written 6/6/02

Summer’s here –

I’m for that. . . got my rubber sandals, got my straw hat.  (JT)

Maybe not quite by the calendar, but:

It’s that time of year again.  I first noticed that the change had occurred when Banker went out to potty one night, got into position, then in a state of high alarm made a mad dash for the house.  The bzzzz is back.

After walking him for at least 30 minutes, he just couldn’t get it back.  Somewhere in memory, I could hear the voice of the little boy in Look Who’s Talking Too” saying that it scared his pee away.  “It” for Banker is anything that buzzes, in this case, horse flies.  Later “it” was a distant motorcycle, which he wouldn’t have noticed before the flies buzzed him.

The next morning, there was a repeat performance.  He noticed a dung beetle rolling a wad across the drive & went to inspect.  (He is the Self-appointed Chief Investigator of all things.)  Then he wandered off looking for the right spot.  Pretty soon, something came by fast making a buzzing sound.  He raced back and wanted to go into the house immediately.  I don’t know how long he thought he could hold it, but he was definitely willing to try.  This has been going on for the past two years, ever since the bee incident.

Even the next morning when I brought out my electric razor, he was concerned.  Granted, it is used conservatively, but not so seldomly that he shouldn’t remember it.  After all, we had to go through the conditioning process with it last fall when it was new.  Looks like every summer we will have to go through this, stepwise for the different buzzing things.

Since we had recently harvested hay, Greg & I went down to inspect.  An unwise horse fly got trapped inside the cab of the truck and became the first training object for the summer.  The next evening, there was another.  Banker remembered this part of the process, and after only a little initial worry with special concern around his ears, he began wanting to play with the poor fly, nose-butting it until it couldn’t buzz any longer.  Maybe it wouldn’t take so long this time.  Still, we will need to spend some evening time with Banker in a down and me on the bench, waiting for flies to pass by.

This wasn’t the only awareness of the arrival of this season.  Yesterday evening while Greg and I rode in the pastures checking the calves, Greg’s horse nearly stepped on a tiny fawn.  Greg saw it and was able to move him out of the way just in time.  He had been planning to bush-hog that pasture, but now we will wait until the fawn is older and battle the weeds later.

Greg left for a couple of days on a business trip, so I took one of the bay horses out to check the calves.  This horse has always had an obnoxious streak and last year, at 14 yrs. old, he discovered crow-hopping.  As humorous as he can be, I am getting more and more uncomfortable with the idea of being thrown as the years go by.  With the awareness that he can get into those moods (attacks of horse humor), I had carried my cell phone in my pocket.  This horse is so robust with such a muscular back that the saddle slides even though the girth is sufficiently tight.  Today, when I wanted to canter, he wanted to crow-hop.  Since I wouldn’t let him get his head down, instead of crow-hopping he was able to combine the action of crow-hopping with cantering.  (Getting the mental image of a cartoon in Western Horseman? – he would make a good subject for that.)  This year, I had decided that if this behavior continued, I would work him in the arena and stop and exercise him on a longe line when he bucked or crow-hopped.  We went back to the pen where our arena will be to work, but horses being fairly intuitive creatures, he was on best behavior for the rest of the time and I had an enjoyable ride.

While walking him back to the barn, I spotted yet another piece of evidence that summer was here:  a large skink (lizard), upside down & dead with every remnant of its tail missing.  The smallest of the barn cats loves lizard tails.  I prefer the lizards live and in one piece.

Well, if there were any doubt, now I know what time of the year it is, with precision and certainty!

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