I’m still curled up in bed, asleep enough to be dreaming, when the phone goes off. I don’t check it, letting the caller go to voicemail. I snuggle back into the sheets for a moment before thinking that I should at least look to see who it was.
If I’m getting a 7:29 am phone call from the neighbor who I’ve always had in my phone as “bad pony,” it’s probably because I have some bad ponies…
I roll over and begin to sit up.
“I think the ponies got out,” I tell John.
The first time this happened with John, when I got a call that the horses broke loose from their pasture well before dawn in the middle of winter– this was early in our dating life–John moved like molasses, a lot of “what” and “huh” as I shot out of bed. Now, more than a year and a half in, he beat me to the window.
“Can you see them?” I ask.
“Yeah…” He pauses before replying, “They just ran down the driveway.”
John watches as they run up the hill towards the neighbors, tiny tails bopping joyfully as they trot to freedom.
(98 acres out here, and those tiny monsters just want to eat my neighbor’s front lawn.)
We left them in a temporary pen overnight, letting them graze and enjoy the cool evening, but apparently they got bored at some point and pushed a gate away from the fence.
Guys, letting miniature ponies get bored is like feeding gremlins after midnight. JUST DON’T FUCKING DO IT.
I pull on the official uniform of “my livestock escaped before I got out of bed”: yesterday’s jeans, a gray tank top with no bra, flip-flops, and a baseball cap. John, apparently competing for the redneck hall of fame, pulls on dirty jeans and muckboots. He decides to forgo his shirt entirely, showing off the beginnings of a notable farmer’s tan.
I know it seems unlikely, but the ranch really is part of a very nice neighborhood, probably the nicest one in town. I am just at the edge of it, but the real estate around me is not the sort that you would expect to host rogue ponies, or horses, or llamas. However, at some point or another, I have chased each species through a neighbor’s yard. Behind the ranch, I am surrounded by farmers and country people, the sort that just happen to have old horse halters hiding in a barn somewhere that they grab when someone else’s horse (read: mine) shows up in their front yard. But next to the ranch? I have genteel city people who moved out-of-town to appreciate the peace and quiet.
Fortunately, these particular city people think I am an amusing novelty and that ponies are cute.
I think that I have four ponies and that there are supposed to be four horsemen of the apocalypse. (Or alpacalypse… maybe llamageddon…) As I walk up my driveway and see the ponies looking at me wearily from the top of the hill, I think that those apocalyptic horses probably won’t look like people expect.
Immediately across the road, my neighbor rents out his massive colonial-style home as an AirB&B. This weekend’s renters chatted with my boyfriend as he tried to flank my four tiniest horses.
“We just woke up,” they told him from the driveway, “and there were tiny horses running down the road. It was so cute!”
John’s presence sends Violet, Slash, Gem, and Cody running back into my yard, the temporary neighbors looking on with amusement. They would have a story to tell about their vacation rental in the country.
“Just don’t let them go back up the road,” I tell him.
“No kidding,” he replies.
Two laps of the front yard, one detour to the big horses’ barn, and an almost-trek through the manure pit in flip-flops to head them off later, the ponies run back into their pasture, seemingly at least a little confused about how they got there.
Such, I suppose, is life with livestock.
Ponies tucked safely away, John and I walk back to the house together. He makes coffee–he makes really good coffee–and we sit on the couch until our cups run low and the barn calls us back out to finish morning chores. The rest of the day will come soon enough, bringing with it more work than either of us woke up with any intention of completing, but for a moment, we sit back and appreciate the momentary, and elusive, peace and quiet of the country.
I really need to learn my neighbor’s name…