We farm folk really know how to have a good time, let me tell you: cops at the door, dogs barking up a storm, flashing red and blue lights piercing the darkness. The whole works.
And you thought we lived a quiet life.
In a deeply sleep-befuddled state -- and my striped pyjamas (a much better word with the British spelling) -- I answered the doorbell at 2:00 a.m. to find a fresh-faced young cop of about, oh, 12 years old. They get younger every year, along with the doctors. Have you noticed that?
Where was I?
Oh, yes, definitely more than half asleep. Once I actually realized there was someone at the door and I successfully got the door unlocked and open while yanking on Hank's collar to keep him back, I vaguely expected to hear that there was a water-main break or some other community problem. Instead the infant cop says "I think your horses are out." He points to his right and says "I saw them go in that direction."
The Equine Gang of Six had staged a prison break.
My incredibly classy response was to bend slightly at the waist so that my face was closer to the cop's (he was short), open my eyes as wide as possible and spit out the words, "HOLY CRAP!!" He grinned and we exchanged a few more niceties of I-know-not-what.
Shutting the door I yelled to the now awakened Tim, "Horses Out!" at the top of my lungs.
"What?" he responded incredulously (and perhaps he earned just a wee bit of scorn from my panic-stricken mind at that point).
"Horses. Out!" I repeated with more emphasis, meanwhile running for my jeans and boots.
Both dogs were now barking their fool heads off and Charley, in his excitement, peed on one of the rugs. I knew Charley needed a potty break but I had to leave them both inside because I didn't know what we would find outside. The cop had pointed in the direction that makes my heart sink -- traffic and noise and lights lie in that direction. Extremely traumatized horses would lie in that direction.
Quickly we pulled out our vehicles -- me to light the corral with my headlights, Tim to drive down the road. I called my nephew, who owns half the horses on our property, and invited him to come and help us. Well, "invited" probably isn't the right word.
Before actually exiting the driveway, thankfully, Tim looked around more closely to see if he could determine the sight of the jail break and to see if there were any remaining horses. At that point, we discovered that no horses had actually left the property. They did go off in "that" direction as the cop indicated, but only around the side of the property and into the back area where the stack of one-ton bales of hay beckons to all livestock. By the time we gathered our wits, we realized that The Gang of Four (a subset of The Gang of Six) were quietly munching on the hay bales while their two remaining corral-mates waited patiently on the correct side of the fence.
First task - mend the fence. At that point, nephew arrived and quickly pitched in. I asked him, "Are we having fun yet." With heavy sarcasm he replied, "No one should be allowed to have this much fun. Ever."
The upshot is that we successfully shored up the fence with twine and a lodge pole and then herded The Gang of Four back into the corral. At 3:00 a.m. we re-entered our house to find that Charley's excitement caused an even worse -- and foul-smelling -- accident on the kitchen floor while we were out. I couldn't punish him. My own insides had done some churning from the adrenaline rush too!
Lessons learned: 1) The horses know where the stack of one-ton bales are and they like them. A lot. Enough to stage a prison break if they find a weak part of the fence. 2) Baling twine is the duct tape of farm life and can sturdily shore up just about anything that has fallen down or been pushed over -- and be horse-proof at that!
As I write this, The Gang of Six is peacefully residing once again inside the corral, eating their own supply of hay.
And here I will leave a shout-out to the unknown passing motorist who saw three horses in our front yard and knew that something was wrong. Thank you for calling the cops on us at 2:00 a.m.! (I may never say that again.)