Thursday, February 23, 2006

Knock Knock. Who's there? Ground Bees. Ground bees who...?

Waves of long, green blades of grass meant I could "spoil" my horse, Gypsy, a bit and tether him to a tree to graze on the sweet grass that wove around the trees we had growing in by the side of the barnyard. Gypsy was my pride and joy, my first "real" horse (meaning not pony) and was a horse that I had helped with from his very beginnings in this world.

He was born at our neighbor's farm less than a mile away and I was with him nearly every day of his life until I outgrew him. He was born with a twisted leg, windswept it's called and he wasn't very fast and that made him the "runt" of the foals that year. I had a soft spot for him. I have always favored the ones that seemed to need the most love and those that seemed to be in a position where they would be overlooked. These were the animals I fell in love with, that I took home and that I made time for.

I would go to my neighbor's and play with him, brush him, lead him while he was being halter trained...whatever I could do with Gypsy, whenever I could I was there.

I never thought I would own him, never. Her horses always went for more than we could afford but one day, I even think it was a Friday because my sister had a friend come home on the bus with us, Dad met me at the door and told me, in quite a stern voice, that he was sick of me not cleaning up after my animals when I had them in the barn. After me trying to tell him that I had cleaned up after Dusty, my pony, he said something to the effect of "let's prove it". We walked what seemed like miles to get to the barn and I was so afraid that I had forgotten or that I was, indeed, in trouble. The moment seemed an eternity as Dad opened the barn door and showed me how I had not cleaned up after my animal and there before me stood Gypsy. He turned and looked as the door opened, his soft brown eyes smiling at me and he was mine.

His registered name was High Class Sip and up until that point he was called Classy. However, that didn't seem to suit the horse of an unclassy, tomboy teenybopper. I had just finished watching a show/movie about a horse named Gypsy and Gypsy it was. He was sorrel with a white blaze down his face and 4 white socks; he looked just like his sire, The Last Sip, only not as muscular or tall. He was a beautiful shade of red; in fact, a friend of mine who has red hair put her hair in with his mane one day and we were both amazed at the match. Anyway, I digress; he was beautiful and he was mine. Now on with the story.

On one particular day of tying Gypsy out so he could eat at the grass lead to near fatal disaster. Like his father, Gypsy liked to paw. He would paw the ground, the stall, the fence, the name it and he pawed at it. I left him to graze and went off about doing chores and exploring the woods of the farm. When I got back to move Gypsy I couldn't see him as I was walking up the path. Confusion set in. Did someone move him? Did he pull free? As I got closer I could see a shape on the ground floor that did not belong and it suddenly clicked that it was Gypsy's form lying motionless on the path. I ran over to him and he looked up at me unmoving with labored breathing and although I was panicking and still not aware of what had happened I knew that I HAD to get him up. I pulled and pulled at his halter and screamed at him to get up.

Finally, he gathered his strength and got up on all fours and I started moving with him out of the woods. It was at this point that I noticed bees swarming around in the air all bothered and angry. I had unknowingly tied him next to a nest of ground bees and in his "impatientness" he started pawing and disturbed this nest of fury.

I don't recall what all we had to do for him medicinally but I do recall putting warm water in a 4 litre ice cream pail with something in it and soaking his feet one hoof at a time. The poison from the bees was seeping out just above his hooves. I also recall the fact that each and every time I put his feet in this water he sighed, like "Oh wow that feels SOOOO good.". That was the first time I can consiously remember knowing that bees would make nests in the ground; I think I was under the impression that they only made them in trees or on gutters or in the attic. It took an awful long time for me to stop feeling guilty; I think I bought him a lot of corn that year. It also took me a very long time to tether him to eat grass out there and never again at that tree; I also never stayed away very long from that point on.

Just a memory that popped into my head today. I love writing about them as I think of them; hopefully one day my kids and/or grandkids can appreciate the stories from when I was a kid. Hopefully you can get a little chuckle or even touch on nostalgia as I get them and write them down too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i as well remember that day. bees are EVIL