Saturday, December 21, 2013

Going Batty in the Country

When you move out into the country, you became aware of the amazing amounts of small creatures who desire to live with you in your house. Shiny, little creepy crawlies, fuzzy, furry rodents and the one it took me the longest to get used to, bats. Perhaps it is because I have found the statement that bats will never run into a person in flight is not true. Especially when you are dealing with baby bats.

For most of the year, you will not see the winged denizens who occupy your attic unless you go out in the cooling dusk when the last streams of the spring or summer sun streak the sky. But around the end of July to early August, when the warm farm house gets stuffy, the baby bats get old enough to leave their mother and haphazardly venture into the living space you use. They don't really want to meet you. In fact, they find you quite terrifying. They just get lost because they are young and inexperienced. After they flutter from room to room, squeaking forlornly, they are eventually joined by a concerned parent and some other members of the colony.

In one particular incident, that proved upsetting for all parties involved, I came home from work one evening to find eight bats swirling around the house. After one collided with me, I bravely locked myself in a bedroom and sat in front of the door, wondering how I was going to get all of them out. One bat decided to fly under the door like a piece of paper and through my legs. This elicited a rather loud scream on my part. After four hours using a fishing net, an open door, a towel and one more bat vs. human collision, I managed to get all the furry beasts removed. Unfortunately, I have been scarred emotionally and am now rather jumpy about getting near bats.

You might ask why I don't just get rid of them? I have tried and it is not so easy. You see, my house was built in 1850. The bats have been there ever since and they feel my 20 years of residency pales to their 163. Therefore, I should be the one going. They also are incredibility persistent about coming back if I throw them out. Their main arsenal consists of the ability to fit through very small spaces and an old farmhouse always has a few cracks in the making. Once they are in for the year, if you remove them too early, you run the risk of removing the parents but not their offspring. This can cause a whole host of problems, including the smell of decay. Even the professionals have failed at getting rid of them. They are here to stay.

One of the most notable encounters my family has had with the bats is one involving my daughter. On balmy night, while lying in bed, my daughter felt a tugging at her hair and little hands touching her skull. A small, baby bat was clawing its way up her head. Now if this would have been me, you would have had to peel me off the ceiling. But my daughter stayed still until it lofted itself into the air. In the morning, she found it clinging to her curtain. A wrap in a towel and a toss outside got rid of it.

After two decades the bats and I have come to a tense understanding. We, for the most part, leave each other alone. I have learned to tolerate their wandering children and they for the most part stay out of my territory. I do have to say, they do a wonderful job of keeping insects away from the house at night. You can lounge on my porch and be hard pressed to find a mosquito or fly which makes the brilliant summer sunsets all the more pretty.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When a horse hides.

My son, my daughter and I were mounted on our horses out in the pasture. A cool breeze swirled around us as our mounts exhaled softly with their heads lowered. We had saddled up our trusted, reliable equines in smooth, oiled saddles and rode in the attempt to catch a rather saucy, young filly who disdained work. We had chased her enough for her to break a light sweat on her shiny, chestnut coat and were now waiting for the initial adrenaline to die down in her so we could grab her with a leadline on foot.

As we stood, we notice our fleabitten stallion, Adonis Silver Storm, aka Rocko, scrutinizing our actions from his paddock. His ears were perked forward and his neck arched upward. My daughter commented on how he needed to be worked today. When she said his name, his eyes locked on our group. I agreed. When I said Rocko's name, he figured he was next. He peeled his ears back, snorted in disgust, and backed up behind his run in.

There he stayed and hid, occasionally taking a quick peek out. Much to his chagrin, we later found him and walked him out. With a sign of compliance, he doggedly followed us from the paddock.

Our visit to the Alltech National Horse Show 2014

We attended the Alltech National Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The park is a sprawling complex of emerald pastures, white fences, painted barns, sandy rings, and museums, all meticulous kept and all about horses. We went to watch international show jumpers compete in classes awarding up to $250,000. The most spectacular was the Puissance class where bold horses and their courageous riders soared over a solid, painted brick wall, with each round going higher and higher until they topped out at 7 feet. You could have heard in pin drop when the last rider crested that formidable obstacle in the final round. It was truly amazing, the athleticism of these horses.

Since we were in Kentucky, we had to have breakfast at the Waffle House, a restaurant that has the shape reminiscent of the blocky Lego buildings we made when we were little. The food was home style and cheap.

The trip would not have been complete without visiting the Horse Park's gift shop. If you love horses, you are in heaven when you enter. It is hard not to leave with an empty wallet.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Autumn Days on the Farm

When the leaves are spattered in crimson and crushed pumpkin and flutter to the pale, brown, graveled road highlighted by sharp spears of sunlight, you know that autumn is creeping toward you on the farm. The warm, mellow summer days will be shattered by a wind whipped thunderstorm and replaced with a cool dampness that slips into your clothes if you idle too long.

Musical honks punctuate the air as V-shaped flocks of geese circle round and round, strengthening their feathered young for the long flight south. Withe the demise of sweltering heat and clouds of flies, the horses perk up, throwing the hooves into the air as they thunder across the lime green pastures. The sheep hop past when let out in the morning, their lanolin greased wool suddenly an asset rather than a sweaty liability.

Tomato plants to yellow, revealing glowing cherry red fruit while pumpkins loll on their withering vines. Fields are stripped naked of dried soybeans and cornstalks cut, their kennels poured into the silos for winter feed. The musky smell of damp leaves mingles with the smell of overturned dark soil.

Autumn has truly arrived. You just hope that it will stubbornly linger and hold the threat of snowflakes and ice deep into December.