I pulled on my rubber boots to feed the pack string this afternoon. The past few days of rain have turned the corral into ankle-deep manure soup. They watch me approach with their ears forward and interested. It’s that time of day, and they let me know they’re glad to see me. These guys had their shoes taken off last week, and will head to winter pasture on Tuesday. Another trail season has ended for them too. Their winter coats are starting to grow in.
I’ve never been one of those horsey girls, but I do like these animals. They work for a living, and I appreciate the times I get to be around them, in spite of their herd animal point of view. Sometimes they seem quite alien, but I am sure humans seem strange to them.
Throwing good Kittitas County timothy hay into the mangers and watching the animals move reminds me of my rural upbringing. I call them by name: four mules–Maggie, Polly, Buck, Stoney, and three horses–Apollo, Macho, Cisco. I love the barn, way out at the end of the Forest Service compound. I think it was built by the CCC in the 1930s, out of rough-sawn timbers. The floor boards are polished by years of boots, and brooms sweeping up scraps of hay. There’s history in that barn, as well as the present moment.
I lean on the railing and listen to the munching and blowing. All is well. Good night, animals. I’ll be back in the morning.