Fence repair has been at the top of my to-do list the last few days. During the fall and winter, the ponies don’t put much pressure on the fences. In the fall there’s nothing interesting to eat out there, and in the winter the snow is deep enough that it provides a psychological barrier to interest in the other side.
Springtime, though, brings two sources of pressure: green grass and hormones. And since I raise ponies that I hope will use their bodies in harness, it makes sense that they also will use their bodies against fences if there is, within reach, a particularly tantalizing morsel or a particularly interesting member of the opposite sex. At three-thirty in the morning yesterday, my husband heard a pony calling, which is highly unusual so it indicated something was amiss. (Blissfully I slept through this alarm!) When he told me about it at five, I headed out and sure enough was short one pony. She turned up at seven quite happy with herself. Her fence was repaired as I put her back in with her lonely friend.
Tonight there is a mare in heat, and the stallion I intend to breed her to is making lots of noise whenever she comes to the fence. I told my stallion that he’ll get her tomorrow night. Like all ponies, he lives in the present and doesn’t understand this sort of talk. Fortunately, from a sleep perspective, I’ll move that mare further away from him tonight so his desirous vocalizations won’t keep us awake.
A few years ago this month we went on a road trip for business. When I was about three states away, we got a message on the cell phone saying that my stallion had gotten out. Fortunately the critter sitter that I’d hired was quite versatile, and he not only made the necessary fence repairs but haltered my wayward stallion and returned him to his home. I counted my many blessings and gave thanks profusely when I returned home. I did the same the next spring when no mares gave birth to foals that I hadn’t planned.
The fences at the summer pasture experience different stresses. Elk and moose are frequent neighbors and seem to prefer going through fences rather than over them. And one section of fence crosses a river. Every year I tell myself I will get down there before ice forms, and every fall slips by with the fence still in the river. So at the start of every summer we are wading in the river fetching the remains of the fence out of the water and patching it back together. It is truly amazing how powerful ice is. We build fence professionally in our company for clients with special requirements. One stretch crosses the North Platte River in two places, and my husband designed a fence that we can fold back like a curtain in the fall so that the ice has no chance to do its work. The client is especially happy with this work of art because all previous fence builders had been unsuccessful finding a design that could withstand the annual freeze and thaw of the river.
Tonight I will go to bed with some peace that the fences are repaired. Tomorrow, though, I fully expect that hormones and green grass will give me more opportunities to put my fence repair skills to use once again. I doubt there will ever be a fence that a wily pony can’t figure out how to best when hormones and green grass are on the other side.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012