Yesterday morning we were woken to the sound of multiple shot guns, geese and ducks were the targets. This morning we had an elk carcass in the yard by 8am! The hunting season started today. It is such an anathema to most of us British folk but this is a normal part of life here. I took these photos more to illustrate, as with many of the other photos, the lifestyles we are experiencing in this adventure. We are going off the tourist tracks and living with locals to obtain a taste of their lives, including aspects that we like and those which we may find less palatable.
Kelly took us riding to check the cattle at the North Ranch yesterday. We loaded our 5 mounts into the trailer as it was about 5 miles to the entrance and then a further distance over the fields and through the woods to check on the 65-70 head of cattle she has grazing there. These will be sold, in the not too distant future, at the stockyard and taken to the abattoir from where they will finally end up on our tables. The elk from this morning will be eaten, we ate venison yesterday, is it all the same? Hunting animals, purely for entertainment, such as the African big five, must be wrong but here it is a way of life which has been carried out for centuries, it is just that man’s weapons have improved to the extent that it is an unfair contest. However, I have been told that they have improved so much that shots rarely miss being instantly fatal. Presumably there is still some satisfaction with the success of the ‘kill’ but that must surely be diminishing rapidly. The need to put food on the table by this means is unnecessary but is the alternative better? Kelly is relieved to be ‘rid’ of these excess animals as they eat all her winter feed.
Roger rode Rocky and I was allocated Kosmo. I went off to the end paddock to catch him, unwarned that he didn’t like to be caught! About 20 minutes later when the others had all caught theirs and taken them to the yard Roger came looking for me to find a rather annoyed person threatening dog-food-factory on the little b******. Horses are supposed to be able to sense your emotions so one has to stay calm and ‘in the the moment’. I dare say he was getting his own back for me suggesting, the previous day, that he and his brother look like mules! He turned out to be a lovely ride, very powerful but responsive. We had covered a couple of fields before threading our way though a fairly dense wood. Kelly was trying to drive out the cattle, using Luvic, the collie, to herd them, and kept shouting instructions to us by compass points. The sky, what little we could see through the trees, was completely overcast so none of us had any idea which way was up, never mind north. We managed to emerge relatively unscathed, just twig scratches across our faces.
It had started to rain whilst we were out but the trees had sheltered us from the worst of it. It hasn’t stopped since so the morning jobs today were undertaken in full waterproofs overlaid by hi-viz jackets which must be worn outside the yard. As you can see Hannah and I are modelling the latest line. Roger and I changed the gates at lunchtime to give the geldings access to the water. We weren’t going to have time to work with Dakota today but at least managed some desensitisation as we approached him in these bright colours, almost unrecognisable under hoods as well. He was distinctly wary, or it may be that he saw Kosmo taking the mickey out of me and wont let himself be caught so easily next time.