My sleep has been interrupted five nights out of the last six by my husband’s role on the volunteer fire department and search and rescue. This morning, my body finally demanded that I sleep in. The sun was well up when I emerged from the house, and I expected to be chastised by my ponies for the late hour. I was surprised that all was quiet, but then I remembered that’s been their pattern.
For most of the summer, I’ve been feeding just before sunrise, and I’ve become accustomed to hearing ‘it’s about time’ as soon as I emerge from the house. That’s especially been the case on the odd summer morning when the temperature has dipped into the thirties (Fahrenheit). At 4:30 this morning when I walked my husband’s dog prior to him leaving with my husband to rescue an injured hunter, I heard the expected call first from Moonlit Stargazer Lily then from other ponies in the herd. I replied that I’d be out again in a few hours.
I’ve noticed before that the ponies are more insistent when they hear me come outside just before sunrise as compared to just after. It doesn’t make sense from the standpoint of hours since last feeding. It would be logical that they would grow more insistent the later I appear, that they would communicate more urgency after sunrise than before. But that hasn’t been the case this summer, and I think I know why. When I appear right after sunrise, they are standing still and quietly sunbathing, so their dissatisfaction before sunrise isn’t so much about time since the last meal as it is about the cool air that surrounds them. Being fed provides them with a way to warm up just as sunbathing does.
It’s only the first week of hunting season, and with improved communication technology, people are increasingly asking for assistance in the back country (or perhaps increasingly penetrating the back country because they know they can ask for assistance?) I admire my husband for the volunteer work he does and gladly support him by keeping things going at home and in the office while he’s gone. It appears though that there may be a new normal in frequency of calls, so I may need to adjust my coping skills for short nights. Perhaps I can learn from my ponies by recognizing that the time after sunrise isn’t such a bad time to be still and quiet for awhile!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2016
If you enjoy stories like this one, then you’ll also enjoy the books The Partnered Pony: What’s Possible, Practical, and Powerful with Small Equines and What an Honor: A Dozen Years with Fell Ponies, available internationally by clicking the titles or covers.