Horse-raising Days

I enjoy reading a column titled, “Rural Reflections” in our local shopper, “The Northern Watch,” published by The Times in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. I find what the author writes is entertaining, informative and thought-provoking. Since I’m a writer too, (Sadly, more of an essayist than a column writer) I thought he might appreciate some feedback, if somewhat long-winded. Brevity isn’t my best suit as I tend to think there’s more to a story than what is told in brief, just as there is more than one piece to a puzzle.
I thought the article he wrote last spring about his grazing service was interesting. He moved his customer’s cattle herd onto his farm, then from pasture to pasture over the summer, correct? That idea was very intriguing. When I look at some of my neighbors cattle grazing, on what I don’t know, I think their pastures could use some rotational practices too. The whole of it always look pretty thin, void of any lush greeness save that of a golf course, but I know little of feeding a herd of cattle over the long haul except to observe what the neighbors do.
The only livestock I’ve raised here were a couple of horses. Our mare foaled one mid-summer night when there was a full moon and the whippoorwills were singing. Hence we named her “Moonlight Whippoorwill.” She grew to be a gorgeous animal. She and her mother were gifts from my-then father-in-law who thought our 2-year old daughter, his first grandchild, should have a ‘pony’ being as we lived on 160-acres. The pony turned out to be a 10-year old registered Arabian mare named “Lady,” whom he was gifted by his favorite uncle in Idaho who raised Arabs. How could we turn down a free ‘pony’? So what, if we had to build a huge corral of cedar posts and black spruce rails? Or throw together a small leanto stable, extend an underground waterline and put in a hydrant and stocktank? Small concessions for future 4-H projects and showhorse/barrel-racing glory. Did I mention buying many bales of dust-free hay? Stud and Veterinarian fees?
Well, our horse-raising days stalled in the face of over-blown expectations by the father-in-law and two brothers-in-law (who got into the act somehow) and within a year and a half, after the birth of Moonlight Whippoorwill, the corral stood empty, its paddock overgrown, and the stocktank dry. The mare and foal went to live with my wife’s cousin’s family eight miles west, where coincidently,  Hollywood actor Garrett Hedlund, then a adolescent, lived.


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