While sitting at the sheepdog trial this past weekend, talk turned to stray chickens.
I was amazed at the number of people who'd had chickens wander onto, or more likely, left on their farms. In my decade-plus of country living, I have neither lost or found a chicken.
Horses, though, are another story. I have both lost one and found one.
Shortly after buying our farm, I bought Scuba. Because we'd just bought the farm, we couldn't afford a horse companion for her. So, a week after she arrived, we bought a goat companion.
Tanner was a fine goat, a Nubian wether, who was quite friendly. His only problem was that he'd been living with billy goats, so he was quite smelly.
Apparently, Scuba didn't find that so endearing.
When I arrived home from work on a chilly Monday evening in early November, there was a note on the back door.
"Your horse was in our bean field and last seen running east."
You would think that a 900-pound grey horse would be easy to find, but it was dusk. Though the crops were harvested, trees, brush and valleys provided hiding spots not visible from the road. A scared horse can cover lots of ground.
After a call to the sheriff's department netted no reports of found horses, the husband and I began our search. We went door-to-door, introducing ourselves to people and asking if they'd seen a big gray horse. They hadn't.
Then he got out his spotlight, drove the country roads, and spotlighted the countryside. That resulted in being stopped by a man in a truck.
"You're not looking for coons, are you?" the stranger asked.
"No," the husband said.
"Looking for a horse?"
Turns out, this stranger had returned home from work and found a grey mare shacked up with his blind Appaloosa gelding. The man lived about two miles from our farm.
Now we had to figure out how to get Scuba home. There was a storm and cold front approaching, and we didn't want to leave her at the stranger's house for the night. Since we'd just bought the farm, we didn't have a trailer or tow vehicle. Because I was young and foolish, I grabbed her saddle and bridle.
So, on that Monday night in November, in the dark, I rode my mare two miles home. The very kind husband (did I mention that he likes football more than horses) drove behind me, hazard lights on.