A Harvest Moon Ignites the Fall Flu.

The calendar changed and so did the weather. These first September days have been undeniably Fall- shorter, crisper and with a bit more oxygen in the air. The moon rules the prairie and this weekend is the Harvest Moon, the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. I won’t say the word- but tick, tick, tick.

The horses didn’t need a calendar to know. There has been a break out of the Fall Flu. Do you know the symptoms? Excessive bucking, farting and hair growth. There is no fighting this flu, best to give in and let it run its course. Literally. I peeled off the fly masks and fly sheets- and flung wide the pasture gate.

My filly got to the gate first, tail flagged and hooves churning up ground. She has blossomed this summer- her face is softer, she’s more patient, and she moves with a new confidence. Our barn-baby-no-more; this harvest she is coming 4- ready and willing.

The others follow her through the gate.  Each horse is quirky, expressive, and dramatic in their bucking styles. It takes all kinds to make a herd.

Last to the gate is my Grandfather horse. His eyes are watery and his joints are somehow loose and stiff at the same time. He is 8 years into a forced retirement, and has held a grudge about it.  But this summer he has softened some too -maybe he has made peace with the passing time.

As I pull his fly sheet, it’s my bittersweet job to assess his chances for an easy winter. Weight is good, but his legs more unsteady. I know his vision is changing. The Grandfather horse interrupts my inventory to remind me that he isn’t dead yet and this crisp season needs celebrating. I release him and he lumbers to a trot, with that familiar old flash to his tail. His arrival sends the herd into a fresh fit of bucking and farting.

At the gate, I ponder who might need their feed adjusted. Reminder: I have a fence to repair while the ground is still soft. Summer droughts have pushed hay prices high already. I assess my chances for an easy winter…

But the pasture is alive with pounding hooves and it’s been like this all week. Friends tell me their horses are crazy with Fall too. Spring is frail and thin in comparison to the rich maturity of Fall. Yay maturity!

The energy is contagious. I might be coming down with Fall Flu myself. No time to languish with thoughts of Harvest. We’re in the middle of something here. My heels are feeling twitchy.

“Opie, you haven’t finished your milk.  We can’t put it back in the cow, you know.”  ~Aunt Bee Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

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