The sun was sinking by the time the deputy let us go after our brush with disaster last night. The 13-year-old and I drove slowly up the road to home. We both spotted the horse poop in the road between our house and the stables across the road. We laughed. We agreed someone must have taken a horse for a trail ride. Not clear where they could have been going walking down the middle of this fast country road, but where else could it have come from?
Then I raised my eyes to our drive.
You know that moment when you see something that doesn't make sense? When something is wrong, but it takes a split second to realize what exactly.
I couldn't make sense of the big, spotted, appaloosa butt ambling casually across the front yard. The unfenced, residential front lawn.
The moment Josie's presence registered in my conscious mind as Josie, I also recognized the broad brown rump of Zeus next to her and the lovely creamy gleam of Shadowfax behind a tree. All three, muzzles down, in the new nubs of spring grass.
All this, while we waited just down the road for an hour feeling unpressed and unhurried. Wrongly it now seemed.
It also seems to me that the very best moments for photography on our farm are inevitably missed. Cause it's always just moments before doom.
I didn't even have time to wonder where the fourth back-pasture pony was and sent the worst case scenario -- the one that had to do with poop in the road -- packing before it even made it to the light of full consciousness.
I'll spare you all the details, but it wasn't pretty, as the sun set and all the (now ravenous) creatures at Tyche's Run reacted to the loose ponies. It took some wrangling to get everyone back where they belonged without anybody getting hurt. At one point the safest bet was to corral the big guys in the little girls' paddock -- even though the little girls were still there. Cause three loose, ambling ponies, even relatively mellow ponies, can easily turn into a panicked herd of thundering hooves straight into the road if you're not careful.
Zeus and Thyme found themselves face to face for the first time and can I just say love at first sight?
Annie, bless her timid little Amish heart, was found pacing in the back pasture, too anxious to leave even though the gate was wide open and all of her pasture mates were gone.
The big, many-hundreds-of-pounds 10' by 10' sliding door that closes off the stalls in the back barn from the back pasture FELL OFF as I was finally, in the dark, putting the errant ponies away. Timid Annie, who lives in that barn aisle with the big door as her rear wall, was left to fend for herself against the night. That one detail alone nearly did me in after everything else that had happened. But even this had a silver lining. This morning, as the sun rose over the pasture, I looked out and saw Annie enjoying herself in the field all alone. She didn't have to wait for me and she got to savor being out alone without silly Shadow and Zeus pushing her around.
Josie could have taken off down the road with all her friends trailing. Zeus and Shadow could have kicked the beejezus out of Thyme and the other little girls, none of whom are known to suffer bratty geldings quietly. Annie could have panicked in her solitude. The darn door could have fallen on me. The chickens could have dispersed or been trampled in the chaos. Any of the ponies could have broken a leg, or one of my legs, in a hundred different ways.
This morning as I rounded the property doing my chores, I tried hard not to think about the hoof prints everywhere. The damp spring ground hides no secrets. No question, we dodged a second bullet last night.
Cars and ponies. Loaded guns sometimes, both of them.