Yeah, I realize October started a while ago. This is the third Wednesday that I’ve been faced with the tough decision of whether to get up at 5:00 AM to go hunting, or sleep until 6:00 and go to work. Looking at it from that perspective, that extra hour of sleep doesn’t seem much like a bargain, and I’ve made the right decision each time. But now, unlike previous weeks that the calendar insisted were October, the weather finally seems to agree.
It’s been a long, hot, dry summer, which had been encroaching into autumn’s territory. Temperatures way above normal and rainfall way below normal have combined to make conditions miserable. Aside from the sheer discomfort of the heat, grass is all drying up, trees are dying, and the ground is beginning to seem like concrete. Local folks, and those in similarly stricken regions, know what I’m talking about. To provide an example for others, I recently jokingly asked an undertaker how many backhoes he had destroyed trying to dig graves this summer. He told me seriously that he had to start using a jackhammer just to break through dirt.
With ground that hard, too much galloping or jumping can put a lot of stress on a horse’s legs. When you combine that concern with the fact that hard ground and dry air doesn’t provide great scenting conditions, you get a scenario where people are more likely to be relieved than disappointing when we don’t get any action, because nobody really wanted to go flat-out anyway. So hunting has just been an opportunity to lose an hour of sleep and avoid work.
Today was a little better. The temperature has become more seasonable, and a little light rain, although nowhere near enough to break the drought, has softened up the ground a little. Scenting still wasn’t much better, and although we found a red fox, we weren’t able to get much of a run. That was still fine with me, because Crossbo lost a shoe this morning, so I was riding Arthur. I think I’ve only ridden him 3 or 4 times since December, and those were just easy hacks around the farm. So I wouldn’t exactly describe him as fit. He didn’t seem to realize that, and was as eager to run as ever. But he was pretty lathered up, and probably didn’t need much more exercise than he got.