Monday, February 28, 2011

Bunny Tracks (No not ice cream!)

We moved to the farm in the fall of 2007. Our daughter’s home was built out in the pasture beyond the riding arena and they moved in the fall of 2009. Our house is about 100 yards away. Duties have been given and changed around several times but my responsibility is to feed the horses Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings between 6am and 7 am, rain or shine, 100 degrees or minus 10. Of course it is easier in the summer but the winter, with snow has its charm.

To our delight we have rubbed elbows with a beautiful red fox who I have not forgiven for taking one (or two) of my cats and lots of coyotes that ‘sing’ and yip almost every night. My daughter has seen them but I haven’t yet. There are hawks that circle over the fields from time to time and once I saw a great horned owl when it landed on the roof of my daughter’s house. It was huge! I hear the owl often in the trees outside my window. I am very glad I can keep all my cats in now.
Of course there are mice. And that is why we experimented with keeping some barn cats. We actually have had 5 in the barn (not all at once). I have discovered that life on the farm is real stuff, not a dream you read about in Country Magazine. Even at an urban farm it includes joy and sorrow, life and death. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn.
This spring our neighbors mare foaled and we were there to see it when it was only a few hours old. We have seen her grow up to be a beautiful young horse with a springy step. She looks like she is tip toeing around the pasture. It is a joy to behold.

But my favorite time is in the winter just after a snowfall. When I get up in the morning I layer several shirts and some coveralls over my p.j.s I am ready to go out and greet the horses and bring them their feed. As I walk out there I’m trying to figure who has visited. I see dog tracks and cat tracks and I am most curious to see if I recognize coyote or fox tracks.
More than anything else I see bunny tracks. I can tell because they are distinctive, two prints close together and just above them are two prints a bit apart, and they are pretty small. I could just see them hopping around in the snow, foraging for food. We have lots of bunnies around. It’s probably why we see the foxes and hear the coyotes. It doesn’t seem like they have made a big dent in the rabbit population, though. I see places where small paws have brushed the snow aside to get at some grass or leaves. I have seen where it looks like one has been chased by a dog or coyote, and I see places where they seem to have been playing.
It is a wonderful way to begin a day. Even the days when it is hard to think about going outside in the cold or snow it is a chore I love. And I add my tracks to the bunny tracks as I listen to the horses nickering for their breakfast