This morning feels a whole lot more like March, with dark clouds and evidence of rain that turned briefly to snow in the night. The weather will be a good excuse to attend to spring cleaning chores in the barn. First, however, our vet, Dr. Stacey Kenyon will be coming to administer spring shots and other routine maintenance for the horses and goats. Fiona has settled after a long, five day heat! She is exhausted from her lack of sleep and is snoozing comfortably in her bed at the moment. Hallelujah!
I hope you will enjoy the following excerpt from Finding My Way to Moose River Farm. Although horses are a large part of my life, past and present, the book is filled with characters from other species including ducks, chickens, a deer, a Canada goose, and many faithful dogs.
For two of my college summers, I had the great pleasure of working for Olympic rider, (and now race horse trainer), Michael Matz when he trained out of Erdenheim Farm in Flourtown, PA. One summer there was an epidemic of baby birds who died after falling from the insulated roof of the indoor arena where their parents had built nests. Sadly, we cleaned up the tiny, fragile remains lying in the sand on a daily basis. One day, however, wobbling among the broken bodies was a baby starling. Raising Peeper is an experience I will never forget. In this excerpt, he has mastered flight and is under the assumption that everybody shares his enthusiasm for this skill! Enjoy!
Learning to Fly
With his newly discovered flying skills, Peeper’s care became a whole lot easier. The farm had no cats and was far enough away from the road that I did not worry about mishaps. When he wasn’t resting on his bucket, he flew in and out of the barn through the windows and doors. His distinctive raspy voice was easy to locate in the large sycamore trees that kept the barn cool under their shady leaves. He was now free to investigate his own dietary needs. I was never sure what he found to eat around the farm, but I limited his hamburger meals to only twice a day.
Starlings are opportunists and since Peeper had no fear of humans, he assumed that everybody enjoyed his company. The Jumper barn grooms were beginning to warm up to him now that he confidently landed on the shoulder of anybody who called to him. But Peeper didn’t always wait for an invitation.
“Anne,” Michael, (Matz), yelled from the jump field where he was schooling a small chestnut warmblood named Chef. “Come get your bird!”
Dropping the pitchfork I was using to clean stalls, I immediately ran out to the field. There sitting on top of the brim of Michael’s ever present blue baseball cap was Peeper. He was taking a rest from flight practice and seemed to enjoy the bouncy lift that Chef was providing for him. Michael was smiling as he leaned down over Chef’s shoulder so that I could pluck Peeper’s stubborn claws from the hat.
My favorite memory of Peeper that summer was the walk over from the Dressage barn to the Jumper barn every morning to turn Grande out. While leading the big horse from his left side, Peeper would follow in a sweeping motion stopping briefly to sit on a fence post then swooping to catch up with us. In addition Eric, (my Dachshund at the time), trotted along at my left always keeping a safe distance from Grande’s feet. With the early morning mist lifting off of the green grass, our little procession must have looked like a scene from a Disney movie.