I keep forgetting to tuck my tiny camera into my hunt coat, so you continue to get static photos like the one above. But look at that stone! This is one wall of the old barn at the farm.
It was another 7:30 am meet yesterday morning from Burnleigh, a beautiful farm just past Foxcroft School on (surprise!) Foxcroft Road. The day's hunting is probably best described in a couple of vignettes:
Vignette 1, entitled, 'The drought is bad'. The ground was really hard with a very slick top layer of dry dust. My farrier put studs on Joshua's hind feet earlier this week to try to give him some more traction, even though studs are usually reserved for snow and ice. Yesterday, we had moved through a dry valley that's usually marshy bottomland, and the huntsman moved out across a wide creek. Our master rode down into the creek, and we rode downstream through the sandy earth that's usually under the water. It wasn't until we had ridden well down this 'sandbar' in the middle of the creek bed that I realized that we were in the same part of the creek where we had been forced to ford with our stirrups crossed over withers and our feet on the horses' shoulders last year around Christmas! So, the drought is bad. On the (very small) upside, the sandy soil in the bed of the creek was the best footing that we saw all day.
Vignette 2, entitled, 'Mr. Turkey'. About an hour after we set out, we came upon the cutest little farm setup that I've seen in a long while. A yellow stucco main house facing a small yard with mature trees and a small barn and tenant house. Old stone pillars were scattered in the yard and a couple of ponies watched the proceedings with guarded eyes from a paddock just behind the barn. We walked quietly between house and barn, listening with our field master for hound voices. Just as we snuck around the end of the barn, we heard a loud, "Gobgobblegobble!" (say it as fast as you can, and he was faster), and the most beautiful 25-pound turkey you've ever seen (just like this one) came out to let us know who was master of this barnyard. One of the ladies riding with us lives on this little farm and told us that this fine bird is bound for the Thanksgiving table. Our kennelman said, "We'll see what he has to say about that!" And we all laughed, but it really did seem as though the turkey might give his axman a run for his money. As we walked away from the barnyard, still straining to hear hounds, we heard the occasional "Gobgobblegobble," a good-riddance from our turkey friend.
All in all, not a terribly exciting day, but each and every person with whom we hunted yesterday was just delightful, and it was great fun to be outside in the air and the country. And one thing you can say about starting your day at 4 am is that it sure makes bedtime feel good.