Master’s Report January 2015

     All men are created equal. All women are not. Our late neighbor, Mr. Jefferson, might be surprised at this statement. His relationship with women, starting with his mother, was, for lack of a better word, shifty. What a fascinating man, bristling with contradictions, a bit like members of Oak Ridge Hunt Club.
     I delight in your eccentricities, yours and my contradictions, your kindness and your sometimes raucous humor. Thank God. No one in this club will ever be bored.
     2015 awaits. Let’s tear it up!
     Rita Mae and The Hounds
     Studies vary on this but “Ducks Unlimited”, Jan./Feb. issue 2015, just published a report on retriever caloric needs in cold weather: 80% more calories per pound.
     Foxhounds, while swimming across rivers, creeks and ponds, perhaps need a bit less. However, they do need more for, like their gun dog brethren, they might be out four to five hours. While the gun dog sits a great deal of time, the foxhound keeps moving.
     The other accelerated need is water. Hounds need more water for their digestive system. While they drink during hunting, we always have plenty of fresh, clean water once back at the kennel.
     Our food bills shoot upwards in the winter, as does the electric bill. You don’t pay the electric bill but you do contribute to the food bill via your dues.
     Three factors have pumped up the bill: winter, a new feed, a few more hounds. We changed the food last year as Chestnut Hill altered their feed. I like to try things for one full year and we switched to a bigger commercial brand, more expensive but no hounds have lost weight. Yes, we have a few with very high metabolisms. We could stuff them three times a day, they will stay lean. Also, our M line doesn’t put on weight until their third year. A few of them are lean.
     John and Toot monitor the food before I get to it. Chestnut Hill had proven wonderful plus it was a Virginia company and we were doing business with friends. We didn’t want to switch foods but necessity drove us to it and the hounds look good.
     Much as you’d like a touch of fat on them in winter, that’s the time you can’t add a little lard. Fat is warming but right now, mid-season, the hounds have reached their true hunting condition. During the bitter cold we pick them up as soon as the hunt is over. Even in the party wagon, their body heat helps.
     No Oak Ridge hound has ever suffered from hypothermia or frostbite. Now that we have the tracking collars, as always, thanks to Stuart Jones, this worry is off our shoulders. We are always working toward perfection concerning hound care and altering feed due to the season is one of those special tasks.
     As the food bills are up, we must find homes for some older hounds and we have two Z youngsters, just coming on one year, that we could give to someone. This is a blood line that needs to prove itself and if it does, we still have enough young ones to go forward. Maria, John, Toot and I (and any other whipper-in so inclined) will make a list, post photos and perhaps some of you will be kind enough to give a friend a home.
     Mid-season. Can you believe it? The hound work has been excellent. The weather has not. There were days when we had four seasons in one day.
     For all that and deer season to boot, we continually pushed out foxes, lately traveling in pairs. While we have enjoyed a few long runs, mostly they’ve been short. The fox either goes to ground or we lost scent in the wind or rising heat. Perhaps the rising heat loss is over, so I look forward to those true winter runs.
     We returned to Cherry Hill since our encounter with Flower. Miss Henderson told us that Flower had been to the back porch. She swore she had never seen a skunk that big. Yes, we agreed. Hounds, whippers-in and myself are hoping that Flower will keep to himself for the remainder of the season.
     Maria has helped with the fixture card, I’m still making the landowner calls. Call the huntline. The wonderful experience of being Amtrack’s first writer-in-residence put me back and on my return I had but one week to get things together.
     I especially thank Kathleen King and Kim Eastep in giving me a day of their time to help deliver landowner Christmas gifts. This year it took four days and I have seven presents still outstanding. This is an important hunt club function and a delightful one.
     I also thank Karen and Mark Catron for feeding us on Christmas day when we finished that day’s run. Kathleen, Kim and I will ever remember our Christmas dinner.
     Hounds and I will see you in the hunt field.
     Rita Mae

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