would be me.

This afternoon I found Counterpoint and Cholla lazing about the run-in while Ben pecked at the triage paddock. After completing my chores and bug-spraying Ben I led him out to his field, unhaltered him, and watched him set to on the grass near the ring. The C-boys trickled out to the lane, where they nibbled at the overgrazed, table-flat grass nubbins.

I noticed that, while the near-house field and the far field at the end of the lane were closed off, it appeared that the left-turn alley at the end of the lane, leading to the farthest field, was open. Why didn't the grayboys go out there? Was it because they were staying near Ben? I resolved to do something about it.

Interlude: For those of you unfamiliar with the landscape of which I speak, herewith a visual aid, taken back in May, when Ben was in with the other two. To Counterpoint's left is Ben's little triage paddock; directly above him is the gate to Ben's field. Above that, across the field, you can see a gap in the far fence; that is the gateway which leads to the farthest field, when it's open to Ben's side of the complex. Toward the top right, at the end of the lane, rightward of where that solitary large bush sits, is the gateway to the C-boys' farther field, and the left-hand turn into the fenced-in alley leading to the farthest field. That alley can be gated shut near the Benside gate.

Got that? Good; then scroll below the photo and on with my tale.

So I went into the lane, halter and leadrope over my shoulder in case I had to persuade them to move along, and walked up to and past first Cholla, then Counterpoint, offering a greeting and a face rub as I passed; then, a length or two beyond the Herd King, I turned back, beckoned, and said "Come on."

Counterpoint came on. Cholla followed.

We three continued down the lane, me - a length; Counterpoint - a length; Cholla. I turned the corner out of the lane, wondering how long they'd stay with me. They kept coming. I walked the length of the alley, with them close behind. I walked out a few yards into the farthest field. They followed, with an expression of "Hey, look at all this tall grass! Who'da thunk?" and dropped their heads to gobble.

Ben, meanwhile, was horrified that we were all leaving him behind. He rushed up to the closed gate between his field and the farthest field, a look of "What? Wait! Where are you going?!?" on his face. Reassured by the sight of the C-boys grazing just beyond the fence, he dropped his head into a part of his field he had heretofore left ungrazed and set to mowing.

By the time I left some several minutes later, Cholla had grazed his way toward the center of the fresh field; Counterpoint was working his way along the edge of the ditch on the outer edge; and Ben's muzzle was buried in grass up close to the boundary.

Oh, by the way, here's a look at that same area in late July, after yet another of this dour summer's flooding rains:


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