The other night as I was feeding just before dark, I happened to glance at my largest stock tank which supplies water to the majority of my herd. I was aghast to see the water in it looking very black so soon after I’d cleaned and refilled it. The next morning when I went to investigate, I discovered it wasn’t black so much as dark yellow-green. The color was different than I’m used to; the ponies regularly deposit various treasures from their mouths in the tank so I’m used to emptying and cleaning the tank to return the water to the preferred colorless state. But I’d never seen the ponies color the water so quickly or to that shade of green.
It was pretty obvious, though, when I arrived at the stock tank what the source of the color was. Pine pollen was sitting on the surface of the tank. I’d seen it in the air as well, as we’ve had plenty of wind to move it out of the trees. It’s good news, I guess, that we still have trees capable of producing pollen, since 90% of our forest has died in the last ten years due to an epidemic of mountain pine beetles. Fortunately we have a number of younger trees around the place that came in after the ground was disturbed when my husband built thirty five years ago. It is from them that I have seen pollen take to the air.
Seeing the pine pollen on the water in the stock tank reminded me of a poem I wrote seventeen years ago that begins, “Pine pollen sits on all open water: The puddle in my drive and the lake that’s down yonder.” (Click here if you’d like to read the entire poem.) The pollen that prompted that poem was from ponderosa pine. The forest I live in now is dominated by lodgepole pine; we’re thrilled to see new little trees coming in where we’ve logged the dead forest.
The pollen in the air occasionally causes me to cough and sneeze, and the ponies occasionally do the same. After I published my recent post on equine respiratory health, a friend responded with a story about helping her Fell Pony when it was in respiratory distress by using vitamin C. Judith Bean-Calhoun shared the following, “Letty came in from my field in great respiratory distress years ago. Turned out she had gotten into some pollinating weeds full of little moths; a bloom, if you will. My long time vet recommended vitamin C, a mild tranquilizer, and fresh water to drink and wash her face with. Letty was better within minutes, particularly after her face, maybe allergic to moth wings’ dusty surface, was washed and clean. I administered the vitamin C in solution orally that day and then again the next day.”
Because of the pollen in the air, cleaning the stock tanks is a more frequent chore than usual. I’m headed out now to do it again.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2013