Cubbing starts September 20

We’re almost there if you don’t melt first. Summer refuses to release her vice-like grip and if our weather apps are correct, it will be hot Friday September 20 although not as hot as today.

This is a reminder that cubbing you are there for the hounds. After Opening Hunt, the hounds are there for you.
Easy to say but in practice this means one should be more silent than usual. Of course, you are always to be quiet especially when hounds are cast or have lost the line. As there will be young entry out there, also second year with the veterans, this is especially important.
The youngsters have never seen so many people on horseback. We want them not to be afraid of you, loud noises will do that, and we know they must learn to concentrate with the big kids. Takes time but with even a hint of scent it’s fabulous how quickly they learn their task.
The hardest time for any hounds is trying to find a line then trying to keep it. Soil changes, of which we have plenty, a stiff unexpected wind, crossing a creek can all cause a line to disappear. The fox is a master at it.
While our youngsters are learning their trade so are this year’s cubs, now almost fully grown.
We don’t want to pressure them overmuch but we do want them to run. One of the fascinating things about fox behavior is often the young will run a pattern like their parents. Usually their parents are not with them although that has happened. I do not know if parents teach their young their hunting boundaries for their own game or if this is simply figured out quickly as they are so smart.
As fox has been considered vermin, few state sponsored studies of their behavior have been funded. Maryland funded one the year Princess Diana died which is why it’s vivid in my memory as I was driving to the lecture when the news reached America or perhaps when it reached me. Others may have known it earlier.
Since then there has been some progress such as the book “How to Tame a Fox”, first seen in National Geographic. If one were young, studying wildlife would be a growing field, wide open, I think.
So what I relay concerning foxes or other wildlife is based on a lifetime of observation. I can’t prove a thing scientifically. However, what I have observed helps the hounds and I scare up a fox.
A few rules concerning your turnout. No red. If you wish to wear a short sleeved polo shirt, you may. Our territory can be rough. I always wear a light coat, a salt sack in the beginning, to protect my arms. Your tack and horses should be clean.
Your headgear is up to you. A hardhat helps but my derbies are harder than my hardhat. However, one doesn’t hunt hounds in a derby so I wear a standard hardhat maybe forty years old. If you feel the need for modern headgear, use it. My take on all this is we do not have the numbers that the NFL does so headgear for horse sports is way behind yet better than earlier gear. Not being a person who relishes doom and gloom, I trust your judgement for yourself.
Boots should be butcher boots or field boots, those are the ones with laces which are so helpful because you can not tightly draw your laces so as your foot swells you aren’t pinched. The color of your boots should match the color of your hat. Newmarkets are canvas and leather. The leather usually matches the color of your hat, brown with brown. If you wear oxblood boots of either type, they are exceedingly handsome, you wear a black cap.
That’s about it. Gloves are not mandatory even on the coldest days. Up to you.
Should you wear a stock, doubtful in the heat, it must not be white for cubbing or bye days. You may also wear a tie or bowtie.
In the heat you are not obliged to wear a vest. Should you wish to wear a vest without a coat in the heat, that’s fine.
Cubbing allows you more personal expression than formal hunting. Bye days likewise. Seeing how people throw themselves together is  half the fun.
Britches should be tan, canary, or brick. No white, that’s formal. Canary is also formal but it’s ok for cubbing. They are the devil to find so most people go out in tan or brick.
Sounds like a lot but it isn’t. One time out there and you’ll be fine.
Oh, no colored saddlepads. White. In the old days people did not use saddle pads but the practice caught on as it does save your saddle from all that sweat.
Given the heat, we won’t be out long until the mercury falls aven a bit. High heat beats up hounds, horses, and humans. And they have fur coats. Worse for them.
Here’s to seeing you all at the Arena Friday the 20th at 8:00 AM. The Run-IN Shed at 8:00 AM Sunday.
Up and Over, RMB
P.S Raingear is permisable. No bright colors. Barbour is the best, costly, but lasts forever.
.
P.P.S. The NFL has just put up $3 million as a grant and award on a helmet challenge to create a better helmet.

August 10 Foxhunting Clinic

  • If you’ve ever dreamed of foxhunting but don’t know where to begin, Oak Ridge Hunt will hold an Introduction to Foxhunting on August 10 at Tea Time Farm in Afton, Virginia from 9 to 1.
  • The morning will begin with a mounted session with groups for both jumpers and hilltoppers.
  • This will include an introduction to hounds and a short hack with the pack.
  • The lunch break will feature a discussion by Dr. Rita Mae Brown about the history of hunting attire, with examples of proper turnout.
  • There will also be a discussion about tack and safety in the Hunt field
  • If you’ve ever dreamed of foxhunting, contact

Susan Boone boonesusan3@gmail.com for

information and to register. Entry fee $50.

Flyer

Registration Form

Upcoming Events

Mark your Calendars! Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club will be holding several events over the coming months. We’re announcing dates in advance this year so folks can plan ahead.

Sunday, April 7: Judged Pleasure Ride at Penlan Station on Ridge Rd. in Arvonia, VA from 9 AM to noon. Enjoy a 7 mile ride along the dirt roads and rolling hills of Penlan Station. The ride includes 6 judged trail obstacles, all optional. Lunch is included, entry fee is $40. Please contact Susan Boone or Sara Bateman at midlomom@corvesto.net.

Oak Ridge Pleasure ride flyer

Pleasure Ride entry

May 18: Spring Hunter Pace 

Spring Hunter Pace Flyer

Hunter Pace Entry

Release for all events
June 15: Poker Ride from Starvale Farm in Shipman, VA to Wood Ridge Farm Brewery and back. This will not be timed, so you can enjoy a leisurely ride on a summer morning.

Poker Ride Flyer

Poker Ride Entry

Release for all events

August 10: Introduction to Foxhunting Clinic at Teatime Farm in Afton. There will be divisions for Hunters, who want to improve their jumping skills while riding to hounds, and Hilltoppers, who are new to the sport.

September 7: Fall Hunter Pace Locations will be announced soon. Both Hunter Paces are part of a series of 6 Paces with Glenmore Hunt Club and Rockbridge Hunt, with series end awards.
All of our events include lunch for the participants. Mark your calendars- we look forward to seeing you soon.

Master’s Report November 2018

OPENING HUNT, NOVEMBER 11, 2018

      A beautiful day, a beautiful prayer from Reverend Judy Parrish, whom I call Father Parrish. She laughs at me but she does that anyway. We’ve known one another for years and like most people called to religious service, she makes light of it but has always tended to her flocks whether they come through the church doors or not. She’s retired now but still serving others.
      The big news apart from the fabulous weather was the fact that we had Rhonda, Heather, Regan Holland and the grandchildren to see us, as was Anne Seaton.
     You can’t miss Anne, tall, willowy, bursting with energy. I so like to bedevil her. She takes it in good stride. Anne and Mark Catron were and remain, the driving force behind the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra fundraiser October 26. Hard to believe, but this is our tenth year.
     At opening Hunt, Anne presented me with a check for $2000. Thank you, Anne and thank you, Mark. We are honored to be a small part of this remarkable orchestra.
      Hounds pushed out a fox and ran him to the graveyard by the Cistern. I couldn’t stay behind them as they crossed to the other side of the deep creek by the dying beef barns. Fortunately, Becky Birnbaum was there. By the time I got through a trail somewhat open and somewhat not, he was put to ground but at least we got a bit of music.
     Open Hunts are rarely barn burners for us and usually they aren’t the best for other hunts either. For one thing, almost all of our opening hunts in Virginia take place during bow season or black powder. The important thing is we are all together looking glorious as did Becky, Kristen Jones, the Field Masters  ( Priscilla Friedberg, Sara Bateman, and Susan Boone) and all of you.
      Isn’t it fun to watch the horses? They know what braids mean and we have some vain creatures in our hunt field. Well, when you look that good, it’s hard to be modest.
      Here’s to a good season with hopes that the animals will not start marching two by two. I don’t think Old Man Noah will take a pack of hounds. Onward.

THE FIVE FOOLISH VIRGINS AND THE FIVE WISE VIRGINS

     Do you remember the parable, Matthew Chapter 25, Verses 1 through 12? All ten virgins were invited to a wedding and all brought lamps. However, only five brought oil. The bridegroom tarried. When he finally arrived at midnight, the foolish had no oil. They asked the wise for some oil but were refused and missed the wedding.
      Sometimes I think our foxes are like those ladies. Some store food and others play too much. They prefer to go out around dusk and come back at dawn. We do not hunt at those times so basically we may be hunting the foolish foxes. I don’t know, but I do know whether we hop a foolish one or a wise one, the animal is smarter than we are.
      Finally, they have grown winter coats. We watch a few new den, modern architecture, and a few old ones more of the Federal period I think. The fox with the den at the back of Jim Klemic’s dug into the creek bed with other exits and entrances, is quite tidy. She or he lives in sharp contrast to a den not far from my house, which belongs to a hoarder. No doubt this fox, red, will blame groundhogs for the mess but really it’s his. I’ve watched this domestic debacle for years, which is where I got the idea for Uncle Yancy in the Sister Jane books. The current fox must be the grandchild of the original inspiration. Certainly makes one consider or reconsider inherited traits.
      Thanks to deer season, our game sits tight. We’ve gotten them out a bit but one red, always a good runner, shoots straight to Jimmy Carter’s. Well, the music sounds lovely.
      We are almost halfway through our season. We have just begun formal hunting and we all are hoping for better weather. Hounds like to hunt and so do I, so we go but the footing is deceptive. Surprisingly, in some places it is solid. However, mostly not. This is a mess for all of us and I swear you can hear that mud sucking off your horse’s shoes.
       Some of you have asked if you can wear raincoats as I have been going out in all but heavy rain. As long as it’a not hot pink, go ahead. As to water sliding down your boots, I know of no solution to that.
      Let’s hope for the best. We will be able to return and vigorously hunt our fixtures now hosting hunt clubs and hunting parties. I hope they have a good season as we are overrun with deer. Fortunately, I work on that when puppies are puppies. Even our young entry are hitting their stride. When first a deer shoots out in front of them, they either stop cold or run after it. Seeing that they are alone or only with another youngster, they come back quickly. Often, no whipper-in is needed. The other hounds chastise them, which is really more effective than if I do it. I will do it if I am encountering a hardhead, but in the main I let the hounds do their own policing.
      I’m surprised that our member numbers are growing despite the weather. Usually in bad years, there’s a downtick. Not this year and I credit that to the extra special events, continued glorious tailgates, and general good cheer. The season hasn’t been dreadful but it’s hard for hounds and staff in a monsoon.
      This makes me think most of our foxes are wise virgins, so to speak. They aren’t coming out in this stuff.

A MASTER’S PASSION

      Anything about hunting, I read and re-read. Re-reading Henry Chapin’s memoirs, a very rich and good Master, English. Have read everything I can find about Tom Firr, Fred Findlay, Ikey Bell, and other outstanding huntsmen from the 19th and 20th centuries. Have unearthed some old books about a few notables from the eighteenth century.
      The reason I assault you with this is, I especially love the handwritten diaries which occasionally find their way into used bookstore. No one wants them. I do. As Tallulah would say, “Marvelous, Darling, Simply Marvelous.” ( I adore this woman!)
        So should you come across a diary, whether printed (those with funds often did so) or handwritten, usually in a leather bound book, I will pay for it and your efforts in finding same.
      I can’t get enough. I even keep old pedigree notes. .Hey, you might find another Squire Obaldeston’s Furrier.
      Learning keeps me going. For instance, Mr. Pip has white spots. He’s polka dotted. That coat goes back to an English Thoroughbred, Birdcatcher of 1833. Mr. Pip is a Saddlebred, but Saddlebreds are a good 80% Thoroughbred.
      I you have materials but don’t wish to sell them, if you allow me to borrow same, I will return within one month in perfect condition. I put such things in a drawer so the cats can’t read them. Enough.

EXTRAORDINARY GENEROSITY

The William Woods girls and one professor, Michelle Smith, rode well, covered a lot of beautiful Virginia and Laura Hayon, whipping-in with Becky Birnbaum, saw a bear. Professor Laura Ward rode in the truck with John and couldn’t stop talking about it. She had such a good time.
      They hunted Friday and Sunday. Thank you all for the use of your horses.’
      And now to thank Marion Maggiolo of Horse Country who once again went over the top. She arranged for tickets to the Gold Cup. She had a tailgate organized with tables, food, everything. And for each young lady, she had a bag containing clothing and items they could use.
      I told her I would pay for this as it really is an awful lot. She wouldn’t hear of it. She has done this for the girls each visit and she won’t take a thing.
      Marion says she loves seeing young people learn about foxhunting and she knows William Woods teaches all four seats.
      When you see her, for surely you will go to Horse Country to buy some elegant Christmas presents, thank her.
Dr. Rita Mae Brown, MFH

Master’s Report November 2018

Dear ORH Member,

     You showed the William Woods University girls and two professors a good time. The bear helped but they rode in the rain Friday like troopers. Sunday, beautiful, gave us scent but it wouldn’t hold except for the bear.

     As you know, it is deer season which restricts our use of territory. With the exception of Cherry Hill, every fixture now hosts a deer hunting club or hunting parties. I remind you they pay the landowner. We do not.

     Sara, Bob, Pam cleared trails at Cherry Hill and Bob, James, Sara, Kathleen, Chris, Mark, Ed, Susan, and Pam at Oak Ridge. The Hollands allow us to use that Sunday for Opening Hunt and give us the use of the Carriage House at no cost. This is a large gift indeed and we are now on our 26th year of same.

     Oak Ridge hosts weddings throughout the year. Usually these take place over a weekend. An activity was planned for Nov. 4, Sunday but the Hollands gave us Nov. 11th. In effect they surrender a payday for us. Given the world in which we live, this is extraordinary.

     The Waynesboro Symphony proved a smashing success, another triumph for Mark Catron and Anne Seaton. I will let them tell you what happened after the concert. Quite wonderful.

     Thanks to Andy Lynn, ex-MFH of Keswick, Stephanie Gill, professional whipper-in and Heather Player, professional whipper-in and huntsman, we had enough horses for the WWU girls. Thanks also to Heather and Stephanie whom I asked to ride those days to help in the field if needs be. Only one horse and rider went down and that was due to slippery red clay. No injuries.

     Per usual, I check with other masters and huntsmen. Those of us in Virginia and Maryland are having similar seasons. Those chasing coyote are getting more scent than those of us chasing foxes. Pennsylvania is doing a bit better but it’s been wet there, too. South of us, well, the damage is terrible but they’ll pull through. Much as we all love foxhunting there are people without homes. Kentucky is doing ok and Nevada is the usual “Yahoo”.

     The bridge floods. The boys get back to work. The last flood didn’t tear it up but it was out of commission for two days. I await another quote on labor but I am not hopeful.

Given all the problems with communication, if there is hard rain assume the bridge is out and use the back entrance to TTF off Rt. 611.

     Having been hermetically sealed in the recording studio with two dub days to go, I don’t know much about outside events. This is a good thing. I will, however, trundle to the polls on Nov. 6, and hope you do, too.

Up and Over,

RMB

The Difference Between a Subscription and a Private Pack

     Some time ago I said I would explain this as I don’t think many of you know the details.

     A subscription pack elects its master or masters on May 1st. A Board of Governors is also elected at this time and Committee Chairs may also be elected. A Committee Chair does not automatically sit on the Board of Governors. Each subscription pack figures that out for itself. The huntsman is not elected. Staff hires or assignments are the province of the masters.

     When a subscription pack works, a great deal is accomplished as the workload is spread. Also, dues are usually higher and canvassed. That, too, is a big help.

     The problems arise when all these different committees, people on the board, engage in in-fighting which sometimes happens. Then uproar ensues, even club splits and generally a few people march out at a high decibel level no matter what. They may well be right but it creates chaos. Sometimes it takes years to recover from these tempests.

     A private pack is exactly that: private. It is usually owned by one person or a few people. Oak Ridge is private as is Red Rock and I think Stonewall is, too. Lynne Beegle Gebhard calls it a benign dictatorship. Membership is freed from politics to enjoy hunting and one another’s company. The workload falls on the master or masters’ shoulders. However, they may do ask for labor assistance and sometimes financial Assistance. The dues are usually lower, often much lower, at a private pack.

     Think of this as an inexact parallel but a subscription pack is a C corporation for profit while a private pack is more like a non-profit structure.

     This doesn’t mean there can’t be in-fighting at a private pack. People being people disagreements occur but the frothing is usually at a lower temperature. One can be dismissed from a subscription pack usually by a Board of Governor’s meeting. One is dismissed by a private pack with a subtle or not-so-subtle “Hit the Bricks”.

     When the weather is good and the hunting good, fewer dramas arise no matter where you hunt. Eventually people realize no master or huntsman can control the weather. It all evens out.

     Being a private pack you all can enjoy the hunting, one another, the beauty of central Virginia with few distractions. The last few days remind each of us how beautiful central Virginia can be as well as how variable the weather.

Weather

     Years past I made the call concerning hunting three hours before the first cast. As more people from farther away joined this was pushed back to four hours. My accuracy impressed even me.

     Given members at even greater distances, I now make the call the night before. This creates more mistakes because the Weather Channel makes mistakes. Our weather system by the mountains changes rapidly. You all have looked at the radar, clear, get here and it’s anything but.

     As stated at the beginning of cubbing, I will go in a soft to medium rain, light winds. I won’t go in a downpour or high winds, given the moisture in the earth, the small root balls of pine trees, high winds can create havoc. Each time winds pop up over even 20mph pines come down. The next day John and Toot clear the roads. We often can’t check the trails for days. The roads come first and we have many trails here, Mr. Campbell’s, Jim Klemic’s and Foxden.

     You all may not realize how much work there is to do or for this year how distressingly consistent.

     Please don’t bug Lynn Stevenson about when and where. The call will be made the night before a hunt. When you have your fixture card, the call will be made the night before a hunt.

     Given how odd this year has been I expect to wake up and find unannounced either snow or forsythia blooming.

     Onward

College Signs

     About twenty interior jumps remain to be adopted. Lafayette College and Florida State University came on board. It’s easier if we can get these painted in ten or more at a time.

Be sure to tell me what color you want as the background. Cost: $100. And it is your jump forever.

Master’s Report September 2017

Labor Day, that social dividing line between summer and fall, is now behind us. Our hunter pace proved successful thanks to a wonderful, as always, course by Sue Satterfield and all you volunteers. We hoped to go out Saturday at the pace but Mother Nature dumped raindrops, lots of them. So the pace moved to Sunday, September 3. Those of us committed to Warrenton Horse Show, scheduled for Sunday, attended while others rode in the pace.
Julia Scheibel won a fifth-place ribbon over fences for those under 30. (Hope I got the age right). Then Julia and Mary put in a solid performance in the pairs class. The level of competition, per usual, was high. Good as they were, no ribbon. Kim Eastep rode over fences in her age division. She was one step ahead of a running fit, but when she rode into the ring she did so well, seemed to bid goodbye to the nerves and enjoyed herself.
Our hunt team did not go out until 12:30 PM. Hard to believe, but classes were jammed. Again, no pulled rails, no balks, no dismounts. A good round but no ribbon.
I hasten to add that our three ladies rode on Sally Lamb’s borrowed horses, B.A. Malone, Chloe, and I do not know the name of the third. To knock out that level of performance on horses one had barely ridden speaks of their ability and showmanship.
Sally Lamb not only lent us these horses, she shod them, allowed the girls to practice at her farm. She would accept not one penny, prepared to cuss me like a dog if I offered. Her motto is: I love foxhunting. I want everyone to love foxhunting. I sure do and I love Sally, too. They don’t come any better or with a better sense of humor.
I gave Sally a small gift from 1890, not anything equal to her gifts to us. She was so moved she said, “Now you’re going to make me cry.” Well we both got a little misty but that’s okay among longtime buddies.
But Sally’s kindness to us underscores what makes foxhunting far more than foxhunting.
Kindness from our gang included Amy Burke and Kathleen King grooming, seeing to tack, calming whoever needed calming (Kim, again), doing all manner of scut work. Kristin Jones also worked her buns off, smiling throughout. Page Turner drove up and joined us on the rail as Mark and Karen Catron brought foldout chairs. So did Beth Panilaitis.
Ellie Wood Baxter sat in the grandstands with B.J. Koral and Jane Fogelman. There was another FHC lady in the stands and I’m shaky on her name. A heavy dose of nostalgia swept over us as Ellie Wood had ridden at Warrenton and the other great shows for most of her soon to be 96 years (September 10). She won at Upperville in her 80s, I believe.
She truly is one of the greatest amateur riders this country has ever produced. And even though blind she’ll mount up and ride on flat ground with one of “the girls” riding alongside. Here’s to another 96 if she’s so chooses.
Our participation at Warrenton or any of the shows with foxhunter classes rolls in a tide of compliments, friendships and invitations to other hunts. Go to the shows, go to those hunts to which you are invited. You learn from every hunt you ride with and of course, you invite them to ORH.

As an aside, whenever I go to a show, I gravitate towards other huntsmen and whippers-in to talk hounds. Inevitably at the end of cubbing, someone will ring me up and offer a hound now a touch slow or a youngster who may be a touch shy but those hounds have bloodlines I covet. I believe our pack speaks to this as the kids improve each year.
We’ll talk about this down the road but a few of us want to put on a much smaller foxhunters’ show, say right after Easter. The staff class alone is worth it. We’ll make a bit of money but we will be doing hunting some good, ourselves some good and have so much laughter in the bargain.

On another note, no Virginia Hunt Week this year. Hunt weeks are odd years, William Woods University even years. Cindy Morton, MFH of Rockbridge, the co-director along with me, noted that the new man at the MFHA and the board there is trying a Hark Forward Initiative which, I think as I have no information, is adjacent clubs putting on hound competitions, not hunts but hounds hunting and competing for ribbons, I guess. Well it competes directly with their schedule. So Cindy, quite wisely, said let’s give them a chance. I agreed. If it works, fine. We will find another time slot since Virginia Hunt Week is successful, easy to do. If not, we will return to our regular time in October.

This will be hard for you to believe but 456-8787 is now working after a four-month no dial tone, no anything. However, it is only working on one phone but that’s better than nothing. It does mean, however that I must make the call which I do three hours before hunting if there’s doubt, then run from the bedroom to the office. Not so bad but at 4:30 a.m., I am not at my best.
Verizon is the worst company with which I have ever worked, closely followed by Pitney Bowes. The field people are quite good. Those sitting in the office chairs could care less about you or your account. But all of us in a rural area must take what we can get. As we are right by the Blue Ridge Mountains, communications are difficult and upgrading the lines, etc. is an expense the company has no desire to make. If we were in an office building in Richmond none of this would be the case. Modern business I suppose. God only knows what comes next.
Enough babble.
September 15, Friday, 7:30 AM. Arena. First day of cubbing. Finally. See you there.

Up and over
RMB

Greener Pastures

We have lost Gene Dixon, a heartbreaking loss. Bob Satterfield will write an obituary as he knew Gene for years. He may have already done so. As I don’t have email people forget to send me stuff on the fax.
Rebecca McGovern, Francis’s mother died on August 19. She was highly intelligent, gracious, elegant and kind. This, too, is a loss but Mrs. McGovern was 107 years at her passing. Now there was a long, long life well lived.

Masters Report March, 2017

You can describe the last part of our season as an artist would describe his or her income: chicken one day, feathers the next. 74° followed by snow flurries at Cherry Hill, snow and ice yesterday and today, March 14.

The foxes don’t care. We’ve had one slow day and one blank day, sure there was a boo-hoo but pretty much it was blank. The other hunts varied from long runs on one fox to foxes everywhere, a convention of foxes.

Sunday, March 5 the fixture was moved to Tea Time Farm. Maria cast up the creek from The Arena, always a nice cast to settle the bank, focus them as the creek is on their left and woods are on their right. They hit. Sounded great. I drove up to St. Thomas Equinus sign and waited. If hounds turned right, one can quickly follow, if left, stay put.

They circled, some of emerging in the large pasture at the sign, the southern pasture, then they dipped back into the woods and the cutover area. On a hunch, I have no idea why but I guess that’s the definition of a hunch, I drove down toward the now hanging by one hook old Tea Time farm sign, passed the stone jump, such a pleasant jump, reached the red gate and stopped. Listened some more.

Hounds kept circling, speaking. I opened the gate, walked into the field, stood still. To my left the hunted fox walking, not terribly concerned, crossed the farm road, sauntered into the pasture where I stood, paraded himself in front of me, shot the bird, walked to the remnants of the hidden pile and the old large round drag, paused so that I could admire his person, looked at the jump there, listened. Hounds cross the road so he trotted into the woods. A mid-sized red, full winter coat, quite a handsome fellow. I wonder was he auditioning for a part in the Sister Jane series? Never underestimate the ego of fox.

Maria heard my “Tally Ho”, rode up. She urged hounds to the spot where he trotted into the woods and they opened like the organ in St. John’s Cathedral. All voices raised, all on. They flew. What a thrilling sound.

On and on they flew. After three hours, Maria lifted them, turned for home and wouldn’t you know, they hit in the cutover cornfield, over at the slough of despond (remember your Pilgrims Progress). She and the whippers-in finally convinced them to move along.

A couple of hounds, footsore from the long hard runs over hard ground and rock in some places, needed to sit out the next three hunts. Yes, there were some hound noses out of joint but they’ll be out Friday, March 17 and Sunday, March 19, Closing Hunt.

This is why green tins of bag balm are in our little medicine chest. Works. Works for us, too but hope no one takes a notion to run over our territory barefoot.

Both Emert and Chellowe provided good runs.

What a glorious memory our Fall 2016, Winter 2017 will be. Our 24th year.

Which brings me to a preaching moment. May we have more and more years. May your grandchildren’s grandchildren have the good fortune to celebrate the bounty and beauty of Nature. Focus, thought, political engagement and doing all we can to secure property is the way. So think. Look ahead and look around. Let’s preserve all this for those who come after us including the foxes.

 

 

 

HISTORY

Kathleen King kindly agreed to work with the Nelson County Historical Society in the hopes of a fox hunting display. Some kind soul gave the society the first hunting horn used by Oak Ridge back in 1887. She’ll give us updates and marching orders.

 

ANIMAL SAFETY IN CRISIS

The fire at the large clapboard house perhaps a quarter of a mile up the road from Ashley’s got many of us thinking. Fortunately the people and five dogs made it to safety. One kitty is missing. Don’t know if she has been found.

Animal rescue and/or our fire department have no trailers to transport large animals in need. We can get the fire department a list of people with trailers but in an emergency at a farm it would be much better if the equipment was with them.

Once hunting season is over and once I’ve returned from a small tour, I’ll talk to Bette Graham, the founder and head of Almost Home. More than anyone, Bette has worked with county agencies. She’ll know the steps to take. None of us want to make a misstep. I have no idea of jurisdictions, etc. I just know our fire and animal rescue often lack this equipment.

Mark Catron has spoken to a few people and he thinks Southern States will put up some funds for a trailer. Another person with a wealth of knowledge is Dr. Jessica Ligon so I will talk to her early April. Dr. Ligon is our hounds’ vet. Apart from her skill she is very practical. There you have it. We’ll keep you posted.

 

POWER WASHER

After a hunt at the tailgate, you all heard the lament of the power washer. Unless you have a commercial grade power washer, a used one is about $5500 (I’ve been looking), if you squeeze two years out of them, good. Everyone politely listened. Mark said he would raise the money. He did not. He went out and bought a new Troy Built power washer, delivered it himself to the farm.

Hounds thank you, John and Toot thank you and I thank you.

 

VETERAN’S HUNT

Bob Satterfield spoke to Gene Dixon. The hunt would be more fun, easier to do in the fall. He was very willing to allow Chellowe and to be the venue. Gene, generous to a fault, has made so much land available to us over the years, when I tell other masters the acreage we have to hunt that is private land not state parks or state forests, all are astonished unless they are west of the Mississippi waters. Lynn Lloyd has joint meets in California at a fixture that is 80,000 acres. We’re all lucky.

 

MAKE-UP HUNTS

The weather, wildly unpredictable, worked against make-up hunts. I refuse to hunt into April because the vixens are heavy. Usually they stay close to their den but should anyone go further, we can’t take that chance.

In a normal season we average about 62 to 66 hunts per season, depending on where the holidays fall. That is a good average. If I add in the second and fourth Wednesdays for September and October that bumps it up by four hunts. I would really like to add every Wednesday after Opening Hunt. The more hounds go out, the better for the pack. The afternoon hunts are small fields because not many of you get off work but we have never had a blank Wednesday. Should I write that? Will it jinx the future? I don’t think so. That 4 o’clock fox keeps a precise timetable plus he’s hungry. But if we don’t have the staff to do every Wednesday after Opening Hunt, we can at least keep to our second and fourth Wednesdays.

 

Rita Mae